Tag: happiness

Grilled cheese leads to better relationships

Grilled cheese leads to better relationships

Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich? I dare say that even those of you who are lactose intolerant will be sorely tempted. (Although ‘sorely’ might be an unfortunate choice of adjective in those instances…) In the modern world where technology is impeding, rather than fostering, quality social interaction and meaningful relationships, grilled cheese just may be the answer. Hear me out…

In my previous post I reflected on the modern trend of choosing to be stressed and strung out. Part of this phenomenon, I believe, is choosing to adopt the mindset and subscribe to the idea that there is seldom sufficient time to make headway on ever-lengthening To Do lists. Some of this is due to poor time management, but largely it can be attributed to how we choose to prioritize our time.

When we choose to be ‘too busy’ we are choosing to neglect our relationships. Take, for example, teachers who assume that any social engagements have to wait for the school holidays. Or friends who live in close proximity who seldom see each other. It’s just nonsense. Honestly, where are our priorities?

The solution? Yip, you guessed it: grilled cheese.

Social occasions need not involve extensive planning and preparation. Friends do not expect a table setting worthy of Pinterest accompanied by an equally elaborate menu (unless you’ve set that precedent, in which case you should kick yourself – hard). It’s the time you spend together that is important. Needless to say, I’m referring to quality time, not a case of we’ll-be-in-the-same-room-but-stare-at-our-phones. True friends probably wouldn’t mind in the least if you spontaneously invited them over, even if all you could offer was a grilled cheese sandwich. They’d probably love it, not because they’re dairy obsessed (guilty as charged) but because it’s about friends spending time together.  Which, going back to my earlier point, is a great antidote for all the stress and busy-ness of today’s world.

As soon as you lose the idea that everything has to be planned, has to be an event, you will find the time to invest in your friendships and relationships. Importantly, your life will be more balanced and enriched as a result.

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Are you simply talking yourself into feeling busy and stressed?

Are you simply talking yourself into feeling busy and stressed?

Have you ever realized partway through a TV programme that you have no idea what’s going on because you’ve been distracted by your phone? It happened to me earlier today. This morning the lure of social media apps on my phone meant that I lost track of the British TV game show I was watching (a guilty pleasure that I’ve inherited from my mum). The effect was inconsequential, to say the least.

But what about when technology distracts us from engaging in the important aspects of our lives?

Phones, TVs, computers, tablets: they all provide us with constant sources of distraction. This ubiquitous distraction seems to be an ever-increasing characteristic of modern life. Sure, technology makes life easier, more convenient, and so on. There’s no denying that it has its place.

However, the benefits of technology rapidly wane when we are distracted from being present and mindfully engaging with what should be our priorities in life. And no, I’m not talking about game shows.

Consciously developing and nurturing relationships that, in turn, nurture us is an essential underpinning of happiness. At least, that’s what I believe. Unfortunately, all too often we are too distracted to give our relationships the focus that they warrant. More often than not this can be traced back to the modern lifestyle: not only technology in all its forms, but the all too common habit we have of repeatedly telling everyone (including ourselves) how busy we are. How stressful life is. That we simply don’t have time. That we have too many things to do. And yet, I’m sure we’d be appalled if we realized just how much time we devote to ‘screen time’ on a weekly, or even daily, basis.

This is precious time that is essentially wasted. It’s time that we could – and arguably should – be spending in more mindful pursuits. It’s time that would allow us to be properly present in our interactions with others: our spouses, children, family, friends, and colleagues.

It seems to me that we choose to be distracted, albeit on a subconscious level. I’m not saying that stress is not a real concern, or that we aren’t busy. I just think that we tend to talk ourselves into adopting the mindset of a stressed busybody. No matter how much we have to get done, no matter how much pressure we experience, the truth of the matter is that relationships need to be a priority. Spending time being mindfully present in our interactions with others will enhance our relationships and, ultimately, our happiness and sense of fulfilment.

And isn’t that what life should be about – feeling happy and fulfilled whilst enjoying meaningful connections with others?

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Ditch the blanket fort for some sunshine

Ditch the blanket fort for some sunshine

I love the sheer power of nature. Even in the most serene of settings, nature never fails to have a profound impact on me. To be honest, several hours before I wrote this post I felt awful. I felt that the only solution would be:

  1. glass bottle of Merlot
  2. Ferrero Rocher and Lindt chocolate
  3. a blanket fort.

But then I stepped outside and felt the warmth of the sun. A few hours later I realised that I had indeed needed three things to transform my mood. I had just thought of the wrong list. What really worked in the end was:

  1. a cup of green tea
  2. Autumn sunshine
  3. my hammock

This just reinforced my thoughts about nature that I’d had during a road trip… A few months ago whilst travelling through South Africa I had the opportunity to stay in many little towns along the way. There was one area, just outside one of these towns, that I found to be particularly magical. We stayed in a cottage luxurious unit in the middle of an ancient milkwood forest. We were surrounded by unspoilt fynbos as far as the eye could see. And where there wasn’t fynbos there were mesmerizing views of the sea and an incredibly beautiful bay. I felt truly immersed in nature. (No snide comments about the luxury accommodation, please.) In an incredibly short space of time we were able to completely relax and unwind. I really felt as though I was able to re-balance my body, mind and soul. It enabled me to be mindful, with remarkable results. Words simply cannot describe how my sense of wellbeing was completely transformed in this idyllic place. Whenever I enjoy spending time outdoors, I always have the same thought: we should do this more often. There really is a tangible healing power in nature. There’s some irony here too, because we wouldn’t need the curative powers of nature if our modern lifestyles didn’t take us away from nature in the first place. So we need nature to be a healing balm for the modern lifestyle, because this lifestyle prevents us from spending sufficient time in nature in the first place. Time for a change, methinks. What have been your healing and relaxing experiences in nature?

Too much of a good thing? Nonsense!

Too much of a good thing? Nonsense!

Why is it that every time someone says something about having too much of a good thing they adopt that annoying facial expression? You know the one I mean? The one that channels your inner caveman and gets you itching to club them over the head? That one.

Hmm… Should I just thump him over the head right now?

I am adamant that there are certain things in life of which it is impossible to get too much. Things in my life such as…

  1. Time with family, my hen and other friends
  2. Laughter (unless you have a full bladder)
  3. Chocolate fondant
  4. Champagne (This is for the environment. You know, to save water.)
  5. My mom’s lemon meringue pie (not the crap version they serve in restaurants)
  6. Full body massages (and if you want to throw in a mani and pedi, why not?!)
  7. Time in nature (especially at and under the sea)
  8. Green tea (to balance out numbers 3 to 5)
  9. Absorbing novels (the kind where you experience withdrawal symptoms when you reach the end)

too much of a good thing

Right, so, in order to be all neat and tidy, it would be great to end with number 10. Thing is, I was about to write 10. Cipralex because this stuff changed my life. But then I realised that it’s not a great idea to tout what would ultimately be an overdose of happy pills.

There was a moment in fact when I thought that the meds might be working too well. Like that time that I scratched my brand new car (a gift from my husband) and laughed. I was delighted by my reaction, exclaiming the wonders of modern meds that target depression and anxiety. According to my significant other, I was taking things too far. So maybe, just maybe, in the case of Cipralex, there is such as thing as too much of a good thing.

PUT DOWN THAT CLUB YOU DAMN TROGLODYTE!

Just as a little tangent to the last sentence, when I was a teacher I always tried to give my classes useful advice. Like don’t go to a dodgy tattoo parlour, that sort of thing. (One of the pupils actually quoted me as saying something of this ilk in the school newsletter. Not one of my finer moments.)

 

 

 

And to think I was just worried about poor hygiene!

One such pearl of wisdom that I shared was that it’s always useful to use ‘big’ words when you insult someone. Like troglodyte. That way they feel insulted and stupid. Plus, they can’t really retaliate because they’re not sure what the insult meant. (Can you tell that I was bullied???)

But back to the actual topic at hand, I’m sure there are things in your life where you feel that you simply couldn’t have too much. I’d love to know what they are! Please share in the comments section.

Will you please quit pouring that green goop over yourself?!

Will you please quit pouring that green goop over yourself?!

In my last post I confessed to starting to go organic and natural. It’s not an obsession by any means. Promise. It’s just about trying to eliminate physical toxins such as harsh chemicals from our home. Despite what my Pinterest boards might seem to be proclaiming, I am not trying to be a domestic goddess.

