Category Archives: Attitude

How to be Chronically Unhappy

Just in case you were wondering, there are some surefire ways to guarantee that you will be chronically unhappy.

Depressed Man

7 Surefire Ways to be Chronically Unhappy                          Photo Credit: Phillie Casablanca

Tamara Star shares 7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People  in an article in the Huffington Post. I can confirm from my ministry with hundreds of people that these characteristics are unequivocally true. They’ll make you miserable in no time at all.

So if your goal is to be depressed, despondent, and glum, try these can’t-miss tips:

Believe that life is hard. Of course life is hard, but this is talking about a default belief system that hard is bad. I’ve discussed this here and here.

Refuse to trust others. The reality is that most people are good and trustworthy. But unhappy people assume they are bad and untrustworthy.

Focus on what’s wrong rather than on what’s right. Sure there is a lot wrong in the world, but seriously, there’s a lot more that is right. Unhappy people can find the negative in anything.

Negatively compare yourself to everyone. Yep, everyone. Decide you can never measure up, and sure enough, you won’t.

Strive to control everyone and everything. After all, you are doing such a good job in your own life. That vice-grip control is guaranteed to make you miserable.

Worry and fret about the future. After all it’s the one thing you can’t control. And heaven knows all that might possibly go wrong.

Gossip and complain about everyone you know. And those you don’t know.

Do these things and I can assure you that you’ll be miserable, depressed, despondent, and just plain unhappy.

Of course, if you don’t like it there, consider behaving just the opposite and see what happens…

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Senior Isolation: A Real Problem for the Elderly

Mom has been in skilled rehab for the past few weeks, following several brief hospitalizations. She’s very alone there, and it’s showing.

Old man staring out window

Combating Senior Isolation
Photo Credit: Cristian Ştefănescu

She’s bored, depressed, and not progressing as well as we’d like. The good news is that she assures us she won’t complain about assisted living anymore. At least there she has people there to talk to.

A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Blog has an excellent article on senior isolation. It discusses 20 factors in senior isolation, both causes and impact. It’s a useful read, especially if you are a caregiver. It’s easy to minimize isolation when you’re up and active. It’s entirely different when you’re confined to a wheelchair in rehab, alone, scared, and wondering if you’ll ever be able return to what has become home. Let’s do more to make sure our loved ones don’t suffer this cruel fate.

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Lessons on Living to 104

Wishing Won’t Make it So | Denial in Aging

 

Giving Thanks in All Things

How do you face adversity and frustrations? Do you complain or give thanks? 1 Thes. 5:18 commands – yes, commands – us, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” As a young Christian, this concept really confused me. How could I give thanks for everything?

Praying hands In everything give thanks...

In everything give thanks…
Photo Credit: Irina Patrascu

But note that Paul doesn’t say to give thanks for everything, but rather, in everything. Yes, there is a huge difference. We may not be grateful for the thing that is happening to us, and that often makes sense. There are a lot of awful things happening in our world and our individual lives today. But when those things happen, we have a choice. We can complain and whine that God is being mean to us. Or we can assume that he is our good father, caring for us even better than the best of earthly fathers. And if we can believe that, we can give thanks in those circumstances for this care, even if we don’t like the circumstances.

How do we do that?

  • We can thank him that he is carrying us in the midst of the adversity.
  • We can thank him that it isn’t worse than it is. (Yep, it could always be worse).
  • We can thank him for what we are learning — or are going to learn when we calm down.
  • We can thank him that as others see our thankful reaction, they will be amazed at how good our God is.
  • We can thank him that we are being strengthened for the next trial.
  • We can thank him that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

So take a minute right now and thank God in the middle of your circumstances. Praise him. Trust him. Then you will see much more clearly.

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Lessons on Living to 104

Aida Hedson recently celebrated her 104th birthday. In an interview with Market Watch she reflects on her journey, crediting her longevity to her positive attitude and enjoyment of life. But basically, she just lives without thinking a lot about it.

