Happy June everyone! I’ve been toying with the idea for a few weeks of creating a free ebook with tips for falling in love with your life, so when I started thinking about what would be a good daily practice for June, this seemed an obvious choice! Years ago, a mentor of mine told me to ‘just fall in love with your life’…and I thought she was nuts. Had she seen my life? It sucked! I wasn’t going to fall in love with THAT.
I fell into the same trap most people fall into, wanting to wait until life was perfect before I fell in love with it. When I have X in the bank, or the right career/husband/sofa/car/dishcloths, then I’d be in love with life. But while it was messy and I wasn’t happy? NO WAY! For months after her advice, I kept asking myself how? How do you fall in love with life? I mean, falling in love just happens, right? It’s not something you can do. You just wait until the stars are in alignment, and the world falls neatly into place, and then ALAKAZAM, you’re in love with life. Right?
But then I realised there are things you can do to start falling in love with your life, even before it gets ‘perfect’ (which is good news, because it’s never perfect – you get the perfect income/career/husband/sofa/car/dishcloth…and then you want MORE – bigger, better, faster). And I also realised that waiting until the stars were in alignment and everything fell into place was a waste of time, and was doing it the wrong way round.
The more you enjoy your life, the easier it is to make your dreams a reality. Achievements become added bonuses instead of the “saviour of your life”. When you’re in love with your life, you’re more likely to take risks and try new things, because you’re happy anyway, you’re not tying your happiness to something that might not work. When we put so much expectation on something, we become terrified of failure, because if that doesn’t work, then what will we do? It becomes the be all and end all, and the pressure is paralysing. When you’re happy anyway, you just go for it, knowing that failure is part of the game and no big deal.
I’ve always been about the ‘how’. How do I do that? How do I make it happen? How? How? How? And over the next 30 days, I’m going to share some of my hows, in the hope that they will help you fall in love with your life too – even thought it’s not perfect, and it’s messy, and you’re not Queen of the Universe and married to the Hottest Guy Alive. It’s your life. You’re living it, right now. Why not make it the best life you can right now? Why not fall in love with it right now?
And if you’ve got some crazy idea that you have to hate your life or it’ll never change, let me ask you something…how long have you hated it for, and has it changed? When you hate your life, you lose confidence, you are miserable, you are depressed and low in energy…and that makes change more difficult. When you love your life, you are happy, full of energy and joie de vivre, full of confidence and courage…and change is a breeze. Trust me on this, falling in love with your life, even if it sucks, will get you the change you deeply desire faster than misery ever will.
And, hey, if not, who cares? You’re enjoying your life anyway!!
So, are you in? Are you going to join the daily practice of Falling In Love With Your Life in June? Leave me a comment below to let me know, and make sure you’re following my Facebook or Twitter pages to make sure you get the daily reminders and ideas to help you fall in love with life! And this month, for every tip I’ll also be sharing an article or blog post I’ve written about that tip, so I’ll be digging into the fabulous Donnaonthebeach archives – you don’t want to miss it!
Because I’m off to Rome next week, I wanted to choose the Daily Practice, and get the daily updates done early. So I’ve been thinking and pondering and trying to come up with something that is appropriate for the season and the time of year and somehow fits in with a trip to Rome, birthdays, and Christmas…Hibernation was the one I wanted to do…becuase it’s dark and cold and wintry and I don’t want to leave the duvet right now. But that didn’t fit so well with the other, celebratory, joyous events of the month. I’d come up with a shortlist of 5…and as soon as I added this practice to the list, I got that little fizzy happy feeling in my chest – this was the one!
And it is: JOY. Simply, the Daily Practice for December is Joy. Even the word makes me smile. Joy. Something I really need in the dark, damp, cold days of December (well, when I’m not in Rome, celebrating my birhtday and Christmas I will anyway!). So many of us suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder, and if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and sensitive to the ways of nature, you will feel the energy diminishing. The natural world understands that in the cold, dark months, rest is the order of the day. What do we humans do? Park the party season right in the middle of that low energy! Crackers.
But still, ’tis the season to shop and party and have holiday and eat turkey. And for many of us it is a joyful time – once the stress of the endless shopping and partying is over! So I want the joy to last for the whole of December. I want us to really focus this month on enjoying life. On joy. What does the word ‘joy’ mean to you? To me, it is that feeling you get when you are doing something you love – whether it is watching the stars, a beautiful sunset, kissing your sweetheart, hugging your kids, cuddled up in bed with a good book, dancing madly at a gig, laughing with friends.
Joy is the feeling that says “it’s a great thing to be alive!” Joy is the feeling that makes this moment wonderful – and it can be found in the simplest of things. Most of the things that bring me the greatest joy are free (although shopping is in my top 50!). Many of the things that bring me the greatest joy are simple – the smell of freshly baked bread, a good book, a song I love, my dog getting excited about a walk. Sometimes I think people think of joy as some unattainable ‘huge’ thing, that falls in to place somehow when you have EVERYTHING you’ve ever wanted, but no. Joy is a habit, a moment, a philosophy, a focus.
The most joyful time in my life was the time when I had the least (possessions and money) – when I was travelling. Every day was an adventure, I saw lots of sunsets over the ocean, I was free to just enjoy life. If I didn’t like a place, I could move on. If I didn’t like a person, I didn’t have to talk to them. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t. The whole year I was travelling was all about doing what I wanted to do, and it opened my eyes to joy. To the simple joys of a letter from home, a starry night, a home-cooked meal, a good book. Before, I had not really ever stopped to appreciate these things, or to appreciate how much joy they gave me.
Now, for most of us, it is not possible to simply walk out on our life and bugger off to the other side of the world for a year (although, if it is possible for you, I cannot recommend it highly enough!), but for all of us it is possible to make joy a habit, a moment, a philosophy, a focus. For some obscure reason, many people have an inbuilt ‘joy stopper’ – all sorts of bizarre beliefs underpin this, like ‘once I’ve done everything on my to do list (that would take 7 people 12 years!), then I can enjoy myself’, like ‘life is not about joy’, like ‘I can’t enjoy life until I have X (a husband/child/great job/bank account overflowing with cash/thin body/perfection)’.
Let me ask you something. What is life about? What are we here for? To work hard, get stressed, be depressed, teach ‘hard work and no smiling’ to the next generation? Or to enjoy life? To be joyous? (Not in a selfish, raping the planet, booting other people in the head to get ahead way – by the way, those people are NOT enjoying their life. There is no joy in egotistical, narcissism, greed.) Imagine your life if you were loving it, in every moment. Now imagine your loved ones’ lives if they were enjoying it, every minute. Now imagine a world full of people who LOVED life. Who sang and danced and smiled and were generous of spirit and loving and joyful.
It gives me shivers just thinking about it. I can imagine that world. And it starts with us – me and you. Making joy a habit, a moment, a philosophy, a focus. A habit, because we do things every day that bring us joy, we habitually spend time with people who bring us joy. A moment, because we realise that every moment has the potential for joy if only we know how to look for it, experience it, feel it and repeat it! A philosophy, because joy is what life’s about. A focus because we pay attention to how joyful we feel and work on it consciously. So, have I made the case for a joyous December? Will you join me? (For
daily reminders, follow my facebook or Twitter
– Something to Play With –
Take a moment to take 3 deep breaths into your heart. Now ask yourself “How much am I enjoying life right now on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is ‘I’m not’ and 10 is “I LOVE MY LIFE!”.) Now, what can you do to move yourself up 1 point today? Make a ‘joy list’ of activities and people and places that bring you joy and add them to your life. I would love to hear from you if you are going to join in with this practice leave a comment below and tell me about the things that make you joyful, how much you’re enjoying life at the moment or just tell me ‘I’m joining in!’
Who do you know who would love this practice? Share this with them, let’s spread the joy!
It’s the last day for the Champagne Moment practice – did you join in? Did you nominate a Champagne Moment every day? Or did you find this one difficult? I know on very ‘ho hum’ days, I struggled to find a Champagne Moment…and for a few days, I was so busy having fun, I forgot to nominate Champagne Moments! But on every day that I really participated in this practice, I felt good. Even, perhaps especially, those ‘ho hum’ days – I still found something to nominate as a Champagne Moment, whether it was the sun shining, my dog making me laugh, a parcel being delivered (I LOVE post that isn’t bills – it’s one of my favourite things!), getting a piece of work done, that moment on a really long day when you’re shattered and you finally get into bed, the moment I opened up a new book to read (I LOVE books!).
None of these things are particularly exciting, glamorous, or earth-shattering, but the Champagne Moment doesn’t need to be, it just needs to be something that lit you up during the month. Something that to YOU was a good moment. Something worth raising a glass to (not necessarily literally – my liver couldn’t cope!). This practice is just about acknowledging the good in your life EVERY DAY. Even the humdrum, ordinary days. The more we celebrate and enjoy our lives (especially when they’re a bit boring!), the more we realise how much we have to celebrate and enjoy and the more we can fall in love with these wonderful, one and only lives we are living.
And please, leave me a comment to let me know how you got on with this practice – even if you struggled, I’d love to hear about it.
Do you ever get the feeling that you are pushing a stone uphill? Against a herd of bison coming toward you? With your feet tied together? There are times in life when we seem to push and push and push, and yet nothing happens, nothing changes. Apart from our energy level, which visits the basement! And what do you do in response to the ‘nothing happening’?
Push harder? And keep pushing? Yes! Because if you want things to happen, you’ve go to put the hard work in, right? If we let ourselves off the hook for just a second, we will become lazy, idle, unproductive members of society. And this is a bad thing. What would you think if I told you that was absolute tosh? Would you think ‘yes, I know but I still keep pushing myself’?
There is a body of thought which says that when we stop pushing and start allowing things to happen naturally, organically, they happen faster than if we ‘push, push, push’. Not only is the happening faster, it is easier on us – there is a flow, a rhythm, an ease that is joyful. A surprising number of people know this, agree with it and ignore it! Me included on occasion! Just this week I was trying to push myself to do some work.
I was tired, couldn’t concentrate, wasn’t interested, kept being distracted, didn’t want to do it…and it still took me an hour to read the signs and move onto something else! Der. I had become very attached to doing this work – my success or failure had become tied into ‘getting this done’ (a ‘push’ attitude if ever I saw one!). As soon as I let go of pushing myself to ‘get shit done’, I actually managed to do something useful instead of being the living incarnation of resistance to pushing!
This does not mean forgetting altogether about what you want and giving up. It means stopping pushing and trying to force things to happen. It means stepping back from your challenge for a moment and finding out WHY it is so hard to do – it could be many things – there might be a better way, you might need some self care first, there might be something more important to do, you may have something to learn, something you need, something else that has to happen first. If you don’t stop pushing, you will never know if it could be easier to do what you want to do.
And if you collapse in an exhausted heap and the stone you’ve been pushing uphill runs over you, how does that get you closer to what you want? So, if you could stop pushing for a moment, enjoy your life and allow something to evolve naturally, what would change for you today?
I heard from a friend this weekend who said she was feeling great…because she had spent 2 weeks making ‘feeling good’ her main priority. She made a real effort to make sure she was in a ‘giggly happy’ mood as much as she possibly could. I immediately decided that this was a brilliant idea and adopted it as my daily practice for September – FEELING GOOD! Do you fancy joining me?
What to do: commit to yourself that you will make it a priority to ‘feel good’ this month. For example, every day you can ask yourself: What would make this day/task more fun? What would I love to do today? What would make me feel good/better right now? Look around for something that will make you feel great. Do things you enjoy doing. Laugh a lot. Have some fun…just for one month (less than that as it’s already the 5th) make feeling good your main priority! Join me for a daily check in on facebook.
Here’s the theme tune for this month’s practice:
It’s Wishcasting Wednesday with Jamie Ridler. There is power in wishing – putting your wishes out there sets mighty forces into action…What Do I Wish To Enjoy?
EVERYTHING! The very simple answer to this question is that I wish to enjoy everything in life! Work, relationships, food, sunshine, rain, exercise, sleep, friends, social life, money, everything. I wish to enjoy every moment of every day!
It reminds me of a quote from Agatha Christie: “I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
To be alive is a truly grand thing, and I wish to enjoy all of this life!
Get involved on Jamie’s blog, or leave a comment here. As you wish for yourself, I wish for you also.
One of the things that ‘happy people’ have in common is that they wallow in happiness. They look forward to things (not just big things), they enjoy the memories of things (not just big things), they are grateful for good times they’ve had, they appreciate good things as they happen and make a big deal of them. ‘Unhappy people’ on the other hand tend to dwell on how much life sucks, wallow in the bad things that happen, and pretty much ignore the good stuff. I know this because I used to be unhappy. And now I’m generally happy.
And one of the big things that has changed is my focus. Instead of wallowing in and dwelling on the ‘bad’ stuff that happens on a day to day basis, I wallow in and dwell on ‘good’ stuff and I make a point of noticing that I am enjoying whatever it is that I am enjoying. Not all the time, I’m not perfect…but when I have a bit of a visit to negative town, I can get out pretty quickly because my habit is to focus on, pay attention to and be grateful for ‘good stuff’. And we all have ‘bad’ stuff and ‘good’ stuff happening every day. Not just the big stuff that only happens once a year/lifetime like birthdays, christmas, promotions, marriages, holidays. But little things, like the sun shining, clean washing, a tidy desk, a laugh with a friend, a stranger smiling at you, someone letting you out in traffic.
That’s why, over at my facebook page, I have started to focus even more on ‘the good stuff’ every week. Every Monday I ask “What was the best part of your weekend? And what are you looking forward to this week?” and share my thoughts. Every Wednesday I tell you one of my favourite things, and ask what one of your favourite things is. And every Friday I ask “What was the best part of your week? And what are you looking forward to this weekend?” So everybody who ‘likes’ this page will be reminded to focus on what’s good in life. It’s a small thing, but it is SO powerful. So why don’t you come and join me over at facebook.com/donnaonthebeach? And wallow in the small happinesses in life.
It’s the end of the month…what was GREAT about March? What lovely memories do you have of March? What was your favourite thing in March? What are you going to celebrate from this month and what celebrations are you going to do?For me: My celebration is taking myself to the theatre to see some Shakespeare in April; I am celebrating spring being here (can’t tell you how happy that makes me!), and all the progress I’ve made in my business in the last month; and my favourite thing about March was my mom’s 60th birthday. We went off to Ireland for a family party and I have so many lovely memories of that whole week.
This is a great way to keep your focus on what’s working in your life, not just what sucked! I could easily answer the questions ‘what sucked about March; what bad memories to I have’ but what does that get me? I feel bad? I can moan and complain. Wooohoo…? Not. Whereas when I focus on what’s good, I can feel good, and realise that life is good and there is much to be thankful for. And from there, move into April feeling good about where this year is going. Instead of beating yourself up for all you haven’t done.
Give yourself the gift today of celebrating your life so far in 2011 – even if you don’t think you have ‘enough’ to celebrate (in fact ESPECIALLY if you don’t think you have much to celebrate) – celebrate what you do have, and I promise you that you will find more and more to celebrate as the year goes on.
Now imagine that there is NOTHING holding you back. There is nothing in your way. You have all the resources, time, intelligence, creativity, support, ideas, motivation, energy that you need to enjoy your life, to fall in love with your life, to do whatever you want to do. Just imagine it for a moment. What would that be like? How would that change things for you? What could you do if there was nothing holding you back? What first step would you take? Why not take that first step right now?
Move towards enjoying your life, falling in love with your life, doing what you want to do…even though there are things holding you back, move forward anyway. Many of the things holding you back will just fall away under the glow of your inspiration and determination…and those that don’t will become more of an inconvenience than a brake on your dreams. Move forward anyway. Do it now, as if there is nothing holding you back. Leave a comment and tell me what you’d do if nothing were holding you back…and then go do it!
PS Put a comment below to tell me what it is that’s holding you back and in a future blog, I’ll address that particular thing more specifically. Trust me, you won’t be alone in whatever it is you feel is holding you back!
Remember this poem from ‘Dead Poet’s Society’?
“Laughing, crying, tumbling, mumbling,
Gotta do more, gotta be more.
Chaos screaming, chaos dreaming,
Gotta be more, gotta do more.”
I was listening to something today that made me realise how much I have been trying to push myself to ‘more’ – more work, more hours, more focus, more concentration, more boundaries, getting more done, more, more, more. Sheesh. The irony is that when I am pushed, I push back! It never helps me to move forward when I am being pushed…I just go mule-like and stubborn. A waste of time and energy, and I forget that I am actually utterly fabulous just as I am, just with what I have done.
Where are you saying to yourself ‘gotta do more, gotta be more’? Is it helping you to grow, expand and enjoy your life? Or is it actually shutting you down? What if you could say instead ‘I don’t have to do anything, and I already am everything I need to be’? What if you could give yourself permission to be enough right here right now? This doesn’t mean you will stop and not do anything…but you will be able to relax and enjoy your life more in this moment. Ease the pressure on yourself just a bit, and trust that you are enough just as you are.