Dr. Laurie on cultivating inner sunshine when you’re just not feeling it

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”  This quote from Benjamin Franklin came across my desk last week.

It is grey and cold where I live, so I was immediately taken with the appealing image of bright buttery sunshine.

But I suspect Franklin was really speaking about our inner sunshine. My clients, living with pain and unpredictable frustrations are not feeling the sun, so  I have been sharing this quote with them, and asking – “How do you keep in the sunlight”

The answers are as varied as the people who have responded, and I share them with you to jumpstart your own mental stroll down the sunny side of the street.

One of my younger clients uses the tried and true method of music. She pays attention to any music that makes her smile or sway, and stocks her phone and ipod with it. She says that music can lift her spirits even when she’s cranky and her joints are aching.

 Another person hesitated when I asked him. “It’s hard,” he admitted. “Mental sunshine doesn’t just happen. You have to plan for it – prepare and do things even when you don’t feel like it if you want to stay sunny. You have to want to be bright more than you want to feel sorry for yourself.”

Wow. He nailed that.

He went on to say that when he has the will to practice, he gets up out of his chair, or off the bed, and pushes himself to walk around the house, look outside, and if he has enough energy, to go somewhere and imagine other people’s stories.

“It helps me get out of my own head – and usually I feel better – brighter – when I do that.”

Some of the strategies included distraction – a shower, a phone call, a book, a piece of meditative reading.

Others were practices – a friend who comes over and “gets it,” morning prayer, avoiding depressing television and news stories,”….especially internet stuff about the disease..”

What about you? What are your practices for cultivating inner sunshine?

Let me know what works.

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