Find Your Happy Place

Do You Have ‘A Happy Place’?

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Recently, the National Institute The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM ) reported that the most diagnosed behavioral health issue is anxiety.  

Family caregivers surely know all about anxiety.  For many it began with a loved one’s diagnosis or the reality that an aging parent can no longer live alone and care for themselves.  Caregivers experience anxiety due to changes occurring at a rate that’s difficult to plan for and keep up with which can virtually overwhelm the most even-tempered among us.  

The creation of “A Happy Place” provides a respite from tension and turmoil.  It’s a place that is yours alone, where you can feel safe and happy.  And you can stay for as long as you want to.  A happy place can be a memory, an emotion evoked by an image, or a place and time you make up all on your own.  Happiness, after all is totally subjective.

I am reminded of a story that illustrates what I’m talking about.  It’s called “A Story of Peace” and I’d like to share it with you:

Many years ago, there was a good King who offered a prize to the artist who could paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. When the King finished viewing all the pictures there were two he really liked and he had to choose between them. 

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. 

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell, in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. 

But, when the King looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock.  In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the middle of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest … in perfect peace. 

The King chose the second picture and rewarded the artist with the prize. 

He declared his choice this way: “Because,” explained the King, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble.  Peace means to be surrounded by all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

Here’s to your peace and happiness … Take your oxygen first!

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About the Author

Dr. Jamie Huysman

Jamie Huysman, PsyD, LCSW is Vice President of Provider Relations and Government Affairs at WellMed Medical Management, a UnitedHealth company. He has almost 30 years of medical and behavioral health experience in nonprofit and for profit corporate leadership roles in both hospital and managed care environments. He co-founded the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation that created a new level of care for caregivers around the country and received Florida' Social Worker of the Year Award for that work in 2008. Since 1992, his program, TV AftercareTM has provided millions of dollars worth of follow-up care for talk, court and reality show guests. He co-authored the acclaimed Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health & Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss and was featured in The 100 Mile Walk: A Father and Son on a Quest to Find the Essence of Leadership, Voices of Caregiving and Voices of Alcoholism. Dr. Huysman writes for Caregiver SOS, Florida MD and Today's Caregiver magazines and blogs on

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