by Teresia Smith
When you stop and reflect on your life, you’re possibly thinking about how time has gone by so fast and you have no idea how you got to where you are at. You might begin to feel sad because you’ve drifted so far from the plans you had for your life. Everyday life is much more difficult than you expected it to be, so maybe you got tired and you just settled and decided to accept that this is just how life is. Sometimes if we experience trauma, it paralyzes us and we find ourselves giving up and deciding to just get by and not actually thrive. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Feelings are fickle and you can never expect to be happy every minute of every day. However, you can strive for contentment. Cultivating much more happiness and contentment in your life is a very real possibility. You just have to put in a little work.
We’ve all had those days where we feel stuck at a point in our life but we don’t know what to do about it. We feel overwhelmed and avoid asking ourselves what our purpose may be and how we might reach our goals. Instead, we stay home, turn on a movie or get caught up scrolling social media and let day by day slide by. Viktor Frankl says, “When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” No matter how successful you may be, how much money or fame you may have, many people still experience an unhappiness that stems from a feeling of meaninglessness.
So how do you build more meaningfulness into your life? A good way to start is by reaching out to others in need. You have unique skills and abilities that can benefit someone else, and, in an unexplainable way, helping someone else always benefits us more. Building authentic, non-judgmental relationships is a great stepping stone to bringing more meaning into our lives. “No man or woman is an island. To exist just for yourself is meaningless. You can achieve the most satisfaction when you feel related to some greater purpose in life, something greater than yourself.” ―Denis Waitley. The happiest people are ones who make a positive impact on others.
Each of us has something we can contribute to the world. The hardest part is to figure out what that contribution may be, and honestly, if we never step out and try to do something, we may never figure out what our contribution may be. Here are some small ways to start: Practice gratitude. Think of everything you have to be thankful for daily. When talking with someone, truly listen, without distractions or interruptions. Smile or say hello to that person waiting in line with you or who you may pass by. Teach someone a skill. Look for an elderly person or someone who may be lonely and share a conversation. Make sure your friends and family know how much they mean to you. Reconnect with old friends that you may have lost touch with. Little things that give you a sense of community will become an encouragement in your life.
As a survivor of trauma, it’s easy to pull away and isolate yourself. Instead, try a support group. Spending time together, talking and working on a project, can build a sense of community and belonging. Crisis Services offers support groups for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. All of our services are free and confidential and you will never be put on the spot to share anything. We are here to support you. If you would like to contact our Jackson County office for more information or an appointment, we may be reached at 256.574.5826 or send an email to Teresia@csna.org. We also offer our HELPline at 256.716.1000 where trained crisis counselors may be reached 24/7. You are not alone.