27 Mindful Actions in May

Try M Day

Wow! What an excellent response to Mindfulness Day. Thank you!

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive and present with those around you and with what you are doing. Mindfulness is the best hope for the world to overcome mental suffering and is part of all therapies used in treating ‘mental illness’ today. The 1st Sunday in May is Mindfulness Day and is also the launch of ‘Mindful May’. Winter follows May in Australia which is the prime time for depression & suicide. It is Free to attend this Awesome Awareness Event. If we work together, maybe this could go global. Please Share!

Sunday 4th May is the launch of Mindful May and the first Mindful Action on that day is to spend time with your best friend and talk about the benefits of mindfulness. What about posting a selfie with your mindful comment on the event wall?

I will post a Mindful Action daily until the 31st May. That’s 27 days of practising mindfulness. This is where I need your help. I do ok on my own but together, we can make a huge difference! Please e-mail your suggestions. bemindful@outlook.com.au

Jump on board! It’s gunna be a great ride!

Love & Laughter Always! – John

Thank you

Mindfulness Day

In Your Mind

 

A recent article in the local newspaper.

It’s International Day of Happiness on 20th March, 2014. When you practice Mindfulness, happiness becomes an automatic choice. That is one of the reasons I have launched an awareness event on facebook called Mindfulness Day.

About Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive and present with those around you and with what you are doing. Mindfulness is the best hope for the world to overcome mental suffering and is part of all therapies used in treating ‘mental illness’ today.

About Mindfulness Day

The 1st Sunday in May is Mindfulness Day and is also the launch of ‘Mindful May‘ which ends 31st May, 2014. Following May are the 3 months of winter in Australia which is the prime time for depression & suicide. It is Free to attend this Awesome Awareness Event. However, if you choose to pay AU$5 for a ticket, you will receive my eStory ‘Meds to Mindfulness‘. You will be Inspired to then tell your story! Please feel welcome to our online awareness event; Mindfulness Day 4th May, 2014.

Mental Promise

This is part of my mental health promise to help people go from meds to mindfulness. Please support & help me to help others…help others! Love & Gratitude Always! – John

Birds Eye View

Birds Eye View

This blog written by Christine Fowle.

Imagine you were a bird. Perched in a tree, peering through your bird-eyes at the world. You have no cultural identification nor ever think of your past or entertain any inclinations to plan a future. The vast landscape requires no labels. Tall branches provide comfort and shelter. Nature provides nourishment. There is no good or bad, only varying sensations. Sunlight, wind, rain, snow — terrestrial elements unfolding naturally without judgment; only instinct guiding your way. Your bird-self maintains no sense of possession over the little-bitty birds that have long since fled the nest, nor ownership of the tree you’re perched in. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings from the neighbouring branch, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.

Have you ever touched the moment?

Would you like to try?

Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Upon opening your eyes, slowly scan the room, taking in as many details as you can, noticing colours, textures, shapes and sounds. There is no need to label them. Simply notice. Now, when you are done, look at your hand, extend your index finger and touch the tip of your nose.

This is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the process by which momentary engagement is developed. It’s not a technique to bestow rapture or bliss but it is a method of discovering peace. Our six sense doors (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch, and thought) are the means by which we experience the world. The first of the five senses are merely the methods by which the brain receives data. It is the mind that however, that evaluates and tosses the tinted cloth over the experience labelling it as something.

Mindfulness is the constant focus and re-focusing — moment to moment to moment, on the object of our awareness. If listening, we focus on listening; if putting on shoes, we focus on putting on our shoes. This means directing full awareness upon the object of attention: the feeling of the sock on the foot, the sound made sliding the foot into the shoe, the pliancy of the fabric, the sensation of the toe slipping along the bottom…

Momentary engagement is not a misnomer. As science has taught us, all objects in the universe are bundles of energy vibrating at varying frequencies. Nothing is static. From moment to moment to moment everything in our world is changing. Mindfulness swings opens the gate of focused awareness supporting our engagement. It helps us to be more detailed employees, better friends and attentive parents. Developing this skill weaves a translucent thread of lucidity throughout the fabric of our existence. But most importantly, it opens the doors to be the fullest expression of ourselves, inviting in authentic aspects of our being that we haven’t connected with in a very long time.

The steps for developing mindfulness are deceptively simple. Execution however, does not come without its complications. The challenge lies within the realm of our thoughts, the single most distracting element to our experience of the current moment. We are forever pulled into reflections of the past, dreams of the future and into the application of those colourful tags of judgment.

The process can be misleading, as it is not the silencing of our thoughts that opens the door to engagement. It is momentary engagement that is the key to silencing our thoughts. By focusing intently upon the task at hand there is no room for discursive thinking to populate the quiet space in our mind. Judgment ceases and for the moment, we can just be.

Mindfulness is not a permanent state of awareness. It is an ongoing process that develops the richness of our experience because of our ability to be within the frame of the current moment without our thoughts getting in the way. It is a skill that can be practiced every second of every day — and just like meditation, willnot be developed simply by reading about it.

Once we have touched the moment, even if only briefly, it is an experience worth savoring. Perhaps at first, it is only for fractions of a second, but with practice this grows into minutes, eventually enriching every aspect of our life-experience. Upon hearing a melodic trail of twitterings, a bubbling up arises inside you. Unable to contain yourself for even a moment longer your wings open. Feeling the soft breeze upon them you slowly lean into it, diving into the warm current.

This blog written by Christine Fowle. Additional essays may be found on her website, Searching For OM. Love & Laughter Always! – John

The Mindful (R)evolution

Search Inside

5 reasons why Mindfulness is our biggest hope for Organizational and Social Change.

“The quality of our attention determines the quality of our results”, argues Otto Scharmer, a renowned senior MIT lecturer, writer and organizational consultant (and I believe a future Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences). In a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) everyone is demanding more and better results, but what we normally see happening is the opposite. Our hyper-connected and high-speed living is making us, human beings, more and more stressed, superficial and struggling to deliver “those” better results. Moreover, we are collectively creating results that nobody wants, putting in jeopardy our health (there are 3 times more people dying in the world because of suicide than murderer, war and natural disasters combined), our society (there are 2.5 billion people living below the poverty line) and our planet (we are consuming on average 1.5 planet Earth while, of course, we only have one).

So, how can we then invert this tendency? How can we help people to rescue their awareness? How can we create a “new world”, one that is more healthy, more equitable, and more eco-friendly? How can we collectively create conditions for each human being to manifest their Self (with capital S) and their Work (with capital W), contributing, in that way, to a better world for all of us?

I really believe that the answer lies in a technique that is over 2.500 years old: mindfulness meditation.

“Wait a minute”, you may be thinking, “are you saying that the problems of the world can be solved by “doing nothing”?”. Before you think I’m crazy and stop reading, please bear with me for just a few more lines.

Mindfulness is now a mainstream movement reaching several spheres of our society.

As I’m writing this text (Feb 2014) Mindfulness is reaching a tipping point in western society, appearing exclusively on the cover of TIME magazine, with the title of “The Mindful Revolution”. From a practice that some years ago was only restricted to some religious, “new age” or esoteric groups, it is now being used in different “mainstream” arenas like:

-       science (e.g. neurosciences, interpersonal neurobiology, epigenetics);

-       health (e.g. Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital);

-       corporations (e.g. Google, General Mills and even the US Army);

-       leadership (e.g. Bill George – Medtronic’s CEO; Steve Jobs – Apple’s ex-CEO; Arianna Huffington – Huffington Post’s President and Editor-in-chief; Bill Ford – Ford Motor Company’s Executive Chairman, among many others that recently “came out of the closet”)

-       education (not only in hundreds of schools around the world but even in “cutting-edge” leadership training places like MIT Sloan Leadership Center, Weatherhead School of Management or Harvard Business School);

-       sports (US Olympics Gymnastic team; NFL Seahawks and even, Phil Jackson, the NBA trainer that guided Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant’s LA Lakers to several triumphs shared recently that one of the most important parts of their trainings was mindfulness);

-       politics (e.g. Mindfulness is now offered to U.K. parliament staff; U.S. congressman Tim Ryan’s proposal for a “mindful nation”);

-       high finance (e.g. Davos World Economic Forum 2014 had more than 25 sessions about mindfulness and wellbeing);

-       media (e.g. TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes, New York Times, The Economist, WIRED, Fast Company, etc.)

First things first: aligning ourselves

Before we talk about why this (r)evolution is happening, let us define what we mean by mindfulness.

A simple way to describe it, using the words of Richard Boyatzis, from Case Western Reserve University, is to “be awake, aware and attentive”. Basically being here, now, totally present in the moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Executive Director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society (University of Massachusetts Medical School) and one of the main responsible for the emergence of this movement in the West, describes mindfulness as ” the awareness that arises from paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally”. It seems quite simple. And in fact it is. Not necessarily easy, but simple. And everyone can do it and use it to “strengthen” his/her ability to be present, in the moment, and not be caught in judgments about the past or the future.

So, why now? If these are practices that have been around for millennia, what is causing this emergence? Let me share five reasons why I believe Mindfulness is emerging now and is our biggest hope for organizational and social change.

