It’s not you, it’s the story.

Reading Johann Hari’s book, Lost Connections—uncovering the real causes of depression and the unexpected solution was so refreshing!  He has taken on a major issue—anxiety and depression and offered an entirely new view as to how we solve those problems. For thirty years we’ve been told these issues come from a biochemical problem—a disease of the brain. But he shows you that the data does not confirm this at all. In a nutshell, he’s exposed that anxiety and depression comes from a societal story that results in disconnecting from self and others. As one disconnects depression and anxiety emerge.

And here’s the good news—the solution isn’t about changing you—it’s about changing the story. Changing the story will allow you to change the way you live. When you change the way you live reconnection becomes possible. And as you reconnect—depression and anxiety begin to lose their place in your life.

I kept smiling as I read because his book parallels what I learned early on with my clients who came in to my office looking for help. <!–more–>  What they told me was that despite being successful they were depressed, anxious and many had addictions. They were living the story they’d been told would make them happy but they were ending up depressed and anxious. Hmmm…. And at first I bought into it—yes, you’ve got depression let’s fix it. But after I heard this so many times, I began to suspect there was something else going on. How could all these successful people have depression and anxiety? Slowly but surely it dawned on me, it wasn’t my client that was the problem. The problem was the story of success they’d been told would make them happy. It clearly wasn’t making them happy. That’s why I finally started saying to them “It’s not you—it’s the story.”

Inevitably then, that led them to ask—what would the new story look like? I worked on that for a while and eventually the answer came to me. Wholeness….the new story is about wholeness. But what, my clients asked, does that look like? And thus, the Life Puzzle was born. The Life Puzzle is a way to teach the story of wholeness using a practical, tangible framework to build that story on. And it works.

Hari outlines 9 areas of disconnect and I would concur with all of them. The way he’s structured it, these 9 areas of disconnect provide a big picture/broad brush look at the ways the stories of our lives result in disconnect. I think it is a good place to start exploring the entire concept of ‘lost connection’ and why this has to change.

All of these 9 areas are in the Life Puzzle and a few more as well. The Life Puzzle is designed to give you a more specific and detailed way to begin reconnecting to your self and others. Life Puzzle provides a practical, tangible framework that enables you to connect to your wholeness. Wholeness is the new story you create for yourself. And what you discover is you can do it even as the world around you spins out of control from the old story!

Hari highlights 9 areas where humans are disconnected and as a result end up with depression and anxiety:

Meaningful work

Other people


Childhood traumas

Status and Respect

Natural World

Hopeful or Secure future

Genes and Brain

You will see them in the 16 core areas of the Life Puzzle–most specifically in these areas in bold:













Play & recreation

Financial responsibility

Special Challenges


Finding Meaning

Are you ready to start a new story? The Life Puzzle framework is here to help you begin that new story—a piece at a time with the whole you in mind. Discover how reconnecting with your SELF and your wholeness helps you create the new story for you, your family, the community and the world!

What does it mean to be a human?

Seems like such a simple question, doesn’t it?  Yet, step back and look at the history of humanity and it is clear–this isn’t a simple question at all.  History includes slavery, genocide, the Holocaust and all sorts of ways that humans have chosen to look at other humans and deny them the right to be human and live their lives.  The recent events in Charlottesville, VA where white supremacists want to insist that they are a superior human to others is just one more challenge to this basic question: What does it mean to be human?”

Answering this question for your SELF will have a profound impact on the way your live your life. What history shows us is that humans use all sorts of ‘descriptors’ to define themselves as humans–and others as ‘not human’.  The white supremacists clearly think that ‘white’ is the best way to define human.  Others might use being rich as the best way to define human.  Men may think they’re superior to women simply by being born with a penis. What I’m getting at here is that many of us use ‘descriptors’–white vs. black (hispanic, asian etc.), rich vs. poor, men vs. women, christian vs. muslim, straight vs. lgbtq as the way to define ourselves as humans and others as ‘not human’. But the problem with all these descriptors is that they infer that being a human is matter of finding your place in the hierarchy of better than or less than.  This has been going on for so long, many people take it for granted that this is the way to define humans.

