Category Archives for well-being

Mindfulness practices help you stay balanced

Practical applications of mindfulness

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to benefit from mindfulness. One of my passions is to de-mistify and secularize concepts that would otherwise be out of reach for anyone who may not belong to or be interested in understanding a specific religious affiliation.

It is now well known that certain Buddhist concepts can be very helpful in aiding us to be more happy, balanced, and in control of our emotional responses. One of these concepts is that of ‘equanimity’.

Equanimity is the capacity to see our own suffering and that of others with compassion without becoming either overwhelmed by it or indifferent to it. It is the capacity to look at all that surrounds us with the eye of a curious and compassionate observer. It is watching what goes on within us and outside of us with an open heart and without judgement, remembering that all that exists rises and passes away, all is impermanent, including joy, sorrow, pleasant and painful events, people, buildings, animals and nations; It is being able to let yourself rest amid everything that is impermanent while remaining balanced and peaceful; It is the capacity to extend loving kindness to all living beings without becoming enmeshed in their own drama, accepting the things that cannot be changed, having the courage to change those we can and cultivating the wisdom to know the difference.

Imagine being a judge at a court case: you are not indifferent to what you witness but you are not personally invested in it either. You are even and balanced. You are not disturbed by either chasing after pleasure or avoiding pain. You are simply present to what is without having to change it adjust it or control it in any way. Another word for this is ‘detachment’.

When we practice this capacity to lift up and “abstract’ ourselves from ourselves, it is as if we could look in on ourselves from the outside; in this way we stop identifying with our own emotions thoughts and feelings and we can choose how to respond consciously, rather than ‘react’ automatically to what we experience. This is the basis of emotional intelligence.

Create the life you want

If we want to create change in our lives we must first accept where we are right now and take responsibility: we need to realize that we are creators. We can either be created by our unconscious thoughts words and behaviors or we can consciously choose to create what we want to experience more of. We are the inheritors of all the causes and conditions that have brought us here now. The thoughts and actions we have engaged in your life have created the outcomes we are now experiencing in our lives.

So what if we stopped wasting our energy blaming others or alternatively giving ourselves a hard time and putting yourself down ? What if instead we chose to be compassionate with ourselves , forgave ourselves and learned whatever we can from our experiences ?

Perhaps this way we could put our energy and focus to better use. We could be helping ourselves to become more aware of our automatic reactions,  thoughts and emotions; we could then be practicing to focus our intention and attention towards conscious choice so we create the life we want.

Find inner balance

As creators of our own ‘karma’, we need to learn how to care for others without becoming overwhelmed and developing empathy fatigue (and subsequently indifference). If we clearly look at the world, the struggles and suffering we see will make us sad. If instead of trying to avoid this we stay with the discomfort we will experience the wish to be of help to others.

If the need to be of benefit to others is rooted in love, we can learn to relax with the discomfort we experience and as a result we will be able to use the sadness to motivate us to help others whether through art, prayer, activism, charity or simply by being kind to those around us.

It is important to remember that no matter how much we may care we cannot live other people’s lives for them. So while taking the “three thousand year” view of things we must practice remaining with an open heart, practice loving kindness towards all living beings and remember that  our responsibility in making the world a better place ends there.

We can wish fellow humans to learn to see the arising and passing of all things with equanimity and balance, while being as much as possible an example to them of such an attitude and perspective.

One of the practical ways to cultivate this quality of being ‘a witness’ to life is  to practice being internally flexible, curious and learn how to focus and concentrate.

Four exercises that foster concentration and presence

  1. Mindfulness of breath, body, sounds thoughts and feelings meditation” to develop self awareness
  2. Sitting of strong determination meditation” to  develop concentration and focus
  3. Being a mountain visualization” to develop absorption , riveting attention  and to establish a sense of presence
  4.  “Investigating our experience reflection” to gain insight into what’s pulling us off balance, by examining our beliefs.
  5. “Calming the emotions self suggestions” to find a balanced mind and a peaceful heart to ourselves and others around us.

You can find some examples of these in the video on equanimity or you can get in touch to experience them first hand with me.

If you are interested in knowing more on the link between Mindfulness and psychotherapy you read this mindfulness buddhism and psychology article

How to Change Limiting Beliefs

stuckA Practical Cognitive Behavioral Approach

In a previous article I have explored how our negative core beliefs keep us stuck. If you are not familiar with this I suggest you read “How to get Unstuck” first.

Now before going ahead make yourself comfortable. Take a pen and paper and get ready to do some very valuable work that will make a real difference in your life. Take your time with this. The more you put into it the more you will get out of it.

Ok, let’s get down to work: start by writing down the first restrictive negative belief you want to change. Then proceed with the following steps:

21 Steps to Positive Change

1) On a scale of 1-10 how true does this belief subjectively feel ?

2) On a scale of 1-1- how true is this belief in reality ? (be as neutral and objective as possible)

3) When does this belief the most emotionally convincing ?

4) When does it feel the least emotionally convincing ? Take your time answering this question as this will reveal to you what conditions exasperate the issue and what make it better.

5) What actual evidence do you have for this belief ? what supports it ? Be realistic and as neutral as possible

6) What actual evidence contradicts and challenges this belief ? What evidence is there to show you it might not be necessarily true ?

7) What possible advantages are making you want to hold on to it ? In what way could this belief be serving you beneficially in some perverse way ?

8) What disadvantages are there in holding on to it ?

9) Now remind yourself of a circumstance in the past when you had doubts about a belief . Go back to that time and recall what it felt like to experience doubt. How did you know you were doubting your previously firm beliefs? what were you experiencing ? what made you change your mind?

10) Recalling and staying with this doubting state start doubting your current belief. Ask yourself those questions again : does this belief really fit with what is truly important to me? In the past, when did this belief interfere with what I wanted to do? What would it be like to be free of this old belief?

11) After rolling these questions in your mind for a while focus again.

Is this negative belief an over generalization ? Is it the result of catastrophising ? Is it just a personal attack against your person or others ? Does it label you or others into something fixed ? Is it the result of demanding of yourself something unreasonable, such as ‘you SHOULD be or do such and such” ?

12) After careful consideration how true does your old belief feel now on a scale of 1-10 ? Now comes the fun part: relax , take a few deep breathes and close your eyes. Imagine that there’s a furnace somewhere deep inside yourself.

If you really want to permanently destroy that old belief imagine throwing it into that fire and watch it burn away into ashes. Take pleasure in doing this.

13) Now ask yourself: what would be a more helpful and realistic alternative belief  to have? State it positively (say what you want not what you don’t want!) .

Make sure you are happy with it. Word it in the present tense, as if it was happening now. (i.e. I believe I am good enough as I am, or, I believe I deserve love just as I am)

14) On a scale of 1-10 how true does it feel right now?

15) As you did before ask yourself , when does the new belief feel the least and the most emotionally convincing.

16) Examine the evidence against this new belief ? Is there any problem with it ? Then find evidence that proves its correctness and usefulness. Write it down

17) Write down any disadvantages there may be for holding this new positive belief. Be as objective as possible

18) Write down all the advantages of holding this new positive belief now.

19) Now go inside yourself again. Recall a time in the past when you felt receptive and willing to learn. Remember what it was like to be open to change and new beliefs.  How did it feel ? Re-live that time in as much detail as possible. Where in your body did you feel those feelings ? What were you telling yourself ? Do all it is possible now to achieve that same state again now.

20) Staying with that memory of feeling receptive and open focus on your new belief. How would it feel to accept this new belief ? How is it better than the previous one? How different would your life be if you held this new belief as your own ? What would you be doing that you were doing before? What could you achieve and overcome that you weren’t able to before? Think about all this and engage with your new belief.

21) Now evaluate your new belief.  Do you need to make any changes? Can you improve on it in any way ? How good do you feel holding it ?  On a scale of 1-10 how true does it feel now?

