Appreciation

One of the most important mindsets to have is appreciation because it’s one of the easiest ways to stay positive.  Being appreciative can take many forms, from a simple “thank you” to someone who held the door open to an entire meditation devoted to a certain thought.

Appreciating other people not only makes them feel good, but you too.  Mother Teresa said that “in the simple act of giving, you receive” and it really couldn’t be more true.  The simple act of recognising when someone does something special for you not only makes the other person feel appreciated, but reinforces in yourself that someone did something nice.  How could this not set off a cycle of kind actions?

I try to take time as often as I can to express appreciation not only for people around me, but also for things.  It seems silly, but to me it is calming to honor everything’s purpose in life.  I like to appreciate a nice bed to sleep in or a hot cup of soup when it’s cold outside.  Perhaps a bed or a cup of soup can’t tell that I am saying “thank you,” but I find that I enjoy these things even more when I think about them with gratitude.

Appreciating serendipity and setbacks is something that I think is very underrated.  I don’t believe in luck as much as I do the power of positive thinking, but sometimes the smallest thing can cause a huge shift in your life.  I also don’t think that “everything happens for a reason,” but you usually can make the best of nearly any situation so that it turns out in your favor.  I had a bit of a negative experience with a particular professor once, and though initially I was angry and disillusioned, it caused me to really re-evaluate my plans at university which resulted in a decision to graduate a year early to take an incredible job opportunity.  It’s not true that “one door shuts, another one opens,” because that’s assuming that some higher power is just going to hand you an opportunity.  It’s more like “one door shuts, so you need to find yourself another way out of the room.”  Obviously initially, setbacks are unfortunate- but with the right mindset even they can turn into something worth appreciating.  Sometimes the universe has ways of nudging us in a direction that we may not have seen before.

Of course, the most important thing to appreciate is life in general.  Being able to wake up in the morning really is something amazing.  No matter what gets thrown at you on any given day, appreciate it and own it!

Namaste, and I appreciate you for reading my blog =)

Love (and science)

As much as I detest Valentine’s Day, it seems as good a time as any to write about love.  It’s rather a bizarre concept, since it encapsulates so many different ideas.  Most other languages actually have dozens of words for “love” to describe its many incarnations.

I think that it is important to point out the distinction between feeling love and showing love in a “romantic” way.  Showing love includes gestures like flowers and chocolate and often even saying “I love you.”  Feeling love is a much deeper thing- it’s liking how something or someone makes you feel or act.  It’s not even quite the feeling of being “attracted” to someone  because we all know that following attraction isn’t always in our best interest (Fatal Attraction, anyone?  If that’s love, be very afraid this evening).  Love really is the most pure element on earth because in its truest form, it causes us as humans to feel the most positive power there is.

How?  Science, my friends.  It is science.  The reason for these positive powers are not only good vibes you send into the universe, but also oxytocin hormones- the opposite of cortisol (stress) hormones.  But good news for you single ladies and gentlemen out there: you can generate oxytocin in many ways and reap the same benefits of love without having to put on a fancy dress or pay for an expensive dinner!

Love is not just something for two people to share.  I am very wary of the concept of bestowing it all upon one person- it’s a bit selfish, and also potentially extremely destructive (putting the proverbial eggs all in one basket, so to speak).  If you are in a genuine, healthy relationship with someone and you feel real feelings of love toward that person, great!  But don’t keep it all for yourselves- the rest of the world is just as deserving of love as your S.O. is!

Don’t focus all of your positive energy on one person; send it into the world for everyone.  This sounds airy-fairy and sort of nonsensical, but the power of positivity is frequently underestimated.  Karma is a real thing- but hey, even if you’re a skeptic what do you have to lose by being kind and pleasant to people?

Here are some ways that you can increase your oxytocin to generate more love to share with the world:

  • Appreciation:  In the same way that you appreciate things about a person you love, you can appreciate things about the world and get the same or even more enjoyment from it- just from enjoying things like a warm cup of tea or a nice walk.
  • Give Back: Just help someone who needs help- carrying boxes, cooking dinner, whatever.
  • Puppies: Well, it doesn’t have to be puppies.  Positive contact with any living thing generates oxytocin!
  • Meditation and mantrasKeep your thinking positive!
  • Chocolate and mud: It’s true, they both have lecithin- a chemical used by many homeopathic practitioners to boost your mood.  So eat a few truffles or run around barefoot for awhile!
  • Sex:  Hey, it is the #1 oxytocin-generating activity.  Just throwing it out there.
  • Anything that makes you truly happy: If you’re happy, you’re more likely to exude honesty, generosity and empathy, which are similar effects to those of oxytocin anyway!
Hopefully all you single ladies and gentlemen are having a splendid day despite all of the “romance” in the air- remember, you don’t need to be dating someone to feel love!  I am sending lots of love to all of you today and every other day as well =)

Valentine’s Day

I am not bitter.

Really.

But I do detest Valentine’s Day.  I’m consistent though- I also can’t stand Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving- basically any holiday that implies that we should treat people specially for only one day of the year.  Don’t get me wrong, I still get my mum some flowers and a nice card in May and if I’m dating someone, he gets a present on that random day in February.  I’m not trying to make a political statement.  All I’m saying is I think we should all be nice to everyone all the time without having to be told to do so for one specific day of the year by corporations and/or irrelevant ancient rituals.

It means a lot more to me when a friend comes up to me and says “Hey, you look like you’re having a rough day.  Let’s get coffee.” than when some poor guy I’m dating spends loads of money on a bunch of roses (I prefer jasmine), an expensive dinner (I really like cooking), and jewellery (…okay, I do like jewellery) on some random day just because society expects him to.  Seriously.

Holidays like this promote the idea that it’s not important to do nice things for people all the time.  It’s the equivalent of cramming for a final exam- you can do nothing all year, but on one day if you go absolutely crazy it still works?  I don’t think so.  It’s a karmic fail.  Not to mention the idea that this is all bestowed upon one person!  Aren’t your efforts better spent treating friends to lunch every once in awhile or even just taking the time to call someone you don’t get to chat with too often?  Wouldn’t you rather be invited over for dinner on a random rainy friday night just because instead of having ridiculous expectations for some grandiose gesture on one very specific day of the year? Where’s the spontaneity in that?  Where’s the excitement?  Honestly, I would be happier to get smiled at by a stranger on a day that I wasn’t feeling so great than having all of those things bestowed upon me on one fateful day of the year.  I came upon this article from Women’s Health that shows that I’m not alone in thinking this way, either.  Why not give year round?

Look, I’m not trying to rain on any parades here.  If you like getting roses and expensive things and going to crowded restaurants, that’s great.  Really, I don’t judge you for it any more than I expect to be judged for not liking all that.  All I’m saying is maybe we as a society should re-evaluate our priorities in terms of how we spread kindness and treat other people.  Don’t forget, in the simple act of giving alone, you receive.