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BOOKS We’ve developed a partial listing of self help books that might be of interest to you. The list is by no means complete. We hope they can be useful.
MEDITATION AND MENTAL HEALTH
Emotional Alchemy, Bennett?Goleman, Tara, ISBN 0?609?60752?9. This author is a psychotherapist and meditation teacher. She provides a way to combine cognitive “schema” therapy with mindfulness meditation practice. Peter believes that adding mindfulness meditation training to cognitive therapy increases self awareness, self discipline and compassion.
Radical Acceptance, Brach, Tara, ISBN 0?553?80167?8. This author is also a teacher of meditation and a psychotherapist. She emphasizes the importance of compassionate mindful acceptance of our human shortcomings, while still striving to overcome the limitations of our personalities.
Undoing Perpetual Stress, O’Connor, Richard, ISBN 0?425?20769?2. This author explores the many factors that plague modern life—overcrowding, overwork, consumerism, terrorism, mass media, etc. He reasonably suggests the epidemic frequency of depression, anxiety and other disorders is strongly associated with cultural pressures. He recommends mindfulness meditation as a tool to use in managing the stress skillfully.
Mindfulness In Plain English, Gunaratana, Henepola, ISBN 0-861-71064-9. Bhante Gunaratana is a very well respected Sri Lankan Buddhist monk. He’s lived and taught in the U.S. for decades and, despite his Asian background, Peter recommends this book to beginning meditation students. It is just as the title suggests—an introduction to mindful awareness explained clearly and accessibly.
The Parent’s Handbook, Dinkmeyer, Don Sr., Mc Kay, Gary D., & Dinkmeyer, Don Jr., ISBN 0?7854?1188?7 an easy?to?read guide with practical ideas for parenting.
And Baby Makes Three, Gottman, John, handbook for the program, it is meant to help any couple through that first stressful year of the baby’s life.
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman, John, ISBN 0?609?60104?0 We recommend this book for any couple for repairing a relationship in trouble or enriching one that is
healthy. Written by the country’s foremost researcher in relationships, it is a practical guide to changing the ways you interact. Though he consistently writes of marriage, any couple can use the principles.
Not “Just Friends”, Glass, Shirley P., ISBN 0?7432?2550?3 This book explores the several kinds of infidelity and ways both parties need to heal.
Reconcilable Differences, Cohen, Robert Stephen, ISBN 10?0743407113 Cohen is family attorney who has gotten out of work by helping couples who still love each other identify 7 areas of conflict, their warning signs, their overt behaviors, and their repair processes.
Money, Sex, and Kids, Tessina, Tina B., ISBN 10?59869?325?5 I think of these issues as the trifecta of marital quarrels, and Tessina offers practical solutions to settling them. She may not have the solution that will work for you, but you will certainly get something to talk about in a rational way.
The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, Orman, Suze, ISBN 0?517?70791?8 This financial advisor offers practical information on how to organize your finances, in addition to the second chapter devoted to addressing irrational thinking and behavior with money.
Reconcilable Differences, Cohen, Robert Stephen, ISBN 10?0743407113 Cohen is family attorney who has gotten out of work by helping couples who still love each other identify 7 areas of conflict, their warning signs, their overt behaviors, and their repair processes. He offers a great chapter on financial reconciliation.
Money, Sex, and Kids, Tessina, Tina B., ISBN 10?59869?325?5 I think of these issues as the trifecta of marital quarrels, and Tessina offers workable solutions to settling them. Her chapter on money is practical and readable.
LINKS Some of these sites are associated with exploring more about the recommended books. Others provide additional resources for counseling, workshops or retreats.
If you want more information about the book Undoing Perpetual Stress, contact this web site: http://www.undoingstress.com/cgi?local/welcome.cgi
For more information about Buddhist mindfulness meditation: http://www.orlandoinsight.org/
LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS This is a brief list of community resources that we have found useful to our clients in the past. It is not meant to be exhaustive, but a helpful beginning.
Crisis hot line, LIFELINE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
P. O. Box 149083
Orlando, FL 32814
Crisis Line: 407-425-2624
Busines Line: 407-425-5201
HIV-AIDS, HOPE AND HELP MAIN OFFICE: 1935 Woodcrest Drive, Winter Park, FL 32792, 407-645-2577
SEXUAL ASSAULT HOT LINE
THE HEALING TREE (Main office) 601 W. Michigan St. ~ Orlando, FL 32805 407.317.7430 THE HEALING TREE (Osceola office) 1605 N. John Young Pkwy. ~ Orlando, FL 32804 407.518.6936
HARBOR HOUSE OF CENTRAL FLORIDA: 24-Hour Crisis Hotlin2856 (TDD) 1(800)500-1119 (FL)
Center for Drug Free Living Inc P.O. Box 538350 Orlando FL 32853 8301 East Colonial Drive Orlando FL 32817 Phone: (407) 249-6560 Web Site: cfdfl.com
Crossroads of Sanford 300 South Bay Avenue Sanford FL 32771 Phone: (407) 323-2036
CATHOLIC CHARITIES 1771 N. Semoran Blvd. Orlando, FL 332807
Phone 407-658-1818 Fax 407-282-2891
SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
2008 Brengle Avenue Orlando, FL 32808 Phone: 407?295?1066 Fax: 407?292?4758 Executive Director: Dave Krepcho Email: email@example.com Web Site: www.foodbankcentralflorida.org Media Contact: Greg Higgerson Title: Development Director Phone: 407?295?1066 x21 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meditation often has a mystical, far?Eastern meaning to most people. In fact, some people are even made anxious about meditation because of religious prejudice. Since the end of WW II, there has been a great deal of research on the effects of meditation practice, regardless of whatever religious tradition is studied.
Peter began meditating with Transcendental Meditation in the early 1970’s, and continued more intensively through Mindfulness of Breathing meditation practice since 1982. He has been on dozens of long meditation retreats, lasting from 3 days to 3 months in duration. He’s the founding teacher of the Orlando Insight Meditation Group, established in 1997 to promote meditation practice. He teaches introductory courses on mindfulness meditation and lovingkindness meditation around Central Florida.
Mindfulness meditation is a major focus of scientific research these days. The effects of the practice on the body and the mind are ongoing. In fact, due to the influence of the Dalai Lama, major research is being conducted on how meditation practice actually creates happiness, in addition to warding off suffering.
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the capacity for observing what happens in the mind as it happens. This quality of self observation is not judgmental or harsh. It’s simply noting the condition of the mind in a situation—the thoughts, moods and urgencies that are cascading through consciousness as they are being formed and passing away.
How is mindfulness helpful? Our life experiences are processed in multiple ways. Mindfulness focuses on two of these processes: what we are thinking, and the urgent feelings that accompany each thought.
THINKING: Mindfulness allows us to notice in a more objective way the thoughts that arise—they’re just thoughts, not commands or certainties (although they may feel certain at the time). Thoughts are provisional, that is, they provide meaning to experience and guide potential responses.
URGENT FEELINGS: When a thought arises, it’s accompanied by a feeling, either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. Except for neutral feelings, there’s a sense of urgency about the feelings. As the thoughts change, the feelings change in urgency and directions. How often I’ve noticed pleasant feelings of love turn abruptly to unpleasant feelings of fear or anger, when my thoughts about the loved object change!
How do I practice mindfulness meditation? The practice of mindfulness meditation is very simple and straightforward. Set aside a time when you will be undisturbed. Sit up straight in a not?too?comfortable chair. Either with eyes open or closed, just focus attention steadily on the touch sensation as air enters and leaves your nostrils. Not thinking, just sensing the neutral sensation. Focusing for long periods of time on breath awareness allows the thoughts and more or less urgent feelings to subside, so the body relaxes and your mood softens. Naturally the mind will wander. Mindfully notice the shift of focus and whatever urgent feeling arises. After noting the thoughts and
feelings briefly, disregard them and return awareness to watching the breath. Repeat this procedure of noticing and letting go back to the breath for the whole meditation. Try to stay with breath awareness for as long as possible to produce a calm and clear mind. However, noticing and disregarding the thoughts and feelings that arise is also important, as it makes it possible to desensitize yourself to the urgency that causes anxiety, depression, quarreling, addictive behavior, and other similar problems.
How does this help? It helps in several important ways:
- Staying with the breath sensations naturally calms the emotions.
- Maintaining an ongoing curiosity about what will happen during the breath cycle strengthens the “mindfulness muscle” so there is more internal awareness.
- Practicing letting go of urgency without acting on it is the most intimate and immediate way to cultivate self?discipline.
What is lovingkindness? Lovingkindness meditation involves repeating a phrase that cultivates good will, tolerance and compassion for whatever arises in the mind. It’s normal to think that someone or something external “makes me angry” or fearful, etc. Through careful self?examination, it’s clear that the emotions are generated by our attitudes regarding external events more than the event itself.
How can I practice lovingkindness? I suggest a person find a quiet spot suitable for meditation practice. Focus attention on the area around the heart—not to notice heart beat sensations, but rather just whatever sensation arises. It might be achy or hard, soft, pulsing, expansive or seem to be absent of sensation. At the same time, repeat this phrase with great sincerity, over and over again:
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be content
May I love myself completely
And with great kindness
Just as I am now
No matter what happens
The benefit of this practice comes from using the emotions derived from repeating the phrase to keep the part of the brain devoted to verbalizing busy with positive emotion?generating words. This also helps to calm the mind and soothe angry or anxious moods.
Meditation practice not the answer to all of life’s concerns, but it provides us with a very powerful tool for managing what we think, how we feel and our behaviors. I often encourage clients who are willing to use meditation practice to enhance the benefits of psychotherapy.
Human beings are social animals. We’re hard?wired to have relationships. Recent research indicates that it’s necessary for us to interact, in order to have the necessary stimulation for creating a personality. Studies of the interactions between caregivers and infants demonstrate a mutual influencing, reflected in facial expressions. It’s also clear that we learn how to be in any kind of relationship through the roles we experience in our original family dynamics.
Group therapy mimics those family dynamics. Even if we were raised as only children or in orphanages, whatever interactions occurred turned into strategies for living in our developing personalities. Both Peter and Paula have had years of training and practice facilitating group therapy. At one point we co?facilitated a therapy group for couples whose marriages were troubled.
Typically, the focus of the individuals in group therapy revolves around wanting to be understood and accepted, alternating with fear of being understood and accepted. This seems contrary, so some explanation is helpful. As social beings, we feel assured, even more real, when others reflect our ways of seeing and feeling. When raised in a dysfunctional family, our needs to be understood and to have our emotions accepted aren’t met adequately. In fact, having needs separate from what the parents or other adult authority figures, such as teachers, ministers, etc., expect, often brings shame or punishment. This brings fear of self?disclosure in a group setting. This fear can be openly seen and addressed in group therapy, with powerful benefits.
Effective group therapy provides support for discovering that we can have more confidence in our social experiences. We learn that it’s OK to have differing needs, and that they can be negotiated, understood and resolved effectively.
Additionally, group therapy is quite affordable, because the costs are spread among the various group members. It’s also true that the depth and caring experienced, as group members come to know each other in similarities and differences, is precious.
We offer group therapy in the evening to make it possible for most people to attend after work. The sessions last from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.
If you are like most people, you have probably used your money in ways you later regretted. You may have gone into debt beyond what you could pay back. You may have used money earmarked for a particular purpose to do something else entirely. You may have desperately held onto every dollar that came into your hands as if would be the last. You knew you were acting irrationally, but did it anyway. You read books or worked with consultants, and still kept making the mess. But why? Most of us have emotional issues around money. Very few grew up in a family where money was talked about as easily as cooking or lawn?mowing. We heard a lot of messages about money that we either take too far or reject completely, unable to find the middle ground. You do not have to stay stuck in that ineffectual place. Paula is specializing in this area. With her help:
$ You might begin to explore your earliest memories of having, spending, or saving money.
$ You might examine the earliest messages you got about money and work on revising what you tell yourself.
$ You might look at some money or credit cards, sharing whatever thoughts come to mind.
$ You might just make some changes toward what looks like the middle ground and talk about whatever feelings come up when you do.
$ You might give some money away and process what it feels like.
$ You might ask for financial help and process what that feels like.
$ You might share your complete financial status with someone and process the feelings that come up when you break the taboo of silence.
$ You might talk about refusing to give to someone who asks for money, particularly someone close to you.
In this type of counseling work, most people benefit by feeling more comfortable talking about money, by thinking more rationally about it, and by using it the way they always wanted to but could not manage. This is especially important for couples who are having arguments about their finances.
Paula isn’t a financial advisor or manager. Her area of expertise is in helping people deal with the emotional baggage that gets in their way when they try to work with their money like a tool. The ability to use money like any other tool seems like a reasonable goal, one she can help you toward.
Human personalities are born and created through relationships. First between a parent and child, then peer relationships throughout childhood, and finally, adult to adult relationships. Most people seek out a life partner, either hetero? or homosexual. We often define relationship quality in our culture according to the sexual aspects of relating. Perhaps this is the historical legacy of Sigmund Freud. However, modern developmental psychology places interpersonal security, loyalty and affection as the more primary drive in relationship.
The approach we take to couples therapy focuses on building positive relationship experiences and anchoring them securely in your relationship. We’ve been married over 20 years, and have an abundance of professional as well as personal relationship experience to draw from in helping you overcome the distrust and pain your primary relationship experiences. We’ve both experienced divorce as well, so we understand the pain of breakup.
What characterizes conflict in couples? Here are some important symptoms:
???? Feeling tense about the relationship. You might dread coming home and find ways to avoid encountering each other, such as working late, becoming increasingly involved in sports or other opportunities to stay away.
???? Worst of all, one or both of you may be having an affair with someone else. This may be a sexual affair, or you may be increasingly involved emotionally with another person, substituting the satisfaction you want from your partner with the other person, who “just understands me better”.
???? There may be frequent quarreling, over kids, money, friends, in?laws, and so on. The quarrels may start out as attempts to solve problems, but degrade into encounters where it’s more important to win than find a solution, and someone has to be the victor and the other the victim. Oddly enough, we often discover that each partner feels like the victim, but acts like the attacker!
???? There can be violence. It might be verbal, such as name calling or hurling insulting labels. It might be physical, such as throwing or breaking things , or physical attacks. It might be sexual, with coercion either to have sex or deny sex. Violence can be financial as well, controlling the shared income to gain advantage.
???? There may be stone cold silences, lasting for days, either to punish the other, or because you’re simply afraid that whatever you say will start a quarrel
???? There’s often a pattern wherein one partner pursues the other. The pursued silently withdraws, anxious and uncertain what to say or do, while the pursuer advances, anxiously demanding that the issue get resolved right away, complaining that the pursued never wants to talk.
When couples come to therapy, they have had a great deal of practice defining and justifying the problems that have occurred. Often, the initial stages of therapy consist of a rehashing of old hurts and accusations, and one or both parties insist we fix the other person. We’ve discovered relationships don‘t improve until each person acknowledges his or her role in the difficulties and starts applying the well?established skills and attitudes we recommend, based on our years of personal training and practice in our own relationship.
Couples therapy can include:
- Practicing different ways of communicating.
- Managing individual surges of anger and impulsive reactivity.
- Learning how to support each other with positive contributions rather than negative criticisms.
- Establishing and maintaining regular ways of affirming the relationship through shared experience and common visions.
Some people liken relationship to a dance. This kind works best when partners take turns leading. It is best when both partners listen to the same music. And most people dance better after they have had some lessons. Even if only one partner takes lessons, the two will dance better as a pair.
What is addiction? Our culture is enduring an epidemic of addiction. In the past, addiction was diagnosed when someone is dependent on a substance of abuse, such as alcohol, heroin, nicotine, or another psychoactive substance. More recently, scientists have discovered that the same compulsive neurons in the brain are affected in the brains of compulsive eaters, gamblers, sex addicts and even compulsive spenders. We can say that addiction is a disorder involving an intense and increasingly dysfunctional relationship with a particular substance or behavior.
When thinking of addiction, we think of someone skanky and nasty in a dark alley. How confusing to notice that none of our clients who are addicts fit this description! It is the same with alcoholism. We offer another description: An addict is a person who, seeking an escape from uncomfortable feelings, began using alcohol or some other drug to dull that feeling. We want to expand that to also include addictive activities, like gambling, shopping, sex, and you?name?it, which can be a temporary distracter. Using whatever it was only worked a little, so it had to be increased to get the same effect. As it took more time and money, it began to create problems in the person’s life. These problems might be with health, money, relationships, or the law. They define addiction.
