Category Archives: Happiness

Dear James: Am I On the Right Path?

Dear James,
I recently left my husband of 11-years: it has been a battle from the very beginning. It was an abusive relationship including alcohol and drugs. My question is am I making the right choice by leaving and planning on divorcing him? I’m struggling with my decision to do this.

I also recently applied to go back to school. I want to do this and I have everything paid for, but I need a job. I’m struggling to make the decision to go to work or school and I need to get a place so I can move back to a different town where my kids will attend school. I’m afraid I’m making all the wrong choices, but since I have left, so many doors have opened up to me. I’m excited but also afraid that I need to stay with my husband: that he will truly change and be a good husband.
Answer:
You are indeed on the right path: it’s why it feels so right: and yet so uncomfortable.

Eleven plus years have been spent in torment, anguish, denial and pain.
A decade of hiding the truth just so you could feel the slightest bit normal…sane.
Addicts routinely make promises they never keep: it’s in their DNA. Their need for the next fix, score or drink is so strong, it eviscerates all rational thinking: judgment: responsibility: or accountability.

Substance Abusers and Addicts are illnesses in need of treatment. By second-guessing your decision to remove yourself from this toxic environment by separating and ultimately divorcing, you leave the door wide open for yourself to continue as an enabler.

The only thing you want to enable: is your forward momentum and recovery.
You and your children would be wise to seek counseling in order to truly cleanse your souls. To unburden oneself is to wash away the residue of that which was left behind by lasting impressions.

You never have to stop loving your husband and father of your children. You just have to love your self more: and him enough so as to allow him to fall, so he may yet rise…if he so chooses.

Empower yourself by educating yourself.

Demonstrate to your children the depth and determination of your will, the levity and gaiety of your spirit, and the strength of your convictions.

Open yourself to the many doors and windows that will continue to open for you, as you seek to move and align yourself with your highest purpose and ideals.
Be forgiving of yourself and others, as forgiveness speeds the momentum of your recovery.

Be patient, yet confident, in all your dealings and decisions. Life is not a sprint, but a marathon.

Enjoy the journey, as you will come to discern the destination is fluid, not fixed.

Above all else, believe with all your being that you are doing the true and right thing.

Be steadfast: not steely.

Ultimately, Peace comes to those who willfully believe they are worthy of it.
Be worthy of Peace.

DearJames

DearJames™ provides intuitive insight, answers and advice…to your life questions. DearJames™ is an Intuitive Advice Columnist, Radio Host and Consultant.  DearJames™ is available for private intuitive consultations and you may also listen and call in live every Wednesday at 9:00AM Pacific on the Contact Talk Radio Network during DearJames Live – EXPRESS YOURSELF: an all live call in show where you Tell It Like It Is…And Then Hear What DearJames™ Has To Say. ASK DearJames a question or find an abundance of Inspiration, Advice, Wellness Resources & Tools and Charitable Giving opportunities at www.dearjames.com.

The Most Basic Guide to Affirmations

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There are infinite schools of thought as to how good things happen in a person’s life.
Maybe that person is just extra good.
Maybe they believe it, so it happened.
They made a deal with the Devil.
They made a deal with God.
They were lucky.
The sun lined up with Jupiter just right and the full moon was in retrograde.

I’m not a scientist, so I can neither confirm nor deny the power of the moon in retrograde, but I do know that the practice of positive affirmation isn’t a wasted one. There is something to having hope, faith and love. Believing for the best has the power to rewire your brain and help you finally put a stop to the things we are usually eager to leave behind.

Dr. Arlene Taylor specializes in speaking on brain function and she had some very interesting things to say about the best way to get your brain to respond:

According to the dictionary, the word affirm means to validate and to state positively. Practically, this defines a nurturing communications style; one in which you talk to yourself and to others in a positive manner. In general, “positives” are more powerful than “negatives.” Positives are a one-step process that creates a picture that you want the brain to follow. Negatives, on the other hand, require a two-step process. Words such as don’t are meant to convey do the opposite of the picture that was just created in the brain. This is often difficult for a mature brain to figure out and may be virtually impossible for the immature brain to compute.It might feel silly at first, but let me encourage you to speak affirmations out loud.

-Dr. Arlene Taylor, “What Does Affirmation Mean?”

Much like we do, our brains respond best to a positive environment with clear, direct communication.

What do you want?
Say them. Audibly.
It doesn’t have to be for an audience but it’s important that you AND your brain gets the message about what you’re going for.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to the words you choose, no magic spell.
So again, what do you want?
Put those desires together in a clear and direct sentence.

I am awake and alive. I have all the energy I need for today.

I am capable and strong enough to face the challenges that come my way.

I can form habits that are beneficial and long-lasting.

Choosing happiness is something I can and will do everyday.

Where are you in your life right now?
What would you like to see come into your life or change?
That’s a great place to start.
Speak what you would like to see.
Speak what you would like your brain to agree with instead of agreeing with things that aren’t necessarily any more true-

That you aren’t smart enough, likeable, pretty, strong, able.
That good things will never happen for you.
That you aren’t good enough.
That you just aren’t the kind of person who gets what they dream of.

Stop agreeing with those things consciously or subconsciously.
You are able and you are enough.
So say it.

The Search for Ultimate Happiness

Yesterday a friend dropped an email into my inbox.
It said, “I just have to share something with you …..on Sunday, Brian
and I went to see the feature film, Hector and The Search for Happiness…
we laughed, we cried…it is funny, inspiring, transformational….we just loved it.”

By the end of the day, I’d watched the trailer several times, remembered how much I loved Simon Pegg, and had some great answers to questions about happiness from director and co-writer Peter Chelsom.

May I present “Hector and the Search for Happiness”…

As the man who filmed a man traveling the world in search of happiness, Chelsom seems pretty qualified to offer insights as to what makes people feel whole and satisfied. We’re happy to share the interview and his wisdom here!

Intent: Why do you think “Hector and the Search for Happiness” is important for today’s audience?
PC: We have lost sight of what happiness really is. We have become too “needy.” We are more pre-occupied with being interesting as opposed to be interested. And credit and advertising have made sure that we are never going to have enough!

Intent: What is one thing you think the world doesn’t get about happiness?
PC: Making happiness the goal doesn’t really work but what does work is understanding that real happiness is a by-product of giving yourself over to life, being in the flow, being inspired. What does work is that real happiness is richness. Richness is the full spectrum of all of the emotions, all the colors.

Intent: What/where is your happy place?
PC: Being with my family. And, being with my family at our home in Italy.

Intent: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who starting their own search for happiness?
PC: I say to my sons. “Come on boys, what is the secret to happiness and they reply kindness.” I love that because it’s a mission, a plan, an transitive action, something you can do. The by-product is surely happiness.

Intent: Were you surprised to learn anything over the course of filming- about yourself, about your career, about life?
PC: Very much. How lucky I am. How far I’ve come. As writers, Tinker Lindsey and I had to get personal and look to ourselves.
I genuinely feel that the zero on my axis has risen so that the lows are not as desperate and the highs are more cherished.

Intent: Has there ever been a big risk that you took and ended up being really glad you did?
PC: Yes. Becoming a filmmaker, is a ridiculous risk. What bugs me about non-believers and atheists, they talk about deluding yourself and I say, if I had NOT deluded myself, I would have never become a filmmaker. If I had been a realist, I would have never had tried. You say delusion, I say faith.

Intent: When it comes to making choices about your life, what criteria do you use when deciding yes or no?
PC: The criteria used to be selfish, now that I am a family man, family has become the criteria.

Intent: What fears are left for you to conquer?
PC: Growing old.

Intent: What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
PC: Having children. I wouldn’t have said that I am naturally qualified, now I think I’m pretty good!

Intent: If you could go on an adventure, where would it be and what would it look like?
PC: Having been round the world making this film, my idea of adventure is not a check box of lots of different places, but exploring one place, one area in massive details. Probably, me, the family, the car and 8 weeks to travel through all of Italy.

So go see it.
Go take a couple of hours to rest your brain, laugh, cry, and then ask yourself what you want out of this life. Every day is a day where everything can change. It might was well be today.

Name It to Tame It

A Powerful Tip I read about in “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain” by Dr. Dan Siegel

I was dropping off my 12 year old daughter to her 7th Grade retreat, and I could see that she was nervous. It was a 2-night trip with new classmates from her new school. She is not one who is keen on retreats – in fact, she generally doesn’t like sleep-overs and has never wanted to go to a sleep away camp. At the same time, she was excited with the discovery of independence at Middle School, and knew that the retreat was a great opportunity to make new friends.

I reminded her that when she is feeling anxious, the first step is to breathe. Pause. Take deep breaths. One. Two. Three. Let the air coming in help push the anxiety out. She didn’t smile exactly as I spoke, but I could see her slowing down with deeper breathes as she listened.

I added a new twist to the exercise – something I had just read about in Dr. Dan Siegel’s book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain.

“In the brain, naming an emotion can help calm it… Name it to Tame It.”

He explains:

“For all of us, as teenagers or adults, when intense emotions erupt in our minds, we need to learn to feel them and deal with them… Learning to deal with emotions means being aware of them and modifying them inside so that we can think clearly. Sometimes we can name it to tame it and help balance our brains emotional intensity by putting words to what we feel… There are even some brain studies that show how this naming process can activate the prefrontal cortex and calm the limbic amygdala!”

