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No Worries

Tough times mean changing your attitude and actions, and gaining some peace of mind.

No Worries by Salley Shannon
(Womans Day Magazine October 6 09 Issue)

We know Mama was right when she said, “Money can’t make you happy.” But we also know how financial worries can shake us up. As we wait for the economy to turn around, is there anyone who isn’t feeling anxious? If you’ve been laid off and there’s no job in sight, you may feel like life is whirling further out of control with every hoarded dollar you spend.

But that “so-scared-I-can’t-breathe” feeling doesn’t have to take over. You can stop it by deliberately tuning out fear and turning up the volume on other things like love, faith, and community. Focusing on life’s positives can help you feel grounded.

“We tamp down fear by noticing the blessings and opportunities the economy has handed us,” says the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. “Having less money for eating out can result in healthier meals eaten with family, and more time to build and strengthen relationships.” Being aware that are are others who are worse off may spur you to volunteer.

Here’s another thing: A financial challenge such as an impending foreclosure, a layoff, a house worth less than the mortgage, is just a problem to get through. How we deal with that problem may shape us for the good or ill, but the fact that it happened to us says nothing – we’re still the same people we were before.

Even in the depths of the Great Depression when 1 American in 3 was out of work, and there were breadlines everywhere, people still managed to fall in love, play with their children, sing along with the radio, enjoy life. A lesson we can learn from those times is that there are always pockets of joy, and many ways to foster inner peace.

accept that troubles are part of life

With all the focus on celebrity lifestyles during the past decade or so, “it’s almost as if we’ve been told life is supposed to be perfect all the time, and something is wrong with us if it isn’t,” says Victoria Moran, author of Living a Charmed Life. “That’s not true!”

Sometimes you just happen to be the person whose car runs over a nail in the road and you end up with a flat tire. You didn’t do anything to deserve it. Being careful won’t eliminate every last chance of picking up a nail. Neither will being nice and working hard on your driving skills.

In the same way, you aren’t any more unlucky than anyone else if the economic slowdown is creating new difficulties for you. The answer to “Why me?” is “Why not me?” When you keep reminding yourself that life has its ups and downs, you’re better able to “change your default settings,” as Moran puts it. “All of a sudden, ‘Everyone’s healthy, and we’re safe and content, even now,’ becomes as god as ‘Rich are getting richer,” she says.

don’t obsess over the news
Molly Peter, a real estate agent and mother of four in Bethesda, Maryland, never watches the news anymore. “It’s surprising how much more positive I feel every day,” she says. Instead, she listens to music or an audio book while in the car or cooking.

This technique is OK to use as long as you’re not in denial about the upheavals going on, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a University of California, Riverside, a professor of psychology and author of The How of Happiness. Of course you want to stay informed – just don’t let it overwhelm you. “Your life will be happier if you focus on affirming things,” rather than things that depress you, says Dr. Lyubomirsky.

reach out to your friends

cultivate gratitude, now more than ever

decide not to worry

this goes for dwelling too

work at staying upbeat

take part in your faith

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