These days access to mental health services can be difficult to access quickly, especially when someone is in crisis.
So the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs, is rolling out the new three-digit dialing code to connect people to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. According to their website, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, “The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.”
Beginning July 16, 2022, anyone can dial 988 from anywhere in the country and receive free and confidential mental health or substance use crisis support.
Anyone who is experiencing a mental health need, including thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. Friends and family members can also dial 988 if they are worried about someone experiencing a crisis.
Access to 988 will be available by phone, text, or chat. Support is available in English or Spanish and other languages with translation support.
As a mental health provider, I am excited to see an easy way for people to access support when needed. In 2021, Lifeline received 3.6 million calls, chats, and texts. That number is expected to at least double within the first full year after the 988 transition.
Please share this information with your friends and family members.
In part one of this article, we explored four of the most common reasons people give up on their goals. In part two, we will explore the remaining barriers to making progress and completing your goals, projects, and plans.
You Don’t Believe That You Can
Believing is half the battle. So often, people reference the biblical story of David and Goliath to prove that you can achieve great things. And while there may be many reasons why David overcame the giant Goliath, the most important one is that he believed that he could.
Build self-confidence by using positive statements, encouraging yourself, and avoiding “should and must.” Most importantly, pay attention to your negative self-talk such as “I can’t,” “I’m a loser,” “I’m so stupid,” etc. Reframe these into more positive and motivating statements: “I’m getting better,” “one step at a time,” and “I’m doing the best I can right now.”
You Spend Too Much Time Planning (And Not Enough Time Doing)
Planning is my kryptonite. I can plan everything over and over, make beautiful calendars, and set reminders. Planning gives me a way to organize ideas and thoughts. And then, not do any of it.
But if you never stop planning, you never get to the doing.
Imagine planning an exciting vacation trip. You gather the information on where to go and what to see. You explore flights and hotels, outings, and excursions. And then, you never request time off from work or book the flight or the hotel. Your plans are great. It looks like it’s going to be a fun time, but you’re not going on a trip. You’ve only made a plan. Choose one small part of your goal and work on it today.
You Want Instant Gratification
You must be patient and work through the steps to reach important goals. You don’t wake up one day and decide to run a marathon. Instead, you plan, train, and practice, and you run a marathon approximately 5 to 6 months later when you are ready. Increasing your ability to practice patience and successfully reach your goals requires work: focus on the present moment, be mindful, accept where you are on your path and that you may feel uncomfortable for a while, and most of all, slow down to enjoy the experience.
You Don’t Enjoy the Process
Sometimes we don’t enjoy working towards our goals, but we want the results. I often share examples of how much I’m not too fond of cleaning bathrooms but love the sparkling clean shine at the end. Unfortunately, there is no way to get the sparkle and shine without the work. Check-in with yourself. Do you want the end goal? How can you make the process less miserable? Can you connect with a friend, listen to music, and engage an accountability partner?
You Are Overdoing or Depriving Yourself
When we start working on a goal, it can be exciting, and we want to accomplish things quickly, so it’s easy to overdo it. But soon, reality sets in. And we are trying to balance the tasks of this new goal with existing work, relationships, and other commitments. Manage feelings of overwhelm by breaking the goal down into smaller pieces and scheduling it in your calendar like you would any other activity.
You Don’t Track Your Practice
Many years ago, a friend working to improve his health and lose weight said that if he didn’t write it down, meaning what he ate, he wasn’t being fully honest with himself.
Tracking your progress helps you maintain accountability with yourself. This can be as simple as a checkmark in your calendar noting that you worked for 10 minutes on your task, took a walk, or made a phone call. Or tracking your progress can look like creating a spreadsheet and tracking progress on tasks. Regardless of the complexity of the method you choose to use to track your progress, tracking the progress gives you helpful information.
Dialectical behavioral therapy clients complete a weekly diary card tracking urges, behaviors, emotions, and skills usage. One of the things that come up over and over again for people is that when they complete their diary card each day, they’re easy to it’s easy to remember the things that happened during that day and make notes about it. However, if they wait until the end of the week, looking back and remembering what they were thinking and feeling on Tuesday becomes just as challenging as trying to make the changes in life.
Additionally, tracking your progress hopes you to notice things like which days you feel more productive. Is there a pattern to your motivation level? Can you use this information to help you in the future by doing more on the days you feel more motivated and scheduling lighter on the days you struggle?
