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)

The Chopra Center

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My Time, Your Time, and Our Time

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.” – Maya Angelou
Today’s meditation shows us that we all live our lives according to our own tempo, rhythm, and flow of time. Our bodies and minds thrive when we follow the daily rhythms of sleep and activity that work best for us. Difficulties arise when we try to impose our style of personal time on others. Our meditation practice helps us listen and tune in to our own unique approach to personal time, and that teaches us to respect everyone else’s approach as well.

I’m doing it for us…

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 12 where we’ll gain fresh perspective on the importance of integrating my time, your time, and our time, within the construct of your own relationships.  Whenever I sense dissidence between coworkers, audience members, viewers, family or friends, I like to use the phrase, “Meet them where they are.”  That means in order to better align what matters most to you with what matters most to the people in your life, you need to have knowledge of their core belief systems, their needs, their priorities and their lifestyle.  Not everyone sees life the way you do.

Fixating on your own ideal personality traits is not only destructive to you, it excludes your partner from revealing his or her true self, and that is a recipe for dysfunction.    There are people who find time management restrictive.  They like to leave things loose

and spontaneous.  A more structured person might interpret this as flighty or flaky or even rude.

Don Miguel Ruiz, the author of The Four Agreements, once told me, “At the root of any personal drama lies assumptions.”  Without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of work to find common ground, assume nothing, examine why schedules put your partner or coworker on edge and further excavate why you take planning and punctuality so personally.  When you meet people where they are you love them at a level where they can receive it.  In return they love you with their fullest heart.

Dee:

This time scheduling reminds me so much of a trip I made to Australia with my family.  When I think about how this all happened I am reminded that I had stopped going to AA meetings, stopped giving what was so freely given me when I needed it most, stopped letting my Higher Power run the show, etc.; in other words, I was back in my diseased stinking-thinking but just hadn’t drank…yet.

Anyway, we all agreed on what we wanted to get accomplished during our visit Down Under.  We had x amount of days, x amount of time, and x amount of miles (or kilometers) to cover.  I did the spreadsheet thing and put together an itinerary.  It was horrendous.  Everybody hated me and we were so stressed out sticking to the game plan that no one was having a good time.

So the next year when my husband and I made the trip back Down Under to once again visit his family and friends, I let my husband know he got to come up with the game plan.  He didn’t.  Everyday was spontaneous.  It was awesome.  We did everything and visited with everyone we wanted to.  No stress.  No time line.  With plenty of time to enjoy the moment.

Moral of the story, at least for me, is not to get complacent with my recovery.  Everyday I must remember that I am an alcoholic with an alcoholic way of thinking.  I must remember that my Higher Power has everything in control and is doing the driving; I am just along for the ride of my life!  So today, staying close to the fellowship of A.A., I go with the flow, live in the moment, and am spontaneous.  I am happy, joyous and free once again.  I have contentment and peace beyond my wildest dreams!

Let’s listen to Deepak and then we’ll meditate together.

Deepak:

In family and relationships there’s no single time management that fits every person’s needs.  All of us are biologically programmed to have our own daily rhythms of sleep and activity, hormones and brain responses.  From childhood, minds and bodies naturally find their own time frame.  Sleep research shows some people are early risers while others are late risers.  This pattern holds for life if the person is allowed to observe their own circadian rhythm.

Problems arise when we expect others to adhere to our own personal time frame.  To someone used to rushing a relaxed approach to time is wasteful, lazy, impolite and the other person’s fault.  To someone used to letting things happen in their own fashion a precisely organized sense of time feels pressured, controlling, overly anxious and, perhaps, a sign of insecurity in the other person.

This is the clash between my time and your time, which we’ve all experienced.  From the ego’s viewpoint, my time is better than changing to accommodate your time can be irritating and frustrating.  In reality any style or personal time is just that; it’s personal.  There is no workable way to handle time until two people decide to mesh.  They begin to respect and accommodate the other person’s different style.

This creates an opening for something new…our time.  Our time is mutually agreed upon.  One partner can rush around all day while the other doesn’t.  But when they come together such differences are forgotten.  Our time is open, honest and considerate.  People are quick to say, “I don’t have time for this,” or “Why are we arguing about the same thing over and over?”  But the real meaning behind these words isn’t about time but space.  “I don’t have space for you means that the other person isn’t given openness and emotional access.

When you create our time you also give the other person space.  Our time means going beyond ego limitations whether relationship itself is given to grow.  That won’t happen just by making time to be in the same room together.  Your intention must shift from me to us.  There should be a place for close physical contact and emotional bonding.  Our time can’t be taken for granted.  A living relationship has needs that arise every day.  When two people agree on a simple fact it becomes natural to respond to those needs the way you tend to your own.

Dee:

Deepak’s words of wisdom remind me so much of the relationship my husband and I have.  We are both busy doing our own things.  We are blessed to wake up and go to bed together, eat our meals together, and share daily tidbits of life together.

We used to spend one day a week traveling and exploring around the Big Island of Hawaii where we live.  But we stopped.  We got busy.  When I suggest we take a day trip he tells me he is busy with this project or that.  When he suggests I do something with or for him, I deliver the “I am busy with the business and I’m doing it for us” bullshit.  Today I know better.  I stop and realize how blessed I am to have him here in my life.

Earlier this year my husband was care-flighted to Oahu for triple-bypass surgery.  This was very sudden following a cardiologist consultation.  All we had were the clothes on our backs.  I am ever so grateful to have been rigorously committed to my recovery at this time or I would have drank.

As he was under the knife the hours seemed like an eternity.  I found a Pandanus tree on the hospital grounds which kept me busy weaving lauhala bracelets.  It also kept me connected not only to my Higher Power but to the spirit of Hawaii.  When the stinky thoughts of gloom and doom and hearing the doctor tell me he didn’t make it and flying home alone snuck into my head, I embraced those thoughts and then let them go in the clouds that so beautifully surround our islands.

I’m happy to say my husband pulled through his surgery and has a clean slate of health.  I’m also happy to say that his snoring no longer annoys me nor keeps me awake.  I think of it as the ocean, sometimes calm, sometimes tsunami strength.  But if I think of my life in quiet without my husband…   I won’t go there.  And when I get cranky because of the whiskers in the sink after he shaves, or the food on the kitchen floor when he cooks, I’ll miss all that when he’s gone.

Valuable, valuable lessons my Higher Power has given me to help me to a higher level of greatness and compassion.  Today I get to love my life, love myself, and everything in between.  This I owe to a Power Greater Than Myself and to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Art with a Message of Aloha, please visit my website at DeesignsByHarris.com.  Or to subscribe to my email list for updates of inspirational art in my line, stories behind the art and me, the artist, and for occasional discount offers, please subscribe at https://mailchi.mp/f96bf32af105/welcome.  Mahalo and have a spontaneous day!

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I cherish our time together.  I cherish our time together.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”  This mantra means “My true nature is endless in time and space.”  This mantra helps you recognize yourself as infinite unbounded awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.  Ananta Swa Bhava.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I cherish our time together.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Ananta Swa Bhava
My true self has no limits or boundaries.

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

HOW TO REMAIN CALM AND COOL DURING THE HOLIDAYS

How to Remain Calm and Cool During the Holidays  

By Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Getting through the holidays well is part of being on your own path. What works at this time of year is the same as the rest of the year, except that you need to be more mindful of pitfalls and possible stresses.

Stress over-stimulates the body-mind, throwing off its tendency to remain in dynamic balance. “Dynamic” means that your body-mind is responding from moment to moment. “Balance” refers to a state of homeostasis that functions through many feedback loops to keep dozens of processes in sync.

For most people, the over-stimulation of the holidays is seen as negative—the proverbial drunk uncle at Thanksgiving, the predictable family squabbles, the worrying over extra expenses, and the sudden jammed- packed schedule filled with too much shopping, parties, etc. But to the body-mind, the stress response is equally triggered by over-stimulation on the positive side. Stress experts call this “eu-stress,” where “eu” is the Greek word for good. As anyone knows who has organized and cooked a big holiday dinner, it’s a stressful job even when the dinner turns out beautifully.

Dee:

“The proverbial drunk uncle at Thanksgiving” reminds me of a Christmas Eve long past (so grateful).  The family is all sitting around the wood stove on a beautiful snowy evening to open a few gifts.  We’ve just had a wonderful dinner together and it’s now time to kick back.  Well, I also had a few drinks before, during and after dinner.  I’m now in a black out.

I don’t remember opening the gifts.  I don’t remember that night.  It’s shitty.  I’m shitty.  The next morning I “fish” to find out what happened.  My mom said I must have been tired from a full day at work, coming home and prepping dinner, etc.  I so wish that were the case.

This Christmas when my family is here to visit I won’t have to be in a black out.  As long as I remember that I am an alcoholic in recovery, stay close to the fellowship, my AA toolbox, and my Higher Power, I shall be just fine.  I can live in the moment and cherish every moment.  I shall be doing my gift-giving by being of service to the newcomer struggling through this holiday season.

Here are some tips to keep calm and cool during the holidays.

1. Avoid an Over-Stimulated Body-Mind State

The first thing you need to do is to avoid putting the body-mind into an over-stimulated state. The key points are: Don’t take on more than you can handle.

2. Reduce Self-Created Stress

Next comes psychological stress, which for many people is cumulative. As the holidays approach, there is a worry and expectation that bad events from the past will likely repeat themselves. This is a form of self-created stress. When you see its signs, sit down, take a few minutes to center yourself, breathe deeply, and if possible—meditate. Your goal is to avoid getting into a self-generated state that remains in psychological overdrive.

Dee:

I shall not worry about bad events from the past.  But I shall not forget them either.  I shall remember that I never want to go there again and that today I have a choice to not drink.  I am not that person anymore! as long as I don’t pick up that first drink!  I shall take in extra meetings, do a bit more service, pay a little extra into my recovery insurance policy.

3. Maintain a State of Calm Felt Throughout the Year

You want to maintain the state of calm and control that you enjoy at other times of the year. The key points are:

Take extra down time and inner time rather than less. Aim for at least six small breaks of 5 to 20 minutes a day where you can be alone, quiet, and centered.  Know your boundaries and ask others to respect them. When a situation is about to arise that will put a burden on you or stretch your coping skills, speak up and ask for help or support.

