June 2016 - Summer is upon us As we look to the longer and sunny days of summer, we begin to feel an energy that can only come from an optimistic place as we spend more time outdoors with the many activities we enjoy. It is a time where our focus begins to shift from the dreary, cold days of winter to more social events, more physical activity and summer food with picnics and barbeques!
This is a time to reflect on our good fortune in life, our many friends and the opportunities that lie ahead. In our own joy and enthusiasm, we should all take a few minutes and take an inventory of those we love around us. As much as we may be feeling the joy of summer, we should be aware that those we love may not have the same sense of optimism. Many are consumed by worry, fear, anxiety and an inability not only to enjoy life but perhaps even to live their lives. They begin to isolate themselves a little more each passing week, they communicate less, they begin to look a little disheveled in their appearance and there is a distant look in their eyes.
Mental health is one of those topics that are the most challenging to discuss. For so many years there has been a stigma associated with depression, neurosis, psychosis, ADD, ADHD, and bipolar disorder; the list goes on. When a person is injured it is visible and it is mendable. However, the inner demons we all fight may not be visible. We all have self doubt, anxious moments, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy of others, negative self-talk and self-perpetuating bad habits and behaviors that hold us back.
As you begin to experience a more joyful summer, take a look at those around you. Offer your help and understanding. Many people are afraid or too proud to ask for help. Try not to judge from the outside because we may not know what the person is experiencing on the inside. If you do not feel you can help someone through their challenges or you feel they need professional help, find a way to guide them there. Make a conscious effort to not leave any of the lonely, disheartened and disenfranchised behind.
For those who can:
Reach out to those you love who may need your help and guidance.
Refer those who need it to professional help.
Leave judgment behind. No one is immune from mental health challenges.
Be kind to those who are challenged.
Stay connected with those you love.
Weed out those who make your life more difficult. This is not easy.
Count your blessings for your own good fortune.
Dec. 2015 - Reflections on 2015 as the year winds down.
As we wind down 2015 it is a time for a reflection on what has been positive, indifferent and negative in our lives. Life’s journey is never just good, happy and joyful otherwise that would just become the norm. It is our passions that drive the course of life and our attitude to the outcomes of our choices that make a difference. It is taking the less than positive experiences and finding the lesson that will help us grow and find a better path.
I recall one of my dearest friends, Robert, often saying that the one part of life you can control is your reaction to life’s events and one’s attitude. So many obstacles, challenges and disappointments will come our way and how we manage those will influence what we see as success or happiness. With the number of variables of the people, places and aspirations we all have it can almost never be certain of what the ultimate finish line will bring.
The mind is a powerful organ and too often we allow the negative thoughts to consume our time, paralyze our action and nurture the procrastination. Yes, we all fight our inner demons and often times we catastrophize in our heads. How often have circumstances turned out better than you had imagined? I remember recently making an offhand comment on a Friday afternoon as I was preparing for the weekend. What had been a common way of kidding with those I knew well, may have been misconstrued by the new colleagues in my life. I spent the entire weekend formulating an apology and when I spoke to each of the individuals on Monday, they did not even remember the comment. Nonetheless, my weekend was consumed in unproductivity and worry.
Time is one of the most precious things we have in our lives. It is often said that this is not a dress rehearsal and we need to be sure to use the time wisely. We all like to think we can manage time and yet it will march on minute by minute, day by day and year after year whether we use our time effectively or not. What if there were some ways that you could make better use of that valuable time? What if we could find shortcuts and techniques to keep us from so much worry, procrastination and feelings of failure?
Tailoring your time to use the minutes wisely is not easy and yet some individuals find ways to squeeze out more success, consistent exercise and joyful experiences than we may see ourselves achieve. Take a few minutes to reflect and plan for 2016 with these 5 simple steps.
1. Stop measuring success by what others do. Each person has their own set of what they value, love and motivates them to get out of bed each day.
2. Stop the negative speak in your head. Listen to what others say about you behind your back and to your face. Accept the compliments graciously and do not discount the comments and diminish the opinion others have of you.
3. Write down what your goals are based on what your values are and not what others expect of you.
4. Take the time to care for yourself. You recharge your cell phone daily, why is it so difficult to recharge our own batteries each day.
5. Lastly, be kind to yourself and others. Take moments to recognize others, compliment good deeds and most importantly to perform random acts of kindness. This will not only make someone else feel good but it will also nourish your own soul.