You Don’t Have Enough Social Support
We’ve heard the saying that humans don’t live in vacuums. This is especially true when trying to make changes in our lives. Having a robust social support network is critical for making a long-term change. Who is on your support team? Is it your partner? Your spouse? Your best friend? Figure out who is the person who will support you in achieving your goal. Check-in with them regularly, at least once a week. Let them know how you’re faring on the project. Share any challenges you are experiencing and allow them to help you brainstorm ideas or provide comfort and validation.
You Know Your What but Not Your Why
Months ago, you worked hard and set a goal to accomplish a thing. Whatever your goal, whether it is about being healthier, making more money, stopping smoking, decluttering your house, etc., you know what it was that needed to get done. Did you spend enough time exploring why you want to reach your goal? For example, one of my smaller goals is to declutter my living room. The goal is easy to understand as it will be visually apparent when I have reached that goal. However, the “why” keeps me motivated and working on the changes needed. My “whys” are simple. First, I want to feel calm and peaceful when I work in that room. Secondly, I want to feel like a friend can drop by anytime and sit and have coffee with me without having to move things or do a quick tidy-up before they arrive. Review your goal and identify what is your why. Now you are ready to move forward.
It’s likely that at least one of these barriers to achieving goals stood out for you. If your goal is important, set aside time to reflect on the changes you need to make to continue working towards your goal. And begin moving forward. You still have time to achieve what you want.
We are halfway through the new year. So, it’s time to take stock of how far you have come in working towards your goals.
Are you halfway to reaching your goals and celebrating your success? Or have you slacked off or given up on your goals yet? If so, you are not alone.
Each year millions of people make resolutions and set goals promising themselves that they will do better and be better this year. However, 25% of people who set goals at the beginning of the new year give up after one week, and 36% give up after one month. Furthermore, by June, more than half of people have completely walked away from their goals.
Have you given up on yourself yet? There is still time to recommit to making changes this year if you are willing to begin again.
Year after year, researchers study why we don’t complete our goals. Here are a few of the top contenders:
Your Goals Aren’t Clear
Too often, people set vague goals such as “I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to exercise more, and earn more money.” These are fine aspirations, but they are just the first step in creating goals. When we set vague goals, we limit our ability to take action. Imagine waking up on Monday morning. Your goal is to “exercise more.” You must decide what that means for you today.
Many of us learned SMART goals in school but have not applied this process to our personal goals, so we continue to come up short. Many dismiss this process simply because it’s been around since 1981. This goal-setting format has been around for over 40 years, which lends credibility to the process. If you find that you are struggling to stick to your goals for the year or have nearly given up on them, grab a pen and paper and fine-tune your goals using the SMART format.
You Feel Overwhelmed
People often take on bigger goals than they can honestly manage. For example, losing 25 lbs by the end of the year seems doable. However, when you factor in the additional meal preparation time and increased time at the gym, you have added 5-10 hours per week to your schedule. Losing weight includes many other tasks such as shopping, meal planning, cooking, driving to and from the gym, and then the workout time. Add this to your already full calendar, including work, household chores, time with family and friends, etc.
You Feel Discouraged
Working to reach a goal does not always go as planned. Slow progress toward health and fitness goals can be incredibly discouraging. For example, a person who aims to lower their cholesterol by 5 points at their next doctor visit starts by taking daily walks and adding oatmeal and apples to their diet to lower their LDL cholesterol. Then, they visit the doctor, and their cholesterol has only gone down by 2 points. Disappointing.
Sometimes we need to celebrate the small wins along the way to the bigger goal.
You Are Not Ready to Change
It is easy to get caught up in the “I shoulds” and choose goals that we, or someone who cares for us, believe that we should do. When a person tries to lose weight, quit smoking or drinking, exercise more, etc., when they are not ready, it is a frustrating process, and they often give up quickly.
Watch For Part 2
In part two of 12 Reasons Why You’ve Given Up we will explore more of the barriers that are keeping you from making the changes that you want to see in your life.
Create achieveable goals to make changes in your life.
Sometimes we make things harder than it should be. The SMART system of goal setting was created in 1981 and has significant research to support the effectiveness of the system. And yet, instead of creating smart goals, we continue to try to reinvent the wheel.
If you are looking to make changes in your life, keep it simple and create a plan that will carry you to the finish line!
