Posts Tagged ‘show’


I think the majority of people would agree that it’s unhealthy to live in the past. After all, we’re all familiar with the new age philosophy, “Yesterday is History, Tomorrow a Mystery, Today is a Gift, That’s why it’s called the Present”. Living in the past holds us back from being able to embrace the present moment. People hold on to childhood fears, adolescent pain, betrayals, bitterness, anger, etc. Even in terms of fond memories: very often when the present is difficult we are quick to recall “the good old days” when life was theoretically better. In our nostalgia, comparisons to better days gone by conjure up feelings of sadness and loss that easily translate into resentment, unhappiness, bitterness, and hopelessness. In our minds, life will never again reach those standards of excellence.

Recalling mistakes we’ve made in the past is also considered counterproductive as it can lead to remorse, regret, low self-esteem, and self-loathing. On so many levels, living in the past seems to be a bad idea. Or is it? Are there ever any benefits to revisiting a previous time? Actually, yes.
The past has several perks:

Learn from our mistakes: We all know that poor choices can be some of life’s greatest teachers. Recalling times when we made mistakes can reinforce reasons why we are better off not repeating them. Understanding what we did or didn’t do, how it impacted our lives in a negative way, and how we felt during and after the encounter helps us to make smarter and wiser decisions in the future. In this way, the past becomes a point of reference for future decision making.

Moving beyond: By revisiting an unfavorable event from our past, we can often view it from a different perspective as time has passed. Being older and presumably wiser, we are now able to re evaluate the experience and gain deeper insights and understandings of what happened and why, and how it has impacted us since. We also have the ability to change how any situation continues to impact us. What once scarred us can now be healed through a new-found awareness and no longer be a negative force in our lives.

Motivated by prior successes: There are times when we have all enjoyed success on a variety of levels. Other times life has been difficult and times have been lean. A quick trip down memory lane to a prior time when we were at our best can help motivate us out of our current slump and put us back on track for success. Use your past successes to propel you on to newer and greater things. Remember: success breeds success.

Fond memories of comfort and joy: I love looking at old photos. They bring back vivid memories of some of the most fun and memorable times in my life. Doing so provides a moment to relive a joyful time and evokes feelings of fondness and happiness once again. Recalling what brought us the most pleasure is an incentive to recreate those moments or to embark on new adventures that are exciting, loving, and memorable, those that we can later reference once again trigger memories of comfort and joy. In the case of the loss of a loved one, fond memories of that individual can be a powerful tool for healing from the loss. Pain is replaced by warm recollections of the one we loved and helps to keep that love and memory of them alive.

A gauge of progress: Very often it’s difficult to see how far we’ve come in life. We work hard but our progress seems infinitesimal by comparison to others or to what we imagined it should look like. Only when we revisit our starting point are we able to see just how much we’ve accomplished. This simple act can boost our morale, restore our hope, increase our self-esteem and confidence, and motivate us to continue putting forth effort.

So while it’s evident that revisiting the past has several perks, there are a few caveats. Just like an amusement park, it’s fine to visit but you cannot stay there forever. At some point, the park closes and all visitors are asked to leave. Enjoy the past when necessary but don’t reside there indefinitely. Use it as a perk for living in the present and planning for the future. In that way, it will serve you well.

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There is something about the country of Tibet that has always intrigued me. Perhaps it’s the beautiful landscape along crystal blue waters or the unique architecture of its oriental style buildings. Or more importantly a group of monks that call this country their home are known for their serene way of life. They seem unaffected by the modern day stresses and anger that the rest of us are subjected to while residing primarily in a state of bliss. What is the secret to their joy? Researchers conducted a study of Tibetan monks and found that there are seven rituals that increase their levels of happiness an astonishing 700-800% over the average person.

1. Being Mindful: For many of us, the stressors of our daily lives are a lot to deal with. We’re often multitasking or thinking ahead as to what we need to take care of next. We are so consumed with the vast amount of tasks we are responsible to complete in the course of the day, as well as what faces us tomorrow and in our future, that we fail to be fully present to what is happening in the moment. The old cliché, “stop and smell the roses” is a great reminder of being mindful. Be aware of all that is around you and you will discover undiscovered beauty that can greatly enhance your day. Take time to gaze out of a window at the earth and sky around you; take notice of the color, texture, and aroma of the food you are eating; sit quietly as you watch with deep intent your child coloring a picture.

2. Oneness: Tibetan monks practice the belief of “oneness”, that we are all interconnected. The same energy that is me is also that which all others are comprised of. An activity called “compassion meditation” increases happiness and empathy by as much as 800%. Remembering that we all share the same basic needs, feelings, desires, and fears enables us to be less judgmental and more empathetic to the feelings and suffering of others. The desire to see others safe and happy and prosperous magnifies our own feelings of joy as well.

3. Laughing Out Loud: For 5,000 years, Tibetan monks have begun each day by laughing out loud upon awakening. It enables them to remain calmer and more focused. It is well documented that laughter has medicinal benefits by reducing the production of stress hormones while triggering the release of happiness-boosting endorphins. It also reduces tension in the blood vessels of the head, thus improving the flow of oxygen rich blood to the brain, keeping them alert. Faking a laugh can have the same benefits as laughter caused by a funny incident of joke. Recommended daily dose? A lot.

