Tag Archives: true self

A Happiness Lesson from Claire Danes

danesThe September 30, 2013 issue of the New Yorker had an interesting piece, John Lahr’s “Varieties of Disturbance” about actor Claire Danes.

Though I’ve never watched My So-Called Life (yes, I know this is unacceptable, and it’s on my to-do list), I do love Homeland, so I was interested to read the profile.

Danes was quoted saying something that really caught my attention”

“One of the lessons of her adulthood, Danes has said, was ‘that there is real honor in being a total goofball.’”

This struck me, because I’ve really worked hard, myself, to embrace my inner goofball. Not to worry about seeming dignified, or sophisticated, or knowledgeable, but to Be Gretchen.

In this respect, one of my patron saints is Julia Child, and of all the posts I’ve ever written, one of my favorites is my encomium to her. She was goofy yet masterly, light-hearted yet authoritative.

Enthusiasm is a form of social courage.

Realizing this was part of my embrace of my love for children’s literature. And therefore it’s especially appropriate for me to quote, in this context, a great master of children’s literature.  In his brilliant essay, On Three Ways of Writing for Children, C. S. Lewis wrote:

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

Yes, there is real honor in being a total goofball.

Agree, disagree? In what way do you allow yourself to be a total goofball?

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Blatant self-promotion: You’ve probably been asking yourself, “Hey, should I read Happier at Home?” Of course you should! Here are some reasons why you should pick up a copy. For one thing, my sister the sage says it’s my best book.

How Do We Become Strong And Confident From Within?

jana and the surf

First, be one with yourself. Accept yourself. Love yourself. Society conditions, educates, and “civilizes” each of us in such a way that we begin to condemn ourselves. For example, society states that you should not be sad. You should be happy. If your truth is that you are sad, you repress the truth, and become something you are not; you become phony. This phony side of you is what society accepts. A division is created within yourself.

Psychological pain exists because you are divided, at war within yourself. As a result, life becomes complicated. When you lose touch with your inner truth, and are living from a divided self, pulled this way and that, by your desire to please and be accepted by others, you find yourself  lost, isolated, and deeply unhappy. You create challenges, adversity, and difficulties to keep yourself distracted and to   prove to yourself that you are worthy.
If, however, you are able to live your sadness with total authenticity, the division disappears.

For example: you are sad; that is the truth of this moment. But your conditioned mind says: “You have to be happy. Smile! What will people think of you?”

Here is the problem: you pretend, you act, you repress the truth. The phony becomes the ideal. How can you know, and love yourself, if you don’t accept yourself?

Live your sadness in total authenticity, and you will be surprised. A miraculous door opens in your being, because the division disappears. Sadness is there and there is no question of any ideal to be anything else. There is no effort, no conflict, no war. “I am simply this” and there is relaxation. And in that relaxation is grace, and joy.

Psychological pain exists because you are divided. Pain means division, and joy means no-division. You might be thinking: how can feeling my sadness bring joy? It looks paradoxical, but it is true. Try it. However, please note: accepting your sadness with an agenda to feel joy, is not going to work. Joy arises through your authentic expression of sadness.

Joy is a by-product of being authentic. Joy is a natural consequence of being united with your sadness, because it is your truth, in this moment. In the next moment you may be angry: accept that too. And the next moment you may be something else: accept that too.

Live moment to moment, with acceptance, without any division, and self-love, self-worth, self-confidence arise within you, naturally, and automatically.

Drop all ideals of how you should be, and accept who you are, in each moment. The journey of self-acceptance starts with becoming aware of your feelings, and allowing yourself to feel your feelings. We are human. Feeling is a part of the human experience.

Get used to feeling because feeling is to LIVE, feeling is to be ALIVE. When  uncomfortable feelings arise: allow, experience and accept. On the other side of your sadness, hurt, and despair is your magnificent, brilliant, luminous spirit, which is not damaged. Your spirit is love, and when aligned with your authenticity, guides your life with grace, and ease.

