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“Man, are you high?”

 This entry was posted on Friday, January 11th, 2019 at 3:19 pm


2018 was the most fulfilling year of my life, professionally…. which, strangely enough, had a role in my mental state and ability to handle adversity slightly better. Actually though, it started in 2017. I had one of those jobs that, on paper, was good, but for some reason I had lost the ability (or willingness is probably more accurate) to see the good things.

In 2017 I was stuck. I had a good job, had a lot of good things about it, but I was really struggling to see any of them. I ended up doing something that does not come easy, or natural, to me. I started to notice that there were some days when I had a bit more pep in my step when I left work, like a high. Initially I chocked it up to excuses and not looking at it pragmatically…. but then I started to really take notice. What I discovered was that there were parts of the job that on certain days, due to certain circumstances, left me feeling fulfilled, which in turn gave me a bit of a pep in my step.

Ok, so let’s do some math.

·       120 hours in a week (Monday – Friday)

·       40 – 60 hours of work in a week (full-time)

o   Be honest with yourself. Do you take work home, do you check emails on your phone, are you ever on your laptop when not at work?

·       6 – 9 hours of sleep.

 

A step further, lets take a look at a job that is roughly Monday – Friday (8’ish – 5’ish)

·       Wake up 6:30am or 7am

·       Same drive I always do

·       Work until 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, 7 (you choose)

·       Get home, visit, maybe watch a little TV, read, whatever. Get ready for next day? Go right to sleep?

·       Wake up, do it again.

 

Now, let’s do the math.

·       120 hours – 50 hours work (approximation) – 40 hours of sleep (if you get 8 a night, lets be honest most people don’t) = 30 hours extra (or 6 hours a day)

o   Here’s the thing, how many of those extra hours are driving, stewing, possibly sleeping more, checking emails, checking social networking, sitting around depressed, etc.

If you do the math as honest as you can, 30 hours is probably generous. Meaning? If I don’t find any fulfillment at my job, then I spend the majority of my life doing something that has no tangible fulfillment. I wonder why you feel like crap.

My challenge to you, think. Think about those days that you drive home with the music a bit louder, a bit more pep in your step, maybe a slight dance on the ride…….and then start to unpack what it is about those days that leaves you feeling, well, a bit high. That’s fulfillment.

For those that don’t have these days, this suck. No getting around it. So, what are you going to do about it?

Wait, I thought $$$$ brought happiness….not high SUICIDE rates?

 This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 at 9:56 pm


In the last 14 years I have moved approximately 10 times. In no way did I ever imagine I would move 10 times, but with work and, well, life, these things happen. Because of the abundance of moves, I have gotten proficient at finding what is good/bad about certain areas, where are the best schools, jobs, etc.

When my wife and I found out that we were moving to KC I had approximately 10 months to find out all I could about the area so that we could make the most informed decision on where to move. Through copious amounts of research, we landed on Overland Park, which at the time was in the top 10 places to live in the country. (Side note, this whole MO vs KS thing is very real.) For us, it was a no brainer – great schools, relatively low crime, good jobs, nice housing, etc.

Now, 3+ years into living in Overland Park, I am struck with the question, “why are so many young people struggling in an area that offers everything that people would want?”

Overland Park possesses one of the highest socioeconomic living areas in the entire country. The ENTIRE COUNTRY, not just Kansas.  One thing that I have found consistent with so many young(er) people, they all want to be RICH because they believe WEALTH is the thing that leads to HAPPINESS. (To be transparent, in my darkest suicidal times, I too believed that if I could only be rich, then I would finally be happy.)

So, I posed the question to myself once again: why is there such a high level of sadness and SUICIDE in an area that possesses such tremendous wealth?

As a result, I reached out and posed the question below to see how others much more familiar and tied to OP would respond:

“SUICIDE QUESTION: For transparency sake I want to let you know that my family and I moved here from out of state to Overland Park for

work. I would love some of your insight. Why, in your opinion, does a place like OP (top 10 places to live in the country for many years now) also

have one of the highest teenage suicide rates in the country?”

 

Below is the insight I received, and thus, hope you can also receive:

·       In my opinion being in OP comes with

      o   1- a lot of isolation and disconnect from self because there is a perceived image that has to be maintained.

      o   2- there is a high level of perfection / performance that is expected especially academically and when they feel they cannot achieve the ivy

league it increases hopelessness.

·       There is a financial privilege that opens the doors to dangerous drug use that can lead to addiction.

·       Much of the problem lies in the sense of privilege / entitlement that lies in the parents and passed on to the kids.

      o   The parents have not learned to defer reinforcement, so they don’t teach their kids to either. As a result, kids get what they want (phones,

laptops, concert tickets….) without having to demonstrate responsibility to earn the things they ask for. The kids want instant gratification

so they eventually feel empty because they never learned to fill themselves up with healthy feelings. I call it the “empty bucket problem”.

The bucket has a hole in the bottom and so never fills up

·       Money can’t buy the craved emotional connection.

      o   There are spoken and unspoken expectations about performance (academics, sports, etc.) that cause relationship ruptures.

      o   Anytime life stressors overwhelm the ability to cope, a trauma occurs.

·       It’s often about the facade.

      o   Think about how hard someone has to work to keep from cracking that image.

      o   The trauma of unmet expectation is a powerful force in shaping the brain.

·       The kids look very privileged but many are privileged with “things” rather than real connection, and many of their parents are consumed with chasing their own perfection or facade.

      o   I know kids who tell their parents every day they don’t want to play a sport or whatever activity they are being pressured to do/play but that

choice is not available to them; love must be earned by perfection.

      o   I can’t count the number of times that I’ve had a kid or teen I’m seeing who says, “My mom/dad acts like everything is perfect around other

people” or “It doesn’t matter if I tell him/her, nothing will change.”

      o   Lack of connection every time, from my perspective. Time spent together can be high, so parents perceive that as connection, but there isn’t

emotional depth, nor conversations around emotional exploration. Friendships are often lacking in depth and a teen may have 100 friends

but no one to really talk with about feeling low or hopeless, because it doesn’t fit with the image they’ve been pressured to hold.

·       A lot of academic pressure.

      o   Straight A’s were expected. It wasn’t a question of if you were going to college, but where and on what scholarship.

      o   Kids are pushed into more and more advanced classes, classes the kids aren’t ready to take. With it being a middle/upper middle-class type

area, lots of homes have two full-time working parents, so students have a lot of time alone.

      o   There is a lot of pressure for students to be involved in after school activities (sports, dance, etc.). So, some kids have a lot of time home

alone while others never have any down time, both can be hard on a teen. Now with social media the way it is, teens are seeing the internet

version of people and are losing the ability and desire to interact with real people in person. They feel this expectation to be the social media

version of themselves in real life because that’s what they think others are really like. Add in normal teen life struggles etc. to all of this.

      o   There is also the suicide ripple effect, where once someone you know has attempted/completed others are more likely to attempt too.

·       Homophobia from right wing Christian groups may be a factor

·       I spent time pondering this question after reading this morning and found it to hit pretty close to home for me after growing up in Blue Valley from

Elementary school through High School.

      o   There are several really great ideas presented by several people on this thread, however, my experience causes me to consider a bit more of

a holistic hypothesis.

      o   The simple conclusion…. relationships. While it is true that there is an appearance of abundance leading to drug use in many parts of

Overland Park, there is also prevalent drug use in many neighborhoods lacking financial abundance, and instead of suicide, those children

end up dying at the hands of another, become incarcerated, or work hard to do something different with their lives.

      o   In many homes within Overland Park, children are given everything they need (and more), but not all homes…. I believe it’s important to

note why parents feel the need to give their children money and things. In addition, consider why those children feel the desire to use those

things and money to boast an appearance which embodies pretentious bliss.

      o   I want to be careful to not lump all financially successful families into this category, as that would be unfair and assumptive. However, if

parents in Overland Park feel the need to give their children everything they want and more, what do their relationships look like within the

family system, and most importantly, how is that trickling down to their children? Do the kids get their time or just their money?

      o   In neighborhoods filled with poverty across KC, there are families struggling with drug use, death, and heartache. Those kids are also VERY

unhappy and many times it’s my hypothesis that it is because of the lack of a loving relationship they have with their parent(s) or adults that

have committed to care for them. In Overland Park many adults crave wealth and success to fill their cravings for happiness in life and in

other areas of KC, adults may seek to fill happiness with other things which don’t yield an abundance of financial return. Either way, I

believe that as adults we often times are spending far too much time addressing the things we crave and want and not near enough time in a

relationship with the little hearts and minds that desire a relationship with us.

