Trying to be an island

I read a wonderful article today  “How to Stop Being Influenced by Other People’s Moods”.

I was drawn to read it because it’s something that I really need to work on.  I’ve always been very highly sensitive, and affected by other people’s moods.

This was particularly the case in my marriage.  My ex-husband used to suffer from bad headaches, and when he did he was very cranky.  And it really used to affect me. His crankiness made me feel on edge, and unable to avoid being drawn into his bad mood.  And we’d both suffer.

I learnt a lot of lessons after my marriage ended, but it’s something I still struggle with.  Not to be affected if people around me are stressed/angry etc.

This line from the article particularly spoke to me:

Everyone has the right to be in a bad mood if that is the way they feel, and by not feeling responsible for other people’s bad moods we give them the space to feel as they need without more negativity being directed towards them.

I’d never thought of it that way.

That by being responsible for my own mood, and maintaining my own mindfulness and “peace” that I was actually doing them a great kindness.

I personally struggle to do anything for myself, but I would do anything for anyone else.

So the idea of maintaining my own calm as a kindness to someone else appeals to me greatly.

This is a solo journey, but we share it with billions of other humans. Learning to not be thrown off by other people’s moods and emotions through mindfulness, self-awareness and gentle self-inquiry is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves, as well as for others.

 

 

♥ Blended families ♥

Last night Mr ISFS and I were watching tv with my son, and he asked if he could take both of our photos on his iPad.

He went into his room, and was working away diligently on his iPad.

When he came back, he surprised us with this:

Meg and Dave

It’s only a picture he created, but it meant so much to Mr ISFS and I.

I had never realised the challenges (and blessings) of having a blended family before I met Mr ISFS.

In my experience there are a lot of extras to factor in when you have a non-birth parent sharing child raising with you.

You have brought this person into your child’s life.  You’ve taken a chance – you hope that they will get along well, and will maybe grow to even love each other.

You hope that you have done a good job of raising your child up until then so that they are well-mannered and tolerable.  You hope that things are blissful and calm in this new family.  And sometimes they are, and more often than not they aren’t.

I know personally I have struggled to let go of the guilt of “letting” Mr ISFS look after my son whilst I do something else (go out for a run, go grocery shopping etc).

And I know Mr ISFS struggles with disciplining, and the fear that he’ll be seen as the “cranky stepfather”.

With love and communication and openness though we deal with each issue as it comes along.

And there will always be issues to face – the same as for any family.

But it was very touchingto see this image my son created.

I love that he has grown to think of Mr ISFS as his dad as well.  I say “as well”, because Mr ISFS will never replace his own Dad.  But I love that my son has that affection for him, and thinks of him that way.

Maybe we are doing something right after all ♥

 

Use your thoughts for good and not evil

I saw this great post on FB this week, and it hit home for me, because it’s something I really believe in.Ordinary things

I think part of it is due to my mindfulness practice (which encourages noticing all the small things), but maybe more because I’ve found that it’s doing this that brings real happiness.

My belief is that you should have lots of things in your life that make you happy – all the small moments combined should bring you a sense of gratitude and satisfaction. And if they don’t then it’s probably time to look at why, and what you can do to change it.

Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows – actually from my experience it’s usually the opposite – but if you can focus on the small things that you love then it balances it all out.

For me personally the things that have made me happy this week are:

  • Going to the shops as a family and buying beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables for the week.  I’ve found a great fruit shop that sells the most beautiful fruit – it’s always such fantastic quality.  And things like that give me so much happiness.  I adore my fruit and vegetables and knowing I have a fridge full of the loveliest produce makes me really happy.
  • Nourishing my soul with classical music.  I work from home, so I have the freedom to listen to whatever I like to during the day.  And lately I’ve been listening to cello music.  It’s something Mr ISFS and I both have a passion for.  I just love having it on in the background as I work.
  • Books.  I’ve always been a huge bookworm since I could read.  Sometimes I find I get too busy with other things to read much, but it’s always such a joy to go back to it.  On Thursday during lunch I sat with my feet up, a cup of tea, my cello music playing, and a new book to read, and it was (to me) the idea of perfection.
  • Sharing my favourite takeout (noodles) with Mr ISFS.  This is something that we have always done – shared our favourite takeout together at least once a month.  We are trying to save for a house, so we are mostly budgeting very carefully, but once a month we splurge and get all our favourites – Kway Teow, Garlic Prawns, Special Fried Rice, and spring rolls.

