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The World Is Waking Up… Would You Like To Join Us?
October 3, 2014
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There comes a time when we realise we have to make a change.

The catalyst might be a frightening event – the death of a loved one, a major accident, or an alarming prognosis relating to our health.

For others, the realisation that the promised rewards of modern life don’t hold the keys to a deeper happiness, is a slower burn.

For a while, we might be able to persuade ourselves that the day-in, day-out monotony of a bog-standard job which barely keeps our head above water and lulls us into a hollow sense of security, might mean that the future really will be alright.

But one day, our murmuring little white lies no longer seem to stack up…

“Well, some people really HATE their job, and, sure, I don’t LOVE mine, but I certainly don’t hate it – that must count for something, right?”.

“I AM happy. I mean, what have I got to be ‘unhappy’ about.”

“I just don’t want to be stressed. So long as I’m not stressed, I’m fine. Should we expect much more than that anyway?”

“I think if you don’t have any expectations about life, you won’t ever be disappointed.”

“No one ever gets everything they want.”

But at end of the day, when you’re thinking about what you’ve got to look forward to tomorrow, nothing – not the ‘ok’ job, the comfortable relationship, the small incremental promotions at work – ever really take away completely from the emptiness inside that gnaws away – slowly, insidiously and persistently.

Surely there must be more to life than this?

Maybe you are diagnosed as being ‘depressed’. Your family and friends tell you they’re ‘worried about you’.

That’s around about the time the ‘slow burners’ finally get a whiff that somethings got to give.

down with wage slavery!

Usually our first instinct is to become ludicrously, externally reactionary.

“Ok! I need medication.”

“I’m going to see a therapist to get this anger under control.”

“This job/relationship isn’t making me happy, I’m going to do something serious about finding another.”

We look outside ourselves for the salve for our souls.

We change a habit, a partner, a job. We take pills.

Yet inside, we know – because we can feel as much – that very little has really changed.

Like replacing an eating disorder for an obsession with exercising, the lesser of two evils still feels like an evil, because it hasn’t addressed the root cause of the symptoms.

So instead of being happier, we feel a brittle sense of satisfaction that ‘we’re changing’.

Rather than enjoying the relief of real change, which transforms our state of mind long term, we merely experience a rolling ennui that simply rearranges the sands of our internal landscape like an erosive tide, changing things just enough for us kid ourselves that something’s different.

It’s dichotomous that we inherently KNOW we have the ability to change our lives, yet our well-meaning momentum typically only lasts a week or two – sometimes a little longer if we make our heartfelt resolutions around December 31st.

Then we woozily slip back into a wooly sense of false security, pull the covers back up over our head and hit the snooze button for the millionth time.

‘It’s just TOO HARD,’ we think.

Well, it’s time to wake up.

Lasting, fulfilling change is possible. I know, not because I’ve read about it in a self help book or sat at the sandalled feet of a guru – but because I went from being a suicidal, hopeless and helpless person on more medication than a 90 year old with two weeks to live, to someone who is medication-free, depression-free and focused on contributing something real and worthwhile to the world.

When I was in the mental health unit, I had an epiphany – it wasn’t an imbalance in my brain that was causing my depression.

And it wasn’t that the combination of medications that doctors and psychiatrists had been so eager to ply me with, that was out of whack either.

The root cause of my depression was where I was placing my focus on a daily basis. (I’ll be sharing more about this specifically and how you can train your focus into more productive neural pathways in coming posts).

It’s much quicker and easier to write a script for mental maladies than it is for doctors and psychiatrists to work with a person to reclaim control of their thoughts and minds.

It’s time that we wake up to what’s going on around us.

It’s time to wake up to the crazy check points in life we’ve been programmed to blithely progress through – and why they’re not making us happy.

circle of life

rth it?http://irenemartini.deviantart.com/art/It-s-the-circle-of-life-358761854

It’s time to wake up to how we can go about changing our focus, to take back control of our lives and our happiness.

There’s a bigger game being played all around us and it’s time we take back responsibility and control.

And I think we need to do it together.

If we want to see a better world – we need to start first with our inner landscape.

Which is why I’ve started writing this blog again. Because it’s one small way I can reach out into the world and hopefully impact on people who perhaps have lost hope. People that have something special to contribute to the world, who have allowed themselves to snowball down a less than productive path that’s not enabling them to live their best life.

It starts with how we are cultivating – and allowing others to insert beliefs and ideas into – our minds.

weapon of mass distraction

If you’d like to be part of this community, its as easy as commenting and telling us who you are, to begin with. I read every response.

And I’m looking forward to sharing with you my ideas and techniques for how we can reclaim our happiness, reduce our stress and make depression little more than a momentary blip on our emotional radar – instead of a debilitating, life-threatening condition.

Once we create more productive, compassionate, peaceful and positive inner worlds, not only can one person make a difference – they can absolutely change the world.

Talk soon,
Camilla.

