Tag: joy

Age is Just a Number

I was meditating recently when I had an incredible realization – I am ten years younger than I actually am. Of course, this realization was unusual. It’s not as though I have the ability to turn back time, or to jump back ten years to relive the past decade. But still, the thought came over me and I couldn’t shake it. And you know what? The oddest thing happened.

I felt amazing for the rest of the day. There was a renewed energy in my thoughts and actions. I felt physically and emotionally better. It almost felt like, well, I was ten years younger.

That’s when it occurred to me – lately I have been dwelling on the idea of my best years being behind me. During my meditation, I realized this doesn’t have to be true. Age is just a number.

Society often assigns negative or positive connotations to our age. We take
these societal ideas to heart – feeling hurt or somehow less than we once were as the years go by. As this isn’t a positive way of looking at things, realize that; you are as youthful, joyful, and content as you believe you are. You are in full control of how you feel – both about your body, your mind, and your life. Your physical age doesn’t need to have an impact on how you view yourself.

Many people use their age to measure themselves, or their success in life. Instead, we should reframe how we view ourselves (and our win’s – big and small). If we are content with ourselves, with where we’re at in life, our age has no bearing on that. If we’re not content with where we’re at – whether we’re young or old – we have the power to change things.

No matter how many years we have behind or ahead of us, they’re all equally wonderful. Let’s celebrate each one.


Cooling the Summertime Blues

If you’re feeling some summertime sadness this season, you are not alone. In some cases, summertime elicits a biological depression reaction. Almost 10% of people in the United States experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder) over the course of the summer. This is especially difficult emotionally, as summertime is always framed as a time when people are having the most fun during the year. However, summer isn’t all catching lightning bugs and digging your toes in the sand! Longer days with increased heat and humidity can make summer days downright miserable. People often have trouble sleeping, many experience unintended weight loss, loss of appetite, and generalized anxiety during the hot days of the summer season.

Summer also comes with a long list of emotional stressors. If you’re a parent, your kids might be home from school. There’s a societal pressure for you to be overjoyed – the kids are home! But whether you’re employed or you stay at home, this sudden shift in schedule can be difficult to manage. There may be financial worries around the vacations you’re expected to take, or any summer camps or babysitters you might hire to help watch your children while you work and/or try to take care of your daily task list.

Social media, of course, feeds the feeling you might have that you’re wrong for experiencing the blues during summer. Everyone has a picture-perfect projection of days at the beach, eating ice cream with friends, or going on sun-soaked adventures with family. I want to take this moment to communicate with you that feeling depressed during this season is completely okay. Embrace how you’re feeling rather than beating yourself up about it. You won’t be able to move past these negative emotions until you acknowledge them. Then, when you’re ready, try some of these tips to overcome your summertime blues:

  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep will make anybody miserable, and your body needs the extra energy right now to deal with changing schedules.
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will help you through the heat and humidity and keep your body feeling right. This will help improve your outlook.
  • Exercise, but don’t overdo it. Exercise releases endorphins, but when you push yourself too hard in the heat the sick feeling you may experience will detract from any positivity your work out brought you.
  • Think about your feelings. Take this time to be introspective.
  • Manage your expectations. If the finances aren’t there to take a big trip, think smaller. Do something that will bring you joy, even if it costs nothing. Release preconceived notions of the grand adventure summer is “meant” to be and do what makes you truly happy with people who fill up your days with positivity.
  • Build in quiet time. There’s a temptation to fill every day with barbeques, get togethers, and trips to the pool. Block out time specifically for yourself and/or your family, whichever you prefer. Read a book. Meditate. Take a long bath. Breathe.
  • Release any pressure. Whether you feel pressure to post pictures of your smiling family on social media (when you can’t get your toddler to stop crying over their just-dropped popsicle), or you feel pressured to spend every minute “having fun” and keeping busy, release the need to comply with these pressures. Make your schedule according to what brings you joy. If you wilt in the heat, don’t go to the beach. If your kids dislike camping, make s’mores over the stove.

Find your own summertime rhythm regardless of what friends, family, are doing. This will release any pressure to do it differently.


The Science Behind Laughter

Is laughter really the best medicine? We hear this saying all the time, and it can be easy to roll our eyes at when we’re not feeling so great. Whether it’s stress caused by outside situations that’s bringing you down, or internalized negativity, sometimes the last thing you want to do is laugh. Still, don’t we always feel noticeably better after a good laugh? Or don’t we feel like a weight has been lifted when you finally break down and laugh so hard you cry after a full day of everything-feels-like-it’s-going-wrong moments? The truth is that laughter is a kind of medicine – and not just because it makes us feel better emotionally! There’s a science behind it that proves just how positive laughter can be in your life (especially when you’re feeling down).

Laughter Gets Your Blood Flowing

The act of laughing dilates your blood vessels, improving the blood flow all over your body. Increased blood flow improves brain function, muscle function, and the function of most of your organs. It also decreases the chance of cardiovascular disease. So, just by improving blood flow, laughter helps to improve the functionality of the rest of your body. The increased blood flow also releases T-cells, B-cells, and Gamma-interferons, all of which boost your immune system.

