The Key to Happiness

Happiness. The thing that we all strive for, dream about, search for and yet, for many of us, it is elusive – why? Most of us have periods of happiness in our lives but they are often over-shadowed by misery caused by events in the past or worries about the future. I am not going to say ‘live in the moment’, even though it’s excellent advice, because, for most people it’s impossible

Happiness. The thing that we all strive for, dream about, search for and yet, for many of us, it is elusive – why? Most of us have periods of happiness in our lives but they are often over-shadowed by misery caused by events in the past or worries about the future. I am not going to say ‘live in the moment’, even though it’s excellent advice, because, for most people it’s impossible. We are a product of our memories (which live in the past) and our hopes, dreams and fears (which reside in the future for the most part.) What I am going to say is that happiness is something that needs to be worked at….

If you’ve ever learned to play the piano – you didn’t get to the end of the first lesson being able to play a concerto, you didn’t learn the alphabet and then were able to write a dissertation on War and Peace. Rather, you practiced, doing the same thing over and over again until whatever it was you were learning came to you naturally.  Do you remember how hard it was the first time you tried to write your name? Do you even think about it now? It seems to me that the same logic applies to being happy. This is only my opinion but it’s based on the things that I’ve learned over the last few years.

After I lost my husband I grieved and that’s perfectly natural but it was also what I focused on. I needed to cry, to find ways to let out the emotion that was crippling me so I listened to sad music, watched sad films, read sad stories – you get the picture. After a couple of years I found that I wanted to be happy but, each time I was, I was plagued by guilt – how could I be happy when my husband was dead – so I reverted back into a state of depression…..which then became the norm, a safe place if you will. Essentially, I was comfortable with being depressed.

The trouble with depression is that it’s so easily reinforced. We find a moment’s happiness but then tell ourselves ‘ something will come along to screw it up, I just know it’ and guess what? It does. Then we tell ourselves that we were right (everyone loves to be right) and obviously that means we don’t deserve to be happy or that, even if we find happiness, something will come along to ruin it. What we have on our hands then is a self-fulfilling prophesy and those are buggers to deal with!

I was trapped in this circle for years and then I started to get pissed off with it. My husband’s death had taught me that life is short and we only get one crack at it so I started to look at ways of breaking this incredibly destructive cycle. I began to search for inspiration on YouTube of all places and, because I was looking for it, I found it. There are meditations which will calm you mind and body, there are TED talks which explain our thought processes and what we can do to change them, there are yoga practices, we have Tony Robbins and Brene Brown, Sadhguru and Ajahn Brahm. In short, there is all the material we need to kick start our minds out of depression and into happiness.

So why isn’t everyone happy? Because it isn’t easy to change years of mental and emotional programming. There is comfort in the familiar, there is a certain self-indulgence in misery and our memories, good and bad stay with us. However, being comfortable generally means not moving and, if we don’t move, what’s going to change? Self-indulgence isn’t a bad thing unless we over-indulge – think half a pound of chocolate and a full tub of ice-cream! As for our memories, we can’t erase them but what we can do is change the way that we feel about them, the emotions that we attach to them. I will always feel sad when I think of the last days of my husband’s life but I have attached a very strong feeling of gratitude and love to the fifteen years we spent together before those last few days and, now, that’s what I try and concentrate on but it takes work.

It’s easy, when you’re feeling down, to lie on the sofa and watch TV – it’s hard to get up and go for a walk.

It’s easy to listen to The World’s saddest love songs and cry for a lost love – it’s hard to put on a Madness album and dance around the living room

It’s easy to talk about negative feelings and listen while others do it – it’s hard to put on a set of headphones and follow a guided meditation

Funny thing is, however hard they might be at the start, like everything else, over time, they get easier. What we tell ourselves has a direct effect on our experiences whether they be positive or negative. I’ve realised that we have the ability to create our own narrative and constantly referring to misery, sadness, loss, grief, pain in our words, our writing and our thoughts serves only to reinforce those feelings. Being happy is like anything else – it can be learned but it takes time and effort and I have decided it’s worth the effort. So, am I happy every minute of every day? No, but I’m working on it and life is getting so much easier in the process!

