These are some habits I practice on the regular to nurture my own happiness. Sometimes, you have to choose happy, you have to choose healthy, and you have to choose balance. Happiness is a practice, not a destination you arrive to. Hope these habits help you through your holiday season!
I am getting pumped over here for winter! The hubbs and I have decided to have an extra simple Christmas this year with lots of homemade gifts, hygge, and coziness inside with the pup. Do you have any winter hygge musts you’re planning on enjoying this season?!
I’ve talked about the importance of empathy here on the blog, but haven’t spent as much focus on the value of compassion. I, myself am only beginning to truly appreciate compassion and the power it has to completely transform the way we relate to life, to others, and to ourselves. Dare I say it may be as important, if not more important than empathy. Empathy is what you feel AS somebody. Compassion, according to psychology today, is the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself. It’s also the desire to end the suffering of others or of oneself. Compassion often involves love, and kindness, and humility, and forgiveness, and most importantly, understanding, all feelings that only improve our mental and emotional state. Compassion creates unity rather than separateness. Sympathy is what you feel towards somebody, and though it’s meant with good intention, creates separateness, and can make the recipient feel more alone. The key element for compassion is that you don’t get lost in the feelings of the other person, or of yourself! When one is practicing compassion, they are coming from a place of power, because they are separate from the emotion, observing the emotion, or observing the suffering. They might even be observing the irrational thoughts and fears that are creating the suffering, all the while understanding how the person or the self might be feeling without getting lost in the feeling themselves. How cool is that? Compassion is powerful!
I recently heard a wonderful example of compassion on The Lively Show podcast that illustrates the difference of compassion and empathy beautifully. Jess Lively used the example of a child, who’s scared of the monsters in the closet and the mother, who practices compassion towards her child. The mother, if she were feeling empathy, would also be afraid of the monsters in the closet. The mother practicing compassion, understands her child is scared of the monsters in the closet. She knows there’s nothing to be afraid of, she’s not afraid herself, and yet she’s able to comfort and identify with her child, and have understanding of the child’s fears. It’s a nonjudgemental stance, and the child ends up feeling supported by the mother and understood, while the mother doesn’t get lost in the fears of her child. The mother practices love, and the child is able to feel that love, and simply by feeling that love, the child feels a bit better. That’s the power of compassion.
Compassion doesn’t have to equate to a “saving” or to any actual action, really, it’s more about a feeling, a way of relating towards someone or to yourself. Imagine if we practiced compassion towards others when we realize how ridiculous they are being rather than getting frustrated. If we could realize that, for them, they are lost in their feelings, or in their irrational beliefs/thoughts, and with love, without getting caught up in their stuff, could wish for the end of their suffering, or for the end of those thoughts/beliefs. This is a much healthier way of relating, one that fosters positive emotions rather than negative ones. Imagine how this could transform your relationships with yourself. If, every time you felt sad, or mad, or scared, you sent yourself compassion, all the while knowing, in the back of your mind these feelings are real, but they are just like the monsters in the closet, knowing there’s nothing to be afraid of, but understanding that you are simply stuck in that emotional place for now. We are human. It is the nature of the mind to think irrational thoughts, to become upset about things that don’t truly matter, and to go through times of fear, and doubt. We can help ourselves and we can help others simply by practicing compassion during those times.
Compassion, also called Metta in buddhist practices, can be utilized as a meditation, or as a daily practice. When I am feeling a particular amount of resentment towards someone. I try to practice compassion. I send them good wishes in my mind. I wish for the end of their suffering and for that person to be at peace. I also wish for myself to be at peace, because let’s face it, resentment doesn’t feel good. Anger doesn’t feel good. Fear doesn’t feel good. People rarely wrong others when they are happy, content, and at peace. And when we feel sad, or resentful, or angry, we aren’t at peace. Thus, the person who’s wronged, and the person who has been wronged both need peace, both need compassion.