and lastly

  • 12599343_960538727371424_1772379474_n(1)Valentine’s Day.  Today has a heightened meaning for me today, and it’s been a chance to realise how truly blessed I am.  I bought Mr ISFS a 1st edition copy of DeadPool (the comic), and he bought me a pair of amethyst earrings.  They have such special meaning for me as he picked them specially as they are my birthstone, and he knows how much I love them.  But the gifts are really only a very minor part of the day – the day is a reaffirmation for me of how much I love the life we have built together, and how much it means to me.

I am struggling with some personal issues at the moment (health related), but it’s focusing on these small things that makes my life full, and I realise how truly blessed I am.

Much love,
Meg

Just keep going

I just saw this great post by my blogging friend Jonathan Hilton:

Take some time today to make sure that you are better than you were yesterday. Don’t worry about being the best in the world at what you do. That is subjective anyway, who is to say what is greatest? Compared to yourself there is not debating that you are better or worse than you were yesterday. Physically, spiritually and mentally improve just a fraction of a percent and you are on your way to being the best you that you can be.

 

I love this a lot, and I really think it is the key to a happy and fulfilled life.  And by improving ourselves we improve the world around us.

The reality is that we will all make mistakes.  We will all stumble and fall.  All we can do though is try to do better.  And this is true in all aspects of life – friendships, relationships, work, society.

We can recognise where we have failed, or would do things differently, learn from it, and make an intention to do better next time.

I love that life is so full of opportunities to help people, and that includes helping ourselves first so we can better help those around us.

Much love,
Meg

 

Poetry and prose

I’ve been finding myself drawn to writing poetry more lately.  I’ve always had a passion for it – particularly when I was younger – but as my adult years approached my creativity was replaced by responsibilities.  I love that it’s coming back to me.

I was thinking yesterday about how I’ve changed in recent years.  Through life experiences (good, and very horrid) my expectations and desires have changed radically.

Particularly in what I thought I wanted in a relationship.

So many things have changed in relation to those expectations – as I realised what was important and what wasn’t.

One of the very small things was that I thought it would be lovely for my partner to also be on Facebook.  Mr ISFS used to be on Facebook a long time ago (in a galaxy far far away), but he had a bad experience and deactivated his account.   And there is next to no chance he will ever go back.

I actually admire him a lot for that. It’s something that I should do, but so much of my life is entwined with Facebook, including my work.

However I used to wistfully think though how nice it would be to have him on there to support me.  I would look at my friends whose partners would comment on their posts with something gushy and romantic, and think that would be so sweet to have that myself.

I realised yesterday though that it’s not something I desire any longer.

I would rather keep that side of my life private, and to tell Mr ISFS how much I love him face to face.

There’s something I have realised – how beautiful it is to have our love kept between us.  When broadcast it to the world – it seems (to me) to diminish it somehow.

And these words and this poem formed themselves in my mind:

Poem 08.02.16.JPG

It also feels so much better to respect his privacy, and not overshare on social media as I have been guilty of myself in the past.

I am by nature a very open and sharing person.  And unfortunately that quite often has been my downfall at times.  But this time I am really loving being more private about my relationship – it makes it seem even more special and magical.

Much love,

Meg

 

 

Embrace the everyday moments

I am so grateful for all the lovely comments I received on my post yesterday – it took me completely by surprise and I was very humbled ♥

Further to yesterday’s post I was thinking today about how it really is the small and seemingly insignificant moments that we will look back on and treasure.

I found the most delightful book recently – it was the story of a couples romance told in comic strip style – called Soppy: A Love Story.

soppy

It’s so beautifully charming and engaging in it’s simplicity.

And it’s also very thought provoking.  It’s full of the small moments that make up most relationships, but combined they are what gives the relationship it’s “story”.

It made me so badly want to document my own relationship this way. And if I could draw I would, but alas I cannot 😀

But if I could, I would draw in pictures my favourite ‘ordinary’ moments:

Sharing our favourite takeout – both of us swatting our 2 cats off the kitchen table between mouthfuls.

Having animated conversations about great white sharks (a passion of both of ours).

