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Standing on the edge of the abyss

Guest column

DANIEL J. PAUL

Many of us have cared for or are caring for family and friends that have been afflicted with mental illness, depression, alcohol/drug addiction, or other illnesses. Constantly, day after day, we are dedicated to comfort them, hear their cries and see their pain, suffering and confusion. Along with that, we may also administer medications and tend to their personal needs. There could be many reasons, but I suspect that for the majority of us, we do it because of our concern for the welfare of others.

However, this concern and care may carry a hidden toll; that is, for some of us, as time passes, we become so engrossed in the care of others that we lose ourselves. For example, when I have become so consumed with the caring of others, I have felt like the whole world is on my shoulders. With every day that passed, it became more of a burden, to the point where I could not move and felt smothered. At that point, my life was so unbalanced that happiness and serenity were but meaningless words. I was at the edge of the abyss.

However, I found that life can be different. I was able to rediscover happiness and serenity by utilizing the following examples. Be aware that this process will take consistency, time and effort. You will most likely be able to come up with more examples on your own.

Prayer and meditation — I attempt to begin every day with this, coupled with my inspirational readings.

Set your expectations low for happiness — As you successfully progress, begin to slowly increase. Otherwise, if you anticipate too much, you may not attain happiness or serenity and become disenchanted.

Take/make time for yourself — For example, make a list of what you, at a different point in your life, enjoyed doing and experiment.

Go for a drive and explore the road that you have always wanted to try but had never made the attempt.

Enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like going to camp (as a friend of mine would call Heaven), or for a walk by yourself on some nature trails or around the neighborhood. (This article was created on one of my recent walks.)

Movie/meal on the spur of the moment — Why not go by yourself or with others to a meal and movie?

Friends — Re-acquaint yourself with friends and plan on attending events with them.

Discovering lost balance will aid in bringing to light that missing serenity and happiness gone astray in your life. It is what He would want you to do. I wish to thank the two people who inspired me to write this article: Ron Tass and Kevin McDonald.

Daniel J. Paul is a retired school administrator. His articles focus on education, old-fashioned family values, relationships, and other topics. Go to his website at meaningfuldifferences.net.

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