Overcoming Depression – The Power of Fun and Self-Care

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly Richard Bach

It is never my intent to minimize depression or insinuate that depression is a cake walk. I have been in those trenches of depression. It was the most difficult time of my entire life. However, I also do not want anyone to think that depression has to be a lifetime sentence of misery.

As I write this, I can see the big picture of my own illness with greater clarity and perspective than I was able to see my life through my depressive period. Then, it was just getting through each breath and hoping that nothing would send me spiraling deeper into the abyss.

If someone would have told me that I had contributed to my own depression back then, I would have argued that they were wrong. The truth is that I did contribute to my own depression. I was not eating as healthy as I should have been, I ran on adrenaline like it was cheap fuel, I never took time to “replenish” myself, and I allowed myself way too little fun and relaxation.

A part of my depression was related to the 24/7 pain of migraine headaches but I could have done things that would have helped me and my depression by making better life-style choices. If you are going through depression, you can help yourself, as well. I can’t promise that your depression will go away like a frightened mouse but I can promise that improvement can be made – if you are willing to make the essential changes.

As I re-experienced heaven during my near-death experience, I learned how wonderful heaven is. I also learned how priceless and precious life is. Life is a gift that we need to live wisely and passionately. We each have a precious and meaningful life and life mission to fulfill. No one else can do for us what we each are called upon to do by our Creator.

With that in mind, hang in there! Keep fighting! …and be sure to read today’s article. It has wonderful ideas to implement to help yourself get better!:

30 Ways to Improve Your Mood When You’re Feeling Down

 

“The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” ~ Anais Nin  

When I was eighteen, I got depressed and stayed depressed for a little over a year. For over a year, every single day was a battle with myself. For over a year, every single day felt heavy and pointless.

I have since made tremendous progress by becoming more self-aware, practicing self-love, and noticing the infinite blessings and possibilities in my life, but I still have days when those familiar old feelings sneak up on me.

I’m not always self-aware, I don’t always love myself, and sometimes I agonize over everything I don’t have or haven’t accomplished.

I call these days “zombie days.” I’ll just completely shut down and desperately look for ways to distract myself from my feelings.

I suspect we all have zombie days from time to time. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to not always be happy, but there are also simple ways to improve our mood when we’re feeling down.

Everybody is different, and everybody has different ways of dealing with pain, but if you’re looking for suggestions, you may find these helpful:

1. Step back and self-reflect. Whenever I start feeling depressed, I try to stop, reflect, and get to the root of my feelings.  

2. Reach out to someone. I used to bottle up my feelings out of fear that I would be judged if I talked about them. I’ve since learned that reaching out to a loving, understanding person is one of the best things I can do.    

3. Listen to music. Music can heal, put you in a better mood, make you feel less alone, or take you on a mental journey.   

4. Cuddle or play with pets. I have really sweet and happy dogs that are always quick to shower me with love whenever they see me. Spending quality time with a loving pet can instantly make your heart and soul feel better.  

5. Go for a walk. Walking always helps me clear my head and shed negative energy. It’s especially therapeutic if you choose to walk at a scenic location.  

6. Drink something healthy and reinvigorating. For some reason, orange juice always puts me in a better mood and makes me feel revitalized and serene. There are many health and mood benefits of drinking orange juice and other fruit juices.    

7. Write. Writing is usually the first thing I do when I’m feeling down. It always helps me get my thoughts and feelings out in front of me.    

8. Take a nap. Sometimes we just need to recharge. I always feel better after getting some rest.   

9. Plan a fun activity. Moping around never helps me feel any better, so it usually helps to plan something fun to do if I’m feeling up to it. It can be something as simple as creating my own vision board or something as big as planning a trip.     

10. Do something spontaneous. Some of my favorite memories entail choices I made spontaneously. We should all learn to let go of routine every now and then and do something exciting and unplanned.      

11. Prioritize. Sometimes I feel depressed when my priorities are out of balance. I try to make sure I’m giving a fair amount of attention to all the priorities in my life, such as work, relationships, health, and personal happiness.

12. Look through old photographs or snap some new ones. Sorting through old memories or capturing new ones usually puts a smile on my face.   

13. Hug someone. I am definitely a hugger. Hugs are such an easy way to express love and care without having to say a word.  

14. Laugh. Watch a funny movie or spend time with someone who has a good sense of humor. Laughing releases tension and has a natural ability to heal.  

15. Cry. I don’t like crying in front of people, but whenever I have an opportunity to slink away and cry by myself, I always feel better afterwards. Crying releases pain.  

16. Read back over old emails or text messages, or listen to old voicemails. Whenever I feel dejected or bad about myself, I like to read kind emails and comments from my blog readers or listen to cute voicemails from my grandmother. Doing so reminds me that I’m loved, thought about, and appreciated.  

17. Reconnect with someone. Get back in touch with an old friend or a family member that you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Reconnecting with people almost always puts me in a good mood and fills my heart up with love.   

18. Write yourself a letter. I try to separate myself from my ego and give myself a pep talk every now and then. Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”  

19. Try a deep breathing exercise. There are all kinds of deep breathing exercises out there. Find one you like and do it whenever you’re feeling stressed or overly emotional.  

20. Cultivate gratitude. Practicing genuine gratitude on a daily basis has been a major source of healing in my life. When I step back and notice everything I have to be grateful for, it makes me feel like I have everything I need and that nothing is lacking. It makes me feel whole.   

21. Re-watch a funny or inspiring YouTube video. I recommend Webcam 101 for Seniors. That video cheers me up every time. There are so many funny and inspiring videos online.    

22. Bake something. Baking has always been therapeutic and entertaining for me. Plus, I can eat whatever I baked and share it with others afterward.  

23. Get out of the house. I work from home, so a large majority of my time is spent indoors, planted in front of my laptop. I have to make a point to get out every now and then, whether it’s to get some fresh air or go out to eat with a friend.    

24. Focus on what truly matters to you. Sometimes I forget what matters to me and what isn’t that important. Some things just aren’t worth getting too upset over.  

25. Take a negative comment or situation and look for something positive about it. If someone says something negative to me or I get stuck in an unpleasant situation, sometimes it helps to look at it from a different angle. Perspective is everything.  

26. Daydream. Take a mental vacation. Let your mind wander for a while.   

27. Let some natural sunlight come in. Opening all the blinds and curtains and letting natural sunlight flood your home can help elevate your mood.   

28. Take a mental health day. Sometimes we just need to take a day to clear our heads and nurture our souls. My mental health has a history of being a bit erratic, so nurturing it is a priority in my life.     

29. Let go. This is a very simple mantra of mine. I usually say it to myself multiple times each day, which has been very liberating and empowering.    

Article written by Madison Sonnier and shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/30-ways-to-improve-your-mood-when-youre-feeling-down/

 

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 3

There’s no happier person than a truly Thankful, content person Joyce Meyer

This week, in an effort to help others overcome depression, I am focusing on gratitude. There are several steps for overcoming depression and gratitude is an essential step.

Just think how happy you would be if your sole intent was to find the negative in everything you encounter. (Not Very right?) Yet, that is what some do – not intentionally but from thought patterns that they have developed over time.

Is there a co-worker who drives you crazy? Are you constantly fussing about your children’s cleanliness habits or lack of? What about those inconsiderate ways of your spouse or family member? Are you concerned that you are always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop? Has some incredible trauma been a part of your life?

During my near-death experience, I saw the reverence, love, and honor that everyone had for each other in heaven. Other than God, no one was perfect but everyone radiated an air of love and goodwill. Everyone celebrated the good in each other and genuinely supported each other. I believe there is a lesson there. I walked away from my near-death experience with a greater understanding of what make heaven heaven.

We are on earth now, having a mortal experience. There is an important purpose for mortality. We have come to learn, grow, and improve. We have come to develop faith. We are no longer surrounded and enveloped by God’s love, as we were in heaven, but we can choose to love, honor, and reverence each other on earth as well. It is not easy work but it is work that our lives will be blessed for.

If you would like to overcome depression or just improve your life, you must develop an attitude of gratitude! Our thoughts and emotions are powerful things. So powerful, they can help heal us or help make us ill. There is a book, published in 1995, that speaks powerfully to the power of thoughts and emotions, etc. making us ill. It is called the 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness by Greg Anderson. It is a wonderful book! Whether you are suffering from depression or any other illness, it is worth your time and effort to read! Greg Anderson was diagnosed with terminal cancer (a second time) and then studied the patterns and changes made by individuals who had survived terminal illnesses. As you might have guessed, he adopted those changes himself and has lived to teach others about how to heal and overcome illness (even terminal ones).

I hope you will take the time to read Greg Anderson’s book! I also hope that you will work to increase your gratitude! Today’s article shares more information on how to have an attitude of gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:

How to Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It is that time of year when giving thanks is top of mind. The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, causes us to think about all of the special things in our lives and express gratitude for them. This is a favorite time of year for many, in large part because we are surrounded by loved ones and visibly reminded of all that we have to be grateful for.

If you’re like me, you wish this feeling could last all year long. Just imagine feeling proud, thankful, and joyful on an ongoing basis, not only during the holiday season.

A major step in that direction is developing an “Attitude of Gratitude,” according to New York Times best-selling author Lewis Howes. Howes writes extensively about cultivating a grateful mindset in his highly-inspirational new book, The School of Greatness. As Howes simply says, “Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude.”

But what exactly does that mean and how do we do it?

An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, on a regular basis, for both the big and small things alike. As Howes puts it, “If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

Here is a menu of tactics (just pick a few!) he endorses to help develop this mindset:

  • Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with at the end of the day the 3 things you are most grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with right now (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) the 3 things that you are most grateful for in this moment
  • Start a gratitude journal – Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about
  • Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished in the last day/week/month/year. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
  • Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you – oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged (and yet it happens far too infrequently)!

If the gratitude process is hard to get started, begin by asking yourself, “What could I be grateful for?”, and see if the ideas start to flow. This is a mindset habit that is recommended by Tony Robbins in his book, Awaken the Giant Within.

Every day won’t be perfect, but focusing on what we are grateful for tends to wash away feelings of anger and negativity.

And in addition to improving mood, recent studies show that feeling and expressing gratitude leads to better physical health as well. Paul Mills, a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, conducted studies that looked at the role of gratitude on heart health.

Among other things, he found that participants who kept a journal most days of the week, writing about 2-3 things they were grateful for (everything from appreciating their children to travel and good food), had reduced levels of inflammation and improved heart rhythm compared to people who did not write in a journal. And the journal-keepers also showed a decreased risk of heart disease after only 2 months of this new routine!

So try adopting some of the above tactics, even just one or two, in order to develop an overall grateful mindset. It takes a bit of work, but having an attitude of gratitude is one of the most impactful habits for a fulfilling and healthy life.

Today’s article was written by Andrew Merle and is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-merle/how-to-have-an-attitude-of-gratitude_b_8644102.html

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The D’s of Depression – Depend on God, Part 5

Be kind to you: Don’t bring up your past when you are here to  improve your Future

It may seem like the guidance that I have shared this week has nothing to do with depression…especially overcoming depression. However, depending on God and utilizing His guidance and instruction has everything to do with overcoming depression.

There is no better authority on you and no one who loves you as much as God does.

I don’t know that I know a single person who has suffered from depression who has not been guilty of running themselves too hard or who is not guilty of “beating themselves up”. Both scenarios are best handled through God’s guidance.

God can and will guide you if you need to be forgiven of some misdeed and He can help you learn to love yourself and take care of yourself.

If you are still looking for that magic pill that will make your depression go away without any soul-searching and work on your part – your search is going to be a long, long, long one.

As I began my own soul-searching and work to overcome my depression, it felt like God was taking a humble shack and trying to turn it into a skyscraper. At times, the process hurt and very often I did not like it. However, as always, God knew best. He helped me with the painful but necessary process a step at a time. He knew I couldn’t transform myself in one giant leap. He KNEW I could do it one step at a time. So can you!

It won’t always be pleasurable and it WILL be hard. And…it will be completely WORTH IT!

Our discussion on depression is not going away. We will talk more about it next week. Until then, I hope you will read more of the article I have been sharing this week by Rev. Mark D. Roberts. Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to share some compliments with yourself!:

Spiritual Guidance: For Whose Benefit?

In my last post in this series, I told the story of a woman named Eva who tested what she believed to be the Spirit’s guidance by stepping out in faith. Through doing this, she was able to bring God’s grace to a woman who was in a difficult place in her marriage.

Eva’s example illustrates another vital truth about spiritual guidance: it often comes, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Of course, as the Spirit enabled Eva to care profoundly for the woman on the phone, Eva herself felt gratitude well up in her heart. To be used by God is one of life’s greatest joys! But the guidance Eva received was not primarily for her own blessing. Rather, it was for the healing of another person who deeply needed to know God’s love in a time of personal crisis.

Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit guides us through the maze of our lives if we seek his direction. But sometimes we become so absorbed in seeking guidance for ourselves that we overlook one of the Spirit’s main reasons for speaking to us: so that we might minister to others. When we are prepared to hear God’s voice, we will often be led to care on a deep level for the people God places in our lives. Sometimes the Spirit will lead us by placing a burden on our hearts for a certain person or area of need. Sometimes we will receive even more specific guidance, as Eva did during her phone call. But no matter the precise quality of God’s direction, if we make ourselves available to him, he will lead us into his ministry and empower us for his purposes.

Notice that spiritual guidance both flourishes in the context of true fellowship among God’s people and also contributes to that fellowship. As you are led by the Spirit to care for others with compassion and insight, your relationships will become deeper and sweeter. The Lord will help you penetrate the guardedness that keeps us at a “safe” but superficial distance from each other.

Notice also something that has remained implicit throughout this conversation of spiritual guidance. Spiritual guidance comes, not only for our good and for the good of others, but ultimately for the good of God. The Spirit guides us so that we might “do the good things [God] planned for us long ago” (Eph 2:10), and these things are all part of his plan for the cosmos. As we walk in God’s will, we derive personal benefit. The people around us are blessed. But, even more significantly, God’s purposes are being fulfilled through us. As my friend Buddy says, “Guidance from God is also guidance for God.”

When you pray, “O Lord, please show me your will,” you are acknowledging that God has the right to direct your life. God is sovereign, not only over all creation, not only over all history, but over you. The King of kings and Lord of Lords has every right to govern you, and you ought to follow his guidance because of who he is.

But we seek and abide by God’s direction, not only because he is our Master and we are his servants, but also because God’s ways are the very best, both for him and for us. Even when God seems to guide us along treacherous paths, even when walking in his ways denies our thirst for instant gratification, even when obedience to his call requires sacrifice and suffering, we follow him because “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Rom 8:28). As we discover God’s purpose for our lives and as we walk in that purpose, he works in every part of our lives for our own good.

 

This truth about God reminds me of a wonderful scene from The Sound of Music. Maria had set her heart upon becoming a nun and was in the midst of her candidacy to join a religious order. But her ability to accept the disciplines of convent life was in question. So, the leader of the abbey, who exercised complete authority over Maria’s life, sent her away to serve as the governess for the incorrigible Von Trapp children. To Maria’s surprise and horror, she unintentionally fell in love with their father, Captain Von Trapp. Fleeing back to the safety of the abbey, Maria tried to bury her love for the captain, a love which would surely compromise her commitment to becoming a nun.

When the abbess finally gets Maria to talk about what happened at the Von Trapp home, the confused girl confesses her love for Captain Von Trapp. She begs the Reverend Mother for the opportunity to make her religious vows immediately, thereby removing forever the possibility of marrying the captain. But the abbess does a most surprising thing. Rather than accepting Maria into the holy order and protecting her from a marriage that would preclude her becoming a nun, the Reverend Mother orders Maria to return to the Von Trapp home. Disregarding Maria’s urgent pleas for admission to holy orders, she insists that Maria must test her love for the captain and thereby discover God’s will for her life.

Unhappily, Maria submits to the Reverend Mother’s command because she has no other choice. As a candidate for the abbey, Maria has submitted her life to the authority of the abbess. But we can see that this wise woman exercises her authority, not only for the good for her order, but for Maria’s good as well. Her guidance, however authoritative, is supremely wise and gracious, even though Maria cannot see it at the time.

So it with God’s guidance and our response. We obey God’s directions because we should. It’s the only right thing to do. But even when we can’t see how God’s ways are the best for us, they always are. Like the Reverend Mother, the Lord deserves our complete obedience. And, like the Reverend Mother, our gracious Heavenly Father guides us into the life of greatest fulfillment. When God directs us for his own purposes, we discover that his purposes include our blessing and joy.

This illustration from The Sound of Music helps us to see how obeying God can lead, not only to God’s good, but to our good as well. What it doesn’t capture is the miraculous and peculiar way God actually worked in the real life of the real Maria von Trapp.

Like the Reverend Mother who sent Maria back to the von Trapp family, God oftens “sends” us to places that don’t seem best to us. But, in fact, they are the best.

We can see this illustrated in the fictional version of the life of Maria von Trapp. But, in fact, her real life contained some striking examples of God’s unexpected guidance. Here’s an excerpt from the family history on the von Trapp website:

The movie strongly portrays Maria as the epitome of religious devotion in and out of convent life. Most people are unaware that she was raised as a socialist and atheist and became actively cynical towards all religions. Those beliefs quickly and dramatically changed by the chance meeting of a visiting Jesuit priest to Maria’s college.

Maria had entered a crowded church assuming she was about to enjoy a concert by Bach. Instead, a well known priest, Father Kronseder had just begun preaching. Caught in the middle of a standing-room-only crowd, Maria soon found herself caught up in the words of this preacher.

In Maria’s words, “Now I had heard from my uncle that all of these Bible stories were inventions and old legends, and that there wasn’t a word of truth in them. But the way this man talked just swept me off my feet. I was completely overwhelmed by it . . . .” When he finished his sermon and came down the pulpit stairs Maria grabbed his elbow and loudly asked, “Do you believe all this?”

A meeting between the priest and Maria changed her beliefs and the course of her life.

Though Maria was intensely devoted to her convent, she was taken away from the outdoor activities she once thrived on. Her doctor was concerned her health was failing due to a lack of fresh air and exercise. This was when the decision was made to send Maria to the home of retired naval captain Georg von Trapp. Her position was not governess to all the children, as the movie portrayed, but specifically to the captain’s daughter who was bedridden with rheumatic fever. The rest is truly history. Maria never returned to the convent and married the Captain on November 26, 1927. This is the story that has been made immortalized by The Sound of Music.

The von Trapp family began singing publicly, not because it was part of their escape from Austria to Switzerland, as in the movie, but as a result of what must have seemed like terrible misfortune to the von Trapps. When the family lost its wealth in the worldwide depression of the 1930s, they considered singing as a way of making money. At first the father was reticent, but according to one of his daughters, in the end he “accepted it as God’s will that they sing for others.” The family did indeed win first place at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936, as depicted in the movie. And their singing was part of what helped them leave Austria, though without hiking over the mountains to Switzerland.

In the story of the real Maria von Trapp, we see how God uses circumstances, even apparently negative ones, to guide and bless and use his people. First, God led her to faith through her attendance at an evangelistic event that she mistakenly thought was going to be a concert. Second, her poor health in the convent was what led to her being assigned to the von Trapp family. And that which ended up bringing her family much acclaim, namely their professional singing, was something they did out of necessity when they lost their fortune.

Maria, by the way, remained a faithful Christian all of her life. In the 1950s she, along with her own children, Johannes and Rosmarie, and her stepdaughter Maria, went to New Guinea to do mission work there. Although Maria (senior) contracted malaria and didn’t remain in New Guinea for a long time, her children stayed on for several years, with Maria (junior) doing mission work in New Guinea for thirty years.

So the story of the real Maria von Trapp reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s guidance often comes packaged in unexpected forms. Yet he can use even the unexpected and the apparently negative both for our good and for his purposes.

How Does God Guide Us? Some Final Thoughts

In this series I’ve tried to show some of the ways that God guides us. I’ve explained that God guides us through:

• Circumstances
• Scripture
• Community
• Reason
• Dreams and Visions
• Divine Whispering
• Spiritual Direction

I suggested that we can confirm God’s guidance in various ways, especially through taking the risk of stepping out in faith. In my last posts, I showed that God’s guidance is not only for our benefit, but also for the sake of others, and especially for the sake of God’s own kingdom and glory.

I’ll finish up this series by responding to a couple of very practical questions that often hear as a pastor:

How can I learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit?
My life is so busy, how can I find time to quiet my heart enough to hear the Spirit’s gentle whisper?

How can I learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit?

I have found that many people simply need to be aware of the different ways that the Holy Spirit can guide them. Some who have studied the Bible for years to gain theological knowledge never expected the Spirit to speak to them personally through the Scripture. Once they have this expectation, they realize that the Spirit had been whispering in their ears in the past, but they had dismissed this internal voice as nothing of significance. Now they are ready to be guided by the Spirit in a more personal way.

Let me emphasize again that spiritual guidance must be evaluated for its consistency with Scripture. Moreover, we all need to be in close fellowship with other Christians who can help us to discern God’s directions for our lives. If you want to be guided by the Spirit and not simply to claim divine status for your own inclinations, commit yourself to Bible study and to active involvement in Christian community.

Remember that spiritual guidance often comes, not primarily for our sake, but for the sake of others. As you seek God’s will, ask him to show you how to serve those around you. Make yourself available to do God’s will, to participate in his work in the world. Submission to the Lord is a crucial ingredient of your readiness to hear his voice.

Finally, the practice of spiritual disciplines helps to tune our ears to the voice of the Spirit. As you spend time reading and meditating upon the Scripture, praying, journaling, taking time to be alone with God, being silent for extended times, worshiping publicly and privately, and fasting, your heart will be prepared for hearing God’s voice. If these disciplines — or even the word “discipline” — are unfamiliar to you, let me recommend a couple of marvelous books: The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988) and A Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, 3rd edition (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998).

Today’s inspiring article was written by Rev. Mark D. Roberts and is shared from the following website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

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The D’s of Depression – Delve Into the Depths of Your Soul Part 2

Knowing Yourself is the Beginning of all Wisdom Aristotle

As I mentioned yesterday, this week we are going to address the incredibly important first step in overcoming depression: Knowing Yourself.  You may think you know yourself. After all, you spend every second of every day with yourself!

However, I believe that most people in general and virtually all individuals who are going through depression don’t know themselves well at all.

If I could, I would take each precious soul that is suffering with depression and spend some quality time with them and help them understand how amazing and wonderful this world is, how perfect and incredible the love that God has for them is, and the gift that they are to this world that we share.

In this first step to overcoming depression, it is vital that we do some serious self-evaluation and self-knowledge work. I found a wonderful to share with you today!

Whether you are going through depression or not, I hope you will take some time and get to know yourself better! Knowing who we are…knowing who we truly are is the foundation step to both endeavors: creating a depression-free life and creating a meaningful life.

I hope you will give yourself the gift of you by getting to know yourself better! You are worth the time and effort!

Get To Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Discover the Real You

At the core of our desires is living a life of purpose and meaning.

At the core of a life of purpose and meaning is being of service to others.

At the core of being of service to others is finding peace and happiness.

At the core of finding peace and happiness, we discover who we are.

And to do that, we must get over a little irony, that most of us hardly know – much less, know well – the single person we have spent every second of our existence with, our own selves.

Think you’re the exception? Let me ask you then: how well do you know yourself?

We are not talking about taking a personality test or learning about your family history. Neither are we talking about your favorite colors, your best childhood friend or your high school prom experience (thank goodness about the last one ;)).

We are talking about something much greater and of higher consequence. We are talking about who you are at your core, what most matters to you, what makes you come alive, what feeds your soul and what drains your spirit, and how to know the difference so you choose well as you move forward in life.

If you don’t know yourself all that well, you may still live a life in alignment with who you are but only by accident or some sheer stroke of luck.

And that, my darling, is too big a risk to take, so shall we eliminate the risk altogether?

Make it a certainty that you live in alignment with who you are not by accident or luck, but rather on purpose, by intention, by design.

How? By getting to know yourself really really well. One way to do that is to learn your values, passions and goals. Another is to ask the right questions.

How to Get to Know Yourself: 29 Questions to Self-Discovery

Here are just 29 questions that open the door to having a real conversation with yourself. I want to ask you to answer these questions honestly for yourself.

When you are ready to do this, copy these questions into a text document, quiet all outside distractions, take a few deep relaxing breaths, make a great cuppa tea, clear your mind of noise and clutter and dive in.

Know that there are no right or wrong answers. There is only you uncovering the process of building a closer relationship with the person within.

  1. What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
  2. What is something you always love doing, even when you are tired or rushed? Why?
  3. If a relationship or job makes you unhappy, do you choose to stay or leave?
  4. What do you fear about leaving a bad job or a bad relationship?
  5. What do you believe is possible for you?
  6. What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
  7. What is the thing that you are second most proud of?
  8. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
  9. How does your being here in the universe change humanity for the better?
  10. If you could have one single wish granted, what would it be?
  11. How comfortable are you with your own mortality?
  12. What is your highest core value?
  13. To your best knowledge, how do other people perceive you?
  14. How would you like others to perceive you?
  15. How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
  16. What is your biggest self-limiting belief?
  17. Who is the most important person in your life?
  18. Who is your greatest role model?
  19. Who is a person that you don’t like yet you spend time with?
  20. What is something that is true for you no matter what?
  21. What is your moral compass in making difficult decisions?
  22. What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
  23. What role does gratitude play in your life?
  24. How do you feel about your parents?
  25. How is your relationship with money?
  26. How do you feel about growing old someday?
  27. What role has formal education played in your life and how do you feel about it?
  28. Do you believe your destiny is pre-determined or in your hands to shape however you wish?
  29. What do you believe is the meaning of your life?

What If You Don’t Like the Questions Above?

I know. These questions are not meant to be easy or comfortable, but they are important to ask and to know. As you ask yourself questions, the process of self-inquiry begins, and at first, it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar – especially if you have never done it – yet in time, it becomes easier. Even fun.

Because here’s what you may not know. Or be afraid to believe.

You are a unique child of this world. You are brilliant, smart and wise. You are deep and fascinating. You are gifted and talented. You are beyond capable to do what you dream. You are loved, loving and lovable.

You are not too old or too fat or too poor. You are not too slow or too boring. You are simply none of the terrible things you tell yourself. You’re quite the opposite.

You are more than enough.

So while it’s up to you to decide if this self-discovery process is worthwhile, I would say trust me on this. Getting to know yourself IS worthwhile. Just do it!

Written by Farnoosh Brock and shared from the following website: http://www.prolificliving.com/get-to-know-yourself/

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Finding Happiness by Losing Our Self and Finding Our True Identity

No wonder we are instructed to lose ourselves (Luke 9:24) He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but finding his True Identity Neal A. Maxwell

I have to make a confession. I have struggled with the concept of losing myself to find myself. Even after my near-death experience, I struggled. I have to give all credit to my ego in this struggle. For reasons I don’t even understand, I had a fear of losing the me that I knew and was (at least for the moment) happy with.

I am grateful that the Lord is always willing to work with us layer by layer. That has been the process with me. Layer by layer the Lord and removed the part of me that has held me back. It is still an ongoing process.

What I have learned in the process is that the Lord does not want to camouflage us or eliminate our importance. We are all important to Him. What he does want is to take the parts of us that interfere with our happiness and ability to receive of abundance. He wants to take the parts of “me” that I too determinedly hang onto and replace them with better parts. Think rusted parts found in a salvage yard (that I am mysteriously attached to) replaced with celestial parts created and manufactured in heaven.

As I have allowed the Lord to do His work with me, I have been the true beneficiary. I have discovered talents and joys that I otherwise would have forfeited. I have found a deeper and more satisfying inner peace. I have been enabled to understand concepts and nuggets of truth that previously evaded me. I have been endowed with greater joy and happiness and life has been made easier.

Life holds a different story for each of us. However, we are each meant to find happiness and joy. It is within our reach and it is ours for the choosing. I hope you have happiness and joy in your life. If not, seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him to help you find it – and then open your heart to the changes He will bring into your life.

Today’s article shares some wonderful thoughts – I hope you will enjoy!:

FINDING INNER PEACE (AND HAPPINESS)

“Lose yourself to find yourself”.  What does this phrase really mean?

The self that is being lost is the self-image your mind has made.  Any false identification with thoughts, emotions, forms, or anything you can perceive.  This is often referred to as “ego”.

The self that is being gained is the deeper awareness that can perceive the self image.  The true self beneath the illusions of the mind.  Pure consciousness, free from false identity.

Lose yourself to find yourself means to let go of what is not real about you, so only the real can remain.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ANYBODY

We are brought up to believe that we have to “be someone”, that life will be far better and more satisfying if we have a strong personality, can influence others and “make a difference” in the world.  This is a lot of effort, and in my own experience can create unnecessary pressure to be “something” or “someone” when it is not necessary.

Whatever work you do or contributions you make to the world, you do not have to identify with.  You actually serve and act more effectively when you are no longer acting to strengthen or maintain a false self-image.  What you do then becomes selfless and takes on a far greater power.  Then if you go through a period of inactivity, you are not dependent on activity for your sense of self anymore, so you will still be at peace and happy.

INTERACTING WITH OTHERS

The same goes for interactions with other people.  When you drop or at least begin to transcend your self-image, everything becomes easier.  You are not struggling to defend your self-image or who you think you are.  Instead you are simply there, fully present, from which any useful action, if required, arises.

Of course the ego in most of us often measures who we are or how good we are by judging the reactions of other people to us.  Most of us unconsciously believe that if we are more liked by people or people give us more positive feedback about ourselves, then this must mean we are better as people, or this gives us a right to be happy or satisfied.

If people do not like us or react negatively to us, there is often something inside that does not like it, that seems to take the opinions or responses of others as direct measurements of our sense of selves.

See what happens, if even for a moment, you can completely give up trying to be anything or anyone.  What happens when you can accept being nobody?  Being “nobody” is not a bad or a weak thing.  It is liberating.  It is just giving up your false sense of self.

It would be more accurate to say to “stop being anything” rather than “accept being nobody”.

When interacting with others, have no expectations of yourself.  You do not have to prove anything or do anything to make the other person happy or more comfortable.  Experiment with this.

You may well find, that then you behave in a totally natural and useful way.  When you give up your need to be someone or act a certain way to uphold an illusory self concept, or to gain any external (or internal) approval, suddenly you are freed from all anxiety or fear.  You become completely real and authentic.

From this place your natural state of peace and relaxed joy flows into your interaction, so you benefit the situation without even trying.  A greater power begins to work through you, but can only do this once you let down all of your walls and attempts to be someone.

THE REAL BENEATH THE UNREAL

When you are comfortable with being “no one”, what is left is your true nature – awareness, from which all “good” things come.  This is what is meant by “lose yourself to find yourself”.  There is no longer any fake ego covering up who you actually are.  Then you are far less likely to be disturbed by external factors, since they do not effect your sense of self – which is now pure awareness.

Do not identify with any self-image that your mind has created.  You are the awareness of the self image, unattached.

All actions that your body takes and all thoughts your mind produces occur within your own eternal awareness, the untouched presence.

Losing your false sense of self can seem scary, but it is only scary to the ego.  You can only lose what is not real about you.  The thing that does not want to disappear is the ego itself.

If you are identified with ego, you may believe you are afraid to let go of a part of your self image, or any thoughts or emotions you previously identified with.  The fear is of the ego, not of yourself. All it does is cover the truth and temporarily prevent you from realising it.

When you stop identifying with thoughts, emotions and self-image, you remain as awareness.  Lose yourself to find yourself.

Today’s article was written by Adam Oakley and is shared from the following website: https://www.innerpeacenow.com/inner-peace-blog/lose-yourself-to-find-yourself

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