Happiness is Possible Every Day

“My awareness is aligned with the creative power of the universe.” Deepak Chopra

Time is the constant in the changes and seasons of life.  It is up to us to determine our perspective and use of that time.

Age

Many people worry about age. Children want to quickly grow-up. A favorite pastime of mine as a little girl was to play dress-up. I would raid my mother’s closet, searching for the perfect outfit, trying on many changes of clothes. I scavenged through her make-up drawer and would paint my face with various shades of pinks and purples. It was a fun past time imagining myself as an adult.

As I’ve gotten older, I now reflect upon times when my hair was a little thicker, fine lines weren’t quite as apparent, and my skin was plumper.

No matter the timeframe, the focus was on my outer appearance. One thing I value, as I’ve gotten older is my experiences have led me to be wiser, more confident, and self-assured. As I’ve become more aware of whom I am, I feel more at peace and ease with the natural flow of life. I am less forceful and resistant and more open and flexible.

With age, there are certainly changes but overall time allows for more gifts than drawbacks.

Oprah has been fortunate that she has never been one to worry about age. Her belief is it doesn’t matter how many candles there are on the birthday cake, you get to choose how you feel and see that number.

She shares such a wise perspective. Just as a little girl, I hoped to be older and as I aged, I thought at times, I’d love to be younger. The similarities exist in that both describe wanting to be something I am not now.

We all have a choice on how to view age. When Oprah turned 60, she felt, okay, I’m grown now. She said, “I am more myself than I’ve ever been.” Her outlook is throughout the years she’s been taking lessons from life’s experiences and today she is in awe of her journey on here on planet Earth, as it continues to unfold.

Feeling Alive is a Blessing

All our lives, no matter your background has been blessed with so many miracles.

Today it is our chance to feel alive; not just be alive. Admit just to be alive and breathing is a miracle. You can choose to be healthy and strong in whatever capacity available to you. It’s the comparing to others and wanting to be something we are not; just as I have done many times in my life, causes suffering. The moment I choose to accept this moment as I am right now, I find that peace I spoke of.

Oprah has learned from her milestone occasions, turning 30, 40, 50, and now at 63 is that if you allow yourself to breath in the depth, and the wonder and also the difficulties each year brings, you can live fearlessly. Look what you have already overcome and you’re still here.

You Are Timeless

YOU are timeless. Every experience brings to you a piece of the fullness of your life including the disruptions; the trauma, the divorce, the loss. Even the moments of pain and suffering offer the opportunity to explore the question, “ Is this worth my time?”

What is the best way to approach the issue of leading a happy life?

People have their own perspective on how to answer this question. Some work hard during their productive years, sacrificing happiness and fulfillment until they retire or until the children leave the home.

Some grind away five days a week and save play for the weekend. Only a fraction of the population thinks about happiness as a daily requirement. Positive psychology which studies optimal psychological states suggest the best strategy for a happy life is to have happy days.

Happy Days

The late 70’s/early 80’s hit show; Happy Days was wiser than it’s time. The lyrics to the theme song stresses every day is a choice to be happy and to be free to share in our happiness.

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days,
The weekend comes, my cycle hums
Ready to race to you

These days are ours
Happy and free. (Oh Happy Days)
These days are ours
Share them with me.(Oh baby)

Goodbye grey sky, hello blue,
there’s nothing can hold me when I hold you.
Feels so right you can’t be wrong,
Rockin’ and rollin’ all week long.

Saturday, what a day
Groovin’ all week with you

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days
The weekend comes, my cycle hums

Ready to race to you
These days are ours
Happy and free. (Oh Happy Days)

These days are ours
Share them with me.(Oh baby)
Goodbye grey sky, hello blue,
There’s nothing can hold me when I hold you.

Feels so right you can’t be wrong,
Rockin’ and rollin’ all week long.

Sunday, Monday, Happy Days,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days,
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days
Saturday, what a day
Groovin’ all week with you

Happiness is a Conscious Choice

Striving for happiness is a conscious strategy. To consciously make each day a happy day, find ways to mediate, to journal, and to reflect inward. Treasure an approach that works best for you to have some time alone, some downtime and some playtime. This process is part of treating yourself with love because you can taking the time to cherish you.

Connection

Another important aspect of a daily habit of happiness is to connect with those that are close and important to you. The time can be spent on the phone, through email, or in person. The more personal the contact, the stronger the emotional bond.

Seasons of Life

According to Deepak, a successful life means that with each season of life we become more conscious and we continue to evolve.

