How do you regain perspective when you're worried or anxious?
When I'm anxious, I usually go to the woods or the ocean, take a walk around my neighborhood, or make myself a cup of tea. I get out of that little corner of my mind that likes to obsess about what could go wrong, and instead look for what's right. When I do this, I find beauty--in nature and in people--and it changes the filter on my viewing lens.
Another way I regain perspective is to watch what others do. How do they manage the obstacles that come their way, sometimes without warning? What mantras, values, and beliefs do they hold that give them back their sense of balance?
One of the people I look to is my mother, Lorna. At 94, she maintains a positive outlook on life and looks forward to each day.
Lorna doesn't talk very much about her life. She would probably say she has no life philosophy. She just goes about her day doing what she does--engaging friends, crafting quilts, exercising in ways her body will allow, and taking time to rest when she needs to.
But when I ask her about her life, she will often respond. Recently we were talking about how living each day can be a challenge at 94. When I asked how she stays so positive and always has a kind word for friends and neighbors in her assisted living facility, she told me three things that stayed with me. And you don't have to be 94 to see how these mantras might make each day more meaningful.
Think of something pleasant.
How simple is that? And yet not always easy. A client shared a similar mantra she learned from her mother: Pick your brain up and put it someplace else. My mom does this all the time. I see her do it. When she starts to be sad, she shifts. She just doesn't go to the sad place. I know sometimes I need to explore my sad places, and there are times it's okay to just think of something more pleasant. Try it.
Put one foot in front of the other.
She means this literally, because at 94, it's not always easy to do. When I was working on my new book, Turn Enemies Into Allies, there were times I thought I'd never finish (it took five years). I kept putting one foot in front of the other by asking myself what needed to happen next. What was the most productive way I could move forward, even if it seemed like a small thing. Gradually I got to the finish line.
Do something for someone else.
This one resonated strongest, because I know how good I feel when I help out at my local soup kitchen or food pantry. When I do something for someone else, the focus comes off me and my problems. The world is a big place, and noticing this helps me regain perspective.
As you begin this new year, what are your hopes, plans, and worries? What makes you anxious and how do you re-center when you inevitably lose your way? Please comment below, and share your mantra.
Happy New Year!