1. Savoring and Living in the Present

    April 7, 2014

    Savoring and Living in the Present

    by Daniela Aneis

     

    It seems nowadays that everyone is either living fast-forward or in the future. We either rush through our weeks and months without thinking what would be the right course of action or we constantly dream of a better future and end up spending most of time longing for a future that will come. But what about living in the present?

    Sure having plans, being optimistic and hopeful is great, and will probably give you the right motivation to carry out your projects. But what about enjoying the present moment? Not letting life pass you by? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to look back and realize you wasted priceless moments of your present from being too focused on the future.

    I suggest you watch the film Click with Adam Sandler to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

    Why are we all so worried about the future?

    Most likely because we’re afraid of it. So we dwell on what will be and instead of what is. And isn’t it better to dream about the future than to sometimes face the harsh reality? It may feel better to run from the present but it’s certainly not the best to avoid living one’s own life.

    Carpe Diem not the same as Savoring

    The concept of Carpe Diem is often associated with hedonism – the search for meaningless pleasure – which is not quite the same as savoring. Savoring is intended to help you live in the moment, reaching awareness to what’s around you and re-connecting with your reality. And enjoying your life for what it is, not what it could be.

    How can I savor a little more?

    Try this exercise for a while: take 30 minutes of your time to freeze a moment in your head. Do you have children? Watch them play for a while, hear them laugh, see the joy in them, look at how big they are, feel your love for them. If you don’t have children, try doing the same with your spouse, your friends, your parents…

    Remember: tomorrow everything will be different, the same moment cannot be relived twice. Simply because you’ll also be different. The observer will see differently just because the experience cannot be interpreted in the same way.

    A few savoring strategies:

    Stop to enjoy. Make the conscious act to stop and look at something you’ve seen every day in a different way.  Look at your spouse, your children for a little while or just observe your garden for instance. Can you see time pass?

    Be thankful for what you got. Make a list of everything in your life you’re grateful for: people, family, friends, experiences, things. It may be hard to fill out the list the first couple times you do it, but try doing it for a week and suddenly it gets huge! What does this make for you? Focusing on the positive aspects of your life will help you fill your life with positivity.

    Spread love in your life. Have you noticed how small acts of kindness make huge changes in your life and the life of others? Try smiling or having a kind word for someone. Do you see the positive results? You’ve probably made someone’s day. And that person is more likely to repeat an act of kindness to someone else.

    Do something for yourself. Take some time off to do something you truly enjoy. If you can get some company, better. If not, being on your own is also a healthy way to spend time. It could be a long bath, a walk, doing some sport, reading bedtime stories to your children…

    Have you savored life recently?

    [From the editor: If you are interested in this topic I can also recommend you to read an excellent book of Eckhart Tolle “The Power of Now“]

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63953851@N06/11524949976

     

     

     


  2. Are You Living Your Life on “Autopilot”?

    January 27, 2014

    Are You Living Your Life on Autopilot?

    Have you ever had the feeling you were living your life on automatic pilot? A similar metaphor could be when you get into your car and drive home without being aware of how you got there.  Living on autopilot is about having the same routines and doing the same activities every week or everyday without considering why you’re doing them in the first place.  And did it ever occur to you that not thinking about or even paying attention to what’s around you creates a big void in you? Suddenly days, weeks, years go by without fully being lived or experienced. Does time pass you by?  If you feel this way carry on reading the rest of this article.

    As human beings, we often don’t realize what a wonderful piece of nature’s engineering our brain is and the amount of potential it has. But our brain is also lazy and prone to go on “automatic mode”. Most of the time, this is a quite useful survival mechanism. Can you imagine yourself having to remember to breathe ever few seconds? It would be impossible to get anything done because it wouldn’t allow room for anything else! My point here is: although a very handy mechanism, going on “auto mode” all the time alienates you from your life and empties it of meaning. And isn’t true happiness in leading a life of meaning?

     

    How to return at being the master and commander of your life?

     

    Ever heard of mindfulness? Based on Buddhist thought, it was brought to the West in the 70’s and it has proven to be successful at helping people suffering from anxiety, depression and stress. In essence it helps people re-connect with themselves, others and what’s around you, preventing you from living an automated life.  It’s not a religion, it’s basically a therapeutic tool. Is it hard to be mindful? Read on and let us know what you think.