Laughing together over the hilarious things my 10yo comes out with:

Me:  “Put your pants on!”
1oyo “But I can’t find them!  I’ve lost them!!”
“Oh here they are, on the bookcase”

Trying in vain to sleep while our cats fight on top of us at 2am.

IMG_1978.JPG

Me standing talking to Mr ISFS every night as he has his shower – sharing our days, and deep meaningful conversations.

It’s every one of these small moments that I will treasure forever, as they honour the story of ‘us’ ♥

 

 

Mindfulness of mindfulness

This week for me I’ve had a very strong focus on mindfulness.

I had been reading a blog post which talked about another blog post, which talked about a great podcast, which was based on a book (which I then had to buy).  And so it goes.  (Oh how I love technology ♥).

So the book I am currently reading is this one:

Mindfulness

With reading this book I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, and I’ve been trying to be more aware of it in my daily life.

And I am noticing many more small moments.  This morning I was making a cup of tea, and I was accurately aware of the sound of the boiling water being poured into the cup.  And I was AWARE that I was aware.  Then I was aware of the silence around me (it was dawn and the rest of my household was asleep).  It was a small moment of clarity, but it was so beautiful.

I then decided to do my jigsaw puzzle while I drank my tea, and listen to a talk about mindfulness tools in daily life.

And a funny thing happened.

I was listening to the tools that the dharma teacher was suggesting (which were great!).  And I was thinking how I could apply them in my daily life.  And then I had a lightbulb moment.

Why?

I was reading this book on mindfulness, listening to a mindfulness podcast.  Trying to incorporate it in my daily life.

But why?  Why practice mindfulness?

To me it was my own ‘mindful’ moment.  I was spending all this energy and focus on becoming mindful.  But I then realised I didn’t know why I was doing it.

My curiosity was piqued then, so I did more reading on why practice it at all.

But for me personally…. I hope that my mindfulness helps me to help others.  My goal and focus has long been to provide support and kindness to others.  And now my intention is that my mindfulness practice helps me to become a better listener, more in-tune with those around me and their hearts, and more in-tune with my own heart.

IMG_0307

A different take on mindfulness

I came across a talk yesterday called “Science of Mindlessness and Mindfulness” by Ellen Langer.  I really love challenging my thinking, and learning/growing and this talk has been a real eye opener.

Ellen discusses the concept of mindfulness, but from a very “stand alone” view point.  Her research and opinions are of mindfulness as it’s own practice, and not as part of meditation or Buddhism.

And it’s fascinating.

I’m still absorbing her concepts – as they are many and varied (and brilliant!).  But a few things have resonated with me already.

A lot of her work (as I understand it so far) explores challenging our thinking and the labels we apply to certain situations.  And how changing our thinking changes our experience.

For example it’s proven that most of us view our jobs as “work”.  Our attitudes are that it’s a necessary evil, and we approach our work days as such.  We don’t enjoy our jobs (that’s what our personal time is for!).  However if we can approach work our work as being fun/pleasurable/interesting our experience changes vastly as does our enjoyment.  The work is the same, but the approach and outcome are different.

She also challenges us to explore our set beliefs.  One question she asks is “what is 1 plus 1?”.  And naturally most people are going to roll their eyes and say “2”.  But as she says, that’s not always the case.  What if you had one wad of chewing gum, and one more wad to it?  It’s not going to be 2.

And personally I love challenging my thinking that way.

Maybe I’m weird (okay I own that I am lol), but I often question the labels that we give things.

For example – the common belief is that going into a shopping centre/restaurant/business with bare feet is considered rude.  Why is it rude?  Because as a society we frown upon it.  But why?  Who came up with that rule that shoes must be worn?   We are raised with that belief, but what if the belief was that it was rude to wear shoes in a shopping centre?

It’s an odd example I know, but I often think about small things like that.  Or “the sky is blue”.  Why do we call it the sky?  Why have we given it that label?  Where did that come from?  What if we knew it by a completely different name?

And it’s true of basically everything in life.

Which leads me to say I’ve always been very vocal about my belief that things never black or white.  A neighbour of mine is always very very firm in her opinions.  She will argue – violently – with anyone who doesn’t agree with her take on life.  But I often wonder – how could she be so set in her opinions?  What makes them unshakeable?

