9/10/12 5%

Monday. Yes, I’ve been lacking on the journalling. So much work-work in my life I haven’t had much time to update. I figured I better do it now before I forget everything.

Small update on my Dad. Though bed-ridden, his spirits are high and a great example of finding happiness by living in the moment. He is a happy person. He smiles all the time and loves everyone. His mind is fading fast. He doesn’t remember details like what his name is but when you prompt him he’ll remember for a moment or two. He knows close family members faces and he smiles when we walk into the room. Even if we have been there all day, every time we walk into the room he thinks it is a new visit and we get a smile and a hello! All the aides and nurses and doctors love him and his spirit. He is getting the best of care at home and that is all we can ask for.

Two weekends ago was Kripalu. My fifth time there. I still love Kripalu. It understands me. It makes me feel better when I go there. I always feel like I’m amongst kindred spirits when I’m there. I’m not talking about yogis wearing flowing clothes and chanting all day long. Just everyday people seeking a little quiet time and a chance to refocus their intentions. That’s what Kripalu does for me. Helps me take a step to the side, get out of my own way and regroup.

I’ll be honest. I actually thought the topic of the weekend was a little touchy-feely for me. The topic was “Labor, Love and Life: Get Balanced and Thrive.” These kind of vague titles usually make me think “uh, more mumbo jumbo and I’ll be cutting out of these lectures and going for a hike.” But I was pleasantly surprised. There were seven different speakers over three days and the main speaker Maria Sirois was very good. I also liked the nutritionist and I liked the medical doctors who spoke. There were a lot of scientific studies thrown around and I love that facts and details.

By far, however, my favorite part of the weekend was getting my private Ayurvedic consultation with Rosy Mann, an Ayurvedic doctor on staff there. I had wanted to get my own consultation the last time I was there for Ayurvedic week but I was too slow and all the good slots were taken. This time I got an hour and half of one on one time with Rosy and it was great. She gave me a lot of things I have to do (believe me the list is long) to get my system back in balance. I’ve been doing about 1/10th of the things she told me to do and I can’t believe I’m writing this morning that I actually woke up today feeling, dare I say it? Normal? I don’t know how long it will last, but I woke up not tired. My body doesn’t hurt and I’m going to go play tennis today. It could just be taking a couple of weeks off from working out. It could be I haven’t been killing myself in CT. It could be the meditating I did last week. Or it could be some of the changes I’ve been making via Rosy and who knows? Can’t hurt, they might be helping.

Over the next couple of days I’ll recap some of my notes so I’ll have them in one place. I’ll try to do in order as a reinforcement of my long weekend at Kripalu.

On Friday night we talked about concrete steps you can take to boost your happiness. Small things that are easy to do and make you feel better. After going over the list we each picked three of the items on the list. And then we did a little exercise with that info.

So first the 12 Happiness Boosts (Pick which ones speak to you.) My notes in parenthesis

1. Gratitude.
2. Cultivation Optimism
3. Avoid Over-thinking and social comparison (Recite Desiderata 100 times.)
4. Kindness
5. Nurturing Social Relationships
6. Coping Strategies — amplifying our capacity for resilience.
7. Forgiveness
8. Increasing flow experience. (When you are in the moment you… Hit the ball.)
9. Savoring Joy.
10. Committing to goals.
11. Religion and Spirituality
12. Paying attention to the body through exercise, meditation and ACTING like a happy person. (Smile even if you don’t believe it.)

Of course we went into a small discussion on each of these items but I think they are all self explanatory. We all picked a few items that we felt was something we could work on. That’s it, just noted which ones were speaking to us. (Of course ALL of them spoke to me, but I picked the Over-thinking (ya think?), Forgiveness (as I have to learn that people are only able to do what they are capable of doing) and of course the paying attention to the body. These are all areas where I feel I could get a boost.

Then we had a little exercise to do before we wandered off to bed. We had to fill in the blank to this sentence. If my day were 5% happier I would ______________. Just 5%. Not 100% happier, not even 50% happier. Just 5%. What little thing could I work on to be just a little happier? That was interesting to me because I don’t think in small increments. I think in terms of jack hammers and wrecking balls. Fixer uppers seem a waste of time to me, I’d rather raze the building and just start over. But I did the exercise and these are the small things that I thought I could do to make myself 5% happier:

1. Help more people. It’s actually selfish, but I feel better when I help someone. I might even say I feel 7.5% better.

2. Exercise more. I know that sounds ridiculous. But maybe what I meant to say was exercise less and enjoy it more. 1 mile swim seems fantastic to me right now. 20 minutes on my pilates machine makes me feel better. A 3 hour run does not make me feel good right now. But a 30 minute walk, yes. That might actually make me feel 8% better.

3. Laugh. I have some friends who can really crack me up. I should give my friend Melissa a call because she might be the funniest person on the planet and she doesn’t even know it. She always has a little observation about something cracks me up. Definitely at least a 5% boost there.

4. Cook. I have no idea why I wrote that. I’m erasing that from the list. That’s not going to make me happier at all. DELETE. I must have been inhaling incense or something.

5. Write. Yes, journalling and writing makes me feel at least 10% better. I get sense of satisfaction from putting my thoughts on the page. Whether it is here in my blog or in my notebook. It makes me feel better to write. Even if I’m writing about how miserable something is, I feel better.

6. Explore new friendships. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I love hearing stories that I never knew from my current friends. I love stories. I love hearing new stories, finding out what makes people tick and feeling a connection. That makes me at least 5% happier.

So once we were finished with our list. We had to write down what were the things that got in the way of our doing any of the above. For me that was easy. Too tired — I’m exhausted all the time. Too fragmented — I’m here, I’m there, I’m nowhere, I’m in between. I just need to be able to stay put. And of course my desire for Perfectionism. If I can’t do it 100%, I’m not interested in a measly 5%. And that’s the mentality that she was trying to get us away from. None of us can do 100%. But 5%, that’s all 5%, 5% is doable, 5% is maintainable, 5% is doable again tomorrow.

We closed the session with a quote from Rumi which I loved, it is going on my wall

Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, Worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

Rumi

Namaste or as they say at Kripalu Jai Bhagwan which means the same thing, the light in me acknowledges the light in you. Or see ya later, whichever you prefer.

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