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Education healing Mental Health Mindfulness Psychology

The Truth About Being Happy

Everyone wants to be happy. It’s not an abnormal desire. We’re here, on this planet for a short period of time, so it’s natural to deter feelings of misery or pain. It’s not fun and it doesn’t feel good.

For most, the concept of happiness has taken a left turn. People seek it as if it’s some attainable permanent mood, which is entirely counterproductive.

Happiness is not something you win like unlocking new levels on a video game. Even if you’re listed on a leader board, will that be good enough, or will you find another game to beat?

Life is full of unexpected problems. That’s the inevitable truth. People you love will die. Shit won’t work out the way you hoped or planned. People will break your heart and betray you. That’s life. But, does that mean you can’t “be happy?”

When problems slap us in the face, happiness feels like a distant destination. Perhaps, we’re on the wrong road, or maybe, it’s a place we’ll simply never get to. Obviously, these defeating thoughts can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Sitting with pain is not something the mind and body particularly enjoys. In fact, like a machine, it’s hardwired to protect against invading stimulus. Consider a terrorist attack on ones homeland. Immediately, forces are set in place to protect and defend the country against further casualties.

Successful or not, the threat remains present. Plans will be devised to prevent a similar attack from occurring but bad blood remains. What they decide to do about it, isn’t the point, because if a solution exists, the aftermath of destruction doesn’t disappear. It happened. It’s real. People will suffer the consequence.

Our body works in a similar fashion, immediately defending from outside threats and attacks. It may successfully avoid, distract, or escape the pain, but it’s still there.

Staying present and falling into the wave feels unnatural. Our bodies are conditioned to enter survival mode, but unless you’re living in a jungle, continually attacked by primal species, reactivity is unnecessary.

As humans, it’s tremendously difficult to sit with pain, and unfortunately, it’s the only way to successfully banish it. Happiness is temporary, and so is pain. It comes in waves. Riding the wave as it comes, rather than fighting against it, is useful when hit with the next wave. The current won’t be as strong, the wave will be less demanding, and it arrives at your shore less and less.

Training the body to respond differently requires self awareness when trivial threats arise. Instead of habitually responding without much thought or logic, remain open to the “attack.”

It’s not going to kill you, and in fact, your body becomes resilient. Giving space for pain to exist is like paving a road to a “happier” existence. The more resilient you are, the less defensive you’ll be. Situations that were once deemed problematic are suddenly nonsensical and silly.

Although you’ll never reside inside of a permanent happy bubble, you’ll learn to withstand discomfort, and that alone is a freeing existence.

-Jessica Bruno

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Education love people psychology Relationships Society

You’re dating a human, not a supreme being….right?

Oftentimes, partners and relationships are first on an individuals list of values, as if their some supreme god. Although meaningful and important, a top value should never be a person, place, or a thing.

Values are a critical component in our lives, motivating and dictating all behavior. Values influence ethical behavior, as well as personal passions and beliefs. They create boundaries– informing others how we’d like to be treated and what we won’t accept.

What is most important to you, says a lot about you. For example, if compassion is a high value of yours, its likely you’re an understanding, giving, and healthy person. Perhaps, this has influenced your career path or ability to create meaningful relationships.

However, if you value something that’s not measurable, such as a person or a thing, you’re treading deep waters. When a value is externally based– it’s subject to change, meaning you lost free will of the outcome. You can’t control people or situations…only how you respond to them, but if control over that value is lost, whatever you lost it to, now holds the power.

People can hurt and betray you. If they’re at the top of your list of values, then what do you do? Values give our life meaning and your number one just shattered into a million pieces.

One betrays the self when choosing unhealthy values, creating a destructive mess. If respect is high on the list, and someone disrespects you, its likely you’d cut them out of your life (assuming it’s appropriate given the situation.)

However, if you value respect just as much as a partner, what happens if they profoundly disrespect you? Let’s say they committed an act of infidelity. Since both values are just as important, what do you do?

You might accept the mistreatment and later feel ashamed, because you trashed a significant value. What did it ever do to you?! Conflicting values become problems in several aspects of your life.

A person, place, or thing isn’t maintainable, as opposed to dignity, security, or respect. It’s also important that such values aren’t measured by people, places, or things.

If you allow your dignity or respect to be betrayed by an individual, those are wavering values. I understand people will challenge your values. Naturally, you may be disrespected or hurt by the actions of another, but this doesn’t mean those values should be called into question.

If people are valued above everything, they’re given power to dictate your life. It should be yours and yours only.

Own your values.

What are your top five values?

How do you measure those values?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
Education healing Mindfulness psychology

The Stories We Tell

Humans are the only documented species known to tell stories.

We’re the most intellectually advanced species, using language and abstract thinking to hypothesize scenarios and experiences.

When an intellectual species invades earth, I’m sure this will change, and I hope I’m alive to see it because I should be dating an alien. It’s more fitting than these human men.

Stories shape our reality. They influence and enforce our identity, the way we view the world, as well as others. When relating to someone, else’s story, you’ll use your own to help connect.

All moments and situations in life are perceived through personal biases and subjectivity. Your environment, past relationships, and experiences have influenced your perspectives, thus the way you tell stories. For example, has someone’s actions ever appalled you?

For whatever reason, that person behaved in an unexpected way that caused you to feel personal about it. As you witnessed their behavior, you relied on your own beliefs and past experiences to judge the situation and develop an opinion. Needless to say, others may have a different perception of the same situation.

