I use to sort of roll my eyes when people posted memes saying to “enjoy the small things” or “appreciate the moment”. They seemed like cliches and not even entirely valuable ones. The thing is though, I do enjoy small moments and although I am always grateful for big happy times too; it’s really being aware of tiny pleasures that make life better. When times are tough, being able to appreciate the first sip of coffee in the morning, can really make a day more bearable. This posted is just a few of my favourite things, the things I can look out or focus on when a day or week or month is tough.
I really enjoy snow, and being outside in it when it’s not too cold. I also really enjoy watching how much these guys love playing it in. (They aren’t my dogs, but I like to borrow them.)
It really does help to surround yourself with things that you love. I decorate for the holidays, especially Valentine’s Day because I enjoy red and pink together. There are books everywhere, and flowers when I can, and framed pictures that remind me of places where I felt at peace. The quilt in the basket was made by my great grandmother from squares of old men’s suits. I had it on my bed for a while, but I really don’t want to ruin it.
Taking photographs always helps too. I haven’t taken an afternoon to just make photos in forever, so I did a few weeks ago.
It made a huge mess but it was definitely worth it.
All of this is just to remind you that happiness isn’t about life being perfect, it’s about getting joy from all the small moments that make up our day to day lives. Pay attention to the details that you so carefully add into your life, and notice how those things make you feel. If you are aware of that feeling, life will get more bearable and eventually become happiness. One step at a time.
People love all the time, inherently, no lessons required, yet the world somehow seems short of it.
- Forgive. Sometimes you just have to accept that people are imperfect and will hurt you, and instead of trying to pay them back, or staying angry… just let it go. Act like it never happened. For me, empathy and forgiveness go hand in hand. If I can feel what they are feeling or understand why they are doing what they are doing, it’s much harder to stay angry. I am not in any sense advocating going back into toxic relationships. But even if you cut these people out of your life, for your own sake, forgive them and then move on from the past.
- Have empathy. When someone does something to you, try to think why you would behave that way. Are you grouchy because you didn’t get enough sleep or things are just going poorly? When someone mistreats you, assume the same. If you give yourself grace, (which you do) give others grace. Never assume they hate you. Always assume they are just having an off day, or are nervous or have social anxiety, or are over-thinking. You do it, they do it too.
- Just be kind anyway. If someone doesn’t talk to you, don’t avoid talking to them. Try to make a conversation. For some reason, we are taught that small talk is the devil, but the reality is, small talk helps make connections, so you can have “real” talk. Some people are just shy or feel like no one is interested in what they have to say.
- Compliment people. Sometimes I think I’m borderline creepy with how much I compliment people, but honestly, I like compliments, and it’s an easy ice breaker so I say, go for it.
- Give people a chance. Our society is full of mixed exceptionalities. Just because a person doesn’t achieve a high IQ score, or has autism, or even a physical disability, doesn’t mean they aren’t the sweetest most interesting people in the world. A friend of mine always asks me to fill in greeting cards for him because he can barely even sign his own name, but he is the funniest guy I’ve ever met and totally deadpan. Sometimes he tells the same jokes over and over, because he knows I thought they were hilarious the first time, but my life wouldn’t be so complete if he wasn’t in it.
- Listen. People have stories and they want to tell them. The biggest thing you can do is just listen.
- Don’t judge. You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t do it. Just because someone does something differently from you doesn’t mean they’re wrong or less than you. The world takes all kinds of people. Someone has to collect garbage, someone has to protect children. Someone has to educate, someone has to sell coffee. Each of us does our job, raises our children, teaches, dresses, eats, in a way unique to us. Love the diversity. Love people.
- Assume good first. No one is perfect. And sometimes people just need you to believe in them in order for them to achieve their potential. When I was teaching, another teacher said to me, “Hold the standard high, children will rise to the standard”. If you don’t believe in someone being their best, they will get their in spite of you, or not at all. That’s no fun.
What other things do you suggest? I’d love to know.
First thing’s first, I definitely don’t love myself, not usually. I created the following list of ideas because I want to remember to do them, either because in the past they have helped or I suspect that they will help.
- Write down your strengths and accomplishments. Even random things. I like that people bring me their broken jewellery to fix, even if it’s just a case that I’m the only one with the tools. It’s something practical I can do.
- Refuse to talk negative about yourself. When I was in teacher’s college, my placement teacher pulled me aside and said, “You have to stop saying, “my example isn’t good, you can do better” because it’s self-deprecating and that doesn’t give a good message. Do you want your children to talk negatively about themselves? Of course not, so don’t do it either.
- Write about what you love doing and doing it. (Obviously).
- Treat yourself to something nice. I only find this helpful when I do it deliberately. If I’m just in the mood to eat junk food and I start doing it everyday, it’s not rewarding. If I consciously choose to eat my favourite food as a reward to myself, it’s so much better and gives you something to which you can look forwards.
