Are we in control of our lives or are we not?

Well, for many years I believed that I was not in control of my life, I just felt lucky when things were working as I wished, and then I felt like a victim when things went wrong… all in all I felt pretty powerless about most of it.

But things have changed for me, completely changed I would say, as I have slowly realized that I can live my life “by design” as opposed to just “by default,” but to be honest with you, this truth took a long time to take hold, and a lot of inner work on my part… as many good things do 🙂

So, Are we in control of our lives or aren’t we?

Here is the thing: we will never be able to control most of what surrounds us: the weather, the traffic, the constant changes, and mostly: the people around us. But we are always in control of our actions and our reactions to those variables, so in a way, we are in control of our lives.

If we see ourselves as victims of our surroundings then we will never feel we have control, but if we switch our perspective and realize that the way we decide to act or respond to everything that surrounds us will determine our true experience, then we will feel truly empowered and in control.

Is what happens to us a product of simple fate or is it something we bring onto ourselves (consciously or not? )

How much of our experience is self-made and how much is just imposed into our human condition?

I truly believe that what happens to us, to a great extent, is the result of our own making, whether we like it or not, I know most people cringe when they hear this, and so did I for most of my life, but I have come to realize one major thing:

We are often totally unaware of how we bring things into our lives, so we cannot possibly take responsibility for it, until, we become aware of our internal patterns, deep seated beliefs and subconscious workings. And gaining that kind of awareness is no small feat!  Sadly, a lot of people never do.

On the other hand, yes, there is a part that we can call fate, and this is because we do not live alone nor isolated, we live in a big wide world with millions of other people and living creatures as well as natural forces, and because of this, we do depend on all of them, to a certain degree as well.

However, the more aware we are, the more in control we can be, simply because we realize our own part of responsibility and we can begin to take control of what we can indeed change, and for the remaining of it, what we would call “fate”  we can also be in control, in the sense that our reaction to what happens is definitely under our control.

There is a lovely “Serenity Prayer” that my parents had on a wall at home for years, and it has always been in my mind… here it is:

Serenity Prayer This little prayer illustrates what I am trying to convey in this post.

Yes, there are things that I cannot change, but the way I look at them will change my experience (accepting as opposed to resisting.)

And there are things I can definitely change (they are under my control,) in fact, a lot more things than I think.

However, I need to be wise enough (aware enough,) to tell the difference, which means: I need to do my work of introspection and self-discovery in order to gain that awareness/wisdom.

So, in my newly acquired view, we are pretty much in control of our lives, but this is a “control” in which our ego does not play an important part, it is not about getting things “my way” but rather it is about merging in with the flow of life, learning to dance with it, and co-create our experience through this dance. 

Have a lovely week!

Meditation Explained!

Last week, I attended a talk about TM (Transcendental Meditation) and it reminded me that my last post about meditation was almost 3 years ago! So, I decided to write about this incredible resource today again, and go a little deeper in the explanation of how it works, and how it can help YOU.

brainwaves

I started my journey into meditation about 10 or 11 years ago, it was a slow process for me, and it took many shapes and stages, but along this journey I learned so much about what meditation really is, and it has without any doubt positively shaped the person I am now, and it continues to do so everyday!

I feel, without any doubt, that it is the most powerful tool we can use to live a happier, healthier and easier life. In my experience, meditation is the one practice that will change the world, one person at a time, and I can guarantee you that if you talk to anybody that practices meditation regularly, they will agree with this.

Describing meditation is not a very easy endeavor, as it is one of those things that, in order to be fully understood, it needs to be experienced first hand… but I will try my best to explain it.

Basically, our brain vibrates at different frequencies, a frequency is the rate at which a vibration occurs that constitutes a wave, either in a material (as in sound waves), or in an electromagnetic field (as in radio waves and light), usually measured per second. The states of our mind and brain are very different depending on which frequency they are vibrating at.

If you look at the picture above, there are currently 4 brain frequencies detected by an EEG (although now they are talking about a 5th one called Gamma, but for now we will just focus on the 4 pictured above.)

  • Beta: you are awake, consciously alert, active, fully awake, going about your day.
  • Alpha: you are awake and aware but in a state of physical and mental relaxation.
  • Theta: you are in a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness.
  • Delta: you are unconscious, in deep sleep.

So, basically, meditation is the capacity to go deeper and deeper into these frequencies, by maintaining awareness, it is the capacity to lower the activity in our brains to the point that our mind is thought-free (or almost), and therefore we can create a space of total stillness and clarity within, a space in which we are still awake and aware (as opposed to falling asleep or deeply asleep.)

There are of course different levels of meditation, the more you practice, the deeper your meditation can be. There are also many techniques used for meditation, but the goal is always the same: to quiet your mind and become the “observer” of your mind. You can learn more about all the different techniques by looking at the related articles and books listed below.

Amongst many spiritual traditions it is believed that this space of stillness is where we meet the divine, where we understand who we are, and where the source of all beings becomes one. It is the space also where we can connect to our intuition, our inner knowing, etc.

However, for those who are turned off by all the spiritual lingo, it is important to remember that you can practice meditation and get all the benefits from it, without attaching any spiritual meaning to it.

How can meditation help YOU?

Well, nowadays people all over the world are suffering from a constant state of stress no matter how subtle it is, we are slaves of what Eckart Tolle calls: Psychological Time, our minds are very busy all the time dwelling on past events or speculating about future outcomes, but very seldom focused completely, a 100% in the moment, therefore, our mind chatter is constantly interfering with our reality and this creates inevitable stress.

When we are stressed out (by our own thoughts) our bodies are in a constant state of fight or flight* and therefore our brain is not working at its optimum capacity, and we are more likely to make the wrong choices and react to events in less than desirable ways, let alone the consequences that linger in our bodies (tension, high blood pressure, etc).

Meditation, by the virtue of slowly but surely training our minds to quiet down, will help us regain control over our brain and our body, and be in a state of constant calmness and clarity, as opposed to a state of stress and hurry.

Committing yourself to the practice of meditation will likely be the most important decision you make in your life!

Don’t think that you need to spend thousands of dollars or travel to Asia in order to learn how to meditate, there are wonderful resources that can help you learn without spending your life’s savings. But ultimately it all comes down to how committed you are to improving your life for real.

The 21-Day Meditation Challenge is one of those great online free resources to get you started, and it is going on RIGHT NOW, so you are still on time to join, I highly encourage you to do it, even if it is just out of curiosity, it won’t take more than 20 minutes of your day and it will give you a taste of what meditation is. Register Now

If you live in the DC area, drop me a note and I will be happy to send you a list of the local resources in this area, but wherever you live, I am sure you can find organizations, groups or institutions that offer free classes and workshops on meditation.

Have a Great Week!

*fight or flight and modern stress response explained here

Related Articles Great Books
Meditation, an Incredible Tool (How I discovered meditation) 10% Happier by Dan Harris
A true story and a great approach for the skeptic
8 Basic Kinds of Meditation Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg A great introductory book with a program and a bonus CD
The Chopra Center Meditation Resources How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön
A wonderful beginners guide by a seasoned Buddhist Nun
What are Brainwaves Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield A great beginners book

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Don’t let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good!

I remember clearly when I was studying to become a professional photographer, I had an assignment that I could not finish, there was always something wrong with it and I kept starting it over an over (note that this was way before the era of digital photography!) Because I was working with film, I could never see the end result until I developed my film, so the whole process was quite long, and starting over meant adding many hours of work and sleepless nights.

perfectionism

My teacher finally asked me why it was taking me so long. I explained to him that I had to start over 3 times and was still not happy with my pictures. He looked at me with a weary look and said: “give me what you have right now!”
I, of course was not ready to do that, but then he said: “Susana, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

From that day on, his advice stayed with me. If you are a perfectionist as I am, it is not easy to be content with your work, if you feel you can do better, the problem is: you always feel you can do better! so you are never fully satisfied with what you do.

