Reasons Why Soldiers Have Difficulty Adjusting to a Civilian Lifestyle After Serving Their Country

          “The hardest part, by far, is to make the bad pictures go away.  In war time, the world is one big long horror movie, image after image.  If this is anything like Vietnam, I’m in for a lifetime of wee-hour creeps.” — Tim O’Brien, Vietnam Veteran.

Assimilating back into an everyday routine is difficult for anyone who has been absent for a period of time.  Have your ever gone on a long vacation and not driven a car for three weeks, then upon arriving back at the airport, gotten into your car, and noticed how strange it felt to put your car into reverse and pull out of the parking lot?  Think for just a moment about how awkward it must be for soldiers returning from a combat zone to come back to the United States after being at war.

Soldiers returning from active duty in the military serving in the combat arms, especially if they have been in the Infantry or a “Grunt” (meaning someone other than a POG—Personnel other than Grunts), are more likely to experience difficulty regulating back into normal, resident existence than a Fobbit (soldiers who never leave the gates).  Once these men and women are ready to leave the military and enter a civilian lifestyle, there are many adjustments to be made.  I will list three of the Psychological and Social dilemmas faced by Veterans returning to society.

Psychologically, these Veterans are faced with numerous issues.  Three of these issues include:

(1).  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects many of the soldiers returning from war.  This is the number one psychological problem.  There are specific ways to assess and diagnose PTSD symptomology for combat Veterans.  Treatment methodology may vary, according to individual needs of the Veteran, as there is no “one cure fits all.”  Cognitive behavioral intervention has proven to be effective over a prolonged period of time, as has psychotherapy.

(2).  Panic attacks can be set off by any reminder of the trauma the soldier endured during their line of duty.  Firework displays may be beautiful to the general public, but to a soldier, this sounds like gunfire and Javelin tank missile.

(3).  Flashbacks are the “trademark” of PTSD.   The terror of war can return months, years, or decades later at the drop of a dime.   A stressful experience can bring back the flashback.

Socially, our Veterans who are returning to civilian life have a challenging time adjusting, as well.  Three of the issues they face are:

(1).  Veterans cannot talk with the normal civilian when they are troubled.  Let’s face it.  You, nor I, have seen, heard, or experienced what a combat soldier has done.  Only those who have “been there, done that” truly understand with empathetic hearts what that soldier has been through.  Do not ask a soldier or Veteran what he or she did or what he or she saw while they were at war.  This would be insulting and one of the most stupid things you can say to a Veteran.  If they want to talk about it, they will.  And if they do, just listen.  You don’t have to say a word, except perhaps suggest they seek professional help if they need it (and trust me, most do).

(2).  Hypervigilance is both psychological (a pattern under PTSD) and a social problem for the warrior upon returning home.  The Veteran is constantly  hypervigilant to the point of noticing all smells, scoping out a crowd for the one who appears to dressed differently  (we may think someone dressed to the nine in a jacket is handsome, whereas the soldier is thinking, “What is underneath that heavy jacket?”), when they do close their eyes, a soldier’s ears begin working overtime because this is what they have been trained to do, and a soldier is always searching for the nearest door and exit route in every room.  A soldier has been trained to be “on guard” at all times, so letting down his or her guard, just because they are back in society, does not mean this will come easy for them.

(3).  Acceptance and integrating, in general, will be difficult for the Veteran upon returning home.  During the Vietnam era, the returning soldiers were hated and loathed because of the war.  Now, with the return of our soldiers, they are welcomed with open arms.  This attitude surely helps, but please remember, the soldier must train himself or herself to go from warrior mode to civilian mode.  What we, as civilians, take for granted and as normal, everyday routine, will not be normal to the Veteran for a long time.  When we are stopped in our car, not moving on six lanes of traffic during rush hour, we know this is because of a wreck up ahead or due to a traffic jam.  The returning soldier is instantly thinking, “How can I get out of here—where is my escape route?”  If you live in a large city and are stopped on an extended bridge due to traffic, you accept the fact you could be in your car for three hours and shut it off while waiting.  The Veteran is wondering where the IED (roadside bomb) is.

