Why Taking Time for Yourself and Meditation Is Not a Selfish Act?

“You can’t pour from an empty kettle” is a common saying, but one that nobody seems to live by. Increasingly, it seems that taking time out for yourself is a selfish act. Meditation is often seen as an even more selfish act because modern people don’t often understand the benefits of meditation. The ability to sustain silence, quiet, and look inward is a self-survival tool. In fact, meditation is an effective stress management tool, and stress is linked to a number of diseases. A stressed out person is not operating at full capacity which means every part of their life is suffering from health to all types of relationships.

Stress is not success

Stress has been linked to depression, anxiety, heart diseases, and the exacerbation of countless injuries, diseases, and disorders. Still, we live in an era where “stress” is equated with hard work, and hard work is revered. Another common saying is to work better, not harder, and that “mantra” is often ignored, too. Somehow, we’ve developed into a society where the mark of a “good person” is that they’re constantly on the go and busy. That’s not necessarily the mark of a good or even successful person. It might just be the sign of a person who doesn’t take time for themselves, doesn’t know how to say no, and isn’t giving 100 percent to any of their endeavours.

Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish. Meditation isn’t selfish. Rather, taking time for yourself and giving yourself permission to meditate means that you are making sure your machine is working at top capacity before giving away any of your resources. Consider if you had a collaborative project meeting at six in the morning. However, you were so busy the day before with other tasks that you didn’t go to sleep until midnight. You were so worried about an unrelated event earlier in the day that your sleep was compromised. When you do get to the early morning meeting, you’re tired and might be on your third cup of coffee (the caffeine further stressing you out).

Do you think you’d be a very good or effective team member? Probably not. Simply showing up doesn’t mean that you’re successfully joining the meeting.

Types of Meditation

However, if you take time for yourself, you allow the body to recuperate. Meditation is the practice of sitting in comfortable, sustained relative silence. You’ll have outside thoughts creep in. Acknowledge them and send them on their way. Pranayama, or breath control, can be part of a meditation practice (either before or during). Relaxing pranayamas such as three-part breath allow you to concentrate on counting breaths and the inhalation, hold, and exhalation which helps keep outside thoughts at bay.

Others prefer to meditate with japa beads, which are 108 beads similar to a rosary. You recite a mantra, internally or externally, as you roll the bead between your fingers. The mantra should be positive, short and sweet. Some people prefer to chant the names of Hindu deities, while others prefer a secular but heartfelt saying.

Making Time for Yourself

Making time for yourself and meditation don’t have to eat up a lot of time. You don’t need to travel far or black out a large chunk of time for these mini-retreats. A lot of people prefer to meditate first thing in the morning and right before bed. For newcomers to meditation, five minutes is a great starting point. Moreover, taking time for yourself doesn’t always have to include meditation, though it can. It does need to be a relaxing, enjoyable experience though where you feel the stress in your body reducing. It can be virtually anything from a manicure session to a walk around the neighborhood. The only rule? No multitasking with tasks that can cause stress.

 

You want to give the best of yourself to the people in your life, particularly your loved ones. However, if you don’t take time for yourself, how present will you be at date night? How about at your child’s recital or during that important meeting? Selfish is putting yourself before others regularly with no care to how that affects your relationships with them — taking time for yourself couldn’t be farther from this definition. When you take care of yourself, you’re ensuring a higher quality relationship with yourself and with others. When you meditate, you re-learn how to appreciate and recover by way of quiet and reflecting inwards. Both are important tools in a society where we’re expected to be “on” all the time. Consider them a means of survival and bettering every other part of your life.

This is a collaborative post supporting our Peace In Peace Out initiative.

The Key To Success Is In You

Millions of people, mostly young ones, are struggling day and night to achieve “success” in their lives. Unfortunately, given hundred people questioned about what they call success, the chance to have less than 80 different answers is very little. In such situation, there are many possibilities that the majority of those answers are somehow missing the target. What can we really call “success”? And what should be the road map to success? These are some of the important questions that we will discuss in the following paragraphs.

What is success?