Happy Happy
How Japan Taught Me To Feel Again
March 18, 2011
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I woke up on Tuesday night at 2.30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. The first thing that came into my mind was, ‘I wonder how Japan’s doing….’ I started thinking about all the people that had lost their homes and those that had lost their lives. I didn’t get back to sleep.

japan-earthquake

I told a friend yesterday that it was worries about Japan that had kept me up. “What? Oh come on, you’re not serious!” and I just thought, ‘since when has it been not ok to care about something and feel affected by tragedies elsewhere in the world?

japan tsunami

Since when have we not been ok with feeling uncomfortable emotions. Why are we always running away from them?’ I think it’s because we’ve lost a feasible way of dealing with them.

It seems like the way to deal with things that upset us is to pay attention for about 2 minutes while it’s on our TV screens, express half heartedly that yes, it’s sad but try and not let it get to us too much, then just drop it and let it go.

My friend said, “Yeah, well what about the starving children out there, do you wake up at night and worry about them too?” and I just said, “I try not to focus on things that will upset me, I don’t generally watch the news and what not, it’s not like I’m purposefully dwelling on what’s happening in Japan, but when something does upset me, what’s wrong with acknowledging that you’ve been emotionally affected?”.

japan tsunami

As a separate friend later said to me, “Camilla, it’s OK to feel what you feel. They’re your feelings and you’re absolutely entitled to feel them”. No one has ever told me that before and I was so grateful for it. That is true acceptance. What has the world come to when people don’t feel that it’s ok to feel what they feel?

japan earthquake

I think this was a big problem in my depression. I didn’t talk about the thoughts that were in my head and so they just ran around and around like they did the other night at 2am. I didn’t feel it was safe to talk to other people because they might use what I said against me. I kept a stiff upper lip and people used to say to me, “Camilla you’re so strong.” I always felt like a fraud. If only they knew.

japan earthquake

I didn’t feel ok crying in front of other people until I was in my mid-20’s, then I kind of got ok with it. Before I used to be really embarrassed because I thought people would think I was weak. I thought that only by being strong and keeping your heart and soul to yourself could you protect them from being damaged.

picture of earthquake damage japan

Thankfully I have people in my life now who demonstrate unconditional love to me. I don’t have to behave in a certain way for them to accept me. They love me at my worst and forgive me at the drop of a hat. (I call one of them ‘The Saint’).

picture of japan's earthquake victims

I think pushing away what we feel is a major problem in things like depression and dysfunctional relationships these days. What’s more, I think it’s incredibly important to let people know that whatever they feel is ok and appropriate.

picture of japanese earthquake

Acknowledgement is the only way you can start the recovery process and process your emotions in a way that’s appropriate for you. Your mode of expression might be talking to someone you trust, journaling about your feelings, writing a poem or painting. I didn’t like the idea of processing my emotions in this way initially because I thought, “I don’t want to focus on this thing anymore, I want to get it out of my mind.” But now I know that using self expression as a way to grow and reconcile your feelings is entirely appropriate, especially for example if you use it as a way to find peace with what happened.

Personally, I’d like to do a painting about what has happened. My way of turning it from a negative to a positive experience is that I’ll approach the process as a prayer for those who have suffered so much recently in Japan. Maybe you could acknowledge your sadness and send a prayer in your own way.

If you’re like me and have found it difficult to get clear, accurate information on the disaster unfolding in Japan and are worried about what has and could potentially happen (without the fear mongery), you’ll like the Q&A page of the New York Times. It’s informative, practical and answers all the questions you’re probably wondering about that other media outlets have failed to address thoroughly.

Feeling Crappy? Happy Happy
How To Go From Bored to Awed
March 15, 2011
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So many destructive behaviours have their origin in boredom. From overeating to excessive drinking, addictions, watching mind-numbing crap on TV or constantly buying ‘stuff’. So why are we all so bored??

Consumption – Affluence’s Boredom Cure

By 2020, 300 million people in China (that’s the same size as the population of the US) will advance from a subsistence farming lifestyle to middle class living. That means there will be 700 MILLION people in China consuming as middle class citizens*. Pretty mind boggling huh?

China-6401 - Great WallCreative Commons Licensephoto credit: archer10 (Dennis) 

Can you imagine what this will mean in terms of global resource usage and refuse produced if the world’s newly socially ascended gleefully consume at the ravenous rate of current first world middle class people? To reiterate, that’s America’s population, more than two times over, set to consume, consume, consume. S*%&T!!

Boredom Is Digging Us A Hole We Might Struggle To Get Out Of

It seems that dissatisfaction with our present reality is the main excuse we use for ‘distracting’ and ‘improving’ behaviours like consumption. We say we consume because we ‘need’ stuff, but actually, consuming is just a way to distract ourselves momentarily from our present reality.

We think our lives will be better once we have what we desire (whatever the latest thing is). We think it will make us happy. Or happier than we already are. Actually, when you live in a more minimalist fashion for a while, you see how little of what we use is necessary and how much of our consumption is purely and simply a way to alleviate our boredom.

As an example, I had a recent garage sale and I culled half my wardrobe to sell – it’s been a few weeks now and not once have I missed an item of clothing (despite my prior protestations, “But I can’t sell them. I wear them all – I NEED them.”) I thought I’d get bored with so little choice. I was wrong. Instead, I just love all the extra wardrobe space!

So What Is Boredom? And How Can You Overcome It?

