Sophrosyne

How do you want to live your life?

Celebrate your loved ones now!

Today’s post is kind of related to the one yesterday. It is human nature to attend to things that require our immediate attention or linked to our survival. This is backed up by the famous Maslow’s theory of needs; where our physiological needs form the base and our need for companionship and love is in the 3rd place. It is no wonder that we will always choose to do overtime versus going home for dinner on time.

I mentioned our instinctual behaviour to create an awareness, and to help you understand why you make certain choices in life. It is, however, not to be used as an excuse for neglecting your family because of work. My intention today is to remind everyone again that we are on borrowed time on earth. We do not know when that time is going to run out; I have seen too much regret already. That is the reason why I keep harping on spending quality time with the people you love, doing the things that you want to…..if you think about my intentions; it is not about others. It is selfish, it is about us. It is about how we want to live this life, and not regret a moment of it! In my own little way, I hope to help you live a life without regrets. It does not have to be done my way, as long as you are happy; that is the ultimate goal!

There are many ways to live hard, so one step at a time. For today, let’s focus on the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Not only is this the most precious and vulnerable gift life can offer us; it is one that once lost ( I am talking about death), it cannot be returned. Other things are material; there is always a way to get around to getting them.

Have you ever noticed how elaborate funerals are? or can be? I am telling you, funerals are more for the living than the dead. It is the living’s way of making themselves feel better because they have not done enough for the deceased while they were alive. ‘It was the least they could do’ – A very common sentiment. But ask yourself this, does the deceased really know???

If not then let’s change things while we still have the time! Celebrate your loved ones now!!! Be joyous! Make sure you celebrate even the smallest success and every milestone! In this way, you would have lived to the fullest while they are still with you! There will always be sadness and disappointments; that is just life. We deal with it when it happens but for now, just be glad that you are still together with your loved ones! Enjoy your time together, create beautiful memories while you can! Don’t allow the restraints of life to tie you down too much, and don’t allow the darkness of life to overcast what could be the sunniest time of your life! What more can you ask for? You still have time to make things right! Isn’t that the best possible outcome?

There’s a saying that goes like this: ‘As long as you are alive; there is always a way to fix things.’ or something to that effect! So, what are you waiting for? Do what you want to do for the people you care about now! One person at a time and a little at a time. Doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, I am sure they will appreciate anything that you do. Do it because you love them and because you want to so that when the time comes to say goodbye; there is no regrets, only wonderful memories.

If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” – source unknown

 

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Attitude towards current lifestyle

A very common opening conversation topic is about one’s life; more specifically, how much one’s life sucks! Take a moment to think about this point and ask yourself; every time you meet someone, one of the things that they would mention is about how busy they are, no personal time, how tired they are….etc. Sometimes they just stop short of just saying:”My life sucks!”

I am not criticising people who vent; we all do. The difference is this: some vent to just get things off their chest while others lament about their sucky lives so much that they actually create that reality for themselves! Of course life poses challenges all the time and as we grow older; we have to bear more responsibilities and thus get tired more easily. The most common and effective advice given would be to try to make time for yourself so that you will not burn out. But that can be a high order for many!

So, today I am proposing a possible solution that does not require you to try to make time for yourself. It may not work for everyone but like other posts before this; all I am asking for is that you give it a try, The mere fact that you are reading this post means that you are curious so why not take that curiosity a little baby step further?

This is what I do when I feel bogged down by life and sick of it all. I ask myself this question: ‘Is there anywhere else I would rather be or is there anything else that I would rather be doing at this moment?’ Hand on a minute! Before you jump up and down and roll your eyes at this seemingly stupid question….OF COURSE there is something else I would rather be doing!!! Like travel around the world first class!

Did you honestly think that my solution consist of only one question? There is a second part. If you indeed have something else that you would rather be doing or somewhere else you would rather be then read on:

Know that the alternative lifestyle will change your current life as well as the people in it. Everything you love and hold dear will be different as well. I am sure you know what I mean because there were a few Hollywood movies made about this topic. If you cannot bear to leave any part of your current life behind; then that brings us back to question 1. There is actually no where else you would rather be. That being the case; why not just accept it?

Life is not perfect or is it meant to be. But it is the attitude we bring to it that determines how well and how happy we live. The bad comes with the good; life is fair. It depends on whether you want to see it as half empty or half full. Life comes as a whole package; you cannot choose to enjoy the good parts without working hard for it. Rather than moan and groan about life; take the time to really decide if this is the life you want. If it is then embrace it. Like I said many times before on this website. Life doesn’t choose us; we choose life.

I am ending today’s post with a quote from Bob Moawad,

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on or blame. The gift is yours. It is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day you life really begins.”

 

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How to harness negative energy

I was reminded by a good friend today who is also my very first yoga teacher (although she wasn’t even aware of it!), that people who are negative to us are actually our buddha in disguise. Thanks Andrea, for yet again showing me the other side of the coin.

We often react instinctively to people who are negative and have nothing nice to say to us. We get upset by their so-called ‘thoughtless’ comments and spin into a downward spiral. The simple message that was shared to me today was this: When someone upsets you; be it out of jealousy or just plain nastiness, take a moment to reflect on your immediate reaction before you take action. If you got angry or defensive, ask yourself why? Is it because they hit a sore spot, and it was something that you wanted to avoid or you are upset because you were hurt by the thoughtless comment.

If it was something that was worrying you, and instead of finding a solution to it and fix it; you have been sweeping it under the carpet. Along came this person and started to stir up the dirt under the carpet, and causing all the old issues to resurface. Perhaps then, it is a reminder that you really should fix it.

If the former wasn’t the case; you were hurt by their callousness, then maybe ask yourself this: in the big scheme of things and with other sources of love and support; does it really matter what this one person thinks or say? Aren’t you discrediting other people’s beliefs in your capabilities and belittling their judgment of you? Am I making sense to you?

We have a choice in who we allow to influence us on a daily basis. Just a short psychology lesson here to help you understand this better. We form impressions of ourselves via many sources, and one of the more influential and commonly used sources are our friends and family. They are our mirror; through them we see who we are, which is the reason why people often say if you want to understand someone, observe the company they keep. Having said all these; when people pass comments about us, be it positive or negative, we use their comments to add-on to our understanding of ourselves. With these information, we then adjust ourselves to become closer to who we want to be (Our true selves).

Good friends who support us and provide positive energy reaffirm that we are lovable. Others who can only afford ill comments can be used to help us understand ourselves better. If what they say is true; and you wish to make that change, good for you! But if what they say is plain poisonous and useless; just ignore it. Take back the power! Like I said, we have been given the gift of freewill! Exercise that! Don’t let them spoil your day!

Enough said about that; the keynote of today’s post is ‘mindfulness in the presence of negativity’, use that to your advantage! I know it is not easy; I am working on it myself as well! But at least try; in everything there is something to learn.

I leave you with this: “How people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer

 

 

 

 

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Do it now!

I can repeat myself over and over again about the importance of grasping this moment and living it to the fullest. I can keep emphasising the fact that time is something that we cannot buy or turn back. But you may question how do I feel so strongly about such matters when I have not lived that long to understand such regrets. I choose today to let the words of another who had lived much longer to convince you not to take the time you have now lightly.

If I had my life to live over – Nadine Stair, 85 Years old, Louisville, Kentucky

“I’d like to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax, I would limber up. I would be stiller than I had been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.”

How do you feel after reading this? Moved? Touched? Feeling really lucky that you still have the time to do all the things that the writer wrote about? Her goal for writing all these was so that one day we would be fortunate enough to read it and learn something from it. We learn the value of living the moment; this moment. Time flies….Trust me I know… But it is never too late to begin living this moment. Stop chasing ‘your moment’, you are already in it. Don’t end up giving the above advice many years later; instead aim to say: I lived my moments to the fullest and I can show you how to make those moments happen!

You can make that choice, right now!

 

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Mindfulness and me

I thought that I would write something about what I discovered about myself after 5 days of mindfulness therapy while it is still fresh in my head. Different people have different experiences on this course; for me, it was a discovery I did not expect to find. We spent the 5 days doing various forms of exercises that required us to be mindful. After each exercise, we were encouraged to discuss about our experiences. And one thing that the trainers kept emphasising was to have a curious mind about everything. To be totally honest; they lost me at “to keep….”

I had no idea what they meant but I persisted with the exercises because I wanted to be there and my aim was to keep an open mind. The revelation did not come to me til day 3 (read previous post about habits if you have not already done so) We were also encouraged to continue our meditation practise so that we can continue to improve on it as well as see what else we can discover about ourselves. Then a thought popped into my head: “I’m not gonna continue meditating, because I do not meditate, it’s not me, I just don’t.” As soon as I finish that thought, the next one came along and it was: “Why am I resisting? The old me does not meditate but the new me doesn’t mind doing it” Yes, it is another old habit holding me back but that is not the point here.

The discovery was that I finally understood what my trainer meant by keeping a curious mind! The old me would just have the resisting thought and leave it as that. But now, I no longer do that. I ask myself why do I not want to do that? I am curious about my personal ‘why nots’ Isn’t it amazing??

I urge you to try this, the next time you become aware of yourself resisting something or you hear your own voice saying no to something. Stop for a minute and ask yourself why? It might reveal to you that the reason can be as simple as; you are holding on to past habits that may or may not be applicable anymore. After you come to this realisation, it might open doors to new opportunities and adventures! Imagine that!

It is not easy but it is possible! Learn to listen to yourself; better yet learn the art of questioning your thoughts. Your thoughts does not make you who you are or control what you do. Update them regularly so that they are up to date with the current you. Try it sometime! It can be very liberating!

 

 

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A little attention

Today’s post is actually a reading from the mindfulness therapy course that I am currently attending. I find it extremely meaningful and I hope that you will reap the benefits of it as much as I did. It is by J Kornfield and C Feldman from the book: Soul Food

The secret of beginning a life of awareness and sensitvity lies in our willingness to pay attention. Our growth as conscious human beings is marked not so much by grand gestures as by extending loving attention to the minutest particulars of our lives. Every relationship, every thought, every gestures is blessed with meaning through the wholehearted attention we bring to it.

In the complexities of our minds and lives we easily forget the power of attention, yet without attention we live only on the surface of existence. It is just simple attention that allows us to listen truly to the song of a bird, to see deeply the glory of an autumn leaf, to touch the heart of another and be touched. We need to be fully awake in this moment if we are to receive and respond to the learning inherent in it.

We may think of our lives as an endless stretch of time that extends beyond the horizons. We are easily lost in the memories of our past and the fantasies of our future. We tell ourselves that we have time to postpone opening our hearts, to defer our quest for connectedness. But our lives are unpredictable and our days uncertain. We don’t know what time we will have. What other place can we begin to live with love and wisdom but here, what other time can we begin to open our hearts fully but now?

Attention is sensitivity, attention is connectedness. The attention we bring to this moment reveals both the joys and sorrows of our world. Wisdom inspires us not to retreat from this pain but to ask ourselves how we can participate in the healing of our earth, our communities, our world. We often discover that the greatest healing can lie within the smallest gestures: a loving touch, a caring word, the gift of a compassionate heart allow us to extend ourselves beyond the boundaries of our personal worlds.

Attention is also the vehicle that connects us with the changing rhythms of our own thoughts, feelings and yearnings. Learning to listen inwardly without judgement or resistence is to begin to understand ourselves – it is the source of wisdom. Such attention can begin only in this moment we find ourselves in.

Who can we love today? What have we neglected to bring attention to this moment in our lives? Are we truly listening, fully seeing? Is our heart open in this moment?

I sincerely hope that you are moved by this short excerpt; hopefully it is able to inspire you to take a different view on life. Your moment to make a difference to yourself and as a result people around you is now.

 

 

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Barrier to change

Today’s post was inspired by a realisation that I had gotten during a mindfulness course that I am currently attending. To put it simply, the practise of mindfulness is to increase your awareness in everything. So, as part of the course, we were encouraged to put in extra effort in the things that we attend to. And one of the homework was to take a mundane routine and be more mindful as we are doing it; as compared to just doing it automatically. Eating was one of the choices.

I had a discussion about the homework with one of the trainers today. I was commenting on how I will not use eating as the mindfulness practice because I know that if I mindfully ate my meals, I would not even eat half of the rubbish that I do! And she asked me why did I resist? I replied that I love eating and I would like to keep it that way. It was my way of coping when things don’t go my way. By the way, did I mention that I am also trying to lose some weight? (Most women are trying to lose some weight anyway, not a surprise) So, the very skill that can help me get to my goal weight is the one that I am resisting the strongest. Strange, isn’t it?

Anyway, at the end of our conversation, she gave me something to think about that released me from my “Habitual thinking”. I was, in fact, holding on to old memories that I used to use food as a coping mechanism and that it was the old me that used to do that. The new me, the present me, do not have to do that anymore. I can and I have the ability to make that choice!

It was such an epiphany for me!! All of a sudden it was all so clear. All I needed to do was to say to myself; yes, I used to do that in the past but that is the past and I don’t do that anymore. And that is Okay. Wow!! Isn’t it great? In the past, I will not eat salad or make healthy choices because it just wasn’t something that I will do. I was holding on to old habits because they are a habit. They die hard. I also thought that my habits form part of my identity. But it does not!

Take a moment now to think about you and the habits that you are holding on to; they may or may not be in the same context as mine. But if you are willing to be honest to yourself; you will realise that the reasons why you cannot make the positive changes that you want to make is because these habits have caused us to believe that without them, we are no longer the person we think we are. But that is not true. We all have to adapt and make changes at some point in our lives; we turned out alright, didn’t we?

It may feel like you have lost a part of yourself if you gave up a habit; but you haven’t. All that you are is in this present moment; whatever you were holding on to is already in the past. That time has passed; the time and space that you are in right now is in the present. And who you are in this moment in time is current and it does not even have to have any semblance of your past self.

But if you think about it in another way; if the old habits no longer serve their purpose, why hold on to it? Isn’t it more exciting to be able to discover and reinvent a newer and improved version of you all the time?? Everyone of us possess so much potential if we could only allow ourselves to think so.

Another quick example of giving up old thoughts: there are a group of female marathon runners in Melbourne who have been given a nickname. They are over 45 years old and must have completed at least 2/3 marathons in a row (Not sure about how many). They are lovingly known as the Spartans. Many of them did not start running til they are well over 45 years old. Imagine that! They have not run any marathon prior but all it took was for them to give up the thought:”I can’t run a marathon, because I don’t have the habit of running long distances” They chose to see a new possibility!

I apologise for the long post today. I am excited about my discovery and I want everyone to benefit from it. I hope that I have managed to put my point across clearly. Might give it another go another time. Give it some thought. The answer might help to remove that barrier that is preventing you from achieving what you want to. What have you got to lose anyway?

 

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Make things happen now

If you have not seen the move ‘up’ (Children’s animation); I suggest that you make the time to do so. You don’t even have to sit through the whole movie to reap the rewards. Before the 20 minute mark, you will be taught one of life’s greatest lesson!

The story is about a boy but he is not the learning point. The other key character was an old man; in the beginning of the movie, it was about how he met his wife and how they have a glass jar where they saved money to finally go for the trip of their lifetime. But along the way; things happen, or rather life happens. They needed cash to buy a new fridge… just life stuff. So, that money was always used for ‘useful things’. And the trip was always put off til the next time. Then one day when they were both old, he decided that it is time for that holiday. So, he took out the cash in the jar and paid for the holiday. He went home happily to show his wife the surprise but found out that she was too old and sick to travel any more. She passed away before they had the chance to take the trip.

So, what have you learnt from this story? I did not do it justice because I am trying to give you all the information with minimal fuss and words. If you have the time; please at least watch the first 20 minutes. It changed my life, it made me more aware that time is slipping away quietly. I have always tried to live as mindfully as possible. I have seen regret as well as experienced it. The feeling of knowing that the opportunity was once available to you but it is now lost forever is beyond awful. Imagine that you were given the chance to say something or do something; but for whatever reason you did not. But time had passed, and it is something we cannot chase back.

I am not saying; “Clear out your savings and go to Vegas!” I am merely suggesting that if there is something that you always wanted to do, then you should do it. Many people want to save enough money to travel in grandeur and comfort. But would you rather stay in a 4 star hotel but have the fitness to sightsee on foot or you stay in a 5/6 star hotel but what you see is limited to wheelchair access?

Different people have different perspectives about what is important to them; I am not saying my way is better. I am saying life happens no matter; take the time to do what you can today. Doesn’t need to be that trip around the world. I am saying; enjoy life within your means. Of course save for that rainy day; but don’t wait too long to do the things you want to. Life is too unpredictable. Live now!

 

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Honesty or Hurtful?

A friend made a ‘certain’ comment to me a couple of days ago, and I have been meaning to post on this topic. Ask yourself if you know the difference between being honest or hurtful. It is a very fine line and many people cross it unknowingly. I have been known among friends to be ‘straight’; meaning, I tend to say things as I see it without frills. However, I do know when to say what. I have mentioned in a previous post regarding when to voice one’s opinion. There are of course times when we really feel that our friends know us so well that we can dish out ‘well-meaning’ advice or observations whenever we deem appropriate. We feel that it is best that these comments come from us; a friend rather than from a stranger. Somehow, it may ‘soften’ the blow because afterall, our intention is to ‘help’.

Ummm…. NO! You are not helping at all.

But before I proceed; I need to clarify that these situations that I am referring to is not life threatening. If your friend is in an abusive relationship or life threatening situation; please talk to him/her privately and do all that you can to help them.

Now where was I again? Oh yes, if your friend wants your input on something, they will ask you for it. No matter how strongly you feel about something; ask yourself whether are you actually helping your friend or hurting him/her. And again I say, no matter how well you know someone or how well your reputation precedes you as a brutally honest person. A sure-fire way of losing friends is to keep dishing out honest suggestions. Nobody likes to hear how ‘imperfect‘ they are, and that you think they are not living up to your standard or in your opinion ‘their full potential’ Trust me, if someone really wants to change, they will and they can but at their own timing. Not yours!

If you have not come across the older post that I mentioned before; you become friends with someone for the joy and fun that you can have together. You do not become friends with someone because you see the potential of how great they can be after you help change them. Don’t be someone’s friend just so that you can fix them. If they are happy the way they are; it is not your place to comment otherwise. How would you like it if all that your friend does is to keep telling you what is wrong with you although they claim that their intention is only to help you better yourself? Not nice right; to be criticised all the time? Friends support one another through hard times, but you don’t create the hard time! Life has already prepared lots of challenges for us all.

So the next time you feel an advise coming up; ask yourself, in the big scheme of things does it really matter? And how would I feel if someone whom I thought liked me didn’t think I was good enough anyway?

Take a piss out of your friends (means: to play a trick) but don’t take away a piece of them.

 

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Choose your perspective

Had lunch with a good friend today; although she is going through a really rough time right now, she managed to maintain a positive outlook on things. Things happen no matter how hard we try to prevent it. She reminded me again today through her actions and attitude that it is always possible to look for the good in any bad situations. You need to be able to look beyond the current grief and be grateful for what you have.

So, the tip is to not focus on the bad things; instead be thankful for what you have achieved thus far and the joy that is current in your life right now. This is definitely no easy feat but I have seen it done many times! Therefore I know that it can be done.

This post might sound repetitve to those readers who have been keeping up with my posts. But I assure you that the path to happiness and contentment is having a grateful heart. I am very sure of it. This is the reason why I am so passionate about passing on this message! Don’t take my word for it; try it for yourself! Choose to see the good in your life over the bad. You might surprise yourself!

 

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