5 Ways Volunteer Work Can Help Heal Depression

5 WAYS VOLUNTEER WORK CAN HELP HEAL DEPRESSION

Team Lovepanky

Getting through depression is one of the toughest things a person can live through. But there is hope! Find out how doing volunteer work can help!

Depression, like most mental health issues, is surrounded by a stigma that makes it nearly impossible for those who suffer from it to discuss the problem openly and get the help they need, when they need it.

In our culture, admitting you have a mood disorder is more or less like acknowledging you are too weak, frail and lazy to handle what life throws at you. Seeking help kind of makes it worse, because now it is as if you’ve added an “incapable of solving own problems” stamp on your forehead.

But that’s not the whole truth, is it?

If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, you know there is so much more to it.

You’ve seen firsthand the holes this self-feeding fire can burn through a person’s life. You’ve witnessed the person that once was slip through the cracks of what used to be a complete human being and into a puddle of self-loathing and isolation.

How do people battle depression?

Sadly, therapy is not always an option. Medication can fail as well, as it often doesn’t perform as expected, or has side effects that are unbearable.

So how is one supposed to get better? In a society incapable of recognizing the signs of a person who needs help, how can someone find their way to recovery? And it’s also equally important to ask how one can handle it without being judged, being told to suck it up and get a grip, without being shamed into hiding?

How can volunteering be beneficial to those suffering from depression?

An avenue not thoroughly explored, yet one absolutely worthy of the attention is volunteering. Its nature is humble and unassuming, yet combines multiple factors that promise to bring improvement and stability to the mind.

#1 The thrill of the unknown trumps the feeling of worthlessness. Mastering new skills or dusting off old ones does not necessarily cause a revolution the first time around, but it does leave a mark. It marks a place and time of accomplishment- the moment your hands and mind gave birth to something good, something meaningful.

Once this happens, there is no going back. It would be like trying to undo the sunrise. Little by little, or hopefully with full jet power, the feeling of being useful and needed can help keep the depression at bay.

You will recognize your ability to make a difference and that as your efforts grow, so do the results. The value of such a realization is invaluable, as it is one of the first milestones on the road to a depression-free life.

#2 Passion, purpose and direction will stop looking like words from motivational posters. If we lose our way, whether on an actual trip or while going through life, we tend to resolve to these options – going back to a point where we knew where we were, taking chance turns in the hope they will bring us to where we want to be, or reaching out for help. The reality is that these don’t always work out and then we lose ourselves completely.

It’s this feeling of being stuck, this time we spend being stranded, that cripples us mentally and emotionally. We doom ourselves to repeat the same numbing routine until we finally give up and accept it is all there is for us, or worse – it’s all that we deserve.

Breaking the cycle seems pointless, because if you were good for anything else, you would have found out by now and started doing it, right? Wrong. Depression lies. Remember this. Depression lies.

Who knows, maybe you’ll turn out to be an amazing cook, great with animals, really handy and capable of fixing and building things, a researcher with a keen eye for details, an influential public speaker or an organizer able to set up a massive event in the blink of an eye. You really never know until you try, and once you do know – there will be no stopping you.

You will make life fall in line with what you want it to be and continue on a road paved with hard work and fulfillment.

#3 Finding your happiness in the joy of others. Does this sound too cheesy? Too much like a Sunday sermon? Even so, it doesn’t make it any less true.

Humans are hardwired to mimic other humans’ smiles. This, in turn makes our brain send out feel-good signals all over our body, especially the face, which results in, you guessed it, more smiles. Think of it as an eternal loop of positive emotion injections.

You’d be surprised how much smiling goes on while charity happens. And even if you choose a field that does not suggest a lot or any actual human contact, like animal shelters or online databases, this doesn’t mean there won’t be grins involved. Gratitude, appreciation and respect can clearly be detected, despite the method of communication being body language or electronic.

Alleviated stress and reduced anxiety are self-generated doorways to higher confidence and life satisfaction.

In other words, volunteering provides a natural, healthy boost to your mental health, and it has the potential to rekindle your zest for life and help you like who you see in the mirror. The benefits it produces when fighting depression could be compared to those of a long standing meditation habit.

#4 Volunteering builds a solid support group around you. We’ve all heard stories about the bonds formed by soldiers fighting side by side, police officers patrolling in the same car, even wild animals brought together by unusual circumstances.

These bonds are formed from the simple yet concrete-strong foundation of going through the same experience, with the same goal, as part of the same team. Show up and do what you are there to do – this is pretty much all it takes.

Volunteering brings together people from all walks of life, and although these combinations seem random, even chaotic, they work out. The idea that unites them usually tops whatever it is that divides them. This translates to those people being there for each other much more than you’d expect.

#5 It’s the right kind of selfish. It’s commonly accepted that charity work is an act of selflessness, an island of altruism in our otherwise hectic and competitive lives. But reality is never this one-sided.

Don’t get us wrong, all the positive statements people make about it are undeniably true. Dedicating time and efforts to a cause, without expecting any financial or material gain, is as noble as it sounds.

Yet you do gain something, don’t you? Or at least find something you thought you’d lost along the way.

For instance, it gives you a reason to get out there, something constructive to take your mind off whatever it is that is torturing you, self-respect, a feeling of identity, of acceptance and belonging, of being connected, a spark of creativity and thirst for life like you never knew them before.

Bottom line is that volunteering is about rewarding yourself just as much as it is about serving others. Probably even more, because once you start seeing yourself in this new, better light, you will have shrugged off some of the burden depression has you carrying. And this, right there, is what can help you heal.

Volunteering is a two-way street where both, those helping and those being helped, exchange mutually positive feelings. Though you extending your help will be much more obvious, the act of volunteering allows you to receive positive vibes and emotions from those who reward your charity with their gratitude.

12 things we all do that actually make our life much worse

make your life worse

12 SIMPLE THINGS YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR LIFE MUCH WORSE

Lakeisha Ethans

Has life been unfair to you? You may think the issue is external, but the problem is in you. These are 12 things you do to make your life worse.

