Make a Difference Rotating Header Image

May, 2010:

Happiness – The New Frontier

You see it everywhere you turn, happiness as a lifestyle choice, a new frontier.  Most of us navigate our lives from day to day with circumstances dictating what priorities move up and down the list.  When it comes to simple priorities of our lives that can make a difference, that can make us live happier, many of us tend to muddle through.

Often, too often, work and the other priorities that life throws at us come before our own needs.  Recreation, relaxation and fun become scheduled events.  Managing a complex lifestyle takes a lot of thinking and a lot of doing.  Fun and relaxation, in our work ethic world are unfortunately often relegated to a lower priority.  Our bodies and our minds were not designed to swim in a stress rich environment.  When it comes to stress, a little goes a long way.

Unfortunately, we cannot eliminate the things that cause us stress.  Rush hour, financial concerns, relationships, parenthood, health and other things that can induce stress will always be there.  We tend to ignore the stress induced symptoms until we are having trouble coping.  The result is that we end up less happy and stressed out.  Our health suffers and we pay the price on a very personal level.  The quick fix is part of our culture and we look for it.  We seek miracle solutions without doing anything to relieve the underlying cause and effect and end up facing the same situation over and over.

The power of making a conscious decision to live happy, and the simple things that we can do to make a difference for ourselves are overlooked.  Letting someone ahead of you in line, learning a new language, completing or starting a project, turning off the TV, taking a daily walk, meditating and writing an old fashioned letter that requires a stamped envelope can be cathartic.  These are simple things that can manage or relieve stress – they can direct you toward the new frontier.  Remember the old prayer that goes something like – Lord help me to change the things I can, to accept the things that I cannot and to know the difference.

Everything you perceive occurs now, in the present.  Living in the present, in the moment – making the best of circumstances that you cannot control and choosing to be happier are within your control.  When you control your behavior, these destabilizing influences don’t affect you in the same way.  Think of it like taking a few deep breaths and relaxing your immediate tensions.  Do not let yourself react in a negative way, it will just fuel the fire. 

Living the moment and accepting what you cannot control improves your outlook.  Consider it for what it is – a behavioral lifestyle choice.  You alone have the power to determine ways that can make you live happy.  Life will not deny you stress…life creates it.   You have the tools to control stress and things that keep you from living a happier life.  What you think, what you believe and your behavior are your dominion.  These are the only things that you can control.  Either circumstances that you cannot control will drain your happiness, or you can be your own master.  The ultimate choice to live happy or to not live happy is yours. 

Smile, laugh, open the door for someone, sing out loud in the shower, dance to the music when you are alone or with your partner, do not let worry become obsessive, slow down.  If you have a dusty bucket list – do something on it and don’t let the virtual world replace the real one.  Exercise as often as you can, and be grateful for all the good things in your life.  A new happier frontier awaits you.  The good thing is that you can begin right now – what have you to lose aside from the stresses of life?  Hope to see you there soon.

Meditation: Why Me? Why You?

What is meditation? 

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, one definition of meditation is “the act of meditating.”  And thank you very much Mssrs. Merriam and Webster!   Searching further, I found the following:

Intransitive verb:
1 : to engage in contemplation or reflection
2 : to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness

Transitive verb:
1 : to focus one’s thoughts on : reflect on or ponder over
2 : to plan or project in the mind

Synonym:  Ponder

I did some research on the internet about meditation and found there are many forms of meditation.  Most of the world’s ancient and current religions practice  meditation, whether they call it that or not.  In Catholicism, using the rosary to pray is considered meditation.  Praying in most churches is also a form of meditation.  The historical Buddha was said to have achieved enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree.  In Buddhist mythology, there were twenty eight Buddhas and all of them used meditation to make spiritual progress.  In Hinduism, the word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit yuj, which means “to control,” “to yoke,” “to unite” and refers to techniques and disciplines of asceticism (the condition or practice of self-denial) and meditation which lead to spiritual experience.  The practices of Yoga help one to control the mind and senses so the ego can be transcended and the true self experienced, leading to liberation.  Meditation in Hinduism is not confined to any school or sect and has expanded beyond Hinduism to the West.

To learn more about the different religions, including Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, Taoism, Judaism and others, as well as the use of meditation, Wikipedia .com is a good place to start.

During my research I found one website that said, “an ordinary person may consider meditation as a workshop or prayer.  But it is not so.  Meditation means awareness.  Whatever you do with awareness is meditation.  ‘Watching your breath’ is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation.  As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.”

The word meditation is derived from two Latin words:  meditari (to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal).  Its Sanskrit derivation “medha” means wisdom.

Meditation in the west has become popular and more commonplace than ever before.   We can probably all benefit from the exercise of meditation in some form. 

My story, explained briefly in our book, “30 Ways to Happier Days” is something I share repeatedly with others because I like to say that meditation saved my life.  That might be a bit dramatic, but my daily bread was one of stress, pain and struggle to find relief.   I know that others are suffering the way I did and I feel strongly that meditation can help relieve their physical and mental discomfort.  Everyone should have some way to meditate.

My recent research revealed that meditation can bring about healing of both the body and the mind by using deliberation of thought and consideration.  There are various physical benefits such as decreasing blood pressure and an improvement in breathing due to the increased air flow that gets into the lungs.  Chemicals in the body that are associated with stress are lower as well, which leads to less anxiety.  It is also purported to promote youthful skin and a youthful appearance. 

Many years ago I purchased a book on how to meditate and tried it, albeit not for very long – because it was difficult.  I just couldn’t quiet my mind and concentrate on breathing the way I was “supposed” to.  I gave it up after a short while.  Before I found the form of meditation that saved me, I pretty much thought meditation was for others – new agey, yogaish (my made up word), hippies, or free spirits, and definitely not for run of the mill, “ordinary” people like me.  

I was wrong.  But to my good fortune, I happened to stumble on a meditation website when I was investigating how to become more successful in my new business venture.  I wasn’t looking for a cure for my daily back pain and stomach issues or to learn how to meditate – I had tried it and wasn’t interested.  However this website was about meditation that could change the neural pathways of the brain and thus make me “smarter.”   I certainly needed that!  I decided to investigate and I ended up ordering the program.  The GRAND upside was that after a few weeks of use, my physical symptoms – the stiff neck I had lived with for over three years was gone.  It was g-o-n-e.  Wow.  What had I stumbled onto here?

The relief from the aggravating stiff neck gave me enough impetus to continue the meditation.  And after all, I DID want to become smarter.  That, after all, was my initial reason for trying the program.  The guidelines for using this meditation were that daily, committed use would garner the results I was seeking.  So, being the good student that I am, I followed the instructions and after about two years of daily use, my chronic, lower back pain was just a memory.  My periodic painful stomach episodes also went away.  Side benefits were that I felt more peaceful and less stressed out.  I didn’t get as upset about things anymore.  I felt more in touch with others and my surroundings.  Side note:  I can’t say I’m any smarter than before, still waiting, but maybe I am smarter for continuing with the meditation program.   Not surprisingly, most of the symptoms that meditation changed for me were stress induced.

It’s important for me to tell you that I had gone to doctors with my symptoms and endured every test imaginable – all with the same result.  I was in perfect health. 

If you’re wondering what this meditation program is and how to access it, go here now.   I highly recommend this to anyone, whether you’re experiencing the types of symptoms I had, dealing with some emotional or psychological issues, or if you’re just looking to relax a bit and take life more slowly.  Centerpointe Research’s Holosync Meditation literally rescued me because I realize now that all of my symptoms were stress related.  Continuing on the path I was on is now unthinkable. 

The knowledgeable people at Centerpointe can give you better information than I have, but this is my testimonial as a proponent of their life-saving meditation program.  It has meant so much to me and I know it will for those who embrace it.

Regardless of how you choose to meditate, I firmly believe that it is a positive and can bring peace and happiness to you.  As always, the choice is yours and the benefits as well.