Hopefully, those three bullet points each for psychological and social aspects of blending back into society helped you understand what it is like for a soldier to return home and why they may struggle.  As one who cares for Veterans, try to remember that assimilating back into normal, run-of-the-mill routines is not going to be easy for the soldiers who are returning to civilian lives.  We must be sensitive to their needs.  When Veterans say they do not feel like going out into a large crowd or party, please understand they may be having a stint of hypervigilance that day and just do not feel like being in a crowd.

Above all, patience is the key in helping Veterans cope with returning to civilian ways of life.

©Copyright – Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

War Effects of Soldiers – Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

“PTSD is the fear controlling you. Exposing your fear is controlling your PTSD!” — Anthony Parsons.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, is defined as a condition in which a person experiences enduring physical or psychological symptoms after an extremely stressful event or series of events.

In World War I, this problem was known as Shell Shock.  During World War II, this was called Combat Fatigue.  Now, it is known as PTSD.

Soldiers are trained to believe they must kill or be killed during combat in war.  War may leave deep, psychological scars.Understanding PTSD and the symptoms will help those who welcome home the soldier receive the treatment he or she needs so the soldier may work on regaining their psychological health and freedom.

The following are seven indicators of PTSD:

(1).  Flashbacks are the hallmark of PTSD.  A flashback includes vivid memories, feelings, and images of traumatic experiences.  When I say “hallmark” I  mean this is the most common symptom for those plagued with PTSD.

(2).  Nightmares are the second highest indicator of PTSD.  Many times, soldiers will sleep with the lights on (if lighting is available) or avoid sleep as long as possible so the frequent nightmares will not reappear.

(3).  Sleeplessness.  This goes along with nightmares, mentioned above.  The soldiers know if they fall asleep, they may have nightmares; therefore, a vicious cycle ensues to try to stay awake for extended periods of time.  Soldiers in the war zone have gone for 28 hours regularly with no sleep. Studies have proven that after 28 hours with no sleep, the possibility of making grave errors rises to an all-time high.  This places the soldiers at elevated risks and can get them killed.

(4).  Recurring anxiety is a common denominator for those affected by PTSD, especially soldiers returning from war.  They are anxious about many different things.  Think about it this way.  You, as a civilian, are at home, getting dressed for work and must decide what to wear that day.  As a soldier, the warrior is constantly apprehensive of where his boots, gear, bitch (M-16), and extra ammo are when he is at war.  It takes a while to get past this.

(5).  Intrusive thoughts haunt the soldier, as do certain sounds.  When the soldier is in the war zone, he or she is on high alert at all times.  They see and hear things that we have not seen or heard, such as unpleasant thoughts of shootings the day before, losing their buddies, horrific things we, as civilians, have not had to deal with.  These intrusive thoughts can enter the mind at any time, until they are controlled.  There are instances when they cannot be controlled 100% of the time.

(6).  A soldier has problems with attention when he or she has PTSD.  Soldiers are conditioned to never be relaxed, so when they do have that opportunity of being outside the war zone, there is difficulty in paying attention.  The soldier is thinking about war again and that is where his or her attention is focused.  The mind wanders if PTSD is not treated.

(7).  Social withdrawal is the final sign of PTSD.  Soldiers have a difficult time readjusting to civilian life after coming back from war.  They do not feel they can talk about what they have seen or done because nobody will understand them.  As a result of this, they turn their thoughts inward, this becomes shame, which turns into blame, and one big circle of negative forces drive them deeper into PTSD.

The good news is that there is hope for those who suffer from PTSD.  The first step for soldiers returning from war or any Veteran suffering from PTSD is to go their local Veterans Hospital (VA) and get the diagnosis.  File papers for disability.  Seek out treatment from the VA in support groups, find a good Life Coach who fully understands PTSD, or search for a mental health professional who can treat PTSD.  Many cannot do so.  What is important is that you find a therapist or professional person you can relate to, someone you can work with and feel comfortable with, and develop a relationship with.  Please understand that this is not a quick fix.  There is more than one method of approach for PTSD and it is a partnership to find what works best for you.

Watch for my next article titled, “Reasons Why Soldiers Have Difficulty Adjusting to a Civilian Lifestyle After Serving Their Country.”

