emotion, happiness

There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Single: Be happy

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“Single is no longer a lack of options, but a choice. A choice to refuse to let your life be defined by your relationship status but to live every day Happily and let your Ever After work itself out.” ~Mandy Hale

In our society, being single is still heavily stigmatized. Being single is often perceived as something out of the norm. It is more acceptable to be part of a couple (even a dysfunctional one!) than it is to be single. And it is even more acceptable to be divorced than it is to be single.

Unfortunately, our society makes us believe that being single is wrong, and your goal should be to find someone to be in a relationship with. Then and only then are you complete, happy, and more acceptable socially.

Many single people feel lots of shame around being single. They feel like it’s their fault. They feel like there is something wrong with them. They feel like a failure.

This societal pressure makes single people invest themselves in the wrong relationships, just to feel accepted.

The reality is that being single is about being in a relationship with yourself. It is the most intimate relationship you will ever experience in your life. Being in a relationship with yourself should feel like the most natural thing, but it’s often regarded as an uncomfortable one. We find it easier to be with others than to be with ourselves. How crazy is that?

I also want to add that it’s normal and healthy to want companionship. We want to connect with others. We are social animals. We are meant to be with others. Let’s don’t deny it.

The problem starts when your desire to be in a relationship is fueled by the discomfort of being with yourself. The desperation for another person to save you from being single will only create more drama in your love life.

That’s why it is so important to break thought the conditioning and become a happy single before you start looking for love.

Ever since I can remember, I struggled with being single. I struggled with my status because I believed this collective conditioning around being single.

I believed that it’s more socially acceptable to be in a relationship. I believed that there must be something wrong with me if I hadn’t found my life partner by the time I reached my thirties. That I was broken, less of a human being, and not complete, all because I was single.

For the majority of my life, I desperately wanted to change my relationship status and escape all those thoughts and beliefs.

I was ashamed of it. I felt like I hadn’t made it in life, because I couldn’t find a partner.

I didn’t lke being on my own. I didn’t like being alone. I didn’t like having too much time on my hands.

I used to make sure I had plans every weekend and I didn’t spend too much time in my own company, because it felt uncomfortable.

I had plenty of friends. I always made sure I had plenty of things to do. I always made sure my diary was full of crap, all so I didn’t have to face myself.

I became a compulsive dater. For a decade, my only goal was to find the love of my life, because I so desperately didn’t want to be single.

I thought I was running away from being single, but I learned that all I was doing was running away from myself. And as you know, if there is one guaranteed thing in life, it’s the fact that you will spend it all with yourself! There is no way out. There is no escape. You can’t run away from yourself.

At some point, I needed to realise that and see the truth. And I did.

One summer morning, I woke up after one too many dates and decided that enough was enough.

I couldn’t stand the emotional pain of falling for the wrong guys, being ghosted on a regular basis, and failing to find true love.

I had enough of dating. I had enough of running away from myself. I had enough of chasing love, all so I could change my relationship status and feel proud for a moment that I had managed to attract a guy!

This was a brave moment. For the first time in my life, I was brave enough to face myself. I was brave enough to say, “Stop.” I stopped the distractions like the dating, the over-active social life, the full diary, the life without a still moment.

And that was when I started my search for the truth.

That was the moment I started to question all the lies and beliefs that didn’t serve me.

I discovered that my truth was that I am enough without a relationship.

I don’t need a relationship to justify my worth to the world. I am whole and complete without a man. It is up to me to decide how I choose to live my life as a single, and how happy I am with it.

I liberated myself from the collective conditioning, from believing that there was something wrong with me and that I needed to be in a relationship to be happy.

Here are a few mind-set shifts that can help you find your truth about being single:

1. Stop identifying with your relationship status.

You are not your relationship. Your relationship status doesn’t define you as a person. Your single status doesn’t mean anything other than the one true fact: you haven’t found the right person yet. Always remember that, whether you are single or married, you are the same magnificent being. This is constant in your life. Your relationship status will change throughout your life, but your intrinsic worth shouldn’t.

2. Know your worth.

Your worth doesn’t come from the outside. Your worth doesn’t come with a relationship, a partner, or a wedding ring on your finger.

For so long, so much of my own worth was attached to my relationship status. This was the very reason I suffered as a single. For some reason, I believed I would be a better and more accomplished person if I had a boyfriend. My worthiness depended on it. So, for as long as I didn’t have a boyfriend, I felt useless about myself.

But your true worth comes from within. Your true worth is intrinsic. You were born worthy and good enough. Nothing external can add to your true worthiness, and nothing external can take away from your worthiness. You are worthy just the way you are.

3. There is nothing wrong with you.

The only reason why you are single is you haven’t met the right person yet. End of the story. It’s not because you are not attractive enough, not educated enough, people don’t find you interesting, you need to lose weight, you need to get a new job, or anything else you can think of to disparage yourself.

Don’t build a negative story that will make you feel miserable. Accept the truth and end there. The only reason you are single is the absence of the right person in your life, not because there is something wrong with you.

4. It’s not your fault.

Stop blaming yourself. Stop beating yourself up. It’s not your fault that you are single. If you met the right person, you would be in a relationship now, right? So why feel ashamed of something out of your control? Being single doesn’t make you right or wrong. It is just what it is. Just accept that the time hasn’t come yet, and enjoy your life until it does. Live it to the full!

5. Rise above collective conditioning.

The collective conditioning is so wrong, but it’s also strong and deeply ingrained. That’s why it’s difficult to see beyond it and believe the opposite. Regardless of your relationship status, you must rise above it and value yourself.

We as a society have created this massive collective belief that being single is difficult and must be miserable, which is based on our biggest fear—the fear of being lonely. But relationships can be difficult too. It’s entirely possible to feel miserable in a relationship.

Once you have befriended your solitude, you will see the truth of the experience. Being single can be as awesome as you make it. You are in charge of how you want to use your time as a single.

6. Stop glorifying relationships.

Being in a relationship is not better than being single. Being single or married is not better or worse. They both come with different challenges, lessons, and benefits. They challenge us in different ways. It’s all about embracing your current challenges and enjoying the benefits. If you learn that while you are single, you will be able to apply the same philosophy in your future relationship, especially when it becomes challenging.

7. Stay true to yourself.

Staying true to yourself is about self-respect. It’s about respecting your values and standards. It’s about making choices based on what you truly want rather than caving to others’ expectations. It’s better to stay single and go for what you truly deserve in love than it is to settle for less and waste time with the wrong people, and lose yourself in the process.

Staying true to yourself will help you feel more independent, confident, and happy. But it also means that sometimes you will feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. It won’t be easy all the time. But what is worse would be doing something against yourself and betraying your values.

Being single happened to be the most transformational period of my life. It can bring a transformation to your life too if you start living it more intentionally as a single.

Being single can be fun. Being single can be explorative. Being single can be expansive and happy.

It’s up to you what you make of it and what you choose to believe.

If you want to start changing how you feel about being single, start exploring the stories you tell yourself.

Our stories are very powerful. When you repeat a story regularly, it becomes your truth and you start to believe it.

Examine what being single means to you and what meaning you give your single status.

Your story might be that being single means your life is empty, that people in relationships are having more fun, or that you will only be happy if you have a partner.

Once you have identified your story, ask yourself how to create the opposite of what you believe. For example, how can being single be full of life and joy? How can I have or create more fun while I’m single? What can I do to be happier here and now?

Let your answers guide you to take more positive actions and start living your life as a single to the best of your abilities.

Maximize this time and regularly step out of your comfort zone.

Start up new hobbies and learn new things. Cultivate the most important relationship you have–the one with yourself!

Use every opportunity that comes your way to grow. Make every day the best day of your life.

When you live your life as a single in this intentional way, you won’t even have time to notice that you are single!

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emotion, happiness

Why I Stopped Trying to Fix Myself and How I Healed by Doing Nothing

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love

“Everything in the universe is within you.” ~Rumi

When I was twenty-three, I lost my job through chronic illness. I thought my life had ended, and I spent the next few years an anxious, panicky mess—often hysterical. Eventually, I took off to scour the globe for well-being techniques, and searched far and wide for the meaning of life and how to become well again.

If you’re chronically ill, like I was, whether physically or emotionally, you’ve probably experienced the same misunderstanding, the same crazy-making “well, you look okay to me” comments, the same isolation, depression, and frustration that I felt.

You’ve probably been on a bit of a quest for self-recovery. And so, you’ve probably also felt the same exasperation when trying to figure out which self-help theories actually work. It can be overwhelming, right? I thought so, too, but I came to find it was actually really simple!

Searching the Globe for Self-Help Techniques

So many people are full of advice: “Try CBT/ tai chi/ astrology/ vitamins/ rest more/ exercise more/ zap yourself with electricity/ eat better/ stop being lazy (always helpful!)/ do affirmations/ yoga/ meditation/ wear purple socks…” Okay, so no one ever actually recommended trying purple socks, but there were so many weird and wonderful recommendations that I found myself lost, which might explain why I went away to find myself!

I traveled far and wide with my illness, training in every holistic therapy there was (which I loved; I’m curious, and well-being is my passion). But I was always searching for a ‘cure’ for my brokenness. I connected with yoga, meditation, and mindfulness on my journey, and I heard the very familiar Rumi quote: “Everything in the universe is within you.” This served only to confuse me even more as I struggled to analyze what it meant!

In Bali, though, I felt I had found home in yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. I felt connected to myself. I felt like I understood that all I needed was within. My anxiety had gone, my panic had gone—and my chronic illness had gone, too! Then, I came home to the UK, and it immediately returned.

I was disheartened. I still lived yoga and mindfulness—I loved it and I taught it at home—but the joy had gone from what I had once thought of as the answer. So, how was I absolutely okay in Bali and not at home? Was I a fraud? What was going on? There was so much thinking…

What I Learned About Being Human

It wasn’t until a year later that I discovered why, when I heard something differently. A colleague introduced me to a mentor who shared some profound insights about how the world really works.

She explained the basic underlying reality of humanity: that underneath all of our thinking about “how to be happier” is a healthy wholeness and perfection that is already innate—without having to do anything. You see, the reason that I had felt any anxiety or panic at all was because I had just forgotten the truth of what it is to be human.

The Power of Thought: All You Need Really Is Within

Our human reality operates entirely through thought in the moment. Everything we feel is a result of our thinking. If we feel anxious, it’s because we are experiencing anxious thinking. If we feel happy, it’s because we are experiencing happy thinking. Our entire reality, therefore, really does come from within! It is an inside-out world.

