Sharing stories over coffee, sharing hopes during walks, sharking secrets in whispers...when we disclose something personal, we wait for our conversation companion to say "me, too!" Be it a nod, a smile, or a verbal affirmation, these things signal that what we just shared resonates with someone else. It normalizes our experience, taking us from our lonely island to the party on the cruise ship. How important is normalizing? Think way back to your elementary and high school days. Do you remember wanting to belong to a group? To have friends who shared your interests, who wanted to spend time with you? Part of normalizing is finding a common thread and gaining a sense of belonging. To know we are not alone in what we experience, how validating! What a confidence booster! The initial "me, too" starts a cycle we are positively rewarded to repeat -- fear of being "the only one," sharing something personal, normalization, and then confidence. We begin to CRAVE the normalization and confidence, and why wouldn't we?! So, share your story with someone and feel the power of "me, too."
How hard can it be to chill out and catch up on some zzz's? Grab a magazine, the phone, turn on the television and scroll though the laptop. Wait, that's a lot of stimulation when you're trying to decrease stimulation. It's been said over and over: "unplug." Have you done it? Really unplugged? Spent an hour or more with just your thoughts or let yourself drift into sleep? For most of us, the answer is no. "I unwind with my phone." "I like to relax while browsing websites." "Trashy tv is calming." Sure, there are plenty of times that being connected allows us to relax and enjoy ourselves. But, what about, just once, we tried something new. We put down all outside stimulation - the electronics, the conversations, the games - and sit with our thoughts and get to know ourselves a bit more. Can you handle the quiet? Does it bring serenity? Does it make you think about anything you haven't thought about in a while? Did you notice your heartbeat and how it slowed to a calming pace? New year, new opportunities for healthy change.
Do you find it hard to figure out how to get all your responsibilities -- home and work -- accomplished in a day? Are you someone who wants a career, a family, friends, AND time for yourself? You are not alone. Many people seek the perfect balance that will give them enough time for everything and still a few hours to sleep. Many times when the topic of work-life balance comes up, working mothers are the focus of the discussion. How can women work outside the house while maintaining a warm home, deep friendships, a loving family and a sense of self? What about those women who are not mothers? What about men who may or may not be fathers? Many people struggle to find a balance that makes them happy and it is important to acknowledge that we all can benefit from some help achieving and maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle that includes anything we find important, whether it is family, or friendships, or a bicycle club. Kelly Wallace explores the struggle of work-life balance and seeks to expand the discussion of who that struggle affects in her piece "Work-Life Balance Not Just a Women's Issue" on cnn.com.
We search for meaning, we search for happiness. Both can be incredibly elusive at times. David Steindl-Rast gives a compelling TED Talk on achieving happiness through gratitude. Though we may look for happiness in large efforts and places, it may be easier to obtain in the small things. Take a look...
A healthier, happier you.