Be Thankful

As an American who lives overseas, sometimes celebrating Thanksgiving can be very tough.  No one has off either Thursday or Friday, or your friends have gone elsewhere for the holiday.  So, like many expats, I celebrate it on another day (this year it’s Saturday).  I’ve invited a bunch of people for a buffet meal – 2 vegetarian adults, 2 vegetarian kids, 6 meat eaters and only 2 of us are American!  I’m so thankful for having people around to celebrate one of my favourite holidays.

Being thankful is important in life.  Finding just little bits of positivity can be so helpful both mentally and physically.  Mentally, it can open you up to other possibilities, will allow you to look more regularly for the positives versus negatives in life and make you feel better about yourself, your life and your future.  Physically, finding the positives in life can keep heart issues at bay much more than looking at just the negatives.

So, do yourself a favour, and look for the beauty in the world around you.  It might just be that the sun is shining today (which it is in London), or a smile on a baby or the sight of an older couple holding hands.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, American or not!

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Where is your home?

Where is your home?  A tough question for those of us who are expats or immigrants, but also for many who have moved around a single country.  It’s definitely something that some of my clients have discussed in our sessions.  Pico Iyer has done a fabulous Ted Talk on this whole idea looking at how one might define ‘home’.

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania in the States and spent most of that time in one house.  That is ‘a’ home for me.  I moved to another state for university and to live for a while after university. Then to another two for work before moving to London, where I’ve been for 10 years.  While I’m both a citizen of the US and UK, I’m not sure that I can call either home at this point.  I don’t fully fit in either place in its entirety.  So, perhaps, I can call the house I own with my husband, home, which I do when I’m talking about ‘going home’.  But if, like Pico Iyer, I lose this home, then is it truly my HOME?  No, I think I carry my home in my heart – it’s the people who I love who make where I am my home.  So, while with my husband, I feel at home.  With my parents, I also feel at home.  Perhaps, I can have more than one home.  And I think that is quite amazing.

I love the quote that Pico Iyer says at the end of his talk, “Movement is a fantastic privilege, and it allows us to do so much that our grandparents could never have dreamed of doing. But movement, ultimately, only has a meaning if you have a home to go back to. And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.”  

Focusing on Your Strengths

I know.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Like many people I hit a period of procrastination and lethargy and I gave in to it following a period of having a chest infection which knocked me out.  I started focusing too much on the weaknesses that I have, the things I was doing wrong and that influenced how I felt day to day.  Even though I’m a CBT therapist, it doesn’t mean that sometimes I fall prey to my own negative thoughts and beliefs.  What it does mean is that eventually I understand what I’ve been doing and I use the tools under my belt to get me back on track.  So, world, here I am again.  Ready to refocus and look at my strengths!  And luckily, an article came up in Psychology Today about why it’s so important to focus on your strengths.  I’ll paraphrase below or you can check it out in full by clicking on this link.

1. It makes you happier – well, of course, when you focus on what you are good at, you are less likely to think about negative things

2. You experience less stress – by focusing on strengths, you will become more resilient and able to deal with any negative thoughts which would impact your stress levels

3. Have more energy – you are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle when you are positively focused (as someone who used to eat their emotions, this makes so much sense!)

4. Feel more satisfied with life – by looking at strengths, you will be a better problem solver and so be more okay with the outcomes

5. Faster development – when you focus on your strengths, you will develop new skills more quickly and easily

6. More creative – the feelings of authenticity that come with strengths focused work also increases creativity

7. More confident – you can look forward and push through mistakes more easily

8. Feel engaged and find meaning in work – when you are doing something that feeds your strengths, then you will also be feeding your inner drive

 

 

Need help to figure out your strengths?  You can check out this free survey to figure out your strengths profile (you do have to register to do so)

I will share that my top five character strengths were: Forgiveness, Love, Kindness, Honesty & Fairness…which I do believe ‘clicks’ with the person that I am.