Joy is sustainable happiness

by Donna Torney on March 29, 2017 · 0 comments

Science tells us that practicing gratitude has many health benefits, like feeling less lonely and building a stronger immune system.  So why is it sometimes difficult for us to feel grateful?  Why do we sometimes have a hard time saying thank you, when one of the byproducts of gratitude is joy, a positive emotion that is much easier to sustain than the fleeting happiness we feel when we get what we want.

 

Click here to sign up for the May session of the gratefulness course:  The Transformative Power of Sufficiency and Gratefulness.  

As Lynne Twist says in her interview with Brother David Stiendl-Rast, “We can bring joy to anything; Happiness must be pursued.”   When viewed this way, being joyful seems much less energy intensive than the never-ending hunt for happiness.

What stops you from feeling grateful? I know I sometimes have trouble trusting in my good fortune.  If this is a struggle you share with me, try finding gratitude in “safe” things, like the feeling of holding a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, or the fact that you were able to cuddle with a beloved pet for a few minutes.

Fear is another emotion that puts up a wall against gratitude and keeps us wanting more.   If you are feeling fearful about having enough money, losing a loved one, or the state of the environment, take a few slow, deep breaths, you are in good company, but this company that could use some relief!  Exhale completely, and take a look at where you have influence.  The smallest act of assistance to someone in need can help you feel less fearful and a bit more in control, allowing you the space to feel grateful.

I find the emerging adults I work in my private practice are sometimes hesitant to express gratitude because they are trying to establish independence.  When we are trying to make it on our own, it can feel like a failure to ask for and receive help, and expressions of gratitude can trigger shame.  If this is your situation, remember that asking for help is an important life skill.  Try you best to say thanks, then Express your gratitude by envisioning the day when you can give back.  

Make gratitude your mindfulness practice this week.  If you need help with boosting your gratitude skills, consider joining the gratefulness.org eCourse hosted by Lynne Twist and Brother David Stiendl-Rast.

Click here to sign up for the May session of the gratefulness course:  The Transformative Power of Sufficiency and Gratefulness.  

http://gratefulness.org/blog/new-ecourse-transformative-power-sufficiency-gratefulness/

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

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We love the idea of traveling for months (even years) on end.  What we don’t love as much though, is the craziness and imbalance that often accompany solo traveling, like exhaustion, and feeling homesick.

You’re sitting in a beautiful city, a thousand miles away from home, and you’re second-guessing why you started this whole game in the first place.

 But here’s a secret: That feeling…it’s totally OK; as long as you’ve got the right mental tools to help you pull through the sucky scenario and get back into the balance of things. We’ve got some helpful hints which may just be able to help you get back to that point of feeling balanced, sane, and centered.

Here’s how to bust the stress-cycle when traveling the world…

Tips for Traveling Mindfully

Essential #1 – Sleep

Absolutely nothing will go the way it’s supposed to when you’re deprived of sleep. You need to get in sync with your destination’s time difference from home so that your body has already started adjusting to the sleep cycle when you get there. In order to ensure you stay clear of mind and keep the balance where it should be, you HAVE to get enough sleep.

Essential #2 – Nourishment

The foods we eat while we’re traveling hugely impact our moods and our emotions, and they can disrupt our sanity as well. We get that eating on the run might not always be as easy as it would be back home, but you need to keep in mind how important the right foods, the minerals, and vitamins, are for keeping you balanced and centered.

Essential #3 – Plans

You don’t need to be OCD about planning and organizing and then planning some more, but once you see how much easier and better your travels are when you have a solid plan, you’ll understand why this is crucial for your wellbeing…. To some extent obviously! You still need a healthy mix of serendipity to help guide the way.

Plan your menus, plan your sleep cycle and start implementing it before you depart, plan your routes and stops. Plan on staying mindful and plan on when you’ll spend time reconnecting with your inner self.

