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Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Ways to Be Happier Now!


10 Quick Mood Enhancers:

SMILE. Studies have shown that the mere act of smiling actually fools the body into feeling happier. So fake it until you make it. Smile for no reason, and the smiles you get back will help to raise your spirits.


SHOWER. Water is naturally rejuvenating. It cleanses the mind and spirit as well as the body. If you are in a funk, take a long shower and you will immediately feel uplifted.

WALK. Taking a short walk will pep you up, release stress, and give you some exercise at the same time.

SING. Singing increases oxygen, clears the mind, and makes you feel good.

LAUGH. Laughter feels good, reduces stress, and brings people closer together. Learn to laugh at yourself. Watch comedies, tell silly jokes, or just start laughing all by yourself for no reason.

MEDITATE. The calming effects of meditation are well known. Even a short five-minute breathing meditation will de-stress you and lift your mood.

SERVICE. Helping others lifts the spirits of two people. Service is an act of spirituality.

DANCE. Dancing is great for stress relief, getting the blood pumping, and expressing the joy of living.

HUG SOMEONE. When we share our loving energy with others, it is reflected back at us. Feel the love. Hug someone!

STAND TALL. Did you know that the way you sit and stand can affect your mood? If you are hunched over with your head down and shoulders sagging, the chances are good that you are feeling unworthy, blue, or troubled. If you change your posture by keeping your shoulders back, head up, and back straight, you will not only start to appear more confident, you will feel it too.

For more happiness tips you can buy the book :) here:  Be Happy Now: Simple Steps for Enjoying Life

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do You Always Have to Be Right?


Confidence is not being afraid to share your opinions; Wisdom is not being attached to them.”

~ LB Shannon

It is easy to get caught up in sharing your point of view with others. It’s a natural mode of communication. I share what I think about a subject and you share your thoughts about the subject. This type of communication goes on all day long. While it can be quite pleasant to talk to someone who shares your view, it can be frustrating to talk to someone with an opposing view.

More often than not, unhappy people will hold on to their opinions to the point of arguing. They would rather be right than let it go. They have convinced themselves that if they can’t get others to agree with them, they feel that their point of view is being threatened.

Agreement from other people is not necessary. Believe what you like, and let others do the same. Overly opinionated people haven’t learned that when others have an opinion that may be different from theirs, it is the other person’s right. They also haven’t learned that it is perfectly normal for other people to have varying opinions about many aspects of life. This type of closed-minded approach to communication can result in pompous thoughts of being smarter than the other person: “Obviously they are wrong and are too stupid to see it.” These thoughts of judgment, the aggravation, the bitterness that can arise from these confrontations is all because they had to show everyone that they were right. It was more important to be right than to be happy.

So how can we interact with others who have conflicting points of view from our own without conflict arising? It starts with being flexible with our own beliefs. Listen to their opinions. Ask questions like “Why do you think that is?” or “Where did you learn that?” The second key to interacting with opposing viewpoints is to understand that it is not always necessary to share your opposing thoughts. It isn’t your job to teach everyone around you to see things like you do. It’s okay to allow them to think differently than you do.

The most noticeable instances in my life concerning differing opinions are always politics. I’ve reached a point where I no longer put my two cents in these conversations. People are entitled to see the world from varying points of view, as each of us is unique in our perspective and life experiences. By not attempting to invalidate other’s opinions, I maintain peace of mind among some very opinionated people. Sometimes I even listen and ask questions so that I can begin to understand why they see the world the way they do.

Example #1:
Joe: “I think the moon is a spaceship for Martians.”
Mark: “That’s an interesting point of view! What makes you think that?”
Joe: “My grandfather told me when I was young.”
Mark: “Your grandfather sounds like an interesting guy. What else did he teach you?”

In this example, Joe shared an unpopular point of view about the moon. Instead of attempting to dispel Joe’s belief, or belittle him for his belief, Mark chose not to challenge the point of view that the moon is a spaceship. Mark asked for more information about Joe’s belief, which showed interest and also revealed the root of Joe’s odd belief. When Mark heard that Joe’s grandfather told him that the moon was a spaceship, he steered the conversation toward the grandfather. This technique of redirecting conversations is a useful tool for avoiding heated discussions when you come across a potential conflict of opinion.


Example #2:
Jane: “I can’t believe you are still married to John after he cheated on you again!”
Mary: “It’s understandable why you would feel that way. So how’s the new job going?”

