Happiness… An inside Job

In the pursuit of happiness, one of the hardest concepts to get our head around is the fact that happiness is an inside job, with the sole responsibility of happiness is within us rather than dependent on other people or external factors.

I know people say ‘happiness is a choice’, but how many of us really chose to be happy? Isn’t it easier to blame others/ events / weather for our unhappiness rather than admit we are unhappy because we choose to be?!

For me, it was one thing knowing that whether I am happy or sad depended entirely on me and actually doing something about it! Doing something about it, turns out to be quite simple; and it was all in my head!

  • Positive reframing

Every day we come to face to face with many events and circumstances that affect our emotions negatively. Everything from arguments, bad days at work, tantrum throwing children (or adults for that matter!) to cancelled trains and unfair parking tickets test your emotions and feelings to the limit.

Whatever the situation maybe, one of the main things to remember is that there is something between the situation and you, and that is your thoughts about the situation. By changing the thoughts can completely change the way you feel about the situation; you can go from feeling completely awful to something resembling happiness and the power to make this change is entirely up to you.

In psychology, this is called positive reframing; a way of trying to reconsider the things and events in a more positive light. Positive reframing doesn’t change a situation, but it changes the way you feel about it by putting a positive perspective to it, finding the ‘sliver- lining’ in every situation.

Example diagram

There isn’t always an easy option, but there is always a silver-lining if you look hard enough for it. One of my all-time favourite quotes is ‘this too shall pass’ and whatever situation you find yourself, whether positive or negative, it too will come to pass so ride out the negatives and savour the positives.

  • Make Gratitude your attitude

Cultivating gratitude is one of the best ways to be in a state of happiness. By focusing more and more on what you are grateful for, the more you start seeing life in a completely new frame of mind. This is also one of the key tools in using law of attraction to your vantage; what you focus on you attract – so by focusing on what you are grateful for you are more likely to attract it into your life.

How does gratitude help you to be happier person? First of all, being grateful for things you have make you count your blessings and this has an impact of our mood and emotional well-being and this is backed up several studies (including C.Watkins et al (Berkeley)) . Other positive psychology studies have shown that practicing gratitude consistency leads to not only to positive emotions, but to positive experiences, improved health, stronger relationships and resilience to adversity.

Most of us have something to be grateful for; food on our plates, a shelter to stay warm; someone to call a friend or a family and if you are reading this, then a smart phone or a computer at your fingertips to access abundance of information. There is always something to be grateful for, in any situation if you look hard enough.

  • Live in the moment

One of the fundamental things to remember is that the only reality we have is this moment in time is the present while the past and future does not exist outside of our mind! So if we focus on the present moment, rather than worry about the past or be anxious about the future, we are on the road to living a happier life.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” – unknown

In does take some practice to be present in the moment but when you start living this way, you can learn to appreciate the beauty of the moment and live a fuller life. Here are few techniques that you can use to stay in the moment.

Breathe: One of the best ways to do this is simply be and focus on this present moment. Turn off your smart phone / computer or whatever distraction you have around you and focus on your breath and stay present to the moment.

Notice small things: Another exercise to stay in the moment is to notice what happening around you without judgment and notice the small things; sound of a clock ticking, bird song in the garden; light flickering on your phone; vapors rising out of a hot cup of tea.

Meditate: Of course one of the ultimate ways to be present in the moment is to practice meditation. There are many meditative techniques and teachings out there, but the main thing with meditation is patience as sometimes it will take time to train your mind.

  • Good relationships

I recently watched a TED talk by Robert Waldinger on a 75 years study into true happiness and satisfaction, based on Harvard study in America. Since the 1930’s, this study followed over 3000-odd adults in America, ranging from Harvard graduates to deprived inner city Boston young adults, to understand what really makes people truly happy and not surprisingly, one single reason that stood out as vital for happiness is good relationships and social connections.

However, in the first instance, fostering good relationships seems to be at odds with the concept of inner happiness. If your happiness is driven by your inner most thoughts and feelings, why should a good relationship matter? First of all, we humans are social animals and we thrive at best in groups and when we are connected to others. So we can be happy on our own, but we are much happier when we are connected to someone else.

But even far more fundamental point is that people who have inner happiness are much better at relationships than those who rely on other people to drive their happiness. Those who have found inner happiness are usually whole and secure and they do not need other people to fill in their happiness, instead their own happiness flows into the relationship, flourishing the relationship.

“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life” – Mandy Hale

Happiness… An inside Job

In the pursuit of happiness, one of the hardest concepts to get our head around is the fact that happiness is an inside job, with the sole responsibility of happiness is within us rather than dependent on other people or external factors.

I know people say ‘happiness is a choice’, but how many of us really chose to be happy? Isn’t it easier to blame others/ events / weather for our unhappiness rather than admit we are unhappy because we choose to be?!

