Choose Better Tomorrows Today

by drstephen

Quality of Life Trajectory

Quality of Life Trajectory

This graphic is highly flexible and could represent an infinite number of factors that are associated with QOL (Quality of Life): physical health, emotional well-being, financial security, happiness, and fulfillment…for the sake of this discussion, let’s keep it broad and general: Overall Quality of Life.

Not many people believe that the black line accurately represents the future quality of their life over time. This line’s trajectory would suggest that they would look, feel, and function at the same level throughout their later years as they do today – and then eventually expire.

The orange line represents the most common assumptions around QOL. This line implies a slow, steady decline over the decades, ending in a considerably poor state before your eventual demise.

In my clinical experience, I’ve met many who believe that the red line more accurately represents their expectations. Not very inspiring.

They believe that they are on a path that has been set – either by some genetic luck-of-the-draw or a penance for sins of the past. They also believe that they are doomed to a life that will be shorter and sicker than they wish; and there’s nothing that they can do about it.

The experts disagree.

As sited by Shawn Achor in The Happiness Advantage, it turns out that researchers have come to one hugely compelling conclusion: we should all be more optimistic.

Optimism by definition means that we recognize that our choices influence and predict our outcomes.

Want to experience the blue line? Make better choices.

Our behaviors will drive our experiences and shape our outcomes. Studies show that there is a consistent set of beliefs and behaviors that are common among these outliers. These behaviors are observable, definable, and – most importantly – reproducible.

If you want to be successful, do what successful people do.

Ultimately, this can lead to one very exciting conclusion: if I wish to be extraordinary, I should do what extraordinary people do.

The green line is illusive. It is hard to find, hard to walk, and harder still to stay on. But it’s there, waiting for you to enjoy.

Optimistically,

Dr. Stephen Franson

The Art of Gratitude – The Benefit of Being Grateful

by admin

Little Ronny’s initial 2nd grade report card came home today with teacher’s comments stating that “Ronny is bright and interacts very well with adults and other students, and overall is a delight to have in class. However, his written class work and homework do not reflect the level of aptitude he displays on non-written assignments.  There are a few assessments available at no charge to determine whether this discrepancy is due to a physical limitation, or if it is simply an area that needs to be given more attention.  Please call the office to set up an appointment to discuss the options.”

Though there is a very positive lead-in on the comments, the take-away impact for Ronny’s parents, the Goodwins, could be considered a challenging negative.  Since the report is coming directly from the teacher, they do not question the validity of the statements; they do not reject it on account of its source or content.  Their next decision is how to process the difficult information.

Because the Goodwins are wellness-oriented people and are tuned in to the types of thinking that go into maintaining a well person’s lifestyle, they choose to find the opportunities for growth in this situation, as parents and as people:

  • They can use the opportunity to grow closer to their son through focused attention and purposeful conversation as they investigate the true nature of his writing challenges.
  • They will gain a strength of character by weathering the storm of the possibility of a physical/mental condition while assessments are conducted.
  • They have another opportunity to encourage and support each other through the period of unknown, strengthening their relationship with one another.

The first three “rules” in Susan Jeffers’ 20 Rules for a Joyous Life revolve around decisions to notice, recognize and acknowledge the good in life.  Thankfully, the Goodwins know these rules and choose to use them, because they understand that the journey through and results of a joyous life are far better for the mind and body than the toxicity of worry.  While contemplating the difficult news, they make a conscious effort to find things to be thankful for because they understand that the attitude of gratitude will dissipate much of the stress that a potentially bad report would try to bring them:

  • Ronny is bright.
  • Ronny interacts very well with adults and other students.
  • Ronny is a delight to have in class.
  • Ronny does well in non-written assignments.
  • Assessments are available at no charge to help define the issue more clearly.

In doing so, they find that there are very real things to be appreciated and celebrated today that outweigh the possibility of a potential vision impairment, learning disability, fine motor skills impairment, or other condition that may or may not turn out to be true.  They choose to be grateful for what they have and save their response for when the condition is defined and can be addressed appropriately.

Our challenge in difficult situations:  Find the opportunities to grow, live a life of gratitude, and enjoy the happiness that comes with it.  Doing so may not completely alleviate the conditions we are faced with, but will certainly assist us with dealing with the stress that those types of situations generate.

The initial stress response to difficulty is natural.  What we do to keep it from negatively affecting our minds and bodies can be intentional – we have a choice in the matter, and for that, we can be grateful.