happiness

Live a life you don't need to escape from

happy manWhy I swapped my corporate suit for yoga pants.Inspiration and advice for anyone who's feeling stuck, unhappy at work, contemplating a career change or wanting to follow their passion.  Have a read of my latest blog on Tiny Buddha"Instead of wondering when our next vacation is, we should set up a life we don't need to escape from", Seth Goldinhttp://tinybuddha.com/blog/imagine-living-a-life-you-dont-need-to-escape-from/ 

7 Steps to Happiness

100_2326View this 7 minute clip on my You Tube Channel; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPbNK1TVuRgFind out in 7 easy steps how to bring happiness into your life, filmed on a beautiful Indonesian island, worth watching for the view alone!

Lessons Learned Living Life

155520_10150344782530612_423314_nI’d spent the last 15 years planning what I wanted my life to be like and writing bucket lists of all the things I wanted to achieve one day then I realised that had actually been my life and I needed to start living my dreams not just thinking about them. My search for happiness took me around the world only to arrive back where I started to find it had been with me all along.After 15 years as a Human Resources professional climbing the corporate ladder I had enough, I felt empty and anything but the ‘success’ my life looked like from the outside. This lead to a change for me, I took 12 months out to write a book, travel the world, volunteer and became a yoga teacher. I learned more about life during this time that any number of years at school or hours in leadership courses has taught me, here are 50 lessons I have learned from living life;

    1. Before you love anyone else, first you must love yourself
    2. Nothing is out of your reach, unless you put it there
    3. Know which direction you want to go before you set off
    4. Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food (Socrates)
    5. If you let go of excess baggage that you no longer need you’ll make room for what you really want
    6. You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one
    7. It’s not what you’re walking away from, it’s what you’re walking towards
    8. Stretch yourself and grow, learn new things
    9. Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create
    10. Laugh everyday, even at yourself
    11. You are not defined by your bank account, street address, job title
    12. You make a living by what you get but you make a life by what you give
    13. You don’t always have to have all of the answers
    14. You do not need to have valuable stuff to feel valued
    15. Don’t try so hard to fit in if you were born to stand out
    16. You define your own success
    17. The time is now be in the present moment
    18. Sometimes you have to disconnect to reconnect
    19. By slowing down you’ll find you have more time
    20. The quieter you become the more you can hear
    21. You can’t always control what happens to you but you can control how you react to it
    22. Instead of wondering when our next vacation is we should set up a life we don’t need to escape from (Seth Goldin)
    23. You can’t learn to surf without getting wet (John Kabat Zinn)
    24. Live simply so that others can simply live
    25. There’s always enough time if you spend it doing the things that matter
    26. Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life
    27. We are what we think, our thoughts make our world
    28. There are no mistakes only lessons
    29. Happiness isn’t about getting what you want it’s about loving what you have
    30. I can be wealthy even when my purse is empty
    31. Don’t chase your dreams, live them
    32. Don’t change so people will like you, be yourself so the right people will love you
    33. Everyone is fighting their own battles, always be kind
    34. Insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results (Einstein)
    35. We should measure in value not in price
    36. You can do anything you want but you can’t do everything you want
    37. Do what you love and love what you do and you will be successful
    38. That man is poor, not who has little but who hankers after more (Seneca)
    39. You can’t change anyone but yourself
    40. Not all those who wander are lost
    41. You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step
    42. Security is not having things it’s handling things
    43. It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult (Seneca)
    44. A journey of a thousand mile begins with a single step (Lao Tzu)
    45. Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action. (Benjamin Disraeli)
    46. Everyone who got where they are started from where they were.
    47. Live as though you’ll die tomorrow, but dream as though you’ll live forever
    48. Some pursue happiness, others create it
    49. Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. (Robert Brault)
    50. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be, (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

 

Travelling light

 What having nothing taught me about having everything.

