As we close the parentheses on an old year, it’s always interesting to reflect on the events we leave behind, as well as the ones that will follow us moving forward. 2014 was a roller coaster for my family and me, highlighting 5 important truths about life:
Our Social Bonds Are a Buoy
My family and I moved from the U.S. to Canada this year, leaving behind our families and friends, but in the midst of all these changes we had each other, the friends that were generous to check in, and the new friends that were kind enough to adopt us. These incredible relationships chased away the feelings of isolation and the doubt that knocked on my door way too often in the past six months. This experience further strengthened the closeness of my immediate family, bringing into focus the importance of social bonds. Invest in your relationships. Give and receive. Those bonds are the glue to life.
Most of us seek stability. It is ironic in a way, because the inevitable truth is that change happens. We struggle when the wind blows in a different direction and then we close our minds and hearts to the new experiences it can bring. Take stock of who you are in a period of turmoil and open yourself to the new opportunities brought on by the very changes you dread. One door closes, so that a new one may open.
We Are Not Our Thoughts
We get stuck sometimes, especially during periods of change. Mourning loss is natural and even healthy, but getting stuck is not. Mindfulness meditation helps me when I can’t move past my thoughts. It reminds me of a simple truth, “we are not our thoughts”. Anxiety does not have to define us. Fear does not have to guide our steps. Ultimately, we are in charge of what thoughts we give credence to. Our thoughts can be a reflection of our anxiety and fears, but they don’t get to direct our journey– only we do.
Being Serious is Overrated
I love the quote from Dr. Stuart Brown: ” The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression”. Anxiety and depression can shut down our creative flow and make us rigid. Play builds resilience. Laughter, enjoyment of the moment, creating something out of nothing, playing with words, color, shapes, objects, children and pets are grounding and healing. It’s a natural fertilizer for personal growth. People should play throughout their lifespan. What do I do when I need to bring back some play into my life? I play with my kids, I draw or paint, and I cook. The list goes on and on.
Use the Tools You Have
As an occupational therapy professional and a parent coach, I am versed in a variety of techniques to get through personal hurdles, but sometimes we all need a reminder. Here are some tools that can help you through tough patches:
- Use your social network for emotional support (if you don’t have one, create one through Meetups, volunteering, religious groups, special interest groups, etc…)
- Imagine where you want to be, visualize it and then make a list of the obstacles you will have to surmount to get there. Imagine solutions to every obstacle, then visualize yourself getting through these barriers until you have reached your goal.
- You are a work in progress. Remove the pressure to achieve perfection. The journey is more important than the outcome.
- Find meaning through generosity. Give back to the world and your community. Your level of satisfaction will grow exponentially.
- Treat your body like a temple: eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, work hard, play well, be affectionate, love and be loved
A new year: so many new possibilities. The promise of the unknown is a blank slate just waiting for you to fill it. Make sure that by this time next year, your slate is covered with the joy of having tried, lived, loved, experienced, and overcome. Warmest wishes. May 2015 bring you closer to reaching your goals and inspire you to always create new ones!
Let’s Talk (leave a comment)- What are some truths you learned in 2014 that will help you in 2015?
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