Saturday, June 02, 2007
You go to church every Sunday and you say your prayers every day. Does this mean you are a spiritual person?
You practice yoga and meditate every day. Does this mean you are a spiritual person?
You belong to spiritual group and are devoted to following the teachings of the group. Does this mean you are a spiritual person?
What, then, does it mean to be a spiritual person?
Being a spiritual person is synonymous with being a person whose highest priority is to be loving to oneself and others. A spiritual person cares about people, animals, and the planet. A spiritual person knows that we are all one, and consciously attempts to honor this oneness. A spiritual person is a kind person.
So, you can go to church every Sunday and say your prayers every day, without caring about loving yourself, others and the planet. You can practice yoga and meditate every day without being conscious of what is loving and what is not loving in your thoughts and actions. You can belong to a spiritual group and devotedly follow the teachings, yet still be judgmental toward yourself and others in your daily life.
There are many people who do not practice a religion, who do not meditate, pray or belong to any group, who are very spiritual people. These people naturally do caring things for others. They think about how they can help. Their thoughts are kind rather than judgmental toward themselves and toward others. When you look at them, you see their kindness in their eyes.
There are many religious people who are anything but kind. We all know of religious people who are extremely judgmental, righteous, and outright mean. Can you be both religious and spiritual? Of course! But only when you are operating in your religion from your heart rather than from the learned dogma of your mind.
Years ago I very briefly attended a "spiritual" group. People would meet in an auditorium to hear the leader of the group speak. The second time I attended I heard a number of parents yelling at their children and judging them to try to control them. These parents were being anything but kind with their children. That was the last time I attended the spiritual group. The focus of the group was surrender to God, but love was rarely in the picture! They obviously had a very different experience of God than I did.
My experience of God is that God is the energy of Love that created us and sustains us. In my experience, "God is Spirit" (John 4:24) and "God is love" (1 John 4:16). Anything that is not of love, peace, joy, truth and kindness is not of God. Praying to God does not mean that you are allowing the spirit that is God - the love, peace, joy, truth and kindness that is God - to guide your thoughts and actions. Practicing yoga or meditating does not mean that you have invited the love that is God into your heart, or that you are turning to that ever-present love to learn about what is in your highest good, and the highest good of others and the planet.
If you want to be a spiritual person, then let kindness be your guiding light - kindness toward yourself, toward others, toward animals, and toward this beautiful planet that is our home. Recognize that we all have the spark of love that is God within us, and learn to honor that love so that you can know and experience the Oneness of all that is.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D., best-selling author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You" and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. FREE Inner Bonding course at: http://www.innerbonding.com. Phone sessions available. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Found at : http://www.bharatbhasha.com/religion.php/59900
Monday, May 28, 2007
How to use this handbook
This handbook is not meant to be a step-by-step guide, nor should you adopt all the tips below. Certainly not all at once. That would be overwhelming. Here are a couple tips for adopting the tips:
* Pick and choose the tips that will be most useful to you. There are 52 tips here — not every single one will be useful to every person. I hope you’ll find 10 that are useful, or that are reminders of something you’ve been wanting to do.
* Don’t do them all at once. Choose one tip to do first, and then do them one at a time. Focus on one first, and then the next. It’s too hard to try to adopt a bunch of changes at once.
* Experiment. Try out a tip, and if it doesn’t work, try another. Life is an experiment, after all.
* None are guaranteed. But many are very likely to bring happiness.
* Also, these are not in any order. Some of the most important are buried below.
52 Tips for Happiness and Productivity
1. Try rising early. It’s not for everyone, I’ll admit. It may not be for you. But I’ve found it to be an amazing change in my life. It has made the start of my days much more positive, and I now have time for writing, exercise, and silent contemplation. I talked about this recently in my post 10 Benefits of Rising Early, and How to Do It.
2. Do less. This is both a happiness and productivity tip. Doing less will make you happier, because your life won’t be so hectic and filled with stress. You will have time for things that give you pleasure, for the loved ones in your life, for life itself. It’s also a productivity tip: if you focus on the essential tasks, the big ones, the ones that will give you the most return for your time, and eliminate the rest, you will actually be more productive. You’ll get fewer tasks done, but you will be more effective. See How to Pare Your To-do List Down to the Essentials.
