Attachment, Joy, and Chocolate Ice Cream

Attachment, Joy, and Chocolate Ice Cream – by Ben Carrettin

While visiting with family in Bay Village, Ohio I was witness to a simple yet most profound gesture of kindness. I was standing in line with my 5 year old daughter at an ice cream shop called the Honey Hut tucked inside a beautiful neighborhood park on the shore of the lake. The gentleman in front of us had ordered a chocolate ice cream cone – my daughter’s absolute favorite, which she too was waiting to get. As he turned around, she exclaimed, “That looks like the best tasting chocolate ice cream ever!”. To which the man replied with a smile, “It really is” and promptly gave her his cone and walked away. This delighted my daughter to no end – not just the chocolate ice cream, but that a “big person” had confirmed her suspicions that this cone, this very one, was indeed the “best” ever and that she had been given the prize. Later that afternoon, I happened upon the same gentleman, still in the park, with a large group I can only assume were friends and family. I thanked him and was about to muddle the event with too much talk – when he softly stated, “The joy of getting the ice cream is better than actually having it. But giving it to someone else is even better. I was happy to get the ice cream – and she was happy to get it too, which made me even happier. All that joy for the price of one cone, seemed like a bargain to me”.

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 Upon reflection it struck me that so much had happened in this event and that I was moved by it, greatly. Sure, generosity, delighting in a child’s joy, spontaneous giving – they’re all there. But there is more. The Buddhist ideas on non-attachment and this man’s comment that the desire was more than the actual having. He had great clarity of self and was aware of at just what point he found the most joy. He saw in the moment that someone else would equally, if not more so, experience that joy. So, without hesitation – he acted to share that experience. When I spoke with him, it was also clear to me that this man was not trying to just make happiness – he was in fact cultivating it; both for himself and an another; in the world.

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This may sound like I am making it a much bigger deal than it is – but I would suggest there is no big or small in it, just a simple act of goodness for it’s own sake – cultivating happiness for one’s self and the world. The experience has made me more conscious of late of all the little moments, the little opportunities I have every day to stop thinking, planning, or contemplating a better life – and actually engage in the practice of giving of what I have. Whether it’s the 30 seconds it takes to bring my neighbor’s trash cans up for them, an extra minute or two of tickle-time with the kids, being patient with a harried checkout girl at the grocery, or taking the time to compliment a co-worker – it really doesn’t matter. Oh wait, yes it does! As much as raindrops make an ocean – every act of kindness moves us all towards a better life. Take the time to look at your day – see all the moments you have walked through, but perhaps not truly been present for. This is life – a precious series of moments that move in and out like waves on the shore. Take it from me, that “I’ll get to it” list never gets gotten to – it really doesn’t. Live fully, now, in the moment – soak it in every day.

Whatever my schedule, my obstacles, my obligations – there is always room for one act of kindness. Commit it to habit. Do it daily – it’s good for us and the rest of the world too. Remember, in the time it takes to ponder an excuse – you could be doing it. You could be living.

 I’m ready for some chocolate ice cream.

 Ben Carrettin

www.LiveBetterLiveNow.com

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Developing a Joyful, Awakened Heart Through Mindfulness by Micki Fine, M.Ed., L.P.C.

Developing a Joyful, Awakened Heart Through Mindfulness

Literature about mindfulness says that every life has 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. The mindfulness practices described in The Need to Please: Mindfulness Skills to Gaining Freedom from People Pleasing and Approval Seeking enables us to open to these joys and sorrows fully by helping us to cultivate an awakened heart. It that has been beautifully described as having four beautiful qualities or Divine Abodes: loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Since many mindfulness books are about relieving suffering, their main emphasis is on the sorrows and not the joys of life, so the specific meditation practice to promote joy often isn’t discussed explicitly. Because joy is deeply important to our wellbeing, I will focus on it here. Being present for some of the 10,000 joys can provide a balance to the suffering that can often feel heavy.
Some joys in life seem to really grab our attention such as a quiet sunset on the beach or a newborn baby’s momentous arrival. Other common experiences, like taking a sip of water or walking to the car, can be joyful if we see these events through the eyes of mindfulness. Through mindfulness we can become grateful for the blessings in our lives, great and small, and thus able to experience joy more often than just on special occasions or when things are just right. Through mindfulness and joy meditation we might even awaken to joy in spite of everything and in simply being alive.

Here are a couple of tips to grow more joy in your life:
Intentionally cultivate gratitude by taking time to stop, let go of judgment, and purposefully look for life experiences for which to be grateful. Record these moments in a gratitude journal.
Practice a meditation on joy by repeating the following wishes for a loved one. You can practice this while sitting quietly or more informally as you go through your day.

May you be joyful.
May your joy increase.
May the causes of joy and happiness multiply.

