Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk 

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center’s                                                       “Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk”

Dee Grinch 12:7:18

Advice for Grinches: How to Avoid the Holiday Funk 

By Sara Schairer 

The holidays are here, and they bring with them an abundance of twinkle lights, parties, cookies, and joy. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? 

Yes. For some lucky people. 

Perhaps this line from the Dr. Seuss’ book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is a more accurate depiction of how you feel about Christmas: “Hate, hate, hate. Hate, hate, hate. Double Hate. LOATHE ENTIRELY!”  The Grinch’s comments refer to his feelings for the Whos, and it quite accurately describes his feeling about the holidays. 

Do you have an inner-Grinch who comes out this time of year? 

Despite the festivities, the holidays bring sadness for many. Feelings of grief and loneliness may rise to the surface. For me, this time of year reminds me of the loss I’ve experienced over the years. I miss my deceased father every holiday season, and I feel sadness about my failed marriage. 

Dee:

A bit of sadness surfaces for me as well as our home is no longer filled with excited-for-Christmas children.  But I still hang lights inside and outside the house.  I put up a small  tree for my husband and me.  I hang stockings.  I send out Christmas cards with a short year-in-brief note.  I bake cookies.  

I do this for ME!  It gives my heart joy.  No sadness necessary for wonderful past memories.  I must stay in the moment and be grateful for them and this moment present in front of my nose.  I lack for nothing.  I am grateful.  I am humble.

But you don’t have to stay stuck in sadness during the holiday sadness. Here are some simple tips to help you stay less Grinch-y and more positive this holiday season. 

1. Self-Compassion 

Self-compassion meditations and simple practices can help you gracefully navigate sadness and grief. By remembering the three main pillars of self-compassion (mindfulness, common humanity, self-kindness), you can stay attuned to your suffering with more grace and ease. 

Dee:

For me self-compassion and meditations both bring me back to this present moment.  In this present moment I don’t have to pick up a drink or drug.  That wasn’t always the case.  I would be hanging up Christmas lights in a snow storm on a metal ladder.  Year after year.  Stupid.  Drunk.  I would bake cookies, wrap gifts and decorate the inside of the house to all hours of the night.  Year after year.  Drunk.  High.  I would black out and then pass out while opening gifts.  Sick.  Sad.

No more.  Today I have a choice to not pick up a drink or a drug.  For that and Alcoholics Anonymous I am truly grateful and truly humble.  I can practice self-compassion and love myself for who and what I am…today…one day at a time.

2. Gratitude 

Research indicates that a daily or weekly gratitude practice enhances overall well-being, and a simple gratitude practice can take just five minutes or less of your time each day. 

At the end of the day, write down three things for which you are grateful. Instead of the normal responses like my health and family, ratchet up the practice by looking back on your day and picking out specific highlights. For example, you could write, “I am grateful for the lunch and laughs I shared with my co-workers. We ate outside and enjoyed the crisp air and sunshine.” 

Dee:

I start my day and end my day in bed, duh.  Before getting out of bed to face the day I turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God, a God of My Own Understanding to whom I was introduced working the 12 Steps of AA.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am not promoting AA.  I am promoting YOU and your well-being.  There are many support groups in your neck of the woods that can help walk you through whatever ails you.  AA was introduced to me in rehab and they loved me until I could love myself.  Find your tribe!

Before falling asleep I again deeply connect with my Higher Power so thankful for his driving me around throughout the day while I enjoyed the passenger seat.  I got to meet new people, experience new adventures, all without having to be in control or affect the outcome.  Everything turned out perfectly!

3. Cultivate Joy 

The human brain focuses on the negative, which means you need to intentionally cultivate more positivity in your life. It’s referred to as the brain’s negativity bias and research suggests that you need a three-to-one ratio of positive feelings to negative feelings in order to flourish. 

Dee:

It seems like the older I get the harder it is to muster up any energy.  So when I do scoop up a pile or two of energy, I choose to use it in a positive way.  I remember how exhausting it was to live a life in active alcoholism, having to drink everyday, but more exhausting was the guilt, shame, hiding, lying and cheating.  That negative shit took all the energy I had and I had nothing left for me, let alone joy.

One way to add more positivity is through self-affirmation. Take time each day to think of things you appreciate about yourself. A gratitude practice also infuses your day with positivity. 

Dee:

One thing we did in rehab was to make up an affirmation and recite it to the group every morning for 28 days.  I chose, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole.  I was a piece of shit wasting space on the planet with no purpose.

But reciting this affirmation has helped me tremendously to get back in the moment, to remember where I am today and how I got here.  As I peeled the layers of the onion skin off of myself I realized that I do, indeed, have a purpose.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my Dee Bubble.  Those who are going through tough times, whether from addictions, abuses, or just too much on their plates.

Today I am able to use my tough times to help me stay grounded, grateful and humble.  I needed those tough times to bring me to this calmness and lightness in my life.  So I share with you that you are not alone on your journey.  And that everything is perfect right now.  Just go in faith and not fear.  Live from your heart and not your head.

4. Minimize Social Media Consumption 

If you’re regularly (obsessively?) checking your Facebook and Instagram feeds, try to bring awareness to how you’re feeling. Do you notice sadness, uneasiness, or any tightness? Your mind might be comparing your life to the lives you see online. Since most people only highlight their best moments on social media, you are most likely not getting the full picture of someone’s life. Comparing your normal, flawed life to one that appears to be perfect is a recipe for sadness. 

Try putting your phone down more often and staying off of social media. Notice if any of your feelings shift. 

Dee:

I use social media mostly to promote my business.  But getting on Facebook or Instagram draws me in to life outside my Bubble.  I experience everyone’s journeys and get to be a part of.  I get joy from these long-distance interactions.

I no longer need to compare my journey with yours as I know now that we are all alike with both good times and hard times.  I finally feel good enough in my own skin that I don’t need to impress you.  I have my own gifts as you have yours.  And sharing our gifts with one another makes the world a better place.

5. Find a Holiday Accountability Buddy 

Do you know someone else who has experienced loss or has a tough time during the holidays? If so, reach out to that person and see if you can lean on each other every day. Send this person a quick text once a day to check in, and he or she can do the same for you. 

You might want to use this accountability as a way to start or enhance your daily gratitude practice. 

Dee:

In AA it was suggested I get a sponsor, someone I trust, with whom I can share my journey and who could walk me through the 12 Steps of AA.  So I did and she has helped me to grow in ways far beyond my wildest dreams.  She is my accountability buddy, not just during the holidays, but everyday!

And when she is unavailable I have the fellowship of AA to nurture, protect and teach me.  I am never alone, nor are YOU!  Find like-minded people for your tribe to help you through the holidays and to enrich your life.

6. Take Deep Breaths 

If a formal meditation practice isn’t your style, you can experiment with a brief breathing practice to help you bring awareness to the moment and calm yourself. Research shows that by taking a big, slow, deep inhale, and then exhaling slowly, you can calm your body’s response to stress. 

Dee:

We all experience holding our breath in that fight or flight situation.  But why am I not taking deep breaths in calm situations?  If you’re like me it takes getting back in the moment, knowing we are being cared for and protected, getting out of self that brings by breathing back into a healthy rhythm.  It takes practice but I hope someday to breathe deeply naturally.

7. Practice Generosity 

While it is said that, “it is better to give than to receive,” you might not feel this around the holidays. The added expenses, packed stores, and overall stress that comes with holiday gift-giving might make you feel like giving is not the best way to get out of your Grinch-y attitude. 

True, heartfelt generosity doesn’t equate to stress, however. You can be generous with your time, your hugs, your smile, and your listening ear. If you do have extra funds, you can support nonprofits who might rely on end-of- year giving to support their work. 

Dee:

I learned early on in my recovery that unless I give it back, I won’t keep it.  And I found that to be true when I got complacent in my sobriety, stopped going to meetings, stopped AA altogether and found my defects of character, my old sick way of being and doing and thinking come back…one day at a time.  And then I drank.

