Winning The Mental Health Lottery

Everyone dreams of winning the lottery, right? I know I do! Just imagine all the things you could do in life if you won that 55 million jackpot? If you’re reading this, like me, you are probably thinking about all the things you would want to do. Pay off debts, buy amazing properties and maybe even quit your job and travel the world. The sky is the limit! Of course money can’t truly buy happiness but it certainly can change your life… that is if you buy a ticket. Many people say – “what’s the point? I could buy tickets my whole life and never win”. Well you certainly won’t win if you don’t purchase a ticket at all! It’s funny how the brain works.

This concept faces me every day but it certainly isn’t just lottery tickets making feeling skeptical. From time to time I get down, I feel worried and stressed and sometimes for no reason at all. What makes me feel good about it is that others too go through this, but the thing that makes me feel hopeless is, what do I do to get over this hump? I’ve done the late night stress eating, the sleeping for hours, not connecting with friends and family, feeling dread for the next day not knowing what awaits. Where did it get me do you think? Continuing these detrimental cycles? No where. So what’s next do you think?

Mental health is a tricky thing. Anyone going through it knows how awful it feels to be in limbo land of emotions where there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I felt that way for awhile, but then one day I became fed up and said no more, what can I do to help myself? And from that moment on I did everthing in my power to feel the best I could and figure out the best coping skills that worked for me when I did feel like times were tough again. But the key word was ME. I read books, I saw professionals, I found support, but it was MY determination and perseverance that got me there. I always look for new things that are out there it never ends, and if you’re reading this now you can seize this day right now and do something anything that will help yourself get over this rut. The struggle is still there but it’s comforting to know you are doing everything you can to make yourself better.

If you’re lying in the dark with the blinds closed, open those curtains and let the sun shine in. Start taking advice your doctor and read that book on mindfulness. Call your local gym and set up an appointment with a trainer to have a workout plan. Play tennis, go swimming, stroll the mall, do an activity, talk to your friends and family again. Even if it’s the last thing you want to do, do it. It’s what you need to do.

If you catch yourself thinking “what’s the point of doing anything?  I probably will always feel like this” than you are most likely going to continue feeling that way. We need to push ourselves and find what works for us. Accept what you feel, know it’s not permanent and ask yourself “what do I want to feel right now” and go from there.

We won’t always have the answers as to why we feel the way we do or how to stop it, but we still need to live our lives. Once I found determination and perseverance I won the lottery. It’s time for us all to buy that ticket.

How to handle your past, present and future for a happier you

When I think of the past, present and future, three things (or movies I should say) immediately come to my mind: The Lion king, Groundhog Day and A Christmas Carol. Random yes, but very significant. The Lion King tells the story about a young lion named Simba who has a painful past who learns to accept it. In Groundhog day there is a man who is stuck living the same day on a loop needing to re examine his life and priorities.  Lastly there is a Christmas Story, which shows us how a bitter old miser transforms into a kind, gentle man.  What is the common theme here? They all represent how the past, present and future has an effect in making or breaking a person.

These realities encompass our everyday lives. The past is where we’ve come from and what we’ve done, the present is who we are now and the future is who we want to be. Putting it that way makes it seem simplistic, but overall these three realities can be troublesome to everyone.  Here are tips on how to handle these three realities and how to live a happy successful life.

Your PAST

  1. Let go

The past definitely plays a huge role in our life as it’s our story. It dictates where we came from and what we’ve been through. Although it’s your story, it shouldn’t define who you are now. Having memories and mementos is nice but if you are constantly looking to your past in a negative regretful way you will never be at peace. The past is done, it cannot be changed. This is why it’s important to accept it and move on.

  1. Learn from your mistakes

The wonderful Nelson Mandela said “I never lose, I either win or learn”. This is something we all need to keep in mind when we make mistakes. Things may never go our way and we may make bad decision in our lifetime but we shouldn’t feel guilty or constantly think about the mistakes we’ve made. The important thing is to learn from it and move on.

  1. Have self-compassion

We are all human which means we are not perfect. We make mistakes all of the time, but in addition to learning from our mistakes we must have self-compassion for ourselves.  Everyone is always concerned about treating others well but then they forget about ourselves. We are our own worst enemy at times and forget to cut ourselves some slack.  Yes loving others is important but we need to love ourselves first.

Your PRESENT

  1. Live in the now

People are always reading about how they can be happy in the future, but the truth is you can be happy right now in this moment .  Life is what we make it, so why not live in the present and truly enjoy every moment without worrying about the past and future.  Mindfulness is an important practice everyone should encompass in their everyday lives. I highly recommend reading books by Thich Nhat Hahn as he has great insight on how to be mindful in everyday activities and how to truly live and be happy in the present.

  1. Don’t take anything for granted

Be grateful for what you have. Hyman Schachtel said “Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have” and this is so true. We often take for granted what we have because it becomes part of our daily routine, but it is important to stop and appreciate all of the things you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have. It will truly change your outlook and allow you to be more positive

  1. Applaud yourself for who you are now

We’ve come a long way to be who we are today. Sure we haven’t been perfect but there must be times that we have succeeded and overcome obstacles. Applaud yourself for your success and be happy about who you are. If you’re not happy about who you are, look for ways to change.

