Why getting lost is the best way to learn you are never really lost

So I left Siem Reap on February 27th at 2 in the morning for Bangkok (Thailand). Leaving Siem Reap was really weird. Straight up. It’s crazy how living in a place for such a short period of time can actually affect you so much. My month that I spent in Siem Reap I feel shaped me in so many ways. One of the most powerful ways it shaped me is that it helped me rediscover the power women have when we work together. I was blessed with the most incredible group of women to discover and teach me lessons that I will always be thankful for. We literally live in all corners of the world but I know that I’ll see each of them again when the time comes and it is right. 

This is my badass squad in our full glory!!! Look at how beautiful they are!!!

So, back to the road. I got a night bus from this random hostel because it was the cheapest one I could find and it lived up to it! Not in fact a night bus at all but actually like a glorified mini van which they called a mini bus. #thisisfine On the ‘mini bus’ I met the sweetest girl from Chile who was also travelling by herself. We became buddies really fast as we didn’t sleep at all through the night and were dropped off before the border with the instructions ‘walk through’. So we began walking-exhausted, hungry…a little hungover with literally no idea where we were heading. I lost my new found friend at the crazy hectic visa office and saw two guys that I recognized from the mini bus and we started chatting almost instantly. One of the guys was from Brazil and the other from the States. All equally lost and exhausted we bonded immediately. The American guy was fucking hilarious. He was the definition of a walking mess in the best way possible. Dressed with the friendliest smile ever and lacking shoes he told me about his travels. What began as him volunteering in Kenya and turned into a 7 month adventure ending with him working at a bar in Siem Reap.

Awesome.

People never cease to amaze me. There’s literally so much shit you can do with your life and ways to exist. At home we really put ourselves in boxes and say that it has to be a certain way but this is not the case-one thing I learn every day while I travel is that it all works out. Our bus company gave us red stickers to wear instead of a bus ticket which actually ended up being really effective as we crossed the border and were spotted within the first 5 minutes. This led to another ‘ mini bus ‘ .  About 4 more hours to go until Bangkok…but at this point we had passed the point of exhaustion and had arrived at this place where you don’t really feel tired anymore.

Cue me double fisting coffee.

 Amid all of the exhaustion and stress I still found time to actually create some space and do yoga on one of our breaks we took!! So that was actually pretty awesome.

Finally we arrived in Bangkok and I parted ways with these two guys who made my journey so much easier. I made the mistake of thinking I could navigate Bangkoks metro on 0 hours of sleep and 3 coffees – wrong – don’t attempt this ever – this is literally such a warning like please do not do this. I’m actually trying to get to Petchaburi and the train from Bangkok to Petchaburi that I wanted to get on was leaving an hour after I arrived. I think that this is a lot of time-Bangkok is a big city, it is not a lot of time. Little do I know there’s actually a neighborhood in Bangkok called Petchaburi… again #thisisfine. I end up on the subway heading to this neighbourhood and I’m like… omg, what am I doing, there is no way a metro is taking me to a different city. 20 minutes until my train leaves. I run outside and am a complete mess, this random guy on a motorcycle sees me and asks me…

1) Where are you going?

2) How quickly do you need to get there?

Still freaking out I say I need to be at the train station in 5 minutes. Off we went on the craziest ride of my life. We were weaving traffic in and out of construction zones with my massive backpack on my back-fucking crazy…fucking awesome. He drops me off at the station and I run in, still crazy. People note that I am crazy-this is becoming a recurring thing. They let me skip the line and I buy my train ticket. I run to my train and jump on…I don’t know why but I got this really big gut reason that something was wrong, very wrong. Starting to cry now I ask people where this train is going…it’s going North, I am supposed to be going South and my train is leaving in 2 minutes.

PRO TIP – DO NOT TRY AND PRONOUNCE ANYTHING IN A LANGUAGE YOU DON’T SPEAK.

In trying to buy a train ticket to Phetchaburi I bought a train ticket to to Prachin Buri…this is literally the exact opposite direction that I want to be going in. I jump off the train and am hysterical now. Instantly at least 20 people try and help me – this is not an over exaggeration. I mean, no one can speak a word of English, but they worked together as a team to find me my train which ended up being literally right beside the train I was on. I didn’t have a ticket to the train that I wanted to be on, but was quickly hurried on the train regardless. As soon as I step foot on the train, and I mean literally within 20 seconds it leaves the station. I’m told that the train is heading South by some really friendly tourists which makes me feel much better – I am probably in the right place?

Although I’m in the right place, riding a train without a ticket can be a really difficult thing. For the next four hours I had to change seats probably every 20 minutes. Every time I changed seats I was greeted by a new train guard-to which I communicated with by crying…every single time. I don’t think the guards knew what to do with me so they just let me be until someone came to claim their seat. As I was moved around seemingly endlessly I met great people. First a couple from Malaysia who continued to assure me it was fine and I would be okay, and fed me. Next an old British man named John who was really into birds and was visiting his son. Lastly a Southern Thailand man who ended up letting me have his seat-so incredibly kind.

About half way into the train ride I actually relaxed.

I realized that even if I was lost it would be okay to be lost and that being lost isn’t really a bad thing.

It’s okay to just be where you are.

Leaning, understanding and transforming. Every day.

I finally arrived in Phetchaburi to meet my friend. I was greeted by beautiful green hills, gorgeous temples and monkeys…monkeys everywhere. This place is not touristic and is so beautiful. The stress left my body as soon as I got off the train. As I got off the train I met a German guy who actually ended up staying at the same hostel as me, and he was so kind.

People are good. This is something I’m constantly learning while I travel.

With love,

Laura

Tribes-Why We Need Them And How To Find Yours

Why Do We Need A Tribe?

Homo Sapiens are a young species, we’re only about 200,000 years old-which is incredibly young if you consider the fact that JellyFish have been around for approximately 550 million years! So why, and how did we evolve so quickly to climb the food chain to the top and dominate the world in a way that no other species has?

The answer is simple. Power in numbers. The fact that overwhelmingly so 1+1 is so much greater than 1 and 1 individually. On top of that if you consider the fact that we exist in cities comprising of millions of people and have networks such as this one here where we can interact with people anywhere at any given it makes sense that we have become so incredibly strong as a species.

So tribes have a huge-if not the most important role in our development as a species.

Unfortunately, our modern societies have not developed to support community oriented lifestyles (more similar to a tribal life). We move through our days alone-even though we are constantly surrounded by people-and the beautiful thing about this is that it’s actually much easier to find a tribe than you’d think.

How To Find Your Tribe

Self Reflection
When was the last time you really sat down with yourself and asked how it’s going? Maybe you should do this more! The most beautiful friendship we can foster is the one with yourself. Be your own best friend, be gentle and honest with yourself. Ask yourself: How’s it going? ; What’s going really well? ; What’s not going so well? ; What makes you really happy? ; What’s holding you back

Identify Your Values
Key word : YOUR. A lot of people list their values without actually considering what they’re saying because you’ve been told what they should be. No one can identify your values other than you so this takes some thought. Maybe you really value being in nature? Maybe you value eating healthy? Helping animals, being active, having down time every day – everyone is different. You should unapologetically be you-that’s what make you so beautiful.

Use Your Values to Guide You To Something You’re Passionate About
This part is really fun. You can do this however works for you-but I find what works really well is creating a mind map. First write down your core values. Next try to connect when with common interests that would incorporate as many values as possible. See if you can find things that involve all of your values-and watch as your map grows.

Abandon Any Judgement
In order to really find your tribe you must leave all judgement at the door. The world is full of beautiful people, places and things you can do-but if you say ‘that’s just not me’ then it never will be you-this is the power of thought.

Try New Things
Pick 3-5 of your beautiful ideas you’ve discovered and try them. Actually putting yourself in the environment and fully immersing yourself is the only way to figure out whether or not it’s for you.

Connect With Your Tribe (Ah, the beauty of the internet)
There is literally a group for everything on Facebook. Find your tribe, figure out where they are and what they’re doing and make sure to say YES more often than you say NO.

Choose Happiness
At this point-you’ve already done that.

Spotlight on Siem Reap : First two weeks

Creating some peace after travelling for two days straight

I arrived in Siem Reap just over two weeks ago now. It’s crazy to think it’s only been two weeks. These have been two of the most influential weeks of my entire life. Arriving here I was completely overwhelmed. I hadn’t slept in over 30 hours and this being my first time in Cambodia, or for that fact Asia at all I had no idea what to expect. Stepping off of the plane I was greeted by an intimidating and accusing visa/customs system and 33 degree celsius sunshine. After finishing dealing with getting a visa through the suspicion of not having a photo to provide (pro tip-bring a photo for a visa to Cambodia!!) I stepped outside to a sea of faces-unsure whether or not I was being picked up or what was really up or down at that point. Then seeing a sign with my name on it I left the airport with a serious language barrier , simply using the language of smiles. Jumping into the tuktuk (for those of you that don’t know what that is-it’s a carriage attached to the back of a scooter/motorcycle) we headed into the city.

Daily quotes in the yoga retreat 🙂

Siem Reap is an interesting place. Initially it is totally overwhelming, loud, dirty etc. but in seemingly no time at all it grows on you. Arriving at Blue Indigo was very relieving as I walked in, and amid this crazy loud city you have this oasis of plants, quiet and bliss. As if that wasn’t beautiful enough I was greeted with nothing but positivity and kindness. Blue Indigo is a very beautiful yoga retreat in the heart of the city. Think: kittens, hammocks, plants and some of the most delicious and nourishing food i’ve ever had- and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. Yoga classes started that day, just three hours after I arrived. I quickly met Heather and Lori. Heather being 28 and from England has traveled everywhere. She has such amazing stories that kind of gradually come out of her-which is amazing because she’s constantly surprising you with her wealth of knowledge and experience. Lori certainly lived up to the bar that Heather set.  Lori was also from Canada (woo-strength in numbers!) but  we are quite different as there’s a small age difference of 35 years. Lori is a pillar of strength and grace. She has been touched by a neuro disease that left her very ill to the point of disability for years before she discovered yoga. Yoga seriously healed her, from the inside out-and just speaking with her and watching how she moves you would never know that she had been through and continues to stand against this health ordeal every day.

What being a yoga teacher is really about…
Hammocks becoming a part of my life…

The next person to meet was Krishna, my teacher. Krishna is from India and grew up learning yoga according to the ancient scriptures. His method of teaching is orthodox but very valuable. He’s teaching us not only the physical side of yoga but really emphasizes the spiritual and mental sides of yoga. I did not believe in these sides until meeting Krishna. Within the first day, we performed a meditation in which we could start vibrations in very isolated different parts of our body if we could get our thought and focus to one. With much effort this actually happened on my first day. I felt a very dull vibration in my finger tips which did, and will always have a profound affect on my perspective. Now two weeks in, after probably between 1 and 2 hours of meditation a day I can feel these vibrations from the tips of my fingers and toes throughout my body, even around my brain-heart-eyes etc. I know it sounds crazy-as it did to me before.-but it’s a very real experience that doesn’t take a super human to perform. The experience in itself is amazing but it’s benefits are greater-I can literally diminish pain in my body using this tool-and I think it’s something that everyone should look into at some point in their lives.
Next I met Irina and Cindy. Irina is a genius. She’s a PHD and is a professor in Cambodia. She’s studied a variety of sciences including biochemistry and environmental engineering. She is such an intelligent, fierce and strong willed lady-unapologetically herself-never ever afraid to speak her mind. Cindy is a force to be reckoned with as well. She is from Eastern Germany (before the wall came down) and moved to Australia some time ago. She started her own organization in the past few years – Hands across the world which works to eradicate human trafficking through preventative support (i.e. education, women empowerment, etc.). At this point I’m thinking WOW, how blessed am I to be in the company of such INCREDIBLE WOMEN! I was really thinking I was the black sheep of the group. That I hadn’t accomplished anything and was feeling a bit insecure…but this perspective quickly changed.

My beautiful squad of future yoga teaching women!
Dancers pose-squad addition
Beginning to enjoy a new perspective 🙂

One week in and we went to a pagoda out in West Baray – where we were blessed by a buddhist monk and able to do yoga on the banks of a river where we were so fortunate to witness water buffalo crossing the river. The next day me and Heather ventured out to Angkor Wat and Bayon on our day off. Angkor Wat is amazing. Really, it’s everything it’s hyped up to be and more. It is an incredible place that everyone should see in their life-but Bayon for me was much more incredible. Bayon is the kind of place where you walk in and you feel a shift in the energy. You feel introspective, kind and compassionate. All around you are beautiful carvings in this incredible structure that looks like a dream has come to life. What really made Bayon so special for me is that it’s where I had my first religious experience-ever. I was baptized as a kid, and went to a catholic high school… and have been closely encountered with religion in the past but have never felt anything deep or visceral from a religion. There though, in Bayon, in a dark room with nothing but candles-a statue of Buddha and burning incense it happened. I felt I should pray, and so I did. In response to the prayer, almost immediately after I had finished I felt love and happiness surge through my body. Call it a biochemical coincidence if you will-but for me that was an incredible moment that brought me to tears and I will never forget.

Water buffalo crossing the river
The child monks at West Baray Pagoda
Angkor Wat from a distance
Creating some peace with a tree pose in Angkor Wat 🙂
Some more tree pose… Bayon addition!
Bayon from a distance!

The following week was filled with conversations with everyone at the retreat about happiness, life, spirituality, yoga, work, money… everything you can think about. Throughout these conversations with the incredible people I am so fortunate to be acquainted with I’ve found I’ve been able to go deeper inside in discovering who I am and what I will do with my life. Along with this I’ve been given this incredible set of tools I didn’t know I had to handle stress and emotions like I’ve never been able to before. Or this is what I thought-until I was really tested. A group of us went out for dinner and on our way to dinner were approached. This young boy was bone thin, and dirty, and quite obviously mentally disempowered. He was walking around the night market trying to hug people and people were yelling at him and pushing him away. When he came to try and hug me, I did not because of my ego-but was instantly overwhelmed with guilt. This poor child was walking around barefoot in the streets, starving, but such a beautiful being he was trying to hug people and I did not hug him because he was dirty? I was so angry at myself. The thought kept flashing back in my mind and I relived his suffering and how I responded to it. Later in the night after dinner on the way home we saw  a dog on the side of the road. This dog had a big bite out of his leg and looked so incredibly sad. It seemed no one else on the street saw him other than us. Anger, again surged through my body as we did nothing because there was nothing we could do.

Siem Reap night market

I was tormented with these thoughts of the unbearable suffering that the world experiences for days. Disgusted by the excess I have in my life and angry at myself and the world. Before I came to the realization that me suffering only adds more suffering to the world. Just as the expression ‘ You can’t fight fire with fire ‘ goes, it is true we cannot cure the suffering in the world with more suffering. With this realization I felt it not only my right, but my responsibility to spread positivity and joy. With this new mantra in my head I went out into the city the next day to do some errands-bringing my smile with me everywhere I went. Sometimes my smile was greeted with a frown, and sometimes not greeted at all. But there were times where the smile was exchanged for a smile back, and to know I had spread even one smile felt it was enough. Later that night in the night market with some friends I was getting fried ice cream rolls (worth the belly ache) when I came across two young boys asking everyone to buy them food. Here they were surrounded by tourists and people with lots of money and they were being ignored as if they weren’t even humans. These boys were no older than 8 years old, had no shoes and were covered in dirt. Although buying them food is not a permanent solution, it is the end of their present suffering over hunger and sometimes to end present suffering is enough. So I bought them dinner, leaving them with smiles and full bellies.

Consequently, we cannot cure all of the suffering in the world at once. We must be patient and take life one day at a time. Keeping in mind that the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish in this lifetime if we do everything with heart.

Practicing Dancers Pose:)

All in all it’s been an incredible two weeks.

Siem Reap is amazing, Cambodia is amazing. Yoga is amazing. Life is amazing.

With love,
Laura

Youtube Yogis Rejoice! My Favourite Accounts Right Now

  1. Yoga with Adriene

    Before you reach for a cup of joe in the morning try this (you can have your coffee after). Seriously, waking up with yoga feels incredible and really changes your mindset throughout the day.

  2. Kino Yoga

    I love this video because she really goes into the fact that yoga goes beyond the physical. Yoga and meditation should always be practiced together and are incredibly healing for the body, mind and spirit.

  3. TaraStiles

    Feeling like you need a super workout but feeling stressed? Try this and finish feeling physically AND mentally stronger. Tara Stiles is such a bad ass, can you say girl crush?

  4. Ali Kamenova Interval Yoga

    Looking for an introduction to yoga? Feeling new and a little lost but looking for a challenge? This video has been a personal favourite of mine for over a year. Ali is graceful, strong and inspiring as she moves with grace throughout this beautiful Vinyasa-awesome.

  5. BrettLarkinYoga

    Sleep easier with Brett Larkin guiding you tonight. No medicine required, except for the medicine of self love of course-but that’s always required.

  6. BadYogi

    Refreshing, interesting and unapologetically herself. Head over to BadYogi for some refreshing perspective, good humour and inspiration.

How Values Are the Key to Finding Your Passion

Have you ever seen people pursuing their passions and felt jealous? Jealous that you were unsure of what your passion was, or just not very fulfilled by your work or life? You are not alone. In 2014 it was estimated that more than half of all Americans were unhappy with their work.

The question is why? 

In a world where there are opportunities left right and centre and an endless supply of jobs we’ve never heard of why are so many people choosing dissatisfying careers?

The answer is intuitive but undiscussed. We are not taught to distinguish what makes a good career and what makes a bad career. The criteria we’re taught by society is to choose a job with a high income and security. While these are definitely a lot of peoples values it is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Today I had a very meaningful conversation with my friend who is also a yoga teacher here in Siem Reap. He’s worked in a variety of different jobs, from Silicone Valley to here and back again. Humanitarian jobs, wellness jobs, tech industry jobs etc. We had a conversation about what makes a career and better yet what makes a meaningful life.