I cannot afford to let down my guard.  My disease of alcoholism deserves the respect I give to the ocean.  I am careful.  I don’t turn my back on it.  I must take nothing for granted.

So I give back.  This time of year especially and year-round as well I give my Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration to local fundraisers, especially to AA.  I give a portion of my earnings all year-round to our local AA, which gets doled out to the district, the area, and the world.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep it.  Today my life is good.  I want to keep it that way!

8. Volunteer 

Speaking of nonprofits, many of them can use an extra hand during the holidays. The need for many services may increases during the winter months. Find a nonprofit in your community that needs help and spend some time serving your community. 

Because of your compassionate feelings, you just might feel a boost. 

Dee:

One volunteer commitment that is sure to give me that boost is speaking once or twice a month at our local DUI classes.  I do this not as community service but as a service to my community.  My hope is that one person will leave the class feeling hopeful and optimistic by hearing my experience, strength and hope.  Hopefully, I can change a life for the better.

And with the holidays just around the corner, what a hard time to try to get and stay clean and sober.  So I’ve volunteered to lead one of the 24-Hour Alkathons that the newcomer or person struggling can attend non-stop from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.

These volunteer commitments get me out of self.  They help to remind me where I’ve come from and how good it is today.  They help me to not drink one day at a time and to give back what was so freely given me when I needed it most – compassion.

Thank you for being here and I hope I was able to offer you some hope and optimism.  Wishing you the happiest of holidays and, if you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone.  Help is just a phone call away.

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those looking for Gifts with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Try out some of these techniques and send your inner Grinch into hibernation this winter. 

Learn a natural, effortless style of meditation that helps invite renewal and freshness into every day with Basics of Meditation, a self-paced online course guided by Deepak Chopra.

About the Author 

Sara Schairer (/bios/sara-schairer) 

Sara Schairer is the founder and executive director of COMPASSION IT (http://compassionit.com/), a start-up nonprofit organization and global social movement whose mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions and attitudes. She created the one-of-a-kind reversible COMPASSION IT wristband (http://compassionit.com/wristbands/) prompting compassionate actions on six continents, 48 countries, and all 50 states. Wristband sales fund compassion education programs for youth, teens, and adults. As a public speaker, Sara encourages her audiences to “compassion it” in their daily lives. A Stanford-certified instructor of Compassion Cultivation… Read more (/bios/sara-schairer) 

The Chopra Center

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Moving from Surviving to Thriving

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, 

“Moving from Surviving to Thriving” 

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Moving from Surviving to Thriving

“There is a force within that gives you life. Seek that.” — Rumi

Today we want to investigate what it takes to move our life from merely surviving to thriving. Too often we are preoccupied with simply trying to meet our daily needs. In survival mode, life energy may feel fragmented and depleted and our mind full of fear and frustration. But we are designed to thrive in life. To do that we only need to consciously live in the present moment. This open, creative, and purposeful state of awareness is our true self. When we live this wholeness of consciousness, we are thriving, and every thought and action is fulfilling.

Deepak:

If you paused and looked at your life today, are you thriving or just surviving?  To survive means that you’re meeting the necessities of life, such as food and shelter.  Surviving would also mean that those needs are met but you go about your daily experience without paying attention.  You wake up at the same time, put on the same clothes, drive to work or school the same way, eat the same comfortable food for lunch, follow the same evening routine as usual, and complete your day only to rise again and start all over.

Dee:

Why is it that I awaken every morning with a sense of excitement that the day ahead of me holds?  I awaken with a sense of gratitude and peace that all will be just perfect, no matter what happens.

Because today I have a Power Greater Than Myself in my life, a Higher Power of My Own Understanding, that I was able to make up in my mind and from my heart.  I learned to do this in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous when I entered in a state of disrepair, a loser, a waste of space on the planet.

I have learned to use the teachings, the suggestions, that AA has offered me to live a better, more meaningful life today.  And today I wake up knowing that my Higher Power, the driver of my car, my life, will take me to the experiences and people I need to meet, and learn from, and grow from, as I, as the passenger, just enjoy the ride.

And then I go to bed at night, again, with a sense of gratitude for today’s growth.

Deepak:

To thrive means that you’re free to explore and expand.  Seeing life as a field of opportunity rather than a fragile balance between making it and not making it.  This doesn’t mean you have to throw off all responsibilities or invite unnecessary chaos and disruption to experience something different.

Today we’ll discover what it means to thrive.  If wholeness is the field of pure consciousness, then each of us is designed to thrive.  The secret is to make choices that expand your awareness instead of choices that contract it.

Dee:

I remember being in a 28-day treatment program for alcoholism.  One of our group’s daily routines was to express an affirmation each of us came up with for our lives to share with the group.  An affirmation is emotional support or encouragement and in this group we used words.

So here Deepak speaks of wholeness which is why I bring this up.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person.”  At that time in my life I felt anything but good nor whole.  I felt a sense of purposelessness.  I had nothing for which to thrive and nothing to give.  Yet I was a mom of two beautiful sons, I had a wonderful husband, a good joy, a college degree, a house, two cars in the garage, and even a dog.  So why this sense of being not good and not whole?

Because I could not go a day without drinking and that drinking took me to dark places.  I was void and empty inside.  I was bewildered, puzzled at what the hell was wrong with me that the next drink was more important to all the gifts I had been given in my life.

Many years later, many years of sobriety and working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, many years of rigorous honesty, has led me to a spiritual place today.  I still repeat my affirmation.  And in my very core I can now feel that I AM a good person, I AM a whole person.  I am grateful for the journey that has led me to who I am today.

Deepak:

The opposite of wholeness is separation which comes down to living your life in a fragmented way.  We all do this.  We choose the people we want to be with and avoid or ignore others.  We are grateful for moments of fleeting joy and seek distractions to escape our everyday routine.  But no one is really satisfied living with bits and pieces of fulfillment.  We want to thrive and yet this desire cannot be fulfilled as long as the mind is restless and dissatisfied.

The source of wholeness and separation is the same.  In wholeness your consciousness is ever-expanding to find new ways to be fulfilled.  When you see your life as separate from others, your mind is attuned to limitations, such as failure, fear and frustration, so you grasp on to shreds of fulfillment, grateful for what you can get.

Dee:

Working the 12 Steps has opened new doors for me, has turned on the light bulb, has brought me to the realization that because I did not have a sense of self-worth or self-respect, and definitely no self-love, I lived in fear.  

So when I was “on stage” with you I ACTED the role that my life was awesomeness.  I wanted, I needed, your approval.  I went out of my way, put my family and myself last, to win your approval.  All out of fear.

Today I love myself for who and what I am.  More importantly, I understand who and what I am.  And I can put myself, my well-being, my recovery and spirituality first.  The rest falls into place.

Deepak:

Most people seek to improve their lives externally and what they value are tokens of fulfillment, like high income, a big house, a successful career.  But you can achieve all of those things and still feel unfulfilled because the restless, fragmented mind can never be satisfied.

Think of the stereotypes you see in the movies and on TV.  The midlife crisis man who leaves his wife for a younger model.  The rich kid who has it all but hold secret pain and yearns for a way out.  The unappreciated mother who finally sheds her burdens and lives the adventurous, carefree life she denied herself for years.

There is a reason these cliches are repeated time and again.  They are normalized feelings of discontent that most people can in some way identify with.  To get past this the secret is to let your awareness rest in its natural state of expansive receptivity.

Dee:

For me to let my awareness rest is to be in the moment, that place right in front of my nose.  There I can turn everything over to my Higher Power, the Universe, Mother Nature, God, whatever you want to call it.  Find what works for you because you know it wasn’t by your doing that this is all here.

