Living with Intention

Living in the present is not always easy. We often have challenges that are really though, periods in our lives that are far from what we want, even some months (in my case February) that just feel overwhelming. However, every season has an ending and winter is not the exception. If I pay attention, I can feel the call of spring when is almost ready to come forward and melt the snow and the challenges of the winter and all that comes with it, and that gives me hope.

I have had some very difficult moments in life, and I want to share with you what I have learned and how did I move forward, every time faster and with better results than the previous one.

One of my earliest learnings about life management 101 was a brief lesson shared by one of my uncles when I was probably 14. I asked him how did they have so much money and abundance in their lives and he said that what he has learned from his father was that “the more you give, the more you have”. They had a fund for an annual celebration honoring the saint patron of our town and the doors of their place were open during that week of festivities and people were fed without questioning. I just loved the humbleness and the generosity of this family and that lesson stuck with me.

When I feel that there is not abundance in my life, when I am concerned about the scarcity, I always look to see how much I am giving. If I am not generous, I won’t have room to receive Life’s gifts. So, there you go, for me, this is the first step to live with intention and enjoy life at the fullest. Make room for Life’s blessings by giving free advice, giving your time, giving a smile, or giving whatever is that you need to receive in abundance and the universe will show you all the kindness you spread around.

Dreamlining

 

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Unbelievable,  2013 is about to finish! For most of us each year seems to go faster. This year was a busy one for me: starting my consulting practice, as well as an aromatherapy company, it really took a lot of my time. Between those two activities and writing my blogs, I learned that I really need to pay attention to my plans and dreams, if I want to achieve  them. I used to think that dreams and plans were mutually exclusive, but this year I had the chance to focus on my dreams and see them take form. I am still early in the process, and it’s clear to me that it IS a process and it will take time, but I feel confident and excited about them.

 

 

 

It seems yesterday when I started my vision board for a class. In the years before I had only written affirmations of what I wanted to achieve, but having a vision board helped me to see the big picture. So, today I want to invite you to start dreamlining: writing a plan for your dreams. To start, all you need is a dream, which of course is easier to say than do actually do it. We’ve been forced to settle and to forget about our dreams in order to fit in society; we need to start dreaming again, remembering what we wanted to do when we were younger and what we feel would give meaning to our lives.

 

LET’S WORK! As Timothy Ferris says in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, the best way to start is to think: -What would you do if there were no way you could fail? -What would you do, day to day, if you had $100 million in the bank? This is about doing, but you also should consider something about being and something about having.  To help you explore your dreams, describe: One place to visit One thing to do before you die One thing to do daily One thing to do weekly One thing you’ve always wanted to learn Then, look for a board or a notebook where you can put your vision board. Visioning is a powerful exercise and it will help you to keep your eyes on the goal. Once that you’re done with the dreaming part, it’s time to start planning it. When do you want to reach your goals? how much will it cost? what investment do you need to make? what are the first steps you need to take? As this planning process is overwhelming (you should be aiming for something amazing, remember Disraeli’s words: Life is too short to be small), you may want to start with the next, minimal, elegant step. Then write down the next step, and the ones you will take in the next week. Ferris recommends to determine three steps for a 3 months and 6 months dreamlines. As he says, the objective is to define the end goal and build momentum with the critical first steps.

Life will find its way to help you achieve your goals, so you might as well plan and dream big!

Feel free to share your goals here in the comments or contact me directly if you have any questions.

7 practices for Happiness

I’ve always being intrigued by Happiness. How some people can be happy regardless the situation they’re passing through and how some people cannot be happy even if they seem to have their lives resolved?
And this may actually be the key. As someone who was born and raised in a “third world” country and then moved to the “first world”, I have always been surprised by how happy people in my hometown seem to be, compared to the people in Montreal.   I have noticed that, in general, people are happier when they are with other people, when they’re focused on an activity, or focus on their loved ones. The key seems to be being Present, enjoy the moment, enjoy themselves, enjoy the life and blessings they’ve received.
Thinking about the blessings we have had through our lives brings us satisfaction, while thinking of what we don’t have yet will bring us dissatisfaction. Notice how different is to say: I’m glad I’m …. vs. I wish I were… 
When we’re kids, we’re naturally present. We enjoy the moment or we express our discomfort openly and we naturally try to be happy. We make an effort to obtain what will make us happy or we move on.
Later on in life, when we are not able to be happy, we tend to hold grudges, and as we’re unhappy, we tend to need drugs and anti-depressants. We’re not able to move on.  We tend to keep our eyes on the negative things.
If you have a conversation with a co-worker and praise her work for 5 minutes, then tell her 1 single little thing that she could do to improve, and all she will think will be that “negative” comment.
 
If we keep focusing on the negative things we perceive or are afraid of, we may soon enter in a mood of sadness, anxiety or anger, which, in turn may have an impact on everything else we “experience”, as emotions change the way we perceive or remember things.

If you want to have a happier life, we can:

1. Surround ourselves with positive people. Build a circle of friends to share the joy with us.  From what I have seen, in North America, people tend to be isolated. When we have a group of close friends and we feel taken care of, we feel supported and loved.
2. Be grateful. Count our blessings. You cannot be thankful and sad at the same time. We just need to remember that we came into this world naked and without anything. Everything that we have now is a blessing!
3. Be active. Regular physical activity keeps the body healthy and makes the spirit happy. Daily walks raise the level of happiness, the brain works better and so our bodies, so it’s a win-win situation.
4. Help other people. John A. Schindler wrote, “Live as a giving person. Those who give are happier than those who only take. Those who give to others discover the beauty in the world.” There are studies that prove that people who help other people feel better.

5. Take time to rest. Get enough sleep, relax.  Scientific research shows that relaxed people think more positively and are happier. Every hour of sleep missed lowers the positivity one can experience during the day.

6. Start our day with gratefulness, purpose and a positive attitude. I have noticed that the way I start the day, is the way the day goes. Gandhi said that he used to count his blessings for half an hour every morning.  If we focus on the positive things that surround us, we will notice more positive things. If we have a purpose for the day, we will be more present and it will be more likely that we accomplish what we want.

7.   Take ourselves less seriously. People who feel entitled to something, people who easily feel offended, and people who take themselves and the rest of the world very seriously won’t be as happy as people who can laugh about themselves.  Add some good humor to your life, see cheerful films, laugh often.

Do you have any other advice that can help us to be happier? Please, share it in the comments section and share the joy with more people.

Letting go in 7 easy steps

Life is an intermittent lesson of letting go.  We have something, we get used to it, and more often than not, we need to let it go.

One of the biggest “let go” moments happened some months ago. Last October I graduated from a Masters program and I was ready to let go of my work in Customer Service with the intention of looking for a new job and starting again my career in Organizational Development. I did this for years in Mexico and I wanted to go back to this field. I was ready to let go of the certainty while I found a new job, but I couldn’t imagine the whole picture at the moment.

I live in Montreal, a vibrantly bilingual city, that is receiving more and more immigrants every day. I had the opportunity to work in Spanish and English most of the time, I attended school in English and the first thing I had to let go, after being laid off, was of my comfort with the language.  A big portion of the jobs are exclusively for fluently French speaking professionals and my “good” French wasn’t enough.

When I moved here I knew I had to let go of the comfort of the familiar, the friends and relatives, the places that I knew and where they knew me. After 6 years of adapting myself to a new environment, I had to let go of this barely familiar environment. I thought it was a good time to flow and put my attention and my intention to the French. All this came with a little bit of frustration, for sure, but I’m someone who knows how to adapt to the new realities.

I had to let go of my previous life-style as before I wasn’t careful with the money, I wouldn’t be concerned of investments and I was always very generous with everyone who needed money. I had to let go this “no worries” attitude and be more mindful of the way I spend.  For sure, generosity is very important, but not everything is money. I’ve learned to value my time and my intention.