1. Science proved that we can use the mind to change the brain

For many years there was a strong belief that the brain was static and didn’t change during the course of life. With the emergence of non-invasive technologies of brain imaging, we now know that this could not be so far from the truth. Using Richard Davidson’s words (a renowned scientist from the University of Madison-Wisconsin): “The brain we know is the organ that changes in response to experience, and in response to training, probably more than any other organ in our body. And as such, it really is the vehicle for change and transformation as much as it’s the vehicle for anything else.” This characteristic of the brain is called “neuroplasticity” and there are now several neuroscience studies that support this.

Science has shown that mindfulness allows the training and experience to change the brain, for instance, in areas that regulate attention, executive thinking and emotional regulation, but also can produce epigenetic changes! An impressive study from the lab of Richard Davidson recently published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology showed changes in the expression of several genes after only 8 hours of meditation practice. These were genes responsible for controlling the inflammatory response of the body, which might explain the reason why meditation practitioners tend to have stronger immune systems, fewer diseases and short recovery periods when they are sick.

These are just some examples of what is happening in the scientific arena, where we can currently find more than 3,000 scientific studies with peer-review, and they keep growing at an exponential rate. This support from science is probably the main reason why mindfulness went mainstream, since people now understand the benefits of it and are now feeling secure to start applying these simple practices into their lives.

2. We can use our attention to cultivate a healthy life

Helping people to “rescue” their health and wellbeing is another reason why mindfulness is growing in importance. Most of the studies mentioned previously are from the field of psychology, medicine and health in general. Since 1979, when Jon Kabat-Zinn decided to create a program to address chronic pain and stress related issues (MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), mindfulness based approaches are spreading at a fast pace throughout the whole world, with more than 12,000 certified MBSR teachers in more than 740 sites (academic medical centers, hospitals, clinics, etc.), that are using this technology to address clinical cases like:

-       anxiety disorders (e.g. panic attacks, phobias, PTST – post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.)

-       stress related diseases (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiac disease, cancer, etc.)

-       chronic pain

-       depression

-       substance addiction

-       insomnia

-       ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

-       and many, many more.

But the good news is that mindfulness is not only applied to address clinical cases but can also be applied to anyone that would like to simply nurture a general sense of wellbeing and happiness, since that is a positive “side effect” that emerges when using these types of practices.

3. With bigger awareness we can make bigger profits… and save the world

Mindfulness-based approaches started to be applied in organizations to help people in the workplace deal with stress and cultivate their health and wellbeing. However something interesting is happening in this arena, with Silicon Valley leading a new tendency in the use of mindfulness practices in the workplace. According to a 2013 article from WIRED magazine, “Meditation and mindfulness are the new rage in Silicon Valley. And it’s not just about inner peace – it’s about getting ahead”. Yes, you read it well, getting ahead.

One of the main people “responsible” for this movement is Chade-Meng Tan, an engineer at Google who created a program called “Search Inside Yourself” (SIY). SIY is a program that brings together the latest advancements in neuroscience with the contemplative practices like mindfulness meditation, and is designed to develop the emotional intelligence of its participants. Since its creation, more than 1,000 “googlers” (Google employees) have taken part in the course. There is increasing scientific evidence for the connection between emotional intelligence and performance and, according to Meng, whose job title is “Jolly Good Fellow”, this program can help people increase their results, feel happier and… save the world – Meng’s main goal is to create conditions for world peace during his lifetime. It seems a bold goal but the most interesting thing is that it has been resonating with thousands of people all over the world who have already bought his book and are applying his teachings. The success is so huge that for the first time in Google’s lifetime their attorneys allowed for an internal branded product to be made a spin-off without paying royalties to Google, creating the nonprofit and public benefit corporation SIYLI – Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, which is now delivering the program to people all over the world.

But Google is not the only business case. Several corporations around the world, like General Mills, Genentech, Apple, Sony and even the US Army, are using mindfulness based approaches to increase their overall performance as well as their employees’ wellbeing. According to Michael Chaskalson, a mindfulness consultant, after an 8 week mindfulness course in the workplace it is expected to see the following in participants:

-       a reduction of stress levels;

-       an increase in their levels of emotional intelligence;

-       increased interpersonal sensitivity;

-       higher levels of personal resilience;

-       lower rates of health-related absenteeism;

-       increased self-awareness and awareness of others;

-       enhanced communication skills;

-       increased concentration and attention span;

-       lower levels of impulsivity;

-       a greater capacity to hold and manipulate information;

-       improved sleeping patterns;

-       lower levels of psychological distress, including depression and anxiety;

-       and higher levels of well-being and overall work and life satisfaction.

