Moving Beyond Mediocre
Possibilities (Meet Alvin)
When you get rid of excuses, possibilities take their place.
Let me introduce you to Alvin Law. Alvin is a very talented man by anyone’s standards. He has learned how to:
• Play the trombone, piano, and drums.
• Author a fantastic and inspirational book.
• Build a business that inspires tens of thousands of people a year.
• Dress himself—um, pardon?
If the last point doesn’t sound impressive, you just try to button up your shirt, tie a tie, and zip up your pants without any arms. Yes that’s right, without any arms. As a result of the infamous morning-sickness drug Thalidomide, Alvin was born without arms. He doesn’t complain, make excuses, or ask for sympathy. He just figures out ways to deal with his challenges, and he gets the job done. Alvin embodies the military motto of “Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome.”
During his whole life, Alvin had to endure listening to people telling him what he couldn’t do. He was forever being forced to silence the doubters by doing the impossible, time and time again. Most people would have believed all of the people who always said, “You can’t.” Most people would have lived within the limits that were set upon them. But Alvin understood that the only opinion that mattered in regards to his potential was his own opinion. Alvin also understood better than most that “can’t” means “won’t.” It was his refusal to give up and his unrelenting courage to try anything that has made his life full and plentiful in the face of adversity.
If you are the type to make excuses in life, I strongly suggest that you read Alvin’s book, Alvin’s Five Laws to Overcome Anything available at www.alvinlaw.com.
Yes, Alvin can type too. He wrote a great book, and he is a talented international speaker as well.
Big Potatoes, Small Potatoes
As Donald Trump says, “As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big!” People tend to place limits on themselves based on their confidence levels. It’s impossible to achieve more than what you believe you deserve. The more you believe is possible, the more becomes possible. This is why the first part of this book is faith. Faith in your own potential is the foundation upon which all else is built. If you think that you are small potatoes, then you are small potatoes. All you have to do is to realize that your potatoes are as big as you are willing to grow them, and then a whole new world of possibilities will open up.
I fully realize that the above is easier said than done, but you must first be familiar with a concept before you can start to believe it. Once you believe it, you can then start to internalize it and make it a part of who you are. Some people are able to remove the obstacles all at once and explode down a path of achievement. Most other people (myself included) need to find small successes first in order to have the courage to attempt bigger and bigger things. It’s all a matter of comfort level and courage. Dr. Wayne Dyer teaches that to think big, we must first think small. Break the big goal into a bunch of smaller, less intimidating goals. Once the goal is broken down, it seems less daunting to knock off each smaller sub-goal one at a time.
Dharma plays a large role in the size of the goals we choose. If your goal is truly one that suits you, then you will naturally have more courage and energy to work towards that goal. If you are setting a goal that isn’t compatible with your Dharma, then you will have less courage and energy to invest in that goal. The amount of energy you put towards a goal will determine the size of the goal. Writing this book takes an enormous amount of energy and commitment. But sharing wisdom is my Dharma, so it doesn’t seem like work at all. In fact, because writing this book is a Dharma-driven endeavor, I actually receive more energy from writing than I expend.
When you hear yourself placing limitations on how much money you deserve, how happy you can be, or how far you can go in your career, just remember that the only limitations are the ones you have placed in your own path. Any obstacles that you perceive, you will be able to overcome. In the Army, I was taught to “improvise, adapt, and overcome.” If there was an obstacle in my way, I would go over, under, around, or through it using any means I could. If you choose to adopt this simple problem-solving attitude, then you will be able to choose any sized goal you wish. What you don’t know how to do, you will simply figure out or hire someone that can do it for you.
If you decide to build a house yourself and money is not an object, then it can be any size you choose. Many people might choose a small, simple house, since that would seem to be a more attainable goal. A small home seems more simple to build and less daunting. In actual fact, a larger house is equally attainable. You may have more to learn, but that’s okay because you have the ability to learn. It may take more time, but you are only building it once! If you believe that you can build the bigger house, then you will have the courage and the energy to achieve that goal. If you don’t believe you can, then the size of your house will be directly proportionate to your confidence level.
The Golden Oldies
There are hundreds of keys right under your nose
I’ve often heard people dismiss common, popular sayings as “fluff.” This is a huge mistake. Don’t let the fact that a saying is on a bumper sticker or a T-shirt trick you into dismissing it. Little blips of common wisdom aren’t so little. There is valuable wisdom all around us if we would just listen and pay attention. Here are some sayings I had on the tip of my tongue, and I apologize if I have not given the proper credit for any of the following quotes. I’m sure that Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, or Charlie “Tremendous” Jones may be able to take credit for a couple of these.
• Obstacles are the things we see when we lose sight of our goals.
• Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
• You have two ears and only one mouth—use them proportionately.
• Make hay while the sun shines.
• Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (The Golden Rule).
• Do unto others as they would have you do unto them (The Platinum Rule).
• A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.Mar k Meinc ke106
• Luck is a by-product of achieving a goal.
• We make our own luck.
• You can never become “above average” as long as you pursue “average” goals.
• You reap what you sow.
Blah, blah, blah, or important wisdom? There are thousands of sayings like these that have something to offer you. This wisdom is right under your nose, and you can choose to be lifted by it or you can choose to ignore it.
I can think of dozens of sayings that I have heard hundreds of times before the meaning within the saying finally hit me. I have my favorites, but they all have something to share. By being conscious of these sayings and trying to glean some wisdom from them, you will find that life just gets easier. If you focus on having a positive outlook and on growing your life, then these sayings will jump out at you. If you choose to stay negative, then you will only see negative things, and you will miss out on this wisdom.
Of course, there are other common quips that are equally unhealthy. Commonly accepted misinformation is a pet peeve of mine. Here are some examples:
• “Money is the root of all evil”
This is a common misquote that I’ve heard people often use as an excuse for their lack of ambition. It’s not money, but the want of money, or greed, that is quoted in the Bible as being the root of all evil. With money, you can give to charities and lift those around you. Money pays for children’s hospitals, opera, and the fine arts. Money has the potential to bring a lot of good to the world. One of the greatest joys of my financial success is in my ability to give to others. If I were broke, I’d not be able to do anything other than to make ends meet. A large percentage of the profits from this book are going to charitable causes, so if there were not any book sales, there would not be any money, and these causes would not receive any benefits.
• “Well, that would be nice, and I’d do it if I ever won the lottery!”
How many times have you heard this? The fact is, if you want something, you don’t need the lottery to get it. People will make the “lottery statement” so that they don’t have to take responsibility for their refusal to pursue or achieve their goals.
Not only can all of us live a fulfilling life, but it is our God-given right to create the opportunity to do so.
Notice that I said that it is our right to “create the opportunity,” and not to simply have a fulfilling life. We have to take responsibility for taking action when opportunities present themselves; good things don’t happen without a conscious effort on our part. God doesn’t want us to plod through life pretending that we can only achieve our dreams if they are magically given to us by a genie in a bottle or by winning the lottery. We own our lives, and they are what we build them to be.
We can all remember being a kid and thinking that our mom was “nagging” us without just cause. As we got older, we would stumble into an experience that would prove our mom’s advice to be valid and her nags to be wisdom. Isn’t it funny that the older we get, the more Mom seems to make sense? As our perspective changes and as we mature, we are able to understand wisdom that was given to us a decade or more ago. Why didn’t we just “get it” years ago?
How many times have you said, “If only I knew then, what I know now?” Have you ever imagined going back in time to scream sense into your younger self? I know I have. By paying attention to the wisdom around us, and by being skilled at learning from your mistakes, the process of gaining wisdom is greatly accelerated. You don’t need to have the “future you” go back in time to give you valuable information. The guide in the balloon above you can already see what lies ahead and can give you what you need to know so that you don’t keep making the same mistakes.
Leverage is the ability to produce results that are greater than your effort. You can leverage wisdom, technical knowledge, or manpower. Learning from mistakes can be leveraged as well if you choose to learn from the mistakes of others. This way, all of the time and energy that has been expended by others who have made mistakes can benefit you without any more effort than it takes to learn the lessons taught by their mistakes. Trial and error can take years if you do it yourself. You can literally gain hundreds of years of experience in a few short hours of reading. Let others fall on their faces for years on end, but not you! You know better; you know that you don’t have to do things the hard way.
The reason there are so many books on success is that successful people are often generous people who want to share what they have learned for the benefit of others. Accept this generosity by paying attention to their lessons, and you will fit several lifetimes of wisdom into a few days of reading.
The “secret to success and happiness” is anything but a secret. There is a wealth of information available in almost every language, in every country in the world that will guide anyone who is seeking a path to financial and personal success.
Understanding and using the power of leverage will allow you to overcome obstacles that you would have otherwise thought impossible. Anything that you cannot do with your own power can be achieved by amplifying your power with leverage.
What others have done before me, so can I
If others have what I want, I can have it too.
I have no idea where I learned this simple concept, but this important wisdom has always been inside me. Regardless of its origin, it is the one bit of wisdom more than any other that has given me the courage to achieve every single goal I have ever accomplished.
When I joined the Army, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. I did not take heed upon entering; I just had the solid thought in my mind, Tens of thousands have done this before me, so there is no way that I can’t do it! When I got to Basic Training (boot camp), there was one lesson above all others I will never forget:
Sergeant McGee had all of us face down on the floor doing push-ups, when he heard one of the recruits say, “I can’t.” McGee stomped over to this recruit, got down on one knee and blasted these three words into the recruit’s face, and into my mind: “Can’t means won’t, you little maggot!”
“Can’t means won’t”? Wow, that hit me right between the eyes like a ball-peen hammer. It was a deeply profound moment that changed the way I viewed the word “can’t.” It really stuck with me from that moment forward.
I was always able to do as many push-ups as that man demanded from me and that I demanded from myself.
Every time I have faced a new challenge, I have always asked the same three questions.
1. Has this been done before?
2. How can I learn to make it work?
3. Does this goal really suit me? Do I want to achieve this goal?
The statement “What others have done before me, so can I” is a simple and powerful one. If you think about it, it’s applicable to just about any goal you can possibly imagine. If you overcome your fear of success and fear of failure, then you can state these words with confidence and go forth to achieve any reasonable goal you wish.
“Reasonable goal.” Now there is a phrase that you won’t often see in most books about maximizing your personal potential. I’ve read several books that state, “Whatever your mind can conceive, you can achieve!” That statement, although it has its merits, can easily be dismissed by eager skeptics as “fluff.” By my estimation, this statement is only about ninety-eight percent accurate. We do have our limitations. However, our limitations are always far less significant and far fewer than we think they are. Limitations are not a negative thing at all. If you are trying to be the best at something that you have the least talent for, then you’re in for a rough ride. If you have located your talents and strive toward a goal that requires your God-given strengths, then you’re bound to succeed if you just soldier on no matter what.
I’m not saying that you should just roll over and accept your weaknesses as an inevitable burden. Almost any weakness can be trained into a strength. If you are chasing a serious goal, it’s far less difficult if you are walking a path that complements your skill set.
Remember Alvin Law? The whole world tried to put limitations on him, and he had to prove them all wrong time after time. A piano teacher once told him that his toes were too short to ever be able to play the piano. Undaunted, Alvin knew what he wanted, and he learned how to play the piano regardless.
