Category Archives: Happiness

Life’s little miracles

A few days ago one of life’s little miracles turned up after a 9 month wait:

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As a result this blog will be on a short break after which I’ll be back, but for a little period of time the posts will probably be fewer and further between.

Stay up to date on blog activity and the occasional inspirational meme via facebook, instagram, twitter and pinterest.

Life’s little miracles come in many shapes and sizes. I realise that this one of mine is one of the more obvious ones. However, sometimes life’s miracles come in disguise, so keep your eye out for them; Chances are, you have more of them around than you are aware of.

Enjoy your summer – I know I will enjoy mine!

Gem

Why you should trust the timing of your life

It’s so easy to manipulate these days – so easy to move things forward. We’re part of a culture where boredom is rare and options are all over the place. Settling or remaining calm becomes increasingly difficult because ‘what if’ something better comes along? ‘What if’ it never happens if you don’t force it? ‘What if’ you don’t do it now – will it ever happen?

I’m all for putting yourself out there. Pursuing happiness and doing everything you can to reach goals is admirable in my opinion – something I strive to do myself on a daily basis. However, there’s a fine line between the above and manipulating or forcing results before they (or you, for that matter) are ready.

Here’s one of my favourite examples for you:
I had been struggling with being single for YEARS and as all my friends were moving in with their partners, getting married, having children and completing the ‘dream’ I eventually forced myself into a relationship I was never whole heartedly a part of. He was lovely and I’m sure he’s making someone else incredibly happy this very moment, but we were not compatible and I tried changing pretty much everything about him every single day. It was awful – for both of us. It became a very stressful relationship and eventually the whole thing blew up on us in a rather dramatic manner. Life had been whispering to me (and probably to him too) for so long, but I ignored it due to a slight panic that if I didn’t go along with this relationship, I would never get what everyone else had. Oh, dear… We all know that trap. My intuition even screamed at me (I know this from my diary); Do you want what everyone else has no matter what the price? I stayed. I was stubborn. And, worst of all, I did this because I had absolutely NO idea what I was worth. I truly believed that if I couldn’t make it work with this guy, I wouldn’t be able to make it work with anyone. Who would ever want me? If we had stayed in this relationship one of us (if not both of us) would have become severely ill, I’m sure – mentally or physically. Personally, I was heading down this path, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

So, after a few years the relationship ended and I was on my own. Again. I was exhausted and frightened. Was I going to be alone for the rest of my life? Would kids ever be an option? At this point I had met Lis (read about her here) and she spent the coming 6 months guiding me to self-love, gratitude and happiness (a process that I had already started years before, but had let go of during this relationship). I started letting go. I started trusting life. I took chances. I met a ton of different interesting men, but, for once, I was completely relaxed about it. I didn’t force myself into anything that didn’t feel right. I finally knew what I was worth – I knew my value, and, most importantly, I knew what inner peace and happiness felt like. No way would I ever compromise again.

I ended up moving to London – city of singles and pursuing careers. This move didn’t connect with my dream still being to meet ‘the one’ and start a family, but it felt right. Besides, I kept reminding myself that I could always go back to Copenhagen or travel somewhere else. Life was a clean sheet and I could do exactly what I wanted with it. Nothing was tying me down. No strings attached anywhere. Life had never been more exciting! I let go. I let life guide me for once. Sure, I had days full of tears. I had days where I doubted literally everything. Days where I I was close to giving up. But I stayed and I kept pursuing the goal I had set; To find a job and create some sort of life in London. This part was about me. Love would join in when the time was right.

One month in I went to a London networking event where I met a guy I could tell was younger than myself (turns out I had no idea just how much younger!). He was slightly mysterious and didn’t talk much, but when he did his intelligence revealed wisdom far beyond his years and I was intrigued. Believe me when I say we had absolutely everything against us ever becoming an item! There was no logic to it at all and my mind was very much against it. Especially one of my otherwise very supportive friends was shaking her head and reminding me of my age along with the fact that I wanted children. But I took no notice. The whole thing was out of my control – I had surrendered. The timing of my life was very much guiding me and I mean it with every part of my body and soul when I say the following; Letting go and pursuing a life with him turned out to be the absolute best thing I have ever done for myself. More than three years in I am still incredibly in love with him and my heart skips a beat when I think of all the incredible years we have ahead. I look forward to him walking through the front door every day and the thought of life without him makes no sense to me.

If I had met Morten before I knew what I was worth, I’m not sure we would have been where we are today. I had found my own inner balance prior to meeting him, so I dared take the chance knowing that life would catch me if I fell.
We were very different places in life when we met, but I purposely never pressured him into anything he wasn’t ready for. We communicated with honesty and respect from day 1 and we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but the trust and the depth of our love has carried us through all of them. I can honestly say that I am grateful every single day for waking up next to him.

