Seek hope

Hi everyone,

First I want to apologise, it’s been a long time since my last post.

Over the past several months I have relocated to a new country and the transition has been hard at times. There have been high points but these have been far exceeded by low points when I have hit the bottom of despair and felt like I could not carry on. Through these times there has been someone who has been my angel who has told me not to give up and remain positive. My wife.

Reflecting back on the low points I find that hope had abandoned me and that there was little point pushing forward. However, I could still see glints of hope breaking through the black, heavy clouds of despair. My angel was also by my side encouraging me to keep going.

When I had things to hope for, I was fine. But then those things would be taken away and I would find myself back in the downward spiral. I was tired of pushing forward when there was nothing to hope for. Looking to the horizon for something, anything that could give me hope,  I would, at times find something and then I realised things aren’t as bad as they seem.

From the past half year I have learned that one needs hope. Without hope, there is nothing to strive for, nothing to look forward to. When my wife was telling me to remain positive, I replied that at times it’s hard to do so when things weren’t happening the way I imagined they would. Yet she was the rock that kept me anchored. My focus was on the things that weren’t happening rather than on the things that were happening. When someone is in the grips of despair and hopelessness, their focus emphasises the negative and ignores the positive. The opposite happens when you are feeling great and have hope.

I have also realised that things don’t happen the way you expect them to. Life loves to through “curve balls” at you. It’s how you deal with those balls that determines if you’re going to win or lose the game. At times I found I punted them and other times I hit them out of the park. You also need to hit the balls out of the park and win the game.

When it seems that hope has abandoned you and there is little reason to move forward, seek out something to hope for and make your way towards it.

 

 

 

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Go to your “Happy Place”

Hi everyone!

In my last post I mentioned about how meditation helps to destress you and also how it helps to center yourself. In this post i want to take meditation up a notch. No, I do not want you to stand on your head or anything random, I just want you to use your imagination as you meditate.

You have probably heard people tell someone they need to go to their “Happy Place” when a person is stressed and losing the plot. That is where I want you to end up going to, but you do not have to wait until you are about to explode in a fit of stress and rage. You can go there everyday and you will find that you will feel more relaxed and less stressed.

So what is a “Happy Place”? It is just as it sounds: a place you would like to retreat to where you feel safe, serene, relaxed and happy! A place where you can be by yourself and just enjoy being there. The good news is that you don’t have to travel far to reach your happy place. In fact you do not have to travel anywhere. Just find a place in your home where you can be by yourself, undisturbed, for 20-30 minutes.

What does a “Happy Place” look like? It can look like whatever you want it to look like. That’s the awesome thing about “Happy Places”, everybody has their own and it does not have to be the same place as anyone else’s. A “Happy Place” is a highly subjective place and you can make it as special as you want. My “Happy Place” is a clearing, deep in a forest, where the grass is soft and the air is warm. I can hear a river trickling by and the sound of the birds in the tree and the forest animals coming and visiting me. I can smell the sweet fragrance of the pine trees surrounding my clearing and also the aroma of the flowers on the edge of the clearing.

Your “Happy Place” could be similar to mine. It could also be a beach, or  a river bank, or a garden, or somewhere on another planet! Just create a place that you would love to go to when you feel the world is beating you down. It is a place you can escape to and just “be”.

How do you visit your “Happy Place”? By following these steps.

1. Find somewhere where you can be undisturbed for 20-30 minutes. Take the phone off the hook if you can.

2. Close your eyes and then take in several deep breathes and exhale. Feel your body relax.

3. Now go to your “Happy Place”. What does it look like? Explore it. What can you see? What can you hear? Listen carefully are there any sounds that are subtle? What can you feel? How warm is the air? Can you feel the sun on your face? If your “Happy Place” is the beach, can you feel the sand underneath you? Is it soft or grainy? If your “Happy Place” is by the river, what does the grass feel like? Explore the feelings and sensations. Enjoy them because this is your personal place where you can escape to and just relax and be. There is no stress, no pressure and no demands on you. What can you smell? The scent of the salt on the sea breeze as it blows softly across your face. The earthy smell of the grass as you are in the forest. The perfume from the flowers that you see scattered here and there around you. Can you smell anything subtle? Reach out and touch things around you. How do the feel? Soft and smooth or hard? What does the sand feel like as you pick up a handful and let the grains slip through your fingers? When you dip your feet in the river, does it feel cold or warm? Is it flowing swiftly or is it gentle?

4. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Have a stretch if you want to.

5. Examine how you feel now compared to before your started this exercise.

The whole idea of this exercise is to get you to employ your senses in the meditation. That is why I said we were taking it up a notch. In my last post you were more passively just sitting and thinking on one thought. In the “Happy Place” exercise you are being more active: seeing feeling, hearing, touching and smelling.  The brain is a powerful machine and it can not distinguish between the real and the imagined. Once you do this exercise you will be amazed at how real your “Happy Place” seems to be.

Do this exercise daily for at least two weeks and you will be amazed at the affect it has on your overall well-being. No one will have to tell you to go to your “Happy Place” any more because you have already been there.

Sit and meditate!

Welcome to another installment in my reducing stress and anxiety series!

Over the past few weeks I have shown you how to identify tension in your body and techniques on how to eliminate the tension. Now we will turn our attention to the inner storms that may be occurring in our minds and souls.

Too often we are focused on the external world around us. It’s not our fault, it is just the way our society has taught us to be. We are busy living our lives. We don’t really stop to take time out and relax. The result is that we get stressed. What we need to do is set aside 15-30 minutes each day whereby we can be by ourselves in a quite environment and focus on what is happening within.

When people think of meditation the usually visualise a bearded guy in a white outfit sitting in the lotus position repeating the “Om” mantra. I have good news for you: you do not have to grow a beard nor find some isolated mountain top to climb upon to find inner peace! All you need is a quite place where you can go and not be disturbed while you focus within yourself and discover where the storms are raging within your mind and soul. Then quite those storms.

So how do you meditate? Here is one way:

  1. Find a quite environment where you can go and not be disturbed for 15-30 minutes. Wear lose clothing.
  2. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  3. Take several slow, deep, cleansing breathes and then slowly exhale.
  4. Pick a word to focus on during the length of the meditation. The idea is to focus your mind on this rather than allowing your thoughts to run amok like they usually do.
  5. Just repeat the word over and over again in your mind. If you find that your thoughts are getting away on you, do not be hard on yourself as your mind will start to wander. Just realise that your mind has wandered and then gently bring your mind back to refocus on the word.
  6. As you focus on the word you may begin to discover storms raging within your soul. This is because your mind has been allowed to have free reign with thoughts of worry and anxiety. Stay focused solely on the object/word of your meditation.
  7. At the end of the 15-30 minutes, slowly open your eyes. How do you feel now? Do you feel more peaceful within yourself? Have the storms abated within your mind and soul? They should have!

After a few weeks of daily meditation you will be amazed at how much happier and calmer you are. The things that used to bother you seem to have disappeared! Which means less stress in your life!

Here is one meditation that I just love doing. It is a centering exercise which enables you to push the external world to the periphery of your life and just be by yourself (I am not associated in any way to the group that has provided this video):

20 minutes Centering Meditation with Esther Teule

So…go…sit and meditate!

 

 

 

 

Run away quick! He’s talking about the “C” word…commitment!!

Why is that some people are scared of commitment? Some couples living in defacto relationships feel more comfortable with the status quo and dread to think about formalising the relatiionship through marriage. After all, marriage takes commitment!

Whether you realise it or not commitment can be found in all aspects of your life. You are committed to your job, your hobbies, perhaps your friends. But maybe you don’t call it “commitment” because you don’t like to feel trapped into a situation.

And that is pretty much what commitment is. Oxford Dictionary defines “commitment” as:

1. an engagement or (esp. financial) obligation that restricts freedon of action.

2. the process of an instance of committing oneself; a pledge or undertaking.

3.dedication, application

We don’t like giving up our freedom. We don’t  like to be “stuck” in siutations or relationships.

However, there is an “opportunity cost” for achieving any hopes, goals, dreams, or life desires. You need to give something up in order to get something else. Maybe it’s your time, the television, a friendship that keeps dragging you down. There will be something you have to give up in order to acheive your goals or dreams.

Any thing of value requires effort. If you look at the definitions above, you’ll see that commitment is not passive, it requires a decision and action. That is probably why a lot of people don’t like commitment. It requires sacrifice and hard work!

In a society that is so used to having things instant and fast, we are not used to having to give up our time and effort to get what we want. But anything of value, whether it be tangible (like a financial goal or losing weight) or intangible (such as  developing your self-esteem or improving your self-image), requires work and yes, that “C” word…commitment.

What goals, ambitions, hopes or desires do you have for your life? Have you got them yet? Have you made a start? If you have said “No”, then it’s time tio get serious and COMMIT.

Commitment doesn’t mean to do something about it every now and then. It requires daily action. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. Just do something small each day, and before you know it you are well on your way to acheiving you goal.

The trick (well, it’s not really a trick, it’s more like common sense) is to make a consistent effort.

Remember how I mentioned about “opportunity cost”, this simply means: giving up one thing for another thing that you think has a higher value than the thing you have given up. This is the sacrifice required when you are committed to a project, goal, or dream.

So it’s time to stop procrastinating. It’s time to stop making excuses. It’s time to stop saying you’ll do it “tomorrow” (after all “tomorrow” never comes!). It’s time to stop giving up after failing one or more times.

IT”S TIME TO GET COMMITTED TO YOUR DREAMS, GOALS, AND HEARTS DESIRES!

Be like the determined bulldog who refused to give up his bone no matter how many people tried to take it away from him.

Make a consistent, determined, committed effort to your goals each day and watch them come to pass. It’s inevitablel!!!

 

 

Get rid of “Stinkin’ Thinkin'”

We all have them. Thoughts. Some are good, some are bad. Some help us in life, some pull us down and keep us down.

The good news is that you can break the chains of bondage that “stinkin’ thinkin'” has bound you in. We are the products of our thoughts. As has been said “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

It can take time to change negative thinking. After all, it’s probably been the way you have thought most of your life. And you have come to believe those thoughts about yourself.

“I will never succeed at anything.”

“I will never lose weight, so what’s the use of exercising and dieting.”

“I wish I was more attractive. I’m ugly.”

“There’s no point trying, I’ll just fail. Like I always do.”

Any of those thoughts sound familiar? I know they do to me because I have thought them. And if I have, I am preeeetttyyy sure that you may of too.

Guess, what? I grew up being told that I am useless, that I would never amount to anything. I would be constantly bullied at school and laughed at.  Anything I wished to do I was told not to waste my time. All that had only resulted in one thing:

Negative thinking, negative self-esteem, and a negative self-image.

 It’s interesting that “negative thinking” was first! (By the way, that wasn’t intentional, as I wrote this,  I had a look and I thought, hang on “negative thinking” is listed first!). My subconscious is smarter than me! Why? Because it listed “negative thinking” first! From this all the other things eventuate: low self-esteem. negative self-image, lack of self-confidence, shyness, fear of failure, and all the other negatives.

I was shy, had no confidence in myself, would think other people would laugh at me. I would try something once, fail, and then say to myself “You’re useless.”

But then I one day I made a decision to change. And if I can do it, you can too! I’m no different than you. I’m still a human being that makes mistakes. The change came by understanding that I am a product of my thoughts. As we think, we act. (It’s as simple as that!)

I started off slowly with some positive affirmations. I have to admit I felt pretty ridiculous telling myself that I can succeed (my mind was battling and saying that it was a lie). But I kept going. I would find affirmations that would challenge my low self-esteem, my lack of confidence and all the other negatives in my life.

So now I was replacing my negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Whenever “stinkin’ thinkin’ ” would creep in, I would uproot that noxious weed and replace it with the sweet fragrance of a positive affirmation.

The next step is to act. Act as though you believe what you are affirming (after all you have been acting in line with your negative thoughts!). Step out and do something that is in line with the positive affirmation. It doesn’t have to be something big, just something that will reinforce the positive thought.

For me in an effort to overcome my shyness, I began to say “Hi” to people I didn’t know. It was a small thing to do, but it was a BIG step forward. Now I can get up and speak in front of groups of people and it doesn’t bother me. That’s just a wee personal success story to help you!

IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!!!

Guess what? You’re nagative thinking has got you where you are today. Want a  change in your life? Want to achieve your goals and dreams? Want to become a better person? YOU CAN!! Just replace your negative thoughts with positive ones!! YOU CAN DO IT!!

Here is an equation I want you to remember:

Change the way you think + change the way you act = a change in your life

Always remember: thinking precedes acting. Think positively, act positively and the rest will take care of itself.

Here’s a couple of websites to help you find positive affrimations:

http://www.prolificliving.com/blog/2012/08/27/100-positive-affirmations/

http://www.affirmations-for-radical-success.com/list-of-positive-affirmations.html

http://www.vitalaffirmations.com/

Go get yourself a better life. You deserve it!