Thursday, 4 October 2012

So grateful for...


The time of year that is set aside for a few moments to focus on what we are grateful for in our lives.  As most of us know there are days when it is really easy to see what we are thankful for and other days we are too overwhelmed to go there.  When I was younger there were years when getting together with family to eat and drink and talk felt like a chore or dare I say a punishment (I totally failed to see the bigger picture!).  However, now that I have children thanksgiving has become one of my favourite times of year.  I have realised just how precious this time together really is and how important reflecting on what we are grateful for also is!  Tons of research in positive psychology points to the profound effects that taking some time to focus our attention on what makes us thankful.  In the movie "happy" they talk about a study done on 1500 university students in a positive psychology course half the class once a week took a few moments to focus on 5 things that they were grateful for.  The other half of the class continued with their regular course work.  After just 3 weeks the the group who were doing gratitude work reported a marked increase in happiness.  It makes sense when we feel thankful for something it makes us feel good!  After reading Eat, Pray, Love I fell in love with the idea of a gratitude circle.  She talks about doing this with some of her friends in her book.  I have started to do this with my children on weekly basis if not more to get them to stop for a moment to connect with their own gratitude.  They love it now but I am sure at some point this might become annoying to them but I don't care because I think it is such an important foundational and life skill to have.  I feel ridiculously passionate about this and had to stop for a moment to connect with why?  Then I remembered I had been taught the lesson of seeing gratitude even in the strangest places by one of the most precious people in my life.  My Mother.  Even after her death she managed to portray the message of how important it is to be thankful.  She asked that her funeral be done as a thanksgiving day service.  I never really paid any attention to this until recently and it now means a lot to me.  I think as parents sometimes we don't really know why we are doing the things we are such as making our kids see what they are grateful for.  Right now they might only be talking about toys, crayons, video games the colour blue, who knows.  We might get some resistance, the occasional eye roll or "really Mom or Dad".  But taking the time teach our kids and ourselves to see how much we do have to be grateful for is opportunity to shape perspective and a definite increase in the ability to be happy.
It certainly has helped me!

My Mom Lucille.

Be Happy, Be Healthy,  Mieka : )

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Harnessing Your Happy Powers.

Happy Powers, we all have them but whether we use them to the best of our ability is another question.    Happy Powers are available to everyone of us.  If used they have the power to improve your personal ranking on your happy scale.  Happy powers can be tapped into anytime, regardless of what might be going on in your life.  Yes this does require effort and we have to choose to use them.   No, I am not talking about wine (although a glass every now and then for me is nice too:).  I am talking about moving your body, sweating a little or a lot on a regular basis.  Taking the time to see how important exercising (dare I say the word) really is in the grand scheme of things is HUGE.  When we exercise, move and sweat we release endorphins, dopamine HAPPY HORMONES!  Without thinking about our mental state we get an automatic pick me up.  This sensation helps us to see and think clearer, function and move better and maybe let things slide off our backs a little easier.  As we continue to take care of our bodies we can experience life overall in a better place because we really do feel better!  Not to mention without our bodies we wouldn't be able to experience anything anyway.  One of our priorities for sure needs be the one thing we have that allows to be and feel alive, your body.  The fantastic part is when we focus on looking after ourselves with exercise and nutrition all the experiences we have improve:).  If your looking for advice on nutrition just hop over to my fab friend Jenn Pike's blog trust me it's all there!  We all have a super hero that exists within us and one of those amazing powers is the ability to be happy.  Just like an athlete or  musician we need to practice and exercise those muscles of bliss so the joy can be unleashed.  So many will say they don't have time, they have an injury, they are too tired on and on.  You can start by just jumping up and down in your kitchen, marching on the spot, pressing your arms up and down for a minute or two or going for a walk.  Just start to move and get your heart rate up.  Stimulate the release of those hormones and then start to move more and more and feel better and happier.   I know I was extremely lucky to be studying Kinesiology in university after my Dad has his heart attack and suffered brain damage.  Having to exercise in school definitely gave me a better chance at coping with my world coming to a crash and burn at that time.  Many people also use the excuse they can't afford a gym membership, they don't know what they are doing or they just don't like the gym.  You can even check out 'you tube' there is an endless amount of videos on how you can move your body in different ways and even get your exercise on.  Just search Yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Dance, kickboxing whatever you like, the list really is endless.  Your local library will also rent exercise DVD's you just need to choose to walk through the doors.  Get a friend to do it with you and then you'll release even more dopamine, as being in a community environment will do that.  Of course if you can find your way to a gym or studio that is hugely beneficial as well.  Either way knowing, understanding and owning the fact that these hormones or as I like to call them happy powers exist in you is a start.  You need to choose to get moving so these super powers have the opportunity to unleash your feel good potential!  Then, actually releasing and using your powers is a one way ticket in the direction of a happier healthier you!

be happy , be healthy.

