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MSWA Bulletin Magazine Summer 17

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BUILDING DREAMS SIMON ROLPH, MSWA COUNSELLOR I recently found myself in one of those coffee shops that covers its walls with ‘inspirational’ quotes. Now, I like a good quote as much as the next person especially the humorous ones, but I often find the serious ones simplistic. They attempt to provide a convenient one-size-fits-all answer to the complex challenges of life. If only life were that simple. But in that particular shop there was one quote that caught my eye: “If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.” (Tony Gaskins). Upon initial reading I appreciated the sentiment but swiftly moved my attention to ordering my drink. As I sat down with my hot, caffeinated beverage I found myself facing the quote once again. Upon repeated viewing, it began to resonate with me. This quote got me thinking about the rapid and short nature of life. Here in Australia the average life expectancy is somewhere between 28,000 to 30,000 days. I’d imagine that if you are able to read this you can minus a few thousand off the remaining total. Given we sleep for roughly a quarter of a 24-hour cycle, right there is another big chunk of time we have lost. I’m struggling to keep up with the maths now, but the remaining days seem to be rapidly diminishing, don’t they? The quote reminded me of the choice we all ultimately have; how do we want to spend our remaining days we have on this planet? At any given moment of any given day, we have an opportunity to reflect on how we are living our lives and attempt to change its course. This is easier said than done. Life can get busy. We can easily get caught up in the mundane, the necessities of living, going through life on autopilot. The nine to five jobs we need to pay the bills and fund the occasional holiday. The chores, the queueing at the supermarket checkout, being stuck in Perth’s notoriously gridlocked roads. The minutes, hours and days keep passing by regardless, and the dreams we once had get put on the back burner either temporarily or permanently. We forget about building our own dream. A diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can be a big wake up call, a reminder of the fragility of life. Whilst I wouldn’t imagine there are many people out there who openly welcomed their MS diagnosis, it can provide an opportunity to re-evaluate life. Whenever something out of the ordinary happens, such as a diagnosis, illness, or death of a loved one, we are pulled out of autopilot mode. We are forced to face up to the realities of life which can be extremely painful. This pain though, can create a golden opportunity to re-prioritise life and get back in contact with our dreams. Unfortunately, we are often so lost from our dreams they are a mystery even to ourselves. But the opportunity to re-evaluate can at least allow for the exploration of questions such as: What kind of person do I want to be? What do I want to stand for? How do I want to spend the remaining days I have on this planet? Ideally, we would ask ourselves these questions on a daily basis, but if we are able to start finding some answers, we can begin to move towards our dreams. It may be that only small changes are required; spending more time with loved ones, re-connecting with old friends, changing your diet, visiting a new country. Or perhaps larger changes are required. Either way, change is hard and following our dreams can be challenging. But, if we are able to make just the tiniest of moves in a new chosen direction, our dreams can start becoming reality rather than just dreams. We can start to build our own dreams. I will end with two more quotes: “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams” (Oprah Winfrey) “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” (Lao Tzu) If you want to discuss any of the topics found in this article with a counsellor, you can contact the main MSWA counselling number on 9365 4811 to organise an appointment. 14 | MSWA BULLETIN SUMMER 2017

CHRISTMAS CHEER MONIQUE CHAS, MSWA COUNSELLOR Last year I cancelled Christmas. Well, I tried to! I ended up with an array of half–baked events or meetings throughout that Christmas week (pun intended). I wanted to make a point: I would not participate in what I view as an over consumeristic holiday which, for most of us, does not hold much more significance than filling our living spaces with more stuff. (Disclaimer: I am aware of the Christian meaning and the birth of Jesus. In this article I am referring to the marketing overdrive, which obscures any sense of awe.) I made a fundamental mistake: I failed to make the extremely important distinction between excessive consumerism and the yearning to feel a part of something: the need for rituals to mark auspicious occasions, the sense of a communal celebration of life. I forgot what Christmas might provide from a social perspective. It can serve the three universal psychological needs: - a sense of belonging (relatedness) - a sense of contributing (competence) - a sense of open-hearted willingness (autonomy). One of the highest predictors of wellbeing is how we answer these questions: Do I belong? Am I included? Do I include others? Am I of value? We’re Do I have the opportunity fundraising to do my best? How do I make a difference? We’re with fundraising We’re fundraising with We’re We’re fundraising fundraising Discover thousands of valuable up with with to 50% with off and 2-for-1 offers for Discover many of the thousands best restaurants, of valuable arts, up to Discover 50% off thousands 2-for-1 of valuable offers up for Discover attractions, hotels, travel, shopping many to 50% of off thousands and much, Discover the and much best 2-for-1 of valuable thousands restaurants, offers for up to 50% off and 2-for-1 more! offers for of valuable arts, up many of the best restaurants, arts, attractions, many of the to 50% best hotels, restaurants, off and travel, 2-for-1 arts, shopping offers for attractions, hotels, travel, shopping attractions, many hotels, much of travel, the more! best shopping restaurants, arts, and and much, much, much more! attractions, much more! hotels, travel, shopping and much, much more! Studies conclude we feel intrinsically and are social beings that work better as a group. We do better when we collaborate and nurture one another. Hence, I feel the value of an end of year common celebration is to connect with that sense of community. Let’s think of all people with less resources and let us re-think our expectations of family to perhaps be more encompassing. This year, I will celebrate Christmas. I will cook, I will surround myself with friends and strangers, and families and orphans and ask what I can contribute to my family, my community and my world. So, to conclude and to avoid my mistake last year: Reach out. Buy less. Give more – of yourself, your time, your empathy and kindness, with words, with flowers, with a batch of homemade biscuits. Because, in the end, beyond the shiny marketing, what matters is sharing love. And studies can now prove it! References available on request. Studies referred to above are based in Relational Frame Theory, Self – determination theory, the book ‘the Nurture Effect’ by Anthony Biglin, Joanne Dahl’s version of ‘Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’ and the Prosocial movement. from every member order goes directly to MSWA from every member order order goes goes directly directly to to MSWA from every member order goes directly to MSWA from every member order goes directly to Phone: (08) 64543122 | email: Phone: (08) MSWA 64543122 | email: To reserve your NEW Entertainment Membership please contact us on: To reserve your your NEW NEW Entertainment Membership Membership please please contact contact us on: us on: To Phone: go reserve (08) 64543122 your to: NEW | email: Entertainment Membership please contact us on: or go online to: Phone: or go online To (08) reserve to: 64543122 your NEW | email: Entertainment Membership please contact us on: or go online Phone: to: (08) 64543122 | email: or go online to: MSWA BULLETIN SUMMER 2017 | 15