Accepting yourself, warts an’ all,  helps you become strong and confident from within, so that no matter what other people think or say, you are deeply rooted in your own self-worth. Your feelings are the key. Love is always waiting on the other side. The only thing blocking you from receiving more love is your resistance to feeling your feelings.

Are you thinking: I don’t want to feel because I don’t want to be hurt any more?
 I understand. I went through this very same experience.  As I allowed myself to start feeling, something wonderful happened. I began to feel more love,  to laugh, and enjoy my life more. I was  liberated  from a prison of pain and opened up to more self-love, self-worth, and self-confidence, AND  to receiving more love from others.

Inner strength and confidence are an inside job. When you get to the point where you can accept yourself, the need for challenges, adversity, and complications, just falls away, because you don’t need to prove your worth any more to yourself.

Meditation: Accept Yourself– 4 minutes



Benefits: In the very experiencing of your feelings, a spaciousness is created, and miracles can occur. Trust that, even when you feel miserable, on the other side of the misery, is love. Our natural state is love. All we have to do is accept who we are, in any given moment, and love is there.

Start gently, with compassion for yourself.

Sit,or lie down, whichever is most comfortable for your body.

Breathe, relax your body, open your palms upwards, in a receptive posture.

Allow your feelings, whatever they are, without judging, condemning or criticizing yourself.

Accept what is happening, in each moment, without wanting it to be different. When you fight what is, you make it worse. You are the way you are: accept yourself with joy, with gratitude.

I look forward to your comments.

3 Ways to Make Your Life Story One That Empowers You

leap“Don’t allow your situation to become your world.” – Bishop T.D. Jakes from Oprah’s Life Class

We all have a story. Sometimes it explains why we can’t do something and other times our story propels us forward.

I’ve heard cases where people have the same story — such as lack of money, resources, or knowledge — and one person eventually starts a successful business while the other is out of work and depressed. One story can lead to completely opposite interpretations and outcomes.

When you tell your story, you must…

1. Be honest about your story and stick to the facts.
Nothing more nor less!

2. Create the story that empowers you to move forward.
Never lower your standards!

3. Live your truth.
Establish non-negotiables!

“Does your story empower you or dis-empower you?” – Tony Robbins

We all have stories in different areas of our life. The facts are always available. The only thing that changes is how we interpret them and how we decide to embellish them.

Let’s look at three situations in different areas of your life…

1. Health

Facts: You have two kids, time is in limited supply, and you want to spend time with your kids.

Your Story: You can’t get in shape because you have kids and don’t have time.

OR

Truth: You must prioritize exercising because you want to stay healthy and be around to enjoy your children for many years.

2. Career

Facts: Your career is unfulfilling and you would like to be happy in your job.

Your Story: You can’t leave your job which is un-fulfilling because you will never find another job and you have no other skills.

OR

Truth: You need to move outside your comfort zone to learn new skills and find a job that makes your happy and allows you to share your strengths.

3. Relationships

Facts: You grew up in a dysfunctional home.

Your Story: You can’t have a good relationship because you grew up in a dysfunctional home.

OR

Truth: Surrounding yourself with stable people and creating a positive environment are important elements to have in your life because you did not have either when you were growing up.

Often, my clients have different stories for different areas of their lives. For example, one amazing and successful client has a can-do mindset in business and athletics. In his career, he believes he can close any deal and handle the most difficult clients. In the area of healthy living/athletics, he has the courage to go after his goals and compete in various triathlon competitions with no limits. However, in his relationships, he has the story that he’s had really bad luck and is not cut out for intimate relationships. Although relationships are challenging for all of us, I challenge his story line.

The one thing I know for sure, as Oprah likes to say, is that sticking to the facts opens you up to a more powerful story and outcome. If you have had relationships or jobs that weren’t fulfilling, then say that. Your story is not permanent. Focus on what you want to bring into your life and why it’s important. Create the story that empowers you forward.

Often you have to challenge your conclusions and ask yourself if they are true. Does it really make sense that you can make anything in your career and healthy living a reality, yet relationships elude you? How much time do you spend on the areas you are successful in versus the ones you would like to have different results in? Your story must be the truth. This is the only way to create a top 1% path and share your best self.