Now Take Action !

Now decide to take some action. What can you do differently right now, today, as a result of having acquired this new belief ? If you truly believed in it, what would you do differently?  Set yourself a task based on this belief being true and decide what action you would take.

Start doing things differently right now so that your new belief gets empirical support and you experience it in your life. This way it gets verified, enhanced and supported and therefore embedded in your new behavior patterns.

Have fun with it, experiment and watch your life change and feel great as a result !

How to Get Unstuck

unstuckFeeling Stuck in your Old Ways ?

When we are blocked in an area of our lives it often is due to the fact that we feel safer that way. We may feel unhappy but that is easier to deal with than our fear of the unknown. We begin to change when the pain we experience in staying stuck is bigger than the anticipated pain of change.

A lot of fear comes down to our negative core beliefs : deeply held beliefs acquired some time in the past due to painful experiences. Becoming conscious and challenging these beliefs is the first step in the process of change.

For a moment, think about something you would really like to do or be right now but don’t feel able to. When you’ve got that, write it down. Do that now. Maybe you have always wanted to be an artist so write down “I am a capable and talented artist”.

The Trouble with Positive Affirmations

Now, in all probability a voice in your head has just emerged to criticize this statement bringing up all sorts of reasons why this is either impossible or a bad idea. Positive affirmations can give us a sense of safety and hope if we let them but at first you will probably feel they sound fake, embarassing or not right. No surprise there.  If you have spent all your life bludgeoning yourself with negative beliefs such as “I am worthless” or “I am not good enough” or “I must be perfect to deserve success” anything else will sound unfamiliar and syrupy or cheesy . So saying to yourself ” I am lovable just as I am” or “I am capable and confident” will surely sound untrue at first.

The problem with not accepting a belief because it doesn’ t sound right though is that feelings are a result of thoughts and if you want to change a feeling you have got to change the thought first. It’s a bit like the idea of “fake it til you make it”. You can’t wait to feel it to believe it, you gotta believe it to feel it! Luckily there are some ways to get around this obstacle, but all of these do involve a certain willingness to suspend judgement and take a leap of faith, as well as engage our rational mind doubting limiting old beliefs.

Seek out the Monster in your Head

So what is that critical monster in your head saying when you tell it you already are what you want to be ?( After saying your affirmation: i.e. “I am ok just as I am” )

Listen to the objections that come your way. What s the cruel voice saying inside your head ? “so you’re ok as you are… ah ah sure you are!”, “who are you kidding?”, “You are ugly”, “You will never change”, “You can’t do anything right”, “No-one will ever love you unless you are perfect”, etc etc… You will be amazed at the rotten things you can come up with. Write them down.  These are your personal negative core beliefs.

Become a Mind Investigator

Once you have written them down you can start having a good look at where these beliefs come from: Mom and dad? Your school bully? The boy/girl you were in love with when you were ten? Teachers that pushed you too hard? Your little jealous sister ? Scan your blurts for possible sources. Time travel back into your life in five year increments and list by name who influenced you the most in each block of time.

Once you have identified these challenge their opinions. What self serving reason could they have had to have done or said what they did do or say? How did their own worldview influence them ? What did they believe about themselves ? What messages did they grow up with ? Remember this is not about blaming or condoning, just understanding and distinguishing their beliefs from what yours would be if you hadn’t accepted theirs as true. If there is still a lot of emotional energy involved in recalling these memories you might have to release it first so you can forgive them and yourself and move on.

Keep in mind that it is also possible your negative beliefs may come from subtle non direct messages received from your environment or from an experience of something that happened to you where others were not directly involved:

Maybe you felt different because of a situation you found yourself in; maybe you were abandoned by a significant other; maybe you fell ill and became isolated; maybe you were born with something that set you apart from others and you yourself came up with the negative conclusion that you were not Ok just as you were: the possibilities are endless and very personal.