When we were born, we were perfect and whole, and not anxious. Then, when we gained the beautiful power of thought, we learned that the external comfort blanket was super comforting, because “it made us feel better,” right? Wrong. The blanket is an object, with no capacity to make us feel anything. One hundred percent of the comforted feeling came from our own thinking about the blanket. It’s the same with all of life.

So, when I was in Bali, I thought I was okay because I was enjoying yoga and meditation, which I loved with all my heart. Thinking that the external could impact me, I felt 100 percent whole. I returned from Bali and my thinking about the external changed; it felt like I wasn’t happy, because I thought that I needed to be back in Bali. But the thinking came from me: the happiness or unhappiness was all dependent on my thinking in each moment.

I didn’t remember this, so I attributed my happiness to the external. But it wasn’t, because we are always living in the feeling of our thinking in any moment. Everything comes from within.

The Innate Wisdom Under Our Thinking

The funny thing is that as much as this seemed profound to me when I heard it, it was also as if I already knew. It is innate wisdom that we just forget to tap into as we bustle through what feels a hectic pace of life.

As I began to remember this wisdom, I found that I would start to notice my thinking; I’d become an observer of it, almost in a mindful, meditative kind of way, but I no longer needed to sit and meditate to be happy.

New insights would come up as I stayed in the conversation about life, and more and more would drop away: the absolute reliance on meditation and affirmations in particular (though the joy returned for meditation when I realized there was less pressure to love it and just followed it because it was in my heart).

Because under my thinking—under your thinking—is an innate wholeness that is always accessible to you in any moment, if you just see that your reality is entirely experienced through thought in each moment.

Analysis Paralysis

We spend hours of our lives analyzing how to be happy, how to stop being negative, how to meditate, how to be less attached, how to be more empowered, how to be more creative, how to be more whole. Don’t get me wrong, this can be interesting, if (like me) you have your own small self-help library! But it’s more important to drop out of your head and into your heart—like I did in Bali, and like I did when I allowed my thinking to just flow and stopped analyzing it.

I still love yoga and meditation—I teach both and connect with them—but it’s to follow my heart, and I don’t need it. I’ve observed with clients, though, that sometimes it’s easy to misunderstand these concepts and get wrapped up in over-complication, analysis paralysis, denying true feelings, and forcing, trying to be ‘positive.’ This is why I ditched affirmations completely.

Don’t Miss the Point: Clarity Through Trusting and Flowing, Not Forcing

Some people miss the truthful essence of this beautiful wisdom. I’m a believer that we often try and force happiness and positivity through techniques like affirmations—and even in some meditation practices that suggest people need to “let go of thinking.”

We can’t let go of thinking; it’s part of being human. And affirmations serve only to suppress our true feelings, which is dangerous. When we allow our thoughts to just flow through us instead, dancing with them through life, we create space where we would once have analyzed how to solve them; and it’s in this space where clarity can arise and we can see the truth.

The truth is, we humans are a vessel of energy, and, I believe, part of something greater that has a plan for us—and through this human life, we are blessed with the amazingly abundant, creative power of thought. All we really need to do is let go and flow.

All we really need to do is allow the feelings that arise from our thinking, conscious of the fact that our reality is constructed through thought. We just have to observe what comes up, embracing pleasant feelings and allowing the darkness without paying it much attention. Like an uninvited guest, it will eventually pass through, without you needing to do anything to get rid of it.

These days, I laugh at the thoughts that come up and watch them with curiosity, marvelling at the creative capacity of beautiful brain, and knowing that underneath all of my thinking is the real truth: that I am entirely whole, perfect, and complete. Just like you. And you know what? I’ve not been anxious, panicked, or chronically ill ever since I remembered this truth of being a human living life through thought.

I’m not suggesting that our illnesses are “all in our head” and that we can think (or stop thinking) our way to health. Everyone is different, and there are many different causes for the illnesses we experience, chronic or otherwise. But for me, everything changed when I allowed my thoughts to just flow.

