Taking charge of your own happiness

By Jahoo Clouseau

The most empowering and liberating thing is this:  You are responsible for your own happiness. And, most crucially, you are worthy of it. You are worthy! You are the creator of your own happiness, where the only limit to it is the scale and scope of your vision. How do you take charge of your own happiness? Here is the continuation of my previous blog post, How to be happier in the New Year.

Take responsibility

When you make the conscious decision to take charge of your own happiness, you must also take responsibility for the story of your life. You are the writer of the movie which is your life.  Where is the movie going?

Reflect on this: What is your personal story? It’s that thing you keep you repeating in your head. It’s the story you tell the world (This is my life). Is it a story of pain, disappointment, injustice, loss and tragedy? Or is it a story of grace, awe, wonder, trust and triumph? It is not a toss-up. It is always a mixture of everything. The question is what you focus on.

The reality is we have all been dealt with our share of sadness and disappointment. There will always be things in life that are unfair and beyond explanation. Everyone is entitled to their moments of sadness and grief. But you are also entitled to heal. You are entitled to receive support, to bounce back, to regain your footing, and to thrive and flourish once again.

Have you been stuck in the victim role for far too long (It’s just the way it is. There’s nothing I can do to change things. I’m powerless in this situation.) Or have you been playing and replaying sad events in your life from 5, 10, 20 or more years ago? Do you continue to blame the past, or people from the past, for what is happening today? Are you resigned that these are the cards you are dealt with? Why?

These are questions worth asking and reflecting upon. Past is past. Whether or not you want the past to have control over your life today, that is your choice. If you choose to be happy now, you are always empowered to create a new reality.  Do not yield that power to the past, to people or to events.  You and you alone have the power to rewrite your story.

It is time for you to start being the hero of your life.

Question rules

When I say “rules”, I mean every belief, tradition, custom, norm, value, collective goal, aspiration that we have lived with all our lives.  These are the things we have come to accept as normal, valid or truthful without question.

Questioning rules is important because to take charge of your own happiness means to think independently. It requires formulating your own opinions. It requires coming face to face with your highest truth.  What do I know for sure? What do I know is true? Is this necessary or important? Am I comfortable with this? Is this who I am? Do I believe this? Do I agree with this? What do I truly want?

Think about it. We have been living with rules all our life since we were born. Blue is for boys. Pink is for girls. Why? Just because.

Some rules are necessary. Don’t play with the knife, don’t play with matches, look both ways before crossing the street. These rules were for our safety. They are worth following.

But not all rules are worth following. What rules have we been following all throughout our lives, just because? Rules made by our parents, family, school, teachers, schoolmates, church, spiritual or religious leaders, community, friends, peers, institutions of higher learning, workplace, organizations, bosses, colleagues, society, country, mass media, social media, etc.

Let’s push the case against bad rules to an extreme. There are people throughout history who have created some very bad rules. And following them have led to some of the worst tragedies of humankind like genocide or world wars.

There is a cost to pay for group thinking.  There is a cost to pay when people do not question things that they do not believe in or things that make them uncomfortable, when people do not listen to their inner voice of truth. Often the cost is one’s true joy, peace and happiness.

Take a look at the picture of your life right now. Where are you at this point? What rules have you have been following that have brought you all the way here? Does it all still ring true or not?

If there are things that no longer ring true for you, perhaps it is time to make changes. How big or small the changes you make is entirely your own decision. How sweeping or subtle you want to transform your life is entirely yours to make. Big or small, sweeping or subtle, honor it.

You will know the right moment to recreate life on your own terms.

Connect with the highest source

There can be no lasting happiness in life without acknowledging life’s awe, mysteries and wonders. As Albert Einstein once said, “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead.”

Behind every wonder in the universe is the great and powerful energy that created it, from the smallest particles of nature to complex human beings to vast galaxies. There is but one and the same energy that connects you and me to all of creation.

There is a beautiful passage written by author and speaker, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book I Can See Clearly Now: “I cannot conceive of a watch without a watchmaker, so it is impossible for me to believe that this universe exists without an intelligence that is the matrix of all matter – a creator.”

I love spring. I love it when people emerge from the cocoon of their homes, and gather in parks and public spaces to marvel at the blooming flowers. Flowers! Tiny, insignificant little things, but so beautiful and effortless. They do not have to try so hard, they do not try at all! And yet they are so adored and admired, so much so that they attract crowds and bring joy to people.

I talk about flowers because that silent adoration that passes from human to nature is an acknowledgement of a divine hand in creation.  It is a sense of reverence that the same spirit, energy, creator or God that created the flower is the same one that created you and me.

Connection with highest source is a key ingredient to happiness. It reminds us that we are never in isolation or separation. We are connected not just to God, but to the essence of abundance, grace, love, prosperity, goodness, creativity, and all the good things that the highest source stands for. It brings the contents of this world into proper perspective, guiding us to infinite possibilities, and guiding us with wisdom as to what is important, and what is not.

Happiness is acknowledging the divine within, and that after all this time, we have been worthy from the start.

 

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(Photo by Jahoo Clouseau)


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How to be happier in the New Year

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Can you recall the many New Year’s resolutions you have made through the years?  Lose weight. Exercise more. Spend less. Save more. Eat better. Learn something new. Travel more. Read more books. Spend more time with family. Start new project. Change project. Finish project. The list goes on. I bet you they all boil down to 1 of 2 things, or both. Be a better person. Be happier.

There’s something about happiness that I discover more and more as the years go by. It is not a destination. It is not a place to get to that requires pain, sacrifice or effort.  It is not something attained or achieved. (What if you regain the weight? What if you lose your money, job, house, spouse, partner, kids, health? Do you lose your happiness as well?)

Happiness is something that we create in the present moment. This puts our happiness squarely on us, not on someone or something external. It is something that we choose when we come from a place of personal empowerment, when we come from a place of trust. Trust that the Universe is so generous that it wants us to be happy now, without denying or delaying it for some future date. Trust that there is enough for everyone because grace is infinite and without limits, because God’s love itself is limitless. And trust that there is no fear of failure because the Universe is always on our side.

If happiness is not a destination, if it is not achieved by doing, are there things that we can do to empower ourselves to create joy in the present moment? Certainly. And here are some:

Less resolutions, more reflection

The reason why it is difficult to keep up with resolutions is because of the self-imposed pressure. Oh, God. It’s already (insert year). I’m turning (insert age). I haven’t done this and that. I’m running out of time. My family, friends and colleagues  already have this and that. If I don’t do it now, it will all be too late. What do I have to show?

Pressure comes from fear, guilt, lack and feelings of unworthiness. They are the worst motivators.  Ditch the belief that you are under an artificial time pressure (brought about by age, calendar years or clock time). Breathe. Empowering life transformations have their own timeline. And it is never too late.

Give yourself moments of gentle but honest self-reflection. Sit down, pause and answer important questions. What do I really want?

Follow that train of thought without personal judgment and without placing limitations upon yourself, then ponder further questions. What is no longer working in my life? What changes have I been putting off? What do I need to let go of? What is holding me back, and why? Are there small but positive changes that I can make towards what I want?

Empower your mind

Start your day with positive affirmations. The moment your eyes blink open in bed in the morning, notice your 1st thought. If it is something like, “Oh, God. Another day. I’m so fed up and exhausted. How am I going to get through this?”, then you seriously have to break this bad habit.

Your mind is your tool. Use it to your advantage. Your mind will constantly churn out thoughts anyway, might as well think good ones. Say, “This is going to be a good day. I receive all the support I need. I am safe. I am calm. I am creative. I am empowered. My endeavors are always successful. People are inherently good and kind. We all deserve good things, and there is more than enough for everyone.”

Whenever you get stressed, take a breath. Inhale. Exhale. Check in with your thoughts. If you are spiraling back into negative thinking, reverse it immediately. Think empowering thoughts. Post positive reminders where you can see them (your bathroom mirror, your cellphone wallpaper, your computer monitor, your office desk, your night stand).

End your day with gratitude. Make a mental review of the small and big things that you are grateful for. Soon, you will become the master of your mind, and you will see that, ultimately, your thoughts create your reality.

Clean up the contents of your life

When I say contents, I am referring to all the stuff that you fill up your life with.  The basics, but not limited to these – your social media feed, your possessions, your relationships. Why is it important to clean up these things? Your outer world is a manifestation of your inner self. If you see too much negativity, toxicity and clutter in your physical world, then that is the kind of energy you are attracting into your life.

How many things in your social media feed do you actually enjoy seeing, watching and reading? It is your choice if you wish to unfollow certain people if their posts do not add any positive value to your life. Instead follow people and pages that inspire you and give you delight. Think of your interests and follow them. Do you like art, architecture, animals, sports, food, fashion, health and wellness, travel, interior design, gardening, crafts, cars, music? Fill your news feed with things that make you happy. This is part of creating a new physical reality.

Sort out your closets, cabinets, desk and possessions. The stuff you no longer use or need, say thank you to them for having been part of your life. Now that you no longer need them, sell, donate or give them away to people who could actually use them.

When you clear your life of clutter, you cut off chords of attachment and fear. You are actually making room for new blessings to come into your life. You are declaring to the Universe that you trust in its infinite grace so much that you are willing to let go of things you no longer need.

Contents also extend to the people in your life. Are there people who have become too toxic, needy or negative? Are there people who weigh you down and prevent you from soaring gloriously in the journey of your life? Are there people whose values have simply gone off in a different direction from yours? The kind of people you want in your life right now is your choice. If you choose to let some relationships fade away, send gratitude to these people for having been part of your life. There is a time, place and reason for everything and everyone. Then trust that the Universe will bring new people into your life, people whose vibe resonates with yours, and people who will support your new journey.

Click the link to go to Part 2, Taking charge of your own happiness

 

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Home

By Paul Henson

Monterey Bay, California. (Photo by Paul Henson 2015)

On land, or on the sea? On the hills, or in the valleys? Where is home? (Monterey Bay, California. Photo by Paul Henson 2015)

I used to think home was one place.  Familiar.  Comforting.  Safe.  Harking back to childhood memories. Attached to specific faces, people – family.

I was wrong.

It turns out home is many different places.  It’s not always familiar.  It can take us out of our comfort zones.  Unsettling.  It can be strange, foreign, new, terrifying.  Still, it can be home.

Have you ever felt the need to break free?  Moments you simply felt stunted, caged that you just wanted to create for yourself a new home?

Be careful what you wish for.  Life is listening.

A window opens.  Sometimes, a door.  Slowly at first.  Filtering in a little bit of light, a gentle breeze, through the cracks.  Enticing.  Newness beckons.  Fresh, exhilarating, liberating.

A window opens.  Sometimes, a door.

And sometimes – I suspect, oftentimes — the whole house comes crashing down.  Torn apart.  Blown away.

A flood of emotions:  Anger, disbelief, grief, sadness, heartache, pain.  More anger.  A little regret.  A little self-hate.

A deluge of questions:  What just happened?  Did I do something wrong?  What was all this for?

WHY?

You stumble through the debris.  Lost, dazed, confused and frightened.  Sometimes you try, but are just too paralyzed by fear.

Grand Canyon, Arizona. (Photo by Paul Henson 2015)

Finding home even on the precipice. (Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Paul Henson 2015)

Finding your way

But help comes when you need it most.

A word.  A hand.  A shared tear.  They don’t take away the pain completely.  But sharing it makes the load just a bit easier to bear.

And then amidst all that is frightening, unfamiliar, uncomfortable and painful – slowly – you discover that home is many different places.

Home is in the smile, the outstretched hand, of a new friend.  The color of his or her eyes may be different but the tenderness is something you have felt before.

Home is in a song, a dance.  The words, the steps, are new but the pull on your heartstrings (or hamstrings) transport you back to fond memories.

Home is in a meal.  The flavors may be all new but the satisfaction and contentment in your heart and your belly are the same.

Home is…

Sometimes, you retrace your steps to your old home.  You see the old places, old people.  Sometimes, the familiar brings you comfort.  At other times it brings you discomfort.  Either you’ve changed, and they haven’t.  Or have they changed, and you’ve stayed the same?  It doesn’t matter.  There’s no right or wrong.

You look back.  You look forward.  You’re not quite sure what is ahead.  But you feel the ground beneath you is solid and safe.  You feel a quiet sense of accomplishment.  You exhale.  Your breath carried by the mist, the wind, into the sky, the sunlight.

Home is many different places.  Sometimes – oftentimes, I suspect — the old one has to come crashing down, get torn apart, get blown away.  Don’t worry.  That home is not gone entirely.  You just have to trust that you’re making way for something new.

***

Follow the author on Twitter @Paulhenson or Instagram @heaveninawildflower.


Why people can relate to ‘Starting Over Again’

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Toni Gonzaga as Ginny and Piolo Pascual as Marco in a scene from ‘Starting Over Again.’ Screen capture from movie trailer.

“Do we still have a second chance?  Naniniwala ka rin ba na (do you also believe) our love story deserves a better ending?”  And with that, Ginny (portrayed by Toni Gonzaga) turns the world of her ex-boyfriend Marco (Piolo Pascual) askew in the box-office hit movie ‘Starting Over Again.’

After four years, Ginny returns to Manila from Barcelona, and discovers that Marco has moved on.  He’s in a wonderful relationship with Patty (Iza Calzado).  To make the blows harsher, Patty turns out to be kind, smart, successful and, yes, “kamukha ni (looks like) Mama Mary.”  Life is indeed unfair.

Do we still have a second chance?  It’s a line, perhaps, that has been replayed many times in your mind when you think of your ex.  You might even have said it out loud to that person.  It’s hard to let go of someone you love, someone who has touched your heart so deeply, that’s why you hold on to every last shred of hope.

This romantic film directed by Olivia Lamasan does not spare audiences from the depths of anguish, even if it is frighteningly painful.  Many people accept the fact that perfect endings are hard to come by.  I would have stormed out of the theater had this film chosen a different ending.

Why do many people relate so personally to the film?  Let me count the ways:

1. It’s not always love at first sight.  Sometimes, it’s love after irritation.

How many times have you found someone annoying, even obnoxious, only to fall crazy in love with that person? Indeed, thin is the line between love and hate.  It’s just like Marco who admits in his email to Ginny that he disliked her initially.

Sometimes, irritation is just a defense mechanism.  Often we are attracted to someone who mirrors our own qualities, the good and bad.  We can’t help it.  It’s part of our narcissistic nature.  And sometimes, if we’re lucky, the person we detested but have fallen for turns out to be a great person beneath the hard surface.

2.  Everything is perfect, until fear sets in and you run away.

Things were going rosy for Marco and Ginny.  They started making plans for a lifetime of togetherness, until familiarity set in.  Ginny saw too much of her failure-of-a-father in Marco that she had to escape.  As a friend once said, many would rather go for the easy way out, rather than the uncertainty of hard choices but with the potential to makes us truly happy.

When things fail, we beat ourselves up and realize how cowardly we were.  Toni was brilliant in her breakdown-in-bed scene.

3.  When you miss someone you love, every little thing can be a reminder of that person.

The smallest thing can trigger the deepest memories with that person: a scent, a word, a place, a time of day, a season, a food or drink, a color, a sound, a laugh, a smile, a gaze, a look.

Ginny learned from Marco that tastes and flavors of food evoke sensual memories of a person.  For Marco, a picture, a sketch on a paper that’s yellowing with age can open the floodgates of memories.

4.  Dealing with a break-up is indeed like grieving over the loss of a loved one.

When you break-up with a partner, the void is palpable, like a gaping hole in the heart. “I almost died,” Marco cried out to Ginny in their confrontation scene.  And no matter how hard you try, no matter how much love and support you get from family and friends, no matter how hard you count your blessings, nothing can seem to fill that empty space.

And you do go through the stages of grief, albeit unconsciously: denial, anger, depression, and if all proceeds well, you reach acceptance.  But before you reach acceptance…

5.  You will bargain, plead, even settle for scraps,  just to reclaim that person and win him/her back into your life.

What an amazing kitchen confrontation scene between Ginny and Patty.  My eyes almost popped out of their sockets and my ears couldn’t believe what they were hearing as Ginny tried to mess with Patty’s mind, break her confidence in Marco and eventually driver her to give Marco up.

Many people have those embarrassing moments when pride goes flying out the window, and you sink to the lowest depths to get your ex to love you again.  It doesn’t always work out, but somehow, you think it’s better to do it and fail, than wonder what could have been and have regrets later on.

6.  Just when you think you’ve moved on, life plays a trick on you.

There’s a chance encounter; a text, call or email out of the blue.  Often, this tests your resolve and you start seeing signs (or signs you want to see):  Why did we have to meet each other again?  Maybe we’re meant to get back together…

Ginny asked herself that question over and over again.  You convince yourself that you’ve gotten over a person, but seeing him/her with someone else makes your chest feel like it’s going to explode.

You pretend you’re cool, but you’re a ball of nerves when you see each other again.  You dress your best, you try to look more gorgeous and successful to make the other person regret breaking-up with you, but secretly you want him/her back.  You just have to test the water if there’s still spark or magic between you two.

7.  You’ll know when it’s time to give up, lick your wounds and move on.

Often you just want closure, for not everyone can deal with open-ended questions and unfinished business.  Ginny and Marco had the benefit of closure.  What a bittersweet hospital scene that was.

But not everyone is as fortunate as to have that opportunity to settle score.  What to do?  When do you stop trying and finally let go?  You realize eventually that you set your own limits.  You’ll know when you’ve given as much as you could, and tried as hard as you can.

When you’ve done all you could, hopefully you can pick up the pieces, get back on your feet, cherish the good memories, look back without regrets, and gaze into the future, if not with hope, then at least with the knowledge that you will soon be okay.

You will eventually learn to love yourself, and be your own best friend.  And if you’re lucky, you’ll meet someone special again. ###

 

Read more self-empowering posts below:

Taking charge of your own happiness

How to be happier in the New Year

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