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Monday, November 21, 2011

Feeling Like the Turkey at Thanksgiving? Here's How to Restore Your Happiness!


24 Cheshvan 5772

Ads all over the world show smiling people and glittering holiday decorations. But you? You're feeling down. Illness. Debt. Lousy relationships. Name the cause.

Americans are about to tuck into turkey dinner with all the trimmings (if you can afford them). Are you scared you'll gag on the food as you choke on negative emotions?

Here's some help to bypass the gastric upset no matter what's bothering you. Clear your mind and heart with this excerpt from

Action Alert

Shape Your Mind for Survival Mode.

Actions, ideas and emotions are very important realities to suffering people if they are physically ill or emotionally out of order. I went through an ordeal that could have broken the bodies and spirits of many people. I understood that I needed to take positive, life-saving actions, to think of positive ideas that strengthened me, and to take positive control of my emotions on many levels.

My medical team and I did not know if I would live past the surgical effort to save me. We knew that the tumor, left untreated, could kill me within the next two years. So, we needed to make our joint rescue efforts as rapidly and as effectively as possible. I needed to respond to every frightening, negative thought with an upbeat, healing thought. You do, too.

The worst thing that could have happened to me back then is that I would have failed to save my life. The BEST thing, however, was that if I succeeded I would have a life. One I wanted to live. You or your loved one may be in the same boat.

Develop a Survival-Mode Mind

In order to have the best happen, I needed to develop a plan of action to save my life and/or the quality of my remaining life. You need to do that, too.

Anyone with a medical crisis is in the same situation: you need to save a life. Yours or the life of someone you love. The quality of that endangered life is just as important as preserving it.

Write the name of the person whose life needs saving in the space provided here or in a keepsake notebook:

List the important actions, ideas, and emotions that can have a positive effect on that person (you and your loved one can prepare this list together):

If you need more space, add a clean piece of paper to the workbook and fill it out or use a keepsake notebook for these fill-in-the-blank exercises.

Create an Attitude of Acceptance

I accepted the very real surgical risk that I might survive with some physical or mental deficits. I did not want to live as a miserable cripple. But, if becoming crippled were to be my fate, I decided that I would be the most with-it, upbeat cripple I could be. I intended to be Yocheved Golani LIVE, not dead. Misery and bitterness are not for me. They cancel out survival and quality of life.

You have to make a similar decision. The Torah tells us to choose life. Mental health practitioners and their clients know that misery is spiritual death. Life is productive, spontaneous, and as happy as you can make it.

Make happiness a hobby. Respond to every frightening, negative thought with an upbeat, healing thought. On purpose.

Pretend that you're willing to explore new opportunities and methodologies until that willingness becomes a natural impulse. Repeated actions can teach you to react in creative, productive ways.

All of us have challenges to overcome. Georgia O'Keefe said it well: "Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest."

Make a list of the difficult ideas and situations you must accept in order to go forward to as much health and dignity as possible (you and your loved ones can prepare this list together. Another person can make you aware of important ideas you haven’t thought of yet.):

If you need more space, add a clean piece of paper to the workbook and fill it out or use a keepsake notebook for these fill-in-the-blank exercises.

Here's a thought you might want to cling to as you groom yourself and others to promote your coping successes:

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great." – Mark Twain, beloved American author

Move Beyond Your Sense of Shock: More About Acceptance

Dr. Judith Guedalia is a neuropsychologist at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Israel. She specializes in treating victims of terrorist acts. One of her healing techniques is to place her hands around the head of someone lying on a bloody stretcher in the Emergency Room and to ask the person to describe things. She asks them to tell her what they see, hear, and feel as she gently turns their head to face her, to look at the bustling lifesaving activity in the emergency area, and to examine the food she places in their mouths. Dr. Guedalia likes to give Bamba to terror victims. It's a treat with a commonly recognized flavor, associated with pleasant memories. She does all this to help the terror victim realize that they survived the bomb, knifing, or other danger to life. "Victims need to realize that they're alive, not dead," Dr. Guedalia says. "They need to leave their state of shock. Otherwise, it can last forever and they will never again feel joy, never heal."

We need to leave the state of shock that our medical crises give us. That frees us to be happy in the future, and to heal.

Use your senses to the fullest. Tap your feet, clap your hands, smile, walk, smell flowers or a baby's sweet scent, touch textures you enjoy, eat and drink things you desire and in moderation. Listen to sounds you like, such as birdsong, music, laughter, babbling brooks. Dance if at all possible. Giggle on purpose. Decorate your home along Feng Shui principles if you wish. They focus on and promote all kinds of health.

If you want help to remain positive, to pass from a state of shock to a state of active life, I suggest materials by:

Dr. Abraham Low, founder of the Recovery Method and author of Mental Health Through Will-Training. Participate in Recovery meetings if you can. These can be enormously helpful not only to recovering psychiatric patients, but anyone willing to work on improving their mental state.

Dr. Judith Orloff and Dr. Miriam Adahan's book Emotional Maturity Established Through Torah (a manual for spiritual and psychological survival). Certified leaders around the world conduct EMETT meetings. Read the book, attend local meetings if you can, and learn successful techniques for managing your emotions.

Here’s a simple positive action you can take: become the director of your life. Pretend it’s a movie, a book or stage play. Create an appealing setting to convince the main character that he/she is healing. Music can be part of that setting. I suggest that you actually play this composition, and to keep reminding yourself that it is helping in every possible way: Beethoven's String Quartet in A (Opus 132), the one with the movement expressing thanks for recovery from an illness.

Ask trustworthy friends to help you to cope. Confide in a mental health therapist if you need or want one. Any of these actions can help you to avoid compounding a medical crisis with a crisis of mental torture. All of your positive actions can build you up from the inside out.

Prepare your list of upsetting ideas that you need to accept in order to pursue health (you and your loved ones can prepare this list together. Another person's perspective might be helpful now.):

Now list the actions you can take to accept those ideas as you free your focus to concentrate on improving your health (you and your loved ones can prepare this list together for added brain power):

If you need more space, add a clean piece of paper to the workbook and fill it out or use a keepsake notebook for these fill-in-the-blank exercises.

Remain Emotionally, Spiritually, and Physically Strong

"Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be… Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing." - Abraham Lincoln

Frederick Douglass said "If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

"An idealist believes the short run doesn't count. A cynic believes the long run doesn't matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run." - Sydney J. Harris

You're serious about your goals. You're getting ready to drop any conditions you've set for reaching those goals. Actions teach muscles. Repeated actions teach the mind. Respond to every frightening, negative thought with an upbeat, healing thought. 

Feeling better yet? Watch what happens when you read the part about how charitable organizations are standing by to pay YOUR medical bills! You're might end up laughing out loud when you read the rest of

EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge. Buy it at

Don't be a turkey.

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity.

Face Your Future with Optimism.

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