Promises, promises…

Goodness! I’ve taken a reeeaaaally long hiatus despite promises to the contrary!!!

I have to say I’ve been contending with a number of happy and not-so-happy situations. Some started out happy and is now turning out to be a bit of a nightmare…

Here’s a list of the high and low lights of what’s been going on since my last entry:

1) I met 3 FABULOUS new friends. Well, ‘met’ is kinda stretching it. I’ve never met them personally. I took an online course about  internet marketing and these ladies were on that course too. Due to a ‘callout’ from one of them – we decided to form a sort of ‘mastermind’ group based on the course we were on. What started off as  a business group has now turned into a real friendship and safe zone where we can discuss a little of what’s going on in our lives. It’s wonderful to have a place where I feel totally heard. We meet on Skype once a week and have been since April. We’re all in different parts of the world but somehow, we’ve pulled it off all this time!

2) About the Internet Marketing course…yep, for some reason, anything to do with marketing and sales – topics that have always repelled me before – is something that’s attractive to me right now! I don’t do it often enough but I decided to follow my vibes on this sudden feeling of wanting to learn more about marketing etc. So, I did and I’m continuing my education with another online marketing course right now. I don’t know where it’s all going but I know it’s going to lead somewhere interesting.

3) I love the online world and for the past couple of years, I’ve been dreaming about working exclusively on the net. I’m a writer/editor with a ‘real world’ business but more and more, I’ve noticed a shift towards working online. I’m receiving work opportunities from clients in the US and Singapore which means I have to work exclusively online via Skype and email. This suits me just fine 🙂

4) Okay, they all seem like highlights so far so here’s a low light and it’s a pretty big one. I started working with my first US client through a series of fortuitous events. He runs a women’s website and he sent out a call to his subscriber list (it’s a list that includes thousands of women from all over the world) about his search for a copywriter. I felt compelled to apply and didn’t really think I would be accepted but after a rigorous online interview process that involved a ton of writing and editing, I got the job! It was all sunshine and roses in the beginning. I felt the Universe had led me to this job and even though, I don’t really have experience as a copywriter, it seemed like I was a natural. He loved my work without me having to give it much effort.

Seems too good to be true, right? Well, it was. For reasons I cannot fathom, the boss man is now often rude and negative (he was nothing but sweet before). It could be that he’s having personal problems or whatever but there’s not reason to be rude! I won’t go into the details but it was long fall from being the ‘favourite child’ to ‘the resident leper.’ I’m currently trying to deal with it all and it’s super hard! In fact, I find that my own inner demons are coming out in full force. The voices in my head that say “who do you think you are? You’re no good at what you do, no wonder he’s attacking your work!” Other voices chime in including the one that says “you’d better suck it up, who knows where your next client and paycheck will come from?” etc….

I’m in ht midst of working things out and needless to say it’s haarrrrdddd despite everything I’ve learned about being happy!

So, that’s a quick update. I recently bought a book called “Trust Your Vibes” by Sonia Choquette who is a six-sensory spiritual teacher. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve decided to follow my vibes and I’m going to try and do that with my personal life and with my work problems.

My vibes told me to start writing in this blog again…so here I am! Here’s to keeping it going 🙂

Advertisements

Mind Like Water

Sigh! I’m still in a blue mood because of the loss but I’m forcing myself to get back into a normal routine.

I have to say that doing anything – even washing my hair or talking on the phone – feels like a humongous effort so sitting still and staring at the TV did bring a measure of comfort for a while. However, I’ve decided that two whole weeks of stepping out of my routine is enough. Anything more and I’m afraid of treading into dangerous “I’m Feeling Terribly Sorry For Myself And It’s A Great Excuse To Do Nothing” territory.

In the spirit of getting back to ‘normal’ I have attempted to start on one of the many books I bought earlier this year – remember this post? I’ve started on Getting Things Done since I feel that I haven’t done much of anything over the last couple of weeks.

The book has turned out to be a good choice. I’m only on page 14 and I’m already inspired by David Allen’s approach to productivity. His style is a comforting mix of practical and surprisingly (especially for a book on organization) spiritual ideas.

Allen talks about the “Mind Like Water” Simile :

In karate, there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input, then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact. The power in a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle; it comes from a focused “pop” at the end of the whip. That’s why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands: it doesn’t take calluses or brute strength, just the ability to generate a focused thrust with speed. But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.

Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your email, you staff, your projects, your unread magazines, your thoughts about what you need to do, your children or your boss will lead to less effective results than you’d like. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.”

Wise words indeed. It applies to work and to life as well. I’m now trying to use this principle to deal with what I’m facing. It hasn’t put a huge smile back on my face but I have to say that it has certainly brought a tiny sense of balance back into my life.

