If your thinking this is a strange question, it may be, however it has been the theme this month as I have been in Sydney attending the “Happiness and its Causes Conference”.
We had the privilege of being in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as he opened the conference sharing his wisdom on love, compassion and ethics. With leading minds in psychology, science and business, exploring tools and techniques for a happier life and enhancing our human potential.
Do you really want to know the secret to happiness?
We are all eagerly wanting to know that magic formula – the emerging theme from many of our experts was this – it’s in your “daily practice“.
Transforming to a place of peace, happiness and contentment is determined by what we do on a daily basis. Starting each day in a relaxed way, being mindful, choosing not to engage in negative thinking, being grateful and compassionate.
What would you do differently if you were living to your highest potential and feeling happy and content in life?
Let me share with you a few key concepts and wisdoms from some of our leaders in this field:
Professor Barbara Fredrickson a psychologist and a leading scholar within social psychology, affective science (the study of emotion), and positive psychology.
Barbara’s tips to creating new wellness behaviours each day –
- Be mindful of people and events and saviour the enjoyment of that
- Practice compassion for self and others
- Be open to what the current moment offers – choose healthy attitudes daily
- Be curious – what’s the others persons perspective
- Be kind, be of service and think how can I help others around me
- Be appreciative – appreciate and express your appreciation
- Be real – be your authentic self
Russ Harris psychologist and author of the “Happiness Trap” Russ reminds us not to get caught in the happiness trap that leads us to believe that we should strive to always feel happy.
He says that to live a full rich human life we need to feel all emotions and it is normal to experience the ups and the downs of life and the full range of emotions that are a part of that.
There were so many insights I will continue to share.
Watch out for the Loving Kindness meditation classes due to commence in a few weeks.
Did you know yesterday was International Day of Happiness?
This day is celebrated around the world each year on March 20th for everyone to focus on their connections with others and bring more happiness to each other and the world.
Many people I talk to say they would like to be happier (and what happiness looks like is different for each one of us.) But what gets in the way of our happiness is the rules we put into place to be happy.
How many times have you heard yourself or a friend say “I’ll be happy when… I lose weight or when I have more money, when I find a better job, or when I’m not so busy or stressed” – does this sound familiar?
To be happier every day we need to look at what our rules are and make a conscious choice to choose happiness even when circumstances in life may not be ideally how we want them to be.
Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a psychologist and founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience talks a lot about changing our brains to create more happiness and wellbeing.
He states that everything you do creates connections within the network of your brain, and the more you repeat something, the stronger that connection gets. These connections control your reactions, emotions, behaviours, and your overall happiness and well-being.
So it would make sense that the more we focus our thinking on positive and happy things in our life we will train our brain to default to happier and positive behaviours and emotions. Yes it sounds simple yet the trick is to be mindful to do this throughout each day.
If you want to create more happiness and fulfilment you must train your brain to seek out the good things in life and focus on these things the majority of the time – try these 3 simple techniques:
- It can be as simple as being grateful; start each day by writing three things you are thankful for and start training your mind to focus on the positive. This technique has been proven to be extremely effective in creating positive mood change.
- Reframing is a technique naturally happy people repeatedly use. It’s putting a positive spin on past and present negative events so you remember them as good.
- Expect things to get better; as Martin Seligman the author of Learned Optimism says, optimism can make you happier and it is a skill that can be learned and the more we practice it the more it will become a natural way we think.
If you are looking for ideas to change your rules for happiness you may want to try some of these:
- Happiness is a way of living your life, not a destination
- The quickest way to change your life is to change what you do and what you focus on every day.
- Decide to love yourself exactly as you are.
- Own yourself. If you worry about what others think of you, you are owned by them.
- Your choice – you can either gripe about the storms in your life or go dancing in the rain.
What will you do today to make everyday a happier one?
As 2014 is coming to an end, it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and celebrate your successes and review what you have learnt and consider what improvements you would like to make as you plan for a positive and successful 2015.
It is very easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and race into the new year and just continue doing what you’ve always done; this is fine if you are feeling happy and satisfied however if you are feeling frustrated, stressed or just not sure where you are going then this is a great opportunity to stop, relax and check in where you are at and make some adjustments.
It has been a full and exciting year for me and amongst my challenges and joys in 2014 I will share with you a few of my learning’s:
- Every day we choose our attitudes and therefore our outcomes so make a choice every day to choose a positive and happy attitude(even when we are feeling challenged).
- Be clear on what’s important to you. Know what your priorities are and what’s most important in your life so you can plan activities and have time to do the things that matter most.
