A relative newcomer to the Island and to reading my columns raised the question of why my columns are named Hope and Happiness. It was a good question, since he had read only my recent columns on bullying, anxiety, legacy and alcoholism — not happy topics.
Next month will be the 12th anniversary of my writing a column for The NEWS. Probably few of you remember, but the original header was: “The hope and happiness business: New columnist to explore the mind and problems big and small.” That was the beginning of the name Hope and Happiness.
The underlying principle from which I write my columns is this: We are all hardwired to seek happiness and there is always hope.
When I was a teen in the small Ontario town of Elmira, 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 that community.
In spite 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 love of learning and my optimism.
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. When I write an article about very human problems such as grief, trauma, addiction, marriage failure, loneliness or mental illness, my goal is to get you thinking about ways to get past those issues, to regain hope for the future when it feels like there’s no hope and regain happiness.
hen it feels like the unhappiness will never end. You don’t have to stay stuck.
And that is why my column is appropriately named “Hope and
You can reach Registered Psychologist Dr. Neill Neill at
250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com