Being in the moment reminds me that everything is perfect, right here, right now.  That my God has my back and is control.  There are no coincidences.  There are no reasons to regret the past nor worry about the future.  I shall be protected, loved and nurtured if I just have faith, turn off my thinking and go with my heart.

Deepak:

In any situation you’re either expanding or contracting in your conscious response.  When you’re consciously abiding in awareness you are in the present moment and your consciousness is expansive, creative and energized.  Your body-mind responds to each situation from a place of balance, harmony, and ease.

On the other hand when your mind is contracted and fearful you simply react impulsively.  This is a mind that responds with an automatic reflex of contracting.  Contracting is easy to identify.  You feel tense, uncomfortable, tired, perhaps even anxious.  You want the situation that challenges you to simply go away or resolve itself while you back out.  

Even if you don’t freeze up you react the way you have always reacted in the past.  The reactive mind is based on a primal belief that life is uncertain and threatening.  Therefore your stance must be one of closed off self-defense.

Dee:

With my toolbox for living that AA has given me in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, I find myself no longer having to react.  I am much calmer.  I can step back from drama and chaos and assess the whole situation.  

Spirituality has taught me to breathe and accept, even embrace, these situations.  What can I learn?  How can I grow?  What can I share?

Deepak:

The opposite of the reactive mind is the resilient mind.  This is the state of openness, acceptance and trust.  A resilient mind embraces new situations as creative opportunities.  

People who are open and accepting have a foundation for personal evolution.  They discover new resources in themselves every time they confront a new challenge.  In fact some psychologists studying those people who grow older while remaining young inside believe that the best thing you can do to remain young is to take on difficult challenges at any age.

Once you create the inner state of expanding awareness it’s only natural to radiate that energy all around you.  Then you have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive by following your example.

Dee:

Today I feel I have a purpose in my life that I did not have when I was in my active disease of alcoholism.  Today I “get to” share my experience, strength and hope with all those who enter my Dee Bubble and I find that I do, indeed, have the effect of making other people feel that they can thrive.  For that I forever grateful.  And I remain forever humble.

With warmest aloha,

   Dee Harris

For those interested in another way I share my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Deepak:

We all know the difference between friends and family who feel contracted, judgmental, and unhappy, and others who feel open, loving, and welcoming.  The second group are influences of expansion.  Their energy feels different.  They’ve found the secret for how to thrive and not merely survive.

In our meditation we go to the source of pure consciousness which is infinitely expanded.  From there we follow our own path to fulfillment for ourselves and everyone we influence.

 

Bringing Fulfillment Closer

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, 

“Bringing Fulfillment Closer”.

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Bringing Fulfillment Closer

Deepak:

Your life’s purpose is about finding fulfillment which is where your energy should be directed.  When you feel fulfilled psychologists would say you are thriving.  But even in the most developed prosperous societies only about one-third of people are thriving.

The reasons for this are centered on stress, inner states like depression and anxiety, feeling insecure, worrying about the future, and so on.  The challenge is to improve the condition of your mental and psychological energy because that’s how you can improve your inner quality of your life.

Fulfillment is a daily goal and a life-long goal at the same time.  In the field of positive psychology it’s been found that the happiest lives are constructed from happy days.  How do we achieve this in the face of life’s difficulties and wounds lingering from the past?

The first issue is one of healing.  Whether it’s a physical trauma, emotional, mental or spiritual, everyone has had some sort of experience that could benefit from healing attention.  No one is free from the need to heal and becoming your own healer is always available to you.

All positive experiences have the potential to heal.  From the concept of “laughter is the best medicine” to meditation and other inner practices.  By design the body-mind possesses the natural ability to return to a healthy balanced state.  This implies that we need to get out of the way and let the healing response do its work.

Dee:

For me, my life’s difficulties and wounds that lingered from the past was my addiction to alcohol.  How do I heal from my alcoholism?  How can I call my alcoholism a “positive” experience?

Well today I can my my disease a positive experience.  I can call myself a grateful alcoholic.  For had I not been able to experience the negativity that goes along with any addiction like the lying, cheating, stealing, hiding, selling your soul and much more to get that next high which you cannot go one day without, I would not have experienced the positive I have today in my life in recovery.

And as far as the concept of “laughter is the best medicine”, if you’ve ever been in an AA meeting and heard the laughter from someone’s horrific alcoholic “war story”, you will realize that this laughter is healing.  We learn to love ourselves for who and what we are.  We learn to accept ourselves and realize that we are, indeed, gifts on this planet.  We can share our experience, strength and hope with others who enter our bubbles and who are experiencing life difficulties of their own.

This laughter, this meeting, this fellowship, this “getting out of the way” is all foreign to a newcomer in Alcoholics Anonymous or any of the other fantastic support groups available to us.  These fellowships provide a toolbox for healing, and living, in their 12 Steps.  

We find like-minded people who show us that our problems are not unique.  We no longer have to live in guilt and shame.  We get comfortable enough to share our stories, our lives, our deepest secrets, with one we trust, who holds our confidence, and expects nothing in return but our well-being.

We are introduced to an idea of creating a “God of Our Own Understanding”, a “Power Greater Than Ourselves”, to whom we can eventually turn our will and our lives over to.  It all sounded pretty suspicious and puzzling to me, too, but what did I have to lose?  I already loathed myself, couldn’t go a day without drinking, and felt I was a waste of space on the planet.

So when we “get out of the way and let the healing response do its work”, we turn our difficulties and wounds over to our new God (which, by the way, could be a rock, or a doorknob, or the fellowship or anything your little heart conjures up).  We learn that living from our minds and egos no longer serve us and we start living from our hearts.  We learn to trust and have faith that everything is perfect at this moment, and has been all along; we just didn’t know it.

Deepak:

Good sleep and reduced stress are two major ways to let the healing response work as it was intended to.  However, the healing most people need centers on meaning and purpose.  Water brings life to a garden when you direct it at each plant.  But water sprayed aimlessly in the air has no purpose and, therefore, brings little benefit.

The same is true of scattered aimless energy in you life.  We don’t need to do much to give our energy a direction.  All you need is a simple heart-felt intention to be open and aware.  That means you meet the present moment ready to be of the greatest service to those around you.  The boundless power and intelligence of creation will do the rest.  

When you are awake to the present moment, you will be guided to give love and receive love as well.  You will find ways to be of service to others and to make contributions that lead to a sense of accomplishment.  This gentle intention has tremendous power because your intention naturally increases and supports those positive experiences.

In my active addiction I didn’t have good sleep.  It seems like forever and a day I drank myself into a pass-out state and when I awoke, I came to.  My life was full of stress.  I worried more about what you thought of me than about what I thought of me.  Remember, I loathed and actually hated myself.  

I lived in fear of my appearances and behaviors.  I couldn’t trust myself when I drank.  So I became a closet drinker.  But the disease many times took me out in the real world where I met you, but don’t remember you, because I was in a black-out.

In my active addiction I had no religion nor spirituality.  I just had me and my brain and neither could stop me from drinking everyday.  I definitely had no purpose and oftentimes wondered why I was here.

Today I am so grateful I didn’t come to on that day when I missed my shift at work.  I am so grateful of the guilt and shame of what I thought I allowed myself become.  I am so grateful of not knowing if I had called work because I was in a black-out.  I am so grateful of the humiliation I felt not being able to ask my family what I had done, what I had said, who, if anyone, I had spoken to.

Wow, I don’t have to live that way today.  Today I have a choice of whether or not I want to put a drink in me.  I didn’t have that choice before.  And today, just for today, I choose this life in recovery where I have fulfillment, I have purpose, and I have a love for myself that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Thank you for being here with me today.  My hope is that one person who reads this gets a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.  My hope is that one person realizes he is not alone and can ask for help.  My hope is that one person can shed the guilt and shame and learn to love himself for who and what he is…a unique gift that no one else on this planet is!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Youthful Energy Is Dynamic and Resilient

Dee:  This blog was inspired by the Chopra Center Meditation, “Youthful Energy is Dynamic and Resilient”.

