Saturday, January 31, 2009

Do you have a journal?

Recently, I was doing my cleaning and purging for the New Year, and came across an unexpected find, one of my old journals. It was tucked away in the back of a desk drawer. Needless to say, I took a break from my cleaning and spent some time going through it, reading my writings on daily happenings, thoughts, feelings and ideas from a few years back.

I have been journaling every day for a number of years now and often look back at journals to recall important ideas or plans or simply refresh my memory about some event. But looking through that older journal offered me a great verification of how well we manifest things in our lives. As I flipped through the pages it was clear to me that many of the things I only dreamed of back when I had written it had now come fully into being. It was also fun to relive those long-ago memories of pleasant moments with friends and family through my own words.

Journaling can be an incredible tool in so many ways. Over the years journaling has given me so much and I have many friends and peers who find it highly useful, as well. It is a real record of our days and our emotions, and it also serves to give clarity and help solve problems. One thing I've noticed is that through the process of writing down concerns and problems, solutions and ideas often just pop into my mind when I re-read my writing a day or two later.

Journaling and rereading journals can also help you to see the progress you make in the particular area of your life that you are writing about. In fact, scientific studies have shown that keeping a journal can have a very positive effect on us. It builds cognitive skills, reduces symptoms of chronic illnesses, strengthens the immune system, and reduces the negative effects of stress.

And best of all, journaling is a very inexpensive past time. All you really need is a spiral notebook and some nice colourful pens and your time, of course. Now that's a great price for all the benefits that journaling has to offer. I hope that you are already enjoying the benefits of journaling, and if not, I hope that you will give it a try.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's not too late for our plans and goals... there's still Chinese New Year!

When the New Year comes around, many of us think about our goals or plans for the upcoming year. While it is good to evaluate parts of your life and consider changes you'd like to make, it is also helpful to think about your physical environment and ways to make it better and more comfortable. For some, that may mean a coat of paint, a new piece of furniture, or fresh curtains. However, for most of us, changes to our homes involve getting rid of the excess "stuff" we have somehow accumulated.

Letting go of clutter always sounds good, but we all know that it can be difficult to let go of things we no longer need. We have all heard phrases like "I paid good money for this item," or "I might need it someday." But how helpful is it to store something you haven't used in ages just because you paid for it or on the off chance you may need it sometime in the distant future? If you find yourself feeling that way, be clear about your reasons for wanting to make changes. Then imagine how pleasant your environment will look and feel once it is clutter-free.

Once this step is completed, it's time to move on to consider what to let go of and what to keep. Are there some belongings that are particularly special to you? Is there some activity or hobby you would like to make space for? Which items in your home could be passed on to someone else or a charity in order to accommodate your new interest? Making a list of these items could help prepare you both mentally and emotionally to make the necessary steps to get rid of things you no longer need.

A final suggestion, is to think of ways to organize your clearing. Be selective by beginning with an area in your home where you will see the most difference. Doing this will help you to stay motivated to work on other areas, even if you progress a little at a time.

Whether you devote a few minutes a day to cleaning out a drawer or clearing off a shelf or spend a few hours every weekend working on one room in your house, if you keep up your de-cluttering momentum you will soon reap the benefits of a home that is cleaner and more organized than you ever dreamed possible.

Good luck with this task guys! The acts of organizing and working to de-cluttering your living space will help you to be more open and available to opportunities coming your way.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

What does it take to make you happy?

I have a question for you:
What does it take to make you happy? Is it more money, spare time, good friends, a better job? Through my many years of advising clients, I have confronted a common theme regarding happiness. In fact, I've come across it so often that I've named it the "I'll be happy when …" syndrome. It is a very common expression that we have all said. "I will be happy when I don't have to get up at 5:30 am to catch the bus to work." "I will be happy when I get my new car." And it goes on and on about a state of mind that remains in the future rather than in the here and now.

Happiness shouldn't be something dangling out there in the world of tomorrow or someday. It isn't a feeling to experience once something else happens. It is something to be experienced now, in this moment. While our anticipation or focus on the future is perfectly fine, connecting happiness to future events can cause us to miss out on any immediate opportunities for joy and fulfillment.

Happiness is more powerful when experienced as an immediate emotion than seen as a carrot to be sought after. Interestingly, many people find that when they place future conditions on happiness, even when those conditions are met, they don't feel the pleasure they had expected to. The key is to learn how to let go of the unknown future and the unchangeable past and allow the goodness of the moment to fill you with inner peace. The present moment is all that we have, and when you find meaning and satisfaction in the present, your future will take care of itself.

Happiness means feeling pleasure about what you have right this minute. In any given moment, if we try hard enough, we can find good and positive things to be happy about. Maybe it is simply that the sun is out and shining warmly on our skin or we are enjoying a nice cup of hot tea with a good friend. Or maybe after a tough day at work, we know we have done our very best, or we shared time with a child.

I hope that today you will acknowledge the many blessings in your life that make each moment a cause for joy and happiness. And I must warn you that happiness can be contagious, so you just might end up having a positive effect on those around you as well.

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