Have an awesome Sunday one and all :O)

Lisa x

Time to Put on My Big Girl Panties…

One foot in, then the other and hoist! Hard! You know that your mental health is not what it should be when you start wishing that you were a fictional TV lawyer and your comfort zone feels like a prison; well, I say ‘ENOUGH!’ Sorry to yell like that but I need to be shouting this from the rooftops because I am getting on my own last nerve at the moment. When you don’t like your own company, you know it’s time for a change…

One foot in, then the other and hoist! Hard! You know that your mental health is not what it should be when you start wishing that you were a fictional TV lawyer and your comfort zone feels like a prison; well, I say ‘ENOUGH!’ Sorry to yell like that but I need to be shouting this from the rooftops because I am getting on my own last nerve at the moment. When you don’t like your own company, you know it’s time for a change…

Instead of writing about the negative shit that I’ve been feeling lately (which I am sure contributes to the miseries), I am going to use this post to kick myself up the arse until I am back at the fork in the road again and can start walking on the path that leads to happiness. Here goes:

FearThe only thing that stops you having the life you want is fear and what is fear? It’s nothing more than a chemical reaction to the pictures that your imagination creates. That’s the equivalent of being scared by a movie for God’s sake! The really daft thing about it is that you don’t even have to watch the movie, you’ve written the script and chosen the images so change them! You are not Mystic Meg, you have no idea what the future will bring: essentially, you are scared of something which does not yet exist…….

The headaches, tiredness, tension in your shoulders? All caused by stress and stress is nothing more than worrying about something that may or may not happen. How will that serve you? Life will throw things at you, both good and bad, deal with them head on. Don’t waste time analysing and over-thinking because that will change diddly squat; it’s your actions that matter.

The fluttering in your stomach, heart beating faster? Those are the physical manifestations of fear BUT they are also the physical manifestations of excitement; you get EXACTLY those feelings when you’re having the time of your life on a jet ski or a motorbike; accept them as such. You are not scared of meeting new people or having new experiences, you are excited by it!

mind-reader-i-am-notIf you meet someone new and they don’t like you,  so what? It doesn’t mean that you are not fundamentally likeable, it’s just that you haven’t made a good connection with another human being. Why worry about it, there are another 7.5 billion other humans out there, go and make a connection with one of them. Anyway, why do you worry so much about what other people might think? You can’t know because you’re not a mind reader, you just imagine their thoughts based on your own negative self image. All this low self-esteem nonsense doesn’t come from other people, it comes from you; you don’t think you’re worth it, you don’t really like yourself so why should anyone else? Well, you know what? You are all you’re going to get, there isn’t another you on standby so focus on the good stuff….(this is the hard bit, deep breath)………

You are kind, intelligent, funny, compassionate, loyal and sincere. You have a beautiful smile. You are affectionate. You are loveable. You were loved by the most wonderful man in the World because you are worth loving. You are generous. You have an infectious laugh. You’re a good writer. You are honest. For all these reasons and more, you deserve to be happy; let yourself be happy Lisa…..

If you try something new you might not like it………..and? What’s worse – trying something new and not enjoying it or sitting around, feeling miserable and waiting for someone else to hand you a happy life on a plate? It doesn’t work like that Lisa, the only person who can change the way that you’re feeling at the moment is you! Stop hiding behind the excuses ‘I’m shy’, ‘I don’t have any self-confidence’, ‘I’m grieving’ because they are just that, they are things you tell yourself to justify your fears.

