The True Joy in Life

January 12, 2011

‘This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, the being a force of nature, instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy’- George Bernard Shaw 

Wow, how many of us are willing to recognise or even admit to being a selfish little clod of ailments and grievances and how many of us find the true joy in life, the life purpose that Shaw mentions here? And on realising it about ourselves, what do we do about it?

Well much as I hate to admit it about myself, I was that clod! It has taken me nigh on forty odd years to realise it. I’d like to think I’ve changed, I’ve certainly made great efforts to change the way I think and act and amazingly enough, in the process I discovered my life’s purpose too! (To help others- in every way and any way I possibly can, until I draw my last breath!)

I have had a few awakenings in my life where I literally woke up and smelt the coffee! But nothing as dramatic as the last one was. I became ill last year, and thought I actually had MS. I was feeling ill and looking ill and I suppose I resigned myself to being ill. (Not good) I wasn’t terribly happy in my marriage either but again I resigned myself to that being my lot in life, and then I met a stranger, who just for a fleeting moment (in life terms) was so incredibly kind (and I hadn’t experienced much kindness in my life) that it awoke in me a longing to change my life in the most positive way possible. Nothing has been the same since, and although that person doesn’t know the effect they had on me, we must all be aware of the possible effect we could have on each other, and strive to make that affect a positive one. There is a saying that some encounters with strangers leave footprints on your heart, have you ever experienced this? It may be just something someone says, or the way a person is, that awakens, or sometimes it’s not a person, but it may be just a vague feeling of things not being quite right in your world,  that is the beginning of you becoming you. Some of us follow the hint and some of us bury it deep inside and never find our true selves or our purpose in life.

Well I followed the hint this time. I started looking after my self, changed my diet etc. I was ill, but I didn’t have to look it. I changed my attitude from poor me (victim) and accepted the process. I then focused on my life. There was a lot of clutter in my life, outdated beliefs about myself that no longer served their purpose and many things that should have been discarded years ago. I got busy reading books that would help me; I used daily affirmations & CDs, I enrolled on a distance learning course. I became the change I wanted to see in my world and yes I had to make some drastic changes in my life and I had to begin again in a sense. I became well again all my symptoms disappeared and tests came back normal too! I have very few regrets, the past cannot be changed, and I believe that our point of power is now; it is the only time we can change anything. Don’t delay, life is so terribly, terribly short, at least attempt to find you, and find your purpose, before you’re too old or too tired or too ill or maybe you’ve already started your journey? I wish you all well, whatever season of life you are in, if you have not begun, then begin, it is never too late.

I heard a great saying in the film The Shawshank redemption- ‘Get busy living or get busy dying!’ and I kind of took it on as my life’s motto. Well I got busy living and I can tell you honestly that I have never been so balanced, so at peace with myself and my world. I have learnt to put fear in its proper place. I have learnt to be very grateful for all I have in my life, I have learnt to accept responsibility for the things that have gone wrong in my life and I have stopped blaming and being judgemental. I have realised that it is me who makes me happy, my thoughts are controlled by me and I choose to be a positive clod!


Got the Rainy Day Blues ?

January 12, 2011

   I was standing in a shop looking out the window at the rain, the other day, when a man commented that it was awful when it was raining, as you couldn’t go out anywhere. I was going to ask him if that was so, then how the heck did he get here, like was he transported as in Star trek or something. But he didn’t seem the humorous type, so I let the subject drop!

   What is it with us and the rain? We’re all so happy go lucky when the sun peeps out, but the moment the sky clouds over and the rain pours down, we become bi polar!

You’d swear someone very close to us had died; we’re like living streaks of misery. Even motorists, who shouldn’t care less, being warm and dry in their automobiles, seem loathe to using their wipers and are seen wearing the expression that would lead one to believe that the devil himself had appeared on the road in front of them! Well maybe he did and I didn’t notice!

