#15 Being Thankful for What We Have

Life is Happier When we are Thankful for what we have and do not dwell on what is missing.  How often do you wish for more than you have right now?  Are you truly thankful for all you do have?  We can get everything we want and still not be happy.  In this week's episode we'll explore why this is.  Get out your Mental Mat and Listen for a few minutes.  I think you will be glad you did.

Mind Yoga Quick Quotes with AnnetteQ

Just like Yoga is a practice of stretching our bodies, holding a position, teaching us to breathe correctly and look inward for Peace, Mind Yoga is delving deeper into how our thoughts create our world.  I will post a meaningful quote each week which will allow us to think inwardly, hold the thought throughout the day and take us to our mental mat, where we can become more aware of how we hold the Power in our Mind to live a more peaceful, grateful and beautiful life.  

Practicing Patience - Where has the virtue gone?

Patience is a virtue which can cultivate peace and even compassion

How many of us remember the adage: Patience is a virtue?

A virtue, for those who need a reminder, is defined as “a behavior of high moral standards.”  Patience is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset” (Oxford Living Dictionary).

Now I’ll ask a rhetorical question: Who has patience anymore?

We live in a society of instant gratification, which in my opinion, breed’s anger and frustration over any wait at all.  While I love the fact I can download any song I want to hear in a nano-second, what’s wrong with delayed gratification and practicing a little patience?  When our computer spins “the circle of doom” as one of my co-workers calls the icon that appears on our screen when our computer is ‘thinking’ or hasn’t caught up with our fast strokes, why can’t we just patiently wait for it to stop?  It’s usually seconds or a minute max, but we have become so intolerant of any wait time we find even a few extra seconds unbearable. We sometimes curse at it and waste our energy focusing on our wait time instead of taking a breath and relaxing for a moment. Could this be the Universe giving you a break, its way of reminding you to slow down for a second?

Think about this, if you can be patient for a minute or two (pun intended): How many times do you get upset if something isn’t instantly available to you, or if you have to wait for any amount of time for anything?  We want what we want and we want it now! We’ve become like Veruca Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — a spoiled whining child who has no patience at all. But is that who we really want to be?

Our current forms of instant communication are great, but have we lost our ability to be patient because of them?

If we have to leave a message for someone when we call, do we sometimes get annoyed that they aren’t instantly available to us? Do we then text them and if we don’t get an immediate response, get annoyed at that too? And has texting someone taken over calling them because you have no patience to talk with them? Yes, it’s convenient to text and I, too, use this form of communication; but are we losing our ability to have conversation, let alone meaningful conversations, because we don’t have patience to talk with each other? Are we losing our patience and in the process losing an important virtue?

While I’m writing this I’m sitting waiting for my car to be serviced. Originally I was going to drop off my car because I didn’t want to wait while it was being serviced. Since I knew I wanted to write this article, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to practice what I’m preaching.  When I told the service manager I was going to wait instead of dropping it off he looked at me like I was an alien and said, “It may take 2 to 2 ½ hours”. I just smiled back and told him I’d be ok, I had some work I wanted to catch up on anyway. I then shared that I was going to be writing an article on Patience to which he chuckled and replied “who has time for that anymore?”

I think we need to bring back Patience. Let’s not let this virtue cease to exist. And while we’re at it, let’s practice some kindness and diligence too. They cost nothing and they are literally priceless.

If we instantly get everything we want, are we learning or growing at all?

We tell children to have patience, but as adults we have no tolerance for it ourselves. A friend told me recently he likes to have something to look forward to. I agree, I do too, and it’s the perfect thing to help us practice patience. Isn’t looking forward to something in the future fun? We know it’s coming, but we don’t need it immediately right now and that’s ok. Just knowing it’s coming gives us a sense of peace and comfort, and we’re ok with patiently waiting.

Let’s try to embrace it when certain things are out of our control. Instead of letting a little wait time get us anxious and annoyed, take the time to practice patience. Anxiousness is usually caused by fear, but why does a little wait time make us afraid? Our thoughts immediately go into a slew of dooms day scenarios if we have to wait. Don’t let your mind play this trick on you.  Our thoughts are not always true and we need to learn when we practice patience that we are becoming stronger, not weaker.

Waiting may seem like we have no control, but we have control over how we respond to waiting.

And there is power in remaining calm. There’s power in not freaking out over trivial things, which in the big picture are ridiculous anyway. Today’s quote on my Mind Yoga Facebook page was: “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.” Ironically I schedule my posts a week in advance, but this is a good reminder that we rarely regret practicing patience.

Practice with the little things first, like waiting in line at the coffee shop, or your computer being slow, or waiting in traffic. Tell yourself it’s ok that its taking time; this is not a dire emergency.  Eventually try it with something bigger in your life that you want an answer to or that you want to happen right away. Maybe waiting for it is exactly what you need right now. Good things often come to those who wait while misery often follows those who are quick to react.

