Breathe, Be and Believe- Being Happy is Easy!
A year from now, your life will be different than it is today. It will be better or worse, but it most certainly will not be the same. Sounds a bit ominous, but being better or worse is completely up to you. It is as simple as breathe, be and believe.
In my last blog (https://reclaimyourjoy.guru/2018/09/22/your-heart-holds-the-key-to-unlock-joy-2/) I wrote about each of us having around 70,000 thoughts a day. I also wrote that for most of us, 80% of those thoughts are negative. So I ask you, if you have approximately 56,000 negative thoughts a day is it more likely that your life will be better or worse than today. Remember, it won’t be the same.
Let’s increase the odds of your life being better and let’s start now. Ready?
Well, this isn’t exactly a test, more of a mental-state thermometer. It is designed to measure where you exert the most emotional collateral. Here are some thinking points. Do you:
- Think about lost relationships Y _____ N ______
- Spend time on “what if _____” Y _____ N ______
- Fantasize about _______ Y _____ N ______
- Worry about ________ Y _____ N ______
- Admire a sunrise or sunset Y _____ N ______
Write down an estimate, in percentage of time you think you spend
In the past ____________
In the present ____________
In the future ____________
Some of us live primarily in the past. We lament over lost loves and relationships. Or, what if I had just gotten that job, or didn’t make some decision. Most of us spend quite a bit of time in the future. What if I get/ don’t get that promotion. If only I could have _____, then I’d be happy. If only I had more time or money.
Few of us spend significant time in the present.
Now, I know, you are getting ready to say, “Oh, another live in the present and I will be at peace article” To some extent, you are correct, but not completely. The common saying is;
“Being depressed is living in the past.
Being anxious is living in the future.
Being at peace, is living in the present”
It is hard to argue about the saying, most importantly because it is true.
Do your best to track your thoughts. When you begin thinking about a lost love or a future bill due date, are your thoughts complete sentences? Do they have a conversational flow to them? Probably not. Our thoughts tend to be fragments. Fragments followed by an emotion. The emotion is sadness, guilt or shame if they are thoughts of the past and fear, worry and anxiety if you are in the future.
Do emotions follow your thoughts about the past or future? Y _____ N _____
What are the emotions? For example: When I think of __________________ I feel __________.
Do this exercise several times with several different thoughts/ emotions. You will get some tough ones and some great ones.
What about living in the present?
Above all, living in the present allows us to recognize the miracles that occur around us. Because living in the present means that we do one thing at a time and we are mindful of what we are doing. Beside, doing this while we eat allows us to taste our food. If we practice mindfulness when we wash dishes, we will complete the task without the regrets of not finishing something at work or the worry of the upcoming rent or mortgage payment. Most importantly now is the only place we exist. And it is in our control. It is a good place to be. It is also a bit naive. The last statement is meant to be snide and jarring. Being present is the place to be but being present and joyous requires a couple of behavior changes.
Here a couple of gifts.
First gift: Let’s be present for a moment. That’s a gift in itself
Please go to the cupboard or the fridge and get yourself an allowable treat. A cookie, an apple, what it is isn’t important as long as it is a positive part of your life. Take a seat in your favorite spot. Get comfortable. Perhaps you can play some quiet music.
The following is a breathing technique known as 4-4-8 relaxation. When you are comfortable and ready, breathe in for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of four and then slowly exhale for a count of eight. Don’t force the exhale, slowly let your breath exit on its own. Do this three times.
Take the cookie or apple and hold it. Is it smooth, rough, cold or warm? What color is it. How does it feel in your hand. Hold it by your ear, roll it around or shake it. Does it make noise? (coconuts do! True story. Lol) Now place the treat under your nose. What is the smell? Does it stimulate thoughts? Pleasure? Notice the anticipation. Now take a bite. NOT THE WHOLE THING! 😊, just a bite, a nibble. Repeat, till satisfied.
If you look on YouTube you will find scores of videos showing you the same exercise, usually with a raisin. It is the classic mindfulness introduction. In itself it is mildly interesting. In total, it is fantastic!
Why? Because if you actually did what was asked of you, it would have taken about three minutes. And for those three minutes you would have not experienced regrets, shame, guilt, worry or anxiety. You would have been in the present. This exercise is an example of loving-kindness. Being present and aware is being kind to yourself. It may have been the only three minutes that you were kind to yourself today.
This is an example of mindful eating. Try doing this exercise for a few bites at every meal. Notice the experience of putting a fork into a salad, the crunch or the way the lettuce folds. Is the fork or knife warm or cold. What are the colors and smells. Take a moment to experience all of the flavors; salty, sweet, bitter. By the way, mindful eating has been shown to be effective in weight loss and weight maintenance. Using this process, even for a portion of the meal allows your brain to feel satisfied and full earlier so you eat less. You quit eating when satisfied.
Most noteworthy, the breath exercise brought you to being present so that you could fully experience the action of eating. Breathing is fairly common for most of us and on a very regular schedule. You might as well use this previously not thought of gift to your advantage. There are several ways.
Kerry, my wife, takes a healing breath every time she walks through a doorway.
I take a healing breath every time I have to wait. So, at a red light-breathe. Elevator-breathe. In line-breathe.
These actions constantly bring us back to the present.
Living only in the present does have it’s limitations if that is the only place you live. It could lead to a reckless life, living with no belief in consequences or responsibility. The next-gift is what I call living in the present-future.
At Reclaim your Joy! (https://reclaimyourjoy.guru) we believe and teach and counsel living a purposeful, joyous life. To do this, requires looking at the past and as needed, healing. We are about taking the healed you and embracing what shook you and thanking that part of you for the gifts provided.
Here is a case example. A client visited with severe rejection anxiety. The result was decades of alcoholism, failed relationships and lost opportunities. It ended in homelessness and sixteen months of shelter living. A painful childhood was the starting point for what happened as an adult. Working with hypnotherapy and meditation, our client came to recognize that his life of isolation actually provided some wonderful gifts that serve him well in his new life. Those gifts were first identified in the healing process and the confirmed though character strength analysis. The strengths include:
- A love of beauty and nature
- Resourcefulness and creativity
- Seeking and valuing knowledge and learning
What is present-future? Present-future is associating your desired emotion with your present self. It is envisioning the future, knowing it is possible and having the emotion be readily available now. In the last post, https://reclaimyourjoy.guru/2018/09/22/your-heart-holds-the-key-to-unlock-joy-2/ I introduced you to Matthieu Ricard, The Happiest Man on earth. Mr. Ricard can experience happiness and joy on demand.
The gift is an example that you can experience now. Read the instructions below and then relax.
Again, make yourself comfortable, in a quiet spot. A place where you feel safe and free to experience a pleasurable moment. Close your eyes and take a breath for a count of four. Hold for a count of four and slowly exhale for a count of eight. Do this three times and then let your breath come and go as it will.
As you breathe, allow yourself to journey to the most beautiful, safe place you have been or imagine. It could be the beach or the mountains, or perhaps your own backyard. It may be somewhere that only exists in your thoughts, but it is the perfect place.
Take a look all around you. What do you see? What are the smells and sounds. Is it cool or warm? What is the color of the sky? Are there birds or animals?
Now, when you are ready think of one thing you want. It may be a new house or your bills to be gone. Perhaps a new or healthy relationship. It doesn’t matter. Just imagine. Now, what is the feeling you have when you get it? Inclusion, safety, peace, trust, love?
That emotion is the present-future. It may have come to you easily. It may have been difficult or didn’t come at all. Regardless, it is the beginning of living in the present-future. It is the embodiment of your emotions being brought into clarity.
It is breath, being and believing.
In life, it is easy to get sidetracked. There are bills and jobs and kids and partners and judgements, regrets, lack of direction and just being stuck. We tend to lump all of that into “stress” without identifying what needs are we delaying or completely giving up by not making choices that serve us. It is possible to make compassionate choices that lead us to living our purpose with integrity and to do that in a way that attracts like-minded people and situations into our lives.
Kerry and I are available to assist in cleaning out the old, limiting beliefs you have carried your entire life. Those beliefs were instilled years or decades ago and they protected you. They gave you their gifts. But now they hold you back and no longer serve you. You will begin the move into the present-future.
You have the two gifts to help you begin to see the very real opportunity to move into a different life, where you make decisions based on your internal values. Use your breath to keep you present and away from the regrets of the past or the anxiety of the future. Your breath is your most available resource in keeping you present. This is “breath and being”.
Use your “perfect place” to identify what you want and the desired feeling. This begins the path to a purposeful life. This is the “believing”.
Kerry and I look forward to hearing from you. We each live a joyous, purposeful life and are truly blessed by everything that has come to us. Our mission is to help you live the life you want, free from limitations, comfortable in your decisions and filled with the joy you manifest.
Please visit us at https://reclaimyourjoy.guru. You can reach Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com. Both of us are available either in office or via Zoom. If you would like to reach out via phone, please call Kerry at 773-294-1924 or me, Jeff, at 312-783-2299.
PS- Please remember to be kind to yourself. Take a seat in a quiet safe place. Close your eyes. Complete the 4-4-8 breath exercise and then breathe peacefully. Visit your perfect place. It is always there.