Sunday, May 22, 2016

FINDING HAPPINESS IN AMERICA!


     
    
     Take the Finding Happiness in America journey now! It's a wonderful journey of self-discovery, from the inside-out, one that enables you to reflect on where you are and to imagine new possibilities for yourself. You will become the person you want to be and be able to cope better in a fast-paced American society laden with overwhelming problems and stress.
     Using the Finding Happiness in America manual is a personal and unique experience, for I am available to help you every step of the way: simply contact me using the Secure Contact Form to ask questions or to discuss anything you desire more clarification on. It is not a cookbook approach to help you reinvigorate your life, for you embark on a personal quest that you map out for yourself, based on what's truly important to you.
      You will walk through a learning landscape concerning the issues many Americans face involving family, parenting, educational, social and personal issues that many Americans have.
     Through various exercises, you will analyze and reflect upon your life. This makes the "Finding Happiness" process valuable in the art of self-improvement and in mending things in your life that need mending. 
     By actively engaging in the "Finding Happiness" process, you will unearth inner strengths which you never imagined existed. Begin the journey and gain insight into ways to improve your life…and the lives of those around you.
     And remember, I will be with you every step-of-the-way to assist you as needed in making your journey a successful one- Feel free to contact me on the Secure Contact Form... 24/7!  

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in The School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him on the SecureContact Form.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bring love/kindess into your life, find happiness at work and more!

     
     Seven ways to bring loving/kindness into your life; 17 quotes to help you find happiness; 10 ways your stopping happiness from entering your life...these are only a few examples of "Finding Happiness" articles featured in this 3/20/16 Issue of the Finding Happiness I America" Newsletter!
     Other pieces reveal how much we all desire to be happy and subsequently questions why we tend to live our lives steeped in worry, anxiety, and fear rather than, well...just being happy!
     This issue also reveals 22 tips on how to find happiness at work; why the world's happiness index show Denmark to be the happiest country, followed by Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, and the Netherlands. Can America learn something from these countries?
     This 3/2016 Issue of Finding Happiness in America concludes with two enlightening articles describing ways to find happiness in your relationships and ten truths you can learn that are essential to finding happiness.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He authors the book, "Finding Happiness in America" (Click HERE for Kindle edition).

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Happiness Secrets- An Inside-Out Process

     You will enjoy the 3/12/16 Issue of the "Finding Happiness in America" newsletter. Many of the articles in it discuss how happiness is an inside-out process. It dwells in each of us and depends upon our thoughts. Since studies found that roughly 20,000 thoughts pass threw our minds each day, we might as well nurture them and learn how to think positively! This newsletter has articles that will help you do this. It discusses 7 common mistakes many of us make that steal our happiness. 
     I particularly find the lead article discussing how one can find happiness after a traumatic childhood informative. There's so much information in these articles for you, including 5 free things you can have in your life that will make you happier than material things.
     Is your curiosity aroused? Good! Enjoy reading this 3/12/16 Issue of "Finding Happiness in America!"

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He authors the book, "Finding Happiness in America".(Click HERE for Kindle edition).

Friday, March 4, 2016

Get the free ISSUE 3 "Finding Happiness in America" Newsletter!



Issue 3 of the "Finding Happiness in America" newsletter is out! Click HERE to view it.

     I picked ten articles that will help you along the "Finding Happiness" process. You'll read about the 6 lessons that Thich Nhat Hanh uses in his quest to find happiness. Another piece reminds us that we may be searching for happiness in the wrong places, a notion that  complements my "Finding Happiness in America" manual, since many Americans believe that happiness can only be obtained via the money we rake in or the status we acquire.
     I hope you enjoy this Issue 3 newsletter. It also features Silvia Mordini and other yoga experts around Seattle. You find their stories interesting!

     Enjoy reading Issue 3 of the "Finding Happiness in America" newsletter. It will give you enlightening tips on finding happiness in all areas of your life and help you stay on the right track to be as happy and fulfilled as you should be. Enjoy the read!  

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He authors the book, "Finding Happiness in America".(Click HERE for Kindle edition).

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Nature deficit among America's children

     America's children need to spend more time outdoors, relating to nature. In fact, 88 percent of kids say they like being in nature and 79 percent wish they could spend more time there.
    