  • Boredom is the need for something “exciting” to happen.
  • Boredom is the desire for drama.
  • Boredom is the choice of instant gratification, over long term well-being.
  • Boredom is the choice of pleasure rather than peace, (because peace is perceived as “boring”).
  • Boredom is the need to DO something to feel happiness, rather than simply BEING happy.
  • Boredom is the inability to accept life for what it is, in this very moment.
  • Boredom is the inability to see the beauty of the world, as it is right now.
  • Boredom is the faulty judgemental perspective that something is “wrong” with existence.
  • Boredom is the absence of acceptance.

When you look at modern life, so much of it is centered around the refusal to accept things how they are and an insistence on changing our state to something else – something ‘better’. Sure, sometimes the desire to change the way things are might be for the betterment of mankind (such as seeking to eliminate diseases) but is getting a flatter TV REALLY going to make that much difference to your long term happiness in the scheme of things?

The website ‘Truths of Life’ says, “Boredom is the false notion that happiness lies outside oneself. It’s born from the unawareness that happiness can simply be chosen at all moments of life, despite life’s circumstances.”

How To Stop Being Bored

I know that ‘choosing happiness’ can be tough for even the most self-aware of us and sometimes people view that as a bit of a ‘cop out’ of an answer to life’s more problematic esoteric challenges. So I won’t go there.

Instead, I’d suggest at least the practice of awareness of boredom and an examination of its particular cause for you. Saying ‘I’m bored, because this is boring’ isn’t a proper examination by the way! Look at what it is in your environment that you’re REALLY having problems with. Are you lonely? Are you feeling undervalued? Are you criticising yourself or your situation? Then look to how you can address these issues.

Boredom can be a great signpost towards growth if we spend less time trying to escape it and accept discomfort for a while, sit with it and look at it a little more closely. Not everyone’s idea of a great Saturday night in, I know, but hugely helpful in eradicating stress and anxiety (in the long term) in your life.

Boredom can’t ever really be escaped. It can only be let go of through awareness.

*http://www.euromonitor.com/chinas-middle-class-reaches-80-million/article

Happy Happy
Think Differently – How To Create More Helpful Neural Pathways
March 9, 2011
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I’ve been examining the nitty gritty, the ‘how, what and why’ of negative thoughts recently, (or I suppose more accurately you could say that I’ve been tousling with them like a matador trying to tame an angry bull).

Negative thoughts can pop up at any time, either triggered by a core belief created in the past, or as a response to stimulus in the present external environment – think ungrateful bosses, perceived inadequacies or stress about finances. You know – life, basically. ;)

In my quest to get to the bottom of why it can be so hard to maintain a positive attitude at times, I wrote to a guy whose blog I read quite a lot and in response to my somewhat rambling, nonsensical email he wrote:

“…What I will tell you is that the thinking about all this stuff will only take you so far, and usually how far it will take you is in circles. That’s what happens when we think about what we are thinking, we go in circles.”

So there I lay there in bed at 6am, having been up since 2, realising that he was right. Thinking about thinking will only send you in circles – and I’d been doing veritable mental pirouettes. If thinking wasn’t the way to get to the bottom of the problem, what was? Asking other people for advice? Maybe not…

“Be positive! Think positive thoughts! Focus on the good in your life!” the do-gooders ‘oft will chime.

But how can you be positive when you are well and truly stuck in a negative rut, where positive thoughts are so hard to create and hold on to? Often, it’s not as simple as saying to yourself, “Right, I’m going to be positive now,” because let’s face it, no-one consciously wants to dwell in negativity. Instead, the quicksand of negativity is something we can descend in to quite unwittingly, leaving us feeling really quite sorry for ourselves. Thank you, icing on the cake.

“Why Do I Feel So Negative?…”

As it turns out, there’s a neurological reason behind why it’s hard to muster a feel-good vibe when we’re down in the dumps and why negative thoughts seem to snowball.

Basically, your brain has loads of neurological pathways and the more each pathway is used, the more entrenched it gets. Just as drops of water tend to follow the path of the originating drops rather than create their own, so too does the energy flowing through the brain’s neural network find the path of least resistance. Hence, the more you think certain thoughts and create mental associations, the more habituated the brain becomes in thinking that way.

That’s why when we notice the negative, we perpetuate it. It’s also why when we feel good, it’s easier to reach for more good-feeling thoughts. The good news is that it IS possible to change our neural pathways, first we need to recognise we can and second, decide we’re going to! The answer lies in purposeful thought.

Ways To Create New Neural Pathways:

  1. Give your brain a jump-start by watching a funny movie or your favourite comedy DVD.
  2. Pet your cat and focus on noticing the positive feelings that ensue.
  3. Call a friend who you know will make you laugh.
  4. Appreciate the smell and colour of some pretty flowers.
  5. Think of a time you were really happy – go back there in your mind and just re-live it for a while. Make believe.

Create A New Path, One Small Step At A Time

You can think of your own ways to get to a positive state by intent. It doesn’t have to be something that’s going to send you into ecstasy for hours on end, just something that will disrupt your neural pathways from high tailing it down the same old negative beaten path.

