When You Feel Like Crap, And What To Do About It 

 When You Feel Like Crap, And What To Do About It 

by Josiah Samuel Harry 

The Mindfullness Show is back for another season. In this season (Season 2), we will be discussing the hottest topics relating to pop culture and news around the world.

You are vertical and ventilating, but you still feel like crap.  Every success initiative you employ seems to flop.  Your dreams and goals appear to be out of reach, and you’re no longer enjoying life as you once did.  Even the universe itself seems to be conspiring against you.  So how do you get yourself out of the shitty mood and get back on the path to success? 

Start your day with positive affirmation.  Make it a habit to avoid thoughts or conversations that undermine your dreams.  Do not give power and energy to negativity or anything that will deplete your mental strength.  Instead, you ought to retrain your focus on motivating energy.  Do your best to use positive words when talking.  Start your day with statements like: “I am so happy and grateful to see another beautiful day” or “I love myself for who I am” or “I will put forth my best effort and accept responsibility for my success and happiness.” 

Dee:

I use positive affirmations regularly.  I am a firm believer they work, to at least get me back in the moment in front of me.

When I was in an alcohol treatment program our group started our day reciting an affirmation we chose for ourselves.  I chose “I am a good person.  I am a whole person”.  Well, for starts, I’m in rehab so I’m not feeling real good about myself.  As a matter of fact, I feel like shit, a loser, a waste of space on the planet.  I cannot go a day without drinking.

The treatment program taught me I have the disease of alcoholism.  Then one day at a time, doing what was suggested to me there and in the rooms of AA, I began to get better.  I continued repeating that affirmation daily.  It took a long time but eventually I did feel like a good person and a whole person.  Today I not only feel it, I know I AM it!

I am also finding that it takes a lot of energy to be in a shitty mood.  It’s so much easier and lighter to be positive and optimistic.  So there’s another choice I have made to better myself and my life.  The energy I have today will be used in a helpful, hopeful, and useful way.

So if I feel shitty or have shitty thoughts I say, “Thank you for coming.  I embrace you.  You do not serve me, so please go.”  And then I allow those feeling and thoughts to be whisked away into the clouds.

Shift your paradigm.  A paradigm is a host of thoughts, ideas, and experiences that frame one’s reality.  In order to see success through its fulfillment, it necessitates adopting new beliefs that bridge your ridiculously-impossible dream with effort, skill, passion.  If your goals are small, then your effort will follow suit, and your success outcomes will likely be small.  This isn’t to say that bigger is always better, but sometimes it is. 

Dee:

I hope to never give up being a kid with a wild imagination and dreams and hopes.  If I give that up why bother going on?  There is nothing to look forward to or to be excited about.

I allow the dreams and hopes to surface from my heart and not my head.  My head seems to stifle my aspirations with rationalizations and fear.  My heart fills me with joy and potential.  Therefore, I choose to live today with a new m.o…from my heart and not my head…from that angel on my shoulder and not the devil on the other shoulder.   

And I have found that living this way, and by turning my will and my life over to the care of a Power Greater Than Myself (as suggested in the rooms of AA), I DO get to experience the Promises (pages 83-84, Chapter 6 “Into Action”, in Alcoholics Anonymous, written by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob)…in a way far greater than I could ever have imagined!

Match your actions with your ambitions.  If your goal is to establish a functional stable Mars colony, then you will need a spacecraft large and powerful enough to get you to Mars.  In order to experience high-level success, you must prioritize and devote a ton of time to the tasks that will get you closer to your goals.  Don’t let the mantra: “Everybody wants to be a winner until it’s time to do what winners do” define your reality. 

Dee:

Actions speak louder than words.  Walk my talk.  But I don’t want to.  I don’t have time.  It’s not fun.  

I used these excuses in my business I started five years ago.  Putting together an online business requires knowledge and computer skills.  Didn’t light a spark in me 5 years ago.  It was suggested to me to do certain things that, again, didn’t float my boat.  So 5 years later with just a so-so business I have chosen to better myself and my business.

I have enrolled in on-line courses, narrowing down to one particular instructor who fits me and my needs.  Hours, months, years of research.  I am finally doing what is suggested and the spark is starting to ignite.  You see, “When the student is ready, the master appears.”  Now is my time, not 5 years ago.

So the last few months I have poured myself into redesigning my website, focusing on my brand and target market, concentrating on policies and procedures.  And today I am exited to do this.  When the time is right…when I am right…it will happen!

Pivot.  To pivot is to change direction and make necessary adjustments to get you on a path that will lead to considerable growth and success.  When you conclude that you are no longer on the correct path based on experience and evidence, then it is time to redirect your time, money, and effort to another success initiative.  Sometimes you have the right idea, but there isn’t a market for that idea, yet.  So fish where the fish are, and remember to use the right bait. 

Dee:

So changing my direction and remembering who and what I am…an alcoholic in recovery with a purpose to share my experience, strength and hope…I have concentrated my efforts on a business to do just that…offer compassion, mindfulness and optimism to those who are seeking that.

I remember how important affirmations are to my life so I share them with my target market in a fun and beautiful way.  I have created art with a message to offer enjoyment and a reminder to stay in the moment and embrace who and what you are, right here, right now.  It’s finally making sense to me.  The fire is finally lit and the kid in me is excited to go to work every morning like being in a candy store.

Persist.  To persist means to rise to the occasion when your best performance is needed most—and that’s every day.  Remaining focused on accomplishing your goals in the face of opposition, setbacks, and unforeseen challenges is hard work.  Achieving your greatest potential takes time—meaning years, even decades.  Nonetheless, if you desire to experience unparalleled success, then you must be willing to stretch beyond the limits of your creative endurance. 

The common denominator among the five points above is perspective.  That is, setting high and realistic expectations for yourself and celebrating the path you are on while learning and growing. 

Dee:

So this journey of improving my business is interconnected with my journey of improving myself and my life in recovery.  Yes, we do all have to earn a living and I have chosen a path that allows my passion to thrive.

And it takes heaps of time, endurance, patience…improving my life and my business.  It is exciting to know that I am right where I need to be and that my Higher Power has my back and is guiding me in the direction that is best for me, one that serves me by serving HIm.

Yes, I’ve got to keep everything in perspective.  Remember to stay in the moment which means to stay grateful, and humble, and to Turn It Over.  It’s all interconnected.  We are all interconnected.  No coincidences.

Mahalo for being here.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in checking out my Art with a Message of hope and optimism using motivational quotes and affirmations, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Enjoy!

Josiah Samuel Harry | May 8, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Tags: #america, #beauty, #blog, #blogging, #inspiration, #life, #lifestyle, #love, #men, #motherhood, #motivation, #parenting, #success, #women, #writing, awakening, Blogger, josiah harry, josiah samuel harry, natural, nature, New Post, News, Personal Development, Self Empowerment, self-improvement, the mindfullness show, When You Feel Like Shit, 

Since you’re here… 

…I wrote a book about love with the aim of sparking a national conversation about tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. The goal is to get Choose Love Not Hate into every home and school, and make our communities places of intercultural learning and hubs of compassion. It would mean the world to me if you ordered a copy of Choose Love Not Hate today. Thank you. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 12:18:46 PM HST 

http://josiahharry.blog/2018/05/08/when-you-feel-like-crap-and-what-to-do-about-it/ 

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AND SO ROCK BOTTOM BECAME THE SOLID FOUNDATION ON WHICH I BUILT MY LIFE

AND SO ROCK BOTTOM BECAME THE SOLID FOUNDATION ON WHICH I BUILT MY LIFE

by Dee Harris

   I was just blessed with a 5-Year Chip.  “What is that?”, you ask.  Chips in Alcoholics Anonymous represent milestones of time achieved in sobriety.  There are 24-Hour Chips, also called Desire Chips.  There are monthly chips.  There are yearly chips.  These all represent surrender and acceptance and the time we have being clean and sober.

   “Surrender to what?”  For me there are many words I’ve learned since birth that hold negative connotations.  Surrender was one of them.  I’ve had to unlearn much of what I adopted from society.  

   Today surrender for me means I accept that I am an alcoholic.  I’ve learned that alcoholism is a disease that I did not choose, nor can I will-power away.  Kind of like being a woman or of Chinese descent.  It is what it is.  Period.  Therefore, surrender is no longer a word in my dictionary holding thoughts of loss.  In this case for me, it actually denotes thoughts of victory…accepting the cards I’ve been dealt and being okay with them, but more so, even thriving from them.

   “So what’s the big deal with these chips?”  Even though one of the slogans I learned in AA is “There are no big deals”, receiving these chips IS A BIG DEAL to me.  You see, I’m an alcoholic.  That means I have a physical allergy to alcohol and a mental obsession to it as well.  

   Believe you me that I have tried every imaginable remedy to NOT drink everyday, morning, noon and night.  Why was it that drinking was all I could think about?  Aaahhh…done with work.  Now I can drink.  Aaahhh…work week is over.  Now I can drink.  Aaahhh…holiday.  Now I can drink.  Well that snowballed into everyday that ends in “Y”.  Now I can drink.  It snowballed from “now I can drink” to “I have to drink.”  Drinking took over my entire life, my mind, body and soul.  Shitty, yeah?

   So for an alcoholic who has reached rock bottom, who cannot live a normal life without drinking, any length of time in sobriety IS A BIG DEAL.  But I am here to share another big deal that I’ve learned along my journey through life.  Once I built that solid foundation of a life in recovery, there are no guarantees that I get to keep it.

   Why would I want to keep it?  Because I don’t HAVE TO DRINK today and everyday.  I don’t have to live my entire life in negativity and despair.  I don’t have to hate and loathe myself.  I don’t have to feel I’m a waste of space on the planet.

