Appreciating Living

How often do we appreciate our surroundings, our ability to perceive and feel? What sunsetabout the moment when that beautiful butterfly flies past you in the morning. You could swear it is following you. What about when the wind elegantly moves the leaves of a tree? You could swear the Earth was putting a show on for you. Do we appreciate these things or do we fail to even notice them?

I have been guilty of failing to notice them but today was different somehow. Today I can see clearly. The Universe is bigger than me and my problems. Sometimes that is easy to forget. It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of obsessing about our issues. Then we think those issues are a part of us and that they make us who we are.

Looking at the bigger picture helps put things into perspective. Contemplating things such as the age of the Earth (over 4 billion years old), the enormity and complexity of the Universe and the fact that our time here is very limited can shift your viewpoint. Thinking about these things minimise the importance placed on problems and make them seem petty and irrelevant. This way of putting things into perspective is highly enjoyable and completely liberating. It helps me remember how grateful I am to be alive.

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

Increasing Love and Connection in Your Life

love and connection 2Who would have thought that searching for a career would produce the goal of increasing love and connection in my life? I certainly didn’t but that’s exactly what happened when I was examining Anthony Robbins’ theory of six human needs. According to Robbins, we all have six human needs that must be met in order to live fulfilling lives. He outlines the six needs in his fascinating TED Talk “Why We Do What We Do”. He explains that the ultimate goal of all behaviour is to satisfy one or more of those needs. The first four are the Needs of the Personality and are summarised below:

1.   Certainty - the need to feel secure, comfortable and safe

2.   Uncertainty (Variety) - the need to have a variety of experiences and challenges

3.   Significance - the need to feel important, respected, special and unique

4.   Love/Connection - the need to love and be loved; to feel connected to others

The last two human needs are the Needs of the Spirit:

5.   Growth - the need to continually develop new skills and learn new things

6.   Contribution - the need to contribute something valuable to others or a particular cause

While exploring this topic it occurred to me that in order for a career to be fulfilling it must meet all six human needs. So, I began investigating Robbins’ theory further and how it might advance the search for my ideal career. I completed a test here that assessed which of the six humans needs is most important to me expecting that it would be useful in my career search. I was struck by the results. I thought Significance would be at the top of the list but it turns out that Growth is number one, followed by Contribution then Uncertainty. Significance, Certainty and Love/Connection were lucky last. I was not so surprised that Growth is my most important need but I felt concerned when I saw that Love/Connection was in the bottom three.

I know that love and connection are vital in this world and, in all honesty, I crave those things. I think we all do. I do, however, find it difficult to connect with people on a deep level and I know others struggle with this too. I think I subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) avoid getting close to people for a number of reasons. Now that this lack of love and connection has been brought to my attention (even if by accident) I can do one of two things. I can accept it or I can change it. Well I am certainly not going to accept it so…another self development project is born! This doesn’t mean I will stop the quest to find my calling. I will work on both at the same time. I will continue Finding a Meaningful Path as well as increasing love and connection in my life.

How does one increase love and connection in their life? Well, according to a Psychology Today article (best website ever) called Simple Steps for Increasing the Love in Our Lives we can create the feeling of love (not necessarily romantic love) whenever we like. There are a few simple things you can do to achieve this and I have summarised them below:

Be present: Regularly take 10 minutes to relax and focus on your senses.

Concentrate on the best moments of each day: Write down your good experiences each day. You can also create these experiences yourself rather than waiting for them to happen.

Connect with people you encounter: Use eye contact, smiling, touching etc to create a connection with others. Give people the benefit of the doubt when you don’t understand their choices.

Listen: Forget your agenda and give your full attention to what’s going on around you.

Keep gratitude lists: Write down what you love about the people closest to you, your work, daily tasks etc. Accept or change what bothers you.

Pay it forward: Be generous with your care and attention. Give to someone in need when you feel poor. 

Say yes as much as possible: Say yes to opportunities and possibilities. It will open you up to new friendships, experiences and fun.

Read daily meditations with regularity: Read books and quotes that make you feel positive. Read them more frequently when you feel stressed. 

Use abundance journals: When you have doubts about being able to attract amazing things in your life write your aim down then write all the things that happen each day toward that end. When you feel discouraged re-read what you have written.

Maintain basic self care: Love and respect your body by eating and sleeping well. Exercise, laugh and play regularly.

Listen to your spirit: Check in with yourself regularly to assess your current feelings, needs and anything preventing you from experiencing joy.

This may seem like a lot to remember so, if you like, just choose a few to focus on each day and see what happens!

Do you have any suggestions about how to increase love and connection? Let me know in the comments section below.

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

Know Yourself, Find Your Path

know-yourselfWhile exploring ways to find my calling in life (aka my meaningful path) I discovered the Enneagram of Personality. It is a typology of nine personality types where each type is represented by different points of a geometric figure called an enneagram. I discovered that this model of personality can be particularly useful in finding your ideal career since it examines people’s strengths and values rather than simply describing personality traits.

