Can We Unlearn Unhappiness?

Yesterday, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, author of Bad Apple and a youth caregiver for her mom, joined me on Your Caregiving Journey. We continued our conversation about the importance of telling your caregiving story and understanding your choice during caregiving. You can listen to our show via the player below.

Kristi began caring for her mom when she was just eight but didn’t tell her caregiving story until more than thirty years later and long after her mom died. I asked Kristi how she feels now that she talks openly about her caregiving experience. She’s free of her resentments, she said, because she let them go when she let her story out.

We spoke about plans for the New Year; Kristi said she will begin 2013 by only agreeing to participate in activities and events that she wants. She wants to move away from believing she has no choice (she must say “Yes”) to understanding she can choose how she spends her time. She recommended a great book she’s read called Boundaries by Drs. Cloud and Townsend.

Kristi’s 2013 goal made me wonder: Can we unlearn how to be unhappy? I think about our Caregiving Happiness Project, which prompts us to make small changes each month to increase our happiness. Can something like our Caregiving Happiness Project help us to unlearn unhappiness?

What do you think? Can we turn the tables on unhappiness? Please share your thoughts in our comments section, below.

Program Note: Hot Topics airs Wednesday (December 12) at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. PT). Our panel of family caregivers will tackle this question: Can we set goals for our caree? And, Ellen Rogin, our wealthness expert, joins me for our monthly chat on Thursday (December 13) at 12:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. CT, 9:30 a.m. PT). Listen to both shows and join the chat room here.

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

One thought on “Can We Unlearn Unhappiness?

  1. Avatar of ejourneysejourneys

    Loved the show! (I keep missing the live broadcast, so I’m thrilled that I can catch it later on.) I think unlearning unhappiness comes in bits and pieces and layers. A big start for me was, “I don’t have to feel guilty.” For me it’s all about unlearning the “shoulds” (both actual and perceived). I’ve concentrated my unlearning with respect to how I am with my partner. My next step is applying those lessons to how I function as her caregiver within the broader society.


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