finding joy_dealingwithgriefI’m an optimist. Optimism takes work. So does joy and happiness. Especially when life happens and you find yourself reeling from grief, depression, disappointment or sadness. Over the past few years my optimism muscle has gotten a real workout. There’s been the grief of losing people that were so dear to me – aunts, cousins, a friend. Disappointments when things didn’t work out as planned. And then there’s the news and all of the things happening at home and around the world. Just. sigh.

If you’re looking for ways to manage through the not-so-good times, here are some things that have helped me.

Five things I do to fuel optimism, joy and happiness:

Morning spirit time. During this time I pray, read something spiritual and meditate. This time has grown from 10-15 minutes of my morning to 40+ minutes. It is now an obsession because it provides two things that are necessary for my sanity – perspective and focus.

This daily ritual checks my ego at the beginning of the day, and puts God first. It’s a practice of gratitude, self-care, love, and it’s a reminder that I have a purpose outside of me. It’s also a time to reflect on the great, beautiful and inspiring parts of our life. Because no matter how much bad we see and feel, there is the great and beautiful waiting for it’s recognition.

If you’re looking for some tools to help you start or expand your meditation, self-care and/or gratitude ritual, here are a couple of apps I have found useful:

  • I LOVE the Insight Timer app! There are thousands of meditations – guided, music, mantras, prayers, etc. They cover everything from fulfilling your destiny to gratitude, self-care, handling emotions and peace. I can always find something to give me what I need. I also love that they show you how many people are meditating with you. It’s a sense of community that is beautiful and powerful. I can’t stress enough how much meditation has helped me.
  • I like SuperBetter. This app is based on gaming, so if you’re a gamer it’s great. I’m not really a gamer, so for me it’s a checklist of things to do to stay on track. People have used it to help fight depression, lose weight and more.

Lean on my circle of support. We all need a place to go where we can be completely open and raw, without judgment. To be vulnerable. For me these people are a sanctuary. They are perfectly imperfect, so they let me be the same. It’s not a big circle, but they are sooooo important!

I also strive to be this person for others. My sister and I have a running joke because it’s known that my home is a “no-judgment zone.” I figure there are enough people in the world waiting to judge us, as a family we will not do that to each other or our loved ones.

Gratitude journal. I’ve mentioned this before, and I still stand by it. If you look for reasons to be grateful you will find them. And they will make you smile, sometimes when you least expect it, :-).

Love people while they’re here, and love people where they are. We all have people in our lives that we wish made better decisions. But, there is peace in loving people where they are, supporting them in a way that is healthy for BOTH of you, and praying for their wellbeing.

There are people that I can’t spend a lot of time around because their negative energy can be draining. But I find ways to offer them love and positivity. Sometimes it’s a quick 5-minute conversation where I offer a positive spin to their negativity. Sometimes it’s a prayer. But in all instances I love them, because life is not just for loving those that are easy to love.

Get a massage. Okay, maybe this isn’t your thing, but it helps me. Earlier this year I visited a grief counselor after a colleague unexpectedly passed. She asked how I was handling it and I told her I spent the first day in my office, with the door closed, because I didn’t really feel like being around people. She smiled and said, “the thing you feel like doing, is sometimes the exact opposite of what you need to do.” Well, if that ain’t the truth!

She said that while I felt like isolating myself, what I probably needed was to seek human interaction and touch. She suggested I talk to others and get a massage. She was right.

Remember, life is beautiful. It’s not always the way we want it, but it is beautiful. As we go into the new year, I pray you have love, peace, joy and gratitude. I pray that you share these gifts with your family and all whose path you cross. I’m rooting for you!