With a series of unexpected events, my life seems to have flipped upside down just when I thought things were on track to feeling normal. I swear sometimes when I actually feel like “wow things seem to be going my way” I feel more at unease because something is lurking around the corner. This has led me to this never-ending feeling of being unsettled. In my specific case, this feeling of being unsettled causes me to also feel directionless, wandering, transient, and without purpose.
Keeping Positive Vibes in an Unsettling Time
So what is making me feel so unsettled? As I said before, I was just starting to feel some normalcy back home in Italy. We had finished the therapy we started in LA for my son after he was diagnosed as being ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and had everything lined up to commence with the local professionals we had so painstakingly researched before finally found in Milan. Even though we had planned to start right after he finished his previous therapy, for some reason it took two months for them to start. Typical. My son had somewhat regressed and my husband and I were left with the only obvious solution: come back to LA to enroll him back in therapy. This is where the unsettling feeling started to creep in. Initially, we planned on only spending a month in LA, meaning we would have to rent a place – our house is nowhere close to being rebuilt after the Malibu fires last year. This was coupled with me just coming back to work after maternity leave and being so eager to get back into the thick of things, to now be thousands of miles away from the office.
On a brighter note, my son had a positive progression in only a few weeks. As a parent, the answer was clear, we are staying in LA for an undetermined amount of time because it is the best for our son. But as a wife, mother to another child, and trying to make a career for myself, it went against any logic. We would be away from my husband for a large chunk of time, though his work thankfully allows him to travel to Los Angeles, but the majority of his time needs to be spent at the factory in Milan.
As I lay writing this article, I began to feel sorry for myself – which if anyone really knows me, is totally NOT me. A firm believer in signs, Tamu published her article of finding your light while I was contemplating this article. I knew the answer to curing this unsettling feeling was deep within me. So, when Tamu says we must find our light, I definitely searched for mine.
Trying to find my light, brought me to understand one important thing: I need to take care of myself first before I can take care of anyone else. This is so obvious, but we tend to forget that, especially when you are taking care of a family. But if you are in no shape to ensure your own security and well-being, you are in no shape to truly offer it to your loved ones.
In Pursuit of Happiness
Happiness can be vital for our well-being and our physical and emotional health. For most of us, finding happiness is the ultimate goal. In a recent study, they found that placing too much value on feeling happy was found to reduce people’s ability to enjoy life, which ended up transforming into depressive symptoms.
Typically, I am rather vocal about sharing my son’s developmental disadvantages and diagnosis, but in no way do I let it define him. To me, what is most important is his happiness, but how I see my role in his happiness is that I am simply giving him the tools to reach his full potential. With every smile or laugh, I know I am doing something right and show gratitude for those moments.
If we are expecting our happiness to depend on something in the future, we will be endlessly trying to grasp things that may not be within our reach and continue on this road of never feeling things are good enough. When we let go of focusing on what is lacking in our lives and show gratitude for what we do have, happiness will find its own way into our lives.
We tend to tunnel our thoughts by focusing heavily on just one thing, leaving us with less physical and mental energy to devote to other smaller things. A professor named Eldar Shafir explores that people’s minds are less efficient when they feel they are lacking something – whether it be money, time, calories and even a significant other. He calls it the psychology of scarcity which Shafir says consumes our “mental bandwidth” – brain power that would otherwise go to less pressing concerns, planning ahead, and problem solving. So how do we get around this? Attracting abundance.
Abundance can mean different things to everyone, but I think Tamu put it into perspective:
“Abundance is not a financial concept, abundance is the cosmic wealth that fuels your being. It’s your natural talents, it’s your innate magic. If you stay connected with your inner being, you can tap into it in times of uncertainty and in times when you need to bring dreams to fruition.”
It can mean having a connection or support, creativity or confidence. So instead of focusing on scarcity or what you wish you had more of, turning all that energy towards what is abundant in even our daily lives can help you realize the positive energy that already surrounds you.
This may seem daunting in our very hectic lives, but mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and not be completely consumed or overwhelmed by what is going on around us. The practice teaches us to be in the now. To me it seems by the end of every year, I cannot wait for the new year to come because the next will have to be better to what I went through in the previous one. That is the point though, every year, it is the same old song.
Mindfulness allows us to accept experiences without trying to change it or control the outcome – even more importantly self-acceptance. We may try to be in the present through simple exercises like breathing and meditation to help shut down our racing minds. I may not be able to steer the outcome of my son’s diagnosis, but I can take action in making sure I stay balanced.
Remember Pretty Birds, that if you are feeling unsettled and anxious about events or experiences that may not be going the way you hoped, there is so much to be grateful for and by living in the present we may be open to the abundance that we may have not normally seen by being focused on things we may not be able to control.
Image by Marc Johns
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