Aida Hedson at 104

Aida Hedson at 104
Photo Credit: MarketWatch

MarketWatch: Did you ever think you’d make it to 104?

Hedson: The years have passed – and I got here.

MarketWatch: Any plans for your 105th?

Hedson: It will come. If not, I will probably pass away before it! I think I have kept my health good and I look forward to doing what I did up to now.

I love this attitude. I know too many older people, years younger than her, who are just marking time, waiting to die, and wondering why the grim reaper is taking so long. I understand. If you live with pain and your family is gone or far away, it’s hard to find the joie de vivre. But if you don’t find a way to find it, life can be a drag. I love being around older people who just go on living, in spite of it all.

How about you? Are you living life to the fullest?

The Myth of Happiness: A Follow-Up

A few weeks ago I published an article on The Myth of Happiness as an obstacle to healing. It was quite popular, and it seems, timely. I’ve seen a couple of articles this week that have confirmed my point and taken it a step or two further.

Happy dancers

Let’s Just Be Happy!
Photo Credit: sima dimitric

The first, Why God Doesn’t Care if You’re Happy by Joseph Mattera, could have been a take-off on my article. It reinforces the idea that God has much bigger goals than my happiness. The second, The Osteen Predicament: Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel, is one of many articles being published on the statements by Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen, who declared that it’s our happiness that give God his greatest joy. Author Albert Mohler takes both the Osteens and the Prosperity Gospel to task. When we focus on our own personal happiness, we degrade the true Gospel and discount the blood of the martyrs over the two millennia of Christendom.

Despite this, many American Christians simply can’t wrap their heads around the idea that their individual happiness isn’t foremost in God’s heart and mind. If we as a Church hope to have any effectiveness in a post-Christian culture, we need to seriously rethink our personal theology. We need to value conformity to the image of Christ far more than our personal happiness.

Your thoughts?

 

Celebrate Your Birthday Every Month

Birthday cake, Princess from St. Nicholas (1873)

Happy Birthday to Me!
Photo Credit: Internet Archive Book Images-St. Nicholas (1873)

My friend, Dr. Lorraine Haataia, had a wonderful suggestion for those of us who would rather pursue splendor than remain ordinary. In her recent post, Happy birthday tip: Plan something spectacular every month, she suggests using the monthly anniversary of our birth to take some time to align our activities, habits and lifestyle with our passions, dreams and deepest desires. Doing this, she maintains, will lead to greater happiness.

She suggests taking some time each month to set monthly goals or milestones that will move us a little closer to our larger goals. To get us unstuck. To get off the roller coaster. It sounds like New Years’ resolutions, but perhaps in small bites. And with monthly accountability.

Since today is the anniversary of my birth, I’m going to set aside a few minutes to determine where I’d like to be in some key areas by this time next month. I’m going to write it down and decide what baby steps I need to take each day to accomplish that goal. How about you? Will you join me? Feel free to share your goals here if the accountability would be helpful.

And happy birthday to me!

 

 

 

Slow Down for Our Elderly Parents

Rushing in Grand Central Terminal

Slow down, you’re running too fast…
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

I enjoyed this article on the TenderLovingEldercare.com blog about slowing down for our elderly parents.  I notice this especially when I talk to mom. Mom is hard of hearing, especially on the phone. I talk too fast. She doesn’t understand, but she doesn’t say anything. I catch on when she answers the wrong question. Then I have to repeat it all, slower. Sometimes v-e-r-y   s—l—o—w—l–y…

It’s the same when I’m there. I’m usually there for two to four days, with travel days on either end. While I’m there, we schedule several doctors’ appointments. I deal with any of her finances or other paperwork. Meanwhile, I’m trying to stay on top of whatever I can from here. I feel like I’m running the whole time. I often feel frantic as I rush to manage everything, and seldom take time to just sit and visit. Mom and I are both exhausted by the end of the day, so rather than cooking we tend to bring food in.

I forget that Mom is almost 94. That my time with her is limited. We’ve never had a great relationship so it’s easy to fall into the “do my duty” routine rather than trying to get to know someone I’ve never really known and have little hope of knowing. In my hopelessness, I move too fast. Talk too fast. Expect too much.

