Monday, November 27, 2017

Give Yourself an Energy Boost!

Have you ever noticed that some situations energize you while other situations drain you?  In general, people who are extroverts are energized by social interaction, while people who are introverts are drained by the same situations.  I am an introvert by nature, though I have learned to disguise it well.  Knowing this about myself, I was greatly intrigued by a recent  experience. 

It was nearly 8:00 p.m.  I had had a very busy day and was exhausted and wishing to be done for the day when  I realized that I still needed to go to Costco before they closed in half an hour.  I dragged myself into the car and vowed to get this over with as quickly as possible so I could go home and rest for the evening.  As I was driving I realized that I had not done a goal I had set for myself that day - to do something nice for someone else that I would not normally do.  I decided that while I was in Costco I would try to make eye contact with and smile at as many people as possible. 

As I walked through the store I began making eye contact with and smiling at everyone who would look at me.  I had so much fun doing this that I totally forgot about how tired I was and how much I didn't want to be at the store at 8:00 at night.  By the time I walked out and loaded my car I was very surprised to realize that I no longer felt tired, but instead felt energized; so much so that I decided to go to one more grocery store on the way home that I had originally decided to save for morning. 

As I entered the second store I again made contact with and smiled at everyone I could.  I found that I was not in a rush, did not feel tired, and in fact felt happy and energetic, almost impossible for me at the late hour of now 9:00 at night.  (Yep, I'm a morning person.) 

I have pondered and studied to try to discover the source of this phenomenon.  I have discovered that as we share our energy with others through positive interaction, we also receive energy back from that person.  I still don't completely understand this amazing phenomenon, but what I do know is that it works.  It was a startling discovery for me, and one I intend to keep using.  Who knew that giving your energy away in a positive way would end up giving you more back than you gave AND make you feel happy at the same time?

If you need an energy boost, or you want to feel happier, try making eye contact with and smiling at others and see what happens.  You may be as surprised as I was!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Where the rubber meets the road: "The point at which a theory or idea is put to a practical test."  I have been put to such a test in the last nine days, and I have to say I am not doing as well as I had hoped.

Many times hard things come unexpectedly.  Such was the case with me a week and a half ago when our local church congregation made some huge changes because of how big it had grown, and our family ended up being assigned to attend a different congregation at a different building with people we don't know as well as the ones we had been going to church with for the past 25 years. 

I have worked on becoming more spontaneous and accepting change for years.  Change has never felt comfortable to me, and yet life is always changing.  I thought I had made great strides to becoming more adaptable.  Actually, I HAVE made great strides.  So when news of this major change in congregations came a week ago on Sunday I hoped I would adapt quickly.  I gave myself some time to be sad about it (I cried for two days), then I picked myself up and decided to make the best of it.  I put on a brave face, went through the week and right into our new church congregation on Sunday.  I held up pretty well until it was almost time to go home.  By the time I got home I was melting into tears.....again.

I tried to logic myself out of it.  After all, it's not as if I have been asked to move to another state, or even to another city.  I still have my same house, my same surroundings, everything that I love.  No one else has moved either.  No one has died.  I have simply been asked to attend a different congregation.  There are many bible stories where God required much more of his people than I am being asked to do.  By those standards I have been asked to do practically nothing, and yet here I sit hardly able to talk about this change in my life without a quiver in my voice. 

Sometimes I don't understand myself.  I want to shake myself and say, "This is stupid!"  Luckily for me, God is more patient with me than I am.  In praying and asking for his guidance, I felt impressed with two thoughts:

First, that it would help to consciously think about every good thing and thank God for it specifically.  I talk about and teach about gratitude frequently.  Now I am to learn it on a new level.  I felt impressed that I needed to recognize and be grateful for each and every person that said "hi" to me at my new church, every introduction, every smile, every interaction.  I need to be grateful for the stained glass windows and the rock wall behind the podium and the upholstered pews.  I need to find the good about everything I can think of about my new situation.

Second, I felt prompted to do a "write and burn" every day this week.  I have talked about this in detail in my blogs earlier this year on "Letting Go of the Past".  It is a fabulous tool!  This is where you write your negative emotions down on paper, getting it all out.  You can write about frustration, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, sadness, or any other emotion that is popping up.  Once you have written all you can think of about that emotion, you take your paper outside, read it out loud to get the emotions verbally outside your body, then crumple up the paper and burn it.  The act of burning it both destroys and purifies.  It allows you to let go.  I imagine this as I watch my paper burn.  This exercise helps me to purge my negative emotions.

And so I forgive myself for not being as strong as I thought I was, for not being as adaptable and flexible as I thought I was.  I forgive myself for being weak and easily broken.  I ask God to forgive me too.  Then I ask him to strengthen me so I can get up and move forward - not to another state or city or house, but just to another congregation.  Where the rubber meets the road I realize I still have a long way to go.

Monday, November 6, 2017

My Favorite Thing

One really fun and easy thing I have learned to do that brings me much joy on a daily basis is to lay in bed at the end of every day and think about what my favorite thing about that day was. 

Sometimes I have kept a notebook where I write down my favorite thing from each day.  At other times I just contemplate my day after I have turned off the light but before I fall asleep.  This exercise helps me to feel happy, and feeling happy as you fall asleep is a wonderful thing.  Studies show that your brain works all night on the last thoughts you have before going to sleep.  I like feeding my brain happy thoughts. 

It has been interesting for me to realize that there is practically no correlation between my to-do list that I work on all day and the things that end up being my favorite every night.

As I went back and read over several month's worth of favorites I had written down I noticed a pattern in the kinds of things I chose.  My favorites tended to focus on precious snuggling moments with grand-kids or my husband, working in my yard, one-on-one time spent with a child, teaching classes, and alone time doing something I wanted just for fun (often involving a movie or book and chocolate!)

I have also come to know myself better through doing this fun reflection each night.  I have learned what makes me happy--what brings me joy.  This is especially valuable to know when I need a pick-me-up, feel overwhelmed, or any number of other negative emotions that can bring me down.

I encourage you to take the time to pick a favorite thing each night.  Write it down, or don't write it down.  Get to know yourself better and what makes you happy. 

P.S. If your children are willing to do this exercise they will get to know themselves better and feel happier as well.  If they are willing to share their favorites with you, you will get to learn what means the most to them, and when they need some extra love you will know how to show it to them.