I can’t wait to see what else David Allen has to say….

photo credit: http://www.ojaiwordfest.wordpress.com


What I Learned From….Jane Fonda

Through my readings (and my own experiences) I’ve discovered that life just gets too hard and happiness levels plummet when you have to make all the mistakes yourself or if you have to experience everything yourself before you gain wisdom. It’s much more efficient to learn from everyone else.

You can learn plenty from a friend, mum or dad, your neighbour and maybe even your cat! For instance, I’ve learned from my cat, Charley, that it’s always good idea to take time out to rest and meditate everyday:

I’ve also learned something really interesting from Oscar-winning actress, and ’80s home video exercise queen, Jane Fonda (that hair, those leg warmers!!!).

Back when I used to do Jane Fonda workouts at home (yes, I admit I followed Jane’s videos with much enthusiasm!), something she said in one of her videos really stuck with me: “It’s really important to have strength, stamina and flexibility.”

Jane was talking about exercise of course but I’ve always felt that it applies to life too.

When you think about it, if you have enough strength of character to pick yourself up and dust yourself off no matter what happens, stamina to stay on track with your goals when you feel like giving up and flexibility to make changes in your life when what you’re currently doing isn’t really making you happy, you’ll be able to handle anything that life happens to hurl in your direction. Plus, you’ll probably feel quite pleased with yourself for being so darned clever at gracefully dealing with problems that would floor a lessen being!

There’s just one little problem with Jane’s illuminating advice. How the heck do you build strength, stamina and flexibility? Jane, of course, recommends an exercise regime that includes weight lifting (strength), aerobic moves (stamina) and yoga (flexibility). Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply outside the gym so I’ve had to fumble about devising my own plan on how to improve on each one.

For me, strength comes from my spiritual beliefs. I’m continuously building my stamina – essentially cultivating patience – by practicising meditation. As for flexibility, well I have to admit that I can be a tad rigid (read: stick in the mud). So I force myself to try new things every once in a while (eat a restaurant I’ve never been to, try kickboxing even though I don’t think I’ll like it) to stay pliant and kick up my ability to adjust to new and/or unforeseen circumstance.

All in all, I’ve found Jane’s advice is sound (in the gym and out of it) but it’s hard work. Now, if only there was a strength-stamina-flexibility pill I could take…..

Jane Fonda pic credit http://www.mindbodygreen.com


Pick-Me-Ups

I have to admit that sometimes, I just don’t feel like being happy. I know, I know – this totally goes against my Journey To Happiness Experiment and my personal pledge to continuously find ways to be happy. Sometimes, I wonder what possessed me to make such a pledge!

There are times when I feel like wallowing in self-pity, eating a ton of ice-cream, chocolate and peanut butter (in any combination but when things get really bad it’s usually chocolate peanut butter ice-cream eaten using a Snickers bar as a spoon).

On days like these, I just want to curl up all day on the couch, wrapped in the pale, yellow blanket my Mum gave me for Christmas, to watch every single movie on the Astro movie channels no matter how bad the movie is…. and trust me, some of them are really, really bad. Don’t believe me? Well, the last time I had a  Gloomy Glenda day, I happened to catch Dinocroc Vs Supergator on TV.

Isn’t that the worst movie ever? I mean, it’s so bad I think actually getting eaten by a Dinocroc or Supergator would be preferable to sitting through 90 plus minutes of this heart-stoppingly horrible film.

The good thing is that the Dinocroc Vs Supergator fiasco taught me a lesson. After I watched that movie, it dawned on me that that was two hours of my life that I would never get back again – ever.

So, I resolved to avoid the sorry D grade movies the next time I happen to feel a Gloomy Glenda Day coming on which happens to be today : (

I suppose the fact that I’m feeling a little under the weather (headachey, sneezy) has a lot to do with this overwhelming ocean of self-sympathy that makes me want to get under the yellow blanket again and reach for the remote. Fortunately, I dredged up just enough willpower to avoid that trap this time, focused on what I’d learned from my Happiness Library of books and turned instead to the video (at the end of this post) that served as instant an pick-me-up. Studies show that it’s possible to boost your happiness just by employing simple tricks and tips, some of which can take less than a minute.

Among the most effective happiness boosters:

1. Looking up (literally)

Turning skywards can give you an instant happiness hit. This has something to do with the mind-body connection, which makes sense since we naturally tend to look down when we’re miserable. To get the most of this pick-me-up, just keep looking up at the ceiling or the sky for about 60 seconds to improve your mood.

2. Aromatherapy.

Catching a whiff of a pleasant scent can put you  on the path to happier times. Just-baked cupcakes, the smell of rain or my personal fave – fresh laundry.

3. Pets.

It’s been proven time and again that animals have healing powers. Petting my cat Charley never fails to uplift me. Even if you only have access to Animal Planet or a funny video on YouTube, watching/interacting with animals is an effective mood booster.

Speaking of YouTube, I here’s my personal pick-me-up that totally shifts my mood from positive to negative every time I view it. It’s an SNL Digital Short by Andy Samberg which lasts just over 2 minutes. He’s made some forgettable shorts but when he gets it right, it’s absolutely hilarious. I think Samberg is a genius! Some people might disagree (citing big-brained award-winning science types) but hey, Einstein never made me laugh this hard!

Enjoy!


The Joy Thieves

Joy Thieves are everywhere and they’re usually camouflaged which makes them really tough to spot.

So, what are Joy Thieves, I hear you ask (okay, maybe you don’t care but I’m going to tell you anyway)?

Well, Joy Thieves are what I call the little things in our lives that create a massive decrease in happiness levels.

The first biggest mistake we all make in our search for happiness is to assume that just because we’re not hungry, cold and don’t have a terminal illness, it automatically means that we must feel ecstatic all the time. The second biggest mistake we make is that it takes a huge change to create a difference in our happiness levels.

A really good Joy Thief example from my own life is my hair and the regularity of bad hair days. This might not sound like a big problem compared to let’s say not having enough to eat or a place to live but I’ve realized that just because I’m not as badly off as some of the people in this world, it doesn’t automatically make me feel thrilled about my life.

You may have heard of Malcolm Gladwell (who also seems to have troubles with his hair) and his fantastic book The Tipping Point, which is essentially about how little  changes can make a big difference. Gladwell says that one of the reasons he wrote the book is to inspire people to start ‘positive epidemics’.

In his website, Gladwell proclaims,”The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started and it can spread very,very quickly.”

In the spirit of starting my own positive epidemic, I’m determined to identify my personal Joy Thieves so I can create a huge wave of happiness with little effort.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far and what I’m doing about it:

Horrible Hair

I have wavy hair and I live in a humid climate – needless to say the two don’t mix. If I don’t blowdry and apply product my hair tends to curl up in every conceivable direction – needless to say, this makes me want to scream every time I look in the mirror.

Solution: Tried going for a weekly blowdry at the salon and it turned out to be too expensive and time consuming so I’m currently learning to blowdry my own hair and have invested in an anti-frizz product that works.

Jump in Joy: 7/10

Cleaning

Unlike some people, I don’t naturally pair the word domestic with the word bliss. I hate hate hate doing housework – the mopping, the dusting, the ironing and the general cleaning. The Engineer is given to bouts of cleaning fits but isn’t the type to do it everyday. As a result, our house often winds up looking a little more pig sty and a little less palace.

Solution: We recently hired a domestic to come in every other week to keep things from entering the crazy cluttered territory.

Jump in Joy: 8/10

Workspace

When I started working from home, I used the dining room table as my workspace. This made the entire living area in my apartment look messy and unwelcoming. It also had an adverse psychological effect on me. Every time I walked in the front door, I felt like I had entered an office and was forced to deal with a powerful awful urge to sit at my computer and work!

Solution: I have converted one of the rooms into an office space and had great fun shopping at IKEA for this reason. It’s nothing fancy, just office supplies, a place to store my files and everything neatly arranged and within reach but it definitely works for me.

Jump in Joy: 8/10

So there you have it – little changes, big jumps in joy. There are many more Joy Thieves lurking in my life and my aim is to shine a spotlight on each one and I’ll share them here once I do. It’s such an easy path to more happiness, I just have to take it!

Pics credit: my.telegraph.co.uk; diminishinglucy.com; anythingabteverything.wordpress.com


Lizard Liz The Inner Critic

It’s Monday, my least favourite day of the week.

Even though I work as a freelance writer, it’s a myth that people who work from home are essentially, pajama-wearing, TV-watching layabouts who work sporadically and when the mood hits. I have to say that ever since I began working from home, I’ve been working harder than I ever had in my life!

In order to keep my sanity in the midst of working on the sea of articles that I’m currently wading through, I thought I’d take a quick break and share a Illuminated Idea that struck me out of the blue (as these types of ideas tend to do).

I’ve come to realize that while it may seem that there are a number of issues that make us unhappy or at least mildly displeased with ourselves and our day-to-day routine, the general feeling of less-than-thrilled tends to orginate from just a one or two issues that affect of our lives.

For instance, if your confidence level is low because you feel your boss has it in for you at work, that feeling is bound to radiate into other areas of your life like your marriage. You’re more likely to snap at your husband when he says dinner’s a little to salty ‘coz you’re already feeling sore about your what’s going on at the office.

So, I decided that I should really work at finding the one or two issues that create the most unhappiness in my life and here are my findings:

1) My waistline

2) My bank balance

The problem is, one expands while the other shrinks and it’s not the right one doing the expanding/ shrinking.

When I feel fat, I don’t feel like meeting people, which makes me feel reclusive and unattractive which leads to me declining invitations to social events which leaves me feeling even more reclusive…you get the picture.