Micki Fine – Developing a Joyful, Awakened Heart Through Mindfulness

January 2014 – Press Release – Service Award

Ben Carrettin Earns Esteemed 2013 Angie’s List Super Service Award
Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service

Ben Carrettin of Live Better Live Now has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award for the second year in a row, reflecting another exemplary year of service provided to members of the consumer review service in 2013.

“High quality of service and preserving the personal dignity of each individual continues to be my
commitment to my clients.”, said Ben Carrettin.

“I’m a firm believer that the client is the customer and that not every specialist is right for every client. I
encourage my clients to ask questions, to interview me and to call and interview others before making a
choice,” said Ben. “In my opinion, an ethical clinician will not only tell you what specialties they
serve – they will also tell you what areas they do not specialize in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Houston has a wealth of really qualified professionals to choose from, you don’t have to settle.”

“Only about 5 percent of the companies Live Better Live Now competes with in Houston, Texas are able to earn
our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a mark of consistently great
customer service.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2013 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include an
“A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing
with Angie’s List, have a fully complete profile, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List
operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F
scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2013 Super
Service Award logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

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Angie’s List helps consumers have happy transactions with local service professionals in more than 720
categories of service, ranging from home improvement to healthcare. More than 2 million paid
households use Angie’s List to gain access to local ratings, exclusive discounts, the Angie’s List
Magazine and the Angie’s List complaint resolution service.

More Than My Disease

More Than My Disease

I work with many people who are struggling in the face of great adversity and like many of us – I have my own history with survival as well. What frequently comes up whether I am working with a stage three cancer patient or a mother battling with addiction to opiates is a desperate need for a redefinition of how we see ourselves in the face of our disease. I find that at least initially, when people come to the point of accepting that they have a disease – they often see themselves as defined by it: “I am a guy with cancer”, “I am a mom who is an addict”, and so on. Rationally, they are aware that this is not the limit of who they are – but the emotive part of us is very powerful and not so rational.

At Live Better Live Now we have a saying, “Survival is science, living is art”. Doctors, hospitals, medicine, treatment, etc – these are all here for your survival. But life is more than that – more than just survival. Living, and I mean truly living is a way of being; the creative expression of our existence. In as much as survival is the biology part of the equation, living is the philosophy of it.

Now I know some folks will take issue with me discussing cancer and addiction in the same breath – so be it. I am a strong believer of the “disease model” of addiction and in my experience there is a great deal of similarity in the path that all of us travel when we face down a disease. Having cancer or addiction can arguably be said to be not up to choice.  Genetics, lifestyle, whatever plays into it – no one asks for the suffering disease brings. However, choice plays a very big role in what I do once I realize what I am faced with. A stage three cancer patient can opt for aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments, try a new experimental approach, make drastic changes to diet and health regimen, choose nothing and live out whatever time they may have and so on. They have choices. The mom in recovery from opiate addiction can get a jump start at a residential treatment facility, go to 12 Step meetings or other community support group, work with a physician / addictionologist and a therapist who specializes in addiction and so on. They have choices. In both cases and many others, we may not choose the disease we face – but how we address it is ultimately up to us; our choice. 12 step has a saying that fits well here; “You are not responsible for your disease, but you are responsible for your behavior.”

How I define myself is also my choice. I’m not just arguing for a paradigm shift in cognitive definition. The way I live is how I am defined in the world. If I see myself as the guy or gal with the disease – and live as such – then in many ways I am the limit of my ailment. I strongly encourage my clients to get out and get into the world – this is as important as many other aspects of their treatment. Beyond the community and support that is there for those faced with similar disease (cancer survivor groups, addiction recovery groups, etc) – it is so important to be actively engaged in positive communities that revolve around living life fully in – in this moment. There are so many options – the sky is the limit. Some of my clients are more physically challenged so they opt for joining book clubs, pairing up with others to go walking, setting up a weekly breakfast at a local diner. Those that have the physical capacity I encourage to join a gym with a friend, set up a group to bike rides, a weekly basketball game and so on. You can usually find local groups on the web. But let’s not forget one of the best options that anyone can find; volunteer. There is always someone out there who has it worse than we do and helping them to find joy for a moment ineveitably does the same for us. No matter how small your town or how limiting your physical health – there is surely a need you can fill.

Yes, sometimes is can feel like “pulling teeth”, like it takes everything you have to force yourself up and out – keep at it. Patterns become habits and that, in a simple sense is what you are creating; a positive habit. Remember, our personal integrity is the harmony between what we believe (thoughts) and how we behave (actions). There is a very powerful and freeing feeling that comes with living in integrity. You know you are not only your disease – so don’t live like you are. Life is not linear, but a path. “Survival is science, living is art.” Get going !

Thanks for visiting. I hope you come back again.

(PS – one of the best examples of living fully in each moment and not being limited by the mechanics of his survival is Reggie Bibbs. You can learn a lot about what it means to persevere and revel daily in what is most precious from his story. Check out his mission in action witht he foundation he created; JustAsk).