Laughter Chills You Out

Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed? Laughter is the cure. The act of laughing releases endorphins, much like exercise does. These endorphins leave you feeling positive and relaxed. But, that’s not the only way laughter works to calm you down! When you laugh, your body reduces its output of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Laughter is very literally taking away your ability to hold on to stress.

Laughter Yoga

If you want to use laughter in your life, consider laughter yoga. The concept behind laughter yoga is that voluntary laughter acts the same as involuntary laughter. Some liken it to internal jogging – it’s an exercise for your mind intended to release the positive endorphins and reduce stress hormones. If you’re feeling a little nervous about trying it out for the first time, I recommend starting with this simple breathing and relaxation exercise:


Finding the Positive

Author Wayne Dyer wrote, “Every time I see a coin on the street, I stop, pick it up, put it into my pocket, and say out loud, ‘Thank you …for this symbol of abundance that keeps flowing into my life.’ Never once have I asked, ‘Why only a penny…? You know I need a lot more than that.”

It’s really that simple. Day after day train yourself to say thank-you. We all know that the more we practice something, the more natural it becomes. Change the negative self-talk into positive, even if at first you don’t believe yourself. “I can’t believe I am late to work again, I am always late.” can be, “It was a tough morning, but I am glad to be at work and will adjust myself to what is. It’s a gorgeous day and I am happy to be a part of it!” Or, “I am so resentful that I have to work late, I wanted to go to the gym and now I won’t even be having dinner until 9:00” can be, “I’ll grab a healthy snack to keep myself nourished until I can have dinner. I’m lucky to have a job and I love so many things about it!” Even if you don’t feel like you love it at the moment, tell yourself you do. You can find something positive when you look for it. It sounds simple and it is. We often make life a lot harder than it needs to be.

It can take several months to make a shift, but changing the way that you talk to yourself every day will eventually have profound effects on your day to day attitude and even your physical health. You may be having a tough minute, but you don’t have to have a tough day.



Meditation: A Tool for Total Wellness

I ablesContemplate on this: Quieting your mind on a regular basis can result in both mental and physical well-being! How wonderful is that?

Meditation may, on a physical level:

  • Lower high blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce body pain caused by tension
  • Improve sleep, mood, behavior, and energy level

On an emotional/mental level, meditation may:

  • Promote feelings of calm and peace
  • Support clearer and more positive thinking
  • Expand awareness and perspective, which can lead to self-revelations and transformation
  • Encourage sharper thinking: New, creative, and productive ideas have the opportunity to arise in a quieted, focused mind

There are many kinds of meditations and ways to meditate. The best type and method of meditation is what appeals to and works for you…after all, if it doesn’t do those two things, you most likely won’t do it! The effects of meditation can be achieved in a few minutes a day, although many people find themselves engaging in longer sessions because of the positive results they experience. Also, keep in mind that the kind of meditation you are drawn to may change over time, as well as the effects you experience. Think of meditation as a personal trainer for your inner “fitness” program. As your inner fitness grows and changes, so will your “workout.”

Here are a few ways to meditate:

Focus your attention on a single thing. It can be a visualized object, a word, a mantra, or just the rhythm of your breath. When you notice your mind has wandered (which our minds are prone to do), gently bring it back to the original focus. Over time, you will experience less distractions and greater singular focus. Some examples of this type of meditation: Buddhist meditation, Loving Kindness Meditation, Chakra Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, Sound Meditation, Mantra Meditation.

Allow your mind to go as it may, without judgment or attachment. Tune in to all of your senses; be aware of sensations, thoughts, and feelings. Acknowledge them and then let them go. Your thoughts and awareness will flow freely in and out, like the waves of the ocean. Some examples of this type of meditation: Mindfulness meditation, Vipassana.

Follow a guided meditation. Normally, you listen to a recording of a meditation that has a specific purpose, such as increasing energy, reducing anxiety, letting go of fear or anger, promoting restful sleep, raising levels of gratitude, etc. There are many different guided meditations available, which you can access online. I particularly enjoy Louise Hay.

Try making meditation a part of your daily ritual, and see what good can result!


Are Your Thoughts Making You Sick?

Flu season is upon us, and we are all trying to be as proactive as possible to avoid getting sick. Coming down with the flu, a cold, or any kind of illness is not pleasant, nor convenient in our busy lives…especially with all the holidays approaching! So we might get a flu vaccine, try to eat right and exercise, get enough sleep, stock up on vitamin C and hand sanitizer, and stay away from people who look sick. We’ve done everything we can. Or have we?

One very important factor we might not have considered as contributing to sickness is…our thoughts! We know from numerous news reports that being in a constant state of stress has negative health consequences, but what about our thoughts in general? Can the way we think make us sick?

Studies show that our thoughts are so powerful they can affect our physical well-being. Try to recall the last time you came down with a cold. What was going on in your life? What was the gist of your inner dialogue the days leading up to your sickness? Were your thoughts focused on worry, fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, or resentment?

