Category Archives: Soulful living

{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.

{M} The non-manifesto manifesto

I was introduced to the concept of a personal mission statement at a corporate training years ago. At the time, I tried really hard to come up with a mission statement for my life. I failed.

Over the years, I’ve given it a try a couple of times. I’ve always failed.

Then I came across some awesome manifestos (like my personal favorite, the Holstein manifesto). While I found some of them inspiring, I never could come up with one that was ME.

This inability to come up with a manifesto for my life has made me feel like a failure of sorts.

It took a very wise man – the husband, in fact – to show (or rather tell) me why I have always failed at it.

The reason is simple. So simple that I feel like a fool for not seeing it for myself. I simply don’t believe in having one.

Let me tell you why.

Life, I believe, is a journey. At its simplest, it’s a journey from birth to death. Along the way we undertake a number of journeys where we meet numerous people – some of who journey with us our entire lives, others who journey with us for a short while.

Along this journey we come across things that we enjoy doing. Some people find one passion and stick with it all their lives. Others find numerous interests that they pursue for different lengths of time. It’s all part of this journey called life. It’s all good.

Life is complicated and stressful enough as it is. To complicate it further by having a manifesto that you may not always be able to live by is pointless.

Instead, my philosophy on life is much simpler – be curious, be willing to learn. Do what you enjoy doing. If you get tired of something, drop it. Pick up a different hobby instead. Live life authentically. Not how people say you should; rather how you feel you should. If you aren’t enjoying the journey, if you aren’t feeling happy most of the time, what is the point of it all anyway? It’s your life. One life. Make it count – to you.

Now that’s a philosophy (or should I call it a manifesto?) that I can live by!

{L} Conquer your to-do list

Have you ever created a to-do list and then wondered how you’re going to ever get all of it done? I have. More times than I can count. At the height of my insanity, I had a to-do list that was a page long. Crazy? You betcha! {And in case you’re wondering, I never did manage to cross much off that list.}

crazy to do listI can’t remember the number of times I’ve made a huge-ass list and then felt exhausted just looking at it! To top it all, half of the things on that list would have to be repeated in a week or two. {Yes, I included things like buy groceries before the pantry is bare, and put in the laundry before we run out of clothes to wear.} Needless to say, I just about managed to do things when ignoring them was no longer an option.

Now, though, I’m the queen of conquering to-do lists {err…when it is my queenly desire to do so}. It’s quite simple, and seeing as I am in a benevolent mood, I’ll share my inspired process with you. You’re welcome.

Step 1: Create a master list. This one is going to be huge. On it, you’ll list out everything your little heart desires to achieve. Keep adding to it; make it as long as you want. Do not look at it and panic. Move to step two.

Step 2: Create a “today list”. This one will stem from your master list. Make sure you don’t have more than 4-5 things on it. And ensure that at least 2 of them are fun things so you don’t feel like the biggest drudge on the face of the earth. You’re welcome.

Ta-da! In no time at all, you’ll be the queen of to-do lists!

Got your own to-do list inspiration to share?

{F} Finding Nemo: 4 tips to help you find yourself

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle

Growing up, I was a rather reflective, introspective kinda gal.  I used to spend long hours curled up under the window with some music in the background, letting my mind wander…or writing in my journal…or just day dreaming idly.

Then, life happened. Thrust into the work place with all its associated pressures, adjusting to a life away from home, marriage, changing states, adjusting to new cultures…all of it took a toll, and that introspective girl got lost along the way.

As things settled down I took a moment to look at my life and realized I love it and am grateful for it. But at the same time, I realized that I’ve been running for so long that I’ve lost touch with … me. And so I set off on a quest to find myself. As I worked through it I gathered a lot of tools to self-discovery along the way.

Find_Yourself_Laozi_quote

Here are 4 of my favorites.

1. Journal, Journal, Journal: Writing helps you slow down, tune in, and listen to the soft whisper inside you that will lead you home. If you don’t know where to start, there are tons of sites out there offering journaling prompts and 50 questions to ask yourself. What really helped me get back to my journal, though, was the Soul Comfort class offered by the Brave Girls Club. If you haven’t checked them out already, I highly recommend that you do.

2. Make me-time a priority: This is time for YOU – to do what you WANT to do. Often, as we rush through our daily lives, running from one thing to the next, we sacrifice me time until we no longer know what makes us happy.  But, true happiness comes from within – you need to stop waiting for someone or something to bring you happiness. And when you me make me time a priority, you start figuring out what it is that makes you happy. And then you go out and do it!

3. Find your passion: And when I say this – I don’t mean that you will become rich and famous by following it. That’s a more modern concept that I do not fully agree with, and the topic for a different post. When you’re figuring out your passion, try free association and mind mapping to find out what gives you a thrill, then do it. And for heaven’s sake do NOT look at it from the rigid frame of making it a career. Pretty please!

4. Make a life list: And make it long. Include all the things you would love to do – like travel, learn new languages, create meaningful art – and keep adding to it. And every year, make sure you cross off a few things from that list. And if you don’t want to do something that’s on the list any more, that’s fine too. It’s totally OK to change your mind!

Got any tips that help you connect to yourself? Share them in the comments!