Dee:

I’ve learned through the years how valuable rigorous honesty is in my life.  Everything is out in the open and I need not worry about what others think of me.  So when I’m in HALT (hungry, angry, lonely or tired) I say it like it is.  I need some down time, some “Dee time”.  I’ve yet to be criticized or ridiculed for my honesty.

And today I can ask for help.  It doesn’t make me “any less than”.  In fact, I enjoy helping out in whatever way I can and stress to the recipient to please not take this joy away from me.  I no longer feel obligated for asking for help.  I no longer feel I must reciprocate.  I can allow the giver some joy!

When you find yourself in a stressful situation that you can’t fix, don’t try to force a solution. Step away. You are under no obligation to stress yourself or add to the stress of others.
Make sure you are not the stressor. Whatever you wouldn’t want others to inflict on you, don’t inflict the same on them.

Avoid the temptation to rehash old battles and open old wounds. If either starts to happen in your presence, walk away.

4. Practice Calming Techniques Beforehand

Now you know the general guidelines for being calm and mindful during the holidays. Since most people forget to follow these guidelines, there’s a good chance that they will fall into the category of good advice or “If only I had remembered to…” The key to implementing a better strategy is to practice it beforehand.

Visualization is a considerable help in this regard. Most holiday difficulties are predictable. You, your family, and everyone you know has been through them multiple times. Use this foreknowledge to your advantage. Try this visualization meditation to help:

Sit and visualize a typical holiday situation or predicament.
See it vividly in your mind’s eye, and watch the elements play out, whether the circumstances are a crowded grocery store with long lines, an impossible wait at the Post Office, a political disagreement at the dinner table, or anything else that causes you to feel tense just thinking about it.  As you visualize, breathe deeply and let the scenario play out while you remain centered.
Repeat this a few times until you feel less sensitized and stressed by what you see in your mind’s eye.

Now be pro-active with your visualization. See people moving and acting in a different way according to the outcome you’d like to see. Perhaps you arrive at the grocery store at an off hour, have a pleasant conversation with someone next to you in line, and act cheerfully toward the cashier. At the dinner table when someone touches on a sensitive political (or personal) issue, see yourself excusing yourself from the table and taking time out. Or see yourself asking others if they want to join you in a taking an after-dinner walk.

The point is that the holidays box you into old conditioning and patterns of behavior that may make you feel stuck. Everything discussed in this article, including the visualizations, is about getting unstuck. Until you see and act on new possibilities, they can’t unfold. Remember, everyone feels as if they are boxed in during the holidays, so no one else is to blame. When everyone is stuck, to some degree or other, it’s your own responsibility to get unstuck. In this way the holidays become part of your own path to renewing yourself and exploring the creative side of your consciousness.

Dee:

Today I try not to overthink things.  I really try not to think at all and to live from my heart in the present moment.  If I think about the past or future, I am shitting on this beautiful perfect moment right in front of me.

If I start thinking I begin to put together expectations.  I learned early on in recovery, “No expectations, no disappointments.”  That’s the way I choose to live my life today and having just had a low-key, spontaneous, “go with the flow” Thanksgiving week with family proves to me that this way of living is perfect for me.  Let go and let God.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Gifts with a Message of Aloha this season of giving, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great and stress-free holiday season!

About the Author 

Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Deepak Chopra, M.D., F.A.C.P. is the co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, the founder of the Chopra Foundation (https://www.choprafoundation.org/about/about-the-chopra-foundation/), and a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. He is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology, and metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, and a clinical professor in the Family Medicine and Public Health Department at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of more than 85 books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New… Read more (/bios/deepak-chopra) 

Reduce Stress in 5 Minutes

Reduce Stress in 5 Minutes

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat.  Lots of situations can cause stress.  Unemployment.  Work deadlines or quotas.  Family tension.  Being a caretaker.  And so on.  It’s nearly impossible to avoid, but possible to deflect, alleviate and let go of ongoing stress.

Biochemist Hans Selye long ago identified stress as the “fight or flight syndrome”.  During primitive times stress was a protective thing.  We might have been chased by a wild animal.  Today most of our threats are imagined, concocted by random thoughts in our seldom quiet minds.

Stress causes raised blood pressure, slower digestive system, increased heart rate and tense muscles.  Should stress become chronic you may find yourself dealing with serious health problems.  A short list from the Mayo Clinic includes high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety disorder, insomnia, to name a few.

There is a simple solution – one that is always available – it is your breath.  Deep, rhythmic breathing releases more oxygen.  The movement of the diaphragm when you breathe deeply massages vital organs and improves circulation.  And deep breathing releases pleasure producing neurochemicals into your body.

Dee:

I’m so grateful to have these meditation experiences to remind me to breathe.  I still struggle with the nose inhalation/mouth exhalation.  I tend to think too much and my breathing doesn’t feel natural.  However, to be concentrating on breathing is way better than concentrating on the heap of other garbage swirling through my mind.

In today’s meditation, breathe even deeper than usual and should your mind wander, bring the focus back to the rhythm of your healing breath.  Let the words you’ve heard settle for a moment.  As we move into silence beyond the thoughts.  Find a comfortable place, preferably a straight-back chair.  All you need to do is breathe, feeling the inhale and exhale of each breath.  The steady rhythm of the breath calls us into the peace and calm we seek.

Dee:

When I allow myself even 5 minutes quiet time for breathing and centering, gratitude fills me.  I reconnect with my Higher Power, get back in the moment and savor all my blessings.

My blessings come from a life in recovery and remembering that always puts everything back in priority.  Living a life actively addicted took away any peace that was within me.  Today I do not have to exert any energy to get balanced and centered except to remember to breathe and to stay in the moment.

As thoughts cross your mind, and they will, simply accept them and let them pass, like clouds across a blue sky.  Notice any place in your body where you feel tense and just breathe it out.  As you follow your breath repeat to yourself silently, “I let go of any stress in my body, mind.  I let go of any stress in my body, mind.”

Inhale deeply.  Hold for 3 seconds.  One.  Two.  Three.  Exhale fully for 5 seconds…two…three…four…five.  Inhale…two…three.  Exhale…two…three…four…five.  Let us begin.

From The WellBe Presents Back to Calm in 7 Days Meditation Program

Dee:

I let go of any stress in my body, mind.  I don’t need it.  It doesn’t serve me.  I embrace the stress briefly and then I let it go.  I breathe…

Aloha and happy breathing, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational Art with a Message of Aloha and Well-Being, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.  And for those who would like to know more about my art and the story behind my creativity, please sign up for my email updates at https://mailchi.mp/f96bf32af105/welcome.  Mahalo!

HOW TO LET LIFE FLOW

Day 14 – How to Let Life Flow 

“Let everything happen to you, beauty and terror. Just keep going.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Today’s meditation is about learning to let your life flow without resistance or effort. Living in the flow is not something you figure out, or practice to get right. Living in the flow is a state of consciousness; it is the natural consequence of being self-aware in the moment. In that state of expansive, open, accepting awareness there is no feeling of lack or sense of threat. So there is no need to defend yourself, be aggressive, or resist in order to feel safe and complete. To live in the present is to flow with the universe.

Dee:

Living in the flow is something I learned to do once I was in recovery.  I learned a whole new way of life…to live from my heart, rather than from my brain.  Until getting clean and sober I rationalized everything.  As an intellectual human being I “thought” that the brain controlled everything, that whatever I set my mind to, I could get.  My mind could not get me sober.  Letting my mind go and living from my heart, in the flow, got me sober.

Oprah:

Welcome to Day 14, our final day in week two – How to Let Life Flow.  One of my favorite words right now is “flow”.  Have you ever heard an athlete, artist or musician describe what it’s like to be in the zone?  They use words like tunnel vision, complete calm, or ultra-focus.  Some even liken it to a spiritual experience, a state of elevated awareness where time feels like it’s slowed down or completely falls away.  Most of us have been in the zone at one point in our lives.  It’s that exhilarating stretch when you know you’ve found the most powerful current and everything just seems to fall into place.

Dee:

In the zone brings back an entirely different experience to me.  When I was still very active in my disease, I offered to babysit my neighbors’ child.  When they brought her to my house I had been drinking, probably most of the day.  I don’t remember.  All I remember is that I didn’t babysit.  I really don’t remember that as I was in a blackout.  But my kids told me that they came…and they left.

I hate blackouts.  Not knowing what I did is the most awful, gut-wrenching feeling.  “Fishing” for clues is a horrible task.  I could never say that “I drank too much, can’t remember what I did, please tell me.”

Quite a long time later when I was sober and working my steps I got the guts to visit my neighbors, to make my amends.  Gut-wrenching again.  Fishing again.  They told me that when they brought their daughter over so they could enjoy a nice dinner together they found me “zoned” out.  Thus, in the zone holds a different meaning to me.

So then, what causes us to get off track or feeling like we’re suddenly swimming upstream?  Basketball legend Lebron James is considered one of the most intensely focused competitors to ever play the game.  And I once asked Lebron what could possible cause an MVP like him to lose his rhythm on the court.  His response was profound.  He said, “I get off my game when I start playing for others rather than playing for myself.”

This is true for all of us.  We fall off-course the minute our intention shifts from following our heart to responding to what we think others believe.  Spiritual teachers call that mindset “egoic”.  It’s that false self creeping in, constantly trying to take us down, or to prove, or to show, or to show off.  When that happens do what you can to find and follow your flow again,  That’s what I teach all of my girls.

Dee:

Throughout most of my life I was a people-pleaser.  I know now that I was not comfortable in my own skin.  I did not know who and what I was.  I had no purpose.  I had no Higher Power.  I was living from my brain and not from my heart.  I did not love myself.  Thus I would do whatever it took to make you feel highly of me because I didn’t.  I would put you first, before my family and, definitely, before me.

Today, in recovery, I know, I feel, that I no longer have to do that.  I am finally comfortable in my own skin and even love myself for who and what I am…an alcoholic in recovery who has a Higher Power, who has a purpose to carry the message of experience, strength and hope, who can live from my heart…the flow…and stay out of my head.

If you’re in a situation where you feel out of place, uncomfortable, or it’s just not coming together, change direction; find your flow.  Follow the natural rhythm of your own life and you will find a force far beyond your own because you’re connecting to the force.  That’s all there is.

Let’s listen to Deepak teach us to let life flow and then we’ll meditate.

