Archive of ‘Whole Hearted’ category

The Practice of Gratitude

With December marking the end of the year, it is natural to reflect on what kind of a year you’ve had. I encourage having reflections that include gratitude’s and appreciations; it is imperative reflect on the positive things that have occurred over the past year. Having that perspective on how you have seen growth and change, or maintenance and consistency, in a positive light can reduce stress and anxiety and make it easier to reflect with a positive outlook in the future.

I’ve heard the different perspectives of positive and negative described as a cloudy lens and a sunshine lens. I love the simplicity that provides as a visual because looking at your past year in a cloudy lens could lead to feeling sad, conflicted, and unmotivated. This cloudy lens has the ability to reach in all areas of life and makes it hard to find those sunshine moments. Looking through a sunshine lens doesn’t mean negative and bad things don’t occur, rather a sunshine lens means choosing to find something that you are grateful for, no matter how big or significant that something is. Examples could be feeling grateful that you survived your day, you went to a concert, hanging out with close friends, or ending your day with a nice hot bath.

To start a gratitude practice, set yourself up for success. Choose a time during your day that you can have 5 minutes to reflect. Once you have your daily time scheduled, reflect on one thing of gratitude. Just one. If you think of more, that’s great! But only start with one, so that way you feel encouraged to continue this gratitude practice. Once you feel like your reflection time has become consistent, then move up to listing three to five items of gratitude.

Practicing gratitude is like building strength in a muscle. It takes time and consistency to see growth and change in how your perspective shifts from a cloudy to sunshine. I hope with the reflection of this past year, you are able to find those moments that you truly appreciate and are grateful for!

Julie Smith MA, LMFT-A under the Supervision of Kirby Sandlin Schroeder, LPC-S, LMFT-S Senior Clinician at Austin Family Counseling


Holiday Parties and Career Related Social Anxiety

I love it when I read a blog and the author’s ideas resonate completely with my own. Recently I read Candence Turpin’s blog “A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties” and it left me yelling out loud, “Exactly!” Turpin shared a recent incident whereby she innocuously participated in the common social practice of introducing people by their job title at a party. By the end of the evening, her dear friend was left feeling inadequate and less interesting than other guests whose careers appeared to be more interesting. It left the author wondering why we don’t introduce people by sharing who they are to us and the meaning they bring to our lives. It was this idea that evoked my audible, “Exactly!”

Mavis Ball, LPC-Intern Supervised by Dr. John Jones

By: Mavis Ball, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Dr. John Jones

Social gatherings during the holiday can be a fun way to celebrate the season. It’s a great time to catch up with friends and family, and even meet new people. However, if introductions and conversations are limited to career titles and work discussions, social gatherings quickly become uncomfortable for those who are unemployed, underemployed, or whose college semester just ended badly.   It’s not uncommon for people experiencing work life turmoil to completely avoid holiday gatherings. The increased isolation can lead to greater levels of depression, which exacerbates their difficult situation. Turpin says, “Introducing your friends for who they are rather than focusing on what they do will remind them they are loved before and beyond their titles. It’s an easy way to remind them that you see them for their hearts instead of their accomplishments.” Not only would this method of introduction give grace to people whose work life is more complex than they want to discuss at a holiday party, but it may lead to better quality conversations and connections for all guests.

I’m not suggesting that we never discuss our work life at a party, but I do think it’s time to expand ourselves and try introducing our friends and family in a more meaningful way. Go one step further and challenge yourself to not say, “What do you do?” after you meet someone new at a holiday party. There’s plenty of time to network throughout the year, but the holidays only happen once a year. Let’s not unconsciously intermingle networking with holiday celebrations.