Close

Hospice: The Gentle Goodbye A Post by Phyllis

Angel Wings 2
Pair of angel wings on heavenly blue background

Just after dawn on December 11, 2007, my mother went to God. There was a beautiful peacefulness that fell over that bright, winter morning that seemed perfect. Mom had battled several chronic, debilitating diseases that slowly robbed her of her energy and physical function. Her mind was always clear and her determination to live to see her grandchildren grow and to be with her husband of 59 years was intact. Unfortunately, her body had betraying her. Mom and I were very different. Our life’s journey together could best be described as rocky but the journeys end was her last gift to me.

It began one Thursday evening when I went to visit my parents. Mom had just come home from yet another unavoidable hospitalization. She was out of immediate danger but the likelihood of a relapse and perhaps a challenging surgery was weighing heavy on her mind. She looked tired, frail and was having difficulty speaking. I could sense she was in pain although she characteristically denied it. As I sat down next to her, she looked me right in the eye and in a clear voice said, “I’m too weak to live and too strong to die. I want to go to God.” She went on to explain that she was done taking her medications, had seen her last doctor, and had been to the hospital for the last time. If those declarations weren’t enough she asked me, “What are you going to do?” I knew immediately what she meant. She wanted me to take control of this out-of-control situation. She was entrusting me to help her live her last days in comfort and dignity. She wanted me to ensure that her transition from this life would be as gentle on her husband, children, grandchildren, and family as possible. The best solution was to arrange for hospice services.

I was the nurse in the family and I tried my best to collaborate with mom’s private doctor. We spoke so often that we were on a first name basis for many years. Dr. Bob had grown very fond of my parents and their relation. Our common goal was to keep mom comfortable and out of the hospital. Once my mom’s wishes were clear, my role was then to ensure that those wishes were carried out. First, I helped my dad understand and accept her decision. Next, I call Dr. Bob and explained her request. He was very supportive. We both knew that the only treatment he could offer her was palliative. Clearly, in his medical opinion, mom had less than six months to live. He made all the arrangements from his office. Finally, it was now time to call my sister.  The inevitability of losing our mom to death was here. Thankfully, as in all things pertaining to our parents, we would do this together.

The next twelve days were exceptional. Mom was peaceful with her decision. She enjoyed her days with dad, her visits with her grandchildren, and her messages from family and friends. Although she refused to take any more medication, she did allow the hospice nurse to obtain an order for pain meds so she could be truly comfortable. The hospice team arranged for a priest to come to the house. She received the sacraments of Holy Communion and the Anointing of the Sick. Mom prayed her rosary daily and in a few days slipped into a coma.

For twelve days the angels from hospice supported my family through the process of letting go. They immediately responded to phone calls and answered endless questions. Nurses came daily with supplies, understanding, and support. Their presence and professionalism allowed me the opportunity to be a daughter and not a nurse. On the day that mom died, it was the hospice nurse that we called first. She came right away, pronounced her and walked us through the next step.

The Value of Choice

I have been a nurse for 30 years now. For the majority of my career I practiced in critical care and emergency trauma units. I fought death constantly with knowledge, skill, medications, and technology. I had limited success. During the last 10 years however, my focus has shifted from the length of one’s life to a profound appreciation for the quality of one’s life. High tech healthcare has its place when lives need to be saved. However, death does come to us all.

Hospice services allow for the care of loved ones to take place in safe, familiar surroundings with those they love close by. It empowers the patient through their last days, offers them the respect of honoring their choices and the dignity of privacy. Hospice care assists the family during horrific moments of anger, regret, and grief that under less supportive circumstances could seriously challenge the family’s unity.

It’s important to understand that hospice is a philosophy of care rather than a specific place. It is an option for people whose life expectancy is six months or less. Treatment outcomes are based on pain and symptom relief rather than pursuing curative measures. This approach enables the person to live his/her last days with dignity, grace and support. Hospice affirms life and does not hasten or postpone death. Hospice care focuses on all aspects of physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. There is no age restriction. Anyone in the last stages of life is eligible.