It seems like “paradise”, doesn’t it? So feel free to send this to your boss since everyone gains with this mindfulness “deal”. You’ll feel happier, your team will work better and your company will be more productive.

4. Being aware of myself and my surroundings I can make better choices

Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founder of a new scientific area called Interpersonal Neurobiology. According to Siegel, health, creativity and wisdom comes from a well-integrated brain, especially in the medial prefrontal cortex. This is a very important brain structure, responsible for functions like body regulation, emotional balance, fear management, attunement with other people and empathy (both necessary for compassion), insights, intuition, impulse management and morality. This is a part of the brain that maturates after adolescence and one practice that contributes to its integrated development is… you guessed it, mindfulness.

Imagine people all over the world being more aware, feeling more secure, more connected with themselves and with others and making decisions not only thinking about their own personal benefit but also about the benefit of all beings. Imagine the impact of these “mature” brains in the skulls of decision makers like politicians, CEO’s and bankers all around the world. Let’s make better choices and have hope in the world!

5. Teaching people how to meditate and how to be present can change the world in just one generation

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” This is a bold affirmation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and some years ago most people would laugh at it. Now, fortunately, and based on everything described above, this can become a reality. Schools all over the world are already experiencing the impact that these practices have not only on children but on the entire system, from teachers to parents. Projects like “Mindful Schools” in the US or “.Be” in the UK have already taught mindfulness to hundreds of thousands of children and everybody is feeling more focused, less stressed, more productive and, especially, more at peace.

Think about it. Could there be something more important to teach to a human being than the very essence of what it is to be a human being? To feel at ease, feel present, in the moment, connected with him/herself and specially connected in a compassionate way with the world that surrounds us?

A brighter future ahead for all of us

I envision a near future where most organizations (corporations, hospitals, schools, etc.) will have meditation rooms, invest in mindfulness and compassion training for their people and where everyone can be at peace with themselves and with others. Moreover, a future where people will use mindfulness as a practice of mental and emotional hygiene, the same way we now take a bath and brush our teeth as practices of physical hygiene.

My dream is to be part of this future, by spreading the word and helping people to flourish into their highest human potential all over the world.

As I finish these words, I’m about to take a plane to San Francisco. Fortunately, I was one of 30 lucky people selected to be part of the first teacher training certification in Search Inside Yourself methodology. I can only feel grateful and excited at this opportunity that is a kick starting point to accomplish my dream. And I really want to dedicate my life to it! Why? Because I really believe that mindfulness is our biggest hope for organizational and social change, and it can really lead to create conditions for world peace.

Many Thanks to Vasco Gaspar for this post. Mindfulness is a new religion and the beauty of that is…it’s not a religion at all! Be Mindful! Love & Laughter Always! – John

Practise Mindfulness in 2014

Mindfulness

What exactly is mindfulness? The first aspect of mindfulness is to be aware of what your mind is focusing on and being able to consciously choose what thoughts you decide to dwell on and which should be allowed to pass through. The mind is constantly filled with a variety of thoughts. The question is whether you can choose to focus on those that are empowering and assist in your progress without dwelling on those that take you away from your goals by creating blocks and negative energy.

The second aspect of mindfulness is the practise of remaining in the present moment at all times. This is most people’s greatest challenge. Many people focus excessively in the past and experience guilt, regret or depression. The past cannot be changed and should consist of good memories and lessons learned. Those who live primarily in the future tend to be worriers which can lead to stress and/or anxiety. They constantly invent potential disasters in their mind that may or may not happen. However, the fear of those possibilities tends to paralyse them from taking the action and bold risks that are needed to achieve ultimate success.

There are positive ways to focus on the future, and a certain amount of it is necessary. Having dreams and setting goals are essential for having a clear understanding of where you are heading and how to get there. Visualization is another positive way of envisioning positive outcomes for the future, and it is an essential component for the success of life. The key to mindfulness is to know the general direction of your path but to have your mind and energy focused on acting only in the present. This will enable you to act and react to current conditions with appropriate action without being limited by either worry or guilt.

When your complete energy is focused on the present moment, guess what happens? You are no longer fighting against your mind but are engrossed in the creative process of utilising all of your skills to the maximum to achieve your dreams. You find that your emotions begin to work in your favour instead of holding you back out of fear and anxiety. The entire process becomes one filled with empowering, positive energy instead of fear and lethargy.

Part of everyday mindfulness is to resist the urge to multitask. When eating a meal concentrate on the food and chewing it properly, savouring each taste and texture. You will enjoy it more and tend to eat less than if you mindlessly wolf it down while trying to read the newspaper. The same goes with just about any activity you engage in. Giving one activity at a time your full, unwavering attention until it is finished is a trademark of successful people in all fields. Trying to do too many things at once tends to lead to scattered thinking and a sense of never really finalising any of the things you want to accomplish.