One day, at the end of my lesson at one of the university institutions in Bujumbura where I lecture, one of my students followed me to my office and asked: “Sir, looking at the current situation in the country where the unemployment rate keeps on increasing, the economic situation is more or less chaotic, do you think our generation can still hope for a successful life?” Hmmm, the question took me quite some minutes to think of what to answer. “How do you describe a successful person?” I asked the student. And from there we continued our beautiful conversation which led me to search more on this topic.

     Nairobi-Kenya:  One of the “Youth empowerment” clubs’ gathering

The above images mean a lot for me in the context of this article. As I was collecting ideas,  my mind flashed back to Nairobi some years back to my youth empowerment clubs that I was coordinating, from which I drew many inspirational memories that I linked to this topic.

Most people see financial security as success. Yes, but partly, because I have known and heard about many wealthy people committing suicide or living a kind of hell in their everyday life; this cannot be called success, for sure.  Yet, financial well being is a part of the elements that when missed, one has less chance to be happy. In fact, every grown up and responsible person has four responsibilities which are:

  • Physical well being,
  • Social responsibility,
  • Economic responsibility,
  • Mental well being.

All these responsibilities are very important and when well handled, constitute a good package for happiness. Certainly one needs to have a good balance to satisfy the four responsibilities. However, this cannot be the end in itself; the four responsibilities are just some of the means to happiness. Hence, inspired by famous John Lennon’s quote, I came to realize that success is HAPPINESS, the Ultimate goal for life.

“My mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up; I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon

 The road map to success

  • A happy mind is an empowered mind

Knowing the fact that a human being is composed of two main components – mind and body – and that the mind controls the body, one needs to take a very good care of their mind for the sake of happiness. When the mind is happy and empowered by positive energy, all other actions of the body are also positive. The opposite applies as well; when the mind is negative, actions are negative. Hence, every human being is entitled to happiness.

What often deprives us from that happiness and peace is, in fact, the nature of the mind itself; it keeps on wandering and being anxious about many things at the same time, about the future, the past and many other external occurrences around us in which our mind hovers consistently. Many times they will not be pleasant to the mind, and in this case we won’t be joyful.

What can be the remedy to this fact?

Meditation is the best remedy, and it has been proved scientifically. Through meditation, we bring the mind within and by doing so we limit its distractions and thus we experience peace and joy. When you practice meditation and manage to bring your mind to a standstill point, you will not only feel peaceful and happy; it will become a stable and continuous feeling because the mind is at the centre of gravity.  What we do during meditation, is to train the mind to stay focused and standstill at one point/one particular thought where it can enjoy the present moment.  When the mind is happy and at peace,  it becomes more creative because it is focused and has no more obstacles of negativity that prevent the mind from thinking clearly. Its positive energy is the power itself which brings it to the highest level of creativity. Hence, a happy and peaceful mind is an empowered mind.

  • An empowered mind empowers

“Our doubts are traitors and make us loose the good we often might win, by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespare

One of the most important characteristics of a happy and empowered mind is positivity. Definitely, a positive mind would be much more optimistic and by being optimistic a person with a positive mind is successful in his enterprises. The clarity and focus of his mind empowers the person with self esteem and self confidence so much that they become more and more successful in business, in school or in any of their other endeavours.

We understand consequently that real success does not follow the pursuit of wealth without happiness but rather a pursuit of success through happiness. Hence, actually the key to success is not from your high studies, your money or whatever external factor but it is in YOU.

Conclusion

Every human being would prefer to be successful in their life. The problem is that many set a wrong target. The real success is Happiness, because a happy mind is an empowered mind and when the mind is empowered, it empowers and leads to an authentically successful life.

 

 

How To Program Your Mind For Success?

Our time and energy in this life is limited. A person can spend a great deal of time worrying and doubting, especially when feeling stuck. This way, one would end up wasting a lot of time, often not realizing that the solution is to channel the willpower, to start with one thing, then slowly build it up. How to make sure that the time we spend here is not wasted? A lot depends on how we program our mind and what we feed our mind with. Here are some techniques to help you.

1) Check your habits

What we feed our mind is what creates the patterns according to which we operate; it determines the life and passion that we experience at each given moment. This leads us to the rate of success and happiness that we enjoy through our life.

In order to take control of this, we need to start by checking our habits. Are they taking us to the path of success and happiness? Let’s remember, that though we are endowed with the awareness to feel the weight of negative patterns, we also have the ability to rise and make our dreams come true by putting a conscious effort into patterns that we are creating. Ask yourself: how can I nourish myself in the next hour, in the next day so that I build the life I want and deserve?

2) Visualize success

Visualisation is a powerful technique that allows to picture and project ourselves where we wish to be to the greatest detail. We can grasp that feeling, use the energy we get from it to make it happen.

Make a conscious choice to give yourself time out. Walk in nature, cherish the moments that give an opportunity to disconnect from everything that is distracting and preventing you to be completely honest with yourself. Create your own rituals to start and end the day. Make time for meditation as often as you can. As you work with your willpower and attention, especially in meditation, you will notice the length of time, attention and concentration varying. As time expands, you will come to a point where you can feel comfortable and enjoy  longer practice sessions which give you the chance to sink in and touch the depths of what visualisation has to offer.

3) Be bold and imagine your own funeral

A bold exercise is to imagine your own funeral. Imagine walking into a room. Inside the room are your friends and family. And as you walk into the room, you see a box. You realise that you are in the box and it’s the day of your funeral. What kind of things do you want people to remember about the life you lived, about the kind of person you were, about the things you did and the way you made them feel when they were around you?

4) Empower your thoughts

You have the power to take control over your thoughts. Use the energy you save here for doing good. Replace the negative thoughts with those that support you. No one can do it for you, you are alone in this. Start to move towards your goal: visualise it, imagine it happening, feel it happening right now. Get clear on what you want to see happening and your life will change. You are worth it! A happy life is not an accident, and you can make it happen.

Whenever you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself or your plans and abilities, replace it with something wholesome.

5) Dig into yourself

Everyone has the opportunity, the right and the obligation to be happy.  What do you love doing? What can you do about it? Where are the people with similar ideas?

We are versions of many possibilities. And definitely more than the sum of our thoughts. Be aware of what the mind is telling you and ask yourself if it helps you become the person you want to be.

Conclusion

Every day is a new chance. You can get your mind to figure out where you want to be, what you need to do to achieve it, why it means something for you and then program your mind to do it. It is often that what you’ve been postponing  to do is the place where to start, the game changer. The one that can break the rut. The one that helps you start the day with fresh energy. You can program your mind for success.

“Owning your story and loving yourself through that process is the bravest thing that you’ll ever do.” (Brené Brown)

  • To learn more about visualising your own funeral see Michael Gerber The E-Myth Revisited
  • Photo credits: Vasilios Muselimis@unsplash

Want a happy life? 5 tips advice from Google’s Chief Evangelist

How do you know that you are alive?

 

 

(Pause)

 

 

 

Perhaps, it’s because you are reading this, you are breathing or you can see what is written here!

Now, most people can tell you this, yet, very few can really make what they call life truly meaningful.

In a recent interview with Peace Revolution, Gopi Kallayil, the Chief Evangelist at Google, touched on the core of living, with his life as an example. Choosing to call himself a happy being, he says everyone who intends to get the most of life ought to integrate certain principles and boundaries into the way they live and experience life.

Consider this…

How do you say yes to things in your calendar? Is it because you have time, or the activity serves your purpose?

The world is quickly moving towards more and more distractions and Gopi shares essential tips on how to focus on what matters most in life.

    1. Do you have a personal spiritual practice?

Spirituality means different things to different people. Whatever the definition you choose, Gopi says spending some amount of time to connect with your inner self and the core of who you are is essential to make sense of the impermanent nature of the world.

2. Do you have a core group of family…?

“When I say family, it’s not just blood family, but a core group of family, friends and people who support you…” explained Gopi. Adding that, spending time with this group of people occasionally is useful to our growth and development.

3. How do you take care of your health?

Health can be physical; as we all know it, yet our emotional balance, and financial wellness are essential aspects of our health too. Having a balanced diet, exercising and learning to keep watch of our emotions are core to our happiness. Similarly, financial wellness routines such as saving, wise investments and having clarity of our needs and wants are all an integral part of what we can all do to start attracting more happiness into our lives today.

4. What is your Professional passion?

It’s now becoming common that we all have a contribution to make the world a better place. The intersection where our passion meets the world becomes our mission. This mission could be our profession when we are paid to offer these services. An example is Gopi’s professional path finding the intersection between technology and business for greater good at Google.

5. Do you have a Personal passions?

On the other hand, some of the things we love do not necessarily attract any pay; we still do them. These become recreational passion that we do to grow and take breaks from the professional life. They also become points of connection to other people who share the same passion as us. It could be travelling around the world, dancing or sports.

It’s now your turn…

Do you have essential aspects of your life? The guiding principles that determine how you spend your time, energy and attention?

You don’t have to crack your brains now, take some time

and make or refine them following Gopi’s advice above and share with us your insights in the comment section below.

 

Watch the full interview replay here:

 

 

How to Make Objective Decisions

How to Make Objective Decisions

We make decisions every day; some are very important, others – less so. They range from what to have for lunch or how to spend your weekend to leaving your job or having a child. It’s surprising then how little attention we pay to one of decision-making’s biggest variables: our own emotions.

Consistency is the key

We may not notice it at the time, but how we feel has a big impact on the decisions we make. So, how do we find a level of personal consistency, where we never look back and cringe at our choices? The key is to develop our powers of objective decision-making.

Like any piece of seemingly simple advice, this is easier said than done. Consistently making non-emotional and rational choices takes a lot of practice and self-reflection. It will be worth it however, as harnessing the power of objective decision-making can have huge positive effects.

Learning to deal with emotions

The first step is recognizing your current emotional state and how this could possibly affect the choice you are about to make. Studies show that stock markets are higher when the sun shines in the morning and that people make irrational decisions when fearful. Emotions are not always the enemy but they can make you do things you might not otherwise do if you were at your general emotional baseline.

Once you are in a mental space where you know if you are angry, fearful or happy there are several positive actions you can take to lessen the impact these emotions have. Our helpful tips will give you the tools you need to keep your emotions in check while you decide what’s going to happen next.

Taking time to follow a process

Finding the right structured process to evaluate a decision or even just taking some time to allow the intensity of an emotion to subside is a move in the right direction. Learning to do these things on a regular basis can free us from the tight grip our emotions hold on our behavior.

We can’t tell you which sandwich to pick or whether or not to dump your partner. We can help you to get into the right frame of mind to make the big decision however. They won’t always be the right ones, but at least you’ll know that you made it to the best of your knowledge at the time!

How to Make Objective Decisions

Source
1 Hirshleifer, D. and Shumway, T. (2003). Good day sunshine: Stock returns and the weather. The Journal of Finance. 58(3).
2 Gigerenzer, G. (2004). Dread risk, September 11, and fatal traffic accidents. Psychological Science. 15(4).
3 Iyengar, S. S. et al. (2003). How much choice is too much?: Contributions to 401(k) retirement plans. Pension Research Council Working Paper.
4 Nickerson, D. (1998). Confirmation bias: A ubiquitous phenomenon in many guises. Review of General Psychology. 2(2).
5 Hansen, K.E. (2013). The bias blind spot and making objective decisions despite it. dataspace.princeton.edu.
6 Madrian, B.C. and Shea, D.F. (2001). The power of suggestion: Inertia in 401 (k) participation and savings behavior. The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 116.
7 Wilson, T.D. and Gilbert, D.T. (2005). Affective forecasting: Knowing what to want. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 14(3).
8 Gross, J.J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology. 39.
9 Forgas, J.P. et al. (1983). The influence of mood on perceptions of social interactions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 20.
10 Begley, S. (2014). The science of making decisions. newsweek.com.
11 Williams, P.M. (2001). Techniques for root cause analysis. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
12 Baron, J. and Brown, R.V. (1991). Teaching decision making to adolescents. New York: Routledge.
13 High School Operations Research. (2006). Multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT). hsor.org.

Integrating Mindfulness meditation into daily life

Meditation is good. Actually great!

Here  are 76 scientifically proven benefits that you may not be aware of; not to mention the ones that you feel when you close your eyes right now and suddenly feel blissful and relaxed!

It does not stop at the cushion or yoga mat in the morning or evenings!

Think of meditation and many people think yoga mats and cushions and a lotus position. What picture does meditation evoke when you meet it the first time? Leave your comments below.

Good news is; there’s more to it than simply sitting down and closing the eyes! The satisfaction and presence found within a lotus position can be created anytime and anywhere. As Jon Kabat Zin proposes, wherever you go, there you are! But how can we make it a routine? Routine projects a kind of boredom and since that’s far from our definition of routine, we shall call it a way of life!

How do I make mindfulness, meditation my way of life?

Good question! Oftentimes, we may get lost in the big words. Trying to comprehend mindfulness and all that meditation is and isn’t. Two things stand out in meditation, the presence that comes with being in the NOW and the choices that emerge from what is happening NOW! The presence, we can call that awareness! The choices, we can call it intention or what I choose to focus on NOW! Simple, right?

Now, we are asking ourselves, how do I become present to what I choose to focus on NOW?

What we all need to understand is that everything good and bad that we aspire to acquire calls for time, attention and energy! And when I say everything, I mean everything! Unless you have a counter opinion, which I would really love to hear in the comment box below…

You claim not to have time?

Do you get distracted? To your phone, Social Media or a chitchat with a friend? For that, you have time, why? Because you have allowed it to happen. How  can we also allow an intentional distraction to bring attention to the present? Here are simple ways to do it:

  1. Set a reminder on your phone or a mindfulness meditation APP  to secure 3-5 minutes breaks to reconnect to the present.

a) How about every 60 minutes?

b) … or based on your concentration span at work, you can set every 20-30 minutes to remember to come back to the present

Whatever works for you is what you choose. You can pick a time-frame and adjust every week or month as you deem fit. A soft tune reminder will do.

2. Ding Dong! Wow! Time travels so fast! I can’t imagine 1 hour is gone!

You set the reminder and… Phew! Now what?

You have a lot of options to choose from based on what you find most appealing, and interestingly, what you connect with. Here are some of them:

a) Paying attention to my body and breath at this moment.

b) Spend some time observing the content of my thoughts and feelings at that moment (What am I thinking right now, How do I feel at this moment? What am I creating at this moment)?

c) Use a meditation object:

i) A personal mantra such as “clear and bright”, love and light” or any other you choose.

ii) A visual object such as the sun, moon or a flower…

d) Reaffirm my intention or a specific quality I am cultivating using the “I am”. An example could be “I am kind, I am Love” I can smile and relax more, acknowledge in gratitude support systems around me among others.

e) Always finish with a smile of gratitude and get back to what needs to be done, with more presence and intention!

Simple as it may seem, nothing will happen unless you take your trigger seriously! You cannot “snooze” the APP or alarm. If you are lacking motivation, or inspiration, which is very important by the way, why not inspire these qualities during your 5 minutes moment of silence? You can reaffirm your motivation too!

In summary, life is complete in itself. The benefits that one gets with bringing more presence and intention to their life are evident at experiential level. No book, blog or article you read will explain it to you any better than you feel it when you try for yourself! But to try, we got to step out of our comfort zones and dare try it NOW! And in case, you lack an inspiration, that too, can form a part of your moments of mindfulness.

It’s the Little Things in Life: Happiness Practices Around the World

Happiness Practices Around the World

Happiness isn’t all about grand ambitions and big achievements, it’s also about the little touches that make daily life a bit nicer.

All over the world, people have found their own ways to brighten up a difficult day without the need to spend money. Our new series of illustrations takes a look at a few that you might like to try for yourself.

Japan: ‘shrinrin-yoku’

Happiness: ‘shrinrin-yoku’ Peace Revolution
Japan: ‘shrinrin-yoku’

It may sound like an ancient rite, but Japanese forest-bathing was first developed as a scientifically verified aid to conventional medicine in the 1980s. Take yourself for a mindful walk through the woods when you feel low and you can rejuvenate mind, body and soul.

Hawaii: ‘Ho‘oponopono’

Happiness: ‘Ho‘oponopono’ Peace Revolution
Hawaii: ‘Ho‘oponopono’

Hawaiians have a good awareness for the idea that anger and resentment hurt the person that feels those emotions more than the one who provoked them. Literally meaning “to make right”, the double use of the word pono – right – indicates that you must make things right with yourself as well as the other person. When you feel your anger swell, sit down with that person and talk openly about your feelings.

Norway: ‘friluftsliv’

Happiness: ‘friluftsliv’ Peace Revolution
Norway: ‘friluftsliv’

Norwegians define themselves by their connection to the natural world and outdoors living. The winter is so dark that they have to roam a little to keep their spirits up, and summer days last so long that there’s always time to visit nature. Putting some time aside each day to walk in the park or really listen to a nearby river can help you find your place in the world.

Germany: ‘gemütlichkeit’

Happiness: ‘gemütlichkeit’ Peace Revolution
Germany: ‘gemütlichkeit’

When you picture a group of Germans sitting around and laughing, that’s gemütlichkeit. Difficult to directly translate, it describes a very special kind of social bonding where being playful and lively can create a sense of belonging. You can create this feeling with your family or friends by treating each meeting as an occasion and always taking an opportunity to dance or sing together.

Spain: ‘siesta’

Happiness: ‘siesta’ Peace Revolution
Spain: ‘siesta’

The famous Spanish afternoon nap has been around for thousands of years and, if it used to be considered a physical necessity, today it is often regarded to be a luxury. Even if you don’t live in a hot climate, a 20-minute nap after lunch can help avoid that energy dip that derails so many good starts.

Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil: ‘mate’

Happiness: ‘mate’ Peace Revolution
Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil: ‘mate’

“Yerba mate raises morale,” wrote the French Society of Hygiene in 1909, “sustains the muscular system, augments strength and allows one to endure privations. In a word, it is a valiant aid.” This miraculous tree leaf tea can be taken alone as part of your morning ritual or sipped from a calabash bowl and passed around with friends.

Turkey: ‘keyif’

Happiness: ‘keyif’ Peace Revolution
Turkey: ‘keyif’

If keyif is a central part of Turkish national culture it is also, in practice, a very personal thing. Keyif means just finding a moment to be by yourself and to quietly live in the moment. You can choose to do so on the beach, on a park bench or in the bath.

Bosnia & Herzegovina: ‘kafa’

Happiness: ‘kafa’ Peace Revolution
Bosnia & Herzegovina: ‘kafa’

The tempo in Bosnia is somewhat slower than elsewhere in Europe, and kafa – the coffee break – is a big part of that. Sitting down with this specially prepared brew means committing to a discussion of world affairs and personal gossip, and forgetting about time for a few moments to concentrate on the flavor of the coffee and on the quality of your company.

Nigeria: ‘ubuntu’

Happiness: ‘ubuntu’ Peace Revolution
Nigeria: ‘ubuntu’

The word ubuntu is taken from the Zulu phrase ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’, which is the idea that a person only exists and thrives through community. If you are open and affirming to your neighbours, you can acknowledge your part in society and strengthen yourself by strengthening others.

Next time you find yourself in need of something extra to brighten up your day, remember these nine things that make people happy around the world.

Source

Shinrin Yoku (2017). Take a walk in the forest. shinrin-yoku.org
James, M. (2011). The Hawaiian Secret of Forgiveness. psychologytoday.com
Gelter, H. (1999). Friluftsliv: The Scandinavian Philosophy of Outdoor Life. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 5, Summer 2000
Whiteoak, J. (2007). Making ‘Gemutlichkeit’: Antecedents of ‘Bavarian-style’ Musical Entertainment. search.informit.com.au
Willis, S. (2017). Siesta. msu.edu
Trigg, R. (2017). The aperitif: All you need to know about France’s ‘evening prayer’. thelocal.fr
Smith, J. (1988). More Than a Drink : Yerba Mate: Argentina’s Cultural Rite. latimes.com
McKirdy, C. (2016). How to Drink Yerba Mate in South America. vice.com
Thomas, O. (2010). Cultural encounters in Istanbul. bbc.com
Sarajevo Times (2016). Drinking of Coffee in BiH: A Ritual that is much more than plain Need for a Drink. sarajevotimes.com
Kimmerle, H. (2012). Ubuntu and Communalism in African Philosophy and Art. rozenbergquarterly.com
Ifejika, N. (2006). What does ubuntu really mean? theguardian.com

Illustrations: NeoMam Studios

You’re Good Enough, And Always Have Been

If you’ve ever struggled or still struggle with loving yourself, know that you are not alone. And more importantly, know that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. In a world full of pressures and expectations, it is easy to feel less than. It is easy to compare ourselves to others or seek perfection when it is not necessary (or healthy).

Learning To Open Up About Your Struggles

I wholeheartedly believe that it is important to be open and honest about your own struggles. Without communicating our struggles, fears, and negative thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to start on the road to a healthy mind. Whether this means talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or even a journal, it helps tremendously to release your emotions.

Let me start by opening up about my own personal struggles with perfection and never feeling good enough.

Throughout high school, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get spectacular grades. While it was fabulous that I wanted to get good grades, my approach was not healthy. Rather than being satisfied with my achievements, I would dwell on the smallest mistakes. If I missed one question on a test, I would see only that mistake, not the achievement. Spectacular was not even enough. In fact, perfection wasn’t even good enough–it was just “all right.”

When my high school years came to an end and I no longer stressed about grades, perfection slithered its way in differently. This time, I became obsessed with weight loss and health, never seeing myself as worthy of happiness if I didn’t achieve a certain weight or maintain a specific diet.

This struggle was with me from a young age; even when I was in middle school, I struggled with my weight and in high school I attempted diets, but ultimately made a lifestyle change. At first, I lost weight healthily but then I began to obsess over it. Weight and calories were always on my mind and thin was not enough–I had to keep losing more and more weight.

The peak of my eating disorder lasted the first semester of my freshman year of college, but the mindset took a long time to fade away. Throughout these struggles, I’ve realized that if you don’t love yourself, happiness is hard to come by.

Taking Care of Yourself, Every Day

After I began focusing more on loving myself, my mindset began to change. I replaced negative thoughts with positive thoughts, bad habits with good ones, and hatred with love. My whole mindset needed to change. It took a lot of time and work, but it paid off, and I work every day to be good to myself.

I want to repeat those last few words: I work every day to be good to myself.

Loving yourself isn’t something that happens over night. It also isn’t something that, once learned, can be thrown under the rug. We are constantly changing, so we need to constantly reevaluate our approach to self-love, and cater our efforts to the needs of the moment.

I want to remind you of a phrase that has helped me tremendously: You are good enough, right in this moment, and always have been.

I think we can easily spend too much time thinking about the person we want to become rather than the person we are right now. If we don’t work on loving ourselves in the moment, how can we expect to love ourselves in the future?

Of course, we can always improve and strive to be better people, but we don’t have to give up our happiness during this journey.

Self-love starts with this very moment.

Without caring for ourselves and communicating our struggles, fears, and negative thoughts, it’s nearly impossible to start on the road to a healthier mind.
If you want to read more by Jerry Ehlers, please visit his website Discovery Overflow.

Plan Your Happiness

Do you think it is possible to plan your happiness? Let’s see.

There are some things we can do to make sure we are as happy as possible. This is mostly about our self development, inner work and attitudes. There are also some things out of our control – such as natural disasters, actions of people around us, and to a certain degree – political and social situation. This is mostly about outer things. If we assume that we cannot change outer circumstances, but we are in charge of our inner harmony and peace, we can start a totally new path.

On our path of self love and self acceptance, we do not concentrate on blame, shame, guilt and judgements anymore. Yes, I was born into this family where I was taught bad habits, yes, I live in a country where everyone is drinking, but I cannot do too about it if I start complaining. Instead, I will become in charge of my actions through my words and thoughts. I will change my habits through changing my behaviours and emotions, and I will be in charge of my own happiness to the degree to which it is possible.

So, how exactly do we plan happiness?

1. Make a powerful intention

If you want a new incredible lifestyle, you will have to do things you have never done before. This may be tough, and your habits and lack of motivation may start dragging you back into your old daily routine.

A possible intention may be:

  •  I will meditate every morning.
  • I will practice yoga every morning.
  • I will do a good deed – something for a person who could not do this to themselves – every day.
  • I will smile to those who frown in the streets.
  • I will hug ten friends daily.

Your intention can be about anything, but make sure you believe in what you do and you know it will make you happier. Once the intention is made, never question it again. At least for a year.

2. Choose your power-word that will support you every day. What is it that you need from life the most at the moment? Here is a list of example power-words, or you may choose your own too.

Live. Focus. Health. Purpose. Compassion. Stability. Kindness. Celebration. Confidence. Peace. Mindfulness. Change. Positive. Grace. Consistency. Commitment. Hope. Trust. Courage. Presence. Patience. Meditation. Believe. Be. Freedom. Healing. Self-love. Extraordinary. Action. Routine. Adventure. Integrity. Positivity. Fearless. Work. Growth. Discipline. Listen. Balance. Intention. School. Original. Magic. Harmony. Dedication. Dream. Giving. Calm. Awaken. Faith. Joyful. Equanimity. Accomplish. Gentleman. Partnership. Effort. Persistence. Communication. Alive. Inspire. Passion. Ritual. Learn. Acceptance. Actualize. Playfulness. Aware. Union. Flow. Respect. Intention. Frugal. Social. Wellbeing. Tend. Risk. Travel. Productivity. Complete. Friends. Control. Strength. Fruition. Congruence. Impact. Determined. Resilience. Explore. Art. Bravery.

3. Make a list of activities that make you happy

For someone it may be skiing, for another – it is writing. Once you have written your list, plan to do at least one of these activities regularly and at least one exciting activity each month.

While writing this article I have drafted my Happiness boost year plan and I share it as an example.

To do regularly: find time for writing every week

To do monthly:

July – ride a water zorb

August – ride a hot air balloon

September – go to a meditation retreat

October – practice yoga every day

November – learn how to make chocolate

December – study a new language

Remember – no matter what you do, even the smallest things – everything you read, hear, see, smell and taste – remain in your subconscious memory. Everything you encounter in your daily life constitutes who you are, and it is good to make such resolutions to empower yourself.

Remember – when you make an intention, may it be strong and full of inner responsibility. It is you in charge of your life, and with your power of choice you can always always make it better.

To Be Happy Here and Now

New shining dress, new job promotion, vacations in Malaysia… Do you often catch yourself thinking that you need to achieve something, become someone or go somewhere to be happy? How about being happy here and now with something that you already have? Is it possible? Join us in the SEE Peace Summit in Tirana, Albania from December 15 to 18, and together with young leaders from all over Europe we will explore tools for self-sustaining happiness and personal development.

Many people are frustrated looking for lasting happiness and thinking that things such as abundance of possessions, co-dependent relationships and the acceptance of others will help them reach their goals. SEE Peace Summit wants to introduce meditation techniques as a new way of positively affecting individuals’ habits and transforming their life, thus refocusing all of our personal priorities from an outward search to an inward quest.

With personal development as one of the thematic areas, the summit will also explore sub-themes such as mindfulness, art and meditation, as well as stress management in order to better understand how to keep a peaceful mind while coping with daily life challenges; how to move towards one’s goals in a peaceful manner, not forgetting the gratitude and happiness for the present moment.

During the SEE Peace Summit, different speakers will be giving workshops to help discover various aspects on personal development. For instance, Vesna Laković, Mindfulness Trainer and Education Coordinator at Familylab Serbia will be leading workshops on how to embrace difficult emotions with mindfulness. Participants will learn to recognize, understand and accept their different emotions, especially the unpleasant ones. Meanwhile, Peace Educator Manuela Puscas will deliver a workshop on how to become aware of our inner conflicts and have practical tools that help in dealing with them.

Apart from trainers and speakers, the SEE Peace summit will feature two Thai Buddhist monks – Venerable John Paramai Dhanissaro and Venerable Pasura Dhantamano – who will not only guide meditation sessions and give lectures, but offer a unique opportunity to have a one-to-one or a group conversation in the Meditation Clinic.

The SEE Peace Summit is organized by the World Peace Initiative Foundation (WPI), an international organization that promotes the culture of peace in the world through a practice of meditation and mindfulness. The summit aims to bring together young people from all over Europe, offering them a space to exchange experiences and create ideas for improving themselves and their communities back home.

Apply for the SEE Peace Summit here.