Top 10 Ways to Positively Change Your Day!


1. Don’t blame others for making you unhappy. Take responsibility for making yourself happy.

2. Give yourself permission to make yourself happy-even if in so doing, others make themselves unhappy.

3. Make time for yourself to do things that bring you pleasure and enjoyment in the short-term.

4. Do things for others and your community without expecting anything back in return.

5. Sacrifice short-term pleasures and put up with short-term discomforts in order to achieve longer-term gains.

6. Accept the fallibility of others and yourself.

7. Don’t take things personally.

8. Take a chance even when you might fail at things at work or in your personal relationships.

9. Don’t become overly concerned with what people think about you and what you are doing.

10. See uncertainty as a challenge, do not be afraid of it.

Mindfulness: How Come My Brain Never Shuts Off?


If you pay attention to what is going on in your mind, you will find that there is a near-constant stream of chatter. Our brains seem to be talking, and engaging in commentary, all the time: sometimes about the past (“I really wish I had not done that!”), sometimes about the present (“this is really nice!” or “I hate this!”) and sometimes about the future (“I hope I get the job!” and “I am so scared that I will fail.”).

This “chatter” represents normal brain function; it is simply something that the brain does, when it is not occupied in deliberate problem solving. The brain generates thoughts, emotions, impulses, and physical sensations. However, most of us are unaware of most of what the brain is “saying,” nearly all the time! Instead, we let it go on, chattering outside of our awareness, while we go off into autopilot. If we are not actively making an effort to pay attention, many of our complex behaviors (driving to work; walking down the hall to the mailbox; eating meals) occur while we are in a sort of autopilot state. This does not necessarily mean that we are functioning poorly (any outside observer would say that we are doing just fine); but if we are in that autopilot state, we clearly are not living fully. And we may also be putting ourselves at risk for various problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, and impulsive and compulsive behaviors (including addictions). We may find, upon reflection, that our lives simply are not what we would like them to be.

There is any number of patterns into which internal chatter might fall. For some people, brooding about the past is prominent. I might endlessly and repetitively recall and re-hash episodes from my past, critically judging my decisions and my behavior, maybe even wallowing in regret and self-hatred.

Another pattern involves the future: I might be a chronic worrier, constantly bringing into mind scenarios in which disasters and catastrophes will likely take place. This can be accompanied by a constant effort to problem-solve or problem-prevent: “What will I do if this happens? What if that happens? How can I keep either of those things from happening?”

One very important pattern that appears in all of our mental landscape falls under the heading of “habit.” We all are aware that we have behavioral habits; we also have mental habits. Our capacity to develop habits is, overall, a very positive thing; we could not function efficiently if we had to think through every step we take in life, constantly “reinventing the wheel.” However, the negative side of habit-formation is clearly evident, as well. Many of our habits would be readily identified as “bad habits.” Our brains are structured in such a way that anything that is repeated often enough becomes a sort of a preferred, or even “default” option. If I am accustomed to taking a certain route when I drive home from work every day, then it takes a certain amount of effort to change my route. That driving route has become a (benign) habit. By the same token, if I have begun a pattern of eating a bowl of ice cream after dinner in the evenings, then it will take some effort to refrain from eating it on any given evening, and I will feel a strong urge to buy more of it when I go to the grocery store.

These patterns, mental and behavioral, can lead to serious problems:

• Brooding contributes to depression 
• Worrying contributes to anxiety disorders 
• Habit makes unhealthy behaviors more difficult to avoid

The tricky thing about these patterns is that they tend to go on outside of our awareness. We can see the outcomes that naturally arise out of the patterns (in unhappiness and in behaviors we don’t like, but can’t seem to control); but we fail to see the mind-states that contribute to these outcomes. We tend to be mystified by our own behaviors and emotional states. We feel as if they are outside of our control.

But, what if we shift our focus away from the outcome to the cause? What if we begin to develop the habit of awareness of our own mental functioning (especially our thoughts, emotions, impulses, and physical sensations), and develop our capacity to detach from counterproductive patterns, before they have a chance to manifest themselves as significant problems?

As it turns out, we can exercise our human capacity for freedom by deciding to develop our ability to direct and re-direct our attention. Since we know that our mental habits are contributing to unhappiness in our lives, the arena for choice becomes situated within our minds. We can let these patterns continue to go on chattering, outside of awareness (in which case we have no control over them); or we can pay attention, so that when they are operative, we can gently detach from them, and redirect attention to something more worthwhile.


We hope that this handout has been helpful to you. At the Counseling Center of New Smyrna Beach we have several therapist who can assist you in getting the treatment you need. If we can be of help please call 386.423.9161 today. Start living your legacy!

On Empathy

counseling empathy ccnsb

 The concept of Empathy seems to have become a bit of a buzz word in this day and age.  The term itself was first introduced by psychologist Edward B. Titchener in 1909 as a translation of the German term einfühlung (meaning "feeling into"), though has been popularized today in large part due to the work of Brené Brown. Not only does this construct have widespread affects in the arena of Counseling and Psychology, it’s applications in the business and leadership world are numerous as well. All this aside, the most important application for empathy exists within our daily lives: in our relationships. As parents, siblings, partners, coworkers, sons and daughters, we could all use a little more empathy in our lives.  

What is it?

Empathy is the word we use to describe our attempts at understanding another person and sharing in their emotion, be it positive or negative. Put another way, it is taking a dive into the subjective experience of another, and viewing the world through their lens, value, or belief system. Having the skill of empathy allows us to relate to others, and to have a sense for what they might be experiencing in any given moment, in order to respond appropriately. This is a highly adaptive response for us to employ, as humans are decidedly social creatures who exist in communication with one another in the majority of daily activities.

The concept of empathy can be understood a through a number of differing lenses, however none appear to be as compelling as nursing scholar Theresa Wiseman's four attributes of empathy:

  • To be able to see the world as others see it—This requires suspending your own perspective to be able to understand the viewpoint of another.

  • To be nonjudgmental—Judgement, whether positive or negative, ultimately serves as a separation of ourselves from the pain, discomfort, or even joy of another’s situation. It often leaves its victim feeling discounted and dejected, and its perpetrator caged in from the true experience of human emotion. To be nonjudgmental is to let down those walls that separate.

  • To understand another person’s feelings— In order to become perceptive regarding the experiences of others, it is imperative that you remain in touch with your own feelings. Often, we must connect to a time or place in our inner reality when we experienced similar emotions in order to truly understand someone else’s.

  • To communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings—Rather than speaking any number of the clever responses you may have to someone else’s situation that start with “At least…” (Judgement), or “It could be worse…” (more Judgement), try “I can see that you’re hurting” or “I can imagine that you’re feeling (hopeless/lost/confused)”

In Brené Brown’s talk I Thought it Was Just Me (But It Isn't) (2008), she references these attributes listed above with great clarity and has added her depth of knowledge from over a decade of research in the field. The RSA has created an animated short of the talk, which you can view here.

To be clear, an empathic response is not telling someone that you understand, but showing it through showing up for them. It is not sympathetic well-wishes or offering over-simplified solutions. It is not to try to “fix it” or “make it better,” but to sit with them, unashamedly in the middle of it all.

Empathy is communicating to another, even in the midst of painful emotions, that you are there for them to share in their experience, and perhaps even to lighten the load.  

Empathy is a skill that often therapists do best. If you need to talk to someone about whatever might be going on in your life, or could benefit from utilizing the skill of empathy in your interpersonal relationships, don’t hesitate to reach out to us now and schedule an appointment. In the midst of it all, we are here to help.