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

How to Be a Happiness Millionaire

“There is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.” – Og Mandino

I love fragrances of all kinds but especially those erotic, woodsy, scents like the ones I have worn for years. These include Obsession by Calvin Klein and Michael Kors. I have been wearing a super sexy fragrance for the past two years called Euphoria, by Calvin Klein. Every time I wear this perfume, I seem to get compliments. For bedtime, I wear a subtle, sensual, light fragrance with my two favorites being either Romance by Ralph Lauren or Beautiful by Estee Lauder. Perfumes turn me on and the scent rubs off on others. This is analogous to happiness.

When you walk into a room and are happy, people will gravitate towards you. Have you ever noticed this? If you are in a room full of people and do not know one soul, you may just need to break out a smile and others will smile back at you. Before you know it, a conversation will strike up. I personally do not like small groups of five or six people. Speaking one-on-one is my preference, or just the opposite. Place me up in front of 50-1000 people and I become a millionaire. No, people are not throwing money on the stage at me because they think I am funny or pretty, and hundred dollar bills are not flying up on the stage because they think I am brilliant or prestigious. I become the millionaire of happiness because I give of myself. I give 100% dedication to my clients, family, friends and service organizations because that makes me happy when I am involved doing my best and it makes them happy in return. When I put my name down to “give” that means I am really going to bust my butt to give all I can.

I am here to tell you that I am a millionaire with more riches in life than any amount of money can ever buy. This is the greatest feeling in the world, that of spreading joy and happiness. So by now you may be saying to yourself, “Yes, she makes this sound so easy. I wish it was easy. How do I start? Where do I begin?” Here are some suggestions for you to find your “happy” and become a millionaire.

(1). Grab a friend, co-worker, or neighbor and sign up to help where help is needed. If you do not know where help is needed, start by calling your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or a church and tell them you want to help spread happiness. They will be pleasantly surprised by your phone call and will be thrilled when you go walking in their door. So many organizations need help. Here is a true story and an example of spreading happiness. If you like to read, check out the Senior Citizens Center. Help is needed teaching illiterate people how to read. One of the most touching stories I have ever heard was when a 72-year-old man finally learned to read. A former student of mine, in her 20's, volunteered her time and helped the elderly man three times each week. It took six months and they are now friends. Jim is reading at the 6th grade level and his grandchildren are proud of him. Happiness was shared by both the teacher, a student in her early 20's, and the learner, an elderly man in his 70's.

(2). Pour that perfume of happiness on your family. I was blessed to be born into a great family. I still have my parents and all of my siblings. My grown children are healthy. Additionally, some of my dearest friends are like sisters to me. For these reasons, plus the fact that I donate much time in giving to others, I am a millionaire. Drop everything for a day and spend time with your family. Nothing is more precious to a child than making memories with his or her parents. As parents, we cannot make up for lost time. If you have aging parents, make time for them. Cut them some slack and realize they cannot do everything they used to be able to do quite as easily. Do you have a dysfunctional family? To those who have no close family members, create your own new family. I am serious. You can start over and make a new life so you can be happy. You deserve to be happy in this life. Happiness is just waiting for you. It is an inside job, but you must be willing to do what it takes and say that you want to be that millionaire.

(3). Act happy for a day with every person you encounter. Just try this. Be kind to all you meet, smile, give a compliment, hold the door open for someone, pay for the gas for the person in front of you as you have been waiting in line (if you can afford to do this), as you are checking out in the grocery store, pay for someone else, or let another shopper get in front of you, smile at a child who is crying instead of trying to avoid that child and get away from them and their parent as quickly as you can. Be gentle with your words to all you greet and to everyone at work. Be nice to your spouse, if you have one. Tell at least three people you love them, even though it is not a “special” day. See if this does not rub off some happiness on you, as it does on them. Giving happiness away is just so easy.

The one thing about happiness is that even though you give it away, there is always more to give. Once you understand this and implement this into your own life, you will become a millionaire of happiness also.

What can you do right now to become a Happiness Millionaire, after reading this article?  What will you implement into your own life so that you can be that millionaire too, just like me?  Please share your thoughts..we are waiting!

See previous blog titled: “Is Happiness Contagious?”  (The Happiness 5-part series blog posts).

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Is Happiness Contagious?

“Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.” – Mark Twain.

I just came back from an Adriatic Cruise, visiting Venice, Bari, Bologna, and Dubrovnik. Due to flight issues on my previous Baltic Seas Cruise, I decided it would be wise to arrive a day early and leave a day later. This allowed extra time in Venice, off the ship. Happiness was observed far and wide.

My communication skills were lacking in the Italian language; nevertheless, having an Italian friend here in the States helped because I already knew that “Ciao, Bello” meant Hello Handsome Man, so I used that to my advantage whenever possible. Additionally, the word “Grazie” for thank you, was the only other Italian word I knew how to say. I never had any problems communicating with the native Italians I met because of one major thing…smiling. Smiling is the window to happiness and instantly helps make other people feel as though you understand and accept them.

The first full day in Venice was filled with happiness and bliss. I took many pictures and videos of tourists smiling, laughing, holding hands, and being in love. As I peeked down every canal and lagoon, I watched the gondolas with lovers kissing and surveyed people as they scrutinized the lovers. I observed scrutiny quickly tuning into happiness. Seeing others be happy or having their hearts filled with happiness makes one’s own heart happy also. Venice is such a romantic city, with vendors, boats, gondolas, and people from many foreign countries, all coming together. I don’t remember seeing anyone who looked grumpy, except for some crazy Americans who were dragging their suitcases all the way from the train station to the Metro buses far away, up and down many concrete flights of stairs. I guess they did not read Trip Advisor in advance and learn that was not the best mode of transportation upon arrival in Venice.

Gelato, or ice cream, is another contagious and delicious treat that brings smiles all over Italy. I discovered gelato stands in each city I visited. It was interesting that the stands were never empty at any time of the day, morning or night. The minute the gelato carts were rolled out, people came out in masses. They would wait, like I did, for 20 minutes if that is what it took, to get their little scoop of gelato because it made them happy–plus, it was delicious. Yum, for lemon gelato! I never saw a sad face in any of those crowds near the gelato stands.

In Childhood Development Psychology, we learn that tiny babies as young as six weeks old, learn to smile back at their care-giver when seeing a smile. This is not a nature vs. nurture issue–it is a matter of happiness and feeling secure. On the flip side, have you ever noticed that a 12-month old baby in a shopping cart will turn his or her head to find the child who is crying three aisles over? The same is true when this baby is in the same aisle with another baby being pushed by his or her caregiver and notices the other baby is smiling. Both babies will end up smiling. One smile will bring happiness to the other child. Perhaps we learn this when we are just babies. If not, we should.

When you smile at a stranger, even 5880 miles from home, your happiness becomes their happiness, too. What a wonderful feeling to know that something as simple as a smile can be contagious and make another person happy, even if they have had a lousy day.

See previous blog titled:   Wealth – Does Wealth Affect Your Happiness?” (The Happiness 5-part series blog posts).

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Fourth of July: Thank An American Soldier!

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” — Abraham Lincoln, letter to H.L. Pierce, Apr. 6, 1859.

Independence Day in the United States of America is July 4th.  This is a National Holiday.  What will you, your family, or your neighbors be doing to celebrate?

Will you throw a big neighborhood party, have music playing piercingly loud, serve beer and mixed drink beverages, get that grill going with some barbequed ribs, steak, chicken, and fresh corn-on-the-cob?  Will everyone go inside to eat that delicious dinner and chuck down the food until they are so full they need to go and take a nap?  Will you be laughing, telling jokes, drinking too much, jumping in the nice swimming pool, running back inside the house to cool off, then repeating all of the above?  The neighborhood I used to live in, three houses up from me, this would surely be the scenario.  They hosted parties monthly.  Hum…for some strange reason, I was never invited to this party (just described) that the neighbor threw for any and every reason.  These neighbors were friendly (the two times in four years) when I passed them on the street; however, I was not included in their little clique.  Were my feelings hurt?  Not one little bit—not even for a moment.  I suppose I am a snob, because they just seemed so ostentatious to me.  I hate that.

Why am I telling you this?  I really do have a good reason.  As I walk outside now in my new neighborhood, the street and homes are lined with American flags.  I only see two houses that do not have flags proudly displayed.  This is an active adult community.  Sure, people are hosting parties and having a good time.  The atmosphere is 100% different here in this neighborhood.  Many Veterans live here.

