Coping Skills For the Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is a day filled with every emotion in the rainbow. It is the birth of our nation, a national birthday party, celebrated with joyous abandon. Firecrackers, family picnics, children laughing, fireworks accompanied by patriotic music on loudspeakers, and brilliant colors envelop our senses.

This day would be unthinkable not to participate. After all, we are celebrating the fact that we are privileged and blessed enough to live in a country where we vote, and enjoy religious freedoms.  Our children go to school.  Food and water is readily accessible. Travel is freely permitted. Libraries exist to provide free reading. We have internet access.  Many buildings are wheelchair equipped, and we have parking spaces for the disabled. We are not perfect, but boy we try to take care of everyone. And, everyone if they choose to use it, has a voice.

On this day, we embrace whole-heartedly, the words freedom and justice for all. Because we are in fact, no matter what our personal circumstances, unbelievably lucky to live in a country that provides a wealth of choices and safeties.

Sadness and grief are held with dignity. Everyone needing this post can now take a collective sigh.

When all this life energy doesn’t match the energy level within you, you need a really good coping skill — a coping skill to practice on a national day of celebration. One that assists you in belonging, and staying attached to your public world as you struggle in your private one is crucial. Stay true to yourself and your country when life gets too overwhelming.

The go-to skill I am referring to is appreciation. Go directly to appreciation. Make a list immediately. I mean right now. A list of all the people, places and things you are grateful for. Then breathe. Even when we are lost, the stars are always in the sky, and the sun continues to rise. So as you enter this day, practice appreciation — at every party, barbecue, and trip to the store. Practice appreciation while watching a movie — even if you are alone in your pajamas. Appreciate people that make your world better, and those you simply encounter.

Notice something good and worthy and say it out loud. Go to the person that’s pouring your soda and tell them what a great job they did at keeping the bubbles in the cup. Tell the person bagging your groceries how much you appreciate their attention to detail by putting the bread on the top. The more you look for the goodness on this day, the more it will speak to you. So go out there and appreciate!

The art of appreciation is something that combines thinking, feeling, and acting.

Make this your go-to coping skill. It will never let you down.

Happy Birthday, America.  I appreciate sea to shining sea!

About Jean Wolfe Powers, LMFT