At the root of all of it, the fear of people leaving you because loss is what started all this in the first place. Think about this logically: if you don’t get close to anyone because you’re scared you’ll end up alone aren’t you creating a self-fulfilling prophesy? You push people away and hide from the World – that’s called being alone and it’s your choice but it’s not what you want so STOP IT!! Open up, be vulnerable, be yourself, love other people and let them love you, yes they may leave but they may not and, at the very least, you can enjoy the time that you spend with them NOW.

AcceptHere’s a final reminder before I kick your backside out the front door and into a better life: You don’t do regret, you never have because you can’t see any point in it. You can’t change the past, you did what you did and said what you said and that’s that.  So here’s my question for you: do you want to get to the end of your life, which could be in 20 years time or in the next 5 minutes, and think ‘I wish I had’? No? Didn’t think so……

This post was prompted by 3 things:

A comment from my lovely friend Tom

A comment from my best friend Will

A comment from the voice in my head (stop being so fucking miserable, in case you were wondering).

The desire to change my life, for the better, stemmed from words; they have such power don’t they? It’s just a case of knowing which ones to listen to….

I’m going to enjoy my day to day and I hope that you do the same :O)

Lisa x

 

 

 

Freedom of Expression. Tag! Attitude!

Good morning everyone, I hope you’ve had a good start to your day ;O) Yesterday, the lovely Richa, creator of fun and inspiring iScriblr, nominated me for the Freedom of Expression challenge; how could I say no to that! This is a first for me so I’m very excited and a little nervous (really hoping I’ve understood the rules!). At the end of the post I’ll be nominating 3 other bloggers who I really respect and admire and I hope that they’ll pick up the challenge. Here we go guys:

Good morning everyone, I hope you’ve had a good start to your day ;O) Yesterday, the lovely Richa, creator of fun and inspiring iScriblr, nominated me for the Freedom of Expression challenge; how could I say no to that! This is a first for me so I’m very excited and a little nervous (really hoping I’ve understood the rules!). At the end of the post I’ll be nominating 3 other bloggers who I really respect and admire and I hope that they’ll pick up the challenge. Here we go guys:

“I really hate to have to say this to you but your attitude sucks!”

The anger and disappointment in her voice was more than clear

“What do you know? You don’t know what it feels like to be me!”

She knew she was being unfair but stubbornness kept her going

“No, you’re right, I don’t, but I do love you, I just want what’s best”

She was still angry but trying hard to diffuse the situation

“If you want what’s best, you’ll just accept that I’m getting married”

The tears were coming, she was frustrated and hurt

“I can’t! He’s just not right for you. Please don’t do this to me”

Pleading now, she was desperate for understanding

“This is not about you. I love him and I want to be happy”

Defiant again, she turns away, back straight and rigid

“But he doesn’t love you………not in the same way, you know that”

She knew the words were almost cruel but they had to be said

“No, I know it’s not in the same way but I really need him”

Defiance gone she is smaller, more vulnerable, lost

“You don’t need him, you’ve got me……..Mum…..please”

She opens her arms, tears streaming, eyes begging

“He’ll never replace your Dad, you know that, but I’m lonely”

They embrace gently with mixed attitudes of hope and despair……

I am now passing the baton over to 3 wonderful bloggers:

Wendi at simplychronicallyill as, despite having to deal with many problems of her own she is unfailing kind, considerate of others and a real inspiration

Billy Mac at goodtobealivetoday because he is funny and charming and fighting his own battles on a daily basis

Darren at artyplantsman because he is a kind a gentle soul who made me feel truly welcome when I first became part of the WP family.

These guys really inspire me and I hope that they’ll do the same for you.

Lisa x

 

 

 

 

What’s Wrong with Porn?

We know that, during the course of our 45 minutes (or 15 or 5), we are unlikely to arrange ourselves into 20 different positions and we know that if we were heavy breathing for the entire time, as seems to be the case in most porn movies we’d probably end up hyperventilating and passing out! 

I like watching porn every now and again and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I don’t watch it very often but I can honestly say I can’t see anything wrong with it; is that an outdated view I wonder? Many young people, especially women, seem to think that it is wrong on just about every level – it’s the objectification of women, sex should only be between two committed people, it’s tainting the act of love and so on and so forth but many also seem to feel threatened by it. Just as women can become insecure about their own bodies when they see perfectly proportioned, eternally young, superstars at every turn, it appears that their insecurity is also fueled when they see their boyfriends reactions to female porn stars. Apparently they question their own appearance and, above all, their own sexual prowess….

Screen Kiss
Does true love really encourage you to stand in the pouring rain or is it just another Hollywood romance?

But, here’s the thing, when all is said and done, porn films are films just like any other – they are not real life, nor meant to be a reflection of real life. It’s like the screen portrayal of love; the two central characters are always beautiful, invariably young and you know that, whatever trials and tribulations the story throws at them, they will end up in each others arms, pledging eternal devotion to each other by the end of the film. Either that or, if it’s a sad romantic film, one of them will die. There is no real deviation from those story lines, even the charming and much maligned Pretty Woman fitted the profile, it’s just that she was a hooker and he was insanely rich. It’s not meant to be a portrayal of real life, it’s meant to be entertaining and its exactly the same with porn!  Just as none of us really expect to be swept of our feet by a gorgeous billionaire, we don’t really expect the sex we have to be like it is in a blue film i.e. moaning and groaning for 45 minutes with the guy who popped by to fix the washing machine! We know that, during the course of our 45 minutes (or 15 or 5), we are unlikely to arrange ourselves into 20 different positions and we know that if we were heavy breathing for the entire time, as seems to be the case in most porn movies we’d probably end up hyperventilating and passing out!

Onto the subject of objectification and, I’ll admit, it’s a tricky one. Firstly, IF the sex shown is non-violent and between consenting adults who are, when all is said and done, doing a job that they are paid for then I would say that it’s a personal choice for those who perform and those who view. Some critics say that porn encourages men to view women as mere things but I would say that, if that is correct, then the same must hold true for the way that women view men. A porn film is designed to titillate and to provoke a physical response; it’s not meant to be a deep analysis of the emotional interactions between men and women. domanatrixThat said, films that depict violence against women are another thing entirely and, I would suggest that they are less about sex than about power and domination of one person over another. I don’t believe that adults looking for a little visual stimulation would really be interested in that type of film as they have very little to do with sex per se. However, we should also consider that, dominatrix (people who punish or inflict pain on others at their behest) are, invariably, women which goes completely against the widely held belief that women are naturally submissive in the sex act.

Many people who hold strong religious beliefs feel that sex is something that should only take place between those who are in a loving and committed marriage and I can completely respect that opinion if they can also respect the fact that people who chose to have sex outside marriage or watch pornography should not be condemned for doing so. The physical act of love is just that; one does not need to be in love to enjoy the intense physical pleasure that sex can provide and, by the same token, two people can love each other deeply but have no real appreciation for each other physically. As for sex and pornography being sins, my personal belief is that if God created our bodies in such a way that we find pleasure in sex, he did it on purpose. I don’t mean this to be offensive in any way at all but there is so much hatred and violence in the world today, why shouldn’t we take our pleasures where we can?

Another issue is the effect that porn can supposedly have on a woman’s self-image and her beliefs about her sexual prowess. Firstly, a question, do you doubt your partner’s love for you when they admire someone in a film? Going back to Pretty Woman, did it make you feel inadequate, unlovable, undesirable or were you too busy laughing or admiring her sass in the famous shopping scene to even give a thought to what your partner was thinking? Why should a porn film be any different? Ok, the laughs may be fewer and there’s usually not much shopping but still, what actors portray on screen should have no effect on how you see yourself – it’s make believe. Male size.jpgSecondly, if anyone is questioning their sexual prowess it will be the males watching! We sometimes forget that many men put themselves under extreme pressure to satisfy a woman and it’s common knowledge that the size of their ‘equipment’ is often a serious concern for them. Yet here they are watching men who are probably better endowed than they are (size does matter in porn films apparently) satisfying women (if their moans are anything to go by) with apparent ease. When it comes to insecurities I generally believe that men and women are really no different.

Natural born killers.jpgLastly, do porn films encourage men to degrade or be violent towards women? I think that encourage is the wrong word; if men have a natural proclivity towards that type of behaviour and they have no real moral compass then I think they could persuade themselves that it is acceptable. However, the same holds true of many types of film; if someone is an incurable romantic then they could spend their whole life searching for the kind of love that only exists in films and miss out entirely in real life, rejecting one person after another because they don’t fit within their ideal of a perfect relationship. The same applies to violent films; someone who is naturally aggressive and lacking in normal social boundaries could eventually be led to believe that their behaviour is not wrong when it is “normalised” in films like Natural Born Killers or Rambo.

Films that depict consenting adults having sex and enjoying it are, in my view, doing no harm, that said, films involving children or violence, for me, do not fall within that genre; pedophilia and depictions of rape should be known for what they are.

I was prompted to write this piece after reading a really thought provoking article by BeautyBeyondBones so thanks to her for the inspiration :O) x

A Problem Shared…….?

People will share the most intimate details of their lives with complete strangers; sometimes their hopes but, more often than not, their fears, their worries, the things that make them angry and resentful………in other words the negative things in their life. 

There have been questions raised recently as to why mental health issues are so prevalent among children and young people these days when awareness and help for things like anxiety disorders has improved so much. It’s an incredibly complex subject and I’m no psychiatrist but I do wonder how much social media is contributing to anxiety and depression in the young.

When I was at school, we had a few bullies who would verbally and sometimes physically intimidate others but, if you just stayed away from the nasty few, the encounters, although traumatic at the time, were few and far between. Now, however, bullies have any number of ways of tormenting their victims because, not only do we have real life to contend with, but almost all of us also have a virtual life. Many people seem to spend half their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. and it has become the norm for them to become far more open and honest in their virtual existance than they would be in a face to face situation. People will share the most intimate details of their lives with complete strangers; sometimes their hopes but, more often than not, their fears, their worries, the things that make them angry and resentful………in other words the negative things in their life. depression 1

Before the advent of social media individuals would discuss their problems with just one or two of their closest friends who would invariably listen attentively and maybe offer some advice or just a hug. Now a single post can attract dozens or even hundreds of responses. With Twitter especially, many of the people who reply will know nothing about you other than what you share online so they may ridicule or they may try to ‘help’ by giving you advice, offering words of support or sharing their own experience. What you then end up with is a timeline which is accusatory, sympathetic and empathetic but which, if any, are of actual benefit to you?

 

depressed 2The people who mock or ridicule you will lower your self-esteem even further and make you regret sharing whatever it was that you shared. If you decide to engage with them it will end in one of two ways – they will become increasingly abusive, feeling safe hiding behind the avatar of their virtual self or you will become angry and attempt to hurt them in the way that they’ve hurt you.

Sympathy tweetSympathy and words of support can make us feel loved and, in some ways, special. We are all craving love in one form or another so there follows the temptation to try to generate more of those feelings by posting again. If we’re having a bad day, feeling anxious or depressed, and someone sends us a message of love and sympathy it can give us a lift there’s no doubt about that. However, if the way that we attract positive attention is to constantly post negative comments, how long will it be before we are looking for negativity in our lives merely to have something to say that will encourage loving words from others? What we focus on in life determines our mood and our state of mind so, if we are constantly looking for ways to generate sympathy our focus will be on the things that we are lacking.

