I recently set off on the trip of a lifetime, a month in Asia spending time in Bali, Kathmandu and Bhutan. As I sat at the airport waiting to leave I heard about the earthquake in Nepal. I managed to get to Bali although a day late but couldn’t get much further.I like to have everything planned and this trip was no exception, the disruption made me uncomfortable and darkened my mood, as well as being told all my air tickets were non refundable and the insurance would not cover anything. I knew I should be grateful I was not in Nepal, I should also be putting this into perspective, my dramas are nothing compared to what these people are going through. I reasoned with myself that feeling this way was ridiculous, I was a glass half full kind of person but I’d lost perspective and I’d lost the value of the present moment.I knew all this stuff inside out, I’ve written a book on it yet here I was given the ideal opportunity to practice it and failing miserably. It got me thinking about the difference between intellectually understanding something and then actually putting it into practice. It’s like dieting, we know we shouldn’t eat cake and take aways but sometimes we do anyway.I had to have a very stern word with myself, followed by a long walk and some meditation a massage and a slice of cake! I began to gain perspective and like a fog lifting I realised I was lucky not just to be alive but to be on holiday in Bali. I felt grateful for what I had, that so many others do not have, particularly those in Nepal. I no longer felt uncomfortable with not knowing, I knew it could be worse and I also knew it would turn out ok in the end, whatever was meant to be will be.We may not always get what we want, but we always get what we need and for me that was this lesson. This has taught me about perspective, positive thinking and not to be so hard on myself, we are all human after all. But the biggest lesson I take is about putting what we know into practice. With so much information available to us we can know so much but what do we practice and experience? It’s this that makes the difference.And now for the travel bit……………………….Bali reminds me a lot of the Thai islands which I love, the people are happy and smiling, they have little but seem to make the best of it, the local food is fabulous, sunny days, rainy nights and laid back beaches. It also has the same annoyances; litter, hawkers, stray dogs and drunk backpackers. However Bali is not new to the tourist scene, they are more savvy and as a result have made much more money, prices are higher (although still very cheap compared to dollars) and flash resorts and glass fronted shops are around every corner. It is much more westernised, they speak very good English and have a great sense of humour.As I ventured away from the main tourist spots I started to see local life unfold around me and particularly once I left Bali I noticed things like the 4:30am call to prayer from the local mosque in Lombok.I spent my first few days in Ubud, yes, mainly because I watched eat pray love! I went to yoga barn, stocked up on cheap clothes from the market, visited the monkey forest and was asked 100 times per day if I wanted a taxi. In fact I got so used to saying ‘no, thanks’ as I walked down the street that I pre empted one guy and said it before he’d finished his sentence. Turns out he wanted to ask me how I was. I felt rude so apologised, said “I am fine thanks, how are you?” He said “I’m fine, you want taxi?”After dealing with the initial travel disruptions and finding I had more time on my hands I decided I needed to head to my happy place and be by the beach. Ubud is good to see but I miss wide open spaces and being able to walk in places that are not crowded with motor vehicles, pollution and people so I headed to Lombok.Spending time in Lombok, which is not as busy as Bali and newer to tourism I found the people to be friendly and after a few days calling out my name as I walked down the street. They took a particular shine to my greenstone and some new about Maori and were fascinated to talk about NZ. The kids either wanted to hi-five me or have their photo taken with me, either way I felt like a bit of a film star walking down the street.After spending a few days in Lombok I am ready to venture to the Gilli islands just off the coast. They say there is a gilli island for everyone so I looked at which may suit me;
- Gilli Trawangan – ‘party hard, backpacker heaven’ – no way, too old for this shit
- Gilli Meno – ‘not much here, perfect for getting away from it but don’t expect wifi and restaurants’ – what no food, no way!
- Gilli Air – ‘somewhere in between the 2, a laid back place, snorkelling, eateries, but not as crazy as Gilli T’ – perfect, this has my name written all over it
So next stop Gilli Air, for beach, yoga and snorkelling and if I’m feeling energetic there’s a 5km walk around the island. I’ve gained my perspective, I’ve learned a lot (mostly about myself) and I’ve gained a sun tan and perhaps a few extra pounds in weight but have been lucky to see more of Bali, it’s not a bad place to be stranded and despite using up huge chunks of my savings I’ve rebooked to go to Bhutan from Bangkok and hope to still be able to do that part of the trip before leaving Asia, but whatever’s meant to be will be, where we are is where we’re meant to be.