I would like to share with you something special to me. In 2002, I volunteered as an adult literacy tutor. We only taught our students one-on-one, so we were able to learn quite a bit about them. My first student (that I’ll call Jerry) was an amazing man. He graduated high school and had made it through his first year of technical college without knowing how to read! I don’t know how he did it, but he did. Without being literate, Jerry started two very successful businesses, and he had a very healthy net worth. His house was mortgage-free by the time he was thirty-five years old, and his business was doing great—and all without knowing how to read. Who would have guessed that an illiterate man could accomplish so much in life?
I met with Jerry for two hours a week, every Thursday, at a public library. He committed himself to finally learning how to read, and after only nine months, he was reading at a level that was satisfactory to him. He wasn’t reading Shakespeare, but he was reading at a proficient level. When we started, he didn’t even have a firm grasp of the alphabet. And now he understood both spelling and grammar to a level that allowed him to read and write.
I invite you to remember this story and the story of Alvin Law the next time you place limitations on yourself. Learning to read in your forties isn’t a small task. After twelve years of being failed by the school system, it’s difficult to believe you could learn to read in only nine months. Most would call it impossible, but Jerry just made it happen.
Q: “How was the dog able to climb the tree?”
A: “Nobody told him he couldn’t.”
Although most limitations are self-imposed, there are several that are imposed by the common doctrine of society. To best illustrate, I’ll provide a list of some of the things that were commonly believed to be impossible:
1. Breaking the sound barrier. Chuck Yeager did it on October 14, 1947
2. The four minute mile. Was first accomplished by Roger Bannister in 1954
3. Crossing the Atlantic. No, it wasn’t Columbus, he was predated by at least 200 years. The Viking ruins were found in Newfoundland to prove it.
4. Flying. Arguably, the Wright Brothers were the first to fly.
5. Going around the world in eighty days.
6. End to the slave trade.
7. Nuclear power.
8. The light bulb.
10. An affordable lap top computer.
11. Cell phones.
12. Women voting.
13. The world being round.
14. The sun is at the center of our system.
15. Space flight.
16. The automobile.
17. European Union.
18. Climbing Mount Everest. Over 500 summiteers in 2007 alone.
Every one of the above points was believed to be impossible. Each of the above topics had scores of critics laughing at anyone who thought these goals to be possible. Every single one of the above accomplishments happened despite the popular opinion, not because of it.
The next time someone laughs at your goals or dreams, try to realize that the criticism may be evidence that you are onto something good!
I have a great many mentors, but very few of them have a clue that I consider them to be a mentor. I tend to consider both the strengths and weaknesses of each person I know so each person I meet becomes a teacher. As a result of putting forth effort into seeing people’s strengths; they are often clear to me. The reason I look for the good in people is so I can better understand myself and grow from what I draw from others. Everyone has a quality worth admiring, so if you notice yourself admiring a quality in someone, it should beg the question: “If I admire this quality, should I not try to adopt this quality into my own life?”
I’d like to share with you a story of my friend’s father. To me, it’s an amazing story that has taught me that anything is possible if you are willing to do the work to make it happen.
The wealthy mailman
Fred was a mailman for over thirty-five years. As a mailman, he never received a large salary, but what he earned was enough to keep food on the table for his wife and four children. His kids didn’t have the fancier things in life, but none of them ever felt as though they went without. Some people would look at a man who carried a mailbag for so many years and assume that he was a man who lacked ambition in life. They would be wrong!
The critics would be wrong for two main reasons:
1. Fred truly enjoyed his work. Few people are blessed with a job they actually enjoy. Most of us trudge through life hating our occupation, but not Fred.
2. Fred had a life outside work that was full and rich with accomplishments.
Don’t ever let your job define who you are. It is common for someone to say, “I’m only a mailman,” when what they should be thinking and saying is, “I’m a champion who happens to deliver the mail so that I can pay my bills.” Do you see the difference? Our occupation is just something we do to generate an income, nothing more. Don’t let it define who you are or limit your potential. If anything, your potential should define your occupation.
Now let me share with you the wonderful story of Fred, not the mailman, but Fred the dream builder!
