The Daily Gratitude Project

Ok, I know what you’re thinking. She’s about to go all ‘Oprah’ on me.  But as many of you know I have read a few (!) books on happiness and one of the biggest takeaways is that gratitude is an essential ingredient for feeling happier.

For those of you who read my blog about my bouncing time with Tony Robbins you may recall I committed to 90 days of practicing gratitude following his routine. Every morning for 10 minutes (I’m taking his word for it) he meditates on what he is grateful for. Controversial in itself as for most meditation is about clearing the mind as much as possible. However here’s what he suggests:

Dedicate 3 mins to thinking about what you are grateful for right now, today, yesterday. So that’s everything from the wind in your hair, the colour of the green leaves, a beautiful sunset to a good cronut (!), a big break through you’ve had, your bed, the laughs you recently had with a friend. Whatever.

This is followed by 3 mins of being grateful for those outstanding folk in your life and/ or sending people love who come up for you and you feel may need it (hint: they may not be close friends and family – it’s fascinating who ‘shows up’). Just the act of sending love and good feelings has been quite transformative for me.

Finally 3 mins meditating on gratitude for what is coming into your life. So if you have a vision board – it is that! Spend time feeling yourself achieving your goals and being grateful for them coming into your life.

I realise this does not add up to 10 mins but by the time you drift from gratitude for the hot chups you ate last night, to sending your over-friendly neighbour some gratitude then launch into visualising your ridiculously amazing future you’ll find ten mins goes like that!

A couple of key points.

  1. Doing it when you first wake up in bed usually ends in you falling back to sleep. Get out of bed or at least sit up. Do it somewhere comfortable but not so comfy you end up dribbling on yourself.
  2. To help with timing I use the Simply Being appmusic so I know when my time is up – nothing like a bit of ‘calm ocean shore’ to keep one focused.
  3. I love a good multi task so I attempted the ‘gratitude-drive’ – though potentially talked to myself so not the best look let alone the concentration levels. I had a few gratitude ‘runs’ though sometimes was side tracked by the ‘vistas’ en route to Bondi.  My favourite locale is a little spot above a local beach first thing in the morning where nobody goes and the ocean just stretches out forever. The only distraction is the odd large Aussie ant crawling scarily close to my shorts.
  4. When you notice yourself drifting off thinking about whether you needed that cronut or not – just observe it (don’t freak out and tell yourself off) and bring your mind back to your gratitude.
  5. I get it. Some days are completely rubbish & you really don’t feel like it. Or you have those well meaning folk who tell you how you should be grateful for something that in that very moment you are not feeling so grateful for – perhaps a screaming child or a horrific flu that is ‘just telling you to slow down’. Hmph. Perhaps on that day you just focus on very simple things that are good – like the sun, a fresh towel or one nice thing someone said to you.

I can 100% say that incorporating this 10 mins of daily gratitude has had a huge impact on how I deal with the everyday especially those days when I’m a bit flat or running low on the happy tank. I can tell you that because at the start of this year it slid out of the habit pattern (oops) and I really noticed the difference.  I’m pledging to do another 90 days it felt so good. Thanks old mate Tony!

Try it for 7 days and let me know how you go.

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The Happy Buddha, Mekong Delta. Vietnam.

Can we make this Christmas a chillmas?

I always have a wee chuckle to myself with any annual event but this one is a classic… We know it’s coming. It’s not like..oh my god Christmas is when? Are you kidding! Nope we knew alllll year but yet you can feel the stress levels rising in the air as mild panic starts rippling across the streets.

Copy of MERRY CHRISTMAS

I’m also heavily focused on it because annoyingly for my younger brother I was born on Christmas Day.  If you don’t know me too well you will be lucky enough to escape the Becmas extravaganza and I’m not shy to admit I do love a good jingle bell rock! However as excited as I get about it, I realise not everyone shares my enthusiasm. And beyond my excitement I also peak out often, without warning and get squawky without real necessity.

The stress begins for many as we see the decorations going up in Westfield (hello 1 Nov!), hear Mariah belting out “All I want for Christmas” at Kmart with which you end up panic buying some barbells & a new flashing Rudolph for the front door & then Coles sticks a Heston ‘Hidden Orange’ chrissy pud on the end of every blimmen aisle so the pre chrissy diet is looking slipperier by the second.

As  one attempts to cross off the mother of to do lists of cards, pressies, tress, lights, groceries, hols packing, appointments and coffee catch ups galore which simply MUST BE done before the big day you seem to wind yourself into an unnecessary spin – I remember two Christmases in a row I had a couple of oopsies ‘nudging’ into the back of some Nana cars because I was so busy planning how I could  take on the world before the big day.

And down under – it’s hot. So you’re usually sweating up a storm, retreating to air con shops (smart on their part) and feeling a little bitter to those ‘o so organised ones’ parked up under their brollies at the beach. Hmph.

It also coincides well with monster hangovers. End of year parties where there are a few loose cabooses at the office send off and you pray as you wake up the next day reaching for your coconut water, it wasn’t you. Feeling dusty certainly does not add to the enjoyment of trawling about Target searching for the latest ‘Frozen’ accessory.

And then the day approaches and the catastrophizing train starts to build momentum about what may unfold. Will everyone get on? Will you have to be involved in back yard cricket?  Will you have the same conversations you’ve had twelve years running with your long lost uncle and his 5/6th new partner? Will you overeat so much that you enter a food coma and then miss the little cousins pantomime (unlikely to be  as choice as the one you used to do anyway).

So how can we take it from a stressmas to a chillmas? This year I have taken my overly honed organisational skills down a notch. I’m saying no to catch ups pre xmas if it’s going to get me in a flap. Some people couldn’t make my extremely early birthday celebrations (because squeezing into the diary of a Sydney lady is near imposs). That’s cool. I’ll see them next year. It’s not different from seeing them in November instead of October is it?

This all may sound a little selfish. And hey, isn’t Christmas all about selflessness and giving? Well, being in good spirits and enjoying yourself is selfless in my book. No one wants to hang out with a cray cray, tired, crabby pants!  This is your time to reflect over the year that has been and celebrate with your family – whether it be your blood relies, your urban family or your newly acquired mates you have forced yourself upon on your random overseas mission.

There’s a great article on being an approval whore by Martha Beck where she suggests ‘holiday season’ is where our need for approval is at an all time high…“your efforts to please become truly exhausting and other people’s appreciation is less and less rewarding. If you feel drained or angry as the season progresses, it’s time to get off the street. Learn to respect yourself. Give yourself the gift of the real you, clean and sober”.   Lets face it, you’re a much nicer person when you’re doing stuff you actually want to do, as opposed to forced. I get it. Some stuff you just have to do. But before you commit maybe take a moment to reflect & ask yourself – can it wait? Will I be better placed to do it next year with a refreshed frame of mind.

I’m not denying it, a huge element to a great chillmas is  solid (but not hysterically anal) planning but it’s also considering saying no to your third espresso martini at the work office do after midnight, taking time out for meditation or exercise (no it is not illegal to exercise on Christmas Day), buying Christmas Mince pies unless you think you’re the next Masterchef and when you do one nice thing for someone, do one nice thing for yourself. You can also grant yourself a long nana nap, let annoying relie comments brush off you like teflon and spend a little time every day practicing some good old gratitude.

Christmas doesn’t have to be stressmas. It’s our choice what we say yes or no to and whether we choose to spend time catastrophising about what will or won’t happen.  Enjoy the build up and the excitement –  remember those feelings you had when you were a kid? Search those out! After all, Christmas only comes once a year.

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The top ten from Tony Robbins. Go on. Unleash.

Now fully committed to the world of self development it felt like a rite of passage to attend  ‘Unleash the Power Within’with Tony Robbins. Coming down from my workshop high here are some of my key take aways on how to lead a fulfilling life according to Tony.

  1. The F word. There are two primary fears all humans share – we fear we’re not good enough and we won’t be loved.  My thought – massive double whammy ouch when someone we love rejects us.
  2. Core without a Swiss ball. We have 6 core needs which drive each of us. The four primal needs are certainty, uncertainty, significance and connection. The two spiritual needs are growth and contribution. The skill lies in finding a sustainable way to fulfill your needs giving you more pleasure than pain. If you have time check out one of his most watched you tubes.
  3. Get your sneaks on.Your physiology is key to change & a Tony seminar means getting over yourself, jumping and dancing like you’re back at a rave circa ‘98. Reason behind it: motion creates emotion. Dancing to 80s & 90s remixes creates positive neural pathways so your clever mind associates positive energy around your new focus.
  4. Who are you? Your identity is formed from a combo of your beliefs and values which we learn from the world around us as we grow up. Beliefs are feelings of absolute certainty. They’re either global beliefs ‘Life is xxx, People are xxx’. Or rules e.g  In order to feel happy I need to have a calorie free gelato every day.  Values are emotional states we believe are important to experience or avoid. E.g. I love snowboarding because it gives me a sense of adventure but if I’m fearing failure you won’t see me attempting a 360 anytime soon.
  5. Yes, I fire walked. And damn, it was cool! Probably the most infamous part of Tony’s seminar is a walk across burning hot coals. Tony fully preps you by changing your state (no not hypnotizing!) so by that the time I saw the coals laying before me  I was so pumped, full of energy from 5000 people cheering & hooting,  I thought I was actually Wonder Woman and stormed across. I’m not gonna lie, you feel pretty empowered afterwards. And the pedicure was still in tact.

