“Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness: on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art of pursuit followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.”

— John Stuart Mill (philosopher and economist)

Calming Down

Coping with a Child's Illness

Few things are as devastating as caring for a child with a serious illness or disability. Yet, increasingly, these children can lead quality lives, lives that include the love of family and friends.

When these situations do arise, it's critical that all members of the family receive counseling to help them handle the additional stress. If the stress is not handled appropriately, the demands of caring for a sick or disabled child can prove too much for some couples and families to handle. Support groups, religious institutions, professional counselors and others can help family members cope. And remember:
Friends can be a help. No one may really know what you and your family are going through, but your friends and family usually will want to support you, and you should let them. If they don't know what to do, offer suggestions. Allow others to prepare a meal, drive you to doctor visits, run errands, clean your home or stay with your child while you take a break. It may be hard to accept help, but it's in everyone's best interests to do so, including yours.
Friends also can add to the problem. Even if their intentions are good, some friends may only add to your stress by constantly suggesting alternative ways to handle your situation, quoting discouraging news articles, constantly expressing their pity or telling you about miracle drugs they've discovered on the Internet. Your family has enough stress without such irritants. Either distance yourself from these people or refuse to discuss your child's health concerns with them.
Keep your sense of humor. Even in the grimmest situations, laughter can be the best medicine. Used appropriately, a sense of humor can make all the difference in how well a family copes with this type of situation. Remember, your children take their cues from you — if you can have a positive attitude and see the humor in little everyday mishaps, it will encourage them to do the same.
Realize that it's not your fault. Feeling guilty about your child's illness may be a natural reaction, but dwelling on something that you did not cause is futile and zaps your energy. Seek counseling if your feelings of guilt and sadness become overwhelming.

Older Women, Younger Men New Nat'l Trend

Comedian Rita Rudner once declared "Women used to marry older men because they were mature. Now the theory is — men don't mature, marry a young one!"

Jokes aside, more hookups than ever are occurring between older women and younger men. In fact, almost one-third of women between ages 40 and 69 are dating men at least 10 years younger, according to a recent AARP poll. Some reasons behind the trend:

  • Older women like the flexibility, sense of adventure and spontaneity of younger companions.
  • Many older women look better, thanks to sticking to fitness regimens and undergoing cosmetic procedures.
  • Divorce and a longer life span mean more women are returning to the dating scene.
  • Older women are often looking for companionship, travel and fun, rather than a house and children.
  • Younger men often find older women more emotionally secure, more interesting, more financially stable and more sexually satisfying.
  • Our biological "hard wiring" to re-produce is not an absolute. Humans are flexible, and that means not all men are seeking someone young and capable of bearing children.

Virtual Reality as Phobia Treatment

The cyber world has provided major breakthroughs in the treatment of many people with severe phobias. Specifically, virtual reality therapy is proving itself a useful tool in the treatment of problems such as agoraphobia, in which a person is fearful of leaving his or her home.

Virtual reality can be used as part of a desensitization therapy. The person is gradually and frequently exposed to the thing he or she fears in a virtual environment, as part of a gradual process to overcome the phobia. The idea is to change the person's attitude about the phobia, teaching them to confront the fear, gradually tolerate it and then overcome it.

This differs from previous treatments that focused on relaxation alone and took much longer to overcome the patient's anxieties. Hypnosis and both behavioral and cognitive therapy also are often used as part of therapy to treat phobic patients.

Some institutions now use a combination of virtual therapy and traditional therapy. For example, in one program, students who had arachnaphobia (an irrational fear of spiders) were treated with a combination of virtual spiders and real models of spiders; these students reported a much greater improvement in their phobic reactions than those who received counseling only or no treatment at all.

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