Reflection

Enjoy the things you have now

I used to save things for another day. A better day. Like fancy bottles of wine and champagne. Like perfume.  As a kid it was stickers. I would find beautiful illustrations, logos, typography and burrow these treasures away. Years would roll by. I’d routinely clean my room and see these stickers over and over again. Unused, while I still waited for their “right” home. In a conversation with Ghostpatrol, he told me that he uses his stickers. I guess that’s the point of stickers. They’re not meant to last forever. And they’re not meant go unused.

In one of my catch-ups with friend, Jonni Pollard (meditation teacher, founder of the 1 Giant Mind app & regular contributor to this blog) I gave him a hug. He smelt nice. He told me he always wears this Jasmine perfume, which is quite expensive on the scale of perfume prices. I questioned why he used it every day because it was so expensive. He replied with a smile “Nah, I use everything I love now, there’s no need to wait for a special occasion, every day is a special occasion.”

Since then I’ve used everything that I would have normally saved for another time. Beautiful candles, certain clothes and shoes, stationary, body creams and aroma therapy. And those fancy bottles are being popped. There’s no need to wait.

 

Written: My home in LA

Listening to: Ambient noise and Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake "Brand New" on repeat in my head

 

(Image by the amazing Margaret Zhang)

Dr. Happy: It's not just the thought that counts

If you’ve ever been told that “it’s the thought that counts” then with all due respect to your advisor, I believe he/she was only half right! Thoughts obviously do count; I’ve written many times about the benefits of optimism and the importance of developing a positive and constructive attitude for happiness and success.

But intentions without congruent action can be (and often are) near useless. Many of us when at school “meant” to do our homework but that didn’t ever satisfy our teachers. Similarly, many of us have considered exercising more and/or eating less but continue to engage in bad habits that do little to enhance our health and wellbeing.

John F. Kennedy once said…

There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.

And just as notably, Gandhi has been quoted as saying…

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

What these two memorable quotes recommend to us is the importance of character – or the willingness to do the right thing at the right time (no matter how difficult it might be or seem to be at the time). There’s no doubt this isn’t always easy; but there’s also no doubt, as hinted at by JFK, that the alternative’s not much better (and often, far worse in the long run).

So if you’ve ever experienced the sting of regret (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) give some serious consideration to putting these tips into practice to ensure that you don’t just think about living a good life but more importantly, you actually and actively love living your best life:

• Regularly schedule pleasurable activities in your life because fun and positive emotions are important • But also, regularly schedule satisfying activities into your life because the sense of achievement that comes from accomplishing something challenging and meaningful, even if not fun, is highly valuable • Be really clear about your values (e.g. honesty, fairness, altruism, courage, courtesy, dignity, excellence, growth, relationships, justice, kindness, modesty, temperance etc.) and do your best to behave consistently with these as often as you can • When faced with difficult decisions, weigh up the pros and cons and ask yourself, honestly, “what’s the RIGHT thing to do?”

And finally, don’t ever forget these final two tips…

Remember, firstly, to always acknowledge to yourself when you’ve done the right thing; too often we discount our achievements believing we’re avoiding arrogance but this false modesty can just undermine future attempts to act positively.

And don’t ever forget…actions speak louder than words!

 

University of Technology Sydney

Dr. Timothy Sharp is a clinical and coaching psychologist who’s sometimes known as Dr. Happy! He’s the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happiness Institute and you can find him regularly tweeting at @drhappy.

 

(Image Credit: 750 year old Sequoia trees in California, photo by Michael Nichols)

Be With Nature

The other week my dear friend Marija and I headed from Melbourne to Sydney purposely to see Janelle Monae at the Vivid Festival. *Please note a lot of my blog posts will likely reference Marija as we do travel a heck of a lot together and we go to tonnes of gigs. The plan was to head to the newly refurbished MCA - along the way we crossed Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens. Marija insisted we take the scenic route through the Botanic Gardens.

Having lived in Sydney for about 7 years, I realised I could count on both hands the amount of times I've been through the Botanic Gardens. And on all occasions certainly not mindful of the space around me as I would have just been there for work - to film something, MC an event, to interview someone - IN and OUT.

But this trip was certainly something special. The moment Marija and I walked from the Macquarie Street entry into the Gardens there was a huge shift - sonically - from traffic to pure serenity in just one step. And energy, we were instantly in paradise. I suddenly felt completely at ease and at the same time thinking WHY THE HECK DIDN'T I COME HERE MORE OFTEN WHEN I LIVED HERE?!

It was paradise in an instant. Being still, then walking through the gardens and speaking softly, Marija and I also spent some time trying to walk with our eyes closed and we instantly became more aware of the sounds of all the different birds around us. Trees around us that have grown through the decades while the facade of Sydney's city goes through constant change.

And then we saw this thing.

 

That my friends is a badass Royal Botanic Greenhouse. Again, lived in Sydney for 7 years and I didn't notice this thing til now. Amazing!

I reflected on the years that had flown by in Sydney while I sat in the gardens by the bay and then by this excellent greenhouse and thought - so much time spent rushing, to tick off things on To Do Lists, from one appointment to the next, and these pockets of paradise in our own cities sit patiently waiting for us to enjoy them.

The memory I have looking at this image is that instant sense of calm and a huge reminder to take time out. Even from the busiest schedule to just be with nature. A lot of my youth was spent in the garden, certainly not as elaborate as this but it still had just as much influence on my sense of calm and nostalgically my connection to family (another post for another time).

When we're away on holidays we quite often visit famous parks but don't really enjoy our own. We have it so good here. So I'm making it a regular thing. Getting back to what's familiar and what I enjoy the most. A simple thing, but something truly rewarding. Be with Nature.