Happiness begins with a good morning

You’ve got to wake up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.   -George Lorimer stock-photo-33581722-cloudy-sunset-over-field-with-sunflowers

An extraordinary life is all about daily, continuous improvements in the areas that matter most.  –Robin Sharma

Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life. –Hal Elrod, author of the Miracle Morning

stock-photo-26537865-footpath-in-the-mountain-plateauMorning sets the tone for the rest of the day and habits affect every area of our lives. I am pretty attached to my own morning routine, and interested in the making and breaking of habits. Periodically, I get a little bit obsessed over how routines can be improved upon to help us reach our goals or just to feel more fulfilled in general.

So when a book called “the Miracle Morning” caught my eye, I couldn’t resist reading it. I’m glad I did. The author, Hal Elrod shares my enthusiasm for the power of a good morning routine and he pours his thoughts and knowledge into this easy read. Better still, he shares his website where you can access a sample of the book.

If you go to miraclemorning.com you can sign up to instantly have the first two chapters of his book, a video and audio program sent to your email address. In addition, he includes the link to the Miracle Morning inspired Facebook community. So if your interest is piqued, here is his link. Enjoy! http://miraclemorning.com/

Wedding reflections

weddingMy daughter’s wedding- so much joy and family and love and friends in one place at one time has left me stunned. I want to do it again, but in slow motion. I want to see the people I barely saw, and eat the cake I barely ate and dance to the song I missed. But I’m grateful for all the moments I did have, and mostly for all of the moments the new couple had.

And miracles! The sun actually came out of the overcast sky during the Beatles Here comes the sun as the ceremony procession began.

During his vows, my new son-in-law touched upon his and my daughter’s starkly different childhoods, though they grew up just 65 miles apart (a topic that warrants its own post later).  What brings people together?

So much emotion, but my eyes were mostly dry, too happy to cry. Then much later, one of the groomsmen showed me a picture of his new baby and the tears came. The mere site of life, pure and new and precious, combined with the significance of the day, and I was overwhelmed. My tears did not deter him though, but rather he pulled up another photo and another. There is something relentless about the love of our babies.

Now summer is winding down. My other daughters are returning to college, the newlyweds are away on their honeymoon and I will return to my writing routine with a fuller heart, and freshness, something new but as ancient as the first breath of life.

 

 

 

The Gift of Silence

Of all the things to come to the mainstream, meditation has to be one of the most exciting. Complete with scientific proof of its power, it is free, accessible to anyone, and is life changing. It’s even brain changing. That our brain is pliable and we have the power to alter it for the better through meditation  is so intriguing to me.

Some people suffering from anxiety, depression, stress or confusion have found relief from meditation that they didn’t get from years of therapy. Troubled kids who are growing up in violent homes and communities, and were emotionally unavailable to learn, received mindfulness training at a school in Richmond California, and their classroom success increased drastically.  For those without any serious issues, meditation simply improves day to day life, often dramatically.

I could go on and on about the benefits of meditation, but I think the experts have already said it best. Rebecca Gladding, M.D., in her article in Psychology Today says: I’m sure you’ve heard people extol the virtues of meditation. You may be skeptical of the claims that it helps with all aspects of life. But, the truth is, it does. Sitting every day, for at least 15-30 minutes, makes a huge difference in how you approach life, how personally you take things and how you interact with others. It enhances compassion, allows you to see things more clearly (including yourself) and creates a sense of calm and centeredness that is indescribable. There really is no substitute.

Jon Kabat-Zinn has brought meditation to the masses, integrating his yoga and meditation studies with western medicine. He has spoken at colleges, and even led a session on mindfulness at Google: http://yogasanas.net/index.php/component/relatedvideos/?vid=3nwwKbM_vJc

For some, the idea of meditation is too vague. Do I really just sit down and shut up? Do I close my eyes, focus on my breath? How do I stop thinking? Fortunately, technology has made it quite simple.  The easiest way to begin may be to download a free guided meditation,  put in headphones, and in just fifteen minutes, begin to change your brain and your life.  I’ve included a link to one such meditation below, but there are many others to choose from. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2pCDbisNv4

Because of the brain’s neuroplasticity, we have to keep meditating consistently to ensure that the new neural pathways that are forming stay strong. Fortunately, meditation is its own motivation. Results are typically obvious and immediate. And once it becomes habit, each meditation session is like coming home.

Happiest New Year

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Happy 2014! I love New Year’s Day. It’s the perfect time for setting intentions for the year ahead. No matter what people’s resolutions are, the purpose of them is always the same. To be happier. To live better, feel better, be better.  An old friend texted me a couple of days ago out of the blue:  Have you read the Happiness Project? It reminds me of you so much!  And the thought of that book, which my sister had given me a couple years ago as a gift, came back to mind.  The author, Gretchen Rubin, spent a year journaling her process of doing all things that she thought would make her happier.  Based on studies and theories about how to be happier, plus her own intuition, she spent the year trying  out her happiness project.  When I first read the book, my thought was what a great idea.  I love stunt journalism and this has such a purpose.   Everyone wants to be happy!

But what I really like about her book, which became an instant New York Times bestseller, is that Rubin jumped in to her happiness project wholeheartedly. She awakened to the fact that she had midlife malaise, and she made a firm decision to change that.  There are no half measures when you are determined and passionate about a change.  Rubin tackled all areas of her life, not just one or two. She didn’t just eat better, get more exercise, spend time in quiet, clean out her closets and get organized. She did all of those plus played more, slept more, loved more and pursued a passion. Any one of these things has been shown to boost happiness, but each area compliments the others.

I’m all for moderation in a lot of things, but when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I say go all out. Harness your passion for happiness, your conviction that you are willing to make some changes, and do it with resolve. I happen to think that the reason so many resolutions fail is because they are made only with the head. I’m a believer in wholehearted commitments.  Life is too short for tentative steps. No dipping your toe in the water.  Become a runner if that’s what you know you need.  If you want to organize, never mind cleaning out one little shelf at a time.  At that pace, you’ll still be drowning in your clutter in 2015. Refuse to stop until you’ve eliminated everything that is in your way.   Obsess over a project that makes you happy.  Let the momentum carry you into more and more happiness, better-ness, healthier-ness, authentically-you-ness until you can hardly believe how great 2014 feels.

Most of us already know what we need to be happier.  If we just talk about it, think about it, analyze it, and pick one thing that we “will start tomorrow”, it’s difficult. The failure rate is high.  But if we commit on a bigger scale, with heart, with passion and conviction, that this is our life after all, then it’s simple.  So jump in with both feet, head and heart, and decide it’s going to be your best year yet!  Make happy happen.