The Art of Making It All Make Sense

Did you know every story must make sense to you? If it doesn’t, you’ll search for meaning that does. Trouble arises when emotions distort our perspectives, leading to irrational storytelling. As a child, if my mom didn’t come home from work at the usual time, I would become sick with worry.

I’d imagine something terrible happened to her, and the later she was, the more drastic my hypothetical scenarios became. As she walked through the door, I would throw a hissy fit. She’d be like, “Jessica I was at the store and left my phone in the car.” Suddenly, I felt stupid for the stories I told.

While experiencing intense emotions, our stories can become ridiculous, motivating inappropriate behavior. It becomes even more problematic when we’re unaware of the stories we’ve been telling and how they build upon each other.

In relationships, stories become all kinds of fucked up. If your experiences were bad, it likely altered your beliefs and perspectives, entrancing their way to present relationships. For example, let’s say your ex cheated with a stripper.

One night, your new partner is hanging with the boys and hasn’t responded to your text message. Three hours pass and your imagination runs wild-now you’re considering he’s at the strip club, having sex with a stripper.

Melodramatic examples are the best when driving a point home. Honestly, I’ve yet to understand why strippers have become a common reference of mine.

Defining Your Story

Stories are often exaggerated and falsify the truth. Personal insecurities or perceived shortcomings are often overstated and magnified– skewing how we see ourselves. We begin crafting this identity throughout early development.

Imagine the stories we told at a young age when we didn’t know any better? Bits and pieces of our identity get stuck with us, influencing our adult life outside awareness.

For example, if you were bullied at a young age, you may have faced low self esteem and insecurity, even after the bullying stopped. Both positive and negative moments bring forward thoughts and feelings. Beliefs arise and become engrained within us.

More often than not, we don’t even know what those beliefs are or what they’re saying on a daily basis. We have a shit ton of daily thoughts, coupled with an internal dialogue that never shuts up.

It’s difficult to listen when it’s goes on and on, like background music. You become desensitized to its noise. But you shouldn’t tune it out- especially if you’re unsatisfied with an aspect of your life or if looking to improve and self develop.

The amazing thing about being a storyteller is having the ability to change your story. After all, you’re the author. But first, you must listen to the story and decide what needs re-writing.

This is where mindfulness comes in. It’s a successful technique for emotional regulation, as well as increasing the mind/body experience.

To understand what’s going on upstairs in that mind of yours, you must remain fully present in the moment, attentive to arising thoughts and emotions while remaining accepting, without judgement.

This is how you bring attention to awareness and heal. Mindfulness takes dedication because initially- its challenging. But, if you set aside at least fifteen minutes each day, you’ll begin listening and hearing in ways you weren’t able to do before.

What stories are you telling?

What stories would you like to tell?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

Categories
Education people psychology Society Technology Technology

We’re all distracted, hungry and mindless.

 On a daily basis, we’re consistently presented with modern distractions that are so influential, meaningful values are replaced with trivial desires. People have become overly concerned with their image to the degree where life has become a stage, we’re the audience, and everyday is a performance.

No one is watching your every move and hanging onto every word like you think they are. If someone IS watching, that reasoning is most likely selfish in nature.  

Why do you think you’re so important? Are others that important to you? I don’t think so. People are more self-absorbed and needy than ever before. A minor inconvenience is catastrophic. A perceived failure has suddenly become the only means to measure self-worth.

Life is becoming this thing we’re unconsciously seeking to escape through chasing validation of our identity or anything that makes us feel alive. It’s fleeting, shallow, and trivial. 

Evidence of success is measured by what you’ve done or what you have and it’s important. Image doesn’t just matter it determines identity so when others subjugate you, the only categories to be placed in are one of the two- you have value or you don’t have value. And these days, that’s decided for you. 

Social media encourages people to think about what they don’t have because what they do have will never be good enough. Not only are we easy targets, we’re mindless consumers. If you see something you don’t have, buy it.

If you see something you may end up using to make your life easier, buy it, even though you know you won’t use it. If you see an Instagram model with a similar body type to yours, except she has huge tits, get a boob job. You’ll be more likable for it-literally.

We’re forced to care about meaningless shit, except now it’s not meaningless because everyone has made it matter. When something truly matters and has substantial value, you don’t think about replacing it because you’re overall content with it.

The modern world has captivated our minds; filling it with more and more nonsensical pursuits and if we can’t have what we think we want, it becomes an issue of concern. We live in our past hoping to find answers that will guide us toward a better future, never truly experiencing the present moment. 

When was the last time you didn’t anticipate without expectations for something or someone? When was the last time you sat with your thoughts, observing them, rather than catching one, and ruminating over it, passing judgment? When was the last time you didn’t have something in mind you’d like to buy or think about what you lack rather than being grateful for what you do have?

The more distractions, the more complicated things become. We stay emotionally hungry, escaping and avoiding shitty feelings through self- indulgence. For a short period of time it feels good but fleeting moments of joy can be deceiving.

It’s not called living, if we’re in a permanent state of pity or anticipation. Sad about what’ll you never be, never have, and never deserve or waiting for what you don’t have, should have, and deserve. Both result in emptiness and ironically we’re all searching to achieve what we lack or improve what we have to feel better…to finally be happy, and stay that way- forever.

People search for happiness like playing a video game; once you beat the last level, you win. That’s not what happens. Sure, you may have beaten that particular game, but you’ll move on to another, and then another. Happiness isn’t a permanent mood you can achieve if you play your cards right. 

Like all emotions, they’re fleeting and experienced in waves. That’s life. You don’t get to pick and choose which one you want to keep around, however, you can choose to ride the waves, enjoying the good as they come, while also accepting the bad.

I want more. What about you?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC