In the moment I am thinking about the concept of happiness, peace of mind, and what really works to achieve them.
Awhile back there was some research on what is absolutely necessary for peace of mind (happiness). Following is my adaptation of the factors that had the greatest number:
1. Shun suspicion and resentment. Keeping a grudge has been found to pull down happiness levels an average of 50 percent.
2. Live in the present. Most unhappiness comes from an unwholesome preoccupation with the mistakes and failures of the past. Forgive yourself for past mistakes. It is as vital to your happiness as forgiving others.
3. Don't waste time and energy fighting conditions you can't change There is little you can do to heal the incurable disease of a loved one, or change the personality of those with whom you live. So stop hitting your head against the wall.
4. When you find yourself in a state of emotional stress, reach out to others instead of retreating within and building a prison of loneliness.
5. Cultivate the old-fashioned virtues of love, humor, thrift and church attendance, etc.
6. Stop expecting too much of yourself. When there is too wide a gap between the standards you set for yourself and actual achievement, Unhappiness is inevitable. If you can't improve the performance, try lowering the demands instead.
7. Find something bigger than yourself in which to believe. Self-centered materialistic people score lowest on the Duke University tests for measuring happiness. While those are are high in altruism and wholesome religious attitudes generally come out with the top happiness ratings. Author unknown (There is much more about happiness in my book, HAPPINESS--Hidden in Plain Sight. It can be purchased through my website here.)
Don’t you wish you could slow down the pace of life?
It seems that this would be a good time for mindfulness and meditation, but it probably sounds like more work to some of you. I wonder how many approach anything new to them as an obstacle to be overcome. But mindfulness and/or meditation are designed to take away stress and to create personal peace..
Some people are afraid to let go and to just be. Some feel that if they stop accumulating pockets of stressful activities, they may realize how pointless these are. Other individuals are afraid to be alone even for a few minutes. And some seem to be misguided by our social network and have priorities mixed up.
Whatever the reason, it is worth it to try—in a simple way. Give yourself only five minutes each day to just sit in a state of calm and peace with no thought to problems, events, relationships, meetings or appointments. Don’t plan dinner or the weekend... Get the point? If doing this occurs on a regular basis it is very possible that you will become closer to the really important things in life, and living will have more meaning. It may even bring you closer to God…
In the span of a lifetime, we learn many useful insights that can help create a perspective on life.
For example, Life is always and only right here, right now, this moment... Think about it. The past is just a memory and the future is in our imagination. However, if that promotion brings your 15 minutes of fame, you may discover that it is superficial. And we know that Publishers Clearing House will probably never visit... but God is always with us.
It can take awhile for some people to realize that a great amount of happiness comes from the ability to be positive and aware of goodness. Beauty is all around us, but some people spend their lives fixated on trash. Few are aware that negative thinking only makes pain worse.
One of the hardest thoughts to assimilate for some is that we are all children of God --- and the family needs you. As the world seems to decay around us, and at times the skies are an endless gray with only patches of blue, we try to look for good news. But the overwhelming negative conditions seem to be blocking our search. So, we are stuck with basically two choices. We can sink to new levels of low morality, lack of integrity, greed, disrespect of others, and negativity, or we can seek out what is good, kind, trustworthy,and naturally beautiful---and become the good person we are hoping to meet.
It's your choice...do you see that patch of blue?
One last insight: Genuine love is the immediate and final answer to everything...
How to give yourself a hug…
---put your “To Do” list on hold temporarily and simply “be” ---spend time around those you love without any electronic devices ---make a steaming cup of hot tea or cocoa ---wrap up in a throw blanket and engage in a good book ---sink into in a warm bubble bath ---allow yourself time for a nap ---buy fresh flowers just for you ---enjoy a special ice cream treat ---relax with your favorite CD ---buy an impulsive inexpensive gift ---snuggle with a pet ---put on comfortable, loose fitting clothes ---if available, relax in a hot tub ---feel the freshness of clean sheets and a warm blanket ---take time to make a special breakfast and enjoy ---sit back in a recliner chair and browse through a favorite magazine ---give yourself do not disturb time ---put your right hand on your left shoulder, your left hand on your right shoulder, and remind yourself that you are worth it…
It’s nice outside. Sunny and warm. The trees are quivering in the breeze and the birds are racing across my view. I finally have quiet and my own time. I find that this is essential to having a spiritual life that is meaningful to me. There is so much to see when looking out a window into nature, and I am grateful to have a view like this. Focusing on nature has been shown to almost automatically create a relaxed feeling and frame of mind.
Of course, focusing, in our chaotic and unsure world, is difficult for all of us. It seems that we can’t get over the rushed schedule that we have made for ourselves. Always adding another activity appointment, agreeing to another request, learning the rules and language of yet another sport, preparing for a too soon family invitation, etc. We seem to spend an awful lot of time trying to catch up with ourselves.
I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if all of us took just ten minutes every day to listen to silence through meditation and mindfulness. Would we eventually slow down the rest of the day? Would we more likely keep what is really important to us on our minds? Would we find it easier to be kind?
There is so much that silence can teach us. Try listening to the quiet and if you hear God whispering, listen to the message. It is probably in the quote by Dr. Jarold Jampolsky,Teach only love. The only time is now…
. Life is full of minute-by-minute choices. Every choice that we make determines not only how we are changed, but also how the world around us is changed.
We can choose to reach out to our environment with a sense of curiosity, wonder, respect and appreciation. As a result, our lives can be filled with enjoyment, playfulness, and peace of mind. It's largely a question of attitude and personal actions.
It has to do with who we are. If we see a world of possibilities, it is because we look around us with a positive outlook on life. If we see a world that is dangerous and threatening, we can become someone who is fearful. Every thing we do, every choice we make, changes the world. By choosing to be happy with determination and conviction, we start a process of positive thinking that allows love to come in to our lives--and into the world. Be at peace within...
It seems that wisdom is actually hard to discover or obtain. Books will help, but only to a point. Wisdom seems to come with steady observance without prejudice and much reflection on your own and others' behavior.
The more time I spend in the chaotic world of human interactions, the more I realize how often we simply get it all wrong. Some of the things I have come to know are so opposite what we generally see as truth. For example, along with others I have discovered..... ---that the more we hurt, the more self-absorbed we become.
---that the ability to put things into perspective is critical to dealing with stress, pressure, chaos, disappointments, twists and turns in relationships, and general upsetting occurrences in life.....and that the person with the most personal power is the one who has this ability—to put things into perspective.
---that people who choose to consistently function at the user relationship level are left with families and friendships that are dysfunctional, superficial, and lacking in trust and love.
---that the strongest person is the one who refuses to be pulled down to the level of behavior that includes manipulation, gossip, criticism, and put downs of others.
---that the most mature person has no need to be aligned with whoever is perceived to have the most power, the most popularity, or the most attention at the moment.
---that cleverness is not nearly as attractive as compassion or kindness.
---and I now know that the more we can quiet our minds, the more we are able to let peace come into our lives.
Although there are many more Life Enrichment Skills like humor & playfulness, spontaneity, enthusiasm, etc.,I am going to end this monologue with the skill of Compassion. This is one of the most important yet difficult skills to master because it takes awareness, caring, respect for an individual, and empathy to even start. Compassion not only has sympathetic feelings for another hurting person, but takes a major step forward that brings humanity to a new level. Compassion makes an attempt to help a suffering situation. And it is the action of reaching out to another that sets it apart from just feeling sorry for another in pain or discomfort.
Probably the best known story that demonstrates compassion is the story of the good Samaritan. It can be found in the New Testament and is the story about the Samaritan who stops to help a stranger who was beaten by robbers. He took the man to a place where he could be cared for and paid for the man's care, leaving extra money for further needs.This occurred after several people had gone by, saw the victim of the robbery on the ground but walked on, doing nothing to help.