The "Finding Happiness
in America" manual
That's why the Ad Council and U.S. Forest Service and Burrell Communications launched the "Discover the Forest" ad campaign which we see constantly on TV. It's for a good cause, since they found that when kids spend time outdoors, they get the chance to explore, use their imaginations, discover wildlife, and engage in unstructured and adventurous play. Additionally, studies show they have lower stress levels, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.
     That's why getting outdoors and getting back to nature for children, parents...all adults...is mentioned as one way to find happiness in the "Finding Happiness in America" (Kindle edition- click HERE) manual.
     Nature deficit disorder exists in both children and adults in America. Our population has shifted to urban and suburban environments, and people are working longer hours and  have busier schedules than ever before. The result is that the American family has a lack of awareness of—or access to—nature...to see, hear, smell, feel and touch the flora and fauna that envelops the earth.
     The "Finding Happiness" process in the manual describes how Americans can get back to nature in their own suburban or urban yards. For example, I once witnessed a three-year old becoming more spellbound by a tiny, green worm inching it’s way across the front sidewalk than by a $600 swing set set up in the backyard. Creating a wildlife-friendly space in your yard will attract bees, butterflies and other insects along with songbirds that feed upon them. l 
Complements- Ad Council
     I recommend for parents to read the book "Last Child in the Woods" by environmentalist and author Richard Louv. He offers ways to combat NDD and believes that returning to nature would be a decisive step towards promoting the healthy development, self-confidence and the ability to learn in America's youth.  
     Unfortunately, the bond between America's children (and adults) and nature has been severed and Louv, after interviewing educators, psychologists and scientists, argues that a number of physical and mental problems that children have are rooted in their lack of contact with nature. He links the high number of overweight children in the US, the increasing frequency of attention deficit/hyperactivity syndrome along with childhood stress, depression and anxiety disorders to the lack of contact with nature. Louv places a lot of faith in the healing power of nature through experiencing it with all one's senses under an open sky.
     That's why getting back to nature is part of the "Finding Happiness" process in my manual "Finding Happiness in America" (Kindle edition- click HERE). Direct contact with the wilderness as well as a daily stroll through the neighborhood park, building a tree house or staying in a cabin will strengthen a child's self-esteem, his personality and his learning aptitudes such as reading ability. According to Louv, only people who have strong contact with nature from an early age can be respectful and protective of it as adults.
    For little children, a few trees make up a forest and a puddle can offer a window into a natural habitat. Lift a stone to find the ground teeming with bugs or observe the life of squirrels in city parks, Louv suggests. Children can work in the garden, go on hikes to places that are seldom visited or go on hikes at night. Children should have fun discovering nature and allow themselves to be amazed by it and respect it.
     Yes, climbing trees and catching frogs without concern for kidnappers or West Nile virus is difficult for many kids in America to do. The carefree days are gone for America’s youth. Boys and girls now live a "denatured childhood" where children spend less time outdoors and have less access to nature. In the "Finding Happiness in America" manual (Kindle edition-click HERE), I comment on how our youth is addicted to electronic media and how more and more green spaces are cemented over and developed into strip malls.  
Complements- Ad Council
 
     America has seen open meadows, woods and wetlands replaced by manicured lawns, golf courses, endless strip malls and housing developments, separating us all from the natural world. What little time kids spend outside is on designer playgrounds or fenced yards and is structured, safe and isolating. Such antiseptic spaces provide little opportunity for exploration, imagination or peaceful contemplation. 
     Theodore Roosevelt saw a prophylactic dose of nature as a counter to mounting urban malaise in the early 20th century, and others since have expanded on the theme. He was so right! So, as described in the "Finding Happiness" process in my "Finding Happiness in America" manual (Kindle edition- click HERE), here's an activity to do...right now! Reacquaint yourself to nature. Go on a hike, fish, bird-watch...anything to reunite yourself with nature. Enjoy!

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He authors the book, "Finding Happiness in America".(Click HERE for Kindle edition).

Friday, February 19, 2016

SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS DETERMINED BY THOUGHT QUALITY

    If you have difficulty feeling good about yourself and see opportunities pass you by, don’t fret! There is a light at the tunnel’s end, for you can think your way into triumphing over many difficulties!  
     It’s not a Pollyanna idea. Much research supports it and that’s why I stress throughout my book “Finding Happiness inAmerica” (Click HERE for Kindle edition) that we all become what we think about. What you achieve or don’t achieve is directly related to your personal thoughts, so if you diligently work on changing negative thoughts into positive ones, you will eventually become a more confident and constructive person. By thinking optimistically, you will carve out an encouraging and promising future for yourself. Researchers found that roughly 20,000 thoughts pass through the human mind each day, so why not nurture yourself by focusing in on great ones?
     You can make things improve in your life because you are human and possess the unique ability for creative imagination. It’s holed up in all of us even though it may be suppressed by passive TV viewing and by a civilization which carries out vital functions and bestows bounties upon us with little mental sweat required. A study of the 400 most prominent people of the 20th century, like Thomas Edison, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt revealed how crucial our thoughts are in determining our fate. Three-fourths of those dignitaries utilized creative thinking to overcome personal tragedies, terrible frustrations or debilitating handicaps to achieve their victories.
     It’s no surprise that successful business owners forge positive, detailed business plans. They learned that the happiness and success in their ventures depend on the quality of their thoughts. Likewise, you can overcome present difficulties and better cope with unseen future snags and dilemmas as well. Start by writing down your personal thoughts on what you’d like to achieve and the person you’d like to become, your long-range goals and aspirations…paint a picture of your ideal life. Then, rephrase it, not as a wish list, but as if you’re already there, describing how it feels to have your dreams actualized. This is your first creation- existing only in your “mind’s eye”. This will enable you to begin thinking positive thoughts and to make them take root in your personal, daily experiences.
     Next, use your creative imagination and positive thinking to make your goals begin to materialize in the real world (second creation). Set yourself up for success! Plan for frequent wins by breaking your long-range goals down into shorter, easily-reachable ones. These initial victories will become mental coup d’├ętats against your negative thoughts that hold you back, a kind of cognitive rebellion…against yourself!
     By getting a grip on the 20,000 thoughts that pass through your mind each and every day, you can transform them into positive and constructive reflections, ideas and inspirations. Eventually, past mistakes will dissolve from your “mind’s eye” and you will find yourself creating new opportunities instead of waiting around in anticipation for them to knock on your door…which they seldom do.
    You are today where your thoughts have brought you and you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you. Yes, we all become what we think about!
 
