Ask The Psychologist Issue #21: What you can do to be positive and happy in 2021
I have heard some people complaining that this past year was quite negative and not looking to much positivity in 2021. I sent out to a few friends, what I have written earlier in the day and some responded that I should send this out as an ASK THE PSYCHOLOGIST 21ST ISSUE. ONE PERSON RESPONDED, “These are the kind of stories that should be told at schools in America’”. I agree and would add that every person in America should stand in the middle of an American Military Cemetery, as I once did, at key moments in their lives.
I also suggest that if anyone is feeling overwhelmed with all that is now happening in our country, that they should make a four column asset list, with the headings, Physical, Mental, Emotional and Things I do. Under each heading, they should list specifically what positive assets they have in each category. Physical — examples are strong heart beat, can walk for exercise, play sports, etc. For mental — such things as play cards, do puzzles, etc. For emotional — have a good sense of humor, calm in an emergency, etc. And things I do — such as volunteer, call friends, etc. You get the idea. Make the list as long as possible and get someone to help you increase the list every day.
But please be proud of the great country you live in that gives you the opportunity to develop your assets, as I have explained below.
When I was in Italy in 1990 with a friend of mine, who was born in Italy and quite financially successful as an American citizen, we had dinner three nights in a row, with a well to do Italian man, living near Rome, who was a guard for Benito Mussolini during World War II.
The first night, my friend and this gentleman gave me a hard time telling me why Italy is superior to America in food, art and everything else.
Second night, the same thing and I tried to convince them that America had everything they had, plus more.
The third night and last night that we were visiting, the Italian man started again and I said excuse me, but you are right, Italy is far superior to America, I’ve discovered that today when I found thousands of Americans just down the beach from your home. Both Italians were puzzled what I was talking about. I said that my wife and I visited with these Americans earlier today but the problem was, in Anzio, where these men and women are, they are 6 feet under the ground, in a military cemetery and if they were not there, Italy would not be what it is today. Both men went quiet and not one more comment about how great Italy was compared to America.
(Please view Anzio’s American Military Cemetery here:
From that moment on in my life, when people ask me what I am, I always say an American of Italian Ancestry. Growing up, I recall my father (Who served in WW II and part of his service was guarding Italian POW’s), reminded me one day, when he heard me say I was Italian, stating very firmly, YOU ARE AN AMERICAN, NOT AN ITALIAN. Lesson learned!
Happy New Year & God Bless our USA, Bart
Bart P. Billings,Ph.D.
COL SCNG-SC, Military Medical Directorate (Ret.)
Licensed Clinical Psychologist CA PSY 7656
Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist CA LMFT 4888
—Director/Founder International Military & Civilian Combat Stress Conference
—Initial Enlisted Ranks and Retired as Medical Service Corps Officer with a total of 34 years in US Army
—Recipient of the 2014 Human Rights Award from Citizens Commission on Human Rights International & The University Of Scranton “Frank O’Hara Award” in 2016.
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