It is difficult to reach out to someone in need. It can make us vulnerable to unknown circumstances and reactions. But no matter what religion we follow, reaching out to anyone suffering is usually one of the basic behaviors expected of all who are sincerely living our faith...even just a smile or statement of caring.
Compassion includes elements of gentleness and respect for all who are in need. So, if you see someone who has mastered the skill of Compassion, it will be one of the most beautiful scenes you will ever remember.
Ok, just a couple more Life Enrichment Skills. This one is Curiosity. Do you remember as a child, being curious about everything? You would pick up a leaf or find a toad, lay down on the grass and wonder about the clouds.You might have wondered about the stars and where you came from.Children have a delightful sense of curiosity. They are awed by the world around them and search for explanations. In a recent book, I have over 500 ideas of positive things that seem to be lost as we grow up.I feel that they are hidden in plain sight, but we don't see many of them.Curiosity as an adult allows you search for the beauty in life.
I suggest that the best place to start to become curious again is in nature.There are endless opportunities to help you have wonderful experiences. And it has been proven that being in nature enhances relaxation. I hope you will try to develop a sense of curiosity. It is a way of becoming alive again as most of us are living by rote.
One of the great Life Enrichment Skills is Creativity. (I can hear you say, "but I'm not creative.") You can be and it will open up a freedom that you may never knew existed. The difficulty with creativity is the need at the start to be relaxed and not feel you have to be in control. It is also necessary to not worry about being judged. You see, creativity involves use of the right side of the brain--the non-controlling side.To be creative, you need to simply let go of having to control everything, be open to new things, and see possibilities, etc.
Do you remember having a hobby or a favorite activity as a child? I'll bet that might have given you a sense of freedom. Do you ever get so lost in an enjoyable interest that you lose track of time? This is called "flow" and is in the realm of creativity.It is healthy, and has the potential for a creative experience.There was an art therapist I knew who answered the statement, "I can't draw" by saying, "just make a mark." This would usually help to start the creative juices flowing.
With a daily life that is so regimented yet chaotic, it is definitely worth it to do something creative as part of your life..There are so many possibilities to be creative. Just make a mark...
One Life Enrichment Skill that you might not imagine is simple Awareness. This is the ability to notice things outside of yourself. Ironically we have become a society that has made it much more difficult to be aware. The almost constant absorption in digital communication has left us with crooked posture, sore necks, and still another addiction.
Awareness isn't always a skill that we think of as wonderful to possess. Although it opens us up to some of the beauty and goodness in life, it also allows an openness to things like the needs of others and the pain and poverty of life. And once awareness of negativity and suffering becomes known, there is the problem of deciding how to respond. This can include the response to a friend who is sick and would benefit from a note or card, deciding to volunteer where there is a real need, actively trying to change laws that are insufficient or wrong, offering random acts of kindness, etc.
Awareness puts us in the position of being open to learning new things. It helps to take us above the level of user relationships. Of course it is much easier to keep our heads in the sand (or in our phones), but awareness can be the first step to a genuine spiritual and caring life, and in the end this is what matters...
Another Life Enrichment Skill is the ability to enjoy yourself. But wait, when was the last time you really enjoyed yourself? For some people it has been a very long time...
I think very few people know how to enjoy the goodness that life has to offer. Enjoyment can come from many different avenues.You can enjoy food, art, sports, nature experiences, recognition at work, finishing a difficult task, playing with pets,driving a new car for the first time, receiving a present, watching something beautiful, listening to meaningful music, etc. These are just a few examples.
I'm sure you have observed that most people ( especially while on vacation or at an event) try to take something home with them by repeatedly using whatever camera is available to remember the experience. The problem is that they miss the experience. So, many of the good feelings that might have gone with actually experiencing the situation are lost. And many times enjoyment is lost.
This is where mindfulness might help.because to live in the moment and silence the noise in you head, opens yourself up to what you are experiencing. After all, now is life; now is the only time we have to live. The past is just memories and the future is expectations.
I hope you will allow yourself to be aware of each moment and to feel good about something. Now is the only real time that you have.Enjoy yourself...
Ok, The next Life Enrichment Skill is Appreciation. This is what allows us to to be moved by beauty or to become enthusiastic about another persons' competence, (ie. usually a sports figure, etc.).Other examples are our appreciation of Grandmas' apple pie, the best coffee we have ever tasted, or the bigger than normal tip we received.
In many ways appreciation precedes gratitude. After all, it is hard to be grateful for something we don't appreciate. Appreciation opens the door to all the good things in life. Look at the above picture. It can be seen as just a picture of water or as a waterfall that gently flows in a peaceful way. It's obvious that to appreciate the details of a nature scene is to have more enjoyment. Often when someone really appreciates a particular thing, they become expert hobbyists in the field. For example, someones' appreciation of wine can lead to them becoming a wine connoisseur. It seems that without the ability to appreciate life we are left with a life of rote and boredom. So, can you slow down and take the time to develop the art and skill of appreciation? There is so much beauty out there...
Life Enrichment Skills ---what really add quality to our lives. The second one in my series is a sense of Wonder.
Do you remember when you were young and the whole day was filled with amazing surprises that sparked your curiosity more? A sense of wonder is the ability to say "Oh, Wow!" at life, to be actively aware of beauty, talent, goodness, etc. It fills us with positive energy and makes the world brighter. And it increases our ability to appreciate the gifts that we have been given.
We can wonder at something or about something. For example, we can wonder at the presence of a newborn infant or wonder about how decorative cakes are made. But when we talk about a sense of wonder we usually mean to wonder at something wonderful.
This is one of those skills that children have naturally, but as we grow up we seem to lose. One time I was with a client sitting by a stream when three Canada geese came down and did a simultaneous perfect landing on the water. My spontaneous response was, "Oh wow! did you see that?" But from her perspective, it was just another mundane situation. Lack of a sense of wonder can occur because of many things like depression, grief, self-absorption, loss, etc. But it can be renewed.
Suggestions for renewing a sense of wonder: Spend more time in nature; be aware of sights and sounds; allow yourself to be silent; consider the importance of living in the now as much as possible since now is the only time we really have; begin to be aware and appreciate small experiences that have been taken for granted.
Go in peace...
Okay, I don't have anything material to pass out, but I have "something much more valuable"... Life Enrichment skills and gifts are the real things that help make us happier individuals. There is no cost, no price--they are free. However, we seem to have lost many of them along the way. We tend to have been sidetracked by society. What I would like to do is to increase awareness of what some of the Life Enrichment Skills are so you can practice (maybe again).There are approximately 15 to 20 of them. The next several blogs will be my meager thoughts--in the moment, on a variety of Life Enrichment skills that add genuine value to our lives.
The first life enrichment skill is Gratitude. This is the ability, no matter what our situation is, to be grateful for what we have been given. Some of the happiest people in the world have very few material items. In reality, material goods are not necessary for happiness. Many of us have been given the wrong message that the more we have the more successful we are, and if we can only acquire more we will obtain peace of mind. With this wrong message can come a sense of entitlement, and a belief that others do not deserve what we should be entitled to. Gratitude helps us realize that all though all that we have may be more or less than what others have, we are gifted with numerous things to be grateful for. Gratitude can change our attitude and give us satisfaction and acceptance.It takes us off our podium and places us firmly on the ground with all of our other brothers and sisters.
So, what are you grateful for? When was the last time you said "thank you" and sincerely meant it?
Peace be with you... Jeanne
************************** 6/22/19 Hi there... You may be aware that there are four basic ethical principles that we as human beings need to follow or at least hold true.They are the ethical principles that are taught in all healthcare professions. (Too bad they are not consistently taught in other professions such as business and politics.)
I can't help but wonder what would happen if each of us chose our behavior with these in mind...
First--Do no harm Make things better Respect others Be fair Be honest
Ok, who's the smart one that noticed there are five listed? And there is even one more ethical principle that Jesus gives us: Be loving to all.