Being ‘in the flow’ is another great tool for developing mindfulness. In the flow means that the subconscious mind has taken over and is no longer being blocked and controlled by the conscious mind. This is the real goal of mindfulness, to allow your conscious mind to get out of the way and allow your subconscious to create the flowing, magical creativity for which it has trained all your life. The process of being in the flow is one of almost mystical confidence in your own abilities with no judgment or evaluation. It is almost like your true essence has moved outside of your body and you are simply watching this incredible performance taking place. Flow can actually put you in the realm of the mystics who connect with the greater power of the universe and allow that unlimited power to heighten all their capabilities. This is the ultimate in mindfulness, being aware that you have a direct connection to a source of higher power and trusting that you can access it and use it not just for selfish gains, but to enable you to perform at a level that will inspire others to also aspire to reach their full potential.

Make practising mindfulness one of your goals in 2014. Love & Laughter Always! – John

15 Steps to become Grateful & more Positive

 Be Grateful

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” ~Cicero

Being grateful is both a state of mind and perspective. One person’s idea of expressing gratitude may completely contradict another. Most of us are not born eternal optimists, but being positive and grateful is something that can be imbibed even if a tad forcibly; such as by trying to tweak our sense of humour, the way we react to a given situation, by being more pleasant and believing others too have a mind, by smiling each time somebody says ‘thank you’, and by understanding that every person is on their own journey and accepting that it’s not your position to judge them.

Here are 15 steps to help you become a more positive person and grateful for all that you have in your life.

1. Appreciate

Appreciate what you have and value it. Try counting your positives and be grateful for all the good things and people in your life. If you’re concerned about wealth and success, know that these can be whatever you like. Abundance comes in many forms. If you’re healthy, think about how many people are counting their last breath. If you don’t have as much money as you would like, think about the millions of parents in the world that cannot even feed their families. Perhaps redefining what wealth and abundance are may go a long way.

2. Stop Labeling

Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. Don’t allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly! Once you realize all is possible, the doors of limitation that were closed in your mind will open be connected to all those aspects of consciousness.

3. Optimism

Treat failure as an opportunity to learn a new and better lesson from life, and that’s the trick to manufacture optimism in life. Never give up trying because that’s an indication that something better is in store. Once you start harbouring an optimistic attitude towards life, success will automatically follow. Give up your constant need to complain and criticize about those things — people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy; no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. When you criticize, you are passing self-judgement for something lacking in your life that you refuse to let go of. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking. For every opportunity you feel the inclination to criticize, try to think about how that specific situation is serving or benefiting others.

4. Release The Past

The past you are now longing for — the past that you are now dreaming about — was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now. Work on this by practicing with simple tasks every day. We often assume the past looked so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

5. Avoid Comparison

Nothing is as awful as comparing yourself to someone else. If you think you’re better that the other person, you’re letting yourself regale in an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you demean yourself in front of others, it means all your hard work and progress has been in vain. While social comparisons are unhealthy, self-improvement is effective.

6. Kindness

There’s a scientific reason behind every act of kindness that you do; helping someone selflessly releases serotonin in your brain (serotonin is the hormone that controls your mood) and hence makes you feel good about yourself almost instantly. Try doing one act of kindness every day to flush out the toxins of depression from your system. Thank god, thank your parents, friends, and thank yourself for all the hard work you did, for everything you achieved. Saying thank you frequently makes you humble, and a humble person is seldom cynical.

7. Stop Using Excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses — excuses that most of the time are not even real. We sabotage ourselves beyond belief. If you find yourself making excuses, ask yourself why you are creating the excuse in the first place?

8. Nurture Relationships

One way to becoming positive is to seek positive company, as both positivity and negativity are infectious. If the people you spend most of your time with are grumpy or have a pessimistic standpoint, you’ll find yourself inadvertently mirroring the same emotions with others. In order to inculcate positivity it is imperative that your friend circle is a positive, energetic, and a happy bunch. You’ll find yourself carrying the same positivity everywhere you go. Relationships keep us alive and kicking. In fact, according to research studies, loneliness doubles people’s mortality rates. A circle of good friends, loving family members and cheerful colleagues are a reminder that you have people who care about you. There’s nothing like having someone who you can share your experiences with. So nurture these relationships and say goodbye to a lonesome existence. You are never alone and there are always people around you that need your energy whether you know it or not.

