Making it a Happy New Year!
For many Australians caught up in bushfires or the devastating after-effects, it doesn’t seem appropriate to say Happy New Year. It seems almost impossible to imagine a less happy start to 2020. Even the traditional fireworks lighting up the night sky were controversial when brave firefighters were risking their lives to keep people, properties and livelihoods safe.
It has been a catastrophic start to 2020 for so much of our country. The images have even gained us worldwide media attention about the force of nature and our own vulnerability. We are reminded that life is precious and our environment needs protection.
For those of us watching from the safety of our metropolitan living rooms, it is common to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of such a tragedy and compassion for the survivors. We want to help but feel powerless by the scope of the damage. How can they possibly recover?
Despite the very real challenges, I take a more optimistic view. When I work with trauma clients, I have been so often amazed by their resilience and ability to find some positive in even the most awful situations. They later say, “It has made me who I am today and given me more wisdom and compassion”.
Tragedy propels many people into activism, generosity and social change through volunteering.
When you could have lost everything, including your loved ones, you take a different perspective on what really matters. Former irritations become unimportant in the context of being kind to those around you. Suddenly the holiday stress of crowded shopping centers and worries about social engagements, or special gifts do not seem such a big deal in comparison to major tragedies. We can develop a different point of reference to evaluate our daily problems on our internal Catastrophe Rating Scale.
You could ask, “How big a problem is this disagreement now, and will I even remember it in 5 years “? The rating might go down from a 10/10, and feeling terrible to a 3/10 which is much easier to manage.
The Australian bushfires of 2020 teach me “not to sweat the small stuff”. I have resolved to make sure to acknowledge the everyday blessings of safety, shelter, food and loving connections with others.
If you want to make it a Happy New Year in 2020, you still can do so! Just practice being mindful of simple pleasures. I suggest you make notes on your phone, or in a gratitude journal about the small things, actions or sensations you are grateful for. This simple technique has been shown to increase happiness and confidence. Why not resolve to give it a go this week?