Below is a mantra I use for practicing compassion (Metta):
May I be at peace
May I be happy
May I be free from suffering
May all beings be at peace
May all beings be happy
May all beings be free from suffering
Feel free to substitute the (all beings) for a specific person, if need be.
Want to learn more about Metta Meditation and how to practice it? Check out my old post below:
We all unknowingly, and sometimes knowingly, block our own success. Fortunately, there’s power in self-awareness, because once you understand how you’re blocking your own success, you can put protective factors in place to outsmart yourself. Too often, I see people beat themselves up for not being able to do better, use their willpower, or make better choices, and not only does that thinking pattern leave you feeling defeated, but it also isn’t productive. That thinking pattern fails to solve the problem because it only focuses on the negative.
What if, instead of beating yourself up, you put systems in place to outsmart yourself? For example, I used to plan to go to the gym. I would come home from work and inevitably talk myself out of it. For weeks, I went through the same pattern, until I just accepted that I couldn’t go home before the gym. Instead, I brought my exercise clothes to work, and headed straight from work to the gym. Problem solved. My husband is a spacey guy. He’s forgetful, and always leaving his car keys in his jacket and his wallet in my car. For years, he would beat himself up for forgetting something, or leaving things in the wrong place. Now, we have systems in place to prevent him from misplacing his belongings such as never placing his wallet in my car but instead keeping it in his pocket, a dish for keys, and a routine of walking through the door, and placing the keys in the bowl before doing anything else. If you’re someone who knows you need to talk about your feelings, but have a difficult time doing so, you may benefit from setting up some basic topics to discuss with your significant other every night or every week (e.g. how you’re feeling, what the best and worst part of your day or week was). By doing so, talking about your feelings becomes the norm and you don’t have to go through the willpower of initiating the conversation.
Designated post days hold me accountable for being consistent on this blog, a designated bath day for our puppy ensures we’re keeping up with his grooming needs, and a specific morning routine can ensure you’re following through with your self-care or personal development work. I’ve had a consistent yoga schedule before in the past, making a point to practice yoga consecutively for the first two days of each week, and then two additional days after that because starting my week out with a solid yoga practice made it that much easier to reach my goals. If you’re someone who says “yes” to things too easily, you may create a routine where you consistently give yourself a night to think things over before responding, so you can analyze if the project or responsibility is truly something you want to commit to. How to put this practice in place for yourself:
Identify what you’re wanting to change and/or accomplish. Do you want to adopt a better diet, have more consistency with your business, talk about your feelings, practice more self-care, improve your energy.
Identify the barriers to achieving this goal. Next, think about why you have been failing at achieving your goal. Do you have too much junk food in the house? Have you failed to set up a consistent schedule with business responsibilities? Is it hard for you to initiate a conversation with your significant other about issues. Do you end up running out of time at the end of the day, etc.?
Brainstorm how you can outsmart yourself. This is where you take the barrier and figure out what routines, or systems you can put into place to outsmart yourself. You may have to be ruthless in what methods you use. For example, you may have to throw all the junk food out of your home or spend an extra hour at the beginning or end of your day working on business ventures. You might have to pay or sign up for your yoga classes ahead of time to hold yourself accountable.
Set up a system. A system, as defined by the dictionary, is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method. Systems are the best way to support change over time. For example setting up specific days and specific times to follow through with activities will support you to actually do them. I have a friend who owns a business and 1 day per week is an OTB day (on the business) where she spends a full work day working on the business. This could include accounting, marketing ideas, loading up social media posts for the next 1-2 weeks, organizing events, etc. Set up a schedule or system where the changes you make are scheduled into your life. And again refer back to step 3. You may need to pay for things in advance, utilize the buddy system, or do things first thing in the morning.
There’s no time like the present to break down the barriers to your life goals. Start with something smaller to build up your confidence and then slowly begin to tackle the bigger endeavors.