Trying to do your best is a very good personal quality, however, being a perfectionist is NOT. The expectations you put on yourself, as a perfectionist, are enormous and you are bound to let yourself down over and over. You may spend crazy amounts of time in tasks that should not take you too long, you may procrastinate because you are daunted by the task at hand, you may be often disappointed with your performance, or you may be embarrassed of showing your work to others. These are all signs that you may be a perfectionist.

A few years back, when I was discussing some issues with my therapist, the fact that I was a perfectionist came into the table, and she gave me a simple little tool that I have tried to use ever since, but that I still find hard sometimes. She asked me to do something imperfect everyday and leave it like that, she said that I could start with small things that would not make me too uncomfortable, but by doing them everyday I would get used to the discomfort and would feel it less and less.

So my exercise started with something very simple: I was sending a few letters and I wrote one of the addresses wrong, so I crossed out the incorrect word and wrote the correct one next to it. The mailman would most certainly understand, but I felt really uncomfortable looking at the smudge, normally I would have torn the envelope and started all over with a new one, but I didn’t…. This was the beginning of a series of small exercise to get used to the “discomfort” of not being perfect, and it has paid off.

But just recently I saw myself in the exact same position I was years back when I couldn’t finish my photo assignment, and I realized how silly it all was. My children’s teachers announced me, very last minute, that my kids where having a birthday celebration at school (in the previous couple years these celebrations were optional, and I did not do it because my kids where summer babies, so their birthdays would not happen during the school months) however this time, the teachers made the decision for me, and suddenly, I had a rush of guilt thinking that I had not done it the years before, and that now that I had to do it, it had to be perfect.

The school celebration usually involved showing pictures of the kids (at least one picture for every year of their life) and saying something important or a milestone that happened during each one of those years. So, here I was, with one day notice, going crazy, looking through thousands of pictures in my computer, trying to find the best ones, making sure I had at least one of them for every year of their lives, getting all confused about the dates, wondering if they should be alone in the pictures or with a loved one, wondering if I should print the pictures for the kids to pass along or if I should upload them to my iPad to show them at a bigger size, etc. It took me HOURS.

Then, I had to make a cake (homemade of course!) that was the easiest task, and last but not least, I had to come up with one nice milestone for every year, which was not easy since I had totally forgotten when they did what, where they 9 months or 1 year when they started walking?

Well, I didn’t have time to do anything I had planned that day, but I was ready for the birthday celebration! (I had a pressing deadline, so I was done even if I wasn’t totally happy with it)

So, I get to the school, with the cake, the iPad with all the pictures, the list of milestones for each one (since I have twins) and very anxious about the whole thing! And guess what happened…?

When I get into the classroom and show the teacher all I brought, she tells me: Oh, no, we won’t do pictures this time, and instead of the milestones, we are just going to have every classmate say something they like about your kids, and as for the cake… well, we’ll save it for snack time, as we prefer not to give them treats now.

Of course, she was really kind in her telling me all this, and of course, nobody had asked me to do all that, but I assumed it was going to be like the other teachers used to do it in previous years, but not this time…

So there I was, thinking of ALL the time I had wasted trying to be perfect, and I just laughed at myself and remembered my wise photography teacher. Here is another way to put it:

“Done is Better than Perfect

So, if you feel you might be a perfectionist, or know someone who is, you may enjoy, or want to share this post and the related articles below.

Have a Great Week!

3 Big Perfectionism Struggles for Women

Perfectionism Test

14 Signs your perfectionism has gotten out of control


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Depression and its tragic toll

In light of the recent death of Robin Williams, I thought it appropriate to open up a conversation on depression. It is so incredibly sad that a wonderful and caring man, a successful actor and comedian, a loving father and husband, has taken his own life to escape depression.