ZIMG_0134 (6)I’d just turned 30, in the prime of my life and I had everything; I lived in a house overlooking the beach, I had a top corporate job with a flash car, I was living the dream as some of my friends suggested but I was increasingly unfulfilled, I felt weighed down and trapped by the stuff I had and the rat race I was part of. So when I turned 31 I decided to try a different tact and opted for the simple life. I quit my job, my house and gave most of my possessions away. I wanted a taste of the simple life, made up of what really matters, making room for real things, the things that are necessary for happiness.I took the advice I’d read about that seemed to work so well for others and got rid of everything in my life that didn’t make me happy and made room for the things that would. It was like unpacking the suitcase of my life that I’d been dragging around for the last 30 years getting heavier and heavier and I was determined to only put back what I needed and what was good for me.I set off on a journey across the world doing the things that made my heart sing. I lived in Ashrams, volunteered in Northern Thailand and visited all the countries I’d longed to see. Before I left I’d laid out all the things on the bed I thought I’d need and then realised half of it was not going to fit in the bag and after much culling I had a backpack ready to go which I couldn’t lift off the floor. It’s surprising what you really need when you can only pack the bare essentials and nothing encourages you to pack light than having to carry it around on your back for 12 months!I found that by clearing out the things I didn’t enjoy I had time and space to do more of the things I did. I realised I could make do with one pair of shoes, I didn’t need a wardrobe overflowing with clothes I’d only wore once, I could live without wifi if I had to as checking facebook daily was not as important as my useage suggested. If there was something I needed that I didn’t have I made do with what I had, found an alternative or went without. What really brought this home was seeing how others lived, the hill tribes villages of northern Thailand where the kitchen consisted of a fire to cook on and a floor to sit on, there was no oven, dishwasher, dinning table or dinner service. However the room was filled with what mattered; family, love, laughter and more than enough food to go around.Spending time living the simple life you realise how little we actually do need and by not having it how much more room you have for things in your life that really matter. We have put too much emphasis on having many things and it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you want you’ll be happier with more. We struggle in the modern world with debt, obesity and addiction as a result of this mantra. But as Seneca put it “that man is poor, not who has little but who hankers after more”At some point in our lives we are forced to reduce the amount we have, whether it’s financial reasons, divorce, sickness, natural disaster or eventually death. Guess what we won’t take with us when the inevitable happens, everything.   Having less stuff does not mean less quality of life and this is clear to me now. It opens more space in your life for the fun stuff, the things that really matter, there’s less to clean, insure and pack each time you move!Going on this journey taught me how to appreciate the things we take for granted each day. Cold fresh water, a comfy bed with a nice warm duvet, a spare seat on the bus, having your own room. Living simply has also taught me to be grateful for what I have. When you don’t have something and miss it you realise how grateful you are that it’s there, whether this is your bed or your family, it’s the simple things that matter.

5 things to help create the life you deserve

IMG_2146Have you ever thought “it shouldn’t be this hard” or “there must be more to life than this”? What do those who are happy and fulfilled do differently and how can we get a piece of the action?Start by asking yourself these questions; When do you feel most alive, what inspires you and makes your heart sing?Life often feels harder than it should be, we’re left thinking, what’s it about, how do I change things and how can I find a way off this wheel? It doesn’t have to be this way, we should not be so busy making a living that we forget to make a life.We can be rich and ‘successful’ (and many of us would like to be) but this does not necessarily leave us feeling fulfilled. Being happy and living with purpose is very different from society’s model of ‘success’ we’ve been led to believe holds the key to our happiness.Try these 5 simple tips to create a life you deserve; 1.  Learn something newContinuous growth is important, we all like to have something to aim for. Our ambitions and goals gives us a sense of direction and satisfaction when we achieve what we set out to do. Whether it’s a dance class you’ve wanted to start, learning to draw or a language you want to learn it stimulates your mind and soul and stretches you to challenge yourself and achieve.2.  Let go  Lao Tzu said “To become learned each day add something, to become enlightened each day drop something”. Clearing clutter, removing blocks makes room in your life for the things that matter. When you clean your house it feels more orderly and balanced, in the same way, letting go of what no longer serves you makes room for things that do.We live in a world where we feel we have to have things to be happy, it leads us on an endless pursuit of material possessions, upgrading the car, extending the house, buying more accessories. We feel we have to ‘have’ things to be free when it’s the opposite, our struggle to hold onto things brings the very pain we are trying to avoid, we are terrified of letting go for fear we’ll have nothing but this is the true path to living.If you have been hurt by someone and you still hold anger and resentment because of it, you are letting them hurt you again. Forgiveness sets you free, let go of resentment. “Holding onto anger is like holding a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else, you are the one that gets burned” Buddhist saying.3.  Give  It gives us a sense of purpose and that warm feeling that we’ve helped someone in need. It doesn’t have to be big money donations to charity, helping an old lady across the road with her shopping or letting a car in front of you in a traffic queue and other small random acts of kindness are equally importantThe root of all happiness comes from giving to others and wanting them to be happy. Studies show that giving to others makes us happier, when groups of people were given the same amount of money to spend on themselves or on others it was those who spent it on others that reported feeling happier. Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School analysed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer.4.  Find your purposeFinding your purpose, why are you here, what’s it all about, what makes your life worth living. What’s important to you, what would you do and who would you be if money and other barriers were no object, what sort of person would you be, how would you like to be remembered?We often get our sense of self from what we do (eg. I’m a mother, a lawyer, a widow). You are more than your job title or your social status, this should not define you or be who you are, it is just what you do.Work is something we spend so much of our time doing we should ensure for a happy life that we enjoy it and it brings us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Yet so many of us leave our souls behind when we go to work. Don’t ask ‘what do I want to do’ ask ‘what kind of life do I want to have?’5.  Do what you loveIt can be the small things like a walk along the beach, playing with the dog, visiting your favourite coffee shop, sitting down to read a good book or bigger things like travelling the world, skydiving or simply a night in with the family. Think about what makes your heart sing and incorporate things you love into every day. If you do what you love you will be successful.

