Archive | September 2013

How to be the best person you can be

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You’re lucky enough to be different, never change. Taylor Swift

Every day our aim should be to be the best person we possibly can be, whether someone is looking at us and watching what we are doing or not. We should always act in line with our values and morals and strive to be the person we want to be. This is not only a key to happiness but if you’re currently suffering from depression, this is the key to moving you beyond your current state.

The first step is figuring out what you can do to be the best person that you can be. This week, Happiness Weekly gives you some ideas for where to begin.

Write down your values
Ask yourself what really matters to you – not just in yourself, but also consider the qualities you value in other people. Sometimes it’s easy for us to look at people and see what we don’t like, but spend another second and consider the features you do like. Write a list of the things you value – whenever you feel as though life isn’t heading in the direction you want it to, refer back to these – they will keep you grounded and remind you of who you are and who you want to be.

Figure out who you want to be
Which leads us to the next point! You need to take some time to figure out who you want to be. Consider all your close friends and all the things you really admire in each of them. You can even look at celebrities you want – even physical features – what hairstyle you like, fake tan or no tan, how you like your makeup done etc. Pick all the best qualities and features from the people you have selected to act as role models – physical and psychological features – and form a list of things you need to do to become the best you that you can be. Then start setting some goals to help you become the person you want to be.

Diet
It’s no surprise that what you put into your body helps with the way you feel about yourself, and also how you feel about others. If you eat fresh foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables you will feel better about everything, therefore contributing to you becoming the best person you can be. Simple!

Exercise
If you sit at home like a couch potato all day, I can guarantee – you will feel that way. But if you look forward to the sunshine and take yourself out for some exercise each day – even if it’s just a walk, I can promise you will feel a lot better about yourself. No one compliments the person who sits on the couch, the best figure is earned. To get energy that shines from your soul, try to do 40 minutes to an hour of exercise a day.

Do what you like to do
Everyone has at least one thing they enjoy doing. Whether it’s taking part in a hobby, going out with friends or family, or having a full on pamper day. Whatever it is – do it! Treat yourself. If you can’t afford it, set goals so you can. Particularly if you are suffering from depression or anxiety, it’s ideal to complete an activity you enjoy a couple of times a week. Not sure what you enjoy? Don’t enjoy much because you feel so low? Push yourself! No one will take any pain that you’re suffering away from you – not even the person who caused it. If you push yourself to do the activities you usually enjoy, before you know it – you’ll be back on the path to being your old, vibrant self again.

Act with integrity
The key to being the best person you possibly can be is acting with integrity. Do what you say you will do. Keep promises. Turn up on time. Be accountable. Take responsibility. Do the right thing all the time. Metaphorically speaking: don’t do things behind closed doors that you wouldn’t do while those doors are open. The truth always comes out in the wash. It’s when we don’t do the right thing that our conscience interferes with our moods and actions and we can actually never be happy in that state. So if we do the right thing all the time – by ourselves and those around us – we will feel a lot happier, than if we’re sneaking around.

Get the job you want
Being employed is really important, even if you’re suffering from depression and finding it impossible to get out of bed. Losing your job would just add to the pain. The trick is to find a job that works for you – no puns intended. Work the hours that you want to work and get the income that you want to earn. Your dream job is out there – the trick is finding it. If you aren’t feeling on deck, I strongly advise avoiding the interviewing process until you are. An added rejection will not make you feel any better – but you could use this as incentive to get back on track faster!

Reassess your friends
Look at the people in your life that you have surrounded yourself with. Reassess if you really need them there or not. Consider how they make you feel about yourself. Remember in order to be the best, you need to be surrounded by the best. Get rid of anyone from your life who is holding you back or trying to drag you down. Remember, if they’re dragging you down, they’re beneath you already so moving forward from that relationship would be doing yourself a favour!

Don’t give up
Everyone has good days and bad days. You’re not always going to be the person you want to be. Sometimes you will do something that’s not like you at all – you’ll probably feel guilty and horrible rather than validated and good. Forgive yourself openly and get back on track as soon as you can. And remember, sometimes what we wish for isn’t what we need. Sometimes we need to carefully re-evaluate the things we want in order to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Set goals
Every achievement makes us feel a little better, more validated and more powerful within ourselves. Set realistic goals to lead you to becoming the best person you can be. Don’t tie the goals to someone else, ensure they’re all about you. Remember to be patient with yourself and that every sunrise leads you further from the storm.

