Tag Archives: happiness

Joyful Soul

(Taken from Chapter 12 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins

06 June picI have long lost track of how many people have entered my psychotherapy office bringing with them their sorrows, but leaving behind any sense of joy. They have lost their enjoyment and feel as if their zest for life has completely disappeared. When asked, few can say what used to make them smile, let alone remember the last time they really laughed. When I ask what they do for fun, the all-too-common answer is “nothing.” Certainly, when people are anxious, depressed, grief-stricken, stressed, or in any other state of turmoil, their experiences of joy are rare. But reacquainting with what brings them joy is guaranteed to free them from the gravity of any challenging circumstance or situation.

Our soul is nothing without joy. Without joy we are void of all light that reminds us why we live. In times when the human condition has us in its darkened grip, our experience of joy is less tangible, and so is our connection with our soul. We cannot see as clearly how to make decisions that suit our wisest ally, and we often go further off track rather than closer to our inner wisdom. Consequently, it’s not unusual for people who are distressed to report that they no longