Wisdom From An Ancestor

My great grandmother had a saying; “You will never be truly happy until you think more about others than you do yourself” – Ura McGurran. When you make choices in life, do you consider how they affect others? Maybe too much. Maybe so much that you are living your life for others and not taking care of yourself. So how do you strike a healthy balance? There is so much emphasis today on self care and putting ourself first. How can my great grandmother’s words still be relevant now? Let’s take a look at some self care activities and selfless acts and see where the common ground lies.

Do you feel guilty when you participate in self care activities? There is no real reason to feel guilty for caring for yourself. Do your self care activities hurt anyone? One really wonderful thing about self care, is that by doing it, you set a good example for others. A recent conversation I had with a friend, was about her feeling conflicted because something she needed to do for herself, was being viewed as selfish by her daughter. I encouraged her to go ahead and do it anyhow because, by doing so, she was setting an example for her daughter about taking care of herself and following her dreams. Her actions didn’t hurt anyone. In fact her actions help recharge her to further help others. Even when we take care of ourselves we can still be thinking of others and the example we are setting.

Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. My husband helps a friend rake his leaves, every year. He has never been asked to do this. There is no expectation that he does it. He just does it because he cares about his friend. The really good feeling he gets in his heart from helping out his buddy is a form of self care also. Selfless acts can also be a form of self care. Does this idea surprise you? It is possible to think more about others and still find happiness and balance in your life.

When we think about people who have inspired us as a world, we see that their acts brought them both happiness and purpose. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama; show us how caring for others is also caring for ourselves. I assure you, that new outfit will help you feel great, but there is no greater joy than helping another and seeing the true appreciation in their eyes. When we help others do something they could not have done for themselves, a ripple goes out into the world. The movie “Pay It Forward” taught us this. It entertained us while sending a message that “random acts of kindness” are a form of self care. They help us feel good and shift the energy of the world higher.

By thinking more of others than we do ourselves, as my great grandmother so wisely shared with her children generations ago, we are also taking care of ourselves. By lending a hand to those in need, we can find happiness, change the world, and set an example for future generations.

Yes, please care for yourself. Treat yourself to quiet walk in a pretty place or take a nap when you are tired. But remember, true happiness can also come from helping others.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May your life be filled with true happiness, as if by magic!

 

 

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7 Tips to Help When You are in a Dark Place

I saw a meme that my niece posted on Facebook. It said, “When you are in a dark place you sometimes tend to think you have been buried. Perhaps you have been planted. Bloom!” When you think about that, I mean really think about it, that is so true. I believe this! Those dark places that life takes us to, causes us stress and pushed us to change! It helps us transform from who we were to who we are becoming. You may be saying that, this is all great in spirit, but going through this type of transformation is painful and really stinks. How can we nurture ourselves through these dark places? How do we keep putting that one foot in front of the other while we are moving through these times? What can we do to keep our spirits up while our world is falling apart? Here are some thoughts to help you keep looking for the silver lining in these difficult, sometimes even terrible situations.

  1.  Listen to upbeat and motivational music. Remember the song from the play Annie? The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow! Whether upbeat songs from musicals, pop culture, or your favorite local band; music can be a great way to change your mood, remind you of a brighter tomorrow, and just help you keep going.
  2. Meditation. When things are falling apart, it can be hard to imagine they will ever be whole again. It can be hard to imagine that you will ever be whole again. It can be easy to dwell on the past and imagine a dismal future. Meditation is about being “in the now.” Just staying present in this moment, can help you step back from past regrets and future fears, at least for a little while.
  3. Do kind deeds. Sometimes when things seem bleak in our own lives, we feel we need help and it is easy to get stuck in this feeling of need. By doing kind, random acts for others, whether they be strangers or friends, can help our self-esteem and give us a chance to feel valuable in the life of others.
  4. Pet Therapy. Play with puppies, pet a cat, or cuddle a bunny. I personally do not have any pets and I am very happy in my pet free existence. But there are few things as stress relieving as the unconditional love of an animal. When I go on walks, I will often ask to pet the dogs. My friends’ dogs are usually happy to see me come visit because they know I have lots of love to share with them. Studies have shown that animals help reduce stress, anxiety, pain and even blood pressure when interacted with. You don’t have to have your own pet. I bet you know someone who has one that you could share some love and affection (and scratching) with.
  5. Feel your emotions. Feel your emotions and realize you are safe to have these feelings. I think this is one of the hardest parts for me. Touching those painful emotions seems so scary. I wonder if I truly allow myself to feel them, will I ever be able to come back from that precipice. Remind yourself that you are safe! You can stick your toe into the river of emotions and feel the cool wet water without having to get washed away by it.
  6. Journal. There are many different journaling techniques.
    1. There is Free Writing, where you do not sensor, just let whatever comes, flow out of you and onto the pages.
    2.  There is a technique referred to as the Divine Witness Journalling. This is one of my favorites because you can see your own wisdom (the advice you give your friends) come back to you. In this type of journaling, you give your wise-self a name, then you write notes back and forth. You write your question or whatever you are struggling with, on one page to that wise part of yourself. Then on the next page you allow that wise person to respond to your note. You will be amazed at the the wisdom that pours out for you.
    3. Gratitude Journaling is another that can really help change your mood. It shifts your focus from what’s wrong to what’s right. There is always so much to be thankful for. Looking at the positive things in life can help shift you towards a more positive tomorrow.
  7. Get out into nature. There is just something about being in the forest, hearing the birds sing, and watching a creek gently meander amongst the trees; that is so refreshing. Depending on where you live, “nature” may look very different. It may be hiking up a mountain, riding your bike in the desert, walking on the beach, cross country skiing, or sitting on a park bench near some roses. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to be with nature. I remember driving through downtown Minneapolis one morning and seeing the sunrise reflected on all the skyscrapers. I realized then that nature is all around us. From the vegetation growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk and pigeons landing near the sidewalk bistro tables, to the squirrels racing up and down the trees along the street. Nature is always there for us, even in the city. We just have to notice her. Find a quiet corner of your city or a peaceful place in the country and allow nature to refresh your spirit.

If you are in a dark place right now, I am sorry you are experiencing this. I hope these ideas may help you push out of the darkness and force your beautiful, authentic self; up into the light. We all spend some time there, so know you are not alone. I love you and I am proud of you for continually moving forward, even on those days when it seems next to impossible. We are with you in spirit. You are not alone.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May your life be happy and joyous, as if by magic!

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