Tag Archives: Gratitude

How To Start Your Day: 1 Teensy Little Tip

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Have you read How I Start My Day yet?  In around half an hour, I give gratitude, I remind myself of amazing things I did, I visualise my day going perfectly, I meditate and I listen to a really uplifting song.

This sets me up for an amazing day where I can make the most of all the opportunities which arise, I can be creative and joyful in the Now.  I won’t lie to you and say that I’m perfect – I don’t manage to do this everyday, especially if I’m planning to wake up at 6am to run to a yoga class, but I do try to make sure I do at least one or two of the exercises which just involve a pad and a pen, or just by closing my eyes.

Yesterday I saw this on Lifehack and instantly thought it was perfect for me: how would I feel if I could wake up to my favourite song?  In some ways I am a little technologically slow, I don’t actually have any music on my phone.  But by activating my inner resourcefulness I found and downloaded Waketube and set my alarm to my current uplifting morning song: I was Here by Beyonce.    

The result?  Definitely worth it.  Today I woke up feeling a little groggy, perhaps you may say I have a bit of a Bikram hangover (I did 3 hours in a row yesterday), but as the song started to flow, before I knew it I found myself singing along in my bed, eventually putting my arms out wide and full on acting as if I was Beyonce herself on stage.  Yes – please do laugh at me, because that’s what I did- I ended up giggling with joy. 

Singing, laughter, gratitude, reminders of amazing things I’ve done, visualisation, meditation.  Are there better ways to start your day? 

If you have any other tips please let me know!  Now I’m ready to bounce off into my reality and enjoy all that life gives me.

Lauren

How To Start Your Day: 5 Steps

862369_73766129How do you begin your day?  Do you turn off the alarm whilst inwardly cursing time for going too fast and the day coming too soon?  Do you jump out of bed, put your arms up in the air and shout ‘Yeah! It’s another day!’?  Take a moment to think about your typical morning routine.

What you focus on – you become.  And the reason why this is so important (!) is that our lovely protective mind wants to lead us in certain places which are sometimes completely contradictory to our own desires.  Deep down we may want to change our job and pursue our passion but our mind will tell us that that is just a little bit too risky and that maybe we should wait a little, think about it properly, stick to what we know, stay where the money is.

To make long-lasting change in our lives we have to change our minds because; nothing has any meaning unless we give meaning to it.  This means that the thing you’re most unhappy about in your life could be someone else’s dream goal.  Let’s take your body shape, to someone else it could be the most amazing thing ever, they could feel so lucky if they had what you had – they could use it, decorate it and worship it in a way which you could never do for yourself.

Thus it’s not always what’s around you that’s wrong – it’s the meaning you’re giving it.  A child with nothing in Haiti may be happier with his one bottle top to play with, but you’re sitting there looking at your small ‘dingey’ flat with disdain, you’re looking at your bank balance and wishing the figures were longer, you’re looking at your body and wishing it was thinner.

Now by writing this I don’t mean that you don’t need to also change the things around you, your body, your job – whatever it may be.  But reality is that unless you realise that it’s not only the job (as an example) that’s the issue, that it’s also the way you see your job and the meaning you give or take from it – then the pattern will reoccur even if you manage to get a new one.  You have to train your mind to be positive, grateful, excited and happy in the now – and then changes comes a lot easier, and happiness is a welcomed side effect.

Training your mind is something you need to do every day for the rest of your life.  Buddhist monks who have meditated for years have extremely high happiness levels because they have trained their minds to be what they want them to be.  Neuroplasiticity is the key; we can mould our brains to be whatever we want them to be.  You can change the way you look at life.  You can see what you want to see.

But you have to know what you’re looking for – because if you don’t, your mind will decide for you.

Here is how I currently start my day.  This is something I am still tweaking and I encourage you to do the same to find what works for you.

1) Write down 3 recent things you are truly grateful for.

Recent means experiences that have happened in the recent past, perhaps the day before something really great happened to you or someone gave you an unexpected compliment.  In any case the fundamental part of this is the truly grateful part.  I have experimented with writing down 10 things or more, but then for me it just becomes a bore – I stop trying to find those which were really important.  It becomes a numbers game.  The idea is to pick out the little moments that really truly excited you and which you feel incredibly lucky to have experienced.

2) Write down 3 amazing things you have done recently.

The proof is in the actions.  We can all talk and write – but the things you do reflect who you truly are.  You can repeat a million times ‘I am loving and kind’ but if you are then nasty to someone, those words won’t make any long lasting change because your subconscious mind is analysing your actions every moment, forming the beliefs you hold of who you are.  Focusing on the good you have done recently and what you are proud of, will make you feel good naturally because it is based on truth, and not on some airy-fairy edition of yourself which might never even get released.

3) Visualise your day going perfectly.

What are your plans for today?  What resources or skills will you need to make use of?  How could you make that lunch date go more the way you want it?  What would you like to achieve by the end of the day – how will you feel?  By doing this you are preparing your mind and body to get the most out of the day and you will be able to give more as a consequence.  As a personal example – when I know I will be meeting someone I care about, I imagine giving them lots of love, care and attention because I know that will a) make me feel good b) get me what I desire in return.

4) Meditate for 10 minutes.

