You know when something unexpected happens and you can feel life shift before your eyes? Well, that happened to my family and me recently when a microburst hit our home in New Hampshire. The storm ripped down a large tree limb, tearing the electrical wires out with it. Judging from the small area of damage, it seemed that this concentrated storm originated at our house and then moved on in a small swath of destruction towards a few other homes on our street. The damage to our house was minor overall, but this event really got me thinking about the sort of freak occurrences that can happen in life, and how to prepare for them.
My husband and I were out of town when we got the call about the storm’s damage. I observed my husband’s steady response to the news. David has always had the ability to settle into trauma. He doesn’t react. He is measured in his ability to cope, and does it brilliantly. This has intrigued and informed me throughout our lives together. He has been a great teacher for steady response. For me, the old coping mechanisms of panic and fear always try to come back around.
For those of us with trauma experiences, dealing with danger can be very hard. Difficult things happen, and often we don’t have the strength or reserve to know how to deal with those things gracefully when they appear. This is real. When the wick of life’s candle is but a stub, everything feels threatened. We are thrown into danger in a way that hurts. We would like to do the right thing, but pushed to the end of our energetic limits, we don’t have the ability to react thoughtfully. We really don’t. We say and do things we most often don’t mean, and life becomes this continual, out-of-control assault on our nervous system.
The good news is, we do have the ability to do something about this. It’s called self care. That means treating yourself gently, and taking the steps to nurture your spirit. To calm your mind, stay in the moment and envision those things in your life that make you feel really good. Not the kind of good that has a short shelf life, but the kind of good that lasts. Possibly it’s a great book you’ve been wanting to read, or compiling your favorite family photos, or learning to breathe consciously, or taking a walk with a beloved friend, or committing to going to as many of your child’s sports games as possible. Only you will know what truly makes your heart happy.
Enjoying life now means that you will have the ability to deal with adversity more gently later, when the tough stuff shows up. The brilliance of tapping into these precious treasures is, these rich life experiences fill up your energetic reserves. That supply of positivity gives you the space in your life you need to deal with whatever comes up. Not in a harried, desperate sort of way but in a way that says, “I’ve got this. All is well.” Give yourself, and others, the greatest gift ever, and make yourself really happy in the sweet and gentle times of life. Everyone will benefit.
It’s occurred to me that accessing happiness is not a luxury, but a necessity for living a wholesome, joy-filled life.