·       Money can’t buy happiness is true.

     o   The book called Book of Joy is amazing and talks about lasting happiness.

January 1st, time to make some SMART Goals for 2019

 This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019 at 12:08 am


Ahhhhh, January 1st, that time of year when we decide we are going to make some changes (“I’m going to get in shape this year!!”). The time of year when the gym has their sales people essentially sitting at the front door because they know that memberships are going to skyrocket. At the age of 43 now, my goals have shifted a bit and have become more realistic.

Here’s the thing, so many of the goals we put out there are simply not realistic, meaning when we fall off it simply contributes to those crappy   feelings / beliefs we may already have. So, instead of setting some goals that are not likely to be achieved, lets look at this whole thing more pragmatically. This year, my challenge to you is to make goals that are S.M.A.R.T.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable (or achievable)

R – Realistic

T – Time-Sensitive

For the sake of transparency, I’m going to share some of the goals I am seeking to attain in 2019.

Jiu-Jitsu (attend 100 times)

Cardio (100 times for a minimum of 20 minutes)

No Alcohol Days (175 days)

Sex (52 times)

·       According to David Schnarch, PhD, through a study conducted with more than 20,000 couples, he found that only 26% of couples are hitting the          once-a-week mark, with the majority of the respondents reporting sex only once or twice a month, or less!

·       We can be uncomfortable discussing it, but the reality is that if we are having sex more often in our relationships, than we are more likely to also            be communicating and tapping into each other’s “love languages” more often.

Podcasts (14)

If you want to make some changes in 2019, remember that “change” is a verb.

For more insight, check out my previous blog about what I believe you need to keep that engine running more effectively. Blessings to each and every one of you in 2019.

I Need a Tune-up (my simple philosophy to creating a better engine)

 This entry was posted on Monday, December 17th, 2018 at 6:22 pm


When I think of what it takes to move forward through real personal struggle, this is what jumps out at me in regards to what it takes to move past my current condition. Personally, I think of therapy as a little bit about the past, a little bit about the present, and then you get to define what your future looks like. My thoughts, in short:

Ruthless Honesty to Self

  • You can make excuses all you want, you can lie to your family, you can lie to friends/acquaintances, you can lie to everybody else, but you still have to look yourself in the mirror and know that you’re making excuses.
  • You can’t run from the person in the mirror looking back at you.

Get up off of your butt

  • We all want things to change (or let’s be honest, get better). Most of us are great about talking about change, but talking about it from the comfort of our couch.
  • You want things to change in your life, then get up off of your butt. Change is a verb, so go back to elementary school thinking to recognize that if I want something to change, then I need to do something about it to make it happen (i.e. movement). I cannot sit on my couch and wish/hope for a change in my current direction, I have to get up and make change happen.

Get off of your butt (2)

  • Exercise, yes, exercise.
  • The biggest difficulty for the majority of us is getting off the couch to go exercise.
  • Here’s the thing, I’ve yet to meet someone who exercised and at the end of it said that they wish they had not done so.
  • We need to move. Stop making excuses as to why you are not doing it, your body needs it.

Eat Better

  • Say what you want, but what we put into our system contributes to how it will run.
  • Better intake, better outcome. Pretty simple.
  • You want fast food every day, then don’t be surprised when you feel sluggish and unmotivated.
  • You can make excuses, but nutrition contributes to mental stability. Eat like crap all you want, but recognize that when I eat better it has a role in my mental outlook.

The Golden Rule is a Killer

  • Tell the truth, no matter what.
  • Again, you cannot lie to the person in the mirror.
  • So many people talk about how telling the truth is not hard. I guess you are the only person that will ever know if you are telling the truth or lying.
  • In truth, my go to is oftentimes to mislead.
  • We must practice ruthless honesty. If you mislead in anyway, people will never believe you wholeheartedly. I know what it is like to feel powerless because a person does not believe you. Here’s the thing, how did I contribute to that?