Robin Williams

It is also not surprising at all that he ended his life to escape the dark, dark, dark hole of depression. There is a saying that heaven and hell are part of this human life and not some mysterious “places” that we go to after we die. It is indeed within this human and physical life that we can experience hell or heaven, and both of those places are not outside of ourselves but deep inside.

Depression is exactly that: a place of hell, where there is no light, no hope, no meaning; and the longer someone stays in that place, the worst it gets. The problem with this condition is that many times it goes undiagnosed, either because its intensity is mild to moderate (like in chronic depression, dysthymia, etc) or because people do not seek proper help.

Depression in men is a much bigger problem. For centuries men had been expected to toughen up, to hide their sadness, to repress their tears, to be brave and strong, etc. etc. and all of that conditioning and learned behavior has made men much more disconnected from their own bodies and feelings, which is a very serious handicap, especially when facing depression.

Here below is an excerpt of an article from Helpguide.org, which sums it up well:

“Unfortunately, men are far less adept at recognizing their symptoms than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. The three most common signs of depression in men are:

Physical pain. Sometimes depression in men shows up as physical symptoms—such as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive disorders—that don’t respond to normal treatment.

Anger This could range from irritability, sensitivity to criticism, or a loss of your sense of humor to road rage, a short temper, or even violence. Some men become abusive, controlling, verbally or physically abusive to wives, children, or other loved ones.

Reckless behavior A man suffering from depression may start exhibiting escapist or risky behavior. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. They may drink too much, use drugs, or gamble compulsively.”

If you wish to read more, you can see the entire article here: Depression in Men, Why It’s Hard to Recognize and What Helps

I have read a lot about happiness, and most of the literature and new scientific discoveries on neuroscience point to the fact that the state of being happy can only be found inside ourselves and it has little to do with our life circumstances, the same goes for sadness and hopelessness, it is a state inside or ourselves.

However, it is important to point out that there is a great difference between feeling sad, frustrated or hopeless (which we all do from time to time) and having clinical depression.
A clinically depressed person needs help, and whether it is the use of medication (temporary or in the long term), and/or an effective therapy, it is very important to seek help outside of ourselves and especially outside of our minds!

Also, once the depression lifts or gets better, a deep personal and internal work has to begin in order to keep a healthy mind, so as not to relapse.
This inner work is a great responsibility and it takes effort, but it is worthwhile, it will help us to recognize the symptoms early, before they take over again, and it can even help us beat depression for good.

There was a time when mental health was taboo, there was a time where there was NO conversation and NO help for mental problems. Now, luckily, things have changed, but in spite of that, there is still a lot of stigma and denial around this. Too many people are suffering from depression and other forms of mental illnesses that seriously damage their quality of life, so it is time to take responsibility for our mental health and accept our limitations without shame but as an opportunity for growth.

Have a great week!

Related articles:

Taking responsibility for our mental health

The Science behind Happiness


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The importance of expressing negative emotions/feelings

The topic for this week has been inspired by a great book I am reading at the moment, it is called: “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Faber and Mazlish. As a mother of 6-year-old twins, I have to deal with my kids’ fighting and bickering and sometimes it drives me off the wall (I am sure many parents can relate). Being a single child I had no experience with having a sibling, so I really wanted to understand my kids and especially find ways to help them improve their relationship in every possible way.

siblings

As it turns out, I am learning many fascinating things about the dynamics of having a sibling, and how the relationship with a sibling can affect the rest of our life, for good or bad. Our parents, as well as our siblings become our first and closest teachers, so the way we interact with them will deeply shape the way we relate with other people and situations later in life.

So, I wanted to delve a little deeper into one of the main messages in this book: The importance of expressing negative emotions! It is quite simple but really profound.

I have always been a strong believer in expressing our emotions, all of them, even the negative ones. However, most people, when they are growing up, are taught to keep those emotions under control by simply repressing them, they are made to feel ashamed of them, to feel something is wrong with them and therefore, on top of having to suppress those emotions (hard enough for a child), they add more negative emotions to the mix: shame, guilt, inadequacy, etc.

Apparently, siblings are the first trigger of negative emotions during childhood because of the inevitable rivalry that arises between them. Experts in the field agree that at the root of siblings rivalry is each child’s deep desire for the exclusive love of his parents, simply because parents are the source of all security for a child (food, shelter, warmth, affection, a sense of identity, a sense of worth, etc.) So, the sole presence of another child threatens that security.

So, those feelings are NORMAL and to a certain extent healthy (from a preservation point of view if you wish). Now, the way children learn to deal with those feelings is extremely important for their future, and parents can help a great deal in this learning process. The very first thing to do is validate the child’s negative emotion, and that can be very hard for parents.

If a small child says he hates his baby sister, he does not mean it of course, but he is expressing a deep frustration. A very young child may not even have the words to actually say what he is feeling, so he may just push or hit his little sister for no “apparent” reason. In these two scenarios, most parents are likely to respond as follows:

1.- If child says he hates his baby sister:

What a parent may say What the child actually hears and feels
Do not say that! I can’t say what I feel (feels repressed)
That is not nice! I am not a nice person (feels guilty, ashamed)
Of course you don’t hate her My feelings are not real (feels he cannot trust his feelings)

2.-If child hits his sister:

What a parent may say What the child actually hears
Don’t be mean! or You are a bad boy! I am a bad person (feels guilty and ashamed)
What is wrong with you! Something is really wrong with me (feels inadequacy and fear)
You can’t do that! I can’t express what I feel (his feelings are wrong)

So, as a child grows up, he learns to keep his emotions under control by suppressing them, and he internalizes all those messages of guilt, inadequacy, not been good enough, not trusting his feelings, and so on.

Instead, parents could help the child find creative ways to channel his emotions, by first allowing them to be, validating them and letting them know that they understand what he is feeling, without judgment nor criticism. It is very important to make a distinction between allowing feelings and allowing actions. Parents can permit children to express their feelings, but they can’t permit them to hurt each other. Parents can help children express their negative feelings without doing damage, and there are many effective ways to do so.

Many of the frustrations and repressed feelings we have as adults came from these childhood moments where we learned that we could not expressed what we felt, whether it was anger, sadness, etc.

Another typical example that causes so much damage (especially in men) is the urge to have boys hold their tears, to learn to suppress them with comments such as:

  • Boys don’t cry
  • Don’t be a girl (this one is even worse, as it carries within it, a message of great disrespect to girls and therefore to women)
  • You are a big boy now, it is NOT ok to cry (suddenly they are not allowed to feel sad anymore, just like that!)

Ignoring a child when they cry is also very negative, because it gives them the message that their feelings (in this case their sadness) is not important, it’s not worthy of attention. Even though as adults we may feel that their crying is over something unimportant, from a child’s perspective that something may be truly important.

It is all about simply acknowledging and respecting their feelings, regardless of where they came from.

As adults we will still feel sadness, anger, frustrations, etc. many many times, so we need to first be ok with our feelings, acknowledge them, respect them (self acceptance) and, then know how to channel them in a non-damaging way (self control). These two simple things will give us enormous peace and control over our lives! Remember that Control is not the same as repression.

Also, as adults, if we are not in touch with our feelings (if they are so badly repressed that we don’t even feel them anymore), we will not be able to truly relate to other people’s emotions, so we will be less capable to establish deep, intimate relationships, and be emotionally present for others.

So, if you want to learn more about the ways you can help your kids and give them some vital tools, or if you wish to better understand the hurts of your own past, I really recommend this book. Click here
to see it in Amazon.