3. Slow down. Many new readers to this site have read my productivity articles and think that I’m all about being hyper-productive. I’m not. Long-time readers know that I am about a simpler way of life. Unfortunately, in my free-lance blogging, other websites usually ask me to write about productivity, so the preponderance of my productivity writing has given the impression, I think, that I think people should be churning out work at an amazing rate, to the exclusion of all else. Actually, I feel that life is much more enjoyable if you slow down. By doing less, you can actually get more done, even if you work more slowly. And when you’re not working, you should definitely try switching to slow mode. Drive slower (it is so much more relaxing), walk slower, eat slower. See Slow Down to Enjoy Life for more.
4. Practice patience. I’ve talked about how I’m trying to develop patience in my parenting article, How to Become a Patient Parent, but these tips really apply to everyone. If you easily lose your temper, you can become more patient with these tips. Once you’ve developed this skill (and it’s a skill, like everything else, not an unchangeable inborn trait), your life will become much saner and you will be much happier.
5. Practice compassion. This may be the most important tip of all, in my opinion. If you were to choose any of these, I would choose this one. The first part of compassion is empathy — and this ability to understand how others feel can be developed through practice. Start by imagining the suffering of a loved one. Understand their pain, the emotions they go through, and why they would react the way they would. By doing this exercise a number of times, you are developing a skill that can be applied to others — for every person you see, try to understand what they are going through. Try to learn and understand more about their background, and why they react the way they do. Once you’ve developed this invaluable skill, learn the other half of compassion — acting on your understanding, and helping others, alleviating their suffering, acting with kindness. This one thing can bring true happiness to your life, and the lives of those around you.
6. Find your passion. Another indispensable tip. This might be the second on my list of priorities. Find something you love to do, and your life will become immensely improved. You will love your work, the thing that you spend 40 hours (or more) a week doing. You will become more productive, procrastinate less, be less stressed. You will produce something you are proud of, and happy about. Read this article for some practical tips.
7. Lose weight. This only applies, of course, if you are overweight. But losing your extra fat (and when I say lose weight, I mean lose fat), decreases your health risks (obviously), makes you look better, and in general is very likely to increase your happiness about yourself. I actually recommend that you learn to be comfortable and happy with how you look now, and not feel negative about yourself even if you are overweight. However, I’ve found that losing weight (at least for me) is a great way to feel better about your body. Do not make this an unhealthy obsession, however — lose weight gradually, and enjoy the process. See the next two tips for the best methods for doing this.
8. Exercise. Make this a daily habit. Exercise not only helps you lose weight, but for me, it’s made me feel so much better. I actually enjoy exercise now. It’s a time of contemplation for me, and I feel so much better about myself afterwards. See Top 42 Exercise Hacks and How to Make Exercise a Daily Habit and 7 Ways to Build the Exercise Habit.
9. Eat healthy. I don’t recommend dieting. It’s too restrictive and you usually fall off it at some point. I do recommend changes to your diet, however — ones you make gradually, and that can be sustained for life. It not only helps lose weight, but really, once you start eating healthier, it is actually much more enjoyable. See my Top 15 Diet Hacks for more.
10. Meditate. OK, you might be like me — not into New-Age stuff. But meditation can actually be a very simple method for relaxing, for bringing calm, for returning yourself to sanity, for contemplation. My friend Scott Young wrote a good post about doing that here.
11. Get organized. This one’s not necessary. You could go through life wonderfully messy, searching for stuff, enjoying the search. But I’ve tried disorganized, and I’ve tried organized. The second is much more enjoyable to me. Read How to Never Lose Anything Again for a start on the subject, as well as how I keep my family organized.
12. Think positive. Another one of the most important tips on this list, thinking positive — as cliche as it might sound — is one of the single best changes you can make in your life that will lead to so many more positive tips. As I wrote about here, learning to think positive was the skill that turned my life around. It makes everything else on this list possible. Read more about it here.
13. Simplify your finances. Cut down on the number of accounts you have, cut down on your credit cards, spend less, reduce your bills. Make your finances automagical. Simplifying your finances greatly reduces your stress. Also see 10 Habits to Develop For Financial Stability and Success.
