I’ve decided to honour myself this year. Why? Because life is simply too short not to. And in order for me to do great things in this world, it has got to start with me. It’s really as simple as that. You can’t keep the fire burning without remembering to add logs, can you? Nourishment, relaxation, love, kindness and a commitment to wellness are what it’s all about.

Here’s How:

  1. I’ve decided to commit to completing 12 wellness challenges this year. One a month, to be exact. These will all be documented over on Wise + Well, so be sure to catch up with me on there. I’m also producing some extra material on there mainly focussing on minimalism and ethical living. This month, my challenge is daily meditation. Boy is it hard. More to come on that one.
  2. Respect my gut. I guess I mean this quite literally in terms of what I put into my body, but also I’m referring to respecting my gut instinct. When I feel the answer ‘no’, I will try my best to vocalise that word. And the same goes for ‘yes’. Our internal guidance system is there for a reason, we just never listen to it.
  3. Priotise. I find it so easy to get carried away in my thoughts and mindfulness is a major theme for me this year. Along with this is the need to prioritse what’s truly important: time with my loved ones, creativity and fun. I sometimes get things really out of order on my priorities list. That’s usually when negative side effects occur; funny that…
  4. Tell myself the nice words that I tell my friends. Would I look at my friends when I’m with them and tell them what I don’t like about them? No, of course not! I would compliment what I adore most. So why should it be any different with myself? If a friend is down in the dumps, I want to encourage them to get back up again. You don’t knock em’ while they’re down! So why on earth don’t I do the same for myself?
  5. Pay more attention. Again, we’re heading back to mindfulness here. Already this year I’ve been making more effort to pay attention to how I am affected by my surroundings, by the foods I eat, the people I interact with, astrology and the weather. This life is an ecosystem and it’s important I try to maximise optimal living conditions and settle into a niche that allows me to flourish.

Do you have any self love tips? Let me know below! I would love to hear what you’re doing to honour yourself in 2017.

 

Photo via Unsplash

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I’ve been thinking about needs today and how often we think about what it is that we actually need. Or perhaps I should say, how little. I’m specifically referring to material posessions here; not emotional needs. That latter list is lengthy and should be taken care of.

There was a great article published by Forbes a couple months back looking at why we should spend our money on experiences, rather than material things. I encourage you to give it a peruse. Essentially, when we look for happiness in things, we consistently end up disappointed. We soon realise that that thing didn’t bring us the joy we had initially hoped for and so set the bar higher and keep on accumulating. We keep on with our dissatisfaction and the vicious cycle continues.

The problem is that by looking for happiness in material things, we’re forgetting that our exponential evolutionary growth means that it’s never long before something better is available on the market. When this happens, naturally our dated object is less appealing. And when this happens, we’re convinced we need to get our skates on and keep up with the latest and greatest. Otherwise, we’re missing out.

But what if all these posessions are burdens? I mean, think about it. The more ‘stuff’ we acquire, the more space we require to store it all. That means we need a bigger apartment or a bigger car which carries the impact of greater cost. We might even get ourselves into debt, all in the perpetual mission to keep putting stuff in our treasure chests.

There are two reasons we might purchase a material posession. The first is because we need it. This usually isn’t something we get excited about. It’s a basic. It’s not something we think will necessarily bring us happiness, but rather something that we know innately to be essential in our day-to-day lives. The second reason is that we want it. We don’t consider it an essential, but rather a luxury. Those are the two categories you see: basic & luxury. The basics are those things that allow us to live comfortably. The luxuries are things we can definitely do without, but we enjoy the idea of having in our lives and so we long for them.

I always find it surprising how little I find myself missing from home when I go away camping. If I have the kit to keep me warm and can zip open the door to beautiful surroundings, that’s enough. I don’t need the plethora of things that I keep around my apartment; I’m out in nature and this beats any number of throw pillows and decorative candles.

So what is it that you actually need? This varies from person to person. But ask yourself the question – particularly when you’re longing for a material item. What is it that you think that item will bring you? Will it satisfy what it is that you’re truly longing for? Often times you’ll hesitate and realise that there’s an ulterior motive behind trying to acquire that thing. Is it so that you don’t feel left out? Because at the end of the day all you really want is to feel accepted and feel a part of something? Is it because you think that by having that thing you’ll become a tiny bit more like a particular person you admire? Maybe you’re unhappy with the person you are and you think that you can somehow shop your way to a new you?

Firstly, you must stop. Apart from the essentials that you know you need, consider what it is that you truly want in your life and ask yourself honestly if that material posession will bring you it. Then, get rid of the stagnant, unwanted stuff that is lying around, collecting dust, not bringing you any happiness and take a fresh look around.

Without all the stuff in the way, you are able to see a bit more clearly. You may not like what you see, but it’s what’s there regardless. And the only way to change what is unwanted is to look it in the eye and understand it.

 

Photo: Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m sat on the bus in my usual spot: front right where I’ve got the extra legroom. I use this extra space to stretch free my limbs after a day under the desk – squashed and sedated. The volume in my headphones rises and the drums sound; I’m excited that it’s Friday. I feel like a kid treated with ice cream for passing her test with an A. I feel the reward for the hard work endured. I feel the release from a week spent in suppression.

As we drive the familiar route home, passing the same shops and pubs that we pass every day, I note the Friday excitement in the strangers buying their beers, relaxing in the sunshine and metaphorically letting their hair down in whichever way pleases them best. I sense the air of freedom, the air of quiet rebellion as we weave through the streets. It’s as though everyone stepped off their platform or bus or out of their car sometime after 5pm and through the portal to another realm. In this place we pursue what feels good, whether that’s raucous or restful doesn’t matter; we let ourselves drift in the direction of pleasure, something we forbid ourselves from during the week.

It doesn’t matter what is planned for the following day: what time you must arise, how trying your day might be; it’s Friday and thus anything is possible. You will find a way to cope tomorrow with that which was done today.

The result? Empowerment. You like the challenge and as such you pursue it. You feel the sense of urgency and this pressing presence, this reminder of your mortality that makes you realise that if you do not pursue that which feels good, what else is there? What are you working so hard for each week if not to allow yourself a small release at the end of it?

From this delectable taste of freedom, chaos is born. It emerges in the form of abusing our bodies with substances, lack of sleep, and those dramas of the early hours of the morning that wouldn’t otherwise happen. When we are caged, we abide; when we are free, we spiral.

Friday becomes Saturday and Saturday, Sunday. In the blink of an eye it’s a ‘school night’ yet again and we climb back in our cages, though it does not feel good and prepare for another week ahead. In case you haven’t realised it yet, we – like any other species – were not born in a cage; we do not yearn to be placed in a cage. It is not our natural state and hinders us from doing what we came here to do. And the polarity of our mind-sets between the workweek and weekend only further remind us how bad the suppression makes us feel. Yin and yang: elation and suppression all in one week, every week.

So what is the kind thing to do? What can we do to look after ourselves? If you’ve got the money saved up to support yourself for several months without employment, leave the job you loathe and pursue that which feels good. If you don’t however – which applies to so many of us, particularly those with dependents whom must be supported – use your free time to do that which feels good and only that. Don’t be doing what you think you ‘ought’ to be doing, but do what makes you feel better. If you’re taking care of yourself, what would the best action be right now?

To put it another way: if you have a close friend of yours who is feeling suppressed in their job, they dread going to work and feel depleted when they return, what would you tell them? Think of someone you truly care about; what would you encourage they do in their free time? It would probably be something like: take a class you enjoy, cook your favourite foods, take a warm soak in the bath, pursue that hobby, and do some exercise for stress relief.

If we fill up our free time with that which feels good, this expands into all areas of our lives. It is natural progression; it is the law of attraction. This ‘taking care of ourselves’ spills into what fills the hours of 9-5pm because that’s all that can happen. Pursuing that which feels good becomes second nature, to the point where we must shape our entire lives around this value.

You have nothing to lose by giving this a go.

Freedom

Photos: Nikolas Tusl via Flickr and António Alfarroba via Flickr

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I’m directly in the center of the club, stomping my feet from side to side, letting my arms float freely up and above my body, inhaling the sweat off those around me, feeling the thumping of the bass and progressive overtones lifting me up and away. I am engaged in pure happiness.

“What is happiness?” Ah, the eternal question. We can each recall a time that we were happy; an activity that had us ear-to-ear smiling on the inside as well as the out. If we pluck all the leaves from the simple stem, we reveal that it was a time we didn’t feel a need to be doing anything else. It was a time that we were perfectly content right where we were, enjoying the ride; enjoying the commotion.

Meditation need not be sitting cross-legged in a quiet room, repeatedly trying to stop yourself thinking about the laundry that needs washing or the report that needs writing. It need not be beating yourself up because you just can’t seem to stay focused for more than a fleeting few seconds. Meditation can be running through the park, it can be listening to music, it can be performing on stage, it can be reading a book. Meditation can be any activity that requires your absolute presence. Forget what you think you know about where to find serenity.

In the middle of that club, where I could feel the bass pumping my blood through every capillary, where I was caught mesmerised by the specific way the lights were glimmering off the two disco balls spinning above the DJ, I was glancing over my shoulder at a man who had waited twenty years to see one of his musical heroes return to Bristol. I was looking at the way he mimicked a butterfly straight out of its cocoon, approaching life from a whole new stand-point. He was bouncing with youthful energy and emanating pure bliss. I watched the way he and his wife bounced smiles of ecstasy off each other, suddenly traveling back in time 20 years to an era-gone-by. I saw a life and a story in the music as it sounded from the speakers. I saw metamorphosis.

So if you can’t quite cope with an excess of forced still time with yourself right now; if you can’t quite face the silence and the waiting for things to fall into place; if you feel daunted by the prospect of having to shield yourself from your thoughts and fight them off as if enemies to your happiness, you can always dive in the opposite direction and immerse yourself in an activity that captivates your mind and requires you to be fully in the here and now. Don’t force upon yourself what simply does not feel good right now. Some of us need the movement before we have the calm.

What happens if we structure our days around these activities that make us feel present? If we gradually incorporate more and more of these active meditations into our awake time, we are practicing presence and thus meditation and thus experiencing happiness. Imagine if the majority of each of our days was filled with said activities. Imagine the mass metamorphosis; the awakening. It is following your joy to wherever it takes you. And you can’t even begin to guess where that might be.

Photo: austr07 @ Flickr

 

 

On Friday night I watched the brilliant Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo in the film of the same name. His portrayal as Trumbo was genius, as I expected it would be, but there was a profound message I took away from that production that haunted me still when I awoke to the gusts of rain and wind yesterday morning. That message is this: is it worth doing the ‘right’ thing if you lose everything you hold dear in the process?

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I won’t spoil the plot, but the film tells the story of Dalton Trumbo and his persecution for being a communist in Hollywood in the 1940’s. During the process of standing up for what he believed in, he was sent to prison, almost destroyed his high-rolling movie career and wreaked turmoil amongst his friends and family by isolating himself.

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Although worlds apart, I could very much relate to this inner battle that he faced. It is the reason I have pursued veganism and other seemingly ‘environmentally-friendly’ lifestyle choices: a deep-rooted desire to do what is right. Well, I should rephrase that to what I think is right. And this is just it: we are all equally entitled to our own opinions about what is best for the planet. And we also all have our own limits, don’t we? I have taken a look at myself and decided that I’m willing to compromise on diet and cosmetics. But I still enjoy the home comforts of gas and electricity and so destroy the planet in this way by consuming fossil fuels. I’ll also hop on a plane and fly across the globe at a moment’s notice, should the opportunity arise.

We all have our limits, we all assess what we can feasibly do to make ourselves feel better about how we live our lives, but bask in denial about the things we don’t want to let go of. It’s also a matter of fine-tuning the formula that allows you to achieve greatness; let me elaborate by giving three examples of people all living very different lives, but all with pure intentions to better the planet:

  1. Joe lives in a treehouse in the woodland. He hunts and gathers all his own food and his electricity runs off of power from a water wheel that he constructed himself. Joe’s ethos is about getting back to being one with nature and living the rustic life. The downside is that he’s pretty lonely living so far away from other people.
  2. Jeanette resides in London. She lives an organic, vegan lifestyle and is a health coach. Jeanette flies all over the world giving inspirational talks about healthy eating to encourage people to get off of their fast food binges and consume whole foods once more. She lives in a modern, smart house with energy efficient features, close to her downtown office. She needs to be central so that her clients can visit her easily, but the downside is that she misses the stillness of the countryside.
  3. Jack runs a pub in a small, English village. He lives above the pub and walks or cycles everywhere. His pub sells a variety of food, of which the meat and eggs are free range and he’s passionate about reducing and recycling waste. As such, there isn’t a single-use piece of plastic in sight and the pub recycles all of their packaging. The downside, however, is that he doesn’t always see the nicest side in people, considering how much alcohol is in the vicinity and how many use that poison as an escape. Jack struggles with carrying the burdens of others on his shoulders.

Who is right? Who is trying the hardest? Who is setting the best example for the next generation? We will all disagree and this is the crux. We can only do what feels good to us, because what feels good is our unique formula for happiness and the more people that are happy as a collective are what will lift up the spirits of this planet.