A lot of people, at some point in time, feel that life is being unfair to them. I feel that, too, at times and to avoid feeling depressed, I constantly struggle and challenge myself to accomplish milestones. After a lot of thought, I realized that the problem was coming from me, and not the world around me. You should remember that your outcomes in life depend on how you think and act. This clearly means that a positive attitude toward life is exactly what makes life easier to deal with. But, of course, we don’t know that until life hits us with lemons!

Expectations and the role they play

Let’s imagine that you’re holding a big, ripe apple in your hand. You take a bite to taste it. You know how an apple is supposed to taste, so when the big, juicy apple is bland and mealy, you grimace. You feel disappointed, and may even toss the apple into the compost pile.

Now, let’s assume you eat a big, juicy apple… and it tastes exactly as expected. You eat the whole thing, and feel extremely satisfied. What’s the difference? Not the apple, but your expectations. When you set realistic expectations—or forego expectations altogether—you’ll find that life is far more satisfying and exciting. Expectations, oftentimes, offer nothing more than a too-high bar against which to measure your life and experiences.

12 simple things you’re doing to make your life worse

The apple is just an example, and can be substituted for anything in life. It can be substituted with any event, task, social interaction, person, meal, or any thought that enters your mind. Instead of clouding your every move with expectations, dive in head-first without expecting anything *good or bad* and you’ll see how truly beautiful life is! Now, let’s look at a few things we do to make our lives worse.

#1 You spend too much time on people or things that don’t matter. If you’re doing this, it has to stop. We only have 24 hours in a day which we can use to sleep, eat, and do the rest of our daily chores. But most people, for whatever reason, slack off and focus too much on people or things that don’t matter.

#2 You get offended by tacking your assumptions onto harmless actions. This happens to me, too, so I don’t blame you, but this has to stop. Your friend didn’t text you back, or a co-worker left to lunch without telling you. These are simple situations that can easily offend you, because you tag your assumptions to these otherwise innocuous actions. You start thinking that you’re either unworthy or unloved, creating a whole new world of hatred for yourself. The lesson here? Don’t take things personally.

#3 You take the road to the apocalypse. This is when you think of the worst possible outcome when something happens to you. The next step is to be delighted when you were wrong! Sore throat? Surely, you must have cancer. Lost your driver license? Your identity must have been stolen. Lost your wallet? Your savings is sure to be trained two minutes later. While this may seem sensible in the moment, this sort of negativity is both useless and illogical. This must stop. Think positive!

#4 You set unrealistic expectations. Your girlfriend was supposed to call you at 4 PM and she didn’t. She called at her convenience, instead. Your boyfriend forgot the 6 ½ month anniversary of your first lasagna together. Get the point? These are the kinds of expectations that I call parasites, because they will always leave you unhappy and sick to your stomach. Minimize your expectations so you can maximize the joys of life!

 

#5 You won’t do anything without getting a “sign.” Signs won’t come. Period. I have a friend who desperately wants to move to France, but she’s waiting for a “sign”—perhaps a trumpeted announcement from God, or an invitation from the president of France. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t believe in higher power or divinity, but I am saying that you need to shape your fate, not be governed by it.

#6 You’re not a risk-taker. If you want to live life to the fullest, you need to start living boldly, and that means you need to take risks. Every time someone offers you something exciting that involves some amount of risk, take it. You’ll be glad you did!

#7 You compare your life to others. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and this is 100% true. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but this gets to me sometimes. “Oh she’s so happy with her husband,” “He gets all the lucky breaks,” “This guy has more money than I could ever make,” and so on and so forth. No one is perfect, so stop comparing your life to the lives of others—who knows? They might be doing the same to you!

#8 You can’t forgive and forget. I know this is easier said than done, because it’s hard to forgive the people who’ve hurt you—and even harder to forget them and their offenses. But instead of sulking, express gratitude for any lessons you’ve learned, and move on. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, forgive, if you can, and forget, so you can look forward to a happier life.

#9 You’re your own celebrity. I know this is tempting, but again, it’s only going to make your life worse. You shouldn’t force people to follow your plan. By making things less about you and more about others, you will become a happier, more positive person, and will be far less disgruntled when a plan is foiled or a schedule isn’t on-task.

#10 You allow “useless” people to get the best of you. When you know someone’s toxic to you and your life, remove them without feeling guilty about it. It doesn’t matter who they are or how close they are to you, don’t let anyone give you pain or make you feel unworthy. People who disregard your feelings, ignore your boundaries, or continue to treat you like trash have to go. They need to leave. Period.

#11 For you, it’s either success or failure. Nothing can ever be perfect. Even success isn’t perfect. Try and gain as much happiness and experience as you can in the grey area between success and failure. Remember: never let success get to your head and failure to go to your heart. Every day is a new day, and you can change your life one baby step at a time.

#12 You avoid things as much as you can. No matter how much you avoid it, the truth will not cease to exist. You cannot ignore what’s in front of you—and worse, you won’t find peace by avoiding unpleasant or scary experiences. Although taking risks or even just completing a project or work may feel daunting, you will feel much better *and more powerful* after putting your nose to the grindstone and working through it.

Bring all your fears, worries, and weaknesses in front of you, and shine a blazing light on them. See them through to the end, because that’s the only way to find happiness and fulfillment. I swear, the pain you face when you face the truth is worth it in the end.

Remember that when we stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things, life automatically gets easier. If any or all of the behaviors above apply to you, it’s time to change so you can simplify things for yourself and people around you. Life is beautiful and so are you, so enjoy it, and let go of these 12 things that make your life worse!

Conquering Fear

CONQUERING FEAR

Richard Innes

Ann Landers, the former well-known newspaper counselor, received an average of 10,000 letters a month. Almost all of them are from people burdened with life’s problems. She was asked if there was one problem that people seemed to struggle with more than any other. Her reply? Fear!

Yes, fear is a common problem from which none of us is immune. According to a well-known doctor, 90 percent of the chronic patients who see today’s physicians have one common symptom—fear.

A recent issue of The Christian Businessman reported the results of a survey that revealed the following major concerns of small business owners; a fear of poverty, a fear of criticism, a fear of illness, a fear of rejection, a fear of growing old, a fear of being separated from loved ones, and a fear of death.