 This can lead to a vicious cycle. People will usually only be sympathetic for so long            so, although you may attract new followers who will give you the words of love and support that you crave, the messages will slow down or even stop. You continue to pour your heart out, writing down all the negative things in your life (which will reinforce their significance in your mind) but they don’t attract attention. The only way that you can continue to get those positive vibes is to make your posts more and more negative which means that you will be more and more focused on the things that you see as being wrong in your life. anxiety-tweets-memes-45-59d787f3c5dfa__700

Empathy is a wonderful quality; to be able to understand and share the feelings of others is a rare and beautiful thing. If you ever meet someone who is truly empathetic you will feel as though you have known them all your life and that you can share anything with them. It can seem like that on social media when you come across someone who seems to understand your problems completely because they have experienced them themselves. However, just because someone wants to share their experiences with you, it doesn’t mean that they are empathetic or that they truly understand what you are going through. Human beings, for the most part, like to talk about themselves and their experiences and those who think about what they want to say next are far more common than those who actually listen to what the other person is saying. Someone with real empathy will listen attentively and with compassion; they won’t launch into their own tirade of misery the second that you have finished recounting yours.

As there are so many stories being shared on social media 24/7 you can always find someone to share your misery with. Whilst this may feel liberating and helpful, what you are actually doing is constantly enforcing your own negative thoughts by writing them down and then having them verified by someone else who is doing exactly the same thing.

If social media was full of positive and life affirming comments and stories of people over-coming adversity I truly believe that we would focus far more on the things that are right in our lives rather than the things that are wrong but, you know what they say, misery loves company! Personally, if that’s true, I think I’d rather walk alone………………

Osho happy quote

 

Unleash Your Inner Kid

We had dreams, wonderful dreams, yet over time, we lose them or we push them to the back of our minds because we are persuaded or we choose to believe that they are not possible. Anything is possible!

 

“Just imagine becoming the way you used to be as a very young child, before you understood the meaning of any word, before opinions took over your mind. The real you is loving, joyful, and free. The real you is just like a flower, just like the wind, just like the ocean, just like the sun”   Don Miguel Ruiz

As we get older we start to think more about the meaning of life and why we are here; we try to find a reason for our existence, maybe because we reach a point where we realise that we are not going to go on forever. When you are a child your happiness is more or less effortless; you might cry when you scrape your knee or when you want a sweetie but Mum says no but that’s pretty much the sum total of your stress and worries otherwise you go through life in joyous abandon. Do you remember that? The energy and excitement you felt running towards the swings with your friends and then the freedom you felt when you were swinging as high as you possibly could? There was a little bit of fear because it felt like you could be flung off into the sky at any moment but there was also the excitement of feeling like you could fly! As adults, especially as we get on in years, we forget that that kind of exuberance is possible and we weigh ourselves down with more fears and more worries but why?

Fundamentally our existence is based on what we have experienced in the past and, from this, we then imagine what we may experience in the future. If we perceive our experiences as negative then our imagination of all future experiences will be tainted by that negativity. For instance, if you try a new sport and sustain some sort of injury, you will have a small association with that sport and pain but, if you think more and more of the pain and remember the sport whilst you are thinking about the pain then chances are that’s the end of that sport for you! However, if you remember the fun you were having before you got hurt, you’ll likely brush off the pain and have another go. You then might find that you love the sport and it will become a great part of your life and bring you real happiness; the situation hasn’t changed – you played sport and got hurt – but your perception of it has.

Our mental attitudes shape our lives and some people manage to retain the absolute freedom and happiness that we all had as children because they don’t analyse every situation they find themselves in and they don’t analyse the people that they spend time with. How much time do you spend thinking about what you do before you do it? Do you try to imagine other people’s reactions to what you want to do? All this time that is spent considering possible outcomes could be spent just actually enjoying yourself – in effect you will create time for the things that you enjoy if you stop thinking and just do.

This video sums up absolutely beautifully why it’s so important for us to remember what life was like when we were children.

We had dreams, wonderful dreams, yet over time, we lose them or we push them to the back of our minds because we are persuaded or we choose to believe that they are not possible. Anything is possible!

