Viewing entries tagged
happiness

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On Sacred Dreams

white hot truth: what's true for you?

I'm posting another writer's article today, basically because I think she rocks and would like to introduce you to her (in case you don't know her yet.) She is Danielle LaPorte of daniellelaporte.com

Wonder what their dream is

Our dreams and desires define us. Be they broken, scarcely remembered, on the verge of reality, or in full bloom. They pilot our choices. Dreams have the power to shape the entire landscape of our lives. Because they tend to be so precious and potent, many people keep their dreams and aspirations to themselves.

A dream is a very sacred thing to share.

If you knew someone's dream, you might look at that person very differently…with more tenderness, more respect, more familiarity, and more wonder than before. Dream-sharing melts boundaries and it calls forth resources and commonalities.

Look at everyone you meet this week and actively think to yourself, “I wonder what their dream is?” Ask at least one person this week what their dream is. You can do it subtly, and traditionally, like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What did you want to be when you were growing up?” Or you can just go for it, playfully and momentously and ask, “So, like, what’s your big dream?” So many people never get asked that. And fewer are really listened to. And for those who are stumped by the question, I guarantee they'll be thinking about it for days to come. Just the asking of that question sets essential things in motion.

The guy in the cubicle next to you may be working on novel about unicorns and espionage. Your sister might be fantasizing about her own cabaret break out performance. Your postal carrier may be patenting the next great invention. Make no assumptions about your partner, your workmate, or the bus driver.

Small, mighty, seemingly impossible, or simply pure – when you know what someone’s dream is, your perspective leans toward openness. And every dream needs space to run.

Oh, my dream-stream... Inspire freedom seeking and engagement with life in a big big way for a long long time. That means my next book, White Hot Truth is a stunning success in every way possible, and I'm wearing suede boots and big gold hoops on stage and laughing "you-know-what-I'm sayin'-don'tchya?" laughs with thousands of people.

And I dream of Morocco and France and a koi pond in the back yard of my mod pre-fab house. Collecting art. Magazine coverage. I dream about communion with my man that blows both our minds. I dream of sitting 'round a fire with leaders and lovers of progress. Being able to give yeses and make phone calls that open doors and new dimensions for people.

I dream of children being taught mindfulness in school, and a movement of conscious birth choices and parenting, and technologies that heal. And I dream of invitations that humble me, and more magical connections with people who I recognize on a cellular level, and we band together to leverage change, and to support and care for each other in the way that reminds you how great it is to share space and time. And I dream of feeling more electric and sweet every single day.

But mostly, I dream of being amazed.

How 'bout you?

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Well, I dream of so many things... love, passion, joy, world peace, healthy self-esteem for all, living in a society without money, making a positive difference in people's lives, being a size 10, having conversations with singers and movie stars, having time to read all the books in the world and friends and family to discuss them with, playing the piano, speaking every language on the planet fluently, traveling extensively - and very deep down, I dream of feeling truly 100 % content and rooted within myself.

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15 Tips on Maintaining Balance

Pic credit: gravityglue.com

Pic credit: gravityglue.com

If trying to maintain balance in your life makes you feel like a tightrope walker, you’re not alone. Most of us have so many demands on our time and energy, life can feel like a three-ring circus. Read these statements to see how well you are meeting responsibilities, while also recognizing and fulfilling personal needs and wants. For an extra-look into your self-awareness window, think about the questions below each statement.

1. The only way I can successfully manage my life is to take care of myself physically and emotionally.

Is this true for you? How are you living this statement?

2. Nurturing myself enlarges my capacity to help others.

Does your inner voice agree with this statement? When was the last time you said, "My needs are as important as your needs."?

3. I eat healthfully and exercise regularly.

Do you sleep well? In what ways are you using food or exercise to cope with emotions?

4. I get check-ups, go to the dentist, and take preventative precautions.

Are you worried about health insurance? What can you do today to relieve that stress?

5. I set aside personal, quiet time for myself, whether I’m meditating or simply letting my thoughts drift.

How are you dealing with the need to get things done? When was the last time you did nothing?

6. I experience the gifts of each season: ice skating, sledding, bundled-up beach walks; gardening, hiking, more time outside; camping, swimming, barbecues; harvesting the bounty, gathering wood, spending more time inside.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you consider yourself in touch with nature?

7. Creativity nurtures me, too. I do what I love, whether that’s cooking, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, singing or another creative pursuit.

Writing counts! Imagination counts! If you haven't bought a little journal to doodle in, go out and get one today!

8. Reaching out to others enriches my life. I spend quality time with family and friends.

Are you an introvert who gets his energy from the inner world of thoughts and ideas? Your point of view is valuable, please share it with others close to you.

9. Contributing to the world provides connection and purpose, so I give my time, energy and experience where it is most useful.

How much time can you set aside for volunteering? You might be denying yourself the opportunity to experience pure bliss and happiness for giving without expecting to receive.

10. I notice and heed the emotional signals that tell me I’m out of balance: irritability, overwhelm, resentment.

What are your triggers? How do you get out of your funk the fastest?

11. If I feel that I’m catching a cold, I realize I may have stressed my immune system with over activity, so I stop and take care of myself.

