For the past two weeks, I have been dealing with the aftermath of my recent bout of anxiety and re-evaluating the thoughts, feelings, words, and actions that contributed to my anxiety attacks. I have been changing those things that do not serve me well and strengthening those things that do, and even though I did not blog about all of the ways that I was kind to myself and to others during this time of self-reflection, practicing ways to make a positive difference in my life and the lives of others definitely has been part of my healing process. Along the way, I devised a list of five ways to be a positive presence in your life and the lives of others:
- Give thanks. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, for the very reason that it focuses on being grateful and sharing that gratitude with family and friends, but being thankful for what we have and saying ‘thank you’ to people should be practiced daily and not reserved for one day out of the year. Almost every day, my daughters and I write down the 5 things we are grateful for in our respective gratitude journals and read them aloud to one another, and this ends our day on a positive note. I also look for opportunities at home, at work, and in the community at large to say ‘thank you’ to others, It never ceases to amaze me how people’s faces light up when being sincerely thanked for a job well done or a kind act.
- Listen. As I have admitted in previous posts, I talk . . . a lot. That said, I have learned that actively listening to others, particularly to those who feel as if their voice has been silenced, is truly one of the kindest acts to be performed. The guests at the day shelter for homeless men where I work have taught me this lesson time and time again. I cannot always give them resources they need, such as permanent housing or employment, but I can lend them an ear to listen to their stories. I know what it feels like not to be heard, so, being able to take the time to really listen to them with genuine concern and without judgment is one thing that matters a great deal to them. Taking the time to listen to myself is another way that I can make a positive difference in my own life. Whenever I have listened to my intuition, it has never failed me, as it has guided me to where I want to go and beyond. I cannot expect others to listen to me, if I will not take the time to listen to myself.
- Stay present. I have a tendency to dwell on the past and worry about the future, which is not a healthy combination at all, and this tendency causes me to miss out on what is happening in the present. When I stay focused and present in my life, I find that my anxiety is non-existent and that I am able to breathe easier and enjoy where I am and whom I am with to a greater extent. It also allows me to give my undivided attention to my friends and family, instead of being distracted.
- Smile and laugh. My smile is my best asset, and when I laugh, it engages my entire being. I have been told by various people over the years that both my smile and laughter are contagious, and since I love to make people smile and laugh, that is one of the greatest compliments that I can receive. When I smile and laugh, even when I may not feel like doing either, I find that it still helps to boost my spirits and improve my mood.
- Speak positively. Words are very powerful, so, we need to choose our words wisely indeed. How we speak to ourselves and how we talk to others can either help or harm us and them. For me, at times, it is easier to speak kindly to my family, friends, and even total strangers than it is to say those same loving words to myself. So, to break the pattern of negative self-talk, I will ask myself if I would speak the way I am speaking to myself to my daughters or to someone else I love. If my answer is “no”, then, I change my self-talk, which invariably changes my attitude and choices for the better. Never underestimate the impact a kind word can have on another person, either, for it may be the only positive thing that they hear all day. Talk is not cheap; it is priceless.
These are some of my favorite ways to show myself and others kindness, and while they certainly are not earth-shattering or ground-breaking, they can be life-changing. Sometimes, the simplest acts are the easiest to overlook, but it is from these small acts of kindness and goodness that big, positive changes occur.
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day