The power of gratitude

Gratitude is a practice you cultivate and nurture each day. Just like any habit, it takes time to grow into part of your daily life and even when it does, I think it is better practised mindfully than just habitually.

I find over time when you consistently feel grateful for even the seemingly negative things that come your way, you find the blessings in everything. You see the good in things that you once thought were bad and light shines on things that once seemed dark. There is something to be grateful for in every moment and even if that isn’t possible, the breath you took is worth gratitude, isn’t it?

I’ve begun making my first thoughts as I wake and my last thoughts as I close my eyes about gratitude. I am grateful for everything and my health and that of my kids being top of the list. The more you are grateful for, the more you can see to be grateful for, and then it just seems as though more and more things to be grateful for pour into your life. Gratitude is like a flower that just continues to blossom and grow the more you nurture it. The power it weaves throughout your life is incredible and cannot truly be comprehended unless it is experienced….

So, start today, be grateful – how lucky you are and at every moment you can throughout your day, feel gratitude…see how your life changes.

Image credit Jen Theodore Unsplash @jentheodore thank you!

Spreading Loving Kindness

We often see and experience unkindness. Yesterday someone I work with shared a story about a homeless woman with mental health issues, who had been sleeping in a doorway, being attacked by people throwing food, bottles and water at her.

I was saddened and shocked by the cruelty people show to others. So, I thought I’d spread a little loving kindness. If we all do this it creates a ripple effect…

The essence of Buddhism is mettha, which means, loving kindness…the true nature and quality of Buddha…

The Buddhist prayer is, ‘May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be filled with loving kindness.’

There is said to be more power in that prayer than we can begin to imagine or understand and so using it as a mantra each day brings about those qualities within it.

Once you recite for yourself, you repeat for your loved ones, friends and then extend to those around you and then for those who you do not know and beyond to all.

May you be happy, may you be peaceful, may you be filled with loving kindness.


Image copyright and thank you Robert Baker @vegasphotog on Unsplash

Figuring it out vs. just doing it

There is something to be said for just taking action. Truly to achieve anything in life you have to take action. This is what separates those who just dream and those who actually achieve their dreams…which are you?

I have always been a deep thinker and as I meandered through the path of self discovery and personal development, I realised that I figure things out before I do something about it. Sometimes I think I have actually got far too stuck in the figuring out phase that I have then had to remind myself that unless I actually do something, nothing is going to happen.

In my experience, figuring out why you do something or where a particular trait, behaviour or dysfunction comes from enables you to process through and move beyond it.

There is another perspective on this, and that is to just do it. Not to get stuck in where or why things happen or are the way they are, but just to do what you need to in moving past them. Act out what you want, rather than sit yourself in the past and figure out why something is that way or where it came from.

Which camp do you sit in and what do you usually do?

Taking action will result in some consequence, whatever that may be and arguably it is better to do something than nothing. Although I believe wholeheartedly that getting stuck in the past isn’t good for you – after all there is nothing you can do to change it, understanding how you reached this point is quite freeing. When you realise something about yourself that just makes everything fall into place and make sense, it suddenly allows you to move forward. To me this process frees you, it allows those suppressed and hidden fears/emotions to become unstuck. It heals the wound and enables you to take the action without being triggered to relive it, over again…

So by figuring it out you are breaking the cycle…I have found the easiest way to do this is through meditation. Problems arise for a reason and when you are able to use meditation to solve them, you’ll find the process flows more and over time, becomes easier. Accepting what is and trusting the process is important. Simply meditate on what you are figuring out and then let go. The answers to these sorts of problems don’t always come at once, but they do come. Sometimes in subsequent meditations and often times through synchronicity – those things that seemingly just randomly come your way. When you realise that what are being guided to read is the solution to your earlier questions during meditation….

Be patient….the solution can always be found in the problem.

[Image copyright, thank you, Ben White, Instagram @benwhitephotography]

Listen and show interest in others

Over the years I’ve learnt there is one sure fire way of taking the focus off you own problems and distracting yourself from your own issues, and that’s by focusing on others.

You might think you’re a good listener but are you really?

When someone tells you of their woes, or confides in you their problems, how often do you respond with stories of your own. How often do you relate by telling your own perspective, your own issues and your own problems?

Being a good listener is not easy, but incredibly rewarding. I have found that by really intently listening to someone else, you not only learn something new but you also feel yourself. Primarily you are helping a fellow human, simply by lending an ear.

We get so caught up in our own story, journey and tale of life that we can’t see a bigger picture. At times when it becomes overwhelming we might feel we can’t cope or can’t see a way out. Truly one of the biggest blessings and antidotes to our troubles is simple. Focus on helping someone else. Whether that’s by lending an ear, helping out or whatever it may be, take the focus off your own woes and help someone else. It is liberating.

Truly I believe we are all here to serve one another. Help each other. Despite the duality we are all one. Using our innate gifts and talents to serve others is a gift.

