Monday, 16 April 2018

Road Trip!



One thing which is a characteristic of most humans is the desire to move from one point in our lives to another.  We all have an inborn need to progress, to achieve more or discover new horizons.  Having goals and aspirations give our lives direction and momentum.  It helps us to feel invigorated and fills us with a sense of hope and anticipation.  
Many people, however, never seem to achieve their goals.  They have dreams and wishes, but eventually their enthusiasm fizzles out till there is nothing left but the mundane and ordinary.  They become depressed and disillusioned.
The reason for this is that they had no clear plan, and no action backing up their dreams.
Life is often compared to a journey.  I absolutely agree with that view.
In order to turn our dreams into reality, we have to approach it as one would when undertaking a journey.
First of all we need to know exactly where we want to go.  We have to know the destination.  We certainly do not just get into our vehicles and aimlessly start driving around hoping we will get somewhere wonderful.  We need to decide where we want to go and why we want to go there.
Without a clear understanding of our destination it will be easy to be sidetracked onto roads meandering nowhere.
Once we know where we are heading it is important to have a map of the road we have to travel to get there.  What is the best way to go about reaching your destination?  Do I have to take a few workshops or enroll for a course in order to better equip myself?  Maybe it is necessary to work for a few years as an apprentice to gain the necessary skills I need before I can venture out on my own.  Whatever it is, do not delay, map your road ahead.
Once we have settled on the route to take it is necessary to gather everything we need for the journey ahead. Just like a car needs oil and fuel for the road ahead, we need the essentials for our journey.  How much money will be needed, what skills are necessary and what resources will be useful along the way.  I also have to plan what pit stops I need to make on my journey.  I have to break my journey up into smaller manageable sections, smaller goals, that will ultimately take me to my destination.
After deciding on the destination, planning the route, gathering all the things needed for the journey and determining where we need to rest along the journey it is time to take action.  This is the stage where many people lose the impetus.  They get caught up in the excitement of the planning, but never go over into action.  We have to get in the car, turn the ignition and step on the accelerator.  Forward is the only way to go, all the time keeping the destination in mind.  However, it is crucial that we enjoy the journey and take in the scenery along the way.  Finally it is advisable that we regularly take a moment to review the journey we have undertaken. We have to take note of what we have learned along the way and what adjustments we have to make.  Were there any detours we had to negotiate?  Are we still on course or do have to recalculate our route?
As we travel along on our journey we have to constantly remind ourselves about the reason we are travelling to our destination and we have to keep our goal in mind.  Although it is important to now and again check our rear-view mirror, we must keep our eyes firmly on the road ahead, because that is the way we have to go.  Above all, enjoy the trip!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A Wonderful Legacy


As parents we all know that feeling of wanting to give our children the very best of everything. We would love to give them the moon, the stars and all the world has to offer.  Most of us work hard and often overtime in order to build a nest egg, not merely for our old age, but also to leave our children an inheritance.
However, our true legacy cannot be counted in money or material possessions.  It is found in the things we taught our children, the example of our actions and in the way we loved them.  We leave behind a legacy with every moment we spend with them, gently guide them, listen to them and love them unconditionally.
Every time we encourage somebody instead of criticizing, we invest in them.  The way we make people feel will be engraved on their hearts long after our image has faded from their minds.  Our legacy is every life we have touched with kindness, every person we have inspired and every smile we have sent out into the world.
The greatest inheritance I have received from my parents is the relationship I have with the Lord, their greatest legacy is their words of wisdom which I in turn am passing onto my children.  What will be your legacy?

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Release it


A friend of mine from school was a lepidopterist.  He invited a group of us to view his collection.  He really had quite a variety of butterflies, but I was horrified by it.  Although I knew that the life cycle of butterflies are short, I was saddened by the fact that they could no longer fly around.  Though no longer alive, they were forever held captive by the pins spreading their delicate wings.
This morning I realized that often, we too, tend to be lepidopterists.  We trap our free souring spirits and keep them pinned down with our obsession with the past.  We keep all our past mistakes and hurts neatly pinned down in a display case and we constantly go back there to refresh our memories lest we forget our pain and the lessons learned.  However, the result of this is that we can never be free of the past, we can never soar into the skies of our dreams and hopes. 
Holding onto the past is a sure way to deny ourselves the happiness which can only be found in the now, in this moment.  It prevents us from celebrating what we have today.  Instead of being happy and enjoying what is now, we again read the old newspaper of our lives in the hope that it has something new to tell us.  The past is the past, nothing can change it, it is done.  Let it be.  Make a paper aeroplane  or fold an origami butterfly from it and throw it into the wind.  Let it float away and land in the water.  Let the stream sweep it away.  Release the dead butterflies of the past.  They don't fly anymore.  We have today, we are alive and we are breathing.  Rejoice and be happy.

