Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Archive for the tag “happy”

What Makes You Happy?

Do you know what makes you happy? What makes you really happy? What feeds your spirit and makes your heart sing? 

It seems like an easy enough question, doesn’t it? I think most of us think, at least on some level, that we know what we like… what makes us feel good… what makes us happy. But honestly, most of us are just not that good at truly figuring it out. We think we know, but we’re wrong. 

There are so many examples of this in our daily lives. We live in a constant state of more-is-better mentality… and it’s confusing the heck out of us. We’re under the impression that if we just get a little more of this, that or the other, then we’ll be happy. I’ll be happy when… I make more money… I lose some weight… I get a different job… I have more time.

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”   ~Dalai Lama

So, how do we figure it out? What’s the secret, magic formula for happiness? Ha! If you watch TV, read magazines, listen to the radio or in any other way are exposed to advertising… then you know it is as simple as buying the next widget, gadget or gidget. Or is it? On some level, we all know it’s not. And yet, if you’re like me, you are continuously sucked in and often succumb to the message that we are just not good enough and won’t be happy unless we have the latest this, that or the other. Perhaps we don’t spend enough time really contemplating our happiness. If happiness is the purpose of our lives, it surely gets short shrift compared to the numerous hours, days and years we spend on less important tasks. So, what’s the first step?

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~Rumi

I won’t pretend to have all the answers. To be perfectly honest, I struggle with this as much as anyone! I’ve bought my fair share, and then some, of self help books, audio programs and new age magazines in an effort to find that magic pill… experience transformation… be good enough… be happy! It’s a little ironic when you realize that you’re doing all this searching but you’ve never really thought very much about what you’re trying to find. Happiness is a somewhat vague concept that needs to be personally defined by each person.

I’ve heard that one good way to recognize your joy is to find activities that lead to losing track of time. When you get caught up in the activity and 2 hours feels like 2 minutes, then you know you’ve found something that makes you happy. But… a recent jaunt on FB has me questioning this concept just a bit. I’m not so sure spending hours online checking FB, pinterest, and playing words with friends is exactly my call to joy. But if I step back a bit, I can see that connecting with others and being social is joyful for me and makes me happy.

I’d like to propose a first step. Spend some time pondering and writing about happiness. Play with the statement “Happiness is…”

The next step, once you’ve gotten a bit clearer on what happiness is for you, is to notice your daily actions… how you spend your time. Ask yourself, as you move through the day, whether or not your actions are supporting your happiness. Now… I’m not saying that every single action in your day is going to be a joy-fest… but in some way, the actions and activities we engage in should align with our values… what’s important to us… and what makes us happy. Doing laundry, per se, is not necessarily joyful… but I can take a moment to be thankful for the clean, beautiful clothes that I possess. While I may not be elated with every detailed task I perform at my job, on a higher level, I believe in the mission of my company and know that my work contributes to the greater health and well-being of many people.

“When hope is not pinned wriggling onto a shiny image or expectation, it sometimes floats forth and opens.” ~Anne Lamott

So call forth your joy. Summon your giddiness. Explore what makes you happy with life… really, really happy… and spend time doing it. Pay attention to your daily activities and ask yourself if they align with your values… your true desires… your river of joy. (then tell me what it is so I can try it out myself!)

Love and light to you!  ~Rashel  

 

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What’s Your Story?

We all have stories. Stories are what we believe to be true and what we tell others about our lives. Rumi says… “Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” I find it interesting that he does not say, “unfold your own story,” or even, “unfold your own truth,” but “unfold your own myth.”

I was listening to an NPR podcast the other day and they were interviewing Tony Robbins. He mentioned something about stories that really struck me. He revealed that he was beaten as a child. Apparently he shared that truth with some kids when he was doing a talk in order that they might relate to him… to understand that even if you have a troubled youth, you can still turn your life around. The point he was making on the podcast was that he had consciously chosen not to perpetuate that story… that he worked hard to create a new story that he had shared with the world. Until that time, and only for the very specific purpose of relating to those kids, he had chosen not to share that story of himself and his life and to share and communicate a new story… one of empowerment and strength rather than victim hood and struggle.

Sometimes I think we get very caught up in what’s “true.” Reality, if you will. But what that realization illuminated for me is that we can choose to focus on other parts of our lives that are just as true and real without perpetuating the parts of our story that do not foster our own growth and development as a human being. Now, I am not advocating for a life of lies. I am not implying that everyone should wake up tomorrow pretending that their past is non-existent and acting as if the sky is green. I’m simply saying that we all have choices. Choice about what to share… what to focus on.. what to pay attention to on a daily basis. In any given day, there are as many, if not more, positive occurrences as negative… so why in the world do we feel so inclined, when asked how we’re doing, to list the 2-5 things that have gone wrong in the day? I know it’s not just me who does this because I walk around hearing of everyone’s issues on a regular basis. I’m not complaining, mind you… I’m just recognizing that we are very much hard-wired to focus on our negative story instead of perpetuating the positive aspects of our day and lives. I’d say we can’t help it… but that might be seen as taking on a bit of victim mentality, no?