- Take time out for planning and reflection. When I got busy and didn’t make time for reflection and planning, I became busier and found myself getting off track. Reflection time allows us to stay on track and maintain a balance and feel happy and content.
- Keep your life in balance-(whatever creates balance for you) I find this works best when I regularly have time to stop and reflect and look at areas of my life that I have been neglecting and set goals to change that.
- Remember to have fun – sometimes when life gets so hectic we need to schedule in time to fun activities, it reduces stress and allows us to remember what life is really all about.
- Be grateful- every day I affirm what I am grateful for my life and it really does bring things into perspective and allows me to appreciate who I am and what I have in my life.
Thank you for your support and interest over the last 12 months. If you feel you need some support, guidance, strategies or inspiration to get back on track and bring more bounce into your life and business do give me a call.
Have a happy, safe and relaxing Christmas and enjoy some time out to reflect and plan for a fun and successful 2015.
It seems to be that so many people are feeling pressured and under the pump and just a little stressed out…maybe it’s the build up to the “end of year rush” before the Christmas break. When we are feeling that way it’s important to ask ourselves what could we do differently that would give us a more positive and happy result.
With that in mind I came across a wonderful poster that read “you will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
Its our daily habits that bring us success and happiness or allow us to get caught in the busyness and negativity that surrounds us.
I believe there are certain habits that will enable us to live life to its fullest, making the most of every opportunity. These habits are not personality traits! They are little choices that we make daily that internalize into habits.
So what can we do to create positive and healthy habits?
Paul J Meyer the founder of Success Motivation International, inspires us with his 13 habits that helps to develop daily positive habits to “Seize the Day”:
- Be an inverted paranoid: I believe the whole world is conspiring to do only good things to me.
- Be a quick forgiver: I don’t have time to waste in unforgiveness
- Be optimistic: Believing the best of people and circumstances is a sure way to find that best.
- Be Thankful: I always give thanks, keep my eyes on god as my provider, and keep a smile on my face.
- Be an encourager: Encouragers make me feel better, stronger, and more capable of accomplishing my dreams. I want to do the same for others.
- Be spontaneous: I have a sense of urgency and a do-it-now attitude.
- Be a giver: My greatest joy is giving.
- Be positive: Being positive has the potential of turning the worst situations into victories.
- Smile a lot and laugh at life: Adversity is a stepping-stone not a roadblock. Why not laugh in the midst of the challenges?
- Live life with enthusiasm: I will only live once, so why not give it my all?
- Enjoy life: I truly enjoy life.
- Find a hobby you enjoy: No matter where I am, I have something I like to do.
- Look for people to help: I get up every morning excited about the person I might help today.
Paul J Myer (Success Motivation International)
Imagine if you were to put even a few of these habits into your daily life what a positive difference it would make.
Have you ever wondered what it would take to make the changes in your life that would bring you more peace and happiness?
I arrived in St Jean Pied de Port in France, crossed the Pyrenees and walked the 800km Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across northern Spain in 38 days.
And you may ask“what is a pilgrimage” – A pilgrimage is a ritual journey with a purpose. The pilgrim knows that life giving challenges will emerge. A pilgrimage is not a vacation; it is a transformational journey during which significant change takes place. New insights are given. Deeper understanding is attained. On return, life is seen with different eyes. Nothing will ever be quite the same again.
(The Camino de Santiago is a World Heritage site and the first pilgrimage dates back to the 9th Century.)
My purpose was to test my own resiliency on all levels – physically, mentally and spiritually – and yes they did get tested as I carried my 12kg backpack, walked between 18-30km daily and stayed in albergues (basic accommodation for pilgrims with bunk beds – the largest being 183 beds in a large monastery).
Each day you get up, put everything you own in your backpack and walk and then walk some more until you find a village that will be the final destination for the day.
It was an incredible experience. The freedom to wake up each day and walk through beautiful nature and stunning landscapes, meet new friends from all parts of the world, and explore corners of my mind I’ve never had time to explore.
Walking 24+ km everyday the mind has plenty of time for introspection, deep thought and questioning. And it was a perfect time to get to know myself better and what is really important in life.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
How well do you know yourself – I mean really know yourself?
Along the way I learnt so many invaluable life lessons – how much happiness I found in living simply and how much simplicity can be found in accepting the circumstances that surrounded me every day.
On a daily basis we can complicate our lives with having too much “stuff”, trying to fit too much into a day, not being able to say “NO”, being constantly busy and then feeling guilty for all of the above.
Since my return from the Camino I have been on a mission to simplify my life.
Simplicity brings balance, freedom, and joy.
If you would like to experience more of this, here are just a few things you might like to try:
- Identify what’s most important to you – who and what do you value?Write a list of what is most important in your life and focus on spending more time and energy on that.