And last but not least, it is very important to realize that we are NOT our emotions, we cannot be defined by them, but we ARE entitled to feel them, and we CAN channel them positively!

Have a great week!


Announcements

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    • Free Teleseminar with Sally Kempton: Reclaiming the Subtle Eros of Life, August 13 Register here

No more problems please!

Have you ever wondered about how you deal with problems? those kind of problems you actually would prefer not to deal with? the problems you may not even see because you prefer not to? I recently read something that inspired today’s post: When you ignore a problem, it doesn’t go away, it just gets bigger and bigger

problems
Image: piotr marcinski/Shutterstock.com

Most of the problems or conflicts we have, arise from the way we relate to the world around us, especially other human beings or situations we find ourselves in. When a problem or conflict that creates emotional discomfort arises, we sometimes choose to ignore it, we’d rather not face it because we may not have a clue how to fix it, or it may be so big and scary that it is overwhelming just to think about it, so we don’t!, we shut it off, we ignore it and we try to occupy our minds in something else and pretend it is not there. We often do this unconsciously, we may not even be aware that we are shutting it off, or we may even convince ourselves that there is NO problem at all, that we are fine!

It is fascinating how our mind works, in its constant effort to avoid pain it will divert us from what is really going on. However, by ignoring a problem we are allowing it to grow bigger and bigger, and one day, inevitably it will blow up on our face, and by then, the damage might be unrecoverable… This is particularly true when it comes to relationships, we often allow the conflicts and the discomfort to become the norm, and we live with them instead of solving them, until one day something breaks (whether it is our health, the relationship, or both) and there is not much we can do to fix it at that point.

But, since we may be ignoring our problems without really being aware that we are doing it, how on earth can we get around this…?

The good news is that while our minds can totally trick us, our bodies cannot, our bodily sensations are a very good gauge to measure the state of our life. That is why it is so incredibly important to be in touch with our bodies, with our physical sensations and discomforts, and with our overall state of health.

Most of us have experienced what we call butterflies in our tummy when we are excited or nervous, or that knot in our throat when we are sad or speechless, or the tension in our shoulders or tummy when we are angry; our bodies are always reacting to the way we feel, no matter how hard we try to control it. Our bodies always tell us the truth, so we must listen…

The sensations in our bodies do not abide by the rules and filters that our mind dictates and chooses. Our bodies are plain and simple sensors of life… our organs do not “analyze” nor “judge” everything, they just function well or not so well, depending on what is going on around us, and especially inside our minds.

If you feel emotional discomfort, the first step is to make peace with the feeling, by that I mean, don’t be hard on yourself for feeling the way you do, you have a right to feel sad, angry, frustrated, guilty etc. no matter what the situation is. Acknowledge the feeling, let it be there (which is different than feeding it by being overly negative or taking a victim role) just be aware of it and try to understand why it is there?, when do you feel it? is this only an emotional feeling (sadness, anger, frustration, etc.) or it is accompanied by a bodily sensation (pain, discomfort, tension, etc.)?, allow it to be there, do not escape the feeling, but do not cling to it either, just witness it and try to notice when it came about (did something happen that triggered it? has it happened before? what were you doing when it happened or right before? what were you thinking about when it happened or before…?)

There are many fascinating stories about how our body speaks to us, here below I wanted to share a few that I have read about:

A little boy that felt totally neglected by his parents, who were too busy to spend quality time with him, became sick, and his parents were forced to be by his side and take care of him, sickness became his way of calling for attention, and he went on to become a sickly adult. It wasn’t until later in life and many illnesses, that he understood (through therapy) this dysfunctional pattern, and little by little he recovered his health.

Or the woman who never felt listened to by her husband (something neither of them had acknowledged nor realized) until one day she lost her voice, with no explanation, she could not speak for almost a year. Luckily, through therapy, she understood what had caused her voice to shut off, and she slowly recovered her voice.

