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The free time conundrum

22 Jul

Once upon a time I was quite skilled at balancing out my free time and my work time. I took yoga classes, volunteered, painted, meditated, socialized, exercised, blogged, and rested. Somehow I have gotten into this rut of either 1. working 2. doing house projects or 3. lazing around. There really hasn’t been much in between. So after many weekends devoted to house projects and finally reaching what my husband calls “the end of the internet” (i.e., there’s nothing good to watch on Netflix) I declared that this past weekend was for relaxing and adventuring, but then we didn’t actually know what to do. What is that?! barney I know it makes sense. For years I worked several jobs without a lot of free time and then when I started running my practice full time, there was ALWAYS something extra to do. Also, we bought a house a couple of years ago and there’s always some project to work on. And I do get out sometimes. I see my friends, I go to yoga once a week, I still knit like a fool, I read books. But when it comes to a long, free weekend day? I’m at a total loss. Pooh So here’s the thing. We have a baby on the way in a few months (more on that later and yes, I’m thrilled and it has been and will continue to be a roller coaster, I am sure!).  I don’t want to waste my precious free time for it will certainly be taken over by the little one! So I’m getting back to basics to make sure I actually get out and about to do enjoyable things. So every free weekend (sometimes we have family in town or we are going out of town), I want to try something new. I also want to get back to making Sunday recipes. That’s it! Here are some of my ideas:

  • Go berry picking
  • Hike in a new place (an easy hike for me, please!)
  • Take Radar to the beach
  • Paint a picture for the baby’s room
  • Go to a new farmer’s market
  • Get a massage
  • Blog instead of wasting time on Facebook and other sites (yes, I’d rather waste time blogging!)

So that’s it for now!

Life Lessons

27 Jan

 

I read the 45 life lessons on my Facebook feed, posted by one of my yoga friends.  Oh how I loved the 45 wise tidbits of advice, given by an artsy and interesting looking lady who reportedly wrote the lessons on her 90th birthday. I decided to put it on my blog since I’ve been a bit too busy/ distracted to really sit down and post.  However, after googling the author’s name, I learned that several years ago, this author and newspaper columnist, Regina Brett, did write 45 tips for life on her 45th birthday(she has since added 5 more).  The tips were such a hit that it went viral and eventually the internet decided she was a 90 year old lady.  Funny.

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Image found on elephantjournal.com

Written by Regina Brett

Originally published in The Plain Dealer on Sunday, May 28, 2006

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

 

Well, no matter what the age or the photograph of the author may be, these are fabulous tips.  I especially love #4, #31, #32 and of course, #47.

What are some of your tips for life?

 

The Body-Mind-Spirit Project

2 Jan

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It is January 2nd.  I’ve been vague about this project and now I must write some details and explain what it is I am doing.  I admit that to being a shy blogger as well as a procrastinator.  But… I’m trying and I will continue to try.

2012 was a okay but I was ready for it to go.   I spent much of the year completely overworked and zoned out.  While I accomplished a lot professionally, I admit that I wasted a lot of time.  I watched a lot of Netflix, ate a lot of take out and slept a lot but didn’t necessarily sleep well.  I also got sick more times than I have in years, marked by an especially brutal flu during the last few weeks of December.  Now that it is over I truly feel things are changing, both inside and out.

Now that I have the luxury of more free time (more on that later) I am hoping to get back to basics and then go deeper.  I loved the many projects my pal Jessica wrote about in her blogs 360 Days of Adho Muhka Svanasana and Operation Consumption Liberation and she is a huge inspiration.  I recently read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, another source of inspiration.  In her book, she lays out her intellectual and systematic approach to finding happiness.  She takes this approach because, as she writes, she is an organized and somewhat rigid person.  I am not that way.  I am not disciplined and I am not very organized unless I am at work.  Deep down inside, I will always be that messy art student with paint all over her hair.  At home and in my personal life I tend to start projects and not complete them.  I rarely finish a knitting project.  I go to my book club meetings despite not having read the book (yeah, I’m one of those).  I work on things in a frantic manner- cooking, painting or cleaning about 5 things at once.  It is not very mindful.  While I don’t endeavor to change myself into a completely different person than who I am, I do really want to stay focused on things that matter to me and I’d rather not feel frantic.  So I’m starting with the most simple approach I could think of by delving into the yoga trinity- the Body, the Mind, the Spirit.  There seems no better way to improve health and my overall well-being than to approach all of these aspects.

  • Body: to be healthier, to move more, to reinvigorate my yoga practice, to understand my body more, to have more energy.
  • Mind: to be more focused, to spend my time doing things I love, to learn more, to rest my mind when needed, to take in the benefits of a regular meditation practice.
  • Spirit: to maintain a regular spiritual practice, to find a spiritual community within which to practice, to consider various benefits for increasing spiritual awareness, to have a larger view of suffering and happiness to hold for myself and for others.

Here’s the rundown:

  • For each month of 2013, I will focus on one aspect of the Body-Mind-Spirit trinity.  I am starting this month (January) with body, next month will be mind and the following will be spirit.  Then, come April, I will return back to body and start all over again.  My hope is to go a bit deeper each month and also to really integrate practices into my daily life.  The things I truly absorb are those that are learned in a circle, so I return to the topic over and over again.  So that’s what I’m going to do for all of 2013.
  • I will set concrete goals and track them daily.  Each month I will also have certain goals that I aim to accomplish sometime over the entire month.  These are not going to be very huge or tricky goals, rather it is about getting a bit of meaning every single day.
  • I will blog regularly (at least 4 times a week) about my progress, challenges and insights.  I will try to be honest, realistic and keep a sense of humor about this whole thing.  I will mainly be blogging to keep myself accountable, but I also hope to reach out to other bloggers for inspiration and feedback.
  • I will read and research so that I’m expanding my horizons about these topics.  I have read a lot of books already that have informed this project and I would like to return to some of those as well as take on new topics.

What this project is NOT:

  • This isn’t about simple self-improvement such as losing weight or something like that.  
  • This isn’t a short term effort to find happiness.  Although I am inspired by the happiness project, I am not trying to find happiness. Instead, I’m working on being focused, disciplined and healthy.  If an increase in happiness occurs, it will be as a result of the practices I am taking part in. Happiness is elusive and ephemeral.  I imagine it would be frustrating to just simply try to increase my happiness as so much of life is out of my control.  Instead I will focus on being present, mindful and aware.
  • This project is not about becoming distracted by little goals and tedious tasks.  Rather, I hope to keep a view on the big perspective.

Overall, I am doing this so I can live a long and healthy life.  I want to be fully present as much as possible.  I want to prevent illnesses in any way I can.  I want to be ready to have kids.  I want to be a better member of my family.  I want to be better therapist.  I believe focusing on all of these things will help with my various roles.  By taking better care of myself, I will be better equipped to take care of others.

So what do you think?  Are you working on any of these things?  Will you help me stay accountable? 

Welcome to 2013

1 Jan
image from nataliedee.com

image from nataliedee.com

A new year!  It is just a day like any other but it is also a day off!  So I stayed up really late playing games, eating chips and drinking champagne and then expected to sleep in.  Unfortunately, my neighbor started their new year with some impromptu construction work.  Starting around 7 am I heard the growling and beeping of a Bobcat tractor digging up their yard.  Hopefully a plumbing crisis is what prompted such early rudeness. Needless to say I was awake much earlier than I expected or preferred.

Anyway, I enjoy the new year and appreciate it not just as a day off but also a symbol of turning over a new leaf, starting anew and moving forward in meaningful ways.  I’ve been thinking carefully about goals to follow for 2013 and it is exciting that it is finally here.

“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well lived.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” ~Albert Einstein

I’m going to be rolling out a lot of changes this year and blogging about it all the while.  This month the focus is on taking better care of my physical self, an endeavor for which concrete goals can be quite helpful.

Here are some of the goals:

  • Take multivitamins and supplements daily.  
  • Attend appointments with the doctor, dentist and other health professionals as recommended.
  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Cut out wheat.
  • Walk 10,000 steps per day, 6 days per week.
  • Do a daily yoga practice.

Of course there are specific reasons for all of these goals and I have some ideas for how I’ll be tracking them.  Stay tuned for more!

What are your goals for 2013 and how do you plan to keep up with them?

Resolutions

29 Dec

Last night we saw the film This is 40.  It was funny, although a bit long and silly in certain parts.  I’ll see anything with Paul Rudd because he is hilarious and tends to be in decent films.  We went to a local cinema that serves drinks and dinner- a great idea but the food is actually pretty bad and overpriced.  I love the novelty of drinking wine while at the cinema and the ease of not worrying about what to make or where to go for dinner.  But it ends up being a pretty expensive and unsatisfying meal.  So I told my husband this morning that we should just not go there anymore and just head to a regular theater instead, and perhaps have dinner beforehand.  He agreed.

Mr Rudd- so funny! My friend got his autograph in a bar in Athens, Georgia years ago.

This reminds me of part of the movie.  The neurotic wife (played by Leslie Mann) decided to quickly implement some major life changes, with the expectation that it would make everyone happy.  She told her husband (played by Mr. Rudd) that she’d stop smoking, that he had to stop eating cupcakes (for some reason they had cupcakes in their house every day).  Anyway, she decided that they would exercise daily, eliminate all sugar and gluten from their diet, etc.  She also proclaimed that the entire family would reduce the amount of time spend on various electronic devices, much to the chagrin of their teenaged daughter who was obsessively watching all the episodes of Lost (been there, done that, yeah, the ending sucked).

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Vincent was my favorite.

Anyway, not to spoil the movie but it didn’t go very well.  The changes didn’t stick and hilarity ensued.  So most of us know- deciding to make sudden and drastic changes, no matter how helpful they can be, just doesn’t really work.  I admit that I’ve set such lofty goals on about 1,000,000 occasions.  Sometimes I am successful, but really looking back, I see clear evidence that for change to be lasting, I have to be bought in, disciplined and it has to happen gradually.  Also, I do not do well with a mindset that feels punitive and punishing, which these fasts, diets and life-changing plans often are.  Instead, I prefer it when the focus on what is helpful and beneficial.  This is also an approach that I promote to my therapy clients.  Be nice to yourself, don’t punish yourself, and the results will tend to be better.

So I’m going to be rolling out a pretty big project for myself for 2013 that is along these lines.  Without the daily structure of a 9-5 job (or, realistically, an 8-6 job) I can be listless and well, lazy.  I yearn for more of a schedule but struggle to stick to one.  I fall behind on things I really need to do and then wonder what the heck I’ve done with my days.  Then I worry about things at 3 am.  Keep in mind I’m not sitting at home doing nothing, I have a business to maintain, and also to build and nurture.  This is exciting, but I am now the boss who sets deadlines and ensures that things happen.   This is not the easiest role for me.

I’ve researched, pondered and had a lot of failed attempts to increase self-discipline and to focus more on things that are healthy and edifying.  When I have been successful in the past, I’ve been overly disciplined, to the point of being rigid.  I’m sure there is a balance to be found and I’m excited to find it.  I’ll take some cues from this movie about what NOT to do also.  And, I’m not going to require that my husband take part on all of the changes I do- this is something I’m doing for myself.

Anyway, stay tuned.  All this is starting with 2013, and I’ve spent all of December gearing up. I’m excited, but nervous!

Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

Thankful!

22 Nov

Today I am grateful for many things. It has been a long and exciting year.

I am thankful to have a career I find so exciting and meaningful.
I am thankful for our first home.
I am thankful for Radar dog, who spent last Thanksgiving in the hospital but has been in good health since.
I am thankful for Sasha dog, who has proven herself to be hardworking, loyal and intelligent. Those positive qualities have had a chance to shine thanks to our fabulous dog trainers, for whom I am also immensely thankful.
I am thankful for my husband- an honest, funny man and a darn good cook.
I am thankful for my family and the many experiences we have shared and that I hope we will continue to share.
I am thankful to live I’m Seattle, a vibrant and exciting city where I feel right at home.
I am thankful to live in Washington state, where every one now has the right to marry.
I am thankful for my yoga instructors. Although it seems rare that I attend a studio class, I take their lessons with me everywhere.
I am thankful to Bob the cat, who puts up with a lot but purrs anyway.
I am thankful for my friends near and far.
I am thankful for long walks.
Whatever I forgot, I’m thankful for that too!

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It may not look like much, but my aunt and I put a lot of planning into the horn of plenty!

Monday Mindfulness: Act like a child

19 Nov

Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is. -Yoda

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year. Buy some presents, get your work done, be nice to your family, don’t eat too much, don’t get snippy… Yeah so it can be pretty stressful. I often find that I’m lost without structure and routine and much like a child, that can leave me listless and grumpy. Although the holidays may mean time off and/or traveling, that doesn’t mean that all is lost.

Children are inspirations for mindfulness: they live in the present moment, they use their senses to experience things fully and they are rarely bogged down with judgements or stressed out about possible future events. We can cultivate mindfulness by taking a cue from the kids. So try to act like a child! Don’t have tantrums like your toddler companion, but approach the world with wonder and joy. And if you do have a tantrum, well then just wipe your tears and move on, just like the little ones do.

Here’s some mindfulness tips, inspired by the kiddos:

-Stick to a routine. I recently attended a lecture about the intersections of mental health and physical health, given by a naturopathic doctor. She frequently returned to the theme of treating your body like a three year old: eat at the same times, eat regularly, go to sleep and wake up at the same time. I find that I tend to feel best when I snack or have a meal every 3 hours or so, just like a toddler. Ditto with the regular sleep. (as I write this, I’m 2 time zones away from Seattle and still a bit disoriented.)
-Do one thing at a time. This is a common mindfulness practice and the little tykes approach this with natural ease. You won’t see a three year old juggling a sandwich, some Legos and a conversation about puppies simultaneously, so why try to eat breakfast, check email and catch up with a loved one all at the same time? Pick an activity and just do that one thing. I often notice a pull to distract myself during these moments, for example when my brain yearns to read the label on the yogurt container while I’m eating breakfast. Just notice such temptations but try not to indulge them. Then again, if you do all the sudden notice you’re doing several things at once, just get back to your original activity. There’s no cause for harsh judgement here. So if you’re eating- just eat! Walking? Just walk.
-Use your senses. Kids really take things in. Adults seem to rarely notice small changes like a haircut or a rearranged room. But kids? Oh, they notice things. They will tell you what happened last week and they will certainly notice if there’s a weird smell somewhere. They don’t avoid sensory information, or become so distracted by social conventions. Notice what things taste like, how they smell and how they look. Whatever you are doing, experience it fully and really take it in.
-Move around. Parents tend to take their kids out and about at least once per day (or so I have observed). They go on a walk, to the park or enjoy time walking around while tackling errands. I do the same with my dogs. It just isn’t right to not take them out, so why am I any different than the small children or the dogs? Even if the weather isn’t great it can be a nice break to get outside and walk around. A short walk can be a great way to simply get some fresh air and to get a bit of exercise. Lately I’ve been taking morning walks shortly after waking and I’ve noticed a general boost in energy as a result!
-Be silly! Laugh, smile and enjoy. Don’t be so serious! We all feel better when we laugh. Even if you don’t feel happy, at least try it- chances are that putting a positive face on will help to shift your mood, even just a bit. I’m visiting relatives and my cousin stopped by with her one year old tonight. We played an intense game of peekaboo and at one moment, I became so enthralled with the game I hid behind paper are goofily stared at her- she laughed so hard! Let me tell you that I was acting like a silly fool, but my heart just about skipped a beat while sharing that silly laughter.

What else can you do to cultivate the curious and present-focused mind of a child?

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