We know instinctively that we should be aiming to be happy, because it feels better, it feels good, great even. But few of us can actually say that, for the most part, we are consistently happy throughout our lives.
What if your job in this life is simply to figure out what feels good to you and do more of it? You can use your feelings at any point in time as your guide to how you’re doing on the job. The truth for most of us is, quoted from one of my childrens' books by Janan Cain, “Feelings come and feelings go, you never know quite what they’ll be. Happy, mad, glad or sad, they’re all a part of me.” - we’re a mixed bag.
Thank goodness for that mixed bag, the contrasts. I remember fathoming out as I was growing up that, in order to know great happiness, you have to first know what great sadness is; otherwise good would feel, well, mediocre, normal.
Too often though we try and cut out feeling bad altogether, preferring to stay in a state of numbness over pain, or getting quick fix euphoria. Remember, feeling is at the heart of our human experience.
The last episode of Grey’s Anatomy I watched, one of the doctors had a moment where he realised he kept running away each time things got tough, and that ‘running away’ is different for each of us. For him it meant taking another tour of duty, for the doctor he was talking to it was drugs, but the epiphany he had was the things they were running away from are actually a vital part of our humanity.
Many of us have developed a ‘coping mechanism’ when things are tough, whether it’s a big glass of wine, or simply tearing into the cleaning at home. But what kind of life is one where you’re ‘coping’? Yes, painful things happen, really painful sometimes. The worst thing you can do is try to run away from that pain, because all that happens is it grows, you give more energy to it by focusing on not wanting it. I’ve seen people let it affect them their whole lives, passing it on through families and generations.
Actually it’s sadly common, Look at some of the world’s quarrels now, borne of generations. As a Scot I can tell you the fierce hatred of the Sassenach’s (English) still runs rife in our patriot blood. Mine rises to the occasion watching sporting events, despite having been born in England and having some wonderful friends and family there.
Feeling bad (whether it’s despair, resentment, anger, or any other variant) is simply your inner self telling you that you’re off track from what you’re truly wanting. I’m not saying you need to dwell there, in fact, it’s not helpful if you do. Instead, feel into it, then let it go – let it point you towards what you do want.
When you face it, and feel into is, it’s overwhelming at first; but it soon starts to dissipate. Despair can turn to unworthiness, then to anger, then to disappointment before moving into more neutral territory like frustration. Eventually you start to feel hope and, from there, more positive feelings arise.
Equally, when you’re feeling good, don’t just dive on into the next thing in your day. Take some time to just let that feeling soak into each cell, you’re in tune with yourself, celebrate it by staying in tune. Start to hardwire happiness into your brain as Dr Rick Hansen would say.
When you catch yourself thinking about how tough you’ve got it in life, the quickest way to turn those negative thoughts around is gratitude. While gratitude has become a bit of a throw away word, clichéd almost, too rarely do we actually feel into it in its truest form.
As I’m in the process of moving cities and saying goodbye to many people at the moment, it’s been a great opportunity to thank those people for what they’ve added to my life. I’ve even been grateful that we took over the new house early, with my partner going ahead to get it painted while I stay back and pack up our old house and look after the kids.
In situations that are stressful, the combination of my own ‘wanting time to absorb and reflect’ nature, mixed with my partner’s ‘dive right in’ nature can exacerbate the whole experience. As hard as it’s been, separately moving through this time has had its upsides and has helped me appreciate his contribution greatly.
When you’re struggling to think of things to be grateful for, go big, general even. The more general you are, the less you can argue with yourself. Who isn’t grateful that the sun comes up each morning and fills the world with vibrant colour? That helps our plants to grow, giving us air to breathe. For the rain that comes sustaining us and giving more life than it ever takes away.
Even the things you’ve been looking at through the lens of ‘life is tough’ are a blessing. In knowing what you don’t want, you can start to discern what you do want far more specifically.
