Love Trumps Hate

21 Nov

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Love Trumps Hate

I’ve never really been one for politics, not even watched much media at all over the past few months. I don’t enjoy the fear mongering, the sensationalism and certainly not the negativity. I found my life and my mind was just much better off without it, and I still found out when important things happened in the world.

The recent American election was one no-one could escape though and certainly one that would touch everyone in some way due to the nature of the world super power and what it meant.

As I watched it unfold I saw a mixture of shock, disappointment, disbelief, anger, sadness and fear. The following day felt flat and a little uncertain as the world held its breath to see what would unfold now, what did it mean and what impacts would be felt from here on in. Not just for America but for the world. The morning after the night that was seemed a little surreal, almost like the world had sunk into a depression. I felt like I was watching a reality TV show unfold or that I was stuck in a bad dream I was about to wake from. But sadly neither was the case, this was real life, it was happening now, in our modern, ‘developed’ world where so much progress has been made, this was a true story and one our world has created.

As people tried to make sense of what had happened I watched different reactions unfold. Those who got angry, shouted, blamed. Those who got upset and shed tears and those who didn’t know what to do such was the shock. I reacted in my usual manner and turned inwards, I went quiet, I internalised all I was seeing and hearing in a bid to make sense of it all and here’s what I came up with.

After many years of learning the hard way I believe that getting angry or upset doesn’t change what’s happened it only makes us feel worse inside. Or as Buddhists put it, anger is like holding a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at someone else, you’re the one who gets burned. But then what if we don’t get angry, isn’t the passion behind the anger what evokes change, what makes the world listen, what starts a revolution?

Regardless of what we do next and I think we still have many options all I know I can control right now is how I feel and the only person I can impact or change right now is me, it all starts with me. Rather than running all over the world trying to evoke change in those who do not wish to see it, all I can do is be the change I wish to see. Lighthouses don’t run all over the coast trying to find ships to save, they just stand there shining. This empowers us to be the best version of ourselves. It also allows us to do the many good things that still exist even in a world that seems to be turning sour.

I remember all the things I’m grateful to have. I’m heart warmed to see so many other messages from American’s and other world citizens that seem to share my hope, my optimism and those who, despite the situation we find ourselves in, have chosen love over hate.

Things happen that we never believed possible, that we thought we were beyond, knew better, wanted better. Things don’t turn out the way we planned. There’s so much we don’t have control over, this is one of the main sources of our unhappiness, trying to control outcomes, meet our own, or others, expectations. But the one thing we do control, every day is our reaction, who we want to be, what we’re going to do about it? Whilst what’s happened is done, there’s a whole future ahead of us waiting to be shaped and whilst it may seem a little harder now, there are still so many good people in the world, good things happening and things to give us hope and what’s more. We all have a role in shaping that future, what role do we want to play?

Whilst we have so much to be angry about and many we could hate, where does that lead us? In fact it may be what got us here in the first place. I’ve decided to choose love, hate is too big a burden to bear.

Don’t confuse my acceptance for apathy, that I don’t care, that this doesn’t hurt me or sadden my feelings about our society. Trust me I’ve considered opting out and going to live on a hilltop in the middle of nowhere. Don’t think that by choosing love I’m giving up, I just don’t think fighting it the answer, in fact I think it’s contributed to the problem. “I am right, you are wrong” we have to put our own views and opinions at the top of the pile – isn’t that how we got here in the first place?

I have simply decided for my own sanity to accept the things I can not change, what I do have control over is how I react. How I support myself and those I care about through a sad situation. To retain my inner peace despite the craziness of the world unfolding around me – the skill that is equanimity.

To see compassion for those who are so disillusioned with society and scared for the future that they see this as a way out, see this option as their ticket to a better life. Those who feel that for them to succeed it needs to be at the expense of others. Instead of building a bigger fence, why can’t we build a longer table? We are all human at the end of the day, one race, with one planet to call home in one moment which is now, let’s make the most of that and celebrate all that we are and all that we have.

Without hope we have nothing, without love what’s the point.

Take the risk, face your fears

28 Aug

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I’ve always had a tendency to play it safe. For many years, there were lots of things I liked the idea of doing, but the effort required go outside my comfort zone stopped me.

When I sat and thought about the risks involved and all the what-ifs associated, I always wimped out.

So this left me conforming to the norm, living a life others expected of me and generally putting my dreams on hold so that I could remain safe and comfortable. Except it wasn’t comfortable, I was unhappy and deeply unfulfilled and only when the cost of standing still exceed the cost of change did I finally get more comfortable with the idea of taking the risk and heading into the unknown.

I left a long-term relationship that I’d outgrown, I quit my soul-crushing corporate job and I traveled overseas on my own to see the world and learn about facing risks.

The risk of leaving a secure relationship and being on my own for the first time in many years filled me with doubt—what if this was as good as it got? What if I end up single forever? I’m getting older now, all my friends have settled down and started families, maybe I’ll get left on the shelf?

One of the most difficult things was the risk I took turning my back on an 11-year career, a well-paying job without any qualifications to do anything else. I ran the risk of running out of money, being unemployed and becoming homeless. It had been the security of my 9 to 5 pay check that kept me stuck in a job I didn’t enjoy for many years, scared of exactly these risks.

But I took the risk, I spent a year doing what I loved, I trained to be a yoga teacher, travelled, wrote a book and fueled my passions. I created a life I loved and whilst it wasn’t always rosy, I wouldn’t go back and change it.

So now, a couple of years down the track, you’d think I’d be used to taking risks, having faced the music, navigated the tough times and still remained happy. Surely risk taking is now within my comfort zone? Not so much.

Click here to read the full article and my top tips on how we face our fears and take the risk

How to be beautiful

22 Apr

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Beauty isn’t about having a pretty face. It’s about having a pretty mind, kind heart and most importantly a beautiful soul.

Watch the video blog How to be Beautiful here

In today’s society body image is given such importance, fuelled by the media it fuels worries from guys and girls in their teens right through to middle age. The media present us with unrealistic expectations of body image that we’ll never achieve. Much of what we see has been airbrushed and perfected until it’s no longer possible to recreate naturally. We are being set up to fail.

It often leads to self doubt, lack of confidence and not feeling good enough. Our obsession with self image can often get in the way of self love which is critical to our happiness. So many of us want to change our body in some way or dislike what we see in the mirror. Even when those around us think we look fine and perhaps envy the very bits we’re wanting to trade! It’s all relative, if you’re size 18 you may envy a size 14 yet they are envying size 10’s and even they are envying someone smaller/prettier than them! It may also be true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what we dislike, others can love. Like art or music, we all have different tastes. Some of us prefer brown eyes, others blue but really it’s less about the colour of the eyes and more about what they tell us when we look into them.

As far back as I can remember in my teens I was conscious of how I looked. I was short, ‘stocky’ as my grandad would say. My thighs were too big, my nose stuck out, I never felt comfortable in heels and I had a constant battle with my weight, even though most of the time my weight was fine! It wasn’t until I matured I began to realise there’s so much more to it than this. All those things I’d spent hours agonising over and trying to change ignoring the positives within just because they were not as visible. Throughout school I wanted to be like the pretty girls but as we’ve all aged some may not be as pretty anymore and those things on the surface that I’ve worried about for so long have changed over time and will continue to do so. The difference is my acceptance of who I am and the comfort in my own skin, what ever that looks like because it feels good.

It sounds like a cliché “your beauty is on the inside” but think about it. We’ve all met people who look good on the outside but as soon as they speak we take an instant dislike to them, based on the fact that if they are unattractive on the inside we see they are not beautiful at all. Our beauty does not lie in what we can see. As people we have inner beauty, our bodies are just a container for our soul, this is the bit that matters and it doesn’t appear in magazines, it is not vain and it does not need plastic surgery.

You know that body that we obsess over so much, the one we put so much of our time and effort into trying to look beautiful. The workouts, the clothes, the beauty products, the diets. The constant worry that we’re too round, not tanned enough. The comparison to others who seem to always be fitter, slimmer and better in some way. The worry that eating that piece of cake might just mean that extra pound we’re trying to shift will stay put – yes that body!

Well it’s going to change and it’s not always going to look like this and for some, this may be the best it ever ‘looks’! This is true of everyone, even the rich and famous age. But why do we worry? It is after all just our body. It is not our kindness, our love, our courage, our empathy. It is not our intellect, our strength, our creativity or our wisdom. All the things that make us special and all the things that really make us beautiful.

