Smiling is good for us. It lowers our stress levels, which improves our health and well-being. So, we can always use more smiles.
It’s rare to catch the Dalai Lama without a smile. He often speaks about how much he loves smiles and notes that there are many kinds out there, and says “But a genuine smile gives us hope, freshness. If we want a genuine smile, then first we must produce the basis for a smile to come.”
My personal trick for producing the proper fertile ground for smiles to grow is meditation. My heart is much more easily moved toward joy the more I meditate. Another trick I have is laughter, which most often comes naturally to me. I am usually very easily amused, which is why I am often invited to rough cuts of movies and comedy performances. My friends know I love to laugh. I have found that while being easily amused sometimes makes me look like a sucker, I much prefer the benefits to the judgment of others.
But sometimes I have to generate the part of me that is easily amused. That piece of my heart can get covered up by debris caused by stress, sadness or anger. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be open to laughing. I can usually re-open my heart, but sometimes I can’t.
There is nothing more painful to me than the moment a friend is trying to make me laugh and I am firmly entrenched in a bad mood, rejecting their attempt to light the joy flame in me. When I am not in the mood to laugh or smile, in my mind I have my arms crossed, teeth clenched and I’m silently repeating, “You will not make me smile. You will not make me smile. And, you will definitely not make me laugh.”
I am not proud of these moments. I continually exercise the muscle of letting go of my negative stances, but sometimes I fail. I think I may start carrying this picture of my friend’s smiling baby, Elsie, in my wallet for these moments. If I start to move into one of my anti-smiling moods, I can just whip it out to fan away the negativity.
Life will continually throw us into situations that can strip us of joy. We can go hours without smiling. So we all need as many tools as possible in our arsenal of joy. Is there a photograph or video that makes you smile without fail? Try to remember that just even one little picture can be an important tool to create “the basis for the smile to come” as the great smiling Lama advises.
For more by Bridget Fonger, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.
No one has time — for anything. Or so it seems. Me, you and everyone we know have played the busy card to get out of doing something that didn’t seem worthwhile. That’s because time isn’t money. You can’t earn more of it and with only a few waking hours every day to get so much done, it’s easy to see why we get selfish about our schedules.
But I also know that a little bit of time can go a long way — especially when you’re helping someone else. That’s why I was really excited to read about the five-minute favor, a term coined by Adam Rifkin, co-founder of PandaWhale, as a way of building up connections and good will not just with your friends and family, but in the workplace, too.
From the article published on The Huffington Post, “Time is the currency that no one can really buy more of,” Rifkin says. “If you’re paying with your time rather than paying with cash, it’s more meaningful. Especially when you’re busy.”
Of course, you stand to benefit when you give. I wrote recently about how giving to people you know may boost feelings of happiness around giving. Imagine how different your day, or your life, would be, if you took five minutes out of every day to help someone else.
At meQ, we teach that there are four stress domains: Body, Mind, Surroundings and Connection. Normally when we feel stressed, we attempt to silence or soothe the symptoms of the body, or mind. But what we forget is that shoring up connections, good will, and positivity in our lives is what creates a strong foundation for coping with stress. It’s what feeds your resilience. (Read more about the science of meQ.)
Try It: The Five-Minute Favor
It’s about as simple as the name itself. The only rule is that it must be something you do to benefit another, with no direct personal gain/quid pro quo attached. Here are a few to try (and I’m sure you can think of many others).
Make a connection. This is one of my favorites because in a sliver of time you can create some amazing opportunities for people. (This is Rifkin’s go-to favor.) Whom do you know who would benefit from meeting someone else? Whether it’s a colleague looking for the insight that a former colleague of yours likely has, or someone new to her field who would be thrilled to connect with a more seasoned pro in that same field, whom you happen to know. Think of one intro you can make today that could open up a world of possibility.
Pitch in. See a coworker struggling under an impossible project? Offer to pick up a piece of it, whether it’s some follow-up calls or follow through on logistics. Since it’s not your project, you won’t be buried alive — and any little help you offer will likely be easy for you to do, and mean a lot to him. He won’t ever forget it.
