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

321 Quote Me – Being you, Only You

The lovely Rory, whose blog, if you don’t know it, is an absolute must read, has tagged me in a quote challenge, the subject being ‘You, Only You’. I love inspirational quotes so I am more than happy to play along with this one!

The lovely Rory, whose blog, if you don’t know it, is an absolute must read, has tagged me in a quote challenge, the subject being ‘You, Only You’. I love inspirational quotes so I am more than happy to play along with this one!

You wouldn’t worry so much what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do

This first quote from Eleanor Roosevelt is, for me truly enlightening; we worry so much about what others think without realising that they, in turn, are probably doing exactly the same thing. In reality, 99.99% of the world won’t give us, as individuals, a second thought and the other 0.01% love us for who we are, which brings me to my second quote:

321 quote me YOU 2

According to the rules I am now supposed to nominate 3 other bloggers to take on this challenge but I’m doing to leave this one open because looking for quotes that make us feel good about ourselves is something we should all do every once in a while isn’t it?

Lisa x

 

It’s Not Like in the Movies…

Have you ever thought about why we get so much pleasure from watching movies? Or reading books come to that? It’s a question that comes up so often at the start of relationships isn’t it? What’s your favourite movie or your favourite book? Why do they hold such significance for us?

Have you ever thought about why we get so much pleasure from watching movies? Or reading books come to that? It’s a question that comes up so often at the start of relationships isn’t it? What’s your favourite movie or your favourite book? Why do they hold such significance for us?

Is it purely escapism? In movies or books we can lose ourselves in another life, one that we’d prefer or one we’re glad we don’t have. Maybe it’s a way to better define our own realities? We see characters develop and watch the paths that they follow; does that give us a way to better forge our own paths – learning from their successes or mistakes?

Do we learn more about life from reality or from films and literature and are we ruined by what we see or read? Great love stories can leave us feeling inadequate because our own relationships don’t live up to the passionate maelstroms depicted but can also uplift and inspire us to seek out such a love. Do we feel defeated because we are not the handsome hero or the beautiful heroine or are we encouraged to improve ourselves physically? War films are rarely made without depicting heroism on one side and depravity on the other; does this give us a distorted view of a terrible tragedy or does it promote patriotism?

Lord of the RingsDo we like movies and books that make us laugh, that take us back to our childhoods in some way? To a time when we believed in magic and other worlds hidden behind a wardrobe door? Does a glimpse into the World of fantasy take us away from the mundane in our own lives? Are we looking for confirmation that good will always really triumph over evil? Do we look to our super-heroes to carry us away to a place where there will always be someone standing by to give us protection when we need it most?

I had all these questions running though my mind this morning so I decided to look up which books and films we love the most according to sales; the list might surprise you:

  1. Avatar (Fantasy)
  2. Titanic (Love Story)
  3. Starwars: The Force Awakens (Fantasy)
  4. Avengers: Infinity War (Fantasy/Super Heroes)
  5. Jurassic Park (Fantasy)
  6. Furious 7 (Action/Adventure)
  7. The Avengers (Fantasy/Super heroes)
  8. Avengers Age of Ultron (Fantasy/Super Heroes)
  9. Black Panther (Fantasy/Super Heroes)
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (Fantasy)

8 of the top 10 grossing films of all time are stories that take us completely away from reality and into another world. Is that what we are looking for?

The same can be said of books. There is not much from real life in the top selling books of all time (in the western world); Don Quixote tops the list, followed by a Tale of Two Cities but then we have Lord of the Rings. The Little Prince, Harry Potter , the Hobbit and the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The fantasy stories somehow cross the line between adulthood and childhood, meaning that they can be read and appreciated by both so what’s they key? Why are they so popular to so many people?

I honestly don’t know the answer, what do you think? Why do you read what you read and watch what you watch? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Lisa x

 

Believe in Yourself

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I am not religious in any way but I have always found this quote to be incredibly inspirational as it reminds us that we don’t need permission from others to be exactly who we are and that hiding our achievements and diminishing our dreams for the sake of others serves no-one. I think that many of us are much better than we think we are but we have chosen to believe all the bad things that were ever said about us and to learn from the negative experiences that life has thrown at us. Perhaps now is the time to remember the compliments, the admiration, the motivation and, above all, the love that others have shown us. Maybe we should turn our focus towards the positive and our backs on the negative.

Life is a gift which is only ever given to us once. We can bitch, moan and complain about it or we can appreciate it for the priceless, unique, fragile thing that it is. We were not made to exist in a vacuum of self-doubt and fear, we were made to live………it’s all about life ;O)

believe in yourself

 

Have a wonderful day everyone! Lisa xx

Are You Ordinary?

Be honest, was your first thought ‘no I’m not, bloody cheek!’ Was your second ‘oh crap what if I am ordinary’ followed by a feeling of ‘I need to do something extraordinary….now’. That would certainly be my normal thought process but this morning I questioned why. What’s wrong with having no special or distinctive features (dictionary definition of ordinary in case you were wondering), what’s wrong with being ordinary?

