Mar 172014
 

5960724577_8124ba8874_b(Tony Hisgettflickr)

Happy Monday, guys. I hope you had a lovely weekend and that the upcoming workweek doesn’t fill you with too much dread.

The article of today is actually exactly what it says: Three tricks to get happier. Super simple, written about before by a million people (myself included.) Total no-brainers. But some messages are worth repeating. Some messages need to be out in the world phrased in as many different ways as possible.

Three tricks to get happier after the jump.

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Feb 242014
 

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 (Picture by Andrew Chin)

There’s so much material available these days on self help and self improvement. So many books, so many online magazines, so many blogs. And it’s great. Truly. I’m so happy that all this information is out there. I really believe it can do a world of good.

But as is the case with the Internet, you can get lost in all this information. You start with one little LifeHack article but before you know it you get sucked in. When you finally snap out of it HOURS have passed. You’re hungry, you’re late and that deadline is drawing near.

Let’s look at a different way of self help reading or even less self help reading in order to really self help.

(…Talk about shooting myself in the foot, but oh well)

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Oct 152013
 

We as a people, are content-obsessed. Constantly refreshing our Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, continuously on the look-out for something new to entertain ourselves with. A new viral, a new blog. A lot of us, myself included, are more preoccupied with getting information into our system instead of putting things out into the world ourselves.

We don’t read as much anymore, not on paper anyway. On-line it can’t be too long either, because we’ll get bored and start looking at cute puppies on YouTube instead. We browse Tumblr, 9Gag, read tidbits of celebrity gossip or on-line feuds. Because it’s easy. Because we don’t have to do anything than click and scroll. We should be writing, but instead we read quotes about writing. Instead of working out, we reblog fitspiration pictures.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with (some of) that. The input is how we entertain ourselves a lot of the time! Reblogging for the win, being on social media is fun, and reading about doing stuff instead of actually doing stuff can serve as learning or getting inspired. But the scale is massively tipping into the ‘I passively take in information’-direction, up to a point where it worries me a little.

Additionally, by continously putting information into ourselves, we get sort of ‘stuffed’. This can clog up our output channels. I notice this within myself. The more I read random, superficial stuff, the less I write myself. When I take in too much (useless) content, my own output doesn’t flow as easily, you know?.

So I was thinking, what if we turned that around?

What if instead, we started to entertain ourselves by creating output instead of through requiring constant input? What if we focused on creating output instead of feeding ourselves with input? What if we started getting obsessed with putting stuff out into the world?

Instead of reading about writing, actually write something. Instead of looking at that cool Nike commercial, go work out. Instead of looking at the pictures of an experience on-line, go outside and have that experience. Instead of reading about other people on-line, why not go out and meet new people?

Let information or content come out of you instead. Put stuff into the world instead of continuously requiring to be entertained with new input information.

So today, think about your usual input-oriented pattern. Do you go on Twitter and Facebook, how often do you refresh websites, on-line magazines and blogs? Do you create enough or do you want to create more?

How active or how passive are you right now in your day-to-day-living?

And why not today, before you do your usual round of getting information into your system, sit down and think to yourself:

What do I want to put into the world right now What do I want to create today? 

Active entertainment is not only healthy for body and brain, creating things from within yourself gets you more in touch with what matters to you. Which makes you happier and makes you go in the right direction more often!

And creating things in your life is not just in the creative-type way. Sure, it can be creative in the sense of making art, designing, writing your own article or just journaling or doodling for yourself. But you can also create with your body, whether it’s exercise, dance, yoga or any other physical activity.

Alternatively, if creativity doesn’t have your real interest, you can think “What do I want to create for myself today?” A clean and organized environment, some alone time, a healthy recipe, more knowledge about a study topic, peace of mind by getting a dreaded task out of the way.

What do you want to create in your social life? More fun gatherings with friends, more one-on-one quality time, more time with your family? See if you can bring that into existence.

What do you want to create in the world? If you want more people to understand how you function with your disorder, you can write an article about it. If you want to create more general friendliness or happiness for others, start with yourself and take care of someone in need in your environment.