Challenge the Critical Voice

Whatever your monster is, after it has been brought up to the light of day you can start working on challenging its critical voice and changing those negative beliefs that keep you stuck and unhappy. If you would like help with a practical cognitive behavioral approach to this, read this article about “how to get rid of negative core beliefs”.

Bring On the Crisis

bringitonWe all complain about having problems. But what would it be like to wake up in the morning and have absolutely no problems to solve, nothing to worry about, no vexations whatsoever? Having no problems can be a very serious problem and lead to the creation and yearning for any old dumb problem that will shake us from our slumber and generate some excitement.

It seems to me that creating problems in a real human need. It seems we define ourselves by the dilemmas we attract and struggle to solve. Usually it ‘s those who are most creative that ask the biggest and hardest questions and then put together resources to answer them.

It is often said that there is no gain without pain, and nothing of value is gained without effort. While this is mostly true and anxiety can be a valuable spur for getting things done it is also true that putting ourselves under a lot pressure to solve mediocre problems is not going to be useful or make us smarter. If we get too used to allow unimportant problems to fill us with nagging vexations we won t gain much except for a headache.

The other fact to consider is that when we are preoccupied with silly boring or demeaning annoyances we might miss out on asking the bigger questions and getting well into wilder, more interesting problems. These may be of the variety that pushes you out of your comfort zone in the direction of your personal frontier well before life forces you to do so when you are least willing to deal with it.

When we focus on the problems that matter we feel excited about our ability to deal with them because ultimately they will open the door to a better existence rather than dragging us down into the same meandering tunnels of meaninglessness.

So invite the real crisis in : it will be a time of destiny, a turning point, an opportunity to rethink what really matters to you so you take action to bring about the changes necessary to create a better present for yourself.

In other words: stop distracting yourself with minor irritations and ask yourself the question you have been avoiding.  Instead bring it on, delve in deep and get it over with : there is no time better than now !

You Are What You Believe

What do you believe in ?

Your beliefs shape your life.

Are your beliefs serving your best interest ?

This is what I happen to believe. Read through if you like, and compose your own list.

I believe in giving people a fair chance.

I believe in taking responsibility for my own well being.I believe in being honest and true to myself.

I believe that the most difficult, painful and challenging experiences life throws at us can end up being
the most enlightening rewarding and meaningful.

I believe that being different although not easy is something to celebrate as a blessing.I believe in the power of laughter to help us lift us from tragedy.

I believe that an enormous amount of wealth lies in reading and learning. I believe sometimes the best thing you can do is switch off and have a good night sleep. In the morning new solutions and insight may come.

I believe in learning to let go of the need to always having to “do something”.

I believe that most problems come from tension and not giving ourselves permission to relax.

I believe that believing in myself is the best investment I could ever make.

I believe that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. No success is ever possible without making mistakes. What’s important is to listen to the feedback.

I believe genius is not something we re born with but something we make with practice, dedication and determination.

I believe that not letting people get to me is sometimes hard but essential.

I believe in learning to let go of whatever is bothering me by first expressing my feelings and then examining my thoughts and gaining perspective.

I believe in not paying too much attention to those who do not have other people’s best interest at heart. To do so would impair my faith in humanity.

I believe in choosing to listen to the part of myself that encourages me rather than to the part of me that wants to put me down.

I believe in expecting the best and accepting the rest.

I believe there is nothing wrong with people who do not like me. The fact they don’t tells me more about them than it does about me. They might have something to teach me, or they might have something to learn. You cannot please everyone all of the time…

I believe in allowing myself to like what I like without shame. I believe in not denying myself the things I feel attracted to, no matter what others may think of me as a result.

I believe in making time for fresh air, social interaction and being creative.

I believe in self reflection as a path to self healing.

I believe that focusing on things we are grateful for is the key to happiness.

Four easy steps to find your life’s purpose

November 26, 2012

It is all well and good when we know what we want but what if we don’t ? What then ? Are we to just accept a directionless life, hoping to find our way in the dark with no help whatsoever? The simple answer is no. There are ways to help you figure out what you want and if you put a bit of effort into it you shall be rewarded with probably surprising and exciting answers.

One way to approach this common problem is to ‘take time out’. Our inner, wiser voice is a subtle one and cannot be heard over the clamor of everyday life. An option would be to go on a four day ‘retreat’, somewhere you can be alone and away from all distractions or to simply take time off work and use this time to meditate alone.

If at this point you find yourself saying to yourself “well I couldn’t possibly do that! I’m too busy! then perhaps it is time to ask yourself how much you value your own happiness; after all, If you do not change anything , nothing will ever change.

Remember that time out doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. You could just stay home or simply not go to work or stop doing the things you normally do just as if you were physically sick. Take a few mental health days off before you really need them.  Even if you do not go anywhere you can still use this quiet time to meditate or go see an hypnotherapist who can help you with the process.

Let us then assume you have taken the time off. What now? FIrst of all, make sure you avoid all media (yes, that includes your phone!) and be as silent and relaxed as possible.

On the first day of your retreat /  meditation / session with the hypnotherapist concentrate on the story of your entire life, from the first thing you can remember to the present. Try to visualize this story as clearly as possible so you get a feel for it  and remember to enjoy the process: this is not a time to judge yourself but rather to observe.

On the second day of your retreat / meditation / hypnotherapy session tune in to the wiser part of yourself. This is the part of yourself that knows what is best for you. For some this could be God / The Goddess / a guardian angel / your Higher self / Source Energy. Whatever you identify it with , this is the highest source of wisdom and love you can gain access to. Simply ask for its assistance. The following questions should be asked:

  • “What does my heart desire more than anything else?”
  • “In what way can I realize what I came here for?”
  • “How can I serve others in the most suitable way for me?’
  • “what path will allow my inner self to learn the most ?”
  • ‘What do I need to change in my life in order to get what I want, realize my life’s mission and learn the most?”
  • “What attitude and influences do I need to get rid of in order to accomplish this?’

On the third day / meditation / session write down a statement about what you want to achieve before you die and then write down 10 steps necessary to get there. For help with this you could research people that have ‘made it’ and model their behavior and attitudes.

On the fourth day visualize being showered in a white light of love and creative energy. Imagine the life force and the entire universe conspiring to make your dream come true, helping you manifest what you need , giving you all the loving support necessary for you to accomplish your goal and while welcoming this energy be grateful for all its gifts.

Expect success and take your first step. Remember that every day you are getting closer to your goal! Get excited about it and imagine yourself already having achieved it. This will give you the emotional motivation to keep going in the face of adversity, should there be any. Remember, there is no failure until you quit!

If you rather do this with the help of a qualified professional who will support you all the way through please call me today. The process can be sped up with the help of hypnosis because while you are in a trance you are more likely to be relaxed and in touch with your inner self.

Call me today on 075 44247800 or contact me via email for a no obligation consultation.

EFT Emotional Freedom Technique

What is EFT ? How do I use EFT ? Is EFT really effective ?

Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as EFT is a self help technique combining tapping on specific points of the Chinese Medicine Meridians (used widely in acupuncture) while focussing on the problem or issue at hand and repeating specific sentences tailored to the problem which aim to neutralize its effects. The type of sentences used are tailored to the issue and include principles of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) as well as Thought Field Therapy.

It is not yet known exactly why this technique works but I have found it very effective with most of my clients. It is a technique you can use at home whenever you want and I use it as a very powerful adjunct to my other specialities.  Before you do anything else you need to know which ones are the points to tap and in what order:

  • KC : Karate Chop
  • AE : Above the eye
  • SE: Side of the eye
  • UE: Under the eye
  • UN: Under the nose
  • CH: Chin
  • CB: Collarbone
  • UA: Under the arm
  • TH: Top of the head

There are also other points that you can tap but the above are the main ones.For a detailed video of where and how to tap watch the video below.