Independence Day came with a price.  Freedom is not free. Who should you and I thank for our freedom?  We can give thanks to our Soldiers. Here are five very easy ways to give thanks to our American heroes:

(1).  When you see a soldier in uniform at the mall, in the grocery store, or at an airport, walk over to him or her and just tell them, “Thank you.” Does this make you uncomfortable?  If it does, please let me say that the more you do it, the easier it will become.  This will become so natural to you, that you will begin searching for those in uniform so you can say, “Thank you for all you do for me and my family.  Thank you for your service to our Country.”

(2).  Welcome home the troops at the airport. Several universities, local organizations, and churches get together and have their own team members who regularly go and welcome back the troops.  Think this does not matter to a soldier returning from war, even if it is only for R&R?  You are wrong.

(3).  Give what you can to the USO. Soldiers on leave or those who are being deployed search for the USO at the airports as they travel.  Our USO's are the lifeline for soldiers and their families. You could show thanks by sending care packages to the troops also.

(4).  If you are flying on commercial aircraft and are fortunate enough to be in first class, give up your seat to a soldier in uniform. This is such an easy way of giving thanks. Heaven knows, they deserve it.  Are you aware that certain commercial airlines charge our military personnel “excess baggage fees” when they come home on leave or when their spouse moves to be with them at their new base location?

(5).  Write letters thanking a soldier. If you do not know anyone who is serving in the armed forces, ask members of your church, place of business where you work, or any club you belong to and initiate the letter writing.  This is very easy to do.  One example I can provide is this.  As a College Professor of Psychology, I had each student of mine write a letter to an American Soldier. Their task was to simply say “Thank you” and to tell the soldier why they were thankful.  I did this with multiple classes for numerous semesters.  I read each and every letter.  One semester, I mailed the letters to my son-in-law who was serving in Iraq and asked him to keep one letter for himself and to give the other letters to other soldiers in his unit.  Another semester, I took the letters up to the USO at DFW Airport on Christmas Day as over 400 soldiers were deploying to Afghanistan.  The USO was expecting me and I must say, I felt terrible that I did not have enough letters for all of the soldiers.  I am positive the ones who did receive the letters were grateful.  A certain young soldier named Benjamin was thankful.

Soldiers are sons, daughters, spouses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and lovers.  Some are even grandparents.  Their dedication and bravery is commendable.  Think about the ones who have lost their soldiers or friends in battle as you celebrate your day of freedom this year.

July Fourth is a special day to me because of our men and women in uniform.  I am so proud to have family members that have been or are still serving in the military, as well as former students of mine who have done the same.  This article is dedicated to those who bravely gave their lives so that we can live in freedom. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Honoring: Dwain Hall, Scott Woodard, Nathan Roberts, David Hall, Michael Moore, Derek, Charleston, Casey, James, Maurice, Benjamin, Paul, Sean, Chris, and Poe.  Vietnam Veterans—Huck, Jerry, Gary, Justice, and 58,000+.  Bataan Death March Survivor (from 1942), Menandro Bocobo.

Thanking: All Veterans and Military Personnel serving today, or who have served in the past for our United States of America.

Dedication:  To our Wounded Warriors, as well as those who bravely gave their lives, so that we may have our freedom on this Independence Day.

Will reading this blog/article make you stop to thank a soldier in uniform or at least help to raise awareness of what our soldiers do for us every single day?  What can you do to make a difference?

Read three blogs on soldiers, PTSD, and their families right here on my website – posted before 15 July.

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Wealth – Does Wealth Affect Your Happiness?

“Can wealth give happiness? Look around and see, what gay distress! What splendid misery! Whatever fortunes lavishly can pour, the mind annihilates and calls for more.” – Andrew Young, Civil Rights Activist.

Think about the rich and famous, the media, our rock stars, and movie stars we watch on television. Time and time again, we watch the rich and famous go through distress of miserable divorces, bankruptcies, bickering among the families when someone dies as to the heir who gets the fortune, and on and on. It is so disheartening. Just recently, a very wealthy and famous female movie star divorced her wealthy and famous husband over the affair he had. Endlessly, we are reading this nonsense, or worse yet, it is forced in our faces when we turn on CNN or pick up a magazine at the airport. So, you tell me…do you think happiness has any association with wealth?

