Thursday, May 21, 2015

Optimism and the Body: Why a Good Attitude is Good for You

Do you know an Optimist? You know, that person that reminds you of Pollyanna, and some days you just want to punch him or her in the face? Well, you might be interested to know that while an overly optimistic attitude can be quite annoying sometimes, it is also very good for your body. Happier people live longer, and have fewer health problems.

Have you noticed that person that always seems to have something wrong? The person that no matter what you ask him or her, he always seems to have  negative answer?

You: "How is the weather today?"
NP: "well, my joints are acting up and because of all this pollen my allergies are going crazy and I can barely breathe."

Does this make you want to be around that person? Not likely. No one wants to spend much time with a Negative Nancy all the time. Small bits are ok, if you are willing to risk the negativity spreading. That's right folks, negativity is contagious. But GOOD NEWS! So is a positive attitude.

I am usually a very positive person, and can find the good in just about anything. Like most people, I do have days where nothing seems to go right, but as long as I focus on the fact that it's not forever, and that day will pass, it helps me keep my positive attitude. The upside to always focusing on the positive aspects of things, is that what you think about increases. What you say brings power into your life. I believe strongly in the power of our words, and that what we say matters. What we think turns into what we say, and what we say brings about change in circumstances.

So the question becomes, do you want positive things in your life, or do you want to live a life full of cynicism, negativity and bad circumstances? Of course not! I can't think of a single person that actually WANTS these things!! So what do we do about it? Try something for me, then leave a comment below about what happened.

Over the course of a week, whenever something negative comes into your life, whether it be a bad circumstance, or a coworker who can't ever say anything nice, whenever this happens, get a pen and paper and list 3 good things in your life. WRITE THEM DOWN. At the end of the week, read over them, and think about any changes in your life that maybe came about because of this change in perspective. It could be as simple as just a change in your attitude toward those negative people, or something more profound. Either way, I would love to hear about it! Let me know below, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fulfill Your Purpose

As humans, we have to have a purpose. We have to have goals or we tend to get very depressed. Having something to work toward gives us motivation, and a purpose for being on this earth. I was reading in the Bible the other day on the subject of purpose, and I found several scriptures about what God has created us for. My favorite one is Isaiah 43:7.

               "Every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my Glory, I have formed him; yea I have made him."

I loved this verse when I found it, because it says clearly that we are created for God's glory. That gives us purpose. The question is, what do we do with that purpose?

The first thing I think of when I think of finding my purpose in life is, "what do I enjoy doing? What would I do for free if money was not an issue?" That is usually a pretty good first step in finding your purpose. The second thing I ask myself is, "how can I support myself doing this thing that I enjoy?" For example, I love helping people. I love talking them through their problems, or helping them find solutions they wouldn't normally see. This is something that if I were RICH, I would still do, because it makes me feel valuable, and makes me feel like I'm making a difference. The second thing I would do if money weren't an issue is help abused kids. In fact, I hope to start a non-profit center for children of abuse, to help break that cycle, and help them become functioning, well-adjusted adults.

These are not overly confident goals. You might be reading these goals of mine, and think, "well that's great for you, but what about me? What's my purpose?" Start by listing EVERYTHING you enjoy doing. Is it playing pool? is it bowling? knitting? crochet? listening to music? list everything you enjoy doing. Then look down the list and something inevitably will jump out at  you.

If nothing jumps at you, then look into finding a coach. I help clients find their purpose by asking them questions designed to find that exact thing they want to do. These personalized sessions are designed specifically for you. A coach helps you set goals for your life and helps you decide exactly what those goals should be.

Did this post help you? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!

How to Forgive Even When You Don't Want To

Judy is 29  years old. She has a boyfriend, a best friend, and an awesome life. Her one problem, though, is that she doesn't have a good relationship with her family. When she was younger, her father abused her and her mother wasn't able to make it stop. She has lived with the shame of this abuse for years, and blames her father for it all. This makes it hard for her to move on and forgive him. He is her father. She is half him. She worries that she will abuse her own children the way she was abused. She has started to seek therapy to help her move on from this abusive situation, so that she can forgive her father, but it is going very slowly. She is starting to wonder if anything will ever work.

From the story above, you might be wondering, "why does Judy have to forgive her father? He was the one being abusive!" Which is exactly what I would have thought a couple years ago had I read about the same situation. The problem with letting unforgiveness fester is that it causes physical manifestations. When you can't or don't forgive, you are stuck in the past and can't really move on to the future until that past is dealt with. This causes anxiety, depression and anger. These issues show up in your life in ways that are unrelated to the original trauma.

In Judy's case, she didn't really want to forgive her father. She felt justified in her unforgiveness because he was so horrible to her. After years in therapy, she finally admitted to her therapist that she struggled with her feelings about forgiveness. As a result of this honesty, her therapist was able to come up with some steps for Judy to take to finally find the road to complete forgiveness.

1. Allow yourself to grieve. Grieve for the loss of the ideal parent-child relationship. This is similar to grieving a death in the family, but allows the wronged person to move on in life without the complete closure of an actual death. This also means that the child can then start living with the actual relationship with his or her parent, instead of constantly wishing for the idealistic relationship that will probably never happen.

2. Allow yourself to celebrate the small things. When a parent-child relationship is strained, like in the one above, it can be really difficult not to look at everything in a negative light. Seeing all the strings attached, instead of the gift. Your life is a gift, so look at everything in that light, even the small positive interactions with a parent.

3. Don't fall back on past trauma. When you choose to forgive, and move past trauma, you are choosing not to fall back on old routines. If it is routine to ignore an estranged parent on a special holiday, make a point to reach out and wish them a happy holiday. This isn't to allow that person in your life again to make the same mistakes, but it is a way to tell yourself that you have moved on from the original trauma, and you are allowing yourself a new life with new experiences.

Judy is a fictional person, but she could be any of us. How many of us have held a grudge against someone for a smaller slight, or even fought with feelings toward an abusive parent? I know I have. But I have also followed the steps above and have found a way to move on from bad situations, and have found ways to forgive misdeeds by others. I have learned to respond to them in a way that may not diminish what was done to me, but helps me rise above them so that they don't define me.

Forgiveness is an active emotion. Some people forgive easily, and others not so easily. But when you choose to forgive someone for something, you are performing an action. This choice affects you, not the other person. When someone does something bad to you, and you tell them, "I forgive you," they may not even care. That person may not even realize they had hurt you in any way. This doesn't absolve  you of your responsibility to forgive. This responsibility isn't to the other person. Your responsibility to forgive is for you. When you forgive, you are opening your life up to all the positive things you might not have seen otherwise. When you are not focused on what wrongs have happened to you, you can open up to all the right. By doing this you allow yourself to live a life full of love and endless possibilities.

Did this post help you? Please let me know below! I would love to hear from you!