These fears are by no means confined to business people. They are common to us all to some degree, along with many other fears, such as a fear of failure, fear of losing one’s job, and a fear of feeling inadequate—one of the most common fears of all.

Then there are innumerable phobias such as a fear of the dark, fear of high places, fear of closed-in places, fear of insects, and so on.

Fear is very much a part of life. It is a God-given emotion. We rightly fear driving through a red light or riding with a reckless or intoxicated driver. In right amounts, fear is a strong motivator, a self-protective survival factor.

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Ninety percent of the things
we fear never happen.

Fear becomes a problem when it is irrational or when we have too many fears. Fears can be listed under one of several categories such as the following: fears that are normal and healthy; fears that are imagined, fears that are projected or displaced, fears that are learned, and fears that are caused by a threat to our security—either physical or emotional.

Fears that are imagined. As somebody else has said, 90 percent of the things we fear never happen. A further 9 percent we often make happen ourselves. For instance, a person who has a deep fear of failure (conscious or unconscious) may get himself so anxious about failing, he will make himself fail.

Imaginary fears need to be recognized for what they are—which may not be easy at first—and then, with practice, refused to be believed.

Fears that are projected or displaced. These fears have their roots in the past. One lady I know was badly burned in an accident some years ago. She now has an “unreasonable” fear of fire. Just the smell of smoke will trigger her unresolved memories and inner terror.

Or take a man who, when he was growing up, felt totally smothered by an over-controlling mother. Unless he faces and resolves his old fears, chances are he will now project them on to his wife and have an unreasonable fear of being controlled by her.

In fact, whenever we overreact, we can be almost certain that we are projecting or displacing an unresolved fear from the past onto a present situation.

Fears that are learned or conditioned. As a child I used to have an unreasonable fear of grasshoppers. No grasshopper ever harmed me so from whom did I learn this fear? You’re right. It was my mother. She had a terror of them, so I learned to be afraid of them too, along with a fear of the dark, the bogeyman, etc. Fortunately, learned or conditioned feelings of fear can be reconditioned. I still don’t care for big grasshoppers, but the way I overcame my irrational fear of them was to realize that they were harmless and to practice picking some up.

I wouldn’t suggest the same process for overcoming a fear of snakes, but very often to do the thing we fear is an effective way to overcome learned or conditioned fears.

Fears that are real. Fears, such as the fear of losing one’s job and income, of living alone when elderly or bereaved, or losing one’s health, etc., etc. can be very real to those going through these experiences.

The question is, how do we overcome our fears?

First. Learn to admit them. This is the first step for resolving any problem. As Jesus, the Master Teacher, once said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

Second. Verbalize your fears. This gets them out in the open where they can be dealt with.

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You can control your actions
regardless of your feelings.

Third. Don’t allow your fears to control you. It’s okay and normal to be scared out of your socks at times. However, it’s immature to allow your feelings to control your actions. You can control your actions regardless of your feelings. It’s not always easy but it is a choice we all have!

Fourth. If your fears are imaginary, acknowledge this and refuse to believe them. Get facts before jumping to conclusions. Remember, what the mind dwells on, it will eventually believe and act on. Refuse to dwell on fearful thoughts.

Fifth. If a fear is an ongoing anxiety that has no apparent cause, realize that it is most likely a symptom of some hidden fear. If so, it may be wise to see a trained counselor to help you find and resolve the cause.

Sixth. If the fear is real, accept your situation but take whatever steps you can to change the circumstances that cause your fear. If you fear a layoff, upgrade your training to suit the needs of the changing work environment. If you fear being alone, reach out to others and help meet some of their needs. In so doing, you will meet some of your own. Realize, too that most adverse situations don’t last forever.

Seventh. Above all, learn to trust in God. There is no greater way to overcome fear. And this is a choice we all can make. The Bible says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25, NIV)

Trusting God is not a copout or an excuse for avoiding personal responsibility for our well-being. Trusting God is knowing that no matter what happens, God will bring good out of it if we do what we need to do and trust the rest to him. The Bible also says, “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

When I’m afraid, I say to myself, “What would I do if I weren’t feeling scared?” I then act accordingly.

I also commit and trust my life and circumstances to God every day. And, whenever faced with a fearful or challenging situation, I always pray, “God I choose to trust myself and this particular situation to you.” I keep doing this and, in time, my feelings catch up with my choice. It may take a while but it always works out for the best when I trust it to God.

He will do the same for you if you do your part and daily trust your life and circumstances to him.

Don’t Let Bitterness Ruin your Marriage

DON’T LET BITTERNESS RUIN YOUR MARRIAGE

Sheqoz


Marriages break because of bitterness

Marriage is Work in Progress:

Marital problems are real and the bitterness usually justified. If you’ve been hurt by your partner,  it is advisable to confront the problem calmly. Do not harbor the pain inward or compare yourself with other married couples because each marriage is unique in its own way.

I once spoke to a lady who wished to be in her neighbor’s position because they seemed to be in a happy marriage. The fact is, people don’t announce their issues to the outside world. They keep their domestic problems behind closed doors. Smiles and public hands-holding can hide much.

No relationship is a complete smooth sail because nobody is perfect. Surprisingly the reason most marriages don’t heal is not only the problem at hand but also the prideful bitterness the wronged partner guards in their heart. Almost all breakups and divorces happen because of the hurting partner.

Bitterness Cuts the Host:

Bitterness is a blade meant to hurt someone else but it eventually cuts the hand that conceals it. When it finds a place in a relationship, it destroys the foundation one step at a time. It stores itself in the soul, slowly poisoning the one who carries it.

When you harbor resentment, love becomes numb and hardens the heart. Unfortunately, at this point most people walk out. I have learned from talking to married couples that it is common for a wife or husband to say or do something disapproved by the other.

These things are bound to happen. But in some cases, a spouse forms a repetitive pattern regardless of being confronted. To the wronged partner, each hurtful action takes residence in the heart. It reaches a point when there’s no more room left – the beginning of bitterness manifestation and damage beyond repair.