What are your thoughts about adults napping? How many pills do you take a day? Would you consider swapping out pills for foods richer in vitamins and minerals, and have one cold shower per week?

12. When I need or want to, I say no to requests for my time.

Which strategies do you use for setting your boundaries?

13. I listen to and honor the requests my body makes for such things as a nap, a walk, green vegetables, hot soup.

When was the last time you stopped to listen to your inner voice?

14. I’m busy, but I find time to do the things I want to do.

How are your organizational skills? Is the calendar you're currently using doing its job?

15. I’m happy. I regularly experience well-being, contentment, even joy.

Look at yourself in the mirror and say this statement out loud. What does your reflection tell you?

If you felt some of these questions were too personal or sounded accusatory, it means they've probably hit a nerve. I invite you this week to try and incorporate the message of the statement that most bugged you into your life.

Please don’t hesitate to call if you’d like to explore any of the questions further, and leave a comment below to share how you're maintaining balance in your life.

(Re-post from the archives, first published in April 2010.)

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3 Tips to Increase Your Happiness

Written into the Declaration of Independence, happiness is much pursued and seldom reached - for long. 

I read this article in the Times on the plane a few weeks ago and took some notes, so I thought I'd share them here.  

1. Try new things

Our happiness would be bred, instead of an almost adolescent restlessness, an itch to do the Next Big Thing. (...) That first moon landing - Apollo 11 - was a very big deal, something we had pursued like nothing else. But Apollo 12? Sort of a letdown.

This makes sense, doesn't it? First of all, in terms of age of country, the USA are in their adolescence. But you don't have to be US American to get excited about a new pair of shoes only to get bored by them a few days later. Your brain gets used to them, so all of us experience this phenomenon. Belle Beth Cooper writes about it here, and giving examples from her recent expatriation. 

So, while routine gives us stability and a sense of security, it may also get you down. Why not try new ways home from work, a new dish at the local restaurant, or - gasp - a new hairdo to flex your new-change muscles?  

2. Stay focused

In a recent research study,  

people operating under that so-called cognitive load showed reduced empathy reactions, with neural activity down across four different brain regions. People with uncluttered brains processed - and felt - things more deeply.

According to one of the researchers, "it's possible that being distracted may also reduce our own happiness." In other words - stop doing more than one thing at a time. Don't play Angry Birds while watching a movie, stop listening to an audiobook while baby-sitting, and for goodness' sake, if you're maxed out at work, don't schlepp your laptop into meetings and answer emails at the same time. It's not good for your health, not even to mention the cross-cultural messages you're sending to those who think it's rude. In the US, I know everybody does it, but in Germany it looks like "you're not important enough to have my full attention".  Have a chat with your team to set boundaries and see how you can fit your workload back into a realistic 40 hours. 

3. Appreciate what you've got

You've probably heard the thing where money doesn't buy happiness, or happiness levels don't increase much above a certain pay-grade. Sorry to bust that bubble: 

while happiness may not rise as quickly as income (doubling your salary from $75,000 to $150,000 will not make you twice as happy) there is no such thing as growing numb to money. (...) not only does subjective well-being rise along with income but in wealthy countries the slope is actually sharper than it is in poorer countries. 

What does this mean? If you make six figures but would like to make seven, your happiness isn't where it could be. If you continue comparing yourself to those who have more, you're not giving your happiness a chance to catch up.  

Click on the image up top to read the full article online, or buy the magazine for more interesting facts. For example, when asked "Which makes you happier?" 35 % of people said "Working toward a goal", and 59 % said, "Achieving a goal". Now, does that sound like a Perceiving and Judging preference, or what?!

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The Happiness Formula

Pic credit: paloetic Forget E=MC2.

Happiness - the always sought yet oft elusive state of mind that returns more than 298,000,000 results within 0.37 seconds of a Google search.

Enough with the mystery, here's a simple formula that Deepak Chopra shared during his recent lecture in Dallas to kick-start your happiness.

H=S+C+V!

S stands for set-point in your brain

This is the mechanism where happy people see opportunities, and unhappy people see problems.

Is the glass half full, half empty, or does it even matter if you just go ahead and drink it?

Your set-point will influence about 50 % of your happiness, and you will have learned where to set it within the first 3 or 4 years in your life. Yes, your set-point is something you probably learned from your parents. Were they worried and anxious, or more easy-going and adaptable?

If it isn't one thing, it's your mother, right? The good news is, you can practice and change your set-point by questioning your limiting beliefs, applying meditation techniques, and practicing self-reflection.

C stands for Conditions of Living

Your material and financial conditions probably make up about 12 % of your happiness levels. In other words, you may have very little and suffer in a country of dirty water and electricity outages, but in terms of influencing your levels of happiness, "C" has a smaller impact that "S" and "V".

V stands for Voluntary Choices

In the USA, the number one choice to achieve personal pleasure is ... take a guess ...

shopping. Followed by food, followed by sex.

People are consumers, and their choices result in merely transitory happiness experiences. Voluntary choices that are more conducive to long-term, permanent happiness are choices that make us feel fulfilled. These would be experiences where we attribute meaning, where we feel we have a purpose, have the opportunity to express our creativity, and take care of others.

