Count Your Blessings

By June Headley-Greenlaw

This blog may start out dark but stick with me.  I see so many people allowing negativity to consume them.  However, I’ve also been blessed to witness people going through devastating times and maintaining positivity throughout.  I wanted to use this blog to encourage readers to seriously consider their circumstances and what alternatives could be. pooh quote

Do you have a child that has never and will never be able to walk or talk or feed themselves or give you a hug?  I am blessed not to have encountered this in my life, but I have a cousin that has experienced this for 22 years with her son.  She could have chosen to put him into a long-term care facility, but she did not.  Her son is front and center in her life daily and she still finds ways to enjoy life and smile.  She inspires me!

Do you have cancer or are you watching someone in your family suffer from this devastating disease?  I am blessed to have avoided this diagnosis, but I have known many people fighting through this challenge.  Some lost their battle and others are still in the fight.  I have learned so much from the people facing this struggle as well as the people that have cared for them.  They have all inspired me!

Are you homeless or jobless or worried about where your next meal will come from?  I am blessed not to be in these situations, but I have met people that have been in all of them.  When I taught U101 at the University, I used to do a group community service day with all my students each semester.  We would visit places like the Salvation Army where homeless people could stay for a night or get a hot meal.  We did projects like painting rooms, serving food, etc.  We would always end our day with someone who was dependent on those services telling us their story.  Those people inspired me!

My point in mentioning all of these things is to ask you to think about all of these people and their situations as you go through your daily life.  Try not to allow yourself to get mired in negativity, but instead, tell yourself that there are many people going through much tougher times, and count your blessings.

quote 1I hope that most people who know me would say I’m a pretty positive person.  I tell myself I’m only limited by my willingness to work toward what I want or need in life and I play that on loop in my head always.  I take responsibility for my actions, and I understand that I am where I am each day only because of the choices I have made.  Well, that’s mostly the case.  There was never a chance of me playing professional basketball at 5 feet nothing!  I pray daily for those less fortunate and I thank God for all that He has given me.

I have found that a positive attitude can carry you through anything.  It may not make the outcome of your challenge what you hoped, but it may keep you from sinking into the doldrums of depression.  Give it a try.  Remember, your track record for getting through tough times is 100% so far.

Ways to Become More Resilient

By Mary Pat Baldauf

In my world, resilience is a new buzz word. Usually used in connection with climate change, resilience is defined as the ability of a system or community to survive disruption and to anticipate, adapt, and flourish in the face of change. In simpler terms, it’s the ability to bounce back from adversity, whether it be climate change, disasters or other unfortunate incidents.

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It’s not only important for communities, but also for us as individuals to be resilient. Resilient people may encounter dark moods, bad days and adversity, but they have strategies to help them bounce back and move on.

From Psychology Today, here are ten tips to help build your personal resiliency:

  1. Get adequate restorative sleep. Poor sleep patterns and stress go hand-in-hand.
  2. Engage in adequate physical exercise daily. Exercise is a major buffer against stress, including stress from depression.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet and keep your weight within a desired range. You’ll have fewer health-related problems.
  4. Nourish your quality social support networks through reciprocally supporting others who support you. Quality social support correlates with higher levels of resiliency.
  5. Meet challenges as they occur. Avoid procrastination and the stresses that come from it and crises that arise from delays.
  6. Build tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty. You are less likely to experience anxieties related to a need for certainty.
  7. Express higher-order values, such as responsibility and integrity. This gives you a compass for taking a sound direction.
  8. Work to build high frustration tolerance. High frustration tolerance, cognitive flexibility, and problem-solving actions are normally interconnected.
  9. Stretch to achieve realistic optimism. This is a belief that you can both self-improve and act to make things more workable for you. You exercise realistic optimism by acting to do and get better.
  10. Boost resilience with preventive actions where you reduce your risk for negative thinking and increase your chances for realistic thinking.

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Move over to the sunny side of the street

By Jeanne Reynolds

 

I’m a fairly focused, goal-oriented person. And although I don’t take myself too seriously, I do take what I do seriously. So I’m not one of those people walking around with a big smile all the time (and I so hate it when someone, especially a stranger, says “Smile! It can’t be that bad.” I mean really, how the heck would you know whether it is or not?)

That doesn’t mean I’m not happy most of the time. Even joyous occasionally. Able to see the humor in most situations. And overall, pretty optimistic. Which is great, because it’s … (drum roll, please) … National Optimism Month.

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Lucky for me, optimism isn’t about walking around with a goofy grin on your face or spouting Pollyanna-ish sayings all day. Optimism is about seeing the positive in situations — you know, that glass-half-full thing.

There are plenty of good reasons to look on the bright side:

  • Better health. Optimists tend to have healthier hearts, making them less prone to attacks and strokes. Being optimistic in a stressful situation can raise your immune response, increasing your ability to fight infection and disease. And we’ve all heard stories of patients who stayed positive bouncing back faster from illness and injury.
  • Higher achievement. Researcher Martin Seligman found athletes and teams that are more optimistic perform better than pessimistic ones. That’s one reason some employers seek out optimists as job candidates.
  • Longer life. If optimism and good health go hand-in-hand, no wonder research shows links between optimism and avoiding early death from heart disease, cancer infection and other diseases.

Even if you’re not naturally super-optimistic, there are ways to cultivate a more optimistic mindset. Try these:

  • Examine your habitual thought patterns. Do you pay more attention to complaints than compliments? Often describe things with words like “always” and “never,” and tend to jump to conclusions with all the information? These are all signs of negative thinking. Techniques such as cognitive restructuring can help you learn to challenge your negative thinking and replace it with more optimistic thought patterns.
  • Develop optimism-enhancing habits. Try keeping a gratitude journal (Oprah does), a coincidence journal or a vision board.
  • Get outside and get moving. Exercise is proven to alleviate symptoms of depression, and completing that walk, run or tough class will feed your sense of positive accomplishment. Plus, it’s hard not to feel a sense of wonder and awe when seeing a beautiful sunrise, a shooting star on a clear night or the first brave buds of spring about to open.
  • Laugh at yourself. The ability to see the humor in a situation can go a long way toward dissolving stress, disappointment or embarrassment. Add more laughter to your life with a funny page-a-day calendar or watching silly movies.

Now, ready to break out that happy dance? (And it’s OK if you can’t help smiling while you do it.)