As you do this, you’ll send new energy flowing to different parts of the brain, contributing to the creation of new neural pathways (which are your brain’s new way of automatic thinking). The more you can disrupt the brain from going down the old path, even for a few minutes at a time, the more you’re creating to new pathways – and more happiness!

As Buddha said “What we think, we become”. So when you feel rubbish, start practicing good-feeling thoughts, even just 10, 20 and 30 seconds at a time. Every time you do,  it all adds up to a new, happier neural pathway for you!

Feeling Crappy? Happy Happy
Cut This Out Of Your Diet & Dramatically Improve Your Mood
March 1, 2011
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Nothing improves a low mood like a ‘little treat’ right? Unfortunately, according to a new study*, the naughty snacks that don’t look good on your thighs, aren’t doing your mental health any favours either.

IMG_3853
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dominique Godbout

The study of 12,059 volunteers found that trans and saturated fats can raise the risk of suffering depression by nearly as much as 50%! Volunteers were tracked over 6 years and those who consumed more trans-fats presented up to a 48% increase in the risk of depression, compared to participants who did not consume trans fats. Worse still, the more trans-fats consumed, the greater the harmful effects.

‘Good-mood’ oils

Fortunately, fats aren’t off the menu entirely, as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats were actually proven to reduce the risk of depression. The study suggests that this may be why depression rates in countries with a Mediterranean diet are lower.

san_miguel_2
Creative Commons License photo credit: xmatt

How much trans fat is too much?

The study volunteers had a pretty low intake of trans fats – only about 0.4% of their daily energy intake and much of this came from ‘natural’ products like full cream milk and cheese. This means that even a little could be bringing you down. (Can you imagine the implications for countries like America, where an average consumer receives approximately 2.5% of their energy intake from trans fats? – Eek!).

What can I do to lower my risk of depression?

Start by swapping trans fats for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in nuts, vegetable oils and fish. Go olive oil all the way! Supermarkets nowadays have a great range of nut oils you can use for cooking and DIY salad dressings too. Also, stick to soft tub spreads with low saturated fat and no trans fat, as opposed to stick margarine and butter.

City Java salad 2
Creative Commons License photo credit: khawkins04

Trans fats are also used to extend the shelf life of mass-produced stuff like fast food, pastries, cakes and chips, so if you’ve been needing extra motivation to avoid the naughty stuff, just think of how much happier you’ll be without it – literally!

Deep fried dishes at restaurants are a trans fat field day too, along with french fries, muffins, taco shells, cake mix, manufactured salad dressings, pre-packaged microwave popcorn, croutons, pre-mixed pizza dough, pre-mixed pancake mix and pies.

OrvilleRedenbacherPopUpBowl 005
Creative Commons License photo credit: DebMomOf3

If you DO have to fry something (tempura vegetables – they’re kind of innocent, right?) make sure you use traditional vegetable oils like canola and new oils made from specific varieties of soybeans, sunflowers and grains and seeds.

Your waistline and your mood will thank you for it!

* http://www.onmedica.com/newsarticle.aspx?id=9e17dba5-f6ec-44e9-954e-ba10ea0c456c

Happy Happy
A Recipe For A Balanced Life – Part 2
February 18, 2011
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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about a comment my friend Tash made in the second installment of my interview with her (which you’ll read today).

The quote was:photo of wooly socks

“The easiest way you can tell yourself what you’re worth is by what you say yes to. The easiest way you can tell your body what it’s worth is what you put into it”.

This statement really stayed with me and as a consequence, I’ve been more mindful of how every action I take is a demonstration of my beliefs. This gentle increase in my mindfulness has made making better choices for myself easier. (Inspiring people with new ways to be kind to themselves is a great gift for any friend to give  – so thanks Tash) Because I’ve personally been benefiting from Tash’s words, I hope you will too, in Part 2 of this series on balance. Enjoy!

C: Why do you think we lose touch with what living a balanced life means these days?

T: I think people are stretched so thin, they look to external sources to determine what balance is supposed to look like, rather then going within to determine fundamentally how they define that for themselves.  

People can so easily get caught up in daily life and become disconnected from themselves that they don’t even know what matters to them, what they’re believing in and what they’re subscribing to. Even when we’re not being cognizant of what we’re subscribing to, we’re still subscribing to something and more than anything it’s important to know what that is.

C: Do you think women struggle to find balance in their lives more so than men?

tash sakkas

T: I think people in general have taken on more than ever before.  We actually expect ourselves and each other to be able to cope with more than we ever have. I think women as a stereotype in the past have said ‘yes’ to everything not necessarily because we wanted to, but because we wanted to prove we could if we wanted to.  

I think what’s important now and more advantageous for everyone is to rise above gender stereotypes or any stereotypes for that matter and start treating each other in terms of community.  When we start becoming more mindful of the fact that we’re all interconnected there’s more room for compassion and unity and less room for segregation. Why not ask for help? No one is supposed to do ‘it’ alone, nor can we. 

hollywood farmers marketsC: Do you think Aussies or Americans are more balanced in their approach to life?

T: Hmm… they’re two completely different ways of life.  In some ways it seems as though the two cultures are quite similar, but after living here for almost 6 years, let me assure you they’re completely different.  Australians as a whole, in my opinion, have a greater connection with nature and live a more balanced active/work/play life.  