The seasons of life begin with infancy and early childhood where biology dominates. Genes mainly at the cellular level control our development.   Divided by parents’ influences children don’t bare the responsibility for major life choices.

Personal choices loom larger after childhood as biology and family influence become less dominate. By adulthood everybody is involved in some sort of project; building a sense of self. Yet most people don’t see that this is happening.

Happiness Begins Within

Instead, most people focus externally on relationships, work, and family. But these can’t be fulfilling without personal evolution, a self that continually grows throughout all ups and downs of external events.

Although society offers a template for each phase of life such as going to school, getting a job, raising a family, then retiring. These stages are not a guideline to evolution. The only guide is within. Personal growth is measured by your vision of life as in your individual values, self-awareness, character, and fulfillment.

Evolution can’t be quantified on a chart. We are the judges of our lives. We determine whether we are happier, more loving, filled with kindness and consideration, more open to differences, and finding new outlets for creativity and self-discovery.

Happiness is a Conscious Daily Practice

The journey of consciousness unfolds each day from dawn to dusk. Our full life span, from beginning to end is an opportunity to grow in character, self-awareness, compassion, and understanding. We learn as students, we progress through our career choices, we grow via our choices for family or not, and later toward retirement. Every phase offers opportunities to stay in the present moment. Each day brings occasions to be the observer of your internal and external experiences. As we become more aware of our character and values, fulfillment is possible at every stage of our life.

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How Your Wounds Share Wisdom

Many people begin their spiritual journey focusing on all that is whole and good in their life. Gratitude for the things we value is a key to having mindful living but equally important is continually excavating the long buried wounds you’ve hidden beneath layers of a protective shell.

Oprah says, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” She likes to think of it as this way, “When you are triggered by something, like an argument, pressure at work, money issues, or even someone cutting you off on the road, this is an opportunity to bring awareness to your feelings and how your body feels.”

How to Let Go of Pain

During triggered moments, unresolved feelings of anxiety, confusion, and frustration will rush to the surface.

Pause.

Take a deep breath.

Become still long enough to ask the question, “What is this experience here to show me, or to teach me?”

As you learn to interpret your internal responses, you’ll begin to recognize a pattern. We all have them.

The more you become familiar with that emotion, allow it to rise and unfold without resistance.

Welcome it.

Experience it in the body.

Release it.

Spiritual Disturbances

Think of these moments that trigger something inside of you as spiritual disturbances. A spirit of disturbance is a troubled heart, a stress-filled life, or a disturbed heart.

Since stress is part of most of our personal lives, either in our homes, part of our families, found in our churches, and experienced in our nation. It is slowly killing and robbing us of our daily peace of mind.

Pharmaceutical companies make a fortune off prescriptions to help reduce stress and other spiritual disturbances.  No matter how hard we try, pills can’t and won’t cure a disturbance of the heart when it is really a spiritual issue.

Spiritual disturbances lose their power the moment you stop pushing against them. The result is a constant and exhilarating sense of flow.

Perception of Time

Our perception of time changes according to our stages of awareness. This means our awareness can be a powerful agent for healing the past.

We’ve all heard the adage, “Time heals all wounds.” This is not truly accurate. Time does not heal all wounds because this implies a passive attitude; just wait long enough and time will do everything.

Attitude With Time

For this to be true, our attitude toward time has to be active, not passive. We need conscious responses, not unconscious reactions.

The negative experiences that happened yesterday or years ago linger as memory and trauma. These wounds are the main obstacles to making every moment matter.

Emotional Debt

Whenever we relive the past or anticipate a painful future, we are allowing old wounds to take on new life. Some psychologists call this emotional debt from the past.

Emotional debt can be equated to a bank. During negative experiences, when we react by just putting our head down and getting on with it, this response builds up emotional debt. Anger, hurt, stress, and grief withdrawals money out of the bank while conscious awareness, relaxation, and nourishment deposits money in the bank.

A Healing Approach to Past Pain

Things we have choice over, attitudes, beliefs, lifestyle, and self-care; allow us to consciously heal the wounds of conscious time and avoid their unwanted effects.

A healing approach to time begins with noticing your reaction in the moment. When you are in a stressful situation or are reminded of painful experiences from your past, take a few deep, long breaths, and be aware of how you feel. Notice your emotions and how your body feels. Be aware of any instinctual reactions, to retaliate, to resist or runaway.

Recognize that those responses are coming from your past hurt but your inner awareness, which notices these reactions and feelings is not hurt or limited in any way by the past.