Monday, 12 March 2018

What is the Point?


An important part of being happy is our ability to take responsibility for our own lives and actions.  We have to be truthful with ourselves.  However, we often deny the role we play in our own lives and happiness. Facing ourselves, our shortcomings and obligations pushes us out of our comfort zones.  It is easier to point our finger at somebody or something else, thus putting the blame elsewhere.  In a way this re-assignment of blame folds us into a cocoon of false happiness, but instead of feeling happy we become more stressed, and more agitated.  When we constantly blame other people or situations we enter a realm of denial.  In this kingdom of denial I become the victim of a "conspiracy".  "Everybody is against me, every situation turns against me and the whole world conspires to make my life miserable."  We are no longer in control of our lives.  This mindset leads as down a slippery road to misery.
In order top regain control of our selves we have to face the truth.  We have to stop pointing fingers at others and start admitting the role I play in my own life.  I have to take responsibility for my own actions.  Nobody can "make" me feel or act in a certain way, because the CHOICE is mine as to how I am going to re-act to their words or actions.  I am not a victim in my life, I am a participant.  It is up to myself to take ownership of my decisions, my actions and re-actions.  I am responsible for my own thoughts and feelings, my past and my future.  It is my choice to ask for guidance and my choice to follow the advice of others or my own ideas.
So, stop pointing a finger at others, because, lo and behold, there are three others pointing back at you.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Be Brave.



Welcome to the next step in our discovery of happiness.
Yes, we all desire to be happy and we want our children to be happy as well.  In fact, we want all our loved ones and our friends to experience happiness. Yet, there are many things which stand between us and our happiness.  One such a thing is fear.  Now, I know that many of you will deny that you are afraid, but even more will ask how, living in the world we are living in today, can we NOT be afraid?
Fear is real and we all experience some form of fear on a daily basis.  Yes, of course the ideal would be to eradicate all feelings of fear from our lives, however, because we live in a real world, with real problems and dangers, filled with real people acting out their own agendas, fear cannot simply be ignored. After all, bravery does not mean the absence of fear, but it means taking action in the presence of fear.  We have to become the master of fear.
Fear has a way to keep us trapped.  It ties us up in knots of inaction.  We cannot pursue our dreams, because we are too afraid.  We cannot apply for that new job, join a new group or go on an adventure because we are simply too scared.  Scared of what?  This is the answer we need to look for.  We have to identify the monster.  As long as we simply say that we are afraid, the monster is faceless and so fierce.  We have to come face to face with it, see its features.  What is it you are afraid of?  Failure, rejection or ridicule?  Do you fear loneliness, attention or commitment?  Maybe you fear disappointment, being caught off-guard or feeling that you are in the dark?
Whatever it is, you have to understand the origin of it.  Knowledge is one of our strongest weapons against fear.  Be Aware of what it is that you fear.
Once you have identified your fear, it is time to banish it from your life.  Renounce it.  Refuse to allow your fear to have authority over you any longer.
Now you need to take stock of your abilities, your talents and your potential.  Acknowledge your strengths.
However, we have to do more than simply recognizing our abilities and strengths, we have to take action and do so with assertiveness. Taking action validates our skills and competence.
 This all in turn empowers us to be brave.  When we are brave we loosen the ties which bind us to the fear monster.  It releases us from its stranglehold. 
Go on, let go of your fear, be brave :
B - Be aware
R - Renounce
A - Acknowledge
V - Validate
E - Empower

... and be happy!