Your goals should be clear and as precise as possible. For example, “I will exercise more” becomes “I will walk one mile per day for 30 days.” Or, “I will be more mindful” becomes “I will complete one guided meditation daily using my meditation app for 90 days.” The more specific you can be, the less you need to think about what you need to do, and the more you can focus on doing the tasks that support your goal.
Goals that work for you clearly define what you want to achieve: walk one mile, meditate for 5 minutes, and ride your bike to work three times per week. Measurable goals help you to know if you are meeting your targets immediately.
Setting goals that you have little chance of achieving can be discouraging and demoralizing. For example, if you have never run before and want to become a runner, setting your first goal as running a marathon in 3 months is likely impossible and could result in physical injury. Most runners spend 4-5 months training for a marathon. A better first goal may be running three times per week and working up to a 5K. If a marathon is your ultimate goal, you can get there if you make your initial goals attainable.
The outcome of your goals should have personal meaning for you. Your goals should align with your values and long-term goals for your life. Review your goals and ask yourself, “Is this what I want?” Is the outcome of the goal important to you, or is it to meet someone else’s expectations or desires? If the goal is not relevant to you and your life, you are unlikely to follow it through to completion.
Goals need to have an end date. Setting clear timelines allows you to plan your tasks and recognize your achievements. We use goals to stretch ourselves and motivate ourselves, but if the timeline is too short, we may give up. If the timeline is too long, it or gives us too much time to procrastinate.
Start smart and finish strong.
Take the time to plan smart goals, breaking them down into attainable pieces. Work one step at a time and watch the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
There are many different ways to live life; however, most people’s philosophy of life falls into one of two paths: having a mindset of abundance or of scarcity.
Simply put, scarcity is the state of being scarce or in short supply. When people have a scarcity mindset, they view the world as only a finite amount of resources exist and that they will never have enough. Scarcity focuses on fear, limitations, insecurity, and jealousy.
Eldar Schaeffer SHAFAR, Ph.D. of Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Public Affairs, spent years researching the impact of scarcity. He noted that people’s brains change when they feel they lack something. Genuine scarcity, as in the case of poverty, is a significant problem. Schaeffer’s work demonstrates that the scarcity mindset uses up mental and emotional resources. This makes it more difficult to engage in planning and problem-solving. It reduces the brain’s ability to access resources and tends to reinforce self-defeating behaviors.
On the other hand, an abundance mindset is one of prosperity. It is the belief that either what one has is just enough or the belief that there is enough in the world to go around. Looking at the world through the lens of abundance opens you to opportunities and possibilities. Possibilities that you might not have seen if you were focusing your energy on things that you do not have or believe that you cannot have.
Abundance is empowering. Developing a mindset of abundance creates an expansive life and creates space for prosperity, happiness, peace, and love.
So how do you shift from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance?
Express gratitude and acknowledge what you have now.
By focusing on gratitude for what you already have, you create space to see opportunities. Take time to acknowledge the things you’re thankful for: a job that pays the bills, good friends, a family who cares for you, physical health, etc.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
~ Melody Beattie
Focus your attention on your dreams and goals.
This line of thinking is sometimes referred to as the Law of Attraction or, in other circles, “Name it and claim it.” Focusing your attention on the things you want in life will keep you moving toward your dreams and goals.
Where your attention goes, so does your mind.
Have you ever bought a new car? Have you been so excited about your bright shiny new toy and all of its unique features, only to begin driving around town and see car after car after car exactly like yours? And you may wonder how did I not notice that before? It is not possible that 50 other people in your community ran out and bought brand new cars on the same day you did. It is a reminder that what we focus our thoughts on is what we find in the world.
This concept is evident on the negative side as well as the positive. For example, imagine you have started to date a new person. Your belief system is that all relationships are doomed to fail. As you enter into this relationship with this belief system with these thoughts, your brain will begin to search for supporting documentation. And soon enough, you will have developed a list of all the reasons why this relationship cannot work for you.
Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.
~ Wayne Dyer
Focusing your mental energy on your dreams and goals is not about winning the lottery or waving a magic wand and receiving something you have not earned. It is about thinking, feeling, and acting with intent. It is about creating a focus that leads you in the direction that you want to go in. When you direct your thoughts towards your goals, wishes, and desires, your brain begins to search for opportunities and evidence to support you and move you in that direction.
Learn to live with open hands.
The more that you give, the more that you recognize how much you have. If you already regularly donate to a local charity, faith organization, or 12-Step group, then decide to increase your donation by one dollar. If you are not currently contributing to an organization, choose an organization and contribute whatever amount you can, even if it is only a dollar. Do not hold back your contribution until it’s a more significant amount. This fuels scarcity thinking, give your dollar freely. Give freely of your time.