Pleased to share my article on the importance of disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with ourselves and nature which has just been published on tinybuddha.com. To celebrate I'm trying something new and have a video blog on the topic to share with you, you can read the full article on tiny buddha; http://tinybuddha.com/blog/theres-no-wifi-in-the-forest-but-youll-get-a-stronger-connection/ [video width="320" height="240" mp4="http://inspireyourlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Disconnect-to-reconnect-Jess-Stuart1.mp4"][/video]Let me know your thoughts and your experiences in the comments section
Over the years I’ve learned that happiness is not the mere absence of suffering or temporary cessation of unhappiness, it’s less about elation and perfection, more about purpose and fulfilment, being connected to who you are. A big part of this is resilience, tough times will come to us all, it’s how you deal with it and bounce back that impacts your happiness.It’s only the end of the road if you fail to make the turn, life has many twists and turns for us to navigate.Growing up I thought I was the only one suffering and I thought that adults must have it all figured out and when I grew up I’d come to this enlightened point in my life where I knew all the answers, I thought that’s what coming of age was, imagine my disappointment! Now I’m grown up (some days) I realise everybody hurts, we are all fighting our own battles, pain is inevitable which is why resilience is so necessary. If suffering is inevitable then it seems silly that avoidance of pain is a major preoccupation in our modern world and the methods we employ to achieve this often contribute to more of the very pain we are trying to avoid; addictions, eating disorders, debt.Unfortunately sorrow will always come, even to those who are happy but the good news is it will also go, impermanence is the nature of all things. This is good news if you’re going through a tough time, know that it won’t last but the same is also true when things are good and we are happy, this too will change, everything is impermanent. If we are able to accept this and enjoy what we have when we have it this goes a long way to helping us be more resilient. But our struggles make us what we are today, it’s because of the tough times we are strong and have learned the lessons of our life. It may be true that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. A monk once told me, mistakes are our teachers and we are never too old to learn. Where you are now is where you’re meant to be, trust it will turn out right in the end. There are no mistakes, only lessons, negative experiences teach us things and give us an opportunity to be stronger. As Paul Coelho said “Straight roads do not make skilful drivers”.Resilience is something that we should be working on all the time, not just when we need it. You don’t learn to sail in stormy seas and a tree grows its roots in the good times to enable it to weather the storms, resilience is the same, don’t wait until you need it to begin to cultivate it. As we go through change we go through the process of losing something and adjusting to something new, almost like a grieving process. It begins with shock and denial, moves on to anger and eventually we reach acceptance and move on and get over it and the new becomes the norm, until it changes again.BKS Iyengar said; “Change is not something we should fear. Rather it is something that we should welcome. For without change nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever more forward to become the person they’re meant to be”.Having to go through the pain of letting go of the old enables us to find the growth and opportunities of the new. However that period of nothing between letting go of old before we’ve grasped hold of new is the most fearful bit, gap of unknowing and what often sends us running back to cling onto what we know rather than being left out in the dark grasping onto something that’s not there yet and no security, like trapeze artist who has let go of one bar but is suspended in mid air yet to grasp the next. But facing the fear and moving forward allows us to grow and achieve amazing things, only then we can look back on our journey and see how far we’ve come. Change is the nature of everything, nothing stays the same, change is the only constant. Within our lives and work we have a wide range of concerns, some of which we can influence and some we can’t. Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest ass it happens, this puts you back in control. By focusing your energy and attention on doing something about the things you can control rather than those things you have no control over, you’ll feel more empowered and positive rather than feeling like a victim of circumstance.Charles Darwin said “in nature it’s not the strongest most intelligent that succeeds, it’s those that are most adaptable to change”.Top tips to cultivate resilience
- Know that change will always come and learn to adapt
- See change as an opportunity – ask not what you are walking away from but rather what you are walking towards
- Look after yourself – be well
- Remember it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it
- There are no mistakes in life, only lessons and negative experiences teach us things and give us an opportunity to be stronger
- Where you are is where you’re meant to be
Have 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.