Set an alarm, listen to a youtube 10 minute meditation (there are tons!) or just roughly estimate 10 minute of meditation time.  I know it’s hard, I know you don’t like it, but you need to do it.  Being able to recognise thoughts for what they are, that they are not you but just mere accessories to your natural perfect state – makes it easier to control your actions and learn from what is going on in your mind.

5) Put on your favourite uplifting song and dance to it.

Noone’s watching.  Just boogie, shake it – get some energy into your muscles.  Smile, sing, mime if people are in rooms nearby.  Make that song your early-morning happiness boost and change it if you get bored by it.  It has been proved that people who dance are significantly happier than those who don’t.

Now you’re ready to start the day!  Persevere – and do it even when you don’t feel like it – because those are the days you need it most.  Plus, don’t just follow my word – tweak these exercises until you have found something that works for You.  As long as you feel positive, raring to go and excited for the day – you’re on the way to training your mind to experience the best life you can.

Lauren

Happiness Vs Gratitude

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I borrowed and adapted the following idea from this wonderful blog post; Jar of Happiness.  I really thought it such a beautiful concept and so simple to do that I decided to create my own little Happiness Jar.  Alas, there were no spare jars around, so tapping into my resourcefulness I emptied out this little sequinned pot of which I am very fond (I have had a fascination for all things glittery from a very young age and still unabashedly continue to do so).

However, I realised that whilst there are lots of things that make me happy in the world, such as glitter, my little neice, reliving memories of falling in love with my first boyfriend… I think there is something more powerful than focusing on what makes us happy. When we truly feel down in the dumps, what we all need is a slap-in-the-face reality check via Gratitude.

The reason being that most of our low moments are caused by mulling over what We don’t have, over other people not giving Us what We want and which We had believed that We deserved.  You end up focusing on the lack in your life – and (reality slap!) – you will always, always, lack something.  Your mind is inexhaustible and will always continue to create new desires to be chased – FACT.   If we understand and believe that what you focus on – you become, and you attract – you are in that low moment; negative, self-obsessed and completely trapped in your mind, unable to be in the present with those around you, whilst expecting those who are there to be able to heal your wounds.  This lack of presence and connection to those around you will inevitably get you the opposite of what you really want.  It is a self-destructive cycle because your negativity is contagious.  Ever told a friend; ‘She was in such a miserable mood it put me on a downer too, not sure if I want to see her again anytime soon”.  Therefore your lack – creates more lack.

Plus, if we are to seek out happiness – we would have to be able to answer the following; what is it?!  Is it “a state of well-being and contentment” as defined by the  Merriam-Webster dictionary?

Or is it; “A small metal hinged box with pointy edges, rapped with barbed-wire and hidden in a dark room full of electric eels, razorblades, piles of salt crystals with fans behind them and random pools of lemon juice.” (What a beautiful metaphor!)- the top entry on Urban Dictionary.

The latter is probably how most of us feel.  Happiness is this elusive emotion which we chase in many different ways, only to experience it very briefly – and probably only recognising that experience – after it has ended.  This is because Happiness or Joy are emotions which the body is physiologically programmed to keep us from sustaining over a long period of time.  Just as your body will eventually bring you back from an emotional low – time heals and all that jazz, it will also counteract those high-flying emotions.  Your life would actually be in danger if your heart had to continue to beat fast all the time, you never slept, and you lost all desire to eat.  Hark back to your first love and you’ll know what I’m writing about – surely, love is the best diet out there – but like the word suggests – ‘die’ you surely will if your body has to keep that up for the rest of your life, whilst juggling a career, kids and all that living entails.

Thus – focusing on what You don’t have, and then continuing to chase what makes You happy, will actually inevitably lead to more discontent as you become disillusioned with the concept of Happiness, and its seductive drug-like effects wear thin.  There is another way.  If you view everything positive that happens to you or given to you as precious gifts and are Grateful for them, then you will inevitably get more without having to ask. 

Gratitude shuts of that ‘I want, I want, I want’ egotistical voice, and brings you back to the present, enabling you to become mindful and aware of your surroundings and thus enjoy them much more.  Your relationships get stronger as you put more energy and focus into them, your work gets better and so on – consequential positive side-effects of being present in the moment.  Then you can work slowly and more calmly towards those future desires which still exist in you, with a little dose of detachment.  If and when they do become realised- you can be grateful for them, but you realise that your life is truly abundant in the present anyway.

You could, like me, create your own little Pot/ Jar/ Box (the possibilities are endless!) of Gratitude and record all that you are grateful for down on little slips of paper – using just a few words to bring back and enable you to prolong those moments of joy you have had the pleasure of being given.  Doing this will put you in a beautiful mood and also cause your mind to seek out things to be grateful for – every day.  I like to write down three New things each day I am grateful for.  I now have a place to go when I slip into my negative self-critical voice, or I start feeling like there is a ‘lack’ in my life; I can come to this lovely, glittery pot, open it up and get my reality slap; truly seeing how much I have, have had, and thus will continue to have in the future.

IMG_0106P.S. A public display of Gratitude to my beautiful friend who sent me the above notepad in the picture, which is now being lovingly (!) torn into beautiful little memories and stored in my pot.  Your letter and gifts made me smile, feel loved and reminded me of how lucky I am to have a inspiring friend like you.

Lauren