- Review your diary and time commitments – it is easy to keep adding more into our daily and weekly schedule – take a good look at what you could eliminate or delegate.
- De-clutter – yes we’ve heard it before but have you done it? It feels like a weight has been lifted as I have gone through room-by-room letting go of “stuff” that I no longer need to hang on to.
- Minimise technology and screen time – log off Facebook, turn off the mobile phone and enjoy some quiet time without distractions. Being connected 24/7 creates stress and busyness; decide each day to have time without TV, phones and internet and notice how peaceful and joyful life can be.
- Get rid of negative thoughts – stop beating yourself up for not ”being more” “achieving more” or “doing more”. Switch your thoughts to being grateful for who you are and what you have.
In essence simplicity means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.
Enjoy living simply…
As I am about to embark on an adventure and a test of my own mental and physical resilience, I am feeling a mixture of great excitement and a little reluctance – a bit like pre wedding jitters – knowing its going to be an amazing event mixed in with a fear of the unknown.
In preparation for the Camino it was suggested that you engage in training on 3 levels – train the body to prepare for the physical endurance, prepare mentally –to let go of the busyness of everyday life and prepare spiritually to allow the mind to be quiet and accepting as we will have at least 6 hours each day walking and contemplating.
In this training I am learning the importance of “slowing down”. Coming from a busy and hurried world how do you just stop and start to live at a slower pace?
Well this is about to be my opportunity in a few days and I yet don’t know how I will respond to this opportunity. Will I drive myself crazy as I walk every day – 800km of being with my own thoughts? There will be no “to do lists”, “have to’s” no domestic chores (except for washing clothes each night!). Ahhh what will I think about?
What is this self-imposed pressure to keep moving faster, to hurry and push ourselves to overachieve and feel guilty if we take time out for ourselves to rest or stop to smell the roses.
Staying busy allows us to disguise our physical and emotional pain that can be felt when we slow down and have stillness.
I’ve realised that as I have been preparing for this exciting experience it is the perfect way to prepare for a more relaxed, peaceful and successful life.
I thought I would share with you my training schedule that each one of us would get positive results if we were to apply it to our weekly routine:
- Physically – exercising every day, alternating between walking and cardio and weights at the gym to build strength(except Sunday – that’s my day off to relax, chill out, family time.)
- Mentally – challenging my expectations, learning to become less attached to outcomes or what I think should or shouldn’t happen.
-Being more adaptable by breaking the patterns and habits in everyday life and choosing to do things differently.
- Spiritually – increasing my daily meditation to 20 minutes.
– Letting go of judgements
– Live in the now and let go of the past and future and focus on what is happening in the present moment.
– Enjoy regular solitude and quiet time .
This focus has been so beneficial to both my personal and business life and has resulted in feeling more relaxed, less reactive to situations and people and less attached to outcomes. And I have noticed that being “busy” is a choice, so I am choosing to do things differently so I am not feeling or thinking ”busy”!
I will be back at the beginning of June and look forward to sharing personal insights and wisdoms as I walk this path with many others from diverse cultures and life’s experiences.
If you would like to follow my journey I will be capturing photos of the beautiful Spanish scenery along with my insights.
The link to follow me on Instagram is :
One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.”
With a look of wisdom in his eyes the grandfather said; “I feel like wolves are fighting in my heart. One is full of anger and hatred, jealousy and resentment and the other is full of love, forgiveness, joy, humility and peace.”
The boy looked intently into his grandfather’s eyes and asked, “which one will win?”
The grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”
This simple story highlights the powerful point that, in life, you become what you think about.
Our mind is a powerful creator and it is up to us to direct our thoughts to focus on what it is we want to create in our life, not what we don’t want.
Quite simply, if you want to change your outcomes, you must master your thinking.
Change your thoughts and your reaction to your thoughts and your world changes too.
The more I studied in the area of positive psychology and neuroscience the more I became intrigued with this concept. What was truly amazing was when I started to put it into practise – I noticed when I stopped myself thinking thoughts of what I did not want and replaced them with more positive and empowering thoughts that I got more positive things showing up in my life.
If you want to make a positive change in any area of your life this is the key. Have you ever noticed the more you focus and think about something you don’t want, the more it seems to show up??
Remember, the most important thing to understand is that our inner turmoil is what causes the outer chaos (not the other way around).
Psychologists estimate that, on average, we have as many as 60,000 thoughts in a typical day. If we sleep 6 to 8 hours a day, then we are having about one thought each second.