But it is not.  All of those descriptors having nothing to do with our being a human.  They’re all artificial labels we’ve created over time as ways to separate ourselves from others. They keep us at each other’s throats and lead us to live lives that leave us all hurting. Because to be ‘better than’ infers there are ‘less than’ humans but underneath that everyone lives in tension and fear.

Instead, here at the Life Puzzle Center–our goal is to help you see that being a human is an on-going, growing journey to wholeness.  To be a human means to understand your SELF as a physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual being and at the same time, to understand that every other human you meet is also a physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual being on their own on-going, growing journey.  There is no better than or less than.  The Life Puzzle is a universal model–a way to understand your SELF as a human and the way to understand everyone you meet too.  We all have the same 16 core areas, 5 edges that create that SELF and yet no two of us will put them together in exactly the same way.  Thus–being a human means enabling yourself and everyone you meet the opportunity to build their Life Puzzle–a piece at a time with the whole (human) YOU in mind.

Human Dignity: one coin–two sides

image015Watching the 2016 Presidential primaries there’s no doubt this is a primary season like no other in recent memory. As Trump takes over the GOP and shocks the traditionalists, Sanders is as much a shock to the Democratic side of the equation as the young flock to him to listen to his message of Democratic Socialism.

Underlying both sides of these extremes appears to be a huge anger at the status quo system. The general populace is no longer interested in maintaining the status quo. Trump supporters appear ready to blow up the system with a leader that promises greatness with no real plan. Sanders supporters appear ready to turn old style capitalism on its ear and transform it towards a market economy mixed with social awareness of the value of all citizens not just the wealthy.

As I’ve watched this process, it occurred to me that the Wholeness Choosing Continuum is a perfect reflection of these two different extremes. Trump/GOP group is the 0-5 side—reactive, unconscious and playing the victim to a world that they no longer feel they have a chance to achieve the 5 of status quo/middle class wealth. As they watch the old story of ‘grow up, get a job, spouse, house, cars, kids and you’ll find happily ever after’ slip from their grasp, they are blaming it on immigrants, or those they think are living off huge entitlements like welfare (?) and food stamps (?). They are ready to take out their angst on everyone else, sure that once all those ‘others’ are gone then ‘they’ll be great again’. And in this reactive process, they’ve latched on to Trump who promises to blow it all up and start again. Continue reading

Guru You!

buddha-mdThe other day I was watching TV and a commercial came on highlighting a series of “experts” that were offering a daylong event.  They were shown talking to a large auditorium of people sitting rapturously as they waited for the wisdom to be imparted that they felt would change their lives.

It occurred to me that I’ve watched this scenario now for decades.  Audiences file in to hear some thought leader and then buy their books and hope to change their lives.  And yet, those very same thought leaders are still on stage essentially saying the same thing again and again.  And I thought–if what they’re saying really works, why haven’t we all gotten it by now and found our way?

The larger question, however, may be why we don’t feel confident to be our own thought leader? Why are we looking outside ourselves instead of inside? One answer of course is that we grow up being dependent on parents, teachers, ministers, rabbis, we get accustomed to looking outward.   But why are we still looking outside our SELF at 30, 45 or 60? Why don’t we trust that we can be our own guru? Continue reading

Not done @ 21!!!

As another school year begins…….

High school graduates are soon heading off to college and college graduates have entered the real world.  Both of these transitions represent two of the most intense times of our lives.  We are leaving a comfort zone of friends, family and the known while heading into the unknown.  We may be excited as can be about it all–but nonetheless, it is a very unsettling time requiring tremendous learning, new choices, establishing new patterns and social contacts.

Did you know that 40% of freshman drop out of college? (and never go back!) Did you know that depression rates skyrocket after college graduation.  What’s going on here?