I can honestly say I never have set opinions or beliefs on anything.  I just don’t see life being that way.  It’s fluid, and changeable and only appears to everyone differently based on their experiences, on their upbringings, their financial situation, their religion, etc etc etc.

 

I’m enjoying learning more as I listen to her talk.  And I’ve immediately downloaded her book as well, so I am sure this subject will come up quite a lot in coming weeks.

Take care my friends,

Meg

 

 

The value in sincerity

I was inspired by something I heard this week.

I was listening to another Gil Fronsdal dharma talk, and he related a story from the Zen tradition.

A student asked his teacher “If I practice Zen will I become enlightened?”.  And the Zen teacher replied “If your practice is sincere, it is almost as good”.

I was incredibly inspired by this simple concept.

I know myself that I practice Buddhism because I identify with the precepts very strongly.  However I do not hold the belief that I will become enlightened – I would imagine very few Buddhist practitioners ever will become enlightened.

However I can practice with sincerity.  We all can.

And it doesn’t have to relate to Buddhist practice – we can live our lives with sincerity full stop.

I love that thought so much.

Sincerity encompasses so many things – living ethically, honestly and with pure intention.  And all of those things make such a difference not only to our lives, but to the lives of those that we touch.

You can’t really put a value on sincerity and honesty.

So this week I’ve tried to really keep that as my intention.

Also in this past week I heard a discussion on the Buddha – how before he became enlightened he had to live through many lives, and learn from each one.  He was reborn many times.  And of all the lives he lead, and the mistakes he made (as a lay person) one thing he never did was lie.  And specifically he did not lie to himself.

It’s a deep concept – to never lie to ourselves.

It’s also been on my mind this week, and I have given a lot of reflection on the ways I have lied to myself in the past.

There are so many great things that can be gained from self analysis and knowledge.  I feel blessed to have access to the dharma teachings.

And a new day each day to learn from them.

Namaste,

Meg

 

Let it go

Regular readers of my blog will know that last week was a less than ideal week for me.  Stress caught up with me, and I cracked somewhat.  I acted out of character, and I had to live with the consequences.

I’m feeling so much better in myself now.

One of the defining moments for me was a bus ride I took into the city on Monday morning.  I decided to make the most of that time, and listen to a dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal.  I may not have mentioned it before on my blog, but he is my absolute favour dharma speaker.  His talks (found at Audio Dharma) have taught me so much.  I am the person I am today thanks to Gil’s teachings.  So many of them have resonated with me on a very deep level.

So on this bus ride I decided to really take stock of what was going on in my life.  I put on my headphones, and picked a talk by Gil on “thinking”.  I spent the next 45 minutes looking out the bus window, and mindfully listening to his wisdom on thinking.  And I consciously let all the stress go.

I tried to just focus on what was happening to me in that present moment.  And when I did I found I could much better reconnect with myself.

Because what was happening in that moment?  I was having a day off work, I was on the bus (which I love).  I was lucky to be listening to a dharma talk by Gil.  And I was on my way to a rally against violence.  Something I felt very strongly about supporting.

Aside from the bus trip, I have also spent time recently doing things which replenished my soul.

It’s a bit of a daggy hobby (maybe), but I really adore doing jigsaw puzzles.  Ever since I was a child I have found them incredibly relaxing.  To me they are a form of meditation.  I sit there, and sift through the pieces, and let the thoughts come and go in my mind.  I find that afterwards anything I’ve been stewing over is released from my focus, and I feel much calmer and more focused.

I’ve also started to take a lot more note of the people in my life that I am grateful for.

And I have received so much support in recent weeks from my closest friends.  It makes me incredibly humbled.

It’s all these little things that make life so rich.

And on that note I’m going return to my cup of tea, my puzzle, and my classical music.

Puzzle2

Namaste my friends,

Meg

 

Just keep swimming

It’s been a great (and challenging) time for my practice lately.

It’s easy to ‘stay the course’ when things are going well.  But it’s when things are hard that you get to really put into use what you have learned.  And to also grow from the experience.

I must admit at the moment I feel that the ground is very shaky.

And I use that term as it’s one that I’ve seen often used by Pema Chodron in her great books and teachings.

She teaches that at the times when the ground is shaky, are the times that we need to lean into the experience, and to not feel scared and try to resist it.

And I am the worst for trying to resist change (if my friend Loren is reading this she will be laughing in agreement).