14. Simplify your life. Another of my top tips. I’ve greatly simplified my life, in many ways, and I can say that having less stuff in my life, and less to do, has greatly increased my enjoyment of life. De-clutter, simplify your commitments, simplify your work space, simplify your wardrobe, simplify your rooms.
15. Accept what you have. The problem with many of us is that we always think that we’ll be happy when we reach a certain destination — when we get a certain job, or retire, or get our dream house. Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there, you might have a new destination in mind. Instead, try being happy with where you are, with who you are, and what you have. To do that, instead of comparing what you have with other people, or with what you want, compare yourself those who have less, with those who are going through tragedy, with those who are struggling. You will see that you actually are extremely blessed. And this can lead to more happiness with your current situation.
16. Envision your ultimate life. What would your ultimate life be like? Where would you live, what would you do, what would you do with your days? Come up with a clear picture of this, and write it down. Now, one step at a time, make it come true. Some ways of doing that follow.
17. Set long-term goals. Your vision of your ultimate life will help you come up with long-term goals. Of those goals, pick one to accomplish within the next year, and really focus on that. Now, pick one medium-term goal to achieve in the next few months that will get you further toward your longer-term goal. Now decide what you can do this week, and today, to get you to your medium-term goal. Just choose one thing at a time, focus on it, make it happen, and then choose the next thing to focus on. See Think About Your Life Goals.
18. Review goals. Setting goals is important, but the key to making them a reality is actually reviewing them (at least monthly, but weekly is better) and taking action steps to make them come true. Again, focus on one at a time, and really focus on them. Read Review Your Goals Weekly.
19. Life mission. Related to envisioning your ultimate life, but different — it’s important that you think about how you would like to be remembered when you die — so you can start living the life that leads to that now. Live with purpose in life, and wake up every day with that purpose in mind. Read the Key to Dying Happy for more concrete steps.
20. Plan your big tasks for week and day. Give purpose to your day by determining the three most important things you can do with your day, and making those a priority. Do the same thing with your week to increase your productivity: pick out the big tasks you’d like to accomplish this week, and schedule those first. See Purpose Your Day and Plan Your Big Rocks First.
21. Maintain focus. One important key to achieving your goals is to maintain focus on them. To do this, again, it’s important that you select one goal at a time. This will prevent your focus from spreading too thin. It’s also important that you give yourself constant reminders of your goal, so you don’t lose that focus. Put up a poster of your current goal, or print it out and put it out somewhere visible, and send yourself emailed reminders. However you do it, find a way to maintain a laser-sharp focus, and the goal will come true.
22. Enjoy the journey. Goals are important, but not at the expense of happiness now. It’s important to maintain a balance between going where you want to go, and being happy as you go there. It’s easy to forget that, so be sure to remind yourself of this little, but important, tip as you make your journey.
23. Create a morning and evening routine. These are two great ways to add structure to your day, make sure you review your goals and log your progress, and get your day off to a great start. An evening routine, for example, could be a great way not only to wind down from a long day and review how your day went, but to prepare yourself for your next day so the morning isn’t so hectic. Your morning routine is great way to greet the day, to get some exercise or meditation or quiet contemplation, or to get some writing or other work done.
24. Develop intimate relationships. It’s great to have a special someone, of course, but intimate relationships could be found with anyone around you. If you have a significant other, be sure to spend time each day and each week with that person, to work on your relationship and communicate and continue to bond. But if you don’t, there’s no need to despair (if in fact you are) … intimate relationships can be developed with friends, other family members, kids, roommates, classmate, co-workers. Every single person we meet is a fellow human being, with the same desires for happiness, for food and shelter, for an intimate connection. Find that common thread, be open and sincere, find out more about each other, understand each other, and give love. This can be one of the most important things you do.
25. Eliminate debt. Financially, this is a huge way to relieve stress and make you feel much more secure. I suggest that you get rid of your credit cards (if you have a problem with credit card debt or impulse spending) and create a snowball plan for yourself. It may take a couple of years, but you can get out of debt.
