Optimism: Develop Your Positive Outlook to Achieve Your Goals

optimism

As an optimist, I’ve always believed in the power of positive thinking. It’s not just about seeing the glass as half full, but about embracing an optimistic language that can truly transform your attitude and outlook on life. In this article, we’ll delve into the understanding of optimism and its impact, the benefits of being an optimistic person, techniques for maintaining an optimistic outlook, scientific insights into optimism, and practical tips for incorporating optimism into your life. By the end of this read, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to infuse your life with the magic of optimistic language.

Understanding Optimism and Its Impact

Optimism is more than just a disposition; it’s a way of life. It’s about approaching life with a positive outlook, even in the face of challenges and setbacks. Being an optimistic person means believing that good things will happen, even when faced with adversity. It’s not about ignoring the negative, but about choosing to focus on the positive and believing in the potential for a better outcome. In a previous article I focused on optimism in light of all the negative news. Read that article here.

The impact of optimism on our lives is profound. Studies have shown that optimistic individuals tend to have better physical and mental health, stronger relationships, and greater overall well-being. When we embrace an optimistic mindset, we’re better equipped to navigate life’s ups and downs with resilience and grace. It’s not just about feeling good in the moment; it’s about setting the stage for a brighter and more fulfilling future.

The Power of Optimistic Language

Language is a powerful tool, and the words we use have the ability to shape our thoughts and experiences. Optimistic language goes beyond just positive affirmations; it’s about framing our experiences and interactions in a way that empowers and uplifts us. By consciously choosing optimistic language, we can reframe our thoughts and beliefs, leading to a more positive and hopeful outlook on life.

When we speak with optimistic language, we’re not just influencing our own mindset, but also the mindset of those around us. Our words have the power to inspire and encourage others, creating a ripple effect of positivity and hope. Whether we’re communicating with friends, family, or colleagues, the language we use can have a profound impact on the energy and atmosphere of our interactions.

Benefits of Being an Optimistic Person

Embracing optimism comes with a wide range of benefits that extend far beyond just feeling good in the moment. Optimistic individuals tend to experience lower levels of stress, better physical health, and improved overall well-being. When we approach life with a positive outlook, we’re better able to cope with challenges, bounce back from setbacks, and maintain a sense of hope and resilience.

In addition to the physical and mental health benefits, optimism also has a profound impact on our relationships and social interactions. Optimistic individuals tend to be more approachable, empathetic, and supportive, leading to deeper and more fulfilling connections with others. By embodying optimism, we not only enhance our own lives but also contribute to a more positive and uplifting social environment.

Cultivating an Optimistic Mindset

Cultivating an optimistic mindset is a journey that requires intention and practice. It starts with a conscious decision to approach life with a positive outlook and a belief in the potential for good things to unfold. One powerful way to cultivate an optimistic mindset is through the practice of gratitude. By focusing on the things we’re grateful for, we can shift our perspective and train our minds to see the beauty and abundance in our lives.

Another key aspect of cultivating an optimistic mindset is learning to reframe challenges as opportunities for growth. Instead of seeing obstacles as roadblocks, we can choose to view them as stepping stones that lead us toward greater resilience and wisdom. By reframing our experiences in this way, we can infuse our lives with a sense of hope and possibility, even in the face of adversity.

Optimistic Language in Daily Communication

Incorporating optimistic language into our daily communication is a powerful way to infuse our interactions with positivity and hope. Whether we’re speaking with friends, family, colleagues, or even strangers, the words we use have the power to uplift and inspire. One simple yet potent technique for incorporating optimistic language is through the use of affirmations.

Affirmations are positive statements that we can repeat to ourselves to reinforce optimistic beliefs and attitudes. By integrating affirmations into our daily routine, we can reprogram our subconscious mind and create a more optimistic and empowering inner dialogue. Whether it’s “I am capable of overcoming any challenge” or “I attract positivity and abundance into my life,” affirmations can be a potent tool for shaping our mindset and language.

Techniques for Maintaining an Optimistic Outlook

Maintaining an optimistic outlook is not always easy, especially in the face of adversity and uncertainty. However, there are several techniques that we can use to cultivate and sustain optimism in our lives. One powerful technique is the practice of visualization. By visualizing our desired outcomes and experiences, we can create a sense of hope and possibility that fuels our optimism.

Another effective technique for maintaining an optimistic outlook is the practice of mindfulness. By staying present in the moment and cultivating awareness of our thoughts and emotions, we can prevent negativity from taking root and maintain a sense of optimism even in challenging circumstances. Mindfulness allows us to observe our thoughts without judgment and choose a more optimistic and empowering perspective.