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So, trust the timing of your life
I believe there’s a flow to life and that everything will happen the way it’s supposed to in it’s own due time. As you have just read, I’ve tried forcing results and I’ve tried letting go – believe me when I say that forced results are very rarely worth it (especially as you run the risk of reaching a result that isn’t actually good for you). If you let go of control and let things happen the way they are supposed to, it might turn out that a completely different option will show up. An option that’s a lot better for you and your happiness.

Pursue your goals – go all in on your dreams, but trust the timing of your life while doing so. Don’t force results. Trust that the best results will appear when you are ready.

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How to stop worrying

Are you a worrier? Or maybe you’re ‘just’ worried about someting specific at the moment? You’re not alone. In fact, we are biologically programmed to worry in order to prepare for worst case scenarios. It turns out though, that worrying not only doesn’t do you any good, it’s also a massive waste of time.

I had a dream last night – about Obama. He taught me some incredible math tricks while we had drinks. It was awesome. What does this have to do with worrying? Absolutely nothing. However, apart from this dream leaving me with a great feeling of having bonded with the American President (and wondering whether, if I ever were to meet him in real life, I just might accidently greet him as if he were a friend of mine) it reminded me how dreams can sometimes be random (like this one) and sometimes carry an important message. Obviously we all have several of both, but I had one in particular – several years ago – that carried a strong message:

I was running up the stairs of a collapsing building, being chased by a huge, frightening beast. Bricks were falling everywhere and I was scared out of my mind, full of panic and completely out of breath. On each floor I would call for the elevator, which was the only thing still standing, but the elevator never made it in time. I could hear the beast approaching and had to run to the next floor in order for it not to catch up with me. As I finally reached the top floor of the building I realised there was nothing I could do. It was out of my hands. From here on it would be a matter of luck; Either the beast would get to me first or the elevator would make it just in time to save me and take me to the ground floor, allowing me to exit the building.
The beast made it first. Except it turned out it wasn’t actually a beast. It was a huge, soft, purple hippopotamus-like, peaceful creature, probably 10 times the size of myself. When it reached me it stopped. It never wanted to hurt me. It literally just stopped and stood there in front of me, looking into my eyes while we were both catching out breaths. The next thing I knew the elevator arrived, I stepped into it, faced the hippo while the doors closed and that was it. I woke up.

Imagine that. I spent all that time running up stairs, scared out of this world, only to find that really, there was nothing to be scared about. The ‘beast’ was a cute, purple hippo that never set out to hurt me. I had worried for absolutely nothing. Sound familiar?

Most of my life I have been a worrier. I never handled change very well and as a result I always analysed the 1000 things that could go wrong ahead of time – you know, just to make sure I wouldn’t be surprised by misfortune. What a waste of time.

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Thankfully things have changed a lot since then. Sure, I still worry from time to time, but nowhere near what I used to. When it happens, I remind myself of a study in a book called ‘The worry cure’ (2005), which concluded that 85% of what the studied subjects worried about actually never happened. And of the remaining 15% that did occur, 79% of the subjects discovered that they could handle it much better than expected or the difficulty turned into a life lesson. So, to sum it up, this means that really, there’s absolutely no point in worrying. How about that? Basically, if you worry, you’re just spending time punishing yourself ahead of something that will probably never happen.

How to stop worrying? I posted one of my favourite memes the other day on facebook, instagram, pinterest and twitter. The text on the meme pretty much sums it up: ‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think about what could go right’. This is probably one of my most popular posts to date, which I guess is because we all know it. We all know that we shouldn’t worry as much as we do, but we all struggle to shift our mind-set.

The trick is to stay away from all the negatives and focus on the positives – which, as a beautiful bonus, will also keep you mentally and physically well for longer.

As with any other bad habit it’s about making a conscious effort to stop worrying. Here are three very simple things you can do:

  • Put a post-it on your mirror with the words ‘focus on the positive’ (or similar) across it – then every time you see this post-it you’ll be reminded to shift your focus in case you are worrying.
  • Place a red (or any other colour) ribbon on your arm, which will remind you to stay positive whenever you notice it.
  • Or, if you find it hard to change this habit on your own, involve someone close to you and ask this person to remind you to shift your focus when you start to worry.

Change takes time, but it’s worth it. And remember that what you focus on grows stronger. Focus on the positives. Focus on what can go right. Leave the rest behind.

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3 reasons why you should ask for a doggy bag

Bringing up the subject of a doggy bag on this blog can seem odd, but believe me when I say that a doggy bag can contribute to so much happiness, gratitude and – who would have thought – it can even enhance your mental health! Read on, my friend..

Recently my boyfriend and I were out with friends for what ended up as a very late dinner at a fantastic pizza place in central London. It was one of those evenings where everyone laughs a lot and you leave uplifted and slightly high on life (in addition to being so full that you feel somewhat sick).
This particular pizza place serves massive pizzas. Seriously huge! So even though especially the guys hardly ever say no to an extra slice, we still had a few rather large slices left over. Now, we could have just left the pizza there, as so many people unfortunately choose to do these days, however, we decided to ask for a doggy bag.

