Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘mental health

Fluid Planning

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There is one aspect of a healthy balanced mind that I am enjoying in particular in the years since overcoming the dysfunctional thinking that was a huge part of my depression. I find it much easier to accept unexpected changes to plans.

I think my old pattern of rigidity was an attempt to protect myself from any possible discomfort I might experience over not being adequately prepared for some new scenario that might pop up. My new perspective resulted from an exercise of examining what the worst possible outcomes might be for situations that I was earnestly wanting to avoid.

In the end, there was never anything that deserved the level of angst I was nurturing.

Cyndie and I had big plans for this coming weekend. It has morphed a little to become “not as big” plans now. We are going on a little “stay-cation” to her parent’s house in Edina, leaving Jackie to take her first shift of managing the ranch for an extended few days.

I had intended to pack enough things last night to allow me to leave from work today and go straight to the Edina house for the entire time. Then on Monday morning, I’d only need to drive the short distance again to work. Now both ends of the plan have shifted.

Cyndie was assigned a responsibility to manage affairs for an aunt who is moving from her own home into a nursing care facility. This event is claiming her full attention this week and she just isn’t ready to be away as early as we originally envisioned.

That actually eased my burden of trying to pack the bike in the car before work today, because I am going to want it with me over the weekend to continue my conditioning efforts before the Tour of Minnesota begins in another week.

In fact, the night off allowed me a chance to get out and ride for an hour last night. That was a particularly pleasant outing due to perfect weather conditions.

Now we are thinking we’ll pack up and head for Edina tomorrow morning.

The back end of the plan for the upcoming weekend has also changed for me. As the date closed in, I realized I have an appointment to drop off my car at the body shop to repair my deer-dented doors and pick up a rental car.

I’ll head home Sunday night to fit in that detail.

Other than those two changes, the middle of the extended weekend plans are still standing firm. For now.

What’s the worst that could happen if those end up changing, too?

Nothing that we won’t be able to adjust to, …kind of like the way horses get back to grazing so quickly after something rattles their calm.

Here’s to mastering the art of being comfortable with the possibility that plans might change.

If you want to take it up a level, the next step is mastering the art of visualizing the best possible outcomes, and allowing it to become your ongoing default perspective.

Then you get to celebrate with reckless abandon when something changes, and the outcome ends up even better than the best possibility you imagined!

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Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2018 at 6:00 am

Small Difference

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Life is not as bad as it seems, and rarely as good as we might perceive. Frankly, I have this peculiar notion that the difference between best and worst outcomes is a much narrower range than we are groomed to believe.

There are abundant examples of both good and bad situations simultaneously playing out all over the world through the course of history. Sometimes they are occurring on opposite sides of the globe, but in varying degrees of intensity, good and bad things can happen in the very same place, even at the same time.

I’ve noticed in myself an increasing susceptibility to waves of gloom over news about the state of our planet and about the state of democracy. Each new report is picking up and adding to my gloom from the day before.

I have yet to master the same art for the news of good things in the world. I can’t seem to get the happy stories to compound into greater joy with each successive telling.

In my reality, the gap between the two is small, so resolving the discrepancy doesn’t need to be some Herculean effort. In the grand scheme of things, nurturing the positive is a very “do-able” feat.

Last night, Cyndie and I watched Carrie Fisher‘s “Wishful Drinking (2010) documentary one-woman show based on her memoir. Obviously, it triggered something that got me thinking about good and bad, and mental health. 

Hearing the way Carrie told her stories gave me the impression that she was a writer, which, in fact, she was. Maybe that is one reason the show resonated for me as much as it did. Of course, I am also a sucker for stories of recovery and self discovery.

A lot of her life stories sounded bad, although she delivered them with a dose of humor, and glimpses of moments that were good. I thought, we could all probably make our stories into a show like this. The difference however, is that hers comes across as something of an inside joke which we are all in on, because her life as a daughter of two celebrities and her iconic acting role in the movie “Star Wars” are public knowledge.

We hear her stories of situations we already know about, only from the actual inside perspective.

That aspect wouldn’t exist with my one-man show based on my non-celebrity memoir.

After the movie, I came downstairs from our loft and spotted this:

Really? Cyndie bakes amazing chocolate chip cookies on Tuesday, and a night later, pulls out some Oreos to eat instead.

I look at that picture, and all I see is good right next to bad.

In my perspective as a person seeking to manage a sugar addiction, the difference between the two is actually small.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2018 at 6:00 am

Two Wolves

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Last week, Cyndie and I squeaked in time after a hard day’s work to watch the Disney movie “Tomorrowland” (2015) that arrived in the mail on our Netflix subscription. We liked it a lot. It includes significant references to the popular teaching legend about two wolves, which highlights the importance of how our thinking influences our lives.

We have been repeating variations of the punchline with noticeable frequency in the days since.

A simple synopsis taken from the movie:

Casey Newton: “There are two wolves” … You told me this story my entire life, and now I’m telling you: There are two wolves and they are always fighting. One is darkness and despair, the other is light and hope. Which wolf wins?

Eddie Newton: Whichever one you feed.

This resonates for me, because it reflects my direct experience from my years of chronic depression through the ensuing years following wonderfully successful treatment. I learned to feed the good wolf instead of the bad one.

This recent focus on the two wolves legend has renewed my attention to how often I still automatically default to a negative perspective, despite my desire and intentions to do otherwise.

I stepped in the house at the end of a long, strenuous day of laboring on our property and Cyndie checked in with me, commenting on the vast number of things we accomplished. Without missing a beat, my response grabbed the equally vast number of tasks that remain in need of attention.

Luckily, that default response no longer goes unnoticed by me. I caught myself and admitted I was feeding the wrong wolf.

It’s as if I feel the cheery perspective of the state of things requires a counterbalance to keep it from being a false representation of reality. But, thinking about it, I could see that no matter how I chose to frame it, either mental perspective did not physically change how many projects we did or didn’t complete that day.

The reality of whether the grass needs mowing or downed branches need to be turned into piles of wood chips does not change based on how I assess our achievements of the day.

So why not feed the good wolf?

In life’s ongoing battle between darkness and despair, and the alternative of light and hope, which one should we be feeding? I vote for light, hope, love, peace, compassion, understanding, and even more love.

Thank you, Tomorrowland, for sowing the seeds.

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Soothing Interlude

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For your viewing pleasure, here is a thirty second distraction from your usual daily grind, courtesy our freshly tended landscape pond waterfall.

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Enjoy!
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Written by johnwhays

May 8, 2018 at 6:00 am

Green Gray

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Are you as impressed as me over my deft avoidance yesterday of whining over how we could possibly be in the month of May already? It could be a new me!

Naaaaaah.

I have a tendency to be way too authentic with my online presence. The majority of people’s social media personalities has evolved to look like life is all rainbows and puppies, feet up with a glass of a favored beverage, overflowing with noble opportunities to do good in our worlds.

Who can blame us? No one automatically wants to paint their public portraits showing what they really look like in the moment of walking from the bed upon waking in the morning and seeing the first glimpse of ourselves in the mirror. Aaahhh!

That’s not how we want ourselves to look, so that’s not how we want others to see us. We want to be freshly groomed and all made up before venturing out.

Then why am I so quick to write about many of my stumbles and embarrassments? Maybe I’m too lazy to stop and comb my hair before stepping on the stage. It’s easiest to simply tell it like it is.

Life is filled with a mixture of good and bad. It just feels more worthwhile to share it all. All interesting stories have a conflict to be resolved. It gets darkest just before dawn. If all I wrote about were my triumphs, this blog would develop into a false, hollow representation, and I think that would be boring.

Well, more boring than my creative whining about how fast time flies and how extreme the weather is.

In the last two days, our grass has greened dramatically. Yesterday, we saw the arrival of some gray clouds that added a distinct contrast.

It occurred to me that, in many ways, it was more interesting than a clear sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

May 2, 2018 at 6:00 am

Idle Distraction

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Some days I would like to ignore everything that I really should be doing and focus unlimited hours of idle attention on a familiar jigsaw puzzle, regardless how gorgeous the weather outside might be, how many home projects are screaming for attention, or all the work responsibilities to which I am duly committed.

I am a master of idle distraction, however, I rarely allow myself to revel in idle passions to a fraction of a degree worthy of being considered mastery. Maybe I should instead state it as being a dreamer of idle distraction.

It would be fair to say that a Monday morning in front of my desk at the day-job, with multiple issues simultaneously calling for immediate attention, happens to be a time when my urge for idleness can be greatest.

In a similar vein to Lewis Carroll’s “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” I am more inclined toward “The more I have to do, the less I get done.”

I don’t know whether it would surprise you to read how often this plays out when I would like to compose a daily blog post. The greater my yearning to have a post written and proofed, the more idle my brain seems to get.

One good thing about distraction of an empty brain, it allows plenty of room for imagining creative somethings from nothing. Except, sometimes, nothing is all that comes. It’s distracting.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

Well, that’s not true. You can make it up, but what good would that do?

I suppose it could serve, in a circular sort of way, as something of an idle distraction, no?

Don’t mind me. I’m just distracted by having too much on my mind that should be getting my constructive attention all at once. And doing nothing.

Maybe I missed my calling as a congressman or senator.

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All There

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It’s all there. The good and the bad. Really, it’s always been that way. Disasters and human rights abuses are scattered throughout history, right along with the victories and accomplishments.

We can choose which of these we allow our attention to focus.

Wars take lives, medical advances save lives. Weather disasters destroy, ingenuity builds.

In my old life, the negative held an illogical amount of my attention. I aligned with the adage of Murphy’s Law, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

When a hard day at work feels like things went wrong just because they could, it is too easy for me to slip into a dreary doldrums of woe. It is the natural direction my mind, and subsequently my body, would tend to go. It takes a conscious effort to think otherwise.

Luckily, after receiving a diagnosis of depression and being offered treatment with education, medication, and talk therapy, I learned both the ease and the benefit of choosing to think differently.

Bad things still happen, just like they always have.

Yesterday, at work, I decided to start a new adage. My natural inclination to be pessimistic shows through a little bit, but you can see my intentions are noble.

“Anything that can go wrong, might not.”

See what I did there?

Thinking positive!

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Written by johnwhays

April 25, 2018 at 6:00 am