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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).
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.
Have the urge? If you don’t, it’s coming. As sure as birds fly south when it gets cold, we humans naturally feel the urge to change something when the season changes. New routine to exercise in the morning, change in the seasonal clothes, switch up the paint colors in your home…buy a new wardrobe. It happens to all of us, and it’s usually exciting! Change often means so many good things, so we may even begin to look forward to the change in season so that we have an excuse to change out the comforter on the bed, for example.
So embracing this desire to change something makes sense. Change is happening all around and changing something within us or our environment will naturally feel good. Purging the unused winter clothes will feel great. Finally doing something about the scuffed walls will feel amazing. While all this transformation is going on, be sure to take a moment to enjoy what’s happening inside of you. Anticipation for the way the room will feel when the furniture has moved. Excitement to try new colors or new activities. These great feelings help mold our memories and the longer we can stay in the space of awareness for these feelings, the more impact they’ll have life – next season when you’re gearing up for good change or when we are much older.
Stress has come to mean a lot of negative things; it’s even avoided like a pothole on this site. Try and reframe your perspective and don’t even let stress creep into your veins or dump toxic cortisol into your body. We still believe you can keep a peaceful lifestyle by exercising this mentality and in doing things in the name of peace. However, this week’s post is to acknowledge our friend Stress and honor this truth about his character: if it weren’t for him, there would be no growth.
That’s right. We are honoring stress. Stress has its way of making a situation tougher or bigger than it needs to be, so we still must hazard some skepticism. That said, we must also recognize that without stress, we may not be as compelled to bring about change, or as open to growth if it hadn’t reached some threshold within us. This strain can also be visualized in muscle growth. It isn’t until the muscle is tested and challenged does it begin to trigger growth. This can serve as an example to our own awareness of growing and changing. Stress (the muscle burn) is the very agent that brings about change.
It is with this appreciation of the positive attributes of stress, and in clarity that the process must first be experienced before healthy decisions can be made, that we can go about minimizing the strain going forward. Coming out of these stressful experiences always feels so rewarding, too. Whether it be because the new feeling is contra to the old stressful feeling (it just feels better) because we now have given the topic or idea the dedication to clearly make changes and we have a clear path, it’s all to the good and it’s all because we had to respect it and cycle through some stress or strain to arrive there.
Next time you’re feeling some tension or strain, decide if it’s the type that will carry you forward to growth or the type that will continue to linger until you reach your ‘agent’ (not breaking) point. If it’s the former, embrace your good friend stress. If it’s the latter, recognize it and try to adapt some minor aids to help you get to a point where it’s not affecting you subconsciously. You will address it when you’re ready to let growth take its powerful course.
Reading list, grocery list, to do list. Lists are so good at keeping us straight and efficient. I would like to shake the hand of the person who created lists because I rely on them so heavily. But if your lists are anything like mine (numerous…and how’d they get so long!?), I wonder how much good they’re actually doing us.
By my sample size, much more gets done when I have set my goals for the day or week, as defined by the list. And let’s be honest, the oh-so-gratifying process of crossing something off the list is worth-so-much-while in the way of satisfaction. But when lists get too long, they can do more harm than good. I’m a little debilitated by my list right now, and I have motivational barriers, as well as focus issues anytime I look at it! So what does a solutions-oriented peace goer do? I created a second list that makes me feel better about the first list. With balance restored, I can go back to doing as much as I’m realistically able to do…. and the rest is left for the interns. They’ll need to stay busy whenever I get around to hiring them (which is on the second list).
The reality is that this little prioritization process has already offered an element of peace that I couldn’t reach when my list was one page long. Outsourcing (to an intern or simply to another day), in my mind made my gears run a little smoother. Also, spending time with the to-dos helped me feel a little more in control of my demands. Lastly, while some may argue the list for lists is an exercise in futility, the simple act of carefully going through my list with a lens of “what’s the highest and best use of my time today” made so many of the items on the list, which did seem important at one time, quite insignificant. So much so, that some came off the list entirely. Talk about feeling productive! Healthy perspective does a body (and a list) oh-so-good.
More on list management. Don’t get bogged down. You’ve got this.
I’d like to bottle this feeling. I made a concerted effort this weekend to catch up on emails, call my family and knock out some things I’ve been procrastinating on my to do list. I feel good… I feel at peace.
But the weekend ends and the work week begins and gone is the luxury of no ringing phones or slow emails…I feel a little behind and it’s only Tuesday. This feeling is natural: a bit behind, a bit scattered. I like to believe it keeps us motivated. The world turns and this lag becomes latency and enter our old friend stress because the list is big and we’re not quite centered. What now? Take a moment and leverage your three tools.
But first, identify and sharpen them. When you’re stressed, what do you do? Take a moment and list three things. These are your Nintendo reset button or your weekend catch up feeling. These are normally things that are quick stress reliefs. A walk around the office, a tall cuppa tea, a 20 minute catch up with a good friend, or an overt act of love or kindness. Things you do that make you feel good, or things that transform your mood; these are the things that can slip into your tool belt and help you manage stress. Decide on three and do them often, even when you don’t think you’re stressed. You’ll stay ahead of the peace curve.
Why three? Some tools may not be appropriate in all settings (ie hiking in the middle of the work day), or you simply may tire of just one or two and it may not have the same benefits over time. Too many tools and you may forget to go to them. Try thinking of three and take them for a test drive. See how your peace appreciates these after a week of their use.
In support of healthy stress management is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you have thoughts or comments on sharpening your stress management tools.
All we are saying… is peace can be difficult to achieve in the normal course. Sometime it takes a little effort to get out of its way. Sometimes it’s our own minds that stand in the way of fully relating to our mind and body. Then there’s the environment…which is easier to ignore than our heads, but can still pose challenges in the way of pure peace.
Time management is often a dirty word, but if you’re making time for the things you truly love, then it’s all in the name of peace…that’s easy. We’ve spent many weeks talking about ways to just do it in the name of peace. But what if it’s a little bigger than mind-over-mattering your situation. A big example of this is the giant McMansions. They are expansive, vast (take a lot of resources to “complete” (we say “fill”) a space: more shelves just to use the big closets built into these homes. Sure there is often pride for achieving a ‘dream home’ (which we applaud dreams come true!) and more “head room” (which we love because it fosters creativity), but how well do these gigantic, cafeteria-selection homes serve our needs? Often times, the layout lacks prioritization of space. Huge entry ways compared to the size of kitchens. Family rooms in the basement. How often do families congregate in the foyer or go down three flights of stairs to spend time with a family member?
So working for even flow and harmony in this situation, we admit, is a bigger deal. In creating deliberate, core spaces with a built-in hierarchy takes planning (and time…and money), but just think about the possibilities. That’s where finding peace begins, even with the big deal situations. Dreaming of what harmony looks and feels like is the start of it all. Feel it. Own it. The brain will trigger the release relaxation chemicals just with the simple dream or forward thought. Then considering your options. A make over may not be in your current budget, but if you spread it out over several years, how realistic does it look now? Can you add it to your vision board and work towards this peace over the coming months? Sufficed to say, even the bigger deals must start somewhere and “just doing it” kinda applies here too. If your space could be improved, recognize that your environment is second to your mind in terms of connecting with your peace.
We believe you owe it to yourself to explore your options after you’ve envisioned what peaceful harmony looks like. If you’ve done this recently, we’d love to hear how your small (or drastic) changes helped change your life, your perspective, or your overall happiness.
As with all peace quests, once you’ve found it for yourself, we promise it will be so much easier to recognize it and be in that space more often. Give it a chance, it will continuously give back to you.
In support of prioritizing your peace is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you’d like to hear more ideas on dreaming your peace and then making it a reality, especially during the No-cember-ja season.
Holiday season has begun and will fill our schedules with family and events. This annual season of making time for family, gatherings, things that matter is what we’re calling No-cember-ja and it will last for a few glorious, busy months. What does it mean, aside from time passing really quickly? You’ll surprise yourself at how much you’ll get done in a period of time, but it also means you’ll likely be offered a few quick reminders of how important this time is for you, for your family, for your religious values.
Extracting the fulfillment from this season is easy. Preparing for it may be tricky. As the schedule fills up, we begin to wonder how we’ll find time to organize the closet to make room for the extra coats, for shopping for the meals you’ll be preparing, finding ways to make the most of the space where your family convenes as meals are prepared, right near the place where meals are enjoyed…the kitchen.
Sorry to bring it up, but it’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath and get ahead of it:
Step 1. Carve out 1 work day in early November to tackle the organization. Get rid of clutter- admit it’s a stressful element in your life. You certainly can’t take it with you, and waiting for the opportunity that you’ll need it is like waiting for a good opportunity to relax. If you won’t miss it when it’s gone, then it’s time to let go of it. Of course, it’s recommended to donate so it can take on a new life in someone elses’ home.
Step 2. Think about how important this time is to you and if there is something that you could do to make that experience easier, more fulfilling, or more functional. If it’s huge, like knocking out a wall into a storage room (storing stuff you really should purge in step one), to make more room for your family to gather in the kitchen- the new living room of today’s modern family, then maybe it’s worth it if this time of year is of high importance to you. It may be within your economical means, and the dividends can be invaluable in terms of family time.
Step 3. Get real with what’s important. It’s not about filling the menu with excessive food, or is it about getting to every event. It’s about extracting the most fulfillment with each experience. If you can remind yourself about this, the No-cember-ja time can be all-rewarding, and non-stressful.
The rest of this No-cember-ja series will come with more ideas on ways to really feel this intended joyous time. You need it, your soul needs it, and it’s in your heart, you just may enjoy our gentle reminders for ways to approach it peacefully.
Taking a moment to declutter, really embracing a renovation to make the most of your space, or redefining your thoughts in a busy time isn’t as out of reach as it may seem. Really think on it.
In support of reestablishing sense of what is really important and preparing to make the most of it is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Please share your thoughts with us and reach out if you’d like to hear our individual ideas on how to find more space for really enjoying your family season and your immediate environment.
If you’re living in the DC area and are yearning to center, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Power of the Pause workshop held on October 21, 2011 in McLean, VA. Transformative leader and Reiki Master Richa Badami will lead this interactive workshop to help us all find inner peace and center through meditation.
If you can’t make this event, but always wondered just how to meditate or take your deep thoughts further, please reach out to Richa for future dates and workshops.
In support of balanced and peaceful living is AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep. Reach out to us if you’d like to hear our individual ideas on how to add peaceful living and relaxation to your environment.
It’s so easy to float through life a little numb to the world around us. There are so many distractions that simply being aware of ourself, our surroundings, and our stress levels can be difficult to recognize. It isn’t until we take a moment to be still in our space, do we start to have an appreciation for the world around us. This is what those grounded people call “living in the present”. And they seem to be onto something in the way of happiness…. sometimes with a more relaxed approach to traffic jams or a calm and peaceful personality.
When is the last time you considered yourself in relation to the world around you? Was it a rewarding experience? Did you learn something about yourself – how much you appreciate the blue sky, a nearby park, or how easily you can become lost in the curiosities of the world?
Being present this way requires skill and it is against numerous distractions that it takes place, many of which we allow to become larger distractions than necessary. Numerous studies indicate this mindful presence, often in a form of meditative reflection, can have significant impact on your health, not just your mood in the moment. Practice appreciating the life that you’re in. Not simply thinking positively about your job, but contemplate the life forces around you – the green grass, the brilliant innovation and engineering that goes into building a bridge, or the blessings you may otherwise take for granted. Chances are this appreciation will right your mood and make you a little happier. Happiness will help you live longer.
Like any new experience, once you practice present living a few times, it becomes easier and part of every day appreciation. Try it sometime. Try finding something you enjoy in a situation you are in every day. By being aware of this pleasant feeling, you will naturally be brought to the present moment. In this presence is how you can appreciate the other gifts that are around you. Take this time for yourself. Create a pleasant space (your happy space) in your own home or at a safe stop along your commute from work. Do this regularly so you can appreciate the life you’re living. Distractions will always be there, either self-promoted or otherwise.
Present living will help you be happier and enjoy your space, the gifts around you, and your life as a culmination of these things.
What are some ways in which you slowed down your pace, became aware of yourself or surroundings and contributed to either a new-found peace or a changed behavior? In promotion of tranquil, present living, AV Architects + Builders and House of Steep encourage you to share your ideas and reactions to present living and being happy…now.
For further reading, consider The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle, which illustrates how connectedness, acceptance and joy of being represent transformed thinking and ideal living.