Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery: Problem Solving and Goal Setting

Happiness Isn’t Brain Surgery: Problem Solving and Goal Setting


Hi everyone and welcome to happiness
isn’t brain surgery with Doc Snipes. Practical tools to improve your mood and
quality of life. This is module three of a 4 module series on problem solving. The
first two modules were recorded in our facebook group happiness isn’t brain
surgery so if you want to be able to access all of the modules, feel free to
join that group. In this section we’re going to identify your problem solving
options and explore methods for solving those problems like we talked about
earlier. Once you’ve identified the goal you have the option to either stay
miserable which is what you this is definitely a viable option you can
tolerate the distress because sometimes things can’t be changed if you’re having
to ice your hand because you heard it it doesn’t feel essen to ice it but you can
tolerate that distress sometimes you may be 0 if you go to the dentist have your
teeth cleaned and you don’t like that which I don’t think most of us really
love having our teeth cleaned you do it because it’s going to help you achieve
your goals of staying healthy and having a good smile and everything but you
tolerate the distress you can feel better about the situation change your
thoughts and feelings to focus on the positive or focus on the fact it will
end its not never-ending or you could just change the situation completely by
solving it you know if we want to talk about getting our teeth cleaned well you
could opt to not get your teeth cleaned now that may not help you achieve your
long-term goals but it would definitely provide less distress right now so
basically you’ve got two options when you’re presented with a situation you
only have so much energy you’re either going to choose the option that helps
you move toward your ultimate goals of being happy and healthy and content and
all those wonderful things or your going to choose something that may solve
your distress in the present moment but it’s not going to move your movie
towards your goal so you’re going to feel stuck and I’m liking that to thrash
around in quicksand when you’re in quicksand you may think that the best
thing to do is to thrash around and try to get out because you want to survive
that’s acting in your emotional mind you’re trying to relieve the immediate
problem without stopping to think about okay how do I do this this is really bad
situation what is the next right step to do so when you’re acting in your
emotional mind when you’re focusing on making distress emotional unpleasant and
stop sometimes you don’t choose the best behavior so they just end up wasting a
bunch of energy and keeping you stuck so you want to start brainstorming
solutions in the first two segments we talked about describing the situation
and really getting out of your own head and stepping back and describing it as
an investigator describing it as somebody who wasn’t involved in a
situation who’s just an observer so you can get more perspective not only on
your contributions to the situation but on everything else that’s going on once
you’ve described it all you’ve got down on paper you’ve identified kind of how
you got to this place today you know we’re not talking about every time but
what happened that got me to this place today then you can brainstorm solutions
distress tolerance is like we talked about accepting that the situation is
unpleasant but things will change you don’t have to stay miserable now the
acronyms improve and accepts we’ve gone through multiple times basically our
ways to help you change the next moment this is unpleasant right now so what can
you do in the next moment to either kind of change your reality maybe you take a
mental vacation or you do something that is that will make you happy
reading knock-knock jokes finding funny memes something like that volunteering
contributing there’s a lot of different things you can do to take your focus off
the current situation if it can’t be changed sometimes you just need to take
your focus off of it until you can move on emotion regulation you address your
vulnerabilities sometimes things seem really really overwhelming and you
realize that one of your vulnerabilities is that you’re exhausted so one way to
address that vulnerability is to go to bed get some good sleep wake up tomorrow
and reassess the situation then so if you can address your vulnerabilities
sometimes you can turn down the intensity level of the unpleasant
feelings and you can get a clearer head sometimes you just need to take a step
away if you’ve ever tried to solve a problem and you’ve SAT there for 30
minutes or an hour trying to solve a problem or trying to get something done
and you’re just stuck sometimes if you take a break from it and do something
completely different for 10-15 minutes maybe an hour and you come back to it
all of a sudden you’ll see options that you didn’t think we’re there you can
change your thoughts walking the middle path means focusing on the positive not
just the negative so when you have a negative thought about how horrible this
is have the positive thought that it won’t last forever if there’s something
that you need to change you may for example if you don’t want to go back to
using alcohol or you don’t want to go back to a relationship that was just
unhealthy sometimes you need focus on the negative because when you’re in
you’re upset period you’re remembering and romanticizing all the good things
because whatever this changes hurts so you start thinking about how it really
wasn’t so bad so sometimes you got to change your thoughts don’t romanticize
something that was really unhealthy or unhelpful and
this will help force your behavior change if you remember the bad stuff
have cheerleading thoughts sometimes you can do this by having a SMS message
scheduler you can actually schedule your own SMS messages to yourself which is
you know can be kind of cool you get a message every morning at 8am that’s just
some positive thought for the day they’re a bunch of free ones for the
Android and for the iphone and it starts your day off well that’s something that
you can do to prevent distress relapse prevention and purposeful action means
changing your thoughts and really focusing on what can I do to prevent
this from getting any worse or having any more negative effects sometimes you