When I wrote this last sentence I was so tempted to put it in the past tense, eg..Jesus gave us...But I think we tend to then use his teaching as just something in the past rather than today, and today is the only time we have to love others...
It’s one of those days that is almost summer but not quite. It’s even better. The sky is blue and the trees become a sparkle field when I look up through them. The temperature is between 60/70. This is my favorite kind of day—the type where the weather allows no reason for negative thinking. Here and now I feel good, positive, and kind. It is a day—like any other day really, where the environment does its’ best to help with happiness. It is interesting how once I am in a positive mood it leads to awareness of other positives. I am more aware and appreciative of the bluebird I saw on the fence yesterday or the catbird meowing outside my office window. I am glad to get a magazine in the mail. It will be added to my reading list tonight (one of my favorite parts of the day.) With my senses on alert for some of the good things in life I feel like I can be my best in whatever situation occurs. Relaxation causes this but mindfulness and meditation also can. They all have the ability to put me in the now-- the true reality. I wonder why I need things outside myself to be prompts for being my best. Couldn’t I just be reminded that learning to be my best, along with learning to love are the two main goals in life. Sounds easy but is very difficult. If only it could go on regularly, consistently, without over thinking. If only it would always be easy to feel positive. If only I would spend more time with the silence that is peace…
Being of the age where I am bombarded with wisdom, I’ve discovered that I need to adjust my lifetime bucket list because my body is not being cooperative. So, the following are what I hope to do before I die.
--Finish my racy novel and send it to Harlequin. --Watch the Cleveland Browns play in the Super Bowl. --Review my vacation pictures of the top of Mt. Everest. --Re-gift my husband. --Stay up once a week after 9:00 pm. --Get my scooter detailed. --Go on a zip line ride through virtual reality. --Finally earn the medical degree I have been seeking--one body part at a time. --Use my lifetime collection of fruit cakes for Christmas gifts. --Get rid of all Christmas wrapped boxes from 1960. --Definitely finish the wine left over from my sister’s wedding in 1954. --For the first time, treat my family to dinner on my good china.
Wish me luck…
The Present of Your Life Present is a rich word in two senses. It means gift and it means now. That describes your life too. It is a gift, and it is happening now. As you read these words, you are living your life. Your life isn’t something that’s going to happen once you’ve rehearsed the right lines or saved up enough money or found the right spouse or landed the perfect job or moved to the perfect place, etc. Your life is happening every moment and you can’t escape or postpone it. What you’re doing now is spending a small portion of your life reading this. You are using part of that gift that is your life. And you need to use that gift as well and as wisely as you know how with a sense of responsibility, truthfulness, wisdom,and compassion.
The following truths or facts of life are starting points from which new growth and happiness can occur:
----- No one can bring your life to you ----- No matter what you do in life, someone important to you isn’t going to like it at times. ----- Though it’s painful, rejection won’t kill you--- and it may even lead to growth. ----- Every choice means giving up something else. ----- Some people are not capable of giving you what you want from them. ----- The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. ----- Life is a continuous range of possibilities, not an on/off switch. ----- Some problems cannot be solved, but you can make peace with them. adapted from On a Clear Day You Can See Yourself by Dr. Sonya Friedman
Many of us are aware of the Serenity Prayer, but most have only heard the first half of the prayer. I feel the second half is equally as useful so I want to share the the whole version with you:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Grant me patience with the changes that take time, an appreciation for all that I have, a tolerance of those with different struggles, and the strength to get up and try again one day at a time.
