April 30

Thoughts from Mama Pat: Finding Fun

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Hello friends, Mama Pat here!

Today’s big question is: What happened to fun? 

Is fun hard to find? Is the refreshment we expect to get from fun hard to feel? 

"And she had fun, fun, fun 'till her daddy took her T-bird away..." Can you hear the music? Some days I feel like someone took my T-bird away. Or like Captain Jack Sparrow asking, "Where has all the rum gone?" I find myself asking where has all the fun gone?

The Beck theory (in my own words) is that depression prone individuals have a generalized negative view of themselves and life in general. These views layer upon one another and develop into a set of pessimistic beliefs. These negative beliefs cause a person to set negative expectations for themselves, others and situations..(Dr. Aaron Beck MD of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior is the developer of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).  

I once heard it said, “We move in the direction of our dominant thought.”

If our thoughts are predominantly negative, how can we expect to move in a positive direction?

The catch to this is, when we don’t feel sunny inside, how can we have positive thoughts? Round the circle we go with no forward movement.

The answer is: We may not be capable of positive thoughts in the moment, but we are all capable of choosing our behavior, what we might do right now.  It might be something simple in the moment. like get dressed or take a deep breath.

Choosing our behaviors in each present moment helps to move us out of our stuck state. Doing effective behaviors shifts the brain and begins to develop new neuropathways. 

This blog post lists 13 positive behaviors you might explore!

I know from experience, medicating a low-grade depression has limited effectiveness over the long haul due to brain chemistry issues and the pathways our brain creates from the repetition of negative thought patterns.

The purpose of this article is to explore the non-pharmacologic possibilities for mild or low-grade depression.

There are actions we can take proven to be effective in lifting the gray clouds which come and go in mild depression.

WARNING: if you are unable to function due to depression or are having thoughts of hurting yourself or ending your life-seek medical treatment as soon possible. I am NOT talking about that level of depression here.

The truth is, sometimes if life has been hard for as long as you can remember...

or if you are an adult trauma survivor, our first felt need is for safety; life needs to feel predictable and secure. Our life choices reflect our mind’s intent to keep us safe. The quest for the predictable and secure can lead to a limiting belief that life is to be ‘endured-until-I-die’, not savored and enjoyed.

After doing some research, here are some suggestions I tested and found effective. You might test them yourself and see if you feel more optimistic, lighter and brighter! 

Notice how you feel when engaging these activities. Become aware of any that work to enhance your joy or meaning in life. Do the following activities give you a sense of fun? Lift the heaviness? Provide a sense of accomplishment? Or spiritual fulfillment?

If these activities leave you unaffected and the darkness still hovers, then consult a medical professional. If nothing changes, it might be neurochemical and you have new information to tell your doctor.

13 positive behaviors you might explore!

 

  1. Exercise curiosity. Ask yourself questions and help yourself discover new fun things, new things you do well, new sources of happiness. Not everything will work, but you will learn as you go.
  2. Identify your desired intention. Line it up with your values. Move in that direction.
  3. Discover what makes you laugh. Explore movies, activities with friends, books with humor. Do something that makes you laugh.
  4. Choose optimism. The expectation of positive outcomes is a choice. Increased optimism actually enhances your immune function.
  5. Develop skills to be an effective problem solver. This has been proven to reduce anxiety and despair. (See Marsha Linehan’s work if you are curious. She developed the treatment “Dialectical Behavior Therapy” (DBT). 88% of those she treated were symptom free for life after her protocol.)
  6. Invest in yourself spiritually, emotionally and physically. Life is not all about you, but it gets to be about you sometimes! Combine this with concern and caring for others. Balance is key.
  7. Practice an attitude of gratitude. When intentionally noticing something or someone to be grateful for we become aware of what may have gone unnoticed. 
  8. Identify and cultivate your strengths. We can spend a lifetime attempting to strengthen ourselves in the areas of our weaknesses. How effective is that really? Name and label what you do well and do more of it.
  9. Do a value/behavior check. Do your behaviors align with your values and beliefs?
  10. Write a list of 100 positive words. Put it where you can see it and read your list at least once a day. We behave according to the words we speak to ourselves and others. Sometimes we need new words to help us update.
  11. Move. Whatever form it takes, physical movement is key to the brain moving forward and the creation of neurotransmitters that support a sense of well-being. Movement does indeed heal. Discover a form of movement that might work for you.
  12. Accept challenges in your life. Challenges give purpose to moving forward. Challenges are a huge part of happiness.
  13. Ask for help if you need it. You are not in this alone! The most effective help comes from sources that align with your desired life direction. It may take more than one attempt to find effective help. Evaluate as you go forward.

My journey included wrestling alone to overcome mild, yet life impacting depression over several years. I chose to ask for help. After several attempts seeking help that were ineffective for me, I discovered Blair Dunkley of the Blair Dunkley Experience, creator of Mind Models. He coached me and gave me tools to navigate the real stuff of life.

Life happens to everyone. And often times it isn't easy. 

The skills and tools he taught me, allow me to navigate the difficult times. I also continue to do the whole list of things suggested above combined with some specific, targeted nutrition. If you would like to hear more about how I navigate nutrition for myself and my family please read more about my journey and what I offer to individuals here.

 “Mind Models are a collection of extensively tested thought frameworks, skills and behaviors that enable people to intentionally transform their lives. You get to be in control with the power of choice.

Mind Models are like a magnifying glass that let you easily focus on what’s working and what’s not and change almost instantly. They are tools that help you build your future right now. We cannot change the past or the future, but we can change ourselves in the present to alter the trajectory of our lives and influence the outcome. They provide real world results that are seen and observed by yourself and others.” – Blair Dunkley

Blair offers a free weekly coaching webinar! For more info, check out this page. Hop on and say hello. I am almost always there! I can invite you via Facebook as well! 

If fun is hard to find and even harder to feel, know this: fun takes practice. 

What is fun for others, may not be fun for you. Accept yourself and begin by holding yourself capable.

Discover new possibilities and exercise your “fun-muscles.” Watch them grow stronger and notice how you and your life begin to feel.

All the best,

Patty, RN, Epigenetic Educator, Wellness Coach 


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