can’t prevent whatever this is but you can prevent it from being a huge problem
you get a cut on your arm you know it’s there you can’t just magically will it
to go away you’ve got a cut but if you take care of it you can prevent it from
getting infected and becoming septic and all that kind of other nasty stuff so
planning and purposeful action thinking to yourself this is the situation right
now this is where I want to go these are my ultimate goals how do I get there
what do I need to do to prevent this situation from holding me back and
identify alternate possibilities you can also work on just changing your feelings
sometimes the situation can’t be changed when father was diagnosed with cancer
that really was a devastating couple of years there was nothing I could do to
change it so when I would start thinking about it I would have to start focusing
on things that helped me be happy and having an attitude of gratitude of for
the fact that he was around to see the birth of our first child and to see that
how long I did have him in my life compared to what some other people
didn’t have focusing on things that made me happy
and when we were together focusing on appreciating the moment and how awesome
it was instead of the fact that you know in six months from now he won’t be here
so focus on the positive identify and preferably do this ahead of time because
when you’re in a bad mood it’s hard to think about all right what’s going to
make me happy identify what makes you happy if it is my daughter loves going
on YouTube and finding videos of raccoons eating fruit she just thinks
it’s so cute to watch them use their little hands and eat their fruit I have
to put it put it on mute because they make this horrible smacking sound when
they eat but whatever makes you happy keep a list of like five or six
different things keep if you’ve got a mobile phone which most people do
anymore keep a particular album a memes and pictures and other things that make
you happy so if you’re having a bad moment you can go to that and get and
remember the good things sometimes you need to change the situation because and
you can change the situation if you’re in a job that you really hate and things
happen and you seem to be angry all the time you can change that situation you
can look for a different job or you can change how you feel about the situation
at least for the present I’m until you can find another job sometimes a job is
just that it’s not a career it’s a means to an end when I was in undergraduate I
knew I wasn’t going to be working in retail all my life and it really wasn’t
my favorite thing to do however it was a means to an end so I could you know eat
while I was going to school so if you’re changing the situation remove or
eliminate whatever’s causing your distress if you can use interpersonal
effectiveness skills to address the situation if it’s a situation with
another person you may need to be able to assert what your needs are and create
a win min but to create a win-win you have to understand what the other person
needs are as well which goes back to module 1 when we were talking about
describing the whole situation and what not only you bring to the situation but
what the other person brings you know maybe they have had a god-awful morning
and they are in an awful mood and they just come in and bite your head off and
you know you can assert all you want that that’s not how I would like to be
treated but that’s not what they need right now right now they are struggling
they are frustrated they are angry so creating a win-win you can talk to them
let them know that yikes you know you seem like you’re feeling really angry
today you know noticing how angry that they’re feeling and asking if you could
help creating a win-win situation reaching out because that’ll bring it to
their attention that there you know kind of being a little cranky but it also
offers to help their situation other times or other ways you create a win win
is by saying basically if you let me know ahead of time that we’re going to
have to do this it wouldn’t cause me as much stress and around our house you
know I’m a structured person I am kind of rigid and so it reduces stress for
everybody in the house if mom knows ahead of time that we’ve got company
coming over on Saturday afternoon so the kids know it’s to be more rewarding for
them and much more relaxing and pleasant if they let me know ahead of time and I
find it helps me because I can plan you can also add something to alter the
situation sometimes it’s not stepping away from the situation is bringing
something to it and that can be compassion that can be you know maybe if
you’re feeling lonely sometimes it’s not escaping a situation actually adding to
it and saying let me add a friend let me figure something else new to add to this
situation so I don’t feel isolated anymore I mean
bring somebody into it one way you can start analyzing your options is called
the force field analysis so for each option you have you want to look at your
enabling and motivating forces to change and your constraining or resisting
forces to change so two examples if you are in an argument with your friend or
your friend doesn’t respond when you text them or you call them and leave
them a message you can set up a lunch to talk that’s one option so using the
force field analysis you want to look over what are the motivating forces the
benefits to doing that well emotionally it may make you feel a little bit more
empowered a little bit more hopeful that you can get something worked out
mentally it will enable you to kind of let it go and not be constantly dwelling
on what was it that I said what did I do you can maybe table it and say alright
I’m going to figure all that out when we have lunch physically what are the
benefits well if you are not all upset and if you’re able to put aside those
thoughts so they’re not bombarding you all the time you’re probably going to
have less physical symptoms of stress and sleep better interpersonally you
know it’s probably going to make it easier for you to be in a good mood and
want to associate with people if you feel like you’re headed towards some
sort of resolution it may not affect your job and it may not affect your
environment what are constraining forces well emotionally if you call and you set
up a meeting to talk you also might be scared that you’re going to get an
answer that you really don’t want to hear mentally you may end up playing and
rehearsing this lunch over and over in your head until it happens so your act
you actually get stuck there which may cause additional physical symptoms of
stress and may impact your relationships even for
ultimately you don’t know why your friend didn’t respond so you’re trying
to figure that out the question is what do you need to do not everybody can say
all right I’ve got a meeting scheduled with this person we’ll deal with it then
I’m going to put it on a table I’m going to put it on the back burner until until
that point some people can’t let it go that easily so figuring out what works
for you the other example is when you’re feeling
lonely and isolated one solution could be making new friends so again going
through the motivating forces emotionally it could be really exciting
the drawback emotionally it could be really intimidating if you have low
self-esteem or social anxiety mentally making new friends some people would
view it as extremely exciting and stimulating to get to know other people
and experience that other people might find it mentally exhausting because
they’ve already got enough going on they just want to hang out and all of our
stress and all of our thoughts and all that stuff come out physically one way
or another they either drain our energy or enhance our energy so you want to
look at you know how is this particular solution to this situation going to
impact you I have a friend right now who is feeling kind of lonely but he’s an
introvert so getting out around large groups of people is extremely stressful
to him so when he thinks about making new friends it really quickly gets
overwhelming so figuring out ways he can make new friends where it’s just 24
people at a time it’s not totally overwhelming and it’s for short periods
where he doesn’t feel like he’s kind of stuck is one option one way to change
that solution so making new friends yes that’s what we want to do but how are
you going to do it in a way that is more motivating and enabling you to achieve
goals and takes care of or eliminates any of the constraining forces or the
drawbacks choose the best option you’re going to
go through several especially if it’s a big issue that you’re you’re looking at
choose best option for you that is effective at helping you move closer to
your long-term goals this is not about anybody else this is about you achieving
your long-term goals and staying true to your values in a way that’s realistic
you know there are a lot of things I can come up with when I’m brainstorming
solutions that are kind of pie in the sky I guess so what is realistic for you
and you need to be honest with yourself about how much time you have how much
energy you willing to devote to it and how motivated you are the best option
usually integrates the logical mind all of the benefits and drawbacks and
chooses the thing that is most beneficial but also the emotional mind
so you may have three things that rank up there with highly beneficial but
don’t all make you as happy so you’re going to choose the one that is most
beneficial and makes you the happiest a lot of times people get stuck because
they know what needs to be done but don’t even know where to start um
sometimes well even just with a house you know during the week things get done
but imagine a teenagers room you walk into the middle of it and you’re just
like oh my gosh I I don’t even know where to start there’s laundry their
stuff on the floor it needs to be vacuumed nothing can fit in those
drawers you can get overwhelmed really easily at our house what we do is we
just take everything and we put it in the center of the room and start from
there you know because then the bed can be made and you can move on from there
but nothing has to be done once you put everything in the center of the room
having get an idea of all the things that need to be done just start
whittling away at the pile it’s not necessarily something that has to be
done in a particular sequential order if it is or if you need to have some sort
of order identify the steps you need to take to solve the
problem first I need to start somewhere then I need to you know maybe the first
thing you would do is dump out all the drawers refold the clothes so you can
make room to put away new clothes whatever it is that you want to do I
find with the pile method in terms of cleaning and kind of in terms of life
guests you put everything in a pile and you start whittling away at it then
eventually everything gets done and it’s not you don’t waste as much time going
all right now what makes sense to do next you just do something and before
you know it the pile is gone the room is clean your to-do list is empty whatever
the case may be once you start the process it’s important to continually
evaluate though sometimes you’re going to have to stop back stop back stop and
drop back and change course a little bit because you realize that what you
thought was going to work isn’t working as well as you had expected okay so
adjust you don’t have to be right you just want progress once you know what
the problem is you can start brainstorming solutions and get outside
the box you know some people here my pile story and they’re just a gas
they’re like oh my gosh i can’t imagine just putting everything in a pile it
works for us it may not work for you so get outside the box and figure out what
may work to help you solve this particular situation with my friend when
we were talking when i was talking about making new friends just going to a party
or going to a social gathering or something was just way overwhelming so
we started brainstorming getting outside the box talking about meetups talking
about going out with some of his roommates in order to meet other people
but be with a small group that he felt comfortable with and we brainstormed a
whole bunch of other opportunities and options like community education classes
where he might be able to not be sort of the center of attention
but he’s around other people that he can potentially make friends with so get
outside the box then consider the alternatives and choose the option
that’s most effective at helping you achieve your long-term goals what is it
is going to help me feel accomplished what is it that’s going to help me feel
nurture the friendships that I have right now or develop new friendships
whatever your long-term goals are you can subscribe to the podcast on any
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