Category Archives: Soulful living

{Z} Zen and the art of blogging

Finally, it’s the penultimate post of the A to Z challenge! I never thought it would get this difficult, and I never thought I would manage to persevere, what with the crazy schedule at work and the craziness of writing a blog post each and every day. But this month of daily blogging, of stretching myself to the max, has thought me a lot – about blogging and about life.

  1. It pays to plan: Before April rolled around, I had already drawn up a list of blog post ideas with almost all the letters and had also scheduled 2 weeks’ worth of posts. This made the start of the challenge easy, and I was able to use a couple of weekends in April to write and schedule more posts and go visit fellow participants. That early momentum powered me through the rest of the month, when the going got tougher and tougher. I wasn’t always able to spread the blog love, but I wrote a post a day, which is the main reason why I joined up for the challenge.

    Zenitude: When you have a why, you can achieve anything!

  2. Do what you humanly can: Part of the challenge involved blog hopping and commenting. I kept up with the commenting for as long as I could, but on the days when it was too overwhelming (which was essentially mid-April onwards), I just did what I could. I’ll go catch up on posts slowly now, when I have the time to actually read and leave intelligent comments. Giving myself some slack here meant that I didn’t totally burn out, and was able to juggle the various things that came up this month.

    Zenitude: Work within your limitations, without beating yourself up, and you’ll accomplish more than you thought was possible.

  3. But don’t give up: I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up! But I didn’t. I wrote entire posts and designed graphics to go with it on my phone, I wrote a post outline before going to sleep and fleshed it out when I woke up, but I didn’t give up. The high I am feeling now, on completing the challenge, is immense. To top it all, this month of blogging every day on a huge variety of topics helped me break out of the blogging inertia that had set in, which is a plus!

    Zenitude: Stretch yourself in new ways, challenge the status quo, and you’ll be surprised at the font of creative gold you will find.

What lessons have you learnt from this challenge or any other challenge that you’ve participated in?

{Y} The Kindness Revolution: Don’t say no when you want to say yes

Erm, but, I don’t know how to say no, you might be thinking. And, wait a minute, why would I say no to something I want to say yes to?

Maybe, because you’ve said yes to things you didn’t know how to say no to.

Are you confused? Let me explain.

How often do you feel overwhelmed, feel like 24 hours is too less? How much time are you able to devote to the things that matter to you? How often have you said yes to something because you didn’t know how to say no, or you thought it would be rude or mean to say no?

If you’re giving away handfuls of your time to other people and things, is it any wonder that you have no time to focus on the things that really matter to you? Be they personal goals – like focusing on your health, your hobbies, your dreams; having some time to simply unwind; or wanting the best for your family – and this isn’t about monetary things, but about having time to enjoy life together.

Well, guess what? To be able to say yes to the things you want, you have to say no to the things that don’t matter that much to YOU.

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Sometimes this is easier said than done. But, at the end of the day, every thing and every choice has a price tag. When you’re sacrificing one thing for another thing, you should be sacrificing a good thing for a better thing. If you aren’t doing that, you aren’t really sacrificing, you’re compromising. And that isn’t a good feeling in the long run.

So take the time to figure out what matters most to YOU, or you’ll find yourself saying no to the things you want to say yes to more often than not.

Are you ready to say yes to the things that matter to you? ill you join me in the kindness revolution?

Leave any tips, strategies, or burning questions in the comments; I promise to get back to you soon!

{W} The Kindness Revolution: Why worry?

“People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold.” ~ John Jay Chapman
OK, fess up! How often do you find yourself, brows furrowed, chewing your bottom lip, running through some crazy, made-up scenarios in your head? Or obsessing over something someone said to you, something that you forgot to do, or second-guessing a decision you took? At that moment, it seems like your life as you know it is over!

I’m also willing to bet that most of us have, at some time or the other, had this continuous loop playing in our head:

Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God what am I going to do how am I going to do it Oh My God my life is over!

This, generally, is the loop that plays in my head when I’ve left something for the last minute (and I do it often…and then I hyperventilate…) or when I can’t find my car keys and I’m already late for work…you get the drift, right?

I cannot count the number of times I have looked back at those moments of intense worry and laughed at myself for hyperventilating the way I did. And this brought me to an important realization:

If there is a solution that can be found to my problem, or if I can fix a particular situation I find myself in, it’s pointless to hyperventilate. All that worrying only increases stress levels and the time it takes to fix a problem. And if I come up against something that I can’t fix, what is the point of worrying? It won’t help me in any way!