Scientific Insights into Optimism

The power of optimism isn’t just a philosophical concept; it’s backed by scientific research and evidence. Studies have shown that optimism is associated with better physical health, including a reduced risk of chronic diseases and a faster recovery from illness. Optimistic individuals also tend to exhibit lower levels of stress and anxiety, leading to improved mental health and well-being.

From a neuroscientific perspective, optimism has been linked to changes in brain function and structure. Studies have demonstrated that optimistic individuals show greater activity in brain regions associated with reward processing and emotional regulation. This suggests that optimism is not just a state of mind but also a neurologically ingrained trait that shapes our perceptions and experiences.

Embracing Optimism in Challenging Situations

While it’s easy to embrace optimism when things are going well, the true test of optimism lies in how we approach challenging situations. When faced with adversity, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and discouraged, but it’s in these moments that optimism can be the most powerful. Embracing optimism in challenging situations doesn’t mean denying the reality of the circumstances; it’s about choosing to focus on the potential for positive outcomes and solutions.

One effective way to embrace optimism in challenging situations is through the practice of reframing. By reframing our thoughts and beliefs, we can shift our perspective and find new opportunities for growth and learning. Instead of seeing obstacles as insurmountable barriers, we can choose to view them as temporary setbacks that can be overcome with resilience and creativity. Embracing optimism in challenging situations empowers us to face adversity with courage and grace.

Practical Tips for Incorporating Optimism into Your Life

Incorporating optimism into your life is a journey that requires commitment and practice. One practical tip for incorporating optimism is to start a gratitude journal. Taking a few moments each day to write down the things you’re grateful for can shift your focus toward the positive aspects of your life and cultivate a sense of optimism and abundance.

Another practical tip for incorporating optimism is to surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals. The company we keep has a profound impact on our mindset and outlook, so surrounding yourself with optimistic and uplifting people can fuel your own sense of optimism. Seek out friends, mentors, and colleagues who embody the kind of optimism you aspire to cultivate in your own life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, optimism is not just a state of mind; it’s a way of life that has the power to transform our attitudes and experiences. By embracing optimistic language, cultivating an optimistic mindset, and incorporating practical techniques into our daily lives, we can infuse our existence with hope, resilience, and joy. As you embark on your journey toward embracing optimism, remember that it’s not about denying the reality of challenges, but about choosing to focus on the potential for growth and positive outcomes. Speak your way to a brighter day, and watch as the magic of optimistic language transforms your attitude and enriches your life.

Are you ready to embrace the power of optimistic language and start your journey toward a brighter, more fulfilling life? Click here to speak with Chris

new years resolution: you’re doing them all wrong and here’s why

new years resolution

As the new year began, many of us made resolutions for ourselves with healthy living intentions. We resolved to make our life better, to be healthier, to be successful, and overall to be different from who we’ve been. But now, as the year progresses, we lament that many resolutions are less accomplished than we hoped. Some we still need to start (or started yet now ended). What happened? What went wrong? Let me show you how to make a resolution that will last.

 

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker

 

As the Drucker quote states, our plans will not be successful, and we will only reach our goals if they entail hard work. If we make resolutions that are too easy to accomplish, we either put them off for later or don’t fulfill us enough to continue with the task. If I may, I would like to expand on Drucker’s quote to include “plans which challenge and inspire us” we are more likely to stick with doing. The idea of hard work is essential, but so are tasks that challenge and inspire.

 

Often, it’s easier for us to adhere to a resolution if we have a clear picture of the final outcome. This outcome needs to be challenging for our abilities as well as inspiring, meaning that, in the broader scope of my life, what impact will this specific goal have on the people around me.

While New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on our health and wellness intentions, if we can envision an outcome beyond ourselves, we are more likely to keep our resolutions.

 

One of the reasons self-help groups are effective is due to a community effort toward a shared goal. The members form a community of encouragement, understanding, action, and altruism. Each of these qualities is important, but the selfless nature of the members toward each other encourages each member to continue in their resolve. If we similarly view our resolutions, we will be successful so long as we are altruistic.

 

For us to continue with our resolutions, we need to practice mindfulness, which emphasizes living in the moment. Practicing mindfulness allows us to reflect on our past experiences and choices nonjudgmentally, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves.

 

Whenever we reflect on our past, we can remember the wonderful moments and, at the same time, we can remember the moments when things weren’t going well so that we know what we need to do differently today and in our planning for the future. In this way, we build on what has been learned in the past. Our past is not ignored but honored for its lessons.

 

Making resolutions is a beneficial way to set goals based on what we’ve learned from our past. Making these resolutions allows us to live in the moment as we take the time to figure out what it is we resolve to improve. Resolutions don’t need to be made only at the beginning of a new year.

