4 Ways to Get Your Mind Off Yourself and Replace Worry with Joy
(Tiny Buddha) “The only way to be truly happy is to get your mind off yourself and help somebody else.” ~Joyce Meyer A couple of years ago, I was dealing with two major life changes at the same time. The first change was that my husband and I moved from Maryland to Delaware after our son finished high school. And though the distance wasn’t far (about a three-hour drive from my parents’ house in Washington, D.C.), I had grown up in D.C. and this marked the first time I had ever moved away from that area. The second change was that our son was heading off to college and I would have to learn to navigate life without him being physically with me. I remember a time when he was in first grade and I was so busy dealing with work that I forgot to pack his lunch. When I picked him up from school, he climbed into the backseat and said, “You forgot to send my lunch today.” And while other kids who had paid for lunch got hot dogs, my son told me he didn’t get one. I immediately burst into tears from guilt and the thought of him being hungry all day. He said, “Mom! It’s okay.
There will be other hot dogs!” And he was right. It certainly wasn’t the end of the world, but I sometimes think of that incident because it sums up how much I want to protect him from everything that could go wrong. In the midst of these life changes, my anxiety levels were at an all-time high. Every morning I woke up with a racing heart and an overwhelming sense of losing control. I was getting used to living in a small town, faced with making new friends, and missing our son all at the same time. Then one day, I heard Joyce Meyer say something that helped me put things in perspective and propelled me to take charge of my life in a way that I had never done before. The simple advice: Get your mind off yourself and start focusing on others, and see how that makes you feel. I was willing to try it. And sure enough, it didn’t take long before I began waking up feeling calm and refreshed. The heart palpitations subsided, and I embarked on a path of acceptance—acceptance that change is a natural part of life, that we raise kids to be independent and go off on their own, which meant it was okay that I had moved away from my hometown and it was also okay that my son was leaving for college. I also accepted the fact that I’m not supposed to be in control of everything in the universe anyway.
What a relief! Here are four tips that worked for me. Tip #1: Spend time with children. One of the first things I did was sign up to help kids with reading and other homework at the Boys & Girls Club in our area—one afternoon a week after I finished work. I looked forward to it because it was energizing to see the kids make progress with their reading skills over time. Kids also are masters at living in the present moment. One minute, kids argue and the next minute they share cookies. Adults need more of that forgiving spirit. And the laughter—kids laugh and laugh with wild abandon. Their antics always brought me joy, and I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. I admired their ability to play, let loose, and have fun.