Americans {mostly in big cities} have a drive that is constantly pushing them forward, asking them to be continually in pursuit of something bigger and larger than their current state of being.  There is an unquenchable thirst in the air here which breeds a population of seekers. Everyone’s striving to learn, to grow, to expand and there’s a magic in that.  There are wonderful things about both states of being and I am fortunate to be hard wired the Australian way, yet experience and be a part of the push for expansion.  

C: Being a goddess of the kitchen, what’s your opinion on balanced food?

T: The easiest way you can tell yourself what you’re worth is by what you say yes to. The easiest way you can tell your body what it’s worth is what you put into it.  Once we take ownership of the power we have over our own minds and bodies, the sooner things will naturally fall into place.  

I don’t believe in diets, I do however believe in being a conscious consumer. Whole foods, whole grains, sustainable and locally farmed produce.  I also believe in ending the day with something sweet. It can be a simple and sweet morsel but I like to have either made it myself or know where it came from. 

C: What about relationships – how should people approach creating balance in that area of their lives?

T: Relationships, friendships, work, diet, all of it comes down to the same principles.  Once you establish what’s important to you, really important and then stand strongly in that, everything will organically fall into place. There’s no point in attempting to control and manage everything externally if you haven’t created a fundamental shift within yourself to support those changes. Discover what matters and stand strongly in your own integrity.

Note: If you missed the first installment of this series, you can still read part one of my interview with Tash here.

More Inspiration For A Balanced Life

If you need some divine gastronomic indulgence to add to your own recipe for a balanced life, you might like Tash’s blog,  The Chirpy Bird, which regularly updates with some of the most delicious recipes this side of the Hollywood Hills.

There’s a perfect balanceof healthy, hearty, seasonal and sinful recipes for you to treat yourself to - from brownies that’ll make you want to break up with your boyfriend and date them instead, to healthy heart and soul warming organic chicken soup and my favourite, Bouillabaisse - Tash gives you the recipe, steps and even photographs the process, so if you’re still on your Masterchef training wheels, you can see along the way what your dish is supposed to look like. Totes handy!

Tash has also done a post today on her daily hikes up in the Hollywood Hills and shares some beautiful photos – I think you’ll love them. :) Have a brill weekend.

All photos courtesy of The Chirpy Bird.

Happy Happy
A Recipe For A Balanced Life – Part 1
February 14, 2011
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I’ve recently been deriving a lot of inspiration from the blog of a friend I’ve known since I was about 13. We see each other about once a year or so (she lives in L.A now) and every time we meet, it’s like no time has passed at all and we’re suddenly transported back to the verandah at school, swapping stories about boys, giggling about celebrities (though nowadays she has the gossip first-hand, straight from L.A!) and eating the most delicious food (usually made by the friend in question).

Her name is Tash and she’s the writer (and chef) behind The Chirpy Bird.

Photo of Natasha Sakkas

The Chirpy Bird is a blog in which Tash shares her experiences, wisdom and characteristic humour, along with some of the most delicious recipes (both indulgent and healthy) you’ll find this side of a Border’s best-selling cookbook shelf. She’s also somewhat of a domestic goddess, the queen of shabby chic, and has the warm, inviting charisma and vivacious glow of a truly beautiful soul.

She’s been through ups and downs, through health scares, dealing with the debilitating illness of an immediate family member, the stresses of being so far from friends and family, break ups, make ups and somehow, she always maintains a centered integrity and optimistic outlook that I know just draws people to her.

So when I started thinking about how balance is the key to building a foundation of happiness in life and how getting the right mental, physical and spiritual nourishment is a recipe that we each need to create for ourselves, I realised there’d be no better person to talk to about it, than a woman who loves to write all about feeding the body mind and soul.

Natasha Sakkas In Kazakhstan

Tash on a trip to Kazakhstan

 C: What’s your philosophy on ‘balance’? 

T: Ahhh Balance…that ol’ chestnut… it can’t be mistaken for a final destination but rather the gold at the end of the rainbow and something you’re always striving towards. It’s always about the journey so consider this all part of life’s work. There’ll be days where its easier and days where it will feel like you’re an act in your very own circus.  

It’s important before you try to balance anything to take a look at your life, your priorities and be realistic.  Balance doesn’t mean that your life is divided equally and compartmentalized to perfection.  One person’s balance is another persons imbalance. The first thing you need to do in order to determine what your personal balance looks like is to know what’s important to you. 

What do you want your life to look like?  What do you want it to be made up of? The things that you say “yes” to should organically fall under those categories. No one can do it all, nor were we ever supposed to! Ask for help.. and the hardest part, be kind to yourself when it’s not coming together easily.

C: Have you ever been in situations when youv’e felt out of balance?

T: Of course! It’s also good to remember that in order to learn and appreciate balance, we must experience imbalance.  Look at nature, there would be no balance if it was 24 degrees and sunny everyday! We’re human, we will experience all the colors of the rainbow and all the seasons. The key is to be kind to ourselves and each other. A defeatist attitude is a sure fire way to send you spiraling into oblivion and lose sight of it all.

