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Archive for January, 2008

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Sunrise Over Barcelona by papalars

The great thing about life is that when you make mistakes and mess up, there is always another chance, a new day coming. Your past is just that – your past. What you do today is what decides your future. When you change your actions, your words or your beliefs you have a chance to start fresh.

When life gets you down you can choose how you heal. Whether you smile and laugh through your pain, or choose to hide from the world. Embrace it all! I have done both, lots of times. Some days it is better for me to look for inspiration from other blogs, books, my gratitude journal or my pets. I can find power in the struggles of others, or peace as I review my daily blessings.

Other times I just pull the covers up and lay in bed. I do nothing but read or watch a little TV and I don’t talk to anyone or go near the computer. The beauty is that we can choose what works for us. If you find relief and joy in being totally alone and quiet for a day or two – then do it. Don’t be afraid to admit you need some quiet alone time, anymore than you would worry about getting together with friends for a movie and dinner.

Today for instance I laughed until my stomach hurt just by playing ball with my dog. My husband and I got one of those super bouncy-balls and tossed it back and forth. My dog is a nut about any balls, and as we bounced it in front of her she jumped and twisted around like a rabbit on steroids. Finally when one of us lost concentration she would quickly jump on it in triumph. We all got a workout from it, and it was great therapy.

I’ve known many people who watch movie marathons of their favorite Star Wars or Lord of the Rings sagas, or have a comedy marathon to help break through writer’s block, depression, or just to fight a bout of boredom. Sometimes reading greeting cards in the local Hallmark store can bring great clarity to a problem. Whatever works for you.

Playing at the park, sliding on the slide or swinging on the swings, can help you feel playful and silly. Being goofy and having fun often helps gives insight to problems – even financial ones. Just taking your mind off of things for a while helps you mull it over on the backburner of your mind. I used to have so many wonderful ideas while stuck in traffic on the drive to work, I finally started taking a notebook and pen with me.

What is your favorite way to breakthrough a problem or obstacle? How do you move past the part of your mind that is stuck on a particular dilemma? What’s the craziest technique you’ve tried? Please share your insights and ideas here.

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An old book with a looking glass by ēst smiltis no ausīm

Doesn’t that seem like a wonderful, life-affirming idea? It would have an index at the front with chapters like “How to follow your dreams,” and “The easy way to find the answers you need.” There would be illustrations on “how to paint your house,” to “the best way to wash your dog so you don’t get soaked.” The best feature of all would be a front page full of emergency numbers to call when you feel too overwhelmed to handle things by yourself.

What a great gift that would be. Just thinking about it, I like to order 20 copies right now. Unfortunately most of stumble through our lives, trying to keep our feet under us while the ground gets rockier and rockier. We read books and learn techniques to get us out of current mess and then life sends a new avalanche of problems our way.

Take my life for instance. Lately it’s been chaotic and disorderly. I have a plan worked out about what my future should be, yet every time I make a move forward, it’s like trying to keep your footing across an icy lake – one with brittle ice.

So in an effort to help myself while providing useful tips for all of you, here’s my checklist to a more positive and orderly life:

  • List your priorities. If you have 10 errands to do, pick the 3 most urgent, and work to get those done this week. It will give you a feeling of satisfaction to check them off, and you can move on to the next pressing matter.
  • Form your support system. Your support can be anything. Your spouse, a good friend, your mother, anyone you can talk to about your problems. If you find self-help books useful, try a few of those. Use all the help you can find.
  • Take time off for fun. When you worry endlessly about your problems they can consume your life. Take a few hours each day to let them go. Watch TV, read, meditate, play video games or whatever else helps you forget. If you get a brilliant breakthrough while doing this, add it to your priority list.
  • Sacrifice what you don’t need. If you can get rid of some smaller bills to help get through a crunch, do it. Downgrade your cable and cell phone, trade in your new car for a used model. Simply your committements and your clutter and you will find more clarity.
  • Do what you love. Do what gives you energy, joy, strength and peace. Paint, sing, dance, play with your kids, walk your dog, and visit your friends. Happiness gives you hope, and is like sunlight in the darkness. Add vitality to your day by doing activities you enjoy.
  • Don’t settle for a stinky life. If you are depressed, bored or unsatisified with your life, do something different. Try a new job, start a new hobby or learn a new skill. Make changes, large and small and see what develops. List what you love to do and look for a way to make money doing it. Don’t give in to unhappiness.
  • Look inside yourself. The biggest improvements come after deep reflection. Take stock of your life and admit honestly and completely what you love and what you hate. You know your innermost thoughts, dreams and desires. Now is the time to live your dreams. You’ll regret never trying more than failing to try.
  • Remember pain is temporary. Like the searing pain of a toothache, sometimes life can overwhelm you with sensations of agony and cloud your mind with hurt. When you identify the pain, you can begin to take steps to relive it. And believe it or not, you may not even remember the misery you were in once it’s gone.