Youthful Energy Is Dynamic and Resilient

“The most important energy is human spiritual energy, the energy of the mind, the energy that exists within us.” — Yoko Ono

Deepak:

When your energy is fresh, renewed, and joyful, there will always be enough for anything you want to do.  This is a holistic view of energy that goes far beyond the physical energy you get from food and exercise.  You also need emotional and mental energy for your mind.  We know that the body and mind are so deeply interrelated that it makes more sense to call it “the body-mind”. 

Your body at birth was a miracle of energy being used perfectly.  A newborn appears to sleep most of the time but there is enormous activity inside.  In fact, up to 70% of a newborn’s energy is being used to grow the brain.  Now as an adult you aren’t the same as a baby in one crucial way.  You must organize your energy yourself. 

This is a basic map for a holistic view of energy.  The entire body-mind is involved.  If you were asked the best way to increase your energy at every level, you might reply that you’d eat better, not skip breakfast, go to the gym more often, and so on.  You’d be focusing on physical energy.

But in reality the people who enjoy the best energy have a secret.  They are dynamically resilient.  They possess the flexibility to handle anything life brings to them…physically, mentally and emotionally…and after a situation is handled they bounce back quickly.

Dee:

Bouncing back quickly doesn’t come easily once we’ve reached adulthood.  Whilst growing up we’ve been bombarded by experiences, propaganda, media and people who assured us that more is better, stab whoever you need to in order to achieve these goals, look young and beautiful, and the more power, the better.

Wait a minute.  This doesn’t serve us.  This doesn’t nurture us.  This doesn’t allow us to be and do our best and be okay with who we are.  Oh great.  Now we have to unlearn all this.  No!  We get to unlearn all this because we know in our hearts that this way of thinking doesn’t serve us.  It destroys us and everyone around us.  Just look at our world today.  Sad, huh?

The way I was able to unlearn all this bullshit was in a roundabout way.  I didn’t plan it.  I didn’t know it would bring me to this place where I am today.  But I’m an alcoholic.  I didn’t know that either.  I found I couldn’t go a day without drinking, no matter how hard and how many ways I tried, I was baffled.  I hated myself.  I had no purpose.  I would look in the mirror with my hand forming an “L” and called myself a loser.  Pretty shitty, huh?

Well one day instead of coming to when my kids came home from school, I continued on in my pass-out state.  I missed my shift at work.  I was humiliated, guilt-ridden and full of shame.  How was I going to lie myself out of this one?

I had no more energy.  I was exhausted.  Exhausted of years of hiding, lying and cheating in order to drink everyday.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  So I called my boss at work and told her my honest to God truth (didn’t actually have a God at that time, that I knew of).  She helped me get into rehab and that’s where my life as it is today began.

My life today is one of gratitude and humility.  Today I get to make choices.  Today I choose to not have a drink.  I didn’t have that choice before getting sober and learning about the disease of alcoholism.

Today I have a purpose…to share my experience, strength and hope with anyone who enters my Dee Bubble.  I get to be rigorously honest without shame or guilt.  I can finally love myself for who and what I am!

I can be dynamically resilient because today I have a Higher Power of My Own Understanding who I honestly and faithfully know has my back.  I can get back into my ego and selfishness, my fear-based self.  But I don’t.  I don’t want to be that person anymore.  I don’t want to lie and be exhausted anymore.

So my resiliency comes from letting my Higher Power do the driving and knowing that everything is perfect at this moment.  When shit happens, it’s for a reason.  To help me.  Go figure.  I am to use each and every experience as a tool for learning, and growing, and being a better human being.  So I bounce back and remember that my glass is half-full.  I’m just along for the ride and the ride is like being on a magic carpet!

Deepak:

Dynamic resilience is biological at one level.  For example our tissues heal from a sprained ankle or we recover from a cold virus through the dynamic nature of the healing response.  But resilience as a holistic quality means that you rebound mentally and psychologically too.  If you want to be a powerful person, be resilient.  That’s far more important than toughness or assertiveness.

Your body-mind was designed to bounce back with dynamic energy.  The key isn’t just eating a balanced whole-foods diet and getting regular physical activity.  You need to boost the quality of your energy which involves getting good sleep and reducing stress.  

These are the two lifestyle factors that many people neglect.  Not realizing that lack of sleep and daily stress are the biggest energy drainers in modern life.  They also diminish the quality of our energy making us groggy, depressed and lacking enthusiasm.  

Fortunately stress and sleep issues are factors we can control through our lifestyle choices.  Once you begin to actively attend to sleep and stress you build a platform for improving the quality of your energy.  This happens by making positive choices everyday and minimizing negative choices.  Whether it has to do with family, work, your primary relationship or how you relate to yourself.

Dee:

So use your Higher Power.  If you don’t have one, make one up or use mine.  Have faith that something greater than yourself created the earth, this universe, this galaxy, and it wasn’t you.  Remember that you have no control over people, places and things, you can just make choices.  Just do your best and love yourself for that.

Hey, we’re all in this together.  Each and everyone of us has “issues”.  We are not alone.  There is a wealth of support out there for you when you get sick and tired of being exhausted from the lying, cheating and hiding.  You are only lying, cheating and hiding from yourself.

You’re going to be okay.  You ARE okay.  You’re YOU! with all your glory.  So love yourself for the gift that you ARE!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Smiling Is Powerful Medicine: Research on How Smiling Can  Improve Your Health, and Relationships 

Smiling Is Powerful Medicine: Research on How Smiling Can  Improve Your Health, and Relationships 

By Karson McGinley

No matter where you find yourself on this planet or what language you speak, you’ll know a smile when you see one. While cross-cultural studies reveal slightly different meanings ascribed to smiling, they appear throughout the lifespan of all human (and some non-human) beings. Scientists have identified three different kinds of authentic smiles as well as identified the traits of a fake one.

What can all the research on smiling do for you? More than you might think. Psychological researchers have found many benefits to the act of smiling that include improved relationships, improved mental health, and even increased lifespan! Keep reading to learn more about some recent findings on smiling than can take your life from good to great with a simple curve of the mouth.

Dee:

I have always valued my smile.  I have been blessed with a “good” smile, but I haven’t been blessed with strong bones that hold my teeth in my mouth that make a “good” smile.  The photo above is a mosaic frame I gave to my prosthodontist of with a photo of us.  This wonderful man helped me get my smile back when my teeth and implants were falling out of my mouth, due to deteriorating bone.

Smiling Is Good for Your Health 

You likely tend to think of a smile as a result of positive emotions or stimuli, but it turns out that your smile can actually affect your stress levels and productivity, too. When scientists asked participants to engage in a challenging task, they found that the smiling folk had lower stress levels and heart rates than the non-smiling group. Some people were asked to hold chopsticks horizontally in their mouths to simulate the shape of a smile, and even those people saw the positive effects of the smile on their faces.

Dee:

I’ve heard that looking in a mirror and smiling while talking on the phone (especially at work) can make a world of difference on how that conversation plays out.  If you smile during that conversation I bet the end results will turn out greatly more positive than if you frowned or had no smile.  I bet your stress level and productivity will be more healthy by your smile, as well!

Smiling also releases endorphins, which improves your mood, helps you to relax, and lowers your blood pressure. And because smiling is contagious, the benefits of your smile extend beyond your own body to the people you engage with.

Smiling May Help You Live Longer 

So if smiling can contribute to less overall stress, and lower stress levels prolong lifespan, then smiling prolongs lifespan, right? Right! A compelling study at Wayne State University studied photos to classify the smiles of 230 baseball players. They found that the players with partial smiles lived on average two years longer than players who didn’t smile at all; those who had the biggest smiles lived roughly seven years longer than then non-smiling ones.

While it might be frightening to think about your school-age yearbook photos having any indication of the span of your life, it may be time to turn that frown upside down to make up for lost time.