26. Enjoy the simple pleasures. You can find these everywhere. Food (I love berries!), sunsets, sand between your toes, fresh-cut grass, playing with your child, a good book and a warm bed, dancing in the rain, your favorite music. You could probably make a list of 20 simple pleasures right now, things you enjoy that you could find every day. Sprinkle those little pleasures throughout your day. It makes the journey much more enjoyable.
27. Empty your inbox and clear your desk. This might take a little while to do at first, but once you’ve emptied your inbox and cleared off your desk, it doesn’t take long to keep them clear from then on. It’s a simple habit that’s vastly rewarding. I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from having a clean desk. I recommend you give it a try.
28. Build an emergency fund. This is standard-issue financial advice, I know … and yet it is extremely important. I cannot stress how important it is to have at least a tiny emergency fund in the bank. You often hear that you should have six months saved up. Don’t be intimidated by that. Start out with just a hundred dollars if you can. Cut back on a few things. Then build it up, every payday. Once you have, let’s say, $1,000, it will make a huge difference in your life. It’s not much, and you should still add to it every paycheck, but at least now you’re not living paycheck-to-paycheck, and if an unexpected emergency comes up you can pay for it, rather than not paying other bills and falling behind. It’s a simple step, but it will mean a lot.
29. Keep a journal. This is not one of the more important tips, but I can attest that it’s rewarding. I, for one, have a bad long-term memory, and by writing things down, I can look back and remember what happened a month ago. I just started this a couple months ago, actually, but ti’s been awesome. I started an online journal, something I call the one-sentence journal, and my goal is to just write one sentence a day. Sometimes I write two or three, but the idea is the same — just get one or two things down that happened that day, so I can always look back on it later.
30. Use the power of others. Achieving your goals can be difficult, but using the power of others makes it much more likely to happen. For example, put positive public pressure on yourself by announcing your goal on your blog. Or join an online forum, or a group in your neighborhood, that you can count on for support. I have a mailing list for the May Challenge here on Zen Habits, for example, and our group has helped me stick to my goal of daily exercise even when I started to falter — and the rest of the group can tell you they’ve experienced similar success because of the positive power of the group.
31. Read, and read to your kids. I read all the time — it’s one of my favorite things to do in the world. I love to curl up with a good novel (or even a trashy one) and I can waste away an afternoon with a book. And I’m passing on my love of reading to my kids, by reading to them every day. I love spending time with them this way, and we all enjoy the stories we share together through books. See Best All-time Children’s Books.
32. Limit your information intake. In our lives today, we get a tremendous amount of information through email, blog feeds, reading websites, paperwork, memos, newspapers, magazines, television, DVDs, radio, mobile phones and Blackberries. Not only can this be overwhelming, but it can be distracting and can fill up your life until you have no time for more important things. Go on a media fast to get control over your information intake, and to simplify your life
33. Create simple systems. Once you’ve simplified your life, the way to keep it simple is by creating systems for everything you do regularly. Create an efficient system for laundry, mail and paperwork, errands, your workflow. Anything, really. See ways to Streamline Your Life and to make your mail and paperwork painless.
34. Take time to decompress after stress. There will inevitably be times in your life when you go through high stress. Perhaps several times a week. To maintain your sanity, you need to find ways to decompress. Here are some great ways to do that.
35. Be present. Time can go by extremely quickly. Before you know it, your life has passed you by. Your kids are grown and your youth is gone. Don’t let your life slip by — enjoy it while it’s here. Instead of dwelling in the past or thinking about the future, practice being in the here and now. Here are some practical tips for being present.
36. Develop equanimity. Keep your sanity through all the challenges that life throws at you. Rude drivers, irritating co-workers, mean commenters on your blog, inconsiderate family members. This takes a bit of practice, but you can let these things slide off you like you’re Teflon. Try these practical tips.
37. Spend time with family and loved ones. One of the things that can lead to the greatest happiness, make this a priority every week, every day. Clear off as much time as possible to spend with those you love, and truly enjoy those times. Be present as you do it — don’t think about work or your blog or what you need to do. Read this for more.
38. Pick yourself up when you’re down. There will always be times in our lives when we get a little down, even depressed. Take action to get yourself out of your slump. Here are some great ways to do that.
39. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is hard to do, but it can be a great way to accept who you are and what you have. Whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to a co-worker, a friend, or someone famous (those models on magazines with amazing abs), stop. And realize that you are different, with different strengths. Take a minute to appreciate all the good things about yourself, and to be grateful for all the blessings in your life.
40. Focus on benefits, not difficulties. If you find yourself struggling to do something, or procrastinating, stop thinking about how hard something is, or why you don’t want to do it. Focus instead on what benefits it will have for you, what opportunities it will create — the good things about it. By changing the way you see things, you can change how you feel about them and make it easier to get things done.
41. Be romantic. If you have that special someone, find little ways to be romantic. It can do wonders to keep your relationship alive and fresh. It doesn’t take tons of money, either. See these ideas to get you started.
42. Lose arguments. I know someone who just celebrated his 50th anniversary, and I asked him for his secret to a long and happy marriage. He told me, that if I ever get into an argument with my wife, to just shut up. What he meant, I think, is that I shouldn’t try to be right in every argument. I think this is a reminder many of us need, not just the married ones. But instead of just giving up the argument, instead of trying to be right, instead seek to understand. Really try to understand the other person’s position, to see it from their point of view. This little tip can lead to much happiness.
43. Get into the flow. This is both a happiness and productivity tip. Flow is the term for the state we enter when we are completely focused on the work or task before us. We are so immersed in our task that we lose track of time. Having work and leisure that gets you in this state of flow will almost undoubtedly lead to happiness. People find greatest enjoyment not when they’re passively mindless, but when they’re absorbed in a mindful challenge. Get into that flow by first doing something you are passionate about, and second by eliminating all distractions and really focusing on the task before you.
44. Single-task. I don’t believe in multi-tasking, at least not on a day-to-day basis. Instead, focus on one task at a time. This leads to greater productivity and less stress. You can’t go wrong with that kind of combination. See these tips for more.
45. Be frugal. This is a habit, rather than a goal. It is a way of living, a different mindset, and the best way to live within your means. It doesn’t mean being cheap or forsaking pleasure, but it does mean finding less expensive ways to do things, learning to live with less (and be happier in the process), and controlling impulse spending. I don’t have a single article to give you as reference, but frugality is a recurring theme on Zen Habits.
46. Start small and slow. Regular Zen Habits readers know that I advocate starting slow with any goal or habit change, and starting with a small goal rather than a big one. Why small? Because it’s something you are sure to achieve — and once you do achieve it, you can use that success to push you to further success. It’s a simple technique, but it really works. Start slow when you start exercise, or other similar activities — there’s no need to rush it in the beginning, to overdo it. You have the rest of your life!
47. Learn to deal with detractors. We all face detractors in our lives. They are the naysayers who, even if they are well-intentioned, will make us feel unworthy, or that you cannot achieve a goal. They will tease or be negative. In order to achieve your goals, you need to learn how to deal with these detractors and overcome this common obstacle. Read these tips for some ideas.
48. Go outdoors. These days, too many of us spend so much of our time indoors, especially if our jobs and our ways of having fun are all online. Our kids are often just as bad or worse, with so many ways to watch TV, surf the internet or play video games. Get them and yourself outdoors, appreciate nature, the beauty of the world around us, and the fun of physical activity. See this article for more ideas (to do with or without kids).
49. Retire early. This isn’t a sure way to become happy — you can retire and be bored out of your mind and unhappy — but it’s surely a cool goal. And if you do something meaningful with your life, such as volunteer and help others, it can be a way to be really happy. It’s not an easy goal, either, but you can retire early by cutting back on your living expenses, increasing your income, and investing the difference. The more you can do of all three, the fast you’ll retire. And that’s a truly liberating idea.
50. Savor the little things. Sure, the big things can bring big pleasure, but there are so many more little things in our lives. Savor them when they come up. It’s a way of practicing being present — stop and notice what you’re doing right now, what’s around you. And take time to enjoy it. Read this article for more.
51. Be lazy. There’s a time to be productive, and there’s a time to be plain ol’ lazy. I like the latter, and do it every chance I get. Does that make me a lazy person? Probably not, but even if it does, I don’t care. It makes me happy, and the kids love being lazy with me.
