Finding Joy In Hard Times

As sure as the sun rises and sets each day, you will have periods in your life when things are just not going your way. In reality, life is basically a constant fluctuation of emotional highs and lows. 
While most of our time is spent in the fairly even, mundane state of emotional normality, this is broken up by the peaks of the best of times and unfortunately, the valleys when nothing is going right. 

While hardly anyone ever seeks information on how to deal with the best moments of their lives, handling the lows can be a difficult task. Today we live in very troubled times, a pandemic has taken over most of the world, and people are being affected in many profound and very real ways. 
Everything that surrounds getting through this pandemic is based in suffering and pain, its just the nature of the beast. Death, isolation, fear, facing the unknown and grief and loss can strip of us our joy and may lead to depression. 
While you cannot control what happens outside your door, you CAN control yourself. There are things you can do to maintain a positive and even joyful mindset.
In this post, we are going to talk about three tips for doing just that. 
  • Surround Yourself With The Right People
It is often said that we are the sum total of the five people we surround ourselves with most often. If that is the case, making sure you get the right people around you, especially when going through a difficult period, is critical to hold on to your joy. Often times when life is really beating us up, we retreat into the solitude of our home, wanting to throw the covers of our heads and be left alone with our thoughts. 
Make no mistake; sometimes periods of solitude are healthy and necessary. Right now, isolation is the norm as we fight a health crisis. However, when you find yourself in a really low spot, robbed of your joy and hope, unable to see a way out, connecting with those who make you happy is mandatory. 
Although it may seem obvious in concept, avoiding people who have the opposite effect can sometimes be the real battle. Negative individuals are especially important to keep out of your life when you are already struggling to find joy in your current situation. 
You can stay connected during lockdown, when you are isolating at home.  Technology has seen to that.
  • Face Time on iPhones and Video calls on Android
  • Skype
  • A simple phone call
  • Email
  • Text
  • Zoom and other video conferencing software can bring together friends and family while staying safe and following health official’s orders. 
  • Good old-fashioned letter writing 
Sometimes we can feel so alone that we feel there's nobody to connect with. In that case there are groups you can contact or groups on Facebook you can reach out through. 
  • Remember That Nothing Is Permanent 
Nothing in life is permanent. Fortunately, nothing in life is permanent! Let’s state that again, this will pass.
During periods of extreme happiness and joy, thinking about the temporary nature of each season in life is not something we like to dwell on.
On the contrary, keeping this truth in mind during the low times can be very beneficial. Whatever you are going through, no matter how bad it may be, it WILL pass. 
In fact, most of the difficult times you experience in life will end without any extra effort on your part. It is so easy to get into the mentality that we have to put forth an immense amount of effort to make something bad go away. 
Even though this is sometimes the case, most of the time, TIME is the only remedy for tough situations. If you want to maximize your joy during difficult times, remember that your situation is not the way things are, only the way they are RIGHT NOW. 
  • Base Your Happiness On Yourself
Since we have discussed how life is divided into highs and lows and the fact that nothing will lasts forever, this leads to another thing to keep in mind during the best AND the worst periods. 
If you want to have joy on a consistent basis, your joy absolutely cannot be dictated by your circumstances. 
If you let every good thing that happens to you leave you soaring on cloud nine and every negative situation send you crashing to earth, you will go through life in a state of emotional exhaustion! Stable, consistent, sustainable joy can only be created and found within yourself. 
Life is far less about what happens to you than it is how you react to it. You are in charge of how you feel. Don’t fall into the routine of letting happiness get to your head and failure to your heart. 

For a free guide to practising mindfulness as a way to help deal with current stress and helplessness, click here
My membership group also has tips on mindfulness, affirmations, gratitude, intentional living and self care. For more information click here

5 Self Care practices that impact your life big time!

When it’s done right, self love can help to improve your mental wellbeing and stop mental health problems taking control. There can be a lot of confusion around self love and what it really involves but it’s basically all about being kind to yourself. This can take a lot of different forms, some of which aren’t always obvious as self love. Here are a few self love practices that you may not be doing right now. 

Eating Nourishing Foods
What you choose to nourish your body with is a form of self love. A “self love” diet helps you to feel better, gives you more energy and can even help you to avoid health problems. 
Believing that you’re worthy of this kind of self care and nourishment is the first step to making a big commitment to your health and wellbeing. When you feel that you’re a truly worthy recipient of self love, you’ll automatically start putting your health at the centre of everything, especially nutrition. This means choosing foods that are good for your body and that help you to feel fuller for longer and keep your blood sugar levels stable. 
A self love diet doesn't mean totally depriving yourself though, just as long as you take the cues from your body and stop when you’re full. 
Being “In Your Zone”
Having “me” time is really important for getting in your zone, even if it’s just for short periods at a time. Even five minutes of quality time “in your zone” is an underrated way to practice self love. How you get there is a personal choice - some people use meditation, mindfulness or their favourite music, for example. Anything that helps you to be in the present and focus your mind counts for this one. 
Being Grateful for What You Have 
If you’re not showing yourself self love, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other people. This can be toxic for your mental health and is pretty much the opposite of self love. It can be a hard one to break if you’ve been in this mindset for a while but one way to do this involves gratitude. 
Get into the habit of feeling grateful for all of the good things that you have in your life, whether that is health, a loving family or good friends. According to studies, writing in a gratitude diary at least once a week can help to make you feel happier, especially if you do it for around 15 minutes each time. Up it to three times per week and the results can be even better. The idea is that you list up to five things that you were grateful for in that particular day. This can be as simple as you like - in fact, being grateful for the simple things can be work really well!
Having a Clear Out
Have a look around your home and see how many things you have that you don’t use anymore. For most of us, this is going to be more than you think! Clearing out anything you don’t need or use can be wonderfully therapeutic. A good rule of thumb is to throw out anything you haven’t used in the past year. Chances are, you’re not going to miss it too much if you’ve not used it for this long. 
The theory behind this one is pretty simple and it’s all about getting rid of old things so that you can open the door to new alternatives. It can also help to cleanse your mind to this effect. 
Walking in nature
Getting closer to nature is a great way to practice mindfulness and a walk in nature, whether in a park or in the countryside is the perfect way to start doing this. Studies have shown that being in green spaces improves your mental health. If you are lucky enough to live in the countryside, getting out into it or if you live in a fairly urban area, getting out to a park or other green space can be just what you need to clear your mind, especially if you combine it with mindfulness. Even poor mental health can potentially be improved with mindful walking, according to the results of one study. 
Walks in nature also have the added bonus of bringing another self care move into play - exercise! We all know about the “feel good” endorphins and other mental health benefits that exercise brings but walking in nature itself takes this up a notch. According to another study, it helps to reduce anxiety and boost mood. 
Getting out into the countryside or to your nearest park (or any green space if you don’t have one locally) can be a really underrated way to show yourself a bit more self love and help to keep your mental wellbeing in check. 
It’s time to start making time for you so that you can live a life of happiness and love.

If you want some guidance while you begin a gratitude practice join the gratitude challenge here

Also, for daily tips to help with your self love, including mindfulness and gratitude, join my membership, MAGIC, here

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People

How often do you compare yourself to other people? If you’re constantly telling yourself that other people are prettier, more successful or “better” than you, it’s pretty rough on your self esteem and can have far reaching consequences for your wellbeing.
These negative comparisons are something that lots of us do on a very regular basis and it’s also one of the big reasons why we struggle so much with the idea of self love. When you’re constantly comparing yourself unfavourably to other people, it’s really hard to appreciate yourself and see yourself in a positive light. Here’s why it can be so unhealthy to compare yourself to anyone else and how you can move away from doing it. 
It’s not a fair comparison 
When we compare ourselves to other people, we tend to think the worst of ourselves while playing up the best in them. And that’s hardly a fair comparison! It’s easy to forget that outside appearances can be very deceptive and in all truth, you’re probably only seeing what other people want you to see and not the actual reality of their life. Just like you, they have good and bad days and plenty of flaws that you can’t see from the outside looking in. Remember - no one is perfect!
We’re all unique
There’s another super important reason why it’s not helpful to compare yourself to other people. You’re completely unique and there’s no else like you out there. This is why it’s a waste of energy and very unproductive to try to compare yourself to other people. Their path is going to be different to yours, after all. Just because they’re having some success in their life, don’t assume that it means you’re failing in any way. 
You’re on a different journey and one that isn’t going to be a direct comparison to anyone else’s. Recognizing this can be a game changer for helping yourself to not compare yourself negatively to other people. 
Compare yourself to yourself 
If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, use yourself as the benchmark. Trying to be the best version of yourself and to be as healthy as you can from a physical and emotional point-of-view is much more productive and you’re a lot more likely to practice self love if you go into it with this perspective. Celebrate your personal progress towards these type of goals and make other people irrelevant. This is your personal and individual journey and while some people may have a role to play in supporting and inspiring that, it’s super important to make sure that no one else is the end goal. It’s all about becoming a better version of yourself, not someone else!
Don’t compete
Try thinking of life as a journey and not as a competition with other people. This can be hard when you’re surrounded by and bombarded with adverts telling you that your life would be super amazing (just like the person in the advert) if you buy a certain product or behave in a particular way but taking a step back and recognising that this isn’t going to be the case can change your whole perspective. 
Instead of competing with other people in your mind, switch your focus to yourself and what makes you unique. Self love isn’t something you’re likely to achieve overnight but making it a goal and commitment to accept and value who you are is a super important first step. 
Express gratitude
Gratitude is quickly becoming a recognised form of self care and there’s very good reason for this. Taking the time to incorporate gratitude into your life and make it a regular habit encourages you to be more appreciative of the good things in your life, especially the finer details that are easy to gloss over. Gratitude has also been heavily linked to positive thinking and optimism about health and wellbeing so there’s a lot to be said for this practice!
One of the easiest ways to be more grateful involves listing a few things every day that you were thankful for. From a self care and self love perspective, you can extend this to things that specifically involve your skills and good qualities so that you become more thankful and appreciative of who you are and what you bring to the table. Over time, it can become second nature to focus in on your good points and prioritise them.

If you want some guidance while you begin your gratitude practice join the challenge here

Also, for daily tips to help with your self love join my membership, MAGIC, here

Mindfulness and Gratitude

What do you do first thing in the morning the moment you wake up? Do you feel grateful for waking up to another day in your life? Are you filled with positive energy and appreciation? Or are you more likely to rehash yesterday’s anxieties and worries, which leaves you feeling drained at the start of your day?
These two mindsets create a world of difference, even when you’re not consciously thinking about it. Positivity will energize you; worrying will drain you.
Too often, people are not really conscious of the way they start their day. We just do whatever feels most natural to us. If our lives are filled with stress and anxiety, it will feel natural to react with trepidation and negativity. But ultimately, who decides what our lives feel like? 
It is not the circumstances that happen to us. It is not our jobs nor the negative people we are surrounded with. We decide, either consciously or unconsciously, by letting positivity or negativity rule our days. That’s how we keep attracting more of whatever is given the most focus.
Ultimately, what may look like the key to changing all of that is a dramatic change or some life intervention. Yes, some external changes can bring about an improvement in our well-being and lives. Sometimes we leave toxic relationships, toxic jobs, unhappy places, and that can make a world of difference. 
However, there is an equally powerful agent of change that can deliver great results to our well-being. It doesn’t cost much, and everybody can definitely afford it – it’s gratitude. Several studies show that expressing gratitude is the simplest and most surefire way to boost happiness and health.
The Power of Positive-Thinking 
Positive thinking is a very important foundation for a person’s overall life philosophy. It’s almost too simple: “positive thoughts generate positive feelings and positive results.” However, research on emotions confirms that positive emotions generally wear off very quickly. So how do we sustain it?
Our emotions enjoy novelty so much that a brand new car or a luxury bag may only make us feel happy and excited for a limited period of time. When the novelty wears off, relying on our car or bag as sources of happiness won’t be enough. 
We’ll then need another pair of shoes to maintain our excitement. These natural dynamics can cost us much money if we establish material things as primary sources of positivity. Because of their fleeting influence, ‘things’ can’t sustain joy. We need something less transitory and more enduring.
How Gratitude Helps Positivity
Gratitude is powerful because it doesn’t cost us anything, but has the power to attract and magnify more positivity in our lives. 
Cultivating gratitude enables us to find joy in ordinary things, sharpening our ability to see value in the simplest of ways, creating lasting joy. Even if we’re surrounded with material blessings, it is gratitude that keeps us contented and not constantly wanting more than what we have.
A person can look so blessed from the outside and from the perspective of other people, but unless they’re grateful, that won’t enable them to know how truly well-off they are. Some rich people are neither contented nor happy. They keep wanting more to feel happy. 
Meanwhile, there are also people who apparently have so little in life, but feel grateful and blessed for their very own reasons. Gratitude doesn’t qualify whether you have more or have very little; it simply turns what you have into adequate, causing you to ‘have’ so much more.
Where Mindfulness Comes In
Gratitude is wonderful; it’s like a magic pill that causes us to feel happier and appreciate what we have. However, much like everything else, there is a limitation.
When bad things happen to us, it can be difficult to feel grateful. Gratitude, however, can help shine a light on other reasons to feel more thankful and blessed with life, but it doesn’t deliver solutions on its own. Gratitude alone won’t help us fix our problems.
Thus, our ability to accept things for what they are is just as important. Life will regularly deliver unfairness. When situations are tough, we need to find a way to respond graciously even if life is being lousy. Gratitude may not be enough to eradicate natural feelings that come as a result of our circumstances. Sometimes, gratitude needs more time to kick in our consciousness. We may need to give ourselves a few days or weeks to truly benefit from the practice of gratitude in our lives.
For such reason, acceptance of our situation is key. A non-judgmental kind of acceptance and awareness that will help us remain gracious despite bad situations is what is needed. 
Mindfulness is as key to positivity as gratitude is. In moments when it’s difficult to appreciate things and find the light in the darkness, mindfulness can help us make space for healing to happen. However, gratitude will bolster our resilience and help us exercise mindfulness, and take the needed actions to overcome any problems.

If you want to take the first step in this journey, my gratitude is still at a special price until the end of January and includes a gratitude journal to download and use. For more details click here.

The course is also part of my membership, find more details here.

Is An Attitude of Gratitude the Key to Happiness?

Many people have travelled the world to search for happiness. People go to great lengths and sacrifice many things in order to be happy. Happiness is important and this is why we justify the choices we make by saying, “as long as I’m happy…”
In spite of this, there are also more people today with anxiety and depression. These conditions cloud thoughts and emotions with darkness, inhibiting our innate capacity for feeling light-hearted joy and genuine happiness. 
The more you think about it, the more expensive achieving happiness seems to be. Some seek professional help; others even also take medications to alleviate the pain of loneliness. People have learned to buy ‘happiness’ like a commodity by attaching their happiness to the collecting of ‘things.’ 
But happiness doesn’t always have to be so complicated. It is freely available to almost everyone on this planet. Human life may be endowed with challenges, but it is likewise abundant with reasons to feel joy. Feeling happy can be largely up to ourselves, irrespective of our circumstances. Practicing gratitude is vital to our feelings of happiness or otherwise. 
Research on gratitude confirms that practicing it daily can lead to increased well-being and several positive benefits include optimism, enthusiasm, increased concentration, satisfaction, better sleep, and greater quality of relationships with others. 
Here are other ways gratitude positively affects our lives:
Gratitude Enhances Our Ability To See the Goodness
We turn to movies and books to live vicariously through the lives of other people. However learning gratitude and practicing it regularly can teach us ways to celebrate our own lives for the innate richness that they have. Gratitude helps us to engage more with life and be more active participants of our very own stories. 
We experience more joy in the simplest things. Gratitude sharpens our awareness of our blessings and inspires us to celebrate that positivity, causing it to grow.
Gratitude Boosts Self-Esteem, Increasing Self-Confidence
Gratitude can dramatically impact our self-esteem. Self-esteem is a key aspect of emotional health that determines how effective we can be and how motivated we are in achieving our goals. Grateful people have a healthy and balanced view of themselves and healthy self-esteem as a result. 
They trust in their own abilities despite knowing that they may be weak in some areas. Weakness doesn’t keep them from pursuing what they want. They understand that they’re unique and can excel at the things they are good at without needing to prove their worth in everything constantly. They’re comfortable in their own skin.
Gratitude Enables Us To Cope With Stress and Bounce Back From Trauma
Practicing gratitude consistently helps us be highly resilient. Life isn’t perfect, and despite how gratitude opens our eyes to the immense positivity and goodness that surrounds us, it won’t shield us from stress, negative situations, and potentially traumatic experiences. That is, it won’t prevent the occurrence of these events and happenings. 
However, it can help us make sense of particularly difficult life experiences, by gaining wisdom and learning from them. In this way, we see our struggles as a blessing that can strengthen us in the process. Without gratitude, pessimism can further impair our outlook on life, making us highly vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and trauma. 
Gratitude Helps Strengthen Relationships and Nurture New Ones
One of the best aspects of gratitude is that it consistently reminds us that life is no island and we’re not alone. We need other people, and other people’s lives are fuller because of us. It validates our interdependence, which is what life really is all about. 
People can be immense sources of joy and this is what the practice of gratitude reminds us of. Gratitude helps strengthen connections between people and make us appreciate the people in our lives more deeply. 
Gratitude Inhibits Feelings Of Anger, Bitterness, and Envy 
People can be great sources of joy. However, they can also be sources of anger, sadness, bitterness, and envy. Let’s face it, relationships and other people can be one of the most emotionally taxing aspects of life. People can inspire us but they can also drain us so immensely. This is another reason why gratitude is essential, not only for our connections with other people but also in how we see ourselves in our dynamics with others. 
It deepens our appreciation not only in other people but also in ourselves, limiting thoughts of envy, jealousy, bitterness, and anger. Gratitude is incompatible with these negative emotions and when we practice it consistently, we gain the strength to choose love, transcending these negative energies. We’re happier people as a result.

Now is the time to make gratitude a daily habit in your life. It only has to take 5 or 10 minutes a day. It is the first step to living a happier, more fulfilled life. My gratitude course is one way to develop a strong gratitude habit. For more details and to register click here.
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