6 ways to nourish your skin in winter

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Are you struggling to ensure that your skin is well moisturised in this dry weather?

Do you moisturise your skin regularly and yet still struggle to keep it moist and supple?

This is a real struggle for most of us as the weather changes and the days and nights becomes dry and cold. In my health coaching practice, many of my coaching clients suffer from chronic skin conditions and have a tough time keeping their skin moisturised at all times of the year. The winter season can be especially hard for those who have very sensitive and dry skin.

If you have dry skin issues you are definitely not alone. In this post, I have written about SIX ways that you can nourish yourself through food and keep your skin well hydrated and moisturised in the dry season. At the end of the day, the appearance of your skin is simply a manifestation of what is going on inside your body. Mineral imbalances, toxin overload, oxidative stress and underlying chronic inflammation all contribute to various skin disorders. 

There may also be other potential causes for dry skin like low estrogen, nutritional deficiencies, bathing too much. However, most people benefit quite a bit by focusing on foods which address nutrient deficiencies and keeping our bodies well hydrated. 

(I have shared the recipe for the natural and moisturising body butter that I make for my family and friends every winter as a FREE download at the end of this post)

6 ways to nourish your skin this winter

  1. Hydration is key and is always the FIRST step that I recommend. Many of us can become chronically dehydrated as we usually end up drinking less water as we sweat less and feel less thirsty during this season. Ensuring adequate amounts of water intake is critical in maintaining good skin health as it serves many purposes including cleansing toxins from our body.
  2. Decrease your intake of tannins. Black tea (and to a lesser extent in green tea and coffee) is loaded with tannins which are polyphenols or phytonutrients that plants produce to protect itself from predators like insects and germs. Tannins are dehydrating and are what gives tea and red wine their distinct bitter flavour. Make sure to reduce intake of all forms of tea (black, green, white) as this has nothing to do with whether it is caffeinated or not. 
  3. The third thing that I recommend is to increase the intake of omega 3 fatty acids. This is another key driver of dry and flaky skin. Most of us are deficient in this essential fatty acid since it is very low in our modern diets. The best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are fatty, oily fish like salmon, cod, sardines, seaweed and algae, chia/flax/hemp seeds, walnuts, soy bean. I also usually recommend a high quality omega 3 supplement  for most of my clients since it is often difficult to get adequate quantities of omega 3 fatty acids from these food sources.
  4. Focus on foods rich in Vitamin A, Zinc and Vitamin E as they are all important for skin health. Zinc is critical for the formation of collagen, a protein molecule that forms connective tissue and skin. Foods rich in Zinc are meat, shellfish, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), seeds (pumpkin, hemp), nuts, eggs, dairy, whole grains (wheat, rice, oats). Vitamin E helps to combat oxidative stress and keeps the skin youthful. Foods rich in this fat soluble nutrient are sunflower seeds, almonds, avocados, other nuts (like hazelnut, pinenut), spinach and other greens. Vitamin A is a fat soluble nutrient that plays an essential role in body growth, immune health, vision, reproductive and skin health. Good sources of vitamin A are animal liver, cod liver oil, egg, sweet potato, carrot, spinach, broccoli, mango, watermelon and papaya.
  5. Low vitamin D level is yet another major contributor to dry skin. Ideally, you should be getting adequate vitamin D naturally from sun exposure but this becomes doubly hard in this season. Supplements can help in boosting the levels once you know what your current levels are. Also, food sources which are high in vitamin D  are pretty much similar to the food sources for Vitamin E. 
  6. Bone broth or collagen supplement is another thing that I recommend for my clients who consume animal products. Collagen is the protein most abundant in our body and is the building block for connective tissues which you find in joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, skin and hair. We start making less and less collagen as we age and it lessens the skin elasticity and hydration leading to dry skin and the formation of wrinkles. Bone broth is a simple way of harnessing the benefits of collagen through food sources like bone broth, organ meats and egg yolks. For those of you who are unable to make this at home, you can add collagen to your daily smoothie or juice in the form of a supplement. My favourite supplement is this one. For those of you looking for a plant based option, check out this one

FREE DOWNLOAD : "Home made body butter recipe using only 3 ingredients"

These 5 books will help you realign with yourself

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Reading is a practice that contributes immensely to our mental, emotional wellbeing both of which are intricately connected to our physical health. However, there are too many of us who are not taking advantage of this amazing source of information and collective wisdom. In this post, I have encapsulated a collection of books that have personally contributed tremendously to my own personal growth and wellbeing especially in terms of bringing clarity to what gives my life meaning and what is important to me.