Your FUTURE

  1. Write down your hopes and dreams

We all have dreams, and by writing them down allows us to plan for our future with the hope of making our dreams a reality. One way people do this is write a bucket list of all the things they want to do before they’re 100. I highly recommend doing this with another person, it always makes for a good conversation!

  1. Set goals

Goal setting is very important for everyone to do. Without concrete realistic goals to achieve we can put ourselves in a rut. Instead of a New Year’s resolution for the year, have 1-3 goals you want to achieve each month. You can even try to have a long term goal but the key with goals is you need to have a deadline and they need to be realistic. Keeping a journal or your goals and tracking your progress is helpful.

  1. Be organized

 

You can’t accomplish everything all at once, but by being organized and having a plan you can be successful in achieving your goals and dreams. Look to others to help keep you motivated, and look for opportunities as they arise.  If you’re organized you will more likely accomplish your goals and reach your full potential. You don’t want to look back on your life regretting what you did not do, so plan now and organize your life and your priorities. You will be happy you did.

 

We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences but all and all we all want the same things, a happy fulfilled life. Simba, Phil Connors and Ebenezer Scrooge all found a way to accomplish their goals and find success and we can too. It’s all about changing perspective and taking advantage of all opportunities that come our way.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: Going your own pace to find personal success

dont-go-fast

As kids we were exposed to many Aesop fables that all had a moral at the end of the story. One that I’m sure most are familiar with is the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. The two compete in a race and in the end the tortoise wins. The moral of the story was that slow and steady wins the race. This moral has recently grabbed my attention because this is key to anyone who is trying to accomplish their goals.

In my case, I started university in 2008 and ended up taking ten months off due to being ill with mononucleosis. Doing this made me feel frustrated  because I wanted to finish my degree the “normal” way (in four years), like my friends were doing.  Once I recovered from mono I ended up transferring schools and starting a new program, which basically meant starting from scratch. In addition to starting a new program, I enrolled in the co-operative education program which meant prolonging graduation in order to complete 3 work terms. Then on top of that I decided to study abroad in Sweden for six months.

Yes I took six years instead of four to complete my degree, but in the end I gained so much. Transferring schools and switching programs from History to Human Resources was smart as I wanted to study something that was in demand and that I could get a job upon graduation. Completing three work terms allowed me to gain real life work experience in my field and the professional world, which helped me to obtain the position I currently have. Studying abroad opened my world and gave me a new perspective and allowed me to meet new friends. Taking six years didn’t burden me at all, it did the opposite. I gained so much success by going at my pace and not worrying about what others were doing. Everyone is different and everyone has different circumstances. Doing what is right for you, in your own way is all you need to focus on.

I feel everything happens for a reason, and we need to take what life gives us and learn from it and use it to our advantage. I seized every opportunity that came my way and worked hard to be where I am today. The next time you feel down on yourself because you haven’t accomplished your goal don’t fret. Take the time to make a plan and stick with it. Ignore what others are doing and see the bigger picture. Forward is forward. We all live our own lives, and we should do what is best for us. There should be no normal way. Keep going and eventually you will find success.

photo credit http://speakingautism.ca/slow-and-steady-wins-the-race/

BRAVE

My study abroad experience is now becoming (an official) reality! I booked my plane ticket on the weekend and also applied for my work permit!!! I have been planning and applying for this since January of this year and I can’t believe how fast the year has gone. Now that everything is done my nerves are acting up! My family has had to deal with my excitement and nervousness for the past few months (sorry guys) and I know it must be getting tiring. I almost feel like Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice- “Have you any consideration for my poor nerves!!”My family is definitely Mr. Bennet in this scenario as they would reply (as he did) “You mistake me, my dear. I have the utmost respect for your nerves. They’ve been my constant companion these twenty years” (or in my case the past 23 years!).

So with the excitement comes nervousness and fear. Fear of the unknown, and fearing the mono experience that I have been building up the courage to face. Will I be lonely? Can I be independent? Will I be homesick? Will I make friends? Will I overall like this? I have asked all these questions to myself on a day to day basis ever since I applied. But with these questions, I have tried to suppress and doubt I have in myself and take a leap of faith and be BRAVE. I tell myself “I can do anything!” I need to be confident and go to Sweden without any specific expectations and take it a day at a time and thrive in every moment, whether it’s amazing or challenging. I am ready for whatever comes my way!
So whether it be travelling abroad, applying for a job, going to school or simply going to the dentist there are always challenges that you can face in any situation. But it’s better to take a leap of faith and just do it even if you have the slightest bit of doubt in yourself and the outcome. You will gain a new perspective and a sense of self-worth and independence when you step out of your comfort zone. Just get out there, know what you want, say what you want, and tell yourself to be BRAVE! Take it from Sara Bareilles, she knows what she’s talking about!