When Fred was a young man with a young family, he found that he was restless. His family was provided for, but there was something deep down inside picking at him that he just couldn’t ignore. Although he had a very ordinary income, he imagined what it would be like to provide an extraordinary life for his family. With this restlessness, a dream started to form. He didn’t know exactly what he was seeking; he only knew that he wanted more for his family. Driven by this nagging feeling of wanting more, Fred started to pay attention to potential opportunities.
One way to see opportunities is to do an inventory of assets. Fred started thinking about his work schedule, and he realized that he had the greatest asset of all: lots of free time. Fred’s mail route started early in the morning, and he was finished by 2:30 p.m. every day. He knew that if an opportunity arose, that at least he would have the time to pursue it. All he needed now was the opportunity.
Opportunity will always appear to the person who is ready to jump on it. However, opportunity is content to stay hidden from the person who isn’t ready to seize it.
One afternoon after work, Fred was enjoying a piping hot coffee, softened by a dash of evaporated milk. The sections of his newspaper were pulled apart and neatly restacked on the table. As he was casually flipping through the classifieds, an advertisement in the Real Estate section caught his eye. A Realtor was advertising a twenty-acre parcel just one hour from the city. Something about this ad started the dream wheels turning for Fred, and he knew that he had to take a look. A good buddy of his was a Realtor, so he called up his friend and arranged to see this property. Fred knew he couldn’t afford to purchase this land on his own, so he asked his brother to go in with him. When he got to the land, he started to see the potential it offered. He was so excited about this parcel that his enthusiasm soon won over his brother, and they agreed to buy it together.
Fred the dream builder had taken the first step. He saw an opportunity, and he found a way to pounce on it. Buying the land was just the first step. Unless he wanted to pitch a tent and just have a twenty-acre campground for his family, he had to find a way to build a cabin. As a mailman, Fred had limited financial resources. But what he did have was time.
On Fred’s mail route, he noticed that there were a few houses that were beyond repair and needed to be torn down. It occurred to him that the building material in those homes could be recycled. Then the light bulb lit up! He immediately went to the city with the addresses of these homes, and he found out who the owners were. Fred contacted the owners, and he offered to demolish the homes for free, providing that he was given a long time-line to do so. Also, he was allowed to salvage all of the building materials. The homeowners gladly agreed, and Fred got to work.
Fred and his oldest children would pry off each board carefully, pull the nails, and stack the wood in his trailer. He would then straighten and save all of the nails in coffee tins. Once the trailer was loaded, he would haul the material to his twenty acres and store it. As you can well imagine, this was a lot of work. But for Fred, recycling was a labor of love.
Over time, Fred was able to accumulate enough free recycled material to build not only his cabin, but three other cabins, two huge garages, three out-houses, one root cellar, one gazebo, one baseball diamond, and a fifty-foot bridge. Bonaire Acres is the name of this amazing place, and my wife and I love being invited for an occasional overnight stay. Every time we visit, I am reminded of the power of a dream. With focus, hard work, and determination, almost anything is possible. Fred is certainly one of my most powerful mentors, and he didn’t even know it until I gave him a copy of this book.
Modeling is the next step after mentoring. As Anthony Robbins wrote:
“Modeling is the pathway to excellence. The movers and shakers of the world are often professional modelers—people who have mastered the art of learning everything they can by following other people’s experience, rather than their own.”
This concept is a simple one. Just think of someone who has something that you want. Figure out what that person did to get that thing, and then do the same thing he did to get it! Do you remember the title of Key # 38? What others have done before me, so can I.
• Mentoring is the act of acknowledging and respecting the positive traits of others.
• Modeling is the act of doing what your mentors are doing to achieve a desired result.
Modeling provides a huge amount of leverage. As Tony Robbins says, use other people’s experience rather than your own. Both the positive and negative results produced by others have valuable lessons to teach.
