Miracles around us!

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh


Miracles!  They are all around us, constantly.  I have had a few people ask me why I chose the Aurora Borealis for my background.  My answer is, first of all because I think it’s so gorgeous!  But beyond that – to witness the Northern Lights, in all it’s spectacular majesty is to experience a miracle.

While I was living in Alaska, no matter how many times I saw the Northern Lights, tears would come to my eyes and I would stop speechless and breathless, and just behold the beauty and  – well the miracle of nature.

So I chose the Northern Lights to be the background for this blog to remind myself and hopefully others to stop for a moment and remember – as Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us –  every day we are engaged in a miracle.

 

If you have had an experience witnessing the Northern Lights, I would love to hear about it.

As always, thank you for visiting my blog.  I appreciate it.

Finding Joy

“When we are centered in joy, we attain our wisdom.”

– Marianne Williamson


Joy is defined as the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

I know when I’m centered in joy, as Marianne Williamson puts it, I feel in the flow, time stands still, I feel excited and at peace at the same time.  It’s wonderful, joyous!  But it can be elusive when I’m looking for it – when I am trying to find joy.

Part of the definition of joy: the prospect of possessing what one desires – I believe is vital.  The prospect of possessing – is operative here.

In this fascinating and important TED talk, Michael Norton discusses “buying joy or happiness.”  In it he describes that people believe that the prospect of possessing things will bring them joy – but that in reality, it remains elusive.  And instead, that people find joy instead by giving to others.

 

Please let me know what you think of this TED talk –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)

And I’d love to hear about how you find joy.

More on Happiness

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

– Anne Frank


Happiness is my favorite topic to write about, so it’s not surprising that I have More on Happiness.

In previous postings about Neuroplasticity, I’ve linked a few articles and talks about rewiring the brain.

“The truth is that everything you do changes your brain. Everything. Every little thought or experience plays a role in the constant wiring and rewiring of your neural networks. So there is no escape.”

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20120424-does-the-internet-rewire-brains

So if everything we do rewires the brain, let’s choose to rewire it in a positive way.  And as Anne Frank points out, whoever is happy makes others happy too.  And honestly, who are we to argue with Anne Frank!

Here is a great TED talk on plugging into our own happiness:

Please let me know what you think of this TED talk –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)  And I’d love to hear about how you find your own happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose Happiness!

“Make happiness the priority!”

– Barry Neil Kaufman


Be happy NOW! Make happiness your priority.  It sounds so easy in theory, but not always easy in practice.

Why should happiness be the priority anyway?  Well if we are to believe recent studies, it is consistently shown that happy people are more fulfilled, relaxed, and peaceful, even in this not so optimistic economic climate. Happier people have greater opportunities, better health, deeper friendships, more success, and so on.  So the bigger question would be, why would we NOT make happiness the priority?

So let’s say we do make happiness the priority, HOW do we get happy?  Well if you Google Happiness, there are over 78 million results!  Millions of blogs, sites, videos and posts just on happiness.   Dr. Happy  (Tim Sharp) out of Australia sends out a weekly newsletter and has a great site:

http://thehappinessinstitute.com/

I’ve adapted the following from Dr. Happy:

CHOOSE HAPPINESS!

C – Clarity of purpose and life direction! – Make life goals, and then make smaller goals for all you do. Focus on Happiness!

H – Healthy living!  Choose to eat well and stay active. Focus on Happiness!

O – Optimism! Yes optimism can be learned and achieved. Focus on Happiness!

O – Others! – Stay connected to people! Put attention on your key relationships. Focus on Happiness!

S – Strengths! – Identify your strengths and utilize them! Use your strengths to serve the planet. Focus on Happiness!

E  – Enjoy the moment!  Live in the moment and appreciate the moment – show gratitude for all you have. And CHOOSE to focus on Happiness!

Another great resource comes from The NZ Association of Positive Psychology.  A 7 week program designed to be done online – every Tuesday for 7 weeks – thus named:  The Tuesday Program:

The Tuesday Program

Please let me know what you think of The Tuesday Program–  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)

And I’d love to hear about any of your own stories about Choosing Happiness.

And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Thoughts on Creativity

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

– Mae Jemison, the first African American woman astronaut


What is creativity?  Where does it come from?  Are we born with it or do we develop it?  Can we lose it or be “robbed” of it?

It seems that some people are born more creative than others, that nature somehow overrides nurture.  But actually, research shows that, in terms of our brain, we’re not stuck with what we inherit from our parents. The brain like any muscle can get stronger or faster with practice. Practice creativity and you shall become more creative.

Recent studies on neuroplasticity suggest that we can rewire our brains based on the experiences we have – new experiences add to our storehouse, for lack of a better word, and from this we can then draw new creative inspirations, new brain connections and ideas.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love gives an interesting talk about new ways to think about creativity.

Please let me know what you think of Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)  And I’d love to hear about any of your own stories about creativity.

And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

The Beautiful Brain!

“My brain, I believe, is the most beautiful part of my body.”

–  Shakira


I cannot imagine anything more spectacular and amazing than the human brain!  It is, in my opinion absolutely miraculous.  In her groundbreaking book – Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, Sharon Begley describes fascinating new research in Neuroplasticity.   She explains that we have the power to literally change our brains by changing our minds.

http://www.sharonlbegley.com/

Begley reveals that the brain is capable of altering its structure  and function, and even of generating new neurons.  I always hated it when my father said: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  If my dad were alive today, I would give him Begley’s book and say: “Oh yes you can!”

