Lighten Up

I’ll use the term or phrase “lighten up” to mean stop taking life so serious. There is a common affliction in our society that everything we do is serious business. We are constantly measured by metrics and KPI’s to attain more each year, to work harder, to be driven, and my question is what does it get us? We sacrifice our health and well being for goals that someone else set for us and make ourselves miserable in the process. I’m going to be a bit blunt here and call out a lot of this serious obsession as bullshit. We are not on this earth to work ourselves into an early grave for the sake of corporate profits or any other obligation imposed by someone else for that matter.

Cheryl Crow gonna-tell-everyone-to-lighten-up

Aside from all the destructive effects of the ultra serious demeanor that we have adopted; the real travesty is that we are sucking the joy right out of our life moment by precious moment. I used to attend a church where one of the parishioners worked for Pepsi corporation and had been working his way up the corporate ladder over the past decade moving his family with each promotion. Anyway I can recall how upset he was when someone brought a Coke product to the church picnic, and of course I thought this was pretty funny. I mean making sugar drinks that make people fat is pretty serious business after all. Now I’m not here to bash soft drink companies because I’m sure in their own weird way they contribute something to society other than obesity and diabetes. It is the serious nature of it all that drives me crazy. So much of what we do is just not serious by nature and we need to be able to distinguish from those things that are really serious in life and those things that we can give ourselves a pass on and relax a bit.

why-so-serious-little baby

Taking yourself or your role in an organization so seriously either emanates from ego or an anxiety you have about delivering something for other people. Let’s get real with ourselves; isn’t it much more fun and productive when we lighten up a bit? Being serious doesn’t equate to great results. I would argue that great results come from a calm state of mind and even more so from a joyful and happy state of mind. Be goal oriented, care about results, but in doing so lighten up and have fun.

Have fun at work pug.jpg

It is your right to have fun and you don’t need anyone’s permission except your own. I’m not saying give up on your goals and screw around all day, quite the opposite. I am saying that you need to stop being so serious and look for enjoyment, fulfillment, satisfaction, camaraderie, challenge, calmness, and fun in everything you do. There are times to be serious, but 95% of the time focus on making life fun.

Namaste

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The Current Expectation

The Happiness Movement

There is a movement in recent times that sets an expectation that we can live a life filled with happiness. Gretchen Rubin wrote a book a few years back called the “Happiness Project” where she expounds on a number of ways to increase your level of happiness. We are constantly subjected to a barrage of advertising that shows us how happy people are with that new car, drinking beer at the beach, or taking expensive vacations to Caribbean. All of these things advocate living a lifestyle that will make us happy forever more. There is a high expectation that if you just buy this, learn this, or do this activity happiness will follow.

corona beach

Unfortunately a consistent state of happiness is probably an illusion, and thinking that it is achievable may be somewhat dangerous to enjoying life. What I mean by this is that you are setting an expectation that is not achievable and this will actually cause you to think something is wrong with you if you are not in a constant state of bliss.

Each of us face so many challenges in our life such as health issues, family strife, making a living, and the list goes on and on. Do you really expect that you will feel happy during what are often very negative events that occur? You need to give yourself the opportunity to feel angry, sad, frustrated, inpatient, as these events unfold. That doesn’t mean you wallow in your pain and conduct a lifelong pity party, but allow yourself some time to express your feelings.

“Life is not a big long beer commercial, much of living is also filled with struggle and challenging situations”.

While it is true you can emerge from a painful situation, stronger and wiser, you may even learn something from it, but you will not be in some state of continuous euphoria.

Instead of expecting a life filled with happiness whatever that really means, be realistic and expect that your emotions will rise and fall like the tide. I really like listening to speakers like Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Esther Hicks, Mel Robbins, and Jim Rohn; these people are very motivating and can give you some great tips for being more successful and effective in life. Things like the Law of Attraction and the 5 second rule are great tools for enhancing your life, but like any tool it will have its limitations. Most of the time I hover somewhere in between happiness and sadness, somewhere in the middle, not overcome by either emotion.

My parting advice would be:

  • Feel Happy
  • Feel Sad
  • Feel Angry
  • Feel Pain
  • Feel Frustrated
  • Feel Love
  • Live in the Moment

Just don’t fall into the trap that your life should be one where you are in some heightened state of happiness all the time.

Root of Our Suffering

A certain amount of our life is dealing with pain, it happens to all of us, and we can avoid the suffering associated with it, but it is a difficult thing to do. I like the quote below because it resonates with me. I make no claims to have eliminated all attachment in my life, but I agree it is often the source of suffering.

