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Spring is nearly here. A beautiful time to lose yourself in many things, not just projects from renewed energy. It’s a great time to invest in your well-being both emotionally and spiritually. So while you’re carrying away with cleaning out closets and donating clothes, make sure you reserve energy for spending time with good friends or reinvesting in a relationship that serves you well.
Here are just a few reasons why.
1. Daily affection (from friends, pets or family…anyone you have a relationship really) may boost levels of the calming hormone oxytocin. Plus, a few belly laughs can improve blood-vessel function which helps blood pressure. Nature’s natural health enhancer.
2. Nearly 75% of adults admit they don’t take the right steps to prevent themselves from feeling stressed out according to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association. Luckily for us all, studies suggest that lifting our spirits may be as easy as:
- Sticking with a routine – rituals create a sense of calm. Helps feel a sense of control in an unpredictable world (it also helps to prepare for, welcome and embrace change, too!)
- Eating to your happiness. Avoid trans fats, which can affect mental well-being by triggering inflammatory changes that have been linked to depression. Steer clear or limit to 2 grams a day, avoid foods made with partially hydrogenated oil. On this note, try eating just fruits and veggies (raw, ideally) for a week and see how you feel. I bet your body and your mind will be light and energized. So brilliant how the earth provides for us, we just have to allow it!
- Getting your O3′s. Omega 3 supplement takers were 20% less anxious during a stressful period than those not taking their Fish Oil supplements daily, according to an Ohio State University study. Experts believe that healthy fat may buffer against stress-related inflammation.
- Listening to your breath – it will tell you something. Breathing deeply and listening to soft music can be as relaxing as getting a massage. If your breath is shallow and fast, you’re going to feel stressed and anxious. Slow your breathing and your heart and mind will calm too. You can try this yourself. After a work out, lie on your stomach on a yoga mat. With one ear on the ground, take a deep breath in and hear your heart rate slow with each deep breath. Recognizing how much influence your breath has over your systems, tune into your breath regularly and be sure to take deep breaths, even when you’re not stressed.
- Feeding your gut. It is the source of our intuition and our health. By taking care of our digestive tract, we are taking care of our overall health. Beyond this, probiotics (healthy bacteria) can actually lower levels of the stress hormone corticosterone and have a direct effect on moods and anxiety. Research suggests that nerves transmit messages from the microorganisms in the gut to the mind, influencing brain chemistry and further connecting the mind with the body. We rely on our gut instinct to tell us yes or no in any given situation.. and we should rely on this Yuck or Yum decision making compass more often. It of course makes great sense to feed our “second brains” well with the fuel it needs = simple probiotics.
I heard recently that dwelling in the positive increases resilience. That feigning joy can induce joy. Try this sometime. List specific times in your life you’ve felt great. What are the details. Once you have 10-20, a pattern will emerge.
Who needs a new year or a new week to start fresh? Not you. Every day, every breath, is a gift and a chance to change your attitude, your outlook, and your destiny. Starting this moment, welcome change. Welcome happiness.
Release your burden or whatever prevented a forward momentum and invite a new perspective or new opportunity. Make peace with it and love it for the way it once served you but no longer does. The next window will open and will serve you deeper thanks to the burden who helped you strengthen and widen your eyes and your heart. Make room for your future and all it’s beautiful choices.
Choose to feel sunshine on a cold but light day. Choose to hear the birds amidst the car engines. Choose to hug your acquaintance instead of offering your professionally polished smile. Read this DailyOm for more inspiration.
Easier said than done? Think about your health and try getting purposeful. Brain health relies also on emotional and spiritual health (read: happiness) as well. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that people who have a greater sense of purpose in life — who find meaning in their daily activities and feel they’re working towards goals — had a lower risk of Alzheimer’s than those who felt more adrift.
Need more tangibles to help your happiness happen? Find your purpose and recognize within you the eight traits of happy people:
- Self-control – doing what’s in line with your most fundamental goals.
- Grit – raw endurance, perseverance and passion that keep you going despite obstacles; doing things the long/hard way.
- Curiosity – a penchant for seeking out the new and different.
- Optimism – believing that the best may lie ahead. Take stock in 3 things that went well and why.
- Love – close, caring relationships where the good vibes flow both ways.
- Social intelligence – picking up on gray areas and intuit the things that people don’t say out loud (i.e. being present)
- Gratefulness – fully appreciating and noticing the good in yourself and other people, and the world at large, then giving that appreciation back in spades.
- Zest – tackling life with energy, excitement, enthusiasm, eagerness
So, best to you, happy soul. Your happy purpose is right in front of you.