   Today I get to have a purpose to share my experience, strength and hope with the world.  That includes sharing my journey with other alcoholics who are struggling with or trying to get to sobriety.  But that also includes sharing my journey and optimism with everyone who enters my bubble who has demons with which they are dealing.  We all have them.

   Alcoholics Anonymous, the fellowship, the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, have gifted me with a life beyond my wildest dreams!  Please note, that I do not represent the organization of Alcoholics Anonymous in any way, shape or form.  Everything shared here is my opinion.  My growth from using these tools have awarded me self-love, self-worth, and self-respect.  I had none of that before getting sober.  

   Why?  Because I lived in fear.  The experiences I received from society ingrained in me that more is better…more power, more money, more beauty, more material things, more of all that stuff that would never make me happy inside my being.

   So I lived a life trying to impress you.  I lived a life of a lie because I didn’t love myself.  Today my story is to stress to you that you do not have to live this way.  Be true to yourself.  Love yourself.  Accept yourself for the gift that you are.  Gifts that only you have!  And share those gifts.

   Ok.  Back to having no guarantees of keeping this most awesome life in sobriety.  You see, my life got good.  I stayed sober.  I actively participated in my recovery with the AA fellowship and did all that was suggested.  One day at a time.  But more and more good stuff kept being served up on my plate.  I couldn’t keep up.  And one day at a time I sacrificed my AA ties for the gifts of sobriety.  I went to fewer meetings.  I stopped giving back what was so freely given me when I needed it most.  I separated myself from the newcomer so I forgot what it was like struggling to get sober.

   I “thought” I was staying connected to my Higher Power, a Power Greater Than Myself, to which I vowed to turn over my will and my life.  But without staying active with the AA fellowship, my thoughts once again took over.  Dee’s will once again took over.  I was fooling myself and had no genuinely interested party to call me on my shit.

   When offered that shot of tequila the words vomited from my mouth, “No, thank you.  I haven’t had a drink in 13 and a half years.”  Vomit.  Just words.  No meaning.  No heart.  So when that drink was left for me, it yelled at me.  My insurance policy had lapsed long ago when I stopped going to meetings.  So I drank it.

   Immediately the devil and the drink, the disease of Alcoholism, took over every fiber of my being.  Immediately I wanted more.  Thus, lying, cheating, hiding and all the negativity that comes with my drinking once again reared its ugly head.  You see, the disease was doing push ups waiting for that pinhole of weakness to arise.  And it did!

   Once being exposed to AA and going back out (drinking, drugging), actively using will never be the same.  We have learned where this disease will take us.  To the gates of insanity, hell or death.  “Thinking” that I was having a nervous breakdown, my doctor told me to simply get back into AA.  Never even occurred to me; that’s how sick I was.

   Once again I am on that pick cloud of life in sobriety doing everything suggested by the fellowship and my new sponsor.  I take a 1-Year Chip.  And then…

   I guess I wasn’t truly ready to surrender to this disease.  I needed to play Russian Roulette just one more time.  When my dentist asked if I had any pain pills before extracting a tooth (and I did check off on the admission form that I AM an alcoholic; so what?), this happy little kid in a candy store elatedly said, “No!”  Off and running again. So when there was no pain and plenty of pills left, I knew I had blown my sobriety, so I drank them down.  

   Hey, I was actively involved in AA and the fellowship.  What gives?  My Higher Power gives.  He gives me lessons and a journey to bring me to where He needs me to be.

   A few more months of enjoying the high of lying, cheating, hiding.  Hitting meetings and repeatedly saying, “Hi, I’m Dee.  I’m an alcoholic.  I drank last night”.  Then drinking again.  Going through an out-patient program.  Hitting my knees.  Hoping through osmosis that I would stop drinking.

   Surrender and acceptance.  Today I have a 5-year chip.  I also have a 1-year chip.  And a 13-year chip.  No guarantees, boys and girls.  Please, do not “Keep Coming Back”.  PLEASE, DO NOT EVER LEAVE!!!

   Much aloha to you and thank you for reading.  Know that you are not unique and definitely not alone.  We are here for you.  Not to judge you but to love you until you can love yourself.  Know not to feel guilt nor shame.  Just accept and surrender.  Let’s ride this pink cloud together…forever and ever!

   Aloha, Dee

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

HOPE: THE MAGIC INGREDIENT YOU NEED IN LIFE

Hope: The Magic Ingredient You Need in Life

By Melissa Eisler

In a world full of fear, stress, and sadness, it can become second-nature to develop a negative worldview. There seems to be more pain than you can heal, more dissent than you can mediate, and more uncertainty than you can make sense of. In times like these, what options are there to comfort yourself and bring forth positivity?

The difference between those who let their circumstances bring them down and those who choose to embrace the goodness of life and find that comfort lies with the important element ofhope.

Hope is a powerful antidote to feelings of despair and desolation. A life marked by hope is a life marked by optimism, regardless of where you find yourself It doesn’t mean that you are always happy or that you can’t feel emotions like hurt, sadness, or anger, but it does mean that your view of your circumstances – and those of the world around you – goes beyond what is actually happening.

When you hold onto hope, you begin to understand that you are part of a greater narrative that includes both global and personal experiences of joy and suffering. Simply put, hope brings perspective. It can sustain you during the hard times and bring even more fulfillment to the good times.

While hope acts as the perpetual light in the midst of darkness, it’s not easily cultivated in the dark. Develop your hope muscles while times are good so that you can better tap into it when life takes a turn for the worse. Here are four ways to cultivate hope.

Seek Inspiration

Hope requires a dependence on something greater than yourself. Where it’s honoring a Higher Power or recognizing that the Universe has pieces at play that are beyond your control, hope is built on the understanding that you and your circumstances are not the epicenter of what

makes the world move. Tapping into that understanding helps you gain perspective and allows you to not depend simply on your feeling about a particular situation.

Dee:

Before getting clean and sober I had no Higher Power…I had no hope. I was spiraling fast into the depths of hell. But having no religion in my background I had no clue about Heaven and Hell, God, Devil, any of that. But from my experiences growing up I felt that drugs and alcohol were what the Devil was all about.

By the grace of a Power Greater than Myself I miraculously found myself in a treatment program. There I learned that I could have a Higher Power of my own understanding. So I made one up. It was full of good…kindness, love, warmth, forgiveness, happiness…and everything that gave me hope. Over the years my Higher Power has developed and strengthened and has guided me to strengthen as well.

Today I turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power. I let it do the driving and teach me what I need to learn as I ride along in the passenger seat. I turn my control over to this entity and find my life is so much easier, lighter and rewarding that I could have ever imagined possible!

Use times of prayer and meditation to reflect on the good in the world, starting with what you are thankful for in your immediate surroundings (including opportunities you’ve had and loved ones who surround you). Then, reflect on your broader community. Instead of harping on the negative things happening in life, see how people are caring for each other and improving the lives of those around them. See the world how it could be and recognize that your sense of being is found beyond the temporal world. Get inspired by all the good there is in the world – because it is always there, it is sometimes just buried under the muck.

Dee:

I strive to keep negativity out of my life and look at the glass half full. Even in the darkest, most hideous events, I can find a pinhole of positivity. These events seem to bring people and communities together, to love and show compassion, to be of service and just “there” for one another. Most of us human beings are full of goodness; we just don’t sell news.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Oftentimes, the who and what you surround yourself with dictates whether or not you have a positive or negative worldview. There is power in surrounding yourself with positive people, environments, and experiences that bring you joy and encourage you to become the person you want to be. This doesn’t have to mean that your life has to be all rainbows and butterflies, but it does mean that you should put some effort into surrounding yourself with elements that create a positive life.

Dee:

Today my life is full of like-minded people in recovery. We have all come from depths of hell in our own ways to find the light and hope in a life without substance abuse. We are all so grateful

and humble for this new life and our purpose is to share our experience, strength and hope with all who are struggling.

Not all of us in recovery are happy, joyous and free. Some are still pretty negative and on their pity-pots. When they choose to remain there for this part of their journey I must distance myself so not to jeopardize my own sobriety, serenity and chi. But not without first stressing that I am here for them when they are ready to turn it over to a Power Greater Than Themselves.

This also means purposefully distancing yourself from negativity. Creating boundaries to protect yourself from negativity can be challenging. It might mean limiting time with a life-long friend or family member who is always complaining, turning off the somber news reports you’ve become addicted to, or switching joys to avoid a toxic workplace. While it can be difficult to make these types of life changes, saying no to negativity and yes to your well-being can create a life that will sustain you through good times and bad. By leading a positive life, you are honoring your own needs.

Dee:

I oftentimes get to spend weeks at a time with family members who ruffle my feathers. Sometimes I can walk into a room and cut the tension with a knife. I try to be mindful and in the moment, grateful for this time together. I try to make it count. But it takes energy that I feel I should not have to expend to make “quality” time with loved ones.

Turning that time into a positive helps tremendously. Remembering all the positive things that they have done for me humbles me. Tuning in to “I have no control over people, places and things” and “They are on their own journeys” reminds me that everything is perfect in this moment. I call my sponsor. I go to a meeting.

Get Involved in Your Community

One of the most effective ways to get out of your own cycle of self-reliance and tap into hope is to serve others. Your community has local organizations that need volunteers to help pack lunch bags for the homeless or build houses for families in need. You can use your professional skills to create a marketing campaign for a hospice care organization or raise funds for a cancer research center.

When you get involved in what’s happening in your community, you are exposed to different people with different views. You get a front row seat as a witness to people taking care of one another. It can restore your faith in the goodness of people and help you realize that everyone has issues they are facing; it’s not just you. While you may not be able to completely change someone’s circumstances, you can help bring joy and perspective to their situation. This helps to create a more holistic view of your own life, seeing that there is good amidst the bad.