When I started noticing my thoughts, I found my head filled with constant chatter. And the interesting thing is that I wasn’t having 60,000 new and useful thoughts. Instead, I was repeating a series of unproductive thoughts—worries about work, imagining challenging conversations with difficult people and difficult situations, judgments of myself and others, and analysing everyone and everything (and not necessarily in a positive way).
So how do we create our success and happiness?
In his book Psycho-Cybernetics, renowned doctor and professor, Maxwell Maltz gives the answer to this very question.
Discoveries in the science of Cybernetics points to the conclusion that your physical brain and nervous system make up a servo-mechanism which you use, and which operates very much like an electronic computer and a mechanical goal-setting device.
Maltz explains how your built-in servo mechanism functions both as “guidance system” to automatically steer you in the right direction to achieve certain goals, or make correct responses to the environment and also as an “electronic brain” which can function automatically to solve problems, give you needed answers and provide new ideas or inspiration.
Maltz became interested in why setting goals works. He learned that the power of self-affirmation and mental visualisation techniques used the connection between the mind and the body. This is also directly linked to your self-image. Your self-image fundamentally provides your brain with direction. So this is why we need to have a positive and healthy self-image to ensure we steer our servo-mechanism to get the results that are important to us.
Happiness and success are habits so it is up to each one of us to change the way we think and create new habits of thinking to enjoy more happiness and success.
This is my favourite time of year as we step into a brand new year and have the opportunity to ask ourselves:
• This year who do I want to be?
• What do I want to do and
• What do I want to create?
With each New Year we can recreate ourselves, learn from our past mistakes and challenges and plan to do things differently and create a vision and goals that satisfies and excites us.
Having said that, as I was reading the newspapers and articles over the Christmas and New Year period I was surprised to find myself becoming disillusioned and frustrated with the same old messages we see at this time of the year. ….set clear goals, make your goal SMART goals, what are your dreams for the future, who do you want to be in 2014.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am the first to start the year with clarifying my goals and creating a vision for what I want to achieve and who I want to be. And I am very passionate about this process.
Because I create meaningful goals regularly I have some pretty exciting stuff happening this year – the most exhilarating one is, on April 11th I am jumping on a plane with a friend to go hiking 800km on the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain.
This has been on my bucket list for a few years and at the beginning of 2013 I decided to make it a goal for 2014. This is something very special to me on my life journey and I am so excited that is coming to fruition.
So what this disillusionment allowed me to realise is how important it is to understand what comes before the vision and goals and dreams.
To know what is true and meaningful in your life. Know what will bring peace, joy and satisfaction to you; not any body else – just YOU, and then plan your goals around that.
When we have meaningful goals and we know what will create more excitement and passion in our life then we are on track for a great year.
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about how you can live more authentically with more enjoyment and peace:
• What is the fire in your belly? What gets you inspired?
• What would you love to do that you have been putting off or saying you are “too busy”?
• What would you love to stop doing?
• What brings you peace? …..and do more of that!
Make a commitment to yourself to discover what will make this year a meaningful and joyful one.
Having just returned from a wonderful 6 week holiday hiking through the Swiss Alps and Rocky Mountains in Canada, I was reminded how easily our stress can sneak up on us with the constant demands of our busy life, and how rewarding it is to take time out to relax and rejuvenate and recharge the batteries and do something you really love to do. For us that is getting out into the great outdoors and exploring beautiful places as we travel.
It is wonderful to reward ourselves with a special holiday however what’s more important is what we do on a daily and weekly basis to ensure we schedule time out to relax and unwind.
We all experience stress from time to time. However, when stress gets to be too much, it can take its toll on our health and happiness. Having effective strategies to reduce stress levels is essential in restoring our inner peace, health and well-being.
Start today to create daily healthy habits and notice how more relaxed you feel. Here are some guidelines to start you on your way….
- Exercise – is a powerful way to reduce stress and can provide an effective release of negative emotions and also decrease ‘stress hormones’ like cortisol and increase endorphins, your body’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost.
- Eat to stay on top – stress also wears down the immune system, which is why we get sick during challenging times. To counteract this, eat a healthy balanced diet to boost your immune system.
- Time for you – everyone needs time to relax and recover from the stresses of the day, so schedule time to do the things you love to do and that make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
- Simplify your life – simplifying life is a great way to reduce stress, cut out extra commitments that don’t serve you, change relationships that stress you, and change activities that you don’t enjoy. Take stock of what you do in your life that is creating pressure and things that you don’t enjoy and make the necessary changes.
- Get organised – being organised is the best way of creating extra time in your life and cutting down stress. Prioritise activities and responsibilities, ensuring you schedule in time for the most important things in your life i.e. family time, you time, exercise, etc.
What will you do today to ensure you take time out for you to create more peace, health and happiness?