The consensus is that a meaningful life is one built on our personal values. I instinctively begun describing my values: kindness, community,  family…etc, before he stopped me to ask how much thought I had put into my values?

Shockingly enough – I hadn’t. I had thought out countless times which diet would be best for my ‘optimal body’ or how to plan the perfect social event…yet I hadn’t taken considerable time to think about what I truly value.

value “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.”

Principles, standards of behaviour or judgement of what is important in life.

Without judging myself, I came to the conclusion that I had four very solid values.

  1. To do meaningful work: to actually have a considerable impact (based on my other values) with whatever I am doing.
  2. Community: to have an inclusive group of like minded, diverse, valuable members that I could call a community.
  3. Wellness: that mental and physical health come above everything else, always, period.
  4. Freedom: an insatiable thirst for the freedom to move wherever the world pulls me.

I’ve been spending so much time trying to think of how to optimally design my life, or at least figure out what the next steps were to be without really considering my values. Immediately after clearing that up I began to brainstorm and ideas upon ideas came to me.

Try this as you dive deeper into your own value system. 

  1. spend 5 minutes brainstorming every value that comes into your mind on a piece of paper.
  2. set a timer and spend 3 minute circling values that you consider the most important
  3. narrow your values down… your core values should be between 3 and 5 things. choose things that you cannot live without in your life-without judging yourself. It’s OKAY to write wealth, it’s OKAY to write beautiful things-this is for you-no one else.
  4. BEGIN LIVING TRUE TO YOURSELF AND YOUR VALUES 

Hope this helps you as it’s helped me. With love,
Laura

Spotlight on Yoga: Introduction to Pranayama

Do you feel you lack energy no matter what you do?
Is it difficult for you to concentrate on one thing at a time?
Do you struggle with depression, anxiety,  insomnia or any other form of hormone related mental illness?
Do you have digestive problems, respiratory or circulatory problems? 

Pranayama might be the school of yoga missing in your life.

Pranayama is the school of yoga that deals with control of the vital energy of the body. In Yogic Study it’s believed that the vital energy can be controlled through the breath.

Pranayama has given me so much. It’s helped me deal with anxiety, depression and just stress in general. Along with this I have more energy, am happier, more outgoing and my physical health has improved as I feel my digestive system, respiratory and circulatory systems are functioning better.

It goes further than me. Thousands of people have reported that their daily lives have drastically improved since introducing Pranayama to their lives.

Pranayama is a simple way to dive into a yoga school that is not only concerned with the physical body (Annamaya Kosha). Pranayama is a direct way to control your life force (Pranamaya Kosha) which is a form of indirect control of your mind.  Yes – control of your mind. Forget any ‘mind control’ stuff you have seen in the media-I’m simply talking about WILL POWER, COURAGE, and MENTAL FORTITUDE.

You deserve to feel happy, you deserve to sleep better, you deserve to love fully, and breathe easily.

Try this beginner style of Pranayama as an introduction to this ancient Yogic School.

DISCLAIMER change does not happen over night! You must work for it. Incorporate this into your life every day (morning and night) for 2 weeks and keep a journal of your stress levels as well as your physical and mental pain-observing the gradual change.

Ujjayi Pranayama

  1.  First: sit in a meditative position that is comfortable for you – like Padmasana (lotus pose) with eyes closed and an erect spine.
  2. Second: take a long and deep breath – as slowly as you can in through your nose. While you breathe in try to contract your throat and feel the air in it-you will hear it as the air caresses your throat.

    Notice: allow your breath to be light and relaxed – remember you aren’t forcing the air in, and aren’t forcing your throat to contract-it should be relaxed and comfortable.

    • Third: without holding the breath, breathe out through your nostrils as slowly as possible-still constricting the throat.

      Notice: exhalation should take almost twice the time of your inhalation,  exhalation should also make a noise similar to the noise you might make when trying to fog up a mirror – but you must be patient, it will come with time.

      Benefits of Ujjayi ( to think about while practicing – one at a time of course): build in internal body heat, increase in % of Oxygen in blood as Carbon Dioxide is eliminated, relieves tension, allow prana (energy) to flow freely, regulates blood pressure, regulates breath throughout the day, detoxifying for mind and body, increases feelings of presence, self-awareness and meditative feelings. 

 

 

 

My Philosophy For Life

There is no singular philosophy. 

Anyone who tells you that you HAVE to stick to one thing-and that will be your thing is wrong.

Don’t get me wrong – I think focus is amazing, and if you have something that you’re SOO passionate about you could do it forever then KUDOS! That’s amazing-most people won’t find something their so in love with that they’ll want to do it forever-and that’s okay too.

