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How To Find Happiness Within Yourself: A Rough Guide

The quest of finding happiness is possibly the only goal shared among all human beings – past, present or future. Who doesn’t want to find happiness in his or her life? It’s a silent goal nonetheless. We don’t mutter much about it and most of the time it lurks in the deep inner workings of our minds. Curious isn’t it?

The odd fact is we spend billions of research dollars & euros into treating mental illnesses with drugs, but not much effort goes into understanding the science of happiness or mental well-being. This fact alone compels me to write about the subject.

The title of this article is in itself revealing – “how to find happiness within yourself” suggests from the outset that you should look for happiness within yourself and that happiness is general to be found within. This is also a very curious thing to me. Why are we always trying to find happiness in all kinds of places but hardly ever attempt to find happiness within?

Harry is 67. He lost his wife to cancer almost three years ago now. He saw his daughter pass through a marriage breakdown and divorce. He hardly gets to see his grandchildren because his daughter moved to another city after her divorce. He misses the fishing trips with his brother Joe who also passed away recently. He is relating less and less to a changing hostile world where he is constantly reminded he is an unwanted burden.

Yet there is one major twist to the story. Harry is happy, radiantly happy. How can this happen? I mean if there are people who have passed through all sorts of heartbreaking episodes and hardships but are happy, what’s their story? Conversely, if there are people (and lots of them) who have acquired all sorts of merit, possessions, and good fortune yet is deeply unhappy, what does this say about finding happiness?

Finding happiness by losing old mental models:

One major flaw in the way we live our lives is that we have learned how to be unhappy rather than how to be happy. We have built certain mental models of our reality and these limit us or lead us astray from finding real happiness. Naturally this leads us to the understanding that finding happiness requires us to unlearn certain things and look for it in different pathways. It requires us to look into flaws in our belief system and change them.

One of these mental models we adopt is the belief that we need to reach a certain goal or outcome to be happy, the so-called ‘if-then model’ (if this happens then I will be happy). For example that we should get a better income, financial freedom, recognition of our work, sexier bodies, satisfying relationships and so on. It’s always something around the corner which needs to happen first before we reach happiness.

I know you have many times got to the realization yourself that it just doesn’t work that way. Once you reach that corner there is always another corner to reach. Happiness is not found in anything outside ourselves. We already have all the material at hand to be happy. It’s a matter of shifting our perspective and beliefs completely.

Some mental models to take note of and debunk:

• Happiness is the pleasure: No. Pleasure is instant gratification – physical or mental. Happiness is knowing that you are where you should be or accepting that you are not and doing your best while you’re there.

• Happiness is comfort or security: We live most of our lives in constant security threats – our jobs, our children out at night, our health, etc. The truth is that security or lack of it is based on perception. Happiness is living well in a very unstable world.

• I don’t deserve happiness: Yeah, says who? Another human quirk – self-inflicted limitation. Happiness is for everyone, wherever you come from, whatever you did and no matter what’s your idea. Happiness is open-source.

• It’s impossible to find happiness in this world: Another example of self-limiting beliefs. Wrong. Happiness is as possible to find as unhappiness.

• People who reached their goals are invariably happy: Again, says who? People who reached their goals are not happy because they reached their goals. On the contrary, some are eternally dissatisfied and keep on seeking, other goals in life – a real source of unhappiness. But yes some people found happiness while reaching those goals since they were living their true purpose and enjoying every moment of it. Their eyes were on the doing and not on the reaching.

Finding Inner Happiness Through Finding Inner Peace

So many stories around us, like that of Harry, seem to point at the overlooked obvious – that you will only find happiness within yourself. Well, that’s very good news since you don’t need to look far away to find happiness – like for example running after expensive, energy-consuming and ultimately unsatisfying goals. It’s there right within you. As scientist Zen Buddhist Jon Kabat-Zinn perfectly immortalized in one of his book titles: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

When life rocks your boat to the point of wrecking it or when the proverbial crap hits the ceiling fan you will reach a y-point which will either make you or break you. So many people like Harry managed to find happiness & inner peace through the most turbulent and upsetting moments of their lives by making use of their internal resources, by finding happiness within rather than in external points of reference.

The key to happiness, or, in other words, that of finding true inner happiness, is by finding your inner peace – that center of calm inner knowing which is the real source of your being rather than those mental projections or models imposed by your social background.

There are many pathways to find your inner peace but before I start sounding too metaphysical I’d reckon that the greatest and shortest path is that of acceptance. Let go of your expectations, inner struggle, and frustrations when things don’t turn out exactly, the way you want them. Acceptance is an extremely powerful tool to finding inner happiness. It shouldn’t be confused with resignation or passiveness.

We often fail to understand the power of acceptance because it comes from the heart, not the mind. Its power, in fact, comes from transcending the resistance and inner currents of the restless mind which are often the source of our anxieties, stress, and inner conflict.

Acceptance is when we drop all, our mental models (like the if-then model), often in a moment of clarity or awareness where we become conscious that there is another life outside this madness, outside this huffing and puffing trying to acquire one goal after the other in the wrong belief that there is an ultimate goal post called happiness somewhere on the finishing line.

Ask yourself – how much of what’s going on in your life do you accept? Are you constantly feeling you should be at some other point in your life? Or do you somehow feel at peace with all aspects of your life and make use of them with all their limitations?

Other pathways to inner peace:

• Compassion: Some people admirably manage to find the time and energy to help other even when they are facing rough seas themselves. Even though this comes out from an act of compassion and selflessness, it is also a doorway to their own inner peace. In fact although it seems quite hard to do in moments when we are down and out, giving attention to others’ needs is a way of getting ‘out of your head’ which, ironic as it sounds, is a fast remedy to unhappiness.

• Seek the support of others: Well, it works both ways too. Helping others is a way to shift your center of attention away from your ailments. However seeking any form of support from others is a way of finding reinforcement and encouragement and is highly recommendable.

• Be grateful to everything around you: Because we so often forget of the little miracles happening around us on a daily basis. We only think about what’s missing instead of counting our blessings. Being thankful to life is not some wishy-washy magical spell that washes away all your troubles. Rather it is an exercise in which you become aware of the positive and meaningful things happening in your life, a real booster.

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What It Really Means To Be In Love

How to get past your own defenses and learn to build a real relationship?

While many of us may have sensed it intuitively, there is now science behind the statement that “Love is all you need.” A 75-year longitudinal study by Harvard researchers suggests that love is indeed a key to a happy and fulfilling life.

While love seems to be a universally valued attribute, defining it in behavioral terms can be a challenge. As the Harvard study’s lead researcher, Dr. George Vaillant, wrote of his team’s findings, two essential ingredients are proven to correlate with a happy existence: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

While many of us believe we would like to be in love, we face many hurdles in taking the actions that allow love to flow freely throughout our lives and relationships. We have many ways of defending ourselves against love and can struggle to give and receive love with ease, openness, and vulnerability.

With love being so closely connected to meaning and fulfillment, it’s valuable for each of us to define love as an action or series of actions we can take to bring us closer to the people we value. In a romantic context, some essential characteristics that fit the description of a loving relationship include:

• Expressions of affection, both physical and emotional.
• A wish to offer pleasure and satisfaction to another.
• Tenderness, compassion, and sensitivity to the needs of the other.
• A desire for shared activities and pursuits.
• An appropriate level of sharing of possessions.
• An ongoing, honest exchange of personal feelings.
• The process of offering concern, comfort, and outward assistance for the loved one’s aspirations.

Love includes feeling for the other that goes beyond any selfishness or self-interest on the part of the loved one. As such, love nurtures and has a positive effect on each person’s self-esteem and sense of well-being. Love never involves deception, because misleading another person fractures his or her sense of reality.

So how well do we meet these standards for being loving? When we think about a relationship that is meaningful to us, we have to ask:

• Do we both behave in ways that nurture each other?
• Do we take actions to make the other person feel good?
• Do we consider what lights that person up, separate from our own interests?

Too often, we think of love as an almost passive state of being, as opposed to a conscious choice we make. When we regard love as something we simply fall into, we can easily slip into routines with the person we value or lose a sense of separateness and respect. Instead, we view that person as a part of us. We then run the risk of creating a fantasy bond, an illusion of fusion in which real feelings of fondness and attraction are replaced by the form of being in a relationship. In other words, we come to see ourselves and our partner as a single unit. We then fall into roles rather than appreciating each other as individuals and experiencing the exciting, loving feelings that result.

A fantasy bond offers a false sense of security—the illusion that we are no longer alone. However, when we connect to someone in this way, we lose our sense of vitality, and we give up significant aspects of our relationship. The behavioral operations of love are replaced with a fantasy of being in love, which does not nurture either partner.