In this example, Jane shared her unsolicited opinion about Mary’s marriage. Mary, in an attempt to avoid the subject, validated Jane’s right to her opinion but neither agreed nor disagreed. Instead, she changed the subject. Mary knew that it wasn’t necessary for her to defend her personal choices. She let Jane’s comment go, not choosing to start a debate on the subject of marriage and infidelity.

It’s not necessary to validate your actions and viewpoints to others. Be confident in your life choices and beliefs, but be willing to hear different points of view.

Lesson :

It is unnecessary to defend your point of view. Allow others the right to have their own opinions.

Exercises:
Ponder these questions. Be honest with yourself.
  • Do you take yourself so serious that when you meet people with a difference of opinion you feel the need to set them straight?
  • Do you feel irritated or even threatened by listening to opposing points of view?
  • Is it your job to teach everyone to think like you do?  

The next time someone shares an opinion or suggests an idea that is different from your own, see if you can resist the urge to share your point of view or push your own agenda. This exercise can be as simple as not being a backseat driver when someone else is driving or as challenging as listening to someone with a completely different political viewpoint.

Be aware of how it feels to rein in your ego. The uneasiness you feel is your ego fighting for control. As you practice ego awareness, it will become easier to recognize the ego’s controlling manipulations and easier to ignore it. When you can come to a point of humility, not always having to prove your opinions and allowing others to have alternate views, it brings more peace to relationships and to your own mind.

Practice being an observer or a listener without getting into debates. Make an effort to hold your tongue without putting in your two-cents point of view, even if you think they are totally wrong. This is a valuable skill that will provide much less drama in your life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Going with the Flow


Cling not to the withered flowers of life. Keep only the memory of their beauty in their prime." ~ LB Shannon

Learning to flow with life is an important aspect to being happy.

Each of us must learn to let go of anything, any habit, or anyone that no longer is in alignment with our innermost sense of being. Some things, situations, or people are purposeful for a time and then the cycle comes to an end. Just because it ends does not negate the meaning of what it was in its time, just as a beautiful annual flower will fade, yet the memory of the beauty is what remains. And yet, even in death, flowers leave seeds for new growth. Such is the rhythm of life. People come and people go. This moment is here, and then it is gone.

We live in a dynamic universe where nothing ever stays the same. Life is never static; it’s continually flowing with ups and downs like the ocean tides. When we fight the nature of these tides, we cause undue stress within our minds. Enjoy living in the present as it is, but don’t get too attached to it, because life will be different soon enough. By riding on top of the waves instead of being swept up in the middle of them, we have the ability to steer ourselves along the wave. Learn to flow with the waves of life by riding the extremes with awareness and acceptance, or those waves will knock you down for sure.

Besides the tides of life, there is always an overall current that pushes you along. Learn to flow with life like water in a river. When rocks appear, effortlessly flow around the obstacles without even slowing down. The only dams you will encounter are the ones you build yourself: attempting to move against the current (trying to move backwards), getting stuck in a whirlpool (repeating the same mistakes over and over), or attempting to run off course (moving away from your authentic self). These movements are unnatural and filled with resistance. If you feel like your natural flow is off track, ask yourself if you are causing this resistance by choosing not to flow with life.

Remember to flow with the unexpected and enjoy the journey. After all, detours in life are the seeds of good stories!

Lesson:

Flow with life’s tides and currents.

Exercise:
Practice flowing with the unexpected. Embrace life’s detours. Detours aren’t running off course. They are following the natural path of life, winding in unforeseen directions but still going with the flow. We can’t always see every turn coming up, but we can enjoy the journey as life takes us through a different territory.

If you are someone who feels the tides of life as they rise high and fall low, be aware that they never stay high or low. It’s just a matter of riding the tide with awareness. Don’t let the low tides draw you down with them.

When you feel caught up in a low tide of your life, repeat this affirmation: “Today I release the withered flowers of my past, looking back on only their beauty and perfection, allowing me to focus on the seeds of new growth.”

Stay aware and be patient, and your high tide will soon come.

Laura Barrette Shannon
author of Be Happy Now:  Simple Steps for Enjoying Life

Thursday, April 12, 2012

You Are the Narrator of Your Life

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
Your story is what you tell yourself and others about your life. We do this all the time when we meet new people. The longer we know them, the more we fill in our life story with whole chapters and characters we have met. The key is to know that you are telling the story, so you have the power to change the viewpoint of the narration.

You are the narrator of your life. Begin watching how you talk about yourself. Your every word defines who you want the world to see and reinforces how you think of yourself. If you keep the narration focused on unlimited potential for the future, lessons from past adversity, appreciation for the people who come and go, and gratitude for life itself, you will not only enjoy life more, you will be a joy to be around. Be a light in your own life, be your own best cheerleader, and watch your life be transformed.

