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Tips to End the “IF ONLY” Syndrome

Dr. Lombardo - How to be content
Identity Magazine for Mompreneurs
Written by TeamIdentity

It can be a struggle of wanting to provide more for our family during the festive season/a lack of funds in general/a lack of family and friends, etc., which is exceptionally difficult to look past during the saturation of joy and happiness that is showcased during the holidays through the media, associates and their surroundings.

How to be content, especially during the holidays, is one stress we can all relate to. The holidays can cause a lot of stress and pressure to be the best and sometimes we can get the feeling that, “if only” we could do more, both our family and ourselves would be happier.  That’s not the case though!  Follow Dr. Lombardo’s three tips for being content this holiday season and really get out of that mood and into the spirit!

By Dr. Lombardo

It can be a struggle of wanting to provide more for our family during the festive season/a lack of funds in general/a lack of family and friends, etc., which is exceptionally difficult to look past during the saturation of joy and happiness that is showcased during the holidays through the media, associates and their surroundings.

How to be content…

I’m a clinical psychologist and physical therapist, who has counseled clients on this topic for several years. Below are some tips to assist with forgetting the “waiting to feel content” emotion and will help you on how to be content in the present moment.

Three ways to inoculate yourself from the “IF ONLY…” syndrome and how to be content:

1.         How to be content: pay more attention to your gratitude “If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you miss most about today?” Use a gratitude journal to write out your responses and read it over daily!

2.       How to be content: Let go of “but” and use “and” Get rid of your “but”: Every time you hear yourself saying “but” (as in, “yeah, things are going well, BUT….) stop and force yourself to replace the word, such as   “yeah, things are going well, AND….)

3.       How to be content: practice with your body posture – Act as if: Our body language actually tells us how to feel. So, stand tall with your shoulders back and smile…take in the joyous aura/holiday cheer that feels the air during the holiday season.

As a psychologist, physical therapist and author of the bestselling book “A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness,” I thrive on enhancing my patient’s happiness and success.   I’m wishing you much happiness and success with these three simple steps to get started right away.

Dr. Lombardo - How to be content

In keeping with the theme, Dr. Lombardo answers the Identity 5:

1.What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?

That I don’t have to be perfect.   That being perfect is actually boring.   That being happy and truly enjoying life is much more fun than striving for perfection.

This really hit home when I was trying to get my own TV show.   I hired a camera crew, put on a pink St. John’s suit, sat poised and spoke in a calm manner about why I thought I should get a show.   Someone from Mark Burnett’s company even contacted me to get more info.   One of the questions he asked was “are you in politics?”   When I asked him why, he responded “because you look like a first lady.”   And that was not necessarily a compliment. I was way too poised to be interesting.   In fact, I was rather dull.

And then a friend gave me some feedback on the video.   Despite spending a ton of time and money on the video, she told me she didn’t like it. When I asked her why (pointing out the lighting, my outfit, my words were all well scripted), she told me “because it wasn’t you.   It was too perfect.” Trying to be perfect can make you overly stressed and frankly a bit boring- neither of those characteristics are of interest to me.   So now I focus on being happy, not perfect.

2. What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?

I appreciate what I learn from my daughters.   Children can teach us so much, if we let them.   They tend to be present-oriented, not beating themselves up about the past or worry about the future, simply enjoying the present. When they are young, they are not self-conscious, they simply exist and have fun.

Children forgive others.   Sure, they may get upset, but pretty soon after the tears will come lots of giggles and smiles.

Being present, letting the past go, forgiving myself and others, focusing on truly enjoying life… these are great lessons that I have learned from my children. And ones that I am so grateful to not only know (in my head) but experience (in my heart) on a daily basis.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?

Professionally, one of the most rewarding experiences I have had is being asked back on The TODAY Show multiple times. As a psychologist and coach, my goal is to help people “before they need my couch.”   So getting to help millions of people at one time (like when I am on the TODAY Show) is amazing.  

My ultimate goal is to have everyone out there know and apply the skills of happiness.   Imagine what life would be like if we taught kids in school and even adults at work how to be more resilient, how to develop a healthy self-confidence, how to follow your passions and truly be happy?   There would be less depression, stress, illness, divorce, drug use, obesity, arguments…   The world would be a truly amazing place.

4. What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?

In addition to being very social and outgoing, I also really need my alone and quiet time.   This is true even when I am having a great time on vacation with friends or family.   As such, each day I make sure I have some quiet time to myself, to meditate, workout, or even write.   It helps me be a much happier me.

I used to feel guilty about taking time out for myself, thinking “I should spend time with everyone because they are here.”   I realized, though, that when I DO take time for myself, I am a better mother, spouse, daughter, friend, and worker.

5. How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I love my LIFE! It is so empowering to realize that I have complete control over my life. Sure, I can’t control everyone in my life or what happens every second of the day.   But I can control my reaction to it.   Rather than personalize someone else’s bad mood or let a disappointment ruin my day, I consciously choose to view the world and my life in a positive manner…and that feels really good!

Dr. Lombardo’s national platform includes interviews by various national media outlets including The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, WSJ, Forbes, Woman’s Day, Glamour, Self, Woman’s World, Health and Cosmopolitan.

About the author

Identity Magazine for Mompreneurs


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