Communicate your Feelings:

If you are in such a position, the truth is, bitterness doesn’t give your spouse a chance to seek forgiveness or even change. As a matter of fact, they may not even know to what level they’ve offended you. Your bitterness comes from the hurts you suppressed without communicating.

Women are especially guilty here, I used to do it and know many women who still do. We tend to hold things inside expecting our husbands to read between the lines. Imagine taking a bottle and filling it up with pressure. It will eventually explode. Right?

In the same way, the outburst in your heart can result in a broken marriage. Your husband on the other hand may have no idea what’s going on. He may not even see it coming. I think women need to open up a little bit more. Communicate your feelings, don’t show them; your husband cannot read your mind.

We all know that men love to fix things. Your husband will do what’s necessary to make things work. I will write a different article about us women and how we push our husbands away.


Bitterness spreads like wild-fire

Bitterness Spreads Fast:

Perhaps your spouse is aware of your unhappiness but continues in the same patterns. It happens especially if he/she is trying to stir something up. The situation here is totally different and it calls for stronger measures like counseling. There are great online courses that you can use if you’re willing to save your marriage. You can sign up for one here

However, this does not negate your responsibility to remove bitterness from your heart. You still need to at least be kind enough to set yourself free from stress-related health issues. Bitterness will give your future health a bitter struggle. Nothing is worth your own health. Take care of yourself, things can get better if dealt with correctly.

I like to compare bitterness with wildfire. Deadly wildfires like the one we had ranging in California can begin with something as simple as a flat tire or tossed cigarette butt. That spark, combined with tinder-dry forests and howling winds, can be all that’s needed for a catastrophic wildfire to start.

Bitterness grows in the same way. One little bit of bitterness can spread throughout your heart and finally take over your whole body. It  starts to manifest itself in your attitude, demeanor, and finally your health.

In addition, the spread will affect your children and family. Your criticism will make everyone critical. When you reach this point, it is not possible for you to make any sound decisions. There are too many voices. The only way to start working towards reconciliation is to let go of all bitterness.

A Positive Attitude is Attractive:

Find some undistracted time to discuss the issue with your spouse. If you find it hard to talk to him/her alone, find a close friend mentor. We all have one. Remember to speak in love, rationally and gently. Talk about all your hurts without being critical.

Finally, when all is said and done, work on yourself, not your spouse. He/she is the only one who can change themselves. You do not have the power to do so. The only part you can play, if you want to see some permanent changes, is to pray. The greatest inspiration that can trigger change with your spouse is your attitude. You might end up in the best marriage ever.

I’ve seen damaged relationships fully restored and the couple’s live happily thereafter. Most problems occur due to lack of knowledge. It is okay to seek help especially if you are stuck in a hurtful cycle of marital problems.

Please take time and sign up for free relationship help here

The Power of Forgiveness in Marriage

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS IN MARRIAGE


Forgiveness is the key to a happy marriage

Marriage is beautiful when everything is running smoothly. However, things happen and disagreement can easily elevate. When this happens, it’s ok to ventilate anger so long as you don’t tear each other up. The best way to avoid this is to focus the conflict on the issue around which disagreements began.

No matter how hard you may try to love and please each other, failure is inevitable. With failure comes hurt and the only ultimate relief is forgiveness. To have a happy and intimate marriage, you both must be quick to seek and grant forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the Key:

For this reason, marriage requires forgiveness more than any other relationship you’ve had. You cannot have a happy marriage if you’re proud. When you and your spouse fail each other, you enter in a battlefield. Your marriage gets tested during these intense emotional rollercoaster. Quite frankly, the way you handle arguments will determine where your marriage is headed.


Forgiveness is the key to a happy marriage

When people hear of a need for forgiveness in marriage; Their first guess is love triangle. But that’s not the only hurdle in marriage. As a matter of fact, some marriages do not have infidelity issues. Minor disagreements do create problems and thus the need to be able to apologize and forgive.

Be Apologetic:

People find it hard to apologize because they feel like it portrays weakness. Although it can be humbling, it is also a strong act to beat pride. I remember in my first years of marriage; l found it difficult to apologize. My husband ended up taking the blame for both our mistakes.

I knew he did it to restore peace but l took Advantage of him. This began to take a toll on our marriage. Luckily I’m a praying woman, l got down on my knees and the Holy Spirit revealed my weaknesses to me. My eyes were opened to the damage l had caused.

Past Experiences Can Hurt your Marriage:

Did you know that most personal problems which dominates our personality were triggered by a bad experience from our past? I had subconsciously brought my past hurts into my marriage. My husband and friends say l have a humble personality. I don’t think it is of any benefit to me but I’m glad others find it appealing.


Past scars can resurface

This personality had opened doors to many gruesome experiences in the hands of someone l trusted. Aware of my past pain, my husband wanted to help heal my wounds. He apologized when l was wrong just to clear things out.

Now l know the importance of not placing any burden on my spouse. A lesson that helped shape my marriage; and one l love to share with others. No matter what happened in the past, never overload your present relationship with past burdens. My marriage grew out of it, but not everyone can get through too much pressure.

Patience Goes a Long Way:

If my husband had not forgiven me for the burden of fear and mistrust, our marriage would not have survived. I remember how he held me in his arms and reminded me that he will never lay a finger on me; and assured my safety with him. It took a while for me to wake up to the fact that my past was behind me forever.

I don’t think it was fair for him to clean up all that mess. But l sure do thank God for his patiencekindness and will to forgive; A must have combination for all marriages. My purpose for giving a glimpse into my life is to encourage all married couples.


Sometimes the Jewel in someone is covered with mad

Don’t Give Up!

If you are going through difficulties, get to the bottom of things. It will help you figure out the originality of your existing conflict. You may be married to the best person. Help them out of whatever it is that suffocates them. You might discover a true jewel covered in mad. If you take time to rinse it off.

If you choose forgiveness, avoid revisiting the sensitive discussion you already stepped out of. Forgive and move on because no one is perfect. When in conflict, do not forget that your relationship with your spouse is far more important than winning an argument or being right. Be quick to forgive and own up your own mistakes. Good luck with your marriage.