This conscious presence is your real self. And it is the place through which you are free to choose a new response, different from your conditioned response.

Continue breathing and open yourself to an appropriate response to the situation that isn’t solely determined by your past pain.

But don’t try to respond like a saint or pretend to be indifferent. An artificial response does not heal your past hurt because it’s not coming from your present moment awareness.

As you become more familiar with the remaining connection to the conscious self during stressful situations, you become free from your conditioned reactions and heal your past.

By directing your attention to your inner awareness, you align your heart and mind to living in the present moment. When you learn to live from your timeless self, every moment of time is healing and everyday is filled with the joy of transforming yourself.

This is what is means to make every moment matter.

Centering Message

A centering thought for mediation is, “I heal my past by being in the present.”

7 Festivals Around the World that Celebrate the Dead

Halloween lies on the last day of October in the United States where candy, costumes and haunted houses come to life. Modern Halloween is more about fearing spirits and dressing-up as a character for the day.

Many other cultures instead of fearing spirits honor the dead and commensurate their spirits.

Today is not only a new moon; it is the day of the dead. I thought a fresh look at festivals around the globe that celebrate the deceased would be eye opening.

  1. DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS, MEXICO

Possibly the most famous celebration of the deceased, Mexico’s Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead festival, traces to the pre-Columbian era and spans from October 28 until November 2. The Day of the Dead is about remembering loved ones and honoring family members who have passed away.

The country’s most vibrant celebrations take place in Mexico City and Oaxaca, where cemeteries and homes display altars adorned with yellow marigold and red terciopelo flowers, intricate sugar skulls, and papel picado, a colorful perforated paper engraved with skeleton designs.

  1. FIESTA DE LAS ÑATITAS, BOLIVIA

 Bolivia’s Fiesta de las Ñatitas (Festival of the Skulls) is an ancient ritual among the indigenous Aymara people, honoring the special bond between the living and the deceased.

Ñatitas are exhumed human skulls that some Bolivians believe protect them from evil, help them achieve goals, and even work miracles. The skulls spend most of their time indoors, but are paraded in La Paz’s main public cemetery every year in early November, where they are decorated with flowers and pampered with cigarettes, coca leaves, and other treats.

  1. HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, CHINA

The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist commemoration, celebrated in China on the seventh month in the Chinese calendar. It is believed that spirits are able to roam the Earth throughout this month, and on the 15th night specifically, these spirits have the chance to visit their living descendants.

Throughout “Ghost Month,” gifts are made to the deceased, traditional theater is performed, and people set places at tables for dead members of their family. After the festival, people light lanterns and float them in bodies of water to help lead spirits back to the underworld.

  1. FÊTE GEDE, HAITI

This annual voodoo festival in Haiti takes place throughout November, but the majority of celebrations occur during the beginning of the month. Voodoo believers converge on Port-au-Prince’s main cemetery to honor the Gede (a family of spirits with the powers of death and fertility), laying out gifts such as homemade beeswax candles, flowers and—to warm the Gede’s bones—bottles of rum stuffed with chile peppers.

Dances, rituals, and costumes play a large part in this unique festival celebrating the dead.

  1. OBON FESTIVAL, JAPAN

The Obon festival is a Japanese Buddhist holiday celebrated July 13-15 or August 13-15 (depending on the region in Japan), honoring the return of the spirits of deceased ancestors. People revisit their hometowns to tend their relatives’ graves, which are cleaned and decorated with flowers.

There are Obon festivals all over Japan that combine traditional dances and celebrations. On the last night of Obon, people light candles and have bonfires to mark the departure of the ancestral spirits.

  1. CHUSEOK, SOUTH KOREA

Chuseok is one of the largest and most widely celebrated holidays in South Korea. The primary reason for Chuseok, held on the fall equinox, is to honor ancestors and deceased relatives. However, the holiday is considered a general time for families to congregate, reconnect, and enjoy fantastic feasts. Traditionally, Chuseok has also allowed South Koreans to celebrate the autumn harvest after a season of hard work.

Chuseok is largely centered on the culture and history of South Korea. To honor the traditions that connect them to their roots, many families will visit their ancestors’ villages, perform rituals and ceremonies, and visit graves while wearing traditional garb.

  1. GAI JATRA, NEPAL

Gai Jatra, also called the Festival of the Cows, is celebrated in August and September in Nepal. During the celebration, a procession of cows is marched through the streets of Kathmandu, led by family members who have lost a loved one within the last year. Cows, which are considered holy in Hinduism, are thought to be able to guide the recently deceased to the afterlife. Following the cow procession, participants dress in costume and dance in the city center.

