Can Habits Make You Happy?

Can Habits Make You Happy?

Today, I sat down to meditate by listening to my favorite podcast, “Meditative Story”. This episode was titled, “There’s No One Way,” by Gretchen Rubin. She discusses how habits create happiness. Of course, it depends on what kind of habits I create, but the bottom line is, if something works for me, it does not always mean that it will work for everyone else. There is no one right way to become happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative. We each have to know ourselves. I can relate to a lot of what Gretchen is saying, when she says, “outer order contributes to inner calm.” For example, I always become instantly happier when I tidy up my house. My favorite thing to do is purge clutter! (Yes, my husband is very annoyed by this habit.)

But why is there still a lot of inner clutter despite the outer order in my house?

It’s obvious to me that habits help make life happier–not perfect, but happier. When I’m busy, I don’t have to think about how our world is suddenly turned upside down. Perhaps that’s why I am constantly sticking to my habits and constantly running around the house to keep it neat and tidy. My husband is the complete opposite. My constant picking up of stuff around the house annoys him, yet seeing a clean house makes me happy.

I can identify with how Gretchen points out that one way we express love to others is by trying to tightly control everything around and inside us. Thus, I try to control my surroundings. I have recently realized that is why accepting what is happening, instead of controlling it, is so hard for me.

Gretchen points out, “A central tension in a happy life is that we want both to accept ourselves and expect more from ourselves. Only we can decide what we can accept from ourselves and what we can expect more of from ourselves. And what that means–no one can decide that for you.”

So how do I calm my monkey mind during these crazy times? How do I relax my struggle, my burnout and find some sort of way to be present? How do I decide what I can accept from myself and what I can expect more of from myself?

Meditation allows my mind to roam free and let it all go. By creating a daily habit to meditate each day, I can invite my body, heart, and mind to relax and be free. I can watch, instead of trying to obtain the impossible goal of controlling what is happening all around us. Noticing why and how my mind is not free will help me to get better at letting go and deciding what I am willing to accept and what I can expect more of from myself.

Can I still improve by letting go, even though I meditate daily? Of course I can!

I will continue the daily habits that help me feel in control, like cleaning up around the house, working out, cooking, and taking care of my plants, while also keeping up with new habits that help me relax and let go, such as my daily meditation, yoga, getting outside more, reading, and maybe a glass of wine or two at night for good measure! We are all in this together, and finding new ways to adapt and survive is vital!

Please share how you are adapting and if you have found any habits that have helped you to be happy during the Coronavirus!

If you would like to listen to Meditative Story, There’s No One Way, by Gretchen Rubin, you can click on the link below:

https://meditativestory.com /gretchen-rubin/

My Heart is Breaking

My Heart is Breaking

I see the world through the lenses of someone who has experienced a lot of setbacks. Recently, the world has not shown its brightest colors. Hate, racism, and political banter have disrupted our society, and the economy has left thousands without jobs. 


This is all weighing on me. I’m left with a mix of wonder and confusion about what is bull shit versus fact. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for this crazy, mixed-up world we live in, where everyone thinks they have all the answers, but no one really does. My head is spinning just trying to stay grounded long enough to breathe and stay sane.

Then why should I still have hope? Because I need to stay strong and rise above it if I want to help others do the same. I can’t expect everyone I love to be able to stay strong, but I can expect myself to be there for those who can’t. Is this too much to ask of myself? No. Is this too much pressure on me? No. Why? Because I can’t let that happen. This is not the time to become another victim in this crazy world. I won’t let it take me down. I need to stay positive and remember that I am right where I’m supposed to be.  

Staying strong is not easy, and it takes a lot of practice. I am definitely not the authority on it, but I know that by taking small steps each day, I will come to understand how to be more patient and see the God in all of us. Trying to bear the words and actions of others and not take them personally can help me stay grounded. And by using my gifts, I can make a difference in other people’s lives. Through daily practice both on and off the yoga mat, I can slowly evolve into a better wife, sister, daughter, friend, fur mom, and yoga instructor.

 I understand the value and weight of an inspiring yoga instructor. People are drawn to yoga, especially during this highly stressful pandemic. They’re looking for something to cheer them up—something that will help them escape and feel better and stronger about themselves. People are in desperate need of some kind of encouragement just to get through to the next day. In order to be a beacon of strength for others, I have to take care of myself, dig out all of the emotional shit, and find self-healing of my own. I have to move beyond the heartbreak.

Sometimes when I watch the rain pour down, I wish it would wash away all the bad. A fresh start, a new beginning, like the beautiful, vibrant hibiscus flowers on my deck. They always look hopeful after a long drink of rainwater—blooming with delight, and not afraid to stretch their pretty petals and drink up the sun after the rain. For even my flowers know there is always sunshine after the rain.  

Feeling the Magic!