As Tara was away on her retreat, I found myself practicing the Name It To Tame It technique, and the effects were dramatic. When feeling stressed or upset, I would pause, breathe, recognize the sensations in my body, name the emotion (frustration, anger, anxiety), and continue.  In fact, in a particularly frustrating work situation, I named my feelings through my negotiations, and felt I was much more calm, clear headed and non-emotional.

Tara returned from her trip with a big smile and lots of stories about their adventures. She noted that there were moments when she felt alone and anxious, but she reassured me she took deep breaths, recognized her feelings, and proceeded.

Dr. Dan Siegel is a prolific author and presently a clinical professor of Psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine. Learn more about him at his website or purchase your own copy of Brainstorm: the Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain and let us know what you think!

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Back To School Intents

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Last week, after dropping Leela off to her first day of 4
th grade at school, I came home and a wave of exhaustion, relaxation, elation and depression all hit at once. My 7th grader, Tara, started a new Middle School two weeks earlier.

Back to school bliss or back to school blues?! I couldn’t decide. 

We had had an adventurous summer, with lots of friends and family visiting us. But we also truly relaxed, enjoying days with no schedules. My summer intent for my kids was to let them get bored – rather than sign up for camps, we did a few classes and they spent the days at home figuring out what to do. They read, they watched television, played video games, painted, wrote, and hung out. I let their minds wander, aimlessly, happily, with no agenda.

Yet, within hours of them back in school, I was on my calendar, scheduling after school activities, logistics of two different drop offs and pickups, work commitments. I found myself mentally scheduling time to relax with our new Fall schedule! Why does it seem inevitable that our modern life gets us busy again? I find that despite trying not to get my kids too busy, the homework/music lessons/sports/friends life balance already seems an untenable goal.

As I begin the Fall, I decided to set some Back To School intents for me and my kids.

So here goes:

My intent is to meditate regularly.
This is top priority for me. And if I can commit to it, and show my girls through my example its value, I believe they will want to do it as well. I love meditating with my girls. We sit together in our favorite spots in the living room, we cuddle a bit, talk about the day, close our eyes, meditate, and then set intents for the week or day.

My intent is to make sleep a priority in our life.
My girls are growing, and need their sleep. For the last few months, we have been able to sleep without waking up with an alarm clock. I know the health and emotional benefits of good sleep, and don’t want to compromise on this for our family. We have an early morning schedule now, so if it means compromising some activities, that’s ok. Sleep is more important.

My intent is to focus on nourishing foods.
I just completed a two week cleanse, and for the first time since I can remember am feeling good without my cookies, ice cream, brownies, and heavy carb-filled pastas, pizza’s etc.

Also, while writing my book, Living With Intent, I was more mindful of my eating habits and why I was choosing the foods I consume. I realized that I am passing on my own eating habits to my kids. Once again, if I can guide them through my own example and through the changes in our meals at home, I hope I can teach them better habits.

My intent is to be flexible.
If we need to adjust schedules, skip a dance class, drop tennis, forgo doing extra math homework, I need to let go and know that it’s ok. Together we can figure out schedules and think about “time management”, but at the end of the day our journey is about love and service. I do believe flexibility is one of the keys to finding joy, and want to embrace that idea fully this school year.

My intent is to cherish the love of learning.
My kids are learning so many incredible things in school this year. I want to celebrate the love of learning, and engage in conversations with them about new ideas and discoveries.

My intent is to express gratitude every day.
Early mornings, new schedules, lots of homework – its easy to fall into the back to school blue mode. Instead I want to focus on gratitude, and incorporate it into our daily conversation. I want us to share at least one thing daily that we are grateful for.

 I’d love to hear your intents for the Fall here in the comment section. 

Please do share them on www.intent.com as well, so we can keep the dialogue going!

My Intent is to Read More: 13 Tips for Getting More Reading Done.


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Of my hundreds of happiness-project resolutions, and of the habits I’ve tried to form, one of my very favorites is to Read more

Reading is an essential part of my work. It forms an important part to my social life. And far more important, reading is my favorite thing to do, by a long shot. I’m not a well-rounded person.

But reading takes time, and there aren’t many days when I can read as much as I’d like. Here are some habits that I’ve adopted to help me get more good reading done.

1. Quit reading. I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started. No more. Life is short. There are too many wonderful books to read.

2. Read books you enjoy. When I’m reading a book I love—for example, I’m now reading Charles Portis’s True Grit — I’m astonished by how much time I find to read. Which is another reason to stop reading a book I don’t enjoy.

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