Finding Your Center in Times of Turmoil

Like you, I have been appalled at the developing war in the Middle East. It is devastating to watch the news and see so many people killed or in crisis. I feel helpless. (I feel the same way about the war in Ukraine).

What to do?

I think the serenity prayer helps and then focus on things you can do, for example, donate to relief organizations, and/or don’t consume hateful or destructive (false) information.

Serenity Prayer

Change is Constant

I know this is a cliché, but as I age this is becoming more and more apparent. I have come to the conclusion then that in order to age well you need to adapt, be open and flexible to new ways of doing things.

In most cases, change is out of your control, but how you respond is up to you.

Since as human beings we are predisposed to negative thinking (wired into us a survival mechanism from prehistoric times), it is necessary for us to watch our thoughts.

Changing Our Negative Thoughts (cognitive restructuring)

Cognitive restructuring, or changing your negative thoughts, is a useful way to help you accept what is out of your control. For example,

(Retrieved from

I am trying to do this more, as it is helpful to flip negative thoughts into more positive ones. Otherwise, your brain starts going down a path that is not useful for your emotional health.

Letting go of Things You Cannot Change

In September’s blog the topic of learning about yourself as it relates to aging well demonstrated to me that part of learning is understanding myself more and how I react to disturbances in my life.

I think if I get upset at too many things and then hold on to this upset, which in turn affects my health. I am trying to let things go. It does not mean I will not stand up for myself, when needed, but it is important not to hold grudges, as it affects me, more than the other person.

Focus on the Good Things in Your Life

I am appreciating the small things in life and consequently getting enjoyment out of life. As I age, I am trying to focus more on the here and now of everyday events. For example, getting outside on a cool, fall day, with the sun on my face, seeing the brilliant fall colors and smelling the freshness of the air (smoke-free). I always feel better if I am walking or running outside.

I appreciate and enjoy (even more) getting together with friends or family and sharing a few laughs.

I also find, I have an even greater appreciation for being in nature and I try being more aware of my surroundings. One technique I learned on how to still my mind, is to name things I see, hear, feel, smell and taste.

Becoming More Aware of Your Senses

Say you are walking in a park or forest or open field, try to name:

  • 5 things you can see

  • 4 things you can hear

  • 3 things you can feel (touch)

  • 2 things you can smell

  • 1 thing you can taste.

‘A’ and I tried this when we were out at his Mom’s (near Kimberley), this past week. We were walking on her property in the back field.

My mother-in-law’s property

What I could see: cloud-capped mountains, yellow and orange leaves on birch trees, 1 or 2 remaining blue-bell flowers, red-orange bushes, blue sky and a reflecting pond of autumn colors.

What I could hear: a plane in the distance, a gun-shot (hunters?), the rustle of the leaves and a bird calling.

What I could feel (touch): a slight breeze, the sun on my face and my knees from walking down the hill.

What I could smell: the fall leaves on the path and the freshness of the air.

What I could taste: the coffee I had drunk on the 10:30 a.m. coffee break.

This exercise really helps to bring you out of your head reflecting on the past and into the moment. ‘A’ and I had climbed to the top of a hill, where a memorial spot for ‘A’ Dad’s ashes are buried and were feeling sad. By getting back to our senses we were able to shift our feelings to appreciating the nice sunny day.

Try it, it really works!

As always, live well, and take care,

Learning About Yourself Can Help You Adapt to Change

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