Our health can also be compromised when:

  • We keep our feelings locked inside, instead of dealing with or expressing them.
  • We don’t speak up for ourselves and then experience feelings of powerlessness or other energy-depleting emotions.
  • We can’t let go of past experiences that brought us pain, distress, or tension that continue to affect us as we relive the experience in our minds and through retelling the story to others.
  • We think negatively about others, and ourselves focusing on faults and mistakes instead of positive traits or actions.

While thinking negatively or in an unconstructive way will not necessarily make you sick, it can play a part in it. If that kind of thinking can make us sick, then thinking in a way that is positive, loving, and caring toward ourselves and the world around us can contribute to our well-being. So why not add, “wellness thinking” to our regimen of healthy living?

Here are ways to break the cycle of thoughts that can harm our health that you can incorporate into every day:

  • Be aware of the focus of your thoughts. When you bring awareness to what and how you think, you can change or redirect the inner chatter as needed.
  • Think about what the consequences might be to you by continuing to think or feel a certain way. Will they benefit or harm you?
  • Try laughter yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, or other methods to center you emotionally/ spiritually/mentally. Even a few minutes can act as a reset button.

Finding Contentment


Look at each day with gratitude; it’s a new opportunity to grow into the best person that you can possibly be. Your only competition is yourself. When you allow yourself to be content with what is, and identify your personal goals to strive for, it’s a sure path to long-term success, and most importantly, happiness.  

Day by day, be content with whatever you have and satisfied with whatever happens. Everything else will fall naturally into place.” -Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (Tibetan Lama 1910-1991)

How often do you wish that your life went according to a different plan? Do you find yourself disappointed when things don’t quite go your way? We’ve all been there— no matter how wonderful a situation may be, it can be easy to find a way to make ourselves dissatisfied, overlooking the positives that undoubtedly exists.

When we allow ourselves to be caught up in outside influences, we may begin to judge ourselves based upon the way that we perceive another’s life to be. When we take these situations out of context, we begin to develop negative thoughts like envy or self-doubt, which rob us of happiness and joy.

With our new reliance on technology, we’re also afforded the opportunity to keep up with our friends through social media, but it also creates an increased desire to keep up with the Joneses in many facets of life. We find ourselves without the appreciation for what we do have and more focused on the things that we don’t.

As Dilgo Rinpoche so astutely points out, the universe has a way of falling into place organically. We don’t ask the world to spin, or flowers to bloom; they just happen, and it’s glorious, because it’s exactly the way it is intended. In our human lives, there is an incredible opportunity to do the same, the action of letting things happen at will, is a gift to us.

Contentment begins when we gives ourselves permission to not be perfect, when we let go of our assumptions about others and when we begin to see the nuances that make life wonderful. It’s what we’re not planning; expecting or anticipating that makes life interesting and worthwhile.

There is great freedom that comes with us letting life unfold as it will, by experiencing it naturally instead of through a manufactured process; we find beauty in the details we may have otherwise overlooked. Personal satisfaction can be found in being true to who we are; not by keeping up with others.


Think spring!


Experiencing the Journey to Live Our Dreams

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” –Paolo Coehol, The Alchemist

So many times we hear commonly shared wisdom like “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of traveling.” But what does that mean? Like many things, in theory it sounds great, but it’s not quite that simple when put into real practice.

How do we know where to start? Does the journey begin, as they say, at the very first step? Or does it come after recognizing our reality as it currently stands and adjusting it accordingly?

We’re inundated with many conflicting ideas on creating a path to our best life. Everyone has a different interpretation of happiness, destiny, dreams and what they all mean. They’re ubiquitous, elusive ideals that are describable, but indefinable. Ideals we continually strive for, but most interestingly, can’t see, much less concretely understand.

When we step out into the darkness, on the beginning of a new journey, the first key is consciousness, particularly in terms of understanding ourselves— our strengths, shortcomings, quirks and other characteristics that make us uniquely ourselves. Assessing them; making peace with imperfections and striving for improvement are all acknowledged in this step— allowing us to continue forward.

In our second step, we create conscious action. We walk with a sense of purpose; utilizing new skills learned, old habits reformed. Beginning to experience the essence of joy; with a renewed sense of purpose in our personal goals— as well as a better understanding of and appreciation for, our true, work-in-progress selves. 

After we’ve come to begin our realization of who we really are, on our journey, right now, we’ve become conscious of ourselves and our surroundings, allowing us to move on to the next step.

Continual Acceptance. This is knowing that things will change. Wishes, plans, predicted paths; they’re all subject to detour. There is no guarantee where the road will lead, and that’s the beauty of it. The enlightenment of it all. When we allow the universe to unfold as it will, we begin to experience life, truly live it, instead of attempting to dictate our self-justified will.

Gifts are bestowed upon on us when we’re actively aware of what is happening in our immediate now. It’s the subtle shifts we make, allowing a force larger than ourselves be our guide. Giving us the gracious opportunities the universe has in store for us; the essence of living the life that we dream, so long as we decided to look and listen.