Don’t Worry, Be Happy – The benefits of a positive outlook

By , On , In Abbeyfield Ottawa

The advice to live every day as though it were your last has been with us for a long time, inciting us to live life to its fullest and find happiness everywhere. Yet today we are faced with the challenge of maintaining our health while going about our everyday lives. For some with chronic conditions, this is not a change, but for others this is a significant shift in thinking.

The threat of a pandemic illness facing the world is bringing change at a pace that few of us have ever faced and happiness may seem fleeting, but in truth it is the most important tool we have to use in facing this change.

“To experience happiness, you have to be able to find the will to persist instead of getting depressed when things go awry.”

Each day brings news of suffering on a global level, and for some it may seem trite to say “stay happy” but facing this news with happiness means learning not to adjust the news but adjust how we react to it.  Bad news elicits an emotional state – awakening areas of the brain that have to do with stress and sadness, and while we have little control over the news, with practice we can surely have control over our emotions and how our brain responds to sad and disturbing news.

Studies have shown that those who meditated daily for one month showed more empathy and less stress when presented with photos of people in distressed situations.  In short, meditation helped these people to deal with the emotional stress of the situations they were presented with and focus on the needs of the individuals, rather than reacting with a negative emotion.

As people move towards isolation for health reasons, we are presented with an excellent opportunity to explore the impact of meditation on a personal level. “By becoming conscious of emotions and internal dialogue and the role they’re playing in your actions, you can overcome negative states” and find yourself experiencing happiness in new ways.

Reducing stress can happen in many ways – from meditation, to listening to relaxing music, engaging in a repetitive craft like needlework, crochet or knitting, colouring, essentially taking the time to relax the brain in ways that bring silence to the inner voices and concerns that we contend with every day.

There are many excellent resources available online, and if you visit our webpage you will find links to some of our favourite resources and tools for relaxing (If you are reading this on a computer you can click here for that page).

INSIGHT TIMER (https://insighttimer.com/) offers many free guided meditations through an app on your phone or tablet. If you feel like upgrading to a paid subscription, you will find all sorts of mini-courses that help to flex that essential muscle – your brain.

COLOURING PAGES are often available for free online. Some of our favourites are from Thaneeya McArdle (https://www.thaneeya.com/free-coloring-pages) and Rosemary Grace (https://www.rosemarygraceart.com/product-page/free-colouring-book-download)

Youtube offers many video and audio recordings from meditations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVwXa0z5DYA), and relaxing music (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0hx_T6ztbs) as well as guided tutorials for knitting (https://newstitchaday.com/knitting-101-how-to-knit-the-knit-stitch-for-beginners/), crocheting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULZWjeZ3OE4) and all sorts of delightful crafts to lose yourself in.

You can download free audio books for all ages at Audible (requires an app) at https://stories.audible.com/discovery?fbclid=IwAR2UIjAcCG2b38QNhytU8EQ7gpm3SDtyRoKQRrirkNsPqeWRtDNbNjW50_s

And if you are missing the outdoors, you can check out a project of our Communications Coordinator, Kimberly Thomas, who has helped put together a community web-site and meditation program with Michal Rosenbaum, at https://www.naturewithin.net

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