Go out of your way. It’s easy to leave some tasks up to other people, because you’re technically not getting paid to do it. But when you go to extra lengths to make sure that, say, the right resources get into the right hands, you’re making someone’s life a little easier and they know it.
Serve as a reference. It’s not hard at all to back a colleague or former employee for a new job or opportunity, especially when you believe in them. If someone asks you, say yes, or even better, reach out to a friend or contact who’s looking for work and offer to serve as a reference when the time comes.
Give some feedback. Maybe a former coworker could use an extra set of eyeballs on her resume, or a fellow entrepreneur would love some basic feedback on her new website. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to give incisive, helpful advice. Spend just a few minutes and you’ll give that person a wealth of information to work with, and possibly change the course of her business — and her life.
Jan Bruce is CEO and co-founder of meQuilibrium, http://www.mequilibrium.com, the new digital coaching system for stress, which helps both individuals and corporations achieve measurable results in stress management and wellness.
For more by meQuilibrium, click here.
For more on stress, click here.
“Learning to love ourselves as we age is one of the most challenging things we can do,” Shepherd said on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
The truth is, Oprah says in the video, everything external eventually changes and dissipates. “But if you have cultivated the internal, if you’ve cultivated your inner life, your inner wisdom, your inner spirit, a connection to what really matters in your life, the aging process will not be difficult because you will know who you really are and you will accept it and stop resisting and pushing against what is,” she says.
Oprah says it’s aggravating to her when women lie about their age. “You’re denying, energetically, the years you have earned here on the planet earth,” she says. “You’re denying those experiences. You are denying your very existence by trying to lie about your age.”
Oprah says she understands the fear that a lot of women have about aging. “But I think that I am blessed because not only was I not defined as pretty in the culture — so it’s not something I’m trying to hold on to — but even more so than being considered smart, or a good reader, or intelligent, I started to cultivate an inner life — a life that is spiritual, a life that is deep, that is wide, that I understand that I am more than what I look like,” she says. “I’m more than what I do, I’m more than what other people’s image of what I look like and what I do is.”
That realization was an “aha” moment for Oprah. “The understanding of who you are is necessary as you get older, because as you begin to lose the external attraction, it is your responsibility to cultivate the inner attraction,” she says.
A baby elephant was inconsolable for hours after being rejected by his motherMichigan state senate passed a bill to ban animal shelter gas chambersOfficials warned that grizzly bears might becomes more prevalent in Yellowstone National Park, thanks to a scarce supply of their normal food source
Click here to read more about what’s happening in the Animal Kingdom, and check out the newest and best animal photos below:
VICTORIA – Mika Kaartinen is standing in his backyard in Masala, Finland, looking up at the night sky and musing out loud during an interview about the journey that will carry him thousands of kilometres to Canada to perform for the ancestors of the dreamers from his homeland who arrived on tiny Malcolm Island more than a century ago in search of their own paradise.
“It is really weird,” says Kaartinen, 42, about the trip he and his 26-member theatre troupe are taking to the tiny community of Sointula — population 600 and located just off the northeast side of Vancouver Island — to perform their play “Sointula” on Sept. 21.
“We had a play about the story and the history of the ancestors of the people still living there,” he said. “It’s really a strange feeling to travel there to meet all the people and see the place. We had to take this chance because you don’t get these kinds of chances normally.”
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime when you do something this crazy.”
Kaartinen said his troupe has been performing Sointula, in Finland for the past two summers. The play tells the ultimately tragic story about the charismatic, free-love-espousing, political rebel Matti Kurikka, who led the Kalevan Kansa commune in Sointula, which translates into place of harmony in Finnish.
Kaartinen said most Finns are aware that back in 1901, there was a commune of anti-capitalist Finns in Canada. But what many didn’t realize was that the place still exists and some of the people still living there are connected to the original commune, although most of the population lives non-commune lives.