Once the holidays are past, then we can start to ease into a schedule. Or something. Someone once said to not confuse peace with predictability. While routines are easier to manage, we are still managing to fluctuation. Said differently, with predictability, we then allow ourselves to layer in my dynamics (like picking up an additional hobby, or catching up with an old soul friend).
Since chaos happens invariably, why not simply open to it, whatever form it takes? Then, it may not require us balancing in fluctuation if we define peace a little differently. We ask, if you’re waiting for peace to then allow for more, are you net-positive on energy, or would you be just as happy (at peace) with yourself if you managed a few more good things despite it all? So long as it happens with a little bit of gradual grace, we venture that you’d feel more fulfilled and abundant on the whole.
Try it with something small. Like layer in that weekend get away. Or that charity you’ve been avoiding for lack of time. Or a good book. If you define your peace differently and embrace the chaos that is, you may not find yourself at the far end of the chaos spectrum when you’re doing just the right amount with the rhythm life has offered (and you have invited).
You know how invigorated you feel after reconnecting with an old friend, or networking with similar-minded colleagues, or spending quality time with someone you love? That joy comes from connecting. It probably fuels us better than caffeine or many other stimulants. It’s so powerful because the moments spent connecting are resonating inside you and bringing you ‘home’ within you. Closer to something you know or enjoy. You are likely more confident, energized and your outlook is more positive.
Try it – see how you feel after a really good connecting session.
Now, take these results from your connection experience and try to connect with yourself. Being aware each time you take a deep breath in and thinking about how that breath is filling your lungs with fresh oxygen and what that oxygen is doing to your blood, your cells that are mostly water (two oxygen molecules) and giving your brain energy to do its great work is exactly the practice of staying present.
Connecting with your breath is a way to stay close to you – your life-force – within. Taking a moment to check on your breath – are you tense and therefore short-breathed? What does that do to your cells, your brain, your chemical receptors? What’s causing you to switch from the ‘flight’ mode into something more taxing in this moment? Taking deep breaths and recognizing the nourishment happening is a great way to bring you back to your moment and place in the day you are living.
After trying this self connecting session, do you feel fueled, invigorated, and able to think clearly? Welcome to mini meditation! You’ve just taken a moment to be very self-aware and allow your life force to work within you. Perhaps some clarity or creative ideas even came from this experiment. Maybe simply a deeper love and appreciation for you. Whatever surfaced, it’s a beautiful thing because you took the time for you to be aware of you.
Remember how you feel after you connect with yourself, just as how you are when you’ve connected with another. It can be done in a car, on a boat, at the dentist or anywhere you feel yourself forgetting who or where you are. Harmony is yours for the holding.
A guy cuts you off in traffic. Your close friend seems to have new interests that don’t involve you. Your boss seems to be micro-managing you when all you’ve done is what he or she has asked (and then some!). These truths will always be a reality in our world, but it’s what we do with them that can advance us in our quest for peaceful, harmonic living… or not.
The guy who cut you off, your close friend and your boss – all have one thing in common – they’re ultimately responsible for their own happiness and peace. Chances are, if you didn’t do something to catalyze this (you should always ask so you can seek truth and not get caught up in the fantasies of wondering what really is at play), then it’s really nothing personal – they’ve just found a way to serve themselves in that moment. Even if you feel you’ve taken good care of them and the scales are imbalanced, ask yourself when’s the last time you took care of YOURself? Some psychologists believe when these events happen, it’s to show us that the thing that’s bothering us, is really the very thing you need to tend to within our own selves. In fact, in Radical Forgiveness, it talks about the Universe specifically putting those events/people in your life because your soul has asked to be free from a cycle and to learn something. And the cycle will continue until you learn to look within, embrace whatever insecurity or frustration you may have (you may not even know you have) and then, radically, these events/people will no longer be attracted to your life.
Think about it. The feelings you get when you’re disappointed, frustrated, confused – they’re all potentially toxic if held onto for too long. They each have their purpose to reveal more about ourselves and tendencies, but when is the last time that feeling sad, bad, sorry…for yourself has really served you? Things happen to you or around you and it brings an effect. If it’s not gratitude and respect, are you really moving forward? Or will this thing become a ghost and haunt you? I think about a lady who took her road rage out on me a few weeks ago. At the time, I was baffled, thought it was a little funny, but for some reason, it stayed in my mind for several days, enough for me to tell the story to a few friends and family. Other than an entertaining story, all I’ve done was hang onto a negative experience? Why? I really can’t say for sure, but I know that it felt slightly good to tell the story from the ‘poor me’ side.
We can’t assume that we’ll live a life free of obstacles and things that hurt us – of course we will. But the truth is there if you look for it and it really doesn’t feel so personal if you take this perspective. These facts can’t hurt you, but your reaction to them can. As soon as we can put this practice into place, we will be able to get on with the learning and self-awareness a lot faster (and with a lot less toxicity within).
Can’t seem to let go of something that your better self knows it’s time to release? Keep repeating the same story, so much that you are annoying yourself at how often you’ve heard the story? It may be time to let go. If it’s come to the point where your aware of the attachment but can’t quite detangle yourself from it, then chances are, it’s affecting your peace.
Understanding more about the thing you can’t seem to shake is the first step. Does it represent a happy time or place? Does it help ‘define’ your identity? Whether it’s a gift from an old boyfriend or remnants of a stale relationship, the same detachment rules apply.
If you can get quiet enough with yourself and reflect if this ‘thing’ is serving you and your highest purpose rightfully, then it may be just a matter of renewing your love for the ‘thing.’ Easier said than done, but if you feel a genuine respect (that can’t be defined as any sort of fear or dependency) then perhaps it’s not yet time to make peace with your preoccupation. But if anything is feeling heavier than it should, or reminds you of something greater than is within healthy means, a journey of self-respect and perspective might just be in store.
All things in the name of love and peace.
…when planning for something else.
Plan fast, live long.
Just live it.
Don’t scurry. Be happy.
Just a few slogans for your day.
Things feel better when they are in their place, relative to the next thing. That’s what helps define comfort. This is natural, especially relative to some other defined construct…that isn’t this.
A peaceful environment also has an appreciation for things in their comfortable place. Like, when a mouse is in the woods, we pay no mind. Or when the dirty dishes are in the dishwasher, it’s peaceful because it’s in its proper place. It’s not to say that things need to be tidy, but relative to here, it’s often better that things are there. This blog is dedicated to zones.
Planning a peaceful layout includes zones. Talk to any architect about functional design. Talk to any feng shui consultant about energy flow. Talk to your child about why the stuffed animals are positioned as such. It’s simply natural to want things in their place, especially relative to where you are standing. Do the toys bother you when they are in the play room? This simple appreciation for ‘proper space’ (not tidy space) is what helps us define a sense of easy peace. It’s something that we can’t ignore – our brains are programmed to auto file. When things validate our auto filing system (the earth is green, then the turf must be grassy), it only makes them stronger. So when we recognize a segment of our kitchen that is meant for food prep, it doesn’t feel right when someone’s homework is there. Even the most relaxed individuals have these constructs, and we say they’re there for a reason. Make the best of them, otherwise you’re defying human tendencies… and why create more work?
Consider proper zone planning – the kids room (or level), the family zone, the entertaining space. This way, when you have friends over, you’re not worried about the dysfunctional layout of your kitchen… (hopefully it is fully peaceful and functional), but it doesn’t matter because you’ve created a zone, on your patio or living room, that supports your needs. No need for extra stress here. Reach out to an architect for ideas for making your space just so.
I just saw something that made me smile. It did more than that actually. I was so warmed by it that I found myself paying homage to the moment – that I was so glad I was there to see it….that it was a day-changer and I became aware of myself thanking God that I am alive to see these things.
It was a simple exchange and the participants had no idea their profound effect on their audience (just me). I sat in my car in front of my home. Not exactly sure what I was waiting for, other than thinking about the fastest route to my destination – though I wasn’t entirely present either.
The UPS driver delivered a package to the oldest lady on my street – she was the original owner of her house that was built in the 1940s. The UPS man had left the package on her front steps, but the neighbor, likely waiting on her delivery, opened the door and he heard. You could tell that he paused before turning around. He’d already done the requirements of the job and was likely already mentally moving on to his next delivery. He slowly turned to see the lady beaming (she happens to wear this same smile every single day). He returned to the package and picked it up, delivering it to her hands. This was ideal for the lady, as she uses a cane to get around and probably couldn’t have managed the package well on her own, if he hadn’t come back to assist her. I think she said a brief thank you, because the UPS man was off and on his way within seconds, but when he turned, he too, was beaming. Her smile infected him! I watched him carry that huge smile all the way back to his truck to buckle his belt and drive off.
I bet his day changed, even just by going 1 second out of his way for his customer. Hardly any effort there, but based on the size of his smile, I’d say the reward was much greater than he bargained for. Now, my day has changed. The old lady infected me, too! Hoping this story infects a few readers too, so we can feel and watch the joy spread!
Cheers to living!