Here’s a detailed description on what to do:

  1. Focus on an issue / problem you want to resolve or a feeling of discomfort you want to overcome. ie. obsessive jealousy, insecurity, obsessive anxiety
  2. Measure on a subjective scale from 1 to 10 how intensely you feel about the issue or how intense the discomfort / pain is. 
  3. Begin by tapping on the Karate Chop point  and say 3 times: “Even though…. (the problem) I deeply and completely accept myself as I am”  i.e. KC: Even though I am obsessively anxious and worried about my boyfriend I deeply and completely accept myself as I am
  4. Now focus on the issue / pain / problem / discomfort and tap on the remaining points while saying how the problem makes you feel. i.e. AE: I feel so anxious about my boyfriend going out when Im not around, SE: I am worried he will find another woman UE: I am not good enough to be loved UN: he’ll find another woman and leave me CH: I am so scared of being alone CB: I cannot live without him UA: I’m so scared of being abandoned TH: Ill never find anyone else  (do this until you feel you have fully explored the negative feelings associated with the issue. If need be go back to the start and repeat the cycle using the same or similar sentences until you are satisfied)
  5. Now focus on the solution of the issue / problem discomfort and tap on the points again using positive sentences that neutralize the negative ones and emphasize choice. Ie. AE I choose to release this anxiety. SE: I choose to trust everything will be ok UE: I am lovable and I deserve love UN: I love myself and I am loved CH: I ask source energy to heal me CB: I want to let go of this worry and anxiety UA: I forgive myself and my past loves for all the pain caused TH: I choose to allow myself to start letting go of this obsession (again, feel free to go round several times, until you find words that work for you. Remember that what matters is not the words in themselves but the intention behind them
  6. Repeat step 4 and 5 until you feel you’ve worked through something
  7. Take a deep breath
  8. Measure on a scale of 1 to 10 how intense the feeling is now.
  9. Repeat the exercise until you reach 0 or a number that satisfies you.

If you do not feel you’re going down chances are you are resisting this technique. Do you feel silly tapping ? Tap on your resistance and you’ll find out what bothers you i.e. KC ‘Even though I feel silly tapping and this is stupid I deeply and completely accept myself’ etc

Remember the most important thing is the intention behind the words. Feel the words, don’t just say them. Believe them and make them yours. 

Another example about insomnia:

  1. i.e. KC: Even though I am obsessively anxious and worried about not sleeping I deeply and completely accept myself as I am anyway
  2. i.e. AE: I feel so anxious about not sleeping, SE: I am worried I ‘ll never be able to sleep UE: I hate going to bed at night in case I don’t sleep UN: what if I can’t sleep ever again?  CH: I am so scared of how tired Ill be tomorrow CB: I am so frustrated and angry about this UA: it’s not fair ! Why me? TH:I am too tired to deal with this!  
  3. Ie. AE I choose to release this anxiety. SE: I choose to trust everything will be ok  UE: I choose to relax and let go of this obsession UN: I begin to let go of this worry CH: I ask source energy to heal me CB: I need help letting go of this frustration and anger UA: I forgive myself and my body for putting me through this TH: I choose to allow myself to stop caring so much about sleeping so I can relax 

If you do not feel confident using this technique on your own I can help you by giving you a demonstration and guiding you through it on one of our sessions together. Afterwards I can provide you with a recording to use at home until you become familiar with it.

In addition to this I will provide you with audio recordings and worksheets if necessary in order for you to get a grip of what to say to resolve your specific issue. I have used this technique very effectively for clients with insomnia as well as anxiety.
 

How to be Happy

Everybody wants to be happy

It seems that is the true quest of every human being on earth. Sometimes success is defined in terms of happiness.  The American declaration of Independence even states that happiness is man’s inalienable right.

But why is it so important to be ‘happy’?

Well first of all, it goes without saying that life is already complicated enough without the added burden of moodiness and sadness. Also, it is scientifically proven that elation triggers hormones that are essential when it comes down to proper metabolic function and well being. Also, when someone is happy their positive side is brought to the fore and problems become easier to solve.