Commit to doing that today. See the difference it makes. See how much better it feels.

Share your experience here.

[Image copyright thank you Austin Chan, Unsplash. Instagram @austinchan]

Is everyone good at something they love?

You hear it so often – ‘do something you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’.

Read any self development book, listen to a podcast or read an article on finding your purpose and you’ll be guided to figuring out what you love doing. What you’re passionate about. What you’re good at.

The million dollar question is then, is everyone good at something they love? Does that one thing jump out at you? Is there something you would happily do for free?

In my experience it’s not that straight forward. For some people, their natural talent definitely shines through. For others it doesn’t.

I’d be interested to know about you – do you feel there’s something you love? Are you good at something? Is there that one thing you’re always drawn toward?

Do tell…

[image copyright thank you Kyle Peyton Instagram @kylepyt]

What defines you?

I was struck today by how much we are defined by external conditions, which the led me to thinking about what really defines us.

For me, the thought of what defines me came to me this morning when my 16 year old son pointed out that my current situation around money does not define my worth or how I should or shouldn’t view myself. Sometimes we are all in that situation of not being able to see the wood for the trees.

I’ve been dealing with some very challenging circumstances over the past few months around my work and finances. Although I have some semblance of a plan, every now and then I question what I’m doing and completely lose myself in the conditions I am presently faced with.

My son pointed out quite simply that far too many people base their whole self worth around what they do or do not have in their bank account.

‘It is just paper’, he pointed out, ‘it does not make you one thing or the other, it has nothing to do with who you are.’

I love synchronicity – when you are seeking something or an answer, a solution; how the universe just sends you whatever you need. The trick of course is being open to noticing it when it comes your way.

The second synchronicity (there have been a few today) was a video of a guy who asked specifically what defines us. Some people say their job title, being a mother, father and so on. He told a story about his father who in the end said he is defined by love and when stripped back said, ‘I am love.’

I’ve pondered over this all day and realised that at the moment, I am choosing to allow my external circumstances – the life situation I am currently in, to define me. In following the Buddhist path you live in a way that keeps you centred – this is why it is often termed, the middle path – where no matter what life throws you way, you return to your calm centre where you can choose how to respond (or not sometimes) rather than react. This isn’t literal in the physical or location sense – there is no middle or centre, it simply means returning to the heart of you or the core of your being where there is a river of peace and where everything is just as it is and you are ok, strong and sure of who you are. Truly you are love and in a wider sense you are everything and everyone because you are a finite part of an infinite universe.

So today, ask yourself this question, what defines you?

[Image copyright Kah Lok Leong Unsplash]

What happens when you be yourself?

I am listening to a book that was originally published over 70 years ago… by Dale Carnegie. You may have heard of it; How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Most self development teachings of today mirror the principles of this book and others like it. What I love about books written so long ago is that the teachings are often simpler and more straight forward.

This morning I listened to a story in the book about a singer. She was blessed with an amazing voice but felt she lacked in the looks department because her front teeth protruded so much. For her first appearance on stage she was crippled with fear that if people saw her teeth they would laugh at her and ‘boo’ her off stage. So much so that when she did finally begin to sing she did in such a way to keep her top lip firmly covering her teeth, which of course affected her singing. Not only did it affect her voice but it also made her look somewhat ridiculous because it was incredibly difficult to keep her top lip curled over her teeth while singing!

A man in the audience, who happened to be in the music industry, saw something in her and realised what she was doing. Afterwards he spoke to her and explained that by disliking her teeth so much she was not only affecting her voice, but her confidence and the way she came across on stage. By trying to hide her teeth, she was actually bringing about the circumstances she most feared. He encouraged her to look at her teeth differently, to accept them and to embrace them as something unique to her. He said that rather than curling her lip over the top of them she should instead open her mouth wide to let her singing voice shine through. Own the fact she had protruding teeth – who is to say that isn’t attractive? In stopping trying to hide what she was most embarrassed about and trying to be who she thought others wanted her to be, she became – free to be herself. This changed her into a singing sensation almost overnight and totally changed the way she felt about herself and the way she looked.

This story is the perfect example of the simplicity of this book, yet you could think about your own life, today, and I would bet that you too hide parts of yourself you dislike or are embarrassed about. Do you act differently or try to be someone else around others because that’s who you think they feel you should be? If we are honest, most of us could say we do this.

“When you stop trying to hide the things you feel embarrassed or dislike about yourself and striving to be who you think others want you to be, you become free…to be yourself.”

Maldives for the Mind

When you stop hiding parts of yourself either through being embarrassed about them or disliking, even hating them, you are faced with the truth. Simply that you are who you are. Why spend your life trying to be someone you are not. Be yourself and love every aspect of that. When you do this, you ‘own it’ and although you begin to see that it truly does not matter what others think of you, because you are exuding so much self confidence, people feel the difference and they see you as you see yourself.

[Image copyright, thank you, Nitish Meena Unsplash Instagram @nitishm]