Is your story one of being a victim of circumstance, or is it one of triumph through adversity? Recognize that either version of the story is just a different perspective of the same past events. For example, I could tell my story from a negative point of view …

I became physically and mentally disabled in my late twenties and early thirties. I went through an emotionally crushing divorce in that same time period. My condition eventually required brain surgery when I was thirty-three. One month before the brain surgery, my eleven-year-old daughter was tragically killed in an accident because some jerk cut them off on the highway. My life has been destroyed by things out of my control. How can I ever be happy? I have to deal with disabling health issues every day, which further makes my life sad and depressing. Life sucks!

This is a Woe is me! type story of victimization.

Or I can tell my story with positive passion …

Many years ago, I went through some emotional and physical trauma. These events provided an atmosphere of deep introspection of life and were a catalyst for self-transformation. I learned that I can be happy no matter what my past was, my current life circumstances are, or whatever the future holds. I am grateful for my past, because it has given me the opportunity to grow into who I am today.

This is a Life is good! type story.

It is important to understand that both versions of the story are just different perspectives of the same past events. The past hasn’t changed; the way I look at it has changed. What I choose to emphasize has changed. This switch from a negative perspective into a positive one changed my life.

The choice in how you see and tell your story will affect your self-image and how others see you. Don’t play the victim in your life story, and you won’t feel like a victim.

Today ask yourself, “What’s my story?” If you don’t like the story, then change it. Don’t fabricate lies, just re-frame how you describe past events and who you are. If you had past adversity or tragedy, begin to speak only of the lessons you have learned. Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on how you used the experience to grow as a person or how you learned more about yourself and life. If you can’t quite tell it in a positive fashion yet, then do not tell it at all! You write your own story. Make it a happy one.

Lesson #12:

You are the narrator of your life story. Make it a happy one!

Exercises:
Take time to sit down and rewrite your life story. It may take many rewrites before you eliminate all of the negative narration that you have been accustomed to telling yourself and others. At least start with one happier, more positive version of your story. You will be able to rewrite it as often and as much as you desire. There are numerous ways to tell any story. Make yours a happy one, even if you don’t believe it yet. Until you rewrite your life story into a happy one, refrain from telling it.

Watch how you talk about yourself and what you say about your life story. Story lines to avoid are the following:

“I can’t do that.”
“I’m not good at ____”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I feel like a victim of life circumstances.”
“I feel like a victim of past events.”
“Life is difficult.”
“I’ll never be happy because ____.”
“I’ll be happy when ______.”

You get the idea. Watch what you say about yourself and your life. Argue for your limitations, and you will always be right. Tell stories of victimization, and you play the part of victim.

Begin to use story lines that cast you as the hero.

“I learned so much going through _________. I am truly grateful for the experience.”

“Going through the loss of __________ really taught me how I should never take things for granted.”

“I learned that I can grow stronger through adversity.”

“I am not afraid to follow my dreams, because I know that failure is just a step on the path and another notch in my belt of experience.”

“I know I can be happy no matter what happens in my life.”

“Life is good!”

“I chose not to see myself as a victim of past circumstances but a student of life. If I didn’t learn something, then that would be a real tragedy.”

You are the narrator and the director and can cast yourself as any part you wish in your life story.

Advanced Exercise:

Moving beyond Your Story

Who would you be without your story? When you define yourself by your life story, you are still limiting yourself. You are more than your past, no matter how delightful, painful, exciting, or dramatic it has been. You are just a character in the story, not the story itself. It can be tempting, when people ask who you are, to start telling your life story. The next time someone asks you to share about yourself, tell them your dreams, your values, and what sparks your passion. It’s not who you were yesterday that matters; it’s who you choose to be now and tomorrow.

Laura Barrette Shannon
author of Be Happy Now:  Simple Steps for Enjoying Life

Buy Book Now:   http://tinyurl.com/7nmfzpc 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Respect Yourself- Set Boundaries


People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.” ~ Plato

Do you have trouble setting boundaries? In any relationship (whether it is with family, spouse, or friends), it is our responsibility to set the boundaries of how we allow others to treat us. It is not their fault if we allow them to use us, verbally abuse us, or take without ever giving back. Loving people does not mean you need to let them use you or hurt you emotionally or physically. If there are people in your life that you feel are treating you with disrespect or using you, you need to reset the boundaries. Learn to say, “No.” People only treat us as bad as we allow.

