Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

I attended a YWCA Women in Leadership Luncheon on Wed, (I am a past winner). The speaker was
Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project  or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (Harper; 1 edition, December, 2009). She was kind enough to give each of us a copy of her new book, Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life ( Harmony;1 edition, September, 2012).

I have been reading it and like it quite a bit. Of course, I was reminded of something I emphasize strongly in my teaching these days: what if our actual job is to help these kids to be happy?

But aren’t we supposed to be making them behave better? Ms, Rubin speaks to that in her discussion of whether it is selfish to pay attention to one’s own happiness:
“I sided with the ancient philosophers and modern scientists who argue that working to be happier is a worthy goal. According to Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Epicurious wrote: “We must exercise ourselves in the things that bring us happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all are actions are directed towards obtaining it.” Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likeable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier and healthier. Happy people make better friends, colleagues and citizens. …

I knew it was certainly easier for me to be good when I was happy. I was more patient, more forgiving, more energetic, more lighthearted, and more generous. “(the Happiness Project, Getting Started)
So I guess happiness is a worthwhile goal for our kids as well.

Ms. Rubin has created Eight Splendid Truths about Happiness.  Here are some I find particul;arily relevant to our work:
Second Splendid Truth
One of the best ways to make
yourself happy is to make other people happy;

Hence the importance of providing ways for our kids to give to others…
Fifth Splendid Truth
I can build a happy life only on the foundation of my own nature.

Do we try to help our kids be their best selves, or to be someone they are not? What if Leslie is withdrawn and loves to read and is writing a novel- do we insist that participating in group therapy is the only way she can heal?

Sixth Splendid Truth
The only person I can change is myself.

Do we try to impose change on our kids, or do we create an environment in which they feel safe enough to change?

Ms. Rubin has also created her own list of the Secrets of Adulthood. Yes, she loves lists. Here’s some we might consider if or how we teach to our kids: (My comments in parentheses)
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm. (Important that we realize how outer order represents inner lack of calm, and  actions can change feelings.)
  • The opposite of a great truth is also true. (DBT dialectic)
  • You manage what you measure. (Tracking change)
  • By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
  • People don’t notice your mistakes and flaws as much as you think.
  • Try not to let yourself get too hungry.
  • It’s okay to ask for help.
  • You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you LIKE to do.
  • Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.
  • What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.
  • You don’t have to be good at everything.
  • Soap and water removes most stains.
  • It’s important to be nice to EVERYONE.
  • You know as much as most people.
  • Eat better, eat less, exercise more.
  • Houseplants and photo albums are a lot of trouble.
  • If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.

Interesting, any thoughts? Has anyone else read these books? If so, any ideas about connecting them with our work or ourselves as treaters?
I have already written about what we might mean by a happier child in a treatment program, I’ll have to go back and relate with this. Stand by for further reflection.

On another topic, I am thinking of the skill of being able to do non-mood related behavior. That is, the ability to do something even when you don’t feel like it, in the service of a greater goal. All of us do this well and less well at different times. How do we learn to do this? How can we teach our kids? Please share any ideas you have.



Sunday, May 12, 2013

What's Happened and What's Happening

I thought I would let you know what we have been doing and what is coming next. This may also help explain why I have skipped some weeks writing in my blog.

I have been doing quite a bit of training in California. In an agency outside of Los Angeles we trained RC Basic, the Restorative Approach, and Train-the-Trainer. We also did a Train-the-Trainer and a Recertification in Santa Rosa.
Steve has been extremely busy working on a research project we are doing in the Yukon Territory in Canada. We are so lucky to have the continuing support of Courtney Baker from Tulane University.

While Steve was in the Yukon he made presentations to several government leaders, hopefully leading to a wider adaptation of RC.

I presented a webinar for NEARI press on the Restorative Approach, the topic of my book which they publish. In fact, we have become webinar pros. We have done several webinars for our trainers, on topics such as shame, supervision and neuro-feed back (coming soon).

Of course we continue to offer RC Basic, Train-the-trainers and Consultation Groups in CT. I am very proud of the Consult Groups, we gather great minds and discuss important topics. Our latest event was about using trauma informed supervision as the back bone of maintaining trauma informed care in agencies. This has resulted in engagements to train agency supervisors in this practice. I also presented this material at the CT NASW Annual Conference with an able partner, Rebecca Desautels LCSW. Let me know if you would like to know more about this.
Steve Brown did a training for the Berkshire School Counselors Organization. Both Steve and I presented at the MASOC conference this year. I did a pre-conference workshop on the Restorative Approach, and Steve presented a very popular workshop on Vicarious Traumatization.

I did an Introduction to Trauma speech for the students and alumni of the St. Joseph’s college MSW program, and spoke to a UConn School of Social Work class on Vulnerable Populations about children in the child welfare system.
I was proud and delighted to become a true Adjunct Faculty member at the UConn School of Social Work this year. I taught a class called Clinical Conditions of Children and Adolescents, and I loved it! I hope to do more,

I’m probably leaving some things out.
So what is happening next? Tuesday we have a recertification for a group of our CT trainers, and we have two more of these scheduled. I am excited to offer our trainers new materials. Next week is the aforementioned webinar on neuro feedback.

I’m doing a Train-the-Trainer for people who want to be trainers of foster parents in early June. I am lucky enough to train with Kay Saakvitne, PhD. There is still time to register for this one, if you have been through the RC basic.

Then in July Steve will be teaching a regular Train the Trainer, and you can also still register for that. The difference is that the first one is for people who want to train foster parents, the second for people who want to train foster parents.

While he is doing that I will be presenting two workshops in Mississippi at the Lookin’ to th Future conference at Natchez, Mississippi. I will also be doing an agency consult on that trip.
Then jumping ahead to a conference I will be doing a major event in October in North Dakota.  I will do an all-day Professional Conference for PATH ND, Inc.  a family and professional agency. Then the next day the 2013 ND Foster and Adoptive Family Conference begins. I will do a keynote and two workshops. They have promised me a microphone so I don’t end up with laryngitis as I did at the Vermont foster care conference.

I am looking forward to both of these events!
I think we may have other things already scheduled but I can’t remember any right now. I do know I am taking a few days off this week to recover my sanity.