Necessary “How To” skills you never learned in school…
A while back I had written a blog on critical “how to” skills you never learned in school. By request, I have added some additional necessary skills that go with the challenges of adulthood. See if you agree…
---How to handle suffering in your life ---How to keep perspective when things seem overwhelming ---seeing beyond political rhetoric and commercial manipulation ---learn to be at peace with yourself ---How to prioritize your needs so that effort is spent on the most important ---listening to advice from an older person (who may know what is really important) ---How to raise children in a constantly changing society ---going beyond tolerance to seeing the dignity of each individual ---learning to focus on all that is good and let go of what drags you down ---How to live in the now with awareness and without judgment ---How to gradually reduce your ego and get out of yourself ---realizing that love is a verb…
Someone once said that life is not a dress rehearsal. Take time to go in peace…
Happy Easter to all Christians out there. Easter and Holy Week are the basis of our religious and life beliefs. But because of my own difficulty in living the life of a Christian I wonder, sometimes, if we really know what we should be doing in order to genuinely call ourselves Christians. So, here are some things that I believe illustrate what are important if we want to actually claim the title:
It seems to me that you'll know you're a Christian when---
---You see everyone as your neighbor. ---You take your faith to work (and wherever you are) ---"Oh my God" is more than an exclamation of surprise. ---Prayer becomes a daily conversation with God. ---The light shinning in the darkness is you reflecting God's love. ---Lifting up others becomes a daily exercise. ---Your preaching is "wordless" ---"Come follow me" takes you in a different direction than the crowd. ---Compassion is actively lived. ---Your car knows the way to Church as much as to Walmart. ---Choosing forgiveness is more important than being righteous. ---Learning to love is your main goal in life. ---Jesus Christ is by far the biggest hero you know. ---Someone' s need is more important than your want. ---You accept people where they are. ---You take loving action toward anyone in need. ---etc.
Now the hard part is being consistent (ie. faithful)...
Jumping Over Quicksand Seldom do we know when life is about to throw us yet another challenge. It creeps up and strikes so quickly that we only have time for the usual defensive rote reaction to a stressful situation. This is the reaction that slams the door on any pretense of gaining understanding or perspective on the situation. One of the most difficult things in the world is to be at peace with oneself on a daily basis, and especially when we find ourselves in one of these situations. To do this takes a lot of letting go and ego eliminating, like letting go of control and getting rid of self-absorption. It’s amazing to realize the extent to which our egos have power over our lives. Much of our time is spent in fear because of it. The ego seems to keep us in a constant state of defensiveness, i.e., protection of our self-esteem, the need for control, trying to justify our very existence. If only we could instantly know and believe how unique and worthwhile we are. To know what it means to be a child of the God who gives unconditional love. To understand that rules, regulations, and threats mostly come from other human beings who likely are playing the control/power game. But no matter what condition we find ourselves in, God’s call is always to learn to love...
It’s snowing again, a gentle but steady snow. It’s the kind that makes you want to go into hibernation and slow down the pace of life. It seems that this would be a good time for mindfulness and meditation. When I say this it probably sounds like more work to some of you. I wonder how many approach anything new to them as an obstacle to be overcome. But mindfulness and/or meditation are designed to take away stress and to create personal peace.. Some people are afraid to let go and to just be. Some feel that if they stop accumulating pockets of stressful activities, they may realize how pointless these are. Other individuals are afraid to be alone even for a few minutes. And some seem to be misguided by our social network and have priorities mixed up. Whatever the reason, it probably is worth it to try—in a simple way. Aim to give yourself only five minutes each day to just sit in a state of calm and peace. Give no thought to problems, events, relationships, meetings or appointments. Don’t plan dinner or the weekend... Get the point? If doing this occurs on a regular basis it is very possible that you will become closer to the really important things in life and living has more meaning. It may even bring you closer to God…
In the Moment...
2/10/19 Hello again... I'm one of those people who rarely get frustrated and feel irritable about something negative in my life such as breaking something or making a mess and having to clean it up. I usually just go ahead and fix the situation. But today, when I came on line to copy a blog that I had just written yesterday, I found it gone, floating somewhere in space, and I was left frustrated by what happened. But being the practical human that I am, I finally realized that what must have happened is that I forgot to post it. Arrrgh!!!... So, what am I supposed to learn from this? Well, I guess my words are not as important as they might seem, and the world will certainly continue on without them. Maybe losing something is a way of taking the ego down a notch by pointing out what is not really important. So life goes on one moment at a time and living in the moment gives a chance to decide how to respond to frustrating situations, such as loss of our work. Every minute we have a choice...