How Can I Be Happy… After the Divorce? Learn Positive Psychology
My life is interesting. It swings between curious, frustrating, rewarding, breath-taking, exciting, challenging, and humorous. I’ve never taken the well-traveled road. As a result, my life is never dull. It’s never boring. Above all, my life is meaningful and purposeful. My goal is to teach people about their mind – how to use their mind to become happier and more successful. This is in direct contrast to the experience of most people – that their minds are enemies working against their happiness and peak performance.
When I sat down to revise my book, Guide To Self, I began to reflect on what I’ve done in the past two years of my life. And I come up with a list of accomplishments of which I’m quite proud. Let me share a partial list of these accomplishments with you…followed by the reason why I’m particularly proud of them. Over the past 24 months, I…
- served as an expert consultant to Pixar on a new feature-length film due out in 2014-15 in which the main characters are five emotions. The entire movie takes place inside the mind of a young girl. The other two experts were Paul Ekman and Dacher Keltner.
- gave a Psychiatric Grand Rounds presentation to Kaiser Oakland on positive psychology in clinical practice.
- constructed my own website (WebAngerManagement.com) to teach scientifically proven tools to people to turn down the volume on anger. As part of this effort, I wrote, filmed and starred in over 12 hours of video culminating in a 10 week online anger management course. This site has helped thousands of of people to become less angry and more content.
- raised awareness about athletic coaches who bully their athletes. As a result of one article I wrote, a family in Iowa contacted me. We worked together to get USA Swimming to enact a rule change to prohibit coaches from bullying swimmers.
- spoke to more than 50 groups (over 5,000 people across 75 dates) on topics such as positive psychology, anger management, forgiveness, resiliency, hope, meaning, self-compassion and more.
- supported numerous clients and their families through their own challenges.
This is not is a monument to my ego, however. There is a critical point to making the above list. You see, I was able to accomplish these things while my personal life was in tatters largely for reasons which were out of my control. Without the tools in this book, I would not have been able to produce and help others at these levels.
Over the past two years, I have been involved in a contentious and senseless divorce and there was absolutely no reason for it to be so. It was all about emotion.
I married my high school girlfriend whom I met at the age of 17.
When we separated in October of 2010, I left with only my clothes and a laptop. I lived with my parents for 8 months. I saved up enough money to get a modest two bedroom condo (with their assistance). Using some of my parents’ old furniture, I began to furnish it. I was thrilled when I had a bed to call my own. I was grateful for used pots and pans, sheets, pillows and lamps.
When Kristin and I resolved to divorce, we agreed to use a mediator to save on expense. Kristin repeatedly assured me that she would never litigate the divorce as it made no financial sense and she ‘would never do such a thing to me.’
In early 2011, Kristin and I met with a well respected mediator in Walnut Creek. The mediator made several comments that were not well received by her. First, he made note of the fact that 95% of people in this situation would not be able to keep the house and selling it made the most financial sense. Second, the mediator and I encouraged Kristin to be more honest about her annual income.
In the winter of 2011, Kristin reassured me repeatedly that we were still going to resolve our divorce through mediation. However, in November, she hired an expensive and aggressive family law attorney. At $550 per hour, he has the reputation of being the right man for the job if you want to make your spouse suffer.
When I discovered Kristin had hired an attorney, I asked her several times to change her mind. I reminded her that the litigation process would cost us over $200,000, it would destroy relationships (with family members and our children) and dramatically increase our stress for at least a year. She ignored me.
I asked Kristin why she insisted on pursuing litigation. She ‘My response to your begging was …Ok. Make me an offer. And no offer came. So I continued’ (with litigation). I told her it made no sense to make an offer when one party is hiding a third of her income.
Over the course of 2011, I voluntarily gave Kristin nearly 70% of my net income to support the children and the household with the understanding that Kristin would make plans to put the house on the market. However, in early 2012, Kristin said she would not sell the house. In 2012, she lived in the house for 9 months while making no payments on the mortgages, thereby destroying our credit.
In December of 2011, my 15-year-old son came to live with me. Within 2 weeks of him moving in with me, Kristin picked him up for a lunch date. Less than two blocks from my condo, according to my son, Kristin told him the ‘divorce was entirely your dad’s idea.’
In February of 2012, Kristin claimed in legal documents under penalty of perjury that her income was less than $3300 per month – less than a third of her true income. On the other hand, in one legal document, she inflated my income by 360%.
In a legal system which takes people as honest until proven otherwise, false claims such as these are tremendously problematic for those who tell the truth. In February of 2012, I was forced to start making child support payments of nearly $2000 per month based on these false numbers. This left me with very little disposable income on which to live. This situation lasted over a year while I desperately tried to prove to the judge the extent to which Kristin was misstating her income.
One of the biggest questions in the trial was the amount of cash Kristin received from her clients. Kristin wanted to make the case that she received no cash and the burden was on me to prove otherwise. During the trial, the judge caught her lying to him, and saw through several other indirect mistruths. At the end of the trial in March of 2013, the judge ruled that Kristin’s income was over $12,000 per month. Quite a difference from her initial claim of $3,300. The wheels of justice move slowly, but at least they get it right at times.
Throughout the entire process, Kristin has shown a skill for deceit. For example, during her deposition, she stated over and over that she could not remember what she charged her own clients (even clients that came in that same week).
Kristin even went so far as to attempt to destroy evidence critical to the trial. As she keeps no business records, one of the key pieces of evidence for trial to establish her income was her 2011 appointment book from her salon. After several requests from the attorney and months of stalling, Kristin and her attorney, finally produced her appointment book …floating… in a gallon Ziploc bag which was half filled with a mixture of water and chemicals. Months prior, Kristin stated under oath that a receptionist at the salon spilled coffee on it. There was no coffee in this bag. Neither Kristin nor her attorney saw fit to remove the book from the bag of liquid where it sat for two months while we tried to gain access. Someone had purposefully placed the book in a bag filled with water and some sort of hair chemicals in an attempt to destroy it. There was no repercussion for this.
Throughout the divorce, Kristin has been waging a public smear campaign against me to her clients, our friends and the community. She has told people that I left the family, that I refused to pay child support and many other unflattering untruths.
To date, the litigation has cost us over $240,000. Kristin lost every major legal point in court. Relationships were damaged. Chronic stress has negatively impacted everyone involved. And none of it had to be this way.
I share this story with you to demonstrate that everyone suffers challenges in life. It is the nature of life that good and bad come to all of us at times. The trick is to learn to be resilient, to bounce back from the adversity that life places in front of us. To focus your mind on what is going right in your life, rather than what is going wrong. To remind yourself that, despite the obvious challenges around you, you can deal with them.
I can safely say that, had I not learned the tools in this book series, I would have been driven into anger and depression by the events of the past two years. Without these tools, I would not have been able to accomplish those things which I mentioned earlier. I can think of no greater challenge than to work in a productive and positive fashion while being dragged through unnecessary litigation.
It is a startling testimony to the raw power of positive psychology, cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness that I was able to continue working at a high level of productivity and positivity for the past 24 months.
And now I’d like to share those tools with you. I believe they are of immense benefit to all of us
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
For a free PDF copy of this award-winning, newly revised book, please visit www.GuideToSelf.com and click on the link on the left side of the page. You will be asked for your name and email address. Once you have responded to the verification email, you can instantly download your free copy!