For me, it was one thing knowing that whether I am happy or sad depended entirely on me and actually doing something about it! Doing something about it, turns out to be quite simple; and it was all in my head!

  • Positive reframing

Every day we come to face to face with many events and circumstances that affect our emotions negatively. Everything from arguments, bad days at work, tantrum throwing children (or adults for that matter!) to cancelled trains and unfair parking tickets test your emotions and feelings to the limit.

Whatever the situation maybe, one of the main things to remember is that there is something between the situation and you, and that is your thoughts about the situation. By changing the thoughts can completely change the way you feel about the situation; you can go from feeling completely awful to something resembling happiness and the power to make this change is entirely up to you.

In psychology, this is called positive reframing; a way of trying to reconsider the things and events in a more positive light. Positive reframing doesn’t change a situation, but it changes the way you feel about it by putting a positive perspective to it, finding the ‘sliver- lining’ in every situation.

Example diagram

There isn’t always an easy option, but there is always a silver-lining if you look hard enough for it. One of my all-time favourite quotes is ‘this too shall pass’ and whatever situation you find yourself, whether positive or negative, it too will come to pass so ride out the negatives and savour the positives.

  • Make Gratitude your attitude

Cultivating gratitude is one of the best ways to be in a state of happiness. By focusing more and more on what you are grateful for, the more you start seeing life in a completely new frame of mind. This is also one of the key tools in using law of attraction to your vantage; what you focus on you attract – so by focusing on what you are grateful for you are more likely to attract it into your life.

How does gratitude help you to be happier person? First of all, being grateful for things you have make you count your blessings and this has an impact of our mood and emotional well-being and this is backed up several studies (including C.Watkins et al (Berkeley)) . Other positive psychology studies have shown that practicing gratitude consistency leads to not only to positive emotions, but to positive experiences, improved health, stronger relationships and resilience to adversity.

Most of us have something to be grateful for; food on our plates, a shelter to stay warm; someone to call a friend or a family and if you are reading this, then a smart phone or a computer at your fingertips to access abundance of information. There is always something to be grateful for, in any situation if you look hard enough.

  • Live in the moment

One of the fundamental things to remember is that the only reality we have is this moment in time is the present while the past and future does not exist outside of our mind! So if we focus on the present moment, rather than worry about the past or be anxious about the future, we are on the road to living a happier life.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” – unknown

In does take some practice to be present in the moment but when you start living this way, you can learn to appreciate the beauty of the moment and live a fuller life. Here are few techniques that you can use to stay in the moment.

Breathe: One of the best ways to do this is simply be and focus on this present moment. Turn off your smart phone / computer or whatever distraction you have around you and focus on your breath and stay present to the moment.

Notice small things: Another exercise to stay in the moment is to notice what happening around you without judgment and notice the small things; sound of a clock ticking, bird song in the garden; light flickering on your phone; vapors rising out of a hot cup of tea.

Meditate: Of course one of the ultimate ways to be present in the moment is to practice meditation. There are many meditative techniques and teachings out there, but the main thing with meditation is patience as sometimes it will take time to train your mind.

  • Good relationships

I recently watched a TED talk by Robert Waldinger on a 75 years study into true happiness and satisfaction, based on Harvard study in America. Since the 1930’s, this study followed over 3000-odd adults in America, ranging from Harvard graduates to deprived inner city Boston young adults, to understand what really makes people truly happy and not surprisingly, one single reason that stood out as vital for happiness is good relationships and social connections.

However, in the first instance, fostering good relationships seems to be at odds with the concept of inner happiness. If your happiness is driven by your inner most thoughts and feelings, why should a good relationship matter? First of all, we humans are social animals and we thrive at best in groups and when we are connected to others. So we can be happy on our own, but we are much happier when we are connected to someone else.

But even far more fundamental point is that people who have inner happiness are much better at relationships than those who rely on other people to drive their happiness. Those who have found inner happiness are usually whole and secure and they do not need other people to fill in their happiness, instead their own happiness flows into the relationship, flourishing the relationship.

“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life” – Mandy Hale

 

 

 

The thing called work…

At the beginning of the year I had one of the best jobs that I had in my career, at least from the point of view of having had a great work life balance, control over what I needed to do and liking the people that I worked with. Then something inside me compelled me to change roles and fast forward 6 months and I am in a job that is really busy, I have lost a lot of my autonomy and I don’t feel like I am in control of my own work. One of the first initial thoughts was ‘have I made a mistake? Should have I stuck to the role I knew and I was comfortable with?’ However, the part that compelled me to move, deep down knew that not only this is a good learning experience, but vital for me to move forward and that this will contribute to who I want to be, even if I fully don’t understand what it is at the moment.

When I joined the team, some of my colleagues were putting in 45-50 hours a week and this was considered a norm in this particular team. For me, someone with a young child, differing home priories and charity commitments (and not to mention blogging commitments!), this certainly wasn’t the norm, but also near impossible. The old me would have given up before I even started soon as I saw the hours the others put in, or at the very least I would not have been motivated to perform at my best as I would have assumed I am on a downward slope anyway.

However, with my new found wisdom though law of attraction, setting positive intensions and using mindfulness, I decided to give my new work role a full-hearted go, which is a real test of my beliefs as well as my ability. My overall goal for this role was that I will not only survive this role, but I will thrive in this role, while also maintaining my work life balance no matter what and not compromising on the quality & quantity of time I spend with my daughter.

My morning routine for work consists of setting my intensions in the morning just as I am waking up and then doing a quick meditation session on my commute to work. Sometimes, I listen to audio books by great self-help teachers such as Dr Wayne Dyer and Abraham Hicks, while also listening to upbeat music before I walk into work. On the way back, I also tend to write down all the things I was grateful for the day and sometimes when I do have a bad day, writing it down also helped me to get perspective on the issue.

Here are some of the main intensions I have been setting myself every morning:

  • I felt good at work today
  • I had a relaxing day at work and I come home energized
  • I had a sense of achievement today, completing all the tasks that I wanted to
  • I have built some of the best working relationships that I can
  • I helped someone at work today
  • I finished my work at 5.30 today
  • I had learned something new at work
  • I had a wonderful day at filled with fun and laughter at work

All my intensions are usually in past tense and there is a good reason for it; I will say it to myself in past tense and then I will close my eyes and visualise how I would feel at the end of the day when I have achieved these intensions and try and hold on to that feeling as much as I can.

One of the other techniques that have helped me is mindfulness towards my tasks and towards my feelings while I am work. In the past, not only my mind will wonder during mundane tasks, but also I will move from one task to another without completing it and getting distracted. When I have a lot of work to do, I try and prioritise as much as I can and I stick to one task at a time while being mindful when my attention waivers. This way, I can concentrate on the most value add tasks and go home when I need to. One of the other sides to mindfulness is compassion; I think this is one of the most important tools in the modern work place. By practicing more compassion and less judgement, I started seeing even the most difficult people as not difficult, but as individuals who are having a difficult time themselves and need my kindness, not anger or frustration.

Looking back at the past few months, all of these tools and techniques have helped me to make my work life not just bearable, but really enjoyable. Some of my colleagues have commented on my positive attitude and my ‘bounce-back-ability’ even during turbulent times. I know this is not my long term future, but it the short term it is serving my purpose of giving opportunities to test out my beliefs while building up skills and knowledge on a professional and personal basis. Ultimately, I know this is all part of my happiness journey though the thing called life….

Law of Attraction – Back to Basics

Law of attraction is the notion that we live in an energy based universe and universe works on the basis of ‘like attracts like’ and therefore working of our inner mind or our sub-conscious (energy we project out) has a direct impact on the working of the universe (energy we receive back). So if our thoughts, feelings and general attitudes are positive, i.e. we are sending out positive vibes to the universe, we will attract more positive experiences in our life. This also works vice versa, i.e. you send out negative vibes and you attract more negative experiences.

A universe that responds to our thoughts may sound far-fetched but some of the recent scientific discoveries in quantum physics and cosmology are by far stranger. The double slit experiment in particle physics tells us that at a sub-atomic level, the act of observation makes the particles behave differently (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc – DR Quantum’s version of the experiment).  While in cosmology, Cosmologists have theorised that 95% of the universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter which by far has stranger properties that matter, which is the only thing we know a little about (http://hubblesite.org/hubble_discoveries/dark_energy/de-what_is_dark_energy.php).

Although, phenomenon like double slit experiment or dark energy does not necessarily prove the existence of a universe which is influenced by our sub-conscious mind, but it has certainly encouraged me to be more opened minded as there is a lot of things in the universe that we do not understand yet.

With an open mind if we accept that the law of attraction exists, then we must accept that we are creating our own reality. I don’t mean that in a metaphorical ‘motivational-quote’ kind of a way, but in a literal way. If our thoughts are influencing the universe (by default that means the environment around us), then we are creating the circumstances in our life with our thoughts, intentionally or not. Welcome to your own personal Matrix world!

Law of Attraction – Mind Tools

There are many leading thought experts and facilitators out there who devise new tools and techniques to harness this knowledge so that as individuals and as a society we can live a life for the better. Here are some of the techniques used:

  • Creative visualisation – This essentially focuses our minds to create picture of our ideal future and imagine living it at the present moment.
  • Living life though Gratitude – being thankful for what you have and by doing so attracting more situations and circumstances that we will have to be grateful for.
  • Affirmation statements – stating exactly what you want in life but using present tense so your inner mind knows exactly what you want
  • Mirror work – what does a mirror do? It reflects; a bit like the Law Of universe. So mirror work essentially an opportunity to work on yourself and your thoughts in front of a mirror.
  • Practicing Mindfulness – Being aware of our thoughts and feelings (without judgement) is the first step in understanding and controlling our minds. By practicing mindfulness you get to know your thought patterns and so that any negative patterns can be changed.
  • Practicing Meditation – Similar to mindfulness, practicing mediation, we are able to quieten our minds and able to observe our thoughts. Additionally in a meditative state, we are more likely to access our sub-conscious mind and therefore able to influence our thoughts at a deeper level.

