Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. Jim Rohn
My family recently lost someone much too young. While he left us early, one thing we could all say about him was that he always enjoyed his life, rather than dwelling on the negative. In fact, on his last weekend on earth, he had attended a comic book show with his daughter, celebrated Easter with his wife and daughter and saw a movie that he had been excited about. We took comfort in knowing that while he left his family far too soon, he at least had a wonderful time while he was here.
Not everyone has the ability to live in the moment. We used to call him a big kid because he was so much more focused on the moment and didn’t concern himself with the future, believing it would all work itself out. Obviously, not everyone operates that way. Some of us are more prone to focusing on the challenges we face, or dealing with the stressors in our life.
It isn’t easy to turn off the negative chatter in our brains, but perhaps looking at what is holding us back from being happy and exploring ways to move forward can help us release some of the baggage.
These are some common things that hold us back. Sometimes having a plan in place can help us let go.
Problem: Financial Challenges
Are you struggling to make ends meet or concerned that you don’t have enough saved for retirement? I know for me, looking at how expensive senior care can be made me realize that I need to better prepare my finances since I already have a chronic illness that may pose additional problems as I get older.
How can you fix it? Well, first you can look at ways to bring in more money. Are there ways to bring in extra side income? Can you babysit for neighbors or friends? Do you have a talent that you can earn money from (selling crafts at craft fairs or on Etsy or baking for friends and family)? If you are already providing rides to your senior parent, do they have some friends who need rides to the grocery store or errands? Can you do online surveys for money or gift cards?
Once you’ve looked at possible ways to make extra money, if you are still struggling or concerned that you’re not saving enough money, look at where your money is going. Call your utility companies and see if there are discounts you are missing out on. Check with your insurance providers, cable company and cell phone provider for new plans that you’re not aware of. I have heard of many people who have lowered costs by suggesting they will go to a competitor. Can you reduce your grocery expenses? I have tips here on ways I’ve saved without sacrificing our organic food or clipping coupons.
Are you paying for care for your parents or helping with their medical expenses because they can’t afford it? Check my resource page for links to benefits sites where you can find out about programs available based on their needs.
Problem: Death of a Spouse or Loved One
Losing a loved one can be devastating. There is no easy process for living with the grief. Most people tend to isolate themselves. While this may help in the early days, it can lead to long-term depression and the longer a person isolates him/herself, the more difficult it can be to re-join society.
The grief will not just go away because you join groups. I am in no way stating that rebuilding your life after losing someone important to you will be easy or painless, however, your loved one would want you to continue living your life.
So how can you re-enter your old life? Can you go back to groups you previously were involved with? Is there a grief support group at your local senior center? Is there a hobby or activity that you have been wanting to try? Can you sign up for some classes or activities? Your friends and family will be a great support system for you. They can attend classes with you or help you find activities to join. It will be difficult, but having distractions will help the time past faster.
Problem: Family Disagreements or Changes to Family Dynamics
Is there conflict in your family due to in-law issues or divorce? Are you struggling with caring for an elderly parent who doesn’t want care? Discord in the family can cause a lot of stress and make it difficult to enjoy our own lives. While you can’t fix the people around you, you can fix how you respond.
Sometimes, we need to remove ourselves from a situation for our own well-being. I’m not suggesting cutting off family members, but perhaps limit time around people who are causing you stress. If you care for a parent who you have a toxic relationship with, check out this post for ways to manage care while keeping your distance.
If you can’t fully remove yourself from your family discord, try to incorporate some stress reduction techniques into your life. Try to take a walk, reading a book or incorporating joy into your daily life.
Sometimes we just need to re-frame our situation and brainstorm solutions to feel better. Just the act of planning to move forward can make us feel some relief.