Let’s start with a bang.. and a trip to A&E.

Well Happy New Year!

Probably too late to say that but I was only just unfurling from my festive cocoon of loveliness which I created with red wine, too many chocolates and Christmas movies under the duvet – when I had an incident with my foot and a door frame resulting in a bang, crash, whallop and a bit of breakage – so I’ve been forced to keep a low profile for a while until I’m mended.

Good news though, the world didn’t end! (I wish I’d been a fly on the wall of those nutters who had hoarded all that food into their basements. awkward.)

So now comes the timely month of setting resolutions…

Let’s be honest, at this time of year who doesn’t want to be a little bit fitter and a little bit less…squishy. But I’m going to try and make my resolutions things I’d like to do more of, not less. And let’s get one thing straight, I can’t give up booze for January, the month is depressing enough as it is without adding to the gloom by banning G&Ts!

I turned 28 last week (another reason for not giving up cake or alcohol in January) one more year past the time I really should have got my sh*t together…in all seriousness though, I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come in my pink-banana-shoes.
 
The year 2012 saw me learn…. how to blog! (kinda) how to meditate (in theory anyway), participate in laughter yoga (what a hoot) dance in a drum circle (awesome) go to several lectures (informative) swing dance (more to come)  bake (occasionally).. And let’s not forget the tribal gathering!! (um…no words) And in the process I’ve met a whole community of people just trying to make a little price of happiness for themselves (even if it is in a bonkers way.)
 
And if someone asked me the question – Are you happier? Then I think I could say yes.
 
So where do I go from here? …well, I’m excited about 2013 –  I feel that last year I took the giant leap changing my life. (For those just joining us, read this) and now I just need to get the details right. Easy!? Although if anyone knows how I can get paid to be an adventurer then let me know… doesn’t anyone need anything exploring anymore?!.. (and Space doesn’t count. You’re not going to get me in a Spaceship thanks  Mr. Brandson. I’m veto-ing anywhere that is void of oxygen.)
 
And so unless there’s an urgent call for (Earth bound) explorers I’ve just got to stick it out here. And so I’m still determined to put myself out there when it comes to more weird and wonderful stuff about London town. I’m still planning on researching positive thinking, maybe find a yogi, maybe take up extreme knitting!… Who knows. This city still has a host of adventures I’m going to embark upon. As always, suggestions are most welcome. (Although I still refuse to go and see the women who – ‘channels the spirit of Benjamin’ Seriously, I get almost weekly invites. And the answer will always be no.)

Oh, big news – I’m going to become a hula hooping sensation. (Thanks boyfriend for the amazing birthday presImageent ever)  Seriously, the best way to release your inner-child since climbing trees. 

well, if hula hooping fame doesn’t come off then I guess there are always other forms of exercise. I dragged my sorry bum to the gym the weekend before ‘door- frame gate’ (it was the first time since …the beginning of Dec, ok, the last time was in November but come on, no sane person wants to hit the treadmill in Dec over a glass of mulled wine do they!?)

Anyway, I almost vomited all over my toned-tough-talking instructor as I did my 17,000th lunge. So, like virtually every other person I know, I’d like to kick my bum into some sort of peachier shape. Off to a lecture next week.. I  should say hobbling to a lecture on one gammy leg… led by two (probably sick makingly fit, gorgeous and smug) female personal trainers. I’ll bring back some tips.  

Even if I’m not going to be an Olympian maybe I can learn some spatial awareness. Damn you door frame. Image

Tell me what your new year resolutions are, or are you against them?
 
More soon.

Peace

x

 

 

 

P.S Thanks to Evoling Yogi for the blog award nomination – I’ll get round to writing about it soon. xx

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Who’s that mad girl giving out cake?!.. oh its me.

Aside

So, it’s been a couple of months since I embarked on this ‘journey’ and as I was crammed into my daily commuter train (sandwiched between the girl tweeting offensive things about her fellow passengers and the man breathing on my neck) I started to think about whether I’ve actually gained anything or moved forward in any way –

Tentatively I would say yes. I’ve definitely put myself in situations I wouldn’t have done before!

I’ve learnt to meditate (although I have to confess that my daily practice consists of 5 minutes positive thinking on the way to work rather than any prolonged period of time at home, but it’s a baby step I guess) I’ve laughed so hard my cheeks hurt, danced in a drum circle, been inspired by some great mentors and leant to make a conscious effort to be kinder, more generous and more trusting. (I definitely wouldn’t have stopped to ask my Big Issue seller if he wanted a homemade chocolate banana muffin on my way to work this morning!) I’ve met a community of like-minded people (both on and off line) and discovered that you don’t have to live in a tree-house or wear tie-dye to want a happier, more fulfilling life (man, I wish I could live in a tree house.) I’ve made new friends and re-connected with old ones. No doubt, these are all awesome.

Don’t get me wrong. I have not become a perfect person. I have not turned into the quiet serene girl I always admired in school (then I’ve always said mysterious is over rated) I still get quite outrageous road rage, I’m grumpy when I’m hungry, I judge people who I think are idiots and I tut at people who jump into the train carriage as the doors are closing when there’s clearly no room left (just a few things to work on!)

When I started this project one of my main sources of unhappiness was feeling like I was on the wrong path. I now work in a job, which although isn’t perfect, strives to combat prejudice – who wouldn’t forgive the office politics when you get letters from people telling how much your project has inspired them. I also used to hate living in London. I try not to use the word hate very often because it implies something venomous, but I really was miserable. Despite having met the most amazing person who I hope to spend the rest of my life with and having a large wonderful group of friends – I felt like the city was sucking my soul. Boyfriend used to tell me that it was more in my head than where I was, and turns out he was right (oh how wise he is. ggr) Having started to get out and explore the city I have found that I can appreciate it’s diversity – there is SO much to do here and so much of it is free! Although I know I can’t live here forever (I need to live near the sea…) I’ve accepted that I have to be here for a while and have to get out of it what I can.

‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim

and end of human existence’ – Aristotle.

 And, what have I learnt about happiness? There is literally so much to read about the topic that’s for sure. Just when I find something which I’m certain is true something else comes along and changes my mind! A girl I met told him something interesting when I told her about this blog. She said ‘When you ask people about happiness, they tell you about sadness. When you ask about love, they tell you about pain.’ I thought about this and I understand what she means – both happiness and love are what we, as humans, are all programmed to pursue – yet they the hardest things to keep. When we have them we are in a state of high and if we lose them, then it is as if we have lost a piece of ourselves. Does that sound too deep (clichéd)? If there is one thing I have learnt so far is that happiness isn’t a state of continuous bliss. It’s just impossible (and just unrealistic) to try and stay ‘happy’ all the time. Happiness is about becoming internally more positive so that when something bad happens it feels less like falling off a cliff and more like a bump in the road. I also think it’s about finding things you like doing and making time to actually do them. And it’s about having a future goal and working towards it. I’m still searching, I really want to have my own (ethical) – business (hey, u can’t take the hippy out of the girl what can I say?!)and just waiting for the right idea, but in the mean time I try to be thankful for the good things I have now.

There’s still so much I want to try – trapeze swinging anyone? There’s bound to be more dancing with strangers.

And so the journey continues!

Thank you to all those who have got in touch to say how much they enjoy my posts, it’s always awesome to hear from you.

More soon.

Peace

x

May happiness always win

Generosity – How kind acts could change the world

 

Last week I went to another brilliant lecture run by Action for Happiness. I listened to the hugely inspirational Nipun Mehta – founder of servicespace.org,  a volunteer run organisation based around generosity projects and a ‘gift economy’ whereby services are given for free with the trust that people will be so overwhelmed by the kindness that they will return everything you need. (Pretty mind-blowing faith in humanity I think you’ll agree!)

Disillusioned with the greed of the 1990’s in Silicon Valley, Nipun and his friends began volunteering and conducted generosity ‘experiments’ by providing their I.T skills free of charge to non-profit organisations. The venture went so well that by the age of 25 he’d given up his promising career to helping others full time. He even took a walking pilgrimage across India to test the boundaries of generosity and love.  (It was only 10 minutes into the talk and I was already in awe)

What started out as a grass-root community project has turned into a global movement with ‘radical generosity’ at its heart. Some of his initiatives include Karma Kitchen a volunteer run restaurant where each dish is given out for free because each person makes a donation for the next diner.

Now I know that there are those of a more capitalist perspective (including my boyf who I had big chats about this last night!) who say that to use the word ‘free’ is wrong because you’re still paying for the meal – all be it for someone else. So what’s the point? The point is the change in mentality – the idea that you’re getting something from someone else and passing it on to someone else. I think it’s a subtle but huge change in mindset and the possibilities if it became a more mainstream idea could create a whole different world.  I mean, what a cool concept!  This ‘generosity entrepreneurship’ turns our dominant economic paradigm on its head by shifting from ‘consumption’ to ‘contribution’ and ‘individuality’ to ‘community’. Ultimately it relies on the trust that people aren’t going to take advantage… pretty huge. There are those who argue that people who only ‘give’ will end up at the bottom of the pyramid but there are certainly people at the top who haven’t had to stand on anyone to get there.  

Servicespace has also created ‘Smile Cards’ which allow people to do anonymous small acts of kindness and then leave the card telling the person that they must pass it on. They’ve shipped out almost 1 million cards which is an incredible amount of good deeds. They have also developed a daily good news email bulletin because if we’re not exposed to good things how can anyone believe in them? I often wonder why only bad things count as ‘news.’

Nipun quote’s the Dalai Lama’s words ‘be selfish, be generous’ to support his idea that by giving away something we are not poorer but become richer in our own inner transformations.  He says that this transformation is a powerful tool for positive social change.

So what can we all do to foster this generosity?

As with every mindful venture I explore, it’s something you need to work on. But the more you develop your kindness the stronger it becomes.  It’s about looking for the collective good first and the personal good second. One of Nipun’s key principals is to think small. Small acts are no less worthy than big ones so just begin by doing what you can. He say to stay rooted in the ordinary and don’t worry about the whether you have a bigger picture.  Appreciate all that you receive and pay it forward, to cultivate networks of generosity and circles of kindness. Start to trust in goodness of people – I think that we are so accustomed to be wary of everyone in modern society that we selfishness is our natural mind-set.  Although sadly there are people who will take advantage of your generosity it’s important to rebound those negatives with stronger positives and believe in yourself.

When we arrived in the lecture we all got given a ‘gift’ – at the end we were allowed to open them and inside was a chocolate, a smile card and a pound coin. We were asked to use the coin in a small act of kindness.

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After the lecture I was discussing with my friend, who had also been to the lecture, what to do with our pound coin. We agonised over how little a pound gets you but eventually Charlotte decided she would buy a cup of tea for a man she sees sitting outside the same café every day on her way to work and I said that I would use it to contribute to buying a Big Issue magazine from the same homeless guy I see every day. However, on my way home I saw a homeless man sitting outside the nearest tube station and without really thinking about it I placed my coin into his cup. Why you may ask, did I give up my coin so easily? Because it occurred to me that normally I bypass anyone begging for money because it’s been programmed into me that by giving money it encourages dependence on hand outs. I remember once I gave a man who had come onto my train some money and was loudly tutted up by several other passengers.  The reason I put my money into that man’s cup then was simply because if I was so down on my luck that I had to sit outside with a cup for money someone would be kind enough to help me.

By following Nipun’s advice and not fixating about maximum impact I feel this small act made a positive ripple…and if we all made small ripples then it’d create a much bigger wave.

Let me know what you think.. do you think this idea of ‘passing on’ could work?

More soon.

Peace. x

For more info on any of this click on the links!

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