If there’s infidelity taking place, find out what you can do to overcome the pain here

10 Little Things You Should Start Making Time for Again

10 LITTLE THINGS YOU SHOULD START MAKING TIME FOR AGAIN

Angel Chernoff

This is a new day.  A new beginning.  And things will change.

This morning I was jogging along a nature path near my home when a woman I had just passed began screaming for help.  I turned around to see that her husband had fallen to the ground and appeared to be unconscious.  I ran over and checked his pulse.  He had one, but he was barely breathing.  The woman called 911 on her mobile phone while I performed CPR on her husband.  Somehow, miraculously, I got him in a more stabilized state before the paramedics arrived.  And although I have no idea how this couple’s story will end, I’m optimistically hopeful.

Now I’m sitting here reflecting on the whole incident, and especially on the words the woman repeated over and over through heavy tears as I was attending to her husband:  “It’s not his time.  Oh please, it’s not his time!”

Her words keep echoing in my mind, reminding me that life is fragile and fleeting, and that I need to start allocating my time properly again.  Life has been extremely busy lately, and certain things have fallen by the wayside.  But enough is enough!  It’s time to revive and resume the positive daily rituals that best serve my well-being and my relationships.  And I hope YOU will join me.

Think about it…

  1. It’s time to start taking better care of yourself again. – You are like a building with stained-glass windows.  You always shimmer and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in your true magnificence is revealed only if there is light shining from within you.  It’s your duty, and yours alone, to keep your inner light shining bright.  So learn to love yourself first, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.  Loving yourself does not mean being selfish, or disregarding others.  Rather, it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart and mind—a guest worthy of extra care.  Whatever you are doing, love yourself for doing it.  Whatever you are feeling, love yourself for feeling it.  That’s a great way to start.
  2. It’s time to start indulging in your passions and hobbies again.– Do fall in love, not always with a person, but with an aim, an ambition, a passion.  If you lost everything but your mind, heart and health, what would be your reason to wake up every morning with a smile?  There’s definitely a fire burning inside you.  It’s your job to find it and keep it lit.  As we grow older, with all of our responsibilities, our passions and hobbies often seem like an indulgence.  They shouldn’t be.  They should be a requirement.  Even if you can only dedicated 20 minutes a day to something you love, DO IT.  No excuses, no regrets.
  3. It’s time to start spreading joy again. – BE the change you want to see.  Love fearlessly and without limits.  No act of love or kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.  The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion, compassion, humor, generosity, and kindness, and using these tools to improve the lives of those around you.  Smile, and help others smile too.  If you don’t have the power or strength to write someone’s happiness, then try to help them remove their sadness instead.  And don’t let the numbers overwhelm you.  You can’t help everyone.  Focus on assisting one person at a time, and start with the one closest to you.
  4. It’s time to start up quality conversations with loved ones again. – Death is a real challenge.  It tells us not to waste time.  It tells us to make time right now to tell each other that we love each other.  It tells us to stop texting and tweeting every second and actually open the floodgates to real, long, heartfelt conversations with the people we love.  Relationships flourish when two people are able to share their innermost feelings and thoughts about themselves and each other.  To be fully heard by someone, in raw form, and be adored anyhow, is what true love is.  Making time for these deep connections and conversations is worth it.  (Marc and I discuss this in detail in the “Relationships” chapter of our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs.)
  5. It’s time to start listening to others (without judgment) again.– Be selective in your battles.  Let go a bit and just listen and smile.  Most of the time being peaceful and compassionate is far better than being right.  So keep in mind that wisdom is not just knowing when to stand up and speak, but when to sit down quietly and listen.  It’s about knowing that your ears will never get you in trouble, and will always give you a chance to learn something new.
  6. It’s time to start enjoying peaceful downtime again. – You deserve quiet moments away from the daily hustle, in which no problems are confronted, no solutions are explored, and no demands are being made of your time.  Schedule time every day to not be busy.  At least twice a day, withdraw yourself from the sources of stress that refuse to withdraw from you.  Do so for a few minutes and simply be and breathe.  Don’t fool yourself; you’re not so busy that you can’t afford a few minutes of sanity.
  7. It’s time to start reading good books again. – Books are truly the perfect entertainment: no advertisements, no batteries, hours of delight and education, and no cost with a library card.  What you have to ask yourself is: Why not carry a book around for those inevitable gaps of wasteful waiting time—five minutes here and ten minutes there.  Bring that dead time back to life.  And remember, it is what you read and learn when you don’t have to that determines what you will be capable of when you have no other choice.
  8. It’s time to start cooking real, wholesome food again. – Your body is a temple.  You are what you eat.  So do not eat processed food, fast food, and all the filth the big processed food companies try to pass off as “healthy.”  Most foods that you don’t have to prepare manually statically cause sickness, cancer, and disease.  Do they taste good?  Sure.  It’s all well-seasoned, pre-packaged poison.  This is why so many people are sick—mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually—because of being hooked to the taste of poison, instead of being hooked on the truth and to real foods that heal and provide you with good health and wellness.  (Read Super Immunity.)
  9. It’s time to start allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes again. – The greatest mistake many of us make is living in constant fear that we will make one.  Life is just too short to berate yourself for making mistakes.  After all, mistakes in life are as certain as sunsets and detours.  So why exert energy avoiding the unavoidable?  The truth is you aren’t really free until you give yourself the freedom to make mistakes.  So liberate yourself!  Cut yourself some slack.  Shift your energy from protecting yourself from failure to squeezing more life out of every one of your days.
  10. It’s time to start celebrating the small victories of each day again. – Sure, not every day will be good, but there will be something good about every day.  Notice these things and celebrate them.  Train your mind to see what’s right.  Positivity is a choice.  The happiness of your life heavily depends on the quality of your thoughts.

The floor is yours…

Truth be told, the most important decision you will ever make is what you do with the time that is given to you.  Let every day be a part of a dream you can touch.  Let every day contain love you can feel.  Let every day be a great example of a life truly lived.