9. Forgiveness

Hatred is a negative feeling and harbouring it will have nothing but negative effects on your well-being. Stop thinking about the hateful emotion/person and let it go. Forgive if needed, take things lightly and let it not affect your system. There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong — wanting to always be right — even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. We love to right-fight. It’s just not worth it because the state of being right is all subjective with so many layers and perspectives of truth. Accept that you have a different perspective than others and allow them to “be right” if this helps you move relationships in a positive direction. Would you rather be kind or be right? Accept responsibility for yourself, your life and your actions. You are response-able. You are an adult. You are account-able, meaning, with every action you take, you account for it. You chose to do it; you must accept the consequences of it and that you did it all for a reason… to learn. If you continue to feel you can’t for forgive or feel guilty for your actions, you stop learning.

10. Avoid Impressing Others

Success may have nothing to do with how much money you have or how many cars you have, but how you choose to live a life of abundance. Abundance comes in many forms, many of which have nothing to do with material things. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly. Let go of any expectations of yourself that will limit your growth. If you hold high expectations for how others should behave, you will often be disappointed if they do not represent themselves in the manner you expected. It is only your expectations of people that cause you to judge them, which ultimately is a judgement of yourself. Far too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They often forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need. You have one life — this one right now — you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

11. Commit To Your Goals

If you have a goal, work towards it. Anything is achievable if you put your heart into it. Whole-hearted dedication and diligence can bring extraordinary results and consequentially add to your happiness. It is very easy to lose vision for what we truly want in life, but it is your dedication towards your goals above and beyond all obstacles that will make the difference. When we look for positivity in the little things that make our lives worthwhile, we leave no room for negativity and our goals come to the forefront. Instead of recounting all events of the day, filter out only the positive ones and make a note of them. It could be anything trivial, from your bus arriving on time, your mom cooking a delicious breakfast, to remembering to pay the bills on time. You would not believe how this helps you achieve your goals — by clearing the mind.

12. Care For Your Body

Love yourself and love your body! Your physical condition has a direct connection with your well-being. A fit body and healthy mind is reflective of happiness. Start working towards the health of your physical, mental and emotional energy by caring for your body. Not only does it secrete happy hormones but also creates a sense of awareness within you. You will learn to control your breathing, and by way of it, control your mind from wandering. Every time you meditate, you feel a surge of positive energy through your body that calms your nerves, soothes your mind, elevates your mood, and not to mention enhances your level of tolerance. Take up positive activities with others or in isolation. Share a joke, narrate a pleasant incident, take part in sporting activities, go for a run in the evening after work, have healthy sex, and you’ll find yourself bubbling with positive energy.

13. Believe

Connect to a higher power. You’re probably already doing this with or without knowing. Just a quick meditation or prayer is easy. If you have the time, join a local prayer group, visit a meditation center, or simply spend some time alone in nature. You don’t have to be religious to have faith. People who believe in a deity are generally happier than those who don’t. Sometimes all you need to be happier is a little faith!

14. Dream

Imagination fires motivation. Create a ‘dream board’ and dream up something new you wish to experience. It could be finding a new lover, climbing a mountain, learning calligraphy, or going back to college. Dreams motivate, inspire and expand our sense of self. They also make us happy because they give our lives a sense of purpose. Happy people usually love what they do, and if they don’t, they love who they are. Dreams remind us who we are.

15. Give

Cultivate a habit of sharing with others — your money, knowledge, service, wisdom, care, love. Find a person who shares a lot with others, and you will find a happy person. In giving, you always receive more. Not only do you get pleasure from giving, you give someone else pleasure. Giving has many unexpected benefits from attracting more happiness into your life, to inspiring others, and changing the lives of those you touch. In the end the whole world is made into a better place.  Ask, “how can I serve?” Pay it forward. Give freely.

By practicing these steps daily and being conscious of them, you will learn gratitude at a level you could never appreciate before. You’re made out of love, and there’s an opportunity at every corner to show it.

Source: “15 Things To Start Practicing Today To Be Happy,” from preventdisease.com, by Josh Richardson ~ Love & Laughter Always! – John

Suicide Prevention

lifeline

People who consider suicide do so because they are in deep emotional pain and want that pain to end. Suicidal people are impaired in their thinking and require assistance to find other options to deal with their pain.  Often warning signs or invitations to help are displayed.

Smart risk strategies for suicide prevention include:

Look First

Suicide is most often the result of a combination of factors, including physical, emotional and social influences. It is important to pay serious attention to any indication or suggestion of suicidal thoughts or actions.