Kaartinen said when his theatre troupe received a letter from Sointula residents about 18 months ago inviting them to come to perform their play, the first response was shock, followed by enthusiasm.
He said the journey will come full circle on Sept. 21 in Sointula when his troupe performs “Sointula” for the last time in the community where it all began.
“Everything started in Sointula, and we have been living this life with Sointula for the last two or three years now, and this is the last time we will do the play, at the Finnish Organization Hall in Sointula — the right place to finish it all,” said Kaartinen.
He said the troupe, who raised $50,000, to pay for their trip, had opportunities to stage the play in Nanaimo and Vancouver, but time constraints and their desire to bring the play home means only one performance in the 150-seat Sointula community hall.
“It’s the end of one story, but I also believe it’s also the start of something new,” Kaartinen said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but something will start from there.”
The current residents of Sointula, who now make their living fishing, logging, farming and in the arts, have embraced the appearance of the Finnish theatre troupe and turned the show into a three-day gathering that examines utopian life choices, past and present.
Culture Shock: Utopian Dreams, Hard Realities is bringing academics and amateur deep thinkers to Sointula for a series of lectures and events that examine the Sointula utopian dream, which at one point had about 200 people, but collapsed in 1903 after a fire killed 11 people, eight of them children.
Experts will also discuss other utopian communities in nearby Washington State, while others will examine the recent Occupy movement and its similarities to utopian ideals.
Religion Prof. Ed Dutton, who teaches at Oulu University in Finland, will deliver a lecture that connects the birth of the term “culture shock” to Sointula and the Canadian academic who spent his early years living in Sointula.
Dutton says Canadian anthropologist Kalvero Oberg, who was raised in Sointula and lost two sisters in the 1903 fire, is the father of the culture shock theory. His 1950s theory examined the stages people go through when expatriates are exposed to a new culture.
Sointula resident Annemarie Koch says Sointula has never lost its utopian roots and quickly viewed the opportunity to stage the Finnish play in their community hall as an opportunity to conduct a modern-day history lesson.
She said about 30 per cent of Sointula residents hold connections to the original commune.
“The people of this community didn’t give up, and there’s a Finnish word for that, which is ‘sisu,’ the word they use for what we call tenacity or perseverance, and some might call stubbornness.”
Koch said tickets for the conference and play are sold out.
Then the 30s, when I experimented with nearly every skin care line available. No more soap and water for me, it was time to get serious. It was that sudden panic when you realize you aren’t getting any younger and pretty soon your skin will take a serious u-turn if you don’t clean up your act.
My oily skin has been a mixed blessing. I have battled adult acne since my youth, but at the same time my oily skin has given me a chance to hold off having lines (for the most part). One thing I have noticed that does change my skin dramatically are the seasons.
Winter I get peeling dry skin around the nose area and in the summers, my skin can be oilier and it is tempting to scrub and wash my face every two hours. Probably not the best care for my maturing skin.
Erica Vega, North American Training and Retail Support at LUSH says, “Listen to your skin! We often find a routine for our skin and stick to it regardless of the season, but as the seasons change, this is a great opportunity to reassess your skin’s needs.”
Changes in temperature, humidity and how you spend your days will all contribute to a change in how your skin acts. Each individual’s skin will need different products at different times of the year (or the week for that matter!), and so you should seek products based on the desired effects rather than general skincare ranges based on your skin type.
Erica’s tips to care for mature skin in the fall:
• When skin is feeling a little dull or grimy, exfoliating can do wonders. Exfoliating aids in the natural process of sloughing dead skin , leaving it smooth and bright and decongested. Using a gentle ground scrub can keep your skin feeling supple. Or you may prefer a more invigorating scrub that will give you a refreshed glow.
• As skin matures, it will cycle through and shed dead skin cells more slowly, and the need to exfoliate will also slow down.
• Using fresh antioxidant rich oils like avocado or evening primrose can maintain or improve healthy skin function, reducing signs of aging. Look for moisturizers with vegetable butters and oils instead of mineral oil to deliver a nutritious boost to your skin.
