Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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Coping AND Finding Happiness in Our Difficult World



                                 Coping AND Finding Happiness in Our Difficult World


Most of us don’t understand what’s going on in the world around us or know how to cope with the problems and stress we are encountering.  This article will discuss and provide guidance in this area. How can we possibly find happiness and joy when most of us are barely coping?  Sure, we can find some good times and good days with temporary pleasures, food and beer, a good movie, playing with our gadgets, but how can we cope with our anxieties and fears about our increasingly difficult lives?


Last month I wrote an investigative article about money and social justice, showing that the path to happiness is not through money and possessions. Here, in the year 2014 and thereafter, we find ourselves living in a troubled world. As was described in the previous article, money and power are being consolidated to the point that the poor and increasingly the middle class are being exploited, economically squeezed, controlled and disadvantaged.  Knowledge is power and you must keep apprised of the realities of life around you in order to understand and cope with this modern world. The regular media is increasingly controlled by corporate interests and distracts you with frivolous entertainment and gossip. Sports give followers increased adrenaline and excitement with fantasies of winning and conquering rivals, but soon thereafter the excitement evaporates into the tedium of regular life. The power of corporate control reaches into all aspects of our lives today even when you think you are acting independently.  Note the recent revelations that Facebook has been conducting covert research studies on your postings. Apps and technologies such as Google glasses direct you to topics and targets selected by others, and you often forget the other free choices offered by the natural world around you. It’s very important to retain your capacity to think for yourself! We must increasingly look to independent analysts on the Internet, books and articles to understand the realities of modern life and make action choices to pursue a fair and equitable new world.


Despite the research I summarized showing that the path to happiness is not through money and possessions, most people still cling to this belief. Of course we need some money and possessions to live, and life is grim when we are just scraping by or worried about our uncertain future. Money can bring us a temporary feeling of exhilaration, like a child with a new toy. We want those things but our happiness is fleeting. When we look for “more, more,” that’s all we find, more bursts of enthusiasm turning into boredom and the longing for something new, something else. Or worse. Corruption and disease often follow unlimited power. Let’s take a moment to look at the men who are esteemed in our culture for their power and influence. Goldman Sachs has been described by its former employee, Greg Smith, as “toxic and destructive.”  The powerhouse of J.P. Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, has just been diagnosed with throat cancer at the height of his career. Let’s not envy the rich for their path in life is much more stressful and troubled than you would imagine.


But how can YOU cope and even find happiness in this troubled world? I am a therapist dedicated to helping others enjoy a positive and productive life. I studied hard in the practice of psychology to achieve this goal. Now what am I doing as a social commentator? In my many years I have come to see that psychology and the mind are not separate from the social environment. I see how the troubles of the world creep into the psyche of my clients and indeed into the lives of all of us. I’ve learned many stress management techniques which I have faithfully reported in the Chatham County Line and the Southern Neighbor. Yes we can and must cope with stress. The stresses of the modern world have magnified life problems tremendously and have interfered with our access and free choice of coping techniques.  It’s important to note that these problems are increasing exponentially as helpful resources are increasingly constrained.  As the problems of modern life increasingly creep into our lives and homes, intelligent social activism will be increasingly important to cope with the well-financed and powerful influences in our lives and environment. Yes we do need to sign petitions and unite together and use our collective influences to protest the clear and blatant injustices and power grabs which we see all around us.  As you read and keep informed you will find increasingly outrageous facts. A clear example is the fact of our billions spent on military action in Iraq with the result of a broken country, the Iraq Army we trained abandoning their posts and rebels fighting using the expensive military equipment we paid for and abandoned there. Our veterans from these wars are wounded and traumatized with their promised benefits often evaporating or nonexistent. We’re repeating these problems in Afghanistan and other places as destruction and wars spring up all over the globe. It goes on and on, not just in warfare but in our increasingly inept politicians and government. A recent example: our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been revealed leaving live anthrax samples lying around and transferring dangerous germs in Ziploc bags.  But note, at least some of our media is independent and reporting this information!


Please do look back at the many articles you will find on this website in the Reading Room and Advice Line sections. The articles describe “how to” techniques as well as additional books and resources for follow-up.  I can assure you that the information is carefully researched and the techniques do work to cope with stress and unhappiness.


All right, you say, I am using some of the stress management techniques you and other therapists have been investigating and reporting over the years. They do provide some assistance and keep us going. A sense of purpose does help guide us in choosing coping and stress management techniques to deal with negativity. Our brains can certainly help us choose life management techniques, but actually we have access to more powerful influences than the brain.  Modern research has shown us that we make many decisions before the brain has even been engaged. Research findings show that we can begin actions before they are even recorded in the brain!  Intelligent people have been carefully studied as they achieved graduate degrees with essentially no brain as first described in an article in Science 2007! What influence is this that has more power than the brain and how can we use this to find happiness?


