Who's Your "Sphere of Influence"?

When clients come to me in distress about their relationships (which is nearly universal, whether I'm doing individual or couples therapy), one of my first "go-to" conversations is about his/her "sphere of influence." By that, I mean this: Who influences you? Who do you influence? Whose opinions matter? Who is closest to you socially? Who can you really count on? In my work as a therapist in Honolulu, I usually draw it by using concentric circles--you in the middle, and three circles (like orbits) around. Your "innermost" circle would be your closest friends and/or family members--and then we work outward from there until the third circle is filled with close acquaintances. What often appear

How Much of Your Happiness Do You Control?

I've written a lot about happiness in the past - how to find it, how to keep it, and who has the most of it. But, I've rarely written about the happiness "breakdown." Until now. When I'm feeling down and wondering "why" my life circumstances are happening as they are, I always find comfort in the "happiness pie chart" I saw a while ago in Psychology Today magazine: 50% of happiness is genetic 40% is life choices 10% is life circumstances Broken down a bit further, here's what we know: About half of the happiness people report is actually that genetic happiness set-point I wrote about in another blog. For better or for worse, our genetics actually do play a large part in life satisfaction and

Are We Too Fragile for Conflict?

I have to laugh at some of the new proposed laws popping up around the country - in one state, lawmakers are trying to outlaw swings at playgrounds because they're dangerous. In another, children were nearly banned without an adult because they could fall down stairs. In yet another, a Mom was nearly arrested for letting her two children, 6 and 10, walk home from the park (even though, statistically, our children are safer from kidnappings today than when I was growing up). Then, there's the emotional protection - the other day, my 8 year-old told me he didn't feel "intellectually safe" in that moment because I told him he had to go to bed. Seems I can't even tell my kid it's bedtime withou

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