The Guns and Roses song Patience ends with the lyrics, “Just a little patience is all you need.”  Let’s all try to enjoy the moment we are in and have patience!

This Year, Own It: Stop Blaming and Start Accepting Responsibility for Your Life

Now is the perfect time to stop blaming others and begin to accept responsibility for your life

I love the New Year.

It’s a time for fresh starts and endless possibilities. It’s a time to reflect back on what we may have done differently in the past and commit to a better life moving forward. When we make our New Year’s Resolutions we have good intentions to keep them. But when we break them — one by one, for whatever reason — why do we often blame others for our decision to not see our resolution through? And why do we tend to blame others for choices we alone make?

Everyone does it. You hear countless examples of this throughout the day; we’re so used to it, we actually nod along and agree with people. “It’s out of my control,” someone might say, even when it’s not. A friend recently told me they heard this from a client who owns a company and was blaming a subordinate for not allowing them, the owner, to make a big decision. Somehow we knew he was using this as an excuse because he didn’t want to be the “bad guy” and tell her she was going to lose his business. She was hurt and frustrated and wished he just ‘owned it’ by telling her the truth vs. playing the victim, as if he had no control.

Why do we do this? Why do we play a victim instead of owning our decisions?

I think some people don’t even realize they do this. It just comes naturally, because they are so use to blaming others for their circumstances or decisions.

So often as adults, we turn our power over to others and blame them for the state of our lives, like we had no choice in the situation. If you want to start taking control of your life, you need to learn emotional adulthood — the process of taking responsibility for all your thoughts, feelings and actions.

I’ll be the first to admit I blamed others for years for things in my life. Nothing was my fault; I had an excuse for everything and I exonerated myself from all responsibility. I was the youngest of six so I learned at an early age to blame my siblings for everything. I blamed people, places and things for everything I actually had control over, but unconsciously thought I didn’t. “I can’t help it, I’m Italian, I talk loud” is a small example of how I use to blame and give up control like I had no choice in the matter.

My parents (sorry Mom and Dad) were the people I blamed the most for my life circumstances. I’m sure I’m not the only one. But once we become adults, why do we keep blaming our parents for how we are now? Yes, our past contributes to our present being, but the past is over so why do we still drag it up, giving it more power than it deserves?

The new year is a great time to replace blame with ownership for who we are now.

When you make a decision (or even when you consciously don’t) — own it — don’t blame your spouse, your kids, your dog or whomever for why you did or didn’t do something. Stop being a victim when the only crime being committed is by you to you. We have more power over our lives than we give ourselves credit for, so how about using the New Year to make a commitment to YOU: Stop making excuses and own it!

Expectations: Do we Expect more from Others than we do from Ourselves?

A friend disappointed me recently, or so I “thought”. Turns out their response to a situation was different than what I believed it should have been, aka “expected” from them, and I was disappointed.  “That’s not what I would of done”, I kept thinking and I was upset they didn’t respond in the exact same way I would have. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking this way, it's human nature and most of us were never taught differently. We learned early in life and society confirms when you expect something from someone and your needs are not met, you should be disappointed.  So if I was just doing what I have been conditioned my whole life to think, what’s the problem?  The problem for me was I was counting on them to make me feel better. My subconscious mind was thinking, “This is what I want you to do and if you do it I'll be happy, if you don’t, I won't”.

Expecting someone else to do something the exact same way we would puts a big expectation on them and alleviates us from any responsibility.  It’s a convenient way of not taking ownership of our feelings, it’s easier to blame another person and “expect” more from them.  We usually do this without even realizing it. But when we do, aren’t we giving them all the power over how we feel and not expecting more from ourselves?   Because if you think about it, when we place an expectation on anyone but ourselves, we are frequently disappointed. No one is ever going to do things exactly the way we would, so why do we place such a demanding expectation on them?

Ok, then are we never supposed to expect anything from anyone?  You can, but just be aware of what that expectation means to you, how are you anticipating it will make you feel? My dictionary defines expectation as the “anticipation of something happening”.  Along with an expectation we often attach a subconscious feeling of what we are going to feel when that expectation is met, and when it’s not met the way we anticipated, there lies the disappointment. So maybe a better question we should think about is why do we allow others to determine our happiness? What if we expected ourselves to be in charge of our own happiness?  What if we expected from ourselves the same high standards we hold others to?  I expect others to be tolerant and understanding of me, but do I show myself the same compassion?  I expect others to be kind and loving to me, but I am often my biggest critic.  Next time I find myself disappointed because of an expectation I had that wasn’t met, I’m going to first look in the mirror and ask myself these questions first. And, I’m going to try to understand we are all doing the best we can-and that is good enough.