Archive | November 2013

Lesson # 86 Holidays And Stress

This Is What I Know For Sure Today:
Whether we like it or not the holidays are fast approaching. I have seen some homes with their Christmas lights up already. I think that’s called planning ahead. 
The holidays can be filled with a lot of stress and sadness for some of us. I keep it simple. If I send Christmas cards, I make them. If someone is getting a gift from me I do my best to make it myself. I don’t like to shop. Thanksgiving happens every day for me and since I really can’t be around well people, my Kim goes to be with his mom after work and I go to the shelter and serve meals. I love doing that and it causes me to feel all warm inside.
I hope the following will help you avoid the stress of it all or at least manage it.
The holidays bring a lot of things. There is great food, awesome presents and often some wonderful company as you spend time with the people closest to you. On the down side there is also the stress and sometimes negativity that often comes with the holidays.
You may feel the need to relax and let go of some negativity/or sadness or both.
1. Slow down.
First, slow down. Even if it may feel silly and if you have to force it a bit. Slow down your body…move and walk slowly.
Breathe slower and more deeply with your belly (and focus on doing just that for two minutes and see what happens). This is kind of like the 7 breath break in mini form.
Slow down your eating (this will not only help you to relax, it will also help you to not eat too much during the holidays since it takes just about 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full.)
Slow it all down and pay attention to what you are doing. Be here now and focus on doing just one thing at a time. By slowing down, by being here now, by not having your focus split between many things you, your body and your mind start to relax.
The stress you may feel from doing the things does not come from the things, it comes from how you go about doing them.
2. Take it easy with those expectations…in fact lose them all together. Expect nothing from anyone but yourself.
Things take time, especially around the holidays when stores, roads etc. are overflowing with people and cars. It is just how it is and if you don’t accept that then it’s going to be some stressful and frustrated days ahead.
Remember…even though Thanksgiving – Christmas etc., is supposed to be a sort of perfect time of the year nothing will ever be perfect. Striving for or expecting perfection can be pretty dangerous so let it go.
3. Tap into gratitude.
Where you put your focus and energy will determine how you feel and think. If we focus on the stress and how hard everything is, you will feel and think about just that. Focus on the positive things in your life right and you will feel a lot better and think happier thoughts. Your day becomes lighter when you change your focus.
One of the quickest ways to shift your focus is simply to appreciate the positive things in your life right now. To be grateful for what you have.
4. Take a break.
Going nonstop can sour your mood and stress anyone out. Slow down but also remember to take breaks. Take 20 minutes or half an hour to just rest. If during the holidays or times of celebration you happen to be alone, ill, overwhelmed with preparations/expectations…that you did not mean to have or with sadness, this is the perfect time to stop…sit down…breathe and readjust your focus. You may not have 20-30 minutes…but please take a moment to stop. Or/and if time allows, take a walk in the crisp and cold winter landscape. Escape via music, a book, or by watching classic holiday movies/TV (I watch Christmas movies year round…it is always a treat for me). 
Do something that snaps you out of the working, shopping and preparing mindset, even if it is just for while. That brief change in scenery and change of mental headspace may be all you need to feel revitalized again and stress free. You may even catch yourself smiling. Isn’t smiling during the holidays just one of the many nice things there are to do?
That’s it. I hope you find something helpful in all of this.  I am sending you all pink, stuffed huggz. 

© Sarah-Pink Welch  2013

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Lesson #85 Positive Happiness

This Is What I Know For Sure Today:
I look at life…every person’s life as a very special occasion and so I celebrate life everyday. And I celebrate the lives of folks I know. The bottom line to me is my attitude about living, about how I treat other people, and what I can do for anyone who is in need or who I can join together with because they too are celebrating life. Here is what I have learned to use in staying happy, grateful, and in a celebrating frame of mind.
1: I Believe Happiness is a Choice
For me, years & years ago, this was a hard thing to wrap my mind around. I used to believe that people were either unhappy or happy (and I was one of the unhappy ones). I used to blame this on all kinds of outside stuff…destiny, experiences, parents, relationships…but, I never really stopped to think that I could choose to be happy.
For sure this isn’t always easy, but it is always, always a choice. Teaching myself to know that happiness was a choice has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever done for myself. 
Now when I find myself in a eewwy situation, I know that it’s up to me to look for the good, to be happy regardless of what’s happening around me. I no longer point my finger at others, placing blame. I realize that everything happens how it happens and it’s up to me to choose how I want to feel about it and how I respond (NOT react) to it. I am in control of my happiness level and no one can ever take that away from me unless I allow it.
2: Rid Your Life of Negativity
If you want to live a positive, joyful and happy life, you cannot….absolutely CANNOT….be surrounded by negative people who are not encouraging your happiness. When I was a negative person, I tended to attract other negative people right smack into my life. What a major bummer that was. When I made up my mind to make the changes necessary to live a positive life, I had to rid my life of all of the negative people in it. This, I can tell you, wasn’t easy or fun. Letting go of people flat out hurts…even when you know they aren’t good for you or your current lifestyle. I truly believe in my heart that folks are very aware of their own negative ways. Not only did I have to get let go of the negative people, but I also had to get let go of negative things too. I made myself stop doing certain things that were causing negativity in my life. I had to take a step back and examine what behaviors were good for me and which were not. I learned to focus on the positive things I was doing and let go of the negative ones. This process was not easy and to be honest, is ongoing, but I know this for sure: having negativity in your life prevents you from living a truly positive existence. Life is a beautiful occasion. There’s no room for the negative.
3: Look For the Positive in Life
There is a positive aspect in everything. In each one of us, in every situation we find ourselves, there is always something good to be found. Many times it’s not all that obvious. We have to look and sometimes we have to look very hard.
The old me just sat back and allowed things to happen by default. If I saw or felt negative, I went with that feeling. I didn’t know to look harder or think too much about the good. I found it much, much easier to sit back and just accept what I saw or heard (which was usually the bad). Now, when I am faced with a difficult or challenging situation, I think to myself, “What is good about this?” No matter how terrible the situation might seem, I can ALWAYS find something good if I take the time to think about it.
Everything, good or not so wonderful, is a learning experience. At the very least, we can learn from bad experiences.
4: Reinforce Positivity in Yourself
Once I started thinking more positively and adapted to a more positive attitude, I realized I had to reinforce these thoughts and behaviors in myself so they would stick. It takes 21 days to form a habit. As with any kind of learning, practice makes perfect, and yes we can practice being positive. I found that the best and easiest way to do this, is to be positive when it comes to who you are. Tell yourself you’re awesome (because you are). Tell yourself you look good (because you do). Tell yourself that you love and accept yourself completely (because that’s necessary). Tell yourself you did an awesome job at work or raising your kids or whatever it is you do (because most likely, you did your best with what you have/had to work with). Be honest with yourself, but do your best to look for the good. Whatever you do, don’t focus on the negative. Nothing good will ever come from telling yourself bad..faulty thinking things. It’s okay to not like everything about yourself (yet), but don’t spend energy dwelling on the negative. Remind yourself of the good in you. We all have positive attributes and it’s up to you to remind yourself of them every day.
5: Share Happiness with Others
Not only do we need to be positive with ourselves for this new positive attitude to really take effect, but we also need to be positive with others. We need to share our wealth of positivity with the world.  Positivity changes everything for the better!
For me, the best way to accomplish this is quite simple and basic: Be nice. Be nice to other people, no matter what. Tell someone he or she looks nice today. Tell someone they did a great job on that presentation or something they made or created. Tell your parents or children (or both!) how much you love them and how great they are if you have not detached from them.
If someone is feeling down, do what you can to cheer him or her up. Send flowers. Write notes. Don’t gossip. Be kind to all living things. All of these things sound basic enough, but, for someone like me, they didn’t used to come easily.
In the past, I didn’t know to see the good in myself and, therefore, didn’t know to see it in others either. I used to be critical and condescending. Now I strive to be encouraging and supportive. I try not only to treat others, as I would like to be treated, but also to consider how they would like to be treated.
People appreciate positivity and the more you are sharing it with others, the more you are practicing it and reinforcing it in your own life.
Summing These Four Things Up:
When you start feeling like the idea of being a positive person is challenging, tell yourself this: “If someone Sarah-Pink) who really used to struggle with a negative attitude, turned her life around with these five steps, then I can too!”
If anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be writing an article about developing a positive attitude and living a happy life, I would have laughed right in their face. I would have said, “Why in the world would someone want me to write about positivity?”
But here I am, writing this post, believing in these words, and knowing that every single day I am getting closer and closer to living the happy life I’ve secretly dreamed of living. Please remember….there will ALWAYS be folks who are content in their negative-chaotic-drama filled lives. It is what they know and they are afraid to let that go. That is about them, not YOU. If I can make these changes, you can too. Believe in yourself and remember the most important lesson of all…a positive outlook is a choice. Choose to be positive. Choose to be happy. Life is short.

© Sarah-Pink Welch

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