After reading a bit about each of the nine personality types here I immediately identified which type I am. After completing a free online test at enneagraminstitute.com my suspicions were confirmed. I’m a Type 4, an Individualist. Reading the description of a Type 4 blew me away. It was so accurate it was almost unbelievable! How the hell do these people know everything about me?! The descriptions of each personality type outline the basic fears and desires of that person as well as their key motivations. The descriptions even explained how each type feels and acts when they are at their best and their worst. It can be a little confronting to read about your basic fears and unhealthy behaviours but I know that what I read is accurate for me (based on how well I know myself) and I will definitely take it on board.

I decided to delve deeper into this model of personality and uncover ways to directly link it to finding an ideal career. I came across a book called ‘The Career Within You: How to Find the Perfect Job for Your Personality’ by Elizabeth Wagele and Ingrid Stabb. The book uses the Enneagram of Personality to help the reader find a career that suits their strengths, needs and objectives. Elizabeth Wagele’s blog is also quite helpful since it outlines the three elements each personality type looks for in a job. According to Wagele, the needs of my type, the Individualist (aka Romantic), are:

  • Working for money and contributing compassion
  • Affiliating and following a meaningful profession
  • Following one’s passion and creating beauty

That sounds about right to me! The needs listed above are quite broad though so I will need to look into it further (I literally just bought the book online before I even finished this sentence). While this method of finding my ideal career can be useful because it focuses on values (which I think are relatively stable) I believe that a person’s strengths, weaknesses, fears, desires, motivations, emotions and behaviours are all malleable. So I will continue exploring a variety of resources to ensure that I don’t overlook anything and stay on the right track.

Did you do the online Enneagram Test? If so, was it accurate?

Finding a Meaningful Path

meaningful-pathHow do you find your calling? I have been pondering this question for some time now as I have never really found what I want to do with my life. I have many interests and a lot of ideas for projects and career paths but I struggle to stick with one idea and run with it (at least for an extended period of time!). Like most people, I want to do something that is enjoyable and meaningful. I want to create, learn, explore, help people, have fun and have as much freedom as possible. I just can’t seem to find a way to have all these things and make money at the same time! Surely there is something out there for me!

I have been trying to work out what I want to do with my life by thinking about my skills and interests. This has not been very effective and I feel more like Lost Lisa than Crazy Lisa right now. So, I’m going to do what I usually do when I feel lost and helpless. I’m going to research. Rather than sit around hoping that one day I will miraculously discover (or fall into) my ideal career or spend money on careers counselling I am going to do it myself. I will explore my psychological and personality traits, my interests and values, my skills and talents and whatever else I find relevant along the way. What I discover may or may not lead me to the answer I am looking for. I may come up with a formula to find my calling, I might stumble upon it during my research or I might not find anything at all. Whether I work out what I want to do or not, I am sure I will learn a lot about myself in the process.

I will try to ensure that all of the resources I use are online and free. This is so that you can use them if you wish to go through the same process. As we all know, there is an enormous amount of information that is accessible to us, we just have to take the time to find information of quality (which I intend to do). I will use the resources I find useful as a guide and will employ critical thinking to ensure I don’t blindly accept everything I read. I will also use the existing knowledge I have about myself and my intuition to help me through the process. As I discover useful resources, I will share them with you and explain how they are helping me in my quest for finding my new meaningful path.

Are you doing what you absolutely love? If so, how did you discover it?

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

Presence is a Virtue – Part 2

tramCatching public transport to and from work can be a really good use of your time. Of course, you can read a book or do work but you can also use this time to practice being present. It is particularly beneficial to experience the present moment while commuting since it is usually at the beginning of your day (you can set a calm, focused tone for your whole day) and at the end of your day (you can wind down and let go of the events of the day). I find the following exercises very useful when I am commuting to and from work.

1. Focus on your body on the seat

  • Close you eyes if you like and focus all of your attention on how it feels to be in contact with the seat you are sitting on
  • Focus on how your back, bottom and legs feel against the seat
  • If you are standing, simply feel your feet on the floor and anything else your body is in contact with. Examples include your hand on a hand rail or your clothes against your skin

2. Focus on your body’s movements

  • A bumpy ride on a train, tram or bus can often be annoying and we tend to resist moving with the vehicle’s motions by tensing our bodies
  • Try relaxing your body and letting yourself move naturally with the motions of the vehicle
  • Focus all of your attention on the movements your body is making and how these movements feel
  • This can turn an ordinarily annoying experience into a rather enjoyable one!