emotion, law of attraction

I didn’t see that coming!! How to deal with curveballs

Christine Hassler

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There’s a sneaky expectation I place on myself that does not serve me well.  Sometimes because of the work I do, I buy into the misunderstanding that I should not be affected by disappointment and curveballs. That I should immediately get to gratitude and move on like nothing happend.
Fortunately I was reminded of my humanity last week when life threw me a curveball that knocked me off my feet and left me with an expectation hangover! I know that my truth is gratitude and love – but I cannot expect myself to jump there when the humanness in me is having a moment.
Can you relate? You know that compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude are the destination but find yourself pushing to get there?  As I remind myself, I remind you of the transition time. The space in between “ouch” and “thank you.” Honor that space, there is great healing available there.
When my latest expectation hangover of the curveball flavor first came at me, I noticed how quickly I attempted to make myself to feel better.  I immediately started to look for the silver lining, tell myself it happened for a reason and jump to forgiveness. Of course there is always a silver lining, things do happen to serve us, and forgiveness supports our spiritual altitude on any situation AND . . .the truth was the curveball shocked to my system.  My head wanted to talk myself out of the pain but my emotional body felt it.  I knew I was about to engage in what’s called “Spiritual Bypass”, which I write about in  Expectation Hangover as a coping strategy we use that does not lead to healing. (I also posted an excerpt on this from the book below the p.s.) When a curveball first hits, it serves us to allow ourselves to feel it instead of attempting to dodge it or walk it off right away.  Otherwise we end up suppressing emotion, which is not healthy.  Let me be clear in saying that indulging in emotion or being a victim is also not healthy.  Feeling a feeling with compassion so it heals is quite different from allowing our feelings to consume us.
So if you’ve been hit with an expectation hangover of the curveball variety, I encourage you to:
1. Let it hit you by simply honoring and acknowledging your feelings.  In my case, I spent some time release writing and allowing my emotions to move through me while holding a space of compassion.  After I did this, I felt a lot clearer and was truly ready to move to step two.
2. Ask, “What am I learning?”  Curveballs are not random. They are intentional plays by the Universe to wake us up, shift us, or support us in dealing with an issue that needs healing.  Get out of victimhood and become a student of your life instead.
3. Decide what you want the curveball to mean.  The degree to which we are wobbly from something unexpected is 100% dependent on the meaning we give it, not what actually happened. Decide what you want to believe about the situation and chose wisely. I made mine mean that the Universe was giving me an opportunity to clean something from my past to speed up the manifestation of one of my most heartfelt dreams.
4. Forgive and move forward. The process of forgiveness is actually what wipes the slate clean and allows us to let go and move on. It is challenging to take steps forward when we are carrying around anger, resentment or judgment.
Finally for those of you who relate to placing an expectation on yourself that you should “know better” and have done so much growth that you “shouldn’t” be triggered, PLEASE remind yourself that you are human.  Remind yourself of that space in between getting hit and walking it off with grace. That space in between “ouch” and “aha!
emotion, happiness, relationship

Healing, Forgiving, and Loving After a Near-Death Break Up

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“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you will know exactly what to do.” ~Anonymous

About five years ago, I learned the biggest lesson of my life about self-love and losing oneself in a relationship, through a breakup that almost killed me.

After going through another night of three hours of sleep, I drove myself to the ER to save my own life. I hadn’t eaten or slept much in three weeks, and the scale pointed to ninety-seven pounds. I felt weak, malnourished, and unloved.

Three weeks prior to that morning, I had found out that the love of my life, whom I had to break up with in March 2013, had started dating the girl we’d had the most painful fights over.

He’d met her at a party when I was visiting family and continued flirting with her, despite saying he chose me. Though he would have been happy to stay in a relationship with me, I knew I couldn’t be with someone who openly flirted other women.

When I learned he was now dating her, I heard a thump on my heart. Literally. It ached sharply as if there was a chestnut-sized rock sitting in the middle of it, vibrating strongly in response to a transmitter signal far, far away. I half-died that day.

As I climbed back up from that point, I discovered truths about love, forgiveness, and healing.

Maybe you are in the middle of such a painful breakup, or maybe you are in the aftermath of a breakup that left you shattered and undone. You are sitting on a ball of emotions you don’t know how to unravel.

Although I can’t give you a personalized plan to heal and grow from your experience, I can share some pointers, as someone who is on the other side of it all, looking back over the five years of her recovery. These ideas may help you fine-tune your own healing process.

1. Don’t make an event your whole life story.

What I learned about letting go is that the pain starts changing form into wisdom when we make a decision to not make one specific event from the past our whole story.

Instead of thinking your life is over because you’ve lost this one relationship, gain a broader perspective and try to see the breakup as valuable to your personal growth.

eThe purpose of the pain was to reveal what needed healing and to gain the wisdom you will need further along your path. A relationship that taught you something about how to love and to be loved is a win. A relationship full of mistakes but expanded by wisdom and forgiveness is a successful one.

We are story-making machines. It is natural to make a recent event the focus of our current experience. But your story is not over. You are still writing your story with the choices you make today.

2. To heal, you have to  be an active participant in your life.

People often say, “Just let it go. Let the past stay in the past,” but this is misleading. Letting go isn’t as easy as turning off a switch or erasing words off a whiteboard.

I didn’t know what letting go meant. As far as I was concerned, that part of my life was still alive in me, balled up and tangled. Every time I heard those words, I pictured removing an organ out of my body. That didn’t make sense. I wondered how other people let go and why I couldn’t just let go and live happily ever after.

Here is what I discovered: You are never going to forget those relationships with deep soul connections. You just won’t be dwelling on them daily when you are busy exploring life and the depths of your own inner being.

You don’t need to have forgiven or be completely healed to participate in life around you. I spent a year and a half in isolation. Nothing healed. Not even a feather moved during that time. My healing didn’t start till I started living.—by volunteering, going on lunch dates with friends, and going to events to meet new people. Sometimes letting go means simply living a full life, without the other person.

3. Allow for forgiveness to unfold in its own time.

I must admit, making the choice to forgive was not easy, but being patient while the process took place was even harder. Letting go, forgiving, and healing from a relationship is not like hitting a reset button. It takes time to build up the courage to face that buried pain and allow it to leave you. And sometimes, before we can forgive, we need time to experience enough joy and connection with others to dilute the pain of how were hurt.

Forgiveness is about digesting pain into wisdom. Into acceptance. Into compassion. Into an expanded heart that can hold space for it all. It is not about living like nothing painful happened, because life does not stop for us to heal. Flowers still bloom and the sun comes out every day. We heal while we take in more of life. The death-rebirth cycle in nature that exists in life also exists within us. It is a never-ending cycle.