Those who know me well know that I am a voracious reader. I truly believe that reading is an extremely effective way of gaining insight into other people's experiences and wisdom. We can be inspired and motivated by others who have led a rich and meaningful life on their own terms. This post, in particular, is about books which will help you to realign with yourself and your purpose. With that, given below are five books that you can pick up today that will change your life in one way or the other.

(This is the first in a series of posts that I will be writing every month or so on books and resources that you will likely benefit from)

The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith

This book is a powerful guide to finding meaning in our lives. It gives a different perspective on what we know about happiness. Social scientists are now proving what philosophers have known all along; that the pursuit of happiness actually makes people unhappy. Emily Esfahani Smith identifies four pillars upon which meaning rests: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling and Transcendence.

In this book, the author gives an insight into what determines a life lived purposefully. She stresses on the fact each of us has different strengths, abilities, insights and talents and we will need to be aware of these and have knowledge about ourselves to live a life filled with purpose. She goes on to show that those of us who have a purpose in life, contribute towards the goal that we set for ourselves, ultimately lead lives which are more satisfying and meaningful. A must read for anyone who is looking to find ways to incorporate purpose, belonging as well as happiness in their lives. The Power of Meaning  by Emily Esfahani Smith (October 2017)

 

 

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This book is one of the books that I tend to read again and again. This is the book which first brought awareness to the fact that rather than focussing on how we can do more and more, we need to focus on doing the right things. So rather than trying to fit everything in our to-do list and our life and suffering from overwhelm, overscheduling and stress we can learn how to say "no" to things that are not important and start focussing on the right things.

In this book, the author writes about the staggering choices that we are forced to confront on a daily basis which keep us stuck as we battle decision fatigue. The information overload in the digital age and the myth that "you can have it all"  is contributing to the stress in our modern life. As an alternative, the author shows us ways to apply more selective criteria to understand what is truly Essential and saying "no" to what is not.

Personally, this book has helped me to revaluate the decisions that I make on a daily basis and helped me to focus on what is really important in my life. This book will help you to discover your priorities and provide you with a template to "do less, but better." Essentialism by Greg McKeown (April 2014)

 

 

The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

This book was initially written as a blog post by a palliative nurse taking care of terminally ill patients. After working with such patients her life was transformed. She wrote about it in a blog post which encapsulated the most common regrets of those whom she had cared for at the very end of their lives. This struck a chord with people all over the world and it was read by over three million people.

This encouraged her to write her own personal story as well as the top five regrets of those at the end of their lives. At the end of the day, this book is not so much about dying but about how to actually live a life with peace, clarity and purpose. Read this book to gain an insight into finding out what truly matters to you, what you want from life and how to garner the courage to walk your own path.

This book has brought immense clarity to my own life and has taught me just how precious my life truly is. While the writing style may be a bit difficult for some of you, do continue with this book and read it to gain an insight into how you can live a life that is well lived and worthwhile. The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware (May 2017)

 

 

Mindset by Carol Dweck

This book is written by a professor of psychology at Stanford University and is the book on "growth mindset". The author and her colleagues did a groundbreaking experiment with a group of students which showed that contrary to popular belief, their mindset played a key role in their achievements and motivation levels. They also found that by changing their mindset they were actually able to improve the outcomes.

This research showed the way in terms of how success in school, work, arts, sports and many other areas in life can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our skills and abilities. This book can help us to change the way we think about failure, foster resiliency and transform our life.

This book has helped me to change the way I think about effort, failure and my own abilities. I have been able to apply these principles in different areas of my life including parenting, work, business and relationships and have seen firsthand it's transformative power.

Read this book to learn more about "fixed" vs "growth" mindset and how you can work on your own mindset and build the right mindset in children in particular.  Mindset by Carol Dweck (January 2017)

 

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Fransesc Miralles

Ikigai is a word that is used to describe our reason for "being." I came across the word"Ikigai" a couple of years back and it has stayed with me ever since. It is a Japanese word/concept which means "a reason for being" and has a profound effect on longevity and the quality of life.