Leave a comment below and let us know…

What do you need to start making time for again?

Have you ever lost your motivation?

HAVE YOU EVER LOST YOUR MOTIVATION?

Angel Chernoff

Has life ever hit you so hard you wondered how you’d ever get out of the rut you’re in?

I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been there myself. And, above all, what you need to remember is that the next step is ultimately your choice…

Yes, it’s your choice.
YOUR choice.
You are choosing right now.

And if you’re choosing…
to complain…
to blame…
to be stuck in the past…
to act like a victim…
to feel insecure…
to feel anger…
to feel hate…
to be naïve…
to ignore your intuition…
to ignore good advice…
to give up…

…then it’s time to choose differently.

But, let me also remind you that you are not alone. Generations of human beings in your family tree have chosen. Human beings around the world have chosen. We all have chosen at one time or another. And we stand behind you now whispering:

Choose to let go.
Choose to be present.
Choose to be positive.
Choose to forgive yourself.
Choose to forgive others.
Choose to see your value.
Choose to see the possibilities.
Choose to find meaning.
Choose to prove you’re not a victim.

Choose to find the motivation you need to take a step forward.

We show HOW at our annual Think Better, Live Better conference. Marc and I guide attendees through the process of perspective change—and stepping forward through life’s painful twists and turns.

Raising Exceptional Families with Special Needs Children

RAISING EXCEPTIONAL FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN

Lisa Pinhorn

It’s a given: parenting is hard work. But when you’re raising a child with special needs, the level of care and stress is not just higher—it shifts the foundations of families and adds unimaginable complexities for everyone involved.

Physical disabilities, learning disabilities, illness, Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and Developmental Trauma are parenting game changers. At Feeding Futures, we work in the world of exceptional families, so we know all too well how chaotic things can become when you’re caring for a child with special needs. It sounds stressful because it is, and words don’t even begin to do it justice. I know because I’ve lived it.

When my daughter’s Autism diagnosis came, I was new to being a single parent. My emotional reaction was neither pretty nor graceful. Not long after came the news that she also had extreme anxiety and debilitating OCD. The grief that came with each doctor visit was very real. During the slow process of adjusting to a new normal, I became a warrior. And after six years of fighting, I needed a new way forward.

Nobody can prepare you for the emotions that come with parenting special needs children, especially as a single parent. It is full of questions, self-doubt, and eventual acceptance of your situation—a path that should never be seen as a straight line. Each new challenge for my child can trigger old emotions that send me back into the grief cycle, which is full of negative thoughts and less than ideal coping strategies.

What I eventually learned is that I had to make a plan, because at the end of the day, I had a very special child who needed me.

A New Normal for Special Needs

In my work with families, I see special needs parents scrambling to adjust to their new and unexpected role as a healthcare manager for their child. They are prepared to be the catalyst needed to provide an overall positive quality of life for their family, but many are never told how.

Sadly, families receive little instruction on how to best meet the needs of their children without feeding the already toxic levels of extreme family stress. The stress within special needs households is a topic we can no longer ignore.

Here is what I know to be missing in our special needs world: parental self-care. And not normal self-care. We need deep, even radical, self-compassion practices. We are all so concerned about the deficits of our children that no one is looking at the emotional crisis happening in the lives of the parents and overall family.

As parents of special needs children, we need to add ourselves back to the family care list. We actually need to be number one on the list, but I know that’s not always possible for special needs parents. So, if your self-care needs can’t sit at the head of the family care table, you at least need a seat.

Think back to the day the diagnosis came. Were you told to prepare for the grief, recognize your personal stress levels, and strengthen your family relationships as part of your child’s care? Or did you immediately start driving your child to one specialist after another and line up for pharmaceuticals?

These are two very different approaches on many levels. One is void of parental self-care while the other puts parental self-compassion as a necessary part of family-focused care. Sounds radical, even though it shouldn’t be. At Feeding Futures we want parental self-care to be part of the new normal that comes with the special needs diagnosis, and here’s why.

Caregiver Stress Impacts Children

Dr. Stuart Shanker, child psychologist and Founder of The MEHRIT Centre, explains that we’re parenting in an age of toxic stress levels. We are stressed and our kids are stressed. Our bodies and brains are in overdrive all day, every day, and it all flows down into the lives of our children.

In his book Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life, Dr. Shanker describes a body of research on emotional co-regulation that shows the prefrontal cortex of a child’s brain is not fully developed, so it co-regulates with the prefrontal cortex of significant adults. When an adult is in a stress cycle, the “inter-brain” connection with the child is also full of that stress. Dr. Shanker describes this brain sync up like a “bluetooth” or wireless connection between children and adults. When the inter-brain connection is calm and regulated, stress behaviors are reduced.

There is also polyvagal research from Dr. Stephen Porges and other neuroscientists that’s found when stress is high, we all tip into fight, flight, and freeze more often. This state has substantial long-term health impacts on kids, both typical and with special needs.  

Here comes the missing piece that will turn your world upside down, but in a good way. Our children are our mirrors. They show us our stress levels. Each stressful adult day seeps into the nervous system of our children, and they reflect it back to us. Whenever we see a rise in anxiety and stress behaviors in our children, we need to take a good look at our day-to-day lives and our own stress levels. It’s hard to see ourselves as contributing to our children’s challenging behaviors, but the good thing is that it’s never too late to make changes and adopt a softer, more compassionate approach.

The 10% Self-Compassion Promise

Parents of children with special needs require more than just run of the mill self-care practice. They need supercharged, exceptional, and radical self-compassion. I tell parents to imagine they won the “self-care lottery” and they have to use the money on taking better care of themselves or they will lose the prize. Everything about our lives is filled with exceptionalities, and this part of our lives needs to be, too.

I ask families to think how their lives would change if they took 10% of the love and energy they donated each day to their child and gave it back to themselves. Many say they can’t, that it would be selfish, that there is no time. It’s natural that special needs parents are super focused on their children. They have to be. But they also need to care for themselves to avoid the downhill flow of anxiety into their already compromised children. When I remind them of how interconnected stress is within families, they begin to think a little more about a yoga class or going for that swim.

