Tag Archive: joy

Make it Real!

real

I’m a dreamer. I have a vision that is powerful enough to move me in the direction I’m on, and keep me there even when things are tough. I want to make a positive difference in my world, and live what I teach. I want to live happy and teach others to live that way. I also have smaller dreams that propel me forward – every-day dreams that are more like plans, and that go towards feeding my big dream.

When I first tried to articulate my dream, I was surprised to discover that it was vague – so vague that is was almost meaningless.  It took me a while of getting inspiration from different sources – my heroes, writers, spiritual leaders – then writing and trying it out, then rewriting and trying it out again and again, before I felt that what I was saying matched my dream.

Before I was a therapist and coach, I was a project manager, working on big projects with a lot of layers and people. I loved putting it all together, beginning with what was wanted at the end, and moving backwards. Filling in the details – first in broad strokes, then in increasingly finer details.

Even today, I have a daily To Do list. Each item on that list, no matter how mundane, moves me towards my big dream. It’s thrilling to me to watch myself make progress and to write “done” beside each task. It actually adds to my daily and overall joy.

Kelly Corrigan said “You have to speak your dream out loud.”  She’s right! By writing it down or speaking it out loud, you begin to make your dream concrete and real.

What’s your dream?

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Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Nature = Joy

Nature

 

On Being last week interviewed Michael McCarthy, author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy.

The book is about our human connection with Nature, and how essential that connection is. The title refers to two things he’s witnessed.  He remembered as a child riding in a car at night and watching the moths that were attracted to the headlights.  They were so thick they were referred to as a Moth Snowstorm.  That no longer happens, because there are too few months.

The other thing is how Nature brought back his sense of joy after his mother was taken away to a mental hospital when he was 7.  He remembered feeling nothing. Later he understood it was because he was so upset about her departure that he cut himself off from his feelings.  It wasn’t until he was sent to his grandmother’s in the country that he began to feel again: it was on a day when he decided to run across the road; beside the road was a large bush filled with butterflies. He was momentarily transfixed by their beauty. This lead to his re-introduction to feeling, connection, and joy.

It is true that Nature is thinning. There are accounts of this all over the world. It’s been noticed and documented in national parks along the West coast of North America. In Germany, 63 nature reserves were studied, starting in 1963 when the Berlin Wall was torn down. Today, the numbers of flying insects in these parks has reduced by 76%.

Max Nichollson, a pioneer in Nature preservation, had an interest in house sparrows as a child. In 1925, he and his brother counted all the sparrows in Kensington Gardens: they counted 2603 sparrows. 75 years later, he counted only 8. His theory is that there may come a point where a colony would commit a kind of collective suicide. He was referring to what is known as the Allee effect, which hypothesizes that declines in socially breeding-species eventually becomes self-reinforcing.

Humans are part of Nature. We are all part of the evolution of the Earth. For 50,000 generations, we were part of the wildlife – just another species. It’s only the last 50 generations that we’ve gradually separated ourselves from Nature. But the truth is: we’re still a part of Nature, even if we chose to ignore this truth.

Nature is where we take our connections and metaphors from; it’s where science exists.

And science is beginning to learn that re-connecting with Nature positively impacts us physically, emotionally, and mentally. And, I would add, spiritually. It calms us and feeds our spirits.  It brings us significant moments of joy.

You might have, as a child, had your own special place in the woods, back yard, or nearby park. Somewhere outdoors where you could go and be alone with Nature; a place where you felt safe to simply be, to regenerate. Or you might have discovered that later as an adult.

I have such a place. I visit it every week, and it does bring me joy, refuelling me for the next 7 days.

If you don’t yet have such a place to go to, make this your next goal. Then spend some time, every week, replenishing your joy.

 

If you like this blog, you’ll love my newsletters “You are Enough Just as You Are” for a sample. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up for my insider newsletter, click here.  If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Hope is the place where joy meets struggle

This beautiful heading is a quote from Parker Palmer. When I let myself feel the impact it has on me, my heart feels lighter, and I experience a sense of hopefulness.

Let me explain. A dear friend (I’ll call her Wendy) has been struggling with a big decision – whether to move and begin again, or stay and face some old blocks that simply won’t budge.  There are big plusses and minuses either way:  If she moves, she’ll be starting all over again in an unknown area; if she stays she might end up moving or even dissolving those blocks, but miss out on other wonderful opportunities.  She’s really torn by it, especially on days when everything just isn’t working. Wrestling with this dilemma is frustrating, depressing, sometimes overwhelming.

But through all this, Wendy is hopeful she’ll work it out.  She hasn’t lost sight of why she’s in this dilemma, and what makes it all worthwhile for her. She sees it as a worthy challenge, because the only reason it’s important is because she loves what she does. It’s important to her, even in the current overwhelming situation.

Like the old cliché says, “Anything worth having is worth fighting for”.  Wendy knows this struggle is worth it, because her life and happiness is worth fighting for.

It’s not a done deal. There are risks – that’s why she’s struggling right now.  Wendy is stepping into unknown territory. Any time we step into a new and unfamiliar place, what carries us through is hope.
For Parker Palmer, hope keeps him alive and creatively engaged. For me, it keeps me moving forward, even when moving forward is painfully hard to do. It keeps Wendy in the struggle.

The one thing that Wendy was afraid of – and why she talked to me about it – was that she worried that she was fooling herself. That she was in some way not seeing the reality of the situation. She needed to talk to people she trusted to clear up any confusion and strengthen her determination, one way or the other.  Wendy said she chose who to share her dilemma with for 2 reasons: the person was honest, and the person was benevolent.

Wendy wanted the truth from her friends, not soothing platitudes. And she wanted to be with people who cared about her.

I can’t think of a better, more supportive way to make big decisions.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Morley – Women of Hope

struggle

 

Quote of the Week
When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too. ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

 

Start this year with joy

joy

If there is one thing that we all have in common, it’s that we all want to be happy.  It’s something you know about me, and I know about you.  And according to Brother David Steindl-Rast, the way to happiness is through gratitude.

Brother Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk, living in a priory in Austria, in his 90’s, and known the world over for his views on gratitude.  You can listen to him talk about gratitude in his Ted Talk on happiness.

When I think of happiness, I think of people and places that make me happy – places and people I love and have wonderful memories of.  But when I think of living happy, I think of living in joy.

Joy, for Steindl-Rast, is the kind of happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens.  We can experience this joy even in the midst of great sadness. When we lose a dear friend, under normal rather than catastrophic circumstances, there is a joy as we are present with the event at the same time that there is deep sadness.

This kind of happiness – this joy – is the kind of happiness that lasts, and is with us every day.

And it comes from gratitude, or in Steindl-Rast’s terms, gratefulness.  When he speaks of gratitude, he’s really speaking of connection through being present with what is. He sees gratitude as part of belonging; that there can be no gratitude without belonging, and no belonging without gratitude.

A simple example – when we eat, we’re eating earth, the products of earth. Salt, vegetables that are nourished and come almost directly from earth, animals who ultimately ingest vegetable matter. This is all connected to earth.  Then there are all the people who cultivated the land, growing, collecting and processing those vegetables, and the animals that go into the making of the food. Even the table you eat on, the bowl and utensils you use to eat, the chair you sit on while you eat. All of this and much more go into the food you might be eating this moment.

Everything we do we have this direct connection to, and he calls this The Great Mystery.

There is a daily practice that you can do anywhere and at any time to experience this gratefulness. To fill yourself with joy.  He calls it Stop! Look! Go!

Stop! Listen, attend –  Stop and see what the present moment has for you. It is whatever this moment presents in a split second. The sound of the heater, for instance.

Look! Behold – look at the unique opportunity this moment has for you. The warmth the heater sends into the room; the sound it makes that becomes a background of a strange kind of stillness.  The materials it’s made of; where those materials came from, and the many hands that went into digging the raw materials and shaping them into the parts of the heater.  The animals and plants that were displaced by the process, and the way they adjusted. What I must do to adjust to the limitations of my own world?

Go!   – avail yourself of this opportunity. My appreciation of that heater, and my connection to it, everyone who had a hand in making it, all the animals whose lives have been impacted by it, and how I can gain strength in facing my own daily challenges of adjustment.

Doing this simple exercise will give you an immediate feedback of joy.

 

If you’re interested in knowing about your natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character [link to https://thejoyofliving.co/events/ ]

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

What could you do if you weren’t afraid?

If you weren’t afraid of facing a possible hostile audience, of missing out, of falling on your face … if you weren’t afraid of failing at something big for you, what would that change for you – or even open up for you? Marie Forleo brought this up on her weekly blog, challenging her audience to look at what they are specifically afraid of and what they could do if that fear didn’t exist.

Fear can be our greatest ally. Fear is painful – I mean actually painful.  Not like touching a hot stove, but almost like that! It can paralyze us.  And the more afraid we are, the worse it is.  Pain tells us that we need to change something we’re doing. Without feeling pain, we’d simply keep doing what we were doing.  Diabetics know this – after a time they lose the ability to feel pain in their extremities, and can get a serious infection, oblivious to it until it’s too late to save that toe or other body part.

Fear is like pain that way – it alerts us to something we’re doing that’s not good for us, and that we need to do something about.  It might be something we need to fear, but most often it’s something we’re afraid of for emotional reasons – like being afraid to fail.  This kind of fear tells us something like: I might fail at this and all will be lost!
If this happens to you, try this next time:

  • Imagine that your worst fear comes true, and you really do fail.  Then ask yourself if it really is the end of everything, or if it’s simply a setback.  Notice how you feel when you imagine this.  For me, I have this weight falling from my heart into my stomach; I can’t talk; I feel small and hopeless.
  • Now, imagine that you do it anyway, knowing that you have a lot of people rooting for you, knowing that you have what you need to do well.  Really imagine that, and feel it fully.  For me, I feel expansive, warm, excited and interested, wanting to get going – enjoying the moment and the connection.
  • In reality, what will happen will happen! But it’s more likely to be a positive experience – even if you fail – gong into it feeling expansive and excited than small and hopeless.

The truth is that nothing worth achieving is easy, and that it will always include failing a lot first. The best thing we can do when we fail (and we will fail) is being open enough to see what might have gone wrong, make adjustments, and try again. Every time we fail in this way, we are that much closer to succeeding.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

If you weren’t afraid …

Quote of the Week
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
― John Lennon

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Make Visible your Shining

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.

-Robert Bresson

I spent time with a dear friend of mine today – Jane Mactinger.  She’s a Shamanic Healer – unique in her own way, and very powerful. One of the things we talked about was becoming visible. So many of us – Jane and I included, shy away from making what we shine in visible to all around us, fearing we might offend someone.  Even deeper, fearing we might be exposed as some kind of phoney, even though, for people like Jane and myself, we have more than enough credentials and training to back anything we claim. Perhaps it’s more a Canadian thing, but I know there are a lot of us out there – in hiding.

I listened to Martha Beck recently talk about self healing, and in her talk she mentioned the name for Hawaiian healers – Way Finders.  When children show a natural talent as healers, these children are trained in navigation, and eventually earn the title of Way Finder.  When I heard that, I knew what I was, because that’s exactly what I teach – how to find your unique way to live a life filled with joy. My training in Gestalt and other psychotherapeutic modalities, my studies in ancient philosophy, my training in shamanic healing techniques and ways, and my experience in being what so many of my clients strive to become – uniquely qualify me for that title. And yet, I hesitated in applying that term to myself.

Then I listened to many others, and read the above quote, and realized that I, along with Jane and so many others, are depriving not only ourselves but also others by remaining hidden in the bushes of false modesty.

Each of us has something only we can offer the world, and in openly offering it, we can’t help but enrich ourselves and our community.  If you’re not yet sure what yours is, try this:

  • What brings you joy? Find a place where you can safely explore this question without interruption. It may be your own space in your home, or it may be a park where you can walk and explore. Once you’re there, close your eyes for a few breaths and let go of the day, the week, of anything that might distract you. Then, begin to remember times where you were happy, content.  There’s a shamanic tequnique called recapitulation, where you begin by noticing how your body feels when you experience a certain memory; then you travel back to the last time you felt that physical sensation, recalling the event that went along with it; then the time before that, and so on, until you can’t remember any others. In this instance, begin by noticing how you physically feel when you experience joy – a warmth in your belly, and sense of rising or lightness – whatever it is, take note of it. Then begin recapitulating all the times when you experienced that feeling – what you were doing, where you were, who you were with, etc.. All the things that made up that event, learning the kinds of things that bring you joy.
  • Make joy a priority. Now that you have more knowledge of what brings you joy, make a commitment that you will make this experience a daily priority. It doesn’t have to be big, or take long.  I love sitting quietly every morning with a coffee, watching the morning unfold.  This simple pleasure brings me joy and sets my mood for the rest of the day. I make sure that, no matter what else happens that day, I do something that brings me joy.
  • Make it real. Bring it into your life, starting today. You might be surprised how this simple change will begin to re-color your life.

I want to mention how this newsletter is structured, because I’ve discovered some confusion with some of my readers.  The newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1, but most often is not referenced in part 1 (it offers a different point of view); the third is a quote. I hope this eliminates the confusion, and that you enjoy all three parts.

Earth, Wind and Fire – Shining Star

 

Quote of the Week
You’re a shining star
No matter who you are
Shining bright to see
What you could truly be (what you could truly be)
-Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star
Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

The 6 things you need to develop to live a successful life

A number of weeks ago, I heard an interview with Brendon Bouchard. He was introducing his latest book High Performance Habits. The book is a summary of a 3-year research project looking at why and how high-performance people do what they do.  He defined High Performance as Sustained, long-term success.

He discovered some key things that all of the people he interviewed had in common.  These people were all highly successful, not only in their business but also in their personal lives.  Much of what Bouchard discovered has been said by others, probably forever, but in his gathering it all together, he’s created something powerful.

He identified 6 habits that were true for every high performer he interviewed. I’ve put them in my own words and as I understand them. Here they are:

  1. Show Up. That’s right. Show up – daily, weekly, monthly.  Do what needs doing, and don’t skip it! Turn this way of operating on a daily basis into a habit that you learn never to drop.
  2. Balance your life. Balance is about living well emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually and sexually.  This is something I learned in Shamanism, and now it’s coming into modern use.  Without this kind of balance, we lose energy, and simply aren’t able to show up all the time, when we need to.
  3. Clarity. High performers define the feeling they’re after, like “overall contentment” on a daily basis: not having a feeling of contentment for a split second, but how, in general, they want to feel regularly.  How do you get there? If you know how you want to be and feel, you can begin to define the kinds of activities that will get you to that state. For instance, I want to feel light-hearted and full of hope; and know that the kinds of things that will get me there are focusing on what’s truly important and always including time with those I love.
  4. Positive self-talk. Bring that inner elder to the surface so that she can guide you openly and powerfully.  For instance, every day, I decide what I need to do, then I have a talk with myself. Like: Maryanne, you really need to focus on getting this document out, so make some relevant self-contracts – this is completely doable and once you’re finished, you know you’ll feel fantastic.
  5. Manage transitions. Take time when you’re switching from one set of tasks to another to reset your intentions. Take a break, let go of the current focus, and set the next intention.  For instance, once I finish my newsletter, my next task is usually to see a client.  Before I can see that client, so that I am 100% present with her, I take 10minutes.  Often, I’ll cup my eyes with my hands and simply sit there, breathing and relaxing. It really works.
  6. Stop striving and start thriving. Full engagement, joy, confidence – those are the three things high performers feel as they work.  They don’t feel stressed, striving for something they don’t yet have.  They’re happy and engaged.  They’re thriving, right now, in the present moment.

I encourage you to get a copy of his book, and see how you can apply what he’s found in a way that works for you.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Secrets to success – Richard St. John

successful life

Quote of the Week
Find a purpose to serve, not a lifestyle to live.
― Criss Jami, Venus in Arms

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co