Our Ikigai may be different for each of us, but we are all searching for something that gives meaning to our life. Knowing that what we are doing with our life is at the intersection of our values, our passion and contribution to society give us the strength and the conviction to carry on even during difficult and uncertain times.

I am truly blessed to be one those fortunate few who is in the centre of this convergence in my own life and I urge you to make an effort to work towards your own beautiful whole. Read this book to find begin your search for and discover your own "Ikigai". Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Fransesc Millares (September 2017)

 

These are the 5 books that I would like to leave you with at this time. I will be sharing such books and resources on various topics which will contribute either directly or indirectly to your health and wellbeing. Books are a major part of my life and help me to learn and grow in more ways than I can count. I hope that you will take advantage of what I have shared and give yourself the "gift" of reading.

As someone had said wisely..

A book is a gift you can open again and again

Are you “doing it all” in order to “have it all” (there is a hidden price that you pay)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

(This is the second in a series of 8 posts that I am writing on the intertwined topics of self worth and self compassion. If you have not read the first post, you can read it HERE. And once again as you go through this series, you can use journaling as a tool to get to reap the full benefit)

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.
―Maya Angelou, author, speaker, poet

Many of us have an aversion towards asking for help. Usually, we end up doing this only we when are in desperate need for it. For most men and women, this is usually when we have reached the end of our rope, feeling burned out and overwhelmed. How much less painful it would be if we had started paying attention to our needs before we reached this stage? Also, in many ways, women are worse off in this respect than men.

In fact, according to a recent UN report, modern women carry out at least two and a half times unpaid and household and care work than men. However, this is rarely recognised as "work". Things have definitely changed with well-intentioned men taking on more work at home, but it is clearly not enough. And this is not just because of sexism on the part of men, it also due to conditioning of both men and women while growing up. Inevitably, for most women, an impeccable home and well groomed children often become linked to their sense of self-worth. 

I confess that I am struggling with this at this very moment as I am trying to set up my coaching practice. I see myself struggling to reach my goals at work and at the same time manage the homefront according to the standards that I have set for myself a long time ago. However, whenever my well-intentioned husband tries to do his fair share of work or help me out, my ingrained conditioning gets in the way. My idea of getting things done properly is and always will be very different from his and this makes things really frustrating for both of us. Simply accepting our differences with regards to our approach towards housework has been really hard for me. I have chosen to work on this not just because of my own sanity but also because I want my children (a daughter and a son) to have a different kind of conditioning towards this type of "invisible" work irrespective of gender.

In most urban family settings across the world, women are the primary caregivers in their families as they take care of their children, family members and home. This is on top of the work that they may also be doing outside the house as a bread earner. This kind of pressure leaves little time for most women to tend to their own needs and practice self care. Thus today, even though many more women enjoy financial freedom, they often grapple with a feeling of frustration, a sense of hopelessness and end up living in chronic survival mode.

However, the focus of this post is not on the economic price that the society at large pays for this kind of hidden inequality but rather the price that most women end up paying in terms of their health and peace of mind. Since most of my coaching clients are women, I see this playing out all the time with them and this is true even for my friends and family members who are women. Many women are perpetually overwhelmed, with a sense of a never ending to-do list of responsibilities of things to do both at work and at home.

We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same

-Trent Shelton

Women are often under the impression that they need to "do it all" in order to "have it all". There are many ways that modern society has benefited women, however, it masks a dirty secret. As mentioned earlier, while a division of labour did take place in the workplace as many more women have joined the workforce, housework, cooking and/or planning meals and looking after children are still very much under a woman's purview. And in today's world, this is in addition to the workload that women have simply by being a part of the workforce.

This poses an enormous amount of pressure in terms of the expectations that many women inadvertently have of themselves in terms of how childcare and housecare should look like at all times. Can you relate in some way to this kind of thinking? 

Do you find yourself measuring your self worth in terms of

how your house should look at all times?

what your idea is of a "perfect" YOU and a "perfect" family?

how your child behaves or looks like especially in public?

what kind of nutritious foods you are able to whip up (or have your cook make for you) in your kitchen?

There are countless other such examples!

I am guilty of having very high expectations of myself when it comes to the last one. While healthy and nourishing foods have been a part of our meals for a number of years now, I was driving myself and my family crazy by trying to ensure that each and every meal in our house meets my high "nutrition" standards. I realised that I was doing more disservice than helping by forcing my younger son to have each and every meal that met my standards in terms of both variety and quality. It ended up making our meal times very stressful for all of us and became self-defeating in nature. Instead, I have taken a slightly different approach of involving him in respecting the food that is served in a more healthy manner and at the same time teaching him to understand how food affects his body. But, I digress...

Take a moment to reflect on the ways that you may be similarly linking your own identity and indeed your own worth at times to very high standards that you may be intentionally or unintentionally setting for yourself. Be gentle with yourself as you do this as you may have grown up believing that this is the only way.

Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself (and preferably write down in a journal) to help bring some clarity.

What kind of price (in terms of your health) are you paying for not reaching out for timely support from your partner/spouse or others?

What measure of "success" is worth your health? In other words, are you setting up your life to support the "success" that you want with intention so that it does not cost you in terms of your health in the long run?

Are you clear about what you really want in terms of your life - personal freedom, happiness, more personal time to pursue creative work/hobbies, emotional and physical health to name a few?

Are you willing to give yourself permission let go of your need to link your sense of worth to your house/family's health/children's achievements etc?

While it would certainly help to have our partners/spouses take more responsibility and initiative in terms of helping us, we need to start reaching out to them and find other forms of support in a constructive manner. There is certainly no one right way of doing this that will work for all women and their families.

Given below are some of the things that you can keep in mind while you do this-

 

Reach out when you feel the need to without guilt or shame- either to your spouse or a family member or a friend

Let go of any shame or guilt and the flawed notion that you need to "keep it together" at ALL times

Tend and befriend- connect with a friend or do something social as a part of a community

Give yourself permission to pause and practice "self care" in whichever way you deem fit

Learn the art of saying "no" and be comfortable in disappointing others as you learn to choose yourself over others when required

(I have written a few posts earlier on the topic of self care you can read them here and here.)

Infact, this last point is the topic for my next post but you will have to wait for it till next week!

I leave you with this beautiful poem on self worth by the young poet Erin Hanson

 "NOT"

You are not your age, nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight, or the colour of your hair

You are not your name, or the dimples in your cheeks.

You are all the books you read, and all the words you speak.

You are your croaky morning voice, and the smiles you try to hide.

You are the sweetness in your laughter, and every tear you've cried

You are the songs you sing so loudly when you know you are all alone.

You are the places that you've been to, and the one you call home.

You are the things that you believe in, and the people whom you love.

You are the photos in your bedroom, and the future you dream of.

You are made of so much beauty, but it seems that you forgot.

When you decided that you were defined by all the things you're not. 

 

5 simple morning habits for a calmer, brighter day

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This is the THIRD in a series of 6 weekly posts that I am writing about self care- if you have not done so already you can check out the first part "Do you know your WHY?" and the second part "Rocks, pebbles and sand...the key to knowing what is important in your life".

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver (from the poem "The summer day")

Take some and reflect upon your answers to the following questions

What do I want from life?

What am I doing that really counts?

What would I do if I knew I would not fail?

What is the unique gift that I can share with the world so that I can contribute and make a difference?

For many of us, somewhere deep inside we have this niggling feeling that what we are doing is not contributing to what really matters to us and what is important in our lives. Taking the time out to reflect on the questions shared in all the three posts should give you some clarity and inspire you to think about what you need to change in order to move towards your goals and focus on what is important to you. As you do this, you will be able to take out the time to listen more, spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy and indulge in your hobbies, relax more and get to know yourself through meditation and self reflection. It would then be much easier to identify those areas of your life that need an overhaul or some tweaking in order to become the best version of yourself.

However, sometimes even when we have the clarity and the inclination to make changes in our lives, the external world can get in the way. Without realising it, we can start and end our day on autopilot merely reacting to circumstances and people, fulfilling their agendas and not ours. For many of us, as soon as the alarm wakes us up, our habitual thoughts take over and our mental playlist of activities, worries and to-do list fill our every waking moment. Each day turns into a month, then months turn into years and pretty soon we have lost decades of our lives simply by remaining on autopilot. We may also feel that because of our circumstances- financial, personal, professional we do not really have any choice but to live like this on autopilot.

This is simply not true

At each moment we have a choice. You chose to read this article today. You choose the clothes you wear, the foods you eat, the activities that you indulge in. You choose to be angry or to forgive people. You choose to be happy or to remain sad. You choose to be grateful for what you have or to focus on the things you lack in your life. You choose all these things and much more. BUT what you need to keep in mind is that this power to choose resides only in this present moment. In time, it is what we do every single day that matters much more than the profound decisions that we may make once in a while.

Once we are clear about what we need to do, we need to rise above excuses and do what is important and needs to be done. And one of the best things that we can do to increase productivity and get things done is to have a well thought out morning routine. Having a consistent morning routine is infact a common and recurring theme amongst many successful people. It helps to counteract the pull of distractions and overcome daily obstacles that can and do pop up. You can and should harness the power of an empowering morning routine as well. And in time, it can literally transform your life.

Whether it is the Olympic winner Michael Phelps, Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni, Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, Ratan Tata, Indira Nooyi or countless other successful people, crafting a sacred space in the morning has made all the difference in their productivity and achieving their dreams. It has enabled them to start their day with intention and set a positive tone for the rest of the day. In other words, an empowering morning can set you up for 'wins' and motivate you to keep going with a calm and productive frame of mind.

Now that the power of morning routines is clear, let us see what it would look like for you. The first thing to note is that it is NOT and SHOULD NOT be the same for everyone. It is not about waking up at a particular time OR doing the same things that everyone else is doing. It is about finding, creating and then sticking to a routine that is right for YOU.

Remember, your mornings are a blank slate and it is up to you to fill it in with what work for you

What is a morning routine?

It is a set of activities that you do upon waking up in the morning. It can and does vary from person to person and includes activities like exercise, meditation, brushing teeth, prayer, journaling, writing and reading.

Take some time today and think about how you usually start your day. Simply start by making a list of all the things that you do upon waking up. The next step would be to identify what is important right now. (This becomes easier if you have already reflected upon this as I have mentioned in my earlier post) Once you know that you are doing the RIGHT thing you can get started crafting out a routine that works for YOU.

In this post, I have shared with you 5 simple habits that you can intentionally develop for a calmer and brighter morning

(It is up to you to incorporate as many of these that you want in your own routine)

Setting intention

Set the tone for the day by finding out what your intention is. The questions below can help you bring some clarity as you think about your activities for the day and set an intention-

How can I show up today that is in line with what I want to achieve today?

What do I want to see more of today? (good news, wonder, acts of kindness, joy)

What is my heart's desire at this moment?

How do I want to feel?

A few examples are "Today I will take care of myself better, show compassion to others and myself, remain calm, be more open to joy".

Journaling, meditation and reflection 

Prayer, meditation and journaling are all beautiful ways that you can use to ground and connect with yourself. There is no one right way to meditate or write in a journal, you simply need to find what works for you.

If writing free form is difficult, you can use the prompts given below (from the book "The Mindful Day by Laurie Cameron")

What I appreciate most in my life right now is....

 I am at my best when I am....

What brings me alive is.....

What I really need right now is....

What gets in the way of me being present is....

My next best action is.... 

Even if you do not have a formal meditation practice, the simple act of paying attention or being more mindful in how you start your day can have a profound effect. The beauty is that you can be more mindful with regards to any activity that you do already. The simple act of paying attention while having a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, showering, exercise will help you to bring awareness to that particular moment and replenish and rejuvenate you.

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Reading

Another way of connecting with yourself and the world in the morning is to read a book (and I don't mean the news). This will be different for each of us as we choose to read something that inspires and motivates us. I find that I prefer to read about other people whom I respect and who inspire me to grow and live a better life. Books like The four things that matter most by Dr Ira Byock, First things first by Stephen Covey, Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, The power of habit by Charles Duhigg, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Mindset By Carol Dweck, The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann are just some of the books I have read over time.

Spending time with family

Spending time with your family is one of the best ways to start your day. It helps to connect with what is truly important for each of us on a daily basis. Whether it is 10 minutes or an hour, it is the quality of the time spent that matters more than how much time you actually get to spend with your family in the morning.

Since there is always a rush in the morning during school days (I have two school going children), I try and wake my children up around 10 minutes earlier and spend some time with them, giving them a hug or a cuddle and sometimes switching on their favourite music to get them started on the right note. My husband and I also make sure that we savour our quiet time together over our cup of tea and newspaper before we start preparing for our day.

Exercise and mindful movement

Research shows us that moving our bodies first thing in the morning whether it is through exercise (cardio, aerobic, strength training etc) or mindful movements like tai chi and yoga have a profound beneficial and positive effect on our health and how we deal with the rest of our day. By doing this first thing in the morning we have the opportunity to harness the benefits of exercise and movement throughout the remainder of our day. Schedule a workout or activity that you like doing already and then stick to it.

However, the key to having a successful and consistent routine is to PLAN for it and REMOVE anything that might get in the way

A few things that ensure that I stick to my routine are

  • preparing the night before by keeping my journal, workout clothes ready; preferably somewhere I can see them immediately as I wake up
  • using an app to make sure that I cannot access my emails and social media first thing in the morning (I will be covering this topic in details in one of my later posts)
  • having a simple structure that I can follow in terms of activities and time for the first couple of hours
  • setting an intention for the day; sometimes I set one for the entire week
  • complete my workout in the morning so that unexpected work or family issues do not come in the way later during the day
  • lastly, creating an environment that is conducive to self reflection and gives a peaceful start to my day; I love playing music and lighting incense to awaken my senses

My own routine is very much a work-in-progress and is not something that you need to emulate as is. The whole point is to find what works for YOU and then stick to it. It should be something that you enjoy doing and feel good about doing on a regular basis.

So take a pen and paper and start creating an empowering morning routine for yourself. Every day that you stick to it treat as a small "win". It is only when we pause to celebrate each step that we take in the right direction that we can stick to it and achieve what we set out to do no matter how long it takes.

Finally, take this magical time to connect with your body, breath and spirit to give yourself the best possible start to your day and to your life

As Marcus Aurelius said, "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love" 

(As you go through these posts I suggest that you keep a journal handy so that you can reflect upon and write down the questions that I ask along the way. You may end up getting to know yourself better and even surprise yourself with your answers. And of course, I would simply love it if you would share with your experience of going on this journey of self-exploration with me)

 

Rocks, pebbles and sand…the key to knowing what is important in your life

Reading Time: 7 minutes

(You may have read my earlier post "Do you know your WHY?" that I had written recently on finding our true purpose in life. I am writing a series of 6 weekly posts on various interrelated topics where the goal is to infuse our life with purpose, clarity and calm. As you go through these posts I suggest that you keep a journal handy so that you can reflect upon and write down answers to the questions that I ask along the way. And of course, I would simply love it if you would share with your experience of going on this journey of self-exploration with me)

In this SECOND post, I am focussing on the fact that we need to always be clear on what is truly IMPORTANT to us not only in terms of work but in life as a whole. Sometimes we forget that our life is an indivisible whole and that just like a spider's web when we pull at one end there is bound to be an impact at the other end. We may not realise that each time we choose to do or NOT do something, we have already made a decision and that this decision has an impact on our lives. We may also not realise that we are making CHOICES all the time- what food to eat, what clothes to wear, whether to let go of anger or a grudge, forgive, become grateful/remain ungrateful and even how we respond to unfavourable circumstances. The problem for most of us is not whether we have a choice or not, the issue is that we may not be clear on what we want.

Why is it that some people...

achieve what they set out to do where many others give up on their hopes and dreams?

seem to have it "ALL" while so many others are just busy "keeping it all together"?

know exactly how to maintain their physical, emotional and spiritual health as well as the health of their family, relationships while others "let go"?

What is it that makes them different?

The difference is that they know what they want from life as much as they know what they do not want. 

This is quite evident in observing those people who have achieved what they set out to do with passion and enthusiasm. This clarity allows them to take decisions on a daily basis from a place that is aligned to their values and goals. These decisions have a snowballing effect that ultimately over time culminates into the life they wanted to create for themselves in the first place. This is not to say that things will not and do not go wrong in their lives, it is just that these people have the ability to bounce back much earlier from their setbacks than do most others.

The thing is, if we are not clear about what we want, how can we make the right choices?

In my own life, as I have become clearer and clearer on what I want and why it has become much easier to make decisions that are leading to a well-balanced and harmonious life. It has become easier to say "NO" to the opportunities/activities and people when I need to that are not aligned with my values AND at the same time focus on what is important to me.

Once again, I come back to a question I had asked you in my earlier post

"What do I want from life?"

(Reflect upon this and revisit it from time to time, it may give you a sense of direction)

As someone wise had said, "The way you do one thing is the way you do everything"

Even if we are clear on what we want from life, due to our modern way of living we are being constantly distracted and sidetracked from what we set out to do. While growing up each of one of us had certain dreams that we aspired to fulfil when we were older. Yes, some of these may have been hopelessly idealistic and impractical. Also true that circumstances in life can AND do get in the way at times. Yet it is also true that many people who inspire us by doing amazing and previously unthinkable and/or unachievable work did so because they did not let impossible stand in their way. They were brave enough to stick their neck out and stand apart from the crowd as they reached for their goals. Can you find ways to do the same?

Take some time out to ponder and reflect upon the questions below-

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Would you do anything differently than what you are doing now?

What is the ONE thing that you would change and the FIRST step you would take towards it?

(Do take the time and write down the answers to these questions- the answers may surprise you and bring you some clarity that you seek)

We are actually not at all different when we are born but somewhere along the way our conditioning (mostly subconscious) takes over and keeps us from doing the best that we can to become the "best version of ourselves" (courtesy Matthey Kelly in his book "The rhythm of life"). Fear takes over and shackles us whether we ever realise it or not. But mostly, we forget that we have the power to CHOOSE.

And as a result, as we grow older we lose the gift of knowing what needs to be done and of making healthy decisions. We start worrying about what to feed our child, which 'diet' to follow, how to parent, which exercise regime to follow and so on and so forth....you get the idea! We start relying on "experts" to tell us what to do. We lose sight of what is important to us and feel disoriented or confused as we move from activity to another living on automatic pilot. It often takes a wake up call like a health or financial crisis to wake us up from our stupor and start making changes. However, if we know what we stand for and what we want it makes much easier to make decisions that are good for us.

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This also translates into the activities that we do on a daily basis as well. Due to the frenetic pace of modern life, many of us are affected by an "urgency addiction". Rather than doing the things that matter to us and which will propel us towards our goals, we end up spending the majority of our time putting out mini fires that feed this addiction. That is not to say that we should not be focussing on those things that need to be tended to on an urgent basis.

The problem is that we fail to realise that many activities which are actually "important" to us gets overlooked and even ignored in this process. As we move from one "crisis" to another, we get so caught up in the "doing" that we never stop to reflect whether it really needs to be done in the first place.

How much more fulfilling life would be if we... 

did not wait for some kind of crisis or a wake-up call?

did not wait for our health to fail, our relationships to die or our children to grow up while we were too busy earning a living to start making changes and focussing on doing what really mattered most?

took out the time to understand what is truly IMPORTANT for us and then worked towards incorporating it in our lives?

silhouette of man holding two childrens on shore during daytime

Take out the time and write down YOUR answers to the questions

What’s important to you or what matters to you most?

Why is it important to you?

Lastly, I want to share with you a beautiful exercise that I came across in the book (I highly recommend this book if you would like to work on knowing what is important in your life and how to schedule your priorities rather than prioritise your schedule with endless to-do lists etc) "First things first" by Stephen Covey. You can buy the book HERE.

The story goes like this....

At a seminar, an instructor was teaching time management to a group of students and asked them to participate in a quiz. He pulled out an extremely large jar and set it on a table. He took out some fist sized rocks and asked " How many of these rocks do you think will fit into this jar?"

Once the students had made their guess, he placed them, one at a time, into the jar until the jar was full.

Then he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone said, “Yes.”

“Really?” he asked. “Let’s see.” He took out some gravel and dumped them in. He shook the jar, causing the pieces to fall into the spaces between the big rocks. He asked the students again, “Is the jar full?”

His class was catching on. “Probably not,” one of them answered.

“Good!” he replied. He then brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped the sand in and it went into all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the class, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

“Excellent!” he replied. Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

He then asked, “What is the point of all this?”

One student said, “You can always fit more things into your life if you really work at it.”

The instructor replied, “That’s true, but that's not the point.”

The point is if you hadn't put the big rocks in first…… would you ever have gotten any of them in?

What do YOU think your BIG ROCKS are? I would love to hear from you!

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing ∼ Stephen Covey

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