Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
January 2012



Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.

Applause, Applause

“I pledge allegiance to my heart and the united souls
of the universe. And to the creation, which we serve,
one love, unseparated, with love and expansion for all.”
                                                  ~ Danielle Potheau

The pledge above was written by my niece, so I acknowledge my bias in saying I think this is one heck of a prescription for joy. Don’t you? There are so many things I like about this brief declaration. First and foremost, it is apolitical. Second, it implies our oneness and similarity to one another (yes, even our foes). Third, the vision is neither selfless nor selfish!

SO, as you read either Danielle’s pledge, or my subsequent comments, I would like to know if your thoughts traveled in the direction of “Yes!” or “Yes, but.” It seems like we are wired to lean toward one or the other of these orientations. Of course, there are times when we need the “Yes, but” element in our life. For example, we need parents and teachers who aren’t too lenient. We need editors, auditors, performance evaluations, checks and balances. We also need an equal dose of praise, applause, enthusiasm, and encouragement. If we both dole it out, and receive it, this will yield the biggest reward in the joy department.

If I pool my observations from more than two decades of being a psychotherapist with about 15 years of adventures in the creative realm, I would have to say that the kernel underneath most of our various troubles is a lack of encouragement. It is amazing what can happen when someone starts to receive a more consistent dose of “you can do it” or “I believe in you.” So why don’t we make a pledge to accentuate the “Yes!” amongst those we know? It doesn’t cost anything to offer genuine encouragement, does it?

What Stops You?

If you happen to be parsimonious about giving positive strokes, do you know why? Perhaps you were raised or influenced by someone who urged you to keep doing or getting better at something. Got a B+? Try for an A next time. If that person couldn’t fully celebrate your B+, perhaps it is hard for you to celebrate someone else’s. Can you see yourself breaking old patterns to make an effort to be less parsimonious? Hope so! Make someone’s day, tell them what you like about them or something that they do. It just might make your day to see the effect that your positive feedback has on someone else.


Is Silence Golden?

Perhaps one of the biggest culprits contributing to our reluctance to say Yes! is something you heard when you were growing up: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” It is hard to fight the logic of this. Of course, it is better to keep your mouth shut if you are unable to deliver an ounce of feedback that is positive. But isn’t there almost always something good to say? Also, let us not forget that silence, in this context, IS feedback. Sometimes silence is more damaging than truly negative feedback. Just ask anyone who was ever on the receiving end of “the silent treatment.” It stinks.


Joy-Gram for January 2012

If you really want to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and flex your Yes! muscle, try finding something positive but genuine (authenticity is a must) to say to someone whose behavior or output evokes a groan. If you really can’t do this, try a baby step of just thinking about something positive you could say without actually saying it, and keep investigating what stops you. See the second Prompt for Joy below.

Your January 2012 Prompts for Joy

Click here to see a non-verbal form of Yes!

Click here and find something to applaud in Elaine Benis’ dancing in a classic Seinfeld episode!

Grief FAQ

You can find my responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the grieving process at the website, www.caring.com by clicking the Grief FAQ link at the top of this page.

Pictured Above

This is my niece, Danielle, a couple of decades before she wrote the awesome Pledge you read in this issue of Out on a Limb.

Archives Now Available

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By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •

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