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So here’s a revolutionary act of kindness for you to adopt: Try to look forward a year or so and ask yourself: will this situation, problem, decision, really matter a year or two years from now? Will I even remember this situation that is causing me so much worry?

When you view things from this perspective, you realize that so many things that you focus your worry or your attention on…so many things that you think are vitally important…are really not…they’re just distractions. If you stop worrying about them, you free up time that you can use to focus on the things that really matter to you…that will make a difference to your life a year…two years…three or more years from now.

Are you ready to banish worry to the wayside? Will you join me in the kindness revolution?

Got any tips and strategies to share? Or maybe you have some questions, thoughts, or different opinions? Whatever the case – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

{P} The Kindness Revolution: Be Positive

Happiness is a human birthright for everyone. – The Dalai Lama

One way to be kind to ourselves is to be able to choose happiness…and the way to do that, I believe, is to choose positivity. We can focus on everything that is wrong around us – the unfairness of a colleague getting promoted ahead of you, not having “enough” friends (whatever enough means) – or we can acknowledge those things, but focus on the things that are right – having the time to do the things you love, perhaps.

If you take a few moments to think about it, you’ll realize that there probably are a whole bunch of positive emotions or experiences that you aren’t even aware of. There’s so much to be grateful for each and every day… each and every minute…your very life, each breath, each action that you take for granted – walking, talking, smelling, seeing – is a miracle.

postivity-dalai-lamaWhen you view life with what I call “miracle lenses” {a combination of an attitude of gratitude and maintaining a positive frame of mind}, something amazing starts to happen. Miracles multiply. You find an increasing number of things to be thankful for. And you’re filled with peace and hope and joy. You start to break through old thought patterns that kept you trapped in a certain situation. You are led to the experiences and lessons you need right when you need them – often even before you’re fully conscious that you need them!

But it is hard work. You’re essentially changing your conditioning and your default mode of thinking. That takes time, but it is doable, and it is worth it! You will find yourself scoffing at your positive thoughts…falling back to your negative thought patterns…maybe even resisting this entirely…but if you break through it… if you slowly, one by one, gently and kindly frame your negatives in a more positive way…the miracles will come. Just stick with it…one day…one moment at a time.

Here are a few things you can try:

1. Keep a gratitude journal where you can list a few things you are grateful for every day – a beautiful sunset, the weather, some good news…

2. Print out or write down quotes that inspire you, motivate you, make you happy, and put them up where you can see them

3. Divide a piece of paper into 2 columns. To start with, list out some of your biggest negative thoughts or fears on the left hand column. Then frame them in a more positive, gentle manner on the right.
Here are a few examples: “I can never find {whatever you’re looking for – love, friends, etc}” to “I trust that I will meet the right person when the time is right”
“This is never going to work” to “I have some ideas that could work”

Will you join me in the kindness revolution?

Got any tips and strategies to share? Or maybe you have some questions, thoughts, or different opinions? Whatever the case – I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

{O} An ode to an ordinary life

“Buy this dress!” “Go on this holiday!” “Look at this shiny new gadget that will change your life!

Buy these things, the advertisements tell us, and you’ll be breaking out of the ordinary.

But, what’s so bad with ordinary anyway?

Look behind those screaming advertisements. There’s a case to be made for an ordinary life. A life filled with love, laughter, companionship. A life where you have the time and energy to be present with your loved ones. Where people matter more than material objects. It’s a life filled with contentment, love, play, friends, family.

ordinary-life

But what about aspirations? Passions? Goals?

Follow them! Dreams and goals, even if they are extraordinary, isn’t opposed to an ordinary life. But thinking your dream or goal or passion is the only way to happiness is a fallacy. You need to recognize that life is ordinary, and you need to find happiness in that.

If you can’t find happiness in your day-to-day living, what makes you think you will find happiness if you live in an Italian village? Or run the marathon? Or get your photographs or articles published?

The day-to-day is just that – the daily cycle of work, family, friends, love, responsibility. Instead of running away from them, or wanting “more”, you can find happiness and contentment and joy in them. Because it really is enough.

When you are content with life, when you aren’t constantly wanting to be “great”, you’ll find that you’ve freed up so much energy to embrace opportunity, to dream, to imagine. And that’s when extraordinary things can happen – if you want them to.

So no, you are not meant for greatness. It is not your birthright.

But you are meant for good things. And good things can be found in an ordinary life.