Lately, I’ve been thinking about the art of simplicity, among many other ideas and topics on how to be happy, fulfilled and live your best life (as per).
I’m currently in Melbourne – hurrah! The Australian city of art, culture, equality, hipsters and where it’s socially acceptable and no one bats an eye if you order a half-filled (not too much milk plz) decaf soy latte to take away in your Keep Cup. Although I don’t actually have a Keep Cup (I’ve given up coffee!), but I did casually walk past their HQ on Tuesday on route to a vegetarian healthy-food restaurant in the hip suburb Fitzroy like ‘YASSS I LOVE THIS CITY’.
Being in a city again has definitely propelled me back to ‘normal’ (so not into that word as there’s no such thing, and it’s a social and personally created construct – obvs! – but you get what I mean) life.
It’s easy to be zen high vibe life loving when I’m not working and am sunbathing on a beach meditating and reading the Power of Now (life changer – even Oprah said so). But it’s slighting more ‘challenging’ when back in ‘real world’ vibes. I let my new daily practices slip the last few days, which is fine as I was busy doing lot’s of fun things, but I noticed such a significant impact on my mood and my health. For the last two days, I pretty much rested all day as my glands swelled up and I was shattered from a few nights of broken or not enough sleep due to being excited to be here, busy doing fun things, and staying with a friend – all good stuff! But I also slipped into negative thinking patterns again and there was a huge negative payoff which left me feeling extremely depleted.
So, how to stay zen and high vibe life loving (my absolute priority in life right now) when faced with real-world confrontations and struggles?
Over the past three months, I feel like I’m tottering between the ‘old me’ vs the new – the authentic and true and present content me. Of course, I am essentially the same person but my mindset has completely changed and has lead me to experience life in a completely different (and happy as fuck) way.
I caught up with an old friend a couple of nights ago who I hadn’t seen for around 6 months (when I was in peak drama mode). She said she really noticed a change in me (best message ever to receive!) and felt like she related to me more now (cute). She told me she felt last year I always had dramas and I was constantly talking about myself which resulted in her feeling exhausted on the receiving end. And probably actually pushed her away (she didn’t say that though but I know I retract from negative vibes hardcore now I’m high vibing!). Of course, at the time I had no idea exactly how my core set of beliefs and values and way I perceived the world and myself was resulting in me behaving in this way.
Interestingly, I didn’t feel ‘depressed’ or anything like that at the time, but looking back I wasn’t feeling truly happy, deeply content and feeling lit-up and alive – which is how I feel now, pretty much every day. It wasn’t until I undertook a personal development course on the first weekend of January until changes started to happen – that weekend was the catalyst for change for me. It pulled me out of blaming, playing the victim, feeling stuck and lost and attracting and creating drama. From there, I started to dig deeper into what’s been holding me back and why. I now feel completely responsible for myself and my life, and I know now I had created and attracted all of the negative experiences.
I am so fricken grateful for ALL of the hard experiences. For all of the feeling of stuckness, hurt, heartbreak, drama – for unconsciously pushing people out of my life without even realising it – because I learnt SO much. Because I will now never do that again. Because now, I am so grateful for everything and I see my life and myself through loving lenses and with joy. And a lot of the time, it’s simply for being alive. Which is a fucking miracle that we forget on a daily, hourly, minute, moment by moment basis. We are so lucky to even be alive.
As Bill Bryson sums it up so eloquently in A Short History of Nearly Everything (best book ever FYI):
Not only have you been lucky enough to be attached since time immemorial to a favoured evolutionary line, but you have also been extremely – make that miraculously – fortunate in your personal ancestry. Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that would result – eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly – in you.
When I am reminded of the miracle of life, being alive is simply enough of a reason to feel deep joy and bliss.
So, back to how to be happy day-to-day in real life even when there are challenges. For me, it comes down to the art of simplicity – clearing the way of all experiences I do not want and that no longer serve me – and focusing on the ones I do, which are most often really simple things. It’s all about shifting focus on to the simple things in life and clearing out the clutter. Clutter for me is both ‘stuff’, such as buying things and consumerism, and mental clutter, such as giving too many fucks, negativity and drama etc.
I love this quote by Josh and Ryan from The Minimalists (total life changing legends) – which pretty much sums up my philosophy, just adding in that it’s not just physical clutter, but mental clutter (negative thoughts, judgement, fear etc) too:
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather: we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room”
Below is what I’ve been practicing to get back into alignment when challenges arise, and I will continue to dig in deeper.
- It’s totally normal to be out of alignment. I watched Gabrielle Bernstein’s ‘super attractor’ workshop last week and she was talking about how all feelings have a purpose. She talks about how important it is to feel all feelings fully and then being able to redirect them. Lately, I do this on a moment-to-moment basis but when I’ve been busy the last few days I didn’t do this and my ego kicked into overdrive and my mind started to spiral negativity out of control. So since yesterday, I’m back to aligning myself and I start by forgiving myself. Because ‘everyone is always doing the best they can’ – I really believe this. I slowed down the momentum by breathing deeply, napping, taking time out to just be, going slow, and talking about appreciation and gratitude in my life. Expressing gratitude and appreciation in and for the tough times and situations is essential. (I’m SO grateful for all of the challenges).
- Judgment, comparison, and complaining detox. This is really key for me. Last year when I was unhappy I would complain to everyone (sorry to all who listened to me but also THANK YOU for being there) and would constantly judge others – I was a drama magnet! I still do judge, but a lot less, and I’m conscious of it now. When I judge others now I feel really ick and it depletes me as I LOVE PEOPLE! I believe when we judge others we are actually judging something we don’t like within ourselves. I love this interview by Marie Forleo to Gabby Bernstein on judgement. So the affirmation serves me ‘ I forgive myself for having this thought. I choose to see love instead’ and ‘I choose to only see the light in you’ – I’m practicing these affirmations when I face challenges. Instead of complaining (seeing the negative), I vent out my feelings if I need to talk about a struggle or situation (SO important), but I now always try and find the positive from every situation. What did this teach me? What lesson did I need to learn now? Why was I triggered by this? How can I apply a positive technique to this?
- Speaking words of love and positivity. I do my very best to talk about what I love about life. I’m not talking about being fake and like ‘omg everything is perfect’ when it’s not. But when I share and vent now I do really aim to frame it in a positive way at the end of the conversation. And for the majority of the time, I try to speak about presence and love. i.e. ‘I love this sunshine. How amazing is this meal. How incredible is that street art’ – I mean not all at once all the time as that would be annoying as fuck! But in an authentic and genuine way, I practice focusing on the positive whenever possible. In turn, this brings more love and positivity into my life. When we speak about negativity or things we don’t have, we are bringing more negative experiences into our life or strengthening our ego-based lack mentality.
- Minimalism! This is integral to my philosophy. At the moment I’m getting rid of ‘stuff’ and making very conscious choices when it comes to purchasing. Will this bring long-term joy into my life / do I really need it? I have 1.5 suitcases worth of stuff at the moment but when I get back to Perth I’m downsizing again to one backpack yeeeow. I don’t need stuff to make me happy, in fact, I feel so much happier with less stuff.
- Contrasting life experiences are incredible lessons. Since I feel I’m tottering between the old and the new (the now), I have come across contrasting life experiences – things I used to do, consume or ways of behaving that now feel extremely out of alignment for me. I’m grateful for these experiences as I know they are part of my path and journey, and they show me what I do want! For example, I can no longer stand shopping malls even though I used to love them, as now I often feel depleted after being in them as to me they represent consumerism and a lack mentality. They now really go against my values (equality and sustainability) and consumerism doesn’t make me happy, especially as fast fashion is NASTY to the planet and people – think pollution, child slaves, and sweatshops – all of which I am taking a stance against whenever possible. Sidenote: The documentary The True Cost investigates the effects of fast fashion as they pose the question, who pays the price for our clothing?
- Surrounding myself with incredible people! This is obvious but so important to my energy levels. I’m so extremely lucky and grateful to have so many incredible people in my life. People I can chat to when I need to vent. People that lift me up. People that are aiming to live their best lives. People that are change makers! All of my friends have amazing gifts to offer the world and I’ve gained so much from these friendships – THANK YOU! From friends who love art and tell me about their favourite artists, to friends who are passionate about photography and show me their work, to friends who are talented in the kitchen and make incredible delicious healthy body loving food, to friends who share their hopes, dreams and visions of making the world a better place, to friends who are vulnerable and authentic and deeply honest, to friends who live it up by trying microdosing on acid and going to sex parties, to friends who love to travel and share their adventures or new places they want to visit, to friends who are baby-mothers or fur baby-mothers and share their compassion and love to those close to them – etc. etc. etc! The happier I get, the more I feel I attract happy people and vibes to my life on a daily basis. The more I aware of my friends’ happiness, the more they reflect it back to me. Friends have also taught me really important lessons on boundaries, generosity, compassion, authenticity, energy exchange and the importance of sticking to what makes me happy.
- Being inspired by incredible extraordinary people. From the spiritual teachers I’m drawn to, to life-changing activists and artists, philosophers, and writers etc. When I seek out these people and absorb their knowledge not only do I feel good, I’m encouraged to keep finding more likeminded individuals who I feel aligned with. This week I’m inspired by Annie Leibovitz (famous portrait photographer), Maria Abramovic (groundbreaking performance artist), and Anais Nin (provocative diarist, essayist, and novelist).
- Self-reflective practices. Writing this blog is like therapy for me ha. Journalling pretty much always makes me feel good. Meditating – essential! Tim Ferris (huge fan atm) found that around 80% of successful – like global, world-leading successful extraordinary individuals – have a mediation or mind setting techniques and morning practices. I’ve noticed I significantly drop to lower vibes when I don’t do this. Even Gabrielle Bernstein, who is a famous multi-million dollar New York Times bestselling author and life coach and spiritual teacher has two therapists. Humans are extremely complex beings and it’s completely normal to feel lost, insecure or even (sadly) unworthy. I’m finding and trailing practices that work for me that keep me in or bring me back into alignment.
- Be here now. Whenever I connect to the present moment I feel deep contentment and appreciation. There’s really nothing else I need in my life right now to be happy. More money or possessions would not make me any happier in a deeper and longer-term way, as I have everything I need right now to be truly happy, inside of me.
I’m still developing my emotional intelligence and capacity, I do still sometimes either slip or flick back to completely ego-based fears, behaviours or attitudes – but it’s happening less and less and every time it does now, I get back into alignment as soon as possible (with forgiveness and love toward myself, and others if anyone else was involved).
Of course, nothing is ever black and white and throwing out everything I own isn’t going to then make me feel enlightened or whatever, it’s more about living life in a conscious way and making conscious choices whenever possible about things that bring me joy. There’s no end destination, I’m just leaning into all things that make me feel good, and minimising or getting rid of all things that don’t whenever possible. And of course it’s not possible all of the time, and that’s okay too! However, I know the more I practice living consciously, the happier I feel, so I am strengthening myself and my connection to my intuition by doing this.
Today, I feel like ending this post with some quotes I find inspirational, based on who’s inspired me this week.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ― Anaïs Nin
“Once, Picasso was asked what his paintings meant. He said, “Do you ever know what the birds are singing? You don’t. But you listen to them anyway.” So, sometimes with art, it is important just to look.” ― Marina Abramović
“You don’t have to sort of enhance reality. There is nothing stranger than truth.” – Annie Leibovitz
“What you’re doing is not important. What is really important is the state of mind from which you do it.” ― Marina Abramović
“Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself.” – Annie Leibovitz
“To control the breathing is to control the mind. With different patterns of breathing, you can fall in love, you can hate someone, you can feel the whole spectrum of feelings by changing your breathing.” ― Marina Abramović
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anaïs Nin
With high vibes and love!