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A pity I didn’t have this outfit on hand to walk across the hot coals.

  1. Hold up! We all have awesome useful beliefs and then really dud ones. Your limiting beliefs hold you back from achieving what you really want. Identify those and replace them with resourceful positive beliefs (a coach is very handy here). Why hang onto something that is not helpful? If you want to hear how Tony did it, call me. It was intense but worked.
  2. The past does not equal the future unless you live there. Period.
  3. Find a model. No, not a Victoria Secret model (unless you want to be one). Surrounding yourself with people who already have the results you want rubs off on you, you learn how they are where they are. Replicate it.
  4. Focus = results.I’m a big fan of this. What you focus on is what you feel, receive and deliver so without a clear and compelling vision of what you want and a plan to get you there life will happen at you not for you.
  5. Thank YOU! You can’t be fearful and grateful at the same time.  Taking time each day to be grateful for what you have (as opposed to what is missing) becomes a habit and gratitude is a key connector between humans so it’s a worthwhile investment of time! I’m going to try this for 90 days. I’ll report back.

Ok, so old mate Tony is not for everyone but I don’t think you could go and not get something out of it – I felt it was completely worth my time and money PLUS I have so much content (stand by!). You just have to get over yourself, get outside your comfort zone,  be ready to face some fears and come out on the other side a raver with a new enthusiasm for whats ahead.

“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in life” Tony Robbins. tony robbins

If you don’t know who Tony Robbins is, here’s quick bio: Motivational speaker – performed over 30,000 hours of speaking/ coaching and worked around the world with over 3 million people. From this exposure he has an incredible insight into human behaviour and his success rate in creating change for people has given him access to some of the worlds most talented. His energy and enthusiasm for life is incredibly infectious and yes, while he is cross selling and up-selling like no tomorrow, I buy his authenticity for wanting to help people lead more fulfilling lives. He’s worth millions but still trooping around the globe. Not bad for 54 years old I say. 

What to do when you have a shocker.

You know when you have one of those weekends when event after event seems to just keep knocking you sideways and you have an absolute shocker. I had one of those a few months back just after moving into my new pad.

It started at 530am on a Saturday fully pumped for a long road bike in the lycras with my mate which ended rather abruptly after a small uphill incident involving a lack of speed.

Next up, I had one of those ‘fabulous call centre calls’ to my new internet provider (TPG – FYI) who realized after my fourth call they don’t have my phone line turned on. At all.

Finding my inner chilled self, I headed off in excitement to F’kea (Ikea with an F for obvious reasons) in an attempt to buy some key purchases to ‘joosh’ up my place. Car full of stuff I didn’t ‘need’ I headed to a nursery for plants I didn’t ‘need’ when I started to notice my car brakes acting up. Ok, so the brake fluid light had come on earlier in the week but…you know how it is.

No, but actually, the brakes really weren’t working! I sketchily drove to VW via the motorway pumping the non-existent brakes, gliding across lanes liberally. When I rocked up to VW they mentioned their mechanical team wasn’t in on the weekends. When I referred to the service they had recently completed and that MY BRAKES DIDN’T WORK I recommended they have a another wee think about what they might do.

In my brand new family wagon I tootled off proud as punch at my assertion with the extra room for my F’kea key purchases. Back at my apartment building (aka Fort Knox) I started carting about 20 separate parcels into the lift and just as I transferred a final package the security swipe, plus ALL my house keys, fell out of my pocket and swiftly down the lift well. My iPhone promptly died. Of course.  I burst into some weird tears. And no, I had not yet cut a spare set of keys. Hpmh.

After getting all the Ikea essentials, bushy plants & crap back in the car (no the car key did not go down – imagine), a new iPhone charger, a very large vino,  crashing on my girlfriends couch, an aggressive walk to Bronte, a cheap locksmith ($99 on a Sunday!) who a friend suggest I needed to ‘find someone like’, it was whilst sunbathing at Bondi a key question finally came to me. What would MacGyver do in this situation? He would get a magnet. Be grateful

Mitre Ten Bondi –bless them, had a magnet rod with a torch on the end ($9.95). Best purchase in a long time. Back at the ranch elevator I tied two bikini straps to the magnet then dangled it down the lift shaft – and after three attempts boom! Keys retrieved.

So apart from not trusting TPG when they say you are ‘internet ready’, learning that a brake fluid light means you really should drive immediately to VW, getting spare keys cut pronto and obtaining a large ugly key ring what were my life lessons that weekend?

Thank you

It was all about gratitude.  Aside from being grateful for the hours of MacGyver viewing circa ’85/’86 I would not have survived without my urban family. Not only for physical help but emotional support to have a laugh at what had transpired & not lose the plot. I was also extremely grateful for having a roof over my head and a safe car (eventually) to drive. There’s nothing like not having something temporarily to remind you of how grateful you are.