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Your 3 Steps to Happiness

9 Apr

holistic-joy-300x300What does happiness mean to you? When I asked this question on my Facebook page recently, here are some of the responses I received: inner peace, health, enough money in the bank, smiles on the faces of my husband and kids, everything!

It seems that we all have our own meaning when it comes to happiness, but whatever it means to us, we place huge importance on being happy.

There is often a mis-match between what we are experiencing and what we imagine we need to have or be in order to be happy.

It’s all about perception. We can tell ourselves:

‘I can’t be happy until (I have a certain amount of money/am a particular weight/meet the right man)’

or we can say, ‘I choose to be happy right now’.

We can think about what we perceive to be missing from our life, or focus on what we already have.

I know that often it doesn’t feel like we have a choice about what we think or feel. Our thoughts can feel out of control, constantly comparing our lives to those of other people who we perceive to have more money, better relationships, slimmer bodies. Who knows what goes on inside the minds of ‘those people’? I can guarantee it’s not all joy and peace!

The truth is if you want to feel in control of your happiness levels, you don’t need to rely on your external circumstances.

Just like you can improve your physical fitness, losing fat and building muscle, you can also give yourself a mental workout – building your positive thoughts and feelings and ditching the negative, critical thinking.

Let me present The Happiness Workout, three simple steps which will help to build your happy muscle. Commit to following these steps every day and happy will start to feel natural for you. The happiness workout takes just fifteen minutes a day – are you ready?

Step 1 – Driftaway

This is a super-simple technique I often use with my clients. The idea is to recognise that you are in control of your thoughts. Once you realise that, happiness and contentment are yours!

Find somewhere you can be quiet and undisturbed for up to fifteen minutes (you can certainly start off with a shorter period of time and build up to the full fifteen minutes).

Make yourself comfortable and close your eyes. Just start to notice your thoughts. Don’t try to change them, just watch your thoughts.

Notice each thought as it comes into your awareness. Set your intention to simply allow each one to drift across your mind, watching it like an observer.

Imagine you are taking a step back and watching your thoughts from a distance. Notice how you feel as you create that distance.

As each thought drifts across your mind, imagine then that it is floating away from you, like a bubble. You might visualise each thought encased in a bubble. Allow each bubble to float away from you, until it is out of your awareness.

At first you might have a lot of thoughts and a lot of bubbles! It may be difficult to identify each individual one. That’s okay. Just let them come and mentally take that step back. Give yourself some breathing space.

Continue with this practice for up to five minutes.

As you allow yourself to practice the driftaway technique daily, you will come to realise that you don’t have to become involved in your thoughts, you don’t have to engage with them. You can simply choose to watch each thought and allow them to float away from you.

This is a great way of making some mental space for yourself, building the feeling of being in control and knowing that you have a choice.

Step 2 – Body Talk

Now that you have done some mental clearing, you can bring your focus down from your mind into your body.

Often it feels like we are living up in our heads. It can be such a relief to spend some time down in our bodies and listen to the wisdom they have to share with us.

This is the next step of your happiness workout.

Stay in your quiet place and start to bring your attention into your body. Begin up at the top of the head and work your way down through each part of you. Imagine each muscle relaxing and releasing.

If you notice any tension or tightness, imagine that it is melting away, dissolving, like a warm liquid.

Your mind may wander during this process. That’s completely natural. If you notice your mind drifting off into thinking, bring your attention back to your body and continue working down towards your feet.

Once your attention arrives at your feet and your toes, ask your body silently in your mind, ‘Do you have anything to share with me today?’

Listen for the answer, maybe a thought will appear in your mind, maybe you will see an image or experience a physical sensation.

Maybe your body will let you know that it needs to rest, perhaps you will see a particular food that could nourish your body or you will be drawn to a part of your body that needs some attention.

Trust whatever comes to you and act on it.

Don’t worry if nothing comes. Just continue with the practice each day and you will start to become more aware of any insights your body has for you.

Notice how you feel to move out of your busy head and into your body; away from your thinking mind and into that more intuitive part of you that knows exactly what you need. You are building a relationship with your wise inner self.

Spend up to five minutes bringing yourself into your body. You will begin to become aware of a sense of peace and calm that maybe wasn’t there before.

You are now ready to move on to the final step of your happy workout…

Step 3 – Thank you!

As I mentioned earlier, much of our discontentment and lack of satisfaction comes from comparing ourselves to others, or feeling that we should be a certain way.

The last step of the workout gives you the chance to focus on where you are right now and what you do have, rather than what you don’t.

You’ve probably heard that an attitude of gratitude is one of the key ways to being happy? Well, this is what we are going to use now to super-charge your happiness muscle.

Stay in your quiet place and start to think about all the things that you appreciate in your life right now. If you can, write a list of everything you are grateful for. Writing the words down helps to reinforce the power of gratitude and appreciation you are expressing.

If you are thinking, ‘I have no idea where to start’, or ‘My life is so plain awful, I have nothing to be grateful for’, here are some appreciation tips:

  1. Back to basics. Focus on your body to begin with – what do you appreciate about your body? Your ability to sit comfortably? Your legs for moving you around? Your eyes that see the world around you? Your ears for hearing the words of loved ones or beautiful music?
  2. Widen your scope to include your home. What do you appreciate about your home? The shelter? The warmth? The comfort?
  3. Include any people you appreciate. Your partner? Your family? Your friends?
  4. How about any situations in your life you are grateful for? Your work? Your social life?
  5. Think about the natural world around you. What do you appreciate there? The warmth of the sun? The nourishment of the rain? The feeling of the ground beneath your feet? The sound of birds singing?

Once you start, you might find you aren’t able to stop! Keep going for five minutes and notice how you feel at the end.