 

It’s okay to switch your direction.

It’s okay to pivot.

It’s okay to change your mind.

It’s not always easy – it can be entirely viscerally painful, but it’s often worth it. 

 

I’m coming to you with this perspective as someone who first studied Biology for two years, leading into Geophysics for another year and a half – to take a break from school to focus on raising money for the UNHCR for the international refugee crisis – leading into dropping out of school this semester, buying plane tickets to Cambodia with a plan to learn the philosophy and lifestyle of the ancient practice of yoga.

What the hell — right? 

 

I fought against the current that my life is for so long, thinking that my impulsivity was wrong and that being who I am and acting how I wanted would only steer me in a bad direction-but it’s not wrong because it’s so intensely me. I am impulsive, and I am constantly searching out new things in the search for who I am. I’m intensely interested in learning about science, the world, arts, history, humans… I could go on forever and I think that this interest fuels my desire to constantly explore and PIVOT – even if it burns me out to some extent.

 

So-I leave on Monday, for a month. I’m venturing to Siem Reap in Cambodia. I will be learning all aspects of traditional holistic authentic yoga including Yoga Therapy, Raja Yoga (Patanjali’s Astanga and Hatha), Karma Yoga, Bhakthi Yoga and Jnana Yoga. It’s taught according to ancient scriptures with modern medical/scientific explanations.

 

It’s exciting, it’s beautiful and honestly it’s completely terrifying.
Sometimes in life you have to blindly jump in, this might sound completely crazy to some but listening to that gut intuition will lead you on the right path.

 

I was studying, yesterday-and all day long throughout my classes and studies all I could think was ‘I dislike this’, ‘this isn’t for me’, ‘why am i doing this’-and it suddenly clicked. Anything that wires my brain in such a negative way is wrong for me. Your life, and the events in your life that you partake in should be uplifting. Your main focus should be beautifying and bring you peace. Do not rob yourself of happiness in this moment because of happiness promised later down the road. Because the road turns and twists, there is road work and many stop lights and it may take you your entire life to reach the destination. That is the thing. The road is the destination. Make sure the road – or path – you’re on is a beautiful one. It should lift you up- do not deprive yourself of happiness in this moment.

 

More to come soon – with love,
Laura

Is the ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ the reason you aren’t happy?

 


Happiness.


It seems so simple yet so many of us struggle to find it-and it IS the struggle in itself that is handicapping us from finding it. Happiness isn’t something that you must seek, but simply something that you have and you must learn to open yourself up to. It is simplicity, it is doing things with your heart, it is freedom.

The pursuit of happiness implies that we are pursuing one thing, to finish our pursuit once we’ve attained it. Happiness is not a pursuit at all. It’s a journey you ever travelling on, an adventure really.

I’m fascinated by happiness. The biological aspect-that ranges from our micro biomes to genetics to our experiences lingering in our brain. The social aspect-that humans are designed as such a superior species due to our ability to communicate. The environmental aspect… I could go on about different components forever.

So, in simple terms – what is happiness and how do we find it?

I recently began studying positive psychology. It started with one book and escalated into more-and an insane interest in what makes us feel content-really. I read ‘The Power Of Now‘ by Eckhart Tolle-which ignited by search for a deeper sense of self. Then read ‘The Happiness Advantage‘ by Shawn Achor, which led to ‘The Happiness Equation‘ by Neil Pastiche. I then read ‘The life changing magic of tidying up‘ by Marie Kondo, and next purchased a Happiness PlannerAfter that was ‘Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health‘ by Leslie Korn. The list goes on, but I’ll leave it there as I believe these are the most powerful books I read that touched on the subject of what we can do for greater happiness and improved mental health.

Before I REALLY dive into this subject I should be transparent with you and tell you why I am intact so interested. I’m aware we’ve all had highs and lows, and I’m not alone in this. I’ve had extreme lows, I’ve had days when picking myself up off of the floor was impossible. Days when mental health hotlines were called and hospital visits were made. Thus, my lust for happiness was born because I’ve been in places in which I thought I would never hold it again.

some things I’ve learned…

  1. We are not our thoughts. We tend to associate our thought with who we are-and in doing so we forget something key to our happiness. We can change our thoughts, every day is a new day to create a new ecosystem in your mind. Positive thought breeds more positive thought, negative thought does the same.
  2. We don’t need to do or accomplish anything to have happiness. We all already have it inside of us.
  3. Never retire – a life without purpose is not much of a life at all. Instead choose a career you are passionate about and don’t be afraid to change careers if that passion runs out.
  4. Only keep things that spark joy in your life.
  5. Plan to be happy first, and everything else will happen as it should.
  6. Sugar will NEVER love you like you love it. Whole, healthy, natural foods will ALWAYS love you. Choose to be in a healthy reciprocated relationship with your food.
  7. People that are happy have a psychological advantage over those who are not happy. 