Be honest, was your first thought ‘no I’m not, bloody cheek!’ Was your second ‘oh crap what if I am ordinary’ followed by a feeling of ‘I need to do something extraordinary….now’. That would certainly be my normal thought process but this morning I questioned why. What’s wrong with having no special or distinctive features (dictionary definition of ordinary in case you were wondering), what’s wrong with being ordinary?

bestWe are constantly being told to strive for more, to be the very best that we can be and that’s all very well, there’s nothing wrong with ambition, but what if the heights we are being pushed towards just give us vertigo? In the name of ‘motivation’ we are told to ignore fear, exhaustion, problems and just reach for the stars. We are told that we cannot be successful without confidence, strength, determination and a relentlessly positive attitude. We are constantly having great men and women held up before us as bastions of achievement: the rich, the famous, the beautiful, the athletic, the intellectual, the spiritual. We are presented with so many images of people that we should aspire to that it’s easy to lose our own face when we look in the mirror…..

hayleyMany of these people that we so admire, and often feel so inferior to, have their place in the halls of fame for no other reason than genetics; they are born with a symmetrical face, a beautiful body, intelligence, athletic ability etc. Yet we often feel that we can’t live the life of our dreams if we don’t somehow attain these attributes; what do we think we can do? Go back and change our parents? Of course not, that’s impossible, so we do what we can: we have plastic surgery, we diet, we study, we work out, we push and push and push until we are satisfied……are we ever satisfied?

Invariably no because there will always be someone cleverer, more attractive, more successful, more talented…or is that just what we tell ourselves? We look at those people we aspire to, we want to swap our lives for theirs but what do we really know about them? All we ever really see is a media image, a reflection of their success. How many ‘stars’ have died young from drug overdoses, how many have broken marriages, how many have become a recluse in an attempt to escape their world? How many are accused of assault or are victims of the same? They struggle with their weight, their mental health, alcoholism, drug addiction and often lose those battles over and over again.

Their lives are ‘ordinary’ inasmuch as they suffer from exactly the same challenges that everyone else faces; they are merely extraordinary because they face them under the glare of the spotlight. Yes they have success, fame and money but none of those things will detract from the pain of grief or betrayal; they will suffer no more and no less than someone who has nothing.

To say that we are ‘ordinary’ is to say that we have nothing special that defines us but each of us is unique; there is no-one else absolutely identical to us on the face of this planet. We are one in 7.5 billion. Isn’t that extraordinary? If you found a flower that was a one-off, never seen before or since, wouldn’t you cherish it and protect it from harm? Wouldn’t you shower it with everything it could possibly need to keep it alive and thriving? Wouldn’t you hold it up for the world to see so that you could share its unique beauty, the traits that no other flower shared?

You, exactly as you are, at this very moment, are far from ordinary. If you want to change something about yourself then do it but not because you want to be less ‘ordinary’, you will never be that….

Lisa x

Fighting Amongst Yourself

Have you ever had a fight with yourself? I don’t mean taking yourself by the scruff of the neck and throwing yourself over the back of the sofa, more a fight within the confines of your own mind. I believe the technical term is ‘internal dialogue’, when the exchange is calm and productive, this is more of an ‘internal slanging match’. It’s as though your thoughts suddenly take against each other……

Have you ever had a fight with yourself? I don’t mean taking yourself by the scruff of the neck and throwing yourself over the back of the sofa, more a fight within the confines of your own mind. I believe the technical term is ‘internal dialogue’, when the exchange is calm and productive, this is more of an ‘internal slanging match’. It’s as though your thoughts suddenly take against each other……

Usually it begins with a single, simple phrase that runs through your mind, dragging a negative, but all too willing, emotion along with it

“I can’t do this!”  says the Captain of team doubt, accompanied by Sergeant Anxiety.

“Of course you can, it’s a wonderful opportunity”

The Captain of team positive thinking takes centre stage flanked by a couple of pom pom waving cheer leaders from Camp self-esteem

“I can’t, it’s too much pressure, I know it’s going to be a disaster”

Team doubt have been joined by Fear (always a big player) and a couple of rejects from Camp self-esteem who were kicked out for ‘not playing well with others’.

“We’ve talked about this. You cannot know what will happen; let go of control and just go where life takes you”

cheerleadersTeam positive thinking have recruited self-confidence (who did not come willingly) The cheerleaders are busy chanting motivational quotes and trying to work out how to build a human pyramid with just the two of them.

 

“Oh bugger off you bloody hippy, what do you know about it”

The rejects from Camp self-esteem take this opportunity to wrestle the pom poms from the cheerleaders and start hitting self-confidence over the head with them; not an eager participant in the first place, he makes a run for it.

“I’m you, you blithering idiot!”

At this point both sides will realise what a nonsense their battle really is or they’ll both take serious offence and launch an all out attack on each other, which results in the owner of the warring thoughts having to lie down in a darkened room for a couple of days.

Viewing my inner dialogue scraps like this is the only way that I can keep them from drawing battle lines and really wrecking my life. Today, I enlisted the help of Common Sense who is currently standing in the middle of the two protagonists with his arms folded and a stern ‘don’t mess with me you bastards’ look on his face.

