Tag Archives: calm

Laughing Loudly

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I once read that by making yourself smile and/or laugh you actually lift your mood.  Whether it’s a genuine, real smile or a completely forced one, it doesn’t matter.  Whenever you smile it sends a message to your brain that says, “Hey!  I’m smiling, there must be something good going on.  Let’s party!”  Plus, it often makes you feel a little silly which normally causes you to laugh…at yourself! 🙂

I’m Buddhist and I love watching videos of the Dalai Lama, whether it’s an interview, or just a biography type documentary.  He is always smiling and laughing, and while watching the video I often find myself smiling as well.  His happiness just radiates and it’s incredibly contagious!  Don’t believe me, just click HERE!  You can also click HERE to check out a hilarious video of babies laughing!  There’s just something about watching people laugh that just cracks me up.  It’s also very rewarding to make someone else laugh.  I often tell little corny jokes throughout the day in order to brighten someones day, and it’s so much fun.

It seems I’m always challenging people to do something that makes their lives just a little bit happier so here you go:  I challenge you to find something to laugh about or smile about every day, preferably several times during the day.  Try smiling at someone in order to pass that smile onto them, which will inevitably move onto someone else.  You never know what someone is going through, and maybe they need a smile.  They are incredible gifts that are free to give so feel free to give as many away as possible!  You will definitely make someones day just a little bit better.

Rushing to Slow Down

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Your alarm blares, you jump out of bed, take a quick shower, skip breakfast, grab a quick cup of coffee, rush out the door, rush to work, and then wish that your day would go by as quickly as possible.  Once you clock out you rush home, rush through dinner, rush through your nightly routine, and then go to bed.  Tomorrow you’ll wake up and do it all over again.

Why is it that we are so obsessed with rushing through life? Why can’t we just slow down and enjoy the present moment?  From the minute we wake up to the time we go to bed we are often hurrying to get things done.  There are 24 hours in a day that won’t go by any quicker no matter what you do, so why not learn to enjoy some of it?  In the morning I wake up just 20 minutes earlier than I used to in order to make a decent breakfast (which normally consists of scrambled eggs, toast, fresh fruit, and coffee), do some yoga, make my bed, and just relax for a few minutes as I allow myself to wake up.  I don’t even take my cell phone or laptop into the kitchen because I want to have a mindful breakfast, and not allow my phone to distract me.  I’ve noticed such a difference now that I start my day in a more calming and peaceful manner.  I’m not as prone to anxiety, I’m not as likely to get irritated or upset, I’m generally more productive, and I’m just much happier throughout the day.

It’s such a strange practice to actually force yourself to slow down.  We’re not used to that, and if we change our pace at all during the day, it’s normally to speed up in an attempt to get more done.  However, I’ve learned that when I speed up I typically end up making more mistakes and just tend to get more irritated.  Yet, if I slow down, I don’t make as many mistakes and actually get the same amount of work done (if not more) by the end of the day.

I recently bought a new wrist watch and I’ve now developed a pretty neat practice…when the quiet ‘beep’ goes off I stop what I’m doing and take a few deep breaths.  I also think of something that makes me happy, and I make myself smile.  Sometimes the smile comes without force, and sometimes I actually have to “fake” a smile.  Yet, even when you fake a smile it still helps to lift your mood. Try it, it works!

I want to challenge you this week to slow down.  We are always rushing to the next minute, next hour, next day, or the next week, yet there’s no guarantee that we’ll even be here.  So take a few minutes out of your busy day to just enjoy the present moment.  Remember to breathe, remember to enjoy, and remember to live.

Yoga in the Woods

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There are few things that I enjoy more than being in the woods. Out in nature, the wind on my face, the smell of plants filling my lungs, the feel and sound of limbs and leaves crunching under my feet. It gives me such peace and truly makes me feel one with the universe. I feel such happiness and even writing about it now slows my heart rate and reminds me to take a deep breath. However, I’ve recently discovered something even better than just walking in the woods…yoga in the woods. I’ve never really been a big yoga person, but lately I’ve been doing much more of it.

About two months ago I injured myself pretty badly while working out so I was forced to cease almost all physical activity for almost four weeks. I started physical therapy at that point and the first thing they had me do was stretch. It hurt, a lot, but I knew I had to do it in order to wake up the muscles that I had not been using and begin the healing process. During this course of bodily torture I realized that the stretching exercises (most of which were your basic, and even some complex, yoga moves) actually calmed my nerves, made me less anxious, relieved pain, steadied my breathing, chased away some of the depression I had been feeling, and helped to elevate my over all attitude. For this reason I began making my appointments for the morning time because it always seemed to make the rest of my day go much smoother after I had completed my physical therapy. As my physical therapy continued I started to incorporate my stretches into my morning routine at home. I’m not really sure why, as I don’t know the science behind it, and it may be mostly a mind trick, but it has really made a difference. During this process I had noticed that my depression was slowly creeping back in and I knew I had to do something. I was sitting a home last week, and as I’ve finally gotten to the point that I can walk without too much of a limp, and I can put my full weight on my foot and back, I decided to go for a hike. As I slowly and carefully walked through the woods my mind began to slip back into that comfortable and welcome place of peace and stillness. I stopped, put down my backpack, closed my eyes, and breathed. Deeply. It was incredible. Being back in the place I love after almost two months of being confined to the house and my work, truly brightened my day and calmed my entire body. I started to stretch, not even realizing I was doing it, and before I knew it I was doing yoga. Right there in the woods. I took off my shoes and my bare feet gently meshed with the ground and leaves. My muscles welcomed the stretches and my lungs were grateful for the fresh air.  I think I did this for about 30 minutes, although I had honestly lost track of time probably five minutes in so I’m not really sure. When I finished my hike and made it back to the house my mind was in a state that it had not been in a long time…complete ecstasy. I was somewhat emotional, happy, energetic, peaceful, calm, and there was not a single thing that could’ve ruined my day. 

I’ve only done this twice so far, but I will definitely continue. It just goes to show that happiness can be found in the most basic of places. I didn’t spend a single dollar, I didn’t travel to some foreign country. I was simply there, about a mile from my home, in the woods with my bare feet on the ground. That is where I found happiness. That is where I began to breathe again.