 

One of the beautiful elements of living in the present moment is that we can “start over” whenever we need to. If my day is not going as planned and I get frustrated, I can stop, breathe, and start again. I can start over before the following day or even the following year. I can start over any time I feel the need.

 

Therefore, if you need more time to work on your resolutions, take the time rather than rush through a list because of a self-imposed obligation or expectation.

 

Make resolutions that will give you a new beginning. Challenge yourself while keeping your expectations reasonable. Then you will see changes in your life which will translate into inner peace.

 

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How To Effectively Accomplish Change During Autumn And Absolutely Reduce Stress

gratitude autumn reduce stress

Trying to accomplish change and reduce stress seems impossible. Change itself brings on stress, so how can change minimize stress? I thought that, too, until I started practicing mindfulness in the Autumn of 2012. Let me explain.

change in autumn and reduce stressLet’s go back to the 1980s when I snapped this picture while living in an unassuming community in western Massachusetts. It was Autumn, and I was taking a hike when I came across this view. Many people I know will more often than not get energized, liven up, plan for, and are empowered as Spring moves into Summer. Not that I could do without Summer; however, as far as I’m concerned, I react similarly at the start of Autumn. Autumn is by a wide margin my most loved season (with Winter a nearby second).

 

For as long as I can recall, I have delighted in Autumn. Experiencing childhood in the northern regions of the USA, I’m used to the colder seasons. Of the relative multitude of seasons, this one is mainly centered around family, traditions, and spiritual rituals. During this season, there are social occasions, gatherings, and the start of school. Halloween and Thanksgiving are close, with Christmas not excessively far away. The cooler weather conditions move us nearer together as we gather inside.

 

Trying to effectively accomplish change during this season of life is challenging for some. I’ve written many articles on stress and depression during this time of the year. Attempting to reduce stress as the holiday season approaches is difficult for some. For some, this is a time of devastation, with the vegetation ceasing to exist and the daylight more limited. Yet, as we focus on the moment, we can also experience a lot of variety by hearing the leaves crinkle underneath our feet and smelling the cornucopia of fragrances attacking our noses.

Autumn might be a period of rot; however, in the progress of time, we are given a most tremendous and lovely gift; the empowerment of progress. It is, ideally, a gift to rouse us. For my purposes, I see excellence before I see the rot and devastation. There is likewise a wonder in the acknowledgment that after this season of devastation will come a time of resurrection and new development in the blossoming of Spring. Autumn isn’t the end, just the start.

 

Autumn addresses change as it changes itself. During the time spent transforming, we feel the aggravation before the delight. In our personal lives, we may now encounter and feel rot and destruction as our stress levels rise. Yet our experiences are a piece of the circle of life.

 

Just as the trees will replicate their leaves and the fallen leaves will give nutrient empowerment to the ground, we will encounter new development of plants and flowers in the Spring. Autumn shows us that through the dark times of life, we will come out with reduced stress as change shows us the possibility of a new and incredible period of life.

 

Change is rarely straightforward, but it is essential to recollect that change, albeit unique, doesn’t need to be negative. The situations changing our life might be complicated; however, assuming we focus on the outcome, we will see that the difficulties of change and stress will bring us to our goal. As the leaves fall, we are guaranteed there will be Spring followed by Summer.

 

The pattern of life reflects the patterns of our lives.

 

The following are a couple of ideas I have thought of to help us progress through our Autumn to accomplish change and reduce stress:

 

1. Review the recollections of this past Summer. Value your encounters from the past season.

2. Recognize, don’t attempt to stow away, the past with its joys, damages, and assumptions.

3. Being grateful for all we have.

4. Prepare for and act upon what you have some control over, and set aside those areas of life you cannot control.

5. Experience this time of Autumn through the eyes of a child.

 

In every moment, stay focused on the details of your surroundings, taking in both the positive and negative aspects. Change what you can; ignore the rest. In time, the Springtime of your life will blossom.

 

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Find Your Peace On Thanksgiving? Learn How To Find Peace of Mind

find your peace Thanksgiving

“Don’t spoil what you have by desiring what you don’t have; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.” —Epicurus

Find your peace on Thanksgiving? Is that even possible given the chaos, all that needs to be done, and family gatherings? Yes, finding your peace is possible. Let’s now learn how to find peace of mind.

Thanksgiving is a holiday begun in 1789 by our first president, George Washington. In Washington’s proclamation, the president stated: “… this is a day of national thanksgiving and prayer.” It’s a day we gather in remembrance and gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us and, in prayer, to unite with our Creator as the one who bestowed these blessings we now celebrate.