On the other hand issues such as poverty, oppression and stress do exist. There are still a lot of places where abuse is a commonplace occurrence and where people still die victims of hunger and violence. Are we advocating we just close our eyes to these and pretend they do not exist ? Certainly not. On the other hand, dwelling on problems and becoming depressed by them has never helped anyone.

The American Psychological Association states that teenagers as young as fourteen begin experiencing depression at least once a year until they are thirty. Human beings have a tendency towards negativity because often negative events and feelings carry more weight than contentedness and joy. As a consequence, a lot of us experience sadness that continues to influence us long after the triggering episode has gone. This in turn increases our risk of developing illnesses such as chronic heart failure, cerebrovascular accidents, apnea and migraine.

So perhaps we can all agree that it would be better to be happy than not.  But then, a question springs to mind:

What does it mean to be happy?

Happiness is sometimes defined as a state of mental well being characterized by positive emotions which can vary between contentment and joy. Another way to understand happiness is in terms of a way of life, rather than an emotion. It is hard to pin the concept down because happiness means different things to different people. Sometimes we are happy because we are confronted with unexpected positive events. Other times we are happy because we feel accepted and loved by others. 

Some psychologists have attempted to explain happiness: Seligman for example thought humans are most happy when they experience Pleasure (such as good food, warm baths etc) , Engagement (also called ‘flow’ which is feeling absorbed in an enjoyable yet challenging activity) ,Relationships,   Meaning  ( a sense of belonging to or a quest for  something bigger than themselves)   and Accomplishments (having realized tangible goals)

Maslow, the founder of humanistic psychology, understood happiness in terms of a hierarchy of needs shaped in the form of a pyramid.

 

At the bottom of the pyramid we have our basic needs that must be fulfilled at all costs. When we fulfill them we attain a basic level of happiness.

After that we ascend to ‘higher’ needs and a higher, more fulfilling sense of happiness is found. We proceed this way until we reach the last level where ‘peak experiences’ of profound love and understanding are felt.

When we reach the self actualization level we feel   more whole, more alive, self sufficient and yet part of the bigger world around us. This is the highest state of ‘happiness’ that we can experience.

 

Can we be happy all the time ?

According to this model we can’t be happy all of the time and we shouldn’t expect to be. Happiness depends on needs being fulfilled, therefore until they are fulfilled we can expect some kind of unhappiness. Surely, this model is useful to understand ourselves better and to aspire  to having our needs met at different levels as we proceed in life. 

However there is something to be said about how a positive attitude of mind can help us fulfill our needs quicker because if we feel good about where we’re at in the present , we cope more effectively with the circumstances we find ourselves in, while aspiring to better them.

If we see happiness as an attitude of mind we might find that our needs get fulfilled quicker and that we can feel reasonably happy  despite  all the negativity that surrounds us and despite  not having attained just yet  the highest levels of self actualization.

How do we foster a happy attitude ?

A good attitude is half talent half habit. Like some people are born with a talent for music so some people struggle with it. However anyone can become a reasonably good musician if they put enough effort and practice into it. In the same way, a good attitude is the product of a positive habitual way of thinking, which might be partly inherited from good parents and partly learnt and acquired.

So if your parents were negative and you were brought up, like most of us, in a society that thrives on fostering insecurity for economic reasons there is still hope for you. Luckily for all of us, our mind is extremely pliable and versatile and can learn new habits throughout our lives. It is never too late to change, unless of course you tell yourself it is.

I have found that the first step towards change is gratitude. We could spend all of our time focusing on what is missing but if we do that we will only attract more of the same. This is not because of magic. It simply is a psychological reality: whatever we tell ourselves we create in our minds.  And whatever we think produces an effect in feelings and actions. These in turn are reflected back to us by others and create more of the same. The tricky thing is to think about what we want, not about what we don’t want, because our ‘irrational’ mind does not understand negatives.  To illustrate:  if I said to you “don’t think of pink elephants!” what are you thinking about?