Yes, your aim is to be happy; but it’s not ‘never to be sad’. That said, don't dwell there, growing the story in your mind and firmly setting anchor. Use those negative experiences as a contrast, use them to guide you quite deliberately towards what you do want - the best and happiest version of your life.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
'Stop and smell the roses' is an expression most will have heard, but how often have you done it; literally or figuratively? It’s amazing how we can be so busy in our lives that we don’t take even 30 seconds to simply just still the mind and be present in our own lives.
J Neville Ward wrote “Death helps us see what is worth trusting and loving and what is a waste of time.” This is no doubt true but what if instead, throughout our lives, we were tuned in and turned on to what is truly important to us? You can be.
This week I had a sudden recollection of a conversation I’d had with my chiropractor a number of years ago. He would always ask me to recount how my neck/shoulders/back felt at various points throughout the day. As much as I’d try to remember, I discovered I was going through my days not really present, like driving on autopilot, when you suddenly wonder how you got here with no memory of the route.
I used to talk about my brain thawing after a few hours of sleep, because I’d usually waken up in the early hours of the morning with absolute clarity about what actions I needed to take the next day, often getting up to write lists or emails. Then the starter pistol would go off the next morning and I’d start spinning plates again.
With constant fog brain and a dull sense of unfulfillment, there were rare moments when I was awake where I would achieve clarity, usually when I had my annual break from the rat race. Then I started to take time to deliberately still my mind.
If you’ve ever tried meditation in the traditional sense you’ll know it’s incredibly hard to sit still and not start drifting back to your thoughts, starting with how uncomfortable you are feeling sitting still, you’re soon thinking about the shopping list or a disagreement you’ve had with someone and then you realise you’re deep in thought, defeating the purpose.
Alternatives are activities that you enjoy that don’t take much thought, or require a singular focus. Personally I like yoga, the kind where you hold stretches, because there’s just enough movement and discomfort to keep me in the moment – deep breaths are necessary to distract from what I’d describe as a cathartic borderline pain. This is another form of meditation.
You can also start to leverage moments in your life that are currently frustrating. In a world where companies think they’re giving great service if they answer 80% of their calls in 20 seconds, what if you take that 20 seconds for yourself, tune out to the music, and just focus on your breath – letting any thoughts that come up drift on past. Do the same at traffic lights, in queues, waiting for the elevator – you will be amazed at the restorative effect.
We have gotten so used to identifying with the thoughts in our mind that we think we are that voice in our head. Sure, it’s a component of who we are, but if you identify with it alone, you will miss out on the clarity that comes from your inner knowing, your inner self, the real you.
In my posts the central premise of my writing is to encourage the reader to be who you were born to be. When you are present in the world without all the hang ups and misconceptions about yourself that you’ve collected through the years, and all the ‘rules’ of the family, community, country that you live in, you are a person who feels inspired, driven to action, fulfilled. Present.
Can you imagine going to work with people who are actually present? Not on autopilot thinking ahead in the conversation, truly listening and – not only that – they are people who are passionate about what they are doing, inspired to be there.
Productivity would shoot up, engagement would be a foregone conclusion, customer satisfaction and profits would swell beyond anything we see today.
It’s great that you’re taking a moment of your day to read this. How about you take another just to take a deep breath and look around you right now, right where you are sitting. See the colours? See the details? See people’s faces? Hear the sounds? Keep breathing. How does your body feel? Any aches or pains? What about the inner you, can you feel into it? Just observe and be present for a moment in the world you are in. Now go have a great day.
This article was originally published on LinikedIn.
In growing up you have become immersed in a shroud of rules, rules that simply do not serve you; shed the shroud and unveil the life you intended to life.
Did you ever stop to think what a ludicrous world we live in? We invent so many rules it is ridiculous. There’s the written rules, the doctrines of religion, law, politics, then there’s the unwritten rules, society’s conventions. Tune into your own moral compass and let go of the cumbersome impossibility of living to everyone else’s standards.
