And every day in your life – it’s in your hands!
By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna
There is no doubt we live in challenging times. Long periods which continue with the pandemic and coronavirus, civil unrest, political divisions, war, gas prices surging, water shortages, inflation – certainly, no shortages of concerns and stress. Did people have feelings of unhappiness before these mentioned in our world? The answer is yes, they were. Most people are unhappy with their lives regardless. Mental health struggles were present long before and will continue. Why are there so many struggles to be happy?
The only one that can keep your fuse lit, is you! If you fail to keep it ignited, anxiety, stress, feelings of sadness will grow like an uncontrolled fire.
Human behavior and happiness always fascinated me. When it comes to happiness and emotional health, there are three important criteria for success:
Emotional wellbeing must be periodically kept in check and updated.
Happiness must be consistent with your practice personally and professionally.
It must be reinforced through training. Yes, training your mind!
Review and update
We need to periodically take stock of our personal happiness. Most people worry about their own plans, promotions, and agendas, and don’t look out for the interests of others. They don’t get up in the morning and give their first thought to how someone else is doing, because they’re concerned with their own problems.
If this describes you, it may be time for an update. The starting point for all happiness is shifting the focus away from yourself. I have seen too many people tune into the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) station 24/7 on the personal dial all the time! If all you think about is yourself, you’re going to be a pretty miserable person. If you truly want to be happy in life, you have to care about the needs of those around you.
Make it consistent with your practice
Your attitude about happiness is meaningless if you don’t back it up with action. So, you can tell yourself — and others — that you’re a happy, positive person. But is that consistent with your actions? Of course, we can’t all be “bubbly” extroverts who always see the glass half-full. But we can establish a “policy” of trying to remain positive and of seeing good in others.
Reinforce through training
I’ve always liked this quote from Philippians 2:4: “Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Instead of griping about missed opportunities, promotions, or events, be intentional about stepping outside yourself and into the needs of others, where you’ll find happiness in serving others.
That may seem odd — training to be happy? — but it’s really no different than any other policy. If it sits on a shelf gathering dust, it isn’t doing you any good. If you train on it regularly, however, it becomes an innate part of who you are and how you act and react to situations.
Time for change?
Each mental health condition has its own signs and symptoms. In general, however, professional help might be needed if you experience:
Marked changes in personality, eating or sleeping patterns
An inability to cope with problems or daily activities
Feeling of disconnection or withdrawal from normal activities
Unusual or “magical” thinking
Prolonged sadness, depression or apathy
Thoughts or statements about suicide or harming others
Extreme mood swings
Excessive anger, hostility, or violent behavior
Many people who have mental health disorders consider their signs and symptoms a normal part of life or avoid treatment out of shame or fear. If you’re concerned about your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a licensed qualified therapist.