Another marker of addiction is that it is often not the main problem in a person’s life. There is some other problem, often a mental health problem, that the person is trying to ease by using. Thus the addiction problem cannot be solved without addressing the other problem. In treatment we will look at both the addiction and the other problem, often in the same session.
How do we help folks with addiction problems? We both have worked at the Center for Drug Free Living, a recovery agency in Orlando. Peter is a Certified Addictions Professional. Paula worked at the methadone clinic helping people addicted to opiates. We can help in assessing the severity of a drug problem, explain the various treatment options, then take effective action to address the problems that are present. The approach we will take varies from person to person, but the goal is to help him or her return to normal functioning.
What is codependency? In the 1970’s and 1980’s, mental health professionals developed concepts and terms to describe the affects of addiction on the well being of those who are affected by the addiction. It’s not an official diagnostic term, but it’s commonly used to describe the thoughts, emotions and behaviors of those persons. When thinking of codependency, we think of someone whose life and priorities are frustrated because someone important to them is engaged in self destructive behaviors. Their life is wrapped around protecting that person from the consequences of those behaviors. As a result, the codependent person can become anxious, angry, hopeless, controlling or even physically ill as a result of the stress. It has been our experience that, oddly enough, the success of a recovering person’s sobriety can be sabotaged by the unaware, well intentioned, but stressful attitudes and behaviors of the codependents in his or her life. In working with clients, we’re aware of the codependent legacy of being raised in an environment negatively affected by substance abuse. Even
if a person is not currently in relationship with someone active in substance abuse, there are likely
dysfunctional codependency issues that affect current relationships and self worth.
How do we help folks with codependency problems? The issues of codependency are
often more challenging, in that with substance abuse there is a marker, the drugs, which can be noticed
and addressed. With codependency, the problems are not tangible like drugs are. Often, these folks
are so preoccupied with the addicted other that they can’t focus clearly on the self destructive mind
states that characterize codependency. We will educate codependents about the nature of the disease
of addiction and help them reestablish relations with the addicted person that support a return to
normal functioning for both. We might recommend self help books to further the educational process.
We will explore how coping strategies that were necessary to live with someone actively abusing drugs
affect the codependent’s self image and what he or she experiences and acts on in relationships.
We live in stressful times, so it’s quite understandable that there’s an epidemic of anxiety in our culture today. In the case of anxiety, the body’s ability to adapt to stress is overwhelmed. Every time something stressful happens, a bit more adrenaline is squirted into the blood stream, increasing heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure and negatively affecting the immune system. The body adapts to this pressure, up to a point.
When the system gets overwhelmed by anxiety, certain symptoms begin to appear:
- Sleep disturbances—there may be trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep
- Racing thoughts—the stream of thoughts runs on, following worrisome tracks
- It’s easy to be startled and irritably jumpy
- There can be frequent headaches, back aches or digestive problems
- It’s easy to be distracted and forgetful
- In extreme cases, panic attacks may occur, indicated by heart pounding, racing thoughts, shortness of breath, fear of closed places or crowds and even fear of having a heart attack
Some folks are born more vulnerable to anxiety, while others have experienced traumatic life events that leave an enduring imprint on the mind?body process. Traumatic events may be sudden and dramatic, such as combat or an auto wreck. It’s also traumatizing to be exposed to frequent upsetting events, particularly in childhood. While living in a home where there’s often verbal or physical abuse, the effects of the anxiety endure. Some folks suffer from both kinds of trauma.
Psychotherapists often give diagnoses for these disorders. Here are some that are often seen in therapy:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This is just what it sounds like. Individuals are generally anxious and preoccupied.
- Social Phobia: With this disorder, folks tend to become anxious when in a group, particularly when they don’t know anyone else.
