Gratitude is the Key to Happiness

We’re big on gratutude at Live in the Present. We all have day to day issues to deal with but, ultimately, I think that they can ALL be overcome with gratitude.

Gratitude is a wonderful thing. It raises the human mind to great heights. Those that feel gratitude have the energy to create great things and can live in the positive expectation of good things to come. Equally ingratitude is a bad thing that’s drags us down to the depths of negativity. Those that feel ingratitude live with the negative expectation that tomorrow will be as bad, if not worse, than today. In gratitude we turn on the light that illuminates wonder. In ingratitude we turn off the light and experience the darkness of demotivation and at worse blackness of despair.

You have a mind and you have a brain but are they the same thing? Your brain is a piece of meat. It may be a clever piece of meat full of electrical connections and powerful endorphins, but without the mind it is, simply, meat.

Does the brain create and generate this experience of the mind, so that at the point of death the mind ceases to be? Or is the brain a clever switching station through which the mind expresses itself? This would mean that the mind would carry on after the meat has ceased to function. Let’s go deeper…

For some the mind is termed ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ for others it is ‘personality’ or ‘psychology’. Whatever you call it your mind is the essence of who you are, of what you think and all that you feel. Perhaps most importantly, it is the driver of all that you do. What interests me, is this relationship between mind and brain and how we can influence it to achieve the experience of life that we really want. This, in my terms as a psychotherapist, is the fulfilment that we all deserve.

gratitude quote

We know that if we change the brain, with legal or recreational drugs, we change how the mind feels, thinks and responds. We also know that if we change how we think, feel and respond we change the chemistry of the brain. It’s as though there is a tube with the brain at one end and the mind at the other. Whichever end we move the other must follow.

Now, it would seem to me that moving the mind is a far better way of effecting the brain than taking drugs (prescribed or otherwise). If you want your brain to produce the chemistry that will make your mind happy and fulfilled you need to change the way that you feel. Most of us can accept that we can control what we do with our body and our actions, and we can also change the way that we think. Few people realise that we can also change the way that we feel. A happy mind equals a happy brain. This flows back the other way, happy brain equals happy mind.

The quickest and most powerful way to develop a happy brain is to fill your mind full of gratitude. The key to happiness is gratitude.

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are doing it, look around you. You may be in a luxurious hotel or a down town gutter. Regardless, if you see the things around you with gratitude you will begin to effect your brain chemistry and create a happy brain. There is nothing in life too small to be grateful for. The simple fact that you are alive is reason enough.

Let us rise up and be thankful,
for if we didn’t learn a lot today,
at least we learned a little,
and if we didn’t learn a little,
at least we didn’t get sick,
and if we got sick,
at least we didn’t die;
let us all be thankful.

When you learn to be grateful for what you have, even when it is a little, you create the positive brain chemistry that allows you to move forward with hope and expectation. It is then that you will develop the ability to create a world of experience that you really, really, really want.

Grab a copy of our free eBook to learn more about gratitude and a few other things too.

Be happy, be grateful and live in the present.

Sean x

Do You Choose To Be Happy?

Wednesday 20th March is the International Day of Happiness. So, I was Googling ‘Action For Happiness‘ and I noticed this article below it on the same Google page was an article by David Harper, reader in clinical psychology, University of East London. He claims that happiness is not down to the individual because social, financial and environmental factors, etc get in the way. Well, as a psychotherapist, I would say that I think he is missing the point.

Being happy is never about what happens to us. We all know that bad/difficult things happen and no one is immune from this. Each of us will, at sometime in our life, face our own challenges that some of us will describe as their problems.

“It is not what happens to you but how you respond that matters”

It would be silly to assume that environmental factors do not effect the way that we feel, they obviously do. But we do have choice. The choice is, do we feed the negative feelings within us, through rumination, so that they grow ever bigger and fill our conscious mind? Or do we choose to focus and ruminate on the positive things around us, on the solutions to our challenges and problems, making plans to change things so that our life becomes happier?

quote poster v1

You become what you choose to feel

All therapists will tell you stories of clients who, despite the odds, turned their lives around and created happiness from negative experience. At the same time they will tell you about clients who were overwhelmed by experience and did not change their negative life to a positive one. The difference in us as people is in the choices that we make. Those that choose to feed the negative will create an unhappy live while those that feed the positive will create a happy life.

