Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘mental health

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

Manipulating Neurochemistry

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How are your stress levels today? Don’t think about the answer. Feel it.

Cyndie and I have faced some questions about how we are doing lately. It hasn’t been as easy to answer as usual for us. It was a tough winter, but listing our grievances doesn’t feel good to share. It doesn’t paint the picture as accurately as we know it to be.

Our move to the country and accumulation of animals for which we need to tend has put distance between us and our friends and family. Some connections with people and activities have broken, and only a fraction of new local connections have sprouted in their place.

We have gained a brilliant wealth of new relationships with our animals, and precious though they are, it is not the same.

Yesterday we had an opportunity to drive the suburban roads again that consumed our everyday back when we lived in Eden Prairie. The dramatic contrast to our present-day environment was revealing.

Is it worth it? The struggles to cope with the never-ending challenges of weather and the unrelenting daily routine of required chores to care for our horses, chickens, dog, and cat? Some days, more than others. It’s life. It’s something we chose. (By the way, that’s a luxury –having the choice– that is not lost on us.)

Our challenges can be framed as onerous and laborious; burdens that could be lifted by giving up our animals and moving back to the conveniences and camaraderie of our life-long friends and families in the suburbs.

The difficulties of the last few months, and the years of owning and caring for our animals can also be framed as invigorating, rejuvenating, inspiring, and fulfilling. It is adventure of a very high order.

When we choose to frame the ups and downs of life in the positive, we manipulate our neurochemistry in healthy ways. That is a choice we have power to control. I spent an unfortunate number of years manipulating my biochemistry in the opposite direction by mentally framing my life in the negative.

We won’t prevent harsh realities from challenging our decisions by simply thinking positive all the time, but we will be better served to meet those challenges when we give our brains the healthiest balance of on-going positive neurochemical support possible.

Life here is challenging, but we are doing well. Really well. Thanks for asking.

It feels right.

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Prevail

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persevering
epidemic
illness
becoming
pandemic
bullying
racism
greedy
misogyny
immature
narcissist
sad
Russia
bots
manipulating
fear
reality
gender
fluidity
religious
pomposity
exclusivity
origin stories
many
fighting
viciously
same
difference
borders
wars
hunger
vengeance
terror
evil
weapons
children
schools
faces
books
hapless
impotent
politicians
money
media
hype
glaciers
melting
permafrost
methane
CO2
now mercury
too
flooding
hurricanes
typhoons
heat
fires
species
extinction
death
grief
unending
forest
bathing
breathing
deep
slowly
coping
hoping
humans
love
somehow
endures
caring
sharing
lifting
hands
planting
plants
feeding
trees
diversity
equanimity
heartfelt
wholeness
common
sense
truth
leadership
creativity
potential
belief
optimal
health
discovery
helping
each
soul
persevere
and ultimately
prevail

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Written by johnwhays

February 17, 2018 at 10:53 am