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor gives one of the most inspirational talks on the brain that I have ever seen.  Please take the time to watch this, it is wonderful!

Please let me know what you think Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)  And I’d love to hear any great stories about your beautiful brain.

And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Our Magnificent Mind!

The mind is its own place, and in it self

Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

~John Milton, Paradise Lost



Our minds are so magnificent!  It is estimated that we think between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts in a day.  How extraordinary.

Recent studies have tried to explore how many of our thoughts are positive and how many are negative.  Unfortunately, most studies have found that the majority of thoughts that people think are negative, somewhere between 65% – 80%.

Thoughts are one of the few things we actually have control over in our lives. So why is it that we spend far more than half our time thinking negative thoughts?  In my experience it’s because we don’t pay attention, we go around unconscious and react and let old tapes play.

On one of my favorite websites and blogs, Mike Dooley (in Notes from the Universe) reminds us:

Thoughts are things. Choose Good Ones!

http://www.tut.com/resources/notes/

In our day to day life, we can make any heaven a hell or conversely, any hell a heaven, simply by changing our thoughts.

Remember today to Choose Good Ones!

Imagination and Creativity

“Creativity is imagining possibilities and making them real.”

– Marta Davidovich Ockuly


We are all creative beings.  Some of us have just lost touch with our creativity.

And for most of us, it’s not our fault.

Sir Ken Robinson believes that “imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.” Ken Robinson

In one of my very favorite TED talks, Ken Robinson argues that schools actually kill our creativity. Below is the link for the TED talk.

This is frightening and potentially destructive.  As Albert Einstein pointed out:  “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

So if most schools are not actively promoting our creativity, and some possibly even squelching it.  How can we stay in touch with our creative potential.  I believe creativity comes as a sudden insight, and when we are quiet and relaxed, our minds loosen and expand and are open to make new associations, new connections which lead to new insights and ideas.  But this calls for us to find time to quiet our brains and be open.  I believe in that quiet space when our brain waves slow down from Beta Waves to Alpha Waves, and even slower to Theta Waves – that’s where we connect with our creativity, that is when we get our sudden insights.

Please let me know what you think Ken Robinson’s talk –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post.)  And I’d love to hear how you access your creative sparks.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Paying attention to our perception

“As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.”

– Ursula K. LeGuin


I just finished reading an amazingly powerful article about the power of perception.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/11/health/enayati-power-perceptions-imagination/index.html?hpt=hp_bn12

How we perceive our world is hugely importantly and impacts the quality of our life in every way.  Paying attention to my perception is not an easy thing to do.  It requires paying attention to how I react to even the smallest thing, it requires being in tune with my body and realizing when something is a knee-jerk reaction versus a choice.  Viktor Frankl describes this:  “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Such important words!  But how many of us take the time in that “space” to choose?  How many of us are even aware that we have a choice?

Yesterday I witnessed a classic example of this.  My family and I were at a bird sanctuary on an island outside of Auckland called Tiritiri Matangi:

http://www.tiritirimatangi.org.nz/

There is a very tame Takahe there who was wandering around looking for food.  The takahe is about as big as a small dog, and this one was very brave and very cheeky.  Most of the people there found this bird, named Old Greg, funny and charming.  But one woman there was terrified of him and backed away anytime he came near.  Her friend calmed her down and led her away from where Old Greg was wandering around.  My guess (obviously uneducated) is that at one point in her life, this young woman was terribly frightened, maybe even attacked by an animal, perhaps a small dog.  But whatever the circumstances that led to this, her response to this very harmless bird was terror.  Her perception was that he was dangerous and could harm her.  I’m sure if  I took her pulse, her heart would have been racing.  Her perception was having a very real impact on her experience and her body.

In order to choose my response to a situation, I have to first pay attention and know that I am having a response based on my perception of a situation.  Paying attention is the first step to change.

If you have time, read the article and watch this fascinating TED talk.  They are both wonderfully insightful!

Perception

Please let me know what you think of the information –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post)  I’d love any insights that you have on your own perception.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Take time to feel grateful!

“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.”

– Oprah Winfrey


As I sit upstairs writing this post, I am absolutely engulfed in gratitude.  I just watched my husband and two teenage sons going off on a hike, walking up the road laughing and joking together.  Just in this moment – so much to be grateful for – a wonderful relationship with my two gorgeous sons; a loving relationship with my husband even after 23 years of marriage; a warm, comfortable home where I can write this and look out the window and see the sea; a healthy mind and body able to experience all this joy.  I find it is vital, to take a bit of time each day, just for a few minutes, no matter what I’m doing, and feel the gratitude for that particular moment, for the experience of whatever it is that is happening right in that snapshot of a second.

Oprah Winfrey is a wonderful source of ideas about gratitude.  I love reading  her messages:

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Power-of-Gratitude 

http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Instructions-on-Gratitude

Oprah’s video on the power of gratitude:

The Power of Gratitude


I hope you enjoy Oprah’s messages on gratitude. Please let me know what you think of the information –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post)

Thanks!