Dalai Lama – a source of spiritual inspiration (even if you are not spiritual)

 

Dalia-Lama_3_2013

Even if you are not Buddhist, there is a lot to be learned from the Dalai Lama. His wise observations on life are really thought-provoking – they simplify things whilst not trivialising our own personal struggles. My favourite is the Paradox of our Age:

Is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgement

More experts, but more problems

More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often

We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.

We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.

We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;

Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,

More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;

Of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you,

And a time when you can choose,

Either to make a difference …. or just hit, delete.

 

The Dalai Lama was also asked what he found most confusing about humanity. His answer was incredibly resonant:

“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.

Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Isn’t this so true?

How can we get out of this mentality though? We are conditioned to run the rat race, after all.

Do you have any favourite quotes of the Dalai Lama to share?

smallersignature

 

Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

FacebookTwitterShare

Regrets of the Dying – a Must Read

SONY DSC

When you’re young, you feel like you have forever, even though you know you don’t. An inherent complacency influences every decision we make (even when we are older) until we realise we don’t have forever left.

In a lot of ways, I think that those who are unfortunate enough to experience the possibility of life being cut short are blessed. They gain a sense of urgency, the elimination of the fear that hampers and holds the rest of us back as we complacently drift through life believing we have all the time in the world to fulfil our dreams and fantasies.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing – yet there are some tips that can help us appreciate the time we have more and have the courage to do the things we want to do. A lot of my friends are older than me and they tell me to enjoy myself while I am young, yet as I have spoken about before on the blog when you live on a modest income, it’s a difficult balance between enjoying yourself whilst making provisions for later in life.

Nurse Bronnie Ware began a blog documenting the trend she saw in what people told her their biggest regrets at the end of their lives were.

It’s a poignant time in which we are able to, with clarity and urgency, reflect on what we really want, when ironically it is all too late to change our circumstances.

She compiled a list of the most frequently expressed wishes, and they really do make you think. I believe it’s important to share these, especially with younger people because they almost force us to re-evaluate and realise what is really important. Take a look and as always, please share your thoughts!

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

 

  1. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

 

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

 

  1. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

 

  1. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

The above is Copyrighted Bronnie Ware from her blog, Inspiration and Chai.

smallersignature

FacebookTwitterShare

6 things we can learn from Maya Angelou

Many people had never heard of Maya Angelou until her passing earlier last year. Yet she was a woman who spoke her mind and turned the adversity she faced throughout her life into a catalogue of insightful, inspirational commentaries to encourage and bring positivity to others.

There are simply too many of her quotes that I take inspiration from to list here, but I’ve managed to shortlist just 6 to share with you today.

MAYA ANGELOU

‘If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.’

We are under so much pressure to conform in this life. If we stand out or are different, we are ostracised and singled out, we are ‘wrong’ somehow. But what is ‘normal’? We are all different. Plus, conventions are different no matter where you go – and everyone can ‘fit in’ – you just have to find like-minded people. What is ‘cool’ or ‘fashionable’ in one country or one era differs from one to the next – doesn’t that show that none of us are ‘wrong’? Trying to be someone else wastes everything that’s good about you; and prevents you from reaching your full potential.

‘You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.’

It’s easy to see one more negative thing at the end of a string of unfortunate events as the ‘last straw’. But think back now to something which at the time was equally as challenging – chances are you feel fine about it now, and possibly can even laugh about it. Part of life, and individual aspects of life, is dealing with the downs as well as the ups. Without the downs, there wouldn’t be any ups! And allowing yourself to go through them and deal with them means you can enjoy the ups even more.

‘If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.’

I often say that perspective is everything. This quote is very black and white – most of the time if we are stressed over something, chances are we can’t change it – that’s why we’re stressed. Especially if we have control issues.  

Often the worst things that happen to us are blessings (wearing a very good disguise!) and with a bit of reflection we can find something good in them. As human beings we are fighters, we rarely accept defeat. It’s this dogged determination that keeps us ploughing on. And how do we do that? We adopt a different attitude, see the positives and continue.

‘If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.’

It’s easy to reserve the best side of ourselves for strangers, taking out our anger and frustration on our loved ones because they are there for us unconditionally. These people are there for you no matter what – they won’t judge you for how you treat them, but think about the effect it has on them. They deserve your kindness – and whilst of course it’s important (and sometimes imperative) to spend energy on people we dislike or who don’t deserve it, make sure you reserve at least a little bit for the best people in your life.

‘We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely acknowledge the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.’

Success doesn’t come overnight. Our society with its vacuous celebrity culture perpetuates the mistaken view that quite simply and with little talent or experience each one of us can be destined for great things. But it’s simply not true.

Each one of us has experienced our own struggle – even the ones who appear to have ‘made it’ have bad days and good days. We need to praise people for their achievements but also ask them: ‘What have you gone through to achieve this?’ Recognise that nobody is perfect, and behind every success there have often been hardships, failure and missed opportunities along the way.

In addition the more good you have and in being successful, the more you lose sight of how lucky you are and become greedy for more – that’s why gratitude is so important.

‘I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.’

Everything ‘negative’ that happens takes a little piece of us, sets us back a little bit. But often in time we replace that little piece which allows us to grow and move on. I think this is just a little reminder that we can and should learn and grow from bad experiences, rather than be reduced little by little to eventually be broken down by life.

It’s very much easier said than done – however I genuinely believe that it can be achieved with a shift in perspective.

mayaangelou1

What’s your favourite Maya Angelou quote? (If you can pick just one!)

smallersignature

FacebookTwitterShare

Proof that anxiety is a state of mind

A friend shared this post with me the other day and I had to share it with you on the blog.

This inspiring, refreshingly candid, and fairly blunt, article written by Clare Atkinson was featured on the Guardian this week.

Having Generalised Anxiety Disorder myself, I can relate massively to the ‘previous life’ described by Clare. The irrational worry over the tiniest thing; the terrible panic attacks, feelings of acute inadequacy, the need for control over every aspect of my life.

However all that paled into insignificance with the diagnosis of terminal cancer. All the things she had wanted to do, places she had wanted to see; her best-laid plans, were now out of reach, ruined. She talks of the emotions and physical issues she had experienced having been instantly replaced by fear, anger, depression; all understandable given her recent news. With this came the realisation that she had been wasting her time and emotion on trivial things which had prevented her from doing what she truly wanted to do. And now, the crushing reality that it was too late to go back and do it all again differently.

Controversially, I’ve always said that in some ways those who face death (and come through the other side) are afforded an invaluable shaking up which changes their perspective forever. Whilst we all know what really matters (family, friends, love, food and water and a roof over our heads) as opposed to what doesn’t (material things, money, fame, looks), few of us believe that enough to change how we live our lives. To live them with some urgency; to do the things we genuinely want to do instead of simply doing what we feel is expected of us.

In the blog and in my book I talk a lot about this and how it is difficult to do. How unfortunate and horrifically sad that for most of us, like Clare, we are only given that sort of insight when it is regrettably too late.

Please read this; it will move you, and may make a difference to how you currently think or feel, especially at a time when we are busy comparing ourselves to others.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/after-my-cancer-diagnosis-my-anxiety-disappeared-now-ill-do-anything-to-keep-this-body

Signature

FacebookTwitterShare

Marilyn Monroe – An Inspiration in more ways than one

 

I love Marilyn Monroe. She’s famous for many uplifting quotes about love and life, despite her own troubled existence and many difficulties. She once wrote: ‘Wishing you were someone else is a waste of who you are’. Yet she had numerous plastic surgery procedures throughout her life, rendering her an almost entirely different person from her former self, unrecognisable from the young Norma Jean. Despite this however her natural beauty and infectious personality always shone through.

There is that hypocritical voice inside all of us, I believe. We all know that what she says is right, yet still we insist on relentlessly berating and ‘improving’ ourselves. How can we beat this cycle?

Amongst other things, perhaps we can take heart from some of her other famous musings on life. Here’s my favourites below along with what they mean to me – please share your favourites too!

Marilyn+Monroe+pretty

‘She was a girl who knew how to be happy when she was sad, and that’s important.’ – Marilyn herself struggled with numerous demons throughout her whole life. A tumultuous childhood coupled with a rise to fame at a young age, added to by a string of high-profile failed relationships must have put a lot of strain on her, and she admitted she frequently felt isolated and depressed. Yet as she rightly identifies here, it’s not feeling sad that’s the issue – it’s how you feel better. If you can at least ‘fake it till you make it’ you’re already winning half the battle.

‘Imperfection is beauty’ – Damn right. There’s no such thing as perfect (if I had a pound for every time I said that I’d be loaded!) – it really is true. Little quirks which some might see as imperfections, such as moles, cowlicks, freckles, the way your nose is turned up slightly at the end…they make us who we are. You might see them as imperfections because they have been pointed out to you as such, but remember that people often throw stones at pretty things. Perspective is everything – look at yourself as a whole and try and see ‘imperfections’ as beautiful additions to your whole self.

marilynw2

‘We should all start to live before we get too old. Fear is stupid. So are regrets.’ – A stark reminder that life is too short – something which unfortunately Marilyn herself fell victim to. When she died at the young age of 36, she was about to embark on an exciting new phase of her career after taking time out due to illness, and talked of her ambition to start a family. We often get so caught up in the trivia of modern life and how we look yet it’s essential not to forget what’s really important in life and live it the way you want to.

‘Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together.’ – Excepting bereavement, I believe that everything bad that happens to us in our lives happens for a reason. When one door closes, it is so that another can open. I’ve had a lot of bad things happen in my life, yet every time I have been through something difficult, something better than I could ever have imagined has come from it. Each time you’re going through a hard time, you simply have to believe that something better is waiting for you on the other side.

‘Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there is so much to smile about’ – This one is so, so important. We all have bad days, we all have days, weeks, months and even years where we feel like the world is against us and there’s no way out. But life itself is wonderful. It’s overcomplicated in the first world into a competition that essentially we all lose at. But if you look at it simply, think about all the positive things that happen every day. The sun rises and sets, birds sing. If you’re lucky enough to have family and/or friends, pets, someone who loves you, think about that. Think about the food on your plate, the roof over your head. It’s easy to forget the ‘mundane’ in search of the spectacular, yet if you really look at it, it’s these small things that are the most beautiful, and the most important.

marilyn-monroe_00410966

Signature

FacebookTwitterShare

Balloons…

I thought of this after a conversation with a friend this week, who is unsure where to go next with their life.

When I was a little girl, and I accidentally let go of my balloon, I would cry uncontrollably. It is the ultimate lesson in letting go – I still remember the devastation and feeling of loss as I watched it getting smaller and smaller until it became a shiny pin in the satin blue sky.

My Mum would say not to be sad, as the balloon was happy. Now the balloon was free, and going wherever it wanted; where it was supposed to go.

I think we are all like balloons. Whichever direction we are floating, and however strong the uncontrollable breeze that carries us is, we are going to our rightful destination. Stay strong and believe in your destiny – then make it happen.

Of course, sometimes you will stray from the path, perhaps influenced by cross winds or knocked off course by a storm. But rest assured, you will readjust and find yourself where you are supposed to be. Trust me 🙂

Float and fly like a balloon, bask in the warm sun, and take in the scenery. Everything is going to be okay.

15199717462456660_jFyWTLU2_c

Signature

FacebookTwitterShare