There is something symbolic about the advent of Spring, the snow mounds melting after covering the garden beds, the early crocuses reminding us it’s time to refresh the soil and plant new seeds.
I think we all withdraw a bit during the long Chicago winter, when the days are shorter and walks along the lakefront are arctic adventures. There’s a downside to metaphorically sinking into the fleece-lined parka for long periods at a time… protecting ourselves from the cold being analogous to suppressing the emotions that make us feel uncomfortable.
Spring ignites our energy, reawakens the life force that reminds us of the joy of being alive. Maybe it’s because we’re motivated to exchange the muffin top for a tee top, but with the windows open and fresh air replacing the humidifier, lets reaffirm how we want to live our lives and remind ourselves of what it takes to live a less stressful and healthier life.
The good news is we have the power within us to shrug off the inertia of winter and to connect physically, mentally and spiritually with every manifestation of what it means to be alive!
I call the process In-Sourcing*, achieving personal happiness by calling upon the resources available within us, where everything needed to create a life of joy and fulfillment waits to be tapped. The tools are on hand, sorted and easily accessible in the Body, Mind and Spirit.
Start with the health of the body, which has a dramatic impact on one’s ability to enjoy life to the fullest. A few, simple practices can make a substantial difference in how we perform during the day. A cold shower in the morning, for example, can rouse the capillaries and flush out toxins. Drinking 64 ounces of water assures the body is hydrated to maintain normal body temperature, metabolize fat and aid in digestion. The benefits of daily exercise are well known, proven to be an effective anti-depressant. A balanced diet is another essential part of wellness.
As the Buddha says, “As you think, as you are.” The power of positive thinking is a concept that has been documented and proved without dispute. When we focus our mind on thoughts that bolster self-esteem we create ‘mindsets’ that enable us to generate positive energy. Living in the moment, seeing the beauty that is found everywhere when we simply take the time to look, embracing our feelings as they are, having gratitude for what we have, taking inspiration from art and theater and literature, offering forgiveness… this is the pathway to happiness. The way we look at the world determines how the world appears.
Finally, do not doubt the existence of the spirit! It lives within us as a subtle body that illuminates life’s magical moments, the miracles beyond the orderly routines of our daily lives. When we have a strong spiritual foundation in place, we aren’t as easily swayed by the judgments of others or prone to equate material acquisitions with happiness. By taking our ego out of the equation, our inner and external selves merge, and our capacity to appreciate life blossoms.
Observing the cycles of the seasons helps us to look more closely at the cycles in our own lives. Nature reminds us of an undeniable rule of life, all things change. Just as the long winter has passed, so too will the sadness and despair that visit us on occasion. The body, mind and spirit can shift and renew our energy and guide us to wellness.
*Co-authored by Arlene and Howard Englander,”In-Sourcing: Where and How to Find the Happiness You Deserve,” is a practical guide to to experiencing the transformative shift from merely tolerating life to celebrating its wonders. It is available at the Amazon on-line book store.
With love and light,
Arlene Englander, LCSW