Tuesday, September 16th11.9°C
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Feel Good

Looking good feels good

Need to get a haircut and get a real job, like the old George Thorogood song demands? Can’t remember the last time you purchased yourself a trendy new top or stylish shoes? Have you forgotten to floss for an entire week because your kids’ social life is keeping you scrambling? If you’ve been avoiding looking at yourself in the mirror lately, TLC may be in order, and not the trashy ‘learning’ channel kind.

The unfortunate truth is how we present ourselves to the outside world affects our self-esteem and self-confidence. Everyone projects an image, and first impressions count, from a first date to the first day of school, to a job interview. We’re all guilty of making snap judgments based on appearances. If you’ve been neglecting personal hygiene (like showering or brushing your hair) or can’t remember the last time you splurged on a fresh new hairstyle, consider the merits of putting your best self forward. Perhaps now, before hopping out the door with the stroller in one hand, errand list in the other, trying to force your scuffed flats on before tripping and breaking an arm.

Investing time in personal attention for one evening a month can do wonders for your outer shell (and peace of mind) and does not need to cost an arm and a leg. A bright new hair color, shiny manicure, whitening teeth strips, and detoxifying facial for healthy, glowing skin are great image boosters. Take out the tweezers and razor for some major pruning. Also prune closets of decade old styles no longer suitable now, like the concert t-shirt from 22 years ago that makes you resemble a thirty-eight year-old wannabe teenager.

Take a fresh look at accessories and create cool new outfits with what’s already in your closet. Pinterest is a fantastic tool for inspiring casual/work outfits to update your style. Watch tutorials on YouTube for funky ways to wear neglected scarves in your closet or apply eye shadow that makes your beautiful eyes POP and spotlights the shine of your soul. In Europe, a monthly massage or manicure is not deemed a luxury, but regular maintenance! Ah, progressive Europe! Think about art, travel and music that inspires you and why. Then think about how you can implement matching prints, shapes and colours into your wardrobe.

Get back in the habit of flossing, rubbing all natural (and fantastic smelling) coconut oil into your cuticles, and giving yourself a good once-over from time to time, maybe with the lint roller. Men included – I think many women will agree the Duck Dynasty face-fur is so yesterday. Okay, I may be hoping my significant other will read this and get a clue, in case he hasn’t heard my loud verbal ‘suggestions’. Now, is the reflection in the mirror someone you would want to get to know better? Good! Just add a smile and you’ve made the world a more beautiful place.



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Happiness is an inside job

There are plenty of books and talk about happiness and how to have more in our lives. Speaking from experience, the less I seek happiness outside myself, the more happiness I encounter. And since happiness is subjective, what makes me feel happy may not remotely resemble your experience of happiness. So it’s important to examine your past and where you felt the most joy.

Remember happy moments and create more in the present and future. While we can all find reasons not to be happy – a huge tax bill, chronic body pain, our loved one decided to leave, the kids are out of control – these are stories our mind creates to justify wallowing in sadness or complaining. While healthy and normal to go through stages of grief, it is not healthy to make a lifelong habit of holding on to your sadness, anger, or worries. Why? Since it doesn’t change anything, you’re not going to get better results.

Why do people succeed and accomplish much in spite of illness, death of loved ones, or the endless sufferings that inevitably happen to everyone? Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who suffered chronic pain and was essentially bedridden after a terrible traffic accident as a teenager is the perfect example. Instead of succumbing to despair, she created great works of art as an outlet for her agony. If complaining and self-pity are a habit, flip the coin. Talking about the good in your life, feeling grateful for your blessings (and they are endless), and doing what you love in spite of challenges you may face are healing balms to your soul’s suffering. And while we are not capable of changing the past, what matters is how we handle the present.

 

Use the following suggestions to begin your own pathway to happiness:

1.  Be grateful. Either the minute you wake up or as you drift to sleep at night. Count your blessings, even if all you can think of is that a challenging day has ended and you didn’t murder anyone. Congratulations!

2.  Lose yourself in a hobby, whether it’s making handcrafted cards for your friends, fishing, or creating the best mac & cheese anyone has ever tasted. Let your actions shut down negative mind noise for good.

3.  Do a good deed, big or small. The wonderful feeling of making a difference in someone else’s day is a huge payoff and takes the spotlight off minuscule worries.

4.  Write yourself a happy ending. Visualize what you do want. Taking the focus off what you don’t want is the first step to manifestation on the outside.

5.  Indulge in play that satisfies your inner child. This one is easy if you have kids – join their make-believe games. Otherwise, get out some crayons or dust off your bike and explore the great outdoors like you’ve never been out there before.

6.  Start planning now for a great adventure. Often, doing the small steps it takes to reach a major goal is the most satisfying part of the journey.

7.  Move your body. Dance, run, try a new yoga class, rent a stand-up paddleboard with a friend and forget about bills, illness, and (ugh) cleaning the toilet.

8.  Maintain perspective. Swap your so-called problems with someone else’s in the world. Chances are you would take all of yours back in a heartbeat. Simply watch a news program for a few minutes and you’ll begin to appreciate your incredible good fortune.

9.  Meditate like a monk. Take a class or listen to a meditational CD. Clearing your head regularly of self-defeating thoughts clears the path for inspiration and inner peace.

10.  Seek help – from a professional, trusted friend or family member. Practice asking for help. Too many of us don’t know how to ask and it’s time to change. When we share our vulnerabilities, we connect in a deep way and release the burden to do it all on our own steam.

 

Life is too short to fret about all that is not going well in our lives. Take control of directing the movie of YOU, before the closing credits roll. May deep happiness and a big, silly grin on your face follow.



Let the rhythm move you

Once upon a time, I woke to my alarm playing a sad song on the radio, kindly reminding me of a certain ex-Rex. The sadness that came over me (at the time) was a precursor of the rest of the day – last minute cancellations, unseasonably cold weather, spilled coffee, and more bad memories of ex-Rex (how nice!). Our sense of sound is a powerful invocation of memory, so why not use it to our advantage?

I save my preferred motivational or uplifting songs for easy access on my iPod so I can begin each day on the right note. When I listen to a song that makes me smile, sing in the shower, or dance in the kitchen, the rest of my day goes a little more serendipitously. An easy flow accompanies a lively stream of music and generates the feel good vibes we love.

Music is very personal, so choose wisely. Lyrics and beats that speak to your inner drummer raise your energy level for any task. My musical choices range from Jazz/Blues for relaxation and cooking; Classical for an inspiring accompaniment to creative pursuits, Rap/Pop for running, and Spa/New Age sounds for meditation. Yes, sometimes the meditation turns into a fabulous nap, and that feels good too!

 

Suggested ‘Feel Good’ tunes:

  • I Got A Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas
  • Beautiful Day by U2
  • Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Tub Thumping by Chumbawumba
  • We Are The Champions by Queen
  • Break My Stride by Matthew Wilder
  • Life’s What You Make It by Talk Talk
  • Hey Beautiful Day by Bedouin Soundclash
  • Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
  • Lust For Life by Iggy Pop
  • Don’t Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
  • Celebration by Kool and The Gang
  • All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow
  • Lovely Day by Bill Withers
  • Footloose by Kenny Loggins
  • Song 2 by Blur
  • Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz
  • Get Up Stand Up by Bob Marley
  • What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

 

Turn off that sad, angst laden song and plug into pure energy. Discover songs that sing to your soul on YouTube, iTunes, or in any music store. You’ll be sidewalk dancing your way to good vibrations (and maybe some new friends?) in no time. On that note, watch the video below and let the carefree rhythm move you:

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Valuables

Growing up, I never gave much thought to my value system or the value systems of friends I spent time with. Looking back, I think if I had, it may have saved me a lot of grief. However, hindsight is nearly perfect and I’ve learned the importance of connecting with like-minded souls. Think about it – how much better does your life flow when you are laughing, working, and playing with someone who shares your goals and interests? How do you feel after spending time with someone who disagrees with everything you believe in or belittles all of your accomplishments? Not so good; maybe even depressed or angry enough to throw things. Connecting with people who support, nurture, and appreciate your unique gifts and who inspire you to feel the same towards them feels entirely different, yes?

You can’t choose your family growing up, but you are free to choose your friends, potential mate(s), and if you’re fortunate, co-workers. I witness many people miserable and complaining because they are ‘stuck’ with a spouse who does not share in their value system. We see this all around us – individuals who choose a mate who smokes when they do not, who is a couch potato to their marathon lifestyle, who is carnivorous to their veganism. I’m not promoting a less tolerant approach to the world, but taking part in the things you love to do with others who share the same passion certainly brings more happiness, peace of mind, and positive reinforcement to your own achievements.

My fascination with murder mysteries and the psychology of what drives people to make poor choices puts a spotlight on values. Quite often it boils down to surrounding yourself with people that maintain clear value systems – perhaps values like a reverence for life or a clear understanding that stealing from others is not cool! Nothing fascinates me more than watching someone make horrific mistakes, and how they were caught, or proven guilty. Not because I enjoy watching the misfortune of others, but because it becomes clear how many of these people may have avoided a lifetime prison sentence by surrounding themselves with people who had better judgment and values. Yes, everyone has personal responsibility, but sometimes those who are lost simply need a little guidance in the right direction in order to avoid catastrophic life decisions. Over and over again, I’ve watched people being convinced, manipulated, or talked into doing things they never could have imagined by befriending the wrong person or groups.

It becomes clear when you view the actions of those around you and review your past mistakes.  You may see where you adopted similar habits and beliefs that are not true to you. Surrounding yourself with people who inspire, support, or encourage you along your life path may make the difference between failure and success in many areas of your life. Olympic medalists and successful entrepreneurs often did not reach their goals without the love, support, and hard work of those around them. Become aware of your own values and what is most important to you, from optimal health to ethical business success. Choose your friends, co-workers, and life mates wisely. It may help avoid a long term jail sentence!



Read more Feel Good articles

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About the Author

Tara is a published poet and children's e-book author. Article publishing credits include Snowshoemag.com, Riversportsmag.com, VidaYum online children’s magazine, and Homes & Land Okanagan. She currently spends most of her time discovering new BC restaurants and wineries, hiking with her dog, and writing. Her column is about positive living and coping skills for a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Follow her on Twitter @TaraPanrucker.




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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