So right at this moment when I feel things are so unsettled I’m trying to just accept that, and not fight it.

The biggest issue I face is the knowledge that gossip is being spread about me behind my back that isn’t true (unrelated to my post from yesterday).

It’s stirred so many feelings in me – anger, betrayal, hurt, and indignation.  I want to set the record straight, I want to put out every “fire” where people are being given the wrong information, and set them straight about what really happened.

However in reality I know it’s not possible.  Unfortunately it’s a case where if someone throws enough mud, at least some of it will stick.  And the hard truth is that there is very little I can do about it.

The people that know me well know the truth.  And the people that believe the lies have absolute freedom to do that.  And there’s nothing I can really do to stop it.

I can only hold my head high, and keep my dignity, and have faith in myself.

It’s a good time to really think about things though – as my blogging friend Ben Naga commented – who was the “I” that felt outraged and hurt.

It’s a great time to delve further into it (gently) to figure out why it has hurt me so much.  And to perhaps let that go.

And also for me a great time to just accept the uncertainty of the moment, and maybe even embrace that.

(and in the meantime I’m feeling the love from my cat Milly :p)

Milly puzzle.JPG

 

Live life with more GRATITUDE and less ATTITUDE

Further to my post from yesterday – my intention at the start of this new year is to turn around my mindset, and experience more joy in life.

It’s quite widely recommended now to practice more gratitude – and most people would agree it’s a great idea, but it’s actually putting it into practice that becomes a stumbling block.

I know myself I’ve started doing it with good intentions, but after a while it just peters out and I stop doing it.

I’d like to try to focus on it more.

But not just to “list” what makes me grateful, but to truly give thought and thanks to those things.

The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.

I was driving to my favourite coffee shop today, and along the way I was thinking about those things that truly make me happy.

My daily coffee is definitely up there.  And it’s not just the “coffee” but the entire experience.  I’m grateful for the conversations I have each day with the lovely people at my local Zaraffas (coffee shop).  I know them each by name (and vice versa) and every single time I go in I enjoy the friendly chat with them, and getting to know more about them.  I always walk away smiling.

And really how could I not be grateful for the white chocolate mocha that I receive at the same time 🙂

I’m grateful for the 2 dogs I am currently dog sitting.  It’s certainly been an experience having 4 animals (the 2 dogs, and my 2 inside cats) in my very small house.  But it’s also bought so much joy into my life.  As I type this I have 2 dogs asleep at my feet, and one cat purring away happily in my lap.  You can’t really put a price on that.

Lily.JPG

Lily the spoodle

I’m especially grateful for my health and fitness.  At almost 40 I am the fittest and strongest I have ever been.  I am lucky to be able to run, and swim, and do weights, and be active.  And I’m lucky that I can (at the moment) still get away with wearing beach clothes.

shorts

New shorts

bike riding.JPG

Keeping fit

And lastly – for today – I’m grateful for the small things.  Like fresh summer fruit, rainy cool days, my friends, and my faith.

Good days give you happiness and bad days give you wisdom.  Both are essential.

What do we REALLY need in life

After our basic needs are met, then what becomes important?

I was giving this question some thought today after listening to another Gil Fronsdal dharma talk.

In it he discusses the “4 requisites” which is what all humans need to feel safe and healthy.  And those 4 requisites are:  enough food to live, shelter, adequate clothing, and medicine.

These 4 requisites can be met quite simply.  They key though is what becomes important after these basics are met.

Is it important to you to get a bigger house?  A better car?  A more important job?

Personally I believe that once these basic needs are met, there are 2 important factors to build our lives on – caring for others, and caring for ourselves.

By focusing on our own egos and trying to pursue “more” and “greater” we are just leading ourselves to greater disharmony.  Whereas by concentrating on others, and others happiness, we inadvertently find our own happiness.

And it’s a happiness as a result of a life of service and selflessness.

There is so much good we can do in the world, by living a life of kindness and compassion.  

Once our basic needs are met, and we are safe and healthy, I believe it’s time to start giving ourselves to helping others, and making a difference in the world.

Image

4 daily steps to become more positive (and happier)

I recently came across a great article about re-wiring your brain to become happier and more positive.

As I have read frequently lately – it is possible to change the pathways in your brain.

