Thank You For The Adversity!

If we never ever got sick, we would not appreciate good health. If we never had our hearts broken we wouldn’t appreciate being deeply loved. If we never experienced censorship or being locked in our homes we would not recognize how fabulous it is to go where we want, say or think what we want without fear of being locked up, censorship or retribution. This Thanksgiving in the US, I am more grateful than ever for my life, health and my family. For those who are alone for the holidays, the following are my suggestions for making your holiday one of beauty, peace, love and harmony.
Adversity Leads To Great Gratitude and Growth

53.4 million people travel to other states and cities to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving alone. When we don’t have friends close by or family it could mean that we are alone for the holidays. Following are some suggestions on how to have a happy holiday no matter what.

Looking back at all the holidays and family get-togethers you may be feeling that this year you want to avoid it. That’s okay. You may feel you have had enough adversity with your family members to last you a lifetime. No worries! Below I have created alternatives to spending time with family if you so choose. Regardless of how you spend this holiday make it a happy day by doing some of the activities listed below.

How To Have A Happy Holiday

  1. Find gratitude and remember you are alive, be grateful as the alternative isn’t quite as much fun!
  2. Find a friend or neighbor who is also alone this holiday and join together for a community meal.
  3. Cook for a neighbor who has no friends or family close by (or at all).
  4. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, shelter or animal shelter. Volunteering gives us a sense of purpose and positive feelings as being in service to others gives us a sense of purpose and connects us with others. Volunteering helps those we are serving while allowing us to meet and make new friends. In fact there are so many benefits to volunteering that I will list them below.
  5. Choose silence and meditation. Take time to meditate and sit in silence. When we meditate we connect to our High Selves, God, loves ones that have crossed, our Guides and the universe. Sitting still leads to positive feelings and personal empowerment.
  6. Get outside and take a walk in nature. No matter how sad I may feel a walk in nature connects me to the earth, grounding me and leaving me feeling loved, connected and refreshed. Nature allows us an attitude adjustment. We connect with God being outside. Walking near a body of water whether it is a lake, stream, cannal or the ocean lifts us and allows us to feel better. Remember our bodies are comprised of 60 – 63% water for men and 52 – 55% water for women. Being in or near water is soothing. (Some of the video footage is from years ago, you can see how I looked ten years ago here!

The Huge Benefits of Volunteering

  1. Ends loneliness. It is hard to feel lonely when you are actively assisting to feed 200 people, or serving hungry homeless.
  2. Increase Socialization. Volunteering requires us to interact with others whethger it is those we are serving or fellow volunteers.
  3. Develops emotional stability. Interacting with others, and giving to others increases self-esteem and gives us a sense of purpose.
  4. Helps Those Affected By Mental Illness. Volunteering accesses a different part of the brain. Being in service to others helps us feel useful and validated. Giving to others increases positive feelings and can even aleiviate depression.
  5. Promotes Longevity. Long-term volunteers live longer. Volunteers have better overall health. Those that volunteer over 100 hours a year are the healthiest! Just the simple act of doing something for others makes us feel good.
  6. Reduces Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Complaining shrinks the hippocampus, the same part of the brain that shrinks with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Volunteering shifts our mindset causing us to recognize how much we have to be grateful for. It is hard to complain when we recognize all that we have.
  7. Leads to graceful aging. When we feel happier we look younger. Seniors who volunteer feel younger, and are happier. Giving back to our community is a fabulous way to avoid the face-lift or tummy tuck. We feel better and look better also.
  8. Burns stubborn belly fat. Getting out of our chair and off our couch to move around a shelter, foodbank or YMCA supervising children gets us moving. Most of us live rather sedentary lives. Volunteering gives us a purpose to get up and get out!
  9. Improves school and college experience.
  10. Provides better job prospects. Potential opportunities open up more easily to those who volunteer. Volunteering shows spirit, spunk and altruism which is appreciated by many employers.
  11. Develops communities. A soup kitchen or homeless shelter in your community is a great place to connect with like-minded souls. We build stronger communities when we help one another.
  12. Adds fun to our lives.

Adversity and Contrast

If we never have spent a holiday alone, we cannot appreciate what someone else is experiencing by being alone for the holidays. Adversity allows us to view life from a different perspective. Having experienced trauma we have greater compassion and are more self-aware. Without the value of adversity, we become blasé taking what we have for granted.

Adversity in our past allows us to appreciate what we have now. The challenges of the past create a depth of character that is stronger and softer at the same time. We become like Charmin toilet paper both strong and soft. We might tip more generously after waiting on tables and suffering the loss of a tip from a rude or disgruntled customer. Without working in customer service we lack compassion for cashiers and clerks. Whatever the adversity you endured in the past, growth was enabled along with a renewed perspective.

Holidays are a wonderful time to come together in the community and help those that have less than we do to enjoy their holiday more. Giving to others opens our hearts and lifts our spirits.

What am I doing this Thanksgiving? I am gifting a neighbor who has no one a home-cooked Thanksgiving lunch. We will share it together with his Staffordshire Terrier rescue named, Saphire. He is so excited about the prospect of sharing a home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving with someone he has been sending me texts daily! I have to say, I already feel like this Thanksgiving will be one of the best. Giving to others when we have it to give can change the holiday from an obligation to an incredibly beautiful and loving day!

After I clean up the kitchen and pack up his half of the turkey and all the fixings to take home with him I’ll drive an hour south to my daughter-in-law’s parents to enjoy a very noisy household and some pumpkin pie. From my heart to yours, I wish you a very safe and lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

Like Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t Cry Because it’s Over, Smile Because It Happened!”

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