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Posts tagged ‘7 habits of happiness’

Habit 7: take time to feel gratitude

In the last of the seven habits its time to reflect on what there is in our life for which we can feel grateful.  It may be as simple as noticing a few moments of sunshine or smelling a rose as you pass it, or feeling a wider sense of gratitude for things in your life that it might be easy to take for granted. As one focuses on gratitude it opens the heart, gives a sense of fulfilment, rather than lack, and helps to direct attention to what we want to cultivate in our life rather than focusing on what we want to push away. As such it encourages a happy, creative and contented heart.
Gratitude is a gentle reminder to ourselves to turn down the voice that worries we don’t have enough, that our life is a failure, that we should be doing better. Our modern world of advertising and consumerism is based on selling the idea that we do not have enough. We are the products of a culture that bases its economic success on citizens who feel they are never good enough, always in need of the latest upgrade, larger car, better wardrobe, new style of haircut! Gratitude is a gentle noticing of what is there right now, of appreciating what we have even if it’s not what we want. Perhaps we want a job with more prestige that pays more money, and a larger house! We have a choice of focusing on the sense of lack, or of appreciating what we have: our job as it is,  what that income makes possible for us, the accommodation we have that gives us shelter, a bed, a place to eat, sleep and be with friends however small it may be! Thus gratitude can turn a glass half empty mind into an appreciative glass half full perspective. We can still seek to change and move into new work or find a new home, but from a sense of fulfilment rather than trying to escape a sense of lack. If we feel fulfilled in th present moment then what we move on to will also feel satisfying. If we are moving on motivated by a sense of lack then the next job or home will feel like just a step on an ever upwards journey with no sight of the summit ever coming into view!
One way to connect with gratitude as a regular practice is to have a book that you write down from 1 – 5 things you feel grateful for at the end of the day.  Or if you prefer to use your ‘phone there’s an App!
There’s a lovely video about how to establish a gratitude practice here

Habit 1: listen to your emotions

A few days ago I came across an article about the habits of self-loving people. I found it an interesting read and over the next 7 weeks I’ll reflect on each point.
If we are feeling sad, anxious, etc its simply how it is right now. It’s OK to feel what we’re feeling – but often we fear we are going to be overwhelmed if we feel it, so try to push it down or loose ourselves in distractions – sex, drugs, drink, Facebook, whatever ours might be! Learning to listen to our emotions without the inner critic then telling us we are wrong to be feeling what we are feeling frees us to simply accept that it is what it is: we’re feeling what we’re feeling, its telling us something and is impermanent so will shift and change as the conditions change.
Having a positive self regard and faith in ourselves helps this process of listening without judgement, and the Loving Kindness practice is a powerful tool for cultivating this.   In the first stage of the Loving Kindness practice explore allowing yourself to feel fine with how you are right now, love yourself as your not as you feel you should be and feel whatever you are feeling, holding it with a sense of kindness and compassion.
Here are seven things that self-loving people do differently. The full article is available  here

1. They listen to their emotions.

Most people spend their lives doing one of two things to their emotions: numbing or venting. Often, they do a combination of the two (i.e. they numb until they can’t hold it in anymore, then they explode).

Self-loving people do something very different — they accept each emotion as a piece of communication and they try to decode it. This way, emotions can become important guideposts on the journey of self-discovery, rather than annoying roadblocks.

2. They choose responsibility over blame.

When something negative happens, self-loving people will look for a way to take responsibility, rather than searching for someone to blame. They know that placing blame doesn’t solve the problem — it only cultivates anxiety and helplessness. By choosing to take responsibility, self-loving people do themselves the favor of encouraging change and acceptance rather than stewing in stagnation and suffering.

3. They feed their passions and talents.

Every person in this world feels the gentle tug of fascination toward some hobby or activity. Sometimes that tug isn’t so gentle! Self-loving people learn to recognize that inner longing as something important, and they devote their time and energy to nourishing those desires. Self-loving people do something every single day that they love doing, and they allow themselves the space to explore new interests that arise. They know that nourishing their own inner hunger is much more important than any fears they might have about what feeding it looks like.

4. They spend time alone.

Those who have unhealthy, abusive relationships with themselves often have an intolerance of being alone. The moment they have some space with themselves, they feel the incoming discomfort of self-defeating thoughts and toxic emotions, so they reach for the phone or the vice. Self-loving people do the opposite. They look forward to their time by themselves, just as you’d look forward to a date with a beloved friend. They not only make time for themselves, they start to miss their time alone if they don’t take it.

5. They sleep on it.

As we learn to respect ourselves, we become more long-term oriented. Instead of caving to momentary impulses and immediate gratification, self-loving people will sleep on it and weigh the outcomes of important decisions. Paradoxically enough, being able to delay gratification and think about long-term outcomes gives us the ability to enjoy our lives more in every single moment, because that “long-term” that we’re always thinking about becomes our entire way of life.

6. They teach people how to treat them and walk away if they cannot.

Those who deny themselves love, respect, and approval will inevitably seek those necessities from other people. When we base our relationships with others on approval-seeking and love-hunger, we’re not really respecting ourselves or other people. We’re just running each other dry.

That’s why self-loving people approach relationships from a place of self-sufficiency. They know what they need to feel respected and they know what they have to offer. They gently teach the people around them about their boundaries and, if those are crossed repeatedly, they have the courage to walk away.

7. They admit their mistakes.

Those who don’t have self-respect are always measuring themselves against some outside standard. In many cases, that standard is being “right.” They feel good when they’re right and crestfallen when they’re wrong, because their whole sense of identity is wrapped up in these labels. Self-loving people tend to identify with more permanent parts of their experience, rather than temporary states like right/wrong, old/young, happy/sad. They feel a deep, unconditional acceptance of themselves, which gives them the power to practice self-improvement without losing self-love. Thus, they not only admit when they’re wrong, they expect to be.

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