In the end we all die....

So as I am contemplating the meaning of life, I sip on my hot tea filled with sweetness and cream and gaze out onto the frigid Colorado snow flurries. I am warm, safe, and yet something in my spirit is wanting. Anxiety begins to percolate within my deepest, most inner space. And then my heart begins to twist and turn and my brain takes over from there. Sad. Yes, you are sad. You are alone. Yet I sit in the same house with my one and only sister who has just had surgery. I left home yesterday to travel ten hours to come help in some small way. Left husband and others to do so on a day where we Americans are supposed to be thankful. And what did I think about on the way to the airport? Dark thoughts. Sad thoughts. Ungrateful ones. It was then that my hubby cryptically proclaimed we were not celebrating thanks - we were having a day of regrets. Then laughter exploded as we recognized the irony of the moment.

We all get down in the dumps at times. Some of us more than others. For some of us, anxiety, which can eventually lead to depression, becomes chronic. It becomes a way of life. We forget there is another way.

The holidays bring on triggers - reminders of past events and people whom we either miss or dislike with a vengeance. It is when we recreate these events in our mind that we are able to clearly re-experience the negativity or joy, whichever the event/person gifted us.

Many people become more engaged in negativity as the holiday bustling surrounds them. Sometimes even smells of the past remind us of events from long ago. If we are not cognizant of these triggers, we allow and even welcome them into our souls. We allow ourselves to become despondent, angry, sad, and alone. We don't have to allow our feelings to become bitter, cold, and frayed.

Just like I don't have to go out into that bitter cold today. I can remove myself to the warmth emitted in my sister's house. I have cozy flannel pajamas in which to lounge and a hot cup of tea to warm me inside and out. So we do have a choice. But we must know that we have a choice. And then we must want to make that choice.

We have powerful minds. We can create harmony and happiness if we only so desire. When those intrusive thoughts begin clouding our heads and hearts, we can do several things:

  1. Recognize a trigger for what it is: merely a thought. Not reality necessarily. We do not have to react to it.
  2. Create a diversion. Do something calming like coloring a mandala or reading something interesting. Or maybe even watching a funny sitcom.
  3. Take deep breaths. Slow your thinking down. Racing thoughts really never go anywhere.
  4. Meditate or pray.
  5. Force yourself to smile. Those endorphins released by smiling create a sense of euphoria and become our reality.
  6. Begin thinking positive thoughts. Even force yourself to do so. It eventually becomes real.
  7. Stop infecting others with your negativity. Stay away from folks until you are in charge mentally and try not to interact socially with those with whom you are vexed or simply those who may be recipients of your negativity.
The list above is certainly not inclusive and not linear in any fashion. It's just a toolbox of ways to calm down, lighten up, and live life a little more fully. After all, this is our only life. It is our choice whether we will live it calmly and peacefully or if we want to invite drama in for a stay.


Gwynn Rogers said...

Yes, it is easy to get down in the dumps, but it is also IMPORTANT to look for the blessings in life... blue sky, trees, birds, flowers, mountains with snow... etc.

Stephanie Anne said...

I would add an 8th... simply redirect your thoughts to more uplifting ones.

Curt said...

Buddhists call this mindfulness. Being mindful of who we are in the scheme of things; being mindful of where we are; being mindful of what we are. Mindfulness helps to bring us back into the present moment. More often we tend to want to live in the past moments or try to get to the future moments when all we can do is be mindful of the present moment. Therein is all the things you talked about.

Pat Garcia said...

I think the most rewarding moments of all are when we recognize that we have a lot to be thankful for, and then to say it, to speak it out with our mouths.
This develops a heart of gratitude, and I believe a heart of gratitude is developed intentionally. We make ourselves say thanks. We make ourselves recognize God our Creator by giving Him the glory in all of our successes, and although we might not feel it at that time, it will grab hold of us in the inner room of our heart, and sooner or later we begin to feel better. We look at the stars, the moon, the sun and instead of seeing planets, we the graciousness of God in the heavens, and we sing How Great Thou Art.

I enjoyed reading your article. It made me think and it made me get in touch with the gratitude in my own heart.

Love you, Lady and take care.

Benjamin Gorman said...

This is beautifully written, and I can completely identify. I sometimes get down during the holidays. I think, for me, its as much a product of the nostalgia inducing triggers you identified as it is the way we are encouraged to not only think about the past but also the future. New Years' resolutions, discussions about continuing or changing family traditions as we age: These things make me take stock of my successes and failures. On good days, I can employ some of the strategies you describe and focus on the successes. On the dark days, the scales tip against me, and I can get very depressed about where I'm headed and whether or not I find that satisfactory. As much as family can be a source of stress, they are also the best source of purpose in my life, and they remind me what I'm loving for when my reflections take a dark turn. Loved ones make us look outside of ourselves, and that's the healthiest kind of mindfulness for me.