Recalibrate from negative thoughts with Gratitude

With my birthday knocking on the door, it’s that time of the year I start overthinking my life. Let’s say this weekend I had some extra spare time (more than usual when I act social) to do this as I have been indoors with a flu. Honestly as a bad human habit, or blame it on the fever, I started thinking not at the things I have accomplished so far, but at those missing from my life first…

IMG_4225It took me some time to recalibrate and refocus on all the good things I have been given in my life, realize how many they are actually, be grateful for them, never again fall in the trap of taking them for granted, and welcome the future with a big smile on my face!

I read this great quote today…about Gratitude: “If the only prayer you say in your life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, little things, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present, which is more often than not a lot! Focusing on being grateful and saying thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it improves health, and it reduces stress. I know many may say I am slightly unrealistic, preaching about a constant state of positive gratitude, but if you would practice gratitude, you would see I am not. Actually, to say you feel grateful is not to say that everything in your life is necessarily great. It just means you very are aware of our blessings.

Most people, including me, tend to take for granted the good that is already present in their lives. Have you ever imagined for a second what it would be like  losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your house, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort? I did today… and it was a sort of “Aha, moment” combined with “I am damn superficial! Get a grip!” 🙂 Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each and every one. I did this exercise a few times, and it just made me realize how lucky I am and really blessed.

Every each of us should start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements—such as getting the promotion, having a comfortable “deposit” saved up, being richer, slimmer, more popular, getting married, starting a family, and so on.

What I have learned is that when things don’t go my way, I believe that every difficulty carries within it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. So, when I calm down, I ask myself: “What’s good about this situation?”, “What can I learn from this?”, and “How can I actually benefit from this?”. It has worked every time to put me back on track and feel comfortable with a not-so-comfortable situation.

Once you become oriented towards looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Just try to start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful. This way, you’ll be on your way toward becoming presently happier. 🙂

 

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Tough times? Here’s 9 Mantras I use to get back to the optimist groove.

IMG_3825If you ever asked yourself how a positive person deals with disappointment, well, he/she simply deals with it. Period. And finds a way to ultimately transform it into a learning experience.

I have realized that each time tough times come around, I learn a lot about myself. So this is how I take the unpleasant –  an opportunity to grow, to change my limitations and outperform my reactions and attitude.

Also, tough times make me be more aware of who I am and what I want. Weird, right? But think about it. It may have happened to you that during a difficult period you understood better what you want at the end of the day, you cleared your thoughts and focused on what really matters. The irony…

The more I thought about how I deal with not so pleasant times and situations in my life, I realized I actually apply a pattern so I put down 9 ‘Mantras’ or tip&tricks for getting over those tough days/times in your life… So here they go. I hope you find them inspiring.

1. I have what I need to get through this.

Thinking things like “I can’t do this” or “This isn’t fair” will cause you to feel defeated. Rather than insist you need more, remember what you already have. If you’ve made it this far in life, you clearly have some skills, tools, and resources already in place.

2. Living according to my values is what really matters.

There are going to be people who won’t like you and times when people will disagree with the decisions you make. But your job isn’t to please everyone. Be brave enough to live according to your values, even when that means making unpopular decisions.

3. Failure is part of the road to success.

Failure is not fun, but beating yourself up over it won’t help. Each time you fall down, it serves as proof you’re pushing yourself to new limits. Remember that each failure is an opportunity to grow stronger and become better.

4. All I can do is my best.

Demanding perfection from yourself will do more harm than good. Whether you’re interviewing for a job that you really need, or you’ve got one last shot to try for that promotion, insisting there’s no room for error will skyrocket your anxiety. A little self-compassion will help you perform at your peak.

5. 5 years from now this won’t matter as much as I think it will.

Keep temporary problems in perspective by reminding yourself that the emotional pain, anxiety, or turmoil won’t last forever. Many of today’s crucial decisions and major worries won’t actually matter that much a few years down the road.