    5 Ways to become Mindful

     

    1. Stop. Yes, take 20 minutes off your busy life and meditate a while! Are you at the office? Good, sit back, close your eyes, and just listen to what’s around you. Block work from your mind, any worries and stop thinking about what to do next. Just focus on the here-and-now and your breathing. Feeling better? These 20 minutes of meditation will allow you to re-energize and concentrate on the job at hands.
    2. Overflow your senses. Too often we’re dependent on your vision to process and interpret the world. Would you be surprised if we told you our vision is not our most effective sense? So again, close your eyes, listen, smell, taste and touch! How often do you really enjoy a wonderful meal? Savoring each single taste of food and combination of flavors? Next time, take more than 10 minutes to really enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures.
    3. Tune in your inner feelings. How are you feeling today right now? Did you know that most of psychological illnesses arise from poor processing of emotions? Everything seems piling up inside you unless you let go of some of that baggage. Talk to a friend, go to a therapist (!), but most important of all, listen to what you’re feeling. Those are the important signs that will help you take the right action.
    4. Enjoy.  Yes, feel the joy! What’s life without a little joy and fun? Life isn’t some punishment we’re meant to endure. Life is to be enjoyed and flavored. Go out and do something you really love, spend time with friends and family, re-connect to yourself!
    5. Be thankful.  This is a particular useful exercise. I do it all the time. Before you going to bed, think about all the people, things and experiences in your life you’re grateful for happening to you. Think about at least five. Might be hard at first, but if you do this often, you’ll soon realize your “Thank You” list is huge! Taking the time to think about all the wonderful people and events your life will surely help you re-connect with your life and lead a full on life!

     

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aseraphin/6853190725

     


  3. Happiness – It’s More than Just a Trend

    April 21, 2013

    Golden girl

    Image Credit: Marcos Vasconcelos

    by Brittany Young

    Everywhere you look, there are stories promoting yoga, meditation, and self-care to eliminate negative thoughts and stress and lead you to happiness. There are movies, books, and international movements all designed to provide the answers on how to find happiness. Even the United Nations has declared March 20, 2013 as the first-ever International Day of Happiness. But this emotion common to human nature isn’t so much a trend as it is a primary goal for people all over the world. Whether they want a change in career, an increase in personal investment to family and friends, or to take a leap of faith to travel more, individuals around the globe seek this feeling and are willing to do what it takes to get there.

     

    As we partake in these extreme efforts to discover our personal happiness, questions naturally arise: Is happiness innate or this emotion something that can be found? How do we get there? And once we are there, how do we preserve it? I do not claim to have the answers, but here are some things that have helped me in my pursuit of happiness.

     

    MINDFULNESS

    At the roots of happiness comes mindfulness. Simply being aware of our situations can be eye opening. Specifically, in our increasingly competitive society, we may fall victim to criticism and judgment, both of which carry negative emotion and may inhibit happiness. Simply take notice of what you judge and ask yourself why you judge it. Is this judgment toward other individuals or toward yourself? Awareness alone about ourselves, people, and situations is critical to our climb in happiness. Being mindful of our thoughts allows us to accept current situations.

     

    ACCEPTANCE

    Feelings and emotions come on naturally, and in stressful situations they may be hard to ignore. A basic example of this would be if you accidentally burn your tongue while sipping your morning coffee. You probably aren’t going to be very happy after that. That little fuzzy feeling on your tongue can be upsetting when it inhibits your ability to taste the buttery croissant and sweet blueberries to follow. Rather than get upset, consider it a reminder for the next time you find yourself in the same situation. Today, your taste buds may be altered, but is it worth the emotion? Most likely your own stressful situation causing you negative feelings is going to be bigger than a burnt tongue, but the bottom line is that you have control over how you react. Do you want to feed negative energy and self judgment for a simple accident? Acceptance and patience with a situation, thought, or feeling empowers you to make the choice!

     

    PERSPECTIVE

    Shifting our perspective in order to see how a current problem or situation is not as big of a deal as we think is helpful as well. In the context of life, and in the grand scheme of things, how does your present situation fit in? If you have stress or negativity surrounding this situation, is it worth it? If it is worth the stress of negative emotions, this is totally acceptable. Simply being aware and putting whatever it is you are going through in perspective may help you realize how you may or may not be acquiring the happiness you deserve.

     

    PURSUIT OF OUR PASSIONS

    Once we are aware of what drives us and makes us happy, the pursuit of our passions comes in. Perhaps you love sports. Get involved at a local gym, running club, cycling team, or attend a weekly yoga class. If your heart feels melodious when you dance, sing, or play an instrument, take a music class or hit that piano. Love family, friends, or travel? Identify your passion and pursue it. Do not waste your time on things that do not make you happy or move you towards your ultimate goal—life is too short.

     

    PRESERVATION

    Happiness. The beauty of acquiring this emotion is that every person is different. There is no right or wrong way to create it, and there is no exact science behind how each individual attains it. It truly is his or her prerogative. By practicing mindfulness and acceptance, shifting our perspective, and pursuing our passions, we learn how to preserve our own happiness. Circumstances constantly change, and monitoring our thoughts and actions moment to moment may help us maximize those positive feelings. However, I think the true secret to preserving happiness is: once you’ve found it, share it with everyone around you.

     

    Author Bio: Brittany Young is a writer for the FlipKey Blog. Brittany loves to travel, run, cook, and simply be happy.