- Panic Disorder: Folks who suffer from this often have unexpected attacks. It may happen in any setting, or primarily in crowds or small spaces like elevators or airplanes. The experience is quite frightening, which makes things worse: someone then becomes fearful about being fearful. This can lead to Agoraphobia, which can leave someone unable to leave their home, anxious that they may have an attack elsewhere.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Individuals plagued with this disorder can have panic attacks, respond fearfully or violently when exposed to something that reminds them of the trauma, or try to control the anxiety through recreational drugs. They often have difficulty maintaining relationships at home or work, and are subject to mood swings between anxiety and depression.
There are other diagnoses of anxiety disorders, but all require some specialized interventions. The best treatments include:
- Training to help improve relaxation. This might involve meditation, self?hypnosis, regular exercise and decreasing the amount of caffeine
- Identifying the triggers of anxiety and developing specific strategies to interrupt the anxiety early in the escalation cycle, desensitizing to the trigger
- Using the therapeutic relationship to provide soothing, well?trained support in an ongoing way
- Sometimes a referral to a physician for medication would be helpful
What is depression? There’s an epidemic of depression in our society today. Antidepressant medications are among the most prescribed categories found in pharmacies today. How can you determine if you are depressed? Here are some symptoms:
- Persistent sadness or tearfulness, often accompanied by irritability.
- Loss of appetite, or, paradoxically, episodes of binge eating.
- Problems with sleeping. If there’s also anxiety, you would have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. If you have no anxiety, you may sleep too much. In either case, you don’t feel rested or alert during the day. There’s little or no motivation to do normal things.
- Distractedness, forgetfulness or feeling spacey and disconnected.Life seems dreary, flat and uninteresting. Things you normally enjoy are not appealing, and life seems to be a series of unenjoyable chores.
- You’re not particularly social, either because you feel unworthy, or because other people seem to just be uninteresting.
- There may be persistent negative thoughts of unworthiness, failure or feeling overwhelmed with doing the normal things of life.
- In extreme cases life may seem meaningless.It’s not unusual for a depressed person to experience morbid thinking, wondering if life is worth the effort, or whether anyone would care if you weren’t around. In extreme cases, there may be thoughts or plans of suicide. If you have morbid thoughts, that’s not dangerous, just uncomfortable—come see one of us and talk about it.
- If you are having suicidal thoughts or plans, please tell a loved one and call 911 or go see a physician right away. It’s an emergency at that point! Depression is a disease, not a death sentence. It’s very treatable, but suicide prevents treatment from being effective.
There are two basic categories of depression—major depression, which is quite disabling and emotionally painful, and dysthymic disorder, which is a chronic, low grade depression that lingers for years, perhaps decades. Dysthymia can be one of the lingering effects of a dysfunctional childhood.
What can be done about depression? As mentioned above, depression is treatable. The sooner you seek help, the easier it is to overcome the disease. Here are some well?established strategies for overcoming depression:
Make an appointment to talk to one of us. One of the most disabling symptoms of depression is feeling hopeless about life getting better. We can help, but you must let us know what’s happening.
Regular exercise is a great antidote for depression. Going for daily walks of 30 minutes or more have been shown to be very effective, especially to prevent depressive relapse.
Talk therapy has many benefits. We can help you identify unrealistic and self defeating thoughts and substitute more beneficial thoughts. This is called “cognitive therapy” and is proven to be quite effective at alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Laughter makes a difference. Join a laughing club. Watch a funny video or whatever gets you going. Even forced laughter will help until the real thing comes bursting out.
Another well?established intervention for depression is “interpersonal therapy”, which relies on the quality of trust and emotional empathy in the therapeutic relationship to provide benefit.
Tidy your living space. A messy home makes depression worse. If depression makes it impossible for you to take action, get a friend to come over or hire a professional.
Research shows the most reliable and enduring recovery from depression combines talk therapy with antidepressant medication. Most research indicates that taking medication without talk therapy increases the likelihood of depressive relapse after ending the medication. The medication does allow you to hear and apply what we might recommend more effectively, because the prescription increases your motivation, and decreases feelings of hopelessness, irritability and sadness.
Research indicates that depression is a relapse?prone disease, somewhat like malaria or alcoholism. This is not hopeless, however. The more you apply yourself to the suggestions we make during your talk therapy sessions, the less likely relapse will occur. In fact, the end results might be that you’re more effective and more joyful than you’ve ever been!