6. I’m stronger than I think.

A serious health problem or an unexpected break-up can be very difficult to handle. But catastrophic predictions like “I’ll never recover from this” or “I won’t ever be happy again” will only drag you down. Adversity often reveals hidden inner strength you never knew you had. Believe me, I have been there, done that and made me a better me.

7. I can handle feeling uncomfortable.

It can be tempting to stay inside your comfort zone, but getting through tough times often requires you to do something different. Although emotions like fear, embarrassment, and disappointment are uncomfortable, they won’t kill you. Be willing to face those emotions head on and you’ll gain confidence in your ability to cope with discomfort.

8. I am in control of how I think, feel, and behave.

Blaming other people for what’s going on in your life won’t help your situation. Acknowledging that you’re in control of how you think, feel, and behave can empower you to either make the best of your circumstances, or create positive changes in your life.

9. I’ve been knocked down before and I can get back up again.

Look back at the times you’ve persevered before. Recalling your fortitude in dealing with past struggles can help you summon the strength to deal with current problems.

The Best and the Beautiful never come easy! Don’t comfort with this on a sad acceptance mode, embrace it, look up and put that positive twist to it!

12735653_10156602116215624_1786550971_nI really like listening to people, to what they say, because sometimes the wisest or most motivating words you hear come from people and contexts you least expect. We all have a hidden sense of innate wisdom. The more we grow and develop, the more it surfaces.

So talking about the best things in life and the most beautiful ones never coming easy or falling from the sky… this I just heard today, from my gym instructor trying to motivate me into doing my 5th series of weights and squats combined… well, truth be told, it worked big time, because I immediately realized (under some extent of physical pain) that what he just had said touched upon way deeper thoughts that were hunting me for the past weeks than just a beach body. It touched me where I most needed motivation: personal and professional life, and actually life in general.

Let’s say I have been deeply challenged for the past 3 years personally and professionally, and things have happened that have shaped me differently, developed me, made me sometimes less of dreamer, more of a fighter, saddened me, disappointed me or gave me wings. However, all the beautiful things I lived came with a sort of trial period before when it was tough, when sometimes, I was close to cracking, very close… I just never let myself crack… no matter what because I know better things come along. I just know, and they do come.

Tonight, it seemed like this guy put a label on what started tormenting me weeks ago and maybe to be honest, what was slowly eroding my ultimate optimism. I realized that starting from as early as making the first baby steps (which require some really heavy motivation and effort from an early age), going to getting a good education&development, following a real passion (arts, music, sports or so on) that requires great sacrifices by the way (and I have seen my friends doing it), then moving on to being with the right person in life, and maintaining a healthy and happy relationship (sometimes from abroad or distance, sometimes tried by deception or other happenings), or getting that perfect body (I currently feel the pain – believe me!), and reaching to growing in your career (that comes with the good and less pleasant parts) or having the strength to recover from a disease only to enjoy life again… all of these great things never ever come easy. There are million examples from each of our lives. Whatever comes easy, is not actually that very best or beautiful anyways. Think about it. It is usually just “nice to have” or “ok” (and I just do not like this “ok” word…makes me think of mediocrity always!).

And this is the natural course of life… going through an effort to recognize and gain the best. This is who we are. It’s written in our genes, which means we are natural fighters, and giving up or being demotivated is against our nature. Therefore, complaining or feeling sorry for ourselves is not who we genuinely are nor does it make things easier.

I am not saying this so that we settle for acceptance (I do not agree with this rational plain view), I am saying this to underline that the power to get to those best and beautiful things lies in each of us and it comes natural with life and having the best.

Remember this next time you think you are so very close to giving up on what you truly want and desire. You genuinely have it in you to get it. Remember, it is written in your genes. Just look closer in yourself, let it resurface! Look up, fight on and do it with a smile on your face!

Give morning kindness a chance!