Deepak:

Change is inevitable, as we all realize, but we accept some changes while resisting others.  We push for the outcomes we like and reject the ones we dislike.  We hold expectations that some major event, getting married, having a child, earning a promotion, will make everything better.  And when things don’t turn out the way we anticipated we are disappointed.  These patterns of expectations and disappointment stop the flow of life, as many people experience on a daily basis.

Dee:

I love the slogan I learned in AA, “No expectations, no disappointments.”  Going with the flow is a way better, easier, freer way to live!

The opposite of flow is resistance, pushing against what is happening right now for your desired outcome.  Flow is about living without preconceptions or resistance.  However, people will say, “Sometimes I have to resist if I face a situation that is harmful or headed for failure.”

But flow isn’t about passively giving in to everything and, certainly, not giving way to negativity and failure.  Instead flow involves a trust in life to bring what is needed.  In any given situation you are open and offer no resistance.  If the present moment calls for strength, it arises.  If the present moment calls for a creative breakthrough or comment that soothes tension, it arises.

Dee:

Recovery has gifted me with a Power Greater Than Myself, a God of My Own Understanding.  It has taken many “one day at a time”s to be able to trust, surrender to, accept and embrace this Power.  But I have experienced time and time again that if I do trust and let things happen, if I turn off the self-will and control, that things do happen greater than I could ever have anticipated.  I do get what I need, not what I want.  It’s so perfect!

Any and all responses, including love, insight, truth, creativity and kindness, are available when you’re in the flow.  There is no cut and dry response.  You are as flexible in your response as life itself.

Clearly the way of life ingrained by society isn’t like this.  We are trained to have automatic reactions.  We feel safe behind the familiar boundaries the ego has created.  Being totally open without expectations may initially sound threatening.  But in meditation we experience that this open, unbounded awareness is safe.  In fact, contrary to the ego the only place without fear is total openness.  It is the place where the present moment can do whatever it likes because we are secure in ourselves.  We don’t need to defend our ego boundaries and we don’t suffer because our expectations weren’t met.

Living in the flow is an experience that needs to be nurtured and understood firsthand.  There are definite stages of letting go…working through old fears, dropping your fixed reactions and learning the art of allowing.  As the ego loses its grip a more holistic way of life evolves.  Only in wholeness can there be flow.  Achieving this new state involves a journey into a new conception of time.

Dee:

Yet another reminder from the word “wholeness”.  While in a 21-day treatment program every morning in Group we were required to introduce ourselves and say an affirmation.  My affirmation was, “I am a good person.  I am a whole person”.  Wow.  This brings back so much transitioning from active alcoholic to grateful alcoholic in recovery.

I hated myself.  I looked myself in the mirror every morning physically putting the letter “L” on my forehead because I was a loser; I could not go a day without drinking.  I felt like shit.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I had no purpose.  I was so not “a good person” nor “a whole person”.

Is it odd or is it God that today much of my business comes from mosaic affirmations, motivational and inspirational quotes.  And I get to share with customers and people who enter my “Dee bubble” how I got started with affirmations, if they inquire.  They love it.  I love it!  The rigorous honesty.  The openness.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “I let my life flow without resistance.  I let my life flow without resistance.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe, slowly and deeply.  With each breath allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  This mantra  means my individuality is the totality of life.  It reveals that our present moment awareness is always in relationship to everything and everyone in the universe.  Repeat it silently to yourself, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.  Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises, or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.  Aham Brahmasmi.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

I let my life flow without resistance.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

Aham Brahmasmi
The true nature of myself is the wholeness of the universe.

Dee:

Mahalo for your time in sharing this meditation experience with me.  This is one small way I get to share my purpose…sharing my Experience, Strength and Hope.  If I don’t give it away, I can’t keep what was so freely given me when I needed it most.

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in my mosaic affirmations please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series, “Making Every Moment Matter”, a Chopra Center Meditation.

Where Does the Time Go?

WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?

“Consciousness is beyond time, consciousness is timelessness.” – Osho

Over these next three weeks, we will explore that state of awareness in which every moment matters. The pressures of our family, jobs, and relationships can make us feel that we don’t have enough time to do the things that are important to us, sometimes leading to a sense of being unfulfilled.

Together we will discover that we don’t get true fulfillment through time management, but rather by living in the here and now. Wisdom traditions tell us that the present moment is outside of clock time; it is the eternal now. This Meditation Experience will show you how to thrive in the world of time when you live from your timeless self.  In the following weeks, we will learn how to embrace time as the realm of self-awareness, self-unfolding, and total inner fulfillment.

In today’s meditation, we learn that time is really about fulfillment. Using your time well comes down to how fulfilled you are in the present moment. When we feel content and centered inside, everything we do is more effective, efficient, and satisfying. On our meditation journey together, we will experience and understand that when we manage the time demands of our life from our timeless self, then every moment of life matters.

Dee:

Right here, right now, is perfect.  I sit listening to this meditation.  Typing it really solidifies it for me.  And then I get to share it.  I feel content.  I feel light.  The to-do list of my day pops in and out of my head, but this is what is in front of me right here, right now.  Taking some time for Dee will make a Dee a better person today.

Oprah:

Deepak and I welcome you to our 21-Day Meditation Experience…Making Every Moment Matter.  Like so many of you I, too, have struggled with time management.  How to honor my own time as well as the time that belongs to the people in my life.