52. Help others. While finding pleasure in life is one way to be happy, doing something that is more than you, that helps others to be happy or to suffer less, is even more rewarding. I suggest you find a good cause or two and volunteer some of your time. You don’t have to commit to big chunks of your life, but just volunteer for a couple of hours. All of us can find a couple of hours in a week or a month. If you do this, you will find out how tremendously happy this will make you. You might even become addicted.
Found at : http://zenhabits.net/2007/05/handbook-for-life-52-tips-for-happiness-and-productivity/
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
A new discovery could make it possible to take a "power nap" at the flick of a switch.
Scientists have found a way to turn on deep sleep at will using a machine that magnetically stimulates the brain.
A device worn on the head could in squeeze the benefit of eight hours' sleep into just two or three hours.
Scientists in the US used a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to induce slow waves - indicative of the deepest phase of sleep and essential for learning ability and mood, in a group of sleeping volunteers.
A TMS device sends harmless magnetic signals through the scalp and skull and into the brain, where it activates electrical impulses.
The researchers found that positioning the TMS machine the right way triggered slow waves that travelled throughout the brain.
Slow wave activity occupies 80% of sleeping hours.
During slow wave sleep, waves of electrical impulses wash across the brain at a rate of roughly one a second.
With each magnetic pulse, the volunteers' brains immediately generated slow waves typical of deep sleep.
"Creating slow waves on demand could some day lead to treatments for insomnia," said study leader Prof Giulio Tononi, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"Theoretically, it could also lead to a magnetically stimulated `power nap' which might confer the benefit of eight hours' sleep in just a few hours."
Prof Tononi believes sleep is essential to prevent the brain overloading.
Memory involves strengthening synapses - connections between brain cells formed by learning.
Sleep might allow the connections created during the day to relax at night, according to Prof Tononi.The research appeared in an early edition of the American journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Found at : http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1264358,00.html
Monday, May 21, 2007
I vow not to kill.
By not killing life, the Buddha seed grows. Transmit the life of Buddha and do not kill.
I vow not to take what is not given.
The self and objects are such, two yet one. The gate of liberation stands open.
I vow not to misuse sexuality.
Let the three wheels of self, objects, and action be pure. With nothing to desire, one goes along together with the Buddhas.
I vow to refrain from false speech.
The Dharma Wheel turns from the beginning. There is neither surplus nor lack. The sweet dew saturates all and harvests the truth.
I vow not to sell the wine of delusion.
Originally pure, don't defile. This is the great awareness.
I vow not to slander.
In the Buddha Dharma, go together, appreciate, realize, and actualize together. Don't permit fault-finding. Don't permit haphazard talk. Do not corrupt the way.
I vow not to praise self at the expense of others.
Buddhas and Ancestors realize the vast sky and the great earth. When they manifest the noble body, there is neither inside nor outside in emptiness. When they manifest the Dharma body, there is not even a bit of earth on the ground.
I vow not to be avaricious.
One phrase, one verse--that is the ten thousand things and one hundred grasses. One dharma, one realization--is all Buddhas and Ancestors. Therefore, from the beginning, there has been no stinginess at all.
I vow not to harbor ill will.
Not negative, not positive, neither real nor unreal. There is an ocean of illuminated clouds and an ocean of ornamented clouds.
I vow not to abuse the three treasures.
To expound the Dharma with this body is foremost. Virtue returns to the ocean of reality. It is unfathomable--we just accept it with respect and gratitude."
Monday, May 07, 2007
29 Happiness Hacks To Feel Better Now
What makes you happy? I find directly pursuing happiness is difficult to do. Many times the things we think will make us happy fail to do so. Instead I like to focus on growth and developing a strong life philosophy that can guide you through tough times and help you enjoy successes.
But what about feeling good right now? I’ve found many different ways to give myself a jolt of happiness when I’m feeling down. Here is a list of different hacks I frequently use whenever I need a boost of positive emotion.
Hack One: Goals
Nothing creates a bigger jolt of enthusiasm than a new inspiring vision of the future. Too often people try to hold back their dreams and desires like holding in a breath. Unfortunately this only causes them to feel miserable as they suffocate. Even if your goal is something small it can provide you with a new direction.