Root of suffering

Namaste

 

Deferring Happiness

happiness-is-now

I’ve written about various ways to foster more happiness in your life including yoga, meditation, expressing gratitude, and caring for your physical health. All of these things are wonderful ways to be more happy, but we still are not as happy as we could be. Most of us are trapped in thinking that happiness is something we defer until we retire, buy that new house, find a better job, create our own business, have a more fulfilling relationship with our significant other, or any other number of things we feel will make us happy.

Unfortunately this deferring of happiness based on some future event is robbing us of it in the present. I’m not advocating that you abandon your dreams or stop pursuing your goals, but thinking that these things will make you happier is a fallacy. Don’t let the things you want in the future delay the opportunity to be happy today. Each moment that you impose these walls around yourself that are blocking you from being happy in the now are time wasted. That expensive new car, home, or pile of money will only provide temporary happiness; find a way to enjoy today for that is all you are guaranteed. No one is assured of tomorrow, no matter what your age or health. How many years will you have wasted waiting for happiness? If I only had more money, a better job, a more attractive spouse, a bigger house, I could be truly happy. This self deception is stealing away the days, leaving you less available to those around you. Pursue your goals, but make it your purpose to be happy during the journey not the manifestation of these things.

“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Hear

Namaste

A few ways to be happier

Happiness the minions

If you asked most people what their ultimate goal in life is, probably 90% would say to be happy. Why is being happy such an elusive state of mind for most of us? We struggle to make money, raise a family, buy houses and cars, and with all that we still don’t find a whole lot of happiness in our lives. Over the past 10 years I have tried a lot of things to increase my level of happiness and I wanted to share a few of those things that actually worked for me. So here are few things you might try:

  • If you’ve read posts on my blog, you know I’m a big fan of practicing yoga. It is not only physically challenging, but it also helps you become calmer and more mindful.
  • Meditation is great for clearing the mind, overcoming negative thoughts, and setting yourself up for a great day.
  • Adopt a positive philosophy like the Law of Attraction, Buddhism, or any spiritual practice. You will approach each interaction from a positive perspective instead of reacting negatively to situations. Choose something that works for you. I personally study the Law of Attraction and Buddhism, both have contributed to my piece of mind.
  • Quit caring about everything. I mean it, we all get wrapped up in stupid little things that won’t matter a week, a month, or a year from now. Make what and who you care about a select group, and adopt an attitude of I don’t give a shit about the rest.
  • Stop doing things you hate. I can’t tell you how many people I know go through their work day as a zombie, no smiling, no laughing, and it is all drudgery. You were not meant to live that way. Find a way to do something you can get excited about. Look for a way to transition to something better, and in the mean time do the things above and at least you will view the world in a positive way and get some enjoyment out of your current situation.
  • Last but not least, develop a gratitude practice. A truly grateful person will appreciate what they have and all the good things that are to come.

Namaste

 

 

 

 

Law of Attraction #2

law-of-attraction-5

In the last post Law of Attraction #1 I attempted to explain my macro level view of the law of attraction. I promised that I would try to explain how the law of attraction can be used to help you be happy and fulfilled in your own life. The overall goal for the law of attraction is for you to be happy with your life and to obtain what you want out of life.

For myself I have used the law of attraction to greatly reduce negative thoughts and increase positive results. Remember the law of attraction isn’t some feel good approach to life, although you will feel much better about yourself and others. The law of attraction is a state of the way things work and will exist and function whether you believe it or not. Here are a few ways to start using it to your advantage:

  • Take some time and think about what you want. These can be material things, something you would like to do, places you would like to live or visit, or work that you enjoy. Examples might include but not limited to:
    • A new car (Mustang GT)
    • My own business
    • Enjoying a vacation in Cancun
    • A fulfilling relationship with my significant other
  • Think about why you want these things in a positive way.
  • Write these things down somewhere that you can see them daily, focus on them, feel yourself receiving them.
    • Maybe you put them on a whiteboard, on paper, or some electronic form (computer, phone, etc.). It must be somewhere that will be visible to you as a reminder to yourself where you will focus your thoughts.
  • Do not think about what you don’t want. This is the hardest part because what you think about will be what you are attracting. Don’t fall into the trap that thinking about what you don’t want will motivate you to achieve something else, instead keep the focus only on what you want.
  • Every time you find yourself focusing on something you don’t want consciously make a shift and focus instead on what you want. This gets easier as time goes by and you begin to catch yourself thinking a negative thought and you will quickly remove it from your focus.
  • Begin to monitor what you are exposing yourself to. For me it was turning off the television so that I wasn’t wasting time watching cable news, which was only creating negative thought patterns. Use that time to feed your mind positive information and focus on what you want to attract.
  • Go with the flow, provide your input and advice, but when people don’t act upon it just accept it. Stop focusing on things you cannot change, go with the path of least resistance, it will always be easier to manifest.
  • Believe in yourself, in your dreams, and in the talents you possess. You are a unique creation and you have an unlimited potential to share your talent with the universe.
  • Finally practice being grateful. Being grateful reinforces the power of the law of attraction in a positive way. The power of expressing gratitude alone will only lead to a happier existence.

I think that is enough for today. I would love to hear what you are doing to use the law of attraction to improve your life. More to come on this wonderful subject.

Namaste

The Third Noble Truth

If you read my first two posts where I wrote about the 1st Noble Truth that life includes a lot of suffering and in my next post the 2nd Noble Truth that explained the cause of suffering; you might think that Buddhism is a pretty pessimistic philosophy, but not true my friends. The 3rd Noble Truth is that suffering can be overcome and one can be happy in life. To do this we must give up the craving that causes our suffering. Giving up these cravings for more money, things, power, ego, intoxicants, and the praise of fools can lead us to a life of living in the present and true contentment.

Instead of painting a pessimistic view of life Buddhism encourages to understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we do not need to suffer. In my next post I will discuss what can be done to end the craving that is the root of so much of our suffering.

If we can overcome our propensity for cravings we can trade a state called suffering for a more positive outcome called Nirvana. So Buddhism is in fact is a very optimistic philosophy that offers a path to a better state of mind.

nirvana

Namaste

Casting off attachments

One of the primary concepts in Buddhism is that impermanence is an undeniable fact of human existence.  For each of us this means that nothing in our lives is permanent, not our job, not our health, not our relationships, not even our state of mind. If we can accept that nothing lasts forever and that it will inevitably change then we are more capable of understanding attachment.

Many of us are attached to who we think we are because of what we do for a living. We secretly know that whatever it is we do will not last, but we still place great emphasis on this role. We often use this role in society to attach some value to ourselves, and yes whatever we do is often in exchange for money, so it does have value. It strokes our ego to be paid for some form of expertise and we attach ourselves to this title be it a Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Judge, Accountant, CEO, CIO, Director, or whatever it might be. We scheme and plan for the next role using our expertise to acquire more money, a higher position, or some other ego enhancing attribute. We have attached our self to this persona and we find comfort in the fact that others find value in utilizing our skills.

Yet this attachment goes beyond the role we have chosen for ourselves that generates income. We start to attach ourselves to political parties, calling ourselves a Republican, Democrat, or Libertarian. Our attachments are strong, as you have often heard people say I’m a lifelong Republican or Democrat. If this were not enough we attach ourselves to things such as cars, homes, boats, jewelry, stocks, bonds, gold or some other material thing. We attach ourselves to other people like a family member, a spouse, co-worker, or a friend. We also attach ourselves to a self image of the way we look and our health good or bad.

With all these attachments we become very reliant on our role, organizations, health, things, and people for defining our identity. All of this is a house of cards, we will not escape the reality of impermanence, for every one of these things that we think defines our life are constantly changing. These attachments ultimately lead to one disappointment after another, as they unravel before our eyes and I assure you they will.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying what you do for a living, but remember at some point it will change. Even the most successful Doctor finds a time when he or she can no longer practice medicine, or no longer wants to. Strong attachments will create pain as they are broken and this is what this post is about. I’m not advocating that you live a life where you don’t care about anything or anyone, but you must let loose of the attachment to these things. Accept the fact that your life will change and that you will change physically, mentally, and spiritually. Do you really want your self worth tied to some profession? When you were born were you predestined to be a doctor, lawyer, executive, or factory worker? You made choices to pursue various lines of work and became what you pursued. Drop that attachment, you are not what you do for a living, and it does not define you, and as sure as it started it will end or change.

Start thinking about what you are attached to and how you can be open to things beyond your attachments. Can you find it in yourself to be less dependent on what you do for a living, organizations, people, and things. If you can, I assure you that you will become more care free; you will still care but you will not let these attachments dictate your happiness. To free yourself from attachments is a key step to following the way. I will see you on the path.

Namaste