Do You Really Want What You Say You Want?

Do You Really Want What You Say You Want?

In the first words of the ancient foundational text of yoga--a book of spiritual and psychological psychology--we are told of a place within us that knows no suffering. 

Later in that same text we are encouraged to build faith--a very specific faith--one that compels us toward this inner knowing of happiness, and wisdom which can guide us toward our outer goals and inner confidence. 

How Setting Boundaries Gives You More Freedom

The banks of a river act as a boundary directing the water to flow toward the sea. In this same way creating structure in our lives liberates us to focus our attention toward the things that matter most to us.

Here are 3 boundaries that significantly enhance freedom allowing us to experience more time and energy in our daily lives!

  1. Setting Goals: Having a goal with a sense of purpose can increase our wellbeing. Too many choices may cause us to feel uncertain, overwhelmed and even immobilized. However, when we have a target our choices become easier to make and we know which direction to head. Decisions are less likely to become sources of anxiety,  For example if I am driving from Los Angeles to San Diego I know I need to go south on I-5 and not north. Goals liberate us to enjoy the here and now. Very often having a goal matters more than reaching the goal because in this sense it is about wellbeing and peace of mind.
  2. Personal Preferences: If we value our health it would make sense that we would eat healthy, exercise, meditate, get plenty of rest and drink lots of water...right? And yet how many of us are exhausted, eat poorly, drink too much caffeine and put off exercise and meditation for tomorrow? To live by our values we first have to believe in them. We need to decide what they are for ourselves and commit to them.  We also need to live and act like they matter.  Very often negative habitual patterns or stress can override our value system and diminish our commitment. This is where rituals come in.
  3. Rituals: Through rituals we can sustain new and positive habits that are aligned with our values, while actively letting go of old patterns that once had us imprisoned. When we do something again and again, like brushing our teeth or tying a shoe we no longer have to "think" very much about it.  It takes very little discipline. We just do it. This happens with both positive and negative actions and choices.  Positive rituals connected to our personal values can serve our overall wellbeing and create more ease in our lives. It frees up our energy so that our default actions become more in line with what matters most to us.

Putting it in to practice:

  1. Decide on a positive and forward moving goal. That means rather than saying, "I don't want to be overweight" say, "I want to lose x pounds and eat healthy foods every day". 
  2. Write a short and simple value statement. For example, "I value time with my friends and family. Being healthy will afford me more energy to spend with the ones I love". 
  3. Create one new ritual and implement it until it requires little effort. Then add another ritual and so on. Make your rituals sustainable and think small. Small changes can make a big difference. If your goal is to lose x pounds, maybe set a goal of walking around your neighborhood for 15 minutes every day. Pick the same time of day whenever possible. 

Experiment this week by applying this process to a short term goal. Once you have put it in to practice apply it to bigger goals and ideas in your life.  Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you!

And if you found this helpful please share!  


The Most Important Lesson I Learned in 2015

Current research challenges the old idea that success leads to happiness. The research doesn't say that success can't lead to happiness, it just doesn't find a concrete correlation. Instead new studies on wellbeing contradict conventional wisdom and the traditional definition of happiness. Science demonstrates that happiness can actually lead to lasting sustained success.

In this view happiness is not defined as a perky personality or a fixed state of exuberance. Success is not simply gauged by the outer trappings of a good life. Rather it points to an inner steadiness, strength and resilience that allows us to "succeed" in spite of ups & downs and triumphs & failures. 

Happiness is cultivated and crafted. We develop this perspective through intentional daily activities and choices. It is like building a muscle. If you don't regularly practice toning and shaping that muscle it will eventually weaken or even atrophy. And that weak muscle can wreak havoc on various body parts as it may not offer the support, stability, strength and even flexibility the body needs in daily movement.

Life is a mystery. We all encounter parts of our journey we'd rather not face. In Indian philosophy there is an epic story chronicling the conflict of a great warrior and his family. He finds himself at a turning point facing a battle he's sure he can't fight. In this moment he calls out to God. Through his conversation with God he is encouraged to realize his own capacities and responsibilites. And most importantly to take a higher perspective or to travel deep beyond the surface. 

At some point we all find ourselves on our own battlefield. Looking out it may seem impossible but by digging deep we find a peace that wasn't in plain sight. I believe in some way and at some time we all call out for help. 

This is how I have come to know happiness. This is what I have learned.  I can do all the "right' things expecting, praying and hoping for the "right" results. Life is not about getting it "right". Life is about getting connected. Getting connected to other people, the Source (God or any name you choose to call that power) and connected to the moment.

To be in the moment without striving is one of the greatest practices of happiness. How can I just be here reacting to what is? If I am truly connected to this moment, this breath, this experience, I can more fully engage with it and let go of struggle and strife. How I choose to connect to this moment can determine whether I grow or suffer. 

2015 was a year of unexpected life changes. Some I wasn't sure I could face. Some I knew I could but wasn't quite sure how. 

Through it all I did many things wrong and right...who knows! But what I did do was connect. I talked regularly with my husband, a few close friends, my teacher and my God. Because of these connections I was able to navigate through it all and at the same time I knew deep down inside I was ok. This is happiness. This is success. This is life.