Sunday, November 6, 2011

Something to Look Forward To

Making plans is very important to good mental health. Years ago, my favorite travel agent shared with me her insights about how having a trip planned---even months down the road--- gave people's moods a big boost. I have found it to be true. Anticipation makes the trip or event even better. What do you have planned? A brand new year, 2012, is right around the corner, and it is a blank slate awaiting your creative ideas.

Couples need planned, sacred time to look forward to being together. Research shows that most couples share only a few quality, uninterrupted minutes with each other each day. Having couples rituals you can look forward to, like a weekly date night, and a mid-week lunch or coffee together, gives you connecting points.

Families need plans for the holidays, plans for vacations together, and plans for family fun nights at home or road trips for the day. All of these things are terrific agenda items for a family meeting. Round up the family (dinnertime works well) and ask for everyone's ideas, suggestions, and help. Cooperation works here; get each person's buy-in and assistance in advance.

As an example, with the holidays coming up soon, have a brief family meeting to decide what you want to do. Set a time to decorate together, wrap gifts, invite cooking help, etc. Holidays are much more fun if you don't try to make it happen all by yourself. Consider dispatching your teens to go help grandparents who may need holiday errands or decorating done as well. The gift of time is the best gift of all.

When I am working with people who have survived loss, it is important to me to not only help them move through the grief, but eventually re-invest in planning for the future again. Making plans for fun again means you are going on with your life, despite a loss. It is a choice to enjoy life again.

Check your bucket list. If you have always wanted to go back to grad school, take up the tango, or travel to the Amalfi coast, perhaps this is the time to begin a little research, and activate a plan to make it happen. If you are feeling bored, it's possible you are being boring, and need to break out of a world that's gotten too small. Ruts are optional. Dreaming, and planning the steps to work towards making dreams happen, are some of life's great experiences. After all, living a full and satisfying life includes the joy of making fun plans!

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