Dee:

Because I am a recovering alcoholic most of my community involvement revolves around Alcoholics Anonymous. I learned early on that service is critical. Suiting up and showing up for a meeting is service. There I can give back what was so freely given me when I needed it most…experience, strength and hope. That is my way of saying “Thank you for this awesome

life”. I also get great joy from speaking at DUI Classes once or twice a month. If my message can give one person a glimmer of hope, then my purpose was served.

Celebrate

The truth is, there is always something you can celebrate in your life. Celebrations are usually reserved for big milestones – birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, and births – but you also have the opportunity to celebrate the little things. Take your spouse out for a casual dinner as a “job well done” for cleaning the house. Treat your kid to an ice cream cone for presenting her class project.

And the most fun celebrations don’t even have to revolve around an accomplishment. Declare next Tuesday your favorite day of that week and buy lunch for your co-workers, drive outside the city to star-gaze with a loved one just because you want to, and wear your fanciest clothes to dinner tonight just because you’re worthy of something special.

By creating a rhythm and mood of celebration, you can train your mind and heart to recognize the good in your life. This hope can sustain you through the thin and thick of life. Regardless of what you’re facing, what you see on the news, or how dire your circumstances may seem, hope can help you look at your life and say, “I’m glad to be alive.”

Dee:

Just remember to stay in the moment and know that everything is perfect at this very moment… especially YOU! You are not in control and there is a Higher Power that has your back…to guide you, protect you, teach you, love you. That Higher Power is your hope!

Aloha, Dee Harris

For those of you interested in positive and hopeful Art with a Message, please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Enjoy! Mahalo and have a hopeful day!

About the Author

Melissa Eisler
Certified Yoga and Meditation Instructor and Writer

Melissa is the Senior Content Strategist at the Chopra Center. Also a yoga instructor, she is passionate about motivating people to live a healthy, balanced, and purposeful life. Melissa is the author of The Type A’s Guide to Mindfulness: Meditation for Busy Minds and Busy People (http://amzn.to/1J1dYvz), a practical guide for new meditators in the modern world, and the creator of mindfulminutes.com (http://mindfulminutes.com/), a personal blog about mindfulness and life balance in the digital age. Melissa teaches Vinyasa classes at her favorite studio in San Diego, meditation and yoga to kids and families in the oncology ward…(Read more (/bios/melissa-eisler).

Taken from The Chopra Center

How to Be Mindful Without Meditation 

How to Be Mindful Without Meditation 

By Sara Schairer

Do you ever find yourself avoiding your meditation cushion? Whether subconsciously or on purpose, you’re not making the time to sit.  Or have you tried meditating, and you’ve decided it’s not for you?

Luckily, meditation and mindfulness are not one in the same. You don’t have to meditate in order to be mindful. Mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of thoughts, sensations, surroundings, and emotions, and meditation is one tool for developing mindfulness but isn’t the only tool.

When you are consciously bringing your wandering mind back to the present moment, you are cultivating mindfulness. You can do that in everyday life by tuning into your surroundings.

Dee:

I often remind myself that all I have is this very perfect moment, right here, right now, in front of my nose.  I’ve got to notice it, savor it, cherish it.  It will never come again as life changes constantly and I am always in transition.

When I allow myself to get in the moment, I am truly present, truly grateful.  There are no thoughts or regrets of the past.  There are no worries or anxieties of the future.  Just now.  Feeling the breeze.  Hearing the birds.  There are no coincidences of everything happening within and around me at this very moment.

Experiment with using your senses to notice these new things as you move throughout your day, and see what happens.

1. Notice Your Bed

When you first wake up, notice the feeling of your sheets against your skin and your mattress and pillow supporting you. Feel the air against your face, and notice the air temperature.

2. Take a Mindful Sip 

Stop for a moment to savor your morning beverage of choice. Smell and examine your coffee or tea before taking a slow sip. Close your eyes and wholly feel and taste the liquid on your tongue before swallowing.

3. Savor Your Shower 

Have you ever truly paid attention in the shower? What does the water feel like as it hits your skin? Notice the soap as it lathers, and tune into the feeling of the soap on your skin. Mindfully massage your scalp as you shampoo your hair.

4. Cherish Your Family Members 

If you have children or a partner at home, can you notice something new about their morning routines? With nonjudgmental curiosity, observe their moods, energy levels, morning greetings, and favorite breakfast items. What can you notice that you’ve never seen them do before?

5. Consciously Commute 

If you drive to work, try tuning into the feel of your steering wheel in your hands, and notice the air conditioning or heat against your skin. If you’re on a train, subway, or bus, first pat yourself on the back for taking mass transportation. Then tune into the feel of your seat, and take in your surroundings by noticing who is with you and what you can see and hear.

