Works In Progress: A Self Help and Mental Health Book Club discussion

Current Book Being Read > Intro to Prompts for our Club and Our First Book!

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message 1: by Ken (new)

Ken | 13 comments Mod
Hey guys! After our physical meet ups (probably the same day) this is where I'll post specific prompts for the books we read. I'll post a couple slightly different questions on Facebook's page as well.

message 2: by Candice (last edited Apr 30, 2019 12:37PM) (new)

Candice T (mechanicalme) | 4 comments Mod
Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

I've got a couple of prompts:

"For years I tried to fulfill my need for love—a need that everyone has—by piling up accomplishments, but this never worked because I was trying to fix an attaching to others type of problem with an approaching rewards type of solution."
***Does anyone have other examples? During college, I found myself dating people with drinking problems - possibly stemming from my biological mother's Alcoholism and my inability to resolve abandonment issues. But dating other people with drinking problems only led to piling on more issues and adding to my fears of abandonment.

" I was having panic attacks, and so each day I went out on my back porch and focused on my garden."
***Does anyone have other examples? I'll post this in the FB Group as well, but I have a gift that my best friend gave me. I kept it up at work - a place where I was struggling to make friends - as a reminder that I already have the best friend life could give me.

"It’s good to take in thoughts that are true and useful rather than untrue and harmful. These good thoughts include seeing yourself, others, the past, and the future more accurately; understanding how your actions lead to different results; and putting things in perspective."
***I know a LOT of people struggle with untrue and harmful. It reminds me of the Sneaky Hate Spiral:

"The more I let in real examples of being competent, the less I heard the negative tape playing in my head and the happier and more engaged I felt."
***This subject is talked about in great depth in the book _Mindset_ by Carol Dweck

"You still know what’s true. You just suffer it less."
***In regards to creating separate versions of the past, it's a slippery slope. But I do this myself because I suffer a great guilt about the way I treated my little sister when we were kids. I love her more than life itself, and I'll create scenarios in which present me goes back in time and treats her the way she deserved - with kindness and love. It helps me feel closer to her even though I'll never fully make up for our twisted childhood memories.

"Each time I did this I was making a kind of mental video of my back being and feeling all right. Eventually I had hundreds of these good videos, in which I had actually been comfortable and moving easily. Increasingly, these became my expectation instead of a dreaded agony that I was always bracing against. It was as if being more flexible in my mind allowed me to be more flexible in my body."
***I would like to do this with my persistent pain and maybe make it through more important events

" ...resentment is like taking poison and waiting for others to die."
***I did this a lot as a child. But as my step-mom always pointed out: martyrs are only ever recognized when they die for their beliefs. Making yourself so willing to suffer under a small injustice undermines all of the wonderful things you truly believe in.

message 3: by Ken (last edited May 11, 2019 11:54PM) (new)

Ken | 13 comments Mod
Candice wrote: "Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

I've got a couple of prompts:

"For years I tried to fulfill my need for love—a need that every..."

For this first prompt you've sited a part of the book I see as super important. Prior to the quote you have for #1, author sites an the analogy of needing Vitamin C to alleviate scurvy. He reiterates the three operating systems he identifies in first part of the book: avoiding harms, approaching rewards and attaching to others. Which can be positively associated with respective coping mechanisms for each type. Specifically for me anxiety and depression ropes me into two operating systems. And it feels accurate to say, that what works for alleviating feelings of anxiety can be coped with recognizing positive moments throughout our day that relate to protection, safety, relaxation, strength, and agency and then, for depression, it can be helpful to recognize accomplishments or gratitude.

Finding the courage to sing karaoke or tackle my fear of heights, reminding myself I have lots of people, like my family and friends, who care about me in my life and want to see my well, or just making time to relax over a cup of tea have been amazing moments I can take time to find benefit in.

Where as what I had previously been trying to do was fill my resource coping experiences with mismatched things such as using my approaching system to be rewarded by resources from my attaching system, like I was attractive enough or liked by them enough to relate to an accomplished feeling of self worth.

I have an example I look at every morning that helps me feel gratitude. When I first moved down to Salem near my work, I had just left a relationship with essentially a duffle bag, my camping gear and a cot. Within that first week, I noticed a ratty, leather-peeled, arm chair that a neighbor up the street had put on the curb for free. Knowing it would be more comfortable than my camping chairs, I grabbed it and walked its heavy ass up a couple blocks to my apartment.

It sat in a lonely looking living room for a long time while I saved for more furniture. But it gave me great feeling of hope and happiness that I was able to start to build a new life from even the smallest efforts and by keeping my eyes open. And it acts as a reminder that things can get better. Its now surrounded by things like a quilt my mom made me and I still use it when I read. I may never get rid of it.

message 4: by Ken (last edited May 12, 2019 02:53AM) (new)

Ken | 13 comments Mod

So some prompts of my own I would also like to pose:

1) Within Chapter 5 "Take Notice", Hanson discusses the ways we can use pleasant sensations to mark or help us take notice of the first three steps of his HEAL process, the first of which, being to dive into becoming more aware of your experiences around us which can offer rewards such as Thoughts, Sensory Perceptions, Emotions, Desires and Actions.

However in specifically describing how Desires (hopes, wishes, needs, etc) can be areas to help us take notice, he uses the example of getting water when your thirsty as a quenching moment for positive reward but then contrasts it with the example of getting a cigarette when a person is stressed.

As someone who's fought an addiction to cigarettes for a long time, my struggle has been recognizing it as a desire that's negative and I have distinct difficulty in knowing whether the chemical is causing the desire, or if I am desiring it because it feels positive and rewarding. Certainly smoking is awful for us. It causes cancer among other things, effecting even more than just ourselves. And it gives me a sense of shame knowing I still will smoke one knowing this. So, to the author's point, I do take and feel a sense of gratification when I do NOT indulge, but my question here goes into a bit of a conflict between releases of dopamine found on both reactive and responsive systems. Because these periods of relief and satisfaction can be found in substances as well. Meaning, I don't always feel stressed when I've decided to have a smoke nor do I always feel shame, as I'm sure addicts of any substance would agree is also true. So really what I'm saying recognizing positive effects of desires, for me, is a hard one to remind myself of, since the substance/chemical dependency can play a large role in this area of recognition.

**Does any one else feel like they have areas from this section such as Thoughts, Sensory Perceptions, Emotions, Desires and Actions which they feel might be difficult or would be challenging?

2) Regarding a sections called "The Past" and "The Future"; "You honor what was once sweet when you taste it again today."

**I just loved this quote. I think we probably all have past experiences or materials like photos or that we can draw on that can help us remember moments of either feeling strong, honorable, connected or loved and reliving those moments are so helpful to me in times where I feel criticized or can get caught up in low moments. And I'm glad the author recognizes their passing can be bittersweet but the fact and feelings of that event being positive are still immutable. The author then talks about the future and imagining the potential of something beautiful for us developing down the road.

How often would anyone else say they use these temporal techniques to shape they're outlook as positive without getting caught up in the "contracted and stressfulness" of wanting things (being driven and insistent or compulsive) vs liking things (being experientially present)?

3) If you're familiar with Jon Kabat-Zin's practice of mindfulness you maybe recognized some similarities in this book because much of it is about being aware of experiences in the present moment.

However, I felt like factors of Rick Hanson's HEAL process go beyond the meditation training of mindfulness. Because he not only explains the neurological process of how our brains begin to use that awareness, but also how to find those moments in a variety of active situations, and how to become more inclined to keep different types tools in our "basement" for various purposes. He also addresses a super helpful section called "Handling Blocks" which can cause many of the problems people face with attempting to dive directly into mindfulness practice such as distractibility, fear in various scenarios, overanalyzing yourself out of the experience, difficulty with letting good feelings in, selfish-ness, etc. And lastly, he references follow-up material at the end of the of the book for us all to have an opportunity to learn more about where his work was founded.

**Has anyone else who's tried mindfulness meditation, feel as though this work filled in a lot of those gaps? Were there parts that were less helpful?

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