Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Sunset Musings

As the sun sets on this beautiful October day, my mind wanders into far off places, into the far reaches of my mind.  I do not often wander there as it is easy to get lost in the mazes of my mind.  Those places that are full of questions about life and the many twists and turns it takes with each one of us.  It is a place of many What-If's, Maybe's and If-Only's.  It is littered with Why's and Imaginings of different pathways.  Most of these questions and musings have no answers.  What destinies might we have had if we went left instead of right?  We have no way of knowing.  We might take a wistful guess, but we will never know.

Every choice leads us along a path towards a certain destination.  When we choose the path we may have an idea where we are going, but until we finally arrive we do not really know what the road ahead may be like.  Often we encounter road blocks and detours and we may have to recalculate our direction.

Sometimes we would like to turn around, return to the start and try another route.  Sometimes we can, but often we find that the road back has changed and does not lead back to the same destination.  The one inescapable fact, however, is that we all have a choice to make, a road to travel.  Even not making a choice propels us towards a destination.

I am grateful for the way my journey has turned out, and I am thankful for the people I have had the privilege to travel with.  Despite the many turns, the uphills and gravel tracks the journey is an adventure and the people I have met are treasures in my memory box.  I will choose this path again if it means meeting these special companions again.  The journey is not only about the destination, no, in fact it is much more about the beautiful places and people along the way.  When we meet somewhere along the road, let us tarry a while, share a cup of coffee, tell a few stories and depart best friends.  May our journeys be blessed.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Happiness is Home

When you ask people what the one thing in life is they would really love to have, you will receive many diverse answers.  The answers range from money, a beautiful face, a luxury yacht or a better job all the way to world peace, but the answer which crops up most often is simply "to be happy".

Most people believe that happiness can be found in needs fulfilled.  Some people are of the opinion that a better job or a bigger house will make them happy.  A friend of mine believed that if she were to drop two dress sizes happiness would be sure to follow.  Many believe that finding a life partner will make them happy, while others think they are doomed to a life of misery because of an unhappy childhood, physical ailments or misfortune.

We equate getting things or achieving certain goals with happiness, however very often happiness has little to do with receiving, but much more with letting go.  There are five very important things we have to let go of for Happiness to settle into our lives.  You see we have to make space for Happiness.  Our lives are often so cluttered with junk that there is no room for Happiness to move in.

First of all we have to let go of Yesterday.  Our yesterdays are filled with many special memories and these wonderful memories we should celebrate and cherish, however, there are many things from our yesterdays which we need to let go of.  These are the mistakes, the resentments, the disappointments, the heartaches and the fears.  When we carry these with us into the future we become burdened with regret and anger.  We relive the pain and anxiety of the past and we are unable to appreciate the joy of the present moment.  No matter how much time we spend mulling over the past it cannot change a thing about it, but it can steal our joy.  We cannot grab hold of happiness as long as we are holding onto the past.

Secondly, we have to let go of fear.  Fear is a natural instinct to protect us from dangerous situations.  It is ingrained in our reptilian brain where our fight or flight response comes from.  When we are faced with real life threatening situations our natural fear response can save us from disaster.  However, today many of our fears are "socially transmitted" fears, fears that have been passed on to us by our ancestors or imagined fears.  Our fears are quite varied.  We could fear ridicule, rejection, failure, heartbreak or judgement.  Many of our fears stem from our past experiences and our fragile ego's.  Sometimes we are unaware of our own fears.  Therefore we need to take stock of ourselves and our situation and dig into the well where fear is lurking.  Write down what it is that you are afraid of.  The only way to rid ourselves of fear is to face the monster and to stare it down.  You will be surprised to find that it is not as big or as real as you imagined it to be.

Next you need to let go of the reasons why you cannot be happy.  These reasons or excuses are deeply settled in our own self-worth.  I used to believe that I have to do something good or extraordinarily great before I may allow myself to be happy.  I believed that happiness was for other people, not me.  Our own self-imposed rules limit our access to happiness.  The housewife who only allows herself a facial once all her chores are taken care of at the end of the week never gets to the spa, for when are our chores ever done.  The business woman rushing from meeting to meeting, secretly yearning to take an art retreat, believes that the business and everyone else's life is more important than her own happiness.  These are only excuses because secretly we believe that we do not deserve to be happy.