Relationships tend to go south when we stop taking actions that our partner would perceive as loving and instead start looking to our partner solely to meet our own needs. It’s important to distinguish emotional hunger from real love. Have you ever witnessed a parent hugging a child and wondered whether the hug was intended to comfort the child, offering reassurance and care, or to soothe the parent, taking something from the child? When we reach out to our partner, it can be valuable to examine whether our behaviors are for them or for ourselves. Are we looking to them to fulfill us in some way that is unfair to them? Are we hoping they will make up for an emptiness or hurt from our past?

A couple I’ve worked with recently recognized an example of this dynamic. The wife would often compliment her husband, but he rarely felt acknowledged by her words. When she recounted some of the recent comments she made, she noticed that they were less of a reflection of him and more a reflection on her. Statements like: “Aren’t I married to such a handsome, well-put-together man?” Or: “Haven’t I picked a winner?” didn’t capture qualities that were important to him. They were traits she valued in a partner that reconfirmed her own self-esteem and sense of worth.

Love should never be an act of manipulation. It is not a mark of ownership over another person, but the exact opposite—a genuine appreciation of a person as a separate individual. When we see a person this way, we allow ourselves to fully value them for who they are and for the happiness they bring to our lives. We are driven to be generous toward the person, to show compassion and kindness in a way that both they and the outside world would view as loving.

Of course, there are many barriers we put in place that not only keep us from finding this type of relationship but from achieving it with the person we love. One reason we wind up in less-than-loving relationships is the ways we were treated in our past. We may have become familiar with family dynamics in which we were rejected or intruded on, in which case we tend to seek out or recreate these same dynamics in our adult relationships. To become more loving thus means recognizing ways we self-sabotage: How are we recreating past hurts in our current relationships?

As we reflect on these behaviors, we learn a lot, not only about how we interfere with our naturally loving feelings for others but about the negative ways we feel about ourselves. It’s difficult to express love outwardly when we don’t feel our own sense of self-worth. One of the biggest reasons we shut out love is because we feel unworthy or self-denying. Therefore, to have a loving relationship, we must challenge our negative self-concept or critical inner voice. When we do this and take the loving actions that contradict our critical self-image, we enhance our own sense of worth and are able to get closer to the people we love.

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Why Being Alone Is Essential: 6 Ways To Enjoy Being Alone

“Not knowing how to feed the spirit, we try to muffle its demands in distraction… What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea.

As a woman, you were probably taught or conditioned to put other people’s needs before your own. If you think that it’s selfish to put yourself before others, you may find yourself focusing a lot on others, filling up your time with busy work, and spending time with friends and family because you don’t want to be alone.

Many women who are so focused on others don’t get to know who they truly are. They don’t tend to look at and know how to address their own issues. And when it comes to love, they tend to attract men who aren’t right for them – men who don’t treat them with love, kindness and respect.

6 Reasons Why It’s Important To Be Alone :

“I find there is a quality to being alone that is incredibly precious. Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Being alone can seem scary because when there’s no one to distract you, you’re left with fears, insecurities and unsupportive thoughts. If this is how you view being alone, here is another perspective to consider. Being alone is liberating. It’s the place where you can understand your fears and insecurities and how they’ve been running your love life. Being alone lets you hear how your thoughts have been affecting your love life. It is where your answers to love reside.
Here’s why it’s so important to be alone.

  1. Instead of becoming frustrated and resentful towards the person(s) you been focusing your time, attention and efforts, they get to live their own lives the way they’re meant to and learn their own lessons. And you get to do the same for yourself.
  2. Instead of neglecting your own issues, you get to address them and change your life for the better.
  3. Instead of losing yourself in your partner, you get to discover who you are and contribute your wonderful self to the relationship.
  4. Instead of having your identity wrapped up in someone else, you get to be independent from someone else and function on your own.
  5. Instead of living a routine life, you get to expand your comfort zone and discover things about yourself that you never realized.
  6. Instead of leading a life of obligation or setting for less than you deserve, you get to live the life you’re meant to and enjoy the rest of the days of your life.

6 Ways To Be Alone :

“Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Are you feeling stressed out about life and love because you’re doing too much for others or you don’t know how to enjoy being alone? If so, put these 6 practices into your life to feel better about yourself and have a healthier love life.

1. Participate in creative activities.

Discover and do at least one creative activity on your own. For instance, if you like to write, draw or paint, start doing these things.

2. Reflect on your inner self.

Reflect and ponder on questions like, “What are my beliefs? Why do I feel that way about these beliefs?” “Who would I be without my possessions?” “Where would I love to travel and why?” “What inspires me?”