4. Sitting Up Straight: Good posture has multiple benefits. Consider this: all of the body’s nerves flow through the spine. Any interference can lead to reduction in brain function. Simply pulling one’s shoulders back can increase the electrical current to the brain. And the more efficiently the brain functions the less stress it endures. Less stress = greater happiness.

5. Gazing At One Object: I’ve always had the ability to “out-stare” anyone. I could affix my eyes on an object and stare at it without blinking for a long time. Tibetan monks meditate on a sole object. Studies show that doing so activates the frontal lobes of the brain, areas associated with superior concentration and faster reaction time. The greater our ability to concentrate the less effort we put forth in doing so. This enables us to feel more relaxed. And the beauty of this exercise is that it can be done anywhere for a short period of time to reap the benefits. Standing in line at the supermarket provides a perfect time for a mini one-point meditation.

6. Listening to Bells: The monks of Tibet begin and end prayer with the sound of small brass discs attached by string, called tingsha. Each disc is handmade so no two are identical. This causes each to vibrate at a slightly different frequency when struck. Studies show that when your brain hears two different frequencies it registers a frequency equal to the difference between the two. This sound refreshes both the body and the mind and is associated with both relaxation and heightened creativity.

7. Humming: Many cultures utilize chants or humming as a way to relax and focus. I recall listening to the Gregorian Chants sung by Catholic monks when I was a child. I always found them to be very soothing and comforting. But even the act of simply humming can increase your brainpower, boost endorphins, and lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Humming vibrates the hypothalamus and pituitary glands deep inside the brain, releasing feel-good hormones and disengaging the fight-or-flight response when one is stressed or fearful. Using a vowel sound such as ‘ah’ or ‘oh’ and lowering the sound to a place where you can feel the vibration throughout your entire body. I’ve used the sound “OM”. The mantra “OM” is the name of God, the very vibration of the Supreme Being. OM is the reflection of the absolute reality, without beginning or the end and embracing all that exists. It’s an excellent tool to reduce stress and induce joy and tranquility.

Monks, whether Tibetan, Catholic or any other faith, are globally recognized as authorities in tranquility and joy. Choose one or more of the above mentioned practices and incorporate it into your daily routine. Then take notice of how much happier and more relaxed you are. Here’s to your bliss.
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You Can’t Ruin My Day

Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning declaring that today was going to be a great day? And before your first cup of coffee, something happened that completely ruined everything? Perhaps your child woke up sick or the car wouldn’t start or your boss calls you to let you know that you’ll be staying late tonight to finish a very important project. The day is less than an hour old and already it’s ruined. Or is it? We are quick to relinquish our happiness to the attitude or actions of another person or to the less than ideal circumstances that unexpectedly appear in our life. But since we cannot always control our circumstances or other people, we can at least prevent them from ruining our day.
First and foremost, remind yourself that your happiness is not dependent on who you are with, what they are saying or doing, or what is occurring. Your happiness is the sole result of your thought process. If your coworker is in a bad mood, you can become angry and frustrated with him based on what you say to yourself about his behaviors. “Jim’s always complaining about something. I can’t stand being around him.” Like a cold or flu, attitudes are contagious but those with a strong immune system can avoid becoming infected. Those with a strong mindset who are determined to stay positive can maintain their good spirits in spite of those around them. It takes practice but keeping your thoughts positive protects you from emotional misery.

It’s also important to pay close attention to the expectations we have of others. In this highly controversial year of a presidential election, emotions run wild. A conservative who is discussing their personal choice with a liberal may become agitated when their opponent fails to see the logic behind their choice. What began as two friends enjoying lunch together deteriorates into an angry confrontation because each party fully expected that they could sway the other to ally with them. A willingness to allow people to disagree with you and to permit situations to be what they are without the need to force anything to comply with your way enables you to maintain your serenity rather than succumb to anger and frustration.
I spent fifteen years working at a battered women’s shelter with a clientele that loved drama. The women would easily be pulled into the chaos others would create. My suggestion to simply disengage, to walk away if necessary, was difficult for many to follow. The temptation to become involved was overwhelming and more often than not they fell prey to the stress of the situation. In time, some learned that if they wanted to maintain their happiness, they needed to avoid outside drama.

An obscure antidote to misery is gratitude. In the event you feel your happiness and serenity slipping away, a quick reminder of what you have to be grateful for can thwart off any potential misery. Since the brain can only entertain one emotion at a time, focusing on what you appreciate in life enables you to secure a joyful outlook on life.

Set your intention: just as one arises each morning with a list of things to accomplish and a plan of how to do that, it’s critical to create your “emotional intention” as well. That is, decide how you want to feel for the next twenty-four hours and follow through by making consistent choices throughout the day that support that. For instance, if I decide that today is going to be a wonderful day, then even if I’m stuck in traffic, I keep my mind centered on how fortunate I am to have a job, that when I get home at the end of the day, my family and/or dog will be there waiting for me, or that I’ll have time to work out. I consistently choose the mindset and behaviors that support my original intention.

You and you alone create your internal environment, that is, your happiness or misery. No one has the ability to ruin your day without your permission. Don’t put your bliss in someone elses hands. Maintain your personal power and choose happiness and joy regardless of what’s occurring. You are the author of your own life so make your story a great one.

A special thanks to my guest, Allen Klein, author “You Can’t Ruin My Day”
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