Tag: Life Coaching

The Happenstance of Happiness

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Happiness may be the most elusive of all ideals. We’re taught from a very young age that happy is good and sad is bad; we’re programmed to believe that without achieving ‘happiness’ we’ll be void of anything worthwhile in life.  And finding it, sometimes, can feel like a tall order.

First of all, how do we even begin to define happiness? Well, that’s deeply personal and different for each of us. There are many books written about how to reach happiness, listing different thoughts on the how. Some list characteristics of happy people. A client mentioned Sonja Lyubomirsky, who does this in her book “The How of Happiness,” which she touts as a “scientific approach to getting the life you want.” However I am not certain I would agree with her, as happiness is an emotion. What I do agree with is that some people are happier than others. This is due to the way they view the world and how they use language to shape their thoughts. Using positive self-talk, you can shift from negative to positive feelings, therefore achieve a happier state of being.

Some of Sonia’s ideas about people who are happier that I do agree with are as follows:

  • • They devote time to their family and friends, nurturing and enjoying those relationships.
  • • They practice optimism when imagining their futures.
  • • They are not immune to the vicissitudes of life. However they are very aware that change is constant, and don’t dwell on misfortune.

The keywords in the characteristics make sense—devotion, optimism, resilience—they’re all powerful attributes that contribute to positive outcomes. When we focus on what’s possible through positive thought and action, we’re training our brain to be more proactive in creating ‘happy’ solutions.

As I think about happiness, I know it to be an emotion that is created by a combination of thought and action. You are probably aware of the actions you take that make you happy. Consider increasing how often you take those actions. Also, as you become more and more aware of your thought processes practicing positive self-talk will become a habit.

When or if you are feeling sad, you can use this exercise to bring you back into happiness. Sit quietly in nature, focus your intention upon your heart and ask yourself what makes me feel happy…listen quietly as the answer may come in the sound of a voice, the passing of a squirrel, the falling of a leaf. As you regain your center the language of your thoughts will shift into positive ones and you will experience happiness again.


A Spiritual Path of Coping With Addiction

Are you held back by an addiction? If you’re not personally, it’s almost certain that you know someone who is afflicted by an urge of some form that inhibits his or her own life—one that has an incredible impact on their overall well-being and happiness.

These sufferings create an inability for us to grow and flourish personally, as well as in our relationships with others, which, many times, can create an even more difficult struggle or a deeper dependence. As such, the need to escape becomes, as Pema Chodron notes in her book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, “involuntary”.

She continues, “Addiction and dissociating from painful feelings are two examples. Anyone who has worked with a strong addiction—compulsive eating, compulsive sex, abuse of substances, explosive anger, or any other behavior that’s out of control—knows that when the urge comes on it’s irresistible. The seduction is too strong.”

If the throes of addiction sound inescapable, don’t lose hope yet. How can we cope? Chodron calls this practice ‘The Knack of Refraining’—continually training with a present, but lesser stimuli, that teaches us to rise above the impulse when we’re fixated on our desire.

“By training with everyday irritations, we develop the knack of refraining when the going gets rough. It takes patience and an understanding of how we’re hurting ourselves not to continue taking the same old escape route of speaking or acting out.”

This allows us to begin to become freer, a little lighter each time we succeed in not succumbing—rebuilding a sense of self worth and an appreciation for the beautiful bounty of good the world has to offer us. We begin to lose the tunnel vision, to see beyond the narrow lenses we were looking at the world through before; our minds and hearts become open.

On an arduous journey such as this, be kind to yourself or the one bearing the burden. Encourage the idea of “refraining” as a way to restart—to create a new beginning for a healthier, happier life.

With more confidence and purposeful goals, it begins to feel less like coping and more like strength. Once we’ve developed that core strength over time, our clearer mind allows us to see how our old behaviors were truly doing harm and keeping us from true happiness.

Life is progress, not perfection—the key is to not give into the seduction of temptation.

Meditate on what is good in your life; if only just for a second. When it all feels especially unsettling, find something constructive that makes you feel whole; allow yourself to experience a natural high that brings you back to center and allows you to stay the course without the fear of guilt or shame.

The journey is long and challenging, but it doesn’t have to be dark and daunting—we can all find our peace; it’s already inside of us. It takes courage to unleash its full potential and experience life in a more meaningful way, but it leads us to being truly free.


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.


Dare to Daydream!

How much of your time do you spend in personal reflection? Do you find yourself sometimes focusing on your own internal thoughts instead of what’s happening around you in outside world? Often times, we call this daydreaming, and it’s rarely received as a constructive activity. Alas, daydreamers, fear not! What some may see as a less-than-successful way to spend time is finally getting some serious respect; touted as more beneficial to your well-being than you may think.

According to a recent Psychology Today article, many are considered to be ‘Happy Daydreamers,’ a term first identified in a half-century-old study headed by Jerome Singer of Yale. His team deemed daydreaming a “widespread and normal aspect of the human experience.” The article explains:

Singer found that a major swath of society consists of “happy daydreamers”—people who enjoy vivid imagery and fantasy. They use daydreaming for plotting out their future. These daydreamers “simply value and enjoy their private experiences, are willing to risk wasting a certain amount of time on them, but also can apparently use them for effective planning and for self-amusement during periods of monotonous task activity or boredom,” Singer reported. He called this “positive-constructive daydreaming.”

Our ability to conduct this self-reflective “positive-constructive daydreaming,” becomes more limited, however, because of our continuous reliance on technology and stimuli from the outside world. Leading a life where we’re consistently consumed with external influences, particularly of the digital persuasion, we’re less interested and available to have real true interactive experiences, especially with ourselves, within our own consciousness.

From Singer’s research, we learn if we’re more aware of the attention that we pay to accommodating our own ‘self-generated thought,’ we become closer to living out the dreams that we wish to create for ourselves. Looking at it as a form of ‘mental time travel,’ daydreaming actually gives us the ability recognize, develop and manifest our deepest desires and aspirations in our external day-to-day lives.

Another study in the article suggests mind wandering can lead to increased ability to make good choices and trust our own judgment. Daydreamers, by nature, score high in being mindful, purposeful and nonjudgmental; they’re also positive and specific in their outlook of life. Children that are encouraged to daydream, and actively pursue it, have deeper and more meaningful connections with their surroundings. Daydreamers experience greater happiness and satisfaction.

Now imagine if you gave yourself a bit of time every day to let your mind free; to allow your inner peace to speak directly from your soul. Real desire will radiate out and guide you on a life path of purposeful joy – all by giving yourself the opportunity to escape from external reality for a minute and experience the reality within and experience real bliss.