Essential #4 – Exercise

If there was one thing we’d suggest getting really serious about, it would be your workout regime. Keeping up your healthy lifestyle and intentionally scheduling workouts on a daily basis during your travels will help keep your body and mind in shape. If you have an at home yoga program, then keep it up while you are traveling too, you’ll be able to find some great places & spaces for yoga while traveling! It’s also a great way in which you can explore your surroundings and clear your mind in one easy activity.

 Essential #5 – Staying in the Moment

Once you start feeling exhausted and not balanced, the only way your plans are going is south. Pretty soon too. That’s why you need to get to a point where you can stay in the present, being fully aware of where you are and why you’re there. You need to stop. Take in everything you see and smell, all that you feel in that moment. Connect with nature and the locals around you. Being present and just absorbing the energy around you is one of the best ways to regain control of your mind before your emotions take over, plus it’ll help you to better your emotions as well.

Essential #6 -Your Journal

We don’t all write in (or even keep) journals, but for solo travelers looking to stay sane on their journey, it’s crucial. Think about what made you happy today, and then put it in ink, or even note it down on your phone’s memo app. It’s the small things that make up the good memories you’ll take home, and it’s also the small things that will keep you balanced.

Essential #7 – Feeling the Freedom

Being in another country far away from home has its perks, and it’s a beautiful thing once you recognize that freedom. You’ve made the right life choices, you’re self-regulated, and you’re independent. You are free to live your life and to achieve all that you set out to do, without the cultural and religious restrictions that so many are tied down by back home. That kind of freedom does not come to all, so let it empower your body and soul and let it fuel your mind to actually live out loud!

 Essential #8 – Learning Life Lessons

When you’re traveling solo, you should do so with the intent of traveling consciously, mindfully, so that you can use your adventure to essentially learn new life lessons. All of the good and all of the bad, they come together to teach us valuable lessons of life. All of your experiences happen for a reason, and with so much to see and feel, the best thing you can do as a solo traveler is to live the lessons you’ve learned in the days, weeks, and months that have gone by.

Final Thoughts

We’ve shown you eight essential tools you’ll need to stay sane while traveling solo, and if you haven’t been incorporating them on your travels, there’s no better time for it but now. Soak up all of the experiences available to you, but keep them stored in your heart so that you can take them back home again. Life can be a beautiful adventure, but it needs to be taken on with the mindset of traveling consciously!

About The Author

I’m Dan, and I’m the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. I’m also an avid adventurer, digital nomad, and traveler. I enjoy all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. I currently live in Brazil where I can frequently be found hiking the rain forest around my city!

 

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When you next find yourself among humans…..

by Donna Torney on January 17, 2017 · 1 comment

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“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt

Comparing situation A with situation B is a big part of how we make it through the day. Overuse of this often unconscious process, however, can feed anxiety and feelings of being “less than” or “better than” that lead to separation, isolation, and in worst cases, to violence.

Out of fear, we think by sizing up, categorizing, and otherwise pigeonholing people, places and things we keep ourselves safe from harm.

Taking a nonjudgmental stance, both toward others and ourselves, is one of the cornerstones of mindfulness.  This ability to step back and detach (applying equanimity) is a skill that will decrease anxiety, stress and discontent and increase feelings of connection to the human race.

But taking a nonjudgmental stance is easier said than done, as we humans are so good at judging.  We think by sizing up, categorizing, and otherwise pigeonholing people, places and things we keep ourselves safe from harm.

While using “good judgment” can certainly keep us safe from harm, excessive use of judgment that deems us better than or less than creates an artificial wall.

Try this mindfulness practice when you next find yourself among humans:

  1. Start by taking a few deep breaths, which will help you calm your nervous system and take a neutral stance.
  1.  As you walk down the road or the grocery aisle, note the thoughts that pop into your head.  You might mentally register someone as “short,” “tall,” “bald,” “smarter than me,” “better dressed than me,” or “poorer than me.”
  1.  Resist this urge to go on auto-pilot by thoughtlessly labeling your subject.  Instead of using one or two descriptive words, try using the phrase “Just like me” as you make your observations.  Here are a few examples:

“just like me, this person looks tired.”

