Many people who find their way to my website are looking for help with difficult problems. Information about specific neuropsychological concerns and conditions can be found on the Challenges page. This set of pages is the other side of the coin. I was going to call it Tools for Wellbeing. But that title didn’t fit in the menu, so I shortened it. It is about both wellbeing itself and about the tools to help you move closer to it, and further away from things like anxiety and anger. The field of neuropsychology, and of medicine more generally, have traditionally focused on what’s wrong. Of course, it is important to identify and to clarify the problem. Some disorders can be treated and cured. But many we need to learn how to live with as best we can. In response to this, the fields of Positive Psychology, Positive Neuropsychology, and Wellness Medicine have evolved, so that we can begin to focus on what’s not wrong, which is, in my opinion, a really good idea.
This page is about the tools we can use to move toward wellbeing. We can to learn how to lessen our suffering – our worrying, our hurt, our anger, our hopelessness, to be more aware of what is right than what is wrong, to notice the flowers more readily than the weeds. Our human existence involves suffering. There is no escaping it. This is the first noble truth of the Buddha. But the way we understand things, the way we think about things, the meaning we attach to our experiences, can all increase our suffering immensely. Think about stubbing your toe. We’ve all done it – very painful. But because we know what it is, and understand that it will hurt for a few moments and then stop, we don’t get all upset and worried about it. But if we were to suddenly feel the same degree of pain in another part of our body we might panic. Our suffering, though not our pain, would be much greater, because of our limited understanding.
Similarly, when we change our understanding – of ourselves, of events, of others’ behavior – we change the way we feel. When we become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and better able to calm them and guide them, we lessen our suffering and move closer to wellbeing.
It order to make progress, we must clearly imagine what it is we are moving toward. In order to learn something new, we must have an image in mind of what it is we want to learn. So in trying to move forward with our self-understanding, to improve our health, our mood, our relationships, to increase the peace and enjoyment we experience in our lives, it is helpful to have a notion of wellbeing. “Wellbeing” is a broader notion than “happiness.” We can experience wonderful moments in life that we would not describe as “happy.” Wellbeing is a mixture, it gives us a choice. It is not the absence of pain but an awareness of joy even in the presence of pain, of the blessings mixed in with the challenges, and an acceptance of the imperfection of ourselves and everyone else.