By Theresa Castro, MBA
Do you often feel lonely, anxious, or even depressed? Is a mid-life or quarter-life crisis threatening your confidence, self-esteem and well-being? Do you yearn for practical advice on enhancing, balancing and bringing new joy to your personal and professional life? Tens of millions of Americans answer a resounding "yes" to one or more of those questions. After all, statistics report that more than 19 million of us are diagnosed with depression each year. Here are seven simple exercises to enhance your life for a lifetime:
1) ACCEPT THE LESSONS THAT ARE PRESENTED TO YOU
At times, we like to play the victim role when things happen to us that are painful and difficult. First, change your attitude towards those events. A change in your mindset creates miraculous shifts in energy. Changing your perspective makes a negative situation suddenly appear positive.
Next, spend time with yourself to understand the challenge for what it really is by journaling and/or meditating. In your quiet time, ask yourself why the situation or person was presented to you.
Appreciate the person, thing or experience that brings you the lesson. Recognize that these situations are the impetus for change. For instance, we may have a boss that makes our job so difficult that we decide to find a new job.
Then, when we find this new career and love it, we wonder why we didn't change jobs sooner. In this scenario, it is important for us to realize that if we didn't have a boss who made us want to leave our job, then we might have never left.
2) APPRECIATE ALL THINGS - GREAT AND SMALL
The lack of happiness stems from the lack of recognizing that we do indeed have so much to be thankful. Even the person who feels that they have nothing, upon introspection, they can find that they are blessed with abundance. For instance, do we think about the gift of sight or the gift of hearing? These are indeed gifts and we often forget that they are gifts.
Take time to observe someone who suffers with some type of physical impairment. For instance, how long does it take them to get from their car to the front door of the grocery store? How long does it take them to do their grocery shopping? Perhaps, it takes them twice as long as you do or even longer. Whatever that time may be, we take for granted that we can just park, hop out of our car and go shopping. Instead, look around and observe how much you have.
3) BEGIN A GRATITUDE JOURNAL
Write in a journal at the end of each day. Note two things for which you are grateful. You may want to recall what made you smile, laugh or feel good all over. An example might be that you appreciate the warmth of the sun or hearing the birds chirp on a morning walk. Journaling may make you realize that life indeed has much to offer that is available for free - we just have to recognize it!
Create a journal for a spouse/significant other. How many times do we think about what we lack instead of thinking about we have? We might focus on behaviors such our spouse forgetting to take out the trash. We may even verbalize these thoughts to them.
However, did we make any comments about the things that our spouse/significant other did unprompted? Did we say thank you? Did we even recognize it? Creating a journal for your beloved can have two benefits. First, you will recognize and be grateful for what you have. Second, the journal allows for your spouse/significant other to feel appreciated.
4) TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT GRATITUDE
Children model adult behaviors. Thus, when they see us say thank you or send thank you cards, we are showing our children the importance of being grateful. Make time to show a child ways to be appreciative. This can be your child, the neighbor's child, a grandchild or a niece or nephew. A simple activity would be that you could assist them in making a thank you card.
5) CREATE LISTS
There many different kinds of list that you can create to facilitate a new zest for life. Here are a few topics to consider:
6) SEND THANK YOU CARDS
Recall the last time that you received a thank you card in the mail. How did you feel? Reignite the same feelings by writing a thank you card for someone else.
7) INCREASE YOUR AWARENESS
Make gratitude a daily part of your routine. Participate in some type of activity each day that brings gratitude into your existence. Recognize that being grateful allows more good things to come into your life.
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