When my brother comes, he sits and talks with her. Rubs her feet. Cooks her meals. Listens. I really need to take a different attitude. Yep, I do.

 

How Do You Make Decisions?

How do you make decisions? So many choices!

How do you make decisions? So many choices!
Photo Credit: danmoyle

How do you make decisions? I’m taking a class on the Gospels, and we’ve been having a discussion on Luke’s focus on the poor and marginalized. My classmates have been dialoguing on what that means in their lives. One of things I shared is something that has been guiding and even driving my life for a few years. I’ve found it is much harder to sort out the truth of right living when we are trying to evaluate ourselves by ourselves. Especially in America. We make ourselves the starting point and plumbline, and then measure everyone and everything by that standard. Indeed, it requires much prayer and a willingness to stand outside of ourselves in determining our actual true-to-life theology (as opposed to our textbook theology).

I face this in the area of caregiving. The society screams that I should be self-actualizing. Even the church expects me to live to a certain standard, given my many skills and gifts <g>. Strong Christian friends wonder why I “waste” my time as I do, caring for my mom, my husband, a neighbor. When we were considering taking in a great nephew whose guardian was dying, I railed at God, “When do I get a turn!?” His response: “That’s a very arrogant American attitude, isn’t it?? Yep, it was. And is. And is a daily struggle to make biblical choices.

How about you? What guides your decisions?

 

Adjusting Our Priorities | Self Care

 

Couple at Beach

Take Care of Yourself and Your Relationship
Photo Credit: Mike Baird

My husband has Parkinson’s Disease. He was diagnosed in 2010, and sadly, it has progressed faster than either of us expected. Frailties I had not expected to occur for many years are already beginning to creep into our lives. That means that I need to do more than I want to or often can. Adding this to the responsibilities I have for Mom, I often feel that all I do is care for others. And yes, I confess–I often feel sorry for myself. Sometimes even resent what I’ve given up to be available to others.

That’s why I appreciate reminders like Angela Robb gives in her article, A Caregiver’s Journey. I appreciate her optimism and can-do attitude. She focuses on the things we can do for ourselves as well as what we need to do as a couple. I especially like what she says about readjusting your plans to do what you can do when you can do it. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. Thinking that even though we have just a lot of money on much-needed, long-deferred maintenance on our home, we also need to do the traveling we’ve wanted to do while we can still do it. That will require major adjustments in my life and priorities, as well as in our finances. But really, we can’t put it off, can we?

What are you doing to care for yourself? What strategies do you use to serve well? What do you need to stop putting off?

Age: A Matter of Perspective

Old Woman Portrait

Age: A Matter of Perspective
Photo Credit: N. Calzas

My mom recently turned 93. That’s quite a milestone. Until a couple of years ago, she was reasonably healthy. At 91 she was still driving and running errands for the “old people.” Then she broke her hip and ended up in assisted living.

It’s interesting to me how differently we look at things. She looks at her wrinkled and bruised skin and disdains it. I think she looks pretty good for 93. She gets upset that she’s a bit unstable on her feet and tires so easily. I’m amazed at how well she still manages her life and affairs.  She worries about having enough money. I ask what she’s saving it for – her old age?

On the other hand, I guard her far more carefully than she guards herself. I try to help her in ways she doesn’t want or need. When I was in high school and college, I thought she was so old. But as I look back at photos, I’m astounded at how young she looked. In fact, she was quite a looker.

Awhile back, when we were helping Son and DIL with painting their kitchen, Son kept “taking care” of me. He worried about my stamina (and he was right…). At one point I asked him point blank, “Do you think we’re old?” He hesitated, then said (in that tone of voice), “Well, yeah…” I was a little startled, but I understood what he meant. From his perspective, Mom and Dad are old. From my perspective, we’re still 35.

I’m sure Mom feels the same way. She may be 93, but she still thinks she’s 50 and can’t figure out why her body doesn’t cooperate. I can relate…