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He authors the book, "Finding Happiness in America".(Click HERE for Kindle edition). 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

FINDING HAPPINESS IN AMERICA! - BEGIN THE JOURNEY!


 
  
     Take the Finding Happiness in America journey now! (Click HERE for Kindle edition). It's a wonderful journey of self-discovery, from the inside-out, one that enables you to reflect on where you are and to imagine new possibilities for yourself. You will become  the person you want to be and be able to cope better in a fast-paced American society laden with overwhelming problems and stress.
     Using the Finding Happiness in America manual (Click HERE for Kindle edition) is a personal and unique experience, for I am available to help you every step of the way: simply  contact me using the SecureContact Form to ask questions or to discuss anything you desire more clarification on. It is not a cookbook approach to help you reinvigorate your life, for you embark on a personal quest that you map out for yourself, based on what's truly important to you.
     You will walk through a learning landscape concerning the issues many Americans face involving family, parenting, educational, social and personal issues that many Americans have.
     Through various exercises, you will analyze and reflect upon your life. This makes the "Finding Happiness" process valuable in the art of self-improvement and in mending things in your life that need mending. 
     By actively engaging in the "Finding Happiness" process, you will unearth inner strengths which you never imagined existed. Begin the journey and gain insight into ways to improve your life…and the lives of those around you.
     And remember, I will be with you every step-of-the-way to assist you as needed in making your journey a successful one-  Feel free to contact me on the SecureContact Form... 24/7! 
 
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in The School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. Contact him on the SecureContact Form.

WHAT'S YOUR AMERICAN MORAL COMPASS?

     Here's some excerpts from the "Finding Happiness in America" manual (Click HERE for Kindle edition):
     Americans, for the most part, are a friendly people full of compassion for others. With the exception  of filling out income tax returns, giving our life story during job interviews or setting the zero adjust on the bathroom scale, we are basically on honest lot. 
     What I like most about Americans is that they strive to be a moral people who don't merely aim to be good, but yearn to be good for something. This is why America's laws are rooted in morality, for our principled citizenry will engage in civil disobedience if dubious laws interfere with their sense of morals and prevent them from doing what's right.
 
 
      I'll never forget a member of my community who formed a local movement called "People for Peace and Justice Sandusky County." She exemplifies this American moral sense. She was deeply bothered by the government's use of torture at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in Cuba and even though she protested it peacefully, she was arrested for disorderly conduct.  Facing the Superior Court magistrate in D.C., she simply stated, "We are representing ourselves to use our voices."
    This lady embodies America's sense of morality. Because of the numerous political, environmental, social/cultural, religious and financial issues that divide us, maybe we should individually ask ourselves “moral fiber” questions. Do you really know what you want in life? Do you ever think about the contributions you desire to make in the world...the honorable or righteous goals you would like to achieve? What do you like and dislike?
     Your answers don't have to be grandiose; simply focus on what‘s truly ethically significant to you.
     So, how can we find our moral compass that's uniquely American? Try this activity from my book, "Finding Happiness in America" (Click HERE for Kindle edition) called "Happy 88th birthday!" Think about the qualities which you admire and either have or yearn to strive for, then pretend it’s your 88th birthday. You are living in a nursing home and spend the time recollecting every meaningful person throughout your life and the role you played with them. Your roles with them may have been father, mother, daughter, son, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, teacher, student, manager, co-worker, child, community servant, neighbor, grandmother, grandfather, in-law, relative, niece, nephew or cousin.
     Suddenly, they all visit at once to give you a surprise birthday party! Now, think about what each of these people would say about you or, better yet, what you would like them to say. Spend some time doing this.
     Next, switch back to the "here and now" and do some soul-searching. Ask yourself what differences have you made or could you make in their lives? What outstanding contributions and commitments can you make now that they won't forget and will still remember when your age 88? Think about the person you’d like to become and the legacy you'd like to leave behind.
     In the "Finding Happiness" process, I encourage you to imagine yourself not as you are, but as the person you’d like to become. Since we all become what we think about, you will gradually become that person. Begin the journey now, and remember, you can always contact me on the Secure Contact Form for questions on going through it.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions as school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He authors the book, "Finding Happiness in America".(Click HERE for Kindle edition). 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

WHY SOME ARE HAPPY AND OTHERS ARE NOT.