I think we can all agree that these are crazy times! Being stuck in our homes trying to make the best of this quarantine and stress from the Coronavirus as we watch our loved ones die around us, seeing how our frontline workers are suffering as they work tirelessly to help care for the sick and dying, scared to go out into the world as we are still learning how this virus spreads. I wonder how are we going to get through this? Then I witness magic! Magic happening everywhere and all around me! Beautiful, talented humans coming together to reach out to everyone who will listen to help us get through these tough times by performing various live free music concerts on television! Artists performing their comedy acts on stage and bringing it to the screen so we can all share some laughs for a small fee that goes towards funding PPE equipment for our frontline workers! Art museums around the world, opening up their displays to the public for free! Various everyday beautiful humans are reaching out to their Facebook community by reading poetry to anyone who wants to listen, orchestra conductors sharing their music performances, people sharing their videos of them dancing to make us laugh, people reading excerpts from their favorite books all to inspire us and to let us know this is but temporary. Life and love and laughter live on and reaching out to others, by being part of a community however large or small it is, we can create and share moments that make us forget about the virus and this is what creates magic. We are only human, but we are capable of creating something bigger than ourselves. Magic is all around us and it is because beautiful humans are there to create it and share it. I feel the love and I feel the magic in the air!

How Emotional Connection Between Pets and Humans Help Us Cope

Sharing an emotional connection with all living animals is something I am reflecting on this morning as I listened to yet another Meditate Story podcast, this one entitled, #32. Loving Our Living World, by Carl Safina. With my little Belle by my side as I start to meditate, she brushes her soft kitty whiskers on my hand and licks it to remind me that she’s here for me. She proceeds to rub her forehead into the palm of my hand. A big full body stretch and yawn is followed by tucking in her tiny white chin, her plump fluffy belly, her shiny black tail and her tiny little paws in order to get comfortable, preparing for her daily cat nap. This predictable ritual makes me laugh out loud! As I laugh, she looks up at me and then falls back down into a deep slumber. Eventually I see what appears to be a smile on her face as she starts to purr softly, cuddling close by my side. Usually, Belle’s sister, Izzy, is the one who cuddles with me during meditation, but today, Belle wanted to see what this was all about. I think it’s more like sibling rivalry, but I’ll take what I can get.

As we both get settled in, I suddenly stop and think about studies continuing to develop on the human to cat transmission of this virus and then some slight panic starts to set in. What does this mean for our beloved pets? Why are other mammals not effected by the virus? A few tigers and lions were recently diagnosed with the Coronavirus from a Bronx zoo, but why are humans so easily infected and mammals not so much? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would be a total wreck if Izzy or Belle were infected! Of course, being an animal lover, I would be devastated if millions of other mammals were infected! But the one thing that helps keep me calm during this pandemic, is being able to curl up on the couch and feel my kitties’ “pure love”. I try not to think about it and continue to listen. “Stay focused, Julie!” I tell myself. Carl continues on to tell a story of how animals show us as what he refers to is “pure love”. He describes this love from an animal that doesn’t want anything from you in return except wanting to show you affection by being close to you. Showing their human companions that they truly love us unconditionally by sprawling out on our laps, our arms, our necks and even our faces to try to get as close to us as possible as they trustingly sleep turning their guard completely off, knowing we are there for them if they need us.

This “pure love” reminds me that we all need to love and be loved-humans and animals alike. No one wants to feel alone, especially during isolation as we quarantine ourselves from each other.

Do you see “pure love” displayed by your pets? How so? If so, please share a story or photo of how your pets help you cope through this stupid pandemic. I’m sure all of us could use a heart-warming pet story to cheer us up!

If you are interested in listening to Meditative Story Podcast#32 Loving Our Living World, by Carl Safina, go to:

http://podcast.meditativestory.com/p/2

Adapting to a world of unpredictability

“Through failure, we become more successful when we learn how to become more adaptable to the challenge before us”, says Forrest Galante.

He continues on….

“With each and every phase of our lives, we cultivate a unique skill set for being adaptable and being communicative and slowing down and being respectful and taking a breath. That allows us to see everything from a bigger picture and navigate what ever comes our way. This is how we are meant to evolve as humans. This is how we adapt.”

Now I know I’m not a professional wildlife biologist and adventurist with my own show on Animal Planet like Forrest Galante, but I can’t help but ask when I’m outside, surrounded in nature, “What is here to be known and enjoyed”? I am always noticing new plants, new habitats that animals have created, new foliage and sometimes new damage such as a whole or pipe or some kind of foreign object put there by us humans that disrupted a part of nature. But as I look closer, nature continues to adapt by growing lush new greenery surrounding the whole or the pipe or what ever damage there once was. After all, birds build nests on man made objects such as utility poles and basketball hoops. Who is to say we are not as adaptable as well as the nature that surrounds us?

This motivates me to get outside when I feel down or defeated by this depressing virus and just looking around, observing how nature adapts and works around its surroundings to keep on moving, is very inspiring to me.

How are you adapting? What inspires you to adapt through this unexpected life changing virus that effects all of us? If you are not finding ways to adapt, I challenge you to find one specific thing that motivates you to adapt to this change this week. What was the result? If you would like to share your ideas, please do so. I would love to hear about them and hopefully, we can all help others around us get through adapting to a world of unpredictability.

Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com