Consortium Newsletter - November 11, 2016

Father Fred Scinto's picture

Father Fred Scinto

November 11, 2016

THE ENIGMA OF SUFFERING (CONTINUED)

As we continued the retreat-seminar semi-day at St. Roch’s Church in the northern Islington area of Toronto on Saturday, October 22, 2016, a member of the team shared thoughts on “the Happiness Factor.”

THE HAPPINESS FACTOR

INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS

  • One of the big areas that the new positive psychology works with and researches is happiness.

  • “A large part of how happy we are or will be is determined by our genetic make-up – something we have no control over.This is called the ‘happiness set point.’” (Doctor Ian K. Smith)

  • This means that about 50% of our happiness is determined by our genes (the happiness set point).Intentional activity under our control comprises about 40% and life’s circumstances (not under our control) comprises the remaining 10%.

  • Can grief and happiness co-exist? Yes! Believe it!

  • In these introductory comments, our last point has to do with the topic of whether another person can make us happy.The short answer is that no one else can make us happy.

WHAT DOES MAKE US HAPPY?

  • We begin with the subject of Wellness and Happiness.

  • “Both body and mind play a role in generating happiness.And happiness, in turn, can play a profound role in keeping the body healthy and the brain pliant and agile – even as we age.” (Professor and Psychotherapist Arlene Matthews Uhl)

  • The more wellbeing we have attained, the happier we will be.And the happier we are, the more wellbeing we will attain.

  • Gratitude is so easy to do and yet it does us so much good!

    “Research has shown that … being grateful for what you have and showing your appreciation for the generosity others have bestowed on you can create deep and long-lasting happiness” (Smith).

  • Those that are grateful show diminished symptoms of depression…

  • An attitude of gratitude is cumulative – it tends to accrue long-term benefits.Those who display such an attitude have been shown to be energetic, optimistic, and empathetic, and even to enjoy significant physical well-being.” (Uhl)And “feelings of thankfulness and appreciation have been shown to contribute to overall well-being in a number of ways” (Uhl), e.g., increasing levels of the immune antibody called immunoglobulin A which fights invading microbes, decreasing the level of the stress-related hormone called cortical.

  • “Gratitude ups our happiness level by helping us appreciate the present moment, by increasing our sense of security and self-confidence, by inspiring us to be more altruistic, and by tempering our stress” (Uhl).

  • “Focusing on gratitude can help us overlook people’s imperfections and let go of old grudges that keep us mired in negative emotions” (Uhl).

  • There are many other gifts that gratitude brings to us (in addition to the ones stated above).M.J. Ryan lists the following (among them):

    • “Gratitude Eradicates Worry”

    • “Gratitude Draws People To Us”

    • “Gratitude is the Antidote to Bitterness and Resentment”

    • “Gratitude Cures Perfectionism”

    • “Gratitude Opens Our Hearts”

    • And “Gratitude Opens Us to Moments of Grace” (M.J. Ryan, religious author – I highly recommend to you her little book, Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life (ISBN = 1-56731-372-8), which I found to be one of the best books on gratitude I have ever seen).

  • Altruism means doing good for others and to others.

  • The Golden rule is “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. As it turns out, this principle is not only the Golden Rule of morality and spirituality, but also a path to cultivating a high level of personal happiness…That such ‘selfless’ actions also benefit us is a key discovery of positive psychology.” (Uhl)

  • Altruistic behaviour alleviates depression and lowers our stress level.

  • Laughter makes us feel good and makes us happy.  Its medical and psychological benefits have by now become almost legendary.

  • “[Among other things,] laughter elevates natural mood-enhancing endorphins and releases the feel-good brain chemical dopamine.  At the same time, laughter turns down our stress hormone spigot.” (Uhl) It stimulates the brain, the respiratory system, the nervous system, and the muscular system.

  • “There’s more good news about laughter as well.  According to Doctor William F. Fry, a Stanford University psychiatrist, a hundred laughs provides the aerobic equivalent of 10 minutes spent rowing.” (Uhl)

  • So we need to develop a sense of humour.  This is very difficult to do for those who are grieving the loss of a love but it really speeds up the grieving and healing.  So please work at it!

  • Religion-Faith-Spirituality increase happiness.

  • They offer inherent meaning (meaning of life), virtuous values, an attitude of awe, and enhanced self-care, according to the research done.

  • “Modern psychology and medicine are embracing the ancient idea that spirituality can enhance emotional and physical well-being” (Uhl).

  • “All types of prayer can engender positive emotions by creating a state of mental tranquility” (Uhl).

  • So much more could be said here but this will do for now.

  • Leisure and Play have traditionally and historically been recognized as important for happiness and so not much needs to be said about them here.  Just be sure to get enough for your own well-being and health.

  • “Music really does soothe the soul.  It activates brain pleasure centres, makes us feel connected, and shifts our focus.  Playing tunes linked with happy times helps, of course, but sad tunes work too – if only we can grant ourselves the relief of turning them off.” (“Chill Out,” Prevention’s Mother Nature’s Secrets.  So the traditional connection between happiness and (good) music works!

  • An allied consideration is the following: our culture and society move so fast today that they literally make us sick.  So for your own sanity and well-being, SLOW DOWN!  Our pace in life is too fast and unhealthy.  So, from time to time, just sit in a comfortable chair and do absolutely nothing.  Do so in a quiet place and eject thoughts gently as soon as they arise!

