We are now living in very stressful times. Shootings, global warming and economic disasters plague us. Yet, most of our stress arises from our negative thoughts and beliefs about what is going on. We tend to think that what we think is the truth. What if it isn't? If your thoughts are making you depressed or stressed try these four helpful tips to brighten up your day.
1. Get into a cosmic perspective.
A very creative psychiatrist had a special lampshade in his office that reflected the stars in the night sky onto his ceiling when he turned off the lights. When his patients were lying on his couch and telling him their problems, he would frequently ask: "How will this matter in a hundred years?"
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Try to remember what was bothering you six months ago. Most of us can't recall what upset us back then, although whatever it was really angered, worried or scared us. Somehow we survived or resolved the event or situation and are now worried or anxious about something else.
Shift your down mood by putting it into a cosmic perspective. What is ruining your day today? Sit down or lie down and get comfortable. Get in touch with your problems, fears or angers and ask yourself: How will this matter in a hundred years? Then notice what happens.
2. You can’t get milk from a bull
Is there someone in your life that you would like to change but aren't succeeding with? People are like snowflakes; each one has a different design. Some of us are extroverts, and some are shy introverts. Some people like to stop and smell the roses while others are racing toward the prize. Some are neat and others messy. Has anyone tried to change you? How did that make you feel?
Irene was married to an alcoholic who was also depressed. He refused to seek help for his problems, and she was angry most of the time because she couldn't convince him to. She asked me: "Am I being unreasonable in wanting him to go for help or join AA?"
My answer to her was: "No, that’s not unreasonable, except for him." What I meant was: You can't get milk from a bull! All of us want to be accepted as we are right now because we are doing the best we can. Even though we may want to do better, we are not able to at this point in our life. Her husband was doing the best he could... at that moment.
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Perhaps in the future he would decide to take action, but nagging only made it worse. Irene needed to see him as he was and not as she wanted him to be. It was time for her to look at herself and deal with her own stress instead of trying to change her husband. Al Anon was her answer. She was able to find support and wisdom from others with the same problem. When she felt overwhelmed there was always another member she could call to help her relieve her stress.
3. Make a gratitude list.
Ken Keyes, a remarkable spiritual teacher, was a quadriplegic. He radiated love and acceptance in his teaching and his presence. Ken wrote: "To be upset over what you don’t have, is to waste what you do have." He was a living example. When you are having an off day and want to perk up, make a list of everything in your life that you can give thanks for.