Happiness is the Fruit of Being Present

What is happiness?  But how does one truly recognize happiness?

Gretchen Rubin in her book “The Happiness Project” brilliantly brings up the theory of “recognition”.  That “I know it when I see it” kind of thing.  In this case it would be “I know it when I feel it”.  Continue reading “Happiness is the Fruit of Being Present”

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Simply Happy – De-Clutter Your Life

This post is about how de-cluttering my life has put me on the right path…

Driving on the PCH one day, feeling fed up and frustrated with spending so much of my precious life in traffic, a wave of depression hit me as I stared blankly into the ass of the car in front of me.

I opened up my iPhone (my savior during times like these), went to the podcast app, and searched “Happiness”.  A podcast popped up called “Simply Happy” on TED Radio Hour (take a listen if you have a moment!).

As soon as I could focus my attention on something positive, my sad boredom dissipated into the vast Pacific Ocean next to me.  The drive suddenly became somewhat more pleasant.

This episode on TED Radio Hour  evolved into something that I wasn’t expecting, and its content completely aligned with what I was doing in my life at that moment in time. They were talking about how having less STUFF makes for a more lasting feeling of happiness in life.

But first, what is the source of our unhappiness??  The episode started with the results of a conducted study through an app called Track Your Happiness by Matt Killingsworth.  He found that MIND WANDERING is what we do 30% of our time, and is the main cause of unhappiness.

This means, that approximately 30% of our time, we are not present.  Not present with what we are doing, wishing we were somewhere else… This Mind Wandering is what I was doing most of the time in my car!

Then came my favorite part of “Simply Happy” – and interview with Graham Hill of LifeEdited.com.  A man who went from zero to millions, bought a house and filled it with stuff, but then finally found his happy zen in a 400 square-foot apartment with barely anything in it.

During this time, I was deliberately in the process of de-cluttering my life. I had just quit my office job, and temporarily returned to the quiet life of horse-back riding and making coffee.  Ends were not meeting and I still didn’t know what I wanted my life to look like, so without shame I moved back in with my mother to avoid paying rent.

This was the best decision I had made for myself in a long time- mainly because I was forced to get rid of all the pointless shit that I had accumulated over the years in order to move into her tiny apartment.

So much SHIT – papers from high school and college, things that I would never look at again for THE REST OF MY LIFE.  It was almost hilarious how much pointless crap had accumulated, seamlessly without my knowing.  Copies of bills that were 3 years old, etc. etc.  How did I end up with all this STUFF????

This calls into question of WHY we hang onto things we don’t need… I’ll be researching and writing more about that in the next few blog posts.

What I did save were the following: art that I had made in my  life, put into two scrap books and to be hung at the next place I settle down in.  A couple of photo albums I made as a kid, a box of books I hold dear to me (don’t worry, these will probably be gone soon too), and some family heirlooms that hold our history. And obviously my clothes.

Here is the most important thing I realized after de-cluttering my possessions: I had more mental space to think about what is most important to me, and to take action on that.  

Travel, friends, and family were revealed to be my top three values.  I booked trips to New York, South America, and Asia, to see family and experience new cultures. Now that I wasn’t spending all my money on and apartment and pointless things that ADDED clutter to my life, it became way more possible!

(Also, most people also don’t have the option of moving back in with the parents, so thank you Mommy for letting me move back in!!!  I can’t deny that I am a very privileged white girl with a loving family.  So that helps… )

The main lesson at hand: de-cluttering your life at the material level clears mental, emotional, and physical space so that you are more able to focus on what you really care about.

So I invite you to take a look at your spending habits, how you fill your living space, what you spend your time doing, and question whether it all aligns with what’s most important to you.  Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!

Yoga is a Revelation

I have been instagramming like crazy.  I am not going to lie here- I would love to hit that 1000 followers mark by my birthday in December.  It’s kind of a serious addiction (Is there an Instagrammer’s anonymous??)

To keep my long story short, I was tagged to do a #stopdropandyoga by one of my favorite followers @artenflor.  I had literally gone to one serious yoga class in the last 2 months, and took it as a sign to dive back into my practice.

Why hadn’t I practiced for so long? Technically, you can stop, drop, and do at least 10 to 15 minutes of yoga anywhere, anytime that your body tells you it needs some.

To be honest, I have been reluctant to do it.  It could be lack of self-discipline, traveling for long periods of time, my main excuse is “I just ate” or “I’m too tired”… I can make up a million excuses on the spot, and the reality is that I have a choice:

to yoga or not to yoga.

Not having practiced consistently for a long time, it has been easy to forget the REAL reasons I want it as an integral part of my life.  It’s interesting that this is the LEAST motivating reason behind going to a class.

So anyways I was determined to do this #stopdropandyoga, and dropping a few pounds in the process.  I went for a jog, laid down my mat, and started what I thought would be just a 15 minute practice.  I stayed on my mat for 90 mins.

I took my first deep, sweet, prolonged, relaxing inhale straight into my belly and ribs.  I immediately re-connected with my body and breath, and my mind was finally off social media, my weight loss goals, and all the other bullshit that clouds our consciousness.

“Yoga is a revelation” says my favorite teacher, Rudy Mettia.  Once my mind was clear of all the clutter, the revelations started to pour in.

What did I discover?

We forget throughout our frantic, phrenetic, fast-paced lives, to breathe, and be present.  We shove food down our throats.  Drink too much alcohol.  Pretend like we’re listening to people. We get mean to our bodies and people, and slip into a mindless existence.  Over-taken by addictions.

Cultivating awareness through the breath is so important for our health, and yoga is certainly a good way to do it.  Through that, we can give ourselves permission to listen to our bodies, to people, and evoke a sense of compassion and gentleness and grace in our reality.

Listening is God’s gift to us, our gift to each other.  Listening is not limited to what we hear through our ears – listening means being attuned to what it is your are experiencing, inside your mind and body and in your environment.  When we get off our phones, quiet our minds, and feel our bodies, we can begin to be our more authentic selves.

To see my #stopdropandyoga, check out my Instagram @Hoop_Asana!

Minimalism – A Path to Freedom and Lasting Happiness

What is minimalism?

Minimalism is a lifestyle, and in my opinion, another form of meditation.  It is a Path to Freedom and Lasting Happiness.

Minimalism is a way of life where we rid ourselves of unnecessary excesses, turning our precious attention to what is most important to us so that we can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Minimalism is a tool that can assist in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from possessions, obsessions, habits, stuff, clutter, worry, overwhelm, the vicious cycles generated from consumer culture. Real freedom.

I have an addictive personality. Addicted to coffee, my phone, sometimes alchohol…. substances that all steal my time and attention because I allow them to.  I’ve missed out on yoga classes, meeting people, writing in my journal… all because I have given into habits of excess.

This year I had the greatest purge of my life.  I let go of all the clothes I hadn’t worn in 6 months or more (got rid of 4 giant trash bags!), an office job that had me miserable, the community house I was living in… all of which created space to let in a wonderful new job, more yoga time, and beautiful, amazing new friends.

In letting go of material possessions and habits and excesses that do not serve us, we are then able to deliberately and consciously make decisions about what we want in life, by having a clear filter on what is necessary or superfluous, what we should and should not let go of.  Eventually, everything about your life serves a purpose and bring you joy.

Having less material things clears space, mentally and physically, to connect with our TRUE desires and dreams that await to be manifested.

What is important to you in life?  Share your answers in the comments below ❤

 

Joshua Fields Millburn is one of my favorite practitioners of Minimalism.  Check him out: http://instagram.com/joshuafieldsmillburn