Are you feeling that life has become somewhat humdrum and you find yourself having nothing much to look forward to, and all you expect is more of the same…? Do you feel that life is perhaps passing you by, and you’re feeling more like a spectator than a participant?
If you suspect you may be depressed, then a visit with your health professional would be a good place to start. However if your feelings more resemble a growing frustration with your situation, know that there are things you can do to help improve your outlook on life and your general wellbeing.
There are several criteria for general wellbeing; so for any that are lacking in your life, start taking small steps to improve your situation:
Self-acceptance: this is achieved when you are comfortable with who you are, your self-talk is positive and your beliefs and values support your life goals.
Positive relationships and friendships: this is achieved when those you have chosen to be close to you support and encourage you with your life goals.
Autonomy: this is achieved when you have freedom of choice regarding how you live your life; including taking care of your body, mind and spiritual beliefs.
Physical environment: this is achieved when the places you live, work or play meet the basic requirements for a safe and healthy life.
A sense of purpose: this is achieved when what you do has genuine meaning for you, and your activities make a valued contribution to yourself and others.
Personal growth, learning and discovery: this is where you are able to undertake activities which develop your own potential, you are able to express your creative talents and feel free and comfortable when doing so.
In order to feel as if your life situation has value; the tasks and activities you undertake need to also provide you: a sense of achievement, a sense of accomplishment and a sense of contribution. When these states are achieved you’ll find you naturally have more energy and vitality. Doing things we don’t like or value deplete energy; doing things that we love create energy – therefore try and include more of what you love every day to help lift your energy levels.
Be curious! Be creative! Be a little daring! Break some routines! Laugh! Say Yes! Say No! Take back control of your own life by not letting others set their agenda for you…
Developing an attitude of gratefulness and kindness towards yourself and others will also help you to feel more engaged in life. Consider the last time when you had fun. Or laughed out loud. Or gazed at something in total awe. What were you doing? Make a point of including more of what you love in your daily activities. Become more present as you undertake your daily tasks and activities; and actively seek to involve all your senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste.
Are you a glass half empty or glass half full type of person? If you tend to have a more positive outlook on life, and have a general expectation that most of the time things will turn out OK; then by simply looking for the positive in any situation will start to have an impact on your general outlook. Alongside trying to look for the positive, the simple gesture of creating a subtle smile will also change how your mind reacts to situations.
Consider your default facial expression; is it a frown, do you look worried, angry, or even anxious? Holding a subtle smile creates a more open and welcoming face to the rest of the world. Smiling changes how your brain thinks and reacts; a smiling expression sends feedback from your face to your left frontal cortex, which in turn triggers the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine into your brain. These “happiness” chemicals begin to improve your mood. Smiling is also contagious, others around you may begin to smile, and soon the mood of the group lifts as well.
Also consider your posture as you go about your daily activities; do you walk tall, sit tall, breathe deeply and fully? Do you eat well? Do you take enough exercise? Do you sleep well? How clean and organised is your home, place of work or wherever else you spend a large part of your time?
If there is genuinely something about your life that you feel you can’t tolerate any longer – if it is possible to start making small changes to improve your situation – then just start! Even tiny changes will help you feel that you have more control over your situation, and will reduce the feeling of helplessness that often accompanies “feeling stuck”.
If there is genuinely nothing you can do to change your situation, then the only option left to you is to change your attitude towards it. Even the worst job, the worst boss or the worst colleagues will have some aspects or characteristics that you can focus on to help you see some joy and gratitude in your situation. If you are required to be spend a large part of your day doing something you really don’t want to do, you may as well try to extract as much joy and a sense of accomplishment as possible. Be the best dish-washer possible; be the best at what-ever you are required to do. Look for things to be grateful for; look for the joy and enjoy the sense of achievement that a job well done brings.
Did you know that being in a bad mood is actually a choice we make for ourselves? We all have the power to choose to be in a good mood. Choosing to be in a good mood will always provide a much better experience than being in a bad mood. It is not other people who put us in a bad mood – it is entirely of our own making. Someone else cannot make us angry, or sad, or happy – all these emotions we create for ourselves. Emotions are created by our own thoughts, and the story we tell ourselves – and since we also have the power to decide to believe the thoughts, or not; it is also possible to change how we each think. All we need is the courage to do so!
If you want some help to get more enjoyment out of life, then give me a call!