Tag Archive: happiness

Start this year with 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.

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.

This kind of happiness 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.

With everything we do we have this direct connection. 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 the heater to my needs.

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.

Gratefulness

 

Quote of the Week

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.
― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

Announcement

Blog: In case you missed it, here’s my latest blog.

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

Start this year with 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.

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.

This kind of happiness 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.

With everything we do we have this direct connection. 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 the heater to my needs.

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.

Announcements

If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. 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

 

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 .

Live Happy

A few months ago, National Geographic featured the work of Dan Buettner on what makes a person’s life satisfying.  From his travels around the world, he found 3 ways, and 3 locations that featured these 3 ways.

One is a life that’s secure and safe, where it’s easy to make a good living; the location is Singapore.

Another is an interactive life, where people mingle every day – a place that lends itself living outdoors and walking everywhere; this location is a town in Costa Rica.

The last is Northern Denmark. Here, people can freely pursue what gives their lives meaning. They don’t have to worry about health care or education. This is all provided. And therefore, they can focus on working at what they love to do. In Denmark, 80% of workers like their job (as opposed to 30% in the US).

I like the second and third options, especially the third. That’s because what I do is very important to me, and when I do what I love, I’m happy. Even without health coverage and educational opportunities, I find ways to fulfill this need of mine.

It seems to depend on what kind of person we are. There is no right answer for everyone, and I suspect there are a few more ways of living that bring certain people real happiness.

Which are you?

You can take a true happiness test – for free – at www.bluezones.com .

Where Joy hides and how to find it

happy

Burning the Candle?

If you’re someone who feels like you’re burning up and burning out – from too much ongoing stress, from too much responsibility and too little recognition, or simply from wanting to have everything done Now!, then you might be interested in my online program BURNING THE CANDLE AT BOTH ENDS.

Registration is now open for October. Check it out!
Quote of the Week

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Announcement

Blog: In case you missed it, here’s my latest blog.
Need more? 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 . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.

Living into right thinking

The title of this blog came from the quote below.  I don’t know who specifically said it, other than that it’s a piece of wisdom from North American indigenous Elders.

And it’s just so darn appropriate for this day and age to take its message to heart.

You cannot think yourself into right living.

That sentence on its own is something I plan on having pasted on my bathroom mirror at eye level. Because deep down, I really do believe that I can think myself into living the way I want which, as far as I’m concerned, is “right living”. I do it all the time: whenever, for instance, I “decide” that I need to meet a self-imposed deadline that is actually impossible, then proceed to work 20-hour days trying to meet it. Or those times when I begin from a particular belief – say that this person should be trustworthy because of their position – thereby successfully blinding myself to anything they might do that contradicts my belief.

Or even more to the point, deciding that I “should” live in a certain way to be a good person, no matter what the actual circumstances are surrounding me.

You live yourself into right thinking.

What if, instead of deluding myself with my own beliefs, desires and needs, I beginwith where I’m at, and go from there?  Instead of assuming a person is trustworthy, I connect with them, get to know them, and then decide. Or see what the day has to offer, rather than on what I want it to offer, allowing me to remain open to whatever comes.

Beginning with what the day – the situation – offers, connecting with it, being open to it.
When I think of living this way, I feel a great weight being lifted.  It’s so straight-forward and uncomplicated.
It might lead to real happiness.

Want to be happier? Stay in the moment

Quote of the Week
You cannot think yourself into right living. You live yourself into right thinking.
-Native Elders (from Gloria Steinem’s autobiography My Life on the Road)

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-programsor contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

The Positive in Pain

I regularly see people who are suffering and miserable.  They come to see me because they’re sick of it and want a positive change in their lives.  They simply don’t know how to do that.

It might look like anger and resentment, or feeling lost, anxious or depressed. It might be triggered by a romantic break-up or the loss of a loved one. Most often, it’s because they’ve landed in the same dark place they thought they’d escaped. And they’re simply sick of it.