If you are in your 50’s or 60’s then all of the people shown here are older than you and they all have a few things in common – they don’t think that they have to stop doing what they love just because they’re getting older, they don’t worry about what other people think about them and they haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel like a child and just take pleasure from what life offers us.

Quite simply, life is short and we never know what tomorrow will bring or even if we will have a tomorrow so why not make the absolute best of what you have today?

Ps. Yes that is me in the picture and yes I was the only adult riding the merry go round – it was great fun :O)

Measuring Up

I wonder if our slightly green tinted glasses distort reality.

I do what I can to stay in shape, I eat healthily and exercise every day and, for the most part, I am OK with what I see in the mirror. I sometimes find myself looking wistfully (and with the tiniest amount of envy) at the beautiful 20 somethings but I’m sensible enough to realise that I’m not going to have their perfect bodies and flawless skin at my age. No amount of time spent at the gym and no amount of money spent on moisturizers will turn back the clock. That said, I’m a UK size 10 and a minor investment in botox and dermal fillers has ensured that my face doesn’t look like it needs ironing just yet so, all in all not too shabby.

Until I walk into Monaco, which is about 20 minutes from where I live. I swear to God, there are more beautiful women per square metre there than anywhere else in the world! Young, tall, flawlessly made up and with an amazing, effortless elegance. As I usually walk to Monaco, to avoid the traffic and the notoriously small parking spaces, I dress in trainers and workout clothes and am invariably, unless it’s between January and March, sweaty by the time I arrive. I also love to listen to music when I walk so my ensemble is topped off with a pair of bluetooth headphones which are incredibly practical but make me look a bit like a cyberman. CybermanFaced with the visions that float around me trailing clouds of perfume and very small dogs dressed in small pink dog jumpers I can’t help but feel a little inadequate. beautiful woman tiny dog

I guess I’m not the only woman that feels like that from time to time, the fashion, makeup and cosmetic surgery industries wouldn’t exist if I was, but I do wonder why we put ourselves under so much pressure to look good? Moreover I wonder if our slightly green tinted glasses distort reality. Of course there are some women who are naturally beautiful but many of our expectations of ourselves and our appearance come from what we see in newspapers, magazines and, of course, online. When someone has been dressed, made-up, beautifully lit and possibly airbrushed of course they’re going to look their best but, see that person without all those things and it’s a different story. They may well still be beautiful but it’s more real, more attainable if you will.measuring-up

The pictures below show celebs with and without make-up; I give them to you as a gift for the next time you’re beating yourself up because, no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop finding yourself wanting when you look in the mirror.

As Sophia Lauren famously said “Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful”. I’ll be sure to remember that when my hair’s plastered to my head with sweat, my face is red with exertion and I’ve just remembered that I’m wearing the leggings that go all baggy around the arse after about 10 minutes ;O)

Instead I’ll leave you with this quote which reminds me that focusing on how we act towards others is far more important than how we appear to them:

A beautiful face

Go Like Graham!

Dream as if you’ll live forever and live as if you’ll die today

The man in the photo above is called Graham Sayer and he is 80 years old; he works out five days a week but not to keep his body looking good or even to keep fit. In Graham’s own words:

 “It’s so that as I get older, I can continue to do all the things I love so dearly: to have adventures, to always have new experiences, to play, climb, swim, kick and punch to my heart’s content”

If Graham thought ‘I am 80’ every day and subscribed to society’s and the media’s notions of old age he probably wouldn’t do half of what he does but the fact is, to him, his age is just a number. His desire to live a full and exciting life is so strong that he doesn’t consider that there are any negative connotations attached to his chronological age. He’s had challenges along the way, including throat cancer, but he hasn’t let that stop him.

If he can do it why can’t you?

