“Today I am happy because I am happy that I am not unhappy.” Sam S.
Of all the wellness workshops I teach I am probably busiest with sessions on stress and work life balance. A couple weeks ago I was speaking to a friend who is one of the most positive, upbeat people I know. He is incredibly supportive of his friends when they go through tough times and his approach is to cheer lead them rather then attend a pity party. All that said, when I asked him how he was he openly shared that he was feeling “blue.” Well, you know when one of your cheer leaders is blue it is not to be taken lightly, so very quickly my mind shifted into “savior” mode and I thought here is an opportunity for me to cheer lead for a change. Not that I was asked to, but that is just what I do.
You probably know it is totally offensive to tell people how to feel. “Oh, you’ll get over it.” “Cheer up, tomorrow is another day.” “Look on the bright side, at least you aren’t….” You are entitled to feel however you feel, recognize the feeling or emotion, then decide what you are going to do about it. Focus on what is in your control, not what you can’t control.
So what should you do when friends or colleagues are “bummed out?” First and foremost you should express you concern about how they are feeling. “I’m sorry to hear things aren’t going well for you right now.” You might want to add,” If there is anything I can do, I am a good listener?”
Now, getting back to my blue friend. I suggested that he might want to look for a “happy moment” every day. Every day look for and identify something that makes you happy for at least one minute. I decided to take my own advice and found the search to be a pleasant distraction, and actually fun. Do check in with yourself throughout the day to see if you have had your “moment” yet.
Interestingly, when the happy moment doesn’t appear early on in your day, you are then actually looking for it rather than thinking about the stressors in your life. Just imagine, what a positive, non stressful way to spend your harried day, looking for a happy moment. Once you find it, you say to yourself, “This is my happy moment.” This is a very cognitive way in which to put yourself in a positive state of mind, even if temporarily. If you can find a friend to share each day’s “happy moment” with, it would be even more of a commitment to managing your stress and thinking positively.
At a stress workshop last week my audience came up with a few other ideas for managing stress and thinking more positively:
- Laughter was at the top of the list. If an event has already happened and you can’t change it and it is out of your control, control you reaction to it and LAUGH.
- Reframe the situation, there is always at least two ways to look at something and you get to choose which way to look.
- Think about how you want things to be, not what you don’t want.
- Imagine the outcome, don’t dwell on the path to getting there.
- Visualization is very powerful – a picture is worth a thousand words.
- Think of others.
- Take a wellness day, call in and tell your boss you are ‘too well to come to work today.’
- Perform a random act of kindness. Buy a stranger coffee in the line up tomorrow morning or pay for a senior’s groceries when in line at the grocery store.
- Volunteer, get out of yourself.
My happy moment today is knowing you are reading this column and thinking about your happy moment.