Have you ever noticed that what happens during the morning hours often sets the tone for the rest of the day? When things go smoothly, you tend to feel more relaxed and ready to face whatever the day may bring. However, when things get bumpy before you’ve even managed to get dressed, you’re more likely to remain grumpy until bedtime.

I have to admit, despite my usual positive mood, I am that type of person which is a Grinch before drinking the coffee in the morning and that is why I am silent until I do so. I must be rather careful not to ruin my mojo before I get to my Nespresso machine :). Looking around me, the majority of people seem to be, especially in winter time, in a more silent, gloomy mood in the morning. Thus, the mood breaker can set off anytime. Well, what can you do: morning, less light outside, cold weather, occasional fog, traffic, the rain sometimes…it’s understandable that we may be sleepy and gloomy in the morning these days…but is there anything we can do about it to make sure we start the day on a high note?

Last week, something happened that made me see things a bit differently. I arrived at the office and went to buy my usual morning yoghurt and lemon juice at a nearby place. The lady in the store was in a very nice mood. She greeted me nicely, and at the end with a lot of kindness she told me to have a beautiful day despite the foggy weather. She said “you deserve some inner sunshine with all this grey weather”. I immediately reacted…actually…something just rose inside of me. Her words… were so uplifting. I thanked her… really.  She made my day and it was so damn easy… and my day from that point on went wonderfully well. And I am not bullshitting really.

Inspired by this I decided to make an experiment and bring joy in the morning to some people around me, send some good vibes, tell them nice words to see how they react. Well, you may have guessed it… people smile when they are told nice things when they least expect. In the morning, you may say you still are in in-between moods… until you set off for the day, so someone else being a catalyzer for a positive day is important.

The thing is the more I practice this good mood “giving” in the morning hours, the more I actually feel good myself. It’s almost like a good vibe boomerang.

I actually just saw recently (and it was a nice coincidence to my thoughts these days) that a video was circulating on Facebook about a social experiment done by someone to see how “telling people that are beautiful make them react”. The idea behind it is similar to what I was trying to put in words over here. In case you missed it, here it is, a must-watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW8BDgLpZkI

While obviously and realistically there is some hassles that can’t be avoided because of circumstances around us, you can make mood-enhancing decisions during the morning hours that will set the stage for the next 16 hours or so. And “giving” good vibes may be a rewarding simple act. Just try it once or twice. It costs nothing.

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Actually, there’s one thing you can do just anywhere and anytime to set a good mood around: Smile or put a touch of humor on things. “Smiling is a simple way to change your mood—and the mood of those around you, too.” (and this is documented by a scientist , Dr. McKay, by the way). So spread your good-mood wealth as often as possible in the morning as well as throughout the day. It may build in a lot of good vibe for you and people around me may feel even more attracted to your positive energy. So give a try the next morning, just for a change at least :).

Pleasure vs. Happiness: No…not the same thing!

I read some wise words by Dalai Lama last week, that just kept on coming back to me these days. Well, of course, I also took two flights this week, so there was a lot of spare time for thinking in the plane, however, it’s been a while since I have been so into words I read. He was saying “Learn to differentiate between what gives you pleasure and what makes you happy”.

I have never thought before to differentiate between pleasure and happiness, but then I realized how much sense it makes and how important it is. I have to admit… it hit me on the flight from Bucharest to Geneva that I am a pleasure seeking person and this is how I have been sustaining my happiness… I mean I always need to do something. I can’t stay still. If I do stay still and alone, I start over-evaluating things and most probably get sad. There is a good chance I have spent most of my energy in my life so far seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

However, the pleasure seems to be always connected to an external factor: for example, graduating university, getting the dream job, the right project, being loved by someone, falling in love, great sex, travelling to a new place and so on. When the so-called thing that created the pleasure disappears, so does the happy state, which can only mean that the Pleasure by itself is not sustainable over long term…it is temporary.