Ruthless Pragmatism

  • We get so caught up in our feelings, to the point that we lose the fact that they are JUST FEELINGS.
  • How come we get challenged by feeling depressed, discouraged, frustrated, but we never get challenged by feeling happy, confident, or hopeful.
  • There is not difference!!!!!! They are just feelings. We, meaning me also, need to look at things as pragmatically as possible.
  • Pragmatism – dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations. (i.e. Try and take out the feelings and simply look at the situation and what is the most practical explanation.)

We Should All Be So Lucky

 This entry was posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2018 at 3:14 pm


I’m not exactly sure when it started, but at an early age, from time to time, I had this image of my funeral and wondered if anyone would be there. I recognize that this is a bit of a dark thought, but it is reality. When I was younger and struggling deeply, I would imagine my mom standing over my grave, heartbroken. The picture in my minds eye of my mom weeping would absolutely destroy my insides, leaving me weeping outwardly. Quite truthfully, in my darkest times, it was this minds eye picture that would barely push me to push through.

As I listened to this video (https://youtu.be/2fG1AWTZrE0) this morning, I was reminded of my own death and what it will look like. When I watched and listened to George W talk about George HW I was deeply moved, more than anything at the end when a son was overcome with the deep emotion and welling of love that is now gone. We should all be so lucky.

We should all be so lucky to know that we have impacted others. To know that you have made a monumental impact on another human being, in my mind, is the greatest thing in this world. I want to have a funeral where I leave peacefully, not in deep hurt, strife, fear, and darkness.

When someone leaves before their time, we are all robbed. We are robbed of the comeback, the breakthrough, the watershed moment that leads to overcoming tremendous personal obstacles. We are robbed of the impact that personal overcoming has on others. We are robbed of the opportunity to bring real peace into our dark and private little worlds, by the connecting to others and helping them to also overcome their darkness.

I WEAR A THOUSAND MASKS

(Charles C. Finn)

I hope you won’t be fooled by me for I wear a mask.  I wear a thousand masks, masks that I’m afraid to take off, and one of them is me.

I am likely to give you the impression that I’m secure, that confidence is my name and coolness my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command and that I need no one.  But I hope you won’t believe me.

My surface may be smooth…beneath I dwell in confusion, in fear, in aloneness.   But I hide this.  I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed.  That’s why I frantically create a mood to hide behind, a nonchalant, sophisticated façade to shield me from your understanding.  But such understanding is my salvation.  My only salvation.  And I know it.

If I don’t keep the mask in front of myself, I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.

So, I play that game, my desperate pretending game, with a façade of assurance without, and a trembling feeling within.  And so, my life becomes a front.  I idly chatter to you in the suave surface tones…I tell you everything that’s nothing, and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me.  So, when I go into my routine, I hope you won’t be fooled by what I’m saying.  I hope you listen carefully to hear what I’m not saying.

I dislike the superficial, phony game I am playing.  I’d really like to be open, genuine and spontaneous.  I want your help in doing this.  I want you to risk approaching me even when that’s the last thing I seem to want, or need.  I want this from you so I can be alive.  Each time you’re kind, and gentle and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care, my courage to risk sharing myself with you increases.

I want you to know how important you are to me, how you can be a creator of the person that is me if you choose.  But it will not be easy for you.  A long conviction of worthlessness leads me to maintain distance.

The nearer you approach me, the blinder I may strike back.  It is self-defeating but at the time it seems the safest thing to do.  I fight against the very things that I cry out for.  But I am told that empathy is stronger than walls and therein lies my hope.  I desperately want you to understand me in spite of my distancing tactics.

Who am I, you may wonder?  I am someone you know very well.

I am every man and every woman you meet.


A New Look on Depression?

 This entry was posted on Monday, December 3rd, 2018 at 6:28 pm


As someone that has battled with depressive tendencies, I think that Johann Hari’s thoughts are interesting and unique. I will say that he is not a clinician, which I think is a good thing in that he gives perspective from his own experiences.

Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

See the Full Blog here

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