What We Can Learn From the Happiest Man on Earth

Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, has been called the happiest man on earth. Why is he so happy, and what can we learn from him?

Ricard is an expert meditator. He has spent well over 10,000 hours mastering that skill, and it pays off. When scientists measured his brain activity with the help of MRI scans, they found barely any negative emotions, which is quite remarkable.

Today I want to share some of his wisdom with you:

 “To be truly happy we have to get rid of mental toxins such as hatred, obsession, arrogance, envy, greed and pride.”

“Everybody would be helped by meditating half an hour a day.”

“Happiness is a way of being.”

“Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things.”

“Worries are pointless. If there’s a solution, there’s no need to worry. If no solution exists, there’s no point to worry.”

I absolutely agree.

References:
Life Lessons from the World’s Happiest Man
- Quotes by Matthieu Ricard

4 Tips to Motivate Yourself

Sometimes all it takes is 5 minutes...

Sometimes all it takes is 5 minutes…

Everybody needs a little motivation now and then. When you’re depressed, you often need a lot of it. So what can you do when you need to get stuff done but mysteriously end up distracting yourself all the time (Facebook, Twitter, video games, you name it)?

1. Work for 5 minutes. Whatever task you need to do, start working for only five minutes, which is not a big time commitment at all. Who doesn’t have five minutes to spare, right? Often this will be enough to motivate you and keep you going.

2. Do it in the morning. Plan your day in such a way that you get most of the important things done in the morning when you’re (hopefully) bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Don’t schedule anything important right after lunch, because most of your energy will go to digesting the food in your stomach. You will probably be too tired and not very motivated at all.

3. Figure out why you procrastinate. Why are you avoiding work? Is it out of fear or boredom? Maybe the task at hand seems overwhelming? If so, breaking it down into small steps will help you stay motivated and give you manageable chunks of work.

4. Get your body moving. Once you’ve made the decision to go for a quick run or do some sit-ups in the living room, it will be much easier to get your actual work done. If that seems like too much, don’t worry – often going for a brisk walk is sufficient to motivate you. Give it a try.

References:
- Lifehack Tricks to Motivate Yourself

How to Stop Feeling Depressed When It’s Raining

Photo by George Hodan

Photo by George Hodan

It’s raining. It’s pouring. For many people this results in instant feelings of depression. But how can you have an awesome day without letting the weather affect you?

1) Move your body. Whether you go for a walk, ride your bike, do Yoga, or work out at the gym – exercise is a known remedy for depression. You don’t even have to go outside, but it would certainly be good to get some fresh air as well.

2) Talk to a friend. Share some laughter with a dear friend of yours. Have fun, be silly. Joke about the weather…

3) Listen to some upbeat music. This can be combined with #1. Dance to your favorite feel-good songs.

4) Indulge in freshly squeezed orange juice. Lots of vitamin C and antioxidants to keep you happy and healthy. It’s really tasty too!

5) Relax at a cozy coffee shop. There is something special about sitting in a cafe on a rainy day. It makes you want to stay there forever. You can watch other people, sip on your drink, and read a good book.

Enjoy the rain! :-)

How to Have Better Sleep Without Giving Up Technology

Photo by Ian L.

Photo by Ian L.

Using a computer or cell phone before going to bed can mean trouble. We need the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin to have a good night’s sleep. However, playing with your phone or surfing the net can suppress the release of this important hormone, leaving you too alert when you should be getting sleepy.

Being exposed to the artificial light emitted from these screens might prevent you from getting adequate sleep, which can leave you feeling tired and far from refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Teenagers are most at risk because they are usually heavy users of communications technology.

Now, what can we do about this dilemma?

Ideally, we should not be staring at light-emitting screens after dusk. However, in this day and age, that’s quite a challenge for many of us, and for some it’s simply impossible.

Here are two options you should consider:

Use an app that dims your screen according to the time of day. There are many free and paid apps out there that will make your screen look “warm” at night. Your eyes will thank you! Hopefully, you’ll also sleep better.

Stop using your electronic devices about an hour before going to bed. This can be hard, but it’s worth a try.

In addition, you can drink chamomile or valerian tea, which will help you wind down.

References:
Annual Sleep in America Poll Exploring Connections with Communications Technology Use and Sleep
- The Best Bedtime Drinks

Does Laughter Yoga Make You Happy?

Photo by George Hodan

Photo by George Hodan

Can you laugh your way back to happiness? It sure sounds like a fun method to overcome depression.

Laughter Yoga was created in 1995 by an Indian physician called Dr. Madan Kataria. What started out as a club of five people quickly spread around the globe, with thousands of Laughter Yoga clubs popping up.

Laughter Yoga is a combination of laughter exercises, breathing and light physical exercise, which is usually practiced in a group. No need to tell jokes or do comedy – it’s laughing without any reason at all (although being silly is certainly allowed).

Apparently, you can reap the same benefits from fake laughter as from real laughter. Whether you find something funny or you laugh intentionally, your body releases the same endorphins that will make you feel good and cheerful.

There are many people who swear by Laughter Yoga and claim that it has done wonders for them. Improved self-esteem, no more depression, reduced stress and physical pain, and more overall happiness are among the many benefits enjoyed by those who practice Laughter Yoga regularly.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I feel like I need to laugh more, so this is definitely on my to-do list.

References:
– What Is Laughter Yoga
Benefits of Laughter Yoga 

How to Deal with Resistance and Fear

fear

Do you know that feeling when you need to do something you’re afraid of, but you have the option to postpone it indefinitely?
Will you go through the unpleasant feelings of fear right now, or will you deal with the issue later, say in a few months or years?

For me personally, getting my driver’s license was such a situation. I was incredibly anxious about failing the road test. Despite having practiced plenty of hours, I still felt a lot of resistance in me to go ahead and book the appointment for the test. I considered waiting a few years before trying it for real. At one point, I even considered throwing in the towel and not getting a license at all.

However, deep inside I knew that I had to face my fears and challenge myself. How else can I grow and extend my comfort zone?

I ended up booking the driving test and passed it on the first try. What a huge relief! I was extremely happy and proud of myself. Had I not taken the test, but instead given in to resistance and fear, I would have always wondered what could have been. I would have had the nagging feeling that I’m a coward. I would have beat myself up.

If you ever get into a situation where you can decide to face your fears or stay in your comfort zone, go for the fear! The rewards are worth all the pain you go through. Most of the fear is completely unnecessary and unrealistic anyway. We tend to blow things out of proportion in our heads.

Once we face our fear, it fades away, leaving us happier than before. So don’t resist your fear, because that will only make it stronger.

Are You Living Your Dream?

Photo by Linnaea Mallette

Photo by Linnaea Mallette

Time is limited. I know I only have one life as Julia to accomplish my goals and make my dreams come true.

Sometimes I feel stuck, as if I’m not making any progress at all. Other times, I’m amazed at how easily things fall into place…

Focus is the Holy Grail. If I don’t focus on my goals, I tend to go on detours and just drift. I enjoy life, but I stay in my comfort zone for too long, not growing enough.

So I try to work on my goals every single day, whether I feel like it or not (often I do not).

Are you living your dream? It’s easy to find excuses for why you’re not doing what you love, why you’re unhappy, why nothing is changing. Your future lies in your hands. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s also ultimate freedom.

Do one step at a time, every day, for the rest of your life, and you will accomplish more than you thought possible.

This Will Boost Your Health Naturally

Be good and eat your dirt...

Be good and eat your dirt…

I recently came across a safe and natural product that anyone can benefit from, no matter how sick or healthy, how old or young. It has been used mostly for pest and parasite control in animals and food storage, but it can also be safely used in humans –Diatomaceous Earth (DE).