For a while now I’ve been working on an online project that will hopefully contribute to less food waste in the world once it goes live (did you know that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted*? In the UK almost 50% of food waste comes from households. 7 million tonnes of food and beverages are wasted this way even though roughly half of it could have been eaten**!), so I generally have a hard time leaving food behind in restaurants where I know the employees (in most cases) have specific orders to throw it away.

Long story short, we brought the wrapped up pizza with us and, on our way home, gave it to a homeless man who was more than thrilled and incredibly grateful to get a warm meal. Think about this for a second. If we had left the pizza in the restaurant it would have gone straight to the trash and this man might not have had anything to eat that night. In other words, what you might perceive as trash could, quite literally, be another man’s treasure.

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Now, why am I telling you this? Why is asking for a doggy bag so important? Three reasons:

  1. Obviously, as you can tell from the above, eliminating food waste is a subject that’s very close to my heart and as it’s also a worldwide issue I urge you to always think twice before you throw food away. Keep an eye on expiration dates at home so you manage to eat what you’ve bought before it goes bad (you’ll save money this way too). If the food has passed the expiration date, make sure the food has actually gone bad before getting rid of it – quite often you’ll find it is still perfectly fine. If you’re going away for a few weeks and food won’t keep, give it to your neighbours, your friends or someone less fortunate. Last, but not least, if you’re having dinner out, ask for a doggy bag if there’s any food left over. For some reason a lot of people have a hard time doing this. Maybe it makes them feel cheap? If you are one of these people, please put those silly thoughts aside..  It’s ok to ask for a doggy bag. You paid for the food after all.
  2. When you ask for a doggy bag you have two options;
    a) You can decide to bring the food home and eat it the following day. This way you won’t need to cook and you have saved the money you would have otherwise spent buying groceries.
    b) Or you can decide to give the food to someone less fortunate and hereby do some good. Think about it. With this very simple gesture, you are contributing to someone else’s well being and brightening this person’s day at the same time.
  3. If you go for option b, there’s a part of the equation that works out really well for yourself; Research shows that acts of kindness towards friends and strangers alike lower your stress levels and contribute to your enhanced mental health! (Read more about this here) What’s not to love?!

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What you choose to do with your food is obviously your business. This is me urging you to think twice. And, for goodness sake, don’t be afraid of asking for that doggy bag. Do it with pride! So many restaurants throw away crazy amounts of food daily. Don’t let perfectly good food go to waste. Bring it home instead and enjoy it tomorrow or, better yet, be the reason someone smiles today <3

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* 2015, United Nations Environment Programme – www.unep.org
** 2015, Love Food Hate Waste, www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

How to work the wonders of a mirror

A lot of you may have noticed that I mention mirrors quite often. Now, I don’t keep mentioning mirrors to point out the importance of vanity (that said, there is a lot to be gained by having an extra thorough look at that reflection, believe me). I keep mentioning mirrors because they are a brilliant tool!

For so many unfortunate reasons, most people have issues with their bodies in one way or the other. A lot of the time the same people have issues with their personalities too. As a population we have become overly critical with ourselves and unfortunately this results in a lot of criticizing on a daily basis – in thought and speech.

Most people tell themselves that they’re not good enough in one way or the other every day – are you one of them? Keep in mind that this isn’t just about what you say out loud, this is also very much about your thoughts. Have you been telling yourself lately that you are fat? That you are ugly? That your nose is too big? That you suck at school? That you can never do anything right? That you’re single because no one finds you attractive? That your boobs are too small? That you look old? I bet at least one of the above apply to thoughts you’ve had about yourself recently.

Now imagine your closest friend said these things to you every single day. Imagine the person you trust and love the most chooses to focus on the negative things about you. Would you want to hang out with this person? Would this person make you happy? Would this person make you want to wake up with a big smile on your face every morning excited about the day ahead? I didn’t think so. It’s time for a change. It’s time to be your own very best and positive friend! It’s time for some light mirror work!

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Have a good look at the baby above. Does he look sad? Does he look like he hates what he sees? Does he look like he’s ready to criticise? Hardly. He does look like he’s just about to attack though – with a big kiss! He’s so excited about his own reflection in the mirror. Gotta love that! And this is where we want to get to!
There’s a good chance you used to look at yourself in the mirror this way when you were a baby. Then life happened and your inner voice changed. Let’s get back to basics my friend – be nice to yourself.

How to work the wonders of a mirror:
Next time you pass a mirror, stop. Stop and have a good look at that reflection of yours. Look into those beautiful eyes and smile! Not just one of those pretend smiles, but the real deal! You wouldn’t believe how important a smile is – it can be life altering (have a read: Why smiling is important). Keep the eye contact and the gorgeous smile on your face all through this exercise. Now focus on something positive about yourself and say (preferably out loud, but I appreciate others might be able to hear you in which case thoughts are ok for now) to yourself that you LOVE this trait. E.g. Let’s say you have a fabulous hair colour – tell yourself this! Or maybe you have great skin – tell yourself this! Maybe you just closed an important deal at work – tell yourself that you did an amazing job! I’m sure you get the picture by now. Give yourself the praise you deserve!

If this is all rather new to you, start with pointing out one positive thing about yourself today when you pass a mirror. Do this tomorrow as well. And the day after. Do it every single day this week. Then, next week, make it two things. The week after that, make it three things. Sky is the limit – tell yourself how incredibly amazing you are in every way and finish off with ‘I love you’ (I know this seems rather cheesy to most people, but the importance of self love is so severe I would urge you to do it anyway – have a read here for more on this).

There’s a good chance you’re shaking your head this very moment and thinking to yourself that this whole thing is nuts. I used to do the same, so I get it. However, here’s how I see it; What have you got to lose? Worst-case scenario, you’ll have a great story about the time you took a piece of advice from a blog and ended up talking to yourself in front of a mirror. This will then probably make people laugh and boom – a positive situation appears. In other words, this is a win-win situation. Go for it!

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5 questions that will spark your self development

I was having lunch with a good friend of mine a few days ago. One of those lovely lunches that turn into hours hanging out discussing life and all the ups and downs that come with it.
We ended up discussing an article she read recently where the author didn’t understand why getting engaged was seen as more of an accomplishment (at least on social media) than e.g. getting a promotion or a degree. In some ways I guess this is a good point; Post a photo on social media of a rock on a finger with the words ‘She/I said yes!!’ and you’ll probably have a few hundred likes within a very short amount of time. Post a photo of yourself with your degree and a happy face along with the words ‘I did it!!’ and the amount of likes will probably still be quite high. However, if you compare the two, chances are the engagement photo will be quite a lot more popular.
Personally I find both accomplishments fantastic! Both statements say a lot about who you are and what truly means something to you – what’s not to love? I think the main issue the author wanted to highlight is the tendency of putting the love two people share higher than anything else in life and this made me think!

I have a new scenario for you – a new post. I realise this will rarely happen, but imagine a photo of yourself with your arms spread out wide and your face lit up in a gorgeous smile. Next to the photo are the following words: ‘I LOVE MYSELF!!’ How do you think social media would react to this one?

Now this to me is much more of an interesting topic. Why is the love between two people placed so much higher on the accomplishment scale than the love you have for yourself? Don’t get me wrong – I love relationships and I truly believe in love between two people (I love my boyfriend to pieces!). But even more so, I truly believe we need to love ourselves first and foremost! I believe that if we put the same amount of time and attention to self development, loving ourselves and understanding who we are as we put into the efforts of looking for love from others, this world truly would be a happier place. To take it even further, and I realise this is a bold statement, I actually believe that a lot of divorces / break ups happen today because people don’t love or don’t know how to love themselves.
We enter into relationships hoping our partner will do this for us – which will probably be the case for most people for a little while. The issue is that we’ve seen far too many romantic Hollywood movies and believe life will always be like this as soon as we find that certain someone. We mirror ourselves in those movies and our surroundings rather than in ourselves and our own value. And then, one day, Hollywood is over. Life becomes boring. Enter the blame game; ‘She’s just not interesting any longer – she used to have all these hobbies and friends and now she’s just dull’ or ‘He’s gained so much weight. It’s as if he doesn’t care any longer. He used to be so fit when we met, now he’s constantly in front of the tv or checking his phone’ or ‘I feel so alone in my relationship. It’s as if my partner no longer sees me’. I’m sure you’re able to make up more – however, you might want to read this before you do.

If you’re in one of these not so happy relationships or if you’re doing everything in your power to enter a relationship rather than using the time to give that self development of yours a little nudge in the right direction, try the following exercise on for size:

Turn your attention away from whatever you were doing. If you’re in a relationship, let your partner do his / her thing and redirect all your energy to yourself. In fact, regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not, when you ask yourself the following questions kids and partners are not allowed to be part of the answers. This exercise is about you and you alone. Take your time when answering the questions and remember that there’s no point in answering with lies. No one will know the answers but you (unless you wish to share them, obviously), so if you lie, you’ll be lying to yourself. Just saying.

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Be honest and write the answers down as you go. Answer in full sentences and make the answers as long as you wish. This is for your benefit and your benefit alone.
Turn off the music, TV, phone and anything else that has the ability to remove your attention. It might help to close your eyes and maybe even lay down for a little bit during this exercise – when you remove all distractions it’s easier to get in touch with your body, it’s easier to get to the honest truth. Ready? Here goes.

  • When was the last time you felt happy?
  • When was the last time you did something for yourself that gave you a deeply content feeling?
  • What happens when you look at yourself in the mirror? Do you smile? Do you try to avoid the reflection?
  • How do you ‘speak’ to yourself (your thoughts count on this one)? Do you let yourself down daily? Or do you give yourself praise?
  • What are your dreams (for now and for the future)? What would make you happy?

Remember; Take your time.

Done? So, what are your answers like? Did you find the questions difficult? Do your answers add up to the life you’re living? Don’t panic if they don’t – you’re not the only one who feels this way, trust me. In fact, most people will have a hard time answering these questions. And very few answer them with positive replies.
The good news is that once you know what the issue is, you can do something about it! How’s that for a start? By being honest with yourself you’ve already taken the first step towards a more fulfilled and loving life. You have sparked your self development!

When we know what we truly enjoy and what’s important to us deep down inside, we can adjust our lives accordingly – this is why it’s so incredibly important to sync with yourself from time to time.

So, now what? What are the next steps? For starters, here’s a few links to exercises and information that will give your self development a good push:

The most important part of all of this is to NEVER GIVE UP (read this and this) and, by all means, don’t lie to yourself! If you find you choose to ignore your own signals or always put yourself last in the equation of life, believe me when I say you won’t be able to do this forever. Listen to your body now. Be your own best friend. Get to know your value – self development is your key.

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Don’t give up

So, it’s Monday. Again. And you don’t feel you’re any closer to that goal of yours. It’s as if no matter what you do, you’re just not getting there. So you look to your neighbour, colleague, friend – heck – even a stranger, to find company for your misery. But they are all so content! What are you doing wrong?! Why does everyone else seem to have it all worked out yet here you are in the same miserable state you’ve been in for weeks, months or maybe even years. Nothing ever works for you. Is the whole thing just a scam? Has life been set up to disappoint you? Is this a bad joke? Where’s the camera?
Don’t give up!

First of all, I can assure you that you’re not the only one feeling the way you do this very moment. Even the ones who smile the most and seem the most ’on top of the world’ have issues and challenges that will exceed your wildest imagination. Most people, however, choose not to let everyone else in on these matters – they choose to deal with them privately and quite often for good reason.

But then what about social media? Every day you’re faced with pictures from mountain tops, rooftop parties in exotic countries, weddings on beaches, babies, new designer bags, sports cars – you name it. Surely that’s not just something these people make up? Probably not, no (although some might be – trust me). But just because you bought a new Ferrari doesn’t mean you’re happy deep down inside. That friend of yours travelling the world and seeing all these exotic places could be just as lonely as you might be when tucked in at night. The ones who just became parents? They are probably scared out of their minds! The girl from your class who’s always at the right parties? Maybe she’s desperately searching for attention. My point is, we all have struggles. Even those who are genuinely happy most of the time have worries and challenges. You are not alone! So, my thoughts on social media? If it brings you down, leave it be for a while. But remember; some people aren’t really what they ’post’ to be…

Second, if you have set a goal for yourself, if you have dreams and visions of what you really want in life; keep working at it! Don’t ever give up. It’s usually when we give up that we were the closest to achieving what we had set out to accomplish.

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That said, if you’ve been stuck in misery for years in a life or job you don’t enjoy, this might be your wake-up call (you might want to read this). It might be time to look deep within and work on figuring out what you’re dreams and wishes are really about. In my opinion there’s no such thing as dreaming too big or setting unrealistic goals. Nothing is impossible! (Have a look at this exercise, if you need a little push.) Follow your heart and your gut and make sure you’re passionate about whatever you start up / set your mind to. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! If you’re passionate about it, you’ll put in the work required without hesitation. You won’t even perceive it as work. You’ll do it because it comes naturally to you and because you truly enjoy doing it. Chances are, you might not even be able to put it away. However,  even when we feel this way about something there can be a setback or two, which is ok. In fact, it’s natural. Just don’t give up. Be your own coach! Get back in the game. Trust me. You are so much closer to the break through than you think.

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Do you know your value?

Tough question, right? Do you know your value? If you’re in a relationship of some sort (be it a relationship with a significant other, a parent, a colleague etc.) and you feel like you’re always chasing, trying to make the other person happy, calling, texting or otherwise desperately seeking attention, chances are you probably don’t. The thing is, in your relationship with others you are the only one responsible for how you are treated. That’s right; It’s your responsibility – no blaming others. You are the master of how others react to you. You set the rules. Your surroundings do as you ask them to regardless of whether you do so with words, actions, body language or simply with thoughts.

Bring on the excuses: ‘But she says she’s not hurting me on purpose’, ‘But he is in the middle of a depression – I have to be there’, ‘But she’s just confused’, ‘But he is just busy’, ‘But he is ending it with his partner – it’s only a matter of time till we can be together’, ‘But I’ll never find anyone else like her’, ‘But we’re married – I have to stick it out’, ‘But I don’t want my kids to grow up with divorced parents’. If you’re like most people, I’m sure you’re able to make up more..

I realise that special circumstances can arise, and if you have children, are married or have otherwise made a life long promise to someone, you’ll probably need to have a longer leash. However, even when you’ve made these commitments, there’s no point in giving up all your power to your significant other. There’s simply no excuse for not knowing your own value. It takes two to tango in any relationship. Where is the puzzle piece with your happiness on it, if you’re constantly focused on making someone else happy?

I recently read a blog where the writer was describing how her mother was always subject to her dominating father. How her mother would obey her husband’s every request and generally do everything to make him happy. Which party do you feel sorry for in this scenario? Hopefully both (and the blogger, who was a child in this unhealthy environment). None of these roles are pleasant. No one enjoys that amount of power – no one enjoys being ‘small’. I don’t know this couple, but chances are the imbalance was probably there from the very beginning and has then, with time, become even more outspoken. Regardless, I believe that the imbalance wouldn’t be there in the first place if they both knew their value.

I was once told that relationships are all about meeting a person you’re at eye level with (in regards to energy and soul – not height). It’s all about healthy counteraction and great communication (the latter being the ‘glue’). When I heard this I had just been in a relationship where I was the dominating one (you can read about it here) and had formerly been in a relationship where my partner had all the power, so my first reaction was to fear the future. What were the odds that I would ever find anyone where the balance would be just right? I didn’t even know what to look for! So I gave up the hunt for a little while and focused on myself – the best thing I could have ever done.

I worked on my relationship with myself daily! In several different ways (some of the exercises I used can be found here, here and  here). If you don’t love yourself, how are you ever going to show anyone how you want to be loved? If you don’t respect yourself, how are you ever going to be able to demand respect from others? If you don’t see your own inner beauty, chances are others won’t see it either. Be nice to yourself. Think positive thoughts (a little about positivity to be found here)! Smile to yourself and the people around you daily – you have so much to offer and so much to be grateful for. Why would you waste your fabulous energy on someone or something who doesn’t appreciate it?

Respect yourself

If you’re feeling powerless in your relationship, you’re probably not placing yourself high enough. There’s nothing wrong with loving others (on the contrary – go for it!) or wanting to be good to them. But the problem with putting others first is, that you automatically put yourself second. Think about that sentence for a minute.
Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you’re selfish or rude. It means you value the one person that will be with you forever – regardless of what happens. (In case you missed it, this person would be you.) You need to be your own best friend. You need to realise your value. Once you do this, nothing can knock you over (not completely, anyway).

You are never powerless. If you’re not happy and don’t see a change on it’s way – make the change yourself. Your happiness is your own responsibility. Leave behind what’s pulling you down and move forward. Put yourself first. Value who you are or no one else will.

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How much worse could things be?

When we’re caught up in misery and pain, everything somehow becomes all about ourselves in the darkness – nothing else matters. Everything is just black, awful, unimportant, cold and there seems to be no prospect of anything ever getting any better. But what if things could get better? And what if they could get better by thinking ‘How much worse could things be?’

During her commencement speech at Berkeley on Saturday, COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, brought up the subject of gratitude several times in several different ways. Throughout an extremely touching, honest and truly inspirational speech she shared her hard core and heart breaking story publicly for the first time since the sudden loss of her husband a little over a year ago. Several times, she came close to letting her emotions take over and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one truly in awe of her strength as she stood there and shared her life’s biggest struggle with everyone.
Sheryl Sandberg touched base on so many incredibly important and very interesting subjects during her speech, but there was one subject in particular that caught my attention; Her ability to find gratitude during the absolute darkest hours of her life.
She managed to find gratitude with help from her friend and therapist, Adam Grant, who, one day, suggested she think about how much worse things could be.

Steps

Sheryl Sandberg tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, due to a cardiac arrhythmia that the doctors had not yet discovered he had. In an instant she lost the love of her life and became a single parent to two children, yet she, like so many others who are suddenly faced with severe sorrows in life, managed to make life work regardless of tremendous heartbreak and pain. So when Sheryl Sandberg was asked to consider how much worse things could be, her reply was ‘Worse?! Are you crazy?! How could things be worse?!’ Adam Grant replied: ‘Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia driving your children’. And just like that the situation was put into perspective. A perspective that made her realise how much she had to be grateful for.

Now, Sheryl Sandberg’s example is obviously rather hard core, but maybe that’s what makes the point so clear; that gratitude can always be found. Always. Regardless of what happens, you’ll always be able to find something to be grateful for in the light of a scenario that’s worse than the one you’re in.  And that little grain of gratitude can end up being the star that shines and leads the way on your otherwise dark road. The trick is to then add more stars to the sky and eventually you will have enough light to recognize the beauty that surrounds you.

I have formerly brought up exercises that can help you increase your gratefulness (and thereby also your happiness). Sheryl Sandberg actually mentions this one in her speech and another one can be found here. You might not be able to feel the effects of these exercises immediately, but I promise you that if you repeat them every day, you will feel it eventually, as what you put your attention to grows stronger. Put your attention towards the positives – always.

If you’d like to see Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech, which I highly recommend, this can be found below. You might think it’s slightly long, but trust me – it’s worth every minute and will stay with you for quite some time if you really let it sink in.

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I love you

I have now been blogging for a month! To celebrate, I hereby give you one of my most ‘wacky’ meetings with spirituality, but also one of my absolutely most important ones.
I love telling this story to people who know me well, as they always end up laughing several times through it and yet they actually get the point once I reach the end. Hopefully you will do the same.

In my early twenties I was severely heartbroken. To a degree where I actually think I went a bit crazy for a little while. You see, I had built my life around a boyfriend and truly believed we would get married, have children and all of the things connected to that picture. It started out as a beautiful love story. The kind where you’re so much in love that you can hardly breathe. I specifically remember telling my mother about him (about a week in), while spreading my arms out and float-flying around the kitchen in my childhood home. I was struck. Big time. And, to my big surprise, so was he.

As you have probably figured out by now our love didn’t last forever. One day I came home from college and there he was, on the couch, pretty much in the same spot I had left him during our morning fight. He was crying and, bless him, he had tried to paint his feelings in order for me to understand exactly what was going on inside him. Bottom line was that he wasn’t ready for all of it and I was – he felt trapped. Looking back, I really can’t blame him. I was so incredibly dependent on him that I have to say I’m quite impressed he didn’t leave sooner. I actually planned my week according to his schedule. Yes, it was that bad.

Nevertheless, he left me, and my life froze completely. Nothing functioned and I spent most of my time crying and wondering whether life was really worth living. With time though I did become rather good at socialising and partying especially, but when I was alone I was devastated and life made no sense to me. I remember I actually found partying to be a great escape from it all, right till the next morning when my feelings caught up with me and the hangover somehow made everything even worse. I lost a lot of weight, smoked way to many cigarettes and I was miserable!

One day a friend of mine told me about a man she knew called Dan. A healer. This was the first time I heard of one such and I found the whole thing fascinating (also, I had no better idea as to how I was to leave my own pity party). Apparently this guy had just opened up a place close to where I lived – an event space / studio / healer spot (oh yes, many hats) and my friend had been hired to play the piano at a Christian Healing Ceremony that was to take place in the large event space (as she’s an Atheist, I’m still not quite sure what that was all about).  She asked whether I’d like to come along that night, so I could meet Dan and speak to him about potential healing. Besides, she wasn’t really sure what she had gotten herself involved in so as I had nothing better to do I decided to be a good friend and off we went.

It was Wednesday evening and we laughed all the way there, prepared for a whole lot of ‘Hallelujah’ and talk of God (can I just say that none of us have anything against religion, I’m just not particularly religious myself and my friend is, as mentioned, an Atheist). However, I swear, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience…

The Christian Healing Ceremony itself was surreal to say the least. I have no doubt, that if this is your thing, these ladies would be your heroes. However, as Dan’s huge event space was completely new the Healing Ceremony was the first of its kind and the audience was very limited. As in, we were 4 people in the audience. 2 of them were Dan and me, who weren’t supposed to be there in the first place – the other two were a couple of siblings who had apparently both experienced quite severe drama in their lives recently. To say that the place felt rather empty would be an understatement, but they went ahead with it anyway and the siblings took turns going to the stage to receive healing. Yes, there was quite a lot of Hallelujah going on, and I just sat there, stunned and unsure of what I was seeing.
Towards the end of the ceremony one of the healers turned to me and asked me whether I wanted to receive healing. She specifically said ‘I know you’re reluctant, and that’s completely ok. However, you need it and would be doing yourself a favour’. Aha. Right. Well, what did I have to lose?  If you’re in doubt – say yes, right? So I went up there. Besides, saying no would have been rude at this point.
The very nice lady asked me whether I believed in Jesus. ‘Uhm… Undecided’, I replied. I could hardly tell her that I was only there to meet Dan now, could I? She told me that Jesus loved me anyway and that he was there for me. This is the last of our conversation I remember. Suddenly tears were streaming down my face and I felt weightless. My legs seemed to somewhat dissapear beneath me and I sort of blacked out (although, as it turns out, I was standing straight all along). The whole thing felt like it lasted a matter of seconds, but it definitely lasted a lot longer than that.
I eventually turned around to walk back to my seat only to find that Dan stood right behind me! For some reason, this seemed natural at the time, but as he wasn’t part of the ‘show’ he really had no business on that stage. He told me later, that he could tell that the other healer needed help up there. That he had never seen so much negative energy escape a person before and so he had run up on stage to help her remove it. Alrighty then.

So, this was my first healing experience. My second healing experience came to me the same night, straight after the first one. The healer in question this time was Dan. It was rather late (10pm) yet he asked me whether I would like to have a session immediately – and so I followed him to his healer room and we had a chat. The next thing I know I’m crying like a baby on his healer table while struggling to say the following words to myself: ‘I love you, Katrine’. I just couldn’t get the words out. I tried and tried, but something was blocked.

Here’s a little background info for you: All through my childhood I was reminded daily that I wasn’t good enough. I was constantly criticized and never completely accepted in my home, which I guess taught me to look for love everywhere else but within (something I have forgiven a long time ago, but these were the facts I was faced with and the challenges I needed to overcome). I was always sad and cried a lot – until I found my freedom outside the house. When I was with friends it all seemed easier. My friends became family. Generally speaking I was a peoples person, and I found myself ‘there’ for pretty much anyone whenever needed. I could easily relate to pain, and I felt love and acceptance when I was helping them. Basically, I lived for everybody but myself. I was a people pleaser and did everything in my power to make my surroundings like me. So, when my rock-star of a first real love left me I felt absolutely worthless. I was 22 years old and hated my own guts. Everything I had been told during my childhood had come true – of course he didn’t want me! I believed I would never ever be happy again and I was literally unable to say those three basic and ever so important words to myself; ‘I love you’.

see your worth

Back to the story: The healing session was over and I found myself on my bike heading home a little past midnight. Copenhagen was silent and I was alone in the darkness. I had spent 2 hours on Dan’s healing table and the only thing I could remember from this session was the fact that I had cried from start to finish and was unable to say ‘I love you, Katrine’.
I could hardly recognise myself in the mirror when I came home. My face was swollen, my eyes were red and puffy – I looked awful. And I didn’t care. I went straight to bed and fell asleep before my head even hit the pillow.

Next day, Thursday, I was a complete zombie. I felt like I was surrounded by fog and that I was moving in slow motion. I went to classes and spoke to people, but when I came home I didn’t remember a thing. My body was heavy, exhausted and completely drained. I have no recollection of what else happened that day, apart from this; I repeated Dan’s ‘I love you’ exercise right before I went to bed. I had promised him to do so every night before I fell asleep and he had promised me that I would be able to complete it one day.

Friday I woke up in a better mood than I had ever in my life experienced before. I was high! I was flying! Huge amounts of weight had been lifted off my shoulders and life was smiling at me. I remember standing on the balcony in the sun, breathing deeply with a huge smile on my face. I was on my way – I would get there one day. I was learning to love myself.
Believe me when I say, that this was the beginning of a true and amazing love story. My own love story. A love story that no one can mess with and a love story I continue to work on every single day.

The thing about life is that the only person you know will always be with you is yourself. Some people find this fact sad, others find it reassuring. Regardless, this means that the one place you should always be able to find love is from within yourself.
We all need love – no matter what we’ve been through. So, if you haven’t done this already, how about starting up your own gorgeous love story right now? Dan’s recipe can be found below, but feel free to create your own or see a healer, a therapist or anyone else who will be able to help you find your way.

The recipe for Dan’s ‘I love you’ exercise (min. 30 minutes required):

  1. Get comfortable. Lie on a bed, a couch, the floor – you decide. What’s important is that you’re on your back and not bothered by any sounds or things around you. Close your eyes. Place your right hand on your belly – solar plexus, to be precise. Place your left hand over your heart. Relax.
  2. Take deep, slow breaths and let your body get heavy. Concentrate on one body part at a time; Relax your toes (one at a time), your heels, your feet, your ankles, your calves, your knees, your thighs, your abdomen, your hips, your belly, your chest, your shoulders, your upper arms, your elbows, your lower arms, your palms, your fingers (one at a time), your neck, your jaw, your lips, your nose, your cheeks, your eyes, your forehead, your ears, your scalp.
  3. Now, imagine that you are standing inside your head. That you are standing right behind your forehead waiting for an elevator to arrive. It’s up to you to decide what you are wearing and what the elevator looks like. What’s important here is that you wait for the elevator – it will get to you eventually.
  4. Once the elevator reaches you, step inside and push ‘down’. Now imagine how this elevator slides down your forehead, your nose, your lips, your chin, your neck, your collarbone, your chest, and eventually stops at your heart.
  5. Once you reach your heart the elevator doors will open and you can step out. Look at your heart; see it beating – so beautiful and full of life. Now, in your own time, say ‘I love you (your name)’. Repeat. Tell yourself again and again, till you feel you have truly understood the message. Hug your heart if you like – nurture it.
  6. When you’re ready, step back into the elevator, let the doors close and push ‘up’. Now feel how you’re journey back to your head takes you via your chest, your collarbone, your neck, your chin, your lips, your nose and eventually stops in your head.
  7. Step out of the elevator and let yourself slowly come back to your senses.

I was instructed to do this exercise right before I fell asleep each night, but if you find there’s a better time during the day for you to do this, go for it.

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