Mindful Happiness

Every situation is driven by your outlook. You’re going to go through tough times, that’s just life. Layoffs, little pay, health issues, kids misbehaving, divorce, car problems, house repairs, the list is endless. But I truly, truly believe nothing happens to you – it happens for you. There is a positive in negative events even if you need to muscle through to the other side before it can be seen.   Living with food allergies has presented challenges and worries from the start. But I find that being mindful in all my decisions and actions has helped tremendously.

So what does that mean? Well, mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensation. To me, mindfulness is a state of mind achieved through intentional living and a positive attitude. Getting rid of stuff that clutters up my time, my house and my mind, making room for what is truly important to me. It’s a lot like spring cleaning year round!

Top 6 ways to live mindfully positive:

  1. Pay Cash for EVERYTHING

Dave Ramsey, personal money management expert, says “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” And when you look at statistics such as the average American reports carrying $5,000 worth of credit card debt, he’s right!  In our house – if you do not have cash in hand you do not make the purchase. This includes everything from gas to groceries, concerts to clothes and even the family summer vacation. Setting a zero based monthly budget (every dollar has a purpose) and evaluating when and where those big purchases should be made charts the course of action. Having cash in hand for the purchase helps you to feel the transaction more… I’m less likely to spend $50 on a necklace if that’s all the spending money I have for the week.

  1. 3 year rule

Clutter is scientifically proven to restrict your ability to focus by limiting your brain’s ability to process information. This has harmful effects on your health, outlook on life and ultimately – the relationships with those around you. Start by clearing out the ‘stuff’ with the 3 year rule. If you have not used it in three years, chuck it, sell it or donate. Do this with everything from decorations, clothes, garden supplies and even your kitchen gadgets. And don’t hang on to something because “I’ve had this since college” or “my son was in 1st grade” – It’s time to let go! If you’ve not used it in 3 years, it’s not worth your space!!  Albert Einstein reminds us: Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

3.  Seasonal, Local Eating

What does eating seasonal, local food mean? Without defined standards, you’ll likely hear a range of different answers. But general speaking, eating food grown (or raised) and harvested within 100 miles of your town is considered local. This means food distribution is over MUCH shorter distances than is common. Brian Halweil, author of Eat Here: Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket, – If you harvest something early to endure a long distance shipping experience, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it might have had. Additionally, transporting produce sometimes requires radiation or chemicals to kill germs and/or  preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce.  Yuck!

So the benefits of buying local include: increased nutrients, lower impact on the earth and big boost in flavor!  The easiest way to ensure you’re eating seasonal, local food is to purchase from your local farmers market. Another option is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Many of these farms will even deliver the weekly harvest to convenient distribution locations.  Go to http://www.localharvest.org to find farmers’ markets or CSA near you.

  1. Have a sense of humor and understanding

More often than not, we are our own worst enemy. We over-think everything carrying an immense weight on our shoulders and a heavy heart. We become irritated, aggravated and annoyed at the slightest inconvenience. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! Make a conscious effort to laugh at yourself and at the ‘inconvenience’ life hands you. Stop living life likes it’s a competition and begin taking notice of the experiences (good and bad), how you feel and smile!

At the same time, understand that life is different for everything, everyone, everywhere. Having an expression of acceptance for the world and people just as they are, including yourself, is a large part of not just mindfulness but general happiness. Being able to look at the people without expectation will go a long way. Especially next time someone cuts you off on the highway!

  1. Get up and MOVE!

Notice I did not say exercise? Certainly running, lifting weights, playing soccer and other fitness activities that get your heart rate up are great. But so is any physical activity such as gardening, washing your car or walking around the block. Any activity that gets you off the couch and away from the screen (computer, smart phone) WILL improve your mood and ultimately, your focus.

6. Good music

I don’t know about you, but when songs such as the Beetles “Yellow Submarine” or Don McLean’s “American Pie” comes on, I instantly get happy. As a mater of fact, scientist have linked music to everything from increased focus, decreased stress, pain relief, increased athletic performance and many other things…. including happiness. Turn the TV off and the music on!

Everything in life is a processes. Don’t give up… just keep on trying!!

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