- Get “fixed” up. I don’t mean on a date. I mean shave, do your nails, try a new hairstyle, don’t go out in yoga pants. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself.
- Positive self-talk. Stop dreading things. Remind yourself you can do them.
- Keep a sleep routine. I find it nearly impossible to feel good about myself or anything when I’m overly tired.
- Help people. I always feel better about myself and just genuinely happy when I find a way to help someone else.
- Give gifts or notes to someone who is lonely. When you’re wanting to make someone else feel good, it’s much harder to feel bad about yourself. Plus the reward of cheering someone up and showing them they are loved, is one of the best feelings ever. It’s actually scientific.
- Refuse to dwell on your past. Good or bad. It’s over. Let yourself move on.
- Realize life and Art are beautiful for their imperfections.
- Give yourself down time and don’t feel guilty about it.
- Know your convictions and stick to them. This was a big one for me personally. If you know that you don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, or you give your food banks because you want to help the poor and think that’s super important, be happy about that. It’s good to have convictions.
- Listen to your instincts. Everyone will have advice about what is best for you. What does your gut say? If you do, no one else will be responsible for your choices and you won’t hate yourself for letting everyone else decide for you.
- Have a solo dance party.
- Find your best pose and take selfies. Try new outfits, new angles, new make-up. Find a you that you see is beautiful and capture her or him.
- Write reminders to yourself that make you feel strong. For me personally, I like to write “Stay gold” and “Shine like Stars in the Universe” because it reminds me to not let life ruin me. Sometimes things are tough, and people are cruel, but if you stay gold, you love people and life despite it all.
- Find a community and people that love and support you. There will be days when you don’t want to see people, but it’s such a good feeling knowing they are there and care anyway. I’m so blessed to have a tight family, Church community and small town home, I get lots of reinforcement.
- Embrace your quirks. Do you want to be just a faceless member of the crowd, the proverbial sheep? No! So be happy with the things that make you special.
- Hang on to your values and build your life around them. If you want a big house, I mean really truly deep inside you, then work towards that. If you prefer a minimalist lifestyle, then do that. If you want to be a free-spirited hippie, that’s good. If you prefer strict structure and routine, perfect. You are who are, let your life reflect that. If you love people, love people, be kind to them, even if people say “you’re too kind”. Live your values. You’ll love yourself better for it.
I also want you to remember, that God loves you. He fully believes that you are worthy of life. Jesus loves you, so much that He died for you. If they can love you, you should love you. It’s hard to receive love though sometimes, and I think that’s because we can’t always believe that we are worth loving. These are things that I THINK are helpful in learning to love yourself. If you have other suggestions, I would love to hear them. Thanks!
Depression isn’t something that’s easy to understand, unless you’ve been there. It’s sadness, for sure, but it’s long and drawn out, and so much blacker. You cannot feel love. People can say kind things to you, show their support, and it might help a little, but mostly it just gets sucked into the void of feeling alone and unloved. It’s like a wall turns all their love thoughts into negative arrows, and those stick with you and the love is lost. Everything feels like a chore. You know going out somewhere would be beneficial, but when you try to go you feel sick and too tired. In fact, you’re always too tired. Sleep is your friend – you get a reprieve from the darkness – and you really can’t do much else anyway. Sometimes you believe entirely that the world would be better off without you in it, you can see their smiling faces in this imagined future much clearer than you can see that in a future where you exist. You have no hope. Hopelessness was the strongest feeling I ever had. Some days, I could grasp a bit of hope, or try to freeze out all feelings period, but the days I couldn’t stop crying, those were the hopeless days. The worst days. All the advice columns tell you to read inspiring and uplifting things. I would read my Bible and the things that use to give me encouragement just couldn’t penetrate into my soul. Then you feel more discouraged because nothing helps you feel better. There were other moments when I would just phase out, even at work. I could hold on to my own thoughts long enough to do the job. Other times, my thoughts were so scattered I couldn’t grasp any of them long enough to get anything done. I couldn’t make a decision at all. Circumstances made my choices for me. When I finally got clear of the worst of it, I felt like I had lost more than ten years of my life. I’m writing this now, so maybe, you feel less alone; so maybe someone who loves you will understand your behaviour a little better. This blog is dedicated to my journey to re-gain my life. I hope something you see here is helpful in even the smallest way.
A few statistics from the Canadian Mental Health Association:
- Canada’s youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people from adolescence to middle age.
- 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives, (that’s 1 in 5 Canadians!)
- Women typically have a higher rate of depression than men, but men have a higher rate of death by suicide.
- Other useful sites: Mental Health Helpline, Public Health Agency of Canada, Defeat Depression campaign.
If you’re feeling like the sadness is out of control, or you’re contemplating suicide, call 1-866-531-2600 or someone you trust. Don’t do anything until you call.