 
      In the manual "Finding Happiness in America", I describe the research that shows happiness levels in America have remained stagnant over the past 50 years while our living standards have risen. Are we forgetting that we all possess the ingredients for happiness? Even though scientists continually search for a genetic link to suggest some may embody a greater propensity for happiness than others, the fact remains that joyfulness resides in each of us. If your DNA threads lead to a propensity for downheartedness, than you will simply have to burrow deeper to unearth the happiness within. It's there, waiting for you to unearth it! 
 
     In 36 years of counseling youth and adults, I’ve witnessed happiness or glumness dwelling within both the healthy and ailing, rich and penniless, smart and dull, and handsome and ugly. The happier clients discovered that happiness must be learned and practiced daily or it will wither away. They took responsibility for their own contentment and didn't allow politics, the government, their boss, social attackers and gossip, or a myriad of other external events to upset them for very long.
     People who remain in high spirits perform to the best of their abilities on the home front, in the community, and at the office or shop. They deliver more than what life pays them to do and often reach beyond their own selfish needs to extend small courtesies that inspirit the lives of others. They dream dreams, set worthy goals, remain committed to paying the price to achieve them, and enjoy the gallant journey toward reaching them.
     Regardless of your genetic weavings, past experiences or current situation, you possess the ingredients for happiness. Your road to happiness must be an active process that's practiced each day. Life doesn’t devote itself to making you happy, so by design it is the manner in which you travel through life that makes you so. If you passively sit back and wait for happiness to arrive, you will never encounter it…even if it knocks on your door, which it rarely does.    
     The happiest people I've met laugh through life’s little irritations, regardless of their circumstances or genetic make-up. Zig Ziglar wrote about a man who bought a lemon of a used car and drove it back onto the used car lot a week later and said to the upbeat and persuasive salesman, “Could you please tell me about this car again? Sometimes I get so discouraged with it!”
     Yes, disappointing things will happen to you and fairness, peace and justice will not always go your way, so you need to be encouraged... like Zig Ziglar. Happiness is not the absence of problems- it's how you deal with them. You will only be as happy as you make up your mind to be, so don't allow traumatic life events or ill-humored DNA strands inherited from your ancestors to rob you of the power to discover your good side. Don't travel through life with the gusto of the cruise director on the Titanic...you can choose not to.
     I know you can, because I've counseled many people who have found happiness despite past upsets and current injustices. Traumatic events licked the red off their candy canes, but they discovered the free, miracle drug which has no bad side effects…laughter! They didn’t purchase it at the local pharmacy, but unearthed it from deep inside themselves.
     It's a researched fact. Laughter can ease pain, banish tension and worry, and liberate cloudy minds to think more clearly. You can “condition” yourself to laugh at life...and to be happy. Begin the journey now!

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is author of the book "Finding Happiness in America."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happiness Resides In Each Of Us!

Happiness resides in all of us
    Happiness levels in America have remained stagnant over the past 50 years while our living standards have risen. Are we forgetting that we all possess the ingredients for happiness? Even though scientists continually search for a genetic link to suggest some may embody a greater propensity for happiness than others, the fact remains that joyfulness resides in each of us. If your DNA threads lead to a propensity for downheartedness, than you will simply have to burrow deeper to unearth the happiness within. It's there, waiting for you to unearth it! 
     In 36 years of counseling youth and adults, I’ve witnessed happiness or glumness dwelling within both the healthy and ailing, rich and penniless, smart and dull, and handsome and ugly. The happier clients discovered that happiness must be learned and practiced daily or it will wither away. They took responsibility for their own contentment and didn't allow politics, the government, their boss, social attackers and gossip, or a myriad of other external events to upset them for very long.
 