There’s no cure-all for the problems of life, but sometimes just knowing that other people have suffered and endured pain and tragedy can help us not to feel alone. Look back at your past and you will see that your struggles and troubles usually give you the biggest opportunities for growth and understanding. Keep your head up and keep looking forward. This too shall pass.

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Believe in Yourself by Windy Angels

 

Don’t give up, and don’t give in. Keep your dreams alive. These tips are essential for adults who need to keep going in the face of failures, loss and problems in their lives. Life is unpredictable and full of twists and turns. Fear of the unknown often causes us to halt our progress just when we are on the pinnacle of success. Unlike children who are such joyous free spirits because they lack the cynicism that comes from many years of hard knocks and defeats, adults need to be reminded of their own inner strength and worth.

What do you stand for? What do you believe? What do you care passionately about? In order to have meaning and purpose in your life, you need to answer these questions. For me, I would say I stand for happiness and finding joy in life. I believe that life is good and that by focusing our attention on the positive side of life we increase our delight and enjoyment in the little things that make life great.

Often I struggle with giving up on my goals. Life puts many obstacles in my path, sometimes for even the simplest of things. There are troubles, struggles, and bumps on my road that make me want to quit. That’s when I look back at my progress and realize how far I’ve come. Or, I think about how passionate I am about reading, friends and family, happiness and my dream of living my life exactly as I want to. I realize what a wonderful dream that is, and how happy it makes me to share my love of reading, movies and fun with others. And I keep going.

Believing in yourself and your dreams is so much harder than giving up. Giving up is easy. You just stop, and list all the examples you’ve collected of your failures and mistakes and say “That’s it. I just can’t do, so stop expecting me to succeed.”

But dreams and goals are what give us purpose and direction. I dream of being an inspiration to others, of motivating people to put more pleasure and fun into their life and to help them relax and find peace in themselves. Even if I never fulfill my dream, my writing and sharing with others helps me stay focused on these positive qualities. It helps me be a better person because I feel responsible to others.

Here are my tips to keep you believing in yourself:

  • Pray, meditate and reconnect with your spiritual side. Feel the love and light of the universe within you and you will find the strength to go on.
  • Chart your progress. Use a daily gratitude journal to list what makes you happy. Reminding yourself of the good things in your life will boost your spirit and keep you going.
  • Review your goals weekly. Look at what’s working and what’s not. People change over time, and so do their goals. Check off any you’ve completed and change any that need changing. Goal tracking gives you something to concentrate on.
  • Read inspirational stories. Something that keeps me going is reading stories of people who are successful that had a rough road to success. Knowing there are others who struggled and overcame problems worse than my own is a great motivator.
  • Focus on the positive. Make a list of your best qualities. Keep them on your computer or in a notebook for handy reference. Knowing your own worth as a person will keep you balanced when things are falling apart around you.

Above all don’t give up on yourself. You are a wonderful, complex, fascinating creation of the universe. The future lies open before you and it is up to you to make the best of it. Allow yourself to ponder the possibility of the limitless joys and exciting adventures that may yet await you. Believe it will happen, and then work to make it so.

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I’ve always liked reading those tips that people give on things they’ve learned in their life.  Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes insightful, but almost always it’s interesting.  In the hope that some of my knowledge could be of use to someone (perhaps even to myself), here are a few things I’ve learned about trying new things:

  • Even if you fail at your task you will learn something about yourself.
  • You regret most the things you never tried, rather than what you tried and failed.
  • Most people don’t even notice when you make a mistake.  (It’s just not that important to them.)
  • Excitement and anticipation can keep your body and mind alert and aware for weeks leading up to a big event.
  • It’s amazing how many smart and interesting people are waiting to meet you.
  • Being scared out of your mind often creates your clearest memories.
  • Success makes you stronger; and so does failure.
  • Learning is a lifelong pursuit.
  • The only way to learn something is to do it.  (Thinking isn’t doing, you have to take action.)
  • Your biggest mistakes often make the best stories after a few years go by.
  • Never put off until tomorrow the fun you can have today.
  • Your tastes will change over time.  If you don’t instantly dislike something, give it a try at least once.
  • Make sure to put both big and small goals on your list.  Sometimes the smallest ideas create the biggest changes.
  • If you don’t take a chance, you’ll never find out.

Some of my best new experiences were flying high above the ground in an open-air plane, learning to ride an ATV, going white-water rafting, reading a new book each week (I learn something from each one), relearning how to make a snow-man (new because I’d forgotten how to do it!).  There are many, many more.  What are the best lessons you’ve learned by taking a chance?  Your favorite experiences?  Talk back and tell me about it.

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Mr. Happy by SpindlierHades

 

A good sense of humor can help you in get through many rough situations. A playful attitude and light-hearted outlook will give you resiliency when bad things happen. It can lift your spirits on a bad day, and help you recognize when things aren’t quite as terrible as they first appear. A healthy sense of humor means you can laugh at your own mistakes and not being afraid of occasionally looking silly.