3. Learn something new.

If you’ve always wanted to learn Pilates, how to cook, speak Italian, or play the piano, take classes and learn something new.

4. Take yourself out on a date.

Go on a date by yourself to a museum you love, movie you want to see, restaurant you’ve always wanted to eat at or a place you’ve always wanted to go to.

5. Spend time outside.

Walk in nature, go on a hike, enjoy the sound of the ocean, the sand between your toes, the smell of the fresh air in the mountains, etc.

6. Have a weekend alone.

Turn off your electronic and communication devices (i.e. TV, computer, tablet, cell phone). Music is optional. Catch up on reading your favorite books and magazines.

“Woman must come of age by herself. She must find her true center alone.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

It is actually thoughtful, not selfish, to put yourself before others because in doing so, you become the best version of you. When you are at your best, you are able to give your best to others. Everyone around you benefits from you putting yourself first.

Remember, when you are alone with no distractions from getting to know your true self, you get to learn, appreciate and love yourself. The more you know how to be alone and enjoy your alone time, your beautiful essence will draw towards you, men who are loving, kind and treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

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What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Depression?

Many people associate depression with a mental or emotional state of mind, but there are also a number of physical symptoms of depression. Headaches, digestive ailments, insomnia, muscle fatigue, loss of appetite or even an increased appetite can all be physical symptoms of depression. Some physical aspects of depression may appear at the onset, while others may be triggered after days of general listlessness or disinterest in the outside world.

Some physical symptoms of depression are considered warning flags for a deepening mental condition. General body aches may be mistaken for the first signs of influenza, but those who are susceptible to bouts of depression may recognize them as early warning signs of an impending slide. Moderate to severe headaches may also be one of the first physical symptoms of clinical depression to manifest themselves.

General feelings of fatigue and muscular pain can also accompany clinical depression, which makes it more difficult for sufferers to remain active or productive. Besides the emotional feelings of sadness and unworthiness associated with depression, the physical effects of fatigue and muscle ache can also cause sufferers to seek comfort in a darkened bedroom or other isolated area. The darkness may help alleviate headache pain, and the bed offers support of weakened muscles.

Some sufferers also report such physical symptoms of depression as sleep disorders. It is not uncommon for a depressed person to sleep at least 10-12 hours a day, nor is it uncommon for some sufferers to experience insomnia. Intrusive thoughts can interrupt a depressed person’s ability to fall asleep or remain asleep. The overwhelming sense of sadness or disinterest in life can also sap a sufferer of his or her motivation to get out of bed or begin his or her normal daily routine.

Eating disorders can also be physical symptoms of depression. Many sufferers find it difficult to eat regular meals at normal hours. Depression can suppress the usual pangs of hunger, as well as trigger excessive acid production through stress. It can also have the opposite effect on some with clinical depression, however. Some people who become emotionally depressed will become binge eaters as a way to self-medicate.

Other physical symptoms of depression could include self-mutilation as negative reinforcement, or a complete loss of interest in personal hygiene. While suicidal thoughts are common emotional manifestations of depression, some sufferers may indulge in self-destructive physical behavior as well. Binge drinking to excess or other destructive behavior may be considered side effects of a severe bout of depression. Professional counseling may be the best way to address both the mental and physical symptoms of depression.

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A Love Affair & Emotional Freedom

“When it comes to love,
you need not fall but rather surrender,
surrender to the idea that you must love yourself
before you can love another.
You must absolutely trust yourself
before you can absolutely trust another
and most importantly you must accept your flaws
before you can accept the flaws of another.”

My preferred suggestion to healing from love lost is the same as the one for finding love: to love yourself, first.

In previous relationships, we probably depended on our partners to make us happy, to make us feel special, to make us whole and complete. Our self-worth may have been wrapped up in how much attention our partner gave us. This is a ‘lose-lose’ formula that works against our personal happiness, because it relies heavily on external circumstances beyond our control and is not sustainable in the long term.

Truth is, nothing external to us can give us the security we need. Only we can give that to ourselves, by loving and accepting ourselves completely.

By learning to love and appreciate ourselves, not only do we free ourselves from the chains that keep us in pain when a relationship ends, it also makes us more attractive to the outside world. Even when you don’t explicitly speak about it, something in the grace of your movement will spread that message to others, like a summer breeze softly blowing the scent of a flower to neighboring plants.

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