Living a happy, resilient and optimistic life is wonderful, and is also good for your health. Being happy actually protects you from the stresses of life. Stress is linked to top causes of death such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.
One of the better things ever said is - 'The only thing in life that will always remain the same is change', and in our life we have the power to make the necessary changes if we want to. Even if we find ourselves in an unbearable situation we can always find solace in the knowledge that it too will change.
Social networks or relationships are essential to happiness. People are different, accept people for who or what they are, avoid clashes, constant arguments, and let go of all kinds of resentments. If arguments seem unavoidable still try and make an effort to understand the situation and you might just get along with well with
Happiness is actually found in everyone, increasing it is a way to make a life more wonderful and also more healthy.
To be happy is relatively easy, just decide to be a happy person. Abraham Lincoln observed that most people for most of the time can choose how happy or stressed, how relaxed or troubled, how bright or dull their outlook to be. The choice is simple really, choose to be happy.
There are several ways by which you can do this.
Being grateful is a great attitude. We have so much to be thankful for. Thank the taxi driver for bringing you home safely, thank the cook for a wonderful dinner and thank the guy who cleans your windows. Also thank the mailman for bringing you your mails, thank the policeman for making your place safe and thank God for being alive.
News is stressful. Get less of it. Some people just can't start their day without their daily dose of news. Try and think about it, 99% of the news we hear or read is bad news. Starting the day with bad news does not seem to be a sensible thing to do.
A religious connection is also recommended. Being part of a religious group with its singing, sacraments, chanting, prayers and meditations foster inner peace.
Manage your time. Time is invaluable and too important to waste. Time management can be viewed as a list of rules that involves scheduling, setting goals, planning, creating lists of things to do and prioritizing. These are the core basics of time management that should be understood to develop an efficient personal time management skill. These basic skills can be fine tuned further to include the finer points of each skill that can give you that extra reserve to make the results you desire.
Laugh and laugh heartily everyday. Heard a good joke? Tell your friends or family about it. As they also say -'Laughter is the best medicine'.
Express your feelings, affections, friendship and passion to people around you. They will most likely reciprocate your actions. Try not to keep pent up anger of frustrations, this is bad for your health. Instead find ways of expressing them in a way that will not cause more injury or hurt to anyone.
Working hard brings tremendous personal satisfaction. It gives a feeling of being competent in finishing our tasks. Accomplishments are necessary for all of us, they give us a sense of value. Work on things that you feel worthy of your time.
Learning is a joyful exercise. Try and learn something new everyday. Learning also makes us expand and broaden our horizons. And could also give us more opportunities in the future.
Run, jog, walk and do other things that your body was made for. Feel alive.
Avoid exposure to negative elements like loud noises, toxins and hazardous places.
These are the few simple things you can do everyday to be happy.
And always remember the quote from Abraham Lincoln, he says that, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
Man has come a long, long, long way over the process of evolution and development of our kind. From communication to simple tools to building large structures, creating and adhering to political infrastructure, creating currency, creating and supporting new businesses, venturing into outerspace, etc etc… Through all of this, it would be pleasing to think that mankind, by nature, has “good” intentions overall with respect to life and the universe on a broad scope. What that means exactly, I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that it’s false.
Over the course of evolution in any species, beings tend toward actions and behavior that best contributes to their individual survival or the survival of their family, loved ones or species. Currently, the speed of our technological development (otherwise known as “physical impact and modification to life and the universe”) is increasing very rapidly. Currently we are at a very volatile juncture in our development. We are at the “knee” in the curve, or the turning point where population, technology, knowledge and impact will be increasing far more rapidly than ever before. If we can see the errors of our ways and look beyond our own personal prosperity and look beyond the prosperity of our species, we will be able to identify a better way to live life that is less impactful to the universe and will make us a stronger more intelligent species in the long run.
Developments have been made over the millennia that, if gone unchecked, could mean the downfall or worse yet, the corruption or our species. Below, I’ve listed some of these developments and ways that you can address them in your life in order to take control of your part of the universe and the development of your offspring.
- Blind faith in technology. Don’t use or support a product until you know everything about what it does and how it works. This includes how it was made, who will be impacted by its use, who was impacted by its development and construction, negative impacts to yourself when using the product.