To end your happiness workout, take a deep breath, put your hand on your heart and affirm to yourself, ‘All is well in my world in this moment’.

Delicious! If you commit to doing this mental workout daily, you will bring yourself back to happiness. You will feel in control of your mind and more satisfied that you have everything you need in this moment.

Take Action Now: When are you going to do your happiness workout? Schedule a time right now and stick to it. Show your commitment by posting a comment below this blog post and let me know how you get on. Happy times ahead!

Psst…Did you like this post?  If you enjoyed my Happiness Workout, you will be pleased to know I am creating an audio version guiding you through each of the three steps.  The good news?  This audio will be completely free to anyone on my list of subscribers – to make sure you get your free Happiness Workout MP3, just enter your name and email address right at the top of this page.

How to Establish a Gratitude Practice

17 Mar

Gratitude imageMost of the people who come to see me want to make some sort of change in their lives, maybe they want to lose weight, feel more confident or perhaps start a family.  This means that there is generally something they are currently unhappy with.  When we’re unhappy or dissatisfied with an element of our lives, we can get tied up with thinking about it constantly. We can start obsessing with how overweight we feel or the fact that we just can’t seem to get pregnant.  This kind of thinking can easily turn into a downward spiral and it can be difficult to see a way out.

When we’re thinking unhappy, fed-up thoughts, we tend to get more unhappy and more fed-up – it’s the way our minds operate!  So, I work with my clients to break that negative cycle and encourage them to start focusing on what they are happy with, to adopt an attitude of gratitude.  Maybe you’re not particularly happy with your body at the moment, but what are you grateful for in your life?  Perhaps you have a wonderful, supportive partner, or children who inspire you to be healthier?  How about all of the qualities you have that can help you on your way – your organisational skills, the way you motivate others, your attention to detail?  These are all things you can be grateful for and when we start to focus on feeling grateful, we automatically start to feel good!

Have you ever noticed that when you feel good, life is so much easier? You have more energy, you can get things done and everything seems more enjoyable.  Well, by adopting an attitude to gratitude, you will be creating a shift in your mindset which makes it far easier to get what you want.

This week, my regular Tuesday Challenge video focuses on how to establish a regular gratitude practice.  Watch the video below and let me know how you are going to make gratitude a part of your everyday life by commenting at the bottom of this post.

A Different Approach to Lent

4 Mar

Nurture ImageThis week I have been inspired by Lent, that 40-day period in the run-up to Easter when we traditionally choose to give something up.  Maybe you are thinking about giving up chocolate for Lent?  Or maybe alcohol?  A couple of year’s ago, I chose to give up watching TV during Lent.

I would like to suggest that you do something different this year.  Our minds can struggle with the idea of giving something up or stopping a particular behaviour.  You might have experienced this if you’ve decided to go on a diet in the past or give up smoking; you will have noticed that food or cigarettes kept finding their way to the forefront of your mind!

Our minds find it much easier to start a new habit, to bring something new into our lives, and this is what I would like to challenge you to do during Lent.  What new habit would you like to establish?  What would you like more of in your life?  The next 40-day period is the perfect opportunity to do this.

I talk about this in my regular Tuesday Challenge video this week and you can watch it below.

I would love to know what new positive habit you have decided to create for yourself?  What are you choosing to bring more of into your life?  Let me know and show your commitment by commenting below this blog post.

Just think, by Easter you could have a wonderful, new, supportive habit as part of your everyday life!

Could a Negativity Diet Help You?

25 Feb

Each week I send out a  Tuesday Challenge and this week I am inviting you to take part.

I am challenging you to put yourself on a Negativity Diet for the next seven days.  What do I mean by this?  The idea is to reduce (or eliminate completely!) negativity from your life.   You can do this by:

  • Not being drawn into negative, gossipy conversations with others.
  • Not grumbling or complaining about yourself, your situation or the people around you.
  • Watching your thoughts and noticing those times when you are critical about yourself. (When you notice your thinking, you can change it.)
  • Commiting to not putting negative status updates or comments on Facebook, or other social media.
  • Being aware of the information you are taking in through TV, newspapers and magazines and choosing to focus on the positive.

Why should you do this?  Well, the fact is that whatever you put out into the world, through your words, thoughts and interactions, you get more of that back.  So, if you are putting a lot of negativity out there, then you will get a whole load of negativity back (and I’m sure you don’t want that!)

If you choose to put more positivity and support out into the world, then guess what?  You will get a lot more positivity and support coming back to you.

Watch the video below for more details of the challenge and commit to taking part by posting in the comments below.   Let’s spread some positive vibes this week!


Outside the Comfort Zone

18 Feb

Out of the comfort zoneWhen was the last time you took a step outside of your comfort zone?

When did you last do something that made you feel a little bit uncomfortable, a little scared and quite excited?

Is there something you are wanting to do, but you find yourself making excuses about why you can’t?

As a mindset specialist, I know that when we challenge ourselves, when we do something different that takes us out of our comfort zone, we receive many benefits.  We grow our self-confidence, we feel better about ourselves and we expand our sense of possibility.

It’s been proven that around 95% of the thoughts we have each day are the same as the day before (and the day before that, and the day before that – yawn!)  The same goes for our behaviour.  We tend to do the same things, speak to the same people, go to the same places, day after day.  When we keep thinking and doing the same things, our world starts to shrink.  As our world begins to shrink, so do our confidence levels.

I know that it can feel easier to stay safely inside our comfort zone.   It’s a very tempting, cosy place to be.

I also know that when we challenge ourselves to do something different, it feels great and the positive effects can be long-lasting.

So, today I have set you a challenge.  Watch the video below and decide what action you are going to take this week to expand your comfort zone.

Don’t forget to comment below and let me know what step you will be taking outside your comfort zone.  I look forward to hearing what it’s like ‘out there’!

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