What is your story? How do you feel when you tell your story? Does your story focus on the amazing, wonderful events that have shaped your life… or does you get caught up in the negative, difficult details? Do share your story!

Love and light!  ~Rashel

Acorn to Oak

I was listening to a program recently that was giving the analogy of an acorn turning into an Oak tree. The basic take-away, at least according to my perception, was that we already have everything we need inside of us to become everything we are meant to be. The acorn, in its tiny seed form, holds the blueprint for a great, mighty Oak. Of course, there are the external factors that do have some influence on how well the tree grows and develops. Good soil, water, sunshine. But as long as the basic needs are met, the tree will grow and fulfill its destiny.

Could that be true for us humans as well?

And if it is true, how do we use this analogy to help us relax into becoming our best self? What are the soil, water and sunshine equivalents in our own lives? And how do we learn to distinguish between the necessary elements that will help us grow… and those that won’t, or even worse, actually hinder our growth?

I guess I’m wondering if I’m trying too hard. How would my world change if I believed that I already had all the knowledge I needed to be my best self? At this point in my life, I will admit, I’ve done a lot of seeking… read a lot of self-help books… and purchased more than my share of “healing” programs. If this acorn bit is true, perhaps I didn’t really need any of it? Or maybe a little bit is fine… like watering the plant… but too much is like a flood. (Certainly I need some of it as fodder for these blog posts, right?!!) I feel like I’m always trying to do things to learn and grow. To some extent that’s who I am and I like it. On the flip side, this constant struggle to always do more is exhausting.

Perhaps the answer lies in paying more attention to what feeds my soul. When it comes to so-called self-help books… Am I reading because I think I’m not enough and I need to learn more… or because the content of what I’m reading excites me and makes me want to keep reading? When it comes to volunteering… Am I saying yes because it’s something I want to do… something that will have a beneficial consequence to me or someone I love… or am I saying yes because I feel guilty and want others to like me?

Aha moment… I haven’t spent enough time making sure that the way I spend my time is supporting my best self. One example is magazines… I read a lot of them. I’m realizing I get a very small return on that time invested. Once in a great while I’ll apply the information I read… or pass it on to a friend. Most of the time, the information goes in and out… with nary an impact. Why do I keep reading magazines… and more importantly, why do I keep buying them? Maybe there’s a belief somewhere inside that reading magazines will make me smart… or that there will be information in there that cannot be missed? (Any therapists out there who want to weigh in?)

I’m making a commitment: Spend more time thinking about how I spend my time! This, by the way, is very much aligned with my theme for 2013 – my year for making conscious choices. I guess my take away is this… there are a lot of ways to spend time. If we already have the blueprint for success within ourselves… perhaps the best use of that time is to consciously choose things that make us happy or make us proud.

I encourage you to share your thoughts…

Love and laughter to you! ~Rashel

Don’t Worry… Be Happy!

