Does The End Justify The Means?

karmaDominosThe answer to this might be more gray than black and white. What is “the means”? What is “the end”? Are we ending world hunger? Creating world peace? How does this apply in your relationships, to your career, or to your yoga practice?

This saying can be traced back to Demosthenes (384 – 322 BC) when he said, “Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.”

A similar quote by Saint Jerome around 394 A.D states… “The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.”

And we see it again from Ovid, the Roman poet, in his saying, “The result justifies the deed.”

What is the reality?

Can we throw moral caution to the wind and justify any means by the end? Anything to get the win, reach the goal, make it to the top, and don’t stop until you drop?

Karma, Karma, Karma – do you love me? (reminds me of a 60’s song)

Here’s the thing…We don’t get to escape Karma…the energy with which we use to get what we want in life is the energy that lights our way to our destiny.


Who can forget the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan drama of the 1994 Winter Ice Skating Olympics…or the scandalous doping of Lance Armstrong as a Professional Cyclist? Classic examples of justifying the means to get the desired end.

Our energy has a ripple effect on ourselves and the people around us.

In this light, it is the underlying intention of the heart that justifies the end.

Mat translation…

In the early years of my yoga practice it really mattered that I strike the RIGHT pose and that it LOOK a certain way and that I HOLD it for an unreasonable amount of time… usually longer than the person next to me. Bigger, better, longer, stronger. Apparently the end result mattered…to me. I was comparing rather than connecting, forcing rather than yielding, and caring about what others thought rather than how I felt.

After many injuries (wrists, ACL tear, hamstring issues, rotator cuff issues, etc.) I began to LISTEN, WATCH, and LEARN. Over time I sought a different means to the end. Instead of forcing I dropped into a more child-like curiosity. Learning to feel into a posture with more skillful alignment and tuning in with how my mind and body was responding. Was there a buildup of resentment, forcefulness, or harsh undertones? OR did my practice include respect, love, compassion, and care? When I let go of grasping for “perfection” what came naturally was a perfect pose. I don’t mean the magazine kind of perfect pose…I mean the pose that feels right, supported but not overly tense, extended but not overly stretched, strong but not overly rigid. The result for me has been a quicker route to what I wanted in the first place…a real purposeful yoga practice. One that cultivates peace, strength, and honesty within me.

What is your weigh in on this thought?

Maybe in the end it’s the means that really matters.

68963169 - hand lettering illustration - karma. vector

Leave a comment below about where/when you find the end justifying the means or the other way around… the means justifying the end. I’d love to hear from you!

After Christmas Blues

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

I did. But I’m experiencing the after Christmas blues!

Are you?

So many projects were pushed to the back burner until after Christmas and now that burner is boiling over!

I’m just assessing the overwhelm situation I now find myself in.

  • Now that the party is over there is the cleanup.
  • Taking back the gifts that don’t fit you or your lifestyle is on your to do list.
  • It’s cold outside and you just want to cozy up by the fire and read a book.

Well, nothing wrong with that. Unless it’s keeping you from finishing off your year with a bang!

I was just contemplating how to get myself inspired and motivated to dig in and initiate some mind blowing antsy pants energy today and here’s what I came up with…