As a general rule: if it makes you feel bad, don’t do it. Being the best person you can possibly be will only ever make you feel good! Best of luck in your journey to becoming the best person you can be.

Help! My partner has depression and I feel like I’m catching it

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The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Depression is a mental illness that affects 1 in 5 people. I was recently told by a health professional that 80% of people who are taking anti-depressants don’t need to be. Just because our circumstances are causing us to feel deeply depressed, does not necessarily mean that we have a chemical imbalance or that anti-depressants will help our situation – but perhaps talking to a good psychologist will!

The problem with people who are particularly sensitive and openly empathetic is that if their partner suffers from depression, they will find themselves being dragged down with their emotions. Unless you have had depression or have a partner who has depression, it is very difficult to understand just how much someone can bring you down – no matter how happy you are. It’s contagious – like catching a cold: One gets it, the other gets it and you can actually pass it between each other for some time … until you break the cycle.

Recently someone I was very, very close to told me they were contemplating ending their life. I have never been in that situation before. Apart from worry myself sick at work (meanwhile my performance slipped a little), I was texting the person every ten minutes to see they were ok (and let them know I was still there for them – in case they had forgotten since my last text message), and I offered the Lifeline number in case they needed someone and I was not available due to a work meeting. Ultimately though, I had NO idea what to do. It wasn’t long after that I started feeling depressed as well.

So this week Happiness Weekly looks at what you can do if someone you’re close to, such as your partner, is depressed and how you can help AND still stay on top of things in your own world.

If someone has the power to bring you down, you have the power to bring them back up!
When someone is down, it’s very easy to feel down about your world with them, but if you remain positive and constructive in your discussions with them, then you provide the opportunity to bring them back up and leveraging off their perspective, you could also expand your view on things. Be careful on overdoing this one – many caring people will do it, there is always a time to walk away. When it continually brings you down, that’s your red flag that you and your partner need space.

Don’t lose sight of yourself
You partner may make some rash decisions and have very irrational thought processes – you will need to be very patient with them. In the meantime, it’s very important that you don’t lose sight of who you are. They may say things to you that will bring you down – don’t take it personally. By knowing who you are, maintaining your integrity and being confident in yourself, you will be in a great position to step out of any negative criticism from your partner.

Get help for yourself and seek strategies on how best to support the person
There is no shame in seeking counselling and advice for yourself. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to see someone and ask for some strategies on how you can best support this person, especially if it is someone you really love and care for. A good counsellor will also talk you through some strategies on how you can best care for yourself in your situation as well.

Do not feel guilty
It is very , very difficult – particularly if your partner is lashing out and blaming you, not to feel guilty for the way things are going. There may be frequent arguments as the person’s irrational mindset takes over. It’s really important that you do not feel guilty, as soon as guilt takes over your mindset will change and you will be in no position to support the person you are caring for because you’ll start finding yourself dragged down with them.

Put yourself in their shoes
Reassure your partner that they are doing the best they can in their situation and that any ideas you have are only suggestions. Do not force the person to participate in anything they don’t want to. It will feel like an empty victory if they do one of your suggestions begrudgingly anyway. Practice some acceptance and know when you need to step back a little in order not to get hurt.

Make them see that they are responsible and in control of their moods
This is an important point because it empowers the person as well as shifting the responsibility back from you and onto them. When they become moody for no apparent reason, it’s ok to try to help them solve their problem, but it’s also important that you tell the person that their mood is affecting you and how you would prefer they respond to you.

Ask them their thoughts and help them challenge them
Deep down everyone has the answers for what they’re looking for. If you can talk to the person and make recommendations from your heart – it comes more easily if you genuinely care about the person – then you will be able to lead them in the right direction. A good way to challenge a depressed partner is to ask them to try something different. If they take your advice and/or try something new, it will not only make you feel good when they do but it will feel rewarding if they also say thank you.

Get help together
A depressed partner is not easy to look after and no one expects you to do it all on your own. If they won’t get help on their own (which many won’t), then ask if they will be open to seeking help with you and see if you can book an appointment with a good psychologist together. Another alternative for getting help together, if things get really out of hand, is involving other family members (parents, siblings or extended family members) in their life in the situation. You are not dobbing the person in, but actually protecting them, by helping them to get the appropriate care they need.

Offer other suggestions
Sometimes when we’re depressed we can’t see our options clearly. This is where you can step up and after hearing and seeing your partner’s limited views in their situation that feels entirely helpless to them and offer some suggestions for how they could move forward. Don’t forget to put it in bite-size pieces that is easy to follow. If you make it sound all too easy and as though you’d find it easy in their situation, you could cause further tension and distress to your partner.

Keep being positive – don’t give up!
The best way to be positive and ensure your partner remains positive in their situation is to make positive suggestions going forward. It may be coming up with a great date idea, thinking of alternative positive solutions to the problem or being forward thinking about the situation and making some positive moves before anything else gets out of hand. Whatever it is, staying positive may sometimes feel exhausting but it will at least make you feel better if not encourage a smile on your partner’s face as well.

55 things to do before you self-harm

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Why bother inflicting enormous pain on yourself when sooner or later Life would certainly get around to doing it for you? Jeff Lindsay

This week marked R U OK? Day – a national day of action (12 September 2013), dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends. It was founded by Gavin Larkin in 2009 after his father committed suicide. It also marked Work Suicide Prevention Day (10 September 2013), which BeyondBlue promoted, noting that 44 Australians take their lives each week.

To pay tribute to these two very important mental health days, Happiness Weekly looks at alternatives to self-harm. It is important to note that just because someone self-harms does not necessarily mean they are intending suicide. However, if you or someone you know is self-harming, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or go to a local hospital where you or the person who is hurting themselves can receive the appropriate care they need.

Sometimes, it can be difficult but the fact is, we just need to save ourselves from ourselves … but when you don’t know where to start, it can be nearly impossible. With the idea being to distract yourself, here are some ideas for things to do before you self-harm:

1. Write down why you want to self-harm and what you hope to achieve. Generally you won’t be rational at this time, but really think to yourself whether you will get what you want to achieve by hurting yourself. For example, if this is to win someone’s affections, will they honestly love you more if you do that to yourself? Do you really want other people to see the marks you made during the heat of the moment?

2. Write a bucket list. Before you start hurting yourself, consider everything you want to do, try and achieve in your lifetime. You don’t need to set goals – it could be the smallest of things … but just write them down.

3. Complete a full workout. If nothing else, your endorphins should give you a slight boost. Push yourself until you feel a bit better. It could take up to 45 minutes of solid activity until you feel it, so just keep going!

4. Write it out – keep a diary, write a poem, write the story … whatever it takes. Sometimes the best way to vent is just put it on paper.

5. Plan what you’re going to do on your next free day off work. How are you going to fill in the time for you? Do something nice for yourself. Make sure it’s something you will look forward to.

6. Catch up with a trusted friend and vent. Tell them exactly what you’re feeling and thinking. Explain why you feel that way. If you haven’t got someone you feel close enough to, then call Lifeline on 13 11 14 – they are qualified to hear this information.

7. Access your senses. Smell perfumes. Cuddle a soft toy. Eat something nice. Be mindful with whatever you are doing. Do it slowly and enjoy it completely.

8. Do some self-soothing activities. Paint your nails, get a massage, go and see a movie… whatever you feel like doing, go out and do it. The trick is to get out of the house and away from any self-harming temptation or triggers.

9. Try to find a support group that will specifically offer you the help you need, and the help people in your situation need. For example, if you’re suffering at the hands of bullying, try to find a support group for that.

10. Get back to nature. Go camping. Walk outside and look at the sky. If it’s night, look at the stars and try to find as many sequences as possible. If it’s during the day and it’s nice and sunny, sunbake for a while. If it’s raining, watch the rain fall.

11. Put your gloves on and punch a punching bag. This beats hurting yourself and it’s better than hitting someone else. No one honestly feels good after punching someone, and it’s best to avoid making yourself feel any worse than you already do in your situation.

12. Find some self-harm alternatives. Squeeze ice. Snap a rubber band on your wrist. Have a really hot shower. Do similar activities that hurt but will not permanently mark you. It doesn’t release instant frustration but it’s better than suffering from the consequences of self-injury.