But although a few lucky people are born with a great sense of humor, most of us have to learn it. Think of it like the using the computer. Some people (think Bill Gates) take to it like a fish to water, while others flail uncomfortably around in an unfamiliar environment. When you were little, learning to ride a bike was repetitive, unpredictable and most likely put you on your butt more times than you care to admit. But the benefits outweighed the problems. Your two-wheeled freedom was at stake.

Here a few benefits I’ve found with a well-developed sense of humor:

  • It improves your ability to bounce back from setbacks and problems more easily.
  • Humor is better when shared, so it increases social interactions.
  • Laughter is a great workout for your cardiovascular system.
  • Repeated exposure to humor will result in more smiles for you, and it’s much harder to be sad when you have a smile on your face.
  • Humor helps you see things from a new perspective and increases creativity.
  • Laughter and smiles will make you seem friendlier to people and more approachable.
  • A humorous approach to problems helps reduce tension and lower anxiety and worry.

Humor is different for each person. Some people are drawn to physical humor like a puppy falling over a rake, while others prefer satirical observations on daily life. Identifying what you find funny is a great way to wake up your funny bone. Luckily there are always new comedies to watch, new cartoons to read, and new jokes to tell. You can make up your own comedy as well. Visualize your jackass boss as a donkey with a human face next time you see him. Make goofy faces at the phone solicitors who bother you. Create a slogan for accidental mishaps like Peewee Herman’s “I meant to do that.”

Be open to experimenting with humor and fun. Ask for humorous birthday gifts. Visit a playground full of children. Wear funny t-shirts or adopt Snoopy as your personal mascot. You’ll be surprised at all the great laughs you can find once you start looking.

Here are a few extra resources to get you started:

Humor, Laughter and Health

Humor in Communication

Mike Kerr (Fun at Work)

500 Great Bumper Sticker Quotes

The Positivity Blog

 

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Link Love

Interested in checking out some other great web sites?  Here are the sites I’ve submitted to this month.  Take a look around and enjoy the great authors and information available. 

 

Carnival of Creative Growth

Carnival of Healing

Meditation, Yoga and Spiritual Growth Carnival

Personal Development and Happiness Carnival

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So many people find it so easy to complain in life.  They work too hard for too little, they can barely afford their healthcare, and people around them have so much more while they struggle to pay the bills.  I used to feel this way myself a bit.  But over time I have recognized that no matter how much you have, you will always want more.  Becoming aware of the vast amount of things we already have helps us feel richer and fuller without spending a dime.   

We get up in the morning and take a shower while we turn on the coffeemaker to brew a cup of coffee.  We eat our cereal and drink our OJ, then throw our cup and bowl in the dishwasher and press a button.  We drive to work listening to our favorite CD or talking on the cell phone to our spouse, friend or family member before we even get to work.

Many of us have gotten into financial trouble by using our credit cards irresponsibly and getting deep into debt.  We have three different video game systems for our children and buy designer shoes and jeans whenever we “need” new clothes.  Then we come home to 52″ big-screen plasma TV and start watching a new DVD movie while we fix dinner and simultaneously recording our favorite shows on Tivo so we can get on the Internet and chat about what happened to us that day.

Isn’t it amazing how much we tend to take for granted and overlook as we complain about our lack of money and need for a bigger house?  Yet there are people even in our own society who can’t feed their children, or don’t have a home.  We can see people every night on the evening news with a family of ten in a one-bedroom house.  There are people who don’t have access to clean water, whose children have no schools to attend and where medicine is in short supply.

This isn’t an article with solutions to all those problems.  It’s simply a wake-up call for all of us to look around and recognize all the luxuries we enjoy.  How many people feel panicked and upset if they forget their cell phone at home when they go to work?  Why should we?  We have phones at work, and most of us have coworkers with cell phones we could use in an emergency.

How often do we give thanks for our designer clothes, instead of being upset because we couldn’t buy that new shirt we wanted last week?  If you cook, how often have you thought, “What a wonderful stove I have, it works great and cooks my food to perfection.”  I’m sure if you talk to campers who live in the woods for a week and cook over a smoky fire, they can tell you the joys of the modern stove.

Next time you’re stuck in traffic, complaining about the back-up, turn up the music and give thanks for your satellite radio.  When you wait in a long line at the grocery store, rejoice that you can wheel all those groceries to your car and drive home instead of carrying them on your head for five miles.  When the newest video game is sold out, instead of complaining, go home and play one of the fifty you already own and love.

Let this article be a starting point for you to become more aware of the huge variety of luxuries you use on a daily basis.  Give thanks for your car, your computer, your cordless phone, your DVD collection, your cable TV and whatever else you indulge in each day.  Recognize the hard work that gave you the money to buy your big TV, your favorite dress, diamond necklace or riding lawnmower.  Take the time to acknowledge the many items that make your life easier day in and day out.  You’ll feel a broader sense of fulfillment and peace, and you just might find a little more enjoyment in those everyday pleasures.

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