Hospice Care Services

  1. The Interdisciplinary Team: Team members include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, home health aides, clergy, therapists, and trained volunteers who offer support based on their areas of specialty. The team provides a comprehensive palliative plan of care aimed at relieving symptoms and giving social, emotional, and spiritual support.
  2. Pain Management and Control of Symptoms: The goal of these services is to help the patient to achieve comfort while allowing them to remain alert enough to make important decisions and remain in control.
  3. Spiritual Care: Since people differ in their spiritual needs and religious beliefs, spiritual care is individualized and never forced.
  4. Home Care and In-patient Care: Hospice care is typically centered in the home. However, it may be necessary to admit the patient to a hospital, extended-care facility, or a hospice in-patient facility. The hospice team can then facilitate this transfer and stay involved in the patient’s treatment. The team can also facilitate resuming in-home care when appropriate.
  5. Family Conferences: These conferences are facilitated by the hospice nurse or social worker. They serve to help family members stay informed about the patient’s condition and what to expect. Family conferences also provide an opportunity and safe forum to share fears, feelings, talk about expectations, and learn about the process of dying.
  6. Bereavement Care: Bereavement is the time of mourning following a loss. The hospice team works with surviving family members to help them through the grieving process. The team can refer family members and friends to other professional services if necessary. Bereavement follow-up services are provided for at least a year after the loved one’s death.

Hospice Care Settings

Approximately 80 to 90 percent of hospice services are provided in the home. But, it is important to know that if the patient’s lives in a nursing home, hospice services can be offered there as well. Hospitals that treat seriously ill patients often have a hospice program too. Some hospitals have a dedicated hospice unit, while others have hospice teams who visit patients in any unit. Lastly, many communities have independently owned hospice centers that feature in-patient care as well as home care hospice services. Independent hospice center can benefit individuals who do not have family caregivers.

Who is eligible for Hospice Care?

  1. You are eligible for hospice care if your doctor has certified your prognosis as not longer than six months. This applies to anyone of any age. Should you be blessed with improved health and no longer need hospice care, you will remain eligible to reapply for hospice care if it is necessary in the future.
  2. While the majority of hospice referrals are cancer related, hospice is not exclusively for cancer patients. People with terminal neuromuscular diseases or any end stage disease can also benefit greatly from the services. It is not uncommon for people with Alzheimer’s to be referred to hospice when they are in the final stages of the illness.

Are Hospice Services Expensive?

Hospice care customarily costs less than conventional care in a hospital or nursing home. This is because with home hospice, you pay only for the specific care that you need. In addition, volunteers may often provide many services at little or no cost, such as telephone support, meal preparation and running errands. Most private insurance plans, Medicare and Medicaid cover the services.

While patients usually pay out-of-pocket for any services not covered by insurance, hospice services can be provided without charge if you have limited funds. If you are unable to pay, most hospices will try to provide care using funds raised from community donations and charitable foundations.

Closing Thoughts

Hospice care truly provides for the gentlest of goodbyes. It allowed me the space and time to be able to cherish my last moments with my mom. I look back on those days in peace not pain and I will always be grateful for the last gift my mom gave me, her trust.

References

National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization

http://www.nhpco.org/custom/directory/main.cfm

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services

http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/hospice.asp

National Association for Home Care & Hospice

http://www.nahc.org/

Commencement Remarks to the Touro College School of Health Science 2016 Graduates offered by Phyllis on September 13, 2016.

Graduates in Cap and Gown
Graduates in Cap and Gown — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

 

Dean Primavera, distinguished faculty, honored guests, proud parents and family and my newly graduated colleagues…

I want to begin my guidance to you this afternoon by reminding all of you of just how unique and wonderful you all are. You see many people care capable to feel empathy for someone given the right circumstances. It is the rare few that cannot feel something when the news is filled with stories of the survivors of an earthquake or a picture of a five year old stunned by the events of war.

But it is the rare soul that can mobilize their empathy and compassionate nature into the action we call caregiving; and even fewer that take it on as their life’s work. Serving your fellow man, woman or child is the highest form of generosity I know and you have all chosen this Path.

So I would like to offer you three steps to take to ensure that you stay connected to the beautiful mission that you have accepted:

First: Create a place for stillness in your daily life.

                Professional caregivers are perpetual doers. The only way to balance continuous doing is to stop and be still. The goal of stillness is to free you from the endless loop of thoughts in your head and encourage you to be more in your body. Simple exercises such as mindful-breathing can offer you an opportunity to pause and rest in a peaceful place. The answer to many of the questions that you will be asking yourself over the next twenty-five years lie in that wonderful silent, still place. Find the simple things in life that can offer you a momentary rest from the noise in your head.

Second: Allow others to care for you.

                Suggesting to a professional caregiver that they may need to be cared for is often offensive to them. Caregivers see themselves as strong, indispensable and indestructible. When I suggest that someone may need caring for, it is often thought that I am suggesting that they are weak or even damaged. Self-care is an act of generosity not selfishness. Self-care allows you to stay available to serve. Taking good care of yourself keeps you connected to your compassionate nature longer and in a more authentic manner.

I often hear professional caregivers explain to me how they take care of themselves and indeed, that is the issue and my point. Taking care of yourself does not let you receive care. Allowing yourself to receive is vital. It is in the receiving of care from another, either through friendship, love, massage, reiki, or delegation of responsibility, that our spirits are renewed, reconnected and refreshed.

Finally: Develop you emotional intelligence.

We are at a time in our industry and professions where knowledge and skills are not enough. Gone are the days of accepting that someone is great at what they do but no one can stand to work with them. The days condoning of ego-dominated behaviors are numbered.

Emotional intelligence has not been stressed in healthcare largely due to the fact that we have been trying to figure out a way to survive.  We have been trying to find a model of care and understand how we are going to pay for that model since 1984 with the break from the fee-for-service structure. We are now fairly clear on a model of care and how it will be financed. It is time to turn our attention to mastering the four skills of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness and relationship-management. We need to master these behavioral expectations in the same manner that our non-healthcare professional colleagues are held accountable to do.

Solid emotional intelligence skills are tools for reducing the risk of compassion fatigue and reducing the prevalence of bullying and incivility in our professions. If we do not redirect our attention to these essential “soft-skills”, we will have no chance of creating a true, interdisciplinary model of care that is patient-centered and humane. We will continue to lose the best of us to venues of practice other than the bedside where we need the best most.

In closing, may you never forget that the Universe only asked a very few of us to devote our lives to the service of others…and you said yes. Blessings and congratulations Class of 2016.

 

4 Tips to Ensure That You Fuel Your Caring Nature From a Full Heart and Not Fumes

cropped-bigstock-feather-and-stone-balance-5254698.jpg

Dearest Caregiver

  1. Acknowledge and Respect Your Compassion Nature

Most people have the capacity to feel empathy for another person when there is a tragedy such as a plane crash or mass shooting. Some people have the capacity to rise to the occasion and offer a helping hand to someone in need. However, very few people have the ability to mobilize their compassion into the action we call caregiving.

The uncommon ability to be a caregiver is the highest form of generosity. It is a gift and it needs to be honored for the gift that it is. This means that you must respect your caring nature by taking really good care of yourself as well. All too often, caregivers put their own needs last. Granted, this extra effort may be needed on occasion.

Putting yourself last time after time can mutate your awakened heart in a toxic sense of self-sacrifice. Remember, putting your caregiver-self first is an act of selflessness and it is healthy. It allows you to keep your compassionate heart full and ready to serve.

  1. Ask and Accept Help

The responsibilities that accompany your role as caregiver can be daunting. There always seems to be a relentless list of things to do, appointments to coordinate, and care to be rendered. You are gifted with a highly evolved sense of the duty, responsibility and loyalty. However, these qualities can channel you into a life of isolation if you resist asking for help.

Asking for help is not a sacrilege. It’s honest. No one, no matter how dedicated or organized, can manage alone. Many folks like yourself resist asking for help because they feel that they do not want to impose on benevolent friends of family. The irony is that these same folks are often trying to find a way to lend a hand without sending the unintended message that you are not doing a good job.

No everyone can do hands-on care but most everyone can do something. I encourage you to investigate support networks such as Share the Care. This non-profit organization trains groups such as family, friend, neighbors, and church members to create Care Circles. The goal is to surround the person in need of care and their primary caregiver with a sense of community and support.

A calendar and task list is set up so that everyone can weave their part of the caring into their daily life. Who does the food shopping? Who transports to the doctor’s appointment and when? Who mows the lawn, etc. I ask you to please consider this option so that you can pace yourself. Remember, caregiving is not a sprint. It is a marathon and it takes a team to keep you in the race.

Resources:

http://sharethecare.org/

http://caringforthecaregiver.org/caring-healing-circle-meetings/

http://project-compassion.org/nc-initiatives/circles-of-care

http://caringcircle.ca/support-organizations/

http://www.circleofcareproject.org/ways-to-help/

  1. Stay Connected with Friends

It is often said that laughter is the best medicine. Without a doubt, this is true.  However, the demands and realities of constantly caring for others can often leave you struggling to find a reason to smile let alone laugh. Fatigue is your worst enemy. It can leave wanting to “crash” and be alone during any down time. Please resist this temptation. Yes, the extra effort to get ready for some social time with friends may seem daunting but the payoff is priceless.

Caregiving is what you do not who you are and it is your friend who will keep you connected to the outside world. Friend will often listen and just let you vent without judgement. Friend can show you the exit sign out of your head and your relentless thoughts centered on caregiving and reintroduce you to the rest of your life. Friend can help you keep a perspective on your situation so that the frustrations of caregiving don’t fester into pain and resentment.

Friend can make you laugh until your side ache and you find yourself hoping you don’t wet your pants. In short, they are often your lifeline. So please don’t let go. Socializing may need to me modified. Lunches and matinees may replace dinner and a movie. You may not be able to leave your home, so the party may have to come to you but however you arrange it, stay connected.

  1. Don’t Confuse Endurance with Resilience

So often we torment ourselves with the notion that as soon as you get past this latest hurtle in life, all will be easier. In reality nothing gets easier. No sooner do you exhale from meeting one demand than the next burning issue presents itself. So we hunker down and call upon our endurance to meet the next challenge.Here is where the danger lies, in a caregiver’s endless ability to endure.

You see, we mistake endurance for resilience. Endurance is a coping skill intended to be called upon when things become exceedingly challenging and stressful. Endurance is the ability to deal with unusual pain or suffering and continuing to function. Our ability to endure is intended to be maintained for only a fixed amount of time until a situation is resolved. It was never intended to be used as an everlasting source of fuel for life.

Resilience, however, is the ability to withstand the stress and challenges of life while remaining centered and fresh. Resilience is a healthy reserve of personal fuel that can be accessed to maintain a state of equilibrium, not only to rise up to overcome the crisis of the moment. Resilience is like dropping the engine of your life into second gear so you can maintain speed as you go uphill.

Developing a resilient mindset means understanding you can only thrive in a lifestyle of perpetual generosity, such as a caregiving, when you give from the excess of your energetic fuel tank and not from the fumes. It means that regardless of the demands of a situation, you are addressing that situation from a place of fullness.

The true lesson here is to embrace the fact that choosing a mindset of endurance is choosing only to survive. Choosing a temperament of resilience is embracing living life fully each day. So explore what it takes to develop a resilient nature that is ready, willing and very much able to serve, regardless of the circumstances surrounding that call to care.

Blessings, Phyllis

 

 

 

18 Signs You Have High Emotional Intelligence A Guest Post by Travis Bradberry

Diagram of emotional intelligence
Diagram of emotional intelligence

 

When emotional intelligence (EQ) first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: People with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into the broadly-held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success.

Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that we know 90 percent of top performers have high emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.

Despite the significance of EQ, its intangible nature makes it very difficult to know how much you have and what you can do to improve if you’re lacking. You can always take a scientifically validated test, such as the one that comes with the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book.

Unfortunately, quality (scientifically valid) EQ tests aren’t free. So, I’ve analyzed the data from the million-plus people that TalentSmart has tested in order to identify the behaviors that are the hallmarks of a high EQ. What follows are sure signs that you have a high EQ.

1. You have a robust emotional vocabulary.

All people experience emotions, but it is a select few who can accurately identify them as they occur. Our research shows that only 36 percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices and counterproductive actions.

People with high EQs master their emotions because they understand them, and they use an extensive vocabulary of feelings to do so. While many people might describe themselves as simply feeling “bad,” emotionally intelligent people can pinpoint whether they feel “irritable,” “frustrated,” “downtrodden,” or “anxious.” The more specific your word choice, the better insight you have into exactly how you are feeling, what caused it and what you should do about it.

2. You’re curious about people.

It doesn’t matter if they’re introverted or extroverted, emotionally intelligent people are curious about everyone around them. This curiosity is the product of empathy, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ. The more you care about other people and what they’re going through, the more curiosity you’re going to have about them.

3. You embrace change.

Emotionally intelligent people are flexible and are constantly adapting. They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major threat to their success and happiness. They look for change that is lurking just around the corner, and they form a plan of action should these changes occur.

4. You know your strengths and weaknesses.

Emotionally intelligent people don’t just understand emotions; they know what they’re good at and what they’re terrible at. They also know who pushes their buttons and the environments (both situations and people) that enable them to succeed. Having a high EQ means you know your strengths and you know how to lean into them and use them to your full advantage while keeping your weaknesses from holding you back.

5. You’re a good judge of character.

Much of emotional intelligence comes down to social awareness; the ability to read other people, know what they’re about, and understand what they’re going through. Over time, this skill makes you an exceptional judge of character. People are no mystery to you. You know what they’re all about and understand their motivations, even those that lie hidden beneath the surface.

6. You are difficult to offend.

If you have a firm grasp of whom you are, it’s difficult for someone to say or do something that gets your goat. Emotionally intelligent people are self-confident and open-minded, which creates a pretty thick skin. You may even poke fun at yourself or let other people make jokes about you because you are able to mentally draw the line between humor and degradation.

7. You know how to say no (to yourself and others).

Emotional intelligence means knowing how to exert self-control. You delay gratification, and you avoid impulsive action. Research conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major self-control challenge for many people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases such as “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

8. You let go of mistakes.

Emotionally intelligent people distance themselves from their mistakes, but do so without forgetting them. By keeping their mistakes at a safe distance, yet still handy enough to refer to, they are able to adapt and adjust for future success. It takes refined self-awareness to walk this tightrope between dwelling and remembering. Dwelling too long on your mistakes makes you anxious and gun shy, while forgetting about them completely makes you bound to repeat them. The key to balance lies in your ability to transform failures into nuggets of improvement. This creates the tendency to get right back up every time you fall down.

9. You give and expect nothing in return.

When someone gives you something spontaneously, without expecting anything in return, this leaves a powerful impression. For example, you might have an interesting conversation with someone about a book, and when you see them again a month later, you show up with the book in hand. Emotionally intelligent people build strong relationships because they are constantly thinking about others.

10. You don’t hold grudges.

The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress  response. Just thinking about the event sends your body into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. When the threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when the threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better now but can also improve your health.

11. You neutralize toxic people.

Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. High EQ individuals control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their own emotions and don’t allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the difficult person’s standpoint and are able to find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.

12. You don’t seek perfection.

Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know that it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your effort. You end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of moving forward, excited about what you’ve achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.

13. You appreciate what you have.

Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23 percent. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy and physical well-being. It’s likely that lower levels of cortisol played a major role in this.

14. You disconnect.

Taking regular time off the grid is a sign of a high EQ because it helps you to live in the moment. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and even—gulp!—turning off your phone gives your body and mind a break. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can lower stress levels. Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email that will change your train of thought and get you thinking (read: stressing) about work can drop onto your phone at any moment.

15. You limit your caffeine intake.

Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, and adrenaline is the source of the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing you, but not so great when you’re responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress, your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine’s long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of your body. High-EQ individuals know that caffeine is trouble, and they don’t let it get the better of them.

16. You get enough sleep.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams) so that you wake up alert and clearheaded. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when they don’t get enough—or the right kind—of sleep. So, they make sleep a top priority.

17. You stop negative self-talk in its tracks.

The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural tendency to perceive threats (inflating the frequency or severity of an event). Emotionally intelligent people separate their thoughts from the facts in order to escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive, new outlook.

18. You won’t let anyone limit your joy.

When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

 

Originally posted in Success: http://www.success.com/article/18-signs-you-have-high-emotional-intelligence? trk_msg=NQCN05UQ0KQKL11SNQLDK3DCS4&trk_contact=U1IIDO2SRHPR980ID0266PD08K&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.success.com%2Farticle%2F18-signs-you-have-high-emotional-intelligence&utm_campaign=18+Signs+You+Have+High+Emotional+Intelligence

The Delicate Balance: Embrace Your Fear

feather and stone balance

Inspired by the ancient book of wisdom; The Tao Te Ching: Verse Thirty Five

Hold the great image. All under heaven will come                                   They come without harm, in harmonious peace                                               Music and food, passing travelers stop                                                               The Tao that is spoken out of the mouth                                                            Is bland and without flavor. Look at it, it cannot be seen                   Listen to it, it cannot be heard. Use it, it cannot be exhausted

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Lao Tzu

 

 What gives you enjoyment? This question is usually answered by your belief systems. Your belief systems are your core values that give shape and definition to your life’s experiences. Do you define yourself at the mercy of other’s opinions? Do you believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Does life just happen to you without rhyme or reason? Do you welcome each morning or struggle out of bed hoping you’ll make it through the day?