10 things to do to make you healthier

10 things to do to make you healthier (and they are cheap and easy)

  1. Drink more water
  2. Eat more veg
  3. Walk outside in nature for 30 minutes every day
  4. Go to bed earlier
  5. Drink less (alcohol)
  6. Stretch every morning
  7. Take 10 mindful minutes a day in solitude to still your mind
  8. Think of 3 things you're grateful for every day
  9. At meal times only eat until you’re 80% full
  10. Do something you enjoy everyday

Tis the season to be grateful

treeSo the ‘stress’ of Christmas is over, the presents have been opened, we’ve filled ourselves with an abundance of food and we hopefully are now able to relax and breathe, at least until the credit card statement arrives! It can certainly seem a lot more complicated these days than it used to be.For me Christmas is about family, living overseas this is one of the few times I get to be with my family and as we sit having Christmas dinner pulling crackers across the table I can’t help but feel grateful for the time we have together, the abundance of things that really matter and how fortunate we are in a world where so many others are not. At this time of year I am also reminded of Christmas’s past and those family members who can no longer be with us and wish that I’d really taken the time to appreciate the big Christmas gatherings we had when we were children, the joy of Christmas and being with those we love, those times can never be repeated and during the moment we often overlook this.

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault

I look at the fridge bulging with food and the presents under the tree and I’m grateful, but it’s so easy to take these things for granted in our overdeveloped world, we run the risk of forgetting it’s not like this for everyone and we are in fact very lucky. This Christmas I travelled home through Thailand where I volunteered with under privileged children. Seeing how happy these kids are when they have so little made me think long and hard about gratitude.We have a habit of focussing on what we haven’t got instead of all the things we’re lucky to have, even the basics like food, warmth, health, education, freedom. It is human nature to focus on the tiny bits that are not right rather than the large chunks that are. We overlook the good stuff and tend to concentrate on what could be better. This leave us feeling dissatisfied and always wanting more but that is a never ending journey, you’ll always be left wanting more.A monk spoke to me recently about his upbringing in a hill tribe village in remote northern Thailand where he had to learn to cook, clean, plant, harvest and how to navigate life, as a result he tells me he learned where things come from and to appreciate what he has, he told me “as a kid in the hill tribe if I wanted to play with a toy I had to make one so I would carve a gun out of wood from a banana tree. Rich kids, if they want something it is given to them, they grow up having no idea how to live and they don’t appreciate what they have”.

“Happiness isn’t about getting what you want it’s about loving what you have”

We have put too much emphasis on having many things. It is true that if we are out in the cold in a forest with no food and no clothes we will not be happy but if someone gives us shelter, a blanket and something to eat we will be happy. So if a little of something is good then it follows that more must be better but a person with $2M is not twice as happy as a millionaire. You can also have too much of a good thing (as I have found with Mum’s mince pies)!It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or desire you’ll be happier with more, as a result of this mantra we struggle in the modern world with debt, obesity and addiction.We feel we have to ‘have’ things to be free when in fact it’s the opposite, our struggle to hold onto things brings the very pain we are trying to avoid, we are terrified of letting go for fear we’ll have nothing but this is the true path to living. I look at those who live simply and can’t help thinking they know the secret, they have mastered the art of living. After all, everything material we have can be lost tomorrow and the irony is if you’re asked what you most value it’s likely to be the things money can’t buy and put under the tree, things like love, your health and your family. So this Christmas take a few minutes to think about all you have in your life and be grateful and remember those who are not so fortunate.

