How do you experience happiness?

 

If we all can agree that one thing we want is to be happy, then the next question to ask is “How do you want to experience that happiness?”  Often we get caught up in this idea of things that will make us happy.  And most of the time those things are tied to money in some way whether it’s a better paying job, ability to go on vacation, a bigger house, a new car, and so on.

But if you can put all those material things aside and think about how you truly experience happiness, what does that look like for you?  There may be a material component but if you start examining the experience and impact of that experience; the material things will become less significant and ultimately less powerful.

Another pitfall that happens when it comes to discussion of happiness is the one related to circumstances. This happens when we think certain people make us happy or we are only happy in specific environments or even only on certain days (insert TGIF).  We also get caught up in constant comparison of other people and their circumstances.  When we deny our own successes and potential under the umbrella of criticisms and insecurity, we reinforce a life of separation and fear.

The question is simply stated but the answer, I suspect, is as complex as we are individuals.  How we experience happiness is not something that can be manufactured, prescribed, or taught.  It cannot be purchased, bartered, withheld or stolen. It’s not about denying pain or heartache. It is about using our positive experiences to create a natural state of resiliency that sustains us through that pain and heartache.

Happiness is about presence, perception, and engagement.  It’s about being able to recognize blissful moments and understand their significance.  It is about accepting a reality of possibilities that include an infinite source of love and kindness.  It’s about being intentional with your interactions every day.

When we start perceiving our happiness as an experience that we create versus something that is done to us or given to us, we become more confident that it can be sustained even in the face of sorrow, grief, or heartache.  And even more importantly, when we are able to perceive the reality of what generates happiness within our life, we begin to experience that reality in more abundance than we could have ever imagined.

River Edge

 

 

 

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Setting goals without creating limits

What was the last goal you set for yourself?  Did you make it?  How did you feel afterwards?  Was your success of that goal the motivation for your next one?

Goals are critical in assisting us with determining a direction that we want to go and ultimately sustain a level of satisfaction and contentment within our life.  And the process of setting goals is a very empowering, as long as we don’t set ourselves up with limits at the same time.

This happened to me the other day as I was huffing and puffing on the treadmill.  I had set a goal to work out for 30 minutes.  The problem was not the goal of working out for 30 minutes, it was the fact that as soon as my fancy little timer hit 30:00, I immediately hit the “STOP” button.  As I cooled off and got my heart rate down, it occurred me that I could easily have worked out for another 10 or 15 minutes or engaged in another type of exercise. In my head, all I had to do was the 30 minutes.  It didn’t matter that I could do more just as it would not have mattered if I had started working out and realized that I could only do 15 minutes that day.  The goal of working out and moving my body had become my limitation of working out for only 30 minutes.

This is a very concrete example, but it lends to thinking about more abstract goals in your physical, emotional, and spiritual life.  Have you ever created a goal for yourself and simply stopped when you reached a particular finish line?  Or perhaps you didn’t meet the goal and quickly negated all of the work you had successfully accomplished because it didn’t meet the ideal outcome that you had created in your mind. You have to consider if a particular goal results in feeling exhausted and relieved or if the goal instills satisfaction and inspiration within you.

When we set a goal that speaks to our deepest intuition, the simple acts of working towards it create satisfaction within themselves. It is crucial to create an environment that is compassionate, understanding, and realistic versus critical, absolute, and judgmental.

As with anything, this is a practice.  The next time you are working on a particular goal, remind yourself of your intention, your abilities, and your resources.  This establishes guidance, strategies, and determines direction.  Goals are meant to be specific and measurable, but they are not meant to limit or restrict us.

When we start with the awareness of ourselves and all of our amazing potential, our actions become more fluid and goals become our new reality.  When we do all of this, we can easily increase experiencing life with more Love, Understanding, Compassion, and Kindness.  After all, a little LUCK is always helpful when we are working on any goal.  🙂

Explore Yourself

 

A powerful reminder

This week I have been reminded that when people act out in prejudice, discriminatory, and outright ignorant ways…they are being driven by fear.  It may be fear of themselves, fear of uncertainty, or such a deep fear they don’t even realize it exists within them.  My response will either give fear more power and promote separation or provide the antidote and guide us towards unity.  It doesn’t mean I accept behavior and ignore the consequences of their actions…it means that I generate something that is impossible to exist in a state of fear: love.  When we respond in kindness, patience, understanding, and generosity we promote a strand that connects us a human beings and reminds us that we are all the same perfectly imperfect and beautiful being that is.

Complaint free day

What if you spent an entire day without complaining? How would that change your perspective?  How uncomfortable would it be to refrain from voicing a complaint and accept the reality of a situation and continue to move forward?  I’m not suggesting that we all become passive and not speak up about unequitable, unjust, or unacceptable behaviors, I’m suggesting we think about how to voice our feelings and thoughts in a more productive and healthy way that result in either a reasonable solution or follow up plan of action.

We all have our moments of complaining and it’s totally understandable.  Especially when we feel frustrated, upset, fearful, confused, and overwhelmed.  At the end of the day we have to ask, what is the point of complaining?  Are we seeking validation from other people?  Maybe.  Do we need to complain about how tough our day was in order for people to understand that we are struggling?  Or are we looking to excuse our own behavior through the fault of something/someone else?  Maybe we complain to connect with others.  I’m sure many of us have complained about another person or event to someone and it made us feel closer and more connected than before.   Are we complaining often because we don’t feel that anyone hears us otherwise?  Or are we complaining because we are fearful?  The next time you hear yourself complaining or feel the need to air out a complaint, ask yourself these questions:

What is the purpose of my complaint? Or What do I need right now from this situation? 

Is this something that serves me well or can I let it go?

If this serves me well or I feel strongly enough about it, what can I do to positively impact the situation or create change?

Once you realize those answers you can more easily determine how to frame your thoughts and feelings in a productive and helpful way instead of simply complaining about it with no means of appeasing your emotions tied to the situation.

The challenge is not about complaining, it’s the discovery of what is driving the complaint.  Ultimately if we approach our struggles with more self-understanding and awareness we are more likely to find a solution that not only helps our own sense of well-being but promotes more peace and contentment within our immediate environment.  I do not envision a world without complaint, but I love the idea of changing our personal space and space around us to a place where complaints are less frequent and ideas of action/resolve are the common theme.

There is an important disclaimer about increasing your awareness of your own complaining:  once you become aware of how often (and honestly, how easy) it is to complain within yourself….you will start noticing it much more in everyone else around you.  This is not an easy thing to navigate because as you begin living with an intention to complain less and act more, it can be incredibly taxing to be more attuned to everyone else’s complaints.  The best advice I can offer in those moments is to practice love, understanding, compassion, and kindness for both the other person and especially yourself and to remember that it is not your place to learn lessons for other people.  After all, lessons can be helpful but the models of those lessons are way more powerful.  Be a model of Love, Understanding, Compassion, and Kindness and enjoy the space that you create around you.