Apparently, there is a huge difference between happiness and pleasure.  Pleasure is connected to the positive experiences of our senses, and with good things happening. Pleasurable experiences can give us temporary feelings of happiness, but this happiness does not last long because it is dependent upon external events and experiences. We have to keep on having the good experiences: more food, more fun or love, more money, more sex, more things (!) in order to feel pleasure. This is how we build addictions… needing more and more to feel a short-lived feeling of happiness.

Now, happiness is totally something else. It is not dependent on external factors, it comes from the inside, from an inner peace with oneself and the world around. As I was looking into this subject, I found a definition by Matthieu Ricard as follows: Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things…genuine happiness may be influenced by circumstance, but it isn’t dependent on it. It actually gives us the inner resources to deal better with those circumstances. Happiness is often equated with a maximization of pleasure, and some imagine that true happiness would consist of an interrupted succession of pleasurable experiences….There is no reason to deprive ourselves of the enjoyment of a magnificent landscape, of swimming in the sea or of the scent of a rose, but we must understand that the experience of pleasure is dependent upon circumstance, on a specific location or moment in time. It is unstable by nature, and the sensation it evokes can soon become neutral or even unpleasant.

Here is a list of differences I found between pleasure and happiness:

Pleasure Happiness
The focus is on me.  The pleasure I get eating cake, enjoying comforts/luxuries etc The focus is on others.  The happiness I get is from giving others what they need or wish for.
Externally-derived.  Our pleasure arises when we come into contact with something outside ourselves. Internally-derived.  Our happiness comes from our own thoughts and feelings.
Short lived. Pleasurable experiences wear off quickly and deliver limited satisfaction when remembered later. Enduring.  Doing something meaningful for the happiness of others produces a feeling which still makes us happy when we recall it long after.
Subject to circumstances.  Even the most delicious cake will not deliver pleasure if a heated argument erupts while you’re eating! Not subject to circumstances. We feel happy if we’re able to help others even in awful conditions.
The more we experience it, the less it delivers.  The first slice of cake is great.  What about the second …. fifth … tenth?! The more we experience it, the more it delivers.  The feeling of satisfaction we get rescuing the tenth waterlogged bird in a storm may be even greater than the first one.

So this for me shed light this week on how to understand whether what I do is something that is durable for my own happiness or just a glimpse of pleasure, how to think of things a bit differently and nevertheless how to choose to do things that not just create me pleasure, but that leave me actually genuinely happy on the long run. I’ll test this thinking and see how it goes 🙂

 

“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with” ~ Wayne Dyer

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I believe that, among others of course, that are three important lessons that one must learn in their late 20s:

1. How to fall in love without completely losing oneself
2. How to quit a job that does not make one happy or have the guts to change the career track completely in line with one’s dreams
3. How to be alone, standalone, benefit from and enjoy it

The last point is the one I felt like writing about today…

Being alone can be a fantastic thing. And I have learned this only in the past few years honestly.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been part of or at least in search of a “group” every time I moved somewhere else — friends that were interconnected by commonalities, a support system that I could rely on no matter the circumstances. It felt safer, especially being away from home. Luckily it came naturally to me every time…I always had people surrounding me. The same was with relationships for me…I always used to be in a relationship…it felt only normal…and safe again…protecting myself from what? Don’t ask, I would say loneliness, but that would be silly I see now.

Everything is easier if you are part of some sort of whole: you can always count on having weekend plans, a partner for the holiday or dinners, or any party the group throws has a pre-planned invite list. You always belong somewhere.

Then…a while ago something changed for me…in me. I started feeling the need to be alone…to recharge, to reflect, to breathe… I guess it came with growing up. And then a period of single hood that I actually enjoyed a lot and built up to my confidence.

In reflecting on my past, I know that forming a positive relationship with myself and embodying the idea that I am enough on my own sometimes is the foundation for building positive, worthwhile relationships with others later on. Sometimes, you don’t need to belong to any group, you should just do things differently, your way, because ultimately this is what you want.

Loneliness isn’t something to fear. I think it’s important to learn to be ok with being alone, especially for a woman. That needy instinct that most women have must be unlearned (us women even go in pairs to the bathroom :))) )

Learning to enjoy the time you spend alone can help you build a better relationship with yourself. Voluntary solitude is a great way to get back in touch with your feelings and remember all the things that make you awesome. If you want to feel more confident, first tackle your fear of being alone. And this is mostly for the single girls. There is nothing more empowering than a confident single woman.

Once you become more comfortable with the idea of being alone, doing activities like shopping, seeing a movie, or running by yourself can actually be enjoyable. You can do whatever you want without having to respond to anyone’s preferences, schedule or expectations. You might discover that spending at least one afternoon or evening per week on your own doing something you love can be totally relaxing and liberating.

Also, taking some “me” time gives you an opportunity to get away from distractions for long enough to reflect on your relationships and the course of your life so that you can determine what changes, if any, you may want to make.

Moreover, when you spend time alone, you give yourself the chance to appreciate who you are and to love yourself. You learn to love your own company. You connect with yourself in a way that you can’t get when you’re always looking for a connection from an outside source, whether that outside source is someone or something. The fact is, loving yourself and becoming happy from the inside out is the absolute best way to connect with others. People become drawn to you because Confidence and Happiness radiate outwards. The key is in finding the balance between spending time alone and spending time with others. Too much of either can be a bad thing.

I used to hate being alone. Now, I love it. It gives me a chance to really connect with myself, be creative, relax, breathe. Don’t get me wrong. I love being social and around others. But, there are times when I just need some peace. I simply choose to love and embrace the chance to have some alone time. It’s beneficial even for people in long term relationships. Believe me. Try some! 🙂

What we design, designs us back…

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This phrase just kept on being on my mind for a while, so I guess I wanted to share these thoughts…It’s just a simple truth that we usually ignore or at least we do not acknowledge.

Think about it for a second… in reference:

1. To our Love life: what we say, do, how we act later has impact on what we receive from the other person. It’s a simple boomerang effect. Words, not only actions, have powerful meanings that leave marks and that come to haunt us back when we least expect. Isn’t that true?

2. To Technology created in the world in general: we created Facebook, Twitter, iPhones that now shape our personality somehow, the way we communicate to each other, who we want to pose to be or actually be. We are trapped by our own creations and now they influence our life back.

3. To Nature: the way we treat the environment we live in, comes to reflect on us with different effects. Global warming for example just to name one, pollution is another and so on. How we design our existence…has a direct impact on the natural beauties around us and in time that shoots back to what we thought was the right thing to do when compromising on the natural aspect for a comfier living. This is happening as we speak…and it will happen more and more hundreds of years ahead until we drag all the energy from this Planet. Unless we change perspective and the way we do things which is highly unlikely… until we are not confronted with a crisis situation that will have a direct effect on our survival mode. We are selfish beings as humans…

4. To our Body: the way we design our eating habits will be reflected on our health and looks. It is as simple as that. And from that…our life is designed forward. As there is a difference between how you live and act when you are healthy and confident, compared to when you are weak or drained out physically from all the toxins you eat and drink. The way we chose to feed our body…eventually designs our life for the long term. So, I suggest this is something that everyone takes seriously. We age as beings…so a healthy mind and body is directly linked to our survival mode. Now, how we want to make our survival in this world, is also linked to that, as what we eat is connected to our mind’s well-being too. So…I guess, all I can say, when you feel depressed and sad and hopeless, try to think among others whether what you eat and drink is not staying in the way of gathering strength and hope to fight any problem in this life. And I honestly speak from experience.

I guess I could go on and on with this list as I find this line powerful and applicable to a lot of aspects in this world: What we design, designs us back…I think it is a nice reflection. I hope you agree to some extent.