Why is all this necessary? Well, a couple of my closest friends have organised a surprise for me today.

“I don’t like surprises”

“How do you know, you don’t know what it is, that’s the point of surprises”

“Oh, sod off with your bloody logic, I know what I don’t like”

Sorry, guys, I need to go and give Common Sense a hand, they seem to be giving him a wedgie……..

See you later

Lisa x

 

 

If Only…..

How many times have you said those two words to yourself or to someone else? Hundreds of times? Thousands? When you watch a film or read a book, do you think, for example, ‘If only he had gone to the bus park that day, he would never have lost her’. Have you ever said ‘if only’ before an event or during? No, of course not, it’s something we say with hindsight and hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?

How many times have you said those two words to yourself or to someone else? Hundreds of times? Thousands? When you watch a film or read a book, do you think, for example, ‘If only he had gone to the bus park that day, he would never have lost her’. Have you ever said ‘if only’ before an event or during? No, of course not, it’s something we say with hindsight and hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?

Pretty much all of us have grown up with books, films and TV series which deliver ‘if only’ as an absolute; if only she hadn’t gone up to the attic she’d still be alive, if he hadn’t picked up that slipper he’d never have found the love of his life. We are served a never ending diet of black and white, two narrow paths, one which leads to a perfect life and the other which leads to ‘if only’. Is it any wonder that give ourselves such a hard time over the decisions that we make? We have seen the unfortunate consequences of making the ‘wrong’ decision too many times and often can’t see past black or white when, in real life, there are many shades of grey (at least 50 apparently).

The thing is, we never really give much thought to what the outcome could have been if the ending of the story wasn’t ‘perfect’……..

What if Jesus had sent Judas packing with a flea in his ear so he couldn’t betray him for 30 pieces of silver? Would Jesus have saved himself untold suffering? Yes. Would Christianity as we know if today exist? Probably not. Jesus could have ended up living a perfectly happy life with a wife and children, carried on with his teachings for a while and then drifted into obscurity. He followed the difficult path, the one that we would never follow if we knew the outcome: torture and a slow lingering death.

CinderellaOn a more frivolous note, what if Cinderella took off her rose coloured glasses 10 minutes after the wedding and realised that the castle was cold and draughty, her prince, though handsome, was mind numbingly dull and the glass slippers gave her blisters? Not quite the happy ending that we’ve all been brought up with is it?

The fact is that we can ponder decisions for days, weeks or even months. We can run every possible scenario through our minds, looking for the black or white answer that we see on the big and small screens and in our favourite books but we will never find it. We cannot fast-forward our lives to see the outcome, to see if we win or lose. We could decide to buy lottery tickets with the last of our money and win millions, lose all our friends, party too hard, marry someone stunning only to have them cheat on us and end up crashing our Ferrari out of our head on drugs. Alternatively, we use the money to buy food to keep ourselves going for another day, find out the store keeper needs an assistant, work for him and serve green beans to the woman who ends up being the love of our live. On the other hand, we see a starving child, turn to give them the money and get run over by a bus.

Never-regret-anything1.jpgThere are a million different scenarios and, if we try to plan for or even think about all of them we’ll go crazy so make the decision and forget it, follow the path and don’t look back. Life is not about fairy tale endings, goodies and baddies; when we say ‘if only’ we are looking backwards with regret, wouldn’t we be better served to enjoy the now? Black and white is not reality, enjoy the shades of grey……….

Lisa

x

 

There Must be More…..

to life than this. Have you ever thought that, when you were having a bad day, when nothing seemed to be going your way? Maybe you felt at the end of your tether, that life just seems to be an endless slog, every day the same with nothing ever getting any better?

to life than this. Have you ever thought that, when you were having a bad day, when nothing seemed to be going your way? Maybe you felt at the end of your tether, that life just seems to be an endless slog, every day the same with nothing ever getting any better?

I have felt like that more times than I care to count over the last few years but recently I’ve woken up to something – there isn’t more than life, there is only how you view it. It sounds horribly cliched to say it but many of the problems that we have in life are caused by focusing on what we don’t have, rather than what we do have. In looking for complex solutions, we often miss the simple things that could give us pleasure if we would but notice them:

IMG_5235 (1)
Mother Nature is always waving her arms at us and saying ‘look!’. She creates beautiful things for us every day, despite the fact that we often do our best to ruin them
New York
We can’t always have a stunning view but we can always find something to make us smile if we look hard enough…
circle-friends-having-fun-together
We can enjoy the time that we spend with our friends and family: the people that we love and who love us
solitude
But there is pleasure to be found in quiet solitude….
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There will be time for adventure, for adrenaline rushes and wild excitement…
Contemplation
Equally, we can take pleasure from the moments when our hearts and minds are still and quiet…
Baby
There is beauty in the young…. 
old ladies
There is beauty in the old……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

animals
There is beauty in the animal world….
lotus-flowers
And a simple flower can be the most beautiful of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the next time you think ‘there must be more to life than this’, just remember that there isn’t and then just think ‘isn’t it wonderful!’

Lisa

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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