Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Changing The Meaning

It is inevitable that you are going to encounter some uncomfortable situations in your life, everybody does. Our untrained egos are very sensitive and can easily feel threatened, causing emotions of insecurity, worry and fear to develop in the center of our hearts. These emotions can quickly spiral out of control as our negative thoughts multiply in a chain reaction and tighten their grasp around the pit of our stomach.

I used to think that the trick to getting rid of such negative emotions was to simply stop thinking about whatever it is that’s bothering you, to just change the subject and block it out. Your thoughts have direct control over your emotions, so if you just start thinking about something happy and positive then your emotions will follow your lead. If only it was that easy! Sometimes it’s impossible to get such uncomfortable subjects and situations out of your head, not matter how hard you try.

But alas, the trick is not to rid yourself of these thoughts and just avoid thinking about the situation that is causing you pain. Instead you need to change what this situation means to you. Step out of your current position that’s creating these negative emotions and see things from a different angle. Don’t try to push your thoughts away altogether and sweep the dirt under the rug, for you will be missing a prime opportunity to grow! Allow yourself to reflect on whatever it is that is causing that discomfort at the bottom of your heart and ask yourself some important questions. How can I learn from this? What lesson is this situation trying to teach me? What virtues do I need to practice in the face of this discomfort?

It is true that our thoughts control our emotions, but instead of entirely changing WHAT you’re thinking in order to alter your feelings you can instead change HOW you’re thinking. And in having control over HOW you’re thinking you will exercise your power over your ego and become a stronger person within.

So the next time you encounter a difficult situation or thought pattern that you don’t want to face, rather than pushing it aside, look at it dead-on, change what it means to you, find the hidden lesson to be learned and give yourself a pat on the back for taking advantage of the opportunity to grow. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Practicing Gratitude

I’ve noticed an unsettling bad habit that far too many people have acquired: neglecting gratitude. Rather than being thankful for what we do have, it seems that our natural default state is to focus on what we don’t have. We don’t have enough money. We don’t have a nice car. We don’t have a perfect relationship, or a perfect job, or perfect teeth. It’s like we live in a dark cloud of scarcity that prevents us from ever being truly happy.

All of that stuff that we wish we had but we don’t, or we wish was perfect but isn’t, is ALWAYS going to be there. That will never change. And the sooner we realize that the better, because if we spend our time and energy worrying about what we DON’T have rather than appreciating what we DO have it is literally impossible for us to be happy!  I know this is a very simple concept that we’ve been taught since we were children but it seems to me like many of us have forgotten the basics and need a little reminder.

If you focus on what’s missing in your life then you put yourself in a negative state that’s fueled by fear, doubt and worry. You cut yourself off from the empowering feelings that we need to be successful and happy. On the other hand, if you start exercising your gratitude muscle and spending time each day to give sincere appreciation for all the greatness in your life, you will not only begin to experience a much happier state of being, but you will also begin to attract even more things into your life to be thankful for.

So we have two choices: complain about what we don’t have or be grateful for what we do. It’s really that simple. Sometimes you may have to stretch a little bit to find those things to be grateful for but once you make that switch I guarantee you won’t go back.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Taking Time For Yourself

Not everyone is born equal. Some people start their life with more money, better health, more opportunities and more love. But the one thing that absolutely everybody has the same amount of is time. There are 24 hours in a day, no matter what.

So where does all of that time go for you? Let’s say you sleep for 8 hours a day and work for 8 hours a day, that adds up to 16 and you have 8 left. Showering, eating and driving probably takes up about 2 more. Maybe you go to the gym, there’s another hour. You might have a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, maybe even kids too so there’s the rest of your night. And if you’re single you probably have some sort of hobby that keeps you busy like playing an instrument or a sport. Happy hour after work with friends can easily eat up the rest of that time and send you straight to bed when you’re done.

As you can see, that 24 hours can disappear pretty quickly. . . and then we wake up and do it all over again! But an extremely important part of living a balanced and healthy life is taking time for ourselves, to focus on our own growth and education. In order to  make progress in our lives it is vital that we invest some time and energy into looking at everything: identifying what’s going well and not going well, coming up with solutions to our “problems” (both internally and externally), setting goals, making gameplans/strategies and continuously learning new things. When we begin to set that process in motion we embark on an upward spiral of personal development that can be extremly rewarding and exciting.

At the end of the day, many people feel like they’re stuck in the “rat race”. And most people think of that in just financial terms, of getting by from paycheck to paycheck. But this also applies within, and all too often. If you’re not taking the time out of your day to focus on your growth then you’re going through your own internal rat race that leaves you right where you were the day before and with an endless feeling of being “stuck”.

So if you’re spinning the wheel in either of those races, ecomically or personally, realize that the only way to break free from that cycle is to start taking time for yourself. Grab a journal, grab a friend, grab a mouse and a keyboard, whatever it is you need to grab, grab it now and stop waiting for some special day when your life is going to magically change itself. Cause it’s not! You are going to change it and only you. And it’s going to start with finding those few extra minutes everyday to spend with yourself and have a sincere, honest and loving conversation. Good luck :)