Law of Attraction – Resistance is Futile

There are loads of reasons why many people feel that law of attraction tools don’t work; or law of attraction does not work entirely. The problem is that if you think law of attraction doesn’t exist, well then the chances are that all the circumstances that show up in your life will convince you that it doesn’t exist. So to a certain extent, a leap of faith is needed; hence why law of attraction is often thought of as a spiritual practice.

Another pitfall is that your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes must be aligned to what you are trying to attract in your life. For example, you are trying to attract wealth in your life, but in the back of your mind you think money is the root of all evil, so it is very likely you will not succeed, after all you don’t want evil in your life do you?! This is where psychology techniques come into play to have self-awareness; know yourself and know what feels right and what doesn’t.  When you want to attract something that you fully believe in then it will come naturally, it will not be a struggle.

The classic reason why law of attraction doesn’t work for people is fear. We as human being are driven and to some extent protected by fear; it comes to us as naturally as love does. Problem is when you are fearful that you are not going to get what you desire more than the love you feel for your desire then it is likely that the fear will win out. You will not get what your heart desires. Let go of that fear, especially in the manifesting process; believe you will get what you want and believe it with your whole heart and mind.

As a Practitioner of law of attraction for many years (some intentionally and some unintentionally!), knowing the law and applying it are two different things. I still suffer from resistance when I am trying to attract things I want in my life, but it is getting easier to work out what my resistance is. It does take time for you to work out what you really want and sometimes it feels like it takes time for the universe to deliver your want and you know what, that is okay! Time gives you that chance to reflect and really work out what you want.  Sometimes it turns out that something that you wanted for a long time is not something that you actually needed. So that’s where the saying come from; ‘be careful what you wish for’; because your wishes do come true!

Common Sense vs. Common Practice

I recently came across the concept of Common Sense vs Common Practice by the brilliant Andy Cope & Andy Whittaker (Be Brilliant Everyday) in the context of pursuit of happiness. Often most of us are clued on enough to know what will make us happy in the long run; eating healthy; exercising regularly; give up smoking; give up drinking excessively; spending money within our budget; spending time with our loved ones etc. This list can go on forever, but essentially most of what we need to do is common sense, but why do many of us struggle to put it into practice?! Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest things to do.

Even from a law of attraction point of view, we know that we must be in happy place in order to attract more of the things we want and less likely to think and feel all the negative things we don’t want. So question is if lot of things we need to do are essentially common sense, why are they not common practice? It seems for most of us, even for the seasoned self-help junkie like me, knowing is not the same as doing!

Let’s look at this biologically; our emotional centres in the brain are one of the oldest parts of the brain in evolutionary terms and emotions hard wired within us and therefore thinking differently does not necessarily mean that we will behave differently, especially if those behaviours are emotionally driven. Let’s take exercising as an example. I know I want to exercise more often that I am doing right now which is currently closer to zero times in a week! I know exercising will add to my happiness not just by improving my health, but also will improve my flagging self-esteem especially when I find my clothes are becoming a tad bit tighter than usual. I know exactly what needs to be done, but at the given times when I could exercise, I rather sit and watch TV and go for a run. I know at this point my emotions are driving me; my feeling of inertia is far more powerful than my thoughts around the benefits of exercise.

17146Mind

Psychologist may describe this as a ‘cognitive bias’; a term that describes many of the human irrationality in making judgement or decisions. Although most of us will think of ourselves as rational and logical creatures, there is a part of us that are influenced by wide variety of biases, including emotionally driven biases leading to errors in judgement. In the example above, I have a ‘current moment’ bias; i.e. I am choosing to experience pleasure in the current moment, while leaving the pain for later.

So are we always destined to make irrational choices to the detriment to our long term happiness? Perhaps the only way for common sense to prevail is to make changes to our habits. Habits are things we do often and changes to our habits over time can have a big impact on our happiness.  The key is perhaps making small positive changes starting now and putting those changes into practice more often. So for me in the example above I should start with walking up the stairs or walk to the shops and do this as often as possible rather than embarking on a gruelling exercise regime in my first attempt. Chances are small changes are likely to lead to habit formation than big changes which are often more difficult to maintain in the long run.

