Guest Post written by Crystal Abitz, PhD

Life is hard. Life is exceptionally hard for military families. We already know this. I’m not going to exhaust myself by going into detail explaining the hardships we experience. Instead, I’m going to provide some strategies to help you lift yourself from a draining mindset of doom and gloom to an energizing mindset of happiness and sunshine – living intentionally and with gratitude. Maybe you’ve heard of the scarcity and abundance mindsets? When we shift from a scarcity mindset to that of abundance—when we ground ourselves in gratitude and have faith that more positive experiences are yet to come, we can navigate the hardships and live full and rewarding lives.

Finding Gratitude

I was once a single person and able to focus all my energies and resources on me. Things changed. Life happened—and it happened fast! I married my best friend, and our little family quickly grew to four, plus our doggy. Now my energies and resources are often spread thin, especially as a Military wife, mom of two young children, recent PhD graduate, and business owner. How can I still enjoy my favorite hobbies that bring joy and laughter? Embark on a transformative, powerful entrepreneurial adventure?

The answer is simple. I am fueled by gratitude and allow myself to dream. I am filled with feelings that fuel my fire and equip me with the radiant energy I need to flourish—as an individual, mom, and military spouse. And do you know what? I’m incredibly grateful for who and what I have, and I can still put energy toward making my dreams become my reality. With a grateful heart and the tenacity to fulfill my dreams, I can rid myself of feelings of burnout, self-doubt, and overwhelm.

Reflecting

What do you see when you look in the mirror? How do you feel when you see a reflection of yourself? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and felt connected with the person you saw looking back at you? When was the last time you smiled and sincerely thanked the person looking back at you?

We know life gets hectic. Sometimes we’re physically moving at a fast pace while managing all the moving parts and pieces of our family responsibilities. Other times we are able to slow our bodies, but then our minds continue racing as they sift through the multitude of tasks yet to be completed and emotions to be processed. How can we genuinely slow down and appreciate the gifts we’ve been given and the blessings around us? Have a breath—an intentional breath for the purpose of slowing down and reconnecting with yourself.

living intentionally

Let’s try this breathing exercise: Have a breath—an intentional breath. Breathe deeply through your nose while you think of 3 things you are grateful for. Hold that deep breath and smile. Form a picture in your head of those three things. Now, pretend you’re blowing up a balloon and fully
exhale your full breath out your mouth—really force out the air. Great. Repeat this process 4 more times for a total of 5 intentional breaths.

Living Intentionally

Sometimes we’re pretty hard on ourselves. Sometimes we find ourselves thinking about other things we could have done with our time or how we could have done or said things differently – as individuals, parents, or spouses. Sometimes we wonder what else we could be doing with our time.

Sometimes we wonder what we should be doing instead of thinking about and developing what is real, what is now. With this mindset, we can easily get overwhelmed or overcome by self-doubt. I challenge you to stay in the present moment. Focus on what needs to be done each day and how your efforts align with your daily goals.

Consider how your tasks help you feel fulfilled and how your time invested in various actions, behaviors, and thoughts propel you closer to living your dreams – and becoming the person, parent, and spouse you desire to be. Think about every task, conversation, etc, and how these experiences help you and others become stronger, happier people.

Follow These Steps to Living a More Intentional Life:

  • Know your personal values
  • Identify your value-based goals
  • Ensure your goals align with your values
  • Align your daily habits with your goals and personal values
  • Would you rather be busy all the time or live intentionally with time for playing and socializing? You know which of these I prefer, but it really is your choice. Give yourself the grace to fully immerse yourself in the present moment. Allow yourself to experience gratitude, mental clarity, and self-love.

I challenge you to prioritize your tasks and stick to your schedule so that you can be less “busy” and more present. If done properly, this may lead you to experience decreased amounts of worry and stress. You might even experience increased happiness and a greater sense of fulfillment in life. And before you know it, you will soon be approaching those big dreams you once thought were far-fetched, and you will be navigating the hardships of the military lifestyle with gratitude.

Connecting in the Community

Community connections are one of my personal core values. Ironically, I also value solitude. I’ve learned over the years; however, that to have the greatest sense of wholeness and balance in my life, I need both— solitude and community. Connecting with others on a reflective, transformative level has been critical to my mental health. Empathy, patience, and understanding provide us with the necessary tools to build deep connections. Continued reflection, living intentionally, and practicing gratitude is essential as we continue experiencing life and learning who we are—as individuals, parents, and military spouses.

Our personal values may change as we gain experiences, knowledge, and understanding of ourselves and the world around us. For now, let’s reflect inward and fill ourselves with gratitude. Let’s be grateful for who and what we have. Let’s also be grateful for who we are. And let’s continue building a sense of community for ourselves and our families through intentional and meaningful interactions
with others.

Life is hard, but it can be a little less hard when we ground ourselves in gratitude, practice living intentionally, and build meaningful connections with others. Have a breath. Smile. Be grateful.


About the Author

Crystal Abitz, PhD is the founder of Legacy Wellness, LLC. She is a Military spouse and mother of two young children. Crystal is a former NCAA D1 coach ,International educator and researcher, published author, and highly sought-after keynote inspirational
speaker. She holds a PhD in Health Sciences and a massage therapy license. Crystal is a dynamic, influential woman whose positive outlook and zest for life is contagious. When she’s not helping with her clients, you can find Crystal dancing, playing with her kids, reading or writing, or spending quality time with her family in nature.

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