“If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.”
~ Mark Twain
If you are genuinely in a position where you cannot currently get financially, find an opportunity to give up your time. Help your neighbor mow their lawn. Sweep the sidewalk in front of an older person’s home. Pick up trash on the sidewalk during your daily walk and dispose of it properly.
To Sum It Up
Life isn’t always easy. We often experience unforeseen complications, things that catch us off guard. However, we can remind ourselves that we have choices. We can allow ourselves to spiral out of control, engage in wailing and gnashing of teeth over a situation, or we can accept the reality of the current situation. When we express gratitude for the things that we have now, focus our minds on the direction that we want to go, and give generously along the way, we live in abundance.
Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen Hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.
~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Mary Anne Radmacher reminds us to live with intention each day. Participate fully in this life by laughing and loving. Take time today to create art, to experience nature, and to love one another.
5 Best Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder : Don’t Be Sad, Be Happy!
Winter has arrived. It’s dark and cold. It will be dark and cold again tomorrow.
The good news is that we have made it past the winter solstice. The days are getting longer. However, January tends to be a long and challenging month for many, especially those living with seasonal affective disorder.
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that affects 5 to 14 percent of the United States population, depending on the study. Seasonal affective disorder typically occurs in the fall and winter months and is often referred to as SAD or “the winter blues.”
SAD is more common in women than in men and tends to run in families. If you have family members who have experienced seasonal affective disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder, you may be at higher risk of experiencing SAD. The further you live from the equator, the higher your chances of developing seasonal affective disorder due to the decreased sunshine in the winter months.
The good news is that seasonal affective disorder is manageable with a variety of treatment options. If you are experiencing seasonal affective disorder symptoms, talk to your therapist or primary care doctor for more information.
What To Watch For
Symptoms may include:
Changes in your mood including increased sadness and irritability; and may include feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Physical symptoms may include low energy, feeling tired or fatigued even while sleeping more than usual. Social symptoms include withdrawing from others, avoiding social situations, and losing interest in things you may ordinarily enjoy.
While the definitive cause is unknown, several things are known to contribute to seasonal affective disorder. These include changes to our body’s clock due to changes in the amount of sunlight available and, in North America, the shift to daylight savings time can wreak havoc with our circadian rhythms. Less sunlight is thought to be a contributing factor in both diminished Melatonin and Seratonin levels. Seratonin is a hormone that helps to stabilize mood, while Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep.
There are six primary modes of treatment for seasonal affective disorder. Many people choose one or two modalities depending on the severity of their symptoms.
Light therapy, also called phototherapy, helps the body adjust to the decreased daylight in the winter. Special lights with 10,000-lux are generally recommended. Lightboxes are used for 20-30 minutes per day as directed by your physician. The light is approximately ten times stronger than typical indoor lighting. Note that overuse of lightboxes can cause eyestrain, headaches, and difficulty sleeping.
Easy to use and relatively inexpensive, lightboxes can be placed on a desk or table, and you can continue to read, work, or eat while engaging in the treatment. Light therapy must occur at a similar time each day to be most effective. Because it takes time for lightboxes to produce results, it is recommended that those with a history of seasonal affective disorder begin using their lightboxes in the fall when the days become shorter and continue into early spring.
In Scandinavian countries, including Norway and Sweden, clinics have created light rooms to provide treatments to the nearly 15% of the population which experiences SAD.
Brief therapy interventions using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for 6-12 weeks has been shown to be as effective as light therapy. Also known as CBT, this therapy can be in individual or group settings and works to address the thoughts and emotions affected by seasonal affective disorder and interfere with daily functioning.
The cost of therapy varies by region. However, many therapists in clinics and private practice offer sliding scale fees to make treatment more cost-effective. Additionally, with the increase in telehealth use, many clinicians offer counseling sessions via confidential video conferencing, increasing accessibility for those who live rurally or who have challenging work schedules.
The human body synthesizes Vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB)rays through the skin. Vitamin D helps the body regulate calcium in the body and supports the production of Seratonin and Dopamine to regulate mood. Low levels of Vitamin D have been shown to increase SAD symptoms. Research has shown that relatively high doses of Vitamin D taken orally are necessary to improve seasonal affective disorder symptoms. Your doctor can monitor your Vitamin D levels with a simple blood test to measure the amount of Vitamin D in your blood.
