Many of us head into the New Year with big goals and ambitions. We think about everything that seems to be lacking in our lives and imagine ourselves far happier and more fulfilled on the other side of massive change. There’s no denying that certain accomplishments can amp up our life satisfaction, but I’ve found that our daily habits are the biggest contributor to our happiness. You can have a job that excites you, the best body of your life, and the perfect partner for you, but none of it will fully satisfy you if you don’t also prioritize the daily habits that nurture your overall well-being. If you want to feel good about yourself and your life, you need to regularly do the things that make you feel peaceful, joyful, and alive. With this in mind, I recently asked twelve Tiny Buddha contributors (all involved in our upcoming Best You, Best Life Bundle Sale) to share one habit worth adopting in the New Year. Here’s what they had to say: 1. Start the day with positive intentions. “The moment I wake up, I do not move. I hold still for several minutes. I contemplate qualities I would like to offer for the day. Then I silently repeat the following affirmations: I offer this day peace. I offer this day joy. I offer this day enthusiasm. I offer this day kindness… (or whatever qualities I would like to offer on that day). And I keep going until I feel I am done. Some days are harder than others, especially if I wake up very early, still tired, with the prospect of a long day ahead. However, this simple, pithy practice sets the right tone. It fills me with gratitude and it firmly places me on the right track. From that point on, my day goes well, and everything aligns in the best and highest way possible, even if/as and when challenges arise.” ~Personal Growth Teacher Julie Hoyle (juliehoyle.org) 2. Practice mindfulness. “For someone seeking a change in their life—to stop doing something destructive, to start doing something healthier, to become more confident, to step into the version of themselves they know they really are—the single best habit to cultivate is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the skill of paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment. This is the first step to change. It helps you recognize when you are doing the thing you want to change. It helps you understand when you are stuck. It helps you realize what you are really feeling and thinking. It gives you the starting point of your map. You can recognize what is really happening—’Oh look, I jumped to the worst-case scenario again. That made me feel afraid and uncomfortable. So that’s why I am looking for an excuse not to go to the party.’ From here you are able to step outside those emotions of fear and discomfort and look at the situation objectively. From here, you can create [...]
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ~Christopher Reeve Have you ever decided to pursue something that excited you, that seemed really hard to do, and then had your will tested and almost crushed? I have, many times, most recently this year. As you may recall, I shared a blog post in January about the newly formed Tiny Buddha Productions, a film company I started with my fiancé, fellow screenwriter Ehren Prudhel. If you haven’t read that post yet, you may want to read that now. Go ahead—it’s here. I’ll wait. Welcome back! A lot has happened in the six months since we decided to make a short film about loneliness and connection. We’ve faced delays, and drama, and disappointment. We’ve questioned ourselves, our idea, and our potential. And we even considered scrapping the whole thing when it all seemed far harder, and success far less likely, than we once imagined it would be. But we’ve pushed forward, in spite of the fears and the discomfort. We’ve waded through the guck of insecurity and uncertainty. And here we are, about to start filming our first short film tomorrow. As I sit here with a goofy perma-grin on my face, I’d like to share a little of what I’ve learned over the past six months. If you’re pursuing a dream, and feeling overwhelmed, uncertain, self-doubting, and scared, perhaps some of my lessons will help. 1. There’s no shame in being green. I knew going into this there was a ton I didn’t know. Although I’d studied acting and writing in college, I didn’t study screenwriting, and I had no experience producing a film or working on a set. In addition to what I didn’t know, there was a lot I didn’t know I didn’t know—stuff about permits, and insurance, and securing locations. Every part of this has been a learning process for me, and that can feel incredibly vulnerable. It’s easy to feel insecure and embarrassed when you’re working with experienced people and you feel a little ignorant. But when I took my ego out of the equation and stopped worrying about what other people might think of me, I realized how fun it is to be at the beginning of a journey. It reminds me of when I was in college, and I felt excited about everything—being on campus in Boston, meeting new people, learning from them, getting to share my work, and imagining possibilities for the future. Would I feel more confident if I were an expert? Sure. But there’s nothing like the enthusiasm you feel when you’re just starting out. Some day I will be an expert, and I can only hope I’ll maintain this electric passion I feel right now. If you too are at the beginning, remember: This feeling won’t last forever, so soak up the best and don’t worry about the worst. No one loses respect [...]
“Good relationships don’t just happen. They take time, patience, and two people who truly want to be together.” ~Unknown In the past, whenever I heard someone say that relationships take effort, I assumed it was a person who wasn’t in a happy one. When it’s right, it shouldn’t feel like work; it should be effortless—or so I thought, ironically, in a time when I had few relationships. What I didn’t realize then is that things change over time—we change over time—and that we need to choose each day to see the people we love with new eyes. I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years now, and although my feelings for him have only grown deeper, there are times when I let our familiarity create a wall between us. It’s not conflict, or mistrust, or disappointment—it’s the subtle knowing that he’s always there. If I’m not mindful, I can use that as an excuse to not be there with him. To be physically present, but not really—not aware and connected. When the newness is gone and you’re part of each other’s routine, especially if you live together, it’s easy to shift the dynamic from fun, excitement, and spontaneity to habit, necessity, and responsibility. But it’s not just a matter of taking each other for granted. Sometimes when we’ve gotten comfortable with each other, we forget to focus on everything we appreciate about each other, and fixate instead on the little things that we might find bothersome. It can be instinctive to hone in on the small things that aren’t working instead of realizing just how many big things are. Psychologists suggest that healthy relationships have a five to one ratio of positive to negative interactions. I suspect the ratio holds true for positive to neutral interactions, as well. In other words: We need to enjoy other more often than we simply share space. We need to make it a priority to be silly, playful, spontaneous, generous, thoughtful, and affectionate. Sometimes we may not fully see the people we love because we’re too caught up in our own worries. Other times, it might be because we’re too comfortable to fully appreciate what comfort means. Either way, we can make a little time to smile with the people we love. It might take effort to come into the moment, but once we let ourselves enjoy each other, it rarely feels like work. https://tinybuddha.com This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.
“Get out of your head and get into your heart. Think less, feel more.” ~Osho Have you ever felt attached to your thoughts—like you knew you were thinking yourself in circles, but a part of you wanted to keep getting dizzy? Now that I’m healthy and energized, three months after my surgery, I’m developing a consistent yoga practice again, and I’m feeling better mentally and physically as a result of doing that. But sometimes, when I get to the end of the day, particularly when I know I have a lot to do, I feel resistant to making that time for myself. It’s not even necessarily when I’m planning to work through the evening. Sometimes I’ll think, “I have a lot on my mind—I don’t feel like it tonight.” But that’s actually a compelling reason to go. Yoga always helps me calm my mind. So the other day, I stopped and asked myself: Am I resistant to clearing my head, and why? I realized that I wanted to keep thinking because I felt like I was creating solutions, like I was somehow making mental progress. If I took a break to clear my head, I thought, I might miss out on discovering something useful. In other words, I felt like sitting around analyzing, assessing, and plotting was somehow more productive than getting out and enriching my mind and body. What a misguided notion. While there’s something to be said for thinking things through, sometimes it’s far more useful to let everything go, create some space, and then see what ideas and feelings emerge in that new place of clarity and stillness. Taking a break in any fashion can feel like losing control—at least it can for me. But releasing control often feels far better than we imagine it will. Creating space feels good. Connecting with our bodies feels good. Stopping the cogs in our heads—yes, that feels good, too. And when we feel good, we increase our odds of doing good, through our work and hobbies. I know quite a few people with absolutely beautiful minds. One thing they all have in common is that they make time to nurture them. If we want to create and inspire, we need to create room to access inspiration. It doesn’t come from sheer mental will. It’s from enabling a flow between our heads and our hearts so that we don’t just know our answers, we feel them, with every ounce of our being. https://tinybuddha.com/quotes/tiny-wisdom-think-less-feel-more/ This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.
“Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often.” ~Mark Twain A while back I wrote a blog post about giving people the benefit the doubt and suggested, as I often do, that people rarely intend to be hurtful. Someone wrote in the comments that I’ve obviously never encountered a sociopath. This got me thinking about the many times I’ve heard women refer to men they’ve dated as sociopaths and narcissists. It occurred to me that many of those men likely treated them horribly but may not have had mental disorders. There are sociopaths out there, but more often than not when people hurt us, it’s not because of psychiatric diagnoses. It’s because they’re hauling around pain from their pasts and crashing it into everyone they meet. When someone knowingly manipulates or uses others, or deliberately tries to control or intimidate them and they aren’t mentally ill, it’s rarely a happy, well-adjusted person who simply decided to be heartless and cruel. In understanding this, we can be compassionate, but that doesn’t mean we need to willingly accept mistreatment. The question then becomes: how do we know when to give someone the benefit of the doubt and when to withhold it? Last week a reader shared an insightful Maya Angelou quote that read, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” While I don’t believe any one action defines who someone is, I think there’s something to this. Actions speak louder than words. And repeated actions are what shape our character and reputation. If someone says they want to spend time together but repeatedly fails to show up, they are communicating that they aren’t willing to follow through on their promises. If someone says they’re trustworthy but repeatedly lies, they are communicating that their word can’t be trusted. If someone says they want to change but repeatedly fails to make an effort, they are communicating that they aren’t willing to do things differently. Acknowledging this isn’t forming judgments. It’s recognizing the facts so that we can make a wise choice based on how things are—not how we want them to be. We may recognize we’re being mistreated and choose to set and enforce a boundary. We all deserve second chances, and sometimes a third or fourth. But other times we need to open our eyes so that we know when enough is enough. It’s never our fault when someone else hurts us, but it’s within our power to stop allowing it. This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.
“Peace is not something you wish for. It’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away.” ~Robert Fulghum Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time visiting 1000 Awesome Things, a blog devoted to the many simple pleasures in life. Some of them remind me of being a kid, like this one about celebrities on Sesame Street. Others remind of me I’m stronger than I think, like this one about getting through difficult situations. With that in mind, you can imagine how excited I am to receive a copy of Neil’s upcoming book, aptly named The Book of Awesome. I’m even more excited that I’ll be able to give away two autographed copies when I write my review. (Coming soon!) In the meantime, as a way to pay tribute to this awesome book and my awesome new friend, I’ve decided to create my own awesome list, tinybuddha style. Here are fifty peaceful things to help you be mindful and happy throughout the day: Laying in bed for a few minutes in the morning before hopping into your day. Eating breakfast slowly, at a table, instead of grabbing something on the go. Listening to your favorite music on the way to work and remembering when you first heard it—where you were, who you were with, how you felt. Hugging someone you know long enough to make it meaningful. Appreciating something you take for granted, like your feet for taking you where you need to go. Focusing solely on the smell of your coffee as it brews. Noticing something thoughtful a stranger does for someone else. Watching a coworker get proud about doing something well and feeling happy for them. Getting into the zone typing, like finger-moving meditation, maybe set the rhythm of a great tune on your iPod. Doing only one thing, even though you have a lot to do, to fully enjoy what you’re doing. Knowing you did a good job and taking a few minutes to bask in self satisfaction. Expressing how you feel and then letting it be without feeling pressure to explain (pressure we usually put on ourselves). Taking a break without anything to do besides breathing and noticing little details in your environment–how soft the rug is after having been cleaned; how sunlight from your window leaves shadows on your desk. Holding someone’s hand in both of yours when you thank them. Listening to someone talk—really hearing them—without thinking about what you’ll say next. Remembering a time when you felt peaceful, and going back there in your head. Writing a thoughtful, hand-written note to someone, even if you could email, because you feel more connected when you write it out. Savoring a cup of loose leaf tea. Forgiving someone, not just in words, but by feeling compassion for them. Writing down thoughts that keep racing through your head, crumpling up the paper, and throwing it away. Letting yourself have lunch without any thoughts of work. [...]