- Reliance on others. Due diligence means finding your own solutions to problems and personally making sure that all of the details have been covered in a manner that is satisfactory. Relying on others’ choices, products, opinions means that you have made the assumption that you agree with all of their beliefs.
- Question everything.
- Find your own answers to every question. Don’t be satisfied with an answer you’ve been given even from a trustworthy source.
- Write down the elements of humanity that are important to you. Writing them will solidify them in your mind and they will emerge in your actions.
- Keep yourself physically and mentally healthy in order to be able to make clear decisions and also be able to act on them.
- Acknowledge a major personal flaw. There's got to be ONE! Personality traits, over-eating, violence, lying, cheating, sub-optimal performance, etc... Acknowledging a flaw is an absolutely critical step to take in fixing it. Once you have acknowledged it, you will find it immensely easier to make realizations on how to fix it.
- Never take anything for granted.
- Whatever you do, act as if the whole world was watching.
- Always aim for improvement
- Double check all actions against your ethical beliefs. You may be in the habit of doing something that is contrary to your ethics, and not even realize it. Double check your every move and you'll most likely find things about you or your actions that you would just as soon change.
Everyone has the choice to enjoy every single day as it comes. No matter how you’re feeling or what your circumstances are; no matter what has happened or what is happening in the immediate future or immediate past, as a human being, you have the privilege to make the choice to appreciate the present moment.
When I was about 16 years old, I realized that I could make a choice at any given moment that would determine whether I was content or unhappy. If I made the right choice, I would be absolutely content with myself and my surroundings no matter what. If I made the wrong choice, each moment of anger and misfortune would be compounded on one another as the day went on. I would be more prone to hurting myself, breaking things, making mistakes, etc. I never really knew what the “choice” was, or how to define it but, with practice, I knew that it was as easy as flipping a switch.
I stood in the parking lot this morning stretching in the cool morning mist, as I like to do after the commute to the office, and as I took a nice long breath of fresh air, a van came careening into the parking lot and pulled into a spot right beside me. Even thought there was no one else in the parking lot, the van still missed the spot and had to pull out and pull back in. Then I listened as the front bumper crunched up onto the curb and was dragged off when the driver pulled back.
He got out of the car and shook his head, saying to me “It’s gonna be one of those days, isn’t it?” Then proceeded to walk quickly toward the building with his briefcase in hand and head down at the sidewalk. He walked past this:
Had he not noticed what a gorgeous morning it was? What was he thinking about so hard that took his attention so far away from his surroundings (not to mention his driving…)? Always thinking about the previous mishap, misfortune, or feeling, he was never present enough to prevent the next. I can imagine what kind of a day he is having today (although I’d rather not).
To this day, I continue to practice flipping this switch. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it comes more easily every day. And I can often see this turning point in others’ days as well. A point at which, if they closed their eyes, wiped the chalkboard clean of all the past misfortune and anguish, took out a fresh piece of chalk and opened their eyes, that they would be able to start fresh from this moment on.
It is man’s natural state to be content, it requires only attentiveness.
There will always be discomfort in your life. On some level, in some facet, either physical, mental, social or otherwise, discomfort will always be a part of our lives. Is discomfort uncomfortable? By definition... yes. Does it have to be all bad? No. Here is a list of items that will hopefully help you to keep your eyes open and see some of the benefits that your discomfort can provide you.
1. Learn about the world around you.
Where does it come from? When did it begin? What are all of its constituents? Can you learn anything on the basis of observation alone?
2. Ponder interconnectedness.
What is the direct and indirect impacts of this discomfort on you? What is its impact on others? Is this discomfort caused by others? Is it caused by you?
3. Realize how your accommodations can improve.
Look around. Are there other methods or strategies that could be implemented that would not require the problem to be solved, but rather would render the situation non-existent?
4. Practice awareness.
Practice bringing attention to the situation in order to really understand it before trying to rectify it. Bringing your attention to a particular sensation and avoiding other thought patterns can help you to isolate the problem. The sensation of having a rock in your shoe is far different than the thoughts of "Why do I always get rocks in my shoe?" or "I really can't afford a better pair of shoes".
5. Understand your tolerance for pain.
This can apply physically or mentally. Ask yourself. "Okay, how much is this really bothering me?" See Pain is Only What You Make It.
6. Increase your tolerance for pain.
While pain is a signal to your brain that your body is in danger of being damaged, it often overcompensates. After understanding what your pain tolerance is, make it a personal challenge to ride that line and accept it as a simple indicator to your brain.
