Monday, July 25, 2011

Triumph Over Tragedy

If you look for the good during trial and pain,
your spirit and outlook will not be the same.
Instead of drowning in sorrows, so grim,
your days will be brighter; you'll find strength from within.  
~ Stacy Coles

Tragedy and trials come in different ways for each of us. Some of us have experienced the loss of a parent, the loss of a child, or the pain of not being able to have children. Some have heard the chilling words that they have an incurable disease. Some have experienced the heartache of watching their home being destroyed by natural disaster. Some have found they are paralyzed after a sporting or car accident. Unfortunately, we will all experience some sort of tragedy in our lives. How we deal with these challenges or tragedies will define who we are, and in some aspects shape the rest of our lives.

When we find ourselves in the face of adversity and trial, it might feel easier to give up or give in than to work through the pain. When it feels like the darkness is never-ending and all hope feels lost, remember that tomorrow is another day. We each possess a lot more strength within us than we give ourselves credit for. Finding this strength might be a challenge, but it's there.

Take things one day at a time. Don't expect things to turn around all at once. Be patient with yourself, with those around you, and with the situation. Time might not change the outcome of your circumstances, but it does heal.

Look for the good. This can be hard, especially when you are in the midst of a tragedy. But, looking for the positive in a bad situation can immediately start the healing process. Those who have lost parents can lean on the life lessons they were taught. Those who have lost children too soon can rely on their precious memories and the time they were blessed with. Those who have lost a home can count their blessings as they comfort their family members who are safe. Those who suffer from a disease can become a beacon of hope as others watch their willpower to fight. Even in the worst of circumstances, try to find one good thing that has emerged from it. This might take some time to do, or some help from those around you ~ but find it. This one ray of sunshine, no matter how dim, can make a world of difference. When you find one piece of hope, you can build on it, find strength in it. Pretty soon, that one ray of hope will brighten your days more and more until you see the sunshine in it's entirety again.

Lose yourself in service. One of the best ways to lift yourself out of a bad place is by serving others. Service is a great way to bless other people's lives and forget your own trials. When helping those in need, you focus on the feelings and necessities of others. And by witnessing how your efforts help lift their spirits, you will, in turn, be lifting your own. Soon, your own trials might seem more manageable and less burdensome.

We all have a choice when trials come our way. We can let the bad take us down and keep us down, or we can pick ourselves up and turn the bad into something good. Regardless of how bad things might seem today, tomorrow is another day. Each tomorrow offers new hope and new possibilities. If we stay focused on the positives, we can draw the strength we need to triumph over our tragedies. After all, it's how we deal with trials, not the trials themselves, that determine our outcome.

Look For The Good
Triumph Over Tragedy

Deal With Trials

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Circle of Friends

If you first look at home for your circle of friends,
that circle of friends will never end.
~ Stacy Coles

Every day we are surrounded by people, whether it be at home, at school, at work, or at extra-curricular activities. It's important to be friendly to everyone and to accept others. It's also important to surround yourself with positive influences.

From the time we enter kindergarten, we are on a journey to find our place and our individuality. The irony is that this identity often comes through those we associate with. We allow our friends to somewhat define who we are, whether we intend to or not. We "try out" different friends to see which ones fit our personalities and interests the best. Some people get lucky and connect with that perfect individual or group who sticks by them through thick and thin. Some aren't as lucky and keep trying out different friends, even through adulthood. And some act as chameleons and blend well with whomever they are with at the time.

Take inventory of the friends in your life. Value the ones you have, but always make room for more. If your circle of friends is a positive one, you will always have a great support system. In good times and in bad, you will never feel alone. If you have a friend or two who constantly bring you down, or are always negative, keep them as friends (you may be the positive influence they need in their lives), but don't let your social identity depend on them. Search for those who will make you want to be better and who will support you in making good choices. Parents, encourage your kids to look for friends who make good choices, but be careful not to pick their friends for them. Remember, you are the parent. By default, the friends you choose for your kids will be the ones they want nothing to do with.

As you acquire your circle of friends, don't overlook your own family. As the old saying goes: friends may come and go, but family is forever. We all know that family can be the hardest people to get along with, at times. But, these relationships are the most important to maintain. Learn to let bygones be bygones; forgive and forget; praise the accomplishments; support through devastation; love unconditionally. Family can make the best friends.

It doesn't matter if you have one friend or 100. Be the kind of friend you want to have. Before you know it, others will be wanting you in their circle of friends (and your family will want to keep you in theirs).

Circle of Friends

Friday, July 8, 2011

Love Who You Are

Do you ever feel like you don't measure up when you see a picture of a model in a magazine or on a billboard? Have you ever envied your best friend because he/she looks great in whatever they wear? Do you get jealous when you witness the amazing talents of someone you know? Well, this is your invitation to stop downplaying yourself and love who you are!

Allowing destructive thoughts in your head is damaging to your self-esteem. Stop saying, "I will never look like that model." Remember that photoshop is ALWAYS used in the media ~ even on the models you think look perfect. Stop saying, "My friend always looks so much better than I do." It's very possible that your friend is having the same thoughts about you. Stop thinking, "Why can't I be that talented?" You have talents that others might envy. Stop the paralyzing thoughts. That is how the world wants us to think.

When we let these destructive thoughts take over, we start thinking something is wrong with us. We begin looking for a cure-all or a self-help gadget that will change our life. We might spend money expecting outrageous results, only to find we've wasted our money. We start to doubt ourselves, our abilities, and our talents. We end up with feelings of anxiety, jealousy, and hatred towards ourselves or others.

So, how do we stop these paralyzing and destructive thoughts? When these feelings start creeping in, stamp them out by thinking of or writing down three things you like about yourself. It might sound silly, but give it a try. You will soon find that you have more to offer, more in your favor, and more talents or qualities than you realize. It's not boasting or bragging. It's learning to love who you are. It's learning to accept who you are. To love another, you must first love yourself.

The next time you look in the mirror, instead of picking out flaws in your figure, focus on features you always get complimented on. Find a way to accentuate the positive. If it's the color of your eyes, wear a shirt that will make your eyes pop. If it's your smile, make sure you floss before you leave the house so others notice. If it's your feet, wear a great pair of sandals that will draw attention to them.

Now that the positive features are accentuated, focus on the things we can all do every day to feel better mentally and physically. Start your morning or end your day with a walk or strengthening exercises. Replace your daily drink of choice with water. Instead of a piece of cake for dessert, try fruit and yogurt. When you're healthy on the inside, you'll feel better all over.

So, now that you have accentuated your positive features and worked on maintaining your mental and physical well-being, there's one more thing: remember that you are great! You don't have to look like someone else, or act like someone else, or emulate someone else's talents to stand out. Every person is different for a reason. What a boring world this would be if we all looked the same or had the same talents. There would be no room for progression. And that's what we are here to do ~ to progress. We learn from each other because of our different talents.

Hold your head high today and love who you are. Know that you don't have to look like a model to look good. Compliment your friend on how wonderful you think he/she is or looks; you might just get a compliment in return. Embrace your own talents as you enjoy someone else's. As you learn to accept who you are, and learn to love who you are, it will be easier to love and learn from those around you.

Love Yourself