    A few months ago, I suppose I was the same, but now I’m the one who bounces down the street, umbrella in hand, smile on face and wishing everyone a cheerful ‘lovely day’, I always get a smile in return, except from those too miserable to raise their heads from dragging on the ground! So why am I different? It’s not that I particularly like getting cold and wet; it’s just that I changed my attitude, and I won’t let a little something like the rain stop me from going out for a walk. I won’t let it change my mood, or let it make me cranky. Instead of moaning and complaining about how awful it is, I now take the time, when I do go out in the downpour, to look at the beautiful reflections in the puddles, I observe the way the streets look so clean and shiny. I listen to the sounds of the raindrops as they land on the leaves of the trees, and I breathe in the fresh clean air and enjoy not having a near asthma attack, because the air isn’t so dusty! I know, I know some of you are thinking, this one is a right head case! Well maybe you’re right, but at least I’m not adding to the misery of the world, and that has to work in my favour, now doesn’t it?

     It’s just that I discovered something that helps, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s that we have a choice to be miserable or to be happy. We can choose the let the rain put us in a bad mood, or we can choose to be happy regardless of the weather. Wow, now there’s a revelation, a little thought that can play through your mind the next time you’re in your car with the wipers on hyper, or the next time you’re nursing a sore chin, because it’s hit the ground too often, or the next time you just have ‘ the rainy day blues’.


Life Advice

January 12, 2011

‘Listen… are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? –Mary Oliver (quote) Wow this hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it, because up til last year, I was only breathing just a little and calling it my life. In fact I can elaborate further and go so far as to say I don’t even think I was breathing at all, I think I had died inside. Anyone else been there? Have you been that low? Has the darkness overwhelmed you? It was so dark that I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, but then I realised that I had my eyes closed! And when I opened them and opened my mind, then I could see how very bright life actually could be.

Yes I’m still in the same world I was last year, but my perception of it has changed. There’s a story about a man, I forget who wrote this, apologies to the author, but this man had two sons, the elder son was ready to leave home and face the world, the father was in an unhappy relationship at the time and told his son never to trust anyone, for no one could be trusted, and to get all he could get in life regardless of others, and so his son did. A few years later his second son was ready to leave home, by this stage the father had remarried and was in a very happy, loving relationship and gave the advice to the second son to love all he could, to trust everyone and to always give more than he got. Many years passed and the father died. At the funeral the two brothers met up and discussed how their lives had turned out. Both found that life was exactly as their father had told them it would be.

Our perception of things is amazing. We all view our same world differently. Some of us view it with fear, anger, and mistrust, some of us with love, joy and hope. Same world, different perceptions, but like the story I related, the scary thing is, you will also experience life as you perceive it to be. Think about this, it’s shocking!

So what is your life like today? Examine your thoughts. What would you like it to be? Better? Then think it into existence, and don’t delay, start this moment, there’s no time to waste. Life is very, very short to be unhappy, by our own making.

What more can I say? Here’s some life advice. Go out there and make it happen for you. Don’t just sit there complaining, letting it pass you all by. Grab life with both hands and DANCE! Enjoy it! If not now, when? What are you waiting for? To die? To go to heaven before you can be happy?  I’ve been in hell on this earth and I can tell you now I am in heaven on this earth right now, don’t wait for others, make yourself happy, do what you love to do. Be love in every cell, love yourself, love others, be joy, be grateful, do no harm to others, be kind as often as you can, never be cruel. or selfish to yourself or others. Think positive, find positive people who help, uplift and support you, and you will find your measure of heaven too. Enjoy LIVING! I am!


How do we get hurt ?

January 12, 2011

‘Nobody can hurt me, without my permission’ –Mahatma Gandhi (quote)

Isn’t this an interesting quote? Doesn’t it make you think? Well it made me think about how people get hurt.

Now, I almost agree with this quote in the sense that I feel it is our attitude to people or situations which will ‘allow’ us to feel hurt or not. And to a certain extent we can choose not to take offence, or we can choose to be less sensitive. We can choose to be reactive or to be proactive. We can choose to be more aware of what is going on. We can adopt the attitude of not taking things too personally; we can learn to not assume things, but to seek out the real facts of a situation instead, whereby we have to face the truth rather than fiction. All this will lessen our chances of finding ourselves in a position where we can give our permission to be hurt.