7. Brainstorm a solution.
What can you build/make/modify, to rectify the situation? Think about the items at your disposal. Try to challenge yourself to come up with an inventive and unique solution. By patching the problem with a carelessly thought-out solution or something that won't quite work, you're only giving yourself something to complain about and fix again later.
8. Practice "creative experimentation"
Example: There's a painful wart on my foot. How can I change my stance, foot placement, stride, etc to ease the pain? Are there other objects nearby that I could be supporting some weight on to take it off of my foot? How many helium balloons do I have to hold to alleviate the pain? This will help you with creativity, as well as take your mind off the situation and it may also provide a reasonable solution.
9. Practice acceptance
Harboring "The serenity to accept the things you cannot change" is a very powerful skill. You may need to find something, a phrase or thought, to constantly remind yourself of the goal of being more accepting to avoid getting frustrated with the practice.
10. Harbor compassion
Somewhere out there, there is someone with the same discomfort as you. Somewhere else, there is someone far worse off than you.
Commonly, people pose the question: "What would I do if I had only 1 day left to live?" Answers are generally comprised of places they would go, things they would accomplish, and people they would visit. This is a good way to help you understand the things and people that are really important to you.
Imagine now, that I told you that you have only 30 seconds left to live...
I'd like you to actually put yourself in this situation now. You're sitting right where you're sitting now and wearing whatever you're wearing when you read this. And you're all alone; at least more than 30 seconds away from any other human being. Savor this moment.
What do you do with your last 25 seconds on earth?.... Do you make one last phone call? How do you decide who to call? And by the time you decide, is it worth calling? What do you say, and will you be gone before you can say it? Savor this moment.
How many things can you actually do in 20 seconds of life? Do you retrieve a favorite memory or look ahead at your unfound goals? Which memories / goals to you choose to relish? Savor this moment.
You only have 15 seconds left now. Do you panic in fear of the actual sensation of death or do you revel in the glory that was your life? Savor this moment.
Death is only 10 seconds away and what have you done with the last 20 seconds? Have you made the best possible use of them? If only you had more time to decide what to do... Take a look around. Use your eyes. Use your ears. Look at your hands. Savor this moment.
Take a deep breath of fresh air, you have 5 seconds to live. Do you realize your own human impermanence? Does all of the worry and dischord in your life seem distant? None of it means anything anymore. What does it feel like to be wearing this skin you've been wearing for so many years? Savor this moment.
You have one second to live. What does being alive feel like? Savor this moment.
Wait, you're still alive! Keep reading!
In Bushido, the philosophy of the Samurai, death is always imminent. They lived their lives as if each moment could be the last, savoring every step of the journey and always putting their best foot forward, whether it be on the battlefield or training ground, or playing with their children or drinking tea. Death is held in the highest regard and is never forgotten by the Samurai. All the moments in our lives lead up to it.
This exercise can help you gain a better understanding of the intrinsic nature of your human being-ness. Not really having enough time to prepare for imminence, every moment must be lived completely. What would change about your life if every 30 seconds was your last?
Have you ever noticed that people who have active or adventurous hobbies that require a high level of physical awareness are generally more pleasant or have a good outlook on life?
Namely things like rock climbing, dancing, martial arts, yoga, skateboarding, etc? Activities that require you to pay attention to your body parts and learn how to move them in certain and precise ways.
The huge amount of coordination and physical awareness necessary for these sports is so healthy for the mind and and contributes largely to the broad picture of awareness such that these types of people are more closely in tune with the world around them and the people around them. This allows them to interact with others in the most optimal way, having established a better understanding of the present moment and situation at hand.
What is the broad picture of awareness?
Conventional wisdom, the natural human life cycle, and common logic all agree that there is an optimal progression to developing conscious awareness as follows.
Increasing your physical awareness will very much help you to become better in tune with your life both mentally and spiritually.
The moral of the story is, go find a new cragg to climb, learn a new dance step, or check out a class at your local martial arts school; it could be the beginning of something good.