Take Notice

It is important to take any indication or suggestion of suicidal thoughts or actions seriously. People in crisis will often give indications that they are in trouble, these are known as warning signs or invitations to help. Learn to identify the signs of suicide in yourself, or others, and know what to do. Warning signs include the following:

Warning signs (invitations to help):

  • threatens or talks about suicide or has a plan for suicide
  • talks about wanting to die or shows a preoccupation with death
  • shows changes in behaviour, appearance or mood• abuses drugs, alcohol, gambling
  • recent suicide attempts or other forms of self harm
  • risk-taking behaviour
  • expresses feelings of hopelessness
  • says things like “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead,” “I shouldn’t have been born,” “I won’t be a problem for you much longer,” “Nothing matters,” or “It’s no use.”
  • makes statements about hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness
  • gives away prized possessions or makes a will
  • loses interest in activities or things once cared about, always feels bored
  • has trouble concentrating or has difficulties with work, family life
  • often complains about physical symptoms that are related to stress and emotions, such as stomach aches, headaches or fatigue
  • becomes overly impulsive and may engage in violent actions

All suicidal thoughts or threats must be taken seriously, as should any behaviour that is out of character. Trust your instincts. If you are concerned about someone, tell others about it. Get help from family, friends, clergy, teachers, counsellors, doctors, crisis lines, mental health services or hospital emergency departments.

Ask

  • Are you thinking about suicide?
  • Do you have a plan?
  • Do you have a way to carry out your plan?

Listen

  • If the answer is yes, insist that together you find help.
  • Be aware that the more planning that goes into any event the more likely it is to happen.
  • Use your instincts about whether the person is at risk of suicide now.

Seek Help

  • If the risk of suicide is imminent it is an emergency:  Call 000
  • Need help now? Call Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7)

Embrace the Moment and Learn To Be Happy

Tree Survive

Simply by learning to embrace and live in the moment you can achieve the happiness that seems to elude most people. Simple living is a concept that most people can’t imagine because the world is so complicated. Actually your world is what you have made of it and its pace has been created by you. Think for a minute of a typical day in your life. Is it rushed from the time you wake up? Are you stressed about everything along the way or is it calm and peaceful throughout the day? The way you are living is what you have chosen, not what has been given to you. Your life is the blueprint of the choices you have made, and will only change when you change the plan. Being happy is all relative to what it is that makes you happy. Everyone can learn to embrace the moment and be free of the patterns they have created. Think about if you are living your life expecting someone else to make you happy, or are you taking responsibility for your own happiness? Do you rely on money, family and friends to make your world happy even though those are outside forces that were created by your own decisions? Why can’t you live in the moment if it brings you joy instead of expecting something more from others?

A good place to start is with your own internal dialogue and what is in your head. If you tell yourself each morning that you are able to handle things calmly and honestly, and then remind yourself throughout the day that you are what you think, and then you will start to become aware of your actions. Look at the things that take place throughout your day without judgment so there is less stress in your life. Treat others with respect and respect will be given to you in return. Happiness comes from within, but how you have chosen to live in the external world that you have created, will determine how often you feel peace, joy, and respect. To be able to live with an attitude of gratitude and to be thankful for the simple things that cross your path every day will bring you more joy. Allowing that joy to enter your heart will bring peace to your soul. Internal peace is always found through self awareness and growth.

Make a list of the things that make you happy and look at how much, or how often those things are in your life now. Each day you should surround yourself with what actually brings you joy. First, knowing what those things are, and then creating the space for them will be the start of making joy prevalent in your life. You must also start to create boundaries and eliminate the things and people that are not serving you as well. Stop giving your energy each day to things that drain you. Start becoming aware of how you spend your time and what moments you are missing along the way. Appreciating simple pleasures each day will slow your mind down and bring you back to the basics of feeling joyful. Being aware of what’s right in front of you will force you into the moment. Embracing the many little moments that take place in a day can bring a lifetime of happiness and joy to your life.

Find a minute of peace in your day or evening to just close your eyes and give thanks with a happy heart for all your blessings. Call people you love more often and spend less time with those who are always angry. Create an outside activity each day even if it’s for 15 minutes and connect with the world. Commit yourself to organize something in your home or at work to get your surroundings in line with your values. Make a commitment to change just one thing today and embrace the moment, even if the moment is reading this article. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Once you are relaxed, open your eyes and think about what you just read and how you can apply something to your present circumstance. It’s really up to you to make the simple changes that will help you embrace moments that can bring you happiness. If your world is so complicated that you can’t stop and feel some joy throughout your day, then enjoyment of the moment is lost. Stress and judgment will not bring you the happiness you deserve. You always have the power to bring joy into your life because your life is your own, and happiness is a choice. Uncomplicate the day and release the negative thoughts in your mind. The simple things that make you truly happy will become more prevalent and those moments you embrace will define your happiness.

Many Thanks to Denise Dema for this POST. Love & Laughter Always! – John

The Mindfulness Miracle

No Way Out

The evolution of the human species is possible right now, if, and this is the most important “if,” for the next century, we decide to use our brains on purpose. You can evolve faster, chart jump nature, if you learn to use your frontal lobes more effectively.

Your frontal lobes are the key to mindfulness, and mindfulness is all the rage these days. It should be. It is the art and science of living with intention and being where you are. It is the psychological reality of turning down unnecessary stress by only focusing on what matters in the moment. It is what every human can do if we spend a little more time paying attention to how we think.

The preachers of mindfulness are yoga instructors, therapists, and stress reduction psychologists and teachers. It has shown up at companies like Google and in hospitals across the country. It is based on a very specific act that every human is capable of practising: Be where you are.

Easier said than accomplished with all the stimuli surrounding a modern mind. But this is the miracle: In every human life the ability to be more focused and feel better each day is a gift waiting to be practiced and experienced. No matter how big a mess your life is, you can always begin the process of learning to be more mindful.

We’re not crazy for feeling like we can never just slow down and be present. Our brain is both old and new. We have an old brain that wants us to survive and will drive us to overreact, stay fat so we won’t die in the famine that will surely come, and take advantage of whatever pleasure is quickest, cheapest, and most exciting. Usually that means TV, social media, and video games. It often means doing less of what we know is best for us because our brains are literally driving us to take advantage of what feels best now.

We also have a new brain, however, which you can engage almost every minute. You, a human being, have frontal lobes that allow you to think, anticipate the future, and make decisions. If you use them well, you can love every moment of your life, even the painful times, because instead of doing what your old brain is driving you to do, you are the master of your universe. You choose how you want to experience each new moment.

Here’s how it works. If you get cut off in traffic, you honk your horn without thinking. That’s the old brain, and it is a good thing: It reacts to keep us safe. But the swearing that comes next is also the old brain, and too much “old brain” thinking is what’s causing wars around the world. It’s in that next moment, as you notice the stress, that you can choose to continue reacting or simply step back. Once the person has cut you off, you’re no longer in danger.

A person who continues to react will stay revved up, cut someone else off, eat too much at lunch because they are still pissed off, get sluggish from the extra calories, forget a conference call, and get chewed out by their boss.

A mindful person will simply let the stress of being cut off cascade. Yeah, a mindful person may swear too. But only for a few sentences. Then she will step back. She will realise that there is no danger.

We all eat too much, get into conflict, and soothe ourselves with dangerous behaviours because we aren’t mindful.

The evolution of the human species is about choosing how much our life we want to be a reaction to what’s outside us vs. a choice about the experience we want to have right now. When we practice being where we are, reacting only when we really need to, we widen the choices we have to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

Imagine a world of mindful people. We’d still swear at each other when we need to; and then we’d go get a coffee, together, because why react your life away when there are so many amazing experiences to saviour.

Thanks to Jon Wortmann from the Huffington Post for this blog. Love & Laughter Always! – John

Are You Mindful? Tell the World!

Share your “declaration of mindfulness.”Im Mindful

This simple act has the power to change the world.

Something important is happening in our society today: people are being mindful. In more ways and in more places. Being mindful is an idea – actually a way of being – whose time has come. It’s an approach that recognizes and cultivates the best of who we are as human beings.

The simple act of being mindful has the power to change everything – how we approach ourselves, our challenges, our relationships, and our communities.

Mindfulness is available to us because we already have the capacity to be present, and it doesn’t require us to change who we are. It takes many shapes and goes by many names: attention, awareness, empathy, compassion, being in the zone, situational awareness, presence, flow, contemplation, and many more.

We can cultivate these innate qualities with simple mindfulness practices that are scientifically demonstrated to benefit ourselves – and through our relationships – our loved ones, our friends and neighbours, our co-workers, and the world at large.

Being mindful is part of the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. It is likely to become a transformative social phenomenon for these key reasons:

Mindfulness is already having an impact in our schools, hospitals, offices, governments, and many other places. It’s helping us to become healthier, to lead more effectively, and to cooperate with each other in making a better world.

Now is the time. Let’s be mindful together.

  • Anyone can do it. Being mindful cultivates universal human qualities and does not require anyone to change their beliefs. Everyone can benefit and it’s easy to learn.
  • It’s a way of living. Being mindful brings awareness and caring into everything we do- and it cuts down needless stress. Even a little makes our lives better.
  • It’s evidence-based. Both science and experience demonstrate how being mindful brings positive benefits for our health, happiness, work, and relationships.
  • It sparks innovation. As we deal with an increasing complex and uncertain world, being mindful can lead us to effective, resilient, low-cost responses to seemingly intransigent problems.

Thanks to Mindful.org for this blog. Check them out! Love & Laughter Always! – John