6. Look Up 

Pause to take in the sky above you. Are there clouds? What do they look like? Do you see any birds or trees? Can you see something in the sky that you’ve never seen before?

7. Truly See Your Colleagues

Is there something new you can notice about your coworkers? Perhaps the person next to you listens to classical music or has photographs of her family on his or her desk. Maybe your boss has a skip in his or her step today.

8. Slowly Munch on Lunch 

Before digging into your lunch, take a moment to examine it. What colors and textures do you see? What does it smell like? Take a small bite and allow your mouth to take it all in by noticing what the food feels like. Is it crunchy or soft? What tastes do you observe? Does the flavor change as you swallow? Try to take several slow and mindful bites. If your mind wanders, try to bring it back to the process of eating.

9. Take a Hike 

Stretch your legs in the afternoon with a walk around the block, and allow your senses to engage with your environment. Can you see something that you’ve never seen before, whether it’s on the ground, on the side of a building, or high in the sky? What do you hear? Tune into each step and notice what your legs do and how they feel with each step. Also notice your feet and the important job they have.

10. Scan Your Body 

Take a moment to close your eyes and tune into your body. Start at your toes and move up, observing each body part until you reach the top of your head. Be curious about what you find, noticing any tension, lightness, heat, pain, or other sensations. Notice if the mind wanders and creates stories about those feelings. If so, see if you can bring the mind back to the sensations without judging them.

Dee:

I use this method of scanning my body when I feel tense, when I allow myself to be riddled with tension.  I begin with totally tensing up my entire body.  And then I relax.  Starting at my toes, concentrating on them, feeling them, I release any tension.  I work my way up to my body this way.  Every part of my body up to my head, fully concentrating on each body part and releasing all tension.

I trip on what each cell in my body is doing without my awareness.  It’s magical how each cell has a purpose without my control or intentions.  They just happily go through the day doing their business, keeping my body as strong and healthy as they can.  When I have an injury or sickness they gear up the army and concentrate on the body part that is no longer strong or healthy.  They know what to do.  I can’t tell them what to do.  They fix me.  I’m better.

My brain, my heart, lungs, every organ in my body do their own thing as well.  My thoughts seldom go to what they are up to.  They know what to do.  They do it without my awareness or permission.  Again, their purpose is to keep me as strong and healthy as they can.

My eyes blink, I cough, I have an itch, my hair grows.  Again, without my control or awareness.  Our bodies are so amazing!

11. Notice Your Social Media Use 

Do you have a habit of checking Facebook or Instagram without even knowing it? Start tuning into those habits and see if you can be more intentional with your time. Once again, don’t judge yourself for the time you spend on social media, simply observe it.

12. Appreciate the Sunset 

Step outside to take in the unique colors of the sunset, and try to notice something you’ve never spotted before. Is there a cloud shape that reminds you of something or someone? What colors do you see? How does the air temperature change once the sun dips below the horizon?

13. Glimpse at the Moon and Stars 

The night sky offers up a feast for your eyes. When is the last time you truly looked at the stars and moon? Take the time to examine what’s beyond the atmosphere and allow yourself to feel awe if it arises.

14. Listen to the Sound of Silence 

As you make your final moves toward bedtime, stop, close your eyes, and listen. What do you hear, and what don’t you hear? Can you notice the sounds or silence with curiosity, allowing your ears to hear the texture of each sound?

Practicing mindfulness throughout your everyday life can help train the mind to focus on the present, with or without cushion. Observe what happens when you make noticing a priority.

Dee:

Last year as I was sitting on the beautifully manicured lawn of the Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu, mindfulness and living in the moment became a priority for me.  My husband was having heart surgery and I was waiting to hear from the doctor how the operation went.  

I remember my head bouncing from thought to thought.  It was a long month being away from home with just the clothes on our backs when we were Medivac’d immediately from the Big Island to Queen’s following a heart consultation.  I’m a busy person.  I NEED to keep busy to keep out of my thoughts and to keep sane.  I found a lauhala tree on the grounds, pulled and prepped leaves (lau) and started weaving bracelet after bracelet.  The island, the aina (land) and mana (spirit) provided me sanity and serenity.  Again, no coincidences.

But as my husband lie on the operating table and knowing that the end of his life could be near, my thoughts bombarded me with fear.  I started thinking about how I might be flying home alone.  I thought about calling my sons to help me clear out Dad’s belongings.  I thought about living in a home and having a life that would be so empty and void without my soulmate.

And then the mindfulness kicked in.  “Shit, Dee!  He’s not dead yet.  Get up to the waiting room and be there when he comes to.  Everything happens for a reason.  You’ll be okay and never alone.  If God has a purpose for Graeme greater than what he can do on this planet, be accepting and joyful for that.”  I made my way up to the waiting room.  And today…we live happily ever after.

One more thing.  I am an alcoholic in recovery.  During my quiet times on the Queen’s lawns I would sometimes think about how a drink would take the edge off.  Thank goodness I’ve stuck closely to AA and the fellowship which reminds me that it’s the first drink that will kill me.  I’ll be off and running.  I’ll be sneaking drinks and hiding booze.  I’ll have to cover up the smells of alcohol on my breath.  AND I WON’T BE FULLY PRESENT FOR MY HUSBAND who needs me NOW!  I don’t drink.  I get humble.  I get grateful.  I use the toolbox for living that Alcoholics Anonymous has given me.  I weave more bracelets.

With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in Art with a Message of Hope and Inspiration, Recovery and Being in the Moment, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and have an awesome day!

Learn the keys to conscious living from the comfort of your own home with our Primordial Sound Meditation Online Course, led by Deepak Chopra. Learn More. (https://www.chopra.com/online-courses/primordial- sound-meditation/on-demand)

About the Author

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)

From The Chopra Center

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.

3 Common Holiday Stressors—and How to Cope

3 Common Holiday Stressors—and How to Cope

By Tris Thorp

Holidays are a time for coming together with loved ones to celebrate seasonal festivities. And yet, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year for many people. Pressure to spend money, time, and energy on things that society deems important can leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and fearful of what may happen if you don’t keep up with the Joneses.

Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sang Andy Williams originally in 1963. As children, it’s likely that the holidays were a time of excitement, anticipation, wonder, and cookies! Things were so much simpler when you didn’t have to work long hours and worry about being spread thin from the cost of gifts, décor, and travel. You were free from planning the guest list and the menus, and you didn’t have to fret about challenging family dynamics.

Stressors Increase During the Holidays

As adults—both young and seasoned—you’re now aware of all that goes into holiday expectations and the guilt associated with not following through with what society has deemed appropriate. As if life hasn’t become busy enough, you’re now faced with how we’re going to manage everything from our finances to finding extra time to plan, shop and entertain, and the ensuing exhaustion. For some, the holidays may bring up emotions of sadness or loneliness from the loss of a loved one or not having that special someone to share them with. Regardless of your individual stressors there is a percentage of people who would rather pull the covers over their head for two months and sleep through all of the end-of-year celebrations.

Dee:

“What society has deemed appropriate”.  Key words for me and from which I try to stay away.  Lived there most of my life, trying to be what society deemed appropriate.  I lived in fear that I wasn’t performing well enough.  My expectations were so high and I could never achieve what I thought was good enough.

I turned to substances when stressed by not living up to expectations of society (really my expectations).  I was so worried about impressing you and not feeling good about myself that I was an absolute mess.

After many decades of living this way I hit my bottom.  I found myself in a treatment center for alcoholism and that’s where I slowly began to understand and eventually love myself.  It’s been a long yet rewarding journey to not turn to substances and away from life.  Today I get to go to bed being thankful for being the best I can be, for doing the best I could, for being me, and loving me.  And if that’s not good enough for Society, that’s okay; it’s good enough for me and my Higher Power of My Own Understanding.  Period.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by Healthline, a consumer health information site, 62 percent of respondents described their stress level as “very or somewhat” elevated during the holidays, while only 10 percent reported no stress during the season. Three of the biggest holiday stressors are finances, time, and energy. Let’s explore how the effects of stress in these three areas can show up.

Stressor: Money and Finances

It should come as no surprise that money tops the list of holiday stressors. According to a 2012 Holiday Stress Report from the American Psychological Association, stress has a major impact on lower middle class citizens who feel “the weight of stress from work plus the seasonal rush to find time to get everything done. In addition, their worries about money are heightened by the commercialism of the season and the pressure to spend a lot of money.” Commercialism plays a huge role in holiday stress with in-your-face pressure to spend, spend, spend!

Dee:

A big change I’ve made is no holiday gift-giving.  My husband is anti-“Hallmark” holidays and the commercialism that comes from them.  I now agree and do my gift-giving when I find something that touches my heart for that special someone all throughout the year.  So that special someone receives a gift “just because I’m thinking of you and love you” that is not crunched underneath a stack of boxes under the Christmas tree or on the birthday table.  A gift that is special and alone and can be appreciated all by itself on a “nothing” day.  And no standing in long lines at the post office or fighting the crowds in department stores.  This has worked beautifully for me.

Stressor: Time

The holidays can increase your stress when it comes to your time and how it’s spent. Some people get generous holiday leave from their careers while others find themselves working up to the last minute and having to return again the day after.

Another big consideration is managing the expectations of others when it comes to how you choose to spend your time. Or the expectations may be self-imposed: “I should go see my family but I’d rather sit on my couch and watch all seven seasons of Game of Thrones than travel 2,500 miles.” Or, “I’m supposed to go to the company holiday party but I have no time to shop for a new dress and shoes.”