     People who remain in high spirits perform to the best of their abilities on the home front, in the community, and at the office or shop. They deliver more than what life pays them to do and often reach beyond their own selfish needs to extend small courtesies that inspirit the lives of others. They dream dreams, set worthy goals, remain committed to paying the price to achieve them, and enjoy the gallant journey toward reaching them.
     Regardless of your genetic weavings, past experiences or current situation, you possess the ingredients for happiness. Your road to happiness must be an active process that's practiced each day. Life doesn’t devote itself to making you happy, so by design it is the manner in which you travel through life that makes you so. If you passively sit back and wait for happiness to arrive, you will never encounter it…even if it knocks on your door, which it rarely does.    
     The happiest people I've met laugh through life’s little irritations, regardless of their circumstances or genetic make-up. Zig Ziglar wrote about a man who bought a lemon of a used car and drove it back onto the used car lot a week later and said to the upbeat and persuasive salesman, “Could you please tell me about this car again? Sometimes I get so discouraged with it!”
     Yes, disappointing things will happen to you and fairness, peace and justice will not always go your way, so you need to be encouraged... like Zig Ziglar. Happiness is not the absence of problems- it's how you deal with them. You will only be as happy as you make up your mind to be, so don't allow traumatic life events or ill-humored DNA strands inherited from your ancestors to rob you of the power to discover your good side. Don't travel through life with the gusto of the cruise director on the Titanic...you can choose not to.
     I know you can, because I've counseled many people who have found happiness despite past upsets and current injustices. Traumatic events licked the red off their candy canes, but they discovered the free, miracle drug which has no bad side effects…laughter! They didn’t purchase it at the local pharmacy, but unearthed it from deep inside themselves.
     It's a researched fact. Laughter can ease pain, banish tension and worry, and liberate cloudy minds to think more clearly. You can “condition” yourself to laugh at life...and to be happy. Begin the journey!
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is author of the book "Finding Happiness in America."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How to Find Happiness in an Unhappy America

 

      Why are so many Americans unhappy? How do Americans become and stay happy? That’s the theme of Issue 1: 2/03/16 Finding Happiness in America newsletter.
     I hand-selected 15 articles and 5 videos that explain why gloom and melancholy is so prevalent in the U.S. and how you beat the odds and find happiness in the land of the free!
     One article explains a recent LifeTwist study that suggests money can’t buy happiness and more Americans are redefining success and happiness in a way that doesn't involve wealth. Only around one in four Americans (27 percent) still believes that wealth determines success.
     Several articles in the Issue1: 2/03/16 Finding Happiness in America newsletter delve into why Americans are so unhappy. In one, the question was asked to an American journalist on his recent trip to Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. He felt embarrassed by their question as he looked around at the abject poverty in India and witnessed how happy these people seemed compared to Americans.
     I invite you to browse through the Issue 1: 2/02/16 newsletter and find out why two thirds of Americans say they're unhappy - with Hispanics, college grads and the disabled being the most discontented; why the happiest Americans are those over 50 and who earn over $50,000 a year; why women are happier than men; why political independents are less happy than either Democrats or Republicans; and why your talent for happiness is, to a large degree, determined by your genes.
     One article in Issue 1: 2/03/16 of FindingHappiness in America tells how psychology David T. Lykken believes trying to be happier is like trying to be taller and that we each have a "happiness set point."
     I disagree with Lykken, and feel we all can pursue happiness. That’s why I also chose articles and videos that prove we can thwart negative emotions such as pessimism, resentment, and anger and replace them with positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and especially gratitude.

 Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. authored the book "Finding Happiness in America" and has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Environmental Toxins Harm America's Children

Environmental toxins harm America's children
    A growing concern among American families is the chemicals in our environment and the detrimental effects it has upon our children. The Flint, Michigan disaster is a recent example. I live near Lake Erie and we have more drinking bans, beach closings due to filthy water, and warnings about eating Lake Erie fish. These grim facts trouble Americans a great deal and coping with environmental toxins is a topic found in the FindingHappiness in America manual.
    In the manual I describe how the National Environmental Trust, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and the Learning Disabilities Association for America are striving to protect Americans from our increasingly toxic environment. Their research studies estimate that releases into our environment of developmental and neurological toxins amount to 24 billion pounds per year.
     As part of the “Finding Happiness” process, I encourage you to write to your state and federal representatives and request a copy of the first ever, comprehensive look at the sources of such child-unfriendly pollution, entitled “Polluting Our Future: Chemical Pollution in the U.S. that Affects Child Development and Learning.”
    Research is accumulating that demonstrates how toxic pollution affects the way American children suffers from one or more developmental, learning, or behavioral disabilities like mental retardation, birth defects, autism, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
    The National Academy of Sciences released a study entitled, “Polluting Our Future,” which conservatively concludes that 360,000 children in America, or one in every 200, suffer from developmental or neurological disabilities caused by toxic exposures to known developmental and neurological toxins.
     The Finding Happiness in America manual offers actions for families to take. For one, contact personnel at the Children’s Environmental Health Network (510) 587-1393 (dswartz@cehn.org) who recently trained U.S. physicians in pediatric environmental medicine.
    Another action for you to do is to learn the environmental health hazards in your town and send faxes, for free, straight to top-ranked polluters in your area. Contact Scorecard at www.scorecard.org to view maps pinpointing potentially harmful chemicals being released in your neighborhood. It’s quite eye opening!
     In 1918, the U.S. produced a total of 10 million pounds of synthetic chemicals. Today, over 300 billion pounds of chemicals per year are produced and the average American makes and/or uses more than 1,500 pounds of chemical products per year.
     It appears the integration of brain sciences and environmental neuro-toxicology will prove the connection, but without public outcry, Americans should expect little to be done. That’s why the “Finding Happiness” process in the manual encourages American families to speak up! 

 Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. authored the book "Finding Happiness in America" and has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.  

Thursday, January 28, 2016

How To Tackle Bad Habits Using "Baby Steps"

    



     Why is it so difficult to replace bad habits with good ones? Partly, I guess, because ingrained habits are embedded and entrenched over time into our daily activities. We forget we have them until someone brings them up to us. Yes, nothing is stronger and stealthier than habits!


     Regardless of how many bad habits you have, you must proceed in “baby steps” to effectively deal with them. Mark Twain said that habits can't be flung out the window, they must be coaxed downstairs, one step at a time. Do you have so many bad habits that you don't know which one to tackle first? Take a lesson from Duane. He smoked and drank too much, overate, gossiped, cussed, consumed a high-fat diet, and had a negative attitude about most things. He sought counseling and was turned off by the term “baby steps”, which his counselor often used. However, Duane soon learned the importance of employing the "baby step" approach when attempting to change his bad habits. It’s a drawn-out, difficult process where he worked diligently on changing one bad habit at a time before moving on to the next one.
     As you proceed through the Finding Happiness in America manual, you'll run into an exercise called "Replace the bad with the good!" which I'd like to share:
     Find a comfy sofa or chair and relax. Begin thinking about your long-range goals, aspirations and what you'd like your ideal life to be like. Spend some time doing this. Next, reflect on your present daily routine and customs. Think about things you regularly say and talk about along with the behavioral actions you routinely take. Write these habits down with specificity. Determine which ones facilitate the attainment of your dreams and put a (+) sign by them. Similarly, decide which ones clash with your goals and aspirations and place a (-) sign before them. Keep this list readily available. Now, you can no longer conceal (from yourself) how your current bad habits are imprisoning your future! You're now in a position to attack your bad habits cognitively, to undermine your entrenched (-) bad habits by deliberately attending to how your good but often under-utilized (+) habits will empower you to succeed in reaching your dreams.
     The only difference between losers and winners is the differences in their habits. It takes constant effort to integrate good habits into your daily routine. You may be a slave to bad habits today, but you have the power to become a master over good habits tomorrow.
     Proceed in “baby steps” by setting short, easily-reachable goals and focus on replacing one bad habit at a time. While harmful behaviors become habitual almost immediately, studies reveal that it takes around 21 days of daily practice before admirable habits become ingrained in us. 
     Isn't it strange how good habits erode swiftly and catch hold sluggishly while the opposite is true with bad ones? Fight the omnipresent temptation to say to yourself “One of these days I’ll begin on what I want to accomplish.” As time marches on, “one of these days” may become “none of these days”.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. authored the book "Finding Happiness in America" and has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

AUTISM- A DISCOUNTED AMERICAN TRAGEDY

     One difficulty prospective American parents face is the rising chance that they will give birth to a baby with autism. The Centers for Disease Control released a gloomy report on autism last year — its latest survey found that one in 88 American children had been diagnosed with autism and related disorders, and one in 54 American boys were determined to be on the autism spectrum.
     In Finding Happiness in America, I describe how researchers are desperately attempting to isolate the cause. They know it is a neurological disorder with no real cure that lasts a lifetime since it stems from a chromosome abnormality involving brain neuro-transmitters. They found autism is genetically transferable with a 15 percent chance of more than one family member having it, occurring eight times more frequently in boys than in girls. There is also growing evidence pointing to environmental factors, including pesticides, air pollution, and other environmental toxins that could impact brain development and lead to autism.

Autism currently (2015) strikes 1 in 88 American children.
     Before the Center’s depressing findings, in a population of 10,000 children born, the incidence breakdown was something like this: there were three to five severe autistic cases, 10 moderate-to-mild cases, and 50 to 75 with a Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified. Children diagnosed with the latter will still be affected in the manner noted above, so, out of a population of 1,000 school children, five to seven or eight will suffer from a mild-to-severe form of this condition. Unfortunately, these statistics have worsened.
    Not surprisingly, autism comes from the Greek work meaning “self.” Babies with the disorder prefer a solitary existence. It is hard for parents to get them to do the “oooo” back-and-forth communication, and quite often, these babies don’t hold up their hands to be picked up like other infants. Instead, parents receive a “wet noodle” response, or the baby may grow as rigid as a board to avoid being picked up or touched. Autistic children can be spotted in birthday party videos, for they rarely do “declarative pointing” to get others interested in their newly opened gifts. The “point gaze” is missing as well — while playing, they rarely look up at their parents to read their faces, then look back at the toy. They may not respond or look up at parents until their name is called several times.
     The fact that one in 88 children fall somewhere along the autism disorder spectrum is both distressing and frightening for parents-to-be. It is beyond my comprehension as to why this national calamity was not mentioned in either the Republican or Democratic national conventions. Ironically, Geraldine Dawson, the chief science officer for Autism Speaks, calls the situation a public health crisis that demands a coordinated national response, increased research, earlier screening, and better treatment.
     For the sake of our children and parents-to-be, I pray our national leaders heed Dawson’s words.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his position of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University. He is author of the Finding Happiness in America manual.Contact him on the Secure Contact Form.

