Brain science has discovered the root of chronic pain – IN THE BRAIN!  How we frame situations is responsible for emotional health.  Each person can determine whether they are happy or miserable!  This article provides examples of how framing destroys happiness, and how to re-frame destructive language to that which creates happiness and joy.


There is a single word we can – and often do – use to make ourselves miserable.  This word makes one unhappy with a life, a spouse, a job, a daily routine – in fact, with everything it touches.  If we are determined to be miserable all the days of our lives, we can sprinkle this word liberally in all our thoughts, plans, and reactions!

The powerful word to destroy our happiness?  SHOULD.

In 12-step programs, This is called it “Should-y thinking”.  SHOULD acts as instant short hand to reject everything in life, to judge life lacking and insufficient.  The following chart gives some examples of how it does its magic:

SHOULD works to instantly rob every victory of sweetness, to sour every moment.  Entire books have been written on the power of gratitude, but they could all be summed up as “Stop SHOULDING on yourself”!

One woman was determined to change her spoken words to support a joy-filled life.  She adopted “Cancel” as the cue that should-y thinking was present.  If an inadvertent SHOULD slithered into her speech, she would instantly exclaim “Cancel!  Cancel!”  And express her gratitude for some aspect of the situation. See how this approach can change a day, an experience, a life:

Should-y thinking has great power to destroy.  Look back on every moment of disappointment, despair, pain and anger – and find the “should-y” thinking at the root.  Pollyanna had a point – her elimination of “should” made a life of joy and grace possible.

Current research on chronic pain shows that pain originates in the brain, and must be controlled from there if there is to be relief.  Therefore, the current treatment is to teach that “what you resist persists” and that pain can be reduced and borne only by rejecting should-y thinking, and learning to work with the pain, rather than engaging in a constant war with the body and brain!  All those old sayings in 12-step programs are now being proved by scientific brain scans and experimentation!

Science now says you can put the opioids down and go back to the mindfulness meditation classes - and be happy!

Source material:  

Seven Things You Should Know About Pain Science by Todd Hargrove https://www.bettermovement.org/blog/2010/seven-things-you-should-know-about-pain-science

Translational Pain Research: From Mouse to Man.  Kruger L, Light AR, editors. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2010.

Tess Pender is an ordained Interfaith Minister, active in 12-step programs for over thirty years.   Her spiritual  practice began with Native American Sweat Lodges, and continued with a series of Vision Quests. She led a Teen Spiritual Education Program, and regularly teaches classes on accessing intuition.  She practices Earth-Centered
Spirituality.  She can be reached on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Rev-Tess-Interfaith-Minister-1333335763419...

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Comment by Tess Pender on April 28, 2017 at 12:21am

Thanks, Kathy! 

If there is any problem. I can easily flesh out the article - I've already thought of ways to improve the clarity! I also think PowerPoint would let me keep the tables as PNG files.



Comment by Kathy Custren on April 27, 2017 at 11:14pm

Hi, Tess - it is 388 words, without the charts or your bio, but I think we may be able to make it work. If the designer is unable to utilize the chart images resolution-wise, though, we may need to try something else. Let's see what kind of magic arises. It is being forwarded to the publishers, with thanks for taking time to edit ~ Blessings! 

Comment by Kathy Custren on April 26, 2017 at 2:47pm

Good title - and I will check this from home this evening, Tess, and let you know for sure. For our composition purposes here, the charts are technically coming across as images, at this point, so the words in them are not added to the word count; they act as illustrations. We can do a little evaluation and see where it stands. Thanks ~ Blessings! 

Comment by Tess Pender on April 26, 2017 at 2:41pm

Hi, Kathy!

I've made edits to the article - including changing the title!

In terms of the article length - I was counting the words in the charts (in Word, the count as words, even though I used pictures to keep the table format!   The charts are my own, they are just a way to present the ideas.  Both references are to studies of pain and how the brain is the source.

Would you like me to expand the article length, and not count the words in the tables?  I'll be happy to if that is what is better!



Comment by Tess Pender on April 26, 2017 at 12:40pm

thanks, Kathy! Excellent ideas on the beginning and avoinding the pronoun "you" I'll fix it! I saw there were two versions of this, and I couldn't figure out HOW that happened - or how to get rid of the bad one. I also MUST assume that somehow some of the content just disappeared, since I did NOT edit it to make it shorter! I'll figure out today what went wrong and make the repairs.



Comment by Kathy Custren on April 25, 2017 at 8:13pm

Hi, Tess - I am going to go ahead and presume this newer version with the tables you were talking about is the version you would rather have offered on submission? Now, the issue I see between the two of them is that the original submission was 671 words, while this version (not including the tables) is only 386; which makes it fall below our requested length.

Also, it starts off posing a question using the "you" pronoun, and this could be revised as: 

"There is a single word we can – and probably do – use to make ourselves miserable.  This word makes one unhappy with a life, a spouse, a job, a daily routine – in fact, with everything it touches.  If we want to be miserable all the days of our lives, we can sprinkle this word liberally in all our thoughts, plans, and reactions!

The powerful word to destroy our happiness?  SHOULD."

In using the charts, is the first one from the first source, and the second one from the second source referenced? These could be mentioned in the paragraphs right above them, to give them the proper attribution. Couching each reference into the article instead of just as a link will help boost your word count somewhat, leaving the tables in. I can see why you'd want to include the tables, but then we'd need to make up for them somehow to reach at least 500 words.

Please let me know when you make the changes and additions, so I can review once again. I'll put both versions on hold until the final version is worked out. Thanks so much!!  ~ Blessings! 

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