A lot has been happening locally and globally. It may feel like these devastations are happening in higher frequency than before, and perhaps they are. While it is disheartening to see that these tragedies are occurring, let us not forget that there are many ways to grow from it, help our community and contribute for the greater good.
It is normal to struggle with how to feel and what to think when tragedies happen. If you need to take some time off from thinking about it, that is okay. There is no right way to be as you try to grasp what has occurred. Allow yourself time and space to process how you think and feel. You can do this by talking to others about what happened and share what is on your mind with a trusted friend. Allow room for some reflection about your own life. Perhaps journaling, painting or using art as a medium to express your emotions. Then, decide what you want to do about it. The act of “doing” doesn’t necessarily mean you only have to give your time or money to places that create change. It can also mean a mental shift in your own world view. Perhaps you want to practice more gratefulness, mindfulness and overall acknowledgement of the life you are leading. You might want to limit the amount of social media and news you consume. Maybe you want to spend more time volunteering with the affected communities. It is so very important for each of us to gage our capacity to give both mentally, physically and financially and act accordingly to our abilities.
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The top reason my clients begin therapy is to seek relief from high levels of stress and anxiety. When people are asked what they want to get out of therapy, most respond with just wanting to reduce their symptoms or not feel so overwhelmed and exhausted. While that is a great initial goal, I also want to focus on the importance of actively cultivating a balanced life. One that involves not just financial success or social capital, but also practicing contentment and acceptance of what is happening in the present. This means to take the time to really notice and acknowledge when things are going well and taking the time to celebrate these moments.
Happiness is a ubiquitous term that is often thrown around with the assumption that we all want it. However, one person’s perspective of happiness can differ greatly from another. Thus, it is important to really get specific about what exactly it is that makes you happy. The more detailed you get, the easier it is to make this a tangible goal. Happiness can be large goals like finding a loving partner or be as simple as seeing a happy dog and its owner play.
The more you practice seeing happiness in different forms, the more you’ll be able to see how happiness is often attached to feelings of love, contentment and lightness. This practice in itself is so simple, yet so difficult to achieve when we are busy with our daily tasks and chores. It does require some intention to highlight the good things that happen throughout your day. You can make a nightly ritual to remind yourself of three things that happened that brought a smile to your face. This activity take about 3-5 minutes, and with consistent practice, can bring you much closer to that feeling of happiness that everyone is searching for.
Suggested Reading: Four Well-being Workouts
“New year, new you!” is a popular mentality as we get inundated with articles of how to become our “best self” and to finally “hit the gym”. While everyone can be better of working out more and eating better, try to integrate these changes into your lifestyle rather than making them a short term goal. Instead of spending your energy towards quick fixes, I invite you to look introspectively at your experiences in 2016. How has your worldview fluctuated, your accomplishments (professional, personal or emotional), what you want to be different in 2017, maybe even some things you want to stay the same. Self reflection is such a powerful way to see where we have been and where we want to go. Change happens slowly with intent so don’t rush. In the spirit of valuing the process, here’s a video of how waiting is sometimes better than immediate satisfaction. Enjoy!