It’s impossible for anyone to see anything but the negative when this happens. And that’s why they seek help, because they know there is something better. They just can’t see it yet.

The good news is that they’re sick of it, because this means they’re ready to commit to change. In 12 step programs, it’s called “hitting bottom”: without this kind of incentive, many people addicted to drugs or alcohol wouldn’t have the ability to get sober. They need to hurt badly enough to be willing to commit to change.

It’s absolutely necessary.

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a painful situation, try if you can, to remember that, without pain, there would also be no possibility for happiness. If you’ve landed in a familiar dark pattern, it’s life encouraging you to finally take that leap and commit to change.

Why we need pain to feel happiness

Quote of the week
The wound is the place where the Light enters you. ― Rumi

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 . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  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 .

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!”

That quote, from Edna St. Vincent Millay, eloquently sums up the allure of going all out till we drop. It’s addictive. It gives us such an intoxicating high. And yet, if we don’t stop, it will burn us out long before we want it to.How often in your day have you found yourself running on fumes?  Going till you drop, and then going some more. I did this all the time till I couldn’t any longer; and then I had to find a different way of living that could restore the health I’d ruined and allow me to continue to live with energy and purpose.  I did find it, and I’m offering what I discovered to you in my online program Burning the Candle at Both Ends.

Whether you join me  or chose to connect with another of the many great helpers available, I can say from experience that it’s possible to take back control over your mind, your life and your happiness. It’s possible to live the life you want without burning up or burning out.Learn more about Burning the Candle at Both Ends here.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.

3-minute breathing space

Quote of the Week
Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees.
― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

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

Mindfulness and Mindlessness

I meditate every morning – for at least half an hour. Sometimes, I end up gaining energy and a kind of delightful groundedness from it that can carry me through the rest of the day. Sometimes, I feel it’s little more than sleeping sitting up, where the entire time can go by in a blink.

Ellen Langer would call the first instance one of mindfulness, and the second one of mindlessness.  Ms. Langer is a social psychologist at Harvard University, who has studied Mindfulness and what she calls Mindlessness since at least the 1970’s.  In a recent podcast, she spoke about what mindfulness really means for her.

She defines Mindfulness as the simple act of actively noticing things. For her, being mindful doesn’t necessarily involve meditating or yoga, or any particular recommended way of being. All of these things can be mindful, and they can also be unmindful, depending on how we are while we do them.

From her studies, experiments and research, she concludes that most of us are mindless most of the time, and that this mindlessness is at least a major contributor to illness and unhappiness in our lives.

In one study, for instance, which she terms Counter-Clockwise, she has a group of men in their 80’s live in a retreat for a week that has been retrofitted to around 20 years earlier. These men were to act as if this retrofit were in the present (i.e., as if they were 20 years younger).  What she discovered, by measuring their physical and emotional well-being after that week, was that they not only felt 20 years younger, but that their hearing, vision, memory and strength had all significantly improved.

Her work addresses the mind/body question in an intriguing way: most of us still separate the mind from the body – looking at how the mind influences the body and vice versa.  She doesn’t make this distinction. Instead, she sees mind and body as inseparable.

With this perspective, the Placebo can be seen as a powerful and valid drug instead of a mistake; one that unlocks our brain’s inner pharmacy, and gives us mastery over our own health. How empowering that is!

I could talk endlessly about the implications and applications stated and implied by Ms. Langer that come from her approach and perspective, but will offer up one that we can all use right away: re-invigorating our personal relationships.

Most, if not all, of us can find ourselves getting too used to our life partners.  The prevailing wisdom when that happens is to change things up; to freshen that relationship by making it new again.  And some people manage to do that with success.  Or, you can try this:

Every day for a week, make a point of actively noticing 5 things about your partner. For instance, you might notice today that he or she carefully folded their pajamas before leaving for work. What you notice doesn’t have to be profound; it simply needs to be something you actively engage in in the moment.

What happens?  A revitalized connection to your partner.

 

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 .

 

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