Dee:

My granny lived just shy of her hundredth birthday.  She was always smiling.  I never heard her say anything negative or anything bad about anyone or anything.  Her mindset led her to a long and happy life.

I try to live my life like that today, being optimistic and hopeful, joyful and content.  Even though life throws curveballs at us each and everyday, can we not take the time to remember just three things for which we are grateful?  Can we not know that at this very moment everything is perfect and just as it is meant to be?  What are we going to do with this moment?  Be at peace or shit on it?  I choose to be at peace.

Smiling Improves Your Relationships 

Looking for a date or a mate? People find you more attractive (and thinner) when you smile. Studies show that different areas of the brain light up when looking at pictures of people who are smiling versus not smiling. People who are smiling to any degree are generally labeled more attractive (and women are considered more trustworthy than those with neutral expressions. The next time you are in a social situation and want someone to talk to you try smiling and see what happens.

Dee:

I remember an old beau telling me how much more beautiful I am when I smile.  Agreed.  When looking at photos of myself without my smile, “Yuck!”  Scary!”  “Ugly!”

As I practice daily smiling and centering on a life deserving of smiling, staying in humility and gratitude, my photos sure are more pleasing.

Smiling Improves Effectiveness in the Workplace 

The benefits of smiling extend beyond interpersonal relationships to the work environment. Smiling at your coworkers creates moments of connection that lead to greater productivity and teamwork. People in the service industry prove to have a more positive effect on customers when they smile. And people in leadership positions tend to favor their employees who smile more regularly. However, be careful, as some studies have shown that smiling too much can prevent you from being hired, as it can make your potential employer find you to be less serious or competent. One article suggests that smiling only at the beginning and end of an interview is enough to show that you are friendly, but not so friendly that you would be taken advantage of or manipulated.

Dee:

I remember my boss and customers always ribbing me for smiling all the time.  I would just reply, “Sure beats the alternative”.  Why not smile?  All we have is this moment in front of our noses and it’s good, yeah?  It brings me into gratitude.  I sure like living realizing my glass is half-full, and not half-empty.

Smiling Improves Your Mood 

Yes, you smile when you’re in a good mood, but smiling can also put you in a good mood. When participants were injected with botulinum toxin (a neuromuscular blocker) that would paralyze the frowning muscles in their faces, their moods improved and their depressive symptoms decreased. This finding suggests that the facial expressions involved in a true smile are part of a feedback loop that affects your emotions. People who frown during unpleasant procedures report more pain than those who make neutral or relaxed faces, inferring that the feedback loop works both ways.

Dee:

I’m being reminded of the countless hours I’ve spent in the dentist chair.  Not always pleasant.  But when I remember to breathe, that everything is perfect at this moment, that the end result is worth this discomfort, I can release my tension back into the clouds.  It does not serve me.  Being stress free and in the moment helps tremendously to get back into gratitude and serenity.

Also, I try not to expend what little energy I have on thoughts and feelings that do not serve my well-being.  I spent so many wasted hours on researching why I had bone-loss.  I could have been using that energy for something more positive.  I did, however, later find out by my periodontist the simple reason for bone-loss in my mouth while the rest of my bones were strong and healthy.  None of that research nor delving into my past of “could have’s, would have’s, should have’s” made any difference of where I am now.  I shall expend my energy in a positive direction moving forward, not backward.

What Constitutes a Real Smile? 

The botulinum toxin studies also point to the importance of the eyes and forehead when smiling authentically.

The Duchenne (or genuine) smile involves not just the muscles around the mouth, but also the ones that cause the cheeks to raise and the eyes to crescent. People who smile just with their mouths (think of the “say cheese” smile when taking a photo) don’t experience the same rewards as those who are smiling with their entire face; they do experience some of the benefits, just to a lesser degree.

People who tend more easily toward Duchenne smiles self-report better life satisfaction and marriages, however, so it may be worth learning how to smile with more of your face in the long run.

Dee:

Just be who you are…perfect at this very moment.  It will show up in your smile if you are comfortable in your own skin and love yourself.  And you should feel good about yourself.  You’re doing and being the best you can…right now.  You have gifts that no one else on this planet has.  Cherish them.  Share them.  Not only will your self-love and self-worth show up in your smile, it will emanate from every fiber of your being, felt by everyone around you, and the trickle-down effect is magical! 

Practice Makes Perfect 

Practice makes perfect—especially for men. Researcher Marianne LaFrance says that women smile more than men (mostly because they’re better at social intelligence and judging what is going on with other people). But far and away, children win the smiling contest. One article reports that children smile, on average, 400 times a day, whereas the happiest adults only smile 40-50 times a day.

If that doesn’t give you a kick in the pants, consider it this way: speaker and entrepreneur Ron Gutman says in his popular Ted Talk on the hidden power of smiling, that smiling is like a superpower. But unlike the power to fly or to become invisible, this one can be learned, practiced diligently, and improved upon.

So watch a funny movie, play more with your kids, and practice calling to mind someone who really lights you up when you’re posing for a picture. The smile on your face could literally make you happier, healthier, more effective, more attractive, and live a longer life. Doesn’t the thought of that make you smile?

Dee:

Just like any- and everything in our lives that we want to change, practice makes perfect.  The seed has been planted.  It’s up to us how badly we want to change.  See the glass half-full and not half-empty, living a positive and optimistic life, living in peace and contentment; they all come from baby steps.  Keep at it.  You will get results beyond your wildest dreams!

With warmest aloha,

Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center’s Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author 

Karson McGinley, Yoga Teacher, Life Coach, and Joy Seeker

Karson McGinley is the founder of Happy-U ( H olistic A pproach to P ositive P sychology & Y oga) and the co- owner (along with her husband) of Happy-U Namasté Yoga Center (http://happyunamaste.com/) in San Diego, CA. A teacher for over a decade, Karson works to bridge the gap between the ancient wisdom of yoga and the modern science of happiness through her yoga classes, workshops, and Happy-U’s Teacher Training program. Karson’s classes are inspired by what goes on in the modern day life of a joy-seeker, using the power of music, laughter, and storytelling to take her students on a journey within.

From The Chopra Center

10 Ways to Align with Your Purpose or Dharma

10 Ways to Align with Your Purpose or Dharma

By Nicolette Stinson

What would happen if you stopped trying to “find your purpose” and instead started vulnerably showing up as you are, ready to be of service?

The spiritual Law of Dharma states that for every special talent, the world has a unique need that can only be filled by the expression of that talent. You can make the fullest use of the Law of Dharma by committing to serve others through your unique creative expression, in whatever form that takes.

Dee:

Before getting sober I had no purpose. I oftentimes “thought” that I was a waste of space on the planet. Of course, drinking every day, having to drink every day, and living in that negative so-called life, didn’t help me get more positive nor purposeful.

 

Once you get out of your head and stop pondering what you are meant to do with your life and instead take action to serve others in any way you can, you begin to align with purpose. What gets in the way of most people taking action in this way is the courage to go for what they truly want, take chances, and be fully seen.

Dee:

I know, I feel, today that finding my purpose was no coincidence. I really believe

that everything happens for a reason and that at any given moment everything is perfect. Of course, I didn’t see nor feel that in my disease of alcoholism. I didn’t realize that that was my necessary journey to bring me to where I am today. Purposeful. To share my experience, strength and hope with that one person who needs a glimmer of hope at this moment.

Aligning with your purpose in life requires visibility and vulnerability. It requires pouring your heart into something that means the world to you with detachment and expressing yourself without expectation of outcome.

Dee:

I am so passionate about my sobriety, my recovery, my journey. Today I live, breathe, and bleed this gift and sharing it with you. My life, my relationships, my work, my everything comes from my sobriety.