You do not need loads of money, or time to be happy-because it starts within. 


Looking for a boost? Try something on this list right now and feel your mood lift.

  • do something nice for someone else, expecting nothing in return
  • meditate for 5 minutes – guided meditations on youtube are great for beginners
  • stretch for 5 minutes
  • write down 3 things that you’re incredibly grateful for in your life
  • tell someone you love how happy you are to have them in your life
  • declutter your immediate surroundings

Why being able to let go is essential for growth


sometimes you will fail


sometimes you’ve given it all that you can and it doesn’t work out. that’s okay. that means that you were lucky enough to figure out what doesn’t work for you-and that’s awesome. we can’t be good at everything, and we can’t enjoy everything. for something or someone to be lucky enough to have a spot in your life-they/it should be not only something that feels right and works for you, but something that fills your life with joy and purpose.


the beauty in failure


society has this misconception that failure is bad, when in reality it just brings you one step closer to where you’re meant to be. there is this misconception that life is supposed to be a straight path where everything that happens will lead you directly to your next step but this is not life. life is like a meandering stream, ebbing and flowing as it figures out where it makes sense to travel to next.

 

 


learning from failure

when you fail it’s important to reflect on what went wrong. sometimes what went wrong for example could be that you chose a university degree that you aren’t really interested in. sometimes you choose to be with a partner that doesn’t fit your life goals. sometimes the failure is your lack of focus/stamina which means that you should have spent time building yourself up before attempting what it is you attempted. failure is not without cause, and cause does not equal fault but simply a step that was missing or a perspective you forgot about.


trusting yourself again

letting go of our failures is all about trust. trusting you’ve learned enough to not make the same mistakes. trusting that life will steer you in the correct direction this time. surrendering control of your life. this is where the art of letting go comes in, knowing when it’s time to paddle against the tide of life but also knowing when to surrender to the riptide. to really rediscover that trust try reflecting on your failure. the decisions that led you there, what happened, how you could have avoided it-and your emotions all along the way. along with this we recommend trying meditation and yoga to increase mindfulness. there are to many benefits of meditation and yoga to put in this article. lately i’ve been doing meditation to start my morning and yoga in the morning and at night and my mental state hasn’t been this good in a very long time. I would highly recommend trying an app like headspace for a first time meditator, and for yoga hit up a local studio to get a feeling for what yoga is and eventually if you want you can bring your practice home.

 

Minimizing Minimalism

say that 10 times fast. 

So, minimalism is all the rage lately. Every wellness blogger has touched on the subject about how less is more and how we thrive when we have less. But-with everyone talking about it theres an unbelievable amount of articles we have to sort through to get to the root of what it is, why it works and how to apply it to your life! Cue me doing all of the research so you don’t have to and enabling you to live a minimalistic life now.


what is minimalism 

Minimalism is exactly how it sounds. It’s the art of clearing the excess out of your life so that you can focus on what’s really important by freeing ourselves from distraction and things that don’t help us work towards our goals and values.


why it works 

Minimalism works in so many ways. It helps you save money as what you want is less important than what you need and all you really require on a normal basis are essentials. It goes beyond creating physical space and creates mental/emotional space as you have to spend less time dealing with your things and more times with just you. It creates a greater feeling of belonging as people, experiences, and places become more important than things. It helps you define yourself beyond what you own. It gives you freedom and time… the list goes on. But this list really means nothing until you get to experience it yourself… and so…


