Life beyond the surface

Lately I’ve been thinking…there’s got to be more to life than hustling towards a successful job, rushing around trying to get our to-do lists done, and trying to keep up with the expectations of society. Much focus of our current reality seems to be heavily placed on striving to get that perfect job, that perfect body, the latest technology, the best house, and a lot of this thinking is fuelled by big companies and the general economy that thrives on our addiction to materialism. All of these consistent thoughts telling us that we need to do better, make more, have more is bringing up our stress levels and bringing down our sense of satisfaction and happiness.

But let’s consider, what if in fact there is something more to life? Have we forgotten our sense of true purpose? A lot of us get caught up in a never-ending cycle of stress, work, and other obligations, not giving our minds and bodies the proper rest, care and relaxation they need. Our family relations, and interactions with friends and loved ones could use more time and dedication, but with the business of life, these things often take the back seat.

I’ve been giving this some thought, and I think now all of us been given that opportunity- to attend to all those “other” parts in our lives that might not always be priority, when we’re always focusing on working harder and getting ahead. Although not planned, and of course it not being the most ideal situation, this pandemic and the call to stay home from school, work, and other various outings, has provided us a chance to pause, decompress, let go of our usual busy routines. We have the chance to focus on what’s really the most important parts to our lives…our relationships with our loved ones, friends, family, and with ourselves, along with our physical, mental, and spiritual health.

So much of what brings us happiness stems from fostering meaningful, loving, authentic relationships with others. So much healing can happen when we look to take extra care of our bodies, minds, and spirituality. While you’re at home, and perhaps without your usual amount of responsibilities, consider spending this time enriching your relationships with your loved ones at home, connecting and socializing virtually with friends, and bringing attention to yourself, whether that’s doing some exercise, eating healthier, practicing meditation, or setting aside time for prayer.

As much as successful jobs, enormous houses, expensive cars, and the latest clothes, may bring temporary happiness- it’s actually the bigger picture of meaningful relationships and good health that allow us to find long lasting happiness and life satisfaction. In the end, it won’t matter how much we had or didn’t have, but rather how you’ve impacted others and how others have impacted you.

I’ll leave you with two quotes:

At the end it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back” – Denzel Washington

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

I hope you have a great weekend,

Always,

Paula

Gratitude Journaling 101

You might have heard me talk about gratitude journaling a couple of times already, but what really is it and how do you do it?

Gratitude journaling is a form of mindfulness practice that centres on acknowledging the wonderful, positive things in your life. It can help retrain and reprogram any negative thoughts and emotions. Many of us experience daily stress from work, multiple responsibilities, and unexpected events, making it easy to get pulled into a cycle of negative thinking, more stress, and unhappiness. Keeping a daily gratitude journal can help deter negative thoughts and emotions, and instead being focus into channeling the positive thoughts and experiences present in your everyday life.

Starting a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be daunting at all. Simply set aside a small journal for which you will only write your positive thoughts and experiences- no negativity here. Begin by documenting anything you are grateful for, it can be a small list of things, or you can even create a story around a few specific positive occurrences. For instance, perhaps today you’re grateful for someone holding the door for you, a stranger saying hello, the warm sun, or even your pet. Think about a few things you are blessed to have in your life or an experience that made you smile today, and just write about it. There are no set rules or restrictions, you’re free to write as much or as little as you like. It also helps to have a set time of day to build consistency. Early morning when you first wake up, or in the evening before you go to sleep can be the perfect way to either start or end your day with gratitude.

So what are the benefits of regularly expressing gratitude?
  • A study from Harvard University explains that when a group of individuals wrote in a gratitude journal for 10 weeks, they reported feeling more optimistic and satisfied with their lives, and even had fewer visits to the doctor’s office! (Compared to people who focused on their source of aggravation).
  • Research on positive psychology suggests that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness, helps people feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships.
  • Recent studies have also shown that the more often you practice gratitude, the more you stimulate neural pathways that increase serotonin and dopamine- the same pathways that antidepressants use in your brain! By regularly stimulating these pathways through gratitude, we make them stronger, and allow the brain to quickly shift into a positive mindset and search for positive ways of thinking when encountering a problem.

Every day we have the choice to practice gratitude and express appreciation for life and everything in it. This week, I challenge you to give gratitude journaling a try.

Let me know how it goes!

Stay well,

Paula

Mid-week Motivation

We’re halfway through the week! Who else is feeling like time is passing by much too slow? 🙋‍♀️

While we often complain about how we don’t have time for a lot of things, for many people now, life in quarantine most definitely allows for a much needed slowdown from our busy on-the-go life. Use this opportunity to take a rest from your usual routine, and dive into those things you’ve been putting off for some time.

Now is the perfect time to focus on yourself, because only you can create your own happiness. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but not had the chance to? How about starting a new book, learning a new language, creating new recipes, maybe starting your own blog? Take this state of social isolation to indulge in something great for yourself.

Here are a few additional inspirational quotes to brighten up your day and stimulate some mindful thinking…

“Today choose to be all you, not hold anything back, not compromise by trying to fit in, not to minimize your greatness so that others feel comfortable in your presence. Do you. Stand in your authenticity.” – Lisa Nichols

“It’s really important that you feel good. Because this feeling good is what goes out as a signal to the Universe and starts to attract more of itself to you. So the more you can feel good, the more you will attract the things that keep bringing you up higher and higher.” – Joe Vitale

“Everyone fears failure at one point or another. But what’s important is to acknowledge that this fear is a limiting belief holding you back from accomplishing your goals and dreams.” – Natalie Ledwell

“Learn to accept both the good and the bad that falls on your plate with grace. Because everything in life happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. For everything you lose, you gain something else. And for everything you gain, you lose something else. You don’t have to appreciate it, but it’s just easier if you do.” – Mary Ann

Wishing everyone a lovely Wednesday.

Always,

Paula

Creating a Life you Desire

Do any of you ever dread waking up to that jolting alarm clock in the morning? Then hit snooze just a few more times before convincing yourself to get up? I’ve definitely had my share of those days. Even though I know how important it is to be productive and get an early start to the day, the temptation of staying cuddled up in warm blankets sometimes gets the best of me.

It’s hard to always wake up motivated, happy, and energized to tackle the tasks of your work day. It’s hard to always find your inner drive to propel yourself towards reaching your goals. But with practice, it’s possible to begin changing our current habits and lifestyle to one that we desire.

Firstly, recognize.

Recognize that there is something in your current routine that you’d like to improve upon. There’s no need for any judgment or guilt, simply see this as an area in your life that is no longer aligned with your goals and that which needs to be re-evaluated to help you achieve being the best you.

Next, visualize.

You might think it’s crazy, but in fact many of the most successful people in the world like Oprah, Bill Gates, famous athletes and musicians all use a form of visualization to help them embody their goals. Imagine yourself finally reaching your goals and living the life you desire. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What emotions are you feeling? Visualize what’s around you, the sights, smells, and sounds to fully immerse your mind in that moment. Remind yourself often of this vision and keep an open mind to how you’ll get there.

Initiate action.

Building success starts with a strong foundation. Take active steps in cultivating a grateful, positive, and resilient mind on which prosperity may grow. Something I’ve recently started, and have found to be very beneficial in creating a healthy mindset, is a gratitude journal. Every morning or night, I write 5 things I’m grateful for. Gratitude puts you in a state of abundance, where you’re able to focus on all the amazing things that are already in your life. This will allow more amazing things to come your way! Try noticing 5 different things you are grateful for everyday and feel uplifted with the blessings around you.

Practice persistence.

This means regularly practicing visualization, gratefulness, reaching out and accepting opportunities, and not loosing sight of your goals. Every day is a new day to get closer to who and where you want to be. Don’t give up and lose hope if things don’t immediately go your way. Worry less about how you’ll exactly get there, and focus more on what it is that you truly want to accomplish. A positive, open mind will lead you to great possibilities and reveal strength and resilience you may never know you had.

Keep smiling.

Enjoy every day as you work to accomplish your dreams. Start with a smile every morning- even if it seems unnatural at first. The mere act of smiling can subconsciously emulate the feeling of happiness, which in turn will make you believe you are truly happy, even if you’re not sure of the reason why! Learn to smile more, and I’m sure it will make your journey that much more enjoyable.

So overall, if you’re thinking about creating a life you desire but not sure where to start, my advice to you is to: recognize where you are, visualize where you want to be, take action, practice persistence, and keep smiling along the way. Eventually, instead of dreading that alarm clock, perhaps you will wake up feeling grateful, happy, and ready to take on a new day.

Always,

Paula

Staying Active while Social Distancing

The current COVID-19 pandemic seems to be quickly turning our lives upside down, especially with government authorities encouraging social distancing and social isolation. While we are all obliged to do our part in ‘flattening the curve’ of disease spread, it can take a toll on our mental and physical health staying inside all day and being physically inactive. Recognizing that we might not be able to enjoy our usual types of physical activity, I’ve compiled a few ideas to help you stay active and engaged during this difficult time.

  1. Take a walk in nature
    • A recent study by Cornell University (February 2020) explains that spending time in nature can positively affect your psychological health, reducing the effects of day-to-day physical and mental stress. In as little as 10 minutes, college students reported to feel happier, showed signs of improved focus, and improved blood pressure and heart rate.
    • Regularly walking for aerobic exercise can also lower your risk of heart disease, benefit those with chronic conditions, and reduce pain.
    • Consider taking part in this “nature therapy” a couple times a week by going for a hike or working on spring gardening.
    • Just make sure to keep a safe distance from others as we continue to take precaution against the pandemic with social distancing.
  2. Take advantage of online workout videos
    • There is an abundance of free fitness resources online!
    • Simply search for “lower body workout”, “core exercises”, “seated chair workout”, or anything that interests you, and there’ll be plenty of options for you to choose and try out.
    • Many fitness centres are now offering free live-streaming workout classes due to the coronavirus outbreak. Big name gyms such as Orangetheory, Crunch Fitness, Lifetime Fitness, etc. are providing you with an opportunity to have a great home-workout.
  3. Take up a yoga practice
    • If you’re feeling stressed, it’s so important to stretch out those tense muscles! Why not make yoga a regular part of your daily routine?
    • If you’re new to yoga, there are amazing yoga videos on youtube that range from beginners to advanced levels. One of my favourites is Yoga with Adriene, as she does a really nice job of making each yoga session engaging and interesting. There are also 30-day yoga bundles available so you can stay dedicated with one yoga video every day- and it’s all free!

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to stay active and try at least one of these ideas today. Remember that by taking care of your body and mind, you will be better able to deal with unexpected, stressful situations that may require flexibility and resilience.

Take care,

Always,

Paula

Reflections from a distance

Amidst the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the world seems to be rapidly changing with many facility closures, event cancellations, and shifts in economy. While being encouraged to practice good hand-washing and keep social distancing, I can’t help but notice anxiety and unrest brewing among society. It’s crazy to think that something like this is actually happening, whereas just a few weeks ago everything was business as usual.

On the bright side, I trust that everything happens for a reason and we will move past this time of uncertainty. During this stretch of social isolation when you find more time to connect with your inner thoughts, I’d like to encourage you to take a few moments and spend some time looking inward. Perhaps you start a gratitude journal, reminding yourself to be thankful for the blessings in your life. Maybe you practice some self-love, building confidence and empowerment within. Whatever you decide to embark on, it’s important to recognize in yourself your power to truly change your mind and thinking. You can actively work to tease out any current negativity, inhibited thinking, or any thoughts that don’t serve you, so that you may work towards self-improvement and a more positive mindset. You just have to be willing to try and believe that you can.

At times, all of us struggle with life stressors and battle unrest in our minds, however it is these moments that challenge us to see the love, light, and blessings that are already around us. Continue to set yourself goals, and then aim to reach them. Remind yourself of your strength and abilities. Strive to challenge your existing mindset. Use critical thinking to question conditioned views. And lastly, be excited about new life opportunities that are to come, and be eager to learn from your mistakes as you grow into being a more mindful person.

I hope I’ve sparked a small fire of motivation in you and encouraged you to begin some mindful thinking. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts.

Take care,

Always,

Paula

An introduction to me.

Hello and welcome to my mindfulness blog! My name is Paula and I’m so excited to share my thoughts, ideas, and insights with you. I’m intrigued with how the mind works, it’s incredible power of resilience, and the many ways we can shape our minds to think more clearly, positively, and with purpose.

Many of us seek happiness, less stress, confidence, patience. We seek to gain control of our thoughts, and improve our mind’s health and wellbeing. The best part? Every one of us has the ability to do this. We all have the ability to unlock our potential for growing our mind to better function and health.

Join me in exploring ways to become more mindfull this year, along with tips to improve overall health and wellbeing, and subscribe to my blog for updates.

Wishing you all a wholesome start to the new year.

Always,

Paula

mindfulnessbypaula.ca