 

Originally published April 2012

How to Find Balance by Losing It

Minimum DayThere’s this beautiful moment that happens a few weeks into dating someone new when, after countless sleepless nights either staying up with them or staying up thinking about them, you’re still able to maintain a thread of maturity that nudges you to get back to a normal sleep schedule. With somewhat divine timing, both people usually have this realization right around the same time, and then there’s that adorable little conversation you have where you establish you’re on the same page about being “in like” with each other but that neither of you can bear another day in the office sustained by two hours of sleep and four cups of coffee.

I write like I’ve had this kind of conversation about 11 times in my life, but that’s not true at all. It’s only happened in a rare few instances, but one of them was last night, hence my return to writing to you from my couch at an ungodly hour of the morning (yes, I think 7:45 AM is ungodly: I am no Thich Nhat Hanh.) All giddiness aside, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t terrified when I looked at my blog this morning and noticed I hadn’t really written anything since September 2nd.

The two week gap between this post and my last written post perpetuated a familiar terror that I might be at the risk of “losing myself” – an affliction we’re all taught or compelled to be guarded against. My concern as I gazed at the dates with no blog entries associated with them reminded me of Liz Gilbert’s sentiments at the end of her famous novel, Eat, Pray, Love when Liz, having spent four months soul-searching and meditating regularly in India, carries her new routine into Bali as a grounding source of her finally-found self. It’s in Bali that she meets her now-husband and subsequently has a total freak out when she realizes she’s stopped meditating for two weeks in favor of…well…activities far more fun than meditating. Her extreme panic at the idea that she might be losing herself again is one I’m very well acquainted with, so I try to remember what her now-famed spiritual teacher Ketut tells her when she arrives distraught after her two-week beginning of a love affair:

“Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life.”

Balance is an interesting thing, really. It’s important to have it but it’s just as important to lose it, too … or so I am told. We must be human beings first, or else what would we as writers have to write about, anyway? If we’re not to get lost, how are we ever to explain the process of being found with any real authenticity?

In the process of seeking a balanced life, I think it’s important that we make room to actually live it. It’s the life that bears the stories, the stories that bear the writing. We’ll always come back to our proverbial pen and paper, or whatever routines that make us feel like ourselves. This time though, we’ll come back to them with a more open heart … and a heart that has more stories to tell anyway.

 

For more, check out my website, The Light Files, and follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

14/365 ~ That's not me in the mirror. [EXPLORE]

We’ve all had times in our lives where we did not love ourselves. Sometimes, we hate to even look at ourselves in the mirror. But even so, I was surprised recently when I was teaching a Zumba class and I noticed one student left around 15 minutes into the class. The next week I received this email from him:

“Dear Orion:
Thank you so much for the class. I chose to leave, and I wanted you to know it had very little to do with you, except for the fact that you chose to have us look in the mirror. I hadn’t remembered how awful I am in front of mirrors. I had to leave when I caught a glimpse of myself. It’s old stuff, but it’s a weak-spot for me. I cannot sustain, as of yet, images of my physical form in mirrors. I really appreciated the class and found your enthusiasm infectious. Thanks.”

I know how it feels. I have been there myself… and so I was compelled to reply:

“I believe you need to start working on self-love. Unless you are a vampire, you cannot avoid mirrors. Most gyms and fitness studios have mirrors; you can’t escape them. It’s not about vanity; looking in the mirror helps you improve your form and visually gauge your progress. If you don’t examine yourself, you have little indication of what to improve. You are here to realize your true potential, and looking at yourself in the mirror with love is a powerful tool. Love yourself no matter what, and be grateful for having a healthy body. Be grateful for the fact that you are able to move, to breathe, to simply be alive. When you appreciate what you have, you give up all of the guilt, blame, shame and self-criticism that do not serve you. The choice is yours; you can choose to live your life with your head in the sand, or to confront what you need to work on. In order to feel better, in order to become your dreams and live the life you deserve, you need to look at what is happening with you.”

