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Archive for December, 2008

double-rainbow

Double bows by Nicholas_T

These are things everyone wants to know, especially around Christmas and New Year.  How do I add more peace and joy to my life? How can I be less stressed and more serene?  How can I be less upset and sad and more joyful and happy?

My answer is “You have to work at it.” That’s it.  That’s the key.  If you take the idea of adding more joy and peace to your life seriously, if you think of them as a skill and follow through with some action, you can become more blissful and calm in every day of your life.

It’s not as simple as 1-2-3.  It’s not the easiest thing you’ve ever done.  Change is hard, even when you’re changing for the better.  But it’s totally worth it!  Imagine the satisfaction and pleasure of beginning and ending each day on a positive note. Think of the joy you’ll feel as you brush off criticism and negative people because you’ve added more humor and laughter to your day.  Picture rejuvenating yourself at the end of a hectic work day with a ritual of relaxation when you get home.

These things and more can happen when you make peace and joy your goal.  Happiness is more than an emotion or state of mind.  It’s a way of living.  It’s a skill.  And like any other skill – computer savvy, athletic prowess, or financial success, you can learn tools, techniques and new ways of thinking and being to help begin a more calm, soothing and harmonious life.

Just like there are natural artists, or natural athletes, there are some people who are naturally happy, optimistic and fun-loving.  Those happy-go-lucky people who seem to never let the trials and tribulations of life bring them down.  Use them as an example of where you want to be and what your life can be like.  Recognize that sadness, worry and stress are habits, and as such they can be changed with a little hard work.

Anyone can add more tranquility and delight to their lives. The good news is that there is no one path to happiness and success.  What brings you enjoyment and bliss may be totally different than what makes another person contented and happy.  Luckily there are many different books, blogs, theories and ideas to get you started on ways to become give you insight into what makes people happy.

I admit, I’m no super-genius when it comes to happiness.  I still get upset, angry and mad.  And feel sad and upset when events don’t go my way.  But the time I spend with these feelings is getting shorter and shorter.  I spend much more time feeling happy and smiling.  It’s easier for me to find solutions to get out of a bad mood, or to find the good part of a bad situation.  And overall, my satisfaction of life is higher than it was before.

Don’t put off your ecstasy and joy.  Start working today.  Here are a few tips and links to get you started:

Tips:

1.  Make a list of your top 10 ways to relax. Get all the supplies you need for this – music, exercise DVD’s, bubble bath, comedies, inspirational books, etc.  Start with 15 minutes a day and work on finding an hour just for you.

2.  Gratitude list. Make a list of all the things about your life you appreciate.  Your spouse, children, pets, health, wealth, luxuries like big-screen TV, video game system, computer, cell phone, etc.  Write as many things as you can.  Refer to and update the list often.

3.  Quiet time. Try to plan 15 minutes a day of doing nothing each day.  Just sit in the quiet and relax.  Silence is soothing to the soul.  Start with 5 minutes at work if you have too (some people find it easier to find a quiet room there).  Do this every day for a week and watch your grow calmer and more centered each day.

4.  Fun. Go to a movie, take a nap, play some golf or get those roses planted.  Whatever activities you enjoy doing, make time to do it this week.  Add doses of laughter and humor to your day wherever possible.

Links and Blog Sites:

Happiness Institute

Zen Habits

Escape Adulthood

Mike Kerr – Humor at Work

50 Simple Happiness Boosters

Relaxation techniques – Mayo Clinic

How to live – 100 ways to keep yourself happy.

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flowers-purple

Nature Flowers 29 by Christian Revival Network

The last month has been very hard for me as a beloved family member finally passed away this weekend.  While she had been sick since January of last year, we kept our hope that recovery was possible.

At the same time there were difficulties, disturbances, problems, and confusion, some due to family, some to miscommunication, some simply to fear.  However, after going through these hard times, I can say with certainty that life is more than suffering.

Often when problems and misfortune befall us we feel overwhelmed.  We see only the sadness, sacrifices and struggles to come, and none of the strengths, insights and understanding.

Yet there is still learning, there is still kindness, and there is still love. A word of encouragement from a coworker, a friend who lends their support to take over some of your responsibilities, and a new comprehension of the value of living life to fullest while you still have the ability to do so.

My most valuable lesson during this time is putting my pain and hurt into action.  Action gives meaning and depth to life. It allows my suffering to be put to use.  I honor the dead by living to the best of my ability.  By putting love and joy foremost in my life, I acknowledge the lesson that life is about now, the present moment.  I can’t change the past, and the future has not yet arrived, but in this moment, right now I can share a hug, call a loved one, help someone in need, sing a song, give a compliment or a hundred other wonderful things.

Another great lesson is giving in to happiness. When someone we care about is suffering, we feel that moment of guilt and cringe when our laughter seems too loud, our joy too boisterous, our smile too big.  But it is important to remember that those who love us want us to be happy. Certainly there is a time and place for such pleasure to be indulged, and we must respect others who are grieving or hurting.  But when the time is right, it is a blessing and a gift to celebrate life.  By dedicating our happiness to our loved one, we acknowledge the gift of enlightenment they have given and begin to move past our grief into acceptance and understanding.

Everyone is different and moves through the grief cycle at a different pace and in different ways. Being open and honest with others about your hurt, anger, sadness and pain help them to give you the time, space and quiet in which to heal.  At the same time, allowing friends to encourage you to do something fun, or even to deeply immerse yourself into work, cleaning, organizing or some other intense project gives your mind a break from worry.  Interrupting your sadness helps diffuse it and lessens the pain.

Although this small article can barely tap into the entire subject of suffering and pain, I hope it has given you a few useful bits of information.  None of us should suffer endlessly or needlessly.  We are all in this together.  What I help you with today, you’ll return to me tomorrow.  Here are a few more tips to help you get through any current difficulties you are suffering through:

  • Simplify. Put off anything that puts more pressure on you to “act normal.”  Cancel any meetings, clubs, volunteering or other task that don’t uplift you or support you right now.
  • Take a breath. Sometimes our pain lingers because we have not faced up to it.  Although it seems like if you begin to cry you may never stop, that is rarely the case.  Give in to your pain and it will begin to lose its power.
  • Distraction. Many of us use this tool effectively at one time or another.  When our pain is too overwhelming, we may need a task, duty or responsibility that occupies our mind and gives us a chance to escape the overwhelming emotions we are experiencing.
  • No negatives. Keep the negative news, complaining coworkers, worrisome relatives and crowded shops to a minimum.  Traffic, computer malfunctions and simple delays can be blown out of proportion when we are hurting.  Try to limit your exposure to problems if you can.
  • Focus on the good. It could be a beautiful sunrise, cuddling with your cat, a tasty meal or your favorite outfit.  Anything that makes you smile and feel happy.  These moments can be scarce, so treasure them all the more.
  • Keep your routines. Sometimes when we’re in pain, we think that skipping our chores, stopping our exercise or ignoring our doctor’s visit are reasonable and normal.  But sometimes those very things are what help make life seem sane in the midst of chaos.  Routine can reassure because they are familiar.  Use yours to your advantage.
  • Use a journal. One of the most helpful things can be to write about your feelings and problems.  Sometimes the simple task of putting things in writing can make them seem more manageable and not so overpowering.  It can also give you a focus so that those thoughts don’t just spin around continuously in your mind.

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