The new year is just beginning, and my email inbox is already overflowing with suggestions about the importance of setting goals and resolutions. But for many living with ALS, traditional goals and resolutions for self-improvement can feel empty and useless.
In truth, most of us are just glad to have made it this far and only have one goal: to survive another year.
But living in “survival mode” is unhealthy and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and giving up.
Recently, while talking about making resolutions and goals, a friend said to me: “The challenge is to shorten the distance between our daily reality and the life we had hoped to lead.” I agreed.
What am I doing to shorten the distance?
I practice active mindfulness. Let me explain.
As many readers of this column know, I’ve been a long-time supporter of practicing mindfulness. And since learning about active mindfulness, as taught by Ellen Langer, PhD, and its many benefits for persons with ALS, I’ve practiced active mindfulness in earnest.
A four-month study with 197 ALS patients showed that active mindfulness decreased anxiety, depression, burnout, and disease progression. In addition, active mindfulness can increase memory, improve quality of life, coping ability, and psychological well-being.
But over these past few months, I’ve given in to distractions and lost that “in the moment” mindset. Holiday activities, people, world events, and even my own mental inner critics all began to pull at my attention, and I often found myself on autopilot.
My old methods of popping into mindfulness needed a tuneup, so I created a new mental prompt. I now use the phrase, “Own the moment.”
How does active mindfulness feel?
The mental shift can:
- Increase your awareness of the sounds around you, your surroundings, and what others are saying.
- Improve recognition of your body’s needs, such as thirst, hunger, or discomfort.
- Allow you to choose positive reactions to people, places, and things, rather than lash out or fall into a mental funk.
And finally, by telling myself to “own the moment,” I feel I have more power to influence the direction of my life.
What’s my New Year’s resolution? I can proudly say I have only one, and it’s the only one I need: “Own the moment.”
I invite you to try it.
Together we can live mindfully and well while living with ALS.
Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.