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Parting The Clouds September 28, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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39 comments

At first, grief is a blanket . . . a solid bank of clouds blocking the sun.

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In time, the clouds part to reveal slivers of happiness interspersed with rain.

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As blue skies expand, our grief becomes the occasional passing cloud.

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With practice, we are able to choose whether to focus on the clouds or the sky.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

It is only possible to live happily ever after on a moment by moment basis.

Let It Out . . . Let it Go September 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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34 comments

Most of us experience the occasional down day.

The sun is always shining, but sometimes it is obscured by clouds.

Just as a rainy day can be a nice change of pace, so too can a gloomy mood.

Life is enhanced by the ebb and flow of emotions.

We appreciate our sunny dispositions more after a cloudy day . . . as long as we don’t get attached to the idea of being sad.

I read a story one day about puppies that had been mistreated.   Images of the poor wee pups flooded into my brain.

The happiness felt moments earlier evaporated, replaced with overwhelming sadness.  Tears poured down my face.  I sobbed until the pain dissipated.

Pluto-RollerskatingOnce my tears stopped, I returned my attention to what I had been doing before seeing the story.

In other words, a sad thought entered my brain.  The thought made my emotions switch from happy to sad.  I allowed myself to feel that sadness.

Once I acknowledged the sadness, it left.  It moved on.

And, this is the important part, I let it go.

I did not chase after it and bring it back.  I let it go.  I did not get attached to the idea of being sad.  I let it go.

If I hadn’t read the story that morning, I wouldn’t have known about the poor puppies at all.  Nothing in my life changed from the moment before I read about them until the moment after.

I was not being called upon to save them ~ they had already been rescued.

Mickey-LoungingSo, when the sadness started to dissipate on its own, I let it go so that I could get on with my day.

And the sun shone once more.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead. ~ Scottish Proverb

Taking Things Out Of Context September 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Blogs & Blogging, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , , ,
40 comments

Sally-BrownThe perspective we bring to what we read affects our “take away.”

If we read something when we are angry, we perceive the writer’s words in a different way than we would when feeling calm and peaceful.

We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are. ~ Anais Nin

Experiences that come to mind while reading also flavor our perception.

For example, if I talk about a “pothole in the path” while picturing a broken thermos or some other insignificant obstacle, my words may make sense.

Donald-Duck-MadIf a reader stumbles upon my words after experiencing a catastrophic event (e.g., having their home washed away in a flood or mowed down by a tornado), that reader’s experiential overlay will impact their interpretation of my words, and may cause them to conclude, “That’s Just Crazy Talk!”

“We see the world behind our eyes.”

The ability to take things out of context is facilitated when reading blog posts and e-mails because we cannot hear the writer’s inflection.

Donald-DuckaWords written in a calm and soothing tone may be transformed into an angry and hostile diatribe or attack depending on what’s going on in our head as we read.

Our history with the person in question may magnify this phenomenon.

When we like and admire someone, we view their words without suspicion.  If something sounds “off,” we’re apt to give them the benefit of the doubt.

In contrast, if we’re not a fan of a writer, our distrust may season their words, causing them to become bitter, unpalatable, and hard to swallow.

Donald-Duck-BaseballIf a writer’s words rub you the wrong way, take a look at what you’re bringing to the table.

When we leave our hostility and animosity at the door, the world becomes a friendlier place.

A quiet mind, like the surface of a still pond, provides a more accurate reflection.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Social media can be bad for people without foresight, impulse control, self-awareness, and the ability to anticipate consequences. ~ Eric J. Baker

 

Choose Happiness September 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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42 comments

We can choose to be happier by changing the focus of our day-to-day thoughts.

Like any skill worth having, changing the way we look at the world will not happen on its own.

We don’t learn to swim, or speak French, or play golf by wishing we had those skills.  We learn those skills by practicing them until we become adept.

If we wish to change our minds, it helps to understand a few key concepts:

1. Thoughts create our reality.  

When we dwell on past hurts and frustrations, our thoughts and emotions are apt to be negative ~ sadness, anger, and resistance fill our world.  When we count our blessings and envision a positive future, our thoughts and emotions tend to follow suit, increasing the level of our happiness.

Sometimes nothing needs to change but our perspective or frame of reference.

2. We can choose the way we view the world.

Our thoughts are tools which help or hinder us as we journey through life.

When we learn to view the thoughts running through our brains in the same way we view images on a TV or computer screen, we realize we can change the channel any time we don’t like the program being broadcast.

Watching the same tearful melodrama for days (or years) is like watching a sad movie over and over again.  Instead of watching stale reruns, we can reclaim the remote, switch channels, and watch more positive and uplifting fare.

Monitoring our thoughts allows us to re-program the default setting on our remotes and trains our brain to broadcast shows that are worth watching.

3. It’s hard to stop thinking about pink elephants. 

If we’re told not to think about pink elephants, the image of a pink elephant is apt to appear, front and center. Telling ourselves to stop thinking about pink elephants is an exercise in futility.

Instead, like training a teething puppy, we must give our minds something else to chew on:  planning our next vacation, writing out a grocery list, playing Sudoku, making weekend plans.

Better still, we can do something:  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Fly a kite.  Ride a bike. Paint a picture.  Take a hike.  Send a note.  Float a boat. Feed a goat.  Dig a moat. Phone a friend.

One of the best ways to distance ourselves from the habit of negative thinking is by distracting ourselves with a dose of positivity.

4. Emotions follow our thoughts, not vice versa.

Think sad, feel sad.  Think mad, feel mad.  Think glad, feel glad.

As we tune into the ticker tape of monkey chatter racing through our mental corridors, we notice emotions as they arise ~ e.g., a flicker of annoyance.  We take a mindful peek at our thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, kind, etc.

If not, as is often the case, we switch channels to a more positive broadcast.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  A Simple Choice

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.  By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.~ Robert Louis Stevenson

When I Am Well Rested . . . September 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
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36 comments

IMGP3523bSleep and present moment awareness go a long way toward making sure we focus on what matters most to us.

When I am well-rested, I am happy, enthusiastic, upbeat, positive, and at peace.  I exude joy!

I slept LATE
(Til half past nine)
It felt GREAT
Sleep is divine!

In the flow of life, I remember to eat right, remain mindful, and get daily exercise.

Expanding my happiness still further.

I enjoy life, relax, and overflow with vitality and gratitude . . . and all that positivity spills out on those around me.

When I am well-rested, I remain awake and aware.  I avoid getting thrown off kilter by the every pothole in the path:

“A stable mind is like the hub of a wheel. The world may spin around you, but the mind is steady.”

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar

Scruffy-CatIn contrast, when I’m overtired and forget to stay in the NOW, I’m cranky and irritable and the toxic sludge of negativity keeps me from “going with the flow.”

Things slip through the cracks until, exhausted from struggling against the current, I go back to Step One and get some sleep.

Aah Morpheus . . .that’s better!

Related post:  Sleep, Beautiful Elusive Sleep (Views and Mews by Coffee Kat)

Shooting Ducks on the Midway September 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.
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41 comments

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Ego (the false self, the illusionist, the imposter, the story-teller) will do anything to keep us off balance.

Ego knows that, as long as we’re struggling against the roiling waves and brush fires it creates, we will be too busy to toss him overboard (or fight fire with fire).

Ego wants to live long enough to create conflict another day.

Once we “wake up” and see that we are not the thoughts we think, the stormy seas left in Ego’s wake dissipate.

Donald-Duck-LazyI am not the thoughts I think.
My thoughts are not “me.”

I am the silent observer of thoughts that arise.
The detached witness.

I can identify with the thoughts Ego tosses at me.
Or allow them to drift away.

When we practice mindfulness, we no longer believe all the thoughts we think.

Instead, our authentic self  (the still silent observer) watches the ticker-tape parade of thoughts that pop up in rapid-fire succession (like those revolving ducks at the shooting gallery on the midway).

Donald-DirectorAs we watch, our awareness of our internal landscape improves, as does our aim.  We get better at shooting toxic thoughts down as soon as they pop up.

Instead of being thrown off balance by non-productive thoughts, we watch Ego’s ineffectual attempts to “stir the pot” with detached amusement.

We see that Ego is just a big fat QUACK!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Spirit Prevails September 10, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Poetry, Spirit & Ego.
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45 comments

Ego hangs on tight
Preferring known to unknown
How boring is that?

Resist hanging on
Attachments become anchors
Let billow your sails

Relinquish your fears
Live amid uncertainty
Discover what’s next

Embrace all with joy
Relinquish with joy also
Learn to flow through life

The still silent voice
Guides you without faltering
Get out of its way

* * * * *

Artwork by Maitte Van Arsdel ~ available at Island Gallery West.

Related posts:  The Inner Path to Peace * The Answers Lie Within * It’s Time To Wake Up * Backwards LivingA Not-So-Quick Quiz: Who Are You? * The Awakening by Sonny CarrollAccess Your Inner Wisdom * Meditation 101

What’s “Wrong” With This Quote? September 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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46 comments

An excerpt from a book, The Strangest Secret, landed in my in-box today.  In the middle of the excerpt, I happened upon this quote:

Conversely, the person who has no goal, who doesn’t know where he’s going, and whose thoughts must therefore be thoughts of confusion, anxiety and worry—his life becomes one of frustration, fear, anxiety and worry. And if he thinks about nothing… he becomes nothing.

As I read the quote, I found it “wrong” for any number of reasons:

Donald-Ducka1.  There is no universal mandate that our thoughts “must therefore be” anything other than what we choose them to be.

“When we master our thoughts, we master our life.”

“How we relate to the issue IS the issue.”

2.  Some people will flounder in the face of uncertainty.  Others will flourish.

“In uncertainty lies all possibility.”

“Embrace all with joy.  Anything can be a gift of gold in disguise.”

Mickey-Surfer3. Happiness is the goal behind all goals.

If we convince ourselves that reaching a set destination is a pre-requisite to happiness, we are apt to be disappointed since the rewards we envision, if they materialize at all, often feel less like rewards and more like dead ends.

Happiness is not waiting for us at the end of the road ~ it’s found here and now, by enjoying each step along the way!

4.  We don’t need to know where we’re going as the path unfolds before us.  In tune with Spirit, we remain awake and aware, seeing opportunities as they arise.  We notice the winks, whispers, and nudges intended for our eyes, ears, and hearts.

“The way teaches us the way.”

5.  If we’re enjoying the journey, we win . . . no matter what happens.

“A good traveler has no set plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu

6.  When we are too intent on reaching a set destination, we may become frustrated, impatient, and discouraged if our goal, like the proverbial grapes, remains “out of reach.”

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

7.  We can NEVER be nothing.

No matter what.

Accessing the authentic self is simple.  Just be.  Follow the breath to your innermost core.  Let all else fade away.

In the silent spaces between thoughts, we find ourselves waiting.

Ego despair and confusion dissipate.  Peace, Joy, and Happiness surface.

We become one with the source.

“I am that I am.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

The ABC’s of Happiness September 7, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
Tags: , , ,
18 comments

Accept the “what is.”

Be Here Now.

Choose your focus and count your blessings.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Embrace all with joy.

Face your fears and follow your dreams.

Go with the flow.

Hardship is inevitable, misery is optional.

In uncertainty lies all possibility.

Joy is never in things, it is in us.

Kindness and compassion are keys to happiness.

Lift your spirit with laughter.

Miracles abound ~ let them astound.

Nurture yourself ~ you are the garden, love grows within.

Obstacles are opportunities.

Peace is yours for the asking.

Quiet contemplation allows our inner wisdom to surface.

Relinquish all with joy.

Simplify your life . . . sometimes less is more.

To learn, teach.

Unity and love are the heart of creation.

Variety is the spice of life.

We do not laugh because we are happy.  We are happy because we laugh.

Xanadu awaits.

You are here.  The time is now.  That is enough.

Zero risk does not exist ~ reach for the stars.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Nothing Knowledge September 5, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.
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46 comments

170px-PuckCoverMuch of what we read on the internet and watch on TV is fluff.  

And nonsense.

We think we’re “in the know” if we keep tabs on the lives of the rich and famous on our Smart Phones . . . while monitoring the strokes of the U.S. Open on our iPads . . . while catching breaking news on TV:

Some jury somewhere reached a verdict about someone or something.

Even if none of these things impact our lives in a direct way, we refuse to remain in the dark.

When a celebrity dies, has a wardrobe malfunction, or twerks in someone’s face, tabloids toss out sordid details to boost readership.

Instead of barking out, TMI!!!, we emulate Pavlov’s dogs (or seals training at Sea World) and eat up this “nothing knowledge.”

It’s free!  So why not?

Because there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The vortex created by this nothing knowledge, the black hole of social media manipulation, distracts us from our stated priorities ~ our friends, our families, our health and well-being, our dreams.

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What we put into our mouths is with us only a short while before making an exit through the back door.  What we put into our minds may haunt those hallowed halls forever.

Maybe one day, in the not-so-foreseeable future, we’ll evolve past the point of ingesting anything and everything tossed our way.

Until that day arrives, do your best to steer clear of whine fests, pity parties, and other non-productive time sucks that put your tizzy in a tail spin.

Aah . . . that’s better!

* Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma ~ which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~ Steve Jobs

* It’s amazing the things we find to do . . . to avoid doing amazing things.

* Time is our most valuable and irreplaceable commodity ~ a bank account which mandates daily withdrawals, prohibits deposits, and pays dividends when we spend it wisely.

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