James Dean said: “Dream as if you’ll live forever and live as if you’ll die today” but most of us do exactly the opposite; we live as if we have forever – in short, we exist. However, it doesn’t need to be like that. If we can forget the fears that we have about growing older we can maintain the same mind set that we had when we were a child. Children don’t worry about what other people think, they don’t worry about falling over or hurting themselves, for them every minute of every day is an adventure and there is no reason why we can’t continue to think and live that way throughout our entire lives.

Can you go Without?

we would not suggest that you move to a 12 foot high platform or sit inside a tree

Do you really need a car? If you absolutely had to could you live in one room? Could you live without holidays? Do you really need so many clothes? How about food? Could you live without that? This man did:

devraha barba

Devraha Baba was a famous sadhu who was believed to be 250 years old when he died; he never ate food and drank only water from the river. His home was a 12 foot high wooden platform and he spent his days in a state of extreme meditation.

As he didn’t eat his body was free of toxins and his meditations ensured that his metabolic rate was very low which meant that his body did not suffer the wear and tear sustained in ordinary, everyday life.

Such was the power that he had over his own mind and body that he rarely wore anything at all , even when the temperatures were freezing!

He’s not the only one who has gone to extremes to escape from the outside world in order to find inner peace and tranquility:

This video puts a western perspective on the story of Ram Bahadur Bamjon who apparently remained in a state of meditation, without food or water, for a period of 10 months. He drew the attention of many, many visitors and this boy, who was only 15 when he began his meditation eventually left his chosen spot because he could no longer find peace there.

There are many such examples of people who appear to have extended their lives and enhanced their physical well-being through yoga. Whilst yoga-medi for months on end, there is a great deal of evidence to support the benefits of a vegetarian diet, regular meditation and regular exercise so perhaps we have much to learn from ancient wisdom.

 

I Blame the Jeans

Remember that one day you’ll be dead and none of this will matter!

To some extent or another we are all creatures of habit, we tend to get up around the same time, go to bed at the same time, eat the same foods…..you get the picture. Unfortunately, we also have mental habits, not all of which are good for us.

The mind is an incredible piece of engineering, way beyond the limits of our current understanding but, if we let it, it will control us to the point of self-destruction. To use a simple example, have you ever worn something out for the night and then had a bad time, worn the outfit a second time and had another bad experience? Did you consign the outfit to the back of the wardrobe convinced that it was responsible for your rotten evening? We’ve all done it and we file it under the heading of ‘bad luck’; that outfit was just unlucky. We all know logically that a new pair of skinny jeans and a shirt can’t have mystical or divine powers but we still make that association because it’s natural to look for reasons and explanations for the things that happen in our lives.

Unfortunately the kind of logic that makes a pair of jeans a garment from the deepest pits of hell can also be applied to ourselves, our personalities. We all know people who never seem to have any kind of luck and others who seem to have the Midas touch but is it really that or is it just a case that the individuals in question only focus on either the negative or the positive and therefore that’s all that you hear from them? How many times do you hear the ‘unlucky’ guy say ‘I just knew it was going to be a disaster’ or ‘Nothing good ever happens to me’ and, conversely doesn’t the ‘lucky’ person always seem to be confident that life will go his way? Taken to extremes and without something to break his mental patterns, the ‘unlucky’ guy will eventually start telling himself that nothing good will ever happen to him and, like this, he has pretty much guaranteed a future of unhappiness for himself; whatever opportunities present themselves, he will have already decided that they’re not for him.

However, just as we can create negative associations and patterns in our minds we can also do the opposite and train our thoughts in such a way that our lives become easier, fuller and more pleasant.

Try replacing ‘I know’ with ‘perhaps’

Every night before you go to bed think of 3 things that you’re grateful for

Every morning when you wake up be thankful that you did actually wake up

Take 15 minutes out of your day to meditate, it will help you unravel your mental spaghetti

If you’re worried about something think ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ and then come to terms with that rather than considering all of the things that could potentially go wrong.

Shift your focus to the things that are right in your life not the things that are wrong

Remember that one day you’ll be dead and none of this will matter!