Modeling Got Me through College
I was terrified of college. I had been out of high school for six years, and I didn’t have a successful academic track record at all. I coasted through high school just doing the bare minimum required to graduate. At the time, I wasn’t interested in school, so I didn’t bother putting any effort into it. By the time I enrolled in college at the age of twenty-six, my attitude toward school had improved greatly. I was more mature and very curious about the world around me. Also, college wasn’t free, so I knew I had to do well, but I had no idea of how to achieve in college.
When class started, it didn’t take long to realize who the class clowns and class achievers were. All I simply did was start hanging around with the top students and whatever they did, I did. If that group was studying, I was studying with them while the class clowns were goofing off. I had been the class clown in high school, so I knew from experience that those actions would produce poor results. Poor results were simply not acceptable to me in college. As it turned out, I graduated, and with great marks as well.
Modeling is a powerful and transferable tool that can be utilized for any goal. With just this single key, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
Why not you?
If other people have the things you want, then why not you? If you know of someone who is driving your dream car, why are you just dreaming about that car? Do you believe that the person driving your dream car is just “lucky”? Do you believe that only doctors, lawyers, and lottery winners can drive nice cars? The fact is that anyone who has the desire to achieve their financial goals can drive their dream car. Nobody is going to give it to you for free. However, by the same token, nobody can stop you from achieving it either. The only person who can stop you from achieving your goals is YOU. When a critic asks you, “What makes you think that you can?” simply answer, “What makes you think I can’t?!” With the tools, or keys, that you have already acquired to this point, it should be clear to you that there is no reason at all why you can’t have the life and things you desire.
Greatness can come from any background. It’s not where you are that matters, but where you are going.
Let me share with you the story of my first year in my current business. In my first year I only grossed about $25,000. After expenses, I probably only kept about half of that before taxes. I wasn’t exactly making my fortune yet, but I wasn’t concerned. I knew where I was going and what waited for me down the road. Image is an important factor in my current business. I deal with clients who put a lot of trust and faith in my abilities. The way I dress and the car I drive are interpreted as reflections of my competence level.
Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t afford a decent car in my first year. Actually, this is an understatement—the car I was driving was fifteen years old with 355,000 kms (220,587 miles) on it. The paint was peeling off the hood, and the motor barely ran. It sounded a bit like the Disney car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I actually used to park it down the road from clients’ homes so they couldn’t see what I was driving. I’m certain that car lost me several clients based on the image it presented. My wife felt awful for me, but I never complained. I was just grateful that I had a car at all. I was actually happy that my first car was a junker because I knew that when I was successful that old car would make for a good story.
In my second year, I bought a much better car. But in my third year, I bought the dream car, a gorgeous Jaguar S-type. If I had been able to buy the Jag the first year, I just wouldn’t have appreciated it as much. I prefer the feeling of accomplishment derived from traveling a difficult road over that of an easy road. This is why I’m not intimidated by the size of a goal. I’m simply prepared to do the work that is required regardless of how difficult it is.
If you are in a poor financial situation then you are likely surrounded by people that are in the same situation. If you realize that you are capable of changing your position in life, then you will be able to take the action required to do so. Don’t let your history or your current position in life discourage you from pursuing your goals and dreams. The deeper you feel that you are in a hole, the further it is to climb out of it—but you can still climb out of it! No hole is too deep, no mountain is too high. Just take the first step and repeat that step as many times as necessary. If you do the work, your position will improve, but if you don’t, it won’t. What others have done before you, so can you!
You are a product of your environment
You have likely heard a variation of the statement, “If you want to fly with the eagles, then don’t hang around with the turkeys.” I remember years ago, my uncle Bruce commented on a troubled youth: “Until that kid stops hanging around with bums, he’s doomed to end up as a bum.” That kid never did change the crowd he hung around with, and whataya know—he was doomed to a life filled with drugs and jail time.