Dee:

Go with what feels right in your heart, not your head.  My head rationalizes me into self-destruction.  I cannot afford to go there.  I have a God Box in which to put my problems, get a good night’s sleep, and get the answer I need when “I’m ready to hear it”.  We all have clouds in the sky.  Embrace your problems and dilemmas, being thankful for them, and then let them go into the clouds, being swooshed far, far away.  The answers will come if you have a Power Greater Than Yourself to run the show.  That Power is NOT you!  Have faith!

Stressor: Energy—Mental, Emotional, Physical

Another major player in holiday stress is the mental, emotional, and physical toll it takes on you. The misconception is that you can become drained of your energy. It’s impossible to be depleted of energy. Energy is something you have an endless supply of because it’s what you are made up of, at least from a quantum-physics perspective.

However, you can be mentally scattered and defocused. You can feel emotionally overwhelmed and experience physical exhaustion. Where you are putting your attention is where your energy will flow. If you’re not monitoring where you’re directing your energy, it is possible for you to feel the effects of being pushed and pulled in several directions, giving you the impression that you’re drained of energy.

Dee:

It’s so hard for this alcoholic in recovery to find that happy medium, that balance, that “everything in moderation”.  And I pay for it.  Daily.  Everything is so “common sense”, right in my face, yet I am an all-or-nothing personality.  I work hard to find that happy medium regarding my mental, emotional and physical well-being.  I’m a work in progress.  The seeds have been planted.  It’s up to me to nurture those seeds…and my well-being.

How to Cope: Find Your Place of Harmony

The biggest favor you can do for yourself and everyone around you is to find your place of harmony in the midst of all that is spiraling around you. Stress can be described as how you respond to life’s obstacles and challenges. Much of the stress you encounter during the holidays (or any other time of year) can be managed effectively by bringing your awareness to your:

1.Perception and interpretation of what’s happening

2.Highest possible intention or outcome

3.Decision about how you are going to proceed

Dee:

Again, the God Box, the faith, the knowing I am not in the driver’s seat, but along for the ride to learn and grow how God sees fit knowing what I can and cannot handle.  No reacting.  Just accepting that everything is perfect at this very moment in front of my face.  I’m right where I need to be.

How to Cope: How Are You Perceiving and Interpreting What’s Happening?

Everything you experience is run through your internal filtering system which is where you evaluate or analyze what happened and you try to make sense of it. Your rational mind is always trying to understand, distinguish, and categorize what you experience as good or bad, right or wrong, scary or safe.

With increased awareness, you can consciously begin to shift the way you are choosing to perceive and interpret your experiences. This puts you in a position to see what’s happening through a different lens and let go of your mental and emotional conviction of what you believe is the reality of the situation. For example, “I’m not in a financial position to afford gifts for my family and friends” could be your reality. Looking at from another perspective, however, you may not have extra money this year for gifts but you can still give people the gift of your attention, love, appreciation, and affection.

Dee:

And what better gift is there than mindfulness, being in the moment, giving the gift of respect and attention and true caring that each and every one of us deserves?  Eye contact.  Full attention.  A genuine hug of compassion.  Didn’t cost a penny.  And this is a gift I try to give everyone who enters my “Dee bubble” on a daily basis.  Again, this takes work and mindfulness, but is so worth the effort!

How to Cope: What Is Your Highest Intention in This Situation?

As you find yourself getting caught up in the melodrama of emotions, the frenzy of “will I get everything done in time?” and the stress of feeling spun out, stop and ask yourself “What is my ultimate highest intention in this situation?” What is it that you want and need to do with your time? Is your intention to have a calm, relaxing, and enjoyable evening with friends? Do you want to move through the situation with effortless ease and grace, while deciding how you will choose to spend your time?

Dee:

Just do your best and feel good and love yourself for that.  No expectations; no disappointments.  Easy.  It’s not all going to get done the way you “expect” but it will all get done the way it is supposed to.

How to Cope: How Do You Want to Proceed?

What do you really want? How would you love for things to turn out? Now it’s time to decide what action you need to take. This can be difficult for some people because it may involve enforcing boundaries with others.

Dee:

Boundaries are healthy, especially in this day and age in a society of go-getters.  Again, listen to your heart.  Know that YOU come first.  Try to get balanced and realize you are NOT in control.  Everything happens for a reason.  Everything will turn out perfectly.  YOU are perfect!  So don’t try to take it all on upon your shoulders.  That’s your head talking.  Breathe and do your best.  Say “no” when that feeling gnaws in your gut and be rigorously honest.  Much appreciation and respect will follow.

At the end of the day, keep your awareness on your perspective. Stress will always be a part of life, and at the same time, there is always something to be grateful for—whether it be the tray of fudge your mom left in the fridge or the quality time off with close friends and loved ones. If you can find and focus on something you appreciate about the holiday season, you’ll be well on your way to managing the stress of the holidays.

Dee:

Mele Kalikimaka!  Wishing you a calm and stress-free holiday.  You can do it!

Aloha, Dee

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

From the Chopra Center