C: What do you do on a daily/weekly basis to stay ‘in balance’?

T: There are a few things that I do daily to ensure that my mind and body are in the best possible shape in order to deal with stresses and “white noise” that trigger feelings of imbalance.  

- Meditate. I’m a big believer in Vedic Meditation.  The physiological studies alone have shown that meditation restructures neurological pathways in the brain and elevates the frequency that we have the ability to function on.  A wonderful aide when you’re wanting to live your life in grounded clarity. 

- Move. I’ve always been an active person, so whenever I don’t move I feel sluggish, which can lead me to feel stuck and sluggish in life. I move my body everyday and at the least 4 days a week I break a sweat. For me it’s important to keep those energy pathways open and moving.  When I do this, the ‘white noise’ naturally falls away and it’s easy for me to be clear minded about what truly matters. 

- Mindfulness.  I’m aware of who and what I say “yes” to.  What you feed yourself is the simplest way of telling yourself what you’re worth.  I eat whole foods, organic whenever possible and I’m aware of how much meat I consume… always be aware of eating things with eyes that look almost human.  That’s something that’s recently caught my attention and something I’m definitely conscious of.  Whether you want to believe it or not, everything has an energy, what are you subscribing to? 

photo-of-vege-quinoa-delight-recipe

Ingredients for Tash's 'Vege Quinoa Delight'

C: How do you guard against burnout in your life?

T: Again for me, it’s all about being aware of what I say yes to. Think of yourself, your energy as a bank account; if you say yes to everything then you’ll be broke! Its time to take a step back and think about what’s really important to you.  Valuing your time and your energy and being mindful of where you spend it, is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.  Once you begin to be cognizant of this, you might find that your life changes dramatically. Your relationships, health, career, everything may change. But be sure that balance will ensue organically once you are standing strongly in your truth and integrity.

Stay tuned for part two of my interview with Tash later this week.

Also, as a special gift for Tame Your Mind Monkey readers, Tash has promised to post her most perfect, ‘balanced’ recipe for your gastronomic delight. You can check it out here.

*All images courtesy of The Chirpy Bird.

Feeling Crappy? Happy Happy
Get Motivated & Stress Less
February 10, 2011
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Is Inertia Stressing You Out?

A lot of stress is created in our lives when we know we should change something – be it an attitude, habit or situation – but rather than address it, we dilly dally, perfecting procrastination into an art form.

You only need to look around the now deserted gyms, that just weeks ago were bursting at the seams with eager, ruddy-faced, sweat-banded cardio-converts to see that getting change to stick isn’t as easy as waiting for the calendar to flip from December to January and signing your name on the bottom of a gym membership form.

get motivated to work out

Self congratulation for the new habits we thought we’d formed in January, can quickly turn to self flagellation when we realize two pad thai’s, a vat of pinot noir and a week of sleeping in later, that they were merely a diversional blip on the radar of our regular modus operandi.

So how can you stay the course of positive change, long after the honeymoon period of ‘good intentions’ is over?

There’s really only one way. Motivation. Obvious right? When you’re motivated, change is easy. Just like on the first of January when you got excited about the new gym gear you were going to buy – the prospect of a pre-workout retail fix was more than enough motivation to get your butt on the treadmill.

What you need to do is find ways to keep your motivation levels up, day after day, week after week. Here are some ideas for getting fired up about implementing the change you want.

1. Get Clear About Your Intention.

Set an intention or identify the greater purpose of your goal. Instead of a goal to ‘lose weight’, get ‘a better job’ or earn ‘more money’, you need to find the deeper meaning behind what you are aspiring to.

motivation to lose weight

In the above cases, perhaps your goal might be to:

‘Create and enjoy the fit, healthy body I deserve, in order to truly get the most of out every single day’, or

‘Find a role which is creatively fulfilling and allows me to bring people together, while making a positive difference in the community every day,’ or

‘Achieve enough financial freedom to enable me to take a 6 month break traveling around Asia and experience other cultures and ways of life’.

Once you know this purpose you can use it as a motivational focus point when times get tough.

2. Make A Commitment Contract.

A commitment contract holds you accountable for achieving your goal/s by a certain date. You can make it interesting by deciding upon a certain amount of money you’ll pay if you break the contract  – and even decide who’ll you’ll give it to (for that extra bit of motivation). You can even form a contract with the originators of the concept at www.stikk.com

committment contract

3. Keep A Journal.

Making a note of the positive steps you’re taking and reflecting on them daily focuses your mind on what you’re doing right and is great motivation to keep going. Even writing down stressors can be useful – you’ll not only be able to look out for them in future, but the act of writing them down can actually reduce their hold on you.

4. Dial M For Motivation.

Have someone on speed dial who knows about your goals and your intention behind them. Rely on them for a pep talk if your motivation levels take a knock.

motivation tips

5. Plant A ‘Trouble Tree’.

We all have troubling situations that arise from time to time – from relationship problems to finances, kids etc. Sometimes these things weigh us down and affect our focus. It’s hard to maintain a high level of motivation when we’re worried about other issues in our lives.

A fun way to stop your challenges from getting in your way, is to plant a ‘Trouble Tree’ in your front yard – then, when you head off to work in the morning, mentally dump your problems on to your trouble tree and allow yourself to let them go for the day so you can stay focused on the main game.

6. The ONE Call You Must Make.

So many people put off little things in their lives and ultimately they add up, raising your stress levels and potentially sabotaging your committment to positive change. Instead of sticking your head in the sand, tackle the things you’re avoiding, head on. 

Make the phone calls you’re putting off, take that gym class you’re afraid of looking stupid in, clean out that cupboard that you know is a war zone.  Self-motivated people get motivated to do the things ordinary and mediocre people avoid.

7. The ONE Question You Must Ask.

You can only experience consistent motivation if you’re constantly improving everything in your environment. Get into the habit of asking yourself every day, “How can I do it better?” This question focuses you on improvement and prevents you from stagnating.

motivation

It’s true that no-one can stay 100% motivated 100% of the time – we’re only human after all. However, we all need to be inspired from time to time and can keep up our motivation by following steps like those I’ve listed above. When you’re motivated, you’re moving forward and when you’re moving towards that which you want, you’ll feel more at ease and far less stressed out.

Until next time, stay motivated, stay fantastic and stay the course!

Happy Happy Relationships
A 4 Step Process To Claim Your Personal Power
February 7, 2011
4

Darlene NavarreToday’s post is a special gift from raw food chef, ‘goddess momma’ and inspiring conscious creator – Darlene Navarre. Darlene runs a raw food website full of free recipes and inspriation for those looking to explore a ‘raw’ lifestyle. (If you’ve never heard of ‘raw food’ I highly suggest you take a look).

Anyway, today Darlene has shared some of her own inspiring experiences and provided a four step personal power plan for all readers of Tame Your Mind Monkey. Over to Darlene….. 

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claim your personal powerI really enjoy anything that gets me thinking about my life and how I’m living it, so when I came across the statement, “How you do one thing is how you do everything” recently, it stirred up a rapid fire of thought throughout my spirit, body and mind – and inspired me to write this blog on how you too can start living in power.

Getting In Your Personal Power Zone

I’ve found that when you want to change the direction of your life, you have to acknowledge three fundamental truths (keeping in mind that “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”). They are:

1.  Realising that making NO decision is still making a decision. When you refuse to decide, you allow yourself to be buffeted around by “chance”. You’re deciding to take no responsibility for where you’re headed.

2.  Recognising that choosing to give away your power to OTHERS only multiplies your problems: Blaming other people or circumstances for what’s going in your life and taking 0% responsibility puts you in a major power deficit.

relationship problems

Options 1 and 2 are both disempowering and will leave you feeling like a victim, lost, disconnected and powerless. If you go around blaming your partner for all the “problems” in your relationship, you probably give away your personal power in other areas of your life too. Perhaps you’re blaming your boss for the “problems” in your job and want them to change, in order for your life to be the way you want it.

The Third Concept However Is The Flip Side Of The Personal Power Coin:

3.  As a creator, your job is to create solutions. Take full responsibility for everything in your life, including the people and situations in it, knowing you created them all.

This option is a choice full of strength, self fulfillment and POWER! If a situation comes up in your marriage, choosing this attitude means you’re able to view it as a “growth experience” or “contrast” and ask yourself, “How can I realign my thoughts, emotions and perspective to match what I really want?” This becomes something you are in complete “control” of and in the end it’s a win/win for you and all those around you.

My Empowerment Story:

My husband, Blake, and I have been together for almost 13 years now. This is the longest intimate, personal relationship I’ve been a part of. A few months ago I felt I no longer wanted to remain in my marriage and was ready to take the next exit out.

After telling Blake I wanted a divorce he asked me, “How do you expect this to work, since we still have 3 children to care for?” That question started me thinking about my life and I thought of the phrase at the start of this post. I realized that how I was approaching my relationship with Blake was how I was approaching everything in my life. I look a long hard look at all areas of my life to honestly assess where I stood. I acknowledged:

  • My business was only growing very slowly, as I was hardly paying attention to it.
  • I had run from and ignored many of the relationships I had with friends and family.
  • Financially I was headed towards bankruptcy again (for the third time in my young 39 years).

 how to make changes in your life

I realized I had created a pattern in my life. When I felt scared and/or powerless about anything I would run away from it, whether that meant filing bankruptcy, choosing to divorce Blake, or just walking away from relationships as if they never existed.

When I stood back and looked at the whole picture of my life I could see that the way I was doing one thing, was how I was doing everything. Worse still, it was leaving me feeling even more alone and powerless. In that moment I saw that fear itself could not hurt me, but running away from everything – everything I really wanted – could. It was time to face my fears, take responsibility and REALLY live my life. All out! 100%!

After all the self improvement information I had absorbed, spoken of and taught over the years, I was finally ready to take action and responsibility for myself. I was ready to give all I had in my business, my finances and my marriage.

I took a look in the mirror and asked myself, “Darlene, are you willing to GIVE everything you are, your love, attention and focus, break down all those internal “walls” and stay present to everything you want in your life? Are you finally ready to go through the fear and LIVE on the other side in power?”

personal power through love

I was.