how to apply it 

to your…

  • personal diet: eat only what tastes good and feels good. your body is your one permanent home in this life-honour it. just like you wouldn’t treat a home you buy badly by cleaning the floors with something that would damage them, breaking appliances/windows and destroying the plumbing – your body should be treated with the same respect. now-different people have different diets that produce better results based on your body’s biology. this can be determined through a variety of genetic and micro biome tests that companies like Habit and DNAfit conduct. minimalists take on a simple approach with food rules that work for them. IE yogurt with fresh fruit in the morning or avocado and eggs, salad for lunch with a legume and protein with vegetables at dinner time. if this is too limiting for you and you’re a foodie minimize your diet by realizing what you can and can’t eat. an example of this would be saying you cannot eat any refined sugar, processed food, dairy or meat. now that these rules are set you must realize adopting an 100% of the time mind set is much easier than a 99% of the time mindset as their isn’t room for them in your life whatsoever. the biggest thing I would push is that your body is a temple and there’s no room within the temple for anything that you don’t enjoy eating, or that will hurt you. you can accomplish this by only buying things in your house that fit these rules. make this really simple for yourself and clean out your pantry – donate food that doesn’t fit your new standards thats non perishable to food banks and start fresh!
  • personal exercise: “i don’t have time to exercise”. this is the BIGGEST misconception in the world. exercise does not have to consume a large portion of your day. if you want to be a body builder, compete in cross fit competitions, dedicate your life to mastering a martial art/yoga or run ultra marathons then YES, you will probably spend a large portion of your life exercising. but if not-that’s okay too! exercise is not supposed to be a punishment or something that takes away from your life-but instead something that is a self love practice. the body’s natural state is to spend the majority of our days active and a very small portion sedentary which has been lost in modern practices of living. we ask that you can dedicate at least 15 minutes of your day to exercise-and we all have 15 minutes because we’re all able to wake up 15 minutes earlier. find what style works best for you and feels best. that might be yoga, high intensity interval training, swimming, running, lifting weights – whatever! just find it and start. start today. start right now and make it your goal to do it every single day for a month. you’ll find moving your body just feels good and the time you spend doing it will probably increase. but-in times where you are very time strapped don’t underestimate the power of a 15 minute workout being greater than no workout.

  • sleep: we are literally surrounded by things that take away from our sleep. blue light from our various devices takes away from our sleep, clutter in our rooms disrupts us, caffeine past a certain point in the day keeps us up, certain foods don’t allow for a good sleep, alcohol disrupts our sleep… the list goes on. this is something we actually learned from most of our parents when we were young-but try creating a bed time routine and setting a bed time. for example-if you decide you’d like to start every day at 6 AM – as starting your day early is a wonderful way to fit some extra self care in – and you realize that you personally function best on 7 hours asleep…your bed time is now 11pm. next you must realize how long it typically takes you to fall asleep, some people take 10 minutes and some people take up to one hour. account for this in your bed time. so say your bedtime is now 10pm. as for how much sleep feels best for you or how sleep works i’d recommend an apple like pillow or sleep cycle that wakes you up before or at the time you need to be awake by based on when you’re in a place in your sleep cycle where it is easier to wake up. as for your bed time routine practice some self care that will ensure you wake up fresh. examples of what some successful people do before bed include writing down 3 things they were grateful for in their day, self reflection, planning for the next day, hydrating with lots of water/herbal tea, avoiding caffeine after the morning…etc. your night time self care routine is totally up to you and what feels good for you. the key to this is that consistency is the most important component.
  • wardrobe: you don’t have any space for anything that you don’t like, doesn’t fit and isn’t going to last. simply because what you might wear once every two months, is something that someone else might love and cherish every day. donate. make someone else’s life better, and improve your own as well. step one, only keep colours you love and neutrals-neutrals go with everything and colours you love are a good way to stand out and claim your personal style. step two, stick to basics-timeless is always better than trendy. step three, only keep things that fit you well and are comfortable. step four, only keep things that make you feel good. if your items fit this criteria they are wardrobe gold! beyond that it’s important to buy quality in the future. quality not being designer brands but being local, sustainable, ethically sourced clothing that have a lesser impact on the environment and don’t bear the brunt of human labour.
  • home: if you don’t need it-donate it, give it as a gift, sell it, recycle it – it must go. need and want are two things that seem more mixed up that ever lately. need means-can you consume it, use it-does it serve a purpose? do you notice it and appreciate it every day? no? okay… time to go. do this one room at a time. you don’t need 5 frying pans, you don’t need books that you’ve read that you will never read again, you don’t need things that just sit around because you don’t know what to do with them… everything must go. trust me – once you finish – you will thank yourself. not only will your head feel clear, but the energy in your house will be higher as you eliminate everything that simply made it harder to stay on top of mess/cleaning. check out this post on zen habits for a more in depth look on how to minimize your space.

    SUMMARY 

  • eat food you enjoy that your body will thank you for.
  • create food rules and a meal template for what breakfast/lunch/dinner should look like.
  • clean out your pantry-remove everything that doesn’t fit your food rules
  • exercise for at least 15 minutes a day-do exercise that you enjoy and feels good for you
  • choose a bed time and a wake up time.
  • create a bed time routine.
  • eliminate coffee and sugary foods leading up to your bed time.
  • only keep clothes that are neutral colours with a few colours you love. keep classic items that are good quality, fit well, make you feel awesome about yourself. in the future only buy ethically sourced clothing.
  • your house should only contain things that serve a purpose. remove anything that is just collecting dust. keep it simple.