But even with all that, I feel that it is still possible to find ourselves feeling hurt by other people and situations and also to inadvertently hurt others too, so how does this happen?

Is it that we are not honest enough with ourselves or others? Do we know what we want when we enter into relationships or situations? Or do we assume everything will be ok? As if others can already read our minds and know automatically? And do we tell the people who are important to us what we want or expect from them from time to time? No, I think we don’t. Are we afraid to open up to others in case they see us lacking in some way? It’s no wonder some of our lives are in such a mess! I’ve been there, done that and worn the tee shirt!

I’ve found myself in many situations where I have felt hurt and perhaps hurt others, and in other situations more recently where I chose to see things differently and I believe the following points helped me and maybe it will help you too.

  • Be brutally honest with yourself right now and write down what you do want from your relationships and situations. If we don’t know what we want, then we give a message of confusion to others and we will receive a message of confusion and uncertainty back.
  • Now be honest with the people in your life. No, it’s not easy and most of us run and hide from this rather than face it. Some people won’t want to face or hear the truth, but if you want to avoid hurting yourself and others, it is better to be honest and upfront about everyone’s needs in situations. Try and discuss openly what needs and wants you both have, and come to some kind of halfway balance, so that everyone involved feels that at least some of their needs are being met. Maybe it’ll reignite the spark of something wonderful to come, or maybe it will just clear up the confusion between both parties, so you can best decide how to interact with each other in the future, or not, as the case may be.

 

I’ll leave you with a saying I came across recently. ‘The truth will set you free… but first it will p**s you off!’ – (Unknown).Keep your sense of humour, you’ll need it!


The Happiness Within

January 12, 2011

When I was thinking about writing this piece, I recalled the words a boyfriend had uttered to me long, long ago as we discussed breaking up. He said ‘Paula, I don’t think I can make you happy’, and although I didn’t agree with him at the time, I laughed when I remembered this, as he was so right! He couldn’t have ever made me happy! Why?

Because no one can ‘make us happy’ and we cannot ‘make someone happy’ either. Happiness springs from within, and I believe that it comes first from learning to love and accept ourselves unconditionally and then from developing a grateful heart.

When we are viewing our world in this way of love, we are happy within and without. People, circumstances, the weather, set backs, let downs will only affect us temporarily as we will be ‘happy’ anyway. In this happy state, we will learn also to be grateful for the people etc in our lives, we will recognise that everyone has something to teach us; even if it’s not something we particularly want to learn right now! We will learn to love and accept others unconditionally and therefore eventually ridding ourselves of judgements and prejudices.

So while I may enjoy your company, while I may look into your beautiful face and listen contentedly to the lilting of your melodic voice as you speak to me, while you may warm my heart with your wonderfulness,  and I see that you are a reflection of me and I am a reflection of you, I realise that we are only contributing to each other’s happiness and in recognising that  people can be happy together, we must also recognise that if they or we, are not already happy, there will be something lacking, a void that they or we will forever seek to be filled by one  another. I speak from my own experience as I recall failed relationship after failed relationship. Each one a lesson in it’s own right, but steadily bringing me closer and closer to the revelation of what was wrong of what was missing.

Know thyself, to thine own self be true, learn to love yourself first, then there will be more than enough love to share with others. Be grateful, and then you will recognise the value of what you do have. Learn to accept, learn not to judge, rid yourself of prejudice, mark these on your road map of life, and you will find yourself on the road back home, and when you  get there and open the door you will find ‘happiness’ waiting within to greet you.


The What if Game

January 12, 2011

Have you ever played the ‘What if Game?’ You know the one….’ What if I won the lotto….what if I had everything I wanted, what if my partner, husband, wife, lover, brother, sister, co worker wasn’t so God damned lazy, insensitive, angry etc. etc. etc…..what if everything was perfect, no hassles, no worries, what if, what if, what if……what if I didn’t have to do this, what if I didn’t have to do that… wouldn’t life be just so wonderful?

