“I wish I had let myself be happier.”

According to the on-line AARP publication, March 31, 2013, this is one of the top five regrets we hold at the end of life.

What if we were to give ourselves permission to be at peace, to welcome happiness and well-being, even in the midst of challenge and change, particularly as we walk the sacred path of caring for our ill family, friends, patients, and clients?

More than 65 million caregivers in the U.S. are responsible for aging or unwell loved ones, and millions more provide professional support for those in need.  Caregiver stress often causes a downward spiral in physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. How do we consciously, compassionately nurture those in our care while maintaining our own strength, balance, and wellness? The emerging science of Positive Psychology helps point the way.

The research-based field of Positive Psychology, the nexus of neuro-science, immunology, endocrinology, psychology, and spirituality, offers practical and proven strategies to enhance our physical, social, and emotional well-being while caring for others.  This presentation, designed for both professional and family caregivers, is a blend of science and spirit.

It explores the healing power of positive emotions, loving relationships, humor, healthy eating, rest, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, movement and more. 

We will dive into what brings us to aliveness, to joy, and to possibility on the path to wholeness. As we look at the studies on happiness and well-being, we will examine our own stories and the whispers within us.  What we learn is what we intuitively know and naturally crave: loving-kindness and compassion create the glue that binds us to others and to ourselves. Science has now proven that we are hardwired to give and receive love, kindness, and compassion from birth until our last breath.

Just days before my nearly 95-year-old father, Herman Liss, passed away, I asked him, “Dad, what is happiness?” Herman , then on hospice care, replied, “Sweetheart, happiness is appreciating all of the good in your own life, and helping to make life good for others.”

This man, without a formal education, knew what neuro-scientists and psychologists are now proving. Happiness truly is linked to appreciation and helping to make life good for others.  Herman, the subject of my spiritual memoir, ExtraOrdinary: An End of Life Story Without End, exemplified healing, growth, wholeness and well-being lifelong. Publishers Weekly said of Herman, “Herman always encouraged others to follow their dreams and how deep was his commitment to treat others as he would want to be treated. Readers can expect tears to flow as Herman’s life inspires them to be better.”

Positive Psychology, in concert with personal experience in caring for ill and dying loved ones, fuels my presentations for caregivers at regional and national conferences. We don’t have to come to the end of our life wishing that we had “let ourselves be happier.” 

We can begin right now!