How do we stay “up” when the economy is down?

Sit quietly and begin to list, in your mind or on paper, what you still have to be grateful for.

by Irene Conlan — 

Times are tough; there is no doubt about it. The jobless rate is going up. We are seeing a record-breaking number of home foreclosures and an accelerating number of both large and small businesses closing their doors. As the economy worsens, the crime rate seems to be rising. The news media tells us repeatedly how bad it is and how much worse it’s going to get.

Some of us have been clinging to the ragged edge, and some of us have fallen over that edge into bankruptcy, joblessness and perhaps home foreclosure. Many are close to despair. And yet others in the midst of it seem to have peace and, yes, even joy. How can that be?

Bernie Siegel, M.D., says, “Diseases (and I will add, financial reversals) can be our spiritual flat tires — disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time, but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.”

Edwin Markham states, “Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.” And Eric Hofer says, “You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.” We find out who we are when trouble strikes.

So what can we do when things are crashing down around us to stay positive and be happy?

• Gratitude and appreciation is the premier place to start. Sit quietly and begin to list, in your mind or on paper, what you still have to be grateful for. If you can’t think of anything at the moment, begin to think of the breath. Have you ever appreciated breath? Breathing happens automatically, thousands of times each day and our lives absolutely depend on it. We give it no thought, and yet it continues. As long as you have breath, you’re alive and can begin to rebuild.

Are you healthy? Be ecstatic about that. Look around outside. Have you ever really appreciated the beauty all around you? Have you appreciated the beauty, functionality and miracle of your own body? Have you appreciated your fine mind? The same mind that created and acquired the things you lost can re-create something even better, can it not? Think of your loving relationships. How much are they worth to you? You take it from here. What do you appreciate? What are you grateful for?

• Learn from the situation. See the good that can come from it; e.g., you got out from under the load of debt you had incurred; you have an opportunity to seek a job that gives you joy; you have begun to realize the true priorities in your life and to know what really matters to you. Your family has begun to pull together and enjoy one another’s company.

• Listen to your own conversations as if you were a spectator. What do you say? Do you hear yourself complaining most of the time? Do you start every conversation with statements of how bad things are? What do you complain about the most? Take note of these things and make the appropriate changes. Begin talking about what is good, what works and what you can do. You’ll be surprised at what a difference this makes.

• Get real. Know that neither you, your spouse nor your children are going to die if they don’t wear Prada or Gucci. Clothing from Wal-Mart or a discount store covers and protects the body — maybe not as elegantly, but certainly as adequately. A Ford gets you there as well as a Lexus, and a clean bed and good meal don’t have to be located in the Taj Mahal to give you a good night’s sleep and adequate nutrition. Begin to separate what you want from what you need.

• Help someone else. There is no way to measure the joy that comes from helping someone else. This does not always mean giving money, but perhaps better gifts — of time, interest, compassion and energy. You will find that when you are helping someone else, your mind no longer dwells on your own troubles and, in that respite, can renew and allow solutions to come forward.

• Live in the moment. Stay out of the past that comes with the “if onlys,” the “shouldas and the couldas.” Plan for, but don’t dwell in the future — it robs you of the energy you need now. Leave the past in the past and find your happiness in the now.

• Take time to find the happiness that lies deep within you. Get to know who you are, what you like and what you want as an individual and as a family. Learn what is important to you and what is not. Determine what you really believe about those important things — not what you were told you were supposed to believe. This is a good time to learn meditation or to deepen the practice you already have.

• Adopt the attitude that you did it once and can do it again — this time even better and with more joy. In many areas of life, you have tryouts or auditions to see if you can be in the choir or get the part in the play. You interview to see if you can get the job. There will be eliminations in sports in order to build a team with the best players who can work with each other to win. Begin to look at the past as a tryout, an audition or an elimination. Now you know what you can do and what you like, and this time you’ll be in the choir, in the play or on the team you call life.

Get excited about what you can create now that you are free of the old encumbrances. Some people revel in their misery, while others look around and see the possibilities — it’s all in your attitude. Happiness is an inside job and truly does not depend on “stuff.”


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist at The PowerZone in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2009.

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