Most nights I go on YouTube and listen to things that empower me, like Abraham Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, and so on. We have all gone through difficult times in our lives. I know I have. But it is how you get up, not how you fall, that defines you. Getting up is what matters. Working on you is just how it sounds; it is work. But it is so worth it; meditation, self-exploration, dressing nicely, pampering yourself, working out and eating healthy food all make you vibrant and will change your life.

You need to want to change and YOU have to do the work, my dear. There is no magic pill. Life will put “mirrors” in front of you. People will reflect emotions back at you: when you are angry they will get angry back at you, and when you smile they will smile back. It’s all good because it helps you look at yourself and improve what you do not like to see in you. People also will reflect kindness at you, helping you to notice and appreciate your inner beauty. It’s up to you to “wake up”; open your eyes to the lessons and to a brighter reality. No seminar, self-help book, audio program, DVD, or human being will validate you. It will help direct you, but you need to validate and love yourself. It’s up to you. Believe in yourself like I believe in you.

When I was having difficulties with my self-worth, I learned an exercise called “mirror work” from Louise Hay. I did it when I was in a place in my life where not only could I not look at myself in the mirror, but I was walking with my head down! I remember when I started working on self-love and self-acceptance and saying “I love you” to myself in front of a mirror, I immediately started crying because I was so consumed with self-hate and self-judgment. I am happy to report that this affirmation (with some repetition) completely shifted my perspective. Today I love the girl I see in the mirror, even in pajamas and without make-up. Do this exercise every time you pass by a mirror, and I promise you, within just a couple weeks you can create a breakthrough for yourself.

Mirror work

Every day, look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud: “I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT.” When you hear that voice that says “Who are you kidding?” tell this voice “Thank you for sharing” and continue on. No matter what you did or did not do, you are worthy of love. If something good happened, run to the mirror and say “I love you, thank you.” If something bad happens, run to the mirror and say “I love you, I love no matter what.” Keep looking into your eyes with love and appreciation. You are worthy of love, just because you exist.

Remember this simple equation: work on your mind + work on your body + serve others = a life full of love and fulfillment.

I want to hear your stories. Please share how you found self-love and appreciation and any techniques that worked for you.

Envy as a Catalyst for Change (Part 2)

139378542_825107ffa3Click here to read Part 1!

Once you recognize envy for what it is, use it as a catalyst for change. Figure out exactly what it is you envy your friend for that you lack. Maybe it’s as simple as needing a little excitement in your life or maybe it’s the beginning of acknowledging the need for a real, substantive change that makes the day into night. It’s up to you to process, fertilize and transform your envy into the fuel that propels positive change or the blissful acceptance and appreciation that demonstrate that you are truly becoming the person you admire most.

Jealousy is a bit harder to use for your own enlightenment but perhaps that much more important for you to understand and take control of turning the tables. It’s not always going to work: Your bestie’s engagement ring is going to be hard to stomach if the love of your life just broke up with you any way you look at it. But it can be a useful exercise in figuring out exactly why you are so soured. Start by asking yourself some tough questions.

If you are feeling jealous it’s because you lost something. But what exactly did you lose? Each instance of jealousy is merely a stimulus for you to examine your life, and while Plato’s words suggested the unexamined life is not worth living, the over-examined life may not be the way you want to live either. Assuming your friend isn’t marrying your ex, you’re not really losing anything tangible.

The truth is what you have lost is an idea – about yourself, be it about your own desirability or your (perhaps totally unrealistic) previous vision of your future. Whatever it is, go ahead and figure out how you can regain what you actually lost…not the man but the love you felt. Chances are if you and Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful broke up before you could go the distance down the aisle it’s because those things weren’t really on offer in the first place. So maybe you didn’t actually lose anything, and the jealousy and envy provided an opportunity for a productive new future… one in which you actually know what you need and want.