Instead of focusing on getting input, try to focus on creating output. And let me know how you feel when you do. I can always use something new to read. Oh…wait. ;-)

Kisses.

Aug 212013
 

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Proudly presenting the only fruit I had in Hungary up until yesterday morning. (Bananas not included: I brought about a crateful of those with me from home and had them for breakfast for the entire first week of our vacation) 

A particularly windy and not-at-all warm morning in Hungary with Manfriend still sound asleep, me and my idiotic morning person tendences wake up. Bored and hungry, I pull a sweater over my head and stroll towards the minimarket for breakfast. I decide to get a cup of coffee while satisfying another one of my basic needs: Internetz.

There is free Wi-Fi at the reception so with coffee in hand, I park my butt on a bench outside and check my work e-mail (lol no) browse Twitter and Tumblr. While I am sitting there, drinking my coffee and tending to my pathetic Internet addiction, a Whatsapp message conversation transpires between me and my best friend Angel.

Somewhere in 2013, Angel made herself a weight loss goal to reach before her 25th birthday: 30 pounds. A short, curvacious Cape Verdian girl with stunning smile and the most gorgeous waist-length curls ever, she looked good at whatever weight. But I knew she was heavier than was good for her, and that she weighed more than she wanted to weigh.

Already looking great in my eyes, after setting her goal, slow but steady*, she started look great in a smaller package. It was so gradual I didn’t even notice it on my own. It wasn’t until a mutual friend pointed it out to me I really gave her a ‘wait a sec’ lookover. She proudly told me she had already lost 15 pounds by that point. All of a sudden I could see it. Not somewhere pinpointable on the body, but visible overall. She looked great, and only started to look better.

I went on vacation when she was only a few pounds away from her actual goal. I didn’t know if she had made it so I inquired. She reported she did: She had lost the 30 pounds!

“How does it feel, sweetheart” I typed, in all honesty expecting something along the lines of an excited “Great!” and “I am so happy when I look in the mirror!” or “I can’t wait to go shopping” or “I love the muscle definition.” But she didn’t say anything like that. Instead, she told me what it really felt like to her:

“Like my body is healing itself. That’s how it feels. By giving it healthy food and moving it I gave my body the opportunity to, and now it is healing itself. All this time I had a Diesel engine and I was giving it the wrong fuel. That’s not good for your body’s performance.”

She added “Now if only it wasn’t so damn expensive to eat organic I could start giving it bio-diesel!!!”

Sitting there on a bench, drinking a hardcore double dose of caffeinne on an empty stomach, what she said humbled me. It reminded me of the most important thing that happens when eating healthy, exercising and taking care of your body: The body heals itself.

If you give your body the right ingredients and the proper amount of exercise, you create the right internal environment. When you stop giving your body the wrong things, you take away a source of continuous stress for the body to deal with. Without the stream of junk food, sugar, alcohol or whatever other vice, the body doesn’t have to do execute immediate damage control all the time. Instead, it can focus on other things. Healing itself.

I wrote something along those lines before in Girl Meets Yoga, just phrased differently: Your body loves you (read or download that section here). It will try to get you healthy again if you give it a chance.

And when it does, you will feel better. Healthier. More energetic. Maybe you’ll sleep better. It might help your mood, your sex life, your concentration. Maybe you’ll feel minor ailments go away. Maybe you’ll even notice that a bigger health problem will become less dehabilitating over time.

Humbled by my conversation with Angel, I looked at my coffee and mentally ‘tsk’-ed myself.

I’m healthy, sure. I haven’t let myself go completely, but that’s not my great body awareness or discipline. It’s just the habit of green juice in the morning and salads for lunch I have at home. My obsession for high intensity (and slightly insane) yoga takes care of the rest.

But I’m not at my healthiest. My high percentage raw food days are so far behind me I can’t even see the celery stalks in the distance anymore. I drink more coffee than I should, I eat more meat than I ever intended when returning to non-vegeterianism** and I think Tony Chocolonely could continue to exist based solely on my Caramel&Seasalt chocolate purchases.

Angel hand-delivered me my favorite type of inspiration: Catapulting me right into action.

Immediately after our conversation, I downed the rest of my coffee*** and walked back into the minimarket. I got myself half a pound of grapes, a 1.5 liter bottle of water, some veggies and some whole grain bread. I had the grapes and a whole grain bun with peanut butter for breakfast. I did some yoga postures in the toilet facilities (lack of privacy and excess of wind gusts outside) and freaked out a cleaning lady with my backbend. During the day I drank a lot of water, had cherry tomatoes, more whole grain bread. I just tried to eat sort of healthy****.

Right now I work with what I got; but I at least make an effort. Back home, near a juicer, Bikram yoga and actual grocery stores I can continue to do so a lot more effectively but the underlying point remains.

Because Angel made me aware of a very basic thing. By eating right, exercising, and other healthy behaviors*****, we are creating space and opportunity for our bodies to heal themselves.

Think about this for a second. Forget about weight loss, looking better naked, Nike twitter updates, abs or pecs, Instagrammable pictures, postures or track records, daily food intakes, the struggle of chosing healthy food over junk food and the effort it can take to get up from the couch to exercise. Instead, think of the favor you are doing your entire body.

Think of it not as a challenge, but as an opportunity, the possibility of creating health by doing what you do. Think of the positive effect you’re having on your internal organs, your digestive tract, your skin, your brain. Think of the nutrients you give yourself by eating healthy, the endorphines and muscle exercise you treat yourself to every time you have a great work-out. Think of the favor you do your blood sugar levels and your cholestorel by abstaining from cupcakes and McDonalds.

Think not about what you are giving up, but think about it as giving. To yourself. You are giving yourself something. You are creating the optimal environment for your body to take care of itself, of you. Just give your body what it needs. From thereonout, trust it and watch what happens. Heal Yo’ Self.

I know I am going to put some more effort into my health habits from hereonout.

Partly motivated by looking forward to referring to this blogpost with ‘(an) Angel made me do it’, ‘touched by (an) Angel’ and ‘On the wings of (Angel’s) inspiration’.

*I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how Angel pulled it off so I asked and here it is: Angel changed her diet to mostly pure, natural food, based on protein and fats, veggies and fruit and some slow carbs like sweet potato and brown rice.

She also created a quite impressive gym-routine. Five or six (!) times a week she would work out: 2 high intensity cardio work-outs, 2 weight training sessions, 1 low impact cardio and 1 yoga session. My favorite thing she said was that yoga wasn’t really exercising – she said it felt more like ‘opening up and connecting with her body.’

**Not going to lie, I changed back to meat-eating for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was bacon. That reason has been getting out of control a little bit.

***I couldn’t throw it away. It was COFFEE. I mean, REAL, actually made from coffee beans, ACTUAL COFFEE. I haven’t had any non-vending machine-made-from-powder-and-bullshit coffee in a week.

****A for effort for the rest of the day but for dinner I had the most horrible cheese pizza in my life and need a licensed therapist to help me deal with it. There was feta on it. 

*****I feel this can range from rest days to enemas, massages to meditation, saunas to juice feasts. However ‘normal’ or ‘eccentric’, I’ll leave the interpretation of healthy behavior upto you. 

Jun 032013
 

So. I was thinking about motivation. More specifically how we start doing things. To be even more specific, I started thinking about that one moment where it happens: We actually start.

We start to do something new. A new routine emerges. We finally do that thing we’ve been putting off for a while. We get up from the couch and get into action. We stop procrastinating.

What happens in that moment? What is that defining thing that creates the momentum? I think it’s in that thing where the real shift happens. In that moment, that magic happens; in that moment change begins, new habits start, new roads are taken.

I don’t know exactly what happens in that exact moment, except that it is definitely that happens on the inside, because of something on the inside. 

I don’t know about you guys, but my friend can tell me how awesome running is and orate for hours about the benefits – it doesn’t make me run for jack. Yet, when I remember the article I once read about running being about as effective as antidepressants, I will put on my running shoes and lap a few miles.

I can read a million recipes for chia pudding, a type of salad or a juice, mentally acknowledge that it sounds nice and never think of it again. And one morning I am in the mood for something healthy and I fall in love with cherry-chia pudding, balsamico-strawberry salad or cilantro-juice, all by myself.

My father can tell me to look in a certain direction for my career: I will listen, nod politely and not really do anything with the information. Until suddenly I am overcome with a sense of purpose and frantically start writing letters of application because I want to work more, and in that specific field.

People can tell me I should go to yoga, but I will ignore their encouragement. Until I feel it click. Suddenly I feel it, it’s happening on the inside. And on a surge of that, I go to yoga. People can tell me to start writing again, but I will not do it. Then one morning it will break out of me and I am writing until my fingers are blue with ink*.

Nothing happens for me, not until I feel something click, not until some inner spark lights a fire on the inside. My behavior doesn’t change until I feel it resonate with something within.

With that in mind, I took a look around and realized that almost always we look for motivation outside of ourselves. We look for the people we admire, the things other people are doing, books and articles on how to motivate yourself — You might even be here on my website, looking for it.

And it can motivate you, definitely – but only because it sparked the fire that was already ready to ignite within you, only because it adds to the final weight that pulls the lever down. And I started thinking, that you could make that thing click or that fire happen, easier, more often, all by yourself.

  •  Really get in touch with yourself.** We have so much impulses coming in that it can be hard to figure out whatever the hell is happening on your inside anyway. While what’s on the inside is actually the most interesting part! What can help is turning down all the information coming from the outside; spending more time alone and off the Internet. You can also just turn up the volume of your inner impulses by stream-of-consciousness writing, or just paying more attention to yourself while you are going about your day.
  • Literally think “what do I want?” more. We are all a bunch of people-pleasers and we tend to think of other people first. While it’s perfectly healthy and normal to reason from YOUR own perspective! Once you attune yourself to that you become used to thinking in terms of what you want instead of what (you think) is expected of you or what you think you should want. Certain themes and impulses will come up more often or more forcefully, and when you start acting upon those and it feels good, “right” for you in a way, this can start doing the trick without any outer stimulants!
  • On that note, ask yourself more questions like that! What would I like? What do I need? In life, in love, in business, in friends, in food, in exercise? What is good for me? Not because you see it’s good for someone else, but what is good for you specifically? You are the expert on yourself. Start asking yourself all the expert questions.
  • Trust yourself. Turn on the inner GPS more often/all the time; if you give yourself a little more wiggle room, you’ll learn to wiggle in the right direction***. We have the tendency to think of ourselves as unmotivated while in fact, everything we do when we are motivated is just as much who we are as the lazier parts. If you stop forcing yourself into things you ‘have to do’, you might find yourself naturally levitating towards the things you ‘want to do’.

Honestly, a little more faith in your inner workings and yourself as a person might very well be the way to find lasting and honest intrinsic motivation. Especially if you add a little silence and respect to the soul to the mix.

You might be clicking or burning away on all the right things, just because of those.

Thumbs up & Namaste, babies. Have a lovely week.

*YAY for being left-handed. 

**Not in the dirty way. On the other hand…if you think it will help I am not going to stop you. Go nuts. 

***I LOVE the word ‘wiggle’. 

Nov 262012
 

Look. If it were up to me, I’d skip any temperature below 20 degrees and just live my life in shorts and tanktops. But despite my obnoxious Universe Does Everything What I Say attitude, I haven’t figured out how to control the weather yet. Until I can put that on my resume under Impressive Skills, I am just going to have to deal with seasons, the appropriate outfits that go with them and the activities suited for them.

And I gotta say, it’s not all bad. Fall and winter started growing on me. I like fall and winter outfits. Lots of layers, long-sleeve dresses, snuggly sweaters. Big cardigans, Uggs and high heeled boots, and scarfs (I love scarfs!) Red lipstick and dark colors. Christmas party dresses.

I also started to like fall and winter activities. Forest walks with Lin. Coffee-to-go orders the size of my head. Disney movies under blankets. Getting drunk at my work’s Christmas lunch (and pretending really hard that I am not) and ending up in my best friend’s bed eating chocolates. Good stuff.

I decided to compile a little list to remind myself of the lovely things I can do this fall and winter. Now, onto the Autumnified and Winter-minded Ideas and Activities:

  • Go for a walk in the forest nearby. Will either bring boyfriend, friend or a dog I’ll steal. Then tea at home, big socks on.
  • Bake a big pumpkin pie. And apple pie. And blue berry pie. Do a lot of baking, basically. It’s nice and warm in the kitchen and nothing says comfort than home made treats.
  • Have lunch with my mom at Lof Der Zoetheid. I’ve been dying to show her that place for months.
  • Recreating the perfect hot chocolate I had on a date at Cafe Demetres in London, Ontario. Gorgeous, rich, delicious. Or wait. I think that was the guy. The only way I could differ between my date and the hot chocolate were the little marshmallows on top of the latter.
  • Spend an entire day in bed watching the first season of Once Upon A time, because it is amazing. Bonus points if I can get Manfred to watch with me. Or at least nap while I watch.
  • Buy two big ass chunky sweaters to wear on cold days. And maybe a new scarf.
  • Spend an afternoon in the department store looking at all the cool kitchen stuff. Then go stare at dresses, gorgeous make-up and buy a cupcake*.
  • Get shit faced on champagne with my BFF.
  • Go out for a run when there is frost on the ground and trees. It may be cold but it’s always so pretty.
  • Invite my high school friends over for a long, leisurely dinner and drink cocktails after.
  • Take Manfred out for a great Italian dinner, go see a movie, and then cycle home while holding gloved hands.
  • Get a few goofy little holiday gifts for people that I love.
  • I love love love hooping but I don’t do it in this weather. So I’m going to wear warm but tight clothes, put on gloves and a beanie and take out my hoop for some much missed hooping in the park.
  • Go over to my parents’ place, have a really really really long bath while reading self help books and slathering myself in Ritual products.

The lack of Christmas enthusiasm might be noticeable;  I love having dinner with my family ; the food and spending quality time with my loved ones, but other than that, not very Christmas minded. I am not a big fan of the songs or the trees or the crazy. Don’t be alarmed, recent studies have shown that I do have a soul.

Do you have any good Fall/Winter suggestions for me too? I’m already getting into it by lunching with Lin. Enjoy your Monday, cupcakes.

*…and maybe call Manfred to complain he isn’t rich enough yet. 

Oct 222012
 

“When you realise most of your life will be consumed by normal days rather the extraordinary ones, you feel motivated to raise the overall quality of these normal days” – Steve Pavlina. 

Maybe it’s just my life that’s very normal, but my regular days are: regular.  I work, I work-out, I go do groceries, I have dinner and I go to bed. Hopefully I saw someone I like in between. No amazing accomplishments every day, I don’t go to magical places every day (unless my kitchen counts, which in my opinion it does) nor do I have a special event or something every day.

I love my regular days, though. I love being at work, in my house, eating dinner with Manfred in front of Australian Master Chef (LOVE IT) and going to sleep in our damned-mosquite ridden bedroom. And I believe you can make the regular days exactly the reason why your life is so beautiful and special. And here’s how you do it.

  • Try to do something new or different somewhere during the day

A small but big way to make every day unique is by adding an original experience or by giving a routine a different twist or flavor. It can be a big one, like doing something (scary) for the first time, trying an interesting sports-class or dance lesson, but it’s also perfectly fine to keep it small: Try a new recipe, take a different route home, sit with someone else at lunch, buy flowers on your way home, go for a walk somewhere.

You can also change it up by doing something extra or different to your routines. Shower at night instead of in the morning. Put on different music while cooking or studying. Read a book your boyfriend likes and you have yet to understand why. Add a series of jumping jacks or push ups to your exercise routine, or maybe a Beyonce Dancebreak.

Basically add or change something in your usual stuff to make your day more memorable. A great way to shake things up and sometimes you find stuff you really like!
  • Indulge a little (or a lot)
I am a big believer in spoiling one’s self – not in a crazy dysfunctional bankrupt type of way, but in a cute healthy self loving type of way. By treating yourself on regular days too, in whatever tiny way, you make your day more special. You continuously add to your self love evidence, resulting in more self love and self-esteem which leads to a happier, more radiant you. Bonus points there, right?

So treat yourself! A facial mask, a dessert, a yoga class, some organic vegetables, a coffee or tea to go, a 30-minute power nap, a glass of wine. An early night in or a late night out. A cute cupcake or a wheatgrass shot. Some alone time or some cuddling. Include a hey-I-love-you-gesture to yourself in every day.
  • Spend time with your favorite people
P.I.A.B. People = Puppy In A Blanket People. People who make me feel like I’m a little puppy in a blanket: all warm, protected and cute and cuddly. It’s good to be around your loved ones. I find few things more amazing and gratifying than being around my oldest friends, my new friends and my wonderful family.

So visit your best friend, your mom, your favorite co-worker, an old buddy from the gym or invite your cousins over for dinner. Take a walk with your significant other. However ordinary the day might have been, by hanging out with them you make memories that you can always keep and that adds something wonderful to your normal life, doesn’t it?
  • Spend time with yourself
I know a lot of people recognize this: I need at least some form of genuine alone-time in order to function properly. If not, I become…unpleasant. To say the least.

But it’s not just for functioning, it’s also for optimal functioning: By spending time with yourself you become more at ease with being on your own, which is good, and get to know the important stuff about you! Alone time is often when you truly figure out your real goals, your desires, what you want to do, how you really feel and that will help you guide yourself into the direction you want to go in!

Also, the time you spend with yourself you can devote to truly take care of yourself. See Self-Love. Figure out what amount of me-time is adequate and what you should add to make your days a significant amount more amazing. And then add that.
  • Work on something extraordinary every day

Whether it’s the baby room, your novel, your dissertation, your drawings, your paintings, your website, your meditation practice, your starting business, your music, your wardrobe, whatever: Devote some time to that thing in your life you love more than anything else.

Work on that thing that you regard as extraordinary and most important, work on that something you would like to finish before you leave this earth. As little as five to ten minutes, whatever you have to spare: This way your normal days are infused with value and importance.

Normal days are nothing to sneeze at. Everything might be regular and ordinary, but you’ll be bringing that little ‘Extra-’ that will make everything special. Have a wonderful Monday, everyone.

Aug 032012
 

While completely failing to stay off the Internet (but with a sort-of legitimate reason because I wanted to write a few more articles for when I’m away from my website), I stumbled upon Gala Darling’s fanfuckingtastical list of 50 Things To Do Before Summer ends. It’s awesome, go read it.

My personal Top 10 from this list are the following:

  • Wear something totally inappropriate & go dancing
  • Lie in bed in the morning, with the windows open & good music playing loudly
  • Take an outdoor yoga class
  • Buy a hula-hoop & start using it! 
  • Have a slumber party with a friend & go out for breakfast in the morning
  • Get a massage which makes you feel as if your body’s melting
  • Buy a fabulous sun-hat
  • Spend some quality alone time in saucy underwear
  • Carry a tiny water-gun in your purse (doesn’t this sound like the best idea EVER?!)
  • Lie around in the grass with your sunglasses & a pair of headphones on

And my personal additions to this list would have to be…

  • Go to the best icecream parlor in town and buy an extravagantly large icecream, with whipped cream on top.
  • Go to the park with hooping buddy & BFF Lin and some good music and practice, practice, practice!
  • Put open all the windows in my house, play some Rolling Stones and make breakfast for the boyfriend
  • Hang out with friends in the park
  • Spend a day with my cousins and have water balloon fights
  • Run for an hour in the morning — and then do nothing for the rest of day.
  • Have a picnic on our balcony
  • Go to another festival (timetable-wise virtually impossible, but who knows when time travel starts happening)

What do you still want to do this summer? Please tell me, I’d love some more good suggestions to incorporate in my own final month of summer!