Tag Archives: reasons for living

Happy

21 Sep

The word “Happy” in itself creates a warm feeling some words just sound like they look or provide the feeling that we get from experiencing it. “Balloon” is another example of that “Jelly” is cool and “Bubble” too,We could go on.

Well to stick with the word “Happy” something we all love as you know. I came across a documentary about happiness in our world that asks the questions.

Does money make you HAPPY? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in a world that values and promotes happiness and well-being? Are we in the midst of a happiness revolution?

Roko Belic, director of the Academy Award® nominated “Genghis Blues” now brings us HAPPY, a film that sets out to answer these questions and more. Taking us from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the villages of Okinawa, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.

I thought it would be nice to watch it at our local theatre  at the Art Centre here in Carlow.

So I contacted the producers and with the support of Michelle de Forge from Visual Carlow I am bringing Happy to Carlow.

In conjunction with My company Wake Up! and Carlow Mental health We are bringing some sunshine to Carlow on Sunday the 30th Of Sept at 8 pm.

It is a chance to forget the worries and stresses of this recession hit world and join some upbeat like-minded people for an evening of happiness.

Look forward to seeing some smiling faces there.

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Lessons for Living- Wow! your world

12 Sep

As Summer comes to a close we can feel a drop in the temperature in the mornings. This is a time of year that I love. You can almost feel the change of the seasons in the air like a clearing or a cleansing.

I love the Summer but there is something wonderful about accepting and welcoming the Autumn. We are lucky in this part of the world to experience seasons. Four times a year we get to welcome change and that is good.

It is a times like this that I really appreciate summer. We may have not had the driest or warmest of summers but what can you do. We live on a rocky green Island in the North Atlantic ocean it’s never going to be the Maldives. You have to learn to adapt and we are good at adapting.  The Atlantic seas of West Kerry and Clare this summer were full of people in wet suits swimming, surfing and jumping through waves in temperatures and weather conditions most people wouldn’t consider leaving the house in. We have realized it is cold in the Atlantic. Yet we are blessed with beautiful beaches and surf how can we spend longer in the water simply purchase a wet suit and the day is yours.

The people of Iceland always amaze me too. If we think we have it bad in Ireland just look at Iceland. A volcanic, treeless rock in the far northern Atlantic ocean,with dark cold winters and not very warm grey summers.

Yet Icelanders have a great outlook to life. They recognize that where they live is exactly what I stated but they understand that it is their home and they accept that they cannot change it. Iceland is another country that rates quite highly on the happiness index. Many of them call it the “Beast” because of Iceland’s strange but wondrous beauty.

Icelanders do not spend time thinking about where else they could be. They live with what they have. Icelanders read more books than any other population in the world. They have a keen interest in the arts with at least 87 music schools. Not bad for a population of 320,000. They are also blessed with the highest birth rate in Europe. So you can see they keep busy in the cold winter months rather than twiddling their thumbs looking out at the snow.

The happiest countries in the World, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden are all harsher countries than most to survive in (just ask the Vikings) but have an abundance of people who love where they live.

Where am I going with this.Life is all about appreciating what you have and what is around you. Something we fail to do for most of waking lives. One thing I love to do on my courses is a WOW! walk. Here we take 10 or 15 minutes with the group and go out into nature and look at our world with a positive lens. We point out all the wonderful scents we might have normally failed to notice or the colours of a church stained glass window or flowers in a garden. We look at architecture in a different light and even the sky seems more beautiful not matter what shade of colour it is.

Autumn provides us with beautiful colours and a chance to prepare for the winter and bright clear beauty that it often provides.

No matter where you live it’s the mindset of the Irish in wetsuits surfing the winter seas or the Icelanders singing their way to happiness that will transform your view of the world you currently inhabit.

What should you do!. Embrace were you live and take a WOW walk at least once a week,allowing you to embrace…. rather than run from the wonderful changing seasons and world you live in.

Lessons for living- Wake Up! To You!

7 Sep

The most important person in your life is guess who? You!!
Remember that old adage if you can’t look after yourself than what good are you other people.
Traveling on airplanes we are always told that if the flight encounters trouble always apply your oxygen mask first before you tend to your kids.
Sounds selfish doesn’t it.
It’s the exact opposite, if you can’t breathe you are hardly going to be able to have the energy required to help your children when they need you most.
This is the same for all relationships that you encounter. If you don’t take care of yourself the relationship will be affected adversely on some level.
If you find it difficult to love yourself you will ultimately find it difficult to love someone else because you find fault within yourself and cannot understand how someone could love someone you don’t love yourself.Eventually you will slowly dismantle your relationship through feelings of unworthiness. Weird isn’t it!
If through abuse of your health you find that you struggle to be the parent your child would love you to be then make a conscious change.

What do you do then?
Spend some time on you and then you will be surprised how people around you react to the new confident you.

  • Think of one thing that you always wanted to do in life but you where afraid to do ?
  • Ask yourself if life had no obstacles such as time or money or commitments what is the one thing that you would love to do?
  • Commit to spending time on whatever it is that you would love to do.