Friday, January 4, 2013

CHILD GUN SHOOTINGS- HOW TO PROTECT YOURS

Dear Mr. Morton- My three sons have friends whose parents are hunters. They have deer rifles and pistols in their homes and I'm concerned that something tragic may occur. My kids are very curious about everything! Any ideas on how to ease my fears? They are great friends and the parents are responsible, so I don't want to make these gun-owning homes off-limits to my boys.- Concerned Parent.
 
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Dear Concerned Parent- All of us watched with empathy as classes resumed for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Visions of last month's massacre in Newtown that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead remains embedded in our minds. Many of us are amazed at how many guns there are in the U.S. and, ironically, the vast majority of firearms are purchased by sportsmen for themselves and for their children. Yes, many wonderful deep and lasting friendships are forged between parents and kids who share an interest in hunting. Young girls are getting into the hunting scene in record numbers as well...it's not just a father/son thing anymore!

The FBI estimates that Americans buy 12 million guns every year. There’s a lot of them around and your concern is valid- for every 10 children killed each year, one is killed by a firearm. Yes, guns account for 10% of all deaths among kids from age 5 to 14. Last year, 1,400 children under age 18 were killed by guns and for each of these fatalities, almost 5 children received nonfatal firearm-related injuries. Many of these children had access to household firearms that were stored loaded or in unlocked places. Are the guns secured in a locked place at the homes your children visit?  

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So, what can you, as a parent, do in a country where almost as many people are killed by guns than by motor vehicles?
Federal data reveals 31,236 firearm-related deaths and 36,361 motor vehicle-related deaths in 2009... and the gap  is closing. In fact, in ten states, more people are slain by guns each year than are killed in car crashes.

I highly recommend you double-check that the gun-owning households where your children play have guns that are secured and inaccessible to children. Studies show that unintentional injuries, suicide, and homicide among youth occur when young people have easy access to firearms, especially when they‘re not properly stored. Why? Because 90% of fatal firearm incidents involving children occur within the home, and according to a study of children and youth aged 0 to 14 years (Wintemute), 40% of firearm incidents involve a firearm stored in the room in which the shooting occurs. Researchers also uncovered via interviews that twice as many firearm deaths among children and youth under age 18 occur in states with the highest proportion of people living in households with loaded firearms (Miller).
 
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Through surveys, it was found that a third of adults in America keep firearms in or around their home. The prevalence of adults with household firearms ranged from 5.2% in the District of Columbia to 62.8% in Wyoming. The prevalence of adults with loaded household firearms ranged from 1.6% in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey to 19.2% in Alabama and the prevalence of adults with loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.4% in Massachusetts to 12.7% in Alabama. Among adults with children and youth under age 18, the prevalence of loaded household firearms ranged from 1.0% to 13.4% and the prevalence of loaded and unlocked household firearms ranged from 0.3% to 7.3%. In sum, the studies reveal that nearly 2 million children and youth in the United States under age 18 are living with loaded and unlocked household firearms.

So, it crucial that you, and other parents with similar concerns, ask two questions: Do you know if the parents of your children’s friends are firearm owners? If so, do you know what their firearm safety precautions are?

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If your answer to the second question  above is "No", I advise that you you to ascertain their firearm safety precautions by considering the following six(6) “best practices” of gun ownership safety, which are espoused by the National Rifle Association (NRA), American Academy of Pediatrics and public health agencies:
1. Keep firearms stored unloaded, locked, and separated from ammunition. A child or teen should not have access to firearms without direct adult supervision.