Mieka :)

For more information on how to discover your happy check out my Happy Flow Yoga workshops coming at the end of September.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Worth it!?

It seems the world is becoming more and more accepting of a state of discontent.  I am noticing a trend where people have convinced themselves that a state of happiness just isn't meant for them.  Many feel so removed from a joyous way of being they have no idea what that would actually feel like.  Over and over I have asked myself why don't people work on choosing to be happy?  I know that the ability to be happy comes from within so why are so many unhappy!  There was a time I genuinely didn't get it!  Recently I have been reading Louise Hay's "you can heal your life".   She talks a lot about positive affirmations and what you put out is what you attract.  Something I one hundred percent believe in.  She also discusses that the root to most people's issues is their lack of self worth.  I have read her book twice now and it took the second time around for me to notice this statement.  As I read these words it was a huge epiphany, people do not believe they are deserving of happiness.   As I sat reflecting on this statement further I decided to put it to the test.  I started saying to my yoga participants you are amazing, you deserve to have your dreams come true (which they are and do!)  The response to these words were astounding!  People would get squeamish, they'd laugh telling me I am cheesy (I kind of am so that's ok;), they'd cry or completely dismiss it.  I also gave an assignment to a weight loss group to name something fabulous about themselves and it was an excruciatingly difficult task for them.  Saying these words and asking people to genuinely reflect on their happiness can create a huge elephant in the room that many just want to run from.  What's crazy is we are talking about nice things!!!  However, sadly when we are in a situation where we feel unworthy, or less than capable we get uncomfortable.  For most of us the belief that we don't deserve something tends to begin in our past.  This is where letting go of our baggage becomes so important because it can release the pattern of unworthiness.  Most people have a story, a difficult journey or obstacle they have had to overcome, myself included.  However, by no means does that story get to have the power that you are not worthy of being the truly happy, amazing person you can be.  It begins by both intellectually and emotionally understanding that you 100 percent deserve to be happy.  Telling yourself over and over I am worth it can be a huge step in the right direction.  Sometimes the effort it takes to start to discover our happiness potential can indeed be exhausting.  However, the gifts and experiences waiting for every person to see, if they are willing, are priceless.  No one can put a real value on the human body or what our experiences are "worth".  But I can tell you that YOU are all worth every penny that is out there! You own your value and personal power to discover your happy and totally deserve it too:).

Be happy, be healthy


For more information on how to discover your happy check out my Happy Yoga workshops coming at the end of September.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Where do you sit on the scale of happy?

Happiness...the one thing that all of us want, yet many of us believe we will never have. Or we will only have it sometimes if we're lucky. I recently completed my first workshop on choosing your happy! One of the questions I asked the participants was where they would rank themselves on the happy scale 1 being the least happy and 10 being the most. Not one person raised their hands and majority didn't even rank themselves over 5. This did not surprise me but reconfirmed what most of the research says. What the responses did do was make me realize what kind of unhappy epidemic we really do have going on in our world. We are loosing our abilities to smile and feel what that is like inside. I personally believe that we need to teach our children and ourselves about how truly powerful we are. We totally own the ability to choose our own bliss but most of us either don't know how or don't belive that happiness comes from within. Our ability to be happy does come from deep down inside but it needs to placed at the frontal most part of our brains as a priority. As we continue to disconnect, overstimulate ourselves with technology and go on autopilot without understaning how meainngful moments in everyday life really are...we will continue on the path to unhappy. In my own personal life I have experienced some loss, trama and tragedy. However, I was fortunate that amongst it all I was able to connect with my own ability to choose how I experienced my circumstances. This gave me the insight to still find inner joy amongst the chaos and sadness. In the book "Man's search for meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl he speaks to our inner ability for choice on a much more extreme level. Viktor E. Frankl is a psychiatrist as well as, a world war 2 death camp survivor. One of my favorite quotes in his book is "even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstamnces, decide what shall become of him - mentally and spiritually". If someone in a cencentration camp can connect with their ability to choose meaning and therefore happiness in life, than so can we. We need to take the time to actually see the special gifts in our lives and try not to be consumed with what is out of our control. I say let's make a commitment to open our eyes, to genuinely see the beauty in our world and start saying I AM a 10 on my happy scale:).