Thriving

As we are all aware, this current season is difficult in many ways for each of us. Perhaps you or someone in your family has or has had COVID-19; maybe you or a loved one is an essential worker; some of you have lost your jobs; others are working remotely from home. If you have kids, they are home and now you are learning how to navigate distance learning.  Wherever you are, take a breath!  My hope is
that instead of just surviving this season, you will have moments, and even days, where you are thriving.

The Oxford Dictionary defines thriving as flourishing, doing well, and prospering.  This looks different for each of us, so take a few moments to determine what it would mean for you. Perhaps start with determining what is important to you and what are your priorities? For example, if work is one of your priorities, how can you set yourself up to thrive? Maybe it is clearing out a space in your home to be used solely for work and only working set hours each day. If family is a priority, what can you set in place to help your family thrive?  Maybe you need to have a household meeting to allow each member in your family to discuss their hopes and their expectations.  Perhaps it is scheduling a family gathering after lunch, eating one meal together a day, or spending fifteen minutes of individual time with each person in your family. Check in with each family member, get on their level, and really hear what it is like being in their shoes.

Along with identifying what is important, determine some realistic goals for this season.  Some examples include: reading a book that you have always wanted to enjoy, deep cleaning your house (taking one
room a day), putting together a puzzle, tackling a new recipe, exploring your creative side with a new project (art, sewing, music, etc.), learning a new language, starting an exercise program, or maybe you
just want to ensure you keep your job so you are pouring extra time into your work.  If you have children, enjoy a family read aloud time, learn a new hobby or game, go through family pictures or discuss your ancestors, paint a room…you get the idea. If you’re struggling to come up with goals, ask for input from your kids or partner.  For more ideas, check out this list from USA Today.

It is important to have goals, regardless of how simple they might seem, as this is how we measure our success.  If you do not know what success looks like for yourself and your family, you might find yourself
comparing yourself to individuals on Facebook or even the world’s definition of success, and these standards can be quite unattainable.  It is not fair to compare your insides to everyone’s outsides. Everyone struggles with something, even if it appears that they “have it all together.”

Celebrate the accomplishment of each goal, no matter how small it might be.  This allows us to focus on what we have, thus reinforcing gratitude. Eckhart Tolle states, “acknowledging the good that you
already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

The key to success is to keep these goals realistic and to give yourself grace when things do not go as planned.  We all know that bumps can occur throughout the day, and instead of getting wrapped up in these challenges, stay present and address the issue. Once it’s resolved or perhaps better under control, move on to the next right thing. Having goals aids in developing some form of a routine which is crucial
to maintaining your mental health.

A tangible application might look like this:  either the night before or the next morning, identify 2-5 goals for the next day.  Some of my clients are utilizing a strategy called time blocking.  The main advantage
with time blocking is that it enables you to focus on one task at a time. Once your daily goals are completed, you will have a sense of success and control over the outcome of your day.

Martin Seligman, a well-known American psychologist known as the founder of positive psychology, developed a theoretical model of happiness called PERMA.  His model discusses elements that contribute to a sense of flourishing. These elements include:

  • P = Positive Emotions
  • E = Engagement
  • R = Relationships
  • M = Meaning
  • A = Accomplishments.

Seligman believes these five elements can help individuals move towards a life of fulfillment, happiness, and meaning.  Check out this link for more information on the PERMA model.

Even with the best of intentions, we will fail, we will make mistakes, and we will have difficult days. Give yourself grace, kindness, and self-compassion!

Another tool in your thriving tool belt can be practicing acts of kindness. Maybe you are tired of being in the same house with the same people; maybe they are starting to get under your skin a bit. An
excellent way to address irritation or resentment is to do what is called opposite action, such as an act of kindness. Simple gestures, such as a short sweet note or making your partner a cup of coffee/tea, can
have an abundant impact on our relationships. There are countless opportunities for you to practice kindness in the midst of our current circumstances.

This is a hard time. I do not want to discount the pain that some of you are experiencing; it is real. If you find yourself experiencing sadness and despair, reach out to someone and ask for help. If you need more support than what your family and friends can provide, reach out to a mental health professional. We, at Lindsey Hoskins and Associates, offer a complimentary 15-minute consultation, and each of our
professionals offer telehealth psychotherapy sessions.

Each new day we have the opportunity to slow down and reset. Do not wait for the pandemic to subside before “beginning your life again.” Start now, live your days with thankfulness and gratitude, with acceptance and mindfulness. Embrace today while planning and looking forward to the future. Allow yourself to become a better you right now. Let me end this post with something that continues
to help some of my clients in times of uncertainty, the Serenity Prayer.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Alison Curtis, MS, LPC Resident, provides individual, couple, and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office and via teletherapy. Call or email today to set up your first appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with Alison.