Step out of the chatter of your mind and orient to the joy that surrounds you.
The human brain has a unique capacity to put things into perspective. We can look back, learn from our mistakes, anticipate problems and solve them using imagination. However, these abilities also feed the anxious mind, resuffering past struggles and presuffering feared futures. In the words of Dr. Martin Seligman, father of the Positive Psychology movement, “We aren’t built to live in the moment.”
Where can you carve-out five minutes? How about before you get out of bed after your alarm goes off? Or maybe you can claim five minutes after your morning coffee, at work while sitting at your desk, or in the car before you drive to the grocery store. Really, you can do this practice almost anywhere.
In fact, you’re already doing one part of this practice all day long – breathing. The only added step is to pay close attention. Breathing usually happens outside of conscious awareness, but focusing on your breath is one of the most powerful strategies for managing stress and increasing self-control. It can even help with treating anxiety and depression.
When imagining aging, most middle-aged people look ahead with trepidation. But take heart: the best is likely yet to come!
Satisfaction surveys have found that happiness increases after middle age, and this pattern shows up around the globe. Referred to as the Happiness U-Curve, the data show that on average, life satisfaction drops during midlife and begins its recovery around age 50, reaching its peak at the end of life.
Have you ever returned from a vacation feeling depleted rather than replenished? Maybe you were jetlagged after an international adventure or drained from overextending yourself to host family or friends. As you return from this holiday break, whether you feel rested or weary, focus on refreshing yourself regularly this year.
The body, mind and spirit crave a pattern of alternating expansion and restoration. You will be at your best when you stretch yourself and then regroup before stretching once again. Sleep is a great example – the body and mind need rest at the end of each day in order to consolidate the learning, insights and activities of the day and reset in preparation for the next day’s experiences. Similarly, your muscles need a day to repair after a weight training session.
The season of indulgence has begun. If you received trick-or-treaters at your home, then you may still have leftover candy tempting you. Thanksgiving offers a delicious feast, served up with a side order of gratitude, followed by the biggest shopping day of the year.
The holiday season is presented as “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many, it is overwhelming, lonely, and draining.