Thanksgiving traditionally begins that time of the year when we celebrate family, joy, peace, and traditions as we head down the road to Christmas Day and later to New Year’s Eve. But, unfortunately, all of the planning and expectations involved tend to take away our peace. This is why it’s so important to figure out how to find your peace and peace of mind.

This festive time leads me to reflect on those special moments I shared as a child. Now, as an adult, I again see that same joy, wonder, and amazement through the eyes of my grandchildren!

Learning to find peace of mind through the chaos is possible by remembering our past (good, bad, or otherwise) and viewing the present through the eyes of children. This perspective returns us to a time when, in our innocence, we had a sense of awe and wonder about our life. To once again ignite in us an already existing yearning to believe in things we may no longer feel as adults.

On Thanksgiving Day, many of us will experience a spirit of joy, peace, and thankfulness. We recall all that we have and cherish those with whom we have gathered. All is right in the world.

To find your peace, it’s necessary to examine your expectations. In many situations, our expectations are unreasonable, not for us, but for those on whom we place the expectation. For example, if we know certain people will act in ways that bother us, expecting them not to do so is an unreasonable expectation to place upon them. Live reality as it is in the moment. In so doing, you’ll find peace of mind.

This Thanksgiving, challenge yourself to have faith in family and your God, foregoing the materialism of the season. Discover how you can spread a sense of wonderment and awe you had as a child. During this holiday season, live in a sense of wonder, joy, and peace. At the moment, be “child-like,” and then you’ll find your peace.

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How to Keep Your Inner Peace and Hope in Today’s World

hope inner peace

Finding hope and inner peace in life is not always an easy task. Still, a hopeless life can be gloomy, depressed, and anxious. In this article, I write about ways to find hope in life, thus happiness and inner peace.

It is essential to find and sustain hope in order to lead a happy and peaceful life. Yet most of us know what it’s like to live a desperate life. A life where nothing is going towards us and nobody understands. The ‘take him out’, ‘sleep’ or my favorite, ‘get through’ incentive doesn’t help at all. If only it was that easy to overcome the feeling of despair.
Hope is a mechanism of the human brain

Hope is a mechanism developed by the human brain to deal with contexts and situations that are not conducive to survival. Without, where can we find a sense of hope in the future or hope in someone’s talent, our motivation, our will to go forward? In the worst times, it’s hope that keeps me going.

That “knowledge” that says there will be better things in the future. Hope forces me to find the impossible possible because I believed it was possible and therefore claimed that the possible was already real.

Author and evangelicalist Hal Lindsey put it beautifully: “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

The hope and inner peace of helping others

There are many challenges faced by those who provide care for others. Yet they know the inner peace and joy that comes with helping others.

“Studies have shown that even simply volunteering can change a person’s health and outlook. A United Health Group study stated that ‘We now know people who volunteer feel better physically, mentally and emotionally better. And our volunteers tell us that they are convinced their health is better because of the things they do when they volunteer.’” (hopegrows.net

It’s natural to care for others’ suffering, and we’re reminded of this important attribute by recognizing how we can heal in our own lives. It’s important to be patient with ourselves and others in this process. If we all contribute to this healing process, then we can break through those walls of self-sabotage and start to see changes in ourselves that are positive and significant. These changes will lead us to inner peace.

What’s the best way to deal with your fear and anger when witnessing other’s suffering? Stop to consider what else is going on, what message the suffering is trying to convey, and what you can do to help the sufferer heal. Their healing may teach you about yourself, giving you the gift of healing yourself.

… “(W)henever you feel overwhelmed, go back to the basics: pause, ground yourself, take a few very deep breaths, exhaling negativity, inhaling calm. Take the time to notice what you are feeling, holding the pain of the world with compassion, … breathing in Peace and Hope” (shamanicspiritualhealing.com)

My suggestions for finding hope in life

Do what you know you can do. Move forward by doing the things you know you can do. Maybe you can make the bed or get out of bed, celebrate small victories, as these will eventually become the necessary lessons for finding hope.

Take some kind of action. Helping someone else not only shows that there are good people in the world, but it also gives you the success and external pride of supporting another person. This feeling of pride that makes you feel healthy will lead to a sense of hope knowing that if you can help someone else, you can help yourself too.

Surround yourself with optimism. The attitudes of those around us affect our mood. Surrounding yourself with positive and hopeful people makes you positive and optimistic. Find out who are the positive people in your life and follow them.

Allow inspiration. Read inspiring books or quotes, strengthen your faith, return to your place of worship, do whatever it takes to believe and feel the existence of something greater than you. Knowing that a prayer community wants to help you and believe that something is higher than you gives us hope that we are not alone.