Here are a few things special needs parents can try as they step into the world of exceptional self-care and compassion.

Become a Peaceful Warrior
Special need parenting requires us to fight, so we go at it from a position of a warrior. But what if we come at this type of parenting from a different direction? One where instead of burning through our energy supply like an aggressive warrior, we pause each day and fill our tanks with exceptional compassion towards ourselves. Tell yourself each day that you are doing the job of a giant and that you are doing it well. This I know to be true because I have lived it. You can only be a warrior for so long, then you crash, and no one wins.

“Self-Care Light” Just Doesn’t Cut It
I love spas. I love the music, the muted colors on the walls, the water everywhere, and the services are wonderful. It is a delightful experience, but in my opinion, it is “self-care light.” Like all powerful experiences, we have to go deeper to see changes in our thinking, feeling, and behavior. Sadly, it has taken years for me to figure out this basic fact—leaving the spa and going back into the beehive of a stressful house or busy job is not what I call wise. These days I will keep my hundred dollars of spa money and instead opt for meditation. The Headspace app is a great option.

Learn More About Self-Compassion
Recently, I have taken on a more significant and more in-depth practice of self-compassion.  Self-compassion goes deeper than thinking it is nice to buy yourself that expensive thing because you deserve it. It is a deeper daily practice where you learn how necessary it is to cultivate a kind voice in your head. This voice will get you through the dark days, the medical appointments, the IEP meetings, and whatever your exceptional life will toss at you.  Self-compassion lives within a soft spot within yourself. It provides you with much needed kind attention, and it is the balance to all the attention you have to give to others.

Know That Compassion Has Two Necessary Parts
I remind parents of a concept I learned though buddhist meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg. Compassion has two equally important parts: the part you give to others and the part you must give back to yourself. Parents have no issue with the first part. It’s the second part they can’t get their head around. They have never been taught how to care for themselves or even think it is necessary. But it is, and this is the foundation of helping our children with special needs feel better, too.

Consciously Invite Positives Into Your Life
A wise yoga teacher once taught me the power of inviting positives and joys into our lives, and the reason to do it is more profound than you think. This practice teaches us that when our lives become more positive and balanced, we can reflect and observe that negatives have drifted away or at least don’t take up as much space in our lives. The work of Barbara Fredericksonsuggests we broaden and build positive states such as gratitude, kindness, compassion, joy, and peace. Try it for a month, see how your life changes, and how the behavior of your children will change, too. Positive begets positive, and joy generates joy, so pause to celebrate the positives, no matter how small they might appear.

So, are you ready? Ready to try something that will benefit your whole family? Start small. Make a list of things you would like to do for yourself, and carve out time to do it. Your family is not ordinary, it’s exceptional. And so are you.

The Termination Letter

THE TERMINATION LETTER

Japheth Prosper

I still remember how my father walked into the house that evening and announced that he had been fired.

“I have just been fired,” he said to my mother miserably and languidly sank into the chair. “I have just received my termination letter. My own is finished. I am finished. We are finished.”

As he cried, my mother came to sit beside him. God bless my mother. She just helped him to unbutton his shirt, remove his jacket and turn the fan to face him.
“You are not finished, my husband. You are not finished.”

She summoned my elder sister.

“Lucy, bring your father food to eat.”

I could see the shock in my father’s eyes. How could she not understand that he had just lost his job? I believed that was what he was thinking. But my mother remained in that manner as if nothing had happened.

Lucy brought my father’s food while my mother called on me to bring her a paper and a pen. I wondered what was on her mind. There were tears already hanging on my cheeks because I didn’t like the mood I saw my father in that evening. I had never found him in such a vulnerable situation before.

When I gave my mother the pen and paper, she began at once to scribble something on it. I wondered what it was. Although I sat in front of the television, my ears were cocked to pick up every sound. I wanted to know what they were going to do with that piece of bad news that my father had brought.

He just ate about ten spoonfuls of the rice that my sister had placed on the dining table for him. The meat, he did not even touch. My father was a very heavy eater. He must really be in a terrible mood for him not to have eaten from the food. I felt for him. I really felt for him.

Soon, his head was cradled in his palms. I knew he was thinking. I quickly remembered my classmate Biodun whose father had died of hypertension and when I asked my sister what could lead to such sickness, Lucy had said it was ‘too much thinking.’

I wanted to tell my father not to think because I did not want him to die but we were taught to keep quiet when our parents were having a heart-to-heart talk. For this reason I simply maintained a dignified silence.

“Chai! Upon all the things I did for these people, they still had the mind to fire me! This world is wicked! This world is crazy,” my father kept on lamenting.

Heaving, my mother said, “Mr. David Kadema, we are not going to discuss the past now. We are going to discuss the present and the future. You have lost your job and it is now in the past. We are not going to talk about it. We are going to talk about what we are going to do from now onwards because, job or no job, this family must feed and carry on with life.”

My father was just staring at my mother as if she was his teacher and he was a very obedient pupil. He was just staring at her as if she had just returned from Jupiter.

“What are we going to do now?”

I was surprised to hear my father ask my mother such a question. What did he mean by that? He had always been the breadwinner and the one who took almost all the decisions in the house.

My mother asked, “How much do you have?”

He looked at my mother as if she had just asked a very difficult question on rocket science.

“Mr. David Kadema, talk to me. How much money do you have in your account?”


Somewhat reluctantly, he mumbled a sum. My mother heaved a long sigh.

“I have double that amount in my account,” she said. “We can start up something with what we both have and live happily.”

From where I sat, I saw the palpable shock in my father’s eyes. “How did you get such money?”

He did not expect that my mother could have such amount of money in her account because my mother sold only soft drinks with ice blocks at home. Most people who always go to work usually look down on people who did petty business. However, I have come to realize that this assertion was completely wrong. Because he was usually not at home, he didn’t realize that my mother was making so much money from her petty business.

Again, my mother was not an impulsive buyer like my father. Every kobo counted whenever she wanted to buy or sell. As far as being prudent was concerned, my mother could score a hundred marks.