Gai Jatra is regarded as a celebration, meant to help people accept death as a reality of life and to help ease the passing of those who have died.

Do you have a ritual or particular way to help ease loved ones who have passed? I’d love to hear how you have dealt with death in your life. If you need help with the grieving process or want to explore your spiritual growth, please feel free to contact me at april@aprilwrigththerapy.com.

How to Release From Emotional Blocks

The Mind

Our mind is constantly working. It has three basic functions of thinking, feeling, and desiring. We then respond consciously or unconsciously depending on how aware we are of our thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Many patients share stories claiming they don’t think. When I inquiry deeper, they discover they do think but deliberately distract themselves from paying attention.

The pain of their thoughts is too great to face. They rationalize, “if I’m not aware of my thoughts; they don’t occur.” It’s the old adage, “if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.”

Suppressed Emotions

It is not uncommon for a child to be conditioned to suppress their emotions. Cultural views or mishandling of a child’s natural reaction to pain, hurt, or not getting what they desire teaches the child not to show feelings.

Suppressing our emotions doesn’t make them go away. In fact, it makes it more difficult to manage imminent life distresses. Research shows when we deny our thoughts, feelings, and desires they become stronger.

The Body

Our emotions don’t go away, they build-up in the body. Neglected emotions cause inflammation in the body, which then increases stress on the body. Risk for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and anxiety rises.

Unreleased emotions causes the immune system to weaken and then bones begin to fracture easily, joints become stiff, and illnesses become more frequent.

Relationships

The effect of suppressing emotions continues to not only have detrimental effects on our mind, body, and overall health but also on our relationships.

Relationships start to deteriorate due to unfamiliarity of social cues and gestures propelled. Frequent misunderstandings cause resentment, anger, hurt, and sadness. As communication skills decline, consequently relationships begin to fail.

The Brain and Trauma

During a traumatic event such as an assault, a robbery, or a car accident our thinking part of the brain naturally shuts down to protect us. Our brain is then able to fully focus its attention on surviving. Our body responds immediately ready to fight, flight, or freeze.

The similar way our pain receptors block us from feeling intense pain at the time of physical harm, the mind functions to suppress intense, negative emotions during times of crisis to defend us.

The brains’ response to trauma protects us. However, when we consciously disconnect from our emotions during normal life’s tribulations such as a fight with our spouse, death of a family member, anxiety from work, or from the loss of a job; our mind, body, and relationships suffers.

Common signs of stored emotional pain:

  • You overly distract yourself to maintain self-control.
  • You keep yourself extremely busy and moving to avoid negative thoughts.
  • You avoid talking about the incident because you don’t want to feel undesirable emotions.
  • You avoid people, places, or objects that remind you of the incident or that bring up adverse emotions.
  • You numb emotional or physical pain with alcohol or drugs.

It takes deep reflection, awareness, and efforts to uncover denied emotions let alone release them. Many of us, have a hard time even putting words to the sensations felt.

Nevertheless, it is important to find time to express your emotions in a healthy way.

Modified from Deepak Chopra teachings, here is a beneficial method to release emotions.

  1. Think of a specific event and write what happened. In your narrative, explain how you felt using feeling words such as:
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Blame
  • Hostility
  • Rage
  • Sadness
  • Grief
  • Sorrow
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Worry
  • Apprehension

As you are experiencing these emotions, feel them in your body. It may be a physical sensation of stiffness, discomfort, tightness, or pain in the stomach or around the heart. A headache or a tightening of the throat is also common.

  1. Next write what other people did and how you reacted afterward.
  2. Write another narrative but this time from the point of view of the person who hurt you. Pretend that you are that person. Write down what they are feeling, why they acted as they did, and how they responded afterward.
  3. Finally write a narrative using the same event but from the perspective of a reporter. In the third person, write how an objective observer would tell readers about the incident. Be as objective and even-handedly as you can.
  4. Share your experience. Tell your experience to a good friend, loving family member or a therapist. Keep from relaying your three stories to the person who hurt you. They will most likely not understand or be supportive. It is crucial to tell your tale to someone sympathetic and has your best interests at heart.
  5. Create a ritual to set free your three stories. Burn them, flush them down the toilet, make paper airplanes and release them to the wind. As you release your stories, visualize all your pain; sorrow, and frustration leave your body.
  6. Take yourself on a date. Go out to dinner, get a massage, buy yourself something nice. Choose an activity to cherish the work you did and the emotional release.

Alzheimer’s Disease is at epidemic levels. Here’s what you can do now.

boost brain function with exercise

I had the fortunate opportunity to witness Rudolph Tanzi PhD present at the March 2017 Mind, Consciousness, and Cultivation of Well-being Conference at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Tanzi asked the question, “What can Alzheimer’s teach us about the brain, mind and self?”

Tanzi has diligently utilized funding from private and government sectors to discover many facets of the brain that cause the onsite of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). His research is imperative because contrary to heart disease that is finally on a 14 percent decline, AD is on an 89 percent rise.

Tanzi and his team discovered AD begins fifteen to twenty years prior to symptoms even appear. Recent research indicates, AD affects 5.4 million patients in the United States and 50 million worldwide. Tanzi noted that women consist of two-thirds of AD patients due to females being more susceptible to inflammation in the brain than men.

Such astonishing figures shows the disease is at an epidemic level.   Thus Tanzi’s research is fundamental for the large aging Baby Boomer population and subsequent generations. This article addresses some of Tanzi’s research results and recommendations for maintaining a healthy brain, mind, and self.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Perfection

“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”

~ Lev Grossman

What happens to the brain while in love?

Have you ever drifted into a dreamy thought of someone you recently met? You can’t explain why, but they just pop into your head. You feel a surge of joy, a slight queasiness in your stomach, and your face lights up with each playful thought of your new mate. A rush of neurochemicals stimulates this euphoric behavior.

Is this stage of love fleeting or can long-term committed relationships uphold blissful adoration?

The Stages of Modern Relationships

Whether you identify yourself as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual, there are various stages to each relationship. According to research, during the initial meeting, it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if you want to move to dating and/or sex and not always in that particular order. During this lustful stage, testosterone and estrogen drive your behavior.

As your attraction deepens and you decide to become sexually exclusive or not, your stress response stimulates the release of the neurotransmitters; adrenaline, cortisol, dopamine, and serotonin.

Throughout this stage, your stress response is activated. Blood levels increase with adrenaline and cortisol, hormones secreted by the adrenal glands. The secretion of adrenaline and cortisol provide that rush of energy, increase in heart rate, sweaty palms, and dry mouth when you suddenly think of or startlingly bump into your new attraction.

Dopamine

The neurotransmitter, dopamine is increased with ‘love struck’ mates. Dopamine stimulates an intense rush of pleasure, triggering desire and reward. A brain on cocaine has the same effect.

“couples often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship” ~ Helen Fisher

Serotonin

Serotonin plays a key role in this early stage of love. Low levels of serotonin explain those constant thoughts of your lover. According to Dr. Marazziti from the University of Pisa, blood samples of couples that claimed to be madly in love for less than six months were comparable to the blood samples of patients who have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Furthermore, newly love-struck couples often idealize their partner, magnify their assets and overlook flaws.

“It’s very common to think they have a relationship that is closer and more special than anyone else’s.” ~ Ellen Berscheid

Oxytocin

Next, a couple decides upon exclusivity, engagement, living together or marrying. The attachment of the twosome instigates the powerful hormone, oxytocin.

Oxytocin is released during childbirth and creates the bond between a mother and her child. The chemical is also secreted by both of the sexes during cuddling, hugging, and sex.

Oxytocin is important because couples that exhibit high doses of oxytocin have a strong bond and attachment that can withstand the ups and downs of life. For the release of oxytocin, it takes between 19 and 23 seconds. Thus to ensure your couplehood survives the test of time; hug, cuddle and have sex regularly.

Vasopressin

Finally, vasopressin sets the stage for long-term committed couples. The hormone is released after sex and like oxytocin creates stable bonding with your partner. Vasopressin also creates the actions of devotion and protection.

The stages of a relationship change as do the release of chemicals in the brain. The surge of dopamine in the initial lustful state creates a rush of pleasure that stimulates, even more, desire and reward. Adrenaline causes the physical reaction of sweaty palms, racing heart, and dry-mouth.

Serotonin creates those compulsive, idealizing thoughts of your partner and oxytocin makes for strong bonds. Finally, vasopressin deepens the connection and generates long-lasting love.

Therefore it is possible to love and to be in love with your partner ‘til death to us part.’ Give your loved one a 30-second hug every day to ensure your love lasts.

If your bond is broken, your trust shattered, or your connection lost, couples counseling can help to mend bonds, build trust and connection again. Call (424) 258-5416 or email april@aprilwrighttherapy.com and let’s get started.