Here’s the answer. The heart and the power of its high energetic vibrations felt as love and joy. There is good experimental and practical evidence that our heart is the most powerful positive influence in guiding and shaping our lives.  The electrical and magnetic fields of the physical heart are thousands of times stronger than the brain, although of course the heart and brain do work together synergistically in most instances. Unfortunately most hard-nosed investigators have been ignoring or refusing to follow the experimental evidence. You can find a great deal of this evidence on the website of the Institute of Heartmath which has been carefully and scientifically researching these subjects for many years. You can read their source material for verification and/or or can continue on with the conclusions I am bringing you today.  Working together in a coherent DNA pattern, our heart and brain produce positive feelings of well-being and health. Negative experiences and emotions such as stress, anger and fear cause our DNA to be compressed and change shape into an irregular pattern compromising health and behavior. Quantum physics has documented that our entire existence is based on energy patterns. Each of us is surrounded by an electromagnetic energy pattern called a torus which interconnects with other electromagnetic fields on the earth and in the universe. The emotion we call love is a coherent and beautiful pattern of high vibrations. Anger, depression and anxiety are low vibration emotions.


We know that human life is not and will never be nirvana here, but we do have a choice as to whether we live in a positive happy life pattern or continue in a life of stress, anxiety and unhappiness.  Observing well cared-for children, we see a spirit of freedom and happiness, joy in the most common life experiences, an openness to explore nature and reality and no bitterness or depression.  We can develop and educate our minds and bodies, but still preserve and in fact expand this ability to live most of our life in a state of happiness and joy.  The heart is the key ingredient. In this article I call it the spiritual heart to distinguish it from the totally physical heart which pumps blood and keeps our body running. When mentioning spirituality, I am not primarily talking about religion, as religious leaders have taken many and varied positions on these issues. Some religions in fact emphasize the negatives, bringing messages of fear, original sin, gloom and doom, hell and damnation, into the picture.   I’m talking about the power of love which is the most potent influence on our happiness and well-being, love which is brought to us through our spiritual heart. When you study religious traditions you will in fact find powerful spiritual messages of love which elevate people into happiness on this earth and in the hereafter. 


Science and tradition are now just beginning to come together in understanding the power of love from the spiritual heart in transforming our lives and allowing us to cope with the problems of modern living. Increasingly unhappy and stressed, happiness seekers are looking toward unconditional heart-based love as the key to a positive life. Religious traditions do point to love as a potent or the most potent influence.  In Christianity it was said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another….. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment and the second is like it.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Buddha said, “Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child” as well as “the way is in the heart.”  Open yourself to the possibility of a positive spiritual world surrounding you.  Additionally we have science in the form of quantum physics supporting an unseen world of energy around us. Positive emotions and lifestyles demonstrably generate a coherent and higher level pattern of energy in the quantum world which is felt as happiness. We can choose to live our lives in a manner that is coherent with the higher-level patterns described by Heartmath energy and quantum scientists This life will be felt as positive well-being and love. Conversely we can choose or fall into negative energy patterns of fear, anger and stress.


Yes, love does come through the heart and not just on Valentine’s Day.  You can dedicate yourself to opening your heart to these principles and the power of love. You can’t buy an open heart and you can’t find it in a bottle. Here’s a way to begin. Inspirational moments and activities, beautiful music, experiences in nature, positive giving moments with others, meditation, gratitude, altruism, all can form the basis of your journey toward a positive loving heart and happiness. Assemble memories of these experiences and sit quietly, focusing on your breath and feeling your heart space open to these positive experiences. After a while, you will begin to feel your heart lift and open during the day as you encounter these positive feelings radiating throughout the center of your body. Over time you will find that your positive heart feelings are not relegated to peak experiences but can be encountered many times during the day in simple positive experiences, watering a plant, feeding your dog, walking in the sun, making food, the myriad of life experiences which are positive and sustaining of life.  You can form mantras, sayings, prayers, tunes in your mind or heart to keep and sustain these positive moods as you move through the daily experiences of your life.  You will find that an open, positive and loving heart is the basis of true happiness throughout your life.


The next step is discovering and understanding there is a spiritual basis sustaining positive energy  throughout this life and hereafter.  Beginning as a skeptic but studying this issue for the last six years, I found many different kinds of evidence and proof of the power of these influences. Let me inform you of a reliable and consistent source which I just recently discovered.  Please read the book, Messages of Hope, Suzanne Giesemann, One Mind Books, 2011. Suzanne was a commanding naval officer and Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, in fact flying with him over the Twin Towers wreckage and on to the Pentagon during the 9/11 crisis. A career officer, she had no interest or knowledge of spirituality and in fact could be described as a skeptic. Those events were startling and disheartening but she remained in the service for several years until she and her husband retired. His daughter Susan, a Marine Sergeant, then appeared to Suzanne in a dream describing her happiness and well-being before Suzanne and her husband found that Susan had actually died in a lightening strike. Suzanne was led to contact mediums to explain these events. A long story short, Suzanne eventually found herself to be spiritually sensitive and trained to become  an evidential medium and spiritualist.  I recommend you find her website and download information transmitted through Suzanne in a number of sessions over the past several years. Additionally, you can sign up for daily email transmissions from her spirit group called Sanaya Says. Like Suzanne, I was businesslike and skeptical throughout my life until being recently led to this information in the last several years. Unlike Suzanne, I am not a medium, although I have enriched my life and my counseling as I have opened my heart and mind to these new influences.


Can you change the world? I do not know, but I can assure you that you can change your life and your world, that you all can cope with stress and find happiness in these most difficult times!