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Kathy Marshack News

Are You Happy with the Money You Earn?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


how much money do you need to earn to be happyWe all need money to live. But when is enough, enough? In a recent CNN article, "How much do you need to earn to be happy?", the results of the CNN Money's American Dream poll is very revealing. This poll, conducted by ORC International, asked these two questions:

How much do you need to make in order to be happy? They discovered that…

  • “23% said they'd need between $100,000 and $199,999.
  • Over half of people said it would take less than $100,000 to make them happy.
  • Almost a quarter of the people said between $50,000 and $74,999 would work.
  • 10% said $30,000 would be their minimum requirement.”

How much does it take to consider yourself rich? They discovered that…

  • “11% said they'd need to make $1 million or more.
  • The most typical answers fell between $100,000 and $199,999.
  • 60% thought incomes below $250,000 would be enough.”

The article refers to a Princeton study, which found that “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”

Maybe some follow up questions should be – what do you do with your money? Do you spend it as fast as it comes in? Do you spend more than what’s coming in? Do you save? Are you using your money to achieve specific goals, or is it flying out the window with nothing to show for it?

As a psychologist in private practice I see clients who struggle to find happiness even when they’ve achieved their financial goals. Join us on my Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D) and let’s talk about this question – Do you define your riches in terms of monetary wealth or life experiences?

In a Bad Mood? It Could Be Coming from Reading Social Media

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


social media influences our moodThe brain/body connection is truly amazing. Your brain has the power to influence your body in either a negative or positive way. Studies have proven that maintaining an optimistic mood improves health. And our mood is greatly influenced by the people we let into our lives. Does this also apply to the short little tweets or posts we daily read on Social Media?

According to a fascinating new study, the answer is “YES”. An article written by Mike Bundrant, a retired psychotherapist and regular contributor to PsychCentral, discusses how the study was conducted and the discoveries it made.

Researches from the University of California, Yale and Facebook examined Facebook posts created between January 2009 and March 2012. They especially focused on how the weather influenced the posts. They found that the mood reflected in the post generated similar postings. For example, negative comments generated negative posts. However, they found that the positive comments generated more positive posting. Either way, the study shows that the mood has the capability of going viral around the globe.

That’s a lot of power! People have, at times, exploited this power to generate political and social unrest. Since Facebook has 1.23 billion users as of January 2014 and Twitter has 243 million active users, it’s very likely that you are using one of these or a similar Social Media site to stay connected with your friends, family and community. So how can you protect yourself from being infected by the negative posts? Here are some suggestions:

  • Consciously monitor your own mood, before logging onto your Social Media.
  • Be proactive and share your happy mood.
  • Before you get agitated over a comment, make sure you have all the facts. Check the source and verify “facts”.
  • Feeling down? Re-read your post, and make it more positive before you hit the send button. You’ll be helping yourself and others.
  • If someone consistently posts things that alter your mood in a negative way, don’t hesitate to unfollow them.
  • Start your day with positive thoughts, rather than reading Social Media first thing every morning.
  • Increase your face-to-face contact with people who help you stay positive.
  • Log off and go do something you really enjoy – walking, playing with your pet, gardening, and so forth.

This study’s findings are hardly surprising since we’ve known that journaling and reading positive affirmations can empower the subconscious to believe the stated affirmation. It only makes sense that what you read in Social Media will affect your mind and body, too.

Do you have any experiences with this that you’d like to share? Join me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Kathy.Marshack.Ph.D ). Yes, I’m on Facebook. It’s one way of reaching and helping more people through support and education. But let’s keep it helpful and positive!

One Woman’s Inspiring Journey to Wellness

Thursday, March 20, 2014


hope of mental and physical wellness through holistic health approachIf you heard of a woman who struggled with debilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression, who sought treatment through many medications, ongoing psychotherapy, electro-convulsive therapy, hospitalizations, and yet attempted suicide multiple times, would you hold out much hope that she would get better?

It may sound hopeless, yet her inspiring journey proves that we can change. Gayathri Ramprasad is a mother and homemaker. Her story on CNN proves that where we are right now can be changed to where we want to be. While recovering in the hospital from her last suicide attempt, she made up her mind to take charge of her life and create a life of wellness. She was tired of being chronically mentally ill and wanted to be well.

Despite the fears of many, she weaned herself off all medications under the supervision of her psychiatrist and turned to a holistic health approach as a way to achieve wellness.

First, she explored transcendental meditation. In the beginning, she couldn’t sit still or be calm. In time, however, she acquired those skills. She learned how to become aware of her thoughts and emotions. Instead of letting them control her, she began to control them and to live more purposefully.

Secondly, she joined a health club and started aerobics, free weights, and yoga classes three times a week. She found that exercise energized her and elevated her mood. It also helped her create a social network outside of her family.

Lastly, she learned how cognitive behavioral therapy could transform her life. Her therapist proved to her that thoughts, feelings, moods and behavior are interconnected. To change her world she needed to identify negative, faulty thoughts and replace them with positive, life-affirming thoughts.

While this approach may not work for everyone, I believe you have all the resources within you to make changes that are as dramatic as these. My role as a therapist is to assist you in discovering these inner resources and drawing them out so you can fully utilize them. If you want to achieve your optimum health and wellness, please contact my Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, WA office to schedule an appointment. Do you have non-confidential questions about how cognitive behavioral therapy works? Join me on Facebook and let’s discuss it.

Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

What 40 Years of Science Reveals About Happiness

Thursday, January 09, 2014


the three main factors that result in happinessAfter over thirty five years counseling clients and helping them discover what happiness means to them personally, I was interested to read a recent article in the New York Times on this subject. The president of the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, D.C., reported on what scientists have discovered about happiness after studying it for 40 years.

Scientists have determined that three major things impact happiness – our genes, events, and our values. Here's what the research shows:

Genetics: Researchers at the University of Minnesota have studied identical twins separated at birth and found that genetics is responsible for about 48.5% percent of our happiness.

Events: Measured to account for 40 percent of our happiness, the effect of events on our happiness is usually short-lived. Today we may be ecstatic about landing our dream job, but within a month or so that euphoria wears off.

Values: While the smallest percentage of our happiness is attributed to our values, this is something totally within our control. We get to choose what value we place on the basics – faith, family, community and meaningful work.

The article also went on to reveal that meaningful life and work isn’t successfully measured by the amount of money you have or what you buy. Mr. Brooks explains more, “Rewarding work is unbelievably important, and this is emphatically not about money. That’s what research suggests as well. Economists find that money makes truly poor people happier insofar as it relieves pressure from everyday life — getting enough to eat, having a place to live, taking your kid to the doctor. But scholars have found that once people reach a little beyond the average middle-class income level, even big financial gains don’t yield much, if any, increases in happiness.”

In order to be happy, you must know yourself first. This means becoming knowledgeable about the connections between your personal life, your family life and your work life. Understanding your personal family dynamics and how they interact with your career or business creates a more successful life balance.

This is especially true for family business owners, your personal life influences your business decisions, and vice versa. Therefore, it is well worth your while to become more knowledgeable about your personality style, your family values, your blind spots and how they shape your daily actions. Self-Assessment is a good place to start in reevaluating your attitude toward work and money. If you’re an entrepreneur you will find many self-assessment exercises, including Your Financial Plan in my book - Entrepreneurial Couples - Making it Work at Work and at Home.

If you need help discovering a more meaningful, and happy, work-life balance please contact my Portland Oregon/ Vancouver, Washington office and set up an appointment.

The Two Types of Happiness and How They Affect You

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


two types of happinessThroughout our lives we experience happiness to varying degrees, from being mildly pleased to being wildly ecstatic. A recently released study shows that the reason why we are happy is important.

A group of scientists have been studying the impact that positive emotion has on our physical and psychological well-being. They recently released their findings and the results are surprising. They found proof that the type of happiness you experience changes you at the cellular level.

What does it mean by “type of happiness”? In the study they classified happiness into two types: hedonic (pleasure from instant gratification) and eudaimonic (pleasure from working toward the greater good, a sense of meaning in life or purpose).

While both types of happiness have positive effects on a person, eudaimonic happiness does greater good for you on the cellular level. It tells your genes to produce a lower level of inflammatory proteins and more antiviral and antibody proteins. This has a good affect on your body.

If you have prolonged stress, your white blood cells make more pro-inflammatory proteins. In the short term, this is a defense against infection. But over time this inflammation can cause damage to healthy tissue. 

What does all of this mean? In part, it means that a person who strives to be happy by giving to others and living a meaningful life will be healthier than people who are focused on pleasing themselves. Not too surprising is it? But now we have scientific proof that it’s true.

There can be a number of reasons why a person doesn’t feel happy – emotional stress, family pressure, environmental toxins, biochemical/nutritional imbalances to mention a few. If you’d like to take a more proactive approach to finding meaning and satisfaction in you're life, you can work with a mental health professional to set meaningful goals. Contact my office and set up an appointment if you’re near my offices in Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington.

You can read more about this in an article on CNN, “Your Happiness Type Matters”.

If You Want to Be Happy Take a Risk

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


happy woman enjoying lifeWhat makes you happy? If you were to list 25 things that make you happy, what would they be? How many of your listed items would be things that make you uncomfortable? Normally, we tend to avoid what feels risky, preferring to stay in our comfort zones. Yet, that may not be the best way to stay happy. Here’s why…

In the Declaration of Independence, the founding fathers listed our Rights as “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? The word pursuing involves obtaining something that you don’t have yet. We can pursue happiness by doing the things we know we like. But there is more to it than that. A recent article in Psychology Today, “What Happy People Do Differently”, makes this statement, “One of life's sharpest paradoxes is that the key to satisfaction is doing things that feel risky, uncomfortable, and occasionally bad.”

Does that surprise you that doing what is risky and uncomfortable contributes to our happiness? We all need to experience new things, overcome new challenges that take us outside of our comfort zones to grow emotionally and spiritually. We need to fuel our curiosity.

The article also lists the following four other unique habits that happy people have:

  • They have a balanced view of details, not taking things too personally or striving for perfection.
  • They celebrate others’ successes and build relationships with others who do the same.
  • They have psychological flexibility – they accept negative emotions as a signal that they need to examine and possibly change the situation they’re in.
  • They balance pleasure and purpose – they enjoy life but stay on track with long-range goals.

Happiness isn’t about always being on an emotional high. It comes when you combine it with “occasional sadness, a sense of purpose, playfulness, psychological flexibility, autonomy, mastery and belonging.” Rather than chasing happiness, perhaps the founding fathers should have said “and the pursuit of a life well-lived.”

Are there anxieties or chronic depression that prevent you from fully enjoying life and your relationships? Life is too precious to miss out on, so maybe it’s time to consult with a therapist who will work with you as you discover the best ways to keep your anxieties or depression under control. Are you near Portland Oregon or Vancouver, Washington? Contact my office to set up an appointment.

Learn how you can help yourself by checking out the tips on my website – Depression and Stress.


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