Jealousy is often a reaction to what cognitive behavioral therapists refer to as projecting the future. You see your friend happy and you predict –irrationally, that you will never be that happy. Remind yourself that you are not, in fact, clairvoyant, and your friend’s happiness can actually add to your own, and that your thought pattern can use a readjustment to see potential, not pain.

Of course, not all envy can be turned on its head but the truth is, not all envy is painful or even negative. In some cases, you can not only use your envy but also enjoy it. Think about it. Is there anyone you hate more than Gwyneth Paltrow, with her Vegenaise and her handmade this and that and her smug and perfect skinny, blond, rich everything?

Still, the majority of what you hate is not hate at all. It’s envy but the fun kind, the kind you and your friends can giggle about and yet still, in the back of your subconscious mind, recognize that there’s a decent quinoa recipe on her Web site you could probably pull off, and you could go to the gym or prioritize what the jealousy and envy brought so clearly to your mind. So thank you, Gwyneth. We may hate you – or really, just envy you – but you are making us better despite yourself.

Often, of course, it’s not that easy. Envy can eat at you. Jealousy can indeed become a monstrous force, a dark green cloud that throws a pall over moments that should by all rights add to your happiness, not slice a blade through it. The feeling that the grass is forever greener over the hill you can’t climb needs to be replaced with climbing lessons or gardening lessons so that you get what you want instead of nagging dissatisfaction.

But the truth is, the monster is not that ferocious. Just by recognizing it you have sapped its strength, turned it docile, made it into your pet, to be taught and tamed and ultimately to make yourself stronger by serving your needs and wants…now that you know what they are. The grass you fertilize may become the envy of the neighborhood. Then walk magnanimously over to the other side of the street …. and teach your neighbor how to do the same thing.

Now. Here. This. – How to Stay Present to Your Purpose

be present.By Jay Forte

How present are we?

Most of us move through life entirely unaware – we move from thing to thing with little intention and focus. At the end of the day we fall into bed, barely remembering what happened during the day.

What if, instead, we truly showed up to each moment? Now. Here. This. (Right) now. (Right) here. This (exact moment).

See, each moment has the two things we need most:

  1. Our actual life.

  2. Information.

By being present and conscious in each moment, we fully connect with our lives. We experience what life shares with us – we are really part of life. After all, what other purpose do we have in life other to be present and experience it? Letting it pass by without really noticing seems a terrible waste of something so amazing.

The other important thing that happens in each moment is we gather information. As we show up present to each moment of our lives, we learn about life, ourselves and how we fit. The more information we have, the better our choices and the more amazing our lives.

I regularly say in my workshops that we were not born with an owner’s manual; at birth we don’t know what we are good at, passionate about and what matters to us. For this information, we need to intentionally show up to each day of our lives because we gather this information as we live. We learn what we rock at and stink at. We learn what moves us and bores us. We can see places of interest and adventure and places that we want to stay away from. All of this is in front of us in every moment. But we have to be present in order to see it, be part of it and learn from it. Now, here, this has all the information that we need to know how to be able to choose wisely in all aspects of work and life.

When we don’t take the time to discover what we are good at, are passionate about and what matters to us, we are unclear of what makes us unique and different. Without this information, our lives start to look like others’ lives instead of our own.

When we don’t know what our voice says (because we haven’t tuned in to now, here, this), then we take others’ voices on as ours. This will always lead us to others’ roads in life. As I tell my three daughters, if you see footprints on your road in life, you are likely on someone else’s road. Reconnect to now, here, this and get back on your road.

Life constantly presents each of us with everything we need; we just don’t seem to see what it offers. Most of the time it is because we are rushing and don’t make time for information and experiences that are right in front of us. Slow it down and all of a sudden life opens up. Slow it down to see what is right in front of us.

My father used to say that life is not a superhighway – it is a meandering path. Though the shortest distance may be between two points, life is not about getting someplace quickly; it is about the quality of the experiences while on the road. The meandering path gives different views at each turn; every event is larger, more interesting and has more to see and learn. But to enjoy the view you have to tune in – you have to make the time to be present, aware and conscious. You have to be in the now, the here and the this.