What you feed grows and what you starve dies

The key is in choice. Do you choose to have a happy life or an unhappy life? For most people the idea that you can choose how you feel is a new one. If this is new for you, grab it, own it and choose to be positive. You can choose what you think, you can choose what you do and, you can also choose how you feel.

Thoughts become things
Feelings become things

It does not matter from where you begin your journey to happiness. It does not matter how bad, difficult or mad your life is right now. If you choose to focus on happiness now then that is what you will get in your life. It may not be immediate, it may take time, it may be a challenge but, all journeys begin with one small step. That step on this journey is the choice to be positive and be happy.

Energy is directed by consciousness

Where do you choose to direct your consciousness? Are you happy? You can become happy in a split second, right now all it takes is a decision. So, why not make the choice now and…

Be Happy Now

My life choice is to work with the forces of happiness and to help everyone that I can to do the same. That is my life, my therapy and my work.

Wednesday 20 March 2013 is the International Day of Happiness. The amazing people at Action for Happiness work so hard to encourage people to be positive and to be happy. Check out their site, join in a create happiness for yourself and for others.

Be happy and live in the present.

Take care,
Sean x

Why Forgiveness Will Set You Free

Forgiveness can seem impossible for so many people. The stumbling block for most people is that in forgiving we become confused with the idea that we are condoning behaviours that we know were wrong. That we are, in some way saying that what that person did, however bad, was ok. This could not be further from the truth.

To forgive means to forgo your retribution or to let go of your hatred. There is a simple reason for this. The only person that hatred will ever harm is the hater. When you hate, or have negative thoughts about others, your body creates all the negative chemistry that will ultimately damage your body. It raises your blood pressure, hardens your arteries and leads to stroke, heart attacks, ulcer, back ache, neck ache, head ache and dementia. Then comes the nausea, irritable bowel, eczema, asthma and so on. The list really is endless.

In hatred it is as though you have taken the poison expecting it to kill someone else.

Forgiveness will set you free

The only person your hatred damages is you

It gets worse. When we maintain negative attachments to the past they will stop us moving forward. The emotions of the negativity that we hold about other people or events are like elastic bands. That keep pulling us back and stop us progressing in life.

In forgiveness, forgoing or letting go you will be able to move into your present. In your present you are able to create the life that you really want for your self. When you are bound to the past you will never create the future that you desire.

A final thought

If the science of karma (the law of cause and effect) is right, and I suspect that it is, then everyone gets theirs in the end. There are no free lunches. All debts need to be paid in full. It would seem that it is not my (our) role in life to punish people for the things that they have done. It is equally true that I do not need to punish myself either. In letting these things go I step out of the cycle of karma and move forward unencumbered by the past in to a happy and fulfilling future.

Do you have anyone that you need to forgive? You don’t need to speak with them, just release yourself of all negative energy you may be holding on to.

Let go, be happy and live in the present.

With Love,
Sean x

8 Reasons to be Mindful

Twenty years ago Mindfulness was an odd word used by strange, silent Buddhists sitting beneath Banyan trees conducting obscure meditative practices. These day mindfulness has become a part of every day psychotherapy.

To be mindful means to be aware of yourself in the present, to be aware of who you are, what you are doing and the effect that it will have on other people. The process of learning to be mindful is what I think of as Waking Up. To be an effective person we need to be mindful and awake. Only then will we enjoy our existence, while at the same time cause the least damage to others.

Here are eight reasons why it might be a good idea to be mindful.

1: Get Physical

Living mindfully means enjoying your body. We each have a body. In the East the body is seen as the temple of the soul, as something that should be looked after, respected, treasured and loved. To live mindfully in your body means to treat it with respect. Keep it well serviced and exercised. Not too fat and not too thin. Eat and drink sensibly. The man who ran the London marathon aged 101 said that his health and fitness was all down to his diet… interesting.

Q: What does your body need you to do for it today?

2: Get Social

Living mindfully means making positive social connections. We are social animals. Our evolution has happened mainly due to our ability to co-operate with each other from the invention of tools to the development of social change. To live in social mindfulness is about caring for other people. This may be charitable or simply helping someone across the road.

One of the good things about us all looking after other people is that everyone’s needs are met, including yours.

Q: Who could you help today?

learn to be mindful

3: Get Some Fun

Living mindfully means having fun. If you are living a balanced life then you will already be having fun. If, on the other hand your are trying to create the perfect work life balance the chances are that life is not fun for you right now. When did you last have some fun?

Living mindfully and having fun go hand in hand. If you are bored or stuck in a routine you are not living mindfully. When you are living mindfully you are aware of your needs and doing things that make you feel good. For most of us the fun is in being challenged, trying something new, taking a holiday, starting a new venture. I often say to clients “when did you last have fun?” Sadly they often look blank and cannot remember.

Q: What would be fun to do today? Or what fun things can you plan for the future?

4: Get Some Love

Living mindfully means both loving and being loved. We all need a bit of love in our lives. Love, self esteem and a robust immune system and health all run together. It is also true that love and happiness go together. Yet, as in all things, it begins at home. To be loved you have to begin with loving yourself.

Try this, go to a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say “I love you”. At the point when you can say it, feel it and believe it, you are ready to be loved by another person. Living mindfully with love ensures that you make decisions that serve you well. It also means that you only do things that serve other people well. Positive loving action and the process of Dharma are the same thing. ‘Do as you would done by’ is the guiding principle.

Q: Who do you love?
Q: Would it be a good idea to tell them?
Q: What do you need to do to feel loved?

5: Get Wealthy

Living mindfully means an abundance of wealth. Wealth is a funny concept because we tend to attach it to money, yet we can be wealthy in many areas of our lives; wealthy with friends, opportunities, love, happiness and so on.

We all need to live and to do that we do need money and resources according to our needs. How much is enough? Most people will say ‘a million’. I guess it sounds like a nice round sum. For any of us if we have more than we need we are in a state of wealth and abundance. If you need £99 but you have £100 you are wealthy beyond need, you are in surplus. To be mindfully wealthy requires us to know what we need and that we have a surplus, only then are we truly rich.

Q: Are you wealthy? If not, what would you need to feel wealthy?

6: Get Organised

Living mindfully means living with clarity and not with clutter. It is often said that you can tell what is going on in someones head by looking at their desk. I guess you could extend that to looking at their house or, the way that they live. Just like a tree bears fruit, our actions in life bear results and these we see all around us. There comes a point in everyday, week, month, year or lifetime when we need to put our house in order and sort things out. These may be physical, social, emotional and so on.

My teacher once told me ‘you are never ready to live until you are ready to die’. He was saying that when your life is clear and in order, when you have said everything that needs to be said, done everything that needs to be done, taken care of all debts and promises, you are ready to get on with life. To live mindfully means that you clear up all your mess as you go along so that you live in a world of clarity.

Q: What do you need to do to clear up your messes and create clarity in your life?

7: Get Intuitive

Living mindfully with intuition means living with insight. Those that cultivate their intuition develop clear vision, they become clairvoyant. Insight is a magical quality that is only really developed in a few people. We all have the ability to connect with others.

We may be thinking of someone and the phone goes and there they are. We spontaneously meet the right person or follow the right hunch. Often intuitive insight is called coincidence or accident. Mindful insight come to those that develop it. This means creating mind-time. It may come in the form of meditation or contemplation exercises. It might be in swimming up and down the pool, walking the dog or going for a run. Regardless of how it is done, consistent and persistent mind-time allows us to get into the zone. In the knowing silence of the zone we begin to here the answer to our problems.

Q: Where will you find your mind time today?

8: Get Creative

Living mindfully always leads to creativity. In many ways this is the goal that we are all aiming for. True creativity is the science of the imagination. This is the ability to solve problems.

When we are truly mindfully awake there are no problems or obstacles, only learning experiences, challenges and, ultimately, solutions. To be mindfully creative you need to attend to the previous seven steps, pull your life into shape. It is then in the waking that the ability to solve problems flows from deep within. In this new found ability to find solutions there are no problems, no stress, no anxiety. All is safe and as it should be.

Q: What problems do you have that can be turned into challenges? Now go and solve them!

Mindful = Ashtanga

The word Ashtanga means to be integrated or to be whole. Mindful people follow the way of Ashtanga and attend to all levels:

  • Health and physical development
  • Friends and relationships
  • Fun and experience
  • Love and loving
  • Wealth and money
  • Clarity and organisation
  • Intuitive understanding
  • Creative problem solving

Be whole and be happy. Live in the present.

Take care,
Sean x

Why you should stop looking for the perfect work life balance

Phrases about needing to create or maintain a work life balance seem to be everywhere. The majority of the organisation’s I visit have a new policy. As levels of stress and anxiety have risen in Western society the idea that we should look after ourself becomes the buzz idea of the moment.

It is certainly true that people in most organisations are now working longer hours than ever before and many of us will now be doing the same amount of work that two, or even three people were doing a generation ago. Sure, the pressure is on and we do need to be looking after ourselves.

There is an odd contradiction in this concept of work life balance

Are we saying that when we are at work we are not living? Is it the case that we cannot have real life when we are in the workplace? If we are living a truly fulfilled life then shouldn’t there be no separation between work and life?

work life balance advice

Click here to download and share this work life image

When I came back into the world in the 1980s, having been living and studying in various communities around the world, I had to decide what I would do with this wonderful gift of life. In my decisions making I included the idea that I would need to survive financially. I looked long and hard at myself and I began to realise this:

If I was to be truly happy it would be because I was using this gift of life in ways that made me happy

I decided that working with other people and playing music were the two things that made me happiest. And so, that is what I have done ever since. I do not go to work I simply live my life. I have no work and life to balance, I simply just live and enjoy my life.

[quote float=”right”]If we are living a truly fulfilled life then there should be no separation between work and life.[/quote]

I am not unique – many others have disregarded the work life myth

I have met many people who live the same way. Along with many who have the concept that going to work is something that has to be endured. The idea of hating Mondays and the opposite joy of loving Fridays is never there in my world. I love my life and I love what I do every day of the week.

Most of us (actually about 94% of the population) are wage slaves. They are working for an employer who pays a set hourly rate for the amount of hours they are prepared to employ someone for each week. This leaves most people stuck in a place of relative poverty and routine. The bottom line is that if you do not like going to your work then you are in the wrong job. You are not doing what you should be doing with your life.

T. Harv Ekker in his book and course ‘The Millionaire Mind’ explains how we each use our inner template or paradigm to create the world of our experience and that includes our financial world. For many people the idea of running your own business can be scary but for many it is the answer. It allows each self employed person to live a life that they would wish to. Dave Woods in his book ‘Get Paid For Who You Are’ explains that we all have a business within us once we take the time to realise it.

There is a clever phrase that someone said, ‘Do you live to work, or work to live?’ Perhaps the alternative is that you simply live and earn your daily crust by doing what makes you happy. Now, for some of you reading this you may be thinking ‘well it’s ok for you, but I can’t do that’ well, here at Live In The Present we have been running courses for many years enabling people to discover what it is that they really want from life and looking at how they might achieve it. These courses led to the book ‘Live In the Present‘.

The journey of discovering who you are and finding your own fulfilment begins with the answer to that simple, but at the same time difficult question.

‘What do you really, really, really, really want from your life’

Once you answer this question you will be well on your way to living a balanced life and no longing needing to consider a work life balance.

Take care and live in your present.

Sean x