Category Archives: Conscious Lifestyle

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FINDING YOUR LIFE’S WORK EVERY DAY

Ruminating on how many times I see an article promising the reader relief from their boredom (as in ‘find your life’s work’), I realize there was a time that I too seemed dumbstruck with the overwhelming needs in the world. But then I reflected on the previous few decades and decided I was already ‘living my destiny’ and I became empowered then to simply stay the course. Understandably, not everyone is as old as me, but my point here is that you may already be fulfilling your destiny whether or not you’ve figured out how to make a living at it.

We seem to have raised our kids to expect fame and fortune when one finds that magic destiny although those of us who’ve been down the entrepreneurial path know it takes a large fortune to make a small one – riches usually aren’t at the end of that rainbow. So what’s up with all of this? Did my parents spend so much time thinking they were missing something? I wonder if this is another one of those 1st world problems…. we certainly have the luxury to do a bit more than scrape together enough food to eat for the day and find a dry safe place to sleep at night, unlike many in this world.

Another misconception is that anything worth doing requires a GREAT idea. But most successful people, no matter how you define success, have had many small ideas, most of which didn’t pan out or were downright failures. So isn’t it more important to keep supporting your causes until you’re to the point you can reinforce them a bit more? Do we really think, like in some movie, some super idea will come to us in a dream? Then we’ll wake up, act as we never have before and take the world by storm?

The secret may be you are already doing your life’s work. You just haven’t found freedom there.  And that may be because freedom still involves sadness and loneliness. Is it how we’re defining freedom that has us stumbling? There will still be good days and bad days. You will still complain about the love of your life. The children you adore will be annoying and you’ll forget to take the garbage to the curb. Without the mundane, we can never appreciate the exciting and without suffering, we can never appreciate ecstasy. If your life feels meaningless, go out there and work towards solutions. Feed the hungry and clothe the poor. I know from experience that it helps put things in perspective. Otherwise my friends, you will reflect on a life a inaction when you are my age and realize you already had the answers but didn’t realize it at the time.

Depression in the Workplace

UnknownAlthough we’ve come a long way with brain science and we can now see the difference in a brain scan between a depressed person and a not depressed person, we have a long way to go. How does depression really manifest in different people? What does the depressed person act like? Why do we so often miss the signs in others and lose so many to suicide? I ponder these questions each time I realize that although I know myself, I know I suffer from seasonal depression, I know it’s winter and the light is low in my part of the world, I miss the fact that I’m depressed. If I miss it in myself, how likely is it that you’ll be looking for it in others? Until I find myself repeating the phrase “I hate my life” with my head in my hands, I often am clueless.  Why doesn’t it occur to me sooner? Why am I so surprised? But this is classic depression. The brain is still functioning but my heart has sunk a little deeper into my chest and the shades are drawn. It’s little wonder that the image above shows so much darkness in the depressed brain.

Apparently, emotions and logic are located on opposite sides of the brain which explains irrational behavior – emotions have taken over. As the human brain developed, survival depended on switching off one side of the brain (think emergency) in order for the other half of the brain to lead.

“So when we become caught up in our emotions, we actually become very stupid. We have lost the ability to step back and look at all the options and every thing is seen in black or white terms. Either everything is alright or everything is all wrong! This is a clear explanation for depression, which is a huge emotion. It also explains anxiety and panic attacks where the fight or flight system becomes permanently switched on. It also explains obsessions and compulsions like self harm, where the arousal and expectation produce adrenaline and other emotion-related hormones and chemicals, which feel as though they can only be dissipated by performing the ritual.” Frances Masters, BACP accredited psychotherapist 

So often, we humans have 20/20 vision when it comes to those around us yet we can’t ‘see the forest for the trees’ in our own life. You probably recognize when those around you are out of sorts, difficult to be around, but does it occur to you that they may be generally depressed? Instead of writing this off as a difficult co-worker, an over-stressed parent, or an impossible boss, a quiet lunch where compassionate concern is expressed may be all that’s needed to help them recognize that they need help.

So what are symptoms of depression?

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. …
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. …
  • Appetite or weight changes. …
  • Sleep changes. …
  • Anger or irritability. …
  • Loss of energy. …
  • Self-loathing. …
  • Reckless behavior

More importantly, for the purpose of this article, what does depression look like at work?

  • Uncooperative…
  • Unmotivated…
  • Bad attitude…
  • Low productivity..

…just to name a few. I want to suggest that everything you read about toxic co-workers is probably also what depression looks like at work. Untreated depression in an empowered person is hell – many of us know that scenario SOO well! But I want to suggest here that you can be some help. Just a concerned acknowledgement may be all that’s necessary to help an adult recognize the demon and take steps to get back to a better place. And since I am not an advocate of pharmaceuticals myself and have relied for years on safer alternatives, there are tools for everyone in this scenario. But recognition is the first step and all of us can be active participants!

Chipotle Inspiration

There it was- on the bag in front or me. And I wasn’t prepared for it to actually make me feel good but it did 🙂 Here it is for others to enjoy:

It’s easy to get discouraged by the ceaseless news of violence, poverty, and disease. But the news presents a distorted view of the world. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. You never see a TV crew reporting that a country isn’t at war; or that a city hasn’t had a mass shooting that day, or that millions of 80 year-olds are alive and well. The only way to appreciate the state of the world is to count. How many incidents of violence, or starvation, or disease are there as a proportion of the number of people in the world? And the only way to know whether things are getting better or worse is to compare those numbers at different times: over the centuries and decades, do the trend lines go up or down? As it happens, the numbers tell a surprisingly happy story. Violent crime has fallen by half since 1992, and fiftyfold since the Middle Ages. Over the past 60 years the number of wars and number of people killed in wars have plummeted. Worldwide, fewer babies die, more children go to school, more people live in democracies, more can afford simple luxuries, fewer get sick, and more live to old age. “Better” does not mean “perfect.” Too many people still live in misery and die prematurely, and new challenges, such as climate change, confront us. But measuring the progress we’ve made in the past emboldens us to strive for more in the future. Problems that look hopeless may not be; human ingenuity can chip away at them. We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naive to work towards a better one.

When Form and Function Merge

thW20GIA1ZEveryday we are faced with choices. What to eat, what to purchase, how to move between activities. We consciously or unconsciously decide how the world views us and where to put our energy. Seeing these decisions as opportunities to not only satisfy function but to feed you aesthetically can make the difference between a life filled with stuff and a lifestyle designed to support what you want.  A lifestyle filled with beauty is yours for the taking. It’s simply a perspective change.

Whether we realize it or not, most of us like to surround ourselves with not only physical elements that support our work and lifestyle but that make us feel good at the same time.  A blanket keeps us warm but we may have the good fortune to choose not only a warm blanket but one that is beautiful as well. A piece of music can fill the air but a beautiful piece of music supports us emotionally as well. There are a million pants in the world – which ones have you chosen that tell the world who you are?

Perhaps you’ve never thought of yourself as a terribly creative person. Maybe you’ve talked yourself into the mindset that none of this matters. But this is like saying your life lived in a grey box would be the same as one filled with sunsets and a pet. Take an inventory. You, equipped with an education and the prosperity to own a computer, can change any aspect of who you are and what the world thinks of you. All the obstacles are simply in your mind.

The choice is always ours – you are leading the life you want whether you realize it or not. Your form is dictated by how you choose to function.

The Grounded Lifestyle

We’ve all been there, whether it’s part of your cycle, the weather, the family, or just overwhelm. It’s difficult to focus, you lose everything not physically attached to your body, your eating patterns are disrupted….life just isn’t bouncing along the way you want it to. And, unfair as it is, some constitutions find it far easier than others to remain focused and grounded. Others are thrown off by windy weather, changing seasons, missed meals, and erratic schedules. Reviewing this with some wise women the other day, I was reminded how easy it is to forget and how important it is for all of us to remember:

  • take time each morning for seated or walking meditation, prayer, or reflection
  • lying or sitting close to the earth for a short time is always optimal
  • eat legumes, unprocessed grain, meat and root vegetables
  • listen more than you speak
  • walking, especially in a pine forest or amongst trees
  • maintain a regular routine of eating, yoga chi gong or tai chi, and sleeping
  • go to bed by 10pm each night and awaken with the sun
  • limit use of electronics, especially after dinner
  • practice mindfulness
  • keep emotions in check – avoid doubt, fear, resentment, and anger
  • avoid prescription and recreational drugs and alcohol
  • get regular massage and bodywork
  • practice mindfulness as a walking meditation, in the garden, cleaning house
  • surround yourself with masters – in person, podcasts, or recordings
  • practice compassionate loving kindness
  • take inventory and make changes if necessary
  • find a way to be of service on a regular basis
  • develop a daily ritual of caring for yourself
  • make friends with your spirit guides and ask for help when you need it
  • maintain a creative outlet – whatever flips your switch

This isn’t a definitive list, just someplace to start the conversation with yourself. There are probably many other techniques – feel free to share yours.