In the coming weeks we’ll look beyond how we perceive the limitations of time.  We’ll learn how to release the power of the almighty “to do” list, reframe the constant state of “busy”, and replace those stress points with life-changing lessons in how to make every moment count.

In week one we will gain a new understanding of the principles of time in order to relieve the all too familiar anxiety of racing against the clock.  In week two we’ll explore how our perception of time is deeply affected by the wounds of our past.  By learning to let go of that angst we’ll experience how living in the moment can bring an entirely new meaning to the hours, minutes, and seconds of the day.

And finally in week three time is expanded as we understand how breathing in the depth of each moment sharpens our experience until the pressure of time is lifted all while our productivity increases.

Welcome to Day 1, “Where Does the Time Go?”  Let’s begin our first day answering the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”.  I’ve come to believe that busyness is the catch phrase, in fact a trap for all of us in these times.  Some people are so weighed down by the pressure to finish tasks, to meet goals, and check off the box that they’re folding into themselves.  Others wear their overwhelming schedule like a beleaguered badge of honor, and still more allow resentment to take hold until all those “to do’s” start to feel like “have to’s” and life quickly, as we know, spins out of control.

I remember talking with Tina Turner after she retired from her legendary music career.  She was newly married to her long time love and living in Switzerland.  She told me that despite all of the rock star attention, the awards and accolades her life onstage brought her, it also could be depleting.  Tina told me her last tour took every ounce of energy out of her but she stayed focused on the greater purpose; she knew eventually that life on the road would lead her home.  Not just to her house, but the place where she decided she wanted to be.

This was a great lesson for me.  At the time I was traveling over two-hundred days out of the year for interviews, a movie I was filming, for meetings to support the O Network.  And, like Tina, I was exhausted.  But I had not yet decided for myself what was worthy of my time.  Instead of listening to the signs along the way I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated until finally I was no longer able to fully focus on all there was to do.

I made a proclamation to myself, finally, and to those around me that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  I knew I was the one who had to determine what mattered most, create a different relationship with the time in my day, and allow for space in every day to restore myself.   By doing that I found freedom and maybe a few extra moments.

Dee:

In 1998 I realized that this was not the life I envisioned for myself.  It wasn’t about time or busyness.  Is was about my alcoholism.  Every moment of everyday during this part of my journey through life was focused only on the next drink.  When can I have it (is right now appropriate or will I be found out)?  Where can I buy it (did I buy there yesterday and what will they think)?  Do I have responsibilities that will be affected if I drink now (will I be fired if a co-worker smells alcohol on my breath)?

I was forced into a proclamation to myself when I didn’t show up for work.  Too drunk.  I was found out.  That was the life-changing moment for me, my bottom, when I finally had to ask for help.  My life has continued to improve since that day…

Today I feel exactly as Tina did during our conversation.  These are my glory days, this moment, this one, right now.  Your journey to make peace with time also begins now.  Let’s listen to Deepak and then we will meditate together.

Deepak:

What was the best time of your life?  If you can say, “Right now is the best time of my life” you are saying something that comes naturally to everyone when their inner life is fulfilled.  Fulfillment is what time is all about because fulfillment is what life is about.  Without inner fulfillment time isn’t on your side.

Dee: 

I really can say that right now is the best time of my life.  I wouldn’t go back one day, one minute.  I have a contentment in recovery that I never had before.  I am freer and finally comfortable in my own skin.

But that does not mean I am not going crazy right now running my own business, getting ready for the holiday selling, cleaning the house for holiday visitors, trying to get everything done so that I can enjoy my company and be my best when I’m out selling.  

I’ve been working around the clock taking time only for sleep and a bit of eating.  This is not how I usually fly.  Taking time out to listen to this meditation series and writing this blog is exactly what I need to get me back centered before getting back to a long night of work.

This redefines time management.  Instead of being about scheduling, being on time, meeting deadlines, and getting everything you want to do for yourself and with your family and friends, time management is about how you feel inside.  It’s about a state of awareness that has made time an ally on your personal path to fulfillment.

When we look at the clock and say with exasperation, “Where did the time go?”, the real question should be, “Where did the opportunities go?”  When you manage time from the inside opportunities aren’t missed.  You are less frustrated and frantic.  But when you manage time poorly every day is a race against the clock.  This, too, is an inner choice, not the fault of time running out.  At any time of the day you can feel stressed or relaxed.  Like you’re standing still or moving forward.

Dee:

Tonight when I go to bed I know I can be proud that I did the best I could.  I will never be perfect, but doing the best I can is always reassuring.  And being humbled and grateful for these accomplishments really gets me back in the moment.  I am not in control.  I have a Power Greater Than Myself to guide me and watch over me letting me know that everything is going just the way it’s supposed to.

Most people don’t recognize this choice and, therefore, let the rush of daily events dictate their mood and behavior.  Of course there are external stresses and unexpected setbacks, but really the difference between a good day and a bad day is the inner world of the person who’s having it.

We must first address some basic issues about time so that you can feel on top of things instead of never knowing where time goes.  We all heard the adage about taking time to stop and smell the roses.  Good advice.  But it would be far better to be the gardener who grows the roses and lives with them constantly.

