Life Perspective: Hope and Happiness

hope and happinessI invite you to join me (in spirit) and celebrating 12 years of writing a biweekly column for the Parksville Qualicum News. The editor titled the original column “The hope and happiness business: New columnist to explore the mind and problems big and small.”

The words “Hope and Happiness” became the enduring header for my columns. This is a personal article about where I come from in my writing…

The underlying principle from which I write my columns is this: We are all hardwired to seek happiness and there is always hope. It’s all about your life perspective.

I grew up in Elmira, a small Ontario town a 3000. (Incidentally, author and Order of Canada recipient Malcolm Gladwell also grew up in Elmira.)  As a teen I didn’t have a lot of friends, but when another kid (or sometimes an adult) was troubled about something they often came to me and talked about it. They usually left feeling better and more hopeful about the future. I knew even then that I would be doing some sort of helping work as an adult.

No one knew that before I lived in that community, I twice had been abducted and sexually abused. They did know that I had lost my father in a plane crash just before we moved there. They knew that we were bordering on poverty as my mother struggled to raise me and my three younger brothers. Then eight years later when I was 16 my mother was killed in a car crash in Elmira.

Inspite of the trauma I was a happy child with an adventurous spirit. My mother had introduced me to Norman Vincent Peele and Dale Carnegie at an early age. I could barely read (severe dyslexia) so mother read to me a lot. That’s probably where I gained my optimism and my love of learning.

I studied psychology and then taught it at the University level for 12 years. I was another 10 years in business before I began psychological counseling professionally. Although people never stopped coming to me with their troubles, I couldn’t see myself as fit to help others professionally until I had worked through a lot of my early-life stuff.

As an adult I have been knocked down many times by, among other things, marriage failures, multiple family deaths, including the deaths of three of my children, and most recently, a stroke. But I’ve long since learned to get up, face what happened and get back to the work of creating a brightness of the future. The alternative of staying stuck in an unhappy place is simply not acceptable to me, so I refuse to do it.

Consequently, when I write an article about very human problems such as grief, trauma, addiction, marriage failure, loneliness or mental illness, my goal is to encourage you to think about ways to get past those issues, to regain hope for the future when it feels like there’s no hope and to regain happiness when it feels like the unhappiness will never end. You don’t have to stay stuck.

The majority of the articles on this website began their lives as a “Hope and Happiness” column in the Parksville Qualicum News.

If you would, celebrate with me by adding a comment.

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Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide.

5 thoughts on “Life Perspective: Hope and Happiness

  1. Thank you Dr. Neill for your nurturing outlook.

    Though we cannot change our past, we can change how we look at it, and more importantly, look forward knowing we are responsible for our lives as adults.

    As I accept 100% responsibility for my life, knowing I do have control over my thoughts, my visions, my actions, I know I have the power to create my precious and bright future.

    I am the adult daughter of a deceased recovered alcoholic mother and now am married to a man who I say is alcohol dependent.

    I do have the power to choose where I am and what I allow others to say or do to me or around me. I am blessed to have many sources of reference for my personal evolution.

    I appreciate your writing, especially because of your very personal experience.

  2. I have enjoyed all of your articles. I can’t tell you enough how your past hardships and how you handle them have helped me this year with my own issues. I wish you the best in 2013!

    From PA in USA!

  3. Dear Neill,

    Writing to you from snow covered Barrie Ontario, heading back to home in Toronto. You are an adventurer
    of the most wondrous sort and a great storyteller too. Thank you for sharing your truth, as it helps us all to grow by telling our truth and acting with integrity.

    A blessed new year to you and yours.


  4. Dr. Neill,

    Ironically or maybe not, may be divine intervention for me, but we have a common name and many common threads. I am female, but named after my severely alcoholic dad, Neil. I have purchased and am quickly reading “Survival Guide for Women” and LOVE the codependency article too!!! I just keep finding helpful and encouraging information on your site. God has sent me to you for a purpose I am sure!! Thank you is not adequate for how I feel to have found you!! God Bless you immensely!!

    I am reading and soaking in your words to help me make a decision about my marriage to a functional alcoholic. I also have a counselor working with me. I have referred him to you too, as a resource.

    Thank you again so very much!!


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