I would not be so passionate about it if it weren’t good. But it’s awesome! To have a sense of purpose, gratitude and humility was so unfamiliar to me before getting sober. Today I have choices. I have a choice to not drink or drug which I truly did not have before surrendering and asking for help. But unless I give it away…this sobriety, these choices, this hope and compassion…I cannot keep it. I must give away what was so freely given me when I needed it most in order to keep it. I don’t want to let this go.

Aligning with my purpose of sharing my journey…my experience, strength and hope…did not come easy. It did require visibility and vulnerability. I was most uncomfortable sharing my rigorous honesty on social media. But in order to keep this gift I had to crawl out of my comfort zone and be ready for bigger and better gifts. I listened to my heart, quieted the fear in my head, and just did it.

But I did it in a roundabout kind of way. Having just taken an early retirement from the grocery business to go full-throttle as an artist, it was suggested I use social media to promote my business. Not knowing at the time intending to

promote my art I was really promoting recovery. That was my life. My everything. I continue promoting that message today. The art and business comes later.

Researcher Brene Brown, in her research on vulnerability, found that letting yourself be seen as well as loving and serving without expectation is key to living life with a deep sense of worthiness or purpose.

Dee:

When I first got sober back in 1998 I had such guilt, remorse and shame. I was so blessed to get sober in a treatment facility that taught me about the disease of alcoholism. I did not choose to be an alcoholic any more than I chose to be a female or of Chinese descent. I was born this way and had to not only accept these facts, but embrace them and love them which eventually led me to being able to accept, embrace and love my disease…and myself.

I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous (for which I am NOT a representative nor spokesperson, but a true believer!) which gave me a toolbox for living. I learned about me, Dee, and what makes me tick. I got to choose a Power Greater Than Myself over to whom I could turn my will and my life. I got to stop living from my head and enjoy and be comfortable living from my heart. Things started to look positive, hopeful, to make sense. The puzzle pieces really started to fit together.

I began to realize the fellowship in AA loved and served me without expectation which only strengthened my purpose and gave me confidence. I also realized that I was not unique, nor alone on this journey. What a comfort and a weight lifted from my shoulders! Today I can serve without expectation. No expectations, no disappointments.

If your purpose ultimately blossoms through your willingness to show up, be seen, and be of service, then perhaps the important question is not “How do I find my purpose?”, but is instead, “How can I authentically show up in service for those who need me most today?”

Dee:

The first half of my first 13-1/2 years of sobriety I suited up, showed up, and did everything AA suggested I do to have a better life and stay sober. But, one day at a time, I found myself in complacency and busy-ness enjoying the gifts of

sobriety. I stopped giving away what was so freely given me when I needed it most. I stopped connecting with newcomers and forgot my journey. I drank.

But even though I spewed out the words, “No, thank you, I haven’t had a drink in 13-1/2 years”, I drank that shot of tequila that yelled at me and that was left for me in case I changed my mind. I was weak, complacent, selfish. My insurance policy had lapsed by ceasing going to meetings and sharing my recovery. My Higher Power has such a sense of humor…and such a plan for me. With that first shot came an immediate urge for more…along with the guilt, shame, hiding, lying, and all the negativity that comes with being active in any disease.

I want to spend my energy in positive ways today, not searching for the next high, then hiding it. It’s way too exhausting for me living that way. Today, once again in recovery, one day at a time, I am happy, joyous and free! and careful to stick close to the fellowship of AA.

Below are 10 ways you can discover your own answers to that important question and align yourself with your purpose or dharma:

1. Be Yourself

Here is the chance to use that timeless advice from your mother, “Just be yourself, honey, and everyone will love you.” The more authentically YOU that you are, the better chance you have of connecting with the people who need you most. Plus, it’s so much easier than trying to be someone you aren’t. Don’t put on an act or try to be someone else, be yourself and share where you are NOW in your journey with others.

Dee:

Wow! This says it all! Before getting sober I was so fear-based. All of me was about winning your approval as I had no self-confidence nor self-worth. I sacrificed everything to look good for you on the outside until I had nothing left to give.

AA’s Twelve Steps have changed my life. It just happened to work out this way on my journey through life. By working the 4th, 5th and 6th Steps I could finally understand why I was the way I was. So freeing it’s magical!

Today I can love myself for who I am with all my flaws and imperfections. I no longer worry about whether or not you will like me. If you don’t, you don’t. I don’t take it personally. You and the rest of the world are on your own journeys. I

just have to take care of me and answer to that Power Greater Than Myself. If We are on good terms, if I’m doing and being the best I can, then We’re good.

If I stay in the moment, in the present, in the space in front of my nose, then I shall give you my full attention, respect and compassion that you deserve. You were also not put in “my bubble” at random; there are no coincidences. And sharing myself with you in a rigorously honest way might just give you that glimmer of hope you didn’t have before we met. I can go to sleep thankful.

BUT…there are those other kind of people out in the world who don’t live in the sunlight of the spirit. Their words and actions can hurt. But only if we let them and have not yet reached that place of self-worth and self-love. Again, everyone is on their own journeys, some not so pretty, some brought up in negativity and hatred. You know, we ALL have our “diseases”. Just offer compassion and respect.

2. Be Consistent

You will create an impact with your efforts to live inside your purpose when you keep showing up even when it feels like you aren’t creating any real results. When you keep putting yourself out there in the same consistent way every day eventually you will hit a tipping point and your efforts will bear fruit. Be consistent in not only how often you put yourself out there, but also in the way you show up. People trust and respond to consistent efforts.

Dee:

For me that means I have to walk my talk. I can write these blogs and pitch sermons until I’m blue in the face, buy my actions speak louder than words! I wouldn’t be fooling anyone but myself. My head would start running the show again. I would distance myself from my Higher Power. Gratitude and humility would disappear.

I’m not going there. Not today anyway. From past experiences, at least with alcohol addiction, not walking my talk wasn’t so apparent while my head told me everything was peachy until I picked up that shot of tequila. Then I realized that was my head, and my disease, talking, telling me everything was just fine. Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.

 

3. Be Bold

Stay in action and don’t be afraid to say what you think and what is really happening with you behind the scenes. Authenticity and vulnerability are bold, and they will help you align with your true purpose.

Dee:

There’s that Rigorous Honesty I’ve learned about in AA. If I lay the cards out on the table for you at the onset, I don’t have to spend energy later wondering what I said or how I behaved later. I’ve lived through many a black-out and never want to go there again.

I trust my gut to pick up on your vibe whether or not you are receptive to my journey. My gut has never lied to me and no one has ever walked away disgruntled or in disbelief. I have only received hugs and words of kindness for sharing my true self and my life with you.

4. Be Helpful

Show up with value and solutions. People will notice you and respect you if you help them solve a legitimate problem they are facing or fulfill a desire they have. Being genuinely helpful will help to attract people and opportunities into your life. Give to others without expectation of anything in return.

Dee:

This is like being an AA sponsor. Being in the moment. Attentive. Respectful. Listening. Anonymous! Noticing tone and body language. Making sure they truly want my rigorous honesty (which sometimes is not what they want to hear) and knowing what comes from me is only my opinion or suggestion. And being thankful to the recipient for trusting me and allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope. Keeps me humble. Keeps me grateful. Keeps me sober.

5. Be Choosy

Don’t dilute your energies. Being specific with the way you want to serve will help you align with your purpose. You won’t find fulfillment in trying to be everything to everyone. Determine what specific kind of effect you want to have in your service to others. Choosing your “signature” style doesn’t limit who and when you serve, it simply focuses your energy to the impact you want to create.

 

Dee:

2017 has been year of growing my art business. 2016 was a year of growing my recovery service. 2018 will be a year of happy mediums. All I know is that no matter which direction my Higher Power drives me in the new year, I shall enjoy the ride and continue the excitement of learning, growing, and sharing. My gut (no pun intended) is also pulling me in the direction of more Dee time (nature, quiet time, meditation, exercise, and FUN)!

6. Be Friendly

Being kind and showing up as a friendly face will do wonders for you in aligning with your purpose and make you happier while you do it! Spread joy always.