The Worlds Wisdom Traditions have pondered and taught the mystery of time for centuries.  The first teaching was presented today.  Look inward.  What’s important isn’t the hours and minutes of the clock, but your experience.  How you relate to the passage of time makes all the difference and, ultimately, it will define how well you live in the present moment, how you age, your sense of fulfillment, and the satisfaction of a life well spent.

As we prepare to meditate together let’s take a moment to consider our centering thought, “The best time of my life is now.”  “The best time of my life is now.”  Now let’s prepare for our meditation.  Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes.  Begin to be aware of your breath and just breathe slowly and deeply.  Within yourself allow yourself to become more deeply relaxed.

Now gently introduce the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  This mantra means “I am” and connects our awareness to the timeless simplicity of our true self.  Pure awareness.  Repeat it silently to yourself.  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  With each repetition feel your body, mind and spirit open into an expanded state of awareness.

Whenever you find yourself distracted by thoughts, noises or physical sensations, simply return your attention to silently repeating the mantra, “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”  “So Hum.”

CENTERING THOUGHT

The best time of my life is now.

SANSKRIT MANTRA

So Hum

I am.

Dee:

The best time of my life is now.  So Hum.  I am.  I am the best Dee I can be.  I am not alone.  I am a good person and a whole person (my affirmation I said every day in group while I was in a treatment program).  I surely am a good person and a whole person which is night and day of the person who entered rehab in 1998 and hated herself.  I have a purpose to share with you today that you are the best you can be right here, right now, and that is perfect!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in Inspirational and Motivational Art with a Message, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com for great affirmations and quotes.  Mahalo and have a great day!

From Deepak and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Series “Making Every Moment Matter”, from the Chopra Center.

NO REGRETS: 10 WAYS TO START EACH DAY WITH A CLEAN SLATE

No Regrets: 10 Ways to Start Each Day with a Clean Slate 

By Tamara Lechner

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“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss”—Jonathan Larson

There’s a Buddhist parable called The Second Arrow. The story explains that in life, pain is inevitable. You will experience the pain of loss, betrayal, diagnosis, or grief. The pain is likened to being shot by an arrow and is outside of your personal control. However, when you get stuck pulling on the arrow and complaining about the arrow to show people that you have been shot, the subsequent pain, anger, and suffering is entirely your fault. This is the second arrow.

Living a fully present life keeps you from rehashing your mistakes, your breakups, and the job you should have taken. It allows peace of mind. You may know this already and yet pain from the past intrudes on your present- day happiness. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the second arrow.

1. Practice Gratitude

Being truly grateful keeps you in the moment. When you focus your attention on something or someone, your feelings of reverence will keep you in the moment. Gratitude (http://www.chopra.com/articles/how-to- develop-a-gratitude-mindset) happens in the now, no matter when the experience that you are grateful for actually happened.

Dee:

That I “get to” wake up every morning, rather than “come to” after a night of substance abuse, and wake up excited to greet the day, is something for which I shall be eternally grateful.  Coming out of decades of an exhausting substance abuse nightmare has taught me how grateful I am to be right here, right now, in recovery.  Recovery is my priority as is turning my life and will over to a Power Greater Than Myself.  Life has got fuller, more meaningful, and easier.  I have a purpose today to share my experience, strength and hope with others who don’t have it yet.

2. Make a No “What Ifs” Rule

Spinning on what might have been keeps you from moving forward. Your thoughts may seem to circle back again and again to the things you think you could or should have done differently. When you catch yourself thinking a “what if,” just recognize that you didn’t and move forward.

(http://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within)

Dee:

I really feel today that everything happens for a reason.  The good, the bad, the ugly have all brought me to where I am in the present moment.  I am always in transition; I shall be a different person 5 minutes from now.  And I continue to learn and grow from everything that occurs within and around me.  I shall live with the “glass half full” mentality and positively move forward to be the best I can be.

3. Reframe Your Past to Make You the Hero in Your Life Story

You may tell your story in a way that doesn’t paint a flattering picture. Try to rethink your scenario in a way that has you in a position of power. For example, if you regret not going to college, instead of continuing to tell a story of regret, decide to either make a plan to get to college or to tell a story that supports the path you chose instead.

Dee:

I no longer regret that I am an alcoholic.  I no longer live in shame.  Recovery from alcoholism has created a new me.  I’m a person comfortable in my own skin, who understands what makes me tick.  I no longer have to react.  I no longer have to understand everything.  I can let go and let God, live in the moment, be humble and grateful.  Again, I feel this life journey has happened just the way it was supposed to, to make me this content and light-hearted being that I am today.  I can simplify my life and prioritize the handful of people, places and things that are meaningful.

4. Get Physical

Take a dance class or a yoga class, or give surfing or rollerblading a go. When you choose an activity that requires your focus to balance or to learn a sequence of motions, your brain will be busy doing something other than ruminating on your past.

Dee:

I have recently joined a gym that offers yoga and a wealth of other classes.  The hour or so I spend there is just for me.  I leave my head and my thoughts at the door.  And I take the time to chisel the fascia off my bones from years of neglect.  The pile of life that was and will always be on my plate is still there but nibbling away at it, one morsel at a time, seems actually kind of fun with my new mindset after a good workout.

