Staying Sane While Hunkered at Home

happy african american young woman at home

These are certainly strange times. Perhaps the fear of the unknown is only slightly greater than the fear of going stir-crazy while enduring two months of isolation from your community. How can you make the most of being homebound? Begin by focusing on what you can do, rather than feeling frustrated with what you can’t do. Here are five positive action steps :

Draw Close. Use this as a beautiful chance to draw close to loved ones both under your roof or at a distance. Avoid the temptation to constantly peruse social media, and instead be deliberate about engaging in conversation and experience eye contact. If you have kids, get on the floor and build a fort, read a book, play board games, do some art work or a puzzle, cook a meal or watch a movie together. It will require loving-kindness and patience toward each other, but couldn’t we all use a little growth in that area?

Reach Out. Consider ways you can reach out to help others who are in need or may feel alone. Perhaps you can offer to watch the kids of a healthcare worker or drop some groceries off at the local food bank or give gift cards to someone who has lost their job as a result of the quarantine. This is not a time to think only of ourselves, but rather to think of the needs of others.

Take Up. What are those projects that you have always said you would do if you just had more time? Here’s your glorious opportunity! Start a blog, write a book, read a book, learn a language, discover a new talent with art or floral design, take up guitar lessons, start working out – the possibilities are endless.

Weed Out. Most of us have drawers, cabinets and closets that need a little weeding out and cleaning up. Use this time to simplify and get rid of extra stuff that you no longer use or need. You will experience a sweet sense of joy when your place is organized  – and who knows you may discover things you haven’t seen in years. When life speeds back up again, you will be glad to have everything in its place!

Be Still. We all need quiet alone time to meditate, pray and rejuvenate our spirit. In the normal hustle-bustle of life, we rarely take intentional time to be still and listen. This is a good time to focus on who God is and to seek to know Him in a deeper way. Read the Bible, seek His direction and release your burdens to His care.

Let’s continually be aware of how God wants to use us to impact others during this unique time. May we be grateful for the blessings He has given us and be generous with love and good deeds.

 

 

Thriving Through Difficulties

inspiration, joy and happiness concept, silhouette of woman with many flying balloons on the beach

How is it that some people end up thriving after a dramatic difficulty or even trauma? That is the question researchers are asking as they study Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). We are all familiar with the term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but few are aware of what some call Super Survivors – those people who actually get better and move in an improved positive direction after a trauma.

Here are a few of the principles that have been observed in PTGers.

They grieve well. Studies show that those who eventually show improvement after a trauma, have first grieved their loss deeply. They don’t ignore the pain or put on rose colored glasses. They recognize the hurt or loss and don’t dismiss their sadness.

They ask hopeful questions. As they grieve, they also begin looking for glimmers of hope in the form of questions. They may ask, “Given my new set of circumstances, how can I make the best of this?” Or, “How can I grow and learn from this?” Or, “Is their a way I can use this experience to improve someone else’s life?”

They use their pain to help others. Often a PTGer will take pro-active steps to start an organization or interest group to benefit and strengthen others as a result of their experience. This not only gives them new vigor in life, but it helps them heal and feel purposeful.

They are thankful. Although they are not thankful for the pain, they are able to find reasons to be grateful for what they have experienced. They may be thankful that they grew stronger or that they were able to find meaning in life or discover a new life purpose as a result of their trauma.

Whether we are going through a life-jolting trauma or simply a heavy disappointment, we can learn from these principles to help us discover an element of positive in our pain. Some have said that PTG should stand for “Put Trust in God.” Interestingly, studies show that many PTGers rely on their faith or find their faith strengthened through the difficulties. In Psalms we read David’s words, “God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in time of need.” May each of us be strengthened by the comfort and hope He brings.

9781416580492

You can read stories of PTGers in my book, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.

3 Effective Ways to Encourage Others

女性社員たちは楽しそうにオフィスで働いている

Everyone needs a good word now and then. Like sunshine breaking through the clouds on a dreary day, so a bright ray of encouragement can bring hope to someone’s darkness. Certainly we must be sensitive to those who are going through deep sadness. Sometimes the best way to be an encouragement is to “weep with those who weep.” But there are many opportunities in our daily routine to provide a glimpse of joy for the people around us.

Here are three effective ways to offer a healthy dose of encouragement to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers.

Be Sincere: No one likes insincere flattery. If you are going to offer a kind acknowledgement, be truthful. You may need to look a little deeper to find a way to sincerely speak an honest word of encouragement. For example, if your child’s piano recital was a bit rough around the edges, instead of insincerely telling them that they did a fantastic job, consider the factors you can compliment. “It takes a lot of courage to get up there and preform. You were able to hit some tough notes under pressure. I’m proud of you.”

Be Specific: When we offer specific accolades we are not only offering a gift to the other person, but we are tying it up with a bow and putting a note on it that says, “This gift is just for you.” For instance, simply saying “Great job!” is nice. But saying, “Great work on the Simons account today. I liked your creative presentation and the way you spoke directly to the client’s needs,” is better! Look for specific words and phrases you can offer others to help them know you paid attention and focused on what they did well.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Smile: A smile speaks a thousand words. It says, “I see you. I believe in you. I know you can do it. I care.” Just as words of encouragement are a precious gift we give to others, so a smile can lift up those around us and help them along their way. Think about when someone takes the opportunity to smile at you – it makes you feel a little stronger. A smile is that non-verbal expression that gives you the sense that you are noticed and appreciated. Offering an encouraging glance seems simple, but it may be a day-brightner to someone who desperately needs to know you care.

The word encourage actually means “to give strength.” The root word cour comes from the Latin word heart. Sincere, specific encouragement with the added blessing of a smile can literally strengthen another person’s heart and turn their mediocre day into a monumental one. May our words and actions be used to build up, rather than tear down. Let’s bring glimpses of sunshine to the people God puts in our path each day.

3 Ways to Create Deeper Connections

Multiracial friends using smartphone against wall at university college backyard - Young people addicted by mobile smart phone - Technology concept with always connected millennials - Filter image

In a world of constant connectivity through phones and laptops, it’s a bit ironic how disconnected we often feel from other people.  A sense of loneliness and isolation can easily grow into a longing for deeper and more meaningful relationships. What are some ways we can strengthen our connection and understanding with family and friends? Here are three ideas to implement in your daily life:

Listen with Attentiveness – Everyone has a longing to be heard and understood. One of the ways we deepen relationships is by being an intentional listener. Renown salesman, Ben Feldman, always said, “We must learn to listen with three ears: One ear to hear what the person is saying, one to notice what they are not saying, and finally one ear to perceive what they want to say, but just don’t know how to say it.” As we interact with others, let’s ask perceptive questions, listen attentively and discover what is important to the other person.

Recognize the Power of What you Don’t Say – It is estimated that between 60 – 90% of our communication is non-verbal. That means that our body language and tone of voice go a long way to building a bridge of understanding. Eye contact, a smile, a handshake or hug, even our posture show a person that we are glad to see them and intent in paying attention to them. Certainly our words are important, but not as important as how we come across with non-verbal cues. One of the reasons online communication leaves us with a sense of loneliness is because it misses some of the most important aspects of human connection.

Be willing to be Vulnerable – No one wants to have a seemingly perfect person as their best friend. It’s our vulnerabilities and humanness that make us relatable. When we try to portray only how great we are, we distance ourselves from those we want to get to know. We deny the opportunity for depth and realness. Certainly we do not want to overshare or constantly be a drain on others with our problems and complaints, but we do want to give slight glimpses into our human side – sharing both our hopes and dreams as well as our fears and frustrations. Simply put, be real instead of trying to portray a glossy picture which hides all of your imperfections.

We were created for connection, so its important for us to be deliberate about deepening our relationships with the people in our lives. As we build understanding with others we develop a sense of personal satisfaction and emotional well-being. Let’s choose to strengthen our bonds and deepen our communication as we apply these three simple and positive tips

Three Positive Questions to Ask Yourself

 

sean-o-KMn4VEeEPR8-unsplash

Life is filled with twists and turns. Each day brings with it a fair amount of joys and challenges and even some major disappointments. How do you navigate the rough waters of life and stay steady on your journey? Here are three important questions to ask yourself along the way as you chart your course and sail onward toward your goals.

How can I grow from this? Whether it is an unexpected derailment from your schedule for the day or a major life change, it is good to consider what you can learn and how you can grow through the experience. Certainly we must grieve the loss of our original plan, but we must also think about the glimmer of hope or the upside of our situation. How can you become stronger? What are you learning in the process?

In what ways can I serve? There are always opportunities to use what we have learned or experienced to reach out and help another person. Look for ways you can use your gifts, talents and interests to serve those in your community who could use a helping hand. Whenever we lift up others, we ourselves experience a unique satisfaction and joy in serving – which is always an added benefit.

What is my motivation? It’s a good idea to do a little introspection and consider why we are doing what we are doing. This gives us a chance to examine and perhaps rethink our “Why.” Why am I pushing forward in this direction? Why do I think I need to accomplish this? Why am I being so hard on this particular person? When we check our motives, it helps us consider if our goal is worth pursuing, and it helps us recognize our own selfish ambitions or conceit. Knowing our “Why” can push us forward or help us redirect our path.

Routinely ask yourself these three questions as you face the ups and downs of life. You may even want to write then on an index card and keep them in front of you as a reminder. Life may be unpredictable, but positive questions can help us clarify what we want and where we are going.

Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash