“Comparison kills creativity and joy” -quote from the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown
From experience, I can say that the quote above is most always a true statement. For instance, I consider my yoga practice as my happy place, my safe haven, my therapy, my meditation and my exercise. However, when I have my focus on someone else’s yoga practice, all of this is taken away from me. I begin to create comparison or competition. When I focus on someone else’s yoga practice it definitely does eliminate the joy of my own.
Along with yoga, this can apply to any situation in life when creating comparison between individuals. I have recently become aware of how important it is to spend time focusing on our own lives in order to become the best version of ourselves. This requires releasing the need to allow ourselves to feel “less than” by comparing ourselves to others. I continue to remind myself, what works for someone else, does not mean that it works for you.
→Next time you catch yourself creating a comparison between you and someone else, turn that comparison into happiness for that person and focus your attention back to your own life. We can choose and create our own happiness so why choose the hard route? ←
Throughout the past couple of months, I have been exploring the deeper meaning and benefits of gratitude. My inspiration to do so began while working in the rehabilitation unit of the hospital. Additionally, my thoughts expanded while reading the article; “How Gratitude Leads to a Happier Life” by Melanie Greenburg from the website “Psychology Today” (go check it out!). My eyes have been opened and I am much more aware of what it means to become more mindful of gratitude and how it can lead to a happier and healthier life.
To incorporate more gratitude into my lifestyle, I keep a gratitude journal to write at least one thing that I am grateful for each day. My favorite time to do this is on my commute home from work every day. Even if it is something as simple as a smile received from a patient, or that first sip of my Starbucks iced coffee that morning, it truly does make me feel better than I did before. This is not something I feel I “have” to do or “should” do, I do it because I simply WANT TO. There is so much to be grateful for on this planet and in this life but sometimes I am guilty of not slowing down to become mindful of it.
I decided to incorporate the concept of gratitude into the therapeutic yoga group that I lead at the hospital. I felt that this would be extremely helpful when guiding those with mental illness disorders. I truly believe that we can always replace anxiety with gratitude. I begin each session by asking each person to introduce themselves and name one thing that they are grateful for. This starts the group out with positive vibes. If there is someone who feels they are not grateful for anything that day, I continue to remind them that we can always be grateful for our breath because it is always available to us.
Another instance I found necessary to incorporate the concept of gratitude was at a family dinner during my trip home for the Fourth of July. Once we all had finished eating I asked my family to go around the table and say one thing that we are grateful for. One thing most definitely turned into about ten but it was very effective and heart-warming. We decided that we would like to start doing this at every dinner!
From observation in both experiences, there was a greater sense of energy. The mood immediately became more positive than it had been prior. This also created greater connection amongst one another. I am confident that a lifestyle focused more on gratitude leads to greater energy amongst oneself. I intend to continue to cultivate gratitude into my life as well assisting others to incorporate it into their lives.
→ How can you cultivate gratitude into your life…?! ←
This past Friday was not like any ordinary Friday evening at work. My eyes were opened to various life threatening stories from a few of the patients in the rehabilitation unit. I decided to facilitate a group focused on uplifting and inspiring the patients as well as allowing them to create connectedness amongst one another. The group began with patients sharing a brief story of what their lives have consisted of “in a nutshell” and what has brought them to the rehabilitation unit today.
I was amazed at the stories told and how much I did not know about these patients. I began to feel selfish… but at the same time extremely lucky. I felt as if the problems in my life were so small compared to other circumstances I could be in. However, I felt lucky to be able to hear these stories to become aware at such a young age of how challenging life can get. From hearing a story of how one man has lost his leg, to a story of how one woman has raised a family all while facing cancer at the same time, I was inspired. Not only by these stories, but by how these patients were still able to carry the faith that they do and work with what life has given to them. Once again, my patients are inspiring me even at my own inspiration group.
From this experience, I realize that there is truly a story behind everything and everyone. I realize the importance of keeping an open mind and practicing acceptance of others.
⇒a daily reminder to be mindful before making a judgment, we all have a story and are simply doing the best that we can right now…⇐
I have recently started reading the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown (I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, it has been exceptionally inspiring). Throughout the book so far, the author has opened my eyes to a valuable lesson- the importance of choosing courage over comfort. She states that “vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage”. I have kept this line in the back of my head ever since I read it.
This book has assisted me to understand how important it is to allow ourselves to feel our way through difficult times that we come across rather than trying to fight them (referring to the times that we feel we have hit rock bottom). We can honor our own struggle as a replacement for dawning on the moment. Instead of escaping the uncomfortable feelings, we can allow ourselves to feel the emotions as they arise. I am mindful that it is common and much easier to choose the comfortable road rather than pushing through the difficult, not so comfortable road. I am most definitely guilty at times of choosing the path I feel more comfortable with to avoid the discomfort of the more challenging path. Although, as I grow, I continue to realize choosing courage is more effective and creates less suffering in the long run.
I found myself thinking back on this concept in my Friday morning yoga class while in triangle pose. As we were flowing from peaceful warrior to triangle pose, I began to think of how uncomfortable this pose always makes me feel. I am usually counting down the seconds until I can finally get my body out of this awkward state and we can finally flow our way back into Warrior 2. As I started to rise my arm up and come into the pose, I related this situation to my life. When something becomes too uncomfortable, it is easy to avoid it, dawn on it or become impatient until it is over. As I held triangle pose, as it was extremely uncomfortable for me, I recognized that am also very capable of it (and I will admit this is one of my strongest poses). I began to allow myself to open up to this pose and feel it as is.
I realize that we come across difficult times each day and are left with uncomfortable emotions or feelings that we do not want to sit with. Although, I realize that each and every one of us are very capable in allowing ourselves to feel our way through difficult times. When we experience difficulty, we can either choose comfort or courage.
With the help of one of my patients, I have realized the true importance of forgiveness and its ability to bring one to a higher sense of peace and happiness.
This past week I have had the pleasure of getting to know an incredible woman who has opened my eyes to various key life lessons. (I could spend all day writing about the many things she has taught me!) One message in particular has allowed me to realize that forgiveness is generally not practiced enough. It is something that is usually difficult for any human to fully embrace. It is most definitely easier said than done or easier to avoid.
This woman has had some extremely tough life experiences, yet she still manages to remain the happiest and most positive person in the room. She has lived a low income lifestyle, undergone physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, and has fought Stage 3 Cancer for the last twenty years. All of this being said, she has not once commented, “why me” or allowed herself to be broken down by any situation.
Through her incredible faith and ability to forgive, she finds the strength each day to keep moving forward as best as she can. She expressed to me that if she has learned one thing throughout her experiences, forgiveness is one of the most important concepts in life. The moment she was willing to forgive, she felt a heavy weight lifted off of her shoulders and the motivation to move forward each day. She has cultivated forgiveness for those who have hurt her along with forgiveness in herself. She is truly an inspiration to me and I am so incredibly lucky that I have got the chance to connect with her. Who knew my patients would be inspiring me more than I inspire them?
→Even though it may be easier to avoid, allow your shoulders become a little lighter today…who can you forgive?←
“Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.” -Brene Brown
I have just finished the chapter “Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough” in the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. In this chapter, she talks about the concept of love as an action rather than a feeling. This steered me to view the concept of love from a different perspective. I realize how often we tend to throw around the word love but do not always remember to practice it. She talks about the difference between professing love and practicing love. This sparked my awareness that love is something that we practice, words are simply not enough. I realize that it is more important how we act towards ourselves or others we love on a daily basis.
We may love ourselves or another person, but do we practice it every day? From experience, I am aware that it is extremely easy to become lazy with the ones that we love and most importantly ourselves. I am aware that if we allow ourselves to become lazy, it can easily effect other aspects of our lives. This chapter has drawn me realize that it is a priority to cultivate self-love and self-acceptance. If we practice self-love or self-acceptance on a daily basis, it is also easier for us to practice love with others.
Usually the first thing I do when I get on the train is put my headphones in and open up my book. Today, I stopped to take a moment to glimpse at my surroundings. Observing the person sitting across from me, the person across the aisle, eventually making my way to all of the people in my line of sight that were in the same section of the train. I began to deepen my thoughts, questioning what they did before arriving on the train, where they were going, what their career was or what their life was like. I admit, I was most definitely overthinking. However, this steered me to notice that I had no awareness of what any of these people’s lives consisted of. Yet, I did realize we all had one thing in common this morning. We all made it onto the train and were on the same commute at 7:30AM from Grand Central Station. From this, we can create a sense of connectedness amongst one another.
I also referred to this concept when I ran the NYRR women’s 10K this past Saturday. Before we took off for the race, I began to think about how I did not know the other women in this race, but we were all running the same race, for the same cause, and for the same experience. I felt that we didn’t have to know each other to feel a certain sense of connectedness amongst one another. During the race, I focused on the idea of women running together, not against one another. As for this race, along with life, instead of seeing each other as competition, I realize that we can see each person as motivation or support.
These are just two simple examples that infer how often we come across the concept of connectedness with others, and we may not take the time to realize it. We can never tell what one is experiencing, but there is a high chance that someone you come across today is having the same experience as you, or has had the same experience once before. When we look at the world in this perspective, we can feel further support and a sense of comfort. I am currently working towards cultivating the courage to be imperfect and allow myself to be vulnerable. If you’re anything like me, this does not come easily. Although when we notice the concept of connectedness, we can allow ourselves to realize we are not alone, we are not perfect and we are all merely only human.
⇒As for today & every day, practice compassion and cultivate connectedness with the individuals around you.