If your symptoms are severe, consider discussing the benefits of anti-depressant medications with your doctor. Many well-tested drugs can provide relief from symptoms. You may only need to take medication for a few months to provide support from fall through spring.
One of the best preventative measures for depression related disorders is good self-care.
Nutrition – Eat a balanced diet, limiting sugar and starches to prevent mood swings.
Movement – Get some physical activity each day. Take a walk, do some yoga, or stretching.
Connect – Engage with friends and family – Avoid the urge to withdraw and spend some time with others: Watch a movie, play a game, or go for a hike.
Get Outside – Go for a walk, clean up the garden, or play with the dog. A few minutes of fresh air and sun each day can help to boost mood.
Destress – Reduce stress by engaging in relaxation activities such as yoga or tai chi, listen to music, create art, or meditate.
Create a Plan
While seasonal affective disorder affects millions of people worldwide, it is a manageable condition. Any one of these treatments can help reduce symptoms; however, most people find that a combination of 2-3 of the treatments produces compound benefits. Consider layering self-care, light therapy, and counseling, or a combination of Vitamin D, anti-depressant, and counseling.
Whichever combination you choose, take action now to avoid the “winter blues.”
Here are three gifts to give this season: kindness, compassion, and acceptance.
In the months leading up to Christmas, people start searching for just the perfect gift to give people on their list. Do we buy a new sweater for dad? A video game for our son? New running shoes for our daughter?
The closer it gets to Christmas, the more intense the search for just the right gift becomes. However, in all of our busyness and desire for perfection, we often overlook some of the simplest and yet most important gifts that we could give.
The gifts of kindness, compassion, and acceptance are valued not only by our friends and family members but by everyone in our extended community. Each time we give one of these gifts, it continues beyond the recipient.
Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying, “Be the change you want to see in this world.” So if you want to begin to change even your small corner of the world, let’s explore these gifts and the change that they can make not only in ourselves as givers but also in those around us who receive the gift.
Kindness is defined as being friendly and generous, and considerate. And yet kindness is so much more than just being nice and being polite. Kindness is a form of love.
The ancient Greeks had six different words for love:
Eros – sexual passion Philia – deep friendship Ludus – playful love Pragma – long-standing love. Philautia – the love of self Agape – the love of everyone
When we ponder kindness, it is the ancient Greek, agape, or love of everyone, that is most similar. Agape love is sometimes referred to as divine love. In Christian traditions, it is often connected to God’s unconditional love to people and the devotion of people to God. Agape love is not a love of emotions and feelings but of willingness and choice. Agape is about benevolence and goodwill.
Like kindness, agape love is a motivation for action rather than a warm fuzzy feeling. It is something that we are free to choose to act upon or not act. Agape love, like kindness, is voluntary.
“Kindness his love made visible.”
~ Henk Swanepoel, PhD
So how do we give the gift of kindness?
Take action. Active acts of kindness can be simple things like holding a door open for someone, smiling and saying hello to your neighbors as they pass, or helping someone carry a heavy package. Or acts of kindness can involve a bit more effort. You could bake cookies or muffins and drop them off for your neighbors or send a notecard or postcard to a friend or family member. These days, our mailboxes are only filled with bills and advertising, so getting on a personal note can be very meaningful. You could leave a positive comment on a blog post or social media post or leave a positive recommendation on LinkedIn to encourage friends and colleagues.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Consider your interactions with others. So often, we get in the habit of being dismal. Looking for ways to laugh more and complain less is a subtle kindness to others. If there are things that you are dealing with that are barriers to your ability to be kind to others, take steps to work through the barrier. Spend time in self-reflection, or schedule an appointment with your therapist to process the things that get in the way of you sharing kindness with others.
Compassion is a gift that we give to ourselves and others. It’s defined as sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Commit compassion combines awareness of other people’s feelings and situations and the desire to provide support and comfort. Compassion has been demonstrated to improve social connections, increase happiness, decrease depression, and improve physical health and general well-being.
“If compassion was the motivating factor behind all of our decisions, would our world not be a completely different place?”
~ Sheryl Crow
Often, we are aware of others’ suffering but don’t allow ourselves to sit with others’ suffering because it is too painful. As a society, we have been trained to avoid suffering. Practice becoming aware of your urges to avoid or discount suffering in yourself and others. Compassion is not feeling pity for someone else. It is acknowledging and sitting with their suffering.
“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.”
~ Dalai Lama
Once you become aware of your urges to avoid, begin to increase your stamina by practicing being non-judgmental, listening deeply to others, looking at the world through other’s perspectives, and accepting. When you develop these skills in your life, you can give the gift of compassion.
Acceptance is defined as an act of accepting something or someone or being received as adequate, valid, or suitable. It recognizes the truth in the situation, accepting the facts. Acceptance is one of the greatest gifts that you can give someone. It goes beyond merely tolerating something or someone.
“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert
People often struggle with the concept of acceptance, as they are not clear about what acceptance is and is not.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you must like or approve of something, nor is it giving in. You are acknowledging that this is the way that things are at this point.
Acceptance isn’t a one time deal. Like many things in life, we need to practice acceptance daily. Some days acceptance will be easier than others. Accept anyway.
Just because you accept something doesn’t mean that you don’t work to change something when the time is right. Acceptance isn’t passive; it is active.
“Acceptance can transform, but if you accept to transform, it is not acceptance. It’s like loving. Love seeks no reward but when freely given comes back a hundredfold. He who loses his life finds it. He who accepts, changes.”
~ Marsha Linehan
Give the gift of acceptance by exploring your beliefs and emotions related to what you want to accept. Notice tendencies towards judgments and work to correct them. If your beliefs are a stumbling block for acceptance, seek to understand
Delivering the Gifts
Remember that the gifts of kindness, compassion, and acceptance are not just gifts for the Christmas season. As you move into the new year, consider ways that you can continue to share these gifts with friends, family, neighbors, and even yourself.
“Green garlands hung on the walls, and every tree was a Christmas tree full of toys, and blazing with candles that never went out.” ~Louisa May Alcott, A Christmas Dream, and How It Came to Be True.
Christmas is getting closer and while this holiday might look a little different than those in years past, I am filled with joy by the multitude of Christmas lights that blaze in yards across my community. it seems as though people have gone all out to bring some beauty in this season. What a pleasure to see the glowing trees, blinking snowflakes, light up snowmen, and even a mini RV and vintage truck twinkling in the night.
On this last weekend before Christmas, take time, not to smell the flowers, but to smell the Christmas tree and revel in the festival of lights.
“Rainbows are made of small raindrops. Happy lives are made from acts of kindness.”
~ Amit Ray
The rainbow is a powerful symbol in many cultures. Rainbows symbolize hope, connection, forgiveness, grace, unity, and joy. Some see it as a bridge between this world and the next. Regardless of how you interpret rainbows, they are overwhelmingly positive symbols. Below is a guided meditation exploring the beauty and color of the rainbow.
A Rainbow of Happiness
Find a comfortable position, either sitting or laying down.
Take a deep breath and roll your shoulders forward and backwards to relax any tension.
Close your eyes and take three slow deep breaths, filling your abdomen on the in breath and fully exhaling all the air on the out breath.
Imagine yourself laying in a field. You look up to the sky and see a rainbow stretching from one side of the sky to the other, completely filling your field of vision.
As you observe the rainbow, you begin to focus on the colors one at a time and are filled with happiness and contentment.
Noticing the red in the rainbow, you begin to think about things that are red that you bring you happiness. It may be fresh cherries in the summer, or fall apples, or a beautiful rose.
Continuing to breathe deeply, you begin to transition to orange, visualizing things that are orange that bring you pleasure. It may be oranges or pumpkins, or a Monarch butterfly flitting from flower to flower.
Soon your attention moves to yellow. You begin to think about things that are yellow that fill you with happiness such as sunshine, or a clump of daffodils, or zesty lemons.
Breathing, you begin to consider the next color, green. Your mind is filled with images of grassy meadows and evergreen forests, kiwi fruit and limes. You feel your happiness and contentment increasing with each color.
Your attention is now drawn to blue in the rainbow. Images of the deep blue sea, the sky behind the rainbow, and tiny blue forget me not flowers fill your mind.
Happiness is filling your heart as you transition to the color indigo. You visualize the indigo sky in the late evening, plump blueberries in a bowl, and deep dark eggplants.
Finally, your eyes settle on the last color in the rainbow, violet. And the happiness and contentment continue to grow as you visualize sprigs of lilac, asters, and lupin.
As you breathe deeply, the feelings of happiness and contentment spread throughout your body. As you go through the rest of the day, each time you observe one of the colors in the rainbow, your mind will come back to this feeling of calm contentment and happiness.