Thursday, August 30, 2012

Take a Sad Song and Make it Better

Lately I've been learning all sorts of fun tricks  in my Martha Beck class for dealing with life's hurdles, and although I've passed on the wisdom to several friends, I hadn't really been putting it to work in my own life until this week. One of the simplest techniques I've learned for turning painful tasks into slightly more benign—even fun—endeavors is brainstorming ways to BETTER them.

For example, when some of the clutter around my makeshift desk area was bugging me a few weeks ago, I decided to better my space by reorganizing it and adding a lovely bright orchid into my line of sight.

I cannot tell you what an impact that one little flower pot has had.

Surrounding ourselves with things we find beautiful is great way to elevate our moods. 

This week, I was feeling less than excited about a project I had to tackle for work, so I decided to run through my "bettering brainstorm list" and try to find something that would make it more enjoyable. I opted to listen to some fun, funky, ambient music on iTunes while I wrote.

That music made all the difference. 

A couple of times, I was literally dancing in my chair—a far cry from the hunched, tight-shouldered posture I often assume while I'm working.

I think music might be the single easiest way to improve an un-fun situation. 

Maybe it's not the same for everyone, but having an upbeat tempo to move to totally gave me a boost. Music can also take you out of your head a bit and ground you in the present moment. I've found that going to concerts for my favorite bands often feels like a spiritual experience. Church a la Coldplay or U2.

Another great way to better a situation you're not so excited about? Give yourself a reward when it's over. 

The rewards of choice around these parts are wine and chocolate. And man can they be motivating!

What things would you incorporate into your daily activities if you wanted to better them?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Finding Wonderful Through Wonder

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I took an empty notebook from my desk and started penning a "novel" about a young girl who went on a cruise and met a boy with whom she shared her first slow dance. I loved writing, and the idea that I could write something about relationships—even at such a young age—delighted me to no end.

When I wasn't writing, I gobbled up love stories in my teens then switched to relationship self-help books in my twenties and finally, in my early thirties, became fascinated with the relationships we have with ourselves. Relationships have long filled me with wonder and I can't seem to get enough information on them.

That kind of curiosity—the insatiable desire to just learn a little more—is the signage that marks the path to wonderful.

Think about it: Isn't pursuing your passion the same as indulging the things you wonder about? Tracking the things you just can't get enough of? Following our curiosity not only takes us on adventures, it can lead us to the most joyful of destinations. Following wonder can move us in the direction of the things we love. Wonderful things. And whenever you exude love and move toward love, you attract love right back at you.

What are there things you find yourself wondering about again and again? 

Are there hobbies you always make time for or magazines you always read or TV shows you never miss that might be trying to tell you something about your own path to wonderful? Looking at the things to which you devote your time can be such an eye opener when you're trying to navigate the path.

Open the door and take a closer look at your wonder. It may lead you right where you've always wanted to go. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life Beyond Tunnel Vision

When you're a decisive person (like I am) it's really easy to find yourself fixated on one idea of how things SHOULD work out for you. If you're a planner or a dreamer or a manifester, you probably spend lots of time mentally and physically sketching out your desired scenario, and when you think it begins to present itself, you want to hold onto it like a bass fisherman reeling in his biggest catch.

I did this more than once when I found a guy I liked. Particularly, Mr. Perfect-on-Paper. I was so convinced that he was the ONLY guy who would ever so precisely fit my criteria, I dug my fingernails in and put my man blinders on, pretty much the minute I met him.

Gripping one outcome so tightly not only has a tendency to energetically repel what you desire, it can also close you off to opportunity and hope.

I don't know if it was my desperate grasping that drove away Mr. P-o-P, or if he would have moved on no matter what, but I do know that my tunnel vision deprived me of being hopeful for quite awhile.

Believing there was only one way things SHOULD have worked out left me completely defeated when they didn't. 

I had a chance to re-learn this lesson last week when, in the midst of escrow on a house in Santa Ynez, my Mr. W and I hit a few bumps. My immediate reaction was to hold on tight and feel scared and sad that we might lose our dream home. But then I had the fortune of stumbling onto our real estate agent's website, and as I began looking at other options in the area, I felt renewed confidence that everything was going to work out.

I realized that I had been thinking things were supposed to go only one way, but maybe the Universe had something different in mind. Something better. Something I wasn't capable of understanding yet.

I loosened my grasp and opened my eyes wider to let new possibilities come into my line of vision.

The funny thing was—as soon as I let go, things started moving more smoothly with the original plan. 

Great lesson on having faith in the process.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Putting Pen to Paper and Praying for Rain

I read about a really fantastic idea on Martha Beck's blog last week for creating a manifesting journal. Apparently the idea was passed to her by Master Life Coach Bridgette Boudreau who learned it from Master Coach and Manifesting Guru Jeanette Maw. It's called a Pray Rain journal and you're supposed to write in it every day as though you're already living the life you want to live. As though you've already met the guy, gotten the job, moved to the new city, attained the goal.

Fundamental manifesting: Acting as though

I've done some exercises like this before—but never kept a dedicated journal for it. And although I've recently written "stories" about my dream life on a mini vineyard in Santa Ynez, I've yet to find out whether that life will come to fruition.