DE is made up of fossilized diatoms, which used to be hard-shelled algae a long time ago. It is a powerful detoxifying agent that, when taken internally, will rid you of all kinds of nasty stuff.

“Diatomaceous Earth (DE) has been reported to absorb methyl mercury, E. coli, endotoxins, viruses (including poliovirus), organophosphate pesticide residues, and drug residues. DE is a natural organic colon cleanser and detoxifier.”

As a breastfeeding mother, I was looking for a way to detox from heavy metals and parasites without harming my toddler. I felt that a healthy diet was not good enough to achieve my goals. So I came across DE, which has so many benefits, it’s hard to list them all.

When you take food grade DE, you will experience:

– lower blood pressure & cholesterol
– weight loss
– harder, more break-resistant fingernails
– beautiful, shiny and strong hair
– healthy teeth and gums

All of this because DE is high in silica, which is a very important trace element we often don’t get enough of.

As a bonus, any parasites you might have lurking in your intestines, will be slowly killed off and safely expelled when you empty your bowels.

You can start with 1/2 to 1 tsp of food grade DE per day and go up to several couple tbsp per day if you feel up to it. Just listen to your body. Make sure you drink plenty of water during the day, as DE can have a dehydrating effect, and try not to inhale the powder because it can irritate your lungs.

I got my food grade DE from a local pharmacy that specializes in natural healing. It’s only been a short time since I started taking the powder, but I think I can already feel some improvements, such as better sleep. I will keep you updated.

If you have any experience with food grade diatomaceous earth, let me know in the comments. I would love to hear all about it :-)

References:
– Health Benefits of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
- Bug Killer You Can Eat

A Walk in the Park

Photo by George Hodan

Photo by George Hodan

Increase your attention and working memory by going for a walk.

Let’s look at a study conducted by Canadian and U.S. researchers who wanted to examine the effect of nature walks on the mood of severely depressed people. This study offered some interesting results.

For the first session, 20 participants were sent for an hour-long walk in a quiet park. One week later, the same individuals were sent for an hour-long walk in a noisy urban setting. Prior to the walks as well as after the walks, the depressed participants had to complete several mental tests to measure their attention, memory and mood.

Now to the results… Both walks (nature and urban setting) improved the participants’ mood significantly. It does not seem to matter much whether you go for a stroll in the park or along a busy street.

However, going for a walk in the park increases attention and working memory by 16% compared to an urban walk.

So if you want to get the most benefits, choose a quiet nature walk over a walk in the city.

References:
A Walk in the Park Gives Mental Boost to People with Depression 

Love Yourself, There’s No Excuse

Photo by Petr Kratochvil

If you don’t love yourself, how can you be happy?

You are always with yourself, no matter where you go. You wake up every morning with yourself, whether you like it or not. So there is no getting away from yourself. You’re stuck with your body and soul.

Imagine starting your day feeling loved unconditionally. Isn’t that a wonderful feeling? You want to hug the world, that’s how great it is.
Now imagine feeling hated and criticized. How awful, right? You want to curl up in a ball and die.

Whether you choose to love yourself or hate yourself is entirely up to you. Unless you are masochistic, you will probably want to go for the first option.

But why does it seem so hard to love yourself?

Because we believe what others say about us. We form our identity based on feedback from people around us – be it family members, friends, teachers, or strangers. Not all of this feedback is nice. Some of it can be very hurtful and mean. Those negative comments usually make a much stronger impression on our memories than the positive ones.

With this mixed bag of good and bad feedback thrown at us, it is up to us whether we accept it or reject it. We can choose to believe that those statements are true representations of who we are, or we can take them as constructive criticism while keeping in mind that they are simply someone else’s opinion, nothing more.

With this in mind, choose to love yourself. Know that you have flaws, but don’t fret about them.

Know that it is safe to accept and love yourself. It is actually necessary to do so if you want to live a fulfilled and happy life.

Give yourself permission to love unconditionally. You deserve it.