• Massage the skin! Massage tones facial muscles, promotes collagen and elastin production, and improves circulation, feeding cells and removing toxins. Use a vegetable based oil like almond oil or a butter like shea butter to condition the skin and have a good emotional break too!
One last tip, when you are purchasing products for a specific season, try to find smaller size containers of the product. You can save money by having just enough product for that season, then recycle the container and find new products which will help care for your skin the following season.
Please let me know if you have more questions in the comments section about fall skin care and I will try and find the best answer to help you!
That’s the first question that people ask when I tell them that I got to see the Dalai Lama recently. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was in the U.S. for several appearances, including a couple of days in Madison, Wisconsin, where I got to see him.
The second question is usually, “What did you learn?” or, “What did he say?” or most commonly just, “Well?”
Everyone is hoping for a big reveal. However the question is phrased, it is accompanied by an expectant look and a sense that there might be, there should be, one answer, one word of wisdom, one piece of advice that will lead to a happy life.
And there is. And I can share that answer with you, right here and right now. But you might not like it.
Keep working on it.
Yep, that’s it. When I try to distill all the wisdom that the Dalai Lama shared, all the examples and specific practices that I heard, it boils down to this: Keep working on it.
That’s what he does. The Dalai Lama himself says that he knows he isn’t perfect, isn’t “done.” He admitted that sometimes his mind wanders during his meditation practice. And that he sometimes feels the difficulties in life get under his skin. It came as a bit of a surprise to me to hear him talk about his own need for improvement. He was pointing out that happiness and well-being are not a static state nor a divine gift, but a process. The scientists from the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, who were with the Dalai Lama in Madison, referred to well-being very specifically as a skill, one that has to be continually practiced and developed.
We’re not naive. We know that there is rarely a quick fix in life. That hasn’t stopped us from looking for the superfood that will solve our weight or health problem, the one exercise that will make us fit, one mantra that we can chant to find peace in our lives and in our souls.
I carried a saffron-colored small notebook with me when I saw the Dalai Lama, not really expecting just one answer, but hoping for a list of ideas or action items or concepts that would lead me to the answer. I didn’t write much down.
Instead of a pithy prescription that we could all record or post on our status or tweet out, what we got was acknowledgment that every day, every minute, we make a choice about whether to try to be happy or not. Choosing happiness means cultivating your compassion, your generosity, your concern for others and continuously trying to push those ahead of the negative thoughts that wander into all of our lives and constantly push into our heads.
If the idea that you’re never really done comes across as bad news, here’s some good news. The very idea of looking for the answer is part of the answer. If you want to be happier, however you construe the specifics of that, you can take actions to be happier. When you take those actions, you learn and improve and move forward. The act of cultivating happiness, in and of itself, leads you to more happiness.
There is an increasing amount of hard science validating that happiness — sometimes characterized as well-being — makes you more likely to be successful in your work, in your personal relationships, as a parent, and in other critical life roles. Focusing on your happiness, then, ends up having an impact on the roles that define you and on the important people in your life.
Just like learning any new skill, it will not be a linear progression. If you are learning to golf or to play the piano or speak new language, you know that you are going to have good days and not-so-good days. You can expect resistance, even failure, on any single day or at any particular time. Over time, however, you will see improvement. So goes the progress of achieving happiness. Even if you haven’t reached a goal of ultimate transcendent happiness, you will be getting happier.
Getting happier doesn’t mean that all hurt or disappointment or anger will automatically go away. The Dalai Lama’s message is that by allowing yourself to experience those negative feelings, you begin understand them and figure out how to transform them. Don’t drown or ignore or block the negative feelings, but use them to move forward. Keep working on it.
When I think about the Dalai Lama, my mental picture always comes back to his smile. It is not the languid, satisfied smile of someone who has accomplished something great. Rather, it is the impish, quick, almost furtive smile of someone caught in the middle of something. He looks like he is having fun. He looks like he enjoys working on it.
For more by Linda Thomas Brooks, click here.
For more on wisdom, click here.
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