Spend time in nature. It is great to see and feel the depth of nature’s beauty. Look for the tiny insects and creatures. Think about how they survive and even thrive in their environment, given their size and lack of intelligence. If the insect can do it, you can too!

How you find hope in life is essential to finding the motivation to move forward, grow, and be the best person you can be. Do not lose your hope. Hold on and enjoy the ride.

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Anxious About Reentering Society After The Pandemic? Here’s Your How To Guide

Anxious about reentering society COVID-19

Anxious feelings are understandable when returning to everyday life after the pandemic. There will be a process of readjustment. There are bound to be thoughts or worries about the changes that are happening in your life. It is natural for people to want to stay in their comfort zone. Entering the unknown is what causes our anxious feelings. However, there are several benefits to returning to everyday life, so it is crucial to fight those thoughts.

Many states are relaxing the pandemic restrictions allowing us to “freely move about the cabin.” We’ve been physically away from people for over a year, communicating primarily through the computer. Interacting with people after so long of a time can be anxiety producing. We’re either unsure of the safety of our health or uncertain about how to interact with people again. “So, as more people get vaccinated, and we accelerate toward a new normal, is it any wonder that some people are feeling hesitant to let go of precautions?” Source: NYTimes

Nearly half of Americans say they feel uneasy thinking about in-person interaction once the pandemic ends, according to the American Psychological Association’s 2021 Stress in America report. (USAToday) These anxious feelings happen most often when we feel out of control in a situation, or when the change is unknown. As humans, we prefer to think that we are in control of our life. 

We spent many months adjusting to a “new way of life,” so it will take some time to again adapt to another new way of life, even if that life is what it used to be. Your lifestyle may return to what it used to be, but you aren’t who you used to be. You have been affected by living through a pandemic. Your mindset and outlook on life are different from what they used to be. 

Normal?

What is normal? Typically, normal is referred to anything we sense as a known or an expectation of a way life is to be. In other words, normal can be fluid, changing as we change. So, why be anxious about going back to normal? Let’s create a new normal!

In June 2020, I wrote an article, “The New Normal – 7 Valuable Lesson Opportunities To Learn Now” suggesting that we take the positive changes the pandemic caused in us, keeping them as we return to “normal.” My suggestion of almost a year ago remains valid. An LA Times article reports that some 46% said they do not feel comfortable going back to living life like before the pandemic. (LATimes)  

How to cope with the anxious feeling:

1. Take it slow – No one is forcing anyone to immediately jump back into society. As you feel comfortable, start slow. Join a group of close friends, branching out from there. 

2. Don’t wait for the anxiety to go away – A strong reason for your fear is the unknown. Until you venture into society, it will remain unknown. Therefore your anxious thoughts will remain. It’s only by venturing out of your comfort zone that you’ll reduce the anxiety. 

3. Let go of resentments – We can’t control other people. There is no reason to hold resentment about other’s actions or the government’s actions. Control what you can control, your emotions, and your responses to what is happening. If you’re blaming others, let it go. Don’t let someone else dictate your happiness.

4. Change your perspective – Look at the world and those around you in a positive manner. We get what we look for. In other words, if all I see is negatively, then all I’ll experience is that negativity. So look to the positive, and you’ll get positive experiences in return. 

5. Teach others – As you’re learning to cope and feel less anxious, teach others how you are doing it so that they too can move forward. Not only will you help another person, but altruism is proven to make the giver feel positive and more at peace. 

If you’re feeling anxious, know that you aren’t alone. You can do things to reduce your anxiety, but the key is not to go through this alone. Reach out to others for support and camaraderie. And if you need a professional, find one of those, too. 

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How To Find Inner Peace And Happiness During COVID

inner peace happiness

Inner peace and happiness are possible even during a long-lasting pandemic. The “new normal” is a phrase that has entered our everyday speech, along with terms such as “social distancing,” “physical distancing,” or “PPE.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have been changed.

To think that almost a year ago, we weren’t living under the restrictions of a pandemic! I still remember the day I was told to leave work. We all were under the impression we’d return in a couple of weeks. Just a brief “vacation” of sorts. Who knew that almost a year later, I’m still working from home. Life has changed for all of us, and we don’t know when it’ll end. And that not knowing is the origin of our stress taking away our inner peace. 

The idea of a “new normal” is problematic and causes many of us to feel anxious. Friends and clients of mine worry that life may never be how it was before the pandemic. Yes, that may be true. But I wonder if a return to life as it was is in our best interest. 