Freedom is the essence of our soul, every emotion we ever experience is in relation to how free we feel. We are too willing to put up with feeling bad, feeling powerless, it’s time to start tuning in to your inner knowing and turning the dial to feeling good.
As I would walk to work each day from the ferry, there was one guy I’d often see – well, hear - who would walk along with his headset on and belt out a tuneless rendition of “Whiskey in the Jar”. He was completely sober and, as tuneless as his singing was, it brought about a frission of energy, a wonderful zest for life and ‘letting go’ we all paid attention to.
Like many of you, I was encultured into a life full of ‘rules’. From the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep your life is dictated by rules. Rules that we, as humans, have simply ‘made up’.
Let me give you another example. When my daughter started at daycare last year, she was almost 4, and – unknown to me at the time – the centre had ‘rules for eating lunch’. They raved about the healthy meals that the kids get cooked, and I assumed it was the process of their friends eating a new variety of food that would encourage the new kids to give it a go, surprising themselves that something new tasted good.
But no, at 11.30am the kids get their lunch, and it’s a cooked meal. I don’t know about you, but I can’t face anything with any taste until after about 1pm, prior to that I need bland offerings. However, each to their own. The kids are told time and again (the teachers call this ‘encouraged’ but I’ll call it what it is to illustrate my point) “eat your veges, they are good for you”. Like Pavlov’s dogs they are applauded for eating the good stuff and punished if they don’t. “Oh no, we don’t punish them” I was told.
Mm, so re-presenting the broccoli they didn’t eat at lunch and withholding the afternoon tea until it’s eaten isn’t punishment?
No longer is my daughter in an environment where she can choose what she eats and when, she can’t go with her flow. There’s no need to dictate what they eat, provide a healthy variety and kids – heck let’s widen this to anyone – will choose the food and quantities their body needs. Yes, sugar and refined flour will mess with our chemistry and therefore our choices, but I did say provide a healthy variety of choices.
We have rules and more rules. Laws that make no sense. I have decided the next time I get stopped for speeding and they ask why I was driving over the limit I’ll say “because I felt it was safe to do so” as it will be the truth. I saw an article in the AA magazine on ‘form’ versus road signage. It’s been proven that a tree lined road will slow motorists down, whereas open landscaping speeds things up, much more effectively than signage.
You are born knowing right from wrong. Truly, you are. I know it’s hard to believe given the level of stuffing we’ve all had knocked out of us in the process of growing up. Most of us are conditioned into thinking we need someone to tell us the rules or society will collapse into chaos. This was in actual fact what the daycare centre told me “we can’t let the kids choose, there would be chaos!”
Who are these people who decide the ‘rules’ we follow? Politics has become a game of power and ego. In religious doctrines you will find rules taking you down a rabbit hole further and further from the essence of its teaching.
You are born with an inner knowing, innate wisdom. All growth adds to our collective consciousness, we evolve and our children are born wiser than we. Just in the last few decades alone we have evolved at a pace beyond previous decades, centuries even, with many social intolerances now starting to dissipate.
It is a battle of the mind versus inner wisdom and knowing. There is a deeper part of you, and you know it exists because you connect with it in every moment of clarity you have, that knows right from wrong. You know what is right for you, and you don’t need others to tell you what it is. As adults we have years of conditioning to unravel before we can get there consistently. You can start today though, you get clarity through stilling your mind.
As I wrote in Live the Best Version of Your Life the most common regret of the dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”. If you wonder who the real you is, just start with any activity that helps you to free your mind of those cloudy, crowding “what if’s” – go for a walk, dance to loud music in your living room, take a ride on your bike, go for a swim, whatever works for you, that helps bring you back into balance.
It’s from these points of clarity that you make great decisions about what works for you and what doesn’t. Over time you can learn to get in that feeling, that headspace, more readily, and for longer. Reading through some of my earlier takes you through this step by step.