Wealth can make people more comfortable. With money in the bank, you can easily go shopping for gourmet groceries instead of standing in line at Kroger, buy nice bottles of wine, live in a mansion if you so desire, have live-in butlers, nannies for your children, and dog-walking services for your pets. Being a wealthy person, or acting like one to make yourself happy, you could go and receive the very best haircut every three weeks by Garren of NY for only $705.00 and add color to that for an additional $505.00. more. The major steal at Garren’s is the European Spa Pedicure for a mere $130.00. If you really want luxury for yourself and want to be pampered with a facial and massage treatment, you can go to an upscale day spa in NY and easily drop $1500.00 for happiness every week…or not? My beauty day of “girl-treatment” that is once every six weeks cost $225.00 and I think that is expensive. This does not make me happy and in fact, it makes me feel guilty that I am spending money on myself. I am not a wealthy person and am very frugal, so that is why I feel guilty–even though I know I deserve to be pampered.

The truth of the matter is that wealth does not buy happiness. It does, however, enable you to live more comfortably. The happiest people I have ever known are regular working-class people, just like you and me. Furthermore, some of the most wealthy people I have ever personally known are often despondent, fearful of losing their wealth, have numerous anxiety disorders, and are, as a general rule, not happy at all. In fact, these wealthy people I have known are unpleasant to be around. The exception to the rule are those who generously give to others and who are philanthropists.

A survey conducted by Dr. E. Diener in 2003, questioned Forbes 100 wealthiest people and discovered that the privileged group were not much happier than the regular working-class. Dissatisfaction was mentioned by some of the wealthiest people because they felt a need to “be outstanding to keep up with the neighbors.”

Consider a lottery-ticket winner. How often do we hear of relatives and unknown people who come crawling out of the woodwork to make claims of this newfound wealth? Before you know it, the money is gone, the once gleeful lottery winners are no longer happy and usually end up in debt, worse off than before they found their wealth with that lucky ticket.

The quote in the beginning of this article was so perfect for this title. In my own words, I will state this. The mind is overwhelmed by wealth and always wants for more. How can that bring happiness? It sounds like utter misery to me. Happiness is not composed of materialistic things that can be bought. It never was and it never will be.

So, what do you think, other than saying something like, “I’d like to have more money, then I will tell you.”  Your thoughts?

See previous blog titled:  “Ways to be Happy With Everything (The Happiness 5-part series blog posts).

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Ways to Be Happy With Everything

“I ain’t got nothin’. Just look at me. Sittin’ here at a homeless shelter, but I have the whole world, baby. I ain’t goin’ hungry tonight. I’m happy.” – A homeless man at Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth, Texas.

Some people are happy with everything, yet others are never happy. Have you ever noticed that some people who seem to have it all and should be happy, are living miserable lives? As an example, the homeless man I interviewed in the quote above, was grateful for the meal he had been served and he was happy. He told me he was happy to not be hungry. It was such a simple thing that most of us, as Americans, take for granted every single day, yet many people here in the United States, are starving.

As a College Professor, I taught my students Service Learning in Psychology. One of the main goals for many semesters was to help them understand the psychological impact of what it was like to be homeless and hungry. What they learned was so much more. During our service work and interviews with residents at three different homeless shelters, we all learned there are many ways to be happy, even when others may view you as being miserable. The following is what we learned about ways to be happy:

1. Be grateful for what you have. It could always be worse. I have never been without a meal, but met people who had been hungry for days. When I interviewed the homeless man and he told me he was happy because he was not hungry that night, I was dumbfounded. Here he was, in shabby clothes, looking like my grandfather could have looked if he had been working out in the fields, yet he was just happy and thankful to be full and not hungry. The gentleman told me he was always grateful for what he has. We repeatedly heard these stories from many of the residents, “Be grateful for what you have.”

2. Learn to appreciate the beautiful things in life. Have you ever stopped to listen to the birds sing, the rustling of leaves on trees as they blow in the breeze, observed a gorgeous sunset as it fades in the west, or smelled the fragrances of a freshly picked bouquet of flowers? None of these beauteous things cost one penny. Do you stop and take a moment out of your day to find this happiness?