But I do know that writing down dreams and desires does something to the Universe. 

For example, the Mr. Wonderful list I made eventually spun itself into a husband that matched it. And the countries I've journaled about wanting to visit have gotten ticked off one by one. I even had a rather magical experience when I wrote the word "Approved" on a piece of paper while I was waiting to find out if Mr. W and I had gotten our health insurance policy this year.

I was worried because I'd been denied (thanks a lot, osteopenia) back in 2005, and thought that black cloud might follow me all the way into 2012. But as I sat with the phone to my ear, listening to the hold muzak, I focused hard on the word "Approved" and how full of love and relief I would feel when I got that news.

I acted as though it was already happening. 

And when the insurance rep got on the phone, she told me exactly what I wanted to hear.

I'm going to give this whole Pray Rain journal a shot. If the pen is powerful enough to bring me a husband and health coverage, a vineyard and a lucrative life coaching career can't be too far off—right?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Appreciating What You've Got Before It's Gone (Even if It's an Appliance)

In the past several weeks, our house has felt a bit like a refurbishing facility and a junkyard combo. While we've been tearing apart our backyard under the guise of re-landscaping, things in our house have been spontaneously falling apart. This isn't the first time this has happened. It seems that our home and the objects inside it have a tendency to fall into cycles of unrest...

Since sometime in June, my Mr. Wonderful has had to repair a sprinkler line that broke and became clogged, our dishwasher that decided to stop heating the water and drying the dishes, and our washing machine which sounded like someone dropped a boulder inside it during its spin cycle last week. The sprinklers and dishwasher have made full recoveries, but we had to invest in a new washer.

I teased Mr. W that the washing machine was his fault because last week he said he hated doing laundry. Hello, Negative Manifestation.

But today I started thinking that maybe our appliances need to be on the ever-growing list of things we're grateful for in our lives. It's easy to give thanks for health and happiness and family—or even silly specifics like the new red top I bought on sale or the orchid a friend recently gave me.

But perhaps we need to make concerted efforts to look around ALL the time and really be thankful for EVERYTHING.

I finally finished The Joy Diet today and in the final chapter, Martha Beck shares this old Sufi story:
Two men encounter each other walking on a country road. One of them, a wealthy nobleman, has a bag slung over his shoulder and a dejected expression on his face. The second man, a beggar, asks him why he's so depressed. "I'm looking for happiness," says the nobleman. "I've tried everything—I've had wealth, power, position, education, lots of women, but I'm still totally angst-ridden. So the other day I finally threw some stuff in a bag and set out to find myself."
"Ah," says the beggar. "I see." Then, without warning, he grabs the nobleman's bag and rushes off into the forest. He cuts through the rugged terrain until he's some distance ahead of his distraught victim. Then, when he sees the nobleman coming, he leaves the bag in the center of the road and hides behind a rock to watch. 
Naturally, when the rich man sees his bag, complete with everything he was carrying when he lost it, he goes crazy with joy—jumping around, singing hallelujah. The beggar, still hiding behind his rock yells, "Strange, what it takes for some people to find happiness." 
 As the old 80's hairband Cinderella song went: You don't know what you got 'til it's gone. 

Lightly petting everything in my home and whispering to it that I'm grateful may not only work to make me more joyful and appreciative, but will hopefully generate some positive juju that will keep all electronics and other apparatuses fully functioning. I'm definitely going to give it a try

Gratitude comes in many forms, doesn't it?!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's Your Latest Joy Trigger?

Last week, I posted a question on Facebook asking friends to share the small (and even weird) things that recently brought them joy. The responses ran the gamut, with joy sparkers like:
  • A burping contest with my kids
  • Watching teenagers put neon Post-It Notes all over a friend's car
  • Reading 50 Shades of Grey
  • Seeing a son's first smile
  • Booking a trip that requires a visa in addition to a passport
  • Watching a man in a fedora sing along to Tina Turner in his car
  • A 5lb pet Chihuahua who thinks it is the bodyguard to an 85lb Golden Retriever
  • Snuggles from a pet cat and insider "lingo" among family members
  • Kids who only respond when called by their nicknames
  • Hearing the excited voices of children when you're about to come through the door
  • Listening to a dirty comedian with a glass eye
  • Celebrating a family reunion with crazy costumes and wigs

My newfound joy came when I decided to perch myself on one of the retaining walls in our backyard and read for awhile. As I sat there, dangling my legs over the grass below, the late afternoon sun warming by back, I felt overcome by a sense of freedom and mild elation. For twenty whole minutes, I got to just hang out, carefree, wildly swinging my appendages like I was 9 again. It was delicious.

I've been reading the book The Joy Diet as part of my Martha Beck coaching coursework and it has further underscored the already important task of finding more joy in everyday life. Whether that means seeking a few more laughs on YouTube or DamnYouAutoCorrect between work meetings, or doing something scary or exciting to get my heart beating a little faster, or finding time to relax and dangle my feet over a wall in the backyard, it can all add up to better feelings between sunrise and sunset.

I know for me, scheduling some purposeful joy time has definitely shifted my overall mood. 

And if the Law of Attraction indeed rings true, creating space in your life for joy will only work to draw even more happiness your way.

So tell me, what would you do today if you wanted to bring more joy into your life?