5. Make a to-Do List

Having a plan for today keeps you from feeling ungrounded. If you fill your day with meaningful tasks (http://www.chopra.com/articles/5-reasons-to-never-ditch-your-to-do-list), you will have something to keep you from falling back into the pattern of regret.

Dee:

I have good days and I have bad days.  So my goal is to just cross three things a day off my To-Do List that goes on into eternity.  It feels so good to cross off three accomplishments.  Then it feels great to cross off one or two more if that is where I’m being called by my heart to do.  Three things is easy; three-hundred is overwhelming.

6. Go Outside

Nature is like a natural reset button on your brain. The chemicals it releases when you get fresh air and sunshine help to overcome the ones released when you are sad, angry, or anxious. Use nature to sweep away the negative.

Dee:

I am so blessed to work in my back patio.  Feeling the breeze as if God were wrapping His arms around me gets me grounded.  Being in tune with the birds helps to quiet the din in my crazy mind.  Most of my day is spent out here and my creative juices get nourished.  But even when I’m away from home I get outside daily.  It’s like a meditation or new scenery or a new outlook on life.

7. Remember, Happiness is a Choice

In every moment, you have the choice to be happy. Victor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and founded the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” is quoted as saying, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” If you are choosing regret as a pattern, consciously make the decision to replace regret with a different emotion. Happiness (http://www.chopra.com/articles/where-do-you-stack-up-on-the-happiness-scale), hope, excitement, or curiosity are a few good ones.

Dee:

Living with a positive mindset sure beats the other option.  It changes EVERYTHING!  Even when tragedy occurs keeping a positive outlook rather than sitting on that pity-pot allows forward movement.  And who wants to go back?  I wouldn’t go back one day!

8. Start with a Mantra or Affirmation

If your day begins with a thought like, “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” or “I’m excited for what today will bring,” it keeps your focus on the present and future. Choose a positive affirmation (http://www.chopra.com/articles/daily-affirmations-your-hour-by-hour-positivity-plan) to start each day.

Dee:

I still go back to 1998.  I was in a 21-day alcohol treatment program in Reno, Nevada.  Our days were rigorously scheduled from sunup to sundown and beyond.  In a group community session we started each day stating an affirmation.  I made up “I am a good person; I am a whole person.”  At that time after decades of an exhausting journey of substance abuse, I felt anything but good or whole.  I was a horrible mother, horrible wife, horrible person.  I was a waste of space on the planet.  I didn’t know why I was even here.  I hated myself and looked in the mirror with my hand shaped like an “L” on my forehead and called myself a loser.

Today “I am a good person; I am a whole person” is still my mantra, my affirmation.  And today I feel good in my skin; I love myself for who and what I am at this very moment.  I embrace my journey and my past and my future.  This didn’t come overnight.  One day at a time, just like in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Everything in baby steps.  Be kind to yourself.

9. End with a Highlight Reel

Getting to sleep can be difficult if your thoughts keep circling to what could have been. Try counting your blessings instead of counting sheep. It makes for a nice transition from waking to sleeping state and sets your mind up to begin positively the next morning.

Dee:

Again, baby steps.  It takes practice and patience to get to the place of living positively, gratefully, humbly.  But it’s sure worth the time and effort to get to the place where “there are no big deals”.  Everything is perfect at this moment.  Be joyful.

10. Avoid Comparing

Social media like Facebook or LinkedIn has a way of showing you the highlight reel of your friends’ lives. Make sure you don’t compare their highlights (http://www.chopra.com/articles/comparing-yourself-again-4-tips-to- survive-social-media-envy) to your unedited version.

Life isn’t a contest. Wherever you are at this time is exactly perfect for you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be there. Discover Deepak Chopra’s daily habits to find peace and happiness—no matter what is going on in your life—at our Weekend Within retreat. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/live-events/weekend-within/).

Dee:

Unlike the new focusing on the bad happening in the world, social media mainly focuses on the good.  We rarely see the good the mankind is accomplishing in the world.  It doesn’t sell news.  We rarely experience the tragedies, depression, heart-ache our friends are going through on social media.  There’s a time and place for sharing those feelings and social media is not the place.  That’s why in AA we have a fellowship and we have sponsors who know us, love us, understand us and don’t judge us.  So don’t compare yourself with those on social media.  You haven’t walked in their shoes now know the whole story…  Just love yourself for who you are today, share the gifts that God gave you with the world, and know that everything is perfect at this very moment…especially YOU!!!

Aloha, Dee

For those interested in inspiring Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have a “be kind to yourself” day!

About the Author

Tamara Lechner (/bios/tamara-lechner) Certified Instructor: Meditation

Tamara Lechner is a happiness expert and Chopra-Certified Primordial Sound Meditation (/articles/what-is- primordial-sound-meditation) Instructor. Her mission is to be so happy that those around her cannot help but step into her light. She enjoys writing, speaking, and teaching about how a positive mindset affects business, relationships, health, and life satisfaction. Tamara is often found throwing epic parties or walking barefoot in the sand. Join her on The Happiness Trajectory (http://www.ahamoments4u.com/free-online–the-happiness- trajectory.html), a free online mindset reboot, or find out more about her at… Read more (/bios/tamara-lechner)