3. Give value to the important people in your life. In our hectic world, we become so busy with day-to-day activities and responsibilities that we forget to place value on what matters the most. In each person’s life, value must be demonstrated to the person or people who matter to you. Perhaps these are family members, a close friend or several friends, colleagues at work or in school, neighbors, mentors, or others. Nothing lets a person realize they are appreciated, loved, and important to you more than for you to tell them they make you happy and that they are valued.

4. Never give up on hope. Hope seemed to be the number one “unseen” factor for happiness. Some hoped for a job, others hoped to find their families, while some people just hoped for brighter tomorrows. We could all learn lessons from this. When one loses all sight of hope, they have lost it all. Without hope, we have nothing.

As a believer of people and after these experiences, I realized once again how deeply blessed my life is. Some of these people changed me forever because of their positive outlooks on life and their expressions of knowing how to be happy with everything. Would you have the same optimistic outlook on life if all you had was a pillowcase crammed full with all of your possessions, and that was it?

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Two to Twenty

Two to Twenty : on 18 March 2011

(Click on photo to read entire blog) Where does time go? I remember when I was in my early twenties, my father would always say to me, “Cherish these times with your children while they are young because before you know it, one day you will wake up and they will be grown and gone.” I spouted off to him that I could not wait until my children were grown and could not wait until there would be no more diapers – as I shifted through laundry, baby bottles, working, and thinking that I had a rather boring life. Well, guess what? I am eating my words and have been eating those words for countless years.

I love babies and always have. Everything about a baby is beautiful…the smell of a freshly bathed baby, the cooing and babbling, the clinging, the bright, inquisitive eyes – always searching for mommy. Babies grow into toddlers. Toddlers are so precious and eager to learn everything. They are just one, little sponge. Erik Erikson's psychosocial personality development calls this stage of life “autonomy versus shame and doubt.” The one-to-two year-old child is realizing they can direct their own behavior. If they are successful, they learn to be independent. I never understood why people still call this stage the “terrible twos” because I never experienced “terrible twos” with any of my children (this is one of my favorite ages for mothering).

There was always a pacifier in the mouth of my two-year-old, even though he gave up his baby bottle at twelve months. He had to suck that “pluggie.” He was such a “plug-sucker” that I would put him into his bed with numerous pluggies attached to his footed jammies, just in case one came off in the middle of the night.

The tiny hand — yes, that little hand, as it wrapped around just one finger of mine while we would go on our really ‘long' walks. A long walk to my toddler was up to the end of the block and back, holding my finger tightly. There were brave moments that he would get in his little plastic, molded car before we left the house and peddle-push ‘drive' it like Fred Flintstone down to the end of the block (guess who had to push it back home — yes, you guessed right — mommy). I loved our walks.

Instead of going on walks with me outside in Kansas City, one of the other favorite things my two-year-old loved to do was to ride his “Horsy” while wearing training pants, a shirt, cowboy hat, and cowboy boots. He would rock and roll in the garage on that “Horsy” while climbing down every so often so play with cars or push a toy down the steep driveway. Strangely enough, when it came time to pick up those toys, my toddler was immediately tired and after pulling the “pluggie” out of his mouth, he would say, “Mommy, you do it. Too tired from working so hard. You pick up toys. Horsy dirty. You pick up toys.” It worked every time. My two-year-old baby boy had me wrapped around his soul. And guess what? He still does.

As I am writing this, I just started crying. No, I am not crying…I am bawling my eyes out. Please understand. I am not bawling because of sadness, I am bawling because I am happy. I am overcome with bountiful joy ♥&#9835&#9833&#9835♥.

I birthed this child, nurtured him through preschool, protected him through elementary school, and have watched him grow through his adolescence years. There were times during his adolescence that I wanted to ship him off to live elsewhere because of the rebellion and choices he was making. A mother always knows best and we as mothers, try to protect our children. This must be innate. He still does not understand one of the most difficult things I ever did was in my decision to send him to a military academy so that he could graduate from high school and turn his life around when he got into trouble. You see, I raised this child by myself for 12 years. I did the best job I could do. He did not have a strong father figure because there was no man in the house. As parents, we do the best jobs we can do in raising our children with the skill-set we have at that time.