3. Focus on one instrument in a song

  • If you listen to music while on public transport try focusing intently on only one instrument used in the song
  • Focus on the drum beat, the guitar or even the vocals
  • This exercise makes me appreciate music so much more since it becomes more than just the background noise behind my thoughts

Do you have any suggestions on how to be present on public transport? Let me know in the comments section below :-)

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

Presence is a Virtue – Part 1

sunlit-skyAfter reading quite a bit about being present, experiencing each moment fully, living in the ‘now’ – I still find it fairly difficult to practice. I was initially introduced to the concept of experiencing the present moment about 5 years ago when my brother Marc gave me a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Thanks Marc :-)  At the time I had never heard of the book but when I read the blurb I exclaimed “This is exactly what I need right now!”.

The book made me see things as I had never seen them before. It taught me to experience life as it was, fully accepting how things were without resisting them. It had never occurred to me how much easier life could be if you simply focused on what you were experiencing from moment to moment rather than thinking about the past or the future. After all, neither the past nor the future exist, right? Anything that happens is happening now. It doesn’t happen yesterday, it doesn’t happen tomorrow. This concept can be difficult to grasp at first, I had to read a fair chunk of the book to understand what the hell the author was going on about! However, I persisted with my reading and it was very rewarding.

I am currently half way through reading the book for the second time and I am struggling to ‘just be’ without identifying with my thoughts or thinking about the past or future. In order to help me be present I recently compiled a list of all the things that help me experience the present (even if just for a moment) and thought I would share it with you. The list has quite a few items so I have divided them up into separate posts which I will share throughout the week. Since it is the first day of Summer (and it is actually warm in Melbourne for a change!) I thought I would list things you can enjoy doing in the beautiful weather. For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, these exercises can be used in the colder weather too :-)

You can experience the present moment fully by:

1. Focusing on your feet hitting the ground as you walk

  • As you walk, (whether it be in a beautiful park or simply around the office) focus all of your attention on how it feels as each foot touches the ground
  • Feel the flow of blood and energy in your feet as you move
  • I often do this when I get up from my desk at work. I also do it as I walk through the park on my way to work in the morning

2. Feel the air on your face

  • Again, as you are walking, focus on how the air or wind feels as it makes contact with your face
  • This is a favourite of mine especially on a beautiful day

3. Feel the sun on your skin

  • Any time you are in the sun direct your attention to the feeling of the sun against your skin
  • Take note of which part of your body feels the hottest from the sun’s heat

4. Listen to your surroundings

  • If you can, close your eyes (or keep your eyes open if you like) and focus all of your attention on listening to every sound you can hear
  • The great thing about this exercise is that you can do it at any time. You can even do it right now!
  • I particularly love doing this in the park when I can hear the birds singing, the wind blowing and even traffic on the nearby road
  • Remember, being present is about accepting what is happening in the moment rather than resisting it. So if you are enjoying the wonderful sounds of nature only to hear a lawn mower start, accept it and focus on that sound too. This can also be a great exercise in acceptance, especially for someone like me who hates loud noises!

You might want to try doing more than one of these exercises at the same time. It will definitely help you experience the present moment since you can’t focus on these things and think about the past or future all at once!

What do you do in order to experience the present moment?

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.

One Small Step Becomes a Giant Leap

I started writing about a pretty cool topic for this post but it wasn’t emerging from me naturally like all the previous posts. I decided it was a sign to stop writing about that topic :-P Then it occurred to me that I should write about the AMAZING impact positive reframing has had on me since writing my last post!

I must say I haven’t made an enormous effort to reframe my thoughts into positive ones –because it wasn’t that difficult! I discovered that the negative thoughts I was experiencing were the same ones over and over again. It turns out that it was only these few recurring thoughts that needed to be reframed! And, surprisingly, I only had to reframe each of them a few times before I saw a dramatic improvement! Wowsers!

The process I used was fairly simple: each time a negative thought (which was usually a pessimistic internal dialogue based on zero facts!) entered my mind I simply acknowledged it, thought of positive alternatives to the negative dialogue and moved on. In other words, I fed the Good Wolf. That Good Wolf is going to be obese when I’m done with him! Whenever I engaged in this process I felt a physiological change in my body; I felt the stress and anxiety caused by the negative thoughts just melt away. This connection between the body and mind always amazes me :-)

I imagine it would have been a longer process if MOST of my thoughts were negative, but I feel I have dealt with the ones that were getting in the way of my happiness. I had been holding on to these destructive thoughts and dwelling on them for quite some time. Simply reframing each of them when they arose on just a few occasions has made me feel like they have disappeared! They are certainly not ruling my life anymore and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. I do wonder if this is too good to be true (since it was so easy); I’m sure I will find out soon! It doesn’t matter though because if the Evil Wolf comes back, I know exactly what I need to do.

Have you been trying positive reframing? If so, what have you experienced?

Lisa

P.S. If you would like to know the reason and purpose for this blog check out the About page here.