It's true - emotions are contagious. If your friends are happy, you will be happier in return. So - make your enemies happier, and that will rub off on you, too.

Happiness is the sum of how we view the world from our set-point, the conditions we live in, and the voluntary choices we make. 

Are you going to choose happiness today? :-)

 

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Human Connections help us heal faster

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Human Connections help us heal faster

Having been an expat for over 15 years now, I have missed countless birthdays, wedding anniversaries, engagements, childbirths, christenings, even the funeral of my grandfather. My husband has strong preferences for introversion, so we don't have any couple-friends to go out and share experiences or rituals with. I admit, it's easy to forget how strong and useful the bonds of social structure can be.

Thankfully, I have found an Ersatz-family in my Toastmasters club and a handful of local friends. Three of whom are pregnant right now, so ask me again in 6 months how I feel about baby showers. Still, with my own preferences for Extraversion and all, I couldn't live without them. The research I'm going to share with you now hasn't included specifics on personality types, yet it is suggesting that human connections indeed provide health benefits to introverts and extraverts alike.

1. Janelle Jones and Jolanda Jetten found that "multiple group memberships promote the resilience in the face of physical challenges".

They found that belonging to multiple groups was associated with faster heart rate recovery for novice bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton athletes (Study 1) and that the salience of a greater number of group memberships led to greater endurance on a cold-pressor task (Study 2). Importantly, these effects were unchanged when controlling for individual differences in responses to the challenge, challenge perceptions, and group membership importance. The authors argue that multiple group memberships reflect an important psychological resource from which individuals draw strength when faced with life challenges and speculate as to the mechanisms underlying this effect.

In other words, next time one of your friends or club members is sick, consider the impact a simple phone call or signed card can have on their get-well-being.

2. Barbara Fredrickson cites research in this New York Times Op Ed piece that also suggests empathic connections positively influence our health.

When you share a smile or laugh with someone face to face, a discernible synchrony emerges between you, as your gestures and biochemistries, even your respective neural firings, come to mirror each other. It’s micro-moments like these, in which a wave of good feeling rolls through two brains and bodies at once, that build your capacity to empathize as well as to improve your health. If you don’t regularly exercise this capacity, it withers. Lucky for us, connecting with others does good and feels good, and opportunities to do so abound.

Her studies showed that plasticity extends beyond our brain's neurons. "Lovingkindness", or the art of nurturing supportive and empathic connections, is a skill that can be learned. And as it is learned, it increases your vagal tone (heart-brain connection), allowing your body to better regulate internal processes like glucose levels or even immune system responses. Which in turn feeds back into your capacity for loving kindness.

In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa.

found on annecarolinedrake.com
found on annecarolinedrake.com

The photo above shows Liz Gilbert and Ketut, and she describes her experiences with this medicine man in her book, Eat Pray Love. He encouraged her to meditate, and to learn to smile with her liver. Is that something you think you could do right now? Close your eyes, count to five heartbeats in your next five deep inhalations and exhalations, and smile. You'll feel better, and hey - it's healthy. :-)

 

Image by Meg Cheng, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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Step 5 - Finding your place in the greater scheme of things

Picture Credit: oatsy 40 Do you believe in God?

The Devil?

What do you call him? Or her? Or them?

Do you believe in life after death?

Souls?

Reincarnation?

Why are you here?

"Finding Your Passion" is a great trend right now and many coaches build their practice on helping clients with this quest.

It may be hard to entertain this notion, but "the pursuit of happiness" might just be a primarily Western, if not uniquely US approach to life. More than that, it's an expectation here, isn't it? Someone asked me today if Germans always strive to be happy, and I guess we do, in a way, but most of all we get on with the business of living. Sometimes, things don't work out, and that's ok, too.

Have you found your passion, your purpose? The thing you can't not do? And does it always (have to) make you happy?

 

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It ain't easy being Zen

staying positive is hard Greetings, my fellow voyagers on the road less traveled, aka YOUR OWN.

This is a quick post to acknowledge that we work very hard every day to

  • eat right
  • exercise
  • be nice
  • not frown
  • not slump in our seats
  • say please and thank you
  • follow our dreams
  • know our passions
  • resist temptation
  • walk the dog
  • change the diaper
  • give that presentation
  • and donate to charity.

All of these things are supposed to bring us closer to happiness, and all I'm saying today is that it's ok to be miserable for bit along the way.

Go on.

Close the door, draw the curtains, and feel what it is you're feeling. Overwhelm? Bring it on. Anger? Shout something. Anxiety? Get a fret on, I won't tell.

You have permission to question your quest for happiness, and then redefine the rules and make them work for you.

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What are you grateful for?

20130101-230446.jpg I love the paper app for late-night and early morning doodles. It's particularly fun to draw out what I'm grateful for that day, or what made me happy. Here's a recent example.

Love invariably makes an appearance.

It's the daily practice of gratitude that forms the habit of noticing the good stuff. Hardly have enough space to put it all down now.

Perhaps if I learned to draw better? :-)

20130101-231155.jpg Buy this print

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