Reference previous post: The Pain is Only What you Make It - Mind over Matter
With every impact, blood seeped out of my aching knuckles as I struck the wall-mounted training pad over …and over …and over again. Right, left, right left, right, left… My senior instructor, in his naturally menacing manner bellowed, “Punch harder!! I better feel the building shake! The pain is only what you make it.” as he walked out of the dojo and went upstairs to eat his lunch…
There were two of us testing for our black belts that day and we both took a healthy breath, focused in a little closer to our targets …and we punched harder. As our fists throbbed and knuckles stung, his words resounded in ears, and we persevered. My mind sunk into contemplation and became detached from my current situation. After many years of martial arts training, I knew the capabilities of my body, and I knew how it would react to certain types of damage. “They’re only knuckles. They’ll lose their skin and bleed. Since I’m human I know they’ll heal.”
“If the pain is only what I make it, then the fact that I’m stuck in this situation is unimportant.”
Physical pain is only a response to outside stimuli, and it tells a brain that there may be damage occurring at a certain location on the body. Essentially, it’s an electrical memo sent from your nerve endings to your brain and can be thought of as merely a form of communication. Well, if you are already aware of what is happening with your body, then you have no reason to read the memo. You have the option to disregard the memo in order to more effectively get your task done. Of course, the same philosophy can be applied to more than just the physical sort of pain or suffering.
“I know that I am in pain now, but I know that some time in the future I will no longer be in pain.”
Knowing that pain is temporary is also helpful. When you begin to realize that the climate of life is always changing, then you will always be prepared to embrace the approaching climate, be it painful or joyful. If this is the case, what difference does it make that there is pain now?
Image by KayVee.INC via Flickr
One-hour meditation too much to handle? 20 minutes? 5 minutes got you beat? Here's a new approach to meditation with one very westernized quality about it. It's very fast.
This method is less focused on meditation, but more about trying to sit peacefully and achieve a brief moment of clarity, or clarity of presence. This way of thinking comes from Zen philosophy. The idea here is to create an instantaneous state of mind, or state of being wherein your awareness or understanding of your immediate surroundings or situation is increased. Try not to exert effort when attempting this. It will inevitably lead to failure and regret. Failure to do something that you didn’t “try” to do, is not really a failure. If you want it to be a sunny day and it turns out rainy, you did not fail. If it rains, it rains; if it’s sunny, it’s sunny.
Hints to help you achieve a moment of clarity:
- Focus on your heartbeat until you can feel it pushing the blood throughout all of your arteries.
- Create a phrase or sentence that describes what it feels like to be alive.
- Look at your hand and try to understand that no matter what happens in this life, all that's sure is that you will have this body.
- Picture yourself from a bird's eye view. Visualize whatever you're doing at the moment and zoom out little by little to picture the room, building, trees, street, town, state, country, continent, planet, galaxy, and all of the cosmos.
- Imagine you have just been born and are seeing all of the things around you for the first time.
- Do not concentrate, just pay attention.
- Do something you absolutely love doing. Something that engages your mind and body 100%.
- Rise to a challenge that is slightly more than you think you are capable of.
- Breathe silently and listen to the other sounds your body may be making.
- Focus on your skin until it begins to tingle.
Have a nice day!
Everyone has something that they want to accomplish or get better at or do more often, and no matter how much we think about it, it just keeps slipping by. Another opportunity to eat healthier or practice a certain piano piece, etc. is trumped by other priorities, other obligations.
Accept that this will happen.
You have priorities. Everyone does, and always will, that’s just part of human nature. Priorities that are higher on the list get done before those that are lower. Sometimes you have control over the priorities list and sometimes you don’t. Priorities come bundled with an inherent level of importance depending on your lifestyle and the elements you cherish.
Increasing the importance of a priority.
If you have something in mind that you have wanted to undertake, but have not been able to find the time for it, there is a way to increase the importance. Generally speaking the items that are a "bigger" part of your life get more attention - the house, kids, job, etc. So with this philosophy, if you make something a larger part of your life, it will inherently become more of a priority.
Make your priorities a hobby!
If you make something a hobby it will become more important to you because of the fact that it has become a larger part of your life. My wife recently became fascinated with eating healthy. She fed that fascination by learning about food from the bottom up. She studied hundreds of healthy foods, read books, blogs, labels and talked to other people with similar minds. She became immersed in this knowledge and has gained an invaluable understanding of what is healthy and why . She made this lower-level priority into a hobby that expanded and consumed spare moments that would otherwise have been used doing other things. Her other priorities didn’t necessarily have to wane to make room for it, but they were simply rearranged to accomodate for it.