Showing up present not only is how we experience life, but it is also how we gather information to improve how we experience life. We have everything we need – it is always in front of us. We just need to train ourselves to slow things down to be part of it. So what’s the rush if all we do is get faster to someplace in work or life that doesn’t fit us?

Now. Here. This. Pay attention to right now. Be right here. Watch this. These are the steps to both learn about and experience a great and terrific life.

Is happiness a myth?

experience-happiness

 It began with an exchange I had this morning. There was a question, I gave an answer. “Well, that’s a claim. Can you back it up in any way?” I heard in response.

“No” I said. “No I can’t and no, I don’t want to.”

I thought about this later. I thought about whether I was being obtuse, or maybe only uninterested in further discussion, but the more I thought the more I stood by my answer. No, I do not want to back it up in any way. Because I don’t need to. Because the claim is mine, the belief is mine, the truth is mine. I do not need anyone else to believe it, I do not wish to convert, I do not wish to convince. Therefore no, I do not wish to back it up in any way.

Why do I bother answering at all then? Ah, and here is the key of the matter: I answer to share a perspective. I answer to offer a possibility. I answer to present a truth. Not THE truth, not ONE truth, not the ONLY truth — but my truth. I speak my truth, and I wish to hear the truths of others in response. Not to adapt them and follow them, to exchange my truth for theirs, but to learn, to grow. To see reality in a way others see and I don’t, to gain a perspective others have and I lack. So that I can open. So that I can expand. So that I can develop my truths, round them up, add dimensions and facets until they shine like jewels.

So that my truths can grow as I grow, as my life grows, as my world grows.

This is happiness, I thought. This is happiness, right here, owning my truth. Every truth, each and one of them. This is happiness when I am myself and every truth is an expression of what I am. When life is an expression of what I am. Then there is nothing but joy and bliss in the world.

This is happiness: owning my truth.

That is my truth.

See more here.

7 Ways To Find Your Inner (and Real) Happiness

fly highHappiness is one of the most misunderstood words in our vocabulary yet we search for this intangible state our whole lives: if I only had this or that, if I met the right partner, had a big house, a new car, the job I’ve always wanted, then I would be happy. The ancient yoga and spiritual teachings stress that happiness is real only when we let go of seeking material and transient things and discover the lasting joy that is within.

Every time we see a giggling baby or young child we’re reminded that we are all born with a natural and innate sense of happiness, that it is our birthright. We learn about suffering or unhappiness as we grow older, more externalized, and as circumstances change.

We taught a workshop where a number of the participants had lost loved ones in the past years: one had lost her son to AIDS, another had lost her husband, son, and mother all within twelve months, another’s partner had drowned. Others were dealing with specific illnesses, or difficult issues in their lives. What really emerged for everyone was the awareness that their real happiness lies within themselves, that it’s not dependent on someone or something outside of them. They had lost what they had thought of as their source of happiness—a loved one or their health—and now had to look more deeply within themselves. It was a weekend of many ‘aha’ moments!

Here are some of the ways our workshop participants discovered how to feel happy again:

1. Not take yourself too seriously. At times of hardship, such as loss or illness, it’s easy to lose your humor, and even easier to get involved with the negative aspects of what is happening. Remembering not to take yourself too seriously brings a lightness and acceptance to the weight of circumstance around you. Don’t forget—angels can fly because they take themselves lightly!

2. Not identify with suffering, loss, or illness, as being who you are. Many of our participants realized how they’d been identifying themselves as a cancer survivor / widow / recovering addict, or whatever it may be, but had not asked who they were without that label or identity. When you don’t identify with the negative issues, then who you really are has a chance to shine.

3. It’s OK to be you, just as you are, warts and all. You may think you’re imperfect, a mess, falling apart, hopeless, or unable to cope. But true perfection is really accepting your imperfections. It is accepting yourself, complete with all the things you like as well as the things you don’t like. In this way you’re not struggling with or rejecting yourself. Each one of is unique, a one-time offer, but we can’t know this if we are facing away from ourselves.