We may struggle to overcome our irrational judgements all of the time, but building positive habits will increase the sense of ‘doing the right thing most of the time’ we can reach a happiness-medium and being in a ‘happiness-medium’ place is a great place to start when you want to use the law of attraction to attract the life you want.

“Happiness is a habit – cultivate it” – Elbert Hubbard

CHANGE AHEAD

Practice makes Perfect…Should I say practice makes profound changes….

Since I have started writing this blog, I have noticed quite profound changes in my life. Yet if you ask those around me what has changed for me, well, answer is likely to be Nothing! At least nothing physically profound anyway. My changes have been more internal, I am happier and more than that I know that being happy inside comes first, and external happiness such as wealth, relationships, successes are BY-PRODUCTS of my inner happiness!

So what has bought about this change for me? For a start, there is the concept of practicing what you preach! By writing down these positive psychology and law of attraction principles, I am putting more of the theories into practice than I have done so. In the past, all the self-help theories and ideas I have read has remained as theories and ideas in MY HEAD!

The thing about self-help and all of those self-improvement theories is that the most effective ones are the most simplest and often nothing new, just a bit of a common sense! In most cases, its something we were aware of, but being put to us in a slightly different context. For example, I always knew having a positive attitude equates to being more happier (pre-LOA belief!) and I think most of you guys would agree with that. Yet, knowing the theory does not mean that we always carry a positive attitude with us, in most cases, we park the theory somewhere in the back of our mind and just get on with it! Fall back to our fail-safe attitude, our set-point, whatever that may be.

So how does a theory or an idea become part of our lives? especially when we are talking about workings of the mind,  I really think a lot is to do with putting theory into practice and by practicing often, it becomes habitual, part of a routine. Classic example for me is the theory of mindfulness. I have been aware of people taking about mindfulness for a long time now, from psychology to spirituality, mindfulness seems to be everywhere. I still remember reading Paul McKenna’s ‘I can make you thin’ where he talks about mindful eating (and how that will make you thin!) and here we are 10 years down line, I still haven’t mastered mindful eating. Actually I think my mind is in a place where I see food, I sense a 5 minute timer where I need to scoffle down my food or I will die of starvation! ( okay slight exaggeration, but you get my point)

Mindfulness is probably the one of the most easiest theory to understand, it is simply being mindful or paying attention to your mind, yet it is one of the most difficult theory to put into practice! Try sitting quietly for 5 minutes and paying attention to thoughts and feelings, without judgement and accepting whatever sensation that comes to you. Chances are, unless of course, you are a master meditator, your attention will waver after the first 2 minutes. Afterall, according to Buddha, we all have monkey minds, untamed and running around wildly.

As time goes by and I do practice mindfulness more and more, it does get easier, I have my ‘off’ moments, but overall it is much easier than when I started. For me, rather than practice makes perfect, its more of a practice makes changes, SLOWLY. I think I am far from perfect  in terms of getting to grips with mindfulness, but I am better! Over the months, I have  come to pay  better attention to  what thoughts  my monkey mind is running away with! And this in turn has helped me to be a happier person and making law of attraction work in my favor by attracting the things I want.

In the ether of internet and social media and even in books, the law of attraction is sold as a magic formula, to fix everything in your life, almost in an instant, just by understanding the ‘secret’.  The reality is that understanding and believing in law of attraction is one thing, but controlling your mind is the real ‘secret’ and from my experience, controlling your mind comes with practice and changing your habits! And yes, I do believe in the magic of law of attraction, but it is a magic that only works when the main magician is working, your mind!

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Me, Myself and the Law of Attraction

I think it is about time that I shared my personal story and my experiences with law of attraction. Let me start by making a very optimistic statement first. I live a healthy, wealthy and happy life and I know I have a bright future ahead of me. Those around me with a critical eye may not agree, but for me this is my truth and my view of life. In the past I have been described as ‘seeing the world though rose tinted glasses’ and more often than not, I would describe myself as an optimist.  However, there have been many cross roads in my life, reflecting back, that were challenging to say the least, but the future, in my view, is always bright.

Optimism does have a role in the law of attraction. In a world where ‘like attracts like’, positive attitudes will attract positive results. If you are always expecting things to go wrong or can spot the flaws in events more readily than appreciating the merits, then chances are that there will always be more flaws in the world around you. Being an optimist doesn’t mean that you go through life oblivious to unhappiness, but you are more likely to accept the unhappiness and know that it will pass and things will get better.

Although genetics have a part in play in someone being an optimist or pessimist, large parts of being optimist is learning though life and life situations that have shaped you. Being optimistic is an attitude and like any attitude, you can change it, all it takes is a bit of work on your mind and state of being.