It’s really made me start to think about toxicity in general. And not just slimy green goop that’s stored in dubious barrels.

eliminating toxicity

 

You might remember that I also wrote a post on emotional toxicity. Basically what I was trying to say is that being negative towards others, being unduly critical of others, gossiping, etc all just adds to the negativity in your own life. Plus, you pass that toxicity onto others. And nobody needs green goop of any shape or form in their life.

But there’s something else to consider. In some weird slimy version of the vaguely recent ice bucket challenge, many of us seem to pour toxic goop all over ourselves. And it is also a viral sensation.

Sure, by being negative about others we are encouraging negativity in our own lives. But all too often we assume unnecessary blame, feel inappropriate guilt, wallow in self doubt, and subject ourselves to undue self-criticism. Do you pour this green toxic gunk over yourself?

You are who you are.

And who you are is enough. 

I think that it’s time to take a more zen-like approach to life. Accept life for what it is. Accept others for who they are. Accept yourself for who you are.

I’m not trying to suggest that we should never try to improve. What I do think, however, it that constantly focusing on the future and trying to improve encourages us to be negative and critical about our present circumstances. It also prevents us from being mindful of the present and accepting ourselves with loving kindness and compassion.

Let’s face it: we all need a little love, kindness and compassion in our lives. Let it start as an inner personal phenomenon because your internal world ultimately determines your external reality.

I’d love to know your thoughts about eliminating the toxicity from your life?

Power tools and business suits

Power tools and business suits

“The first thing they teach you is not to wear a tie when using power tools.” I thought this was the most ridiculous piece of advice ever. I mean, who dresses formally whilst using power tools? But then I realised that the person speaking was my husband. Wrench in one hand, angle grinder in the other, he was dressed in suit and tie.

Now he might wear a suit and tie five days of the week, but my husband fancies himself as quite the electrician. And he is. Apart from the fact that he hasn’t quite got the hang of the dress code. I, on the other hand, hate power tools. They terrify me. When sparks start flying, I fly further. (Please don’t read anything into that.)

So there we are, staring at the motor of our electric gate. I have managed to find three spare extension cords in the house which now form a long cable from our bedroom window, snaking up our steep driveway to the gate. At the end of these cables is the terrifying angle grinder. I was put in charge of plugging and unplugging said power tool. Luckily, thanks to the cabling, I was able to do this whilst cowering behind a shrub.

When the sparks had flown, the faulty padlock in question been cut, the surrounding concrete inadvertently sculpted, I could emerge from my cowardly pose. And then I couldn’t help but laugh at the ludicrous scene we must have made.

The situation was in reality very frustrating. What should have been a simple task with the turn of a key turned into a lengthy DIY chore involving an angle grinder at the most inconvenient of times. But the irony of my husband’s advice was just too funny to ignore. So instead of swearing (sorry Mom) and complaining, we laughed about it. And at ourselves. It just shows that even in the most common everyday occurrences we can find humour. Choose optimism and the funny side of things. Always.

Note: My husband insists that I mention that he was pushed for time, otherwise he would have dressed appropriately. It’s up to you whether you believe him or not. I don’t.

Let Life Surprise You

“What is the point in being alive if you are never taken completely by surprise?”

– Anne Perry

 

This quote made me pause a little and think about my life. I think that what struck me first about this quote was her use of the words being alive. It’s so much more than just existing.

Life needs to be injected with a sense of energy. Vitality. Dynamism. I’m not saying that you have to be an irrepressible ball of energy for every moment of every day. As we all know, afternoon naps are very important. Necessary, in fact. I might go so far as to say sacred. You get my point.

In all seriousness, though, life needs to be filled with fun. I think that with the right approach you can live a life where you feel alive and invite welcome surprises into your life. It’s about being optimistic: having faith in all that is good, having faith that things will work out in the end. I don’t want to get sucked into the negativity and cynicism that seems to be all too commonplace nowadays. It’s one of the reasons I tend to avoid newspapers and watching the news on television. Some might call it a form of naivety, but I really don’t care. I want to feel content with things as they are in my life. And I do.

I think that we could all benefit from putting a little bit of surprise and energy back into our lives. Life after all should be enjoyed.