Sound familiar? Thought so! I’ve played this game too! Now the thing that bothers me about this game, is it doesn’t make us feel very good, in fact it really adds to our feelings of powerlessness and dissatisfaction and discouragement doesn’t it? So why do we continue to play it?

Loads of shaking of heads I’m guessing…. Oooooh dunno! Well me neither, so I’m in a playful mood today, do ya want to try a new game?

This is also called the What if Game, but it’s a little bit different, stay with me it goes a little like this….

What if…..just for today…. Everything is perfect, naw, naw, don’t scream at me, hear me out! What if just for today, for this moment I accept what is happening in my life, what if I take a deep, deep breath and say this is okay, this is all okay , I accept where I am right now, I may not be terribly happy or content with what life is throwing at me, but hey here I am, this is where I am , right now, and I stop struggling, and I stop trying to control things and trying to make things happen and I stop resisting and all is still for a moment, amidst the chaos,  and in this strange silence I suddenly realize that I am creating my own feelings of suffering, that I am creating my own feelings of being a victim. And my life whirls around me at a dizzying speed, yet I am still in the centre of it, but it is not bothering me now, I am observing all my perceived hassles, I am observing all my perceived suffering. Like a fly who has landed on a web, but I choose to remain still, because I know if I struggle I will become more entangled, and life is kind of like that too. We fight life and it fights us back. So much of what we resist persists because we resist it! And we find it difficult in this turmoil to find the right answers, the right solutions, and yet if we choose to accept what is happening, our mind clears and the answers are found so easily.

What if I step into the shoes of those people who irritate me now and see that nothing they do is because of me, but it is because of them? We do things because of us, every behaviour has some kind of payback. So there is no point in ranting about that person that you perceive to be lazy, for I gather they are just doing the amount of work that suits them, and if you are doing more than you feel you should, then the issue is with you, not them. Oh I can hear your screams, but it’s true. We have the choice to put more or less effort into things and we complain that others don’t reach the same high mark and we label them lazy, think about it, it makes me laugh anyway!

What if I accept the things that happen today as just that. We make plans and something happens to change the plan and we get all upset, like the world would end if what we plan doesn’t happen. We hold rigid views that it must be this or that way or else it doesn’t happen. We are so inflexible to life, and we create hassles and problems for ourselves.  Now that I’m thinking this way most of the time I make plans A, B, C, D and so on and I am not attached as much as I was to certain outcomes. I allow things to take their course now, more than I did in the past. And I am very chilled out now. I see life as a series of challenges each day and I ponder as they present themselves to me how best can I work with what I have, now.

This has made a huge difference in my life and I just thought I’d share with you too, and hopefully if you play this game too, you may find that in no time at all, you’ll be so laid back, you’ll be practically horizontal!


Ah tis nice to be nice

January 4, 2011

 Ah tis nice to be nice, for any motorists out there, have you ever been sitting in slow moving traffic, nobody’s goin anywhere fast, and out of the goodness of your heart you decide to let that car out in front of you, and they blink their lights to say thanks, and you feel good, and then you notice that car lets someone out in front of them too, and you feel connected somehow and you wonder will they do the same, and they do.. And you’re on a happy buzz of niceness…because you’re a nice person, right?

   And then the mean thought comes into your head. You think, bloody hell, if this keeps up, I’ll be here all day! And worse, you think, I bloody started this! Now you can choose to get mean and stay mean and never let anyone out in front of you for the rest of the day.

   Or you can continue to be courteous, because you’re a nice person? You may well find if you stay nice, that somewhere along your journey, people will start letting you out too! But hey don’t blame me if they don’t! I hope you all have a nice day, everyday, and that you don’t get stuck behind me in traffic, because I’m nice! 🙂


So tell me about affirmations

January 4, 2011

My argument in favour of using them is that I haven’t yet heard of anything bad happening to someone who uses positive affirmations to better their life! However I can share many sad stories of people who use negative affirmations, i.e. I’m worthless, or I always fail, or I’m no good at that,  or he/ she wouldn’t go out with someone like me..  etc. etc.  you get the gist ? Do these kind of thoughts or similar ones come to your mind? We tell ourselves terrible things, and worse, we believe them!

So you may have heard the term positive affirmations, but what the heck are they and how can we make them work?

Affirmations are simple sentences that we can use to help us to reach goals, become more confident, improve our self esteem etc. They are never negative.

When we say affirmations regularly, for instance in the mornings and evenings, or even throughout the day, we are telling our subconscious minds to believe what we are saying.  It’s no different to what we already do with our negative thoughts, and we are really good at that. We manage to worry and fret, we make ourselves afraid to even say hello to other people and worse, we can stop ourselves from reaching goals and enjoying our lives fully. Each time we think a thought, it travels down a neural pathway in the brain, and this pathway becomes stronger each time we think a thought, if we are constantly thinking negative thoughts, this is what we make ourselves believe is true of ourselves. So let’s get positive and start believing some nice things about ourselves.

At first it might feel a bit strange telling yourself things like ‘ I am in the process of  being happy’, or ‘ I love, approve and believe in myself’, if you don’t feel anything of the sort. But as you continue to repeat these thoughts, or whatever you choose for your affirmation, start putting some emotion behind it. We are great at imagining winning the lottery, but put this imagination behind your affirmations, start thinking, what would it feel like if I was worthy, how would I feel then? If I was good enough, if that person was attracted to someone like me, starting thinking how good it would be. Get into the fantasy of it. Start believing.

A little example, I was lacking in confidence. So I affirmed that I believe in myself, as much as I could during the day and in the evening. Then I imagined what would it be like to have confidence, how would I look, act and feel, what would I wear, what way would people react etc. This felt really good and after a while I took action. I bought new clothes and had my hair done. I got a favourable reaction from people who knew the old me. I wasn’t 100% believing myself yet, but I continued with the affirmations and hand on heart I do feel really confident now. I’ve done this with other things too and yes it takes time, it won’t happen overnight. But if you stick with it, you never know who you could turn out to be! Try it for at least a month and see if it makes a difference. I’m not an expert, just someone who tried it successfully and who wants you to try it too!

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Forgiveness: The Art of Letting Go

January 4, 2011

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha (quote)

We’ve all heard the term ‘forgive & forget’, but for any of us who have tried it, it ain’t easy! The word ‘forgive’ means to cease to feel angry or resentful towards… it also means to give up or let go.

Hands up, anyone who still hasn’t forgiven something that happened at least 10 years ago. Now I can’t see your response, but if you’re like me, or at least the way I was up until about six months ago, your hand is UP!

Wow 10 years, to be held a prisoner, of your own choosing! But guys, even 10 minutes is too long! What are we at? We experience something that we feel angry or resentful for, the person or situation moves on and away from us (hopefully, but sometimes it doesn’t) and we’re stuck there in the past, seething over something, re playing it over and over, re writing it, adding revenge into the plot, or hoping the situation or person will CHANGE, and what happens? We get older, and sicker, and crabbier, and to some extent we die inside.

I believe we also lose our inner peace and our joy, because everything is coloured with this past hurt, we feel that if we forgive, then we have let them away with it. Now I know this is a broad subject, and situations vary in severity, and I’m not saying forgive and forget and we’ll all be ok. Sometimes justice has to prevail, but that can happen without you torturing yourself with thoughts of vengeance for instance. Sometimes if you find you are being abused or mistreated in some way, you find that you begin to think that enough is enough and you know that you will have to part from the situation and then learn to forgive and forget. Forgiveness does not mean tolerating everything. Some things cannot and should not be tolerated. I personally tolerated too much in my past, and times did come when I had to save myself and leave the person or situation. I have learnt to forgive myself for the part I played in allowing people or situations to have affected me or hurt me and I forgive those people and situations for the part they played in my life. When you learn how to do this, then you are FREE! You forgive someone or something for YOUR peace of mind. This unlocks the shackles of anger and resentment, and I can tell you, it is a liberating experience!

Here’s a quote from Lewis B.Smedes –The Art of Forgiving: When you need to Forgive and don’t know how.

‘All the years you have waited for them to ‘make it up to you’ and all the energy you expended trying to make them change (or make them pay) kept the old wounds from healing and gave pain from the past free rein to shape and even damage your life. And still they may not have changed. Nothing you have done has made them change. Indeed they may never change. Inner peace is found by changing yourself, not the people who hurt you. And you change yourself for yourself, for the joy, serenity, peace of mind, understanding, compassion, laughter, and bright future that you get’.

Wow, I guess that about sums it up doesn’t it? Now you know why you should think about forgiving, I should tell you how. So here goes in six easy(ish) steps!

  1. Acknowledge that you have been hurt. Acknowledge the who, what, where and when.
  2. Be Accountable. Depending on the situation, if you were hurt because of something you did, apologise first. Sometimes in relationships we do something that hurts another, and then they retaliate. Accept the part you play and say sorry.
  3. Forgive yourself. Once you have accepted the part you may have played, forgive yourself. If you can’t do this, you will find it very difficult to forgive another.
  4. Patience. You will need it. It takes time to heal the pain of being hurt, and if you have accumulated anger and resentment, it may not disappear overnight.
  5. Set limits. Again depending on the situation, if in a relationship for example, you say sorry, they say sorry but it may not be a happy ever after, you need to re assure each other that you won’t repeat the behaviour that hurt in the first place. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, but if someone is constantly hurting you, you need to think in the long run, what is the best situation for you.
  6. Affirm. Use affirmations to help you to learn to forgive. ‘I am in the process of letting past hurts go’, ‘I am learning to forgive’, search the internet for forgiveness affirmations. If you repeat them constantly with emotion they will help you to heal.

 

In my own personal situation, I had a lot of things to forgive, it wasn’t easy, it was very painful. It was difficult to not be a victim, as people kept telling me, ‘Oh Paula you didn’t deserve that’. I don’t view things that way. Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional (unknown author) I accept that I didn’t get out of peoples way fast enough before they walked over me! I have a great sense of humour and I used it to learn to forgive.

I know this may not apply to you, you may have had something done on you that you played no part in, but use whatever is useful above to help you free your mind of anger and resentment. The choice is yours, we can view life from whichever perspective we choose. Having been on both sides, I prefer the happier path of forgiveness.

Have you found the path to forgiveness?


Dream Catcher

January 4, 2011

I have just received a gift of a wonderful Dream catcher from two very special friends, which now takes pride of place over my bed.

This thoughtful gift has sparked a few thoughts, which I just have to share with you.

Now the Dream catcher originates from Native American Traditions, where it was believed that by hanging a symbolic web over a sleeping person, that this would protect the sleeper from bad dreams. Traditional Dream catchers have eight points where the web attaches to a circular hoop, which represents the eight legs of a spider. The spider being symbolic of female spiritual energy, wisdom and learning. The Navajo legends held that this web would catch the bad dreams and prevent them from passing into dreamtime, while allowing the good dreams to slip through the centre. In these legends, morning sunlight would purify the web of the bad dreams.

I was thinking how wonderful this is, and I was also thinking that I haven’t actually had any bad dreams in quite a while because somewhere in the past year, I installed a Thought catcher in my mind and this has actually done a wonderful job of filtering through all the negative thoughts throughout the sunlight hours, that were actually leading to bad dreams in the night time!

So if you’d like to have a Thought catcher too, it’s very easy to install. Just challenge each thought as they try to come in. Ask if that thought is going to bring you nearer or further away from your joy, if it brings you nearer your joy and happiness allow it to slip through the centre, if it brings you further away let it get caught in the web. If you visualize yourself on the other side of the web or Thought catcher, then you will not be holding these negative thoughts and only holding the good ones that benefit you. The negative thoughts are trapped outside. Purify your web or Thought catcher daily with a little meditation or by using affirmations that state ‘I am willing to release all thoughts that do not serve me or are not for the highest good of all concerned’.

And then if you feel inclined, go out and get a Dream catcher for an extra measure of protection ! Hope you have pleasant dreams tonight, I know I’m going to!


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