As for my bank balance… well, I’m extremely fortunate that I have a seriously understanding spouse who handles the finances (plus no kids to worry about) but I recently realized that a part of my self-worth is affected by the amount of money I have in my bank account!

This might seem pretty normal to many people but it was a horrible eye-opener for me. I’ve been waiting for a few checks for some of my writing projects but they haven’t arrived yet (such is the freelance life) and I’ve been watching my bank balance get smaller and smaller. It seems to be in direct proportion with how I feel about myself – smaller and smaller.

I’m going to have to find a way to get over this. Working out to get a little more trim and earning more money will certainly do the job but I need to do something to lift my mood now.

Meditation usually gets Lizard Liz (what I call the eternally dismal, negative voice inside my head) to shut up but it’s not always possible to sneak off into a corner, sit cross-legged and get into a ‘loving kindness’ kinda mood.

Instead, I find these 3 methods are really easy to use at any time, so I’ll share them here:

Keeping an eye on my mind

When I find myself rattling on and on inside my head, I try to mentally step back and look at “Lizard Liz” (who, btw, looks like a lizard wearing a fancy hat with flowers on it). I tell her that she needs to quiet down and I use the kind of  tone I would use on a small, bewildered child. This helps me feel in control and allows me to dismiss Lizard Liz’s rattling criticisim.

Changing my posture

It’s hard to feel ‘useless’ or otherwise unworthy when you’re sitting upright and have a big, silly grin on your face. If you’re at a meeting at work, you might want to leave out the silly grin but look for an opportunity to smile at someone so your mood gets lifted. This helps me push Lizard Liz (or Detrimental Dan/Nagging Nancy or whoever it may be in your case) to the back of my mind.

Separating constructive from destructive

Sometimes, I notice that Lizard Liz actually has something worthwhile to say. If I’ve been lazy and not checked my article before submitting to the editor, Liz usually pipes up with “what if there’s a ton of mistakes and the editor never calls you again.” While the words are a little extreme, the message is sound. I should check my work before submitting it to the editor. I find Liz usually goes silent the moment I do what I’m supposed to do.


Genius Or Snake Oil Salesman?

Good God – I’ve done it again! I went out and purchased yet another book – I’m officially out of control!!!!!

This time, my crime involves a book by Paul McKenna called “Change Your Life in 7 Days”.

McKenna is also the author of  such bold titles as “I Can Make You Thin”, “I Can Make You Smarter” and “I Can Make You Rich.”

To be honest, I have no idea why I bought this book except that “Change Your Life in 7 Days”  is such a DARN outlandish enticement that I had to check it out for myself. Also, the topic is related to my Journey To Happiness. If you want to get happier, you have to change your life in some ways, right? (okay, clutching at straws but I have to find a logical reason for buying the book!)

Anyways, I  jumped on Google the moment I got home and it turns out McKenna is a British dude  who – get this – used to be a DJ but who is now a master hypnotist and NLP practitioner. That was the moment when I first felt stirrings of misgivings. A DJ turned hypnotist????

Things took a turn for the worse when I happened upon a 2008 article by UK’s Daily Mail during my Google search ( why did I Google him after I had bought the book? Damnit!). The article had the disturbing title of “So Is Paul McKenna A Genius Or A Snake Oil Salesman?”

Apparently McKenna was responsible for getting talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to quit smoking and assisting Courtney Love to lose weight. His book, I Can Make You Thin, has helped turn him into a multi millionaire (in pounds, not dollars) but critics remain unconvinced.

Apparently Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority banned his advertising campaign for claiming to be ‘the most effective weight loss system available.Lose weight and keep it off.” The guys at the Authority seemed to feel there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that people using McKenna’s method would lose weight and stay trim forever… and I had just spent nearly RM70 on this guy’s book – uh oh!

Oh well, I suppose I should keep calm and carry on since I’ve already bought the book. Plus, in honour of my Journey To Happiness I really should withhold judgment and try to stay positive.

The book comes with a hypnosis CD (which you’re warned not to use while you’re operating heavy machinery i.e driving etc) as well as a DVD.I immediately downloaded the CD into my iPhone the moment I got home but I haven’t listened to it yet because I’ve been terribly busy today with 2 fashion articles for a women’s magazine. I still haven’t started on my third article, a property review, which I’m totally not looking forward to. It’s due tomorrow so I’ve got to get cracking on it but it’s going to be even more boring than it usually is because I’m writing it after the fun fashion pieces.

Gosh, I’m really not too chipper today am I?! Either way, I’m going to try the 7 Day thingee and see if I can’t do something amazing like stay cool when dealing with rude people in the service industry (really hard to do ‘coz I have a bit of a short temper).

But first….the dry, dull, dreary property review…sigh….