Monday, March 22, 2010

Resiliency...How to cope when change happens

Man, change happens...everyday, every hour, we all know that, right?  So, what happens when the calamitous events hit -- you know those tragedies that rip apart our sense of comfort -- when the earth shifts and life as you have come to know and expect it to be on planet no more.  I am talking about the very difficult things that hurt our hearts and sense of who we are -- serious illness, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce...etc.

We will go through the aftermath of devastating change
no matter what -- there is no avoiding it.  --DCR

I have a word for you.  Resiliency.  According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, resilience is "the ability to recover from or adjust to misfortune or change."

Guess what I discovered?  We will go through the aftermath of devastating change no matter what, there is no avoiding it.  The unthinkable actually happened and I couldn't undo or fix it.  I had to learn to live with it and rebuild a life that made it ok and me happy.  

Being resilient is a process that takes some time and effort.  Sadness and pain happen when we experience trauma -- whatever type it is.  That sense of uncertainty we feel is normal -- strong emotions, again...normal.  We don't all react the same way, so there is no guaranteed formula for recovery, but somehow, we do just that -- rebuild.

So what are we to do?  Really?  We can take a deep breath and realize that we will recover and it isn't necessary to see that recovery immediately -- that bounce we all seem to expect of ourselves.  Research has shown that resilience is ordinary, not!  The steps to it, however, are individual (follow link). 

I think one key in the process is to give ourselves room to acknowledge the bad thing that happened -- to feel the way we feel about it -- but in a positive way.  Here is what that might look like for you:

  • Think about you -- as in, your own needs and feelings.  Do the things you enjoy; excercise, eat well, maintain a routine and try to keep the normal life stresses under control.
  • Keep in contact and maintain relationships that are important to you.  Family and friends can be very supportive, or you can be there for them. Rely on others, it is ok.  
  • Focus on the good stuff and try to stay away from the violence in the media, on tv or at the movies.  Sad, bad, stories can pull you down.  I am not saying to ignore current events, but just try to structure what you are allowing to take up your time.
  • When you think about the "problem, event, loss" recognize that you can't change it, but you do shape how you react to it.  Try not to see it as "impossible to recover."  Try looking at the future in a positive way and acknowledge even the little victories of feeling just a little better about it.
  • Have faith and hope, daily.  The universe loves you -- really, really, loves you.
The next part of the process holds another key and requires more active participation:

  • Accept change as a part of life.  Some things may be different for you now -- loss of someone you loved dearly, life or job goals, a critical relationship, marriage -- and there is no denying it.  You can't wish it away, you can only accept that it happened and begin focusing on the circumstances you can control.
  • Move forward.  Develop some realistic goals, even small ones and champion yourself when you reach them.
  • Don't detach, stay engaged and take decisive actions -- small ones and then larger steps.
  • Expect that good things will happen in your life.  Stop looking at the bad thing that happened and worrying about it...instead, visualize what it is that you want and how you want to feel. It takes some work to be hopeful -- don't tell yourself, "it will never get better."  Expect that it will get better.
  • Think good thoughts about you, it builds confidence to nuture yourself and trust in your ability to make it through.
The benefit of extreme change or loss is that it never leaves you where it found you.  Take this time to grow.  Through adversity your relationships can become deeper; your capabilities develop and strength grow; your sense of self-esteem increases; faith becomes stronger and you have more appreciation for life.  You learn you can rely on yourself and trust that you are loved.

Me?  I am in a good place and I used every one of the steps listed above.

Here's to you -- flexible, balanced, resilient.



Thursday, March 11, 2010 to find it and keep it...


Elusive, future, not, past...words often used in connection to the word happiness.

It is a startling question to ask yourself seriously, Am I happy? It could bring to mind the bumpy road, an uncomfortable squirm or a sarcastic jibe -- as in, "yeah, right."

Taking it a step further and making it more than a passing wonderment will require other questions...i.e., what needs to take place in my thinking to change my happiness connectivity words from... elusive, future, not, my possession, now, yes and now?

"You will always be you...figure out how to love who you are." -- DCR

I have a few simple ideas on the topic -- all solution-oriented. I'll share:

  • Try different things -- challenges create new opportunities to learn, stretch and grow
  • Surround yourself with positive people -- people who add to your sense of happiness
  • Say goodbye to people/friends who constantly tell you that you should be a different person -- it usually has something to do with their agenda. Kick them to the curb -- (my version...wish them well and move on)
  • Gratitude and Blessings -- make time to recognize these in your life, everyday, and express them
  • Connect -- spend time with people you love or with those you enjoy
  • Tolerance and Acceptance -- we cannot control the universe and everyone in it. If we all wore pink bowties it would be boring. Live and let live. Embrace our differences
  • If you have a weakness, bad habit or trait that you allow to stop your happiness, change it or learn to live with it
  • Slow down -- take a load off your schedule, calendar, activity list. Stop breezing through everything you do and ask yourself...Is this necessary? Do I enjoy this? How do I feel about this? Do I love this?
  • Love yourself, Treat yourself -- can't say this one enough... You will always be you...figure out how to love who you are
  • Realize there will always be critics -- unreservedly love yourself
  • Run straight toward the fear...stomp it, kick it, master it, control it
  • Acknowledge that you deserve to be happy. Feel it, recognize it, make it real
  • Do stuff you love -- make time to DO the things that make you happy -- art, reading, sports, writing, walking the dog, gardening, museums, galleries, antiquing...
  • Get over yourself -- uncomfortable, difficult and very sad things happen to every single one of us. Life also involves all of us. Each and every person has their own perspective -- honor that
  • Laugh at yourself
  • If you have children, love them with your whole being
  • Be very, very kind
  • Be gracious and teach graciousness -- it is a dying art
  • Get up, look in the mirror and answer the questions you see there -- have courage, you are loved by the universe.
Consider reading The Happiness Project a book by Gretchin Rubin and her blog of the same name.

There's the long-running Harvard Study of Adult Development, (began in 1937) profiled in an interesting piece, "What Makes Us Happy?" June 2009 Atlantic Monthly. It appears achieving or explaining happiness can be as complex for men as for women.

Here's to you!
With happiness and respect,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Your core beliefs define who you are...

You know, the longer amount of time I spend in this life, the more important it has become to me to value not only who I am, but continually work at expressing my life values or personal standards.

What? What are life values?  Personal know, those thoughts and actions that you deem acceptable to yourself -- a personal code of conduct that has expanded to include your mental realm as well. In other words -- our convictions -- what we believe is important and desirable in attitude and behavior.  Instrumental values are convictions about our desired character and behavior.  And, guess what, these can't be expressed in a vacuum -- we need other people to help implement the values we have identified as important to us.  It is demonstrated in what we think about other people and how we act towards them.  

How in the heck do you decide on your own personal set of core values?  How do you identify, clarify and and focus on your own values? The first step is enhanced self-awareness.  We can ask ourselves questions. This link offers good suggestions to help you determine what is important to you.

"How do you know who you are?" -- DCR

Why does it matter?
Decisions about our ethics and moral philosophy all come from our value choices. When we act with truth (integrity) and our priorities are in line with our chosen values, self-esteem is improved and we move toward implementing the keys to our own happiness.

Consider this...your "code" is how you think you should live your life -- the principles, standards, qualities, beliefs, characteristics -- what you hold important in life -- not materially or financially -- it is what defines you as a person.

And consider this, too...If you are wondering around with an undefined character, how do you know who you are, what you stand for, or how you will react in any given situation?

Hey, think about all this and decide for yourself.  Hmmm.

Thank you to Rice Agency for the use of the beautiful photo.