Then there is the Inner Critic.  Enemy number one of Happiness.  We can never take pleasure in a job well done as long as the Inner Critic stands in judgement over us.  As long as he rules our thoughts we are subjected to his harsh and ridiculous judgments.  The Inner Critic is not a friend and it is never on our side.  It is incapable of giving us unbiased feedback and its main purpose is to make us feel inadequate and small.  As long as we listen to our Inner Critic and allow it to stand on its soap box and spout negativity we will be unable to see or hear Happiness' welcoming call.

Lastly, we have to let go of other people's opinions.  Yes, they are entitled to their own opinions, but you are entitled to being yourself.  Their opinions are theirs and not yours.  You are a unique human being with your own unique way of doing things, thinking and abilities.  Make peace with the fact that not everybody is going to like you or approve of you.  So? The earth does not stop its rotation, life carries on. For every person who does not like you or approve of you or your way of doing things, there are at least two people who adore you, admire you and are happy to be guided by you.  What is of much more importance is being the best version of yourself.  It is much more important what we think of ourselves and the values we believe in.  

When we implement these five points in our lives and we learn to let go we discover that Happiness is already residing in our home, he has just been waiting for us to notice him and embrace him.  Go on then, let's be happy!

A final note: I have come across a book by Luminita D. Saviuc "15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy".  It is available from Amazon and truly a worthwhile read.  You can also visit her blog at .

Monday, 29 October 2018

Breathe In

Has it taken hold of you yet?  You know, that feeling of overwhelm, of suffocating and feeling frantic because you have so much to do?  Then you are not alone.  This time of the year most people suffer from exhaustion and overload.  We run around trying to get everything done, meeting deadlines and everybody is demanding their pound of flesh from us.  There seems to be a general air of frenzy around us.  The result is that we end up feeling drained and stressed to breaking point.  The good news is that there are some strategies we could implement to reduce the pressure.  Try to weave these twelve ideas into your daily routine and notice the difference they will make.

1. Get up ten minutes earlier.  Often when we are stressed out we believe that we need more sleep, however, getting up earlier seems to have an invigorating effect on early risers.  Those extra ten minutes can help us to feel in control of our time.  The quiet which comes with rising before the rest of the household helps us to feel refreshed and calm.  We are more ready to face the day and its demands.

2.  Put on some music and open the curtains and windows to let in the early morning light and fresh air.  Listening to your favourite music first thing in the morning increases our happiness level as it reduces the amount of cortisol released into our bodies.  Sunlight and fresh air both help to reduce feelings of depression and help to clear our lungs and minds and stimulate our senses.

3.  Most people love a fresh brewed cup of coffee in the morning, however, try to break the habit by drinking a cup of herbal tea first of all.  There are many benefits to drinking herbal teas.  They are full of anti-oxidants and give the immune system a boost.  They can aid in digestion and help to lower blood pressure and feelings of stress.

4. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast.  This is the most important meal of the day, however this is the one meal most adults skip and then wonder why they feel lethargic and binge on fast food come tea time.  A good breakfast helps us to concentrate better and energizes our bodies.  Those who eat breakfast regularly also tend to have faster metabolisms.

5.  De-clutter your thoughts.  A positive mindset is a sure way to beat stress.  When we teach ourselves to think positive thoughts our stress levels go down and we cope better with the demands we face every day.  Positive thinking boosts our confidence and improves our relationships with colleagues and friends.

6.  Take your ten minute tea break.  Get up, walk around and stretch your legs.  Taking a ten minute break will do more for your productivity than working for those ten minutes.  Studies have shown that it is a great mood booster and it refreshes the mind and body.  Creative thinking gets a boost as well and it helps a person to return to their work with fresh eyes and they are more open to new ideas.

7. Delegate.  Yes, you are the best at what you do, and yes, no one can do it as well as you, but to help relieve stress it is very important to learn to delegate.  It is impossible for one person to do everything.  Attempting to do it all put a person under tremendous stress and the end result is certain burn-out.  You become more efficient when you delegate tasks as this allows you to concentrate on those things that really need your attention. Delegating tasks also helps to develop the skills of co-workers and thus you become a more efficient group.

8.  Before you leave for home, spend five minutes de-cluttering your work-space, thus you will walk into the office the next day ready to tackle the tasks head-on.  Entering a tidy work area helps to reduce stress and increases work performance.

9.  Leave your work at work.  It is important that we have time to rest and recuperate.  We need to have time away from work, but when we take our work and its worries home with us we do not get the necessary time needed to refresh ourselves mentally or physically.  In the end our health and families pay the price.

10.  Exercise.  Go for a twenty minute walk, or cycle or session in the gym.  Exercise increases the blood flow through the body as well as the production of endorphins.  This has a direct influence on our mood.  Despite the physical effort exercise helps our muscles to relax as well as relieve any tension which we have built up through the day.  People who exercise regularly often sleep better and wake up feeling more relaxed and energized.

11.  Unplug!  In this digital world we are living in people get totally stressed out at the thought of losing their connection to cyber-space.  However, once you take the step to unplug yourself from technology on a regular basis you will be surprised by the benefits you will experience.  It is not necessary to disconnect totally, but rather implement a few rules regarding the use of technology and social media.  A good idea is to disconnect for at least an hour or two once you get home.  Use this time to connect with your family.  Enjoy an uninterrupted meal together and talk about each person's day.  Ban all electronic devices from the bedroom to ensure a good night's rest.  Proper sleep and healthy relationships go a long way in helping to reduce stress.

12.  Before retiring to bed spend fifteen minutes planning your next day.  Just jot down a few key points and goals for the next day.  This way all the thoughts rushing through your head about things you need to remember  has been put in writing.  You can now relax and enjoy a good night's rest.

I hope these ideas will help you to manage the end of the year stress better, breathe easier and help you have a little bit more time for yourself and your loved ones.

Monday, 8 October 2018

It's only money, Honey.

Yep, the picture says it all!  Today I want to put in my two cents worth about the Big Green Monster.  No, I am not talking about jealousy, I am talking about money!  Yes, those flimsy papery things that can have such a stranglehold on every person, the root of all evil, the stuff which makes the world go round and the things which cannot buy happiness.  We cannot escape it and we basically cannot live without it.  The need for it and the lack of it infiltrate every aspect of our lives daily.
Although we are made aware of the power of money and the role it plays in our lives from a very early age, not many children are taught how to handle money effectively and eventually we become slaves to it and we sometimes even sell our souls in the quest of having it.  The real conundrum I want to talk about is where do we draw the line in our pursuit of money.
It is an undeniable fact that in order to survive in the world we need money.  We need it to have adequate shelter, food and clothing.  We need it to provide for our families, for health care and education.  However a life spent solely in the pursuit of money and wealth finally ends up being a life empty of those things which money simply cannot buy.  Oh, yes, money can buy a grand house, but it cannot make it a home.  Money can buy company, but it cannot make it a family.  Money can buy food and exotic dishes, but it cannot give it heart.  What all are we willing to sacrifice for money?  Until we are there we cannot possibly know the answer to that. 
 However, I do believe that life is much more than a strong bank account.  Unfortunately money has a way to claim many victims.  One of his first victims is Passion.  Many artists, musicians and free spirits can testify to this.  Instead of following their dreams they have settled for passionless jobs and sensible careers.  They have promised themselves that once they have enough money they will pursue their frivolous desires to paint, to learn to play the saxophone or travel the world.  They view pursuing their passions as a reward for hard work instead of viewing their work as a way to do what their real passions are.  When will enough money be enough?
Another victim is Family.  Money whispers in our ears that we need to work long hours in order to provide in all the needs of our family.  Many holidays and school sport events fall by the wayside at the demand of work and ultimately that huge bonus. Sadly though our children don't stay small until we have made our millions, they do not put their need of attention on hold until I have been made executive of my company.
The next victim is myself.  Very often, in the pursuit of money, we disregards our own needs.  We neglect our health, our own personal growth and our spiritual needs.  When money cracks the whip we invariably sacrifice our own well-being.  We placate ourselves by promising ourselves a holiday, spa-treatment or leisure pursuit once the deadline has been reached, the project has been a success or I have gotten that promotion, only to put it off when the next deadline comes along.
The interesting fact is that very few people on their deathbeds wish that they had made more money.  Most people wish that they had spent more time with their family, that they had loved more or had done more with they time they had been given.

I leave you with this quote:

“Don’t work for money. work for happiness, work for peace, work for contentedness, work for your passion & money will work for you!” — Arvind Venkat