When we focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have and we are grateful for it (we feel positively about it) we are more likely to attract more of it. This is because not only we subtly inform our subconscious of what we want more of, but also we project a positive attitude to others and the world is more likely to respond positively to people who are positive rather than to people who complain.  This doesn’t mean that we should just accept our lot and be content with it.  But if we accept where we are, trying to see the opportunity rather than the flaw, we are more likely to have the energy to progress beyond it.

Therapy, Coaching or Self Help ?

So what if you want to get some support to learn how to change the way you think so your mind can be your best friend rather than your worst enemy?

The first step towards wholeness is the hardest and if you have read this far you are already well on the way to overcoming the tallest hurdle on your way. At the end of the day, the best help we can get is the one we give to ourselves. Even when we ask others to help us, we need to want to help ourselves first. 

So with this attitude in mind, taking responsibility for our own well being, we can read a whole array of books on the subject but If this proves not to be enough or we want some extra support we have a few options.

Holistic hypnotherapy, combined with NLP and Coaching could be the way for you to go. Or you could go on a self development course or a self hypnosis class. Alternatively you may want to find a humanist psychotherapist or perhaps a CBT counsellor. Or perhaps you could combine these to suit your needs. What is important is to listen to yourself, and to go with what feels right.

So begin your journey now by expressing gratitude to yourself for being the sort of person to even read this article! Give yourself a pat on the shoulders: well done for caring enough about yourself to be interested in self development! You are already closer to finding your way to live a happier more fulfilling life!

More on this: The Key to Happiness video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to Happiness

Believe that you are worthy of love and connection 

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher professor at the University of Houston, Graduate College of Social Work, where she has spent the past ten years studying a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness, posing the questions: How do we engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to embrace our imperfections and to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy? Brené is the author of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power (2007) and the forthcoming books, The Gifts of Imperfection (2010) and Wholehearted: Spiritual Adventures in Falling Apart, Growing Up, and Finding Joy ( 2011).

 

Tips for a stress-free life

With how busy we keep ourselves on a day to day basis, it ís no wonder that so many of us suffer from stress. Stress is something that is almost impossible to avoid, because of the way that we are wired. Having said that, stress can be easily dealt with in many ways.

Exercise – We all know how important exercise is.  Exercise has the ability to relax both your mind and your body. One of the big advantages that exercise has is that it forces you to get out, and to maintain some balance. If your working a lot, and are having a hard time getting other things done in life, you can easily make a deal with yourself to get out for a walk everyday at lunch time. This will allow you to clear your head and be more focused in your work, and also it will allow you time to relax, spend some time with nature, and remember that a physical wellness has a huge impact on mental wellness

Reward – It is important to reward yourself on a regular basis. Too often we get into patterns where we work too much, sleep to little, and run our body into the ground. To avoid this get into the habit of taking breaks daily, weekly and monthly. Get up during the day from your work, and go for a walk. Take a weekend get away to freshen up your mind from your work. Take a yearly trip to experience something different from the 9-5 grind back home.

Balance – Living a balanced life is very important to maintain limited stress. Balance doesn’t mean trying to do too many things at once. Balance means that you work to live, not live to work.  Having fun is just as important as paying attention to your family, friends and hobbies.

Values – Take a moment to think about the things that are the most important for you in your life. Often times when we are living according to other people’s standards and not by our values there is an increase of stress in our days.

Planning – There is also an element of stress in unplanned situations. Unknowns cause us to worry, and to get stressed out about situations that we could have taken a little time to plan ahead for. So plan ahead if you can, unless the idea of the unknown is exciting to you of course!

Most of all remember: whatever happens you have the tools to deal with it.  Being relaxed is the key. Nothing is worth stressing out about. In fact, the more you believe that there is nothing you can’t deal with the more you will be effective in resolving life’s challenges. It might be helpful to remember that no matter what may happen the sun will always rise tomorrow and you will be still alive.

Sometimes you may need extra help in reshaping negative thinking patterns around stressful situations. With the help of a hypnotherapist you can learn how to shift your thinking so your mind can work for you rather than against you.