My beginnings…

My early childhood was spent in the midst of a civil war. Looking back, there are several points in my childhood where I was in real danger, hiding in bunkers, being caught in aerial assaults, and being exposed to death and destruction very early on. I remember one particular incident, when I was around eight years old; we were hiding in a school, in the ground floor toilets no less, as it was the most concrete covered area of a school.  That night, due to particular bought of heavy fighting and cross fire, 27 people lost their lives on the floor above us and this memory is particularly etched into my head as I had to walk past the 27 bodies the following morning to be moved to another part of the building for safety. The reason I am sharing this is that I can see in many points in my life, where things could have gone horribly wrong for me, not just in terms of physical injury, but mentally.

In the 1990s, my family moved to the UK to get away from the war and my teenage years were spent in council accommodation, with my parents working 2 more jobs at a time.  In comparison to some of those around me now, my work colleagues in the banking sector to some of my privately educated friends, my upbringing is rather modest. But for me I knew that I am living a very privilege life, from a very early age because of my experiences in childhood and this is important part of my learned optimism.

My journey and law of attraction

There have been times in my life when negativity would overcome me, lasting days and months, but the inner voice in me, always knows that ‘this too shall pass’ and eventually my life would return to normal. First few months of my marriage and when my husband and I started living together were a prime example of turbulent times in my life. When I did come across the law of attraction, a year or so after marriage, everything made sense to me. I have attracted the negativity in my life and in my relationship by the way I was thinking, feeling and acting. Knowing Law of attraction is one thing, but putting it into action can be difficult, especially when you have been conditioned to think logically though out your life. I was able to practice the law of attraction little by little and when I started seeing positive results, it reinforced my beliefs.

Over the years, my husband and I have built a strong relationship because we were able to overcome our initial differences and I often put this down to my attitude change and renewed optimism.  In the last few years, I often find that it’s my optimism towards my personal relationships that need the most work, especially when coupled with arrival of a new baby and sleepless nights. Often when you suffer from sleep deprivation, it is difficult to be optimistic, let alone having time to think about the law of attraction. But the optimist in me knew that even the sleepless nights, ‘that too shall pass’.

Now a days, even if I am fully versed in the law of attraction, I have days of negativity, often when dealing with difficult people in work place or social situations, but I snap out of it relatively quickly so that I don’t attract too many of the negative fears that were running though my head. I know that one of the basic facts of life is that you cannot change others; you can only change the way your react to others. The two pieces of thoughts that have really helped me with maintaining relationships is that (a) treat others the way you want to be treated; (b) loving yourself – filling yourself with love in order to attract more love in your life.

I know I have a lot more to learn in this journey though law of attraction and I am grateful for myself to have taken the first steps towards it.

“the only journey is the journey within” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Those who are reading this blog, thank you! I am truly grateful to share my journey with you.

early photoMexico2011 (22)

The Science of Gratitude

“It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy” – author unknown

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness; an expression of appreciation or it can even be described as an emotion, a feeling of happiness that comes from appreciation. Some may describe gratitude as an attitude, a mood or even a personality trait, often those who practice gratitude regularly having better resilience to adversity, increased well-being and increased general happiness.

In Law of Attraction, it’s one of the key enablers of happiness and a powerful process in purposefully creating the life you want. Gratitude features in most world religions, from Christianity to Islam and even features heavily on most self-improvement books. It is generally accepted in the field of positive psychology that being thankful to what you have is one of the top enablers to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Many studies have linked practicing gratitude to increased well-being and reduced states such as stress and depression. This is not really much of a surprise. Knowing what you have, and appreciating it, helps to acknowledge how fortunate you are. It gives you a different perspective than always wanting more and more. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting more, but starting that process from a place of gratitude will set you up on a more positive point.

Gratitude and Positive psychology studies

One of the popular ways to practice gratitude, and to really enjoy the benefits of gratitude this should be an on-going practice, is to keep a ‘Gratitude Journal’; writing down the things you are grateful on a regular basis. A research study by Emmons & McCullough found that keeping “counting one’s blessings” journal, a conscious focus on blessings, can lead to improved psychological and physical functioning. In this particular study, they examined the practice of gratitude by asking participants to keep weekly or daily journals and had control groups who kept journals of hassles and events of the week / day. Those who participated in gratitude journal writing had substantial and consistent improvement to well-being and general feeling of life satisfaction.

Studies such as the one conducted by Dr Martin Seligman, where the participants in his studies embarked on writing a gratitude letter to someone who they never really thanked properly for their kindness and delivering the letters personally, led to huge increases in happiness scores and effects lasted as long as a month. Other studies have focused on relationships and how gratitude can impact on them. A study by Sara Algoe (University of North Carolina) found that grateful couples not only had more satisfaction in their relationships, but more likely to be in their relationships nine months later.