“Just like me, this person worries.”

“Just like me, this person can feel joy.”

“Just like me, this person wants to be loved.”

See if this mindfulness experiment helps you to feel less critical and more connected a condition we all share – being human.  Connect with mindful hub.  Let us know how this exercise works for you.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

 

 

 

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Asian Lady Writing Notebook Diary Concept

Plan.  Come back to now.  Plan.  Come back to now.

focus on something pleasant.  One small, likable thing,

Before you once again plan, and again come back to now.

Why bother coming back to now?  Now, full of imperfection, distraction, uncertainty, worry?

Because now is the only place to heal.  The only place.

Plan, remember, come back to now.

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We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

Having trouble with the here and now?  Try Mindfulness Daily with Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield.
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Gentle Fall Transition: Day Eight – Change your mind

by Donna Torney on September 14, 2016 · 0 comments

imagesYou have the right to change your mind.

Summer is about to end.  Schedules are filling up.  Did you over-commit yourself?  Did you sign up for a class you don’t like?  Join a committee that is cutting into family time?  Say yes to a second date you aren’t sure about?  You have the right to change your mind.  You don’t even have to explain yourself.  But if you feel like you do, here are some tips:

Try this:

1.  Resist the urge to belittle yourself by saying something like, “I’m sorry but I’m just not good at _____ (fill in the blank).”

2.  Instead, with respect and firm resolve say something like, “I’ve realized I won’t have the time to continue with_____ (fill in the blank).”

3.  If you are getting a negative response, a guilt trip, or peer pressure, take a mindful breath or two, and repeat your response with kind resolve.

If backing out completely is not an option, is there a way you can cut back on your commitment and still feel good about staying involved?

Make sure you are not backing out of something you really want to do because you are afraid you might fail.  If this is the case, talk to someone who has experience in your new endeavor to get some ideas of how to calm your nerves.  It’s normal and human to be nervous when you try something new.

Changing your mind takes a certain amount of assertiveness.  True assertiveness is a stress management skill that shows respect for you as well as others involved in the situation.

Do you have a good story about how your mindfulness practice helped you make a difficult decision?  Please share.

Still having trouble changing your mind?  Contact us.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!
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imagesA friend of mine says she makes a habit of surrounding herself with good people.  By “good” she means people who support her,  bring out the best in her, and wish her well, people who in turn appreciate and respect her opinions and friendship.    It seems like a simple idea but when she told me this I was struck by how many times in life I didn’t adopt the same habit.

We could learn a lot from the seasons if we just take the time to be observant.  Each autumn, the trees and other flora and fauna shed what is no longer needed in service of rest, renewal, and to make room for what is to come.

Try this:  Surround yourself with good people

  1. As part of your gentle fall transition, take stalk of the people with whom you spend your time and energy.
  2. Remember  that just like seasons, relationships go through phases.
  3. Is there a relationship you are in that could benefit from a rest?  Perhaps one that requires pruning all together?
  4. Keep compassion in mind as you take stock.  In most cases, there is no need for big pronouncements or hard and fast separation.  (If so, see mindfulness for a broken heart).
  5. Create clarity around what it is you need from your friends and your community.  A daily mindfulness practice can help build this clarity.

Take a look at Mindfulness Daily for more practices that help with clarity and self-compassion.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!
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Young woman tourist sit pier looking sunset on the islandNew seasons, new schedules, and too many details can very easily take us out of the here and now and into the unknown “there and someday.”  You know you are there if you are overusing these sentence stems:   “What if I can’t… What if we don’t…. and then what… how will we afford, what if she…????”…   and on and on the monkey mind goes.