Importantly for me, I realised that the more you look for the positives, the more those pathways in your brain will be strengthened, and the more automatic it will become.

So I have spent time deliberately looking for ways to become more positive.

These are my 4 favourite daily activities for increasing positivity and happiness:

Keep a gratitude journal.  Before bedtime, make a list of the things that you are grateful for that day.  It can be in a notebook, on your computer in a word document, or even a blog.  As much as possible focus on the feeling of gratitude – and let it stay with you as long as you can.

Reach out to someone at least once a day.  Send an email expressing your gratitude or thanks.  To a friend or a co-worker, or anyone who has touched your life recently.

Practice acts of kindness.  Try to do at least one kind thing each day.  It can be as simple as making someone smile.  Or really listening to them, and giving them your full attention.  The more that you do it, the more opportunities you will find.  And the more natural it will become.

Practice mindfulness.  When we are aware of the present moment, we are able to appreciate it fully, and really notice the abundance we have in our lives.  And not only that – it has been proven that mindfulness meditation affects the brain’s plasticity, increasing grey matter in the hippo-campus  an area of the brain important for learning, memory and emotion, and reducing grey matter in the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety.

I have been practising the above daily in my life for the past couple of months, and have noticed such huge differences.  Mostly in my level of happiness and satisfaction with life, and my ability to bounce back from difficulties and setbacks.

I also find meditation incredibly important in maintaining a sense of peace and calm – both of which lead to increased happiness.

Do you have any practices that you do daily to increase your happiness?  I would love to hear about them.

Image

Your boss’s first duty is to make you happy

***  This is an article I wrote for work that I wanted to share ***

Generally when we think about our responsibilities as bosses and leaders, “workplace happiness” is not the first thing that springs to mind.

Supervising – yes.  Analysing, reporting, developing strategies, employee selection, growth of the company – absolutely.

However most managers would feel that people’s happiness at work does not come into the equation.  Work is tough – work is about effort and achieving goals.  Happiness is about having fun.

However this point of view can have serious drawbacks, and is a misrepresentation of what happiness is really about.

By addressing your employees’ happiness in the workplace you can help your business to survive and thrive – and give it the leading edge in retaining employees.

What is happiness about?

It’s about creating and responding to opportunities around you. 

When we feel happy, it broadens our range of responses to situations, and increases our confidence and skills.  For example – when we smile, we send out signals that we are approachable.  This leads to greater opportunities for meaningful communication and networking with others.  It builds our relationships.

Feeling happier also leads us to feeling more creative – which can have very beneficial results in the workplace. 

It also boosts workplace performance.  If you are happy, you will work harder and produce better results.

 

How do we make our teams and staff feel happier in the workplace?

Firstly we need to ask them!  Consider taking a survey of your staff to get a baseline of their workplace happiness and satisfaction.

Once you have those results, consider what tools you can create to support and inspire your staff.

There are many strategies you can implement – both small and large – to increase your employees happiness.

For example:

Positive feedback – all employees want to know that their efforts are being firstly noticed, and secondly being appreciated.  It doesn’t take much to give positive feedback and boost your employees’ morale.

Provide challenging – though attainable – goals.  Staff want to feel that they are contributing to the company and making a difference.  There is not much worse than stagnating in your job, and watching the minutes crawl by everyday until 5pm.

Share a laugh with your staff.  One way to really bring a team together is to share some light-hearted time together.  Laughter really is the best medicine!

Creative a positive culture.  Actively encourage your employees to share small successes and positive stories.  For example – a really great meeting with a client;  a satisfying outcome to a work issue or complaint; or even something positive that is happening in their personal lives.  Make it clear that you value hearing those experiences, and share them with your entire team.

Workplace happiness really comes down to plenty of DRAMA:

Dedication

Recognition

Appreciation

Motivation

A positive environment

  

Keep in mind:  happy workers stick around longer, bring more energy and enthusiasm to their tasks, and help maintain organisational morale.

Savour life slowly

These days we have an abundance of luxuries – food, entertainment, and possessions.

How often though do we stop to truly appreciate and savour what we have?  And to notice and appreciate what is going on around us?

True happiness lies in appreciating and enjoying what we have, not striving for what we don’t have.

By savouring life, we are also developing healthy habits to build emotional resilience.  This resilience increases our emotional reserves and provides us with a greater ability to withstand the stressors we encounter in life.