I am frequently asked how someone can add more joy and contentment into his or her life. I honestly don’t have an answer for them. What I do offer is a challenge that could lead to the outcome they seek should they have the faith and courage to dive in. Get well acquainted with the things that cause you great fear.

Dedicate a significant amount of time over the next several weeks to really get in touch with your demons. What scares you to death? Do you fear loss of a relationship or loss of a job? Does the possibility of losing your health or function make your blood run cold? Does the prospect of having to redefine yourself without the aid of an addictive substance or professional or personal role terrify you?

How does the reality that nothing is certain, nothing is within our control and nothing is permanent make you feel? Well then, that is where you begin. As the wonderful Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron often advises, start at the place that scares you the most.

 As you explore each unthinkable scenario ask yourself what life would really be like if the worst happened. Be gently. Be patient but be relentless. As you make your way through this challenge the answer will slowly begin to come to you. Life goes on. Yes! That life may be quite different from what you or others may have envisioned. It is even possible that it will be better than what you know right now. But you will adapt to whatever happens.

So the answer to how to do I add more joy and contentment into my life is simply. Just let go. Let go of worrying about change. It is inevitable. Let go of trying to stay in control. You never had control to begin with. The only thing we need to focus on is now. You need to redirect your energies into being present in the moment and aware of all that is around you so that you can milk every last drop of joy and contentment out of it.

Open you heart so that you can experience love, compassion or pain. The past is done. The future is an illusion. There is only now. Let go of fear-based living and begin to live your life welcoming whatever shows up. Don’t waste one more minute trying to avoid the unavoidable.

5 Ways We Give Away Our Power and How to Get It Back A Guest Post by Michele Knight

the best vision is insight phrase  on a vintage slate blackboard
the best vision is insight phrase on a vintage slate blackboard

 

The life that you create is a reflection of the power that you are able to use. As you are already a part of the whole and a shard of the divine, you already have all the power you need – but we can give it away, often without meaning to. Becoming conscious about how we can give our power away means that we can make choices about how to hold on to it so that we can use it for better things.

So how do we give our power away?

1/ Decide that’s it. Telling yourself that there is nothing more for you to discover, learn, or even be amazed by is a shortcut to closing yourself down to new experiences and input that can make your life here a fantastic and fascinating rich experience. Along with that goes trying to hypnotise yourself into believing that whatever circumstance you’re in can’t change. Change is one of the few things you can be absolutely certain about and believe it or not you do have unlimited choices for change. Embrace the power of change!

2/ Convince yourself that any one thing, person or experience is Your All. Life is an incredible journey throughout which you will meet many amazing souls and have more fabulous experiences than you could possibly sit down and count at one sitting. When you are in your power, you hold on to a deep gratitude, reverence and joy for the experience of everything, but when you make any one thing your absolute all, you give it a false weighting of importance in the balance of your experience. This is your life, your journey, and you can give everything your best without handing over everything to one person or experience. Know there is more beauty to come.

3/ Care more about what other people think than what you think. Every single person that you meet throughout life arrives to teach you something. We can exchange views, connections, opinions and experiences, but we need to hold ourselves at the centre of all of that. When we give other people the power to decide whether or not we are talented, worthy, beautiful, smart or deserving, we erode our own power. When we follow what someone else tells us we should do and override what we think or intuitively know is right for us, we get off course. Follow your heart and know you are equal to all people as we are all one, no one is better than you and you are lovable exactly as you are.

4/ Give up on your dreams. It doesn’t matter whether you want to invent a new device or adore singing, your dreams are part of what make you unique and add passion and juice to your existence. Sometimes our dreams have to go on the backburner of our lives for a while whilst we focus on something else, but we should keep their fires lit, check in every so often to work out whether there isn’t something else we could do to keep them ticking over or do you want a different dream now? Our dreams are achievable and fluid. We also have unlimited opportunity to embrace and create new dreams.

5/ Forget the basics. Eat well, sleep enough, drink water and exercise. Your body is an amazing and complex thing and does extraordinary things for you all day every day. Treat it with reverence and respect and it will do a lot more for a lot longer. Because our mind and body are connected, you can’t think at your best when you are treating yourself at your worst. I’d also throw meditation into the bare minimum mix because there is so much good to be said for it and you can do it whilst you’re waiting for a bus, so no excuse for not having time!

You have more power than you can possibly know and in each moment you can step into that power.

 

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: