365 ways to energize – a daily companion to living with health, purpose, and joy

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Breathe your way to inner peace

Day 89

Sleeping tight and inner peace is something that concerns us all.

My husband shared with me this morning that he had woken up in the middle of the night with a thousands thoughts roaming in his head about the things he has on his plate to do these days. He was worried that he would not fall back asleep, as he really needs to feel rested to be able to address all of the things going on.

Most of us can probably recognize that when we feel we have too much going on and our sleep is disturbed – we can get into a vicious cycle – where we feel we are behind, which impacts our subconscious and wake us in our sleep, we feel tired in the morning; we then get less done, and so it continues.

My husband though, remembered my blog post from yesterday, and decided to calmly breathe deeply into his belly. After about fifteen minutes of deep long breaths lying on his back, he turned on his side and took a few more long deep breaths and then fell back to sleep. When he woke up this morning, he was quite surprised that he had managed to fall asleep quite easily by just focusing on his breath.

If I feel overwhelmed and need to rest, I also engage in deep long breaths like my husband did. Sometimes I take deep breaths into the nose, hold it for about 8-10 seconds and then breath out very slowly through the nose.

When I want to add one more dimension, I sit with a straight back and breathe in, touch my chin towards the chest, then I pull up the perineum and suck in my stomach, which expands the diaphragm and chest. I hold my breath for 8-10 seconds, then lift my chin back up calmly and breathe out very slowly. After repeating this 3-5 times, I notice a big shift in my sense of inner peace. The calmness I feel, prepares me for going into meditation, or makes me focused and concentrated on work.

Tomorrow I will be sharing the power of meditation.

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Four types of goals

Day 81

In the last couple of days I have been exploring the important subject of goals, why it is important to set goals and that there are different types of goals.

I have categorized goals into four types:

  1. Easy goals 2. Compelling goals 3. Forced goals 4. Dreams goals

Today I will explore these four types of goals

1. Easy goals – are goals we create the necessary time and space for effortlessly. These goals are short-term do not require that we change anything in our lives and we can reach them on our own without help. For example – going on a trip, organizing a party, doing a day hike etc.

2. Compelling goals –really stretch us. These goals are often longer term and may require perhaps that we develop new habits in order to achieve them. These lift us and are associated with joy and energy, because these are goals most likely related to areas where we are passionate and tap into our talents. Therefore, embarking on these goals and carving out the needed time and space in our lives for them does not feel like a sacrifice, which helps us to succeed in materializing them. Some examples; preparing for and running a marathon, creating a charity, starting and building a company, learning a new language, writing a book, developing new skills, becoming an actor/actress, public speaker, pianist, singer, etc.

3. Forced goals – relate to health, relationship, or professional goals and changes we know we have to make to survive. Most of us do not initiate such a change, unless we have been severally sick, been in an accident or been living close to someone who perhaps has passed away, been warned about being fired, left by our partner or faced another threat. We set goals to change out of necessity since the consequences will be too difficult and dangerous if we don’t. e.g. stop smoking, begin exercising, loose weight, stop drinking, stop loosing our temper, pay our bills on time.

4. Dream goals – which we long for and deeply want, but we somehow don’t easily materialize; goals that perhaps require that we develop new daily habits and permanent changes in our lifestyle. We recognize these goals well, if we have set them year after year without success, we feel stuck, and the goals contribute to bring us down and deflate us – the contrary of what we had hoped for.

All of us may have experienced success with the first three types of goals. For the 4th type however, which we do not seem to wrap our lives around, only some of us might have experienced success.

I will analyze and explore this goal type more in depth tomorrow.

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Around the world in 80 days & The power of goals

Day 80No one had yet travelled around the world in 80 days before the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. An American entrepreneur, George Francis Train took on the challenge and was the first man to make that 80-day journey in 1870. This achievement most likely inspired the author Jules Verne to write the book with the same title published in 1873.In 1890 Mr. Train made the same around the world journey in 67 days.

What an exciting goal Mr. Train had! And it was S.M.A.R.T = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. If our goals are created SMART – the likelihood of achieving them increase significantly.

But why should we even bother to set goals?

Because – goals transform us! They bring out the best in us! They stretch us! They bring joy, energy and confidence. They open us up to live our full potential.

Yesterday I wrote about how it is hard to create change and reach our goals.

Before we go on, let’s identify some of our goals – and which goals we are struggling with?

Are you trying to learn a new language, loose weight, write a book, or find a more meaningful profession? Or are you dreaming of a more loving relationship, to feel more inner peace, or happiness in your life? Perhaps you long to find a life partner, start a company, become stronger, more patient and less critical, drink less alcohol, stop smoking, – stop loosing your temper? Or may you want to climb a mountain, travel around the world, begin meditating, or get fit by doing sports on a regular basis…?

Before analyzing further what we possibly can do to approach difficult goals, let us first categorize some different types of goals

  1. Easy goals 2. Compelling goals 3. Forced goals 4. Dream goals

Tomorrow I will explore these goals further

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Ageing and happiness

DAy 63Today it is 63 days since January 1st. We have 302 days left to live our dreams and goals and to create a special year for ourselves.

As I wrote the number 63 – it reminded me that my birthday is around the corner as I am born 6/3. In just a couple of days, I am going to celebrate my last birthday in my 40’s, which means that I have most likely lived more than half of my life.

The fact that I am growing older does not stress me or give me angst; on the contrary, as I grow I have woken up to the importance of living life well. I do not want to waste my time and life worrying, or complain about that life is too short, or that I look older. I choose to be passionate about living it well instead- it gives me a whole lot more energy.

I have been a seeker and student for the past 20 years or so on how to live well. It has taken me time to understand and learn how to enjoy life everyday; to find happiness in the ordinary. Today I can say that I do.

I feel truly grateful that I have found “my happiness recipe.” To live with inner peace with who I am and with those I love; and that I have deeper knowledge as to what I need to feel balanced, nurtured, and fulfilled. What more can I ask for…

This is one of my favorite poems by Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

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Love is a verb

Day 45

Love is a basic need.

We know that – but why then, is love sometimes so difficult to comprehend, feel and experience?

Children are biologically wired to unconditionally love their parents, as they are dependent on them for survival.

As children mature and enter pre-teen/teenage years they no longer spontaneously live from their hearts. Their mind takes on a bigger role in order to evaluate various situations, and they develop a critical mind mostly to stay safe.

Comparison and judgment take up a greater part of their consciousness and sometimes – at the expense of their caring sweetness.

During this transition and ‘developmental’ time, they begin to look at their parents, friends and siblings with new eyes. They begin comparing and seeing their flaws, and often find their parents embarrassing. Many parents experience that their sweet and loving child appears to have changed personality – sometimes over night – and they are left wondering “where this monster suddenly came from.”

A critical mind cannot operate simultaneously with a loving heart. Being critical and being loving are opposites.

Luckily, the mind of an early teen balances over the years, and towards the end of their teenage years they become less critical. They begin learning about the delicate balance between using their mind to serve them (judging, analyzing, problem solving etc) and still being connected to their heart and emotions.

Some are better at finding that mind – heart balance – and much is dependent on the modelling of love that they have witnessed and experienced growing up.

People are biologically wired to evaluate and judge good from bad in order to stay safe. However, many of these natural tendencies do not serve us in our modern lives.

Like teenagers, if we are not aware, our critical mind can easily overshadow our heart and prevent us from living with love. According to Marianne Williamson “the highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgments.”

Most people enjoy the warmth, joy and peace that love can bring. Many are in search of love. How many love songs and romantic love novels testify to this?

Love may appear difficult and sometimes even unreachable. Love can seem like an intangible feeling that just appears, that we have no control over.

Here is what I have learned about love:

I have learned that the wellbeing of our body – being rested, nourished and energized is important for our capacity to feel and give love. If we are not well, all our attention goes to healing our body.

I have learned that a mind that is “off guard,” that is at peace, open, has a positive outlook on life, and is grateful, has a greater capacity to experience love.

I have learned that the more we appreciate and love ourselves, the more authentic we are in our relationships. We can then express ourselves in a relaxed, warm, childlike and spontaneous way.

I have also learned that we are responsible for our own fulfilment and happiness.

Finally, I have learned about living with the idea that love is a verb: That the feeling of love accompanies the generous loving actions we take. When we consider love a verb, we experience the sweetness of love – more than if we wait for the feeling to appear like it does for those newly “in love.”

When we are “in love” – there is a chemical reaction operating in our brain biologically serves to create a bond between two people in order for them to re-create and have children. After the first 1-2 years, this infatuated feeling of love fades, but that does not mean there is something wrong with our partner, which we may assume since we have fallen out of love. Love just takes on a new dimension after the first few years. Let’s call it mature love, which is based on mutual respect, understanding, appreciation and generosity.

We all have the opportunity to learn to live with love. There are few things more rewarding than experiencing the joy and inner peace that come from loving ourselves and the people closest to us.

The greater our capacity to stay connected with our heart – the more we can even learn to extend our loving heart further by accepting and appreciating strangers. This is where peace in the world has a chance.

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The Power of Productivity

Day 36Where and when are you at your most productive?

Life is too short to waste your precious time. Identifying where and when you are the most efficient and productive and using that knowledge to plan your days and life will serve you well and is also hugely gratifying.

I am sure that you have noticed that the days when it’s hard to get into a state of flow can be discouraging and energy draining.

Identifying the environments and the times of day when you are most efficient and using this knowledge to plan your days and your life will therefore serve you well.

I much more productive when I have been moving my body, which is why I like to go for a walk or do sports in the morning. I also find that when I am on a plane, train or car, I am very productive. In these environments my body is forced to be still but I am still in motion. My mind and body feel grounded and I am able to tap into a great source of creative and productive energy.

As you begin observing and analyzing when and where you are most productive, you might notice wasted opportunities; times when you are doing mindless things during your most effective time period. By bringing your awareness to this, you now have the power to turn your productivity up!

When you create results it feels good and you go to bed with a satisfied smile on your face from knowing you have invested your time well. You might even create better synergy with the people around you that you cooperate and collaborate with.

Since I love being in motion, I thought of scheduling lunches and appointments in cities a few hours away from where I live, so I could commute by train and use it as an office to work in instead of paying for one in the city.  I never actually went about doing this, but wouldn’t it be a good idea for those of us who are more productive in motion?


Intuitive eating – what on earth is that…?

Day 27Intuitive eating – what on earth is that…?

Last night I had a wow experience – related to food and eating.

I organize events in Geneva where I promote expat talents and skills within the community. Yesterday, Hiba Giacolletto, food coach, psychologist and blogger in the Huffington Post were one of the presenters, and she provided us an aha-experience.

Hiba asked the question: Is it possible to love food too much? In her family, this had been the case – where everything was celebrated and happened around meals. I understood that I also perhaps have loved food too much, but realize now, that I perhaps have loved eating even more.

I eat fast. I know it is not good for me, or my digestion, and that it is not good manners to finish before others, but I have not had it in me to stop this behavior. Until now!

What shifted for me yesterday was the sensory experience of eating along with understanding better how the body and digestion works. Hiba reminded us that digestion starts through our senses before we put anything into our mouth. First through our eyes, which is why it is important to serve the food in an appealing way. By truly taking in the food with our eyes we can already sense our mouth watering. If we in addition smell the food a little before putting it into out mouth, the saliva increases further.

If we prepare the stomach for the food coming this way, it will aid the digestion, and the food also tastes better. For me, it was a real AHA experience to prepare the eating with my senses. Try it!

Also – It takes 20 minutes for our body to assimilate the food we have eaten and to tell us if we are full. It is easy to eat too much when we eat too quickly.

If you find that you have a hard time slowing down your eating like me, put on some music and dance a little before a meal or try another way to connect with your body.

The philosophy of intuitive eating really speaks to me. When we learn to tune into our body, it will tell us what it needs. By simply being more present to our meals, we can reduce overeating by up to 30%, eliminate cravings, and boost metabolism and nutrient absorption. I like that!

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The Power of Commitment

Day 17

Are you off to a good start with your New Year resolutions? Have you been consistent with implementing the changes that you want to make? Perhaps you are feeling that it is harder to keep your goals alive now, after a few weeks into the New Year. Isn’t it frustrating that it is so hard to create change!? What does it take, you may ask yourself? Why do I keep on failing? What needs to happen in order for me to make the change I long for?

My answer in short to these questions: You need to understand what really drives you, and you need to commit! The true drivers of your commitments are your underlying values and beliefs, which can be conscious and unconscious. If you really want to make that leap that you have talked about and longed for, perhaps for years, you need to become consciously aware of the values and beliefs that are running your life. To make lasting change, you have to know why you want to change and you need to truly believe that your life will benefit from the change. Also, achievement will most likely be more important than inner peace, at least for the time being. Making a change requires focused energy that comes from really putting your foot down and claim to the world: I have had enough! I will stop what I am currently doing and begin living my dream, or else…! (You most often have to say NO to something, in order to say YES to your DREAM). When you are seriously committed, you will feel supported by a force inside of you that is strongly empowering and gets you into motion. When you are committed with your body, heart and mind, it leads you to act differently and in the direction of your dream. Your conscious or unconscious commitments are running your life whether you like it or not. Too often, we are more committed to being comfortable than going through the challenging process of creating a change. Are you longing for more meaning and to make a difference with your life?