Today, my son, Taylor, turned 20 years old. I am so very proud of my son as I have witnessed how he has turned his life around and watched him grow into a man that my family can be delighted with. Taylor is proud to be part of our Hall family. He would do anything to protect me and I am grateful for this. I have a son who wants to spend time with me and a son who values me as a person. He understands that I am human and understands that I also, have made mistakes in the past. Letting him know that I have made mistakes allows him to realize that it is acceptable to us as a family that he has made mistakes also. We are only human and are not perfect.

From two to twenty… just like that. Where did the time go? God is smiling today because it is my baby son's birthday and he is 20 years old. So, Taylor, if you ever read this blog, turn up a great song by the Allman Brothers — Sweet Melissa — and think of how much I love you, for today and always ♥.

Taylor at MMA

in Berlin's Holocaust Memorial

**For readers, feel free to leave your comments on parenting, time, and/or love.**

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

First Day

Service Learning

(Please click on box or photo to read entire blog). Thank you for joining me on my new website! I am The Happiness Life Coach and so excited that you are checking out Dr Hall on Call. This dream of mine has finally come to fruition after the seed was planted over 4 1/2 years ago and much work during the past three months. Hall Ways to Happiness has been branded as a method of guiding you towards finding your inner joy and directing you to living the life you have always dreamed of.

Happiness is a state of mind. Have you ever noticed that some people are grumpy all of the time? They are just depressing to be around. The old saying, “misery loves company” is true. One way to find happiness is to surround yourself with people who make you feel good and make you feel happy. I love sharing my joy of helping others less fortunate than me with students or volunteers and teaching them that you do not have to have money in order to “give.” The best “giving” of oneself is the gift of time and presence. This makes me happy.

Okay, so for now, this is enough from me on this first day of going live on the web.

Be sure to read my next blog on happiness on this website, titled, “Ways to be Happy With Everything.”

What makes you happy and how do you share your happiness or joy with others?

**Please leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments on sharing happiness.**

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

Hall Ways to Happiness

Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD

The Happiness Life Coach, Author, Keynote Speaker and Expert in Domestic Violence, Crisis Analysis, Behavior Consultation, and PTSD, Professor, and Mentor.  Dr. Hall is President and Founder of  Dr. G. J. Hall Enterprises, LLC.

Using positive psychology and a common-sense approach, this is the solid ground for all areas of Gayle’s Coaching Practice.  She blends her street-smart knowledge with her knack of “reading” people and connects on a very personal level you will be able to relate to.

As The Happiness Life Coach™, the goal is to help you live the life you have always dreamed of and reduce negativity. Not only is this possible, Gayle will guide you and work with you to make it happen.  You are worth it!

Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD, has studied people and human behavior for over two decades.  What she noticed was a common factor among people everywhere–we have choices to be happy with our lives or to make changes.  Many people remain stuck in their situations because of fear.  As a victor of Domestic Violence, Gayle realized this about herself.  Fear of failure had kept her from pursuing her dreams of fulfilling her mission to reach global audiences with multiple platforms.  This included starting her Coaching business, speaking engagements, co-authoring three books, and writing her own first two books about Domestic Violence.  She is now transparent and shares her stories, life, and wisdom with the world.

“It makes me a better person to be a part of something bigger.”  As one of the touchstone quotes in Gayle's repertoire, this has grounded her for over 20 years.  She has donated over 5,000 hours of service to Domestic Violence and served 32 families with Hospice during their times of need.  Her service work encompasses the homeless population, the isolated elderly, Veterans and the USO, homeless children and the YWCA, and BACA.

Caring, compassion, dedication, happiness, integrity, laughing, loving, and serving…these words embrace Gayle Joplin Hall's core belief system.

Dr. Hall will guide you in making the best decisions for yourself about love, relationships, careers, goal-setting, anxiety, sex, divorce, meditation, fear, PTSD, children, happiness, LGBT, stress, spirituality, and more.  The value she brings to each person's life resonates long after she is gone.  See for yourself.

Shining my love into your world,

Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD ~ The Happiness Life Coach™

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

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