Man, I don’t know what it is, but lately I’ve been feeling so aware of how fleeting and fragile life can be. We’re here for such a short, precious few years and as we age, time just seems to be moving faster and faster.
It makes me think a lot about my commitment to helping people learn how to harness all the joy and beauty and richness out of life. I feel this enormous sense of urgency right now to give people permission to evaluate what’s going on in their lives and make positive change to what needs attention. Too many times we find ourselves just spinning in stressful little tornadoes - we are whirling around and around and around.
We think the answer is to push harder. Work harder. Do more.
But we’re wrong.
The answer is to pause.
There’s healing in the pause because it invites us to elevate our consciousness and awareness. If we take a breath and tune in, we can answer the most important self-care question ever: “What do I need?”
Think about it, if we learned how to pause and answer that question honestly, it could lead us to choose a healthy self-care option that might increase our coping and bandwidth. It could prevent us from a hot tempered, emotionally reactive response or reply. It could allow us to move away from the dangerous speed of poor impulse control and change an otherwise destructive choice in our desire to escape, numb or avoid. It could bring us back to a very important state of presence.
When we answer this question we’re not being selfish. We’re actually inviting ourselves to be brave and accountable and as a result, we can feel peace, joy and compassion.
I hear clients ponder about the ebbs and flows of emotions. It’s almost as if they are questioning “am I doing this wrong? Because sometimes I’m feeling really good and then other days, I dip.”
We cannot expect that if we work hard on therapy strategies we’ll wake up one day to a new constant state of happiness and joy.
If you’re alive, you will struggle. Period.
When we accept this construct, we embrace that being uncomfortable sometimes is normal. If we know that this is true, then we can start to understand that most suffering is temporary and there are things that we can do to help ourselves feel better and improve our distress tolerance.
The problem is, we have normalized burnout and overwhelm and I fear we’ve started to become accustomed to a life absent of pleasure, joy and momentary wonder.
That’s the part that terrifies me!
We don’t have to live our lives like we’re just surviving them! There’s another way of doing it. We can learn how to thrive and I’m starting to really understand that if we bring our attention to these 5 key principles, things start to shift in a positive direction:
There is a formula that helps us move from surviving to thriving and I’m committed to sharing everything I know about it with you here!
Megan Gunnell, LMSW Founder & Director of the Thriving Well Institute, psychotherapist, retreat leader, speaker, writer and entrepreneur. Loves to experience the world through food, culture, art, music and travel. Believes whole-heartedly that practicing gratitude, self-care and mindfulness are the foundation of thriving and living in joy.