How The Modern World Necessitates Inner Peace

“The modern world takes a heavy toll on all of us. Smart technology, internet everywhere we go, and an emerging all-access work culture that expects us to be “on” whenever possible. Lunch breaks become shorter, weekends become extinct, and vacations become something you put off for your retirement. And it’s not always a matter of choice.” Source: hackspirit.com

Whenever we don’t see an end to hardship or feel trapped without any choices, our stress and anxiety increase. Think of your current situation to understand this concept. The answer to finding inner peace and happiness during a pandemic is found in our perceptive shift. We need to find choices in our life to stop feeling trapped. 

Click for Chris’ Free Inforgraphic on This Topic

When we focus on a new normal, we compare our present moment with our past moments. As I reflect on my past moments before COVID, I recall many positive aspects of my life and our society. Yet, I also remember that there were negative aspects, too. 

Might it be possible that this time of “difference” in your life and society may also be a time to create a “new normal”? Might this present moment be an opportunity to move into the future of possibilities? 

I propose a shift in perspective where we focus on the positive elements of now and plan how we’ll continue them when the pandemic is no longer an issue.

Instead of a return to normal, let’s proactively work toward a positive new normal, which will, over time, simply be lived as “normal.”

Feel the truth that you’re safe and loved

“Remind yourself that you’re breathing. And hopefully, you’re physically protected,” says Julie Potiker, mindful self-compassion teacher and author of Life Falls Apart, But You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos “Think about the people you care about, and the people who care about you,” Potiker suggests, saying that focusing on that can lower your panic-response. “Let the truth of that warm your heart.” Source: oprahmag.com

My Lesson Opportunities To Find Inner Peace During COVID

Re-define “normal”

Normal is what we’re used to, but our routines have been challenged for almost a year. Longing for normal means a longing for the past. Challenge yourself to find the positives of today and look to a “new normal” filled with possibilities.

Let go of victim thinking

These COVID events are not targeted to you individually, even if you are affected by them. A victim is a person devoid of choices. You have options today. Some aspects of our lives are beyond our control, yet other elements are in your control. Learn the difference and focus on those areas of your life you can change and make changes.

Re-connection with family

Quarantines, for better or worse, have forced families to be together. No family dynamic is perfect, but think about it, has your family grown closer? Have you eaten more dinners together or started game nights? Lack of commuting, virtual schooling, and telework are providing families more time together. How can this togetherness become your new normal?

Find your inner peace

Anger has a way of taking over life, spilling onto people or events we aren’t even angry about. Our society is sharing in this everyday new normal, enabling us to better understand each other in our shared experience. Take the energy of your anger and shift it to a passion of service toward your family, community, or society.

Nurture friendships

I grew up in the decades before the internet and the existence of social media. I recall spending much of my time with my friends in person. We can’t physically spend time with friends during quarantine, but we can use our technology for good. Spend time with your friends via the internet, where you can see each other and share in a group conversation and group activities. If this interaction with your friends is new to you, how can you maintain this new normal in the future?

Be kind to others and yourself

As a society, we are coping with the pandemic in our own ways. I’ve experienced, though, that many people seem a bit nicer and more patient. We’re in this together. Many messages we hear lately are reminders to take care of ourselves during the quarantine. Self-care is essential for us to do daily. How will you continue, daily, taking care of yourself and being kind to others in this new normal?

Your experience

What aspects of this future new normal would you like to keep? What would you like to change or stay the same? Make a list for you and your loved ones. 

I challenge you to shift your perspective to look at this period of life from a negative attitude and look at it from a positive one. We can create a future filled with positive experiences. Don’t let this past year pass you by without walking away with healthy learning. Let’s proactively shape the future we want to live in. 

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How To Healthily Cope With Grief During Covid-19

grief COVID

Grief is a typical human experience, but the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many of the ways we usually manage the loss. Here are my tips on coping healthily with your grief. 

Grief is one of those emotions that many of us think of only during the loss of a loved one. And while this is the grief, many of us experience grief, and the grieving process, can happen whenever we have a loss. 

During COVID-19, we have experienced many deaths, and those events elicit feelings of grief, but almost everyone has experienced loss due to the coronavirus. We have lost employment, lost freedom of movement lost ability to meet with family and friends as we used to, and lost a sense of control over our lives. All of these are losses that can lead us to feel grief. 

The Mayo Clinic reports that “In addition to feeling grief over the loss of life caused by COVID-19, you’re likely grieving the loss of your normal routine.” Check out my article on this topic written a couple of months ago by clicking here

“Not only are people now grappling with the loss of normalcy, but also with anticipatory grief, or the feeling that greater loss is yet to come.” (Very Well Mind) Some of the grief we feel comes from feeling that we are not in control and worry about future changes. Focusing on the unknown of the future causes stress and anxiety, increasing the grief felt due to our losses. 

Grief affects everyone differently, and for some, grief can be expressed through depression and anger. If you or a loved one appears to be depressed or is becoming “short-fused” or angry, the root issue may be stress created by underlying grief of a loss of normalcy. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing grief, try these steps for coping with your grief. They work for me. 

Using mindfulness, pay attention to your emotions. Keeping your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, experiencing your current feelings, will help guide you to understand those feelings you wish to change. Then you can take control of changing those feelings. 

Stay connected to people. Even though many of us are social distancing and not gathering in groups, don’t isolate. Meetings with individuals while physically distancing allows you to stay in touch, as does technology. 

Practice self-care. Do actions that are positive and healthy for you. Eat well, pick up hobbies, rest, and be kind to yourself. 

Feeling well takes time. Changes in your emotional outlook take time, so have patience with yourself. You will feel better in hindsight, but while going through the emotion, it feels like forever. Remind yourself to let the process take its course. 

Validate your feelings. Feelings are simply our response to a situation. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. So, how you’re feeling is valid. If you wish to change your feelings, fine, work on that, but don’t judge your feelings or use phrases like “I shouldn’t feel this way.”

Grief from COVID-19 is not your fault. Your losses are yours, as are your feelings. You have control over your response to what has happened to you. You are empowered to cope with your grief, healthily. 

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Why Aren’t You Happy? How To Change That

happy happiness change

Why aren’t you happy? This is a question we often ask ourselves, answering ourselves with excuses we tell ourselves. Can I be happy? Sure, you can, but are you sure you want to be happy? 

I find that today, listening to the news and hearing people bickering about politics is not easy to be happy. Even if I am happy, once I hear about more violence in the country, I’m no longer happy. So why aren’t you happy? Try to be happy in today’s culture!

Fair observation. Outside forces and experiences can and do take away our happiness. Being happy isn’t always easy, but it does happen. You may want to check out a previous article of mine I titled: “Happiness Is Not The Answer But Here’s What Is.”  

In that article, I wrote: “Happiness is a fleeting emotion which comes and goes. As such, happiness can’t be a life goal. This is why I don’t encourage people to seek happiness as a life goal.” My premise is that we need to focus on inner peace instead of a fleeting of happiness. But for the purpose of this article, I’m content with using the word happy. 

Many times we lose our happiness due to outside factors, but I find I lose my happy feeling because of my own inner issues. We can be our worst enemy when it comes to keeping or losing our happiness. The positive side to this is that if I’m my worst enemy, can’t I also be my own best friend? Yes!

Our thoughts are actually our own creation. They may seem to pop up in our heads, but in reality, we create them. So, since we create them, we can change or delete them. A favorite quote by Dr. Judith Beck, Ph.D., is “just because I think it doesn’t mean its true.” Just because there’s a negative thought about me, doesn’t mean its a right thought. As a child, I used to have the thought I was Superman. Obviously, having that thought didn’t make it accurate. So why do we put faith in negative thinking about ourselves?

Here are my ways of keeping my happiness:

  1. Thoughts: Learn and believe that I’m the creator of my thoughts, and so I can change those thoughts whenever I want. If you’re not feeling happy, check your thoughts to discover what you’re telling yourself. If you’re telling yourself unhappy thoughts, then, of course, you will feel unhappy. 
  2. Perspective: The way we view the world around us becomes our reality. If we focus our thoughts on the negative, of course, all you will perceive is negative. The more you look for the positive, the more positive you will find. And if your perspective is positive based, so will your thoughts. 
  3. Kindness: Have you noticed that many times we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves? Learn to treat yourself as you treat others. If you are patient with others or give them the benefit of the doubt, do the same to yourself. 
  4. Mindfulness: Practice living in the moment, feeling what you’re feeling without judgment. Learn those times when you aren’t happy, and teach yourself ways to become happy. 
  5. Keep Going: Just when life is going great and you’re feeling comfortable, we tend to self-sabotage. We stop ourselves just before we achieve our success through the thoughts of not feeling worthy or of not thinking you really can achieve this. Don’t allow those thoughts to influence you. You made it this far, keep going.

Why aren’t you happy? It might be your own thoughts. Change your thoughts, and you can once again feel happy.

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Angry At Society – how to feel peaceful not hatred

angry at society

Angry at society appears to be the primary emotion of our time. As this angry feeling festers, it can lead to feeling hatred. Yes, there is also kindness found in society, and I do know people who are not angry. What can we do with our angry emotions so that we can turn them into a sense of being peaceful, and we don’t end up feeling hatred?

Angry at society? Why is there so much anger? We see it in the streets, in demonstrations, on social media, etc. I have my theories, but the focus of this article is not on the why, or the origin, of the anger. Instead, I write this article on anger from the perspective of mindfulness. 

