The Random Acts of Kindness Challenge Update Nov 29th

It has almost been a month since I posted this blog.  Officially, this week marks Random Acts of Kindness week.  As we move closer to the Christmas season many of us are seeing  requests from various charities for their financial support.  Why not take the time to buy some non-perishable food items and drop them off at a local Safeway or buy a child a toy or teddy bear and donate it to a store collecting gifts for children.

If you have any winter coats, blankets, gloves or scarves you no longer use wash them and donate them to a local charity collecting winter clothing items.

I challenge you, the reader to commit a random act of kindness once a week for one person or family until Christmas.  One can get really creative with this but you cannot divulge who you are or take credit for ir.

Some ideas I came up with are:

Shovel someone’s walk before they get home from work.

If you go through a drive thru coffeeshop or fast food place, give the person at the window a $5,00 bill and tell them to use it for the next person.

Leave an envelope of money in a grocery cart.

If you know someone that is really struggling financially leave them a grocery store card in their mailbox or a box of canned food items, some used clothing, whatever you think they need.

Buy some cookies for some aged people in your neighbourhood and leave them on the step, ring the doorbell and run fast as to not get caught.

Drop off a bunch of older VHS movies to a senior center or nursing home.

This can be a fun way to help someone else and boost your level of happiness knowing that you made someone else fell good too.

Buy a few teddy bears, some fancy pencils, some children’s books and donate them to a school in your community where the kids are from low income homes.

Buy a christmas ornament, wrap it and leave it in the library with a card that says for you.

Got any old coats or blankets, take them to a local shelter drop off box and let someone who needs it, use it.

Give someone a plant in the spring.

Get some flowers delivered to a widower, include an uplfting quote on the card.

Anonymously donate money to the library for two yearly library cards for people who are low- income.

Please comment with your experiences and ideas.  I would love to read what you did.  Enjoy yourself and you will because you will be making someone else feel good to.

Secrets to the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

You definately are what you think.  Your thoughts and actions will influence your future.  We live in times in which uncertainty has become the norm but does it have to be?

The 20th-century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression “self-fulfilling prophecy” and formalizing its structure and consequences. In his book Social Theory and Social Structure, Merton defines self-fulfilling prophecy in the following terms: e.g. when Roxanna falsely believes her marriage will fail, her fears of such failure actually cause the marriage to fail.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning.  (1)

If you think it, so it shall be.

From Shakespeare to The Secret, the idea that our thoughts and  perceptions shape our reality is recognized as a powerful truth.   As the Bard  wrote, “[T]here is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Many of us grew up in dysfunctional homes in which we might have been told we weren’t going to amount to anything.  That we were “stupid”. “useless”, etc.  Some of us grew up surrounded by family members that were abusing alcohol or drugs.  Lacking a healthy level of confidence or self worth, we believed what others said about us.  Does this have to be a belief we allow to control us or influence our future?  No, it does not serve any purpose other than to oppress us and keep us frozen in the same spot.  To risk or try for many becomes too difficult.  I choose not to be the person that they predict that I will be.  One can defy the odds and all the negative comments.  I could expound on research studies that have been conducted on this topic but I prefer to tell you of my own experience and of others that have overcome adversity.

Self fulfilling prophecy applies equally to our own expectations of ourselves. If we believe that the situation will lead to failure we might not try hard enough and fulfill that prediction. On the other hand, if we expect ourselves to do well in certain tasks, we will often rise to the occasion.

This concept once again shows us the importance of self awareness. Being aware of our thoughts and attitudes towards certain people or situations allows us to examine the validity of those thoughts, and to adjust them appropriately to get the desired results. Mindfulness brings this unconscious mental habit into conscious awareness, thus providing an opportunity to change it.

In 2009, I embarked on an adventure which meant leaving my home and family to move to Vancouver Island.  My intention was to solidify a career utilizing my psychology degree and extensive work experience.   After several years trying to attain full-time employment in the helping professions and many interviews where I was told that I would be their 2nd choice, I knew I needed to change direction.  I wanted to try a new place; create an opportunity to succeed.   I kept my mind open to all the possibilities.  What I had in my favour was a place to stay and one job interview.  I did not see the obstacles, I saw the possibilities only. I did not allow any negative thoughts to enter my mind.  I did get the job I was interviewed for although part-time and on a casual basis I did succeed at what I set out to do.  I came home several months later as work began to slow down there but I still succeeded!  I did not fail at all.  Sometimes one has to move outside the box to succeed.

My adventure taught me many things about myself and life.  I was capable of working and living on my own, I enjoyed working at the company I was employed at and I felt strong, empowered and hopeful.  I could have gone the other way after so many job rejections and said they were right!  I won’t amount to anything or I will be a drunk like my Dad or whatever they said.  Frankly, I have learned to forget much of what they said..  And who are they to me anyway?  A friend of mine told me once ” Look at the character of the one who judges you, often they would benefit more by looking at themselves in a mirror.”

Another example is using positive thinking to control pain.  If I am angry or frustrated pain will manifest itself in my body in my most vulnerable spots.  My stomach will tighten and swell (IBS), my neck,shoulders and back will start to tense up and cause me discomfort.  Negative emotions/thoughts can be harmful to our bodies and minds.

Just because you were raised in a war zone does not mean one has to keep the war alive today.   I have a few friends that have seen some horrific things in their lives growing up in Africa or in war torn countries such as Bosnia and they are the most uplifting, kind and positive people I know.

Victor is better than victim!

Some tips to stay positive and focused in your life:

1.Let go of the old thinking patterns.  If you find you are doubting yourself immediately stop!  Tell yourself ” you can and will do it.”  Keep a notebook with some of the negative thoughts you are thinking and analyze where these thoughts originated.  This will allow you to review their origins and let them go once and for all.

2. Find seven or eight affirmations that you can repeat several times daily to keep you motivated.

3.  Associate with people that support your goals and dreams.

4. Eliminate exposure to people that have ridiculed you in the past.  One may have family or friends that are instilling those old negative patterns that will only make it harder for you to be the success you were meant to be.

 

REFERENCES:

1. Merton, Robert K (1968). Social Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free Press. pp. 477. ISBN 978-0-02-921130-4. OCLC 253949.

About me:  I have two degrees: one in Psychology and the other in Journalism. I am a free-lance writer, animal lover, poet, blogger and a part-time herbalist student who lives in Alberta, Canada.

 

Strategies for Strengthening Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself as a person. Those with high self-esteem believe that they are adequate, strong and worthy of a good life, while those with low self-esteem feel inadequate and worthless. Low self-esteem can develop in childhood and continue throughout adulthood, causing great emotional pain. Therefore, it’s important to develop a healthy, positive sense of self.

Low self-esteem has been linked to depression and/or anxiety. If your emotions feel overpowering or out of control, one way to build self-esteem around this issue is to learn to manage your mood and gain control over your feelings. Some people are able to do this with the help of friends and family. Others need to work with a mental health professional to manage the problems that lie beneath the surface of low self-esteem.

Strategies for Strengthening Self-Esteem

Recognize how you’re attacking yourself. Identify what you may be doing to perpetuate your low self-esteem. For instance, you might find that you are surrounding yourself with toxic people who further lower your self-esteem. You may not be aware that others talk down to you. Some people don’t voice their needs/wants and let others speak for them.

Once you can recognize the ways you sabotage yourself, you can work through them. Take the initiative and start voicing your needs. If you’re finding you are too passive, learn ways to become more assertive.   Start small: Ask your partner to turn the television down, say no to an event you don’t want to attend or something that is being asked of you that you do not want to do.

Identify and challenge self-critical thoughts. Certain distorted thought patterns enable low self-esteem. A common distortion is personalizing things; one example is seeing yourself as more involved in negative events than you really are.  Maybe you take full responsibility for your spouse’s medical conditions, or for your boss’s anger.

Remember that you may be able to influence someone’s behavior but you certainly didn’t cause it nor are you necessarily responsible for it.

You also can learn to challenge other negative thoughts, such as: “I’m a loser,” or “I can’t do anything.”

Find out who you are. A healthy self-esteem also means having a quiet happiness about who you are, but first you need to know who that person is. Each individual must determine his/ her own values, principles, and moral standards and live by them

What do you value in life? What matters to you? Once you can pinpoint your values, you might even realize that the very things you beat yourself up about have nothing to do with your goals. One example is a man I know who berated himself for not earning a high enough salary and felt he was letting his family down. But when we explored his goals and dreams, he realized that helping others and spending time with his family were more important than earning a specific income.

A healthy self-esteem doesn’t mean thinking you’re flawless; it means knowing realistically what you need to work on and making the necessary changes.  If you’d like to be more social, you could join a social club, volunteer, or start a new hobby.  If you don’t like that people walk all over you, research material on establishing appropriate boundaries.

Learn what lights you up. People with low self-esteem often have a long can’t-do list. Start a what you can do list.

For instance, a friend of mine saw herself as a shy person but wanted to try stand-up comedy.  I encouraged her to join a local group of amateur female comedians.  She thoroughly enjoyed it and still attends on a monthly basis.  She tells me that this is the best thing she ever did and her self-esteem has soared.

Accept your imperfections. Think of your best friend, partner or kids. Why do you love them? Undoubtedly it has little to do with their flawless traits. We don’t wait to love others until they’re perfect.

“Love is a choice and a commitment that we make each day, despite our imperfections.

Take Good Care of Yourself

Another way you can build your self-esteem is to take very good care of yourself. You may take very good care of others and put your own personal care last. You may be so busy that you don’t take the time to do the things you need to do in order to stay healthy. You may feel so badly about yourself that you don’t bother to take good care of yourself anymore.

Practice healthy habits. It’s important to prepare your brain — maximizing the health, function and receptivity to new learning of neurons — before studying new skills. This includes feeding your body nutritious foods, participating in physical activities, getting enough sleep and treating medical or psychological conditions.  For example, if one has been shamed by physical abuse, it is  critical to heal the emotional wounds first before trying to get to a more positive place.

Some of the things you can do to take good care of yourself include:

•Eating three meals a day that are focused on healthy foods—fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as whole grain foods and rich sources of protein like chicken and fish.

•Avoiding foods that contain large amounts of sugar, caffeine and food additives. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you may want to avoid it.

•Getting outside and exercising every day.

•Spending some time each day doing something you really enjoy.

•Spending time each day with people who make you feel good about yourself.

•Having regular check-ups with your health care providers.

Again, having a positive self-esteem isn’t selfish. It’s important for leading a fulfilling, healthy life, which in turn helps you help others.

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

~ Judy Garland

Images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Gratitude Quotes By Maya Angelou & Betty White

In a recent interview with Maya Angelou  by Dawn Reiss – Maya stated:  “I’m grateful for being here, for being able to think, for being able to see, for being able to taste, for appreciating love – for knowing that it exists in a world so rife with vulgarity, with brutality and violence, and yet love exists.  I’m grateful to know that it exists.  &  “In the midst of hard times, you have to say, ‘I know this will not last forever.’ No matter how bad it gets, I’m always grateful to know that I don’t have to stay with the negative. I don’t have to continue in this climate of cynicism. I may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I know there is one,”

“It’s [old age] not a surprise, we knew it was coming – make the most of it. So
you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a
little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain,
gratitude should be the name of the game.”
Betty
White

Phillips Brooks
Stand up, on this Thanksgiving Day, stand upon your feet.  Believe in man.  Soberly and with clear eyes, believe in your own time and place.  There is not, and there never has been a better time, or a better place to live in.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon
You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.

What is a greater priority in your life: happiness or success?

While it is possible to attain both, we often sacrifice one for the other when making major life decisions such as what career to pursue, whether to move to the suburbs or to the country, to afford a bigger house, or work part-time and be a stay at home Mom/ Dad, even if it means getting less work done.

People appear to be working more than ever now that we are all armed with cellphones and can be reached at all hours of the day.  When we are receiving business calls beyond our work hours the line between work and personal life can become blurred.  Some of us are becoming overloaded and reassessing our lives in search of more quality time for ourselves and with our families.

   Does Increased Income Improve Happiness?

Research that examines the correlation between income and happiness has found that increased income has a very small correlation with happiness for most people.  The exception is  people who live in poverty conditions where more money provide basic necessities like food, shelter, and transportation.  Once people reach the middle class stage however, additional income tends to have little effect on one’s happiness.

While winning the lottery may provide an immediate boost in happiness, studies suggest that  lottery winners return to a level close to their baseline happiness in about one year.  One can find that too much money comes with additional stressors while others have been broke within 6 months of winning the lottery as well.  We’ve all heard stories of the miserable millionaire or the unhappy but successful professional.  This finding suggests that it can be a big mistake to pursue a career primarily to gain a higher salary over a career that you intrinsically enjoy.  It appears that the level of job satisfaction often out weighs the higher salary.

The science of happiness, which is known as positive psychology, basically studies human behavior and positive emotions with the aim of determining what factors can result in an increased level of happiness. Conclusions from this research can provide interesting insights into how we can maximize our happiness.

Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi coined the name “flow” for the idea of engaging so deeply in an activity that you lose track of time.   The Happiness Hypothesis describes flow as the “state of total immersion in a task that is challenging yet closely matched to one’s abilities.   It is what some people  refer to “as being in the zone’”.  Finding activities which lead to a state of flow for you, such as playing a sport or writing a blog/book, and allocating more time to these activities can lead to a more enjoyable career and life.

As one gets older, people tend to evaluate the time they spend at work versus the time they would like to use to enjoy life, perhaps opting to travel or seeing the grandchildren more often.  The passage of time influences our decisions and what may make us happy today may not be as important later in life.

In, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, In 1960, Jung was interviewed by journalist Gordon Young, who asked, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?” Jung answered:

“1. Good physical and mental health.

2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.

3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.

4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.

5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.”

The more consciously aware I am of my happiness, the happier I will become. These five factors Jung outlined above can strengthen those elements of my life, I make myself happier.   Jung also noted that there is no guarantee in maintaining happiness, I think it is always worth my best shot!

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” –Carl Jung

Happiness research may not provide the secret to achieving happiness but it can suggest ways in which we can potentially increase it.  The conclusions are often based on the “average person” so these ideas may not work for everyone.   However understanding the findings from happiness research and experimenting in your own life can help you determine what will ultimately lead to “the good life” for you.

I’m most happy when I’m doing something creative, such as writing, singing or even dancing – I don’t have any worries, I forget the planet.

 

The Inner Shift to Enlightenment

 

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. Buddha

 

Sometimes this inner shift comes with age but always through the attainment of knowledge.  One enters a period of enlightenment where the material world is no longer your focus.  An inner shift is when you realize that true abundance is much more about “being” than it is about “having,” “going,” “doing” and “getting.”   It is here, you discover to your great delight that your unconditioned self is made of everything you are trying to find in the world. Yes, you truly have it all.  Joy is your spiritual DNA.  Love is your original energy and your true nature is already free. Your true nature begins to materialize, you naturally experience a life that is rich in every way.

 

Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Morihei Ueshiba

Though you may travel the world to find the beautiful, you must have it within you or you will find it not. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quote of the day

 

Quote of the day:

    Independence is dependence on self in all aspects of your life. Take care to look after yourself and not at the expense of others. Be kind and compassionate to a point, let people do what they need to do, that is how they grow to take that away is not your right to do so.  Independence is not codependence. I am who I am and you are who you are neither of us should lose who we are to be WE. Stand up for yourself, keep up the good fight, otherwise you will lose respect for yourself as people will lose respect for you.

A. H. Penn  (c) 2011.