28 December 2011

#7: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

A nice follow-up from my last post (#6 - Be Present)...
Even more specifically, live in THIS moment. Even 10 minutes ago is the past. If you live purely in this moment, you will always be happy because there is nothing wrong in this split-second.
 Wow! This brings a nice sense of relief when you really think about what it's saying. "Even 10 minutes ago is the past" - if we can make a conscious effort to not live in the past, even if it was just a few minutes ago, we can never be ruled by those emotions that only live when we are not present. Awesome! Taking this with me into the new year...

24 December 2011

#6: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Just in time for the holidays, when we feel called to reflect on the months past and look forward to 2012...
Learn to focus only on the present. The past is unchangeable so it is futile to reflect on it unless you are making sure you do not repeat past mistakes. The future is but a result of your actions today. So learn from the past to do better in the present so that you can succeed in the future.
How great is this? All we have is right now. Literally. The past does NOT exist and we don't have access to it - we can't change it, so why dwell? Of course, we reflect and reminisce. But to live in the past and to base your mood on what has already occurred is exhausting and counterproductive. The best (and sometimes the hardest) thing we can do for ourselves is to live in this moment. There is no telling what the future will hold, and if we spend the present stressing about the future, then we aren't really living the life that we have right now. We are essentially just wasting precious time. All of the familiar quotes like "Carpe Diem" and "live every moment like it's your last" may seem so cliche, but they couldn't be more true. Being present and celebrating what we are experience in this very moment can only add to our excitement and satisfaction with life. Negative feelings like regret and resentment can only be experienced when living in the past. Stress and anxiety are often are a result of focusing too much on the future. If we can all practice being more actionable and embracing the present, we would all be infinitely more happy and balanced.

Oh... and just in case I wasn't clear...focus on the present, not the presents. ;)

23 December 2011

#5: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

#5 is a big one. It's super important, and it seems so second nature when you think about it. BUT, people (including me) will find any reason in the world NOT to do it... exercise.
Get fit! It's ridiculous to think that we have one body, one sole means of functioning, and people are too lazy to take care of themselves. Fit bodies lead to better health, confidence and more success with romantic endeavors. I'd say those are 3 very good reasons to get in shape. 
Exercising and re-energizing our bodies isn't really as scary and daunting as we make it. And our bodies always thank us handsomely when we do it... so why not give ourselves that treat consistently?! I understand that it can feel like a nearly impossible feat when it's been a while or it feels like your body is incapable of moving the way you'd like. But those are just feelings, not realities. And if you hate the feelings of being out of shape and being unhealthy enough, then you won't let yourself get to that place of self-discouragement for too long! It may seem challenging at first to hop back into a routine, but think of it this way. Would you ever, willingly, go a day without brushing your teeth? GROSS, RIGHT?! Those are the only teeth you have, right? And you don't want to have terrible breath, right?! Then why would you ever let yourself be lazy and inactive? Isn't that the only body you get? Do you like to look like a frumpy, unfit person? No. No one does. SO, give your  body and your mind a reason to live and rejoice. 

This tip is a particularly good one for the holidays. We tend to overindulge with eating and relaxation this time of year. So make sure you put aside some time to get active too. This will keep you feeling balanced and your spirits high in the frenzy of the season.

(don't think I'm talking down to you - whoever you may be - I am writing this as total encouragement for myself and others!)

22 December 2011

#4: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

This is a good one for personal and professional reasons...
Remember people’s names so that they feel appreciated and for your own future benefit when you want something from that person. To do this, say their name back to them when they introduce themselves. Then repeat the name in your head a number of times until you are sure you have it. Continue to use their name in conversation as much as possible to remove any chance of forgetting it. If you’re still having trouble, make up a rhyme about their name: “Dan the Man” or “Natalie flatters me.”
I feel like we tend to easily forget names these days. I can't tell you how many times I have forgotten someone's name no sooner than it has left their mouth - it's like I am more focused on my response back to their greeting than actually listening to their name! Being proactive with remembering people's names will keep our minds fresh and help us to be better listeners when new people share with us. Don't you feel special / aren't you surprised when someone you met only once or twice remembers your name? It really does have a positive effect, and it usually makes us more conscious of remembering their name and anything else about them we can ask about later.

I also notice that when people say my name in a conversation, it adds impact and really draws my attention back in. It's a great tool to engage your listener and ensure that  he/she understands the importance of your words. Try it out!

17 December 2011

#3: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

#3 on the list of 50 Life Secrets and Tips is a wonderfully inspiring one.
3. Develop an endless curiosity about this world.  Become an explorer and view the world as your jungle. Stop and observe all of the little things as completely unique events. Try new things. Get out of your comfort zone and try to experience as many different environments and sensations as possible. This world has so much to offer, so why not take advantage of it?
We are often called "creatures of habit," and this tip illustrates how sad that descriptor really is. When we get stuck on the same merry-go-round, we are simply ruled by patterns and expectations.  "We always eat dinner at X," "I never make it to the gym before work," "This is the only way I like to travel," etc. We get stuck in what we know and what is comfortable, because that takes less effort and it's more top of mind than thinking outside of the box. We tunnel vision and lose sight of new opportunities and perspectives, because we limit what we allow ourselves to do, see, and feel. This mindset also sets us up for disappointment, since when something doesn't go the way we expected, it is uncomfortable/dissatisfying/surprising. ("Expectations suck the joy out of life.") What if we were, instead, "creatures of spontaneity?" It may feel extremely counter-intuituve at first, but how wonderful would it be if we could shake off our expectations and routines, and really see the world with new eyes? The world truly does have so much to offer when we don't rely on it to only offer specific things.

Starting today, I am going to work on seeing this planet as the truly fascinating place that it is. I'm going to step out of what I usually do and explore a new place or do something I thought I never could. It feels good to also see ourselves as fascinating and full of possibilities. What DOES a limitless person DO in a limitless world? That mental picture is intangible, and extremely exciting.

12 December 2011

#2: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I want to move onto thinking about #2 of "50 Like Secrets and Tips." I must admit - this is a difficult one for me...
2. Constantly try to reduce your attachment to possessions. Those who are heavy-set with material desires will have a lot of trouble when their things are taken away from them or lost. Possessions do end up owning you, not the other way around. Become a person of minimal needs and you will be much more content.
Sheryl Crow thinks so, too! In her song Soak Up the Sun, she sings "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got!" It's such a terrible feeling to want an item - to have some expectation about receiving/buying it or to long for the unattainable. It's definitely not thinking in the present. I have a hard time letting go of my material possessions. It's as if I'm afraid I will want them when they are gone, even if I don't currently use them or think about them on a regular basis. Once I finally do a big (boyfriend-encouraged) wipeout of old things that I haven't looked at for years, I feel so cleansed and happy to rid myself of things I don't need. But getting to the point of letting go is really hard for me - it generally involves me stomping my feet all the way to the trash or Good Will bin. Why do I feel that way? Yes, society has a very consumerist influence, but there must be something that runs deeper. Do all of my things make me feel safe? Is it about holding onto the memories and/or meanings I have attached to the items? Is it the "rainy day" mentality? Perhaps it is a little bit of all of these things.  Not only do I like my "stuff," but I also really love giving "stuff." One of my very best friends always has to remind me, "you are enough!" when I stress about getting gifts or making people feel special with material things. I know there are so many other ways to show people that I care for them, but I just struggle to act on them. Friendly, loving words and hand-made gifts are more personal and genuine. But somehow I always get sucked into spending money to make my gift or token of appreciation have more value. Apparently, I am judging my own giving with the wrong kind of currency.  Any advice or thoughts?

11 December 2011

#1: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

A friend just recently introduced me to StumbleUpon, and I've been finding some real gems! One of them being "50 Life Secrets and Tips." I agree with 90% of them...more about that later. I thought I would share one every once in a while and offer some examples or further thoughts. Let me know if you find these helpful and/or if you start to practice them! Happy Sunday!
1. Memorize something everyday. Not only will this leave your brain sharp and your memory functioning, you will also have a huge library of quotes to bust out at any moment. Poetry, sayings, and philosophies are your best options.
This is a great one! It forces you to spend some time with yourself and pick something that is meaningful and inspiring to commit to memory. Who doesn't like to whip out a quote or saying as advice or when it fits into a conversation? I have been working on memorizing some quotes and phrases from my current favorite book, Kindred Spirit: Fulfilling Love's Promise. Today I am choosing to really meditate on this phrase:
"Speak in a way that lands in another’s world like an opportunity."
Try on these thoughts below... (my Kindred Spirit book is written in the first person so that you can read it as your own thoughts. I decided to do the same.) 

I will be more mindful with my words. They really can cut like knives (and sometimes I use them anyways, knowing that they will hurt). I am committed to opening the door for others with gracious words. I will really think before I speak. Others cannot truly feel my emotions or really see things from my perspective, but they can definitely hear my words. I will speak in a way that lands in another's world like an opportunity - an opportunity to grow, to share, to make a request, etc.

09 December 2011

Soul Mates

This week has been a roller coaster of  emotional ups and downs - especially on the relationship front. I am anxiously awaiting the end of Mercury's retrograde (last day is December 13th). The cosmos have been weighing on my shoulders and closing off my heart and mind to growth and new possibilities. Oops - surrendering that excuse - I just need to be more aware of my emotions and not so reactive. The other day when I was feeling down about my (romantic) relationship, I "stumbled upon" this quote below from Eat, Pray, Love. At the time I read this, I was feeling pessimistic about the strength of my relationship - but as soon as sifted through this quote, I suddenly felt a passionate desire to defend my relationship and debunk the quote...

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mate's purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master...”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
 My first (super unpolished) response was:"What is this crap?!" Your soul mate is not meant to stick around? There is no possibility for longevity once your soul mate reveals these new insights to you? I don't believe that for a second. At this point, the light bulb turned on and my pessimism turned off. I realized that my boyfriend truly is one of my soul mates. He holds up the mirror to me and stands by me even when I refuse to look into the glass. He encourages my growth and holds me accountable when I throw silly emotional fits. He challenges my "stories" and my ego so that I can be more open to possibilities and new ideas. He is a good listener and tries his hardest to get on the same page as me when I'm feeling we are conflicted. He loves me unconditionally and works very hard to act as the level in our relationship. All of these things sound wonderful - and they are - but there is also a significant amount of pain and vulnerability that come with letting someone see your "dark sides" and the layers you are shedding in your transformation. I believe that more often than not, it is probably NOT our soul mate who typically  "leaves," but rather, us! Perhaps we feel like it's "too hard" or "too scary" to feel so exposed, and that it's easier to walk away from the relationship (aka a facilitator of your transformation) than to be patient, surrender blame, and reap the benefits. I know that I have been guilty of that cop out. If it is truly just intimidation and the challenges of growth that are holding you back from your relationship, then why not work through that and stay with your soul mate?

Side note - a soul mate does not only refer to a romantic partner; your friends and family members can also be soul mates. My account above can be applied to any soul mate.

Here is a better quote about soul mates that feels a lot more inspirational:
“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colors seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”
Bob Marley
Musical Inspiration: