How to Stay Phat in a Skinny Economy

By Deedra Hunter, LMHC

As a young girl I was devastated if someone called me fat. As an older woman I’m thrilled if someone calls me Phat. Go figure. Better yet, go Google. Phat is now slang for “excellent, first-rate, wonderful, terrific.” I love being Phat and I want to help you get Phat and stay Phat in this negative, skinny economy. No, I don’t posses knowledge of the perfect fail-safe get rich scheme, but I do posses something far better and that something is knowledge about the power of a positive mental attitude. No one knew more about this than Viktor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was both a neurologist and psychiatrist who specialized in people suffering from the depression and suicidal ideation.

On September 25, 1942 Dr. Frankl, his wife and his parents were deported to the Theresienstaft concentration camp for three years. Dr. Frankl lived a life there that to most of us would be unbearable. I became aware of the works of Viktor Frankl as a freshman in college and have quoted him regularly for over thirty years. The one quote that has held the most meaning for me is “everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Who could have known this better than Viktor Frankl?

On April 27 1945 Frankl was liberated by the Americans from the prison camp but none of his family who had also been imprisoned survived. That did survive with Frankl, however was his attitude and his conclusion that no matter how absurd, painful, or depressing your life may seem if you choose to think that it has meaning and choose to maintain a positive attitude – you will survive.

What I want you to know from Viktor Frankl and my own life experience is that happiness is not something that happens to you but a choice you consciously make every second of every single day. Here are the four steps to create happiness:

1. Goal Set
2. Positive Self Talk
3. Positive Mental Visualization
4. Deep Breathing

Goal Set:
Everyday when you get up instead of saying “another lousy day” ask yourself “What kind of day do I choose to make it?” Write down, hour by hour if necessary, those things that will help you accomplish this more positive approach to your life.

Positive Self Talk:
Research proves we tell ourselves between 300 to 1000 words per minute! Most of those words are negative – “I’m tired, “I’m depressed”, “I can’t do anything”; blah, blah, blah, you get the picture. Replace those negative words now. I realize the new words may not seem true or real but as they say in all the 12 step groups “Fake it till you make it.”

Positive Visualization:
The brain thinks in pictures. Even if I say the world “tree” to you, you have to see a tree in your mind to understand the word tree. So paint a powerful, very detailed picture you of the life you ideally want. Always see the end result never the tiny steps to get there. Remember the old saying “Keep your eye on the ball.” This is about focus and focus is about a positive end result.

Deep Breathing:
When we are anxious, scared, or depressed we forget to breath and when we are not breathing deeply we are not giving our brains the oxygen it needs to keep us happy, alert, and focused. Learn to take a breath break which will immediately help you maintain a positive attitude.

Negativity is all around us now but you don’t have to get caught up in it if you don’t want to. Remember what I said, happiness is a choice and these lean, skinny times could be the Phatest times of your life.

Written by: Deedra Hunter is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has also published a book called; Winning Custody: A Woman’s Guide to Retaining Custody of Her Children. She has been a mental health professional for over 20 years and specializes in the counseling and treatment of eating disorders. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida International University, and her Master’s degree in Counseling from St. Thomas University. She also holds a Certificate in Chemical Dependency from University of Miami’s School of Continuing Education

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