I was impassioned. I sat down with my husband and told him, “I love you! I am ready to play all out and win this game. No walls, no whats, no ifs or buts. Its just you and me and I’m willing to really BE and STAY in this relationship! I want to love you, believe in us and be connected beyond anything you or I have ever experienced before!”

The powerful choice I made to give 100% in my relationship has created the most amazing relationship with my husband – beyond anything I could have imagined. In addition, the rest of my relationships, my business and my finances are improving daily. How I do everything now is give all I have. I know now I have the power to create my life the way I really want it.

Yes, I still get scared and want to run away like I use to when the fear or powerless feeling comes up. But now, instead of running away, I:

1.  Accept what I’m feeling. I comfort myself that, YES, it can be scary to stay and play in new territory.

2.  See my fear for what it really is – just doubt and old patterns. I remember that they only hurt me when I give into them

3.  Turn my attention to the power within me and challenge myself to think about a vision of my life as I really want it.

4.  Call a supportive friend, watch a video, listen to an audio tape or read a book to fill me up with positive emotions. Take action that supports my new beliefs to stay present in my own personal power.

The more you follow this 4 step process, going through your fears into your power, the easier and less frequently your fears will come up. If you give in to your fears in one area of your life the pattern will repeat again and again in other areas.

Living in power starts with empowering choices. If you want to create a powerful shift in your life, look at the whole picture and remember…

“How you do one thing is how you do everything!”

Feeling Crappy? Happy Happy
Spring Clean Your Psyche
February 4, 2011
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They say that a change is as good as a holiday – but in my opinion, nothing can lift your mood like, (as my mother would say) ‘a damn good clear out’. (Usually uttered when she’d take a peek into any of my cupboards).

Cleaning As Therapy 

It’s sort of counterintuitive really, because when you feel down in the dumps, the last thing you want to do is clean, but actually, nothing can make you feel so energized as a ruthless cull of all the crap that you’ve spent hundreds and even thousand on while in the clutches of a consumerist frenzy. 

Spring Clean Maid

As my friend used to say, even just cleaning one drawer out when you’re feeling blue can have a dramatic effect on your mood – try it! Or better yet, do what I’m doing tomorrow and have a garage sale!

Make Money & Clear Clutter In One Hit! 

Now, before you start on about how the only people that come to garage sales are hard-nosed, tight-fisted, cardigan-wearing psychos, I’ll have you know I made $1,500 at my last garage sale and as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t even selling anything all that special.

Anyway, tomorrow I’m hoping to top my previous record with $2,000 as the target. I’m even providing complimentary bucks fizz as a courtesy for my garage sale guests (and yes, it may be a cheeky ploy to get their wallets opened a little more readily, but hey, you can’t blame me for trying!) :)

 garage sale

We all need a spring clean of our environment and possessions every so often – even once every 6 months is really energizing. You’ll be surprised how much stuff you have you don’t use and could get decent money for. What’s more, you’ll increase the space, brightness and cleanliness of your house.

Most importantly, you’ll feel ‘lighter’ energetically which has a MAJOR impact on your positivity levels. So, if you’re feeling ‘weighed down’ by the ‘stuff’ in your life, like all those niggling little things on your to do list – go choose one drawer in your kitchen or bedroom and get it in order.

Spring Clean Your Psyche With These Tips 

Other great ways to use cleaning as a way to feel happier and gain clarity:

 retro housewife

  • If you come home from work and are feeling ‘ho-hum’ about watching something crappy on TV, put some good music on and straighten out the mess underneath your bathroom sink (that’s always a disaster zone in my house) – and remember to recycle those near empty plastic cosmetic and shampoo bottles!
  • If you’ve just had an argument with someone – rather than stew on it, focus instead on cleaning out your fridge of old food, including the 3 day old pizza you keep picking the topping off, the mysterious and smelly thing wrapped in deli paper, AND the bottles with 1cm of solidfied condiment left in them.
  • Feel like something’s ‘not quite right’ and can’t put your finger on it? Organise your pantry. 
  • Feel really ‘weighed down’ and stressed? Call your girlfriends/boyfriends and tell them you’re having bubbles/beer and an impromptu sale at your house. Then do a huge cull of your wardrobe/CD’s/DVD’s/etc and either sell at low low prices or give away what you don’t need. Whatever is left over can be donated to charity. Go on – do a good deed –  it’s an instant mood boost.  :)
  • Bored at work and the candy machine is calling? Organise your wallet or handbag and throw out all those receipts/loyalty cards that aren’t needed! If you still haven’t revisited the car wash you’re four stamps off receiving a free wax from, get real and chuck it!

HOT TIP – if you’re like me and prefer to ‘do more with less’, check out this article on how to clean your house in 19 minutes from CNN – awesome!

Wish me luck at my garage sale tomorrow…..I’m flexing my negotiating muscles as we speak.

white daisies blue sky

p.s – next week I’m focusing on the topic of ‘balance’ – how to get more out of life by creating balance, how to bring your own personal power back into balance and more! Also, look out for a special guest post written by a fab new friend of mine who’s full of wisdom. Until then – have an unforgettable weekend!