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.

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.

Aphei – it is kind to ask for help

Through Toke Møller,one of many teachers (although an unofficial one), I was reminded of Aphei, an ancient practice that means:  It is kind to ask for help.

 A person who

cannot

ask for help

cannot

be trusted

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see how people flourish through the helping process. During a 3-day event, we collaborated, shared laughs and information and worked together. Finally, we closed the event with a session of co-creation: a group of people presented projects, and  the rest of the attendees formed small groups and supported one of this project with our expertise, questions and suggestions.  For some hours, we became their consultants and our clients shared their needs and information about their projects. 

ask for help 2013

It’s amazing to see how this simple practice of asking for help and being open to receive it can change a person and a situation so much. The process of helping also enriches the helper, and although there are some rules that need to be considered in order to be helpful, when we help from a place of respect and appreciation for the other person, both grow.  We usually think that asking for help will make us vulnerable, but the reality is that if we don’t ask for help when we need it, the things that we fear most (losing control and being vulnerable) will probably happen.  Remember, all the problems start small.

LET’S WORK!

Think of a topic where you need some help: either input, questions or help in the execution of something. Be careful with requesting advice, as the responsibility should always rely on you and not on the other person, remember also that an advice that is not followed usually has an impact on relationships.

Be clear on the type of help you may need and find who is the best person to provide it. Ask the person if they would be willing to help you with your process, allow them the opportunity to decline, and explain briefly the topic. If they decline, say thanks, too. It takes courage to do it.

If they accept, proceed to give a more detailed explanation: what happened, what did you do, who else is involved, what do you think the problem may be, and clarify what would you like to achieve. Be open to answer questions and be challenged on your assumptions. Ask for clarification if it’s needed and be open to co-create new results. Finally, always remember to be grateful!

Feel free to contact me if you need some help : ) or leave a comment!