Tag Archives: Power of thought

Success ≠ Happiness

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How do you balance the challenge of what it means to be successful? Does success mean working harder? Does success mean striving to be better? Does success mean “doing” more? According to the way we are socialized, the answer is typically, “Yes,” to all three questions. Yet, this view-point is so far from the truth, because it fails to celebrate and acknowledge the joys that occur in the present moment. Which is why I decided to put my work away today and visit this neglected but dearly loved, blog of mine.

Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk nails it. Our society tends to believe that the external world can predict how happy people are. We see someone with a nice job, a new car, a lovely house, a handsome lover, an ivy league education, etc., and we assume life must be good for them. Just like we assume, if we become more successful and have more nice, pretty things that we, too, may be happier.

This mentality is misleading, and it is time to break the spell as individuals and as a community and to start recognizing what really makes us happy. Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk mentions that 90% of our long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world (things we have/things we do) but by the way our brain processes the world (our internal self/our outlook). He goes on to illustrate how our personal and collective perspectives can impact the world within us and around us.

He explains that by raising positive thinking and optimism in the present moment, instead of focusing on future-oriented/desired success, we will become happier living in the moment. This resulting happiness and shift in perspective activates all learning centers in our brain and raises our intelligence, creativity, and overall energy.

While his talk is framed around how we can improve our success at work, it really is about how we can improve and reclaim the direction of our life, health, and happiness. Which direction will you take?

Shawn’s Recommended Exercise: Train your brain to become more positive by making optimism a habit. Try out all or any of these 5 activities for 21 days, and you will be on your way to teaching your brain to scan for the positive rather than the negative.

1. Write out 3 gratitudes a day.

2. Journal about a positive experience you had each day.

3. Make time for exercise – it helps remind you that behavior does matter.

4. Meditate to help you overcome your culturally acquired ADHD.

5. Perform random acts of kindness, practice compassion. It makes you and the world happier.

If you need to be reminded how important it is to raise your optimism levels in the present moment and let go of the illusion that success = happiness, then this is the video for you. I highly recommend.

                                                                                                                                                         

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The Obligatory New Year’s Resolution Post

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Despite my resistance now for a few days, a proper health and wellness blog cannot go without mentioning New Year’s Day and the birth of countless resolutions. A handful of these promises will be life-changing, while the rest will soon be forgotten as people fall back into living their familiar stories. This year marks another year I hope to wind up in the handful. I say, why not?

Truthfully, I used to think New Year’s was kind of a joke. It kind of is when you look at all of the failed attempts at resolutions. And for me, it really was just another day in another year of my life. Now, as I feel more inclined to live life fully each day and to live according to the seasons of the calendar year, I realize the powerful symbol the New Year brings to my consciousness, when I pay attention. The day ritualizes new beginnings in my life, and I get inspired by it. I hear other people embarking on their own journeys because of the New Year, and it makes me smile.

What my New Year’s ritual looks like is me sitting down in quiet reflection, jotting down thoughts about life and the world, but I also use this time to empty out. After I get all of the words on paper, I go through and think deeply about what I really want to accomplish. While my list of things I want to do, do, do, seems never-ending, I wonder about the bare necessities. I strip away my desires to the most necessary and truthful dreams I carry with me. I recognize that before I can move forward in making my dreams a reality, I must be honest and shed the parts of my life that no longer work. I let go of some of those ambitions (okay most), and I decipher which dreams are mine and which are my ego’s. It’s not always easy to tell, but I try to figure it out anyway.

I then practice letting go of even the dreams that I think are mine, and I practice focusing on clearing my mind. I repeat this process as often as necessary, and this reflection and discernment goes on for the rest of the year,  because circumstances change, the world changes and I change accordingly. I build and practice faith and “trust the process” as I let go.

To bring you outside of my whimsical, New Year’s reflection and back to reality, here is the succinct takeaway from my thoughts on New Year’s: Instead of viewing New Year’s as a time to add more to life, why not view it as a time to really simplify life? Let go of old habits, relationships, experiences and make room for new. You will find that learning to accept accompanies this letting go process, and I don’t know about you, but I think it feels really good to accept yourself and your life and strip away the non-essentials. You may just find joy at the bottom of your catch-all-drawer you’ve been meaning to clean.

Only 5 days into the New Year and letting go has already taken many shapes and forms that have made me feel great. With a new meal plan routine, I let go of foods that do not nourish me and that harm the environment. In addition to the health benefits, as a secondary result, this act of letting go actually now produces a financial plus (saving money) and an emotional benefit (I am cooking more and sharing meals with family, which makes me happy!)  Just today, I let go of 4 bags of old clothes that no longer fit me (you know those ones you keep just in case, well, I moved on). So far, letting go has been a fairly easy resolution for me. So far. I know it won’t always be that way, but I hope I can be open to the experience when it arises.

I also hope that you take a moment to honor the New Year and the surprises and teachings it may bring to your life. If you haven’t already, Mandala Reflections challenges you to really sit with yourself and think about your life. Maybe do art, write, practice yoga, dance, have a beer or do whatever inspires you to tap into your unconscious. Rediscover old dreams. Ask yourself where you feel well and where you feel unwell. Go to the discomfort. Ask yourself what you want to change about that uncomfortable place and most important, be honest. Recognize and discern if you are actually ready and willing to change. If you are not ready to change or you are a superstar, you won’t feel the urge to make a resolution, and that’s okay. Just listen and you will know what to do. Give yourself the chance to practice self-awareness in the New Year, and you will make the best decisions you can.

Breaking Down Walls: Cultivating Awareness, Nourishing the Soul

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Today’s post challenges us to break down the walls that we create inside ourselves. The idea and excerpts came from a book that I highly recommend, The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. According to Singer, our continued focus on our thoughts and emotions create walls inside of us. We pay so much attention to these thoughts and emotions that we eventually stop noticing everything else, and worse yet, we stop going beyond the borders they create.

Try to knock these walls down. It won’t be easy.  Notice “the closer you get, the more you will have the urge to pull back. That which you collected from your past forms a boundary you intuitively want to avoid. That’s natural, that’s what we do with walls; we avoid running into them.”  However, just because it feels uncomfortable doesn’t mean you should stop. Go there and be with the discomfort. Because the moment “you avoid running into them, they lock you inside their perimeter. They become your prison because they are the boundaries of your awareness. Because you are not willing to approach them, you cannot see what is beyond them.”

Once we stop going beyond ourselves we lose the ability to grow individually and spiritually. If we cannot go beyond ourselves,  we will never have a transpersonal awakening–we will never connect to that which is greater than ourselves. The line between ourselves and the world will remain at a disconnect. As long as we remain removed from one another, our individual and collective health and well-being will suffer. However, if we work on breaking down our walls and we become aware of our walls, we make progress toward becoming our true selves instead of being reduced to our feelings and emotions.

Take five minutes, find a quiet space and think about your walls. Think about your thought patterns and how they are serving you today. What would it be like if you let go of those thoughts and just witnessed them as nothing more than thoughts? Think about all the worrying you do. What if you just let those worries go? What would you start noticing in your life that you were unable to notice before? How would you grow? How would this new way of being affect the health and well-being of you and those around you? Climb the walls; break them down and watch what happens when you start seeing what lies beyond them.