Remembering is painful. But even as we think about a tragedy like 9/11, sharing the joy of living is possible -- and more important than ever. BHG.com spoke about remembering, recovering, and rebuilding with Leigh Anne Jasheway of Eugene, Oregon, Masters of Public Health and a consultant on stress management for 16 years. Jasheway is author of Don't Get Mad, Get Funny -- A Light-Hearted Approach to Stress Management (Whole Person/Pfeiffer Hamilton Press, 1996), among many other books. Ms. Jasheway offered ideas about finding joy for moms, dads, kids, and families.
1. Every day, do something that reaffirms the beauty and joy of living. Take time to look around and you'll find plenty of proof that beauty is everywhere. Have your morning cup of coffee in sight of the sunrise, or make it a point to see the sunset. Nature brims with the miracle of life -- get outside and soak it in. Walk through a park listening for birds, watch clouds in a robin's-egg-blue sky, go barefoot in lush grass, skip stones. Stop to smell those roses, and while you're at it, buy some fresh flowers for the house.
2. Do something. A feeling of helplessness in the face of tragedy or human need and suffering contributes to stress. Activity is therapeutic, and volunteerism is one of the best ways to give activity purpose. In helping others, you help yourself. Build a house for the less fortunate with Habitat for Humanity. Or look to Volunteers of America for many other opportunities to help others. Its programs serve some 300 communities across the country, with more than 30,000 volunteers annually doing all kinds of good, from delivering meals to the elderly to reading mail to residents of nursing homes. Or get active on a smaller scale -- there's a lot to be said for just practicing random acts of kindness. Recent research found that a "joy center" of the brain thrills more to unanticipated delights than to what's expected. So surprise someone with a little gift. The payoff for you is experiencing the joy of giving.
3. Turn off the television and radio news. Reliving the horror of 9/11 in documentary form can open old wounds. Choose instead to rent a feel-good movie or watch family videos you haven't seen in a while. Or pull out those scrapbooks and albums. Gather everyone around the stereo for an old-fashioned life-affirming radio show. Even just turning up some favorite old tunes can rejuvenate the spirit. Sing along!
4. Get to know your neighbors. A sense of neighborhood and community increases feelings of security and connectedness. Don't let the month of September become tainted forever, or allow loss and grief to steal your joy. Welcome fall with new neighborhood traditions: Plan a block-party cookout or chili cook-off, organize a pre-holiday cookie exchange, or host a multifamily garage sale. It need not be anything elaborate. Share a batch of cookies with the folks next door or just sit on the front porch talking with the neighbors. Friendships develop in the details of daily living.
Continued on page 2: More Ideas