Anyone who has worked with criminals will tell you that the only criminals that don’t repeat offend are the ones that have changed their peer group. If they get out of jail and jump right back into the same group of friends, then it is just a matter of time before they re-offend, get caught, and go back to jail. This works both ways; the people you surround yourself with will either lift you or sink you.
Making and maintaining a friendship requires effort. So once you have accepted the fact that your friends influence your success, you must then make the hard choice of which relationships to foster and which relationships you should let falter. All that you have to do is to stop putting effort into people who are dragging you down and redirect that effort into people who will lift you up.
I realize that this notion will stir emotion. We care about our friends, and nobody likes being told with whom they should hang around. However, carefully choosing your peer group is a necessary move on your path to growth. You have to be around people that encourage you to be happy—not people who tell you all of the reasons you can’t be happy. You need support from those who tell you that you CAN, not poison from “friends” who tell you that you can’t. The choice is that of inhabiting either a positive (constructive) or negative (destructive) environment.
Meet “like minded” people. Choose your peer group carefully. Choose people who either have what they want or people who are determined to get it for themselves. Networking is a topic that has several books dedicated to it. One major guru of networking is Dr. Ivan Misner. Dr. Misner is the founder of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. He has authored and co-authored several books on the topic that are worthwhile reads. If you don’t know the people you would like to, there are books out there that can teach you how to meet them. Dale Carnegie’s famous How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of these books.
Most people have mediocre goals, and consequently they get mediocre results. If you want to be like most people then keep hanging around with most people.
You can choose to run with the ordinary majority, or you can run with the extraordinary few who actually get what they want out of life. The path less traveled is the only path for successful people. If you don’t march to the beat of your own drum, you will be a slave to some other drummer.
Holiday Mental Health – It’s Okay if it’s not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The stores are stocking up on red and green everything, the shelves are lined with ornaments and dancing reindeer and you can’t ignore it even if you want to – the holiday season is nearly here.
For many, Christmas means celebrations, decorations, rum and eggnog and time with family. From sledding and snow days to hanging the lights and putting up the tree, there are lots of things to love about the holiday season.
However, for others, there are lots of reasons why it might not be the most wonderful time of the year, and that’s okay too.
While the claim that suicide rates spike during the holiday season has been repeatedly misused and ultimately disproven as the “holiday suicide myth” (1), the holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. In the midst of the celebratory season, feelings of anxiety, isolation, depression and grief can be overwhelming, particularly when combined with additional stressors such as strained personal relationships and financial uncertainty. Not everyone is looking forward to Christmas, and in the midst of the 2020 global COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many people without employment and unable to travel, the emotional toll of this holiday season promises to be increasingly complex.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Alberta Division released a statement regarding coping with the holidays during these unusual and uncertain times.
“The pandemic has disrupted many yearly holiday traditions and has increased collective anxieties and social isolation. As we look for alternative ways to spread joy and take part in new ways of celebrating the holidays, Albertans must focus on their mental health during an already busy and often overwhelming season.”
According to the CMHA, these are some simple but useful ways to maintain your mental health during the holidays.
Focus on what you can control. Like the food you eat, the time you have a shower or the media you consume.
Anxiety is normal. During times of crisis it is normal to feel increased anxiety. Acknowledge those feelings are valid.
Limit your consumption of media. Allow yourself time to focus on activities you enjoy instead. Reading, listening to music or meditating are all great ways to de-stress when you are unable to attend regular holiday festivities.
Remain connected to your body. Exercising regularly, getting outside, eating well and resting will support positive mental health.
Be open with your support system. Identify supportive people you can connect with if you begin to feel overwhelmed or lonely.
Reach out for help. If you or a loved one needs help, call 211 (Alberta only) or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
As the holidays arrive amid the fog of the ongoing global pandemic, remember – it’s okay to feel confused, frightened, and uncertain of the future. You are not alone, and there are always resources available to help you and your loved ones through these complicated times. Be gentle with yourself and others, ask for help if you need it, and above all, be kind.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
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