Six quick fixes to cure the after Christmas Blues…

  • The one hour quick fix. That is: to fix, clean, or make progress towards finishing a nagging task on your to do list. You only get one hour then you’re done. Make the phone call, research the idea, make a plan, clean out the closet, finish the project, or whatever will get your grove on…just do it! Ahhh, now that feels good!
  • Be out in nature. It’s not just in the spring, summer, and fall that we need mother nature. We need her in the winter too. Nature is the healing antidote to depression, anxiety, or to infuse your day with a fresh perspective and get the creative juices flowing again. warrior1
  • Change your energy. Even if you don’t feel like going out you can “fake it ‘til you make it”. Simply put…don your boots, gloves, winter coat and pants and head out into the crisp clean air. Take a walk around the block or to the store or take in the fresh air above the city for a little snow shoeing hike! Snow shoes are inexpensive and a great way to enjoy the outdoors if you don’t ski or otherwise enjoy the outdoors.
  • Aroma therapy. Which is, to lift your spirit/energy with the scent of an essential oil. This practice can do as much or more for you psychologically than exercise. Some of my favorite scents to diffuse are peppermint (the anti-depressant oil) and Wild Orange (the oil of abundance). Both are easy to use and are great smelling individually or paired up to give you a stunning double whammy feel good. You can use an oil diffuser or simply put a few drops of oil in your hands and rub together and smell. Be mindful that you do not get the oils in your eyes, peppermint stings!
  • Quick Lemon Cleanse. Wow did I ever splurge on the junk food this week. It’s totally out of character for me but it is a strong indicator that I need healthy food. I just don’t feel good when I eat crap. The sugars, processed foods, wheat, and cheeses all took a toll on my body (and skin). Is it just me or do you feel sluggish after a binge on these? A great cleanse this week (which I’m doing) is to drink a quart of warm water with one squeeze of lemon first thing in the morning. Down the hatch. The whole quart. It takes me about 20 minutes to drink it all. Seven days of this helps clean the pipes.
  • Eat living food. I’m on a green smoothie binge this week. Based in probiotics of home-made Kefir and sevenpoint2 protein and greens, this drink is a gentle cleanse of greens with the added benefit of good flora for the gut. Adding 20160205_101122 enzymes with sprouted seeds is a good choice as well. You can also soak raw nuts to release their enzyme properties and then either dehydrate or place in a jar in the fridge for snacks. Juicing fresh vegetables and fruits or making a green smoothie every day for a meal or snack will give you that pick-me-up energy boost in the middle of the day. Eat a salad or add fresh veggies and greens to a chicken wrap or make the whole wrap veggie!
  • Do Yoga! Of course, this is on my list. One of my favorite mood enhancing postures is Warrior 1 and Warrior 2. The stance is strong and commanding. Reaching your arms overhead helps boost your energy and makes you feel like you can take on any

Transformation From On High

Today’s blog is born from last week’s hike on one of the Mountains just North of where I live. The mountain is called Lone Peak and is one of the most challenging summits of the eighteen Wasatch Peaks over 11,000’ in Utah.Lonepeak

Psst…I’ve never been one to get excited about climbing a tall peak.  Especially one that requires a class 4 scramble at the top.

I consider myself to be a casual hiker, 3-6 miles on average…the kind that I can do in a morning and still be coherent in the afternoon. The short story of why I decided to hike THIS particular peak is this…to test my endurance. I have two crazy friends who enthusiastically agreed to go with me.20160826_102455

The morning of the hike my stomach was in knots. I’ve looked at this massive peak from my bedroom window for the past 16 years and never once had an ounce of desire that I should be on top of its bouldered peak. This was going to be epic. And it would test me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

At 6 miles up, while navigating the winding narrow path along the northwest ridge before ascending the last 400 yards to the summit, I stopped. I was soooo done. Emotionally and mentally spent from the vigilant focus required to step one foot in front of the other up the steep slope and not freak out about the drop offs on either side was really getting to me. Not to mention the physical exertion required to get there. All I really wanted to do was to stay put and watch as my comrades scaled the boulders to the top. (A top about the size of my front porch with 200-500 foot drop offs.)

It was here, nearly 11,000 feet high with no obstructing views to my left or right, that I had an epiphany. The view was breath taking.

I wasn’t witnessing this view from a picture or Facebook or a painting or through a story told by one who has seen it…but for myself. Humbling. Overwhelming. I couldn’t help but shed tears of emotion at the sight (probably from the exhaustion too) and for the beauty of the earth. It was GRAND!

It is one of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done. (Yes, I did finally make it to the very tippy top with some gentle coxing from a friend.)

What I realized in that moment is this…

Real transformation happens only when you put your best foot forward…when you see things through to the end. Transformation requires that we gain REAL experience…to put ourselves out on a limb and then take action, step by step, to reach our dreams. Supportive friends help get us through it!

You can talk about doing hard things or watch others as they do hard things or wonder why people do hard things in the first place.

But you only really KNOW the WHY when you experience it for yourself.

Pause for a picture.

Enjoying the view.

What is your mountain to climb?

Do you have moments when the busy-ness of life falls away and what is left is a moment that takes your breath away? This is transformation. You FEEL it and it cannot be undone, and you are changed forever in that moment.

It’s real change taking place one breath and one step at a time.

What challenges take you to your highest peak? Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

You Don’t Own A Thing

I watched Blackfish the other night – the documentary about SeaWorld’s orcas in captivity.

The movie has been recommended to me for a while, but honestly, I’ve been putting it off because I knew my heart would crumple, my anger would flare, and a great feeling of helplessness would follow. But I watched it anyway, tears flowing, heart breaking, mind open – I watched.

And I wondered, how can I begin to make a change? Burning down the building isn’t worth the jail-time, and it wouldn’t touch the root of the issue anyway.

As I sat mesmerized, my already wide distaste for zoos & aquariums deepened, but another realization surfaced during the 80 minutes I spent in disbelief and dismay.

What is our obsession with owning everything? What is our fascination with manipulating the natural world for our own entertainment?

This compulsion to grasp and grab and hold tight to things – living or inanimate – has thrown us so far off the rhythm of what matters in this life that many don’t recognize themselves.

Now, I own things – probably too many if we’re being honest – and these possessions make me comfortable. They also add layers to my identity. But do they really?

Owning is an illusion that can be taken dismantled at any moment. This concept of possession only supports the idea that we have control over the minutiae of our lives. It’s a fallacy.

You know the saying, take care, the things you own wind up owning you?

We can become so burdened by material possessions that we forget we are wild, free, and creative creatures.

Our freedom crumbles under the very things that are supposed to give us joy.

I’ve always loved the idea of fewer better things, and I’m constantly purging my possessions, questioning the merit of what I surround myself with. I believe people are looking to live more, to mainline experiences and remove the bloat from their lives – the tiny house revolution is an example of that.

I know this is a long bridge – Blackfish to material bloat – but emphasizing the importance of being mindful about what we seek in our lives is my way of imparting change, however tiny the ripple may be. Bringing attention to the root of the issue is just as valuable (maybe more so) as dismantling the issue itself – which in SeaWorld’s case I cannot do.

Chew on this for a moment. What would you be left with if your iPhone, your wardrobe, the 25 trinkets on the second shelf of the library, your books, your things were suddenly stripped from you?

Would you stand solid in your identity?

Would you know who you are?

Would you still be joyful?

Or would your construct of self collapse?

Would you feel lost?

We are not here to OWN.

We are here to BE, to experience, to love and be loved.

What if you stopped looking at your life under the lens of stuff I own, and began to thank each item for dancing with you for however many moments you have together?

What if you removed the pronoun my from your mind?

I’m not saying having things that comfort us or make life easier are wrong or bad.

I don’t believe being accompanied by possessions is the problem – being defined by them is.

If you can walk through your life knowing that things are lovely, but they are not owned – if you can dance with them instead, then you will pull freedom into the core of your life.

If you can have such a sense of who you are that you could be stripped of everything and still walk through the world knowing your unique imprint, you’ll put the wilderness back in your heart.

Life is not about color palates, cars, or shoes, and it’s certainly not about capturing the freedom of other wild things for entertainment.

Life is about how we be, with or without the decoration.

When you drop that barrier between you and the stuff you think you own, your wild will emerge, your intuition will fire, and you will know a peace, trust and power that cannot be owned, it can only be experienced.Life is about who we BE, with our without the decoration.

The post You Don’t Own A Thing appeared first on Ashley Welton is Miniskirt Ninja.

Joyful founder of Miniskirt Ninja and The JoyBomb Collective™, Ashley Welton, who hails from Hawaii, supports successful entrepreneurs in living their message through and through and coming alive in every direction. She lives an enthusiasm-laced lifestyle and dedicates much of her time to surfing, traveling, exploring, and making life and business more delicious. For more stories about doing life and business on your terms, and a VIP invite to The JoyBomb Collective™, sign up here. She also shares photographic evidence on Instagram @miniskirtninja.

Five Tips to Keep You Cool This Summer…

I get so excited as we move into the summer months and the days get longer.

We have more BBQ’s, outdoor fun, gatherings with friends, and activities that create fond memories to last a lifetime.

In all of the excitement of summer it’s easy to overbook and exhaust ourselves in the name of FUN & GAMES.

I’ve got you covered with these five tips to keep yourself from burn out…

  1. Hydrate – everyday with water (1/2 your weight in ounces + 8 oz for every ½ hour of strenuous exercise). I cannot stress the importance of hydration. Your body is made up of 60-75% water. It’s how your cells move, divide, and assimilate vitamins and minerals. If you are feeling fatigued, have a headache, have dry mouth, or are constantly thirsty, you may be dehydrated. Check in with your water intake and keep tabs on it. For someone who is 130 lbs you would need to drink 4 quarts of water.
  2. Bedtime – Your best time to replenish the adrenals with sleep is between 10 – 12pm. Go ahead and head to bed with the sun (between 9-10pm.) Over time you’ll wake up automatically at about sunrise and feel refreshed.20160702_132009
  3. Peppermint (essential oil or leaves) – If you have access to peppermint essential oils this little power house can save the day and cool you off with just one drop. For every 16 oz of water add 1-2 drops of peppermint. (Use sparingly as it is strong.) The cool minty taste was a lifesaver in India where it’s 100 degrees in April with little air conditioning. You can use it in your smoothies as well. A favorite of mine is ¼ watermelon (cut into chunks) blended with ice, one TBLS chopped peppermint leaves, and the juice of 1 lime. Yummy and COOL!
  4. 12 Hour Rule – let your stomach rest and digest for 12 hours of the day…from 6pm – 6am or 7pm – 7am, etc. Eat regular meals during the other 12 hours of the day. This was a game changer for me. I found my sleeping was better when I stuck to the 12 hour rule.
  5. Viparita Karani – Sounds like a rap song but it’s a yoga posture and a great way to cool off and refresh. Translated it means Legs-up-the-wall pose and it’s worth it’s weight in benefits. Some of which are:
    • Cooling to the body (hot flashes be gone!)
    • Reduces Anxiety, depression, and menstrual cramps
    • Restores energy
    • Improves Arthritis2016-07 Viparita
    • Helps with Digestion
    • Relieves Headaches and Insomnia
    • Balances blood pressure
    • Respiratory ailments
    • Urinary disorders
    • Varicose veins

Of course there’s always the old standby of a having good old fashioned water-fight to cool you off. The water is refreshing and the playful energy can relieve stress and tension caused by burnout.

What do you do when you feel overworked and under nourished?

You Are Not Your Addiction!

Guest Post: Cynthia Wand

ADDICTED -|əˈdiktid|
•physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects: she became addicted to alcohol and diet pills.
• enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity: he’s addicted to computers.

The addiction list is long:

  • shoppingunnamed
  • gambling
  • facebook
  • pornography
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • gaming
  • eating
  • complaining
  • raging
  • fear
  • sugar

And we can also be addicted to things that are supposed to be good for us:

  • exercise
  • reading
  • work
  • yoga 🙂
  • running
  • service

Treating addictions has become another big business. We’ve given this part of our lives A LOT  of attention. We’ve made it very big, very shaming and very difficult to leave behind and millions have paid millions to find a way out of the destructive labyrinth.

But is the current system of “addiction recovery” effecive? Are the numbers crippled by addictive behavior diminishing? I’m guessing probably not. And why? Because the supposed healing model is too close to the level of the problem.

“I am an addict,” is the refrain that 12-step programs have been training people to declare for many years now. It is the acknowledgement that you have a problem.


I know people who are stil “recovering alcoholics” after 20 years of sobriety! I wonder when they’ll give themselves permission to say, ” I used to have a problem with alcohol.”

The world we have been living in, for thousands of years, incarnation after incarnation, has been one of separation from our divine Self. We collectively made the incrdible decision to see how life would be without the KNOWING  that we are a part of the supreme Creator, endowed with magnificent qualities and powers and Love.

This dark life of being without Light and Love, has forced us to turn to substances and distractions to help us ease the pain, to numb us from the fear that permeates our world. This all was part of the plan of those who seized the opportunity to take control of a population that forgot how powerful they truly are.

Keep them afraid, separate from Source, separate from advanced consciousness, and feeling like anti-depressants will make everything alright- this has been the plan and it has worked.

The current model of treatment for addictive behavior is operating from the same shame-based, ego-based level of energy that the addiction is operating from – and that’s why it’s not making a dent in the problem.

Now do I have the magic bullet that’s going to heal addictive behavior overnight? NO.

But what I do have is the knowing that we must zoom out and above the problem and see it from the cosmic perspective of divine Love.

You will never be able to “deny” yourself out of an addiction but you will be able to “love” yourself through an addiction, when you begin to take steps toward declaring to yourself that you’re MUCH BIGGER AND MUCH GREATER than the obstacle called an addiction.

Instead of declaring, “I AM an addict,”  acknowlede, “I have a challenge with an addictive behavior and I AM the Light Of God, that NEVER FAILS – I Am loving myself free!”

Over the last year or so, more and more clients who are coming to me are confessing their addictions. At first I was resistent to the idea that I could assist them in those areas. I’m very clear before I work with them, that I am not a therapist or addiction counselor.. But that quiet voice within trusted that if they’re at my doorstep, and want to work with me and we are getting to the root of other challenging areas of their lives, there will be transformation there too.

So bit by bit I’ve encouraged these clients to take empowering steps that purposely put them into higher vibration experiences while at the same time reintroducing them to their magnificent Self, forgiving their trespasses, loving themselves while working through their challenges.

Addictive behaviors is only the byproduct of living in a world that is designed to keep us in fear. When you embrace this truth, turn away from the fear and make every attempt to love yourself and humanity, mother earth, our Company of Heaven and God, then that which has its hold on you begins to loosen its grip, because you are no longer feeding it.

Does it take time? Yes. Is it the hardest thing we’ll ever let go of? Probably. Is it worth it? UHHH… YES!!

Whatever your addiction is, let it not define you. Let it not become your prison but your spring board to your reunion with your Higher Self and the love that you are.

Breathe in forgiveness, breathe out limitations. Breathe in love, breathe out shame.

 We’re all being cleansed of the shadow part of our consciousnes. Celebrate the fact that if you’ve acknowledged an addiction, and are taking steps in clearing it, then you’re well on your way to being a part of the great ascension of humanity and fulfilling the divine plan for your life.

I send you love, and wish you much self-forgiveness and self-love in this sacred journey of becoming!




To Be Of One Heart or Not to Be – What was the question?

RJP - GR-9640-EditI recently attended a fireside hosted at my neighborhood LDS Stake Center (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), of which I have a religious affiliation in. The fireside was titled “Be of One Heart, Unity in Marriage”, with speaker Matt Townsend, an entertaining expert on communication and relationships. Mr. Townsend talked for a solid hour on this premise…

To be of “One Heart” in ANY relationship we must first be of “One Heart” with God (our Maker, The Universe, Higher Power, Source).

The question is, then, how do you do become of “One Heart”? How do you bring the spirit of Unity into your relationships? How do you stay in that place of pure love, light, truth and peace?

In a word: Meditation.

To meditate is to commune with God (Source). It gets us back in line with our higher power and true self by quieting the mind and letting distractions that thwart our peace fall away. When we are out of integrity, (in disconnect, discord, or duality) with our highest self, our relationships are superficial, unfulfilled, short lived and indigent. A sure sign of being out of integrity with our higher self is when we put our own wants and needs above the good of the whole. It also shows up as feeling alone in the world, disconnected from people, powerlessness, fearfulness, anxious, worthlessness, etc.

When I feel this way meditation is my go-to practice to pull me up and out of the dumps of despair.

My belief is that when we know who we are and what we stand for we are connected to source, we are “In Spirit” or of “ONE HEART”. As such, our decisions and actions come from the heart. Our interest in the well-being of others is broadened and the desire for outcomes with win-win solutions is the goal. It is the moment we recognize that what we do to one person we do to ourselves because we are of one heart, soul and mind. It is when we know that we are loved and lovable and worthy of life’s happiness. When we are in that mindset we are less likely to view ourselves as a victim and more likely to see the mistakes that we and others make for what they are… part of the human experience and an opportunity for growth. We are more at peace and

  • OPEN to speaking our truth.
  • HONORING of others and hearing their views with an understanding heart.
  • WILLING to stand our ground in a non-judgmental way that honors us yet at the same time is not forcing our will onto another.
  • Willing to allow others the choice to make their own mistakes and experience growth.

The bottom line is this: in order to become one with God or “In Unity” with our divine self it requires quiet contemplation and being open to remember who we are: a part of divine source. This is hard to do when we are paying attention to outward influences, such as the media telling us we need to look a certain way to be happy or buy this product to be beautiful, or own a specific car or that house or these shoes to feel adequate. These distractions are counterfeit sources of well-being. They are short lived and leave us feeling unworthy, scarce, small, and weak.

Meditation can bring you back to what is purposeful. It is the practice of being present and engaged in the moment. It is our ability to hold acute awareness while doing the dishes, driving the car, being engaged in a conversation, or listening to a friend. When we connect in the present moment to who we are, connection to others follows effortlessly. We are naturally kinder, more understanding, patient, loving, thoughtful, and caring. Isn’t that the definition of being of “One Heart”?

When we live in the present moment of deep commitment and love we are present to our own divinity. An example of this is seen in a mother caring for her child, small acts of unselfish kindness, or when we are present to consider another’s pain and act on our ability to alleviate that pain. This is being of “One Heart”.

BE of One Heart – Meditate – Namaste.

How do YOU get to and stay in that place of peace, love, light and truth? What is your prescription for being of “One Heart”? Do you have a favorite meditation practice? Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your stories.

Goal Setting: Chore or Pleasure?

Goal setting is a favorite past-time of mine. Hold on. Before you go bizerk and check out…stay with me for a paragraph or two. For some folks the word “goal” is a four letter word. Perhaps you – like some members of my family – would rather shovel snow, clean out the junk drawer, or do the dishes than sit down and revel in a good goal setting session. I’m not here to persuade you differently…but to share a perspective that may take the angst out of it.

I believe we are all heading somewhere this year. Knowing what you want will get you there faster. Writing it down on paper and then telling your friends, family, or coach will help hold you accountable to achieving your goal. For me, writing down what I want helps me bring clarification to my dreams and to prioritize them in a way that makes sense in my present circumstance. Then I can move towards them by taking baby step actions every day.

Whether you have or haven’t thought about, worked on, or written down your goals…what I’m going to share with you now are four virtues I think are necessary and worth cultivating in order to reach your dreams. I came up with these after pondering on why I did or didn’t meet my goals for last year. Here they are…(I would love to hear your list in the comments below…)

#1 Enthusiasm – or, being filled with spirit. Enthusiasm means “God within”. When we live with enthusiasm we are excited about life and are open to the wonders of each day. We do things with zeal and eagerness. We enjoy good humor, live in the moment and appreciate what we have. We follow our dreams with true joy. We bring passion to the mundane. Mantra: “I am inspired by simple things.”

#2 Simplicity – K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple for SURE! Be content with the basic gifts of life. Live reflectively and mindfully, aware of what is important and what is not. Enjoy the little things in life. Keep around you only what is useful or beautiful. I recently went through my spice cupboard and found spices that I hadn’t used for 15+ years! What do you have that can be thrown away, given away, refurbished, or given a new use? Keep meaningful things. Mantra: “I know what I care about.”

#3 Purposefulness – We are each here for a reason. Allow yourself to discover the part you are uniquely meant to play in life. Discern your intention and focus on it mindfully. Visualize it happening. Set goals and achieve them step by step, resisting distractions. Give each task single-minded concentration and excellence. Invest your full enthusiasm into even the simplest job. Trust the journey. Mantra: “I enjoy giving excellence to each task.”

#4 Self-Discipline – is having the self-control to do only what we truly choose to do, rather than being blown about in the winds of our desires or other’s expectations. Self-dicipline gives us the will to persevere and meet our goals. To be productive instead of procrastinating. We are able to weed out bad habits and cultivate good ones. Mantra: “I have the self-control to make wise choices.”

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear what virtues you are cultivating this year! Please leave a comment below.

Happiness Is…

Have you had a chance to read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin? Her work has had a powerful impact on me. Reading the book has given me a chance to reflect on my daily practices and how I show up in life.

Am I happy? Are others happy being around me? What makes me happy? 

I gave a speech a couple of months ago titled “Happiness Is a Choice”. As I was preparing, I posed this question to sporting family members: “What makes you happy?” I got various responses:

“Relaxing with a good movie or book.”, “Being with friends.”, “Going on Vacation”, “Being involved in a creative project”, “You not pestering me with questions right now.”, “A beautiful sunset” etc.

Ultimately though, after discussing it at length, it boiled down to this….people, events, and circumstances can’t make you happy, only you can make yourself happy. You decide to be so.

Practicing happiness can go a long way in boosting your health. We’ve all heard the old adage “Laughter is the best medicine.” Right? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to test it for yourself. We all can tell the difference between how we feel after having a good hearty laugh… compared to when we are ticked off, snappy at someone, or grumpy. If being happy can create better health the question then becomes… “How do I practice happiness?”

I came up with a list of daily practices that help me be in a mindset and physical state where happiness (and good health) is cultivated…

  • Eat three meals a day
  • Get good sleep and rest
  • Exercise
  • Listen to favorite music
  • Meditate and Pray
  • Surround myself with and recognize supportive family and friends
  • Learn something new everyday
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Prioritize my day – do what is most challenging first
  • Turn my fear of the unknown into excitement about the process of learning
  • Acknowledge the gift each of my family members are to me
  • Notice the little things in life that if I suddenly didn’t have I would miss. (like running water)

Here are a few suggestions from Gretchen’s book “The Happiness Project”…

  • Act the way I want to feel.
  • Do it now.
  • Be polite and be fair.
  • Enjoy the process.
  • Lighten up.
  • Don’t keep score.
  • Smile! Laugh at yourself. – showing vulnerability and a sense of humor makes you more likable and approachable. It also takes social courage.
  • There is only love.

Two of my favorite mantras…

  • I am enough.
  • Doing my best is perfect!

Life is a journey. When I get to the end of my goals and dreams I hope that the words of the writer Colette are of no consequence: “What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”

We can realize the wonderful life we’ve been given. Today. Now. In this moment. The choice is ours.

What cultivates happiness for you? I would love to hear about your own happiness project or ways in which you choose to be happy.

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m a self proclaimed recovering multitask-aholic. I start on one project and get side tracked into another…then another…and oh yes then another…by the end of the day I wonder where my time was spent because it looks like NOTHING was accomplished. It is common in a day to put many demands on myself. Without filters to say “no” to many of these tasks I would feel guilty or like I was “missing out” on something if I didn’t do it ALL. I felt like my life was being played out for me and I was getting resentful. Most of these tasks (if not all) seemed super important to me… things like, I need to keep up in my business, spend time with the kids, get dinner on the table, clean the house, do the laundry, water the garden (or put one in), mend those shirts that are piled up, get a workout in, meditate, meet with my child’s teacher, grocery shop, date night, network with peers, squeeze in some yoga training, etc. I lost site of important goals because of all the little unimportant “important” tasks.

Reminds me of saying…”The road to hell <or mediocrity> is paved with good intentions.”

I get it.

My dreams and aspirations were getting lost in an ocean of “have tos” and “shoulds”. I found myself swimming in self doubt, overwhelm, and un-constructive inner criticism because I wasn’t able to prioritize.

What to do about it?

For me it’s a daily practice of staying present and determining WHAT is most important. I DECIDE on a goal and then DECIDE what, where, and with whom I spend my time…having the end goal in mind.  I get to use my decision making muscles. I create focus and clarity by having an “eye on the prize” so to speak.

The key lies in the word “decide”. To “decide” is to literally “cut” yourself off from any other option. Once you decide to do something there is no turning back.

Once the trapeze artist decides to let go of the swing there is no turning back, he has to catch the next swing mid-air to make it to the other side.

Life is like that.

If we are only dipping our toe half into the water we will falter and when the going gets tough it’s easier to give up and move back into our comfort zone (or safety net) rather than plunge right in and make it to the goal. To DECIDE gives you no other option.

For instance, I decided last year to enter my FIRST ever Triathlon. (It’s been on my bucket list for 20+ years).

So why did I follow through this time?

When the opportunity arose to enter the “Women of Steel” sprint triathlon I decided to put my money where my mouth was. It took me less than five minutes to make that decision. I plunged in…ready, set, and registered. No turning back.

Did I have to get up early to get a run in? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. What got me up was the picture in my mind of me finishing the race with a decent time and plenty of energy. I had my “eye on the prize”. I did NOT want to “half-ass” it and come in middle of the pack, out of breath, injured, or worse…not finish.

When my training required two-a-days I mustered up the inner strength to bike to the local rec center, swim a mile and then bike home.Was it cold? YES. Was it windy? YES. Was it hard? YES.

Why did I stick with it? Because I made a conscious, internal decision I was going to do it. There was NO TURNING BACK or giving up. Making the decision gave me unwavering focus to stay with my training and NOT get sidetracked into other “important” tasks.
No detours, no excuses.

Making that single clear decision gave me the focus i needed to train without distractions.

My yoga practice helps me conquer outer distractions and instead tune in and cultivate focus. It has been a useful part of my life’s training as I set goals and keep my “eye on the prize”.
A great pose to encourage focus without faltering is  Vrksasana (Tree pose).
What decisions have you made in the past month? Are you moving forward on your goals even when they are hard? What keeps you motivated? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
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