I also had to let go of my superficial need for consumption, buying things I didn’t need, or things I could make myself, including prepared food. Prepared food is expensive and less healthy than food that we make ourselves, but you know, no one has time to prepare bread, for example.  Food is just an example but there are many things that I can do myself, and that are not difficult (such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, creams, deodorants, etc).  I can say that I was moderately crafty, but I have discovered new interests and skills now that I have more time and less money.

But perhaps the most important thing that I had to let go was a “self-sufficient” attitude. I was the one who helped others, I was the one solving problems and I was the one who knew what to do. My ego was probably the most affected in the process, but I finally applied the common sense advice that we have ever given or received: “Ask for help”.

So, this is my reflection for you today. One of the biggest obstacles for change is our inability to LET GO of anything (attitudes, assumptions, relationships, jobs, concerns) that no longer serve us. Let go in order to get to different, new places. Let go of the past, so the past can let go of you.
let go

LET’S WORK!

Here are some simple ideas to let go of the past and embrace the unknown future.   Of course, they can be as difficult or easy as you want them to be. If you need help applying them, or letting go, please, feel free to comment or contact me directly.

1. Be honest and remember the good and the bad. Not everything was perfect and you know it.

2.  Embrace things as they come. Remember that things come and go, that no one promised us anything, nor we signed a contract before arriving to this world. Everything is an expectation and the bigger they are, more room for disappointment, so let’s be conscious.

3. Focus on what you can control. Yes, it’s not fair that people tend to hire their friends, for example, but what I can do is develop more skills to better position myself.

4.  Allow yourself to express the emotions you feel. If you feel like venting, do it, but then do something that is positive, that brings you closer to your goal.

5. Take responsibility but don’t put all the guilt on you. Yes, you may have contributed to the situation, but sometimes, bad things just happen.

6. Be open to new experiences and thankful for the positive ones. The mind receives millions of stimuli every day. Focus on the ones that serve you and be thankful for them. You cannot be thankful and sad at the same time.

7.  Relax. Think what’s the impact of this in the future. In the next 20 years, will this situation still matter? Probably no, so, just relax.

The 4 keys for Change

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

You want to be happy. You want to feel good. You want to change a situation that is not pleasant. And that’s what we all want, but how?

Past or future concept.

SUPPORTING THE CHANGE PROCESS

1. If you haven’t done it yet, this is a great time to start: choose your thoughts. You might “listen” to all of them, but you don’t have to let them stay.

You need to stop feeling as a victim so you can take the power back. The other person or the situation is no longer in control.  As Viktor Frankl said: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

When we’re in control we can change things. 

2. Identify the situation: Once that you take ownership of the situation, you can move forward. To do it, you need two things: identify where you are and where are you want to go. Once that you know both things you can start walking. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time, as you don’t know for sure if you’re headed on the right direction.

The best way to change something in your life is to find who are you. What inspires you. How do you feel about your current situation. What is the gap between where you are and where you want to be. How willing are you to make the change. Because, let’s face it: change has a price, and you might decide as well not to pay it. And that’s ok!

3. Now that you know where you’re going, you need to have a plan. Plans are not important, planning is key. You need to have a clear plan in mind and you need to be flexible about it.  A plan will focus your mind; it will filter the thousands of thoughts that come to your mind every day and let you pay attention to the important ones. Plan every week but give yourself enough free time to enjoy life and enough flexibility to be spontaneous.

4. Don’t lose faith! As one of my favorite authors, Clarissa Pinkola Estes says, “Do not lose heart. We were made for these times”. Don’t accept discouragement from anyone (including you). Don’t walk back if you’re headed somewhere. Take advantage of every effort you have made, even if didn’t work in the way you expected. As for the negative comments, well, consider them as fertilizer for the skills you’re cultivating.  People sometimes have a weird ways of reacting to change. When you’re in control of your life, some people will react, but remember that if they love you, they’ll accept you.

It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t listen to what people have to say, especially people that are important to you, but, you need to identify their intentions and reasons. Is it fear? envy? resentment? Then, don’t take it with you.

We can either make things happen or watch what happens, the choice is yours.  You just need to trust the process.