Dwelling too much on the future, trying to nail down every detail, is a surefire recipe for stress.  We need to plan, we need to forecast, we need to choose from a number of options, but we don’t have to have it all nailed down today.

Try this – Focus on the middle distance.  We know that mindfulness, present moment awareness combined with self-compassion, is the best option for or nervous system.  If you have been in planning mode too much lately, gently pull yourself back for few moments.  You’ll come back refreshed and better able to make the next big decision.  This exercise works best if you are outside or near a window where you can see at least 50 to 100 yards in front of you, even better if you can see the horizon.

  1.  Close your eyes – 3 cleansing breaths.
  2.  Drop all planning or remembering, knowing that the choices will still be there when you are through with this practice.
  3.  Open your eyes.
  4. Gaze gently in front of you and slowly lift your eyes to the middle distance or the horizon.
  5. Take in what is right in front of you.  It sometimes  helps to label what you see, noticing details.
  6. Keep lengthening  your gaze, keep thoughts on what you can see, gently naming, and reminding yourself that you can take a break from decision-making.

Just as we can adjust the length of our gaze, so too can we adjust the scope of our planning.  We can plan to be friendly just for today, loving just for today, compassionate just for today, joyful just for today.   When the future feels overwhelming, give yourself a break and enjoy the middle distance.

Yoga pose of the day – Eye Palming:  Check out this great set of yoga poses for tired eyes.

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We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

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While you go about your Saturday chores, try scheduling in pleasant events.  We don’t think twice about putting the upcoming dentist appointment or routine car repair in our calendar, but we often leave pleasant events up to chance.

Try this:  Today, go through your calendar and schedule in a pleasant event every day through the end of the year.  If this seems overwhelming, start with scheduling short pleasant events for the upcoming week.  These should be everyday events, not special occasions, and ideally will be quick and easy to implement, like a walk around the block, an ice cream sundae, or doodling in a journal.  Make it playful, light, and easy to accomplish.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of keeping a record of pleasant events.

Yoga pose of the day – shoulder openers to reduce stress:  muscle tension, especially in the upper body sends a signal to the brain that danger is present.  If you notice that your shoulders habitually sneak up by your ears try one or more of these poses presented by Lexi Yoga to help reverse the tension:

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!

Looking for more instruction to increase the occurrence of pleasant moments in your day? Join Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield in Mindfulness Daily.

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By Jane Weston, www.owlcoachingandconsulting.com

imagesEngaging in a mini-ritual for fall is an effective seasonal transition.  Implementing such a practice can not only help in proactively moving us forward toward a new goal or mindful practice, but will also help us savor the new season.

Try This: When considering implementing a new ritual, consider something simple.  Keep it helpful and meaningful and, easily adaptable to your regular routine so you will embrace it and find meaning rather than burden.  Consider adding something into your fall mornings; a walk, talk with friends, prayer, meditation, health or family focus.

Place reminders or use calendars, phones, apps or friends to help instill a new practice.  Above all, do what feels right for you.  Engage with others and use their support to help instill new practices.  Planning in advance for both the em

bedding of the new ritual and, any distractions that may present themselves.  Commit to your new mini-ritual for 30 days and share feedback with us on your experiences.

Yoga pose of the day:  Easy cross-legged pose.  Use this pose in place of the more advanced lotus posture.  The key is to focus on the length of your back.  Over time this pose will strengthen core and back muscles.  Sit cross-legged on the floorWoman doing yoga at home or on a supportive surface.  Use cushions or blankets under your seat to encourage the opening of your hips.  Ideally your knees.  If it becomes too difficult to maintain a straight back, start by leaning against a wall.  This pose is perfect.  Let your breath be natural and even, as you enjoy the grounding effect of this posture.

We wish you twenty minutes of mindfulness every day!
md-thumbnail-final Don’t let the busy fall season and the upcoming holidays  deplete your energy find balance with Mindfulness Daily

 

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