  • And lastly, more and more modern research is learning how important to our health can be our pets!  So hang out with them in order to relax.  “Just half an hour with a pooch can trigger your noggin to release brain chemicals linked to happiness.  (Bonus: The pup gets the same feel-good lift!)  Cats can also help ease the blues.  Kitty owners can be less lonely and have higher morale than do those who do not have a cat, likely because cuddling with an animal can unleash oxytocin, the body’s ‘love’ hormone.” (“Change Your Outlook,” Prevention’s Mother Nature’s Secrets)

CONCLUSION

  • You do deserve to be happy.Work for it and may God grant it to you.Amen.

The team also shared with (and recommended to) the participants the book (especially the first 7 pages which you have already seen on Consortium materials) F*ck Feelings by Doctor Michael I. Bennett and daughter-author Sarah Bennett.  This book, and especially the Quick Diagnosis method of facing problems/difficulties on page 6, helps participants and all others develop a perspective that is realistic and not unrealistic: “F*ck Feelings offers a more realistic approach from a medically trained, practicing psychiatrist who, over a forty-year clinical career, has treated hundreds of patients with intractable mental illness, bad habits and troubled relationships” (Bennett and Bennett).

Furthermore, “F*ck Feelings explains that, in most cases, you have not failed and do not need to try harder or wait longer for improvement to begin; instead, you need to accept that life is hard and your frustrated efforts are a valuable guide to identifying what you cannot change.  After urging you to accept whatever it is you cannot change,… the F*ck Feelings approach shows you how to become much more effective at managing life’s impossible problems, instead of vainly and persistently trying to change them.  If you are willing to accept what you cannot change, we have many positive suggestions for improving the way you manage the sh_t on your plate – beginning with not wasting time repeating what has not been working…

“You cannot go forward, or be helped by treatment, until you accept its impossibility, suck it up, and turn your bullsh_­t wish into a goal that can actually be achieved.  Accept whatever is obviously impossible about your goals.  Accept that depression is often chronic and incurable, so you can stop blaming yourself for not controlling it … We show how you are much less responsible for your misery than you thought.  We teach good, often well-established methods for making the best of things.” (Bennett and Bennett) Here Doctor Bennett is at his best.

 “We can show you how to look past the disappointment, resentment, and/or neediness that result from those issues [such as to repair a long-broken relationship or to get respect from your boss] so they can be managed realistically…Instead of false promises or happy endings, we provide concrete steps for getting past unavoidable bad feelings so you can do your best with what you actually control.” (ibid.)

F*ck Feelings believes profanity is a source of comfort, clarity, and strength.  It helps to express anger without blame, to be tough in the face of pain, and to share determination without sentimentality.” (ibid.I agree with what is said here but I would suggest that the profanity not use religious language but only the ordinary profanity of a non-religious tenor like “damn,” etc.  The ends here would still be reached but without the use of words that are sacred to us who are religious believers!

In each chapter, “we show you how to define the limits of what is possible, create realistic goals, and devise businesslike procedures for achieving those goals” (ibid.)  This book is not the be-all and end-all in psychiatry and there are psychiatrists who probably would disagree with some of its material; I am not a psychiatrist but even I would disagree with some of its material in the light of what I have come to learn in psychology, especially in psychology’s newest branch, positive psychology.  However, I would recommend the book to all those who are in ministry and all those helping those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, e.g., the separated/divorced, the bereaved.  To use the book at times you will need to get beyond the profanity language you encounter from time to time and do not let this stop you from learning the book’s contents.  For me, the price of the book is worth it, especially for his process of making healthy decisions; see page 5ff.  Below is given this process of making healthy decisions in short form, however, long enough to make use of it.  It is called “Quick Diagnosis” and it basically has four steps:

  1. Establish what you wish for but cannot have (a very important step that most unfortunately skip);

  2. Establish what you can aim for and actually achieve;

  3. Establish how you can do b);

  4. And draw up a script which is “what to tell someone or yourself while you are feeling hopelessly f*cked-up” (ibid.).

Using the above schemata helps you make much better decisions for yourself; so try to use it.  And lastly, please understand that the title of the book is not telling you to ignore or suppress your feelings – far from it!

May the Risen One reach His brothers/sisters who are suffering deeply because of broken marriages or who suffer because of the death of a love done through your ministry and caring.  Amen.  Please recognize how very much an act of God’s mercy are your ministry and caring.

Please pray for those individual persons you know who are suffering from a broken marriage or loss of a loved one to death.  Amen.  God always bless you.  Amen!

AMERICAN ELECTION

By the time you get this Newsletter, you will have learned the results of the American election in regards to the next President.  It was a close election and a hard-fought election on both sides.  And this election is not only important to Americans but to all of us in the world because of the leadership exercised by the United States throughout today’s world.

Congratulations to Mr. Donald Trump who has been voted in as President-Elect.  In his victory speech, Mr. Trump did call on all Americans to work for unity and reconciliation and to help the nation go forward.  I was happy to hear that he spoke well of his opponent, Hillary Clinton.  In her remarks after the voting, she was quite gracious. We all need to keep in mind that it is not easy to be a political leader today and to run for political election.

May God bless Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton and the American people.  May the Risen One grant the presence of the Holy Spirit to the great American nation and especially to Mr. Trump.  May the same Spirit bring healing to the country as well as Wisdom and unity.

In your goodness, please pray for the American people and their new leader.  Thank you and God always bless you.  Amen!

REMEMBRANCE DAY

November 11 is Remembrance Day, the day on which we remember those gallant men and women who gave up their lives in war in order to protect our freedoms.  Please pray for them that they may be enjoying the fullness of eternal life with God and all the saints and angels.  Also be grateful to God for them and thank God for such heroic people in our lives and history.

May the Lord grant them the fullness of eternal life and may we be grateful for their ultimate sacrifice. Amen.

 

Father Fred Scinto, C.R.,

Resurrection Ministries,

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

(fscinto@rogers.com)

(519-885-4370 or toll free 1-877-242-7935)