If you spent twice a week concentrating on this dream. You would be guaranteed a different outlook to your life within a year or less. We are only truly happy when we spend time on activities and pleasures that make our heart sing. As my last post 5 regrets to avoid told us it is too late in the last stages of our lives to discover we regret having spent so much time on activities that we never enjoyed. Happiness is a choice it is up to you to decide if you want it.

“Life should be fun. Happiness should flow freely”

Wake up! to You!

Lessons for living- 5 Regrets to avoid.

30 Aug

As I was discussing in the past few articles the gems of Knowledge we learn from people who have lived their lives and have come to a realization that certain things in life matter more than others. I was taken with the words of the people who had taken part in Dr Karl Pillimers legacy project  on the thoughts of our elder friends and the wonderful conclusions that they had in life.

One Comment that recurred time and time again was the importance of “Saying it Now“. The only time you can share your deepest feelings is while people are still alive. Yet how often have so many of us failed to do this with Friends or especially parents or loved ones. This reminded me of a talk an article I did about a palliative care Nurse.

This Nurses name was Bronnie Ware and she cared for patients in the last 6 or so weeks of their lives. During this time with people who were confronting their own mortality and reflecting on their lives. She noticed that there were 5 regrets that kept recurring with all her patients. These regrets are interesting, when you think that these people have reached the final stages of their lives and are reflecting on what they would change.
* I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself not a life others wished of me.

When people’s lives are over it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. How often have we followed our parents footsteps into a world we have no interest in only to find our passion and zest for life being crushed as we try to please others. Find what you love to do and spend as much of your life doing it as is possible. Make it your Job!!. We are only happy when we spend time doing what we love to do. If you don’t want to be an accountant then don’t be. I am not trying to offend accountants but merely providing an example.

Most people have not honoured half their dreams and have died knowing it was down to the choices they had or had not made.

* I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.

Many of us suppress our feelings in order to keep peace with others. As Irish people we are good at this. We are in a restaurant and are unhappy with our meal. We tell everyone  at the table how unhappy we are. But don’t tell the people who served us the food because we don’t want to ruin the night or cause a fuss. We walk away from that restaurant kicking ourselves for not having the courage to say what we felt was right.

We are also not a great nation for expressing our feelings when we see wrong. Our economic collapse has been created by other forces yet we end up paying for it. We are not good at taking to the streets or expressing how we feel to the right people.

“If you think you are too small to be effective you have never been in bed with a mosquito” said Gandhi. If only more of us took that on board. as a result we are happy to settle for a mediocre existence.

* I wish I didn’t work so hard.

Every single male patient said this!!. They all said that they wished they had spent more time with the people they cared about most doing the things they loved. Life is not, Birth, School,Work ,Death. It’s much bigger than that.

* I wished I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is so easy to let relationships slip. Remember this! We choose our friends, that is the power and beauty behind friendships.

But as the final weeks of our lives stare us in the eye it is not money or success that matters but love and our friendships.

* I wished I had let myself be happier.

Life is full of events. We get stung by bees, relationships end, we crash cars, we lose jobs.That’s just life! it is how we interpret these events that make the difference. We can see it as another knock in what you expected to be a perfect life or you can see it as a chance to grow from your experience.

Many do not realise that happiness is a choice. Fear of change only strengthens that unhappiness.

What an interesting insight from the people who are most qualified to understand what it is like to stand on the precipice with one foot stepping into the unknown and the other leaving behind the past they created.

Lessons for living-Think small

23 Aug

We have spent the past week talking about the reasons for living that Gerontologist Dr Karl Pillimer compiled from talking to 1200 elderly people. People who have lived their lives and looked back and realized what contributes to a happy, fulfilling existence. Some of us may realize that the path we are taking through our lives does not correlate with what those that have experienced life and might have a greater panorama about how life works. We have talked about the importance of connections with others in relation to our wellbeing, we also talked about how travel is a wonderful way to open us up to situations and worlds that we might never have experienced if we had not left our couches. The first day we talked about the importance of looking after our health at a young age it will matter a lot once we get older and how worrying about what most likely will never happen only taints our present experiences negatively.

All our lives we have been thought to think big and there seems to be something wonderful about the imagined possibilities that we can achieve once we dream. The huge house, the sports car, the overburdened bank account, the super dooper yacht, the life of leisure, or life as a celebrity or oil magnate.

But what would happen if suddenly…. you were to think.. small. If you were to find wonder in the small things that life has to offer, the beautiful sight of sun dappling through your windows on a sunny morning, the softness of your pillow when so many in the world do not have them. The smell of freshly brewed coffee, the smile from a passing stranger or the scent of fresh-cut grass at the start of summer. The list could go on and on as it regularly does in my classes .It is when we value the beauty and intricacies of the small wonders in life that the outstanding moments become even more memorable.

A good example of this is Denmark and its people. The Danish people over the past 30 years have time and time again polled as the happiest nation on the planet followed by countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden and Netherlands.

A Danish Professor Kaare Christensen  decided to look into why the Danes always polled so high in the World Happinesss report. He noted that ” In countries like Italy and Spain people have much higher expectations for what the coming year will bring, but they are not especially happy or satisfied with their existence”.

He suggests that Danes take a more realistic view of life ” Year after year we’re just happy things didn’t go as badly as we feared”. In truth Danish expectations are pretty modest. They don’t seek to change the world or dominate it. They are just Happy to be.

The Danish football team had not made it to the 1992 European cup they were beaten into second place by Yugoslavia a team that was to be withdrawn from the tournament ten days before it started due to international sanctions. Denmark quickly had to reassemble their players many who were now on holiday with their families. They arrived at the tournament and proceeded to advance from their group ahead of France and England. Beat the Dutch in the semi finals and then win the final with a 2-0 result against the mighty Germany. The country was ecstatic no one expected this to happen which made it all the more glorious.

As Kaare Christensen says” If you are doing pretty well and once in a while your outstanding you’re pretty happy about it but if you’re starting point is you should be outstanding that’s not good”.

By having low expectations one is rarely disappointed. We live in a world where our expectations are very high all the time  “If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well” we hear. We set targets for ourselves were we say that failure is not an option or that until something is perfect we are not happy about it. We constantly have to be a 10 when most of the time a 6 or 7 is ok . It is important that we understand that it’s ok to be ok. Because when we strive to be the best all the time and don’t achieve it what do we feel?

We have seen the joy on the faces of the Olympic athletes who have won gold and the desperation on the faces of some that have won silver to the delight at those that have won bronze. Studies have proven this.  Those that won silver are feeling the disappointment of being so close to the worlds greatest. Those that won bronze ( like the Danish football team) might not have expected a medal at all and are ecstatic with their result.

Sometimes when we strive for goals in life we fail to see the wonder or the awesomeness of our life in the present for a feeling in the future. If you achieve your goal that is fine if you don’t achieve your goal that is also fine. Enjoy the journey.

We all know of examples of business that were very successful that turned over a profit and kept their staff with a comfortable salary who decide on World domination only to fold completely within a few years.

Remember that life is more than achieving goal after goal and feeling that perfection should always follow you and everything in life must be a 10. As I tell all people who attend my workshops…. sometimes it’s ok to be just…ok!

Lessons for living -Travel more

21 Aug

As someone who has just returned from 10 days travelling and surfing the West coast of Ireland I can vouch for this. Travelling opens us up to activities and experiences that remain within our memory for a very long time. Not only do these memories stay with us but the happiness that we experience from meeting new people (remember we love to make social connections) and exploring new environments and cultures make some of the highlights of our lives.

Some of the greatest stories that we tell about our lives are the stories we experienced while travelling. All the Elders that had come to the latter part of their lives realized that travelling more was a great contributor to happiness in life. I am only thinking of the people I met while hostelling in Doolin Co Clare last week from Germany Italy , France and Austria that I would not have met if I had not left my sitting room couch. Similarly the beauty and memories of an ice cold Prague in February or a sun drenched Turkish holiday to some of the worlds most amazing archaeological sites would not have been realized. Sitting in the Roman arena in Verona with 20,000 other people as the opera is about to commence or surfing on the Australian East coast in beautiful warm waters are also treasured. Travelling by train across the southern alps in New Zealand or riding a bike with my daughter around the beautiful walled city of Lucca in Italy.

Not all flowed so easily  though like having no visa in Johannesburg for a flight to Australia. Losing my credit card on a hung over morning in Ko Samui in Thailand with 18 hours travelling ahead and no money at all to pay the exit tax from Thailand. Those experiences stay with you forever and become moments in your life that you can dip in and out of. They are the blueprints of a lived life.

If necessary you should sacrifice other things to ensure that travel becomes a large part of your life. It also allows you to experience life outside your comfort zone and this is where you grow.

As older people in Dr Karl Pillimer’s research the legacy project have said “Most people look back on their travel adventures as highlights of their lives, If you have to make decisions whether you want to remodel your kitchen or take a trip- well then take a trip.”

Lessons for living – Connections

14 Aug

The one contributor to unhappiness in later life is the loss of connections with other people.

As we get older social connections can be more difficult to maintain.  Friends move in and out of our lives or pass away. We retire and miss the camaraderie we experienced with our workmates or the interactions with our customers. We look at our partners and wonder what connection we had all those years ago.

We lose touch with what matters… Other people.

We know that having social connections is a strong predictor of our health.

What is the key: we need to get involved in social networks  and meaningful roles. All life needs a purpose. Volunteering is a good way to participate in a positive way. We feel better when we contribute to helping others and giving something back.

Being isolated when you reach old age is not good for us. Remember this when you are moving through your life. Connecting with others is the one thing that us as humans yearn for. I see the importance of this constantly in my programmes. Be mindful as you slowly discard relationships that were once important to you in life.

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