Ask Helen: After rough year, get your mojo back by engaging the world

Dear Helen:

I had a really rough year in 2015. I lost a beloved friend and a beloved pet. I had medical issues that were difficult to diagnose and to cure. I had to cut far back on my social life to accommodate all the immediacies of family and healing. Now I am feeling isolated, somewhat vulnerable, definitely poorer, and very protective of both my body and my soul. I miss being the optimistic and outgoing person I have been most of my life. I am wounded and fragile. Do you have good advice for getting my mojo back?

Seeking Inspiration

Dear Seeking:

That old saying about the Chinese character for “crisis” also representing “opportunity” is highly relevant. You’ve been through the worst of it, one can only hope. Now’s the chance to create a better life, not just recreate the one you had before all the bad (as if you could). Instead of being resistant to the changes, look for ways to become the new and happier you.

Think about hummingbirds in a late summer garden. They’re attracted to the bright colors, the reds and oranges, and they come seeking sweetness. Your mojo is only going to come back when you make an attractive landing zone for it. Instead of cowering in your room hoping the world turns into a friendlier place, go out and engage with it. Seek out the sweetness life offers. Try new things and even new people. You’ll have dead ends and misses. But you’ll also have surprises and delights, and those joys – both hoped for and unanticipated – will start to fuel your spirit again.

Think about your time: What’s fixed and what’s malleable about your schedule. Identify zones that are available to pursue happiness. Then go after it in a variety of ways.
Do for others: Look for volunteer opportunities, from your local food bank to a Habitat for Humanity build. See a bigger world than your small life.

Get involved with a cause: Commit to helping, whether it’s for your favorite candidate or a local or environmental issue.

Learn something new: Take an art class, study a language or explore a new way of cooking. But push your gray cells to work and play.

Get physical: All the gyms have New Year’s specials. Try Sufi dancing, weight machines, Nia, spin or restorative yoga. Look for ways to get back into your body.

metaphysical: Start reading uplifting writers. Meditate regularly. Even 10-15 minutes a day of quiet breathing or life-affirming mantras will impact your soul. So will going to synagogue more often, both the prayers and the music.

Get mental: Join a book group by asking your friends if they know of an opening, or start one based around your own reading preferences. Share opinions and tastes, and get to know other people’s world views.

Make time for old friends: Get deeper with the friends who stood by you in your tough times. Have them over for dinner one-on-one, or start a monthly salon.

Meet new folks: Tell people you’re interested in expanding your social circle. Ask to be invited to parties. Look at the “happenings” section in the Weekly and go to gatherings that are a little bit of a stretch to push you out of your comfort zone.

Cultivate curiosity: Like a child learning to walk, every baby step will help move you down the road to happiness. Don’t isolate or clutch what feels safe so tightly that you cannot embrace the new. Leave room in your life for unexpected joys. Ask for and welcome surprises.

Give gratitude regularly: Times were hard. They’ll be hard again. The best insurance policy is a warm personality and a resilient soul. Believe in and cultivate goodness. Practice tikkun olam. Help the world heal and you will heal, too.

Best Wishes to all readers for a 2016 of Health, Wisdom, Joy, Laughter, Friendship, Love, Goodness, Creativity and Peace.

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