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Living From Happiness

The Happiness Doc, Dr. Melanie Harth, and guests share thought-provoking convos every week on Living From Happiness. From mindfulness and neuroscience to positive psychology and creativity, the show's all about living well in transformational times.
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Now displaying: June, 2022
Jun 23, 2022

Dr. Mike Rucker is an organizational psychologist and charter member of the International Positive Psychology Association. His work has been published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management and Nutrition Research.

Mike's ideas about fun and health have been featured in The Wall Street JournalForbesVox, Thrive Global, mindbodygreen, and more. Named one of ten digital changemakers by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, he currently serves as a senior leader at Active Wellness.

Mike's newest book, "The Fun Habit: How the Disciplined Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life," sounds a little frivolous and silly during this time of so much upheaval.

Melanie was surprised, and heartened to discover just how much serious a researcer Mike is, and how much deep thought and wisdom he poured into his book.

Topics in this episode include happiness, positive psychology, neuroscience and how the mind works, how fun keeps us healthy, toxic positivity, mindfulness, and yes ... so much more.

Give a listen to this enlightening and light-hearted conversation, won't you?

“Extraordinary experiences require us to make deliberate choices. Transformative moments don’t often fall out of the sky, but there are definitely ways to increase their frequency. If you want a twist of fate, starting twisting. Chosing fun every day in small, seemingly superficial ways can, over time, lead you to new patterns of behavior—new and better choices. What starts as a dance with whimsy may lead to you discovering The Mystery, with your joy lighting the path.” - Dr. Mike Rucker

“We all have the agency to live more joyful lives; we just don’t have the right tools.” - Dr. Mike Rucker

Learn more about the "fun" guy at MichaelRucker.com

Dr. Melanie Harth, The Santa Fe Therapist, website here

Jun 16, 2022

Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of five previous books of award-winning nonfiction. His writing has also appeared in the AtlanticGrantaHarper’s MagazineMother JonesTalk, and the New York Times Book Review.

Finally, his newest book, the most personal, is "The Mind and The Moon: My Brother’s Story, the Science of Our Brains, and the Search for Our Psyches."

So many issues are explored in this fascinating episode. From questioning our understanding of psychosis to biological treatment modalities, and from exploring the differences between brain and mind to how biological psychiatry has contributed real harm to millions of people, this is one.big.episode.

Meticulously researched, Daniel's latest book lends weight to the growing national conversation questioning the medicalization of mental illness.

Daniel and Melanie talk about some of the many paradigm-shatteirng interviews he did with renowned neuroscience researchers. A few examples are:

  • “The more drugs [antipsychotics] you’ve been given, the more brain tissue you lose.”
  • “Psychiatry has lacked a ground truth. It’s a house of cards built on serendipitously discovered drugs. How people could think that mediocre — important but mediocre — drugs like the SSRIs could give us any comprehension is beyond me.” Steven Hyman
  • “The big picture is that we really know very little about psychosis and what is going wrong in the brain. It’s remarkable why we don’t know." Donald C. Goff

What happens to your psyche (translated from ancient Greek as "soul") when your brain works differently from the norm, and is too medicated to function?

What's the result when mental illness has been medicalized based on faulty or non-existent science?

As Daniel writes:

 … Maybe the way biological psychiatry most stigmatizes and isolates is by alienating us from ourselves, by defining and circumscribing and sometimes damning and imprisoning us in our own eyes. It is interesting that the profession may do to its patients precisely what we are advised not to do in raising our children.

One of the fascinating people Daniel met as he wrote the book was Caroline, who has intimate, in-depth, personal experience with mental illness and psychiatric interventions. Caroline is a leader in the Hearing Voices Network and the creator of a groundbreaking suicide prevention program. She calls the current mental health system, especially treatment for severe mental illness and psychosis, a “system of oppression. … . People have been in need of support, and what they’ve received is risk management.”

The idea that medicating our brains will lead us to mental health has been criticized by the World Health Organization. As Daniel writes,

Last June [2021], the World Health Organization published a 300-page directive on the human rights of mental-health clients — and despite the mammoth bureaucracy from which it emerged, it is a revolutionary manifesto on the subject of severe psychiatric disorders. It challenges biological psychiatry’s authority, its expertise and insight about the psyche.

This is an incredible episode with a brilliant thought leader about matters that affect so many of us. Listen in, share, send us your thoughts: happiness@ksfr.org.

Jun 2, 2022

What's emotional health and wellbeing, and why does it matter? That's a big question, and Daryl Van Tongeren has lots of answers and ideas.

Daryl is a social psychologist, college professor, a person who now knows how to swim (which I learned about after reading his newest book), and author of The Courage to Suffer.

His latest book, Humble: Free Yourself from the Traps of a Narcissistic World, is the focus of this thoughtful and thought-provoking podcast. Click here to listen to information and wisdom about emotional health and wellbeing.

What's Emotional Health & Wellbeing?

Here's a quick checklist for emotional health and wellbeing:

  • Do you know how you're feeling throughout the day?
  • Do your feelings change a lot, either way up or way down? 
  • Are you comfortable feeling angry?
  • Can you admit to yourself when you're upset or sad?
  • Do you give yourself time to process your emotions?
  • Can you tell another person how you're feeling, no matter what it is?
  • Can you say something to another person if you think they'll be hurt or angry, or do you stay quiet?
  • Do you upset other people if you're too emotional?
  • Are you a rager, emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive to yourself or other people?
  • Does it sometimes seem like you can't control your emotions?
  • Have you ever lost friends, lovers, partners, or jobs because you have a hard time managing or communicating how you're feeling?

The more comfortable you are with your emotions and know how to communicate them in healthy ways to others and set firm boundaries, the healthier you are emotionally.

You're not afraid of your feelings, nor are you afraid to express them in healthy ways to others. Importantly, you also know how important it is to set good boundaries. Your overall well-being will get stronger and stronger when you do these things.

Well-being means feeling comfortable, healthy, and happy. The good and bad news is that you're the only one in charge of that.

And when you take charge of your emotional health and well-being, your life and everything in it begins feeling so much better, can I just tell you?! You'll be making good choices for yourself, feeling satisfied and fulfilled with work, and joyful in reciprocal relationships (each gives and takes equally).

Yay, life.

An Epidemic of Narcissism

Daryl has a lot of fascinating things to say about narcissism, including that “the last two decades have been a shrine to ‘the Self’, [which means that] we’ve put our meaning and happiness in other people’s hands.”

Most of us have a "fragile sense of self — we’re externally puffed up and internally hollow: sad, lonely, and anxious."

Another point Daryl makes is that “our preoccupation with ourselves seems to be backfiring.”

It doesn't take a lot of effort to look around and see the rampant narcissism running through so many leaders. Also, it's easy to see how our preoccupation with ourselves has marginalized and isolated far too many people.

And the truth is that too many of my beloved therapy clients are caught in the trap of narcissist relationships. So many people have never been taught about emotional health and well-being, which means they don't know how to teach their children. And so the unhealthy cycle continues.

How Mindfulness Helps With Emotional Health & Wellbeing

Daryl believes that "seeing the world accurately and objectively" is the first step in cultivating humility, handling conflict, and setting good boundaries.

Mindfulness, also called mindful awareness, is how we can begin doing that.

Sometimes we need to have "tough conversations" with ourselves, which mindfulness helps us do.

Daryl writes that we can begin cultivating humility in this narcissistic culture by starting from a place of emotional self-acceptance. 

Emotional self-acceptance is also where mindfulness comes in because it helps you 1) become more aware of your emotions and 2) learn that whatever you're feeling is OK.

There's great freedom and emotional health in seeing who you are and allowing yourself to feel whatever is true for you.

Reducing Defensiveness Increases Emotional Health

Mindful awareness also helps you realize when you're maybe being a tiny bit extra defensive. You know that knee-jerk reaction to defend yourself against any possible attack, whether or not it's ever gonna happen? Yeah, that defensiveness.

It's easy to develop the habit of going on the attack before you get attacked, just in case you are going to get attacked, right? But that defensiveness can keep you disconnected from yourself and other people. No one needs any more loneliness or to be any more disconnected.

Importantly, mindfulness helps your awareness of yourself and can help you accept how things are, including how you are.

Also, it's an excellent help for emotional regulation and understanding how to deal with emotions in a healthy way, which is the foundation for emotional health and well-being.

Finally, it can help you figure out if you're too attached to ideas about how things are supposed to work, your job or career, and the people in your life who may be toxic.

The Meaning of Humility

The meaning of humility, according to Daryl Van Tongeren, is

a secure openness to the world, where we can be honest with ourselves and others about our strengths and limitations.

It's a way of approaching ourselves, other people, and the world around us with a sense of enough-ness … that opens us to the world as it is.

[It's] knowing yourself, checking yourself (ego), and going beyond yourself (an orientation toward other people).

He also says that humility means "being the right size." I love that description.

I'll admit that I learned a lot from spending the time to read Daryl's book, as well as the hour we spent doing the radio show. The definition of humility he offers is a lovely touchstone for checking in with ourselves about our emotional health and our mindset.

If you feel secure being open to the world, can hear your truth about how you're feeling, and are confident that you.are.enough ... well, then, you're pretty good to go.

Your emotional health will be robust, and your mindset will be open and connected to yourself and others in healthy, compassionate ways.

The Santa Fe Therapist Approach to Emotional Health & Wellbeing

I’m Melanie, the Santa Fe Therapist. I think of emotional health and wellbeing as “loving yourself into wholeness.” 

In my experience, learning how to love yourself can be a lifelong journey. Emotional and spiritual healing and wellbeing happen when you deepen into your true self, uncovering, processing, and releasing layer after layer of learned self-doubt, even self-hatred.

Then, you can begin replacing those unhealthy layers with what's good and true and authentic for you.

It’s really about understanding how to feel emotionally safe in a dangerous world. You'll experience freedom when you know how to recognize being connected with something grander (and more important) than your tiny, ego-based monkey-mind thinking. That connection can be as simple and beautiful as loving and caring for your doggo.

The Santa Fe Therapist Offers Online Counseling in Santa Fe, NM

Online therapy helps stressed women find the time away from day-to-day pressures to calm their nervous systems. It also makes it easy and convenient to process emotions and learn new neuroscience techniques to cope with challenges, heal the past, and begin building your future..

I strongly believe in the power of online counseling. Along with the research that proves its effectiveness, I see the positive benefits for my clients every week. If you've got questions about online therapy, please click here.

Online counseling from anywhere in New Mexico, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Taos, Los Alamos, Pecos, Las Vegas, Tesuque and El Dorado.

What to do Now for Emotional Health & Wellbeing in Santa Fe, NM

You don't have to suffer alone anymore. Please, send me an email, and let's schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation: melanie@melanieharth.com.

Other Services From The Santa Fe Therapist

The Santa Fe Therapist specializes in several areas of health, wellbeing, healing and recovery. We know that one size never fits all. Our services are individualized to each client, and are based on your values, your needs and desires, and your goals.

We offer individual adult counseling and guidance in Santa Fe NM for:

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