As I started opening up to new experiences and actually living, I allowed new insights to come in. My heart had time to breathe. I put myself in his shoes. I asked myself, “What would I do if the person I loved but kept hurting unintentionally left me when I didn’t want the relationship to end?”

When I eventually developed enough courage to admit that I would have gone onto the next best thing (the other girl) to ease the pain, compassion came. It took me nearly two years to register the depth of his loss and how he must have felt left out in the cold. We all do what we can to find relief from pain, and that was his way. I didn’t need to judge it or to see it as a transgression against me.

When you want to increase the temperature of water in a bath tub, you don’t take out the cold but add hot water until it reaches your desired temperature. That is how grief, healing, and forgiveness work. Trust your body and soul to hold you through the processing of a whole chapter in your life.

4. Update your perception on relationships.

I loved my ex deeply. I can carry that in my heart’s memory and still know that we were teachers to each other who were not destined to be together for a lifetime. I am no longer hurting because of not being with him. I have done my releasing ceremonies and let memories run through my mind, bringing up various emotions—anger, resentment, grief, jealousy, and lots of tears, too. I sat through them. Some of it hasn’t been pretty.

We are taught that a ‘good relationship’ is one that lasts a lifetime. If it didn’t last, we believe that it was a failure. If we have several ‘failed relationships‘ behind us, we assume that it is because we are just unlovable. Success seems to be the most prized value in our modern society. But wisdom through experience can be even more valuable.

I realized that the way I had been viewing relationships was outdated. What if relationships were intensive training programs for our souls to learn about love? What if they were the perfect set up to practice being loving, kind, understanding, forgiving, and accepting both toward ourselves and the other person?

If you learned the lessons you needed to, the relationship was a success, whether it lasted three months, three years, or for decades. Take your wins and carry them forward with pride. You are a survivor. No one can take that away from you.

I am now in a relationship that is continuously growing and teaching me more about love than any book on the planet could. I am in love and enjoying practicing new ways of doing relationships.

I have spent time and energy recognizing how I put up walls, respond from a place of immaturity when I feel hurt, or disregard my partner’s needs because my inner child was triggered into her pain.

I’ve learned to give him space, to do things that make me happy, to recognize and own my projections, and to practice self-love so I don’t expect it all to come from him. These were some of my mistakes in past relationships. I had to get honest with myself, own them, and work on them.

Our love is not fickle; it is resilient because we both are. I found out that two people who have walked through fire and excavated their soul truths with their bare hands create a relationship that can stand the test of time and the tricks of their own egos. I can’t know for certain this relationship will last forever, but I now know all relationships are valuable and there there is life after a breakup.

happiness, mindful

When Life Forces Your Hand, Embrace the New Chapter

Wish both of us have a new chapter in the corner! Lucy

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“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~Seneca

Like most people, I’ve tried to control many aspects of my life, and this hasn’t always worked in my favor. Just when I thought I had it all under control, life has inconveniently shown me many, many times that I was getting a little too cocky.

You name it, I’ve tried to control it—from my schedule and time (hello, Type A personality) to forgoing random opportunities because my mind was made up on going a certain direction. I even tried calorie counting at the height of my exercising routine because I wanted ultimate control of what I put in my body.

Now, none of these are necessarily bad. Planning your time leads to efficiency, forgoing things because you are on a mission means you might be on the path to your purpose, and calorie counting could help you get the body you’ve always dreamed of. But when you do these things day in and day out, all at the same time… well, let’s just say the process can be stressful.

But I tried anyway because I figured I might as well try to control what I could since life was going to be random no matter what. It also gave me satisfaction, almost a somewhat false sense of accomplishment, that I was shaping my own destiny.

I think most of us fall into this way of thinking, because we all want to foresee things before they can potentially happen in order to feel safe. But ironically, when try to control life, we end up missing out on possibilities that may have come our way if only we’d let go and allowed life to happen.

It’s hard to say what exactly I’ve missed out on because of my former desire to control most aspects of my life. I won’t worry myself too much about it, because it’s a pointless exercise. But I can think of a couple big areas, one of them being a complete career shift that could have happened much earlier on in my life had I not resisted so much.

Instead, I was rigid and decided that I wanted to stick to a career that I didn’t enjoy because it was my college degree and I was making great money. I did end up switching careers eventually, just not in the area I had a unique opportunity in at that time.

The Three Golden Rules

Try as we may, we can’t always control life, and sometimes painful things happen that we couldn’t possibly predict or prevent.

Recently I lost a job that I was excelling at and actually enjoyed. My performance was on fire, I got along great with all my coworkers, and then one day, out of the blue, I got called into the CEO’s office and told that, due to ongoing strategy changes at the company, my time was up.

Talk about knocking the wind out of my sails. I had just gotten back from a work conference and was slated to lead a new project before receiving the bad news.

Has this been easy since it happened? No way. I still struggle with it daily. But somewhere, deep down, I know that life happens for me, not to me. And that this has created an opportunity for something bigger and better.

What is that something? If I could predict the future, then I’d probably be playing the lottery knowing I’m picking the right numbers. But I can’t foresee what’s coming down the road. I can only choose my attitude when I hit roadblocks along the journey, which ultimately shapes my choices.