“We are going to start selling eggs in crates and we shall be using your Sienna minivan to do supplies.”

“What?” Wild horror lined my father’s face. “What are you talking about? You mean…?”

“Yes,” she replied without waiting for him to conclude. “We are going to be selling eggs and your car will be used to supply them.”

My father sat like a cocked gun. I could sense the irritation in him but he was calm. I think the termination letter with the figure my mother said she had in her account had humbled him.

My mother began to talk about her proposed business and, with rapt attention, he listened. They talked for a very long time.

“We are going to draft a new food roaster,” my mother said. “From today, we are cutting down expenses. Only needs will be taken care of from today. No money will be spent on wants and frivolities. Please let me be the boss for six months and, thereafter, you will take over fully.”

I thought my father was going to object to that but he didn’t. Instead he agreed to all the things that my mother was saying nodding at various intervals.

“And lastly, you will not lament to anyone that you have lost your job. As far as I am concerned, you resigned and got a better one because no job is as good as the one you do for yourself.”

My mother went on talking for a long time and my father kept listening and nodding at everything she was saying.

Finally, she looked at me and said, “Mercy, are your brothers at home?”

“No, Mummy,” I shook my head. “They have gone to play football.”

“Tell your sister to fetch water for your father to bathe with,” she said and turned to my father, “Congratulations, Mr. David Kadema. Take your bath and rest your bones.”

Somehow, I saw the relief in his eyes as he got up from his seat and went to the bathroom.

Later that evening while he was asleep, my mother gathered us all for a meeting. My brothers Jerry and Eugene had both returned from the field. Jerry had just got admission into the university and had only returned after the first semester. He was going to become a civil engineer. Eugene was going to SS3 while Lucy was in JS3. I was going to JS1.

We all gathered at the dining table as she talked. “Your father has just lost his job,” she began rather expressionlessly.

“What!” Jerry and Eugene cried in unison. Lucy’s hands were on her head.

“What happened?” Lucy asked. “Did he fight with someone?”

My mother shook her head. “I don’t care what happened. I am only concerned about now and after. I want you all to assume that nothing happened and we will all get our hands on deck.”

“Will he start looking for a job?” Jerry threw in.

“No,” Mother said shaking her head. “He just got another job.”

Lucy raised her hands to the air, “Praise the Lord!”

“Thank God ooo,” Eugene heaved. “I hope it’s a better job ooo.”

“Yes, it is,” my mother nodded.

“What job is that?” they all chorused with naked curiosity.

That was when I spoke for the very first time. Before my mother would reply, I muttered, “He will be selling eggs.”

“What?”

They all turned to my mother. Eugene’s eyes darted with inquisitiveness. “Mother, is it true?”

“Yes,” she nodded, and I saw the disappointment in their eyes. “Your father is now an egg dealer. He is going to start working for himself now and no more rushing his meals just to go to work on time. He will plan his day from now onwards and his time will be spent in doing his own business not another man’s business.”

She went on to tell us so many things and in the end we were all convinced that the termination letter was a blessing in disguise.

“All hands must be on deck. Your father has been working for this company for over a decade now and we still live in a rented apartment. If the job was that good, we ought to have been living in our own house by now.”

She wrote so many things on a sheet of paper and mapped out duties for all of us. The next day, she made zobo and kunu and bottled them. Lucy and I went from house to house telling people that we now sold cold kunu and zobo.


Mother bought a bigger refrigerator a week after and we began to sell more sachet water along with the kunu and zobo.

Within a month, we had found a shop across the street. My mother set up a laundry shop for my elder brothers there and they were always busy because she announced it at the church. Almost half of the men in our church patronized them. Most evenings, we all joined hands in washing while Eugene and Jerry did the ironing. When they had so much work, they would invite their friends and pay them for the services rendered. Our house became more like a business hub.

The egg business started a month later and my father got very busy. His phone was always buzzing with people calling for supplies. Mother was always counting money. With the interest that came from the business, she bought agro products and kept them in a very big shop which we rented months later.

When it was six months and mother was to hand over to my father, he smiled and said, “Be the boss, my love. Just be the boss and I will forever be at your beck and call.”

By the time Jerry returned to school, he opened another laundry shop there.


We now have three Sienna cars to distribute eggs. We now have people working for us. We now have three shops and own two houses which we gave out for rent. Our own living house will soon be completed. It might seem like magic to some people but we are all proud of my mother. We all saw how it began and she was transparent enough to let us know how every penny was got or spent.


To crown it all, my brother Jerry will be graduating this year while Lucy will be heading for Finland to further her education.

Understanding the source of anger

UNDERSTANDING THE SOURCE OF ANGER

Os Hillman

“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
(Proverbs 29:11)

The workplace can be a pressure-packed world. The demands that are often put on us can bring out things that we never knew were there. Sometimes we begin to think that the source of that pressure is to blame for our response to the pressure. It could be an event, a spouse, a boss, a client, a child, or even a driver who cuts us off in traffic.

I recall responding to a close friend one time, “If you had not done that, I would never have responded that way.” Later I learned that this response had little truth to it. We all choose to get angry. No one else is to blame for our anger.

“The circumstances of life, the events of life, and the people around me in life, do not make me the way I am, but reveal the way I am” [Dr. Sam Peeples].

This simple quote has had a profound impact on how I view my anger now. Anger only reveals what is inside of me. I can’t blame anyone but me for my response to a situation. I have learned that anger is only the symptom of something else that is going on inside of me. This quote now resides on my refrigerator door as a daily reminder of the truth about my response to life’s situations.

It has been said that anger is like the warning panel on the dash of your car. It is the light that tells us something is going on under the hood and we need to find out what is the source of the problem. I discovered that the source of anger is often unmet expectations or personal rights. We believe we are entitled to a particular outcome to a situation. When this doesn’t happen, it triggers something in us. At the core of this is fear, often a fear of failure or rejection, fear of what others think, fear of the unknown.

If you struggle with anger, ask God to reveal the source of that anger. Ask Him to heal you of any fears that may be the root of your anger. Ask God to help you take responsibility for your response to difficult situations.

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