4. Make friends with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the only one you have that lasts for the whole of your life, and you can be the greatest friend or the worst enemy to yourself. So it’s very important not to emotionally put down or beat yourself up. Just be kind.

5. Feel everything, whatever it may be. When you are suffering, it’s easy to want to deny or repress your feelings, as they get huge and overwhelming. But if you can really honor whatever you are feeling then it’ll bring you closer to the inner happiness beneath the suffering or grief. Acknowledging and making friends with your real feelings is the greatest gift.

6. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Treasure yourself. These are big steps, but each one liberates the heart and sets you free. You need to forgive yourself for feeling angry, for getting upset, for all things you think you’ve done wrong. They are in the past and who you are now is not who you were then. You can take any guilt or shame by the hand, invite it in for tea, and open yourself to self-forgiveness.

7. Meditate. There is an overwhelming amount of research showing how meditation changes the circuits in the part of the brain associated with contentment and happiness and stimulates the ‘feel-good’ factor. Meditating on love and kindness makes you much, much happier! And the only way to know this is to try it, so don’t hesitate.

* * *

Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, with forewords by the Dalai Lama and Prof. Robert Thurman, contributions from many known meditation teachers, winner of the 2010 Nautilus Gold Book Award; and Your Body Speaks Your Mind,  winner of the Visionary Book Award. They are featured contributors on Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and Vividlife.me, where they host the acclaimed weekly LIVE radio show, Going Out Of Your Mind.

For more information go to: www.edanddebshapiro.com

5 Ways to Transform Regret into Healing

Love Shines Through The Darkness free creative commonsRegret is like clutter. It can mess up your mind with tiny cumulative details creating cobwebs in the brain which darken your thoughts. Similar to managing physical clutter, periodically you take inventory of regrets to let go of what weighs you down, obscures your space and makes you feel stuck. Moreover, as soon as you throw out the first element of clutter, you feel better. This immediate gratification spurs you to continue.

However, don’t regret that you feel regret. Your regrets serve a vital purpose: They bear witness to your personal evolution, how you have grown from your past mistakes. You are now a better person with more experience to overcome and succeed. Note that every stressor which you conquer makes you stronger. The goal is to go stronger, longer.

5 typical patterns of regret which can power up your personality:

1. You regret breaking up or losing touch with a previous love because of bad timing or an error in judgment. The good thing about love – whether lost or won – is that you can always hold it in your heart. And your heart is big enough to love many people, expanding your spirit with their best attributes. You are sure to encounter another love with whom you will inevitably connect. Your regret will make you ready!

2. You regret not telling a loved one who has passed away how much you loved him or her. You feel guilty not having done enough for this person, particularly a parent. Challenge these irrational thoughts. Your regret is actually grief. No one teaches people how to lose, only to amass and possess. Consequently, loss is hard. Give yourself permission to grieve without a time limit. When I feel regret about my parents’ death, I dedicate a good thought, recall a funny conversation or anecdote from my parents to recall their memory in a positive frame.

3. You regret a career road not taken. Perhaps, you did not pursue a higher education, or make a bold career change. Most people put too much emphasis on being extraordinary and often have unreasonable expectations about success. If it is feasible to pursue a passion or longing, do so now. My friend Delia left a career in computer science and took out student loans to become an ER physician. If you cannot take a new career path at this point in time, reinvent and revitalize your job to see it in a larger context. For example, my friend Antonio loves his job as a postal clerk because he gets to greet and say something nice to the people tired of waiting on line. He feels like a spiritual transformer.

4. You regret not having your say. You feel that you should have said “___.” Most likely you were trying to please others. What a relief to remove your mask, and speak your natural truth! Unleash your natural energy to get back in balance between doing for others and yourself.

5. You regret cheating someone. Often people who cheat, lie, or fool someone feel happy that they got away with it. However, when your cheating causes hurt, then you will most likely feel regret. Confessing and making amends are the ultimate spiritual cleanse. The next best thing is learning from your mistake and changing for the better.  Undoubtedly, you will be vigilant about acting with integrity and will find a way to give back to your community.

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