In the meantime, go break a few rules. Start with things that are inconsequential, maybe you’ll take a pee on the hillside when you go for a walk, or do a rendition of “Whiskey in the jar” on the bus, whatever it is, be free to do what is right and feels good for you.
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.
photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/16903262@N02/1802363801">Ice hole swimming</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
“I’m a parent? A journal to ponder the unfathomable circumstance that I somehow have offspring even though I have no idea what I’m doing…” This is the title of an inner truth journal I was given as a gift. Like many who start the journey wanting to be parents, I was full of hope and grand ideas, then with each step we take we realise how little we knew...
When I finally got, and stayed, pregnant (attempt number five) I remember a trusted friend saying “how wonderful, you can help your baby to be fully conscious”. Now, although I’d been on a bit of a spiritual journey, I really didn’t know what she meant – and obviously wasn’t ready to investigate as I didn’t ask – but I did know it wasn’t about keeping my baby out of a coma.
Nowadays I write a lot about being who you are, who you were born to be – your fully conscious, completely authentic self. The main premise is that we come into this life with talents, traits, purpose even, then the process of ‘culturisation’ begins. We are taught what is socially acceptable in our various domains and the sense of self worth we are born with slowly starts to fade amidst the layers we adopt in order to fit in.
‘Conscious leadership’ has been talked about a lot lately, and ‘authenticity’. Recently I heard K.D. Lang say “authenticity is the new black”, that is great news because, without it, there can be no conscious leadership. The same applies to conscious parenting. Conscious parenting is, first and foremost, you being true to yourself.
To raise a conscious child is to do your best to ensure they remain true to their own nature, to ensure you’re not adding to their ‘layers’. What intention have you set in your relationship with your children? How do you want them to feel around you?
Today I heard Brendon Burchard give an example of sitting down with your child to do their homework with an intention to teach them the joy of learning, what a contrast to the way most of us have experienced this!
Consider this. What if your life is simply the tip of the iceberg? What if the person that you see in the mirror each day is simply a physical expression of a much larger part of you that exists unseen, let’s call it your essence, or your soul, your inner knowing?
Imagine you live many lives, each with its own purpose, but all about growth. As you grow, the universe grows, life evolves. You don’t retain the details of your many experiences - there is already too much crowding your brain, vying for your attention – instead you have an intuition, an inner knowing, that will guide you.
Did you ever play a game to find an object where someone says “you’re warm” when you get close, or “you’re cold” when you’re off track. Like this, your intuition lets you know if you’re aligned to your true self, your true intention for this life, by how you feel; good or bad.
So when you are feeling great, you’re in your slip stream, the life you chose for yourself. When you feel bad, you’re off track, it’s just not you.
Learn to tune in again to your own intuition, we all have it and, importantly, affirm with your child their intuition. I recently heard Abraham-Hicks say “teach your children, if something feels ‘off’ to you, it is”. Simple yet powerful.
Parenting for me has been an amazing journey so far, really a rebirth of myself too. When my first daughter was born I had no idea how I would parent her. I had my own experience to go by, that of friends and family, and had spent much of my thirties watching Super Nanny on the TV. I also knew enough from all the exposure and work I’ve done around personal development to know each person is as unique as a snowflake, so I figured I’d wait and see who this wee person was (that was about to arrive) and I’d wing it.
When she started to emerge as a walking, talking human being, there were of course the splendid tantrums. Automatically we turned to ‘time out’… once… instinctively we dropped it. I saw something in my daughter’s eyes that stopped me, a light that faded. I realised that much of the parenting techniques I’d learned were about controlling behaviour, in effect that is the antithesis of what I wanted.
Growing up I heard an expression that resonated so strongly I’ve never forgotten it: “what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say”. I trust that my child knows right from wrong, there is much evidence to support that. Trying to teach our children what they already know seems fruitless to me. But to live a life of example, being who you were born to be, you will teach the same to your child. What an amazing gift to your children and to the world.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
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