As a counselor I have worked extensively with the 18-24 age bracket.  It is very important to show them that they are still working to form their SELF.  Boundaries are not fully developed and the SELF is unsure of so many pieces of their Life Puzzle.  In this overwhelming state, with lots of choices to be made, many in this age bracket shut down and feel defeated. I love working with them and showing them how to turn defeat into an adventure of living instead.

NOT DONE @ 21 !!!!

One of the chief complaints I heard from so many of these young adults was their belief/feeling that they were “behind”.  That somehow by 21 they needed to have figured it all out and that was not happening!  As I mulled on this more and more, I felt compelled to make this issue more visible and talked about. With several clients, I had “dialogues” about this issue.  I turned those dialogues into a short booklet I’ve put together called “Not done @ 21—building wholeness in a 100 year life”. Continue reading

Wholeness is a Universal Model–we are all in this together.

The primary mission at Triangle Whole, Well and Good is to make “Wholeness” a visible framework that people can use to build vibrant and dynamic lives.

Right now, only about 15% of the population has an awareness of wholeness as a guiding principle for the way they live.  Mostly this is because it has only been possible in the last 30 years or so to understand Wholeness as a framework. That means the grand majority of people have yet to be exposed to the concept of Wholeness let alone know how to use it in their lives.

Universal model: Wholeness works for everyone.

The beauty of Wholeness is that it is a “Universal model”.  The 16 core areas and 5 edges that create the SELF are a potential within every human on the planet.  Wholeness acts as a guide for what’s necessary in order to create a life that is full and satisfying.

What if the entire world of 7 billion people understood and used wholeness as a framework for building their lives?

This may seem pie in the sky, but really stop and think about this.  If every person you encountered understood wholeness and used it to guide their life, wouldn’t we have a different world than we do now when only 15% are aware?  Yes, we would and that’s the big hoary audacious goal of Triangle Whole, Well and Good–move from 15% to 100%! Continue reading

This year….try loving it.

I was at the gym this morning and a man walked up to me and said “I think you have the happiest face of anyone in this gym.  You are always smiling when you work out!”

I laughed and said,  “Thanks and that yes, I’m probably one of the few people in the gym who really likes working out. I decided long ago that if I’m going to be here on a regular basis, I may as well enjoy it and I do!”  He nodded and said he did too and then walked off.

Then I started reflecting and realized–here it is the middle of December which means in just a little over three weeks the gym will be flooded with people who, once again, are going to try to get in shape, lose weight and live up to their New Year’s resolution.clip-art-yoga-518279 Continue reading

Having it all, but what is All?

I thought I had it all….

One of the things I noticed when I first began my practice was how many successful people were not really happy. 

j0356624Often they would say to me, “I have the house, the cars, the kids, and everything that goes with it, aren’t I supposed to be happy now?” Some had even gotten bigger houses and newer cars and a few more kids, but still they felt something was missing. Continue reading


      Ann G. Kramer, EdS LPC             

Counseling, Coaching, Creating Wholeness

Welcome to the Life Puzzle Center

 We live in very challenging times.  The world is changing so fast which is making it very difficult for humans to adjust and find their way.  Rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide make clear that many of us are feeling lost.

The Life Puzzle is a framework that can help you feel grounded as you go through life.  It is a practical, tangible tool you can use to guide your daily actions.  It helps you understand your SELF as a whole human being that has physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual areas. Every day, as you use the Life Puzzle framework, you can feel confident that your efforts will result in creating wholeness for your on-going, growing life!

Life Puzzle whole

Wholeness or Happiness?

March 20th was International Day of Happiness.  And of course, it brought a smile to all our faces.  Who doesn’t want a happier world?

It concerns me though that the word “Happiness” is getting such prominence in our media.  “Happiness” infers a state of being–a place where you live in a positive world where life is all pleasant.  It reflects the oft heard childhood phrase “And they all lived happily-ever-after”. Continue reading