Do you want to be Right or do you want to be Happy?

Do you want to be Right or do you want to be Happy?

(This is the first post in the series of “Things I want to tell my kids before I die”.)

As 2017 comes to an end, I have been doing some reflection. I am taking an inventory of my life: what is good, what no longer serves me, and what I can improve upon. I noticed during this holiday season how earnestly people want to be right when they express their viewpoint. I can relate. I was and at times can still be that person who HAS to be right. We have a country divided by differing viewpoints. The same thing happens in families. We suffer because other people are not agreeing with us. We suffer because others are not complying with our wishes. Some of us even lash out because of these differences. We make harsh judgments. We say things that are unkind. This creates tension and hurt feelings. What I love about New Year’s Day is the blank canvas it represents. What are we going to create in 2018? Do we truly want to be happy or do we want to be right? As we head into this year, here are three intentions I will carry with me to ensure it is a HAPPY one.

  1. CHOOSE KIND: This is indeed my biggest intention for the year. Last week I said good-bye to a beloved cousin who passed away before old age had a chance to set in. He was 63 years old. His sister spoke these words during his eulogy and I intend to keep these words with me always: “Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who make the journey with us. So… be swift to love, and make haste to be kind.” This says it all!
  1. BEING IN A STATE OF ALLOWING: I intend to be in a state of allowing, allowing others to have their own opinions and to have their own journeys. I will allow others to carve their own path. When I disagree with someone, we can agree to disagree. We can accept each other’s differing viewpoints without diminishing either person. Allowing is the opposite of resistance and control. Allowing and accepting others as they are, creates ease and flow. It creates an atmosphere of freedom as opposed to restriction and limitation. I intend to allow myself to be free to be me. I intend to allow you to be free to be you.
  1. STAY IN ALIGNMENT WITH MY BEST SELF: We all have our moments that our best self shows up, moments of charitable acts, and compassion for others, kind words, selfless giving, and true bravery. We all also have our moments that we are not aligned with our best self, moments that we would rather forget. These are moments of judgment, anger, hatred and cowardice. I intend to have more moments where my best self shows up in 2018. How will I do that? By making myself a priority….by eating right, getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, meditating, exercising, and reflecting. Making oneself a priority is paramount to being aligned with our best self. Putting ourselves first should not be confused with self-centeredness. This is especially important for women to acknowledge since most of us are conditioned to place ourselves last on the list of priorities. It was my biggest hindrance for decades. But, no more! Today, I give myself permission to take care of myself first and KNOW that everyone is better off when I do just that.

I am keeping it simple here for 2018…only three intentions to frame my days with. Will I succeed? Sometimes I will. Sometimes I won’t. I am not a saint after all. When I fail, I will forgive myself and set the intention again. We always have an opportunity to begin anew. HAPPY New Year everyone! Wishing you all alignment with your best selves in this upcoming year. The world is counting on it!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

One Last Thing….if you enjoyed this post, sign up for monthly newsletters and join the community of people who want to make positive changes in the world starting with themselves. https://westchestercenterformindfulnessandwellbeing.com

When the going gets tough…Take a Self-Compassion Break

When the going gets tough…Take a Self-Compassion Break

We all have moments where we feel we don’t measure up. A friend described a scenario to me that was so relatable. She was describing a low point in her life on a beautiful spring day as she was walking in Central Park. She was looking around and saw people pushing carriages, holding hands, playing Frisbee, and laughing. She groaned. She believed that these seemingly happy people must have received a manual that she somehow missed on how to be happy. She had a veil of darkness that prevented her from plugging into the Well-Being that is there for the taking, the Universal Flow of Life. This was one of her darkest moments but also one of her brightest moments, as it was the moment that she realized she needed help.

All of us have moments that are dark. AND we all need each other. It is in connection that the light can enter our darkness. Being connected to our own inner self is vital for our Well-Being. When I am struggling with any negative emotion, I connect to myself by taking a self-compassion break. I learned about self-compassion from Dr. Kristin Neff. To learn more about the research behind practicing self-compassion: http://self-compassion.org.

Practicing self-compassion is similar to treating yourself like you would your best friend. I use it in my parenting a lot. Parenting is not for wimps. It can be really tough especially when adolescence hits. When I am feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed, or any negative emotion, this is what taking a “Self-Compassion Break” looks like for me.

  • I take a deep breath.
  • I acknowledge that whatever it is I am going through is tough. I say to myself “This is difficult.” Once I acknowledge the difficulty and accept that what is happening in the moment is what it is, I tap into a immediate sense of relief. I can feel my shoulders drop. I relax a little.
  • I then say to myself,  “I am not alone. There are millions of other parents who go through these difficulties.” This is a real switch from former beliefs that other people have the answers and I am the only person in the dark. This forms CONNECTION. This lifts the veil of isolation.
  • I then place a hand on a part of my body in a gesture of love to myself. If no one is around I may place my hand over my heart. If I am doing this out in the open, I may place my hand on my arm and stroke my arm in a reassuring way. I am sending love and kindness to myself. I say “May I be kind to myself as I go through this difficulty. May I send myself love.” I tell myself that I am doing the best I can. Then, when I am able I say a couple of affirming statements, such as “I am brave. I am facing my challenges wholeheartedly.”
  • I usually end my self-compassion break with a mantra that I find helpful such as “This too shall pass.” “The Universe is always conspiring for my benefit.”

By the time, this process ends, often just a couple of minutes, I have shifted. The great news is that I can do it at any time and it helps me become connected even when I am alone. It is also a great process to model for your children. Children start to become critical of themselves in grade school. We tend to think it is motivational to be critical of ourselves, but research has shown this is not true. Self-criticism can induce anxiety and depression. Cultivating self-compassion is protective against anxiety and depression.

Spring is here! I wish you renewed hope, peace and joy. The next time your inner joy is muted by grief, anger, frustration or sadness, try a self-compassion break. Send me your comments about your experiences. Would love to hear from you!

To join the movement of Mindful and Compassionate Communities and to learn more about our programs, click on these links:

https://westchestercenterformindfulnessandwellbeing.com

https://www.facebook.com/mindfulcompassionatecommunities/

Parenting

Parenting has been called a rewarding job, a thankless job, the worst-paid job, and the most challenging job on the planet. This job of parenting has no special training, yet we are so motivated to succeed. Sometimes, we feel at a loss. Instead of a boss giving a review of our job performance, we parents judge our own performance and we do so quite harshly. Our children can also give us some bad reviews. Spouses can point the finger at us as well. We compare ourselves to others, others who appear to have it all under control. THEIR kid is captain of the team, on the honor roll and never disobeys. Sound familiar?

I have been a mom for almost 33 years to 4 amazing human beings. I say that with the utmost humility. I do not take credit for their amazingness. I took my hits as a parent. I have had rough patches for sure. I made huge mistakes. I beat myself up for those mistakes. That has all brought me on a path to finding a better way, a way of acceptance, compassion and truth.The truth is that our children are human beings that we have the honor to share a life with for a short period of time and much of what happens during that period of time is not within our control. I have become passionate about helping other parents with the challenges of parenting. It can be isolating, scary, and daunting. But once you find acceptance and self-compassion, and let go of comparisons, the joy that accompanies parenting will return. This is a form of awakening, becoming a more conscious parent. It takes new habits, new skills and practice. But it can be done. If you want to learn a different way of parenting, parenting from the inside out in a demanding world, please check out the workshops I am offering:Parenting from the Inside Out