Another woman in a seemingly stable and long lasting relationship, had lost all interest in intimacy, sex became painful and she started having hormonal and fertility problems, she was told she would never be able to conceive. Years later, she was confronted by the fact that she had never felt loved, appreciated nor desired by her partner of many years, and her sexuality and reproductive organs started shutting off as a consequence. She later went on to enjoy great health, enjoy intimacy and even had a child (with a different partner.)

Just remember that the problems you may be facing, especially in regards to relationships in your life, may not be totally clear to you nor obvious, but the physical sensations along with the emotional discomfort are a great way to delve a little more into what is going on and hopefully get to the bottom of it before it becomes a really big problem.

Do not ignore problems, face them, allow them to be, accept them, make peace with them, as that is the only way to start solving them. It is important to take an active role in solving our problems as opposed to ignoring them and numbing ourselves. So start by listening to your body a little more and to your mind a little less…

Have a great week!


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Starting a Happiness Practice

After quite a long break on my writing, I am back, and today I wanted to reflect on how much of our time and energy we devote everyday to feeling better, being happier, and, overall enjoying our life.

happyface

Although it is important to take time to do things that we enjoy, whatever that might be (reading a book, taking a nap, playing with our kids, etc.) more important than that, is actually paying attention to those small simple pleasures that define happiness, sometimes we don’t even need to “do” anything, we just have to “be aware” of life unfolding before us.

More often than not, we tend to focus on the things that don’t go so well in our lives, or we may get stuck in a cycle of living in the past or the future, and that takes our attention away from what is going on in the moment. Many small things that happen to us every day could bring joy into our life, but only if we choose to see them, only if we pay attention to them, we acknowledge them; and that is ultimately our choice. Today, I would like to invite you to bring awareness to those simple things that happen to you everyday and that can be a source for happiness.

Everything in life takes practice, and this is not an exception, the more we practice awareness, the better we will become at it, but we need to be committed to this practice, otherwise, the old usual patterns will take over again and again. There are different ways to gain awareness and make it a daily habit, but the first step is to realize the importance of this practice and how it can greatly improve our lives.

I recently came across something that could be a useful tool for this kind of practice, some of you may have heard of the #100happydays on Facebook, it is a challenge that is becoming a social phenomenon, as there are over one million people already registered in their website. The idea behind #100happydays is to challenge people to find one happy moment every single day for 100 days and post a picture about that moment on their social page, it could be anything, from having coffee with a good friend, to looking at a beautiful flower.

It seems a little daunting at first (especially the length of the challenge), but it actually does not take more than 1 minute a day to post, maybe even less. This is not to give you an excuse to “show off” how happy you are,on Facebook, but rather to create a solid daily practice on gaining awareness.

Whether you are active in a social network or not, it doesn’t really matter, you can find other ways to gain awareness, but this kind of challenges help you commit to a practice and commit long enough that it becomes second nature to you.

If you are not very active on Social Media platforms (which many of us are not, including myself!), here are other useful tools to start an awareness practice:

  • Keep a gratitude journal, and write every single night 2 things that happened to you during the day and that you are thankful for
  • Do a shorter happydays challenge, maybe with a friend (to have some pressure), 21 days is a minimum length to really get any benefit
  • Set your alarm every day at the same time and when it goes off, reflect on what has happened so far and what may have been a happy moment that went unnoticed

The important thing is to find a way that will help you commit to a daily practice, as constant practice is the only thing that will make a lasting change in your life!

If you are active on Social Media, I highly encourage you to take a look at the #100happydays and embark in the journey. Aside from checking their website, you can also read this interesting article: #100happydays: The story behind the social phenomenon spreading joy around the world.

And, if you are not active on a Social Media Platform, do NOT use that as an excuse not to do anything, you can use the suggestions above to start another practice, and the best day to start is: TODAY!

Have a happy week!
one moment at a time…