Hack Two: Chores
Procrastination sucks. You can give yourself a boost in accomplishment by finding the smallest task you need to complete and doing it. Even if the task only takes five minutes, the sense of momentum usually lasts a lot longer.
Hack Three: Laugh
Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Find something to laugh about, and if you can’t, laugh anyways. Find something funny, joke with friends or just laugh by yourself. You can’t help but feel a little happier after laughing.
Hack Four: Aid
Help someone who needs it. One small act of service can leave you happy all day. Counsel a friend in need. Give a sincere compliment. Donate blood. Help someone else to help yourself.
Hack Five: Socialize
One of the leading evolutionary theories for explaining the size of the human brain is our complex social structure. In the Stone Age humans formed groups of at least one hundred people and it took considerable brainpower to manage those relationships. Call up some friends or make some new ones and use your brain for what it was made for.
Hack Six: Inspiration
Find something to get you inspired, even if just for a short time. Inspiration without doing anything won’t accomplish much, but you can still use inspiration to boost your happiness. I have a couple audio recordings of motivational speakers. Their ideas are often common sense or mediocre but the short spike of positive motivation from their words is often priceless. Consider replacing your daily caffeine with some inspiration to give you energy instead.
Hack Seven: Exercise
Exercise releases various chemicals into your brain which leave you feeling good. Anyone who has ever had a “runner’s high” certainly knows the feeling. Spend a half hour doing some exercise. It will make you feel good and you can also take pride in your pursuit of a healthy body.
Hack Eight: Posture
Change the way you hold your body to reflect someone who is happier. Faking your state can bring back associations to a more positive state. Emotions and body language are two-way streets.
Hack Nine: Music
Music is a fast way to boost your happiness. Put on some music that makes you feel good. Even if you have to listen to Bobby McFerrin.
Hack Ten: Nature
In our highly industrialized lives it can be hard to return back to a more natural environment. Spend a few minutes in a park or in the wilderness. Notice the sounds of birds and the smells and sensations of nature. I don’t believe nature has any mystical New-Agey powers, but I do think that a dramatic change in environment can alter your state. Utilize those positive associations you have with the tranquility of nature to boost your mood and get away from the glow of your monitor.
Hack Eleven: Hug
Hugging someone you care about produces special chemicals that result in a positive state of being. Even better than the brain cocktail human touch creates is the feeling of connection with another person. Remove some of the distance and reach out. Just watch the pepperspray when hugging complete strangers.
Hack Twelve: Meditate
Meditation doesn’t have to involve some Buddhist mantra’s and bending yourself into a human pretzel. Just sit with your eyes closed and sensitize yourself to your own thoughts and feelings. Better yet, combine this hack with hack number nine for a double hit of tranquility – very Zen.
Hack Thirteen: Flow
Complete engage yourself in what you are doing. When Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi first described the term he mentioned that the state was one of the most enjoyable states a human could experience. Check out this guest spot I did at lifehacker for more information about flow.
Hack Fourteen: Game
Whether combined with hack number five or a solo event, playing a game can give you a positive boost of energy. Even just ten minutes of a casual computer game can give you a little mental reprieve from daily problems. I’m a very active player in the massively multiplayer game of life, but I do enjoy the casual minigames it contains as well.
Hack Fifteen: Journal
Deconstruct your thoughts by writing them down. Journaling can break down tough problems and it can also help you redirect your thoughts to more positive areas. Think of a journal as training wheels for positive thinking.
Hack Sixteen: Remember
Spend a little time to look back on fond memories, challenges overcome and goals achieved. When you look back at many obstacles you have already conquered, you can get renewed vigor to face your current ones.
Hack Seventeen: Gratitude
What are you grateful for? Look around and feel grateful about the things you already have and the life you already lead. Best of all be grateful for the excitement and fun new challenges will bring.
Hack Eighteen: Silence
Listen to the quiet. Turn off every sound possible so you can actually hear what silence sounds like. It might require a drive to a more secluded location, or turning off appliances in your house but near absolute silence is so rare it is amazing how beautiful it is when you can hear it.
Hack Nineteen: Smile
I know it sounds stupid, but try sitting and smiling for one or two minutes and see if you feel any better. This is a very quick hack and even a brief smile can create a tiny jolt. Better yet, smile when around other people, friendliness is contagious!
Hack Twenty: Gestalt
Gestalt therapy is a psychological tool, of which one of the focuses is to get people to notice the gestalt, or the relationship between figure and ground. This often manifests itself in your body. Right now there are thousands of sensations but you are only focusing on a few of them. Spend a few minutes moving your focus around through your toes and up to your head. This can give you a greater sense of control over your body and your environment. You might also want try focusing on different aspects of your environment.
Hack Twenty-One: Dance
Get up and move. The only bad dancer is the one who doesn’t dance at all. Use this hack in combination with hack number nine in order to appear sane in public.
Hack Twenty-Two: Create
Do something creative. Small acts of creation can yield amazing boosts of accomplishment, inspiration and well-being. “But I’m not artistic!” you cry. No bigger lie has ever been told. You might lack the practice with a particular medium, but anyone can be creative. Even if you aren’t Picasso, after you are done you can at least say, “Hey, I made that!”
Hack Twenty-Three: Mantra
Find a phrase you like and repeat it in your head. I’ve got a couple I use when I need an extra push or boost. You could incorporate a mantra into your daily routine or just use it when you need it. A mantra acts as an anchor to quickly bring you into a conditioned state of mind. Think of it as a desktop shortcut for your emotions.
Hack Twenty-Four: 110%
Commit to going another 10% further on your project before quitting. Give it that extra bit of intensity before giving up. Even if that little bit of intensity is futile, there is nothing more satisfying than properly exerted willpower. Most people talk about willpower like it is a pain to use. But in fact, it is usually the times when you don’t use your discipline that you feel bad.
Hack Twenty-Five: Rest
Take a short breather to recoup your energy or a vacation to revitalize your spirit. Completely relaxing and giving up the tension you have in your body feels good. If you don’t already, schedule out some times where you can really relax and let stress melt away, even if only for a few minutes a day.
Hack Twenty-Six: Water
Drink some water. Hydrating yourself fully can keep you energized. More energy means less stress and frustration. In addition the act of drinking an entire glass of water requires you to slow your breathing, which brings us to the next hack…
Hack Twenty-Seven: Breathe
Take some deep breaths. Try to see how slow you can make your breathing. I can usually slow down to 3 breaths per minute if I breathe deeply enough. This process forces your body to relax muscles in order to conserve energy and reduces tension. Spend a few minutes just observing your own breathing and you can have a mental reprieve from your problems as well.
Hack Twenty-Eight: Explore
Do something you’ve never done before. Exploring something new can give you a boost in happiness through variety and excitement. Cook a new meal. Travel to a new place. Take a different route to work. Listen to some new music. Life is an adventure, so why live in grey?
Hack Twenty-Nine: Read
No, not just online print (except for this blog, of course), but actual books. The kind made with paper. Reading, either fiction or non-fiction, opens you up to ideas with far more depth than can be skimmed in a television show or a blog entry. If you don’t always have a book to read at any time, go to the library and pick one up, I hear they are pretty cheap there.
Bonus Hack: Respect Your State
When all else fails, stop trying to be happy and just let your emotions be. Accept how they are and don’t judge your feelings as good or bad. Detaching yourself from your emotions and actually listening to the message they are giving can be the key to happiness. Don’t dismiss emotions as the remnants of a reptilian section of your brain but respect them as a core aspect of your life. The irony is, once you detach and listen to your emotions you can start finding ways to get past them.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
to visit their old university lecturer. Conversation soon turned into
complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee,
the lecturer went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of
coffee and an assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, some
plain-looking and some expensive and exquisite, telling them to help
themselves to hot coffee When all the students had a cup of coffee in
hand, the lecturer
said: "If you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken
up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for
you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of all
your problems and stress. What all of you really wanted, was coffee,
not the cup, but you consciously went for the better cups and are
eyeing each other's cups."
"Now, if life is coffee, then the jobs, money and positions in society
are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, but the
quality of life doesn't change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on
the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee in it."
Don't let the cups drive you ... Enjoy the coffee.
Friday, March 02, 2007
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns.
And many a fellow turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup.
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.
And that's worth thinking about.