Peace isn’t always about a situation, or circumstances. Peace can be a verb. Things can be done as an act of peace, and these acts can be small and simple. If everyone practiced small acts of peace everyday, the enormity of those small acts combined would make great changes. Similarly, small acts of peace, combined over a lifetime, can mean big changes on an individual level. Practice small acts of peace, because when you are at peace, you radiate peace, and when you radiate peace, you spread peace to others. How lovely is that?
I recently came across a great metaphor for the mind in “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” by Robin Sharma. Sharma directs the reader to think of your mind like a garden. Negative thoughts are the weeds, positive thoughts are the flowers, and it’s our responsibility to care for our garden. If you want your mind to be efficient, sharp, and happy, you must tend to your mind like you would a beautiful garden, with intention. There’s the care of the soil, the watering, planting of seeds, and pulling of weeds on a regular basis. Too many people do zero maintenance on their minds, and then wonder why they’re so unhappy, why their garden has been overgrown with weeds. Weeds need to be pulled before they spread and overtake your flowers. Developing a consistent response to negative thoughts to prevent them from growing is how you manage the weeds. Developing positive thinking routines or habits is how you plant and tend the flowers. Practicing regular activities which nurture the mind, body and spirit is like watering your flowers. Finally, getting good sleep, keeping your body healthy so the mind can remain healthy is like the fertilizing of the soil. You must continue to tend your garden, to nurture and maintain the flowers, to pull the weeds, and to water and fertilize the soil. You can’t create a beautiful garden, stop pulling the weeds, and then expect the garden to remain beautiful. So too with the mind. Once you’ve found habits and routines that put you into a good emotional space, continue practicing these routines. Do regular maintenance on your mind, clean the stress on a weekly basis and continue to nurture positive thinking. Don’t let the weeds grow. Negative thoughts, much like weeds will grow faster than your flowers if you let them, so don’t.
For the pulling of the weeds:
For the Planting of the Flowers:
For the Watering of the Flowers:
For the Fertilizing of the Soil:
The better you get at recognizing when and responding to the signs you’re off balance, the more in harmony you’ll remain. Some of these signs are subtle, but if you can listen when the body is whispering to you, you’ll rarely have to experience its screams. Signs you’re off balance are really an opportunity to rebalance, and harmonize. Do extra self-care, get out into nature, take a restorative yoga class, or practice deep breathing/meditation techniques. Below are a few links to help you harmonize when things are out of balance:
Recently, I had a realization about myself. I realized I never allow myself to be proud of where I’m at, and what I’ve accomplished. I’m always too busy looking to the next goal, working on the next step, to stop, take pause, and celebrate how far I’ve come. The interesting thing is, we don’t attract what we want, we attract what we are, and more of what we feel. This is a major concept in the law of attraction (read more about it here), but it’s also been explained in different ways throughout history. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. both believed something similar, advocating that the means must meet the end. Peace movements are rooted in the belief that you can’t reach a peaceful end with violent means. You can’t find love by feeling hatred. You can’t expect a happy retirement if your means of getting there was unhappy, and you can’t expect to suddenly feel proud of yourself when you do accomplish something, if you’ve never allowed yourself to feel proud of your wins in the past. Again, the means must match the end result that your wanting. If I never allow myself to feel proud, accomplished, and secure, I am not in alignment with the goals I want to accomplish because those goals, for me, equal pride, a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of security. When you’re feeling ‘hungry’ for something, you are in alignment with the feeling of not having that thing, and essentially then blocking it from coming into your life. Thus, celebrating your wins, cultivating positive feelings, practicing gratitude, and releasing yearning are all ways of breaking down your own internal barriers towards life goals. So, really, it may be about feeling first, and acting second. The choices you make and actions you take when you are feeling happy are going to be more likely to lead you to more happiness, whereas the choices you make and the actions you take when you’re feeling angry are more likely to lead you to more anger. If you want to feel happier, practice things that make you feel happy (e.g. hobbies, time with friends) and you will be more likely to attract relationships, jobs, and experiences that make you more happier. Below are 3 steps you can take to harness this concept for more happiness, success, and contentment:
Identify the feelings associated with what you are wanting. Think about what you want to attract into your life, and then imagine how you will feel when you do get those things. Is it a sense of peace, security, pride, happiness, or love?
Cultivate the feelings associated with your goals. If you want to be aligned with your goals, cultivate the feelings associated with those goals. For example, if I want to be financially successful and the feelings associated with success include, a sense of security, happiness, and contentment, I may find alternative ways to gain these feelings such as yoga classes, practicing reassuring or empowering affirmations, and meditating.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude is a cure for negative emotions. Practicing gratitude allows you to attract more gratitude into your life. Practicing gratitude helps to decrease that sense of yearning for that which you don’t have, so you can re-gain your sense of power and feel empowered to make positive choices in your life. When in doubt, practice gratitude, because chances are gratitude is aligned with whatever it is that you are wanting.
One common misconception is that practicing the law of attraction means you don’t take any action. That is simply not true. The best way to utilize these techniques is to feel good, and then take action. Again, choices made with positive feelings are going to be more aligned with what you’re wanting. If you’re feeling like a failure, you’re less likely to make the sale you’ve been working towards, or to nail that job interview. Get into alignment with what you’re wanting, then take the steps to work towards your goals. Work hard, but feel good doing it.
I can’t believe I haven’t posted a playlist for 2018! Music is something I love! I’m always looking for new songs, new artists, and truly believe in the power of music to influence emotions. We have discovered so many new songs in the past few months, but I selected my absolute favorites to share with you all. Below is my current fall 2018 playlist. Let me know which song is your favorite and I hope you discover at least one song that you love!
HAPPINESS | COLLECTIVE FALL 2018 PLAYLIST
If you want to stay up to date on what I’m listening to, follow me on spotify!
I’ve recently read some amazing books and I thought I’d share them with you. I recommend all of these books for different reasons. I’ll give you my take on each one below:
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success : This book was an easy read, and definitely gave my husband and I food for thought. The seven spiritual laws of success are Depak Chopra’s 7 laws for happy, abundant living. This book was simple and concise, but inspiring and thought provoking. It’s an easy read but definitely provides some counterintuitive advice. If you’re interested in the law of attraction, this book is a must-read. While Chopra never mentions the law of attraction in the book, these principles are definitely in alignment with it.
Creating Affluence: Another one of Deepak Chopra’s works. This book is similar to the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, but even more concise. Each page addresses a different concept for attracting abundance into your life. This is a perfect book for a morning routine as you can read one page everyday in very little time, and each concept is an inspiring, thought-provoking idea you can practice putting into action throughout the rest of your day. I checked this one out from the library but am considering purchasing to have for future reference. This book is also in alignment with Law of Attraction principles.
Bringing Yoga to Life: This book will always have a special place in my heart, as I read it throughout our Bali trip. If you are a yogi, this is a must read. Donna Farhi has so much wisdom, and truly understands what it means to practice yoga. This book does not address yoga postures one bit, but rather discusses the yoga philosophy with real-life examples from Donna’s life that make the concepts easy to understand. Again, a guide for living life, and practicing yoga. As I read, I underlined important or poignant statements and I still flip through it to re-read those ideas. I can honestly say that I’m a better person because I read this book.
The War of Art: This is another must read, for everyone. The War of Art is a book about resistance, all the ways it shows up in one’s life, and how to overcome it. Resistance shows up anytime we attempt to make a positive change in our lives. Everyone experiences resistance, and therefore everyone can benefit from this book. This was such a simple read, each page packed full of inspiration and wisdom. Every page addresses another aspect of resistance and thus can be read all at once, or used as a 1-page-per-day type of book. I purchased this book after returning it to the library to have and reference when needed. You will feel so pumped up and unstoppable after reading this. If you need that extra push to make a change in your life, this is the book for you.
I am always on the hunt for new reads so let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions! Happy reading, and I hope you found some new book ideas above.