21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 15) Seeing the Big Picture

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All of us are “Agents of Grace”, whether we know it or not.  “Agents of Grace” are able to see the big picture in life – that helping each other is not only the most fulfilling way to live, but also the way the world evolves.  It’s through grace that we are able to “pay it forward” to those in need, bringing a richness to our lives that materialistic goods cannot fulfill.

I have a very close girlfriend, who embodies the definition of being an “Agent of Grace”, by donating her time and resources (2-3 months out of the year) to helping kids all over the world.  As I write this, she is landing in Zambia to bring school and medical supplies to villages who do not have access to what they need to live, grow, and thrive.  Her passion (and heart) for helping these children is the most tremendous I’ve seen.  To those of you who do what you can to help, via donations, you can’t even understand the impact that a box of crayons has on a child, until you witness it first-hand.  My girlfriend has been to some of the poorest villages in the world and she comes back distraught that no matter how much is donated, it’s not enough.  Yet, to that child, they feel tremendously lucky to be given something a first-world kid takes for granted everyday.

Granted, not everyone has the time and resources to do what my friend does.  Being an “Agent of Grace” can mean helping an elderly person with their groceries, it can mean reuniting a stray dog with its owner, it can even mean holding the door open for someone else.  It’s all acts of kindness that are meant to be paid forward, knowing that if these acts of kindness keep getting paid forward, the better the world will be.

So go out and be an “Agent of Grace” – do something unexpected for someone and feel the effects of the happiness you bring – it’s infectious!

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 14) Gratitude Brings Compassion

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Compassion comes when we’re feeling kindness and gratitude in our hearts towards others, which can oftentimes be a difficult thing to do.  As human beings, we find ourselves feeling judgmental against wrong doing, which is fueled by a sense of righteousness (ego).  When we judge against others, we’re putting ourselves in the right, while putting someone else in the wrong. It’s easy to do, as we’re constantly surrounded by what has become socially acceptable behavior – no longer are our views our own, as subjective influences are everywhere, causing us to be a bit lazy in forming our own opinions. Thus, judging becomes a much easier task, when faced with a decision on how to treat someone.  So how do we fill ourselves with compassion in the face of so much negativity?

Undoubtedly you have been judged unfairly in your life for something you may or may not have done.  It’s the worst feeling in the world when a finger is pointed at you, and you feel helpless to defend yourself.  As the saying goes, “Walk a mile in their shoes.”  It’s super easy to tell someone how to do something, how to feel, how to live their life, etc., based on your own unique experiences that may or may not relate to the situation at hand.  It’s also super easy to deliver that message with too much emotion.  So how do you remove the judgmental/emotional behavior, so that compassion is uncovered?

Deepak suggested a set of exercises that can definitely put you down the right path, and I can say that they truly work:

  1. Imagine yourself being that person’s parent or sibling.  They’ve come to you with an issue, or perhaps they have done something to offend you, or perhaps you don’t even know them but you’ve heard about what they’ve said or done.  How would you handle it?  Would you immediately scold them, or would you find the compassion to help them?
  2. If the answer is help, then the next step is forgiveness.  This is, by far, the hardest thing to do, as most of us are just ego-prone enough to feel like we’ve “lost” when we do.  But what most fail to remember is that forgiveness is the most powerful thing you can give someone else, next to love.  When you forgive, awareness becomes more inclusive, and compassion takes over – it purifies the soul.
  3. When you’re able to achieve these two, you will notice that you stop judging others, which means you stop judging yourself.  Believe it or not, most of what we project onto others is secretly things we, ourselves, need to work on.  And, when you get to a place where you’re judgment-free, you are then in a state of grace.

Having compassion takes work. And oftentimes, these steps are hard to get through.  I always tell people to volunteer at the charity of their choice, even if just for a few hours.  The amount of compassion you can feel for another, when helping someone less fortunate, is tremendous, and it definitely gives you a running head’s start in the right direction.

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 12) Loving With Gratitude

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“There are only two emotions in life: love and fear.” — Marianne Wilson

When you open yourself up to gratitude through love, fear melts away, paving the way to joy, acceptance, and freedom.  It’s not about how someone responds to our love, so much as it’s about connecting to yourself and how you love.

Divine love doesn’t have to be deserved by someone else.  Most of us love what is good in our lives and withdraw love when we are displeased.  But, it’s important to remember that God (or any higher power) loves the “bad” too  (he breathes life into all of us), as the grace that comes with love, isn’t a choice.  Grace exists in the infinite field of consciousness, which means love is already part of your awareness.

When we love, we can’t love in a vacuum.  We need to remind ourselves that loving unrequited, produces karma – positive energy that the universe receives and sends back to you tenfold.  Loving unrequited is super tough to do – especially when there are so many negative influences surrounding us.  So how does one combat this?  By loving (and being honest with) yourself first.

Loving yourself is something we are not socially programmed to do. We are taught to love and respect others and through this, love for yourself will follow.  But, unless we know how to fully love ourselves, we can’t really understand how to truly connect with and love others.  The reason for this is we are seeking for someone else to fill those voids we have been yet to figure out how to fill for ourselves.

I have seen (more times than I want to) people float through life, bouncing from short relationship, to short relationship, trying to fill that “love void” they refuse to fill for themselves.  They end up in meaningless “relationships” (usually physical in nature) that satisfy instant gratification “needs”, but do not satisfy long-term “needs”.  Because they are not honest with themselves about their “needs”, they are not honest with others.  As a result, dramatic “flare-ups” occur, feelings are hurt, and two people are left complaining about how “it’s so hard to find someone decent in this town”.  Had they learned to love themselves, they’d be able to open themselves up to more quality individuals that not only accept truer love, but also have genuine, unrequited love to give.

I always tell people that I’m curious as to what most think about before they fall asleep at night, and what they first think about when they wake up in the morning.  Are they happy?  Do they truly want to float through life?  Do they really want to settle down?  Are they miserable with how they live their lives?  Do they wish for a more quality life that doesn’t involve their common daily activities?  I usually suspect many don’t have positive thoughts because it’s at both those points when you’re most honest with yourself.  When you’re constantly seeking new, instant stimulations that produce the same feeling as giving unrequited love in short bouts, you get bored, sad, and complacent.  So how does one reverse this?

First, begin to remove yourself from the normal behaviors you tend to exhibit socially. I’m not saying you must remove yourself from your environment entirely, I’m saying, practice worrying about you, practice more kindness, practice moderation.  Are you prone to gossiping?  Practice listening and not responding to it.  Are you prone to drinking too much, causing you to make bad decisions you regret in the morning?  Practice sticking with 2-3 drinks throughout the night (alcohol causes weight gain anyway).  Are you prone to going on a date, finding something wrong with the person because they might not possess (insert materialistic good/personality trait here), and calling it off?  Practice listening to them, observing body language and chivalrous gestures.  If they are doing everything right, then take some time to self-reflect on what you need to love about yourself first, before you can let someone else in.  In other words, practice being honest with yourself and following through with what your mind and heart are telling you to truly do.

My first rule in learning to love with gratitude is to like/love everyone until they have done something negative to truly affect my life.  The second rule is to not take on people’s problems, and when a situation arises that might call for help, making sure I’m helping objectively, and not out of emotion.

Focusing on myself means listening with an open heart, offering SOLICITED advice, not gossiping about others, being fully present on dates and get togethers, practicing moderation when drinking, keeping myself on the forefront of every decision I make, and working on my own interesting story to tell – not relying on anyone for my happiness.

When you can figure out how to do these things for you, inadvertently, people take notice and feel that love, light, and warmth radiate out of you.  This is the point where you know you love with gratitude, so much so that you have more than enough love to give.  So spend some time with just YOU, think about what it is you truly want, start to chip away at those desires, and practice self-love first.  Remember, you have you and only you for the rest of your life.

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 11) Nature’s Generosity is Waiting

It’s important to know that nature is always ready to give to us the love and support we need to live our lives.  We need to be open to that infinite abundance and connect with it, as gratitude is the way we contact nature’s generosity, to bring us that support.

Sometimes, it’s super hard to be grateful in trying situations.  There are days, still, that even I want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep the day away, almost as if the problem I’m facing will just disappear if I do.  It’s tough in those times to pep talk yourself into trudging on, and realizing you’re better than that.

In the last week, I was blessed with some wonderful events in life that unexpectedly came out of the blue.  However, those events seemed to have lost its “magic”, leaving me feeling a bit confused, and saddened.  I had opened myself up to possibilities I never thought I’d see again, exposing who I am in my core, my feelings, and anything else that my being was willing to put out there.  Because I opened up myself and showed my gratefulness in abundance, my expectations on receiving were higher than they should have been, causing me to feel way more let down than I would normally allow myself.

In times like this, I feel pain, as most people do when they allow themselves to “feel”.  But instead of the usual moping about all day, through my practice today, I decided to focus on what I am grateful for. I told the universe that I appreciate every experience in my life, no matter how good or bad; I focused on everything that has been brought into my life in the last week and decided that it’s part of an experience I needed to go through, in order to move forward.  I focused on the fact that I appreciate nature for what it is and for helping to guide me in the direction I was meant to go.  It made me relax, feel lighter, and more confident.

So, if you are going through a bad time yourself, take 20 minutes to relax, sit still, breathe slowly, close your eyes, and focus on what you are grateful for.  Thank nature for all it has given you and in return, you will feel the love and support you need to push forward!

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 10) Gratitude Expands Every Relationship

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Relationships are all about the connection we establish.  The most powerful gift we can give one another is accepting the person for who they are today, and not trying to mold them into something they are not.  Acceptance is a powerful thing to possess.  It dissolves differences between us, opening a connection for alignment and positive energy.

Of course, to have a fulfilling relationship, you have to relate to each other, forming an emotional bond that can withstand anything. This means giving and receiving to each other – and being grateful no matter how large, or how small the gift.

When we form new relationships, our hearts are wide open and exposed.  We are willing to give all of ourselves to someone, as we want them to be pleased, so that the relationship will continue to form.  We have a piqued curiosity about the other person and almost anything we do or say elicits a level happiness that helps continue the relationship down a positive course.  Both parties are giving to each other and receiving in equal amounts.  It could be sweet words, nicknames, dinners out, kisses – anything that evokes happiness and a sense of appreciation.  In many cases, relationships start to go stale after a while – the giving isn’t as frequent, which means the receiving isn’t as frequent, and silent resentment builds up – gratitude begins to get lost.  Fights, silence, and other negative behaviors take over; and the relationship starts to drift apart.  We start to wish the other person was more like what we had formed in our mind – the pedestal we put them on in the beginning.  Instead of working on giving and receiving, two people decide to move on.  Then the pattern is repeated with someone else.

As depressing as this whole story can be, it’s important to remember these two things: 1. Negative actions can easily be avoided by always being present for the other person.  2. Never stop being grateful.

We so often forget that all relationships have a pattern to them, and it’s how we respect and work through that pattern that matter.  At the heart of every relationship, gratitude is everything – it will always build love, trust, affection, and appreciation for the other.  It helps provide a “force field” when times get tough, and can help relationships last a lifetime.

So your “homework” for this lesson?  It doesn’t matter if you’re married, engaged, dating, or just good friends – do something for that special someone to let them know you are grateful for them.  If nothing else, just tell them, “I’m so grateful for you being in my life.”

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 9) Changing Your Personal Reality

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“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” — Jason Campbell

Being the author of your own life story means you can live any way you want, as no one else can live your life for you.  Life unfolds in the most unique and glorious ways, and the more we can remain present for it, the better our story gets.  This becomes your own reality – a unique one that only you will understand.

This personal reality (our core awareness) is a product of our own histories, attitudes, and beliefs.  When we internalize these to make sense of an experience around us, we can either hinder or promote the change of our personal reality as a result.  For those who practice gratitude, this inner awareness leads to an ever-present field of possibilities and opportunities.  It’s that gratitude that empowers us to change who we are, sometimes daily, to continue to grow, thrive, and live a good story.

I believe in having a full life.  A long time ago, I set out to be someone unique – I would take risks that raised eyebrows, I would let my opinion be heard, not caring what the response was; and I would love hard.  Now as I’ve gotten older, I’m a bit more calculated in many of the “risks” I take but still, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

Instead of going on and on about how to be the author of your own life story (because you already are one!), here’s a brief list of some of what has made my life story:

  • I moved far across the country… more than once. Sometimes, you need a break from “life”, and what better way to gain a new perspective than moving somewhere, where you know no one.  I’ve previously lived in Seattle for two years and San Diego for a total of three years.  While I call DC my home, these “life breaks” brought me back to DC a much healthier, happier person.
  • I started my own strategic marketing consulting firm – and kept it going for four years.  Sure, there were some difficult financial times in there – it’s never easy to hustle for work AND DO the work when times are tough.  But, it was one of the best experiences of my life.
  • I’ve traveled throughout a lot of Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.. – traveling gives you new perspectives on life that you didn’t know were possible, and the stories you create from it are exhilarating. I’ve gone dog sledding in Park City while experiencing Sundance, eaten some of the best cuisine in Toronto, enjoyed the theater in London and Paris, taken a Gondola ride through Venice, walked around the streets of Rome in utter happiness, made many friends in Barcelona, hiked a crater in Mt. Etna, learned to snowboard in Squaw Valley, dined in Istanbul with good friends, meditated in Malta, explored Bruges, attended the Grand Ole Opry, hiked waterfalls and rainforests in Washington state, taken a helicopter ride to Catalina for the day, and the list can go on and on.
  • I started a successful blog in 2010 that initially focused on local D.C. happenings and musings – something that had me on television a few times.  Since then, it’s evolved into more of a health, wellness, and travel blog – three of my biggest passions, that have touched thousands of lives.
  • I was married once, briefly, and I don’t regret it.  This man taught me more about how to love and be in a relationship than anyone else I know.  It didn’t work out but I fully believe people come into your life to teach you lessons you didn’t know you needed to know.  When you’ve learned all you can, it sometimes no longer suits you and/or the other person.  He’s one of my best friends to this day and always will be.
  • I’m writing a novel – really.  With one prologue and two chapters down, I’m close to putting together the proposal.  It’s a life goal that will tell a story of a life story.

The list of stories in my life could go on and on (these are some of my favorite), although my “life book” isn’t even close to completion. I’m excited to see how I let my life story unfold in the coming years.

So start living your life – go out, do something different, be someone different, and share it with the world.  Inspiring others to live a good story is infectious and we need to spread all the positivity and happiness we can!

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 8) Gratitude Makes Me Healthier

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It is a proven fact, over and over, that meditation is good for balancing the body’s systems.  Grateful thoughts and meditative states don’t just stay in your mind but instead, work with messenger molecules to instantly transmit their effects to the body’s 100 trillion cells, creating new brain cells and pathways for brain patterns.  The practice of meditation has been found to change our gene expression in a positive direction.  This means that it can alleviate everything from stress, to chronic pain, to anxiety, and even to anti-aging!

By directing our awareness toward gratitude, our entire mind-body system is automatically oriented toward greater health and balance.  In other words, every thankful moment I have, the healthier I am!

Prior to my meditation practices, and even prior to my diet change (sugar can have a profound effect on one’s physical and mental state), I was stressed, felt over-worked, and sluggish.  My metabolism wasn’t running at peak performance, my mental clarity was cloudy, and I wasn’t losing weight (stress makes me blow up like a puffer fish), which made me more frustrated and even feeling heavier.  I knew I needed to do something about it, and never realized that meditation could be the answer.

Sure, about 85% of issues, stem from what you eat.  But the other 15% is usually left to working out, which only stimulates enough endorphins to keep you going for a small period of time.  Studies have proven that taking even 5% of that leftover 15%, to meditate, has a more profound effect on your mind and body than even diet and exercise combined.

When I started to meditate, I noticed the relaxed effect it had on me.  My world seemed brighter, I was thinking clearer, and things just became easier.  The more I practiced meditation, the more grateful I became, the more weight I lost, the more youthful I looked, and the happier I grew.

If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of meditation and how it can help you:

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 7) Meeting Obstacles with Grace

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Each one of us face obstacles in our lives that bring us down.  When this happens, we begin to believe there isn’t much to be grateful for; or that perhaps we’re entitled to something different in our lives, as what is currently happening to us is unfair.  It’s through these negative thoughts that grace and gratitude are blocked, causing us to stop being thankful for what we already have.

It’s super easy to be spun into a negative cycle – it’s almost more comfortable than shifting yourself into a positive mindset, even in the toughest of situations.  Meeting obstacles with gratitude can sound flat-out crazy.  However, when you do, your perception starts to shift, resistance loses it’s power and grace finds a home in you.

These days, it seems like everyone has a lot of stress in their jobs.  Many are forced to wear many hats, work long hours, and not have well-balanced lives that allow for recharging on the evenings and weekends.  This go-on-auto-pilot version of ourselves does not allow for obstacles to be met with anything more than fear, stress, and negativity.  So how does one combat that?  For one, don’t take things personally at work – ever.  But second, take a step back for a second, take a deep breath and try to look at the positive in the obstacle.  Is the person pushing you because they believe in your potential?  If you weren’t in a negative mood, could it be possible the person is offering constructive criticism that you could be thankful for receiving?

Meeting obstacles with grace is all about perception – taking the time to focus on the positive of a situation.  The “everything happens for a reason” motto should always be taken positively, as there is always something the universe wants you to learn and grow from, making you stronger.  Did your boss give you a tough assignment with a short turnaround time, that you don’t think you can handle?  Sure you can!  And, do it well – it could be a great resume builder for you, or lead to better opportunities!  Does a coworker feel you aren’t handling yourself well in a situation?  Don’t get combative, grow from it – really be honest with yourself and take it as a compliment that they are trying to help you!

When you believe in yourself and your abilities, and you can be thankful for every moment in your life. When you believe in yourself, obstacles are no longer obstacles – they are short hurdles you’ll leap over gracefully.  So take a deep breath, close your eyes, and tell yourself, “It’s no big deal, I’m thankful.”

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 6) Every Moment Is Filled With Grace

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“Just be, right now, here; and breathe. Begin to trust the magic of yourself.” — Nikki Rowe

Oftentimes, we pull ourselves out of the present, longing for impossible ideals of the future.  This means wishing we had what we currently lack: materialistic goods, posh vacations, what we wish we looked like – anything that would “appear” to give us greater happiness than what we feel right now.  As a result of this, we are identifying with the fact that the present is missing something and thus, we end up taking the present for granted.  Before you know it, you’re wishing you had lived a fuller life.

It’s far too easy to want things today – social media has played a huge role in causing us to be less-than-thrilled with our current lifestyles, constantly “touting” you with those that live richer or posher lives, or anything that would cause one to think “I will never have that, but I want it”.  They might become obsessed over a certain celebrity, or have a friend they “stalk” on Facebook, to “live vicariously” through.  It consumes them – this thought of wanting or needing to be someone else, so much so that they fail to appreciate what is in front of them.

I’m definitely not saying, don’t strive to be great, work hard, and make enough to support your dreams (and your shopping habits!), but I do believe that the path to happiness isn’t necessarily stuff – it’s experiences.

Experiences provide you an adventure for the senses – it forces you to be present in your life and enjoy every aspect of it.  You might say to yourself, “But new Louboutins DO provide an adventure to the senses!”  While I can’t argue that, it doesn’t have the same lasting effect as does being in a new environment, tackling adventures on your bucket list, or even spending time with loved ones, or even just with yourself.

When I started practicing daily gratitude, I was living in San Diego, where beauty surrounds you in all directions.  Often cooped up in my office, I wasn’t really taking the time to go outside and just “be”.  One of my girlfriends, whom is an amazing life coach and very deep into meditation practices, took me to the Meditation Gardens in Encinatas.  The winding paths with koi ponds, trees, and park benches, gave way to sweeping views of Swami’s Beach with nothing but uninterrupted, pristine coast line.  We stood there in silence, just taking in the sounds of the waves crashing, the seagulls squawking, and the slight breeze in the air.  She asked if I wanted to meditate in this spot – this moment of pure elation came over me.  For the next 20 minutes, my meditation practice was clearer and deeper than it had ever been before.  When we completed our practice, the peace in my heart and mind was overwhelming, the feeling of elation was powerful, my mental state had never been clearer, and my overall body was so incredibly relaxed.

While this seems like this is only related to my practice, it actually had more to do with me remaining present and grateful for every piece of beauty that surrounded me.  From that moment forward, I’ve never taken another second in my day for granted.

So how does one come to develop this way of life (and remain there)?  In my last post, I suggested taking a walk or taking a break from your work and appreciating, even for just a few minutes, everything around you.  But to sustain it, it requires attention and dedication.  For example, in the Washington, D.C. area (or Los Angeles, or Istanbul, or Barcelona, or any other major city with a bad traffic problem), most people’s blood pressure rises significantly when stuck in rush hour traffic.  We have this constant need to be on the move, not sitting idle.  So we get angry that traffic isn’t moving, even if we do this everyday.  I was one of those people who would (silently) yell expletives in my head, I’d get hot, and get super impatient, fuming all the way to my front door step.  Then I was too tired to do anything else, other than watch TV and eat.  It’s not healthy.

When I moved back to Washington, D.C., I took my newfound practice with me.  Granted, traffic will always suck, but the difference is, I always tell myself, “I’ll get there when I get there, the world isn’t ending.”  Instead of huffing and puffing, I cranked up my favorite music and started mentally running through my day, and what I’m grateful for.

Another example to think of when building your practice is conference calls and/or meetings.  Most of us have so many a day that by lunch time, we’re tuned out.  Being present, as best you can, in every call or meeting, can actually lead to gratefulness!  Being more present increases success in not only your professional growth, but also mental growth as well.  Being more present, leads to more active participation.  When you’re more active in these calls/meetings, people take notice, your work becomes easier, and it leads to better opportunities.

Regardless of daily task, practice being present more and more each day and I guarantee you, life will become smoother, less stressful and more beautiful.

Namaste

21-Day Meditation Experience: (Day 5) Gratitude Awakens the True Self

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We have many selves that come out everyday – we have our “work self”, our “family self”, our “romantic self”, our “immature self”, and our “wise self”.  All these selves are considered “temporary selves” that are called upon, when needed, for that aspect of our lives.  But underneath all of these “selves”, lies our “true self”.  It’s our “permanent eye” behind all of our passing experiences.  It’s silent, but not passive.  It knows the true you and what your life is all about – it knows what you want, what you should do, and ultimately, how you should live you life.  It is the “self” that gives you grace and gratefulness, as it forces you to appreciate what you have and what surrounds you.  If we were to contact our true self all of the time, our perception shifts to an intense state of gratefulness, unlocking our full potential.

Living in D.C. can be an interesting experience – it’s fast-paced, full of power-hungry individuals that oftentimes mistake their “temporary selves” for their “true selves”.  I oftentimes wonder what their first thought is when they wake up in the morning and what is their last thought as they go to bed at night – is that their true selves thinking, or is it more of the same?

For quite a long time, I was one of those people who had mistaken my “temporary selves” for my “true self”.  When you’re constantly “on”, you don’t know how to shut off.  You go through each and everyday, checking things off of your to-do list and before you know it, you’re in bed, waiting to do it all again.  This routine made me unappreciative of so much around me, taking for granted what was in front of me: true beauty in every direction.  It took a move to San Diego and back to shift my focus to my “true self” – someone I’d much rather be around!

To me, being my “true self”, has allowed me to be grateful for each moment of everyday – good or bad.  When you draw into your “true self”, you end up having far less bad moments, your senses are heightened, and you become so grateful for the world and experiences that surround you.  You also tend to draw in more people who carry the same “light” you do.

But, the biggest thing I’ve learned from tapping into my “true self” far more often, is that I stopped “adopting” other people’s problems and negative points of view.  Although I’ve been called selfish and mean, there’s a sense of peace in my life because I’ve called on my “true self” to tell me what I need, which is to focus on myself.

There was a moment about a month ago, where I was out with some friends and a bit of drama occurred with some of them.  I’m seeing bickering, I’m watching heads shake at texts they are receiving, and of course I’m seeing tense avoidance when they’d see someone they didn’t like.  For a split second, I felt that nostalgic feeling of stress because I began to “adopt” everyone else’s problems.  And in that split second, I had an internal chat with myself in appreciating being present in the moment because regardless of the drama sprouting, I was with people I cared to have a good time with.  Suddenly, all of the negative behaviors around me became sources of entertainment, and I appreciated the fact that the source of this was not me. It calmed me down, re-centered me, and made me feel a bit more peaceful.  I became relaxed, happy, and grateful to be able to be present – I also realized that some of the people that caused these particular issues, were people I needed to distance myself from for a bit, as it wasn’t healthy.

I’ve told this story to other people and the response is usually that this is “so hard to do”, or that I “should have been more of a friend to those that were struggling”.  The first isn’t true and the second is debatable.  Practicing focus on oneself takes work but it becomes a beautiful tool, particularly in upsetting situations.  No longer do you worry about others and their behavior.  You make better daily choices – particularly who you surround yourself with because you tend to want to gravitate towards those with a “light” in their soul – those that have also tapped into their “true selves”.  It doesn’t mean I don’t care, or don’t listen to those that have problems – I just don’t get involved emotionally to a point that I’m sucked into the middle of whatever is ailing them.

So that begs the question of “how do you do this?”  Start small – take a walk by yourself, notice the trees, the sunshine (or clouds), the colors in the sky, the colors on the ground, the scent in the air, those that pass you by on your walk.  Think about what you are grateful, for experiencing in that moment.  Or, if you’re in an office, sit back for a minute and look around you.  Be grateful that you have a job when so many in this world are unemployed; pay attention to the sounds in the office – is anyone laughing?  If so, focus on that.  Take note of what is on your desk – the things you may have brought with you, to surround yourself with positivity.  Focus on one of the objects and take in its memories.  Be grateful for that moment because it’s purely you with your “true self”.

As time goes on, being grateful becomes easy because you’ve tapped into your “true self” so often that you become best buds – a wingman or wing woman of sorts.  You want your best bud out all of the time, as it attracts what you have wanted all along – peace, happiness, and success.

Namaste