You can love someone without letting him or her in the inner circle of your life. The inner circle should be reserved for those who love and support you. Your presence and companionship are gifts. You are the one who decides who to give them to. You can’t change people, but you can change how you interact with them.

Lesson:

It is your responsibility to set the boundaries of how you allow other people to treat you.

Exercise:
Do you feel like someone is using you? Evaluate the situation to see if you have been allowing this behavior. Do you need to establish boundaries or reset current boundaries? Realize that if you have agreed to certain behavior, then no one is using you. Your time and attention are yours to decide who you give them to. You are not being used unless you have agreed to be used.

Work on establishing boundaries within your relationships. Remember, people only treat us as bad as we allow them to treat us.


~~~~~
By now you may have heard, the book, Be Happy Now:  Simple Steps for Enjoying Life is now available to buy on your kindle:


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Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Buddhist Good Friday



Whether you are a Christian, some other faith, or even an atheist, you can use the spirit of Good Friday, one of the holiest Christian holidays, as a springboard to spiritual and/or personal transformation.  Good Friday is the day Jesus died on the cross.  At the heart of the event, it symbolizes an end of suffering which precipitates an extraordinary rise of a new beginning of life.
 Every year on Good Friday I take a hard look at myself. I take a personal inventory of any suffering that I need to release.  Some of the ways people suffer are:

*  Emotional pain that you are clinging to
*  Feelings of resentment 
*  Habits that are self destructive
*  Patterns of behavior that are not in alignment with who you are
*  Focusing too much on physical ailments

By taking a hard look at myself, I can bring awareness to the variety of ways I cause my own suffering.  With awareness, I can then let the emotions flow, and then I let them go, releasing the suffering in my heart. The Christian faith is founded upon the principle that Jesus died to release mankind of their "original" sin so that they may enjoy eternal life.  If you are plagued with internal guilt, resentment, or self destructive behavior you will suffer at your own hands.  This is a sin against yourself.  Let this day be one of reflection, moving past the darkness in your soul and moving toward a new resurrection of who you are.   

Many Blessings,

Laura Barrette Shannon

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rising from Darkness


"Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are." ~ Arthur Golden

In everyone's life, relationships will end, health may decline, and people will pass on.  We all have to deal with loss and grief eventually.  It is important to allow your emotions to flow, to allow yourself to feel any way that you feel, without judging or suppressing your emotions.  Let the emotions flow, then let them go.  The sadness will eventually pass if you process the emotions with the knowledge that this too shall pass.  

Part of being happy and enjoying life is learning to move through the low tides without getting stuck.  Some people have a tendency to cling to loss much longer than it is healthy.  There may be thoughts of what-ifs, should-have-beens, or even blame.  All of these thoughts are unhealthy and will not help you move out of the darkness.  There are others who cling to their loss like a victim.  They become attached to their pain.  They think that by letting go of emotional pain, they are dishonoring the relationship- as if by not feeling sad they are expressing to the world that their relationship wasn't that strong.  These types of thoughts can keep them in the darkness for the rest of their lives.  There is no dishonor in moving past grief and being happy again.  When we cling to grief, we dishonor our own life and our own spirit.  I realized this after my eleven year old daughter, Nicole, died in 2000.  There were times when my victim mentality would creep into my mind and tell me lies about how i should never be happy again.  I came to the decision that the best way to honor her memory was to move forward and make the best of my life.  It is then that instead of destroying my life, her death became a catalyst for personal transformation.  It is in this way that your greatest loss can be your greatest gift.  Allow yourself to move through it, instead of getting stuck in it or trying to forget it.  Remember, what seems like a tragic circumstance can be used as a lesson to move you to a higher level of awareness.

Many blessings to those of you that are going through a dark time in your life right now.  Please know that you can move through even the darkest time in your life, if you allow yourself.

Lesson:

You can move through even the darkest time in your life, if you allow yourself.

Exercise:

Ask yourself if you are emotionally stuck in the grief of a personal loss.  If you are, begin to give yourself permission to move through the grief process toward a feeling of peace.  Begin to believe that a devastating loss doesn't have to wound you forever.  Begin to believe that you deserve to be happy again.

Make a conscious choice to steer your trains of thought toward the present and the future when you find yourself focused on what you have lost.

You may find these affirmations helpful:

"It is okay to be happy again."

"I am more than my greatest loss."

"I am grateful for this opportunity to transform myself."

"What does not kill me makes me stronger, 
and compels me to connect with who I am."

"Go is always here to support and strengthen me."