Ben Carrettin – More Than My Disease

www.livebetterlivenow.com

 

Survival Is Science, Living is Art

Survival Is Science, Living is Art

What do a long-time abused spouse, a depressed adult child of an alcoholic, a widower and father of three, a caregiver of a partner with Alzheimer’s and a trauma nurse addicted to pain pills likely have in common? They have all learned to survive. In fact, many of us who have come through tragedy or crisis get pretty darn good at it. Survival is not about what is healthy, safe or even makes sense. It is what we do in despair, out of necessity, to maintain our existence. Emotive/psychological survival is driven by desperation and the driving force behind it is in our biology. It can be hard, unforgiving, painful, self-destructive and appear to be an eternal and inescapable state of suffering. Yet we feel bound to defend it. But survival is never enough.

Surviving and living are not the same. At Live Better Live Now we often say, “Survival is science, living is art“. The meaning of this is a bit more than may initially be clear.  Yes, the biology and science involved are pretty obvious. But there is more. Survival, whether physical or emotional is an exact and fixed measure; you do survive or you do not survive. Survival is also a linear condition; you continue to survive until some point at which you no longer do. Many would refer to the the will to survive as being neurologically sourced from our “old brain” – a primal, or base, instinct. But this is not living.

In as much as survival is biology, living is spiritual philosophy. As survival is fixed and measured, living is expressive and unbound. How we live is an art. Our expression. One of my clients referred to it as the way in which she painted the days of her life in each and every day. Living is a way of being – and it bears a freedom of choice. Our choice. The addict in recovery can choose not to reach out to reconnect and repair with her family – or she can choose to try. Even if they are not ready or able to accept her amends, she can reach out into her recovery community and be active and connected with others. The young man with stage three brain cancer can define himself as “that guy with the cancer” and live in that way each day – or he can defy that label and extend himself fully into living as fully as he can in each day – seeking to absorb the preciousness of each moment for it’s own sake; engaging fully in “normal” life. The victim of abuse can be silent and go on without sharing her pain with anyone, fearful and ashamed or she can join a support group, reach out for help from a close friend or relative and carve a new life for herself going forward.

No, it’s not fast and by all means it’s not easy – but it is fulfilling beyond anything else imaginable and it is what it means to truly be alive. Changing our perspective, our personal philosophy, takes time and it is a process. It does not happen in a single point (it is not fixed or linear) – but over a series of experiences. While survival seeks to delay our ending – living seeks to embrace life-in-action right now, for it’s own sake.

By nature we are communal creatures – one of the most direct ways to start living again is to surround yourself with positive community. Family, friends, faith tradition, colleagues and peers – not just one, I suggest several small engagements a week with different, positive and supportive, communities. Counseling and some forms of coaching/consulting can help as well. Support groups and faith groups can also be a resource. Joining a club or volunteer organization. I have even sent clients out to talk with religious leaders of other faiths then their own – to talk about pain, forgiveness, compassion and joy. Other views can often help us rekindle and strengthen our own.

We all deserve to experience the wonder and beauty of each moment. You deserve this. When surviving is no longer enough, we must return to living. If you have hit that point, or know someone who has, reach out. When I take action to cultivate happiness in the lives of others, I find it for myself as well. Community can heal us all.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will visit again.

Pace’ Tutti –

Live Better Live Now – Survival Is Science, Living Is Art.

 

Forgiving, Forgetting & Boundaries

Forgiving, Forgetting & Boundaries

We’ve all heard the saying (probably more times than we wish to remember), “Forgive and forget”. And it’s probably quite likely that these two words in some way seem to go together when we think of forgiving others or are hoping they forgive us. The problem is; these two words are incredibly distinct and adding the latter in the forgiveness equation is more likely to open us up to repeated and continued conflict. Continue reading Forgiving, Forgetting & Boundaries

Things To Consider When Selecting Your Counselor

Things To Consider When Selecting Your Counselor

As you consider entering counseling or therapy, it is important to know what distinguishes licensed clinicians from those who do not hold a professional license. It is also important to be informed about what are your rights and responsibilities. Continue reading Things To Consider When Selecting Your Counselor

My Community Is My Recovery

My Community Is My Recovery

Most of us are familiar with the saying, “It takes a village” and in our recovery, whether from addiction, grief or other life challenge, the truth of this wisdom is easy to see. By nature, we are communal creatures – we need the support and company of others. Even those of us that rank in the very introverted group – while not being chatty or desiring the “group thing”, we still need connection with others. I’m not likely the first to say that counseling, faith traditions and support organizations like Twelve Steps may not be for everybody. But if you think healing, recovery and growth happens in a vacuum, you’re dead wrong. You may be able to maintain it in the short run, but without a community of support the collapse of your recovery is already assured. Continue reading My Community Is My Recovery