This simple phrase says it all! A very simple statement on what not to do… don’t worry; and an equally short and simple statement on what to do… be happy!!
There are a few factors that go into being able to accomplish something… we need to be motivated – I think we’ve got that covered here-who wouldn’t want to be happy, right? We’ve got to know what to do… well-can’t get much clearer than that-do not worry and do be happy. And finally… we need to know how to do it. Ahhhh yes… herein lies the rub with this great phrase. We just don’t seem to know how to relax, let go, and enjoy, do we?
Well, we could relax and enjoy… if only we had more time… more money… better looks… a better job… a more supportive spouse…  {feel free to insert your reasons here}…
But alas, life is hard! And there is so much to worry about!! It’s amazing we get a smile in at all. Hold on a minute…
Some time back I was encouraged to keep a gratitude journal. I kept one for a few days-much shorter than the recommended time for sure. I didn’t stop because I couldn’t think of things to be grateful for… I stopped because I felt ridiculous that I needed to keep a gratitude journal to feel good in the first place! When I started thinking about things that didn’t seem like they should “count” because they were just a given-something I took for granted- I started realizing how ridiculously blessed my life is. There seems to be a chasm between the true level of greatness and fortune we have in our lives vs. the amount of complaining that we do.  Why is that?
I’ll give you an example I experienced recently… as I may have mentioned before, I love my job. I work with great people, I get to be creative and more often than not I have projects that are both fun and rewarding. That said, there is a current project that has my panties in a bunch. I found myself complaining often to anyone who would listen about all the atrocities of this project. I even called a couple meetings with higher-ups to vent accordingly. This went on for over a week. When anyone asked me how things were going, I had a hard time saying anything that did not reflect my frustration and angst over my current project.
Now lets take a moment for a quick reality check… still working with phenomenal people… have now recruited even more fabulous people into my web to help me cope with current project… majority of projects are great and I have more opportunity than ever to use, my creative juices. What the heck happened to “don’t worry, be happy?”
I guess we’re hard-wired to worry and look out for everything that could go wrong… saved us from the sabertooth or something to that effect. However, how exactly do we let that go… cause its time to move on already!!
Back to my work story… I decided the other day that this needed to stop. I decided to consciously attempt to stop complaining and force myself to think of everything I could that’s positive about this project. It was a bit of a stretch at first… I appreciate that I am given the opportunity to realize that complaining doesn’t make the project get better!! I managed to come up with a couple more benefits (somewhat meager, I’ll admit, but did the job).
Here’s the thing… I had a great day after that. It’s not like the project disappeared or magically got fun overnight… but guess what- I felt a lot better! I was able to let go a little bit and experience some empathy for the other folks working on this project. Stepping back from the complaining a bit, I was able to see the bigger picture -this project as one of many and with a limited timeline.
I believe that what you focus on you get more of. That said, we (myself included) do not spend near enough time focusing on what’s going well, what we like, what makes us smile, etc.  TRY IT: focus on what you want more of for at least 10 minutes today!
Love and laughter to you!! ~Rashel

Define… HAPPY!

So much of what I’ve read lately talks about being happy. It even goes so far as to say that there are no right or wrong answers in life… as long as you are true to yourself and the decision makes you happy. Do you buy this? I’m struggling a little bit myself. I tend to be a people pleaser. I know there’s a lot of us out there… it’s probably what allows us to coexist on this planet! It makes me unhappy… or at least uncomfortable… to confront others. Especially when I believe that what I’m going to say will be met with anger or resistance. So much so, that I sometimes avoid conversations that I think will result in conflict. On the one hand, this makes me happy because I’m avoiding discomfort… but in the long run, if what I’m avoiding really needs to be addressed, it can cause me great unhappiness… and frustration… and resentment… oh my!

So… is discomfort the same as unhappiness? Well, if I reverse the question it becomes, is comfort the same as happiness?  Now that’s a question I’m more familiar with. I’m “comfortable” not going to the gym, not working out regularly and staying up late to watch television. I’m “comfortable” eating bacon, spreading on the butter and drinking wine. When things become habitual, they tend to feel very comfortable. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will make you happy. On the other hand, I’m uncomfortable getting up early… but completing a yoga video that made me stretch and sweat feels pretty great. I guess it has partly to do with instant gratification vs. delayed gratification.  Say, what? What makes me happy in this moment isn’t necessarily the same as what will make me happy a week from now… a month from now… or years from now whereas what makes me a little uncomfortable right now could lead to great happiness.

Lets get back to the conflict. Not something you will hear from me very often but, yes, I just said that! Avoiding conflict in this moment is instant gratification. I avoid feeling uncomfortable right now. Unfortunately the fact that it’s “right now” is often a huge factor. The alternative is to address the conflict right now to increase the likelihood that my position will be heard and respected. It’s also likely that after avoiding conflict I will feel relieved, but not happy. If I learn to speak my mind, despite the potential for conflict or reactance, I will potentially become happier with myself and the outcomes that result. The trick, I suppose, is getting more comfortable with the discomfort!

So let’s say I move into the discomfort and become more apt to speak my mind. Now here’s another little conundrum. I’m happy because I’ve stated my needs clearly and concisely despite potential conflict. In the process, I’ve totally irritated someone else, who is not happy at all with my clear and concise needs. How does my own drive for happiness, if it ultimately diminishes the happiness of another, impact my overall happiness? Or does it? I guess if I’m responsible for and take accountability of my own happiness, and others are responsible for and take accountability of their own happiness… we all get what we need, right? No? Maybe nobody gets what they need. I don’t know… I’m too busy trying to please other people and take responsibility for their happiness to find out!

This week… I will pay more attention to my own happiness. What makes me happy? When do I hold back from asking for what I want? Who’s happiness am I protecting and at what cost? Just how uncomfortable is it to go for the long-term happy instead of the now happy? Join me!

Love and laughter to you! Thanks for reading along.  ~Rashel

 

 

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