Monday, 5 March 2018

Perspective



During March we are going in pursuit of Happiness.  We want to look at ways to create more happiness in our lives.  It is not so much finding a path to happiness but realizing that happiness IS the path.  Today I want to look at perspective.  We all know the age old question: Is the glass half full or half empty?  It is actually the same thing.  The liquid level is exactly in the middle, but it is the way we look at it which makes all the difference.
These days one can walk in on any conversation and the overall mood of the group would be one of dissatisfaction.  They would be complaining about anything and everything.  Joining such a group soon affects even the happiest person's mood.  Before long the light at the end of the tunnel is not merely switched off, but the globe has fused all together.
We are all aware that it is important to have a more optimistic mindset, but how do we change this culture of negativity which has taken hold of us?  It is all a matter of perspective, the way in which we look at every given situation.  Whenever we are faced with difficult situations and challenges a positive mindset usually leads to positive solutions and actions.  Negativity has a way of keeping us stuck in one place, it results in tunnel vision and deprives us of hope, while a positive mindset opens our eyes to new possibilities and it sets us free.  
Complaining is the easy way out.  Complaining is passive.  We don't have to do anything except express our dissatisfaction.  However, being positive is a choice and an action.  I have to actively look for the good in every situation and take the appropriate action to make life better.
I share with you this quote by Harry Truman:

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” 

Come on, raise your glass, it is half full, life is good.


Friday, 2 March 2018

Think Happy


In our pursuit of happiness today,we take a look at the importance of positive affirmations.  Affirmations are basically those things we say or THINK.  Our minds are constantly filled with streams of thought and these flow out from our mouths and into our ears again generating more thoughts.  It is an eternal loop.  Most of this dialogue tends to be negative, and the energy generated by these thoughts become a negative force field draining us mentally, spiritually and even physically. We fall into a habit of complaining about ourselves, our circumstances, our work and colleagues, friends and family and every possible area of our lives.  We start to focus on everything that makes our lives miserable, and nothing is good enough anymore.  It literally smothers our happiness.  The antidote is to fill our thoughts with positive affirmations.  Actively rewrite the negative thoughts into positive ones.  If you wake up thinking "Oh, no, it's Monday again" turn it into "Wow, how awesome, a new week with new opportunities awaits me!"  The more we do this, the more positive energy will flow into our lives, the more happiness we will experience. It is important to notice the negative self-talk in your life and to take note of every time you complain about something.  Write it down, and then re-program your thoughts with positive thoughts and words.  It is necessary to do this regularly through-out the day.  Positive thinking is a choice.  Go on then, be happy!!!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

First of All


Welcome to a new month and a new challenge.  This month we are going in Pursuit of Happiness.  Over the course of the next twenty eight days we are going to talk about ways to have more happiness in our lives.
From a very young age we teach our children not to be selfish.  We teach them to care about other people and we teach them how to take care of their pets.  We place great emphasis on sharing their toys and sweets with their friends.  We often tell them how much we love them and they in turn learn what it means to love and how to show love.  Yet somehow we forget to teach them the importance of loving themselves.  Most of us believe that it is wrong and selfish to love ourselves.  We even think that it is shameful to admit to loving ourselves.  However, it is very clear that it is very important to love ourselves.  It is only by loving ourselves that we can begin to love others, as the Bible says that we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.
Therefore, the first way we can be happier is to learn to love ourselves.
Loving ourselves means to be kinder to ourselves, to cut ourselves some slack and to be tolerant of our own shortcomings and inadequacies.  Loving yourself means giving yourself some quality time and pampering yourself.  Make a note of all your positive attributes and celebrate them. Silence your inner-critic and focus on everything which makes you uniquely you.
Once you learn to love yourself it gives your self-esteem a boost, and you will be able to accomplish much more.  You will derive more enjoyment from everything in your life and handle difficult situations with greater ease.  Loving yourself cultivates a positive attitude towards yourself and life in general.  When you love yourself you get up in the morning with a feeling of happiness and an anticipation of all the good things awaiting you.  Happiness is infectious.  Not only will you feel happier, but in turn you will make those people whom you come into contact with happier as well.




Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Happiness is...




If there is one basic thing most people desire then it is to be happy.  Many many books have been written about it, songs have been composed about it and people are searching for it.  Happiness has been likened to a butterfly, the more we chase after it, the more elusive it becomes, yet when we sit quietly it will come and settle on your shoulders.  During March I would like to take you step by step closer to happiness, and invite you to take the journey with me.  It is not a journey or a path that will lead you to happiness, but it is a journey to show you that happiness is the path.  I hope you will join me.