38. Teach The Positive

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Brooks Adams

During one of my clinical rotations I was assigned to a behavior health clinic. Teaching is one of the most important roles as a nurse, and one of our assignments was to teach “something” to an assigned group of patients. I was assigned to a group of young adolescents who exhibited signs of depression through the act of cutting. Knowing that many of these patients were not actually trying to kill themselves but were merely trying to mimic the physiological changes that occur with the sympathetic nervous system, I knew a standard power point or lecture would have been useless.

I needed to get them engaged and make them feel that fight or flight response through a non-life threatening outlet.  In an attempt to imitate the rush felt with the fight or flight response I gave them all an ice cube and instructed them to hold it tightly in their hand until it was completely melted.  At first they laughed, but as time went on they began to feel a familiar sensation, the sympathetic nervous system began to kick in. Their breaths became quicker and shallow and their hearts began to beat faster. During this time period we discussed the reasons behind the urge to cut, the way it made them feel during the act, how they felt after, and what they could do to replace the urge. I did the exercise with them, which developed trust, giving them the ability to open up and express their feelings with me. This was a simple, but compelling exercise because it gave them the power to stop without the repercussions of a life threatening scenario.

I was able to create a fun and engaged, but serious, learning environment providing tools that could help deviate from lethal masochistic behaviors. I will never know the true outcome from my teaching, but I am confident I made a positive influence.  I can think of so many times that a positive attitude made all the difference between weather I was able to accept a lesson or disregaurd it.  What I know today is that my role is to bring the most positive parts of my life experience to others so that they can experience some of the same joys that I do.

Affirmation: I am a teacher, and I will continue to positively influence those around me.

Call to Action: Make a vow to replace a negative action with a positive action in your life.  Follow this up with sharing your results with those around you, so they too can make a positive change that will have an affect on life’s eternity.

35. Engage

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”   — Leo Buscaglia

We all have an innate desire to be loved or feel important from the time we are born all the way through the time we die.  I use the word important synonymously for the word love because when we are feeling important we feel meaningful and significant which plays an important role in the intense emotion of love.

I am prior military, and I specifically remember this period in my life with an abundance of love. The first time I put on my uniform with crisp starched creases and spit shinned boats I held my head up higher than I have ever held it before.  I felt a surge of goose bumps make their way from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. My eyes began to swell with fluid and I knew if I blinked tears would stream down my face and it would show weakness, so I stared off into space without blinking and thought about how my actions will afford people the opportunity for freedom.  After boot camp I flew home in my uniform and strangers approached me and shook my hand, thanking me for my service.  To this day my response is the same. I blush, smile and nonchalantly say you’re welcome. This small gesture by these strangers made me feel loved and important; they made me feel like my existence had boundless meaning.

During my time of service my day-to-day life seemed routine. I felt I was living my life just like others my age, in reality I was experiencing a whole different way of living.  As a veteran people frequently ask me what my job was in the Navy. I explain that my rate or job title was a Boatswain’s Mate, and one of the duties is to drive the ship. Immediately they become enamored that someone so petite could do such a job. I further go on to explain that I was a master helmsman and that while I may be petite I can drive a nuclear aircraft carrier better than Vin Diesel can race a car in Fast and Furious.  Being able to reminisce over this period in my life I am able to realize and put into perspective all the accomplishments achieved, giving me a surge of significance. Without the innate desire to feel important and loved I would have never been able to obtain life with such meaning.

Small conversations such as these can make people feel their worth. Through worth, love can be empowering providing a building block for growth through positive energy.

Affirmation: Today I will make a stranger or a loved one feel important. I will put a genuine smile on their face and make them feel the energy that radiates from love.

Call to Action:  Engage in a conversation with someone you see frequently but whom you have never spoken with. When asking someone how their day is really take the time and engage in the conversation, ask questions and make them feel like they are the only living soul that matters for that moment. Let a stranger know that you appreciate who they are and what they do. Make those around you feel important.

34. Support

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Heads up CYLF family, today we are going to do some heavy lifting.

Right about the time I turned 15, for a number of reasons, I  began to obsess about suicide. It lasted for about 4-5 long dark months. Obviously I did not act on those thoughts, but they are near and dear to me today because I can relate to people that are suffering from those ideations.

The topic of suicide has entered my life the last three days which is odd because I do not dwell or discuss it often. Tuesday, during a meal with about 12 people, the epidemic of veterans committing suicide was discussed. Wednesday, I talked to a friend and we talked about the importance of support for people struggling with suicidal thoughts. Yesterday as I was driving home from a busy day this came on the radio.

In the 3 minute radio report Antoinette Tuff was able to talk to, and bond with a would be school shooter. She was able to make a real and personal connection through a quick conversation about suicide. About a minute into the report I started bawling as I was driving down the interstate.

It might have been because I was tired, hungry, or maybe all those memories of the 15 year-old me came rushing back. The two profound facts is that Mrs. Huff continued talking to this man even with a gun in his hand, and she told him she loved him. It was a true example of love for a complete stranger.

If you are struggling with this here is a link to find help. The organization is called To Write Love On Her Arms.

We can make a difference. Through connection, love, and understanding we are able to show each other life can be bigger than any material gift or possession.

Affirmation: Today I connect with my fellows through Love in order to understand them better. The collective, we will hold and raise each other up.

Call to Action: Make an effort to reach out to another human being. Call an old friend, buy a stranger a meal, or say thank you to a co-worker for something. We never know when our positivity and enthusiasm towards life will touch another’s soul. Please share how someone has touched your soul, or how you were able to make a difference for someone.