2. Talk to your children about guns. Common Sense about Kids and Guns is a non-profit group of owners and non-owners of guns committed to working together to protect America's children from gun deaths and injuries. They recommend discussing firearms with children, especially if you have them in the house.
Pre-teens: This is a good time to begin talking with children about ways to solve problems that do not involve violence. With older children, explain to them the consequences of violence and the dangers inherent in the mishandling of guns. Continue to emphasize to children that they should never touch a gun without adult supervision.
Young children: Experts advise parents to reassure children that, as parents, they are doing their best to keep children safe. Children can be exposed to a good amount of violence by the media, especially from TV and movies. It is important to teach children that this is not real and that guns cause real injuries. Emphasize to them that they should never touch a gun and should always tell an adult if they come across one. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends repeating this message periodically to keep children from forgetting.
Teens: This can be a difficult time to maintain open communication with kids as they become more independent and rebellious. However, maintaining dialogue with your children can help you spot any potential problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that, at this point in a child’s life, it is easier to keep guns away from teens than to keep teens away from guns, which are often glamorized in the media. It is important that parents watch for signs of depression or changes in behavior, as teens feeling this way are at an increased risk for suicide.

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3. Get yourself educated and aware about the risks of unsupervised access to guns by children and teens. Begin by viewing the “GUNS AND KIDS” videos in the right-hand margin.

4. The most important thing a parent can do, according to Betsy McAlister Groves, director of the Child Witness to Violence Program at Boston Medical Center, is to listen to a child’s concerns. As she told Newsweek, "allowing kids to voice their worries is very important." Not talking about the problem will not make it go away.

5. Contact an organization like Common Sense about kids and guns: Their website is: http://www.kidsandguns.org/ You can reach them by snail mail, telephone or fax: 1225 I Street NW Washington, DC 20005 · (202) 546-0200 · fax: (202) 371-9615.

6. Ask yourself honestly: Do you feel your child may be prone to violence? Or, is any of your children's playmates prone to violence? If so, follow the steps above. Any child who is violence-prone should not have access to firearms. Definitely keep the firearm unloaded and locked away, separate from the ammunition, which should be locked away as well. Studies have shown that teens who are angry or depressed are more likely to kill themselves or others, particularly if a firearm is easy to get. Here’s 23 signs of potential violence in children and teens. All children will, at one time or another, exhibit many of these behaviors without resorting to violence. But, the more of these behaviors your child is exhibiting, the more you should consider locking up or getting rid of your firearms until he/she gets professional help:
  1. makes verbal or written threats of violence;
  2. has shown past violent/aggressive behavior: angry outbursts, etc.;
  3. has access to guns, knives, or any dangerous weapons;
  4. has brought a weapon to school;
  5. has made past suicide attempts or threats; Note: If you have a gun in your home, you are 5 times more likely to have a suicide in your house than homes without a gun. An unlocked gun could be the death of your family.
  6. a family history of violent behavior or suicide attempts exists;
  7. projects blame on others or doesn’t accept responsibility for his actions;
  8. has recently experienced a loss or rejection, or some type of shame;
  9. bullies or intimidates others;
  10. is a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse;
  11. witnesses abuse or violence in the home;
  12. talks, writes, reads material or draws with themes of death or depression;
  13. is engrossed in TV shows, movies, music, magazines, comics, books, video games or Internet sites that show acts of violence;
  14. has a diagnosed illness such as depression, mania, psychosis or bipolar disorder;
  15. uses alcohol or illegal drugs;
  16. gets into disciplinary problems at school or in the community;
  17. has destroyed property or vandalized;
  18. has shown cruelty to animals;
  19. has shown fire setting behaviors;
  20. shows poor peer relations or is socially isolated;
  21. is involved in cults or gangs;
  22. has little or no supervision from parents or other caring adults;
  23. believes he deserves whatever he wants at whatever expense.
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Lastly, make sure your chldren or you chidren's friends aren't attracted to delinquent or gang activity. If you are sure your children aren't, are you sure their friends of gun-owning homes are not? Professor Bernard Harcourt delivered a fascinating Chicago's Best Ideas Talk, entitled "Language of the Gun: A Semiotic for Law and Social Science." Professor Harcourt's talk was based on his recent book, "Language of the Gun: Youth, Crime and Public Policy. He interviewed incarcerated teens about their opinions about guns and analyzed the particular language they spoke about guns and the associations their words have, and what the implications are for public policy.

His interviews were conducted at the Catalina Mountain School, a juvenile prison for boys aged 12 to 17. He uncovered the symbolic dimensions of guns and gun carrying among male youths. His book offers a vision of how semiotics can redraw the traditional relationship between law, social science, and public policy. Here’s some of what he heard:

“If you’re out there and you don't have a strap, you're going to get killed.”

“I had me two baby 9's. I fell in love with those. They look beautiful to me.”

“I never got into guns besides selling them.”

“I like to reload bullet shells.”


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“You feel powerful when you have a gun. You get respect.”

“It's too much time to fxxk with guns.”

“Anybody can fight with a gun, anybody can pull a trigger. It takes somebody, like a real man, to fight somebody.”

“I love guns. Hell yeah, I love guns. I love everything about a gun.”

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of School Psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State Univeristy. A portion of Ad sale revenue from this site is donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. Questions? Comment? Concerns about family, parenting, educational or personal concerns? Contact him on the secure Contact Form