In mindfulness, we are urged to remain in the moment, non judgmentally. Following that suggestion, I don’t necessarily need to understand why someone is angry. Assuming anger is taking a person from their peace, I guide that person to shift their perspective and so take action in the hopes of returning that person to a sense of peace.

As a counselor and practitioner of mindfulness, I don’t perceive anger as either positive or negative. The feeling is the feeling; what I do with the feeling is healthy or unhealthy. So, anger in and of itself is not the issue. My perception and actions based on anger is the issue. Therefore, many people these days who are angry are not what bothers me. What bothers me is what they are doing with their anger. 

Anger, as an emotion, has its place. Anger has been used successfully as a means of defense against danger, both physical and emotional. Anger, felt when we perceive a threat, produces in us an increase of the chemical adrenaline. This chemical prepares the body for a physical fight and later coping with the event’s emotions.

In society, whenever we feel that our ideas, beliefs, or opinions are attacked, our basic instinct kicks in, resulting in an angry response. Anger is undoubtedly the most judgmental of our emotions. It’s also the most moralistic, self-righteous, and repudiating. Most of us will defend, sometimes to the death, what we believe. 

Attacking a person’s beliefs or opinions is akin to an attack on the person themself. Why? Because we are the thinker of our thoughts! In essence, if you attack my thoughts, you attack what I created, and in so doing, you attack the creator, me.

Anger is probably the only emotion that we consciously cling to. Think about the last time you felt happiest. How long did that feeling, in its intensity, last? And when the feeling drifted away, many of us say, “I wish it lasted longer.” Yet, when it comes to anger, when was the last time that feeling of anger simply drifted away? For many of us, we hold onto it, ruminating over and over the offense, which was done. 

Why do we hold on to anger? Let’s examine what the emotion of anger does for us:

  1. It provides us with a feeling of power.
  2. It enables us to believe that we are in control of the situation.
  3. It confirms to us that we are right and correct in our stance.

Examining this list, why wouldn’t I want to hold onto anger? If I give up feeling angry, I may feel less powerful and less in control, and I may discover that I’m not entirely correct in my thoughts or beliefs. Yet, if I am willing to give over my power and control to a reflection of my thoughts, I have now opened myself up to self-examination!

Self-examination, one of the goals of meditation, can also be a means of growth. But self-examination can be scary as we uncover aspects about us that we may not wish to open or issues that even we don’t like. As we hold onto our anger, we don’t allow for this self-examination. In many cases, that which angers us in others is what we are covering up in ourselves!

As I stated earlier, anger isn’t the issue; it’s our reaction to anger, which can be an issue. Therefore I differentiate between what I call a “healthy anger” instead of “unhealthy anger.” For example, you witness an injustice and become angry as your belief system speaks to justice for all. In this example, your motivation for feeling anger is not self-righteous indignation or a sense to overpower someone “because I can.” In this example, your anger will most likely result in action toward resolving the injustice, whereby all parties involved will be granted a sense of peace. As peace overtakes the anger, one is willingly open to self-examination. 

The unhealthy anger is that anger, which I hold in a self-righteous manner with no motivation or intention toward a sense of peace or self-examination.

The person who practices mindfulness, meditation, and self-examination recognizes within them a sense of peace. Note that I don’t speak of the “feeling” of peace, rather, the “sense” of peace. Feelings, such as anger and happiness, are fleeting; they come and go. Having a “sense” of peace is not fleeting. A sense of inner peace speaks to an awareness of oneself within your environment. We can feel angry, happy, sad, etc. while at the same time maintaining a sense of peace. 

People such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. no doubt felt anger as part of their motivation of why they acted as they did. But a reason their actions were not violent and their rhetoric was of love is that they had a sense of inner peace. This sense of inner peace allowed them to feel the anger, yet not allowing them to betray their values.

When we feel emotions and act in unison with our core beliefs, not violating our true selves, we are at peace. We may feel anger at situations or even toward specific people. Still, in maintaining a union between those feelings and our actions with our core beliefs, we retain our sense of inner peace.

Our goal is not to stop feeling angry. Instead, our goal is to learn how to respond to anger healthily. Here are my steps for healthy anger:

  1. Before feeling angry, practice mindful meditation and spend time in self-examination.
  2. When you feel anger, find your inner peace to help change your perspective to understand the situation from everyone’s viewpoint.
  3. Take action in union with your core beliefs and values, which will ultimately lead to the spreading of peace.
  4. When the situation is over, refuse the urge to hold onto the anger. Let your inner peace overtake the anger allowing yourself time to re-charge.

I agree that there is much in our world toward which to feel anger. Use the steps above to rise to the challenge of using your anger healthily.

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