Moments of Mindfulness

Thich Naht Hanh speaks about using meditation bells to bring ourselves back into mindfulness. Ideally, when you hear these bells you stop, breathe and take a moment to recenter yourself. A moment of meditation right where you stand. This leads to releasing stress and regaining happiness. With meditation bells, you are conscious of the moment. He also mentions that anything can take the place of meditation bells, you just have to specify what will represent it – his examples are church bells near your work or home, the phone ringing, an alarm clock and even red lights while driving. Things you come into contact with often but will not appear on purpose.

Most likely some of these examples are present in your life, if not all of them, so you can use them as small reminders to come back to a relaxed mind-space.

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When I read this is his book I realized it’s something I have been practicing without even knowing it. There are two things specifically that make me stop in my tracks, cause an instant smile and an immediate deep breath. They aren’t as obvious as the bells but they work for me:

Bear with me… I’m being serious here

  1. The smell of fresh bread in my neighborhood
  2. The intro song to Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Podcast. Yes. seriously.

Meditation doesn’t have to be all serious all the time, you should gain something from it and one of those things is happiness.

So, what in your life causes an instant smile?

Neighborhood image credit.

Peace is Every Step

When things aren’t going the way I want or I need, even if a train is running really slow on the way to work, before I get frustrated I (try to) remind myself that I’m going at that pace for a reason. Either to avoid something or to experience something, whatever it is, I know there is a reason.

A Quick Story
Recently I went on a less than 48 hour trip and flew a red eye home. I decided last minute to take a cab because I was afraid I’d either get lost taking the subways or just fall asleep and miss my stop altogether. Either way when the cab driver got close to my apartment, I said what I always say “Alright, thank you, it’s at the end of the street on the right.” So what does he do? Stops the car, right then, at the wrong end of the street. I wasn’t upset or surprised, just kind of thought to myself “oh ok now I get to walk the block in the humidity with luggage.”

I tipped him 25%. I was feeling very tippy that morning; and he actually sincerely thanked me. I didn’t even know drivers could see the amount immediately when paying with a card – either way it made up for any resistance I had towards walking down the block. And in reality, my legs really needed the walk.

And then, on top of a pleasant drive home, a sincere moment of gratitude and finally being back in my neighborhood I saw a book on a stoop. (In NYC people leave things on their stoops for other people to take.) Most of the time you just walk past – it’s never anything good but that morning it was exactly what I needed. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. Written by World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh. UM HELLO! The universe essentially hit me in the head with it. I am so glad the cab driver hadn’t stopped at my door but instead dropped me to the lap this book was sitting in.

Think about the way I came into finding this book, it can only be defined at serendipitous.

  1. I had to have gone on that trip
  2. Returned that morning
  3. Flewn the redeye
  4. Opted for a cab rather than subway
  5. Then the driver had to stop at the wrong house
  6. AND I didn’t correct him

The stoop it was on is not the the direction I ever go, not for work, the subway, restaurants, shopping… only to the park. or a very delicious, specific ice cream place (hey Ample Hills!) If all of those things had not lined up, someone else would have picked up the book I have fallen in love with and was so excited to find.

What good have you find without looking?

International Day of Happiness

It’s Friday
It’s the first day of Spring
It’s International Day of Happiness

This is the biggest day of the year for me! In honor of all of this positive energy going around I want to share some of my favorite ways increase positive attitudes. These are in no particular order.

Have a Great Day (Playlist, Spotify)
If you’re on Spotify, check out this playlist. I love it and it really will help you to have a great day. All of the song are fun and you’ll know most of them.

TED Talks (Charming Talks for a Boost on a Bad Day)
People seem to be pushing against Happiness day. IDK but people refuse to be happy sometimes. Here are 5 TED Talks to boost you out of those grumpy pants.

Nature

Gabby Bernstein (Inspiration)
One of my personal role models & inspirations in life. Everything she does is wonderful. Follow her on Instagram, try her Meditations, read her Books. I recommend all of it!

Kid President (Video Pep Talk)
ALWAYS a great pick-me-up. This kid is seriously inspiring! Seriously, if you haven’t already, or really even if you have, just take 4 minutes from your day and watch (or just listen) this 9 year old kid kick butt.

“We are all on the same team.” Something I say a lot, I don’t think people understand this still.

Happier (App & Website)
Happier was started by a woman with a seriously impressive background. She had achieved everything she thought she wanted and realized it’s experiences that matter. The App is a happiness journal where you keep track of things that make you happier every day, even as small as having a bathroom break when you’re a teacher and really had to pee.
Read about the science here.
Download the app on your phone or via their website.

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Happiness Project (Book & Podcast)
This book is perfect for anyone. Not all of the topics may apply to you but there is great information for everyone. Don’t think that just because you’re a guy this book doesn’t apply to you. The Happiness Project synthesizes the wisdom of the ages with current scientific research, as Rubin brings readers along on her year to greater happiness.
I love listening to her podcasts on the train in the morning. A great way to add happiness to the day.
Here’s Gretchen site.

Bliss List (Book)
Discover your true Bliss & land your dream job with this book. Don’t check out their website, it’s not the best & put me off in the beginning but I ordered it via Amazon & love it!

Happiness is… (Book)
This happy little book contains 500 things to be happy about. It’s a great coffee table or bathroom book and a really great gift.

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@SunshineSpreader (Instagram) 
Personal promo here. This is my Instagram account =) I post happy things here.

Mantra Monday

I am safe. I am loved.

We all feel vulnerable from time to time. Whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual it is a tough feeling to break through. Reminding yourself that you are safe is important. If you lose your job, if you end a relationship, if you lose sight of your beliefs, you will survive. You are safe. Remember to lean into your support system and that no matter what faith you belong to, you can find support in community, prayer and faith.

You are loved. In addition to being safe, you are loved. Reminding yourself of people who care about you is important. Not just listing them, really think about how they show their special type of love; respect, help, listening, support…

Maslow’s hierarchy or needs start with the physiological, you know, food, water, sleep… but after that is safety and then love. These are basic human needs and sometimes we lose sight of the. So always remind yourself… You are Safe. You are Loved.

Use this mantra when you are feeling nervous or anxious.
Take a long breath in and say/think to yourself I AM SAFE.
Release a long breath while saying/thinking I AM LOVED.

Friday Five

Let’s try something new! I want to share articles & products that I think are interesting, helpful, inspiring, funny, just plain good. I’m interested to see what you think! So take a look below for a quick description of each of the items and let me know how it goes! Which is your favorite?

Stuff You Should Know

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This podcast was introduced to me by my Fiancee over thanksgiving last year. I have listed to two podcasts a day since. I can’t get enough of it! They make my commute on the NYC subway system 1000x better.

Download it on iTunes – it’s free and I promise you’ll learn something. (Happy Mind)

HUM Nutrition

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Their mission is simple: to become the best beauty nutrition business in the world. Depending on your needs, their nutritionists suggest micro nutrients that help support your health & beauty goals (my vitamins were Red Carpet, OMG! Omega The Great and Flatter Me). All this happens online and to make your life easier, they ship personalized vitamins, minerals and botanicals right to your doorstep. AMAZNG RIGHT!

Available online and at Sephora. (Happy Body)

Skinny Garlic Shrimp Recipe

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“I am from the Louisiana coast, so I MUST have seafood in my diet,” says Shelly Marie Redmond, MS, RD, LDN, founder of Skinny Louisiana. “I love making this for a date night or a quick weeknight meal.”

THE RECIPE: Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onions, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, and 1 lemon, unpeeled and cut into small pieces. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add 1 pound of uncooked shrimp (look in freezer section of supermarket). Cover and cook 3 minutes, until shrimp turns pink. Reduce heat to medium and cook 12-12 minutes. Remove from heat. Let set 5-10 minutes.

(Serves 4) Per Serving: 170 calories, 8g fat, 1g sat fat, 3g carb, 1g fiber, 23g protein. (Happy Tummy)

Find more healthy recipes here.

The Equalizer

Not really the mood that this blog typically has but I loved it, so you’re hearing about it. If you’re into Action/Crime/Thriller movies, this is one you NEED to see. Denzel Washington plays a mysterious average man who brings the hammer down on some seriously messed up people. It was awesome!

IMDB Description: A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by – he has to help her. (Rated R)

Tuja Wellness 30 Day Meditation Chalenge

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This is currently in the middle of the30 days, but their 16th day Chakra Balancing meditation was so wonderful and I want you to try it out.

If you like it and want to sign up for the 30-Day Challenge Click here to sign up! (Happy Soul)

 

See you next week for the next Friday Five!

By the end of this post you’ll be happier, hopefully .

So here’s the thing, I wanted to post about acceptance today but then a friend shared this video with me and it’s much more pressing.

You may have seen it already but I don’t care, watch it again! Then do what they say!

Here’s the skinny: People who express gratitude in person or over the phone are 19% happier overall! People who think about why they are grateful for the people in their life are 4% happier. Either way, this speaks to my personal mantra think happy, be happy. It’s not hard, just tell people why you appreciate them!

Here, I’ll help you get started:

Who has had the biggest positive impact in your life?
Were they an inspiration or did they willingly help you?
What was it?
How has it affected you?
Why do you appreciate them?

Now go! Go to them, call them, tell the people you love why they are important to you!

And, if you feel so inclined, I’d love for you to share something you love about someone below.

AKA You Time

Who mediates? Raise your hand!
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If you are one of the many people who didn’t raise your hand, may I ask why? Is it intimidating? You don’t think you have time? It’s too new-agey? All of these reasons are real and legitimate. But I will say, I hope you find the strength to push those thoughts from your mind. Meditating can be as simple as turning off the TV and putting your phone down for 10 minutes. That’s it! OR it can be done on the drive to work, in a line or in class/work. Don’t believe me?

I present to you my two favorite meditation tools. These are what got me into meditation and I am so thankful.

Head Space. Created by Andy Puddicombe, their website has some information and help BUT the free app called Head Space (found on the website and in the App Store) challenges people to meditate 10 minutes a day, for 10 days. I promise it will help with stress, clear thinking and feeling over all refreshed. View his 10 minute Ted Talk HERE

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Also Gabby Bernstein. Her books are great but this specific meditation that I do when I start to get stressed or overwhelmed works wonders. In public or at home. Most recently I went to an over-crowded outdoor event in the humidity. Typically each one of those words stress me out, put them all together and you have one unhappy camper. Luckily, I watched this video by Gabby a couple of weeks ago. It cooled me down mentally, and in turn physically because I wasn’t worked up. You will learn it’s recommended for one minute but now that I have practiced it for a while once I start it the stress melts away. Check it out, try it out, and let me know what you think!

*I claim no credit or ownership for any visual content contained in this post.