13. If you’re a repeat offender, write what you really hated about self-harming the last time you did it. Was it the reaction people gave you? Was it the itchy feeling when it was healing? Was it hiding under long shirts and jumpers in summer heat?

14. Change your bedroom or house around until it looks different. There’s no reason you need to live in the same circumstances day in and day out. Move things around until you feel better about things or until things look different to what they have.

15. Find a new hobby – read a book, surf the net, write a blog, knit or sew something, paint, cry, draw, sleep, meditate, play a computer game … whatever it is, just try it for an hour and see how you go.

16. Try something new. We all feel good when we try something new. It’s a whole new experience. Why don’t you take yourself out and just try something you’ve never done before? What’s stopping you.

17. Do something you’re good at. We all have something that we know we’re really good at. It might be a particular dish that you know you cook well, or it could be creating something … whatever it is, go and do that one thing you know you do well and then spend some time reflecting on it.

18. Write a list of supportive friends and family that you can contact in a time of crisis and start going down the list. Contact anyone and everyone until you are feeling better about things.

19. Change your hair. Cut it. Colour it. Have an entire makeover. Whatever you choose – just changing the way you look can make you feel better about yourself.

20. Pay for a photoshoot. There are some REALLY good photographers out there that can show you your beauty without too much effort from either you or them. Why not get dressed up, make yourself look amazing and have your photo taken? You may not feel like it but when you see the results, you may just be glad you did!

21. Relax. Watch a candle burn, listen to soothing or tranquil music and just take some deep breaths to try to relax. Life really isn’t that bad.

22. Watch a movie that has nothing to do with your current situation. Want something funny? Try watching The Heat with Sandra Bullock. There’s no real love scenes and I promise it will have you laughing by the end!

23. Go for a walk. If you’re in Sydney try a nice walk through the Botanical Gardens or Centennial Park. Take yourself somewhere public where you can still be alone. Alternatively, get lost in a bookshop.

24. Buy yourself a dog. If you don’t like dogs (which you should), get another kind of pet. It holds you accountable at a time when you may not feel as though you can be.

25. Write someone a hand written letter and send it. The trick is to avoid talking about your current situation and feelings but to still write from the heart. It’s easier if you haven’t seen the person in a long time and you’re looking to break the ice and become friends again.

26. Revisit some of your favourite childhood activities: play with a pet, make a bead necklace, bake cookies, rip paper into itty-bitty bits, hug a pillow or soft toy, fly a kite, play jacks or pick-up-sticks, finger paint a picture, play with a slinky, dance, play on the swings at a park, pop bubble wrap, play with play-dough, build a cubby house etc.

27. Consider changing jobs. Generally if self-harm is on your mind, there may be a couple of areas in your life that are not working – whether it’s social and work, or work and relationship or relationship and social etc. Go online and look at groups you could join or job hunt for your dream job.

28. Flick through a magazine or photo album and consider what looks great about someone else’s life that you don’t have. Start making a list of ideas for how you could have that quality or outcome in your life.

29. Throw socks at the wall. I haven’t done this before but it sounds kind of fun! It’s also repeated on several suggestions lists for alternatives to self-harm so this one may be highly recommended.

30. Throw darts at a dartboard. Try to get the bullseye. Now try to get it three times in a row. If nothing else, you’ll become a very skilled dart player in the end!

31. Write an email or Facebook message to someone to make peace with them. I call it my “My name is Earl” moments – it’s actually pretty fun and it’s nice to be forgiven, especially when you’re having trouble forgiving yourself for something. In fact, sometimes I find it easier to forgive myself when the other person openly forgives me first.

32. Colour coordinate your wardrobe. This is a really handy activity, because you can then go to your wardrobe, see exactly what you want and take it from its place. When everything is mixed up, it takes a lot longer to select your clothing.

33. While you’re in your wardrobe – why not pick out all the old clothes you don’t wear so much anymore and put them in a clothing bin for the less fortunate? It’s also easier to find your clothes when they’re not mixed in with the clothes you rarely wear. Did you know women only tend to wear 20-30% of their wardrobe? And generally keep three different sizes of clothing. It’s time to chuck it, ladies!

34. Go to a gig or bigger concert, or join a boat party. Generally everyone is really nice and easy to mingle with and it could very well change your perspective. You can look both up on the internet at any time – book your ticket and have fun!

35. I like this one: Trace your hand on a piece of paper. Write something you like to look at on your thumb, write something you like to touch on your index finger, write your favourite scent on your middle finger, write something you like the taste of on your ring finger, write something you like to listen to on your pinky finger, and on your palm, write something nice about yourself.

36. Pick a random object, such as a paper clip and try to list 30 different uses for it. This is a great lesson in mindfulness and seeing the good in even the smallest of things.

37. While you have some time on your hands, which you’re not going to use to self-harm, write a mental health plan for yourself. It should include various things to do (consider your favourite things to do – like walking on the coastline of places etc), people to call, triggers to avoid etc.

38. Be mindful of the HALT signals your body could be giving you in order to make you feel like self-harming. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Once you narrow it down, concentrate on finding a solution to this individual problem and/or emotion.

39. Get a fake tan, give yourself a facial, have your makeup done professionally, pamper yourself and then go on a shopping spree. You’ll probably spend a lot of money, so make sure you stick to some kind of budget, but it will make you feel better.

40. Find a supportive chat room and see if you can talk to someone different online about anything and everything. I even found trawling dating websites when I was single and feeling down could act as a nice ego boost.

41. If you think you know the major problem – and it could be love addiction, attachment or something that you’re going through, you could try hypnosis as a way of dealing with it and having your mind distracted from the problem.

42. Make a playlist of soothing music and listen to it.

43. Accept where you are in whatever process you’re going through. Accept everything that has happened and everything that may be ahead, and get set for whatever changes you need to take to be the best and happiest person you possibly can be.

44. Make a pact with someone who you truly love that you will not self-harm or even consider it openly because you don’t wish to bring all the ugliness that comes with it into your relationship.

45. Realise you’re actually hurting enough at the moment without hurting yourself more. And self-harm not only hurts you physically but it will deeply scar you emotionally. It’s a habit that can take quite some time to recover from – I’m talking several years – so if you don’t self-harm generally, do not start!

46. Empower yourself with your right to choice and choose not to harm yourself. When you make it through the recovery process and stop self-harming you are able to recognise the power of choice a lot more clearly.

47. Focus on your own beauty as much as you can. You may feel hideous at the moment – but focus on all the things you like about yourself and all the things you do well. I also find it helpful to watch Victorias Secret shows and model interviews or interviews with someone you admire. Picture that person in your situation or sitting with you now and what they would say to you.

48. Make a list of things you need to do in order to live safely for a while and make that happen. Treat it like an addiction and get rid of all temptation from the house for a while. Soon enough you’ll get frustrated with not having things which they were originally intended for. Before you introduce it back into the home you need to make a promise to yourself that you will not use it for anything other than it’s original intended purpose. For example, respecting a knife as something to cut food with. If you can’t do it, don’t let it back into the house.

49. Instead of blaming yourself or anyone else and saying “should have”, change it to “could have” and consider “what if”. It’s never too late to change the course of your life.

50. Remove yourself from your old life as much as possible. Choose to take a different direction and be happy rather than wallowing in pain. Change your number. Move house. Change jobs. Whatever change you make, make it a positive one.

51. Now is a great time to start a gratitude journal if you haven’t already. Decorate the first page with magazine clippings of various things that make you happy. And from then on write down everything you’re grateful for and why you appreciate it so much.

52. Watch a funny TV show. I really enjoy watching The Big Bang Theory. It totally takes my mind off things and generally it makes me laugh.

53. Plan to perform one act of kindness each day and add this into your gratitude journal. It could be for someone you know or a complete stranger. Each time you perform an act of kindness for someone, record the person’s reaction to it. Volunteer work may also help.

54. Write down the reasons you love yourself and your life and read it back to yourself whenever you’re feeling down.

55. Complete something you have been putting off or start something completely different that you have never done before. Challenge yourself.

Still not feeling any better? Book an appointment with a good psychologist or try one of these random activities:

- Google beautiful pictures

- Learn a new joke

- Go outside and take photos of things you think are beautiful

- Look for a four-leaf clover

- Make a wish on a dandelion

- Find a pond where you can feed the ducks

- Take yourself on a road trip

- Go people watching for a morning in a café, at the beach, where ever you want to be

- Watch the sunrise and sunset on the same day.

My favourite lessons from my dog

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If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life. Roger A Caras

First I would like to introduce you all to my beautiful dog, Diesel Bean (pictured with me). He is the biggest support in my life, he’s taught me more lessons than anyone I’ve known and his loyalty and commitment has seen me through some very dark days. This blog is dedicated to you, Diesel Bean (he’s actually that smart – he’ll probably be reading it right now!). And this week, Happiness Weekly is looking at all my favourite lessons that he’s taught me – he may be small, but he’s full of wisdom!

Be nice to everyone – you never know who will pat you
You know, my dog will approach absolutely anyone for a pat. He’s part Chihuahua, which for some reasons scares people, but he loves people. Anyone and everyone. Young and old. If you look in his direction, he will approach and say hello – no matter what you look like. I think we can all learn from this. One of the nicest ladies I know has a very hard exterior. When I first was liaising with her, I was very intimidated – but time and time again she’s just proven to be an absolutely beautiful lady. It just shows you can’t judge. Your gut isn’t always right.

Loyalty is the greatest reward
Having been deceived so many times in my loving relationships, I always return home and my dog is always there. I’m pretty sure he knows every time I’m sobbing over him that I have been let down again. And he’s always there for me. He never goes off overseas. He doesn’t change his mind. He doesn’t change his routine. He’s just always there. Always loving. Always loyal. And that reminds me every time that in any relationship you can have … with anything … that loyalty is actually the greatest reward. It’s the greatest thing anyone can give you.

Live each moment to the full
Don’t look at the past with regret, don’t look to the future with anticipation, just enjoy each moment as it comes to you and live it to the fullest. Embrace everything to be excited about and go forward with joy in your heart. He also taught me to be open about what I want and what I love so I can have them faster. Sometimes … if I ask for things directly, then I’m simply given them. Sometimes all we need to do is ask – and remember that the worst response we will get is “no” but then we’re no worse off than we were to start.

Appreciate the little things
I learnt very quickly (but too late) when Diesel Bean was a puppy that he loves playing with empty toilet rolls. So when I went out and brought him a thousand toys to keep him entertained, all he wanted was a simple, leftover product that wouldn’t have cost a thing. He has now even taught himself to notice when the toilet roll is empty or close to it, and how to take it off the holder so he can play with it. Talk about seize the moment! It taught me to appreciate the little things … sometimes it’s the little things that can become the big things.

Forgiveness is a lot easier than people make it out to be
As I said, my dog is quite small, so treading on him has happened from time to time, although he’s generally quite speedy in getting out of the way. How many times do you cross someone at work accidentally and then the relationship is just never quite the same? I can’t tell you how many people I have come across in my time who find it near impossible to forgive and forget … and so this is another quality I see in my dog that I really admire. It hasn’t mattered if I tread on his tiny toes every now and then … he always seems happy with me and always offers me this unconditional love that no other can. He never holds grudges towards anyone … I think that’s another reason I love him so much! Sometimes forgiveness just takes a little bit of listening, understanding and compassion.

People love it when you look forward to seeing them – and you let them know!
Whenever I return home from anywhere, and I don’t have to be gone long, my dog will always throw a hell of a party to welcome me – crying and barking. He just loses it! Well, I test-drove this in my most recent relationship. “What if I give someone that similar kind of attention, where it looks as though I’m always waiting for them and I’m always extremely happy to see them?” Well … it proved positive. People love it when you look forward to seeing them and you tell them! So now if I am catching up with any friend, doesn’t matter when the last time I saw them was, I will always say “I’m looking forward to it” or “I can’t wait to see you!”

A cuddle always feels good
My dog gets mesmerised by cuddles. I’m not really a touchy-feely person so this was something that I had to learn through him. And I learnt it well. I learnt the power of touch from my dog. Nothing will make a person feel more loved than when you always have a hand on them when they’re near. If you’re not a touchy-feely person, this is actually quite difficult because you kind of have to make a conscious effort to do it. But now I do it instinctively when I’m in love. When I’m in love, I love them like my dog loves me. When I’m in the room, my dog won’t let me have any space without him. He’s always right next to me or on me. And it feels good! If you cuddle your lover in good times and in bad, it will always feel good as well.

Happiness is a warm puppy. Charles M Schulz

 

You don’t need material things to make you happy
OK, seriously, it’s not like my dog takes me out to expensive dinners or buys me diamonds! You don’t need material things to be happy in your relationship. You might think you do but at the end of the day, all you should need is each other and in being with each other you are naturally happy.

Love and commitment is better demonstrated than said
My dog doesn’t write me love notes. He doesn’t put things on his Facebook wall. He doesn’t tell me he’s going to do something and then not do it. Every day, in everything he does, he demonstrates his love and commitment to me. Although we have two dogs, and the other dog came after him, he was never jealous or impatient. He doesn’t like the other dog getting more attention than he does, but instead of getting jealous he just continues loving me to the best of his ability. He doesn’t alter his love to try to compete with the other dog … he just is who he is. Demonstrating his love and commitment without any compromise to himself has been a great lesson to me in my loving relationships. I always demonstrate my love and commitment, but I find it a real challenge to do it without compromising something.

Get excited about food – even if you’re eating the same thing every day
This is a big one really. No matter what I’m eating, I should be grateful that I’m eating it. And that’s not just that there are poor children in third world countries, because as smart as my dog is – I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know about them … but it’s just appreciating the little things you have and seeing them as the amazing things they are, rather than taking things for granted. It’s when we start taking things for granted that things fall apart. We lose our happiness in the shadows.

Doing what you’re told can be satisfying
Nothing makes my dog smile at me more than when he’s doing exactly what he’s been asked to do. He sits up straight, wags his tail and I’m telling you – he’s smiling at me. Don’t we all get the same kind of feeling when we do a really good job or we do something someone has asked us to do, really well? Sometimes just doing what we’re told can feel really satisfying.

Daily exercise is essential to your wellbeing
I’ve often noticed if my dog can’t walk for whatever reason – it’s raining heavily or he’s hurt a paw or something – then his entire wellbeing is out. He’s still happy, but not as happy and dynamic as he is when he gets to go for his daily routine walk. This makes me realise just how strongly linked exercise is to wellbeing – not just for pets but for us. Try to get out for a walk a day!

Don’t give up on anything you truly love
This was made evident when my dog’s ball rolled under the couch. It didn’t matter how long her was there for, he would stare and whinge and whinge until I got up and rescued it for him. It’s the same with treats … if I have a treat in my pocket, he will jump and jump and jump until he has it. The lesson I learnt from his persistence is that no matter how useless the situation may feel, and how helpless you feel in it: if you truly love it, you won’t give up on it.

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and man. Mark Twain.

Why walking is the best exercise for you

JenHawkins_Walking

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking. Friedrich Nietzsche

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love walking. I do it for fitness, but it also clears my mind, depletes any feelings of anxiety and helps me to refocus. This week, Happiness Weekly looks at why walking is the best form of exercise you can do!

It’s easy
In my opinion, walking is the easiest form of exercise. You plug in your music, put on some joggers, and off you go.

It gets results
If you walk as fast as you can and really stride it out when you’re doing it for fitness, then you will see results very quickly.

Perfect for toning
Power walking helps you lose weight from your calves, butt and thighs, it also helps tone your stomach muscles. Swing your arms and you’ll get rid of any sags! Simple!

Get stronger with every step
Similar to toning, walking also strengthens your core (deep tummy and back) muscles.

Lose weight
If you walk fast enough, you could lose up to 400 calories an hour and by doing it up to four times a week, increasing your heart rate for 45 minutes each time, you could lose around eight kilograms a year!

Reduce risks
Walking also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain cancers. It also helps beat depression and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

It’s low impact
There is little risk of sustaining an injury by walking.

It’s cheap
You don’t need anything but joggers and a pavement!

It’s simple to do
Go at your own pace and still get great results – plus it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule! You can walk any time, to or from work, or at lunch time.

It helps you recharge
Plug in you music and off you go, by the end of it you will feel stress free and as though you have really connected with your thoughts.

I recommend walking 45 minutes to an hour every day to see the ultimate results!

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