Gratitude and Law of Attraction

When you have a universe that is responding not just to your actions, but also your thoughts and feelings, gratitude can play a powerful part in creating a fulfilling life. But how does Law of attraction respond to gratitude? Essentially it comes down to having higher energy levels and being in positive frame of mind. So in a ‘like attract like’ universe, you will attract higher energy situations leading to more happiness. Gratitude creates abundance as gratitude is a thought or feeling of having ‘enough’ as opposed to ‘not having enough’. In law of attraction, a mind-set of not having enough will lead to attracting a life of not having enough, a life of scarcity.

One of the tools in ASK; BELIEVE and RECEIVE process is to write each of your wish or intension as thanks as though you have already received what you have wished for (‘I am so grateful for …….’). This creates a positive feeling and a higher energy point for the universe to respond to. The catch here is that you really have to BELIEVE what you are ASKING for will be RECEIVED or manifested.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart

Gratitude: Practice makes it perfect!

How do you practice gratitude? There are many tools and techniques that so many researchers and great thinkers have come up with and here are my favourite few.

  1. Gratitude journal – writing down what you are grateful for on a daily / weekly basis. 3 to 5 points is often enough but the key is to keep it up regularly.
  2. Thank you note or letter – just like in Dr Seligman’s experiment, writing a note to someone for their kindness. Studies have shown you don’t even have to deliver the letter, but writing it in the first place has benefits.
  3. Showing your appreciation and saying thank you (and meaning it!) – The word ‘thank you’ can go a long way in cultivating positive relationships, whether that is with your partner or your colleagues. How about telling a loved one why you are thankful for having them in your life.
  4. Being Mindful – noticing and appreciating the small things in life; a beautiful sunny day or a smile from a stranger. When you become mindful and take notice of moments, you get a profound appreciation for the bigger picture, which is often your life in general.
  5. Gratitude prayer – for those who are religious as well as those who haven’t quite made up their mind, a prayer or counting your blessing intrinsically can help to practice gratitude.

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Psychology and Law of Attraction

 Visualisation & Law of Attraction

A true believer of Law of Attraction believes that the universe can help you to attract what you desire in your life. However, many believers still struggle to receive their desired outcome and this is often down to that fact that there are too many thoughts and emotions happening to us at a subconscious level, which is often difficult to control.  To influence this, one of the main techniques used is ‘visualisation’. Creating images in your brain of what it would be like to have achieved your goal or your desired outcome. Using your imagination to create vivid, colourful pictures and imagining what success looks like and feels like, you bring the future into the present moment. This creates more of a powerful magnet than just intending though thought processes.

This type of visualisation should help to bring thoughts, feelings, words and emotions and actions in line with your outcome. In the ASK, BELIEVE, RECEIVE 3 step process, visualisation helps with the BELIEVE step, by giving a tool that tune your thoughts to think what it would be like when you have received it. By imagining you have achieved your outcome, you are removing doubt and negativity and attracting the outcome into your life.

For psychologists, visualisation is nothing new. Visualisation is used for goal setting in the corporate world, in treatment of patients in behavioural therapies, visualisation is used as a means of control in an uncontrollable situation and even in world of sports visualisation plays a big part in outcomes. Great sports personalities such as Andy Murray, Wayne Rooney and Jessica Ennis-Hill regularly performs visualisation sessions before games to achieve their goals. For example, when Jonny Wilkinson (one of England’s best rugby union players), is required to kick for goal, he uses a visualisation routine to help him put the ball between the posts: “I visualise the ball travelling along that path and imagine the sensation of how the ball is going to feel when it hits my foot for the perfect strike.”(The Telegraph, UK) Psychology and Law of Attraction are not mutually exclusive; there are a lot of synergies between Law of Attraction and Psychology, particularly in relation to Positive Psychology (see below). Positive psychology and law of attraction are like the two sides of the same coin, a coin that has been placed on table, with one side up and other side hidden. It is easier to work with Positive Psychology as it’s the known, proven side, while with Law of Attraction, is like the hidden side of the coin, you know it exists, but you just cannot see it!

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Is Law of Attraction a version of Positive Psychology?

What is Positive Psychology? A rather newish area of scientific study of Psychology, developed in the 1990’s, focused on the belief that ‘people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play’(from Positive Psychology Center, Penn). Positive psychologists are concerned with four topics: (1) positive experiences, (2) enduring psychological traits, (3) positive relationships and (4) positive institutions.

From socio-psychological point of view, focus on Positive Psychology is often beneficial, given that as humans we have something called a ‘negative bias’; a negative thought or emotion will have much more of an impact on a person’s behaviour and cognition, compared to something equally positive. This is an evolutionary trait which has helped our ancestors to survive their harsh environment by helping them to be more tuned into the dangers and pitfalls that surrounded them, rather be concerned with more positive emotions such as happiness and joy. This isn’t to say that our ancestors were very unhappy people, but more to the fact that given their fight for survival, they were less focused on pursuit of happiness.

Positive psychology topics such as self-belief, enduring psychological traits such as resilience to adversity and how you manage your relationships, also play an important part in law of attraction. You cannot have persistence pessimistic thoughts and expect the law of attraction to work in your favour. Same goes for resilience, if visualisation and other techniques don’t work, then do you give up or do you persist? While Advocators of Law of Attraction may say visualisation and positive statements enable the universe to attract a solution into your life, while psychologist may describe visualisation and positive statements as a tool for the subconscious mind to focus and look for creative ways of problem solving. But in both cases, there are greater chances of success than when there is no pre-thought out goal or outcome. We are very social creatures and human interactions and relationships play a big part in our wellbeing, happiness and to enable us to live a fulfilling life.

One thing all psychologist and law of attraction believers will agree on is that you cannot change someone without them wanting to change themselves. So how you manage your relationships is quite important as the only person who you have control over is yourself. Law of attraction encourages filling your mind with positivity and love for yourself and well as those around you. Be grateful for everything you have and be thankful for all the love and connections you have in your life. I don’t think any psychologist, positive or otherwise, would disagree with that. Loving yourself is a really important step to building great relationships with others. After all, if you cannot love yourself, how can you expect others to do so?!

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Is Law of Attraction merely a result of focus?

The ability for us to pay particular attention to the task at hand, and ignore other distractions is what we describe as focus. It is generally accepted in the field of psychology that the more focused we are, the more successful we will be at reaching our goals. So I have to ask myself, is Law of Attraction merely a focus tool? The more we think about something, the more we visualise, the more attention we bring to something, therefore we succeed at it. Out prefrontal cortex, just behind our forehead is working hard on our behalf to manage behaviour, helping us to prioritise and focus. For example, I want to succeed in my exam, so I devote more and more time on it. I visualise myself achieving it and, I actually study, ignore any other distractions. My increased focus and attention on my exams meant that I actually pass the exams. Does that mean it was Law of Attraction that worked in this case or was it purely my ability to focus?!

I think the answer is bit more complex than saying it was the Law of Attraction or it was purely my focus and hard work. You cannot expect law of attraction to work, if you decided you will leave it up to the universe and not study! Your thoughts may be asking to pass the exams, but your conscious actions (which cannot happen without thought process), is doing the opposite. This is a bit like the story of the poor Italian man who prayed and prayed to win the lottery, but didn’t buy a lottery ticket (see ‘Science and Law of Attraction’ below).

Focus and hard work also has a role to play, but there is also something else at play.  For example, some people seem to  breeze through life, whether its exams, career, wealth, family etc., it comes quite naturally to them, while others, it doesn’t matter how hard they seem to study, focus on  career, try to attain wealth, its hard work. They do achieve their goals, but it really is an uphill battle. Think of all the high achievers you have come across. Not just those achieve successes in the work place or in a business, but those who really seem to succeed in life and seem genuinely happy. They may not have everything, but they are happy with what they have and they have an air of confidence about them. You often find that these individuals do not go after their goals; their goals follow them, like attracting circumstances and success. What do these individuals do that is different from the ‘battlers’?! Lot of it does come down to attitude, self-belief and clarity on what they actually want. It’s almost like the battlers expect a battle and it becomes a battle, often their goals changing part way though. While, the high achievers have a different attitude to life than most others and tend to view the bigger picture and a clear vision of what can be achieved and what they expect of themselves and others. At this point, sceptics would argue that of course it’s not focus alone, but also having the right attitude and have a clear goal is the key to success, not some unexplained universal force.

Coincidences vs. Purposeful attraction

One of the hard facts to ignore in the arguments for Law of Attraction is all the reported achievements and successes that focus, attitude and clear goal setting alone cannot explain. For example, people like Eddie Coronado (Manifest your Millions) and Cynthia Stafford (California Mega Millions), who claimed to have won millions on the lottery by using law of attraction. Although lottery winners are far and few in between, there are also other instances where people claim to attract the right person at the right time, attracting sequence of events, chance meeting that lead to successes, other words, increased coincidences which lead to a particular desired outcome.

I have personally also experienced this, coming across the right information or direction at the right time when I was intensely thinking about something. Great example for me is that, I always wanted to write; I have always written diaries which always help to clarify my thoughts, but I always wanted to publish something, hopefully something meaningful. And I have been thinking intensely about this recently. Then a random chance meeting with someone led me to start this blog. The conversation I had was just a 5 minute conversation, with a passing remark about blogs, but it gave me my ‘light-bulb’ moment. I may have started a blog further down the track by my own accord, but that meeting and that conversation gave me a feeling of ‘right’ action at the ‘right’ time. Other examples in my life include meeting people who I haven’t met in a while, but I would have thought about them not so long ago.  For me, it is harder for me to say these are mere coincidence and focus. Attitude, self-belief and goal setting certainly don’t explain it!

“Coincidences are not accidents but signals from the universe which can guide us toward our true destiny” Deepak Chopra