Dee:

Being friendly for me means I’ve got to stay in the moment…grateful and humble. I remember being a grocery checker with customers always saying, “Why are you so happy?” I would reply, “Sure beats the alternative.” And that is how I try to live my life. In the positive. My head, but especially today my heart, can turn any negative into a positive. Any glass half empty to half full. Such an awesome way to live!

Also when a grocery checker my boss would ask if I wanted to go into management. Although I tactfully didn’t say this, “Hell, no, I’m happy. Why would I want to be like you?”, I would reply, “Thank you for asking, but ‘No”, I’m happy right where I am.”

Although I don’t feel I have a mean bone in my body, I can so easily think nasty thoughts and have fun with them. However, I do remember when making amends to my kids they told me how mean I was when I was drinking. Today, one day at a time, I choose to not become that person. Today I am truly happy, joyous and free!

7. Be Imaginative

Try new things, let your mind and imagination wander. If you are feeling burnt out or like you have plateaued, try to implement something new that you never even thought about doing. Adding creativity and variety to your life will allow you to open up to new possibilities and opportunities that may bring you into deeper alignment with your purpose.

 

Dee:

I have such the imagination, and a sick one at that. I love horror flicks. I love living in a make-believe world. I’m kinda Disney. I don’t wanna grow up…I’m a Toys’R’Us kid. And that is me. And I thrive on being me, in my honesty.

I wake up each morning excited to take on the day. The day in which my Higher Power drives me around in our pink convertible Cadillac and I go along for the ride learning and experiencing what I need to experience, growing to the next level, and then sharing that. It’s like a magic carpet ride!

8. Be Vulnerable

Be willing to be imperfect. The only way to move forward is to take action and get feedback. Sometimes this requires you to be vulnerable and jump before you are totally “ready.” As mentioned in the introduction, being willing to be vulnerable dramatically increases your alignment with purpose.

Dee:

Back in the day I was afraid to get negative feedback or make an ass of myself, because I had no self-worth. Today I’m okay with that. I learn from every experience. I get better with every experience. I grow with every experience. I am not perfection; I am progress. And I love the journey I’m on being a human being with a positive outlook. One day at a time I leave my comfort zone. Tiny baby steps. If I don’t like it, I go back. Learning. Growing.

9. Be Savvy

Stay on top of the trends that are happening in the world. Keep yourself educated and find new and creative ways to serve others and the planet. Life as you know it is currently changing at a faster pace than ever before, so being savvy and resourceful will allow you to be of service in a way that is innovative and transformational and aligns with the collective purpose of the planet.

Dee:

I’m a news junkie. I told you I had a sick imagination, but I have a sick sense of humor as well. Although the news is fully inundated with negative shit, I realize that that is what sells news. I know that there are those out in the real world who live and feel like me. We’re good people. And from our actions we start that ripple effect of positivity and hope, love and kindness. Tiny baby steps.

 

10. Be a Star

Don’t be afraid to claim your gifts, get out there, work, and create meaningful relationships. Let your light shine and be a light for others!

Dee:

I am not asking for kudos, money, notoriety, none of that. I write because it makes me feel good. I go to meetings because it makes me feel good. If somethings is ailing me, I put it in the God Box, write or share it in one way or another, and take the power out of it. Sharing my experience, strength and hope is my way of giving thanks for this awesome life with which I’ve been blessed. If I don’t give it away, I cannot keep it!

When I was leaving the treatment center for alcoholism I remember (and copping a resentment as well) my counselor saying to me going back to real life as a mom, a wife, and a grocery checker, that what I was doing was such a waste. I was proud of what I was doing and I did it well What did she mean? Today I understand my purpose, coming only from this journey of mine through life. The pieces of the puzzle are all starting to come together, to make sense. Dang exciting!

Wishing you all a “glass half full” New Year! With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in checking out my Art with a Message of Inspiration (the reason I started this blog three years ago), please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and enjoy!

Get the resources you need to gain a clear sense of direction and purpose in your life with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now.

About the Author

Nicolette Stinson

Certified Coach, Yoga Instructor and Perfect Health Instructor

Nicolette is an online personal brand strategist for coaches and wellness professionals. She is also a Certified Coach, Chopra Center Perfect Health Instructor, and Yoga Teacher as well as an avid student of mindfulness, creativity, personal development, and spirituality. Visit http://www.nicolettestinson.com to learn more.

From The Chopra Center.

How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

How to Find Gratitude in Your Hardest Moments  

By Tris Thorp

One of the main pillars of today’s mindfulness-based practices is the art of cultivating gratitude. You may hear it as a theme in yoga class, read about it in self-help books, hear about it in seminars and retreats, or see it every day in your social media feeds. Cultivating gratitude every day can be a powerful catalyst for creating a more positive mindset.

You may know from experience that steeping yourself in gratitude can be a feel-good practice of bringing to mind the things you feel blessed to have in your life. You may know that sharing your gratitude with others creates a ripple effect and has a positive impact on those around you. Meditating on or making daily lists of the things you are thankful for on a regular basis is a great way to focus on what is good in the world, especially during times when there is so much uncertainty, anger, and fear swirling about.

Gratitude comes in many forms and how you experience it can vary a great deal, depending on your intention. It’s easy to hone in on the things you are grateful for when life is going well. A good economy, a happy family, a loving relationship, a successful career, and good physical health are laced with blessings. Your happiness stems from positivity, and its usually times like these that you may take your success, your relationships, your happiness, and your health for granted. Things are going so well that you may forget you are invulnerable to disharmony, loss, poor health, pain, and suffering—until it’s knocking on your door. It’s in your not-so-wonderful times that you may lose sight of the good that still exists around you.

Just like acknowledging all the amazing things you are thankful for in your life, there can also be a great deal of insight and healing available (http://www.chopra.com/articles/cultivate-the-healing-power-of-gratitude) when you can feel gratitude in your hardest moments. Remembering how difficult things once were and how far you’ve come since then creates a significant contrast in your mindset that can be highly productive.

Can you remember a time in your life when you felt the heartache from a breakup with someone you cared for deeply? Now, all these years later, are you able to look back on the situation and be thankful in some way that things ended when they did? Maybe you wouldn’t be married to your current spouse or have the children you have today. Can you think of a time in your life when you were overlooked for a job promotion only to realize down the road that it would have been the worst job ever? Looking back on your life, you may find times when something happened that seemed awful in the moment and, had it not happened, you wouldn’t have something even better in its place today. There is so much to be learned from your past painful experiences and turned into gold if you’re willing to shift your perception just a bit.

Likewise, you may have something difficult happening in your life today—an important life decision, an impending breakup, confusion about what you’re supposed to be doing with your life—and if you settle into a space of being completely honest with yourself (even when it’s unpleasant), odds are that you know there is something bigger, better, grander awaiting you on the other end. This is where finding gratitude comes in. You may be thankful for your own courage and determination or appreciative of your health as you are healing from a physical, emotional, or mental challenge. Perhaps you can find gratitude for your humility and grace in how you handled a difficult conversation, or appreciation for the fact that you have a roof over your head.

Dee:

Ok, I need to lighten up, right here, right now.  Just because these last few weeks I’ve been thrown curve balls when I’m used to, and grateful, for a calm, peaceful, uneventful life.  Thank goodness I have tools such as these articles and my AA toolbox to get me through a bit of “real life”.

I’m gonna spew here for just a bit, to take the power out of what ails me, so bypass, here if it makes you nuts.  During the Thanksgiving holiday my family came to visit.  While brushing my teeth one morning my crown just fell out.  Negative Dee:  “Shit.  I’ve had nothing but problems with my teeth.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Call the dentist.  He gets me in right away.  Ok.  Not just the crown fell out but my tooth was still in it.  Extraction.  Not a big deal.  I’ve had plenty.  The offer of pain meds.  NO.  I can’t go there.  Not again.  Remember, Dee, that you have a high tolerance to pain and, PLEASE, remember the relapse that came from pain meds a few years ago.  Gratefully since then, I’ve stayed close to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and didn’t allow myself to get complacent…again.

