When You Feel Overwhelmed

stressed out

When you feel overwhelmed by something, it can affect your mood dramatically. Whether it is physical or mental exhaustion, the wish to simply give up is very real and overshadows everything else.

In moments like these, the idea of curling up in a ball and dying seems very tempting. But that’s not a solution, of course.

Stressful moments will pass. It’s all a matter of time. 

So when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. This is not necessarily going to make the experience more pleasant, but it gives you more strength to pull through.

Is It Time to Spice Up Your Life?

do something crazy

When we become complacent and too comfortable with our every day lives, we tend to do the same things over and over again, getting the same old results over and over again.
Frankly, that can easily get boring and after a while quite frustrating. It might even feel a bit like the movie Groundhog Day.

If you recognize yourself in this, congratulations, because you’re aware of the problem, and awareness is the first step needed to change.

Now take a slip of paper and write down 4 activities you enjoy but haven’t incorporated into your schedule yet. Maybe you thought you didn’t have enough time for them, or you thought they were too expensive, too scary, too ‘whatever comes to mind.’
This is going to change. It’s about time you bring adventure back to your life.

Pick one of the four activities you wrote down. This will be your focus for week 1. Whether you spend a couple of hours on this pastime or a whole evening doesn’t matter, as long as you’re doing something fresh and interesting.
The week after, you tackle the next point on your list. In doing so, you will get a whole month of new and exciting experiences.

Life isn’t meant to be dull and predictable. Get out of your rut and do something crazy.

Becoming an Urban Explorer

living the adventureI love my neighbourhood. It’s a wonderful mixture of residential housing, parks, and some decent shops. It’s neither snobby nor is it poor or unsafe here (even though there have been some recent car thefts).

Most days, I have an itch to go out with my toddler daughter and explore this place. I can’t wait to set my foot out the door and play urban explorer. We go through alleys, past huge bamboo stalks and muddy puddles; we happily wave hi to dogs and their owners; we soak up the sun, jump, run, and squeeze every little bit of fun out of this neighbourhood.

And it’s not hard to do. All you need is an open mind and the desire to experience adventure. Schlepping along a toddler definitely helps you notice the little things you’d otherwise miss.

It’s amazing how much life you find right outside your doorstep. You really don’t need to travel to exotic places all over the world to get that rewarding feeling of living the adventure.

Appreciate where you live, whatever neighbourhood you’re in, and become an Urban Explorer. Take your camera along to document your outings – it adds to the fun!

The Small Things

gratitude grateful

When you wake up in the morning, and you’re free of pain;

When you ask your spouse to take out the trash, and they also do the dishes for you;

When you drop your bag of groceries, and a stranger picks it up for you.

It’s easy to take these things for granted. They seem small and insignificant, but they’re not.

When you’re having a bad day, remind yourself that you’re actually quite lucky.

If you still have all your limbs, that’s something to be grateful for, isn’t it? Many people are missing an arm or a leg or several body parts, and even though that misfortune makes life harder for them, they keep on going. They don’t give up; they grit their teeth, but they also remember to smile and have fun.

Put your problems into perspective.
Be grateful for what you have.
Be happy.

Stale Air Gives You Cancer?

stale air is a health risk

I sit in front of my computer. My eyes are dry, and I’m hot. I feel sleepy.

Then it hits me. When was the last time I aired out this room? Did I even touch the window today?

Not okay.

A quick Google search for “is stale air bad for you” shows me shocking results. A NY Times article that was originally published back in 1981 sums up everything I’ve feared:

“Indoor air pollution has been linked to a wide variety of adverse health effects, including headaches, respiratory problems, frequent colds and sore throats, chronic cough, skin rashes, eye irritation, lethargy, dizziness and memory lapses.”

And then this little sentence: “Long-term effects may include an increased risk of cancer.”

That’s it! I have to open the window, no matter how cold it is outside. I need FRESH AIR!

How to Celebrate Christmas Without Gifts

not exchanging christmas presents

While it can be fun to exchange gifts on Christmas, it can also burn a hole in your wallet and stress you out.

Why not try something different this year?

Instead of spending too much money on “things,” you and your family could agree on spending quality time together, i.e. make meals, play games, sing songs, go for walks, tell stories, and so on.

Simply enjoy being with your loved ones. That’s what matters most.

Celebrating without gifts also teaches you to feel grateful for what you have. In fact, relationships are what make you truly happy, not things. I wish this were more obvious in the western world, but the commercialization of holidays seems to overshadow this aspect.

Not giving and receiving Christmas gifts has the added benefit of preventing disappointment. No need to return or re-gift things you don’t like. No extra clutter. It’s a win-win situation, and it’s exactly what I’m doing this year.

Happiness Comes from Within

happy from the inside

We’re always striving for happiness, that ever-elusive sweet feeling we want to hold on to so badly.

But it slips away. We can’t quite hold our grasp.

Why can’t we be happy all the time? Why do we need to experience sadness, anger, and frustration? Is there really no such thing as everlasting bliss?

I’ve asked myself these questions many times, and I’ve looked at other people who claim to have found happiness through meditation (one example is Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, also known as the “world’s happiest man”).

Personally, I think it’s important to distinguish between feelings of happiness and contentment. I would consider myself content with my life. I’m not suffering. I’m more than OK. Nevertheless, I’m not always happy.

There are times when I’m sad, angry, and feel misunderstood. I’ve come to realize that these feelings are completely normal. They’re not bad per se. You could consider them signposts, giving you hints about what you need to work on in your life. They’re opportunities to grow.

Therefore, we shouldn’t chase the fantasy of constant happiness. That’s pretty much impossible. However, we can focus on feelings of long-term contentment.

Practicing gratitude comes into play here. Accept what you have and be thankful for it. Don’t complain about everything that’s going wrong. Don’t cry about all those things you wished you had but you don’t.

Know that you are perfectly lovable the way you are. Love yourself unconditionally.

When you feel content, you don’t have that urge to look for happiness externally. Happiness is right here with you. It comes from the inside.

Of course, this is radically different from what is portrayed in movies and commercials. They want you to think that you need to find happiness “out there.” I used to believe that too. From experience I can tell that you can find short-term happiness and pleasure out there, but anything worthwhile comes from within.

Gratitude Makes You Happy

being grateful makes you happy

Warm sunshine on your face. A hug from a good friend. A delicious meal.
All of these are things to be grateful for, even though they seem small and insignificant.

When you practice gratitude, you can’t help but feel happy. Research has shown that people who count their blessings experience better health, build stronger relationships, and find it easier to deal with problems.

This is also great news for couples. If you express gratitude for your significant other, you will have more positive feelings toward them, and ultimately, your relationship will benefit from it, leaving you more satisfied.

All of that sounds good in theory, but how do you actually practice gratitude? Thankfully, there are many ways to do so. Here are three of them:

1) Start a Gratitude Journal. This is not your regular type of journal. In this little book, you’ll be writing only positive things. People, places, events – anything that you appreciate can be included. It’s important not to filter your thoughts but to let your creative juices flow.

2) Say Thank You to Someone. Make it a habit to thank people for their help and the positive impact they have on your life. This is a great way to make them happy, and you will also feel ten times better about yourself.

 3) Try Gratitude Meditation. Pick something you’re grateful for and focus on it. If negative thoughts keep popping up, simply let them go and refocus on the good ones again. Do this as often as you like.

Feeling grateful comes easy to you when you’re already in a happy state, but for someone who’s going through hard times, it might be more of a challenge to allow these feelings.

What’s important is to not feel frustrated if you can’t think of too many things you’re grateful for. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

In Praise of Gratitude