 “That man is poor, not who has little but who hankers after more” Seneca

Make 2015 your year!

IMG_2142As the New Year approaches we are busy thinking about the possibilities for 2015 and what lofty goals we may set for our New Year Resolutions. We’ll be telling ourselves, “this is the year, it’ll be different”, we have new found motivation to achieve goals that maybe we’ve been ‘considering’ for the last few New Years.I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to get up earlier, get fit, I’m going to find a new job. We dust off our bucket list for review, we join the gym, we update our CV and then by February the motivation has lapsed slightly, we’ve had a few set backs and real life has taken over and we no longer have the promise of a New Year hanging in the air to give us that extra push. Maybe we’ve taken salad to work for a few days and avoided the bread basket when we’ve been out for dinner but really we’re only a few weeks into the year and not that much has changed.How do you get from where you are to where you want to be and ensure that this year is the year?There’s a big difference between talking about what we want to achieve and actually doing it, how do we make it happen and actually do those things we say we’re going to do, whether it’s New Year or anytime of the year.I’m not an expert, I still have things I’ve talked about that have not quite been crossed of my list yet but I have a pretty good track record. Quitting my corporate job to follow my dreams, travelling the world, spending a year living out of a van as a nomad, volunteering to teach English overseas, studying Buddhism whilst working full time, training to become a yoga teacher and emigrating to the other side of the world.So how do we make our dreams reality and what is it that so often stops us?If it was easy there would be no challenge and we’d not be having this conversation, your resolve will be key. It all depends on you and you must take responsibility and make the right choices along the way. Take control of your own destiny, know why you’re doing it and understand the consequences of failure and keep this in your mind.So as you mull over your prospects for 2015 consider these top tips to help you achieve your goals and live your dreams;

  • Understand what you really want.  Take some quiet time out to reflect on what this might be. The quieter we become the more we can hear, listen to what is deep inside of you. Make sure your goals are actually what you want not what you think you should want.
  • Set your intentions – commit to it and believe in yourself
  • Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day to keep it at the front of your mind
  • Make it realistic so you give yourself every chance to achieve it
  • If it’s big, break it down, set milestones and timeframes to work to
  • Think positive, ordinary people can achieve extra ordinary things, the only person stopping you is yourself.
  • Tell people what you’re doing.  The more people know, the more ‘pressure’ there is to succeed, you’ll have people asking you about it, the fear of failure increases if it is more public and this helps hold you accountable. You may also find that by making it public you encourage others to join you or find support in places you least expected.
  • Be grateful.  Don’t get so lost in the search for something better that you forget all the good things you already have. Get into the habit of giving gratitude everyday even for the small things, you may even want to keep a gratitude journal. If you want to get fitter this year remember to be grateful for your health and wellbeing and the opportunity you have to improve your fitness, not everyone is so lucky.
  • Give yourself a break.  There will be ups and downs, praise yourself for the small successes but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go so well. Your attitude is critical in your success, so if you accidently ate that piece of cake at lunchtime, get back on the wagon rather than letting it ruin your good intentions and doing more damage. Be kind to yourself and don’t let a little derailer put you completely off track.
  • Keep the company of those walking the same path.  Like minded people will understand what you’re trying to achieve, they may even be on the same journey themselves giving you a support network of people to share ideas and motivation with. They are more likely to be positive about what you’re aiming for and show an interest in what you’re doing.
  • Lose the company of those who do not believe in you or are not supportive.  Negative attitudes are infectious and they’ll weaken your resolve, they’ll inadvertently convince you that you’ll fail and may become a distraction to what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Let go!  Of what you think you should be, grudges from the past, limiting beliefs (I’m too old, not good enough etc), the need to control the outcome, the need for perfection (you don’t need to know everything). Have faith, trust the process and know that if you’re on the right path you’re heading in the right direction.
  • Stop procrastinating.  There’s always an excuse or a better time. (I’ll start the diet on Monday or after my birthday/holiday etc). Procrastination comes in many forms all distractions from achieving our goals, conditions will never be perfect, don’t let negative thoughts overcome your motivation, start now. This is it, this is life, you’re living it now, you only get once chance, it’s too precious a chance to waste on being unhappy. You get once chance to make it great and you can make it whatever you want it to be.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” Lao Tzu“Every ordinary person has extraordinary potential” Swami Satyananda