Do you know when you look most beautiful? Regardless of if you’ve just stepped off the beach or you’re dressed to kill? It’s when you’re comfortable in your own skin, accepting of yourself, at home with who you are and this is evident whether we are in our jeans and t-shirt or our Sunday best, without the hair cut, the make up the fake tan or anything else on the surface, it comes from within and is a deep unmistakable beauty.

If this is not yet your current state then stop worrying about all the things you’re not and start celebrating all that you are. There are people out there that love you, probably for reasons you don’t even know. Often they see what we don’t, our inner beauty.
We should look after our bodies, yes, this is a measure of our self respect. This means loving what we have, treating it right, feeding it well and resting it often. After all it is the container for what is most important and most beautiful about us all. Our soul, our essence, the parts of us that make us the person we are.

Unleash your hero within and be extraordinary

16 Mar

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“Inside every ordinary person there is extraordinary potential”

Many of us struggle to reach our true potential, largely due to the fact we under estimate just what that is. We feel we might just be too ordinary to achieve great things yet even those that reach great heights begin as just ordinary people, the difference is they realise their potential, the potential that is within all of us because nobody is really just ordinary.

I speak to many beautiful, talented, special people who have no idea how great they can be. This is hardly surprising when we look at the expectations placed on us and the ideals we are presented at just about every turn. The media in particular can leave us feeling like we’re falling short. But we also have a role to play! Many of us are guilty of falling short of our own unrealistic expectations of ourselves or lacking the self belief that allows us to fulfil this potential.

So how can we reach our true potential, and how do we even convince ourselves that we’re capable of not falling short in the first place or just being ordinary?

First, we need to know what we want and then don’t ever let anyone tell us that we won’t make it. Know that there is an infinite power that lies within that makes anything possible. Every ordinary person has extra ordinary potential, especially you!

Yes things can get tough and sometimes we fail, but we also achieve so much, never forget this. We are capable of more than we know but to tap into this we must believe it is possible and back ourselves.

Don’t be disheartened if life is not perfect in every area, we are human, no-one’s is. No-one is perfect, so stop trying to be. Someone loves us just the way we are, so stop trying to be someone else. Remember beauty does not lie in what can be seen, it is in our vulnerability, our courage and our authenticity. When we are comfortable in our own skin, our beauty radiates.

Read the full article at elephant journal here and watch the video blog here

A masterpiece or a work in progress? Inspiration for March

28 Feb

March’s newsletter is now available to view here; Newsletter March 2016

March 2016 – A Work in Progress

I talk a lot about creating a life we love and having to make changes, facing our fears and growing into the people we are capable of being. But I also talk about authenticity, about being true to ourselves and not trying to change who we are to please others or fit in. I was recently asked how these things fit together? Change is necessary if we want something different and is a part of life as we learn and grow, this is part of becoming who we are, a work in progress. Yet throughout this there is our essence, our authenticity and this is something to be proud of, that makes us all a masterpiece.

I am happy to be back in New Zealand and for the next year will be based in the coolest little capital, Wellington.  Thanks for all the feedback about the book. It’d be great to get some reviews on amazon click here

Have an amazing March.

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Recent Inspiration

Top 5 inspirational vlogs playlist [watch now]

It’s not about how life looks, it’s about how it feels [read now]

6 things to remember to help recover from a breakup [read now]

Video blog: Finding meaning and purpose [click to view]

The Zen of colouring: 7 lessons on living a happy, mindful life [read now]

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Learn how to create a life you love with my first book: http://amzn.com/1504343816

Motivation & Inspiration for February 2016

29 Jan

View the full newsletter as PDF here

Time Flies

So we are one month into 2016, it goes so fast doesn’t it. It only feels like 5 minutes since we were setting our intentions and considering what this clean slate, New Year will hold.  How are those resolutions going?

Time can go so quick it’s easy to get side tracked with the busyness of daily life and forget about our goals and dreams (until the next New Year comes around). Life can happen whilst we’re busy making other plans, but only if we let it. Check out my video blog to help keep us on track and ensure we’re always taking steps to create a life we love despite the busyness of daily life.

It’s hard to believe that my six months in England has passed in the blink of an eye. I had a lovely time with family and friends and even managed to see some snow before leaving. I am now back in my resident New Zealand and enjoying catching up on all the things I missed.

Best wishes for a fabulous February!

Jess

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Recent Inspiration

NEW! 5 things you can do to make life better [read full blog here]

Life is our greatest teacher [read full blog here]

Video blog: Equanimity: How to stay sane in a crazy world [click to view]

If you’ve not picked up a copy of the book yet, click here to find paperback and e-book versions

Info & Events

Thanks to all those who came out to support the launch of the book last month.

For anyone who missed the events. A special online launch was recorded and can be viewed here

I was recently interviewed by BBC radio on the journey that lead to me writing the book, for those who missed it listen again here

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A Rough Guide to a Smooth Life

22 Dec

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As we approach the end of the year the last 12 months I’ve spent trying to get my book published finally pays off and it is now available to buy!

You can click on the link to view the official trailer.  Full details are here; www.inspireyourlife.org/book

A practical self improvement guide on surviving modern life. Rediscover the art of happiness, find meaning and purpose and create a life you love. 

Jess uncovers the key to creating a happier life and leads by example. Her perspective shines a bright light at a much needed time. Let her guide you this book will help.  Shannon Kaiser, Coach & Best Selling Author of Find your Happy & Adventures for your Soul

For those who read the book, please leave a review on amazon and I’d love to hear your thoughts.  You can use the hashtag #RoughGuideSmoothLife when posting about the book.

To see how you can get involved and help support the launch click the link; How you can help or click here to support the launch through thunderclap

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Don’t forget to check out the new resources section on the website for free stuff I’ve posted for you.

Keep an eye out for events and give aways as I launch the book officially in the New Year.

All the best for 2016

Jess 🙂

How to be alone without being lonely

26 Jun

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“You can’t be lonely if you have learned to love the person you’re alone with”

We are living more separately now days than we did 30 years ago when social connection was a lot more common and science is now proving the impacts this has on our health. Loneliness is one of the top reasons people see a therapist in the US now and a recent study suggests that over 25% of Americans feel they don’t have any close friends with which they’d share a problem. In the age of social media when we may have hundreds of friends on facebook we are actually getting increasingly lonely.

Whilst it is true that social connection is vital to our happiness this is not to be confused with co-dependency, this is fear of being alone that results in seeking our happiness in somebody else and relying on having another half to make us complete. Over the last year I’ve learned that often we seek out others to plug holes in our own self and that no-one is designed to make us happy. Sometimes our fear of not wanting to be alone is a way of avoiding ourselves by being with someone else.

It is nearly 12 months since I left a long term relationship and I’ve learned so much about myself since being single, about who I am and what I want. I think it’s crucial for everyone to spend time on their own at some point in their life and this can be a positive thing. Having said that though, as a singleton, I am aware that as I progress through my thirties the longer I am single the more likely it is that I will acquire cats!

I’ve gone through the lonely nights, the closing of a door that was such a big part of my life, the fear of the unknown and worrying about the future. But I enjoy cooking what I want for dinner and nobody complaining there’s no meat, not having turned the TV on for days, playing my own music at my own volume, spending lazy weekends doing as I please and most importantly having half a bar of chocolate and knowing the other half will still be in the fridge when I return to it.

It takes courage to leave a relationship and for some the prospect of being alone is too scary to handle which is why so many people remain in unhappy relationships. However, I’ve learned that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. When I took the time to be alone I found I had the solitude and freedom to enjoy my single life, learn about myself and spend time with me. It helped me develop the capacity within to make my own way without needing a companion or a guide.

As I adjusted to being on my own my fear of the unknown has become an excitement about the possibilities that exist, but I needed time on my own to figure this out. For a while it felt like a void, a nothingness, this is the gap between what we knew and felt familiar and what is yet to come. Often engulfed by the fear of the unknown, we hang in this space of nothingness between the past and the future and sometimes despair at the uncertainty. But rather than being a big black scary hole of nothing, this time in between what was and what is yet to be is full of potential, full of opportunity. It is the beginning of the rest of your life, it is not a void at all but vibrant with absolute potential.

I have learned that we can be on our own without being lonely and that we can be alone but not empty. When we are lonely we are missing something or someone, it is a negative emotion and we feel a hole inside that needs to be filled. But when we’re alone, we are not lonely but in the presence of ourselves and can enjoy the freedom our solitude brings.