On my way home from the dentist I stop to visit a friend.  When I go to leave the car doesn’t start.  I’m told the starter motor is faulty.  Negative Dee:  “Damn.  We just replaced the starter a few warranty months ago.  More money.  More time.  More pain.  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  We’ll order another starter motor because we can.  We have the money.  We’ll get the car in up and running properly again.  Not a big deal.  I wasn’t stuck in the middle of commuter traffic during rush hour.  And even if, I’ve got AAA.

I’m gonna pick these papayas before the birds and geckos eat them all.  I’ll just step on this branch like I’ve done many times (not realizing how big the fruit now is, and how plentiful).  “Down will go baby, cradle and all.”  The branch breaks off.  I’m about 10 feet above the ground, lava rock.  I stop.  Upright.  I gather my thoughts.  The barbed-wire fence next to the tree has stopped me from breaking any bones had I hit the ground.  Negative Dee:  “I hurt.  I’m stuck down here in lava rock and tall California grass bare-foot.  How am I going to get back up to the house?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  I’ll climb up the rock wall up to the house like American Ninja Warrior.  Hey, Dee, that barbed-wire fence saved you from breaking your bones.  And when your foot stopped you at the bottom of the fence, it stopped you just in time so the barbs didn’t rip into your cherished private parts.  Ok.  So a few scratches and just five stitches.  Get over it.  You know you’ll climb that tree again.  It’s fun.”

This past weekend was crazy crunch time for this stained glass/mosaic artist.  More shows and more work than what I’m used to.  I get to the art fair, set up my display, and realize I’ve set it up back to front.  Stupid.  Negative Dee:  Why would everyone else around me have their displays set up toward the grass while I thought setting up toward the parking lot made sense?  Really?  I’ve got to take everything down and start over when this is the one time I had it together to be set up on time?  Why am I never set up on time?  Why am I always the last one to tear down and go home?  Why do I always have some much breakage of stained glass and mosaic pieces?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  What a beautiful place at this old Hawaiian Church to get to turn my display around (and my attitude).  You know, Dee, being a little more mindful and in the moment wouldn’t hurt you a bit.  You know, everything is perfect right here, right now.”

Yesterday’s show “I“planned to go smoothly.  After the back-assward show the day before I strived to be totally prepared to get the day off on the right foot.  Premade my lunch.  Car with new starter was loaded up.  Clothes were laid out.  Went to bed early.  Set the alarm so I could even have some quiet time before going to the show.  When I awaken my alarm hadn’t gone off.  My phone, my alarm, had powered itself off even though it was 100% charged.  I should be at the show setting up right now and I’m just getting out of bed.  Negative Dee:  For real, God?  I’m doing my best to turn my will and my life over to you.  You know I hate surprises and do my best to avoid them.  I’m going to call in and say I’m not going to make the show.  But some of the people I met at yesterday’s show are expecting me to be there today.  And yesterday was a profitable show and today could be the same.  What am I going to do?  Whah.  Whah.  Whah.”  Positive Dee:  Shut up and suit up.  Everything happens for a reason.  Be grateful.  You’re never set up on time anyway.  Just get your tent up, take your time, enjoy the moment.  I pray a a lot while driving to the show.  The radio is not working and just works when it wants.  I sing.  I pray to get out of self-will.  My car veers to the side of the road to pick up a hitchhiker and her dog, “Toto”.  I never pick up hitchhikers.  What gives?  But she and Toto got me out of my stinking thinking.  We had a mellow enjoyable ride to the green market where I set up, or tried to, and made plenty of sales.  I turned my attitude around, or my Higher Power did.

As human beings, we all run into various situations and circumstances that range from slight annoyances to overwhelming tragedies. Even in the most difficult times, if you can slow things down in your mind just long enough to connect with your heart, you will be able to find something, even if it’s just a small shred of appreciation, that will pull you through.

Gratitude is a practice of creating a state of emotional prosperity. It’s about focusing on the good things you have. It is as relevant to be grateful for the positive outcomes from your past negative experiences as it is to be thankful for the amazing things in your life. It’s not about pretending that things were okay when they weren’t, and it’s not about ignoring the way you’re feeling when things aren’t good. Rather, it’s a practice for reevaluating what is important for you to focus on at the end of the day to help you stay positive, calm, centered, and balanced.

Dee:

Gratitude.  Humility.  Sobriety.  Recovery.  When I allow them to, when I shut off my head and live from my heart, when I remember I am not in control and turn my will and my life and me over to the care of God as I understand God, I’m in a good, loving, compassionate and peaceful place.  Being a recovering alcoholic has given me this gift.  Alcoholics Anonymous has given me this gift.  The fellowship has given me this gift.  Most importantly, my Higher Power has given me this gift.  To share my experience, strength and hope with those who enter my “Dee Bubble”.  To make positive out of negative.  To have hope.  To know we’re not in this alone.  And then to have icing on the cake with articles and various tools such as this to help guide us and take us to the next level.  Pretty sweet, yeah?

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, Recovery, Inspiration, of “good stuff”, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Use this guided visualization to journey through an upsetting time, find something positive that came about as a result of what happened (or what’s happening), and cultivate gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/free- programs/attitude-of-gratitude) for it.

Find a nice, quiet space where you won’t be disturbed.
Silence your phone, close the door, and settle into a comfortable seat in your favorite spot.
With your eyes closed, begin to breathe slowly and deeply.
Feel your body begin to relax from the top of your head down through your shoulders, arms, torso, hips, and finally down through your legs.
Bring to mind a time in your life when things were not going so well—a time when something happened that caused you confusion, pain, or suffering of some kind.
As you think back on this time, take in what happened during this experience.
Now begin to travel forward in your mind observing as you navigated through this situation.

Put your awareness on the person you were then—doing the best you knew how at that time.
Next, notice that where you are currently at in your life is a very different time, space, and experience. See how far you have come and become aware of the different person you are today.
As you reflect back on what happened, ask yourself, “What is the gift, positive lesson, or wisdom I received from having had this experience?” This difficult time that happened has somehow provided you with insight or knowledge that it happened for some reason that you weren’t able to see at the time.
Ask yourself, “What are you grateful for now as a result of what happened back in your hardest moments?” When you’re ready, take a few more deep breaths and open your eyes.
Do some journaling if it calls to you.

If you’re new to personal growth and things aren’t exactly spectacular in your life, it’s sometimes easier to begin by focusing on the positive things you have to be thankful for—and why you’re grateful. When you’re down in the dumps it can be a real mood-killer to try finding the silver lining in a situation that just plain stinks.  As things improve in your life and you’re feeling stronger (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically), looking back on the less-than-positive experiences you’ve had and finding the gifts from those times will become easier. The biggest thing to remember when practicing gratitude is to meet yourself where you are in the moment and work with what is most readily available to you while you journey on toward greater happiness and healing.

Get the resources you need to create positivity and fulfillment each day – no matter what is going on in your life – with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now. (https://www.chopra.com/free- programs/discover-your-purpose-toolkit).

About the Author

Tris Thorp
Vedic Educator and Lifestyle & Leadership Coach

Tris Thorp is one of today’s leading experts in the field of emotional healing. Having spent the last decade traveling the world, being trained by and sharing the stage with Dr. Deepak Chopra in the field of consciousness and mindfulness-based practices, Tris has a real gift for integrating the ancient spiritual teachings with modern-day mindfulness to help people all over the world let go of their past and create an empowered new future. You can learn more about Tris’s work at http://www.tristhorp.com (http://tristhorp.com). Tris is Board Certified by the Association of Integrative Psychology as a Trainer of NLP, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis,… Read more (/bios/tris-thorp)

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