There are so many areas of our lives where we can just savour the experience.

Next time you make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, aim to drink it with no other distractions.  Don’t drink it while you watch TV, or read a book, or surf the net (or drive your car).

Take the time to simply enjoy it.

Drink it slowly, with your eyes closed, fully appreciating the aroma and the taste .

This mindfulness can be applied to so many experiences.  Eating a piece (piece, not block!!) of very good quality chocolate.  Letting it melt in your mouth, noticing its earthiness, the richness of its texture as it melts in your mouth.

Reading a blog post, article, newspaper or book very slowly – really noticing each word.

The key is not to rush through these activities. 

So much of our life is spent multi-tasking, or working to deadline.  We are missing the simple beauty of the many every day moments in our lives.

When we can stop – really STOP –  and fully appreciate what we are doing, we can find lasting contentment and happiness.

Savour everything you do, every experience, every meal, every interaction.

 

Because every single moment of every single day – whether those moments are good or bad – is a gift.

 

Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content
~ Robert Greene

Image

Restoring our faith in humanity (continued)

We are all born receptive to love, kindness and hope.

As we grow up however, we encounter the less hopeful, more challenging aspects of human nature – including discovering that the things humans do at times can be hateful, calculating and unkind.

There are very few of us who would not have been touched by the recent events in America.

When events like these happen, it’s easy to develop a very negative and pessimistic view of the world, and its inhabitants.  Though this can turn us cynical or leave us feeling helpless, human beings are just as capable of the most incredible, amazing and wonderful kindness and love.

In these times it’s beneficial to focus on the positive – on the goodness that also surrounds us.

If you’re feeling a little jaded about where humanity is headed, here are some active ways to restore your faith

Focus on happiness

Unfortunately it’s human nature for us to talk about the things that we are finding hard or difficult – or people or events that are making us feel miserable.

So to change the dynamics around you – ask people about the happiest moments in their lives instead.  Ask them what they care about, what makes them happy and what motivates them.

As has often been quoted – “with our thoughts we create our world”.

So talk happy + think happy = be happy.

Look for the good news

The media usually only bring us the stories that will get the most attention – violent acts, wars, natural disasters etc.  This can distort our perception of what the world is really like.

There are also a lot of people doing good out there, and positive new stories to rejoice in.

For example:

26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year

You can also subscribe to news feeds that only focus on positive stories.  Eg:

The Daily Good

Huffpost Good News

Happy music

This one is my personal favourite – listening to upbeat and happy music.

The more positivity and happiness we expose ourselves to – even music – the better we feel.

My favourite songs this week (which are on almost continuous repeat in my house):

Jump in the Line – Harry Belafonte

Little Bitty Pretty One – Thurston Harris

Say Hey – Michael Franti

 I challenge you to listen to these songs without dancing along.

Help people less fortunate than you

It can help us to have a reality check sometimes – in the form of associating with people who are experiencing hardships worse than ours – especially those people who are facing great difficulties with resilience and positivity.

Get actively involved by volunteering your time and services to help these people.

Volunteer at a hospital, animal shelter, or local charity – and help improve lives.

It also gives us a great sense of perspective – that no matter how difficult things might seem for us, there are people facing much greater hardships with pluck and determination.

Human beings are amazing and resilient.

Build a positive network

Associate with people who are positive – their energy and happiness is contagious.

Spend time each day listening to inspiring audio talks.

Bookmark pages on the internet of people who inspire you through their actions and endeavours.

Share the love

Tell stories of human goodness to other people you meet, in order to inspire them to see the good in humanity too.

When you’ve found positive stories about humanity, share your experience with others. If you have your own blog or you update a social network stream with stories, share more stories that are positive and uplifting.

Lead by example

Encourage faith and trust in the people around you through your actions.

When you model the kind of change you wish to see, you spark ripples that continue on.  One act of kindness can have huge follow on effects – continuously improving the community of which you belong.

Make life a little better, a little happier, a little easier for everyone you meet.

Ultimately you can choose to be kind as a form of taking a stand against the injustices, violence and unkindness in this world.

There is power in kindness.  By being kind, you affirm and create the kind of world you want to be a part of.  You can choose to have faith in humanity.

Change the world – one heart at a time.

Image