Caregiving is probably the most intense and emotionally challenging role we will ever have in our lives. In the thick of it, we may feel as if we’re on a rollercoaster. And, we may feel totally detached from the “real” world. I recall when my mother was so very close to death, I walked into a Panera’s just to have a cup of coffee and to pull myself together. It was as if I was in “slow motion” and the world was happening around me. I remember wondering if I would ever be able to laugh or enjoy life again.
While there are days and events when we may not be able to find one morsel of happiness, I believe that each of us can create daily habits to bring us happiness. The “daily” part is the key to making this work. It reminds me a lot of our daily need for exercise. If we ignore that need, soon our physical stamina and health declines. Well, we also need to exercise our sense of well-being and happiness, or those will surely decline.
Today, I read a wonderful article in the Harvard Business Review. The author gave 5 ways that we can “literally train our brains for higher levels of happiness and job satisfaction.” I think they are also wonderful suggestions for each and every caregiver.
- Write down three new things you are grateful for each day;
- Write for 2 minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;
- Exercise for 10 minutes a day;
- Meditate for 2 minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out;
- Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising (a family member.)
These are all great suggestions. Can you see the common thread here? Before you engage in any of these, you must first stop, quiet and center yourself. You must get in touch with yourself!
I would love to hear from each of you. Do you have a daily habit that helps you embrace happiness each day? Please share in the comments or on our Facebook page, Transition Aging Parents.
(Source: “The Happiness Dividend”, June 23, 2011, http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/06/the_happiness_dividend.html)