What helps me maintain an optimistic attitude and cope when thing go wrong? Three very important ideas:

1. Life happens for you, not to you.

2. This too shall pass.

3. Be with what is.

When life doesn’t go to plan, we must embrace the change and realize that our lives are comprised of chapters; one has ended and another one is about to begin. But we can’t move on to the next chapter if we continually re-read old ones. We have to willingly accept that life goes on, and that we have a chance to create something bigger and better.

I lost my job, but I don’t want to play the victim card. Yes, life has forced my hand, but that doesn’t mean I need to feel sorry for myself. This just means I have a better opportunity coming my way, whatever that may be.

I also realize that time plays a crucial factor in our lives. Our time is limited, and it consistently passes at the same speed, with no bias. This means that, with time, the inner turmoil I am currently dealing with will, without a doubt, pass.

Last but not least, I know that I must be with what is. In other words, stop resisting. Fighting the fact I lost a job won’t suddenly bring it back. Fighting the fact your relationship ended won’t necessarily have them running back into your arms.

Before we can move on, we must accept what is happening in the present moment. Then and only then can we proceed forward with calmness and clarity.

But There Is No Golden Formula

I understand this may not be easy to digest when you’re hurting, especially in situations that involve a loved one. Grieving is a natural part of this process, and I am not discrediting it in the least. It’s part of the human experience, and it’s okay to take as long as you need as you internalize.

I lost my father over five years ago. The death of a loved one is probably the hardest loss to deal with. How are you supposed to see the space that has been created from such a tragic event? I understand if you don’t, because I fully admit it’s been hard, even five years later.

But at the same time, I trust that life is working for me somehow. I just have to stop resisting. I have to understand that the feelings of loneliness, desperation, fear, and loss will pass. I have to stay in the moment and fully accept all that is happening to me.

No, it will not be easy, and it isn’t meant to be.

Trust The Process

You’ve probably heard the proverb “If live gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Our lives are a lot happier when we strive to make the most of what life gives us, but the step before it is equally important: trust the process and embrace the change, whatever it is. Only then, once you stop fighting it, can you go about making your lemonade.

We’ve all been faced with situations in our lives that force our hand. And we likely will be faced with these kinds of situations again in the future. In these moments, it’s important to hold onto the notion that life could be creating space for you to do something differently.

If you lost your job and didn’t enjoy the work, life is potentially giving you a hint to pursue something further aligned with your passions and purpose. If you went through a breakup, life is potentially giving you a hint that you deserve and can do better.

When I look back on my past, I realize that every loss has taught my beautiful, valuable lessons that now help me in the present. The same is likely true for you. In these moments of inner turmoil, or let’s just call it life turmoil, you are taking mental notes. Mental notes that will help you grow and help you in the future when dealing with whatever else life throws your way.

You’ve made it through loss and hardship before, what makes you think you can’t now? You can. You just need to remember three things: life happens for your benefit not against it, everything heals with enough time, and it’s pointless to keep resisting.

With these ideas in mind, it should be exciting to think about the potential you have in your life.

The next chapter could be even more amazing than the previous one. And you may even have chosen to start that chapter eventually. Your schedule just got moved up a bit.

happiness, mindful

What’s Helped Me Get Out of My Head and Do Things That Scare Me

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“Don’t let the fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” ~Unknown

I knew it was coming.

But as I sat there on the first day of the seminar, my stomach still did a little turn when the trainer announced the exercise we’d be doing over our lunch break:

The dreaded pizza walk!

I knew this was the trainer’s wry (but equally as unnerving) riposte to Tony Robbins’ famous fire walks. But right then, I would have much rather taken my chances with the coals.

The idea is simple: Go into a shop, restaurant, or other public establishment and make an absurd and bold request, i.e.: walk into a hardware store and ask for a pizza.

Easy? Maybe.

As we broke for dinner there was lots of nervous chatter amongst the trainees, but I chose not to engage with the others. I wanted to get out there and face these pizza demons as soon as possible.

Now, the aim of the exercise on one level seemed obvious: to teach us to be more forthright, in businesses, in our relationships, in life.

The bolder the requests we make, the less ridiculous they’ll seem, and the easier it will be to make other bold requests. Thus we can go home and feel more comfortable speaking our truth, asking for what we want, and generally showing up in life more confidently.

Or so I thought. Because what I actually learned from this exercise was much more powerful.

After leaving the building where we’d been, I walked down the main street, which was in fact theBaker Street.

So, as I passed Sherlock’s ‘house’ and the eager tourists queuing outside, I began looking around for my target.

There were a few souvenir shops I could pick. A Subway restaurant (of course!), a few bars, but nothing that really took my fancy.

(Or rather, if I’m honest, I knew I had an hour to do this and it all felt too edgy and I wanted to put it off as long as possible.)

So I ducked into a Nando’s Restaurant and had some chicken. (Oh, the irony!)

As I ate my half Piri Piri chicken (medium-hot with rice, if you’re interested), I contemplated my task.

It felt silly to be so up in my head and nervous about this simple, innocuous exercise.

What was the worst that would happen? Perhaps a bemused stare from the shop worker at best.

So why was I shaking just thinking about it?

If you’re thinking I’m being daft and wussy as you read this, I encourage you to try this for yourself. It’s not as easy as it seems. In fact, making that bold request can feel pretty scary.

But then again, is that really true?

Because the insight I had next changed a lot of things for me.

You see, I realized that what the trainer actually wanted us to learn from this experience was something completely different from my original notion.

As the clock ticked away and I saw that we were due back in ten minutes, I knew it was now or never. I had to make my absurd request. I had to do the pizza walk.

I also knew that I had to just get it done, to stop waiting to feel ready and just get to it. Action was key.

So as I passed the next shop, a newsagent, I went in. I strolled up to the counter, looked the guy straight in the eyes, and, poker-faced, said:

“Can I have a cheeseburger and large fries please?”

And it was weird.

My immediate feeling in that moment was actually one of real elation. I felt dizzy but happy, like I’d just nervously jumped out of a plane and now found that my parachute had opened and I could enjoy the float to earth.

Of course, the man behind the counter didn’t appear to be experiencing any of this. He just looked a little confused and taken aback.

Yet I also felt there was something else present in him. Compassion maybe? Concern?

I’d jarred us both out of our day-to-day reality and allowed us to be supremely present with each other. We connected on a deeper level.

In that moment, we dropped out of being on autopilot and a more profound interaction could take place.

(Again, I’m not sure that the man behind the counter assessed it all this way, but I felt it!)

Next he kind of stuttered something about having some sandwiches in the chiller, and I was suddenly overcome with warmth toward him—that even in this bizarre situation he was trying to help this strange man at his counter.

From nowhere I heard myself say:

It doesn’t matter about the cheeseburger actually. I’ll have a Lotto scratchcard, but can you make sure it’s the winning one?”

I was having fun now. Still totally present and enjoying this interaction.

Thankfully. I think my new friend was beginning to enjoy it too, as he play acted choosing the right scratchcard, which he assured me was the winning one.

I thanked him, paid, and left. As I stepped outside onto that cold February afternoon I saw something I’d not truly, insight-fully seen up to now.

You see, I’d spent the last hour stuck in my head worrying about this event.

I’d been living in an imagined future where the event went really bad, where I felt silly, where I was ridiculed. And these thoughts had made me really fearful of making this silly request. My confidence had dropped and it had almost stopped me from taking part.

But what actually happened was that when I did make the request I was truly in the moment. I was living in real life, not in my imagination about what this might look like.

And more importantly, in the moment I was so much more resilient, confident, creative, and connected than I’d given myself credit for. So much so that I forgot all about that imagined reality and just lived in actual reality.

This insight was massive for me because that’s how we can all be, quite a lot of the time.

This is how we can show up with our careers, in our relationships, in life.

We get so stuck in our thinking that we can almost talk ourselves out of doing things we want to do.

We second-guess ourselves, we make stuff up about what people might think about us, and then we sit with those thoughts and go over and over them until they start to look real. In that process we always underestimate our resilience and our moment-to-moment creativity.

What I really saw that day was that it’s never the future event we fear. It’s only ever our thinking about that future event.

And if it’s just our own thinking—and not the imagined, self-created ‘event’—then why do we give it so much attention?

I see now that there have been loads of times in the past when I’ve worried and stressed about things, only for them to be fine, even enjoyable when they actually happened.

I’m sure you’ve got lots of examples you can recall right now as you think about your own life.

The more we can explore this and shine a light on what’s going on, the more grounded and confident we become.

What would it mean to you if you could use all this anxious energy for good use?

What would it mean if you could quickly drop out of worrying about future events and stay present?

Let’s be clear here, we are only ever able to do anything right now, in this moment. When we live in that scary future world we have no power. We don’t exist there except in our thinking.

By exploring this deeper, I know it’s allowed me to be calmer, more confident, and more productive in my work. A better human being even.

I don’t take things so personally any more. I don’t spend needless hours and days worrying about what might happen.

I stay more in the moment, which means when I’m at work I’m no longer in my head wondering if people will want to hire me, or what they think of me, or if I’m going to be able to get them the results they want. When I’m with friends and loved ones I’m not living in my thinking about what’s going on; I’m enjoying being present and in the now with them.

This frees up my attention to really listen to what they’re saying, to connect with them on a deeper level. And in doing so I can have so much more impact than if I was trying to second-guess the situation or worrying about what will happen next.

How do you stay more present?

Remind yourself that, no matter how real the future event looks in your mind, your feelings don’t indicate anything about the outcome of that event; they are just a response to your thoughts in that moment.

Your feelings have no idea what will happen in the future.

Like me, you might just find that what, in your imagination, seems really scary is actually incredibly liberating and enjoyable when it actually happens.

So next time you catch yourself stuck in your head, simply take a moment to step back and notice where your attention is.

Is it in your thinking, or in life?

In asking yourself this you’ll automatically drop back into life, where you have everything you need to really connect with the person in front of you.

And if you were wondering, it wasn’t the winning scatchcard.

You can’t win ’em all!

happiness, mindful

Someday This Will Be Funny

Lucy’s words

This morning, I felt a little sick and dizzy. Why I feel so weak after the journey? I doubt. But, so what? Sick and uncomforted is so common. Why does it deserve to bother you life and thinking? You are what you think, not what you think you are not. Try to let it be.

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“A great attitude becomes a great mood. A great mood becomes a great day. A great day becomes a great year. A great year becomes a great life.” ~Unknown

I was already in a terrible mood by the time we arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm. It was Thanksgiving, and my family and I had spent four hours in the car in order to visit out-of-town family. My daughter had an accident in car seat on the way out there, and my husband and I were both battling colds. Oh, and it was my birthday.

We’d spent the afternoon with my husband’s family, and had enjoyed the meal and the visit, but left on the early side to give ourselves time to get to the hotel before our three-year-old daughter could get overtired.

We’d stayed at this hotel before; it offered a suite at a reasonable rate, which allowed our daughter to go to bed at her normal bedtime and for us to be in a separate room and be able to stay up until our own normal bedtime. I’d called months in advance to book a room, as soon as we knew we’d be making the trip to Raleigh, as I wanted to have that box checked off in my mind.

In other words: I thought the hotel would be no problem.

Unfortunately, it didn’t go as smoothly as I’d imagined. The person at the desk was new, and I had difficulty figuring out what he was trying to tell me; I just understood something was wrong. Finally he said it: We overbooked the suites and you’ll all have to be in one room together.

One room together? On my birthday, when I have a cold and am exhausted and frustrated and grumpy? I have to go to bed before 8pm? With no chance to talk to my husband or read a book?

Yup.

I didn’t find this acceptable, and the front desk clerk half-heartedly called around to see if any other hotels were available, and I did the same. Being a holiday, though, there was nothing. Meanwhile, my daughter was getting more and more irritable and tired, actually asking when we could go upstairs and go to bed.

My mood got worse and worse, and I’m not proud of the way I behaved. I was surly to the hotel employee, something I try to never, ever do after my own years in the hospitality industry. I was rude, unpleasant, and downright mean.

It changed nothing. Well, we did get a discount on the room, but we probably would have gotten that either way. I felt terrible.

We went upstairs, rushed to get unpacked and settled, me grumbling and agitated the whole time, then put our daughter to bed. She passed out instantly, out so cold that my husband and I were able to whisper in the dark for more than an hour, which was actually kind of fun.

At some point during our talk in the dark, I realized this moment, this experience, this exact second, was an opportunity to stop and ask myself how I wanted to feel and behave.

I told myself something that shifted my attitude in just one moment: “Someday this will be funny.”

I felt an enormous energy shift and actually began to smile. My mood was completely changed.

I saw that not having the right hotel room was so, so not a big deal. Yeah, it was an inconvenience, but it wasn’t worth being so upset over.

And having a minor cold? And spending a lot of the day in the car? Also not big things to worry about.

All of this happening on my birthday? It’s not like it was my sweet sixteen or the big four-oh. It was just not worth getting upset over.

I wish I could let you feel the way I felt in that hotel room, because the shift happened so quickly and so completely. One minute I was stewing over everything that had happened in the past hour, getting more and more upset, and the next I felt complete and utter peace and relief.

Looking back, I can also see that there was so much space for gratitude and appreciation, and not just because it was Thanksgiving.

My family could not only afford to stay in a hotel, but we could afford to switch to a more expensive one the next night (one with a suite!). We have family to celebrate the holidays with. We have an awesome, reliable, and safe car to get us to wear we need to go.

Appreciation is such a beautiful thing, and it goes hand in hand with shifting negative thoughts to more positive ones. Once you start looking around for things to appreciate, letting go of anger and frustration is much easier.

This experience was really powerful and important to me, so I wanted to share what I’ve done differently since then. Perhaps these tips will help you improve your mood when dealing with inconveniences that aren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Use the power of words to bring yourself back down to a calm place.

I’ve started saying “someday this will be funny” whenever I can, because it brings me back to that hotel room and the way it shifted my mood. I also regularly ask myself if whatever is happening will matter tomorrow, or in a week, or in a month. Those all help me put things in perspective.

Remind yourself things will turn out fine.

Depending on your belief system, you may even take the long view and know that your spirit is completely safe and protected regardless of what happens in this life. If that doesn’t do it for you, simply ask yourself if this incident will even matter in a week or a month; often you’ll see that this isn’t going to have much of an impact on your life or well-being.

Remember THIS IS IT.

This thing that’s happening right now, even as you read this article, is your life. If you spend it going from sour mood to sour mood, your life is going to turn out pretty sour. You are the only one who has the power to change that.

Think of the Chinese parable that teaches there is no good or bad.

I’ve heard a few different versions of it, but the gist is that no matter what comes our way, it can be good or bad, who’s to say? Something may seem bad on its face, like losing a job, but it may bring something wonderful, like a new career you’re more passionate about.

Use every possible opportunity to take a few deep breaths and reset.

I know I get stuck in patterns, and feeling sorry for myself is one of them. I have to really, really work to notice when I’m getting sucked down into bad feelings and take the time to shift my perspective, so do it every single time you think of it.

Remind yourself that like attracts like.

You’ve probably noticed that when you’re in a bad mood and acting grouchy or defensive, other people react to you with that same energy, which doesn’t feel good and can put you in an even worse mood. You’re also more likely to notice negative things happening all around you when that’s what you’re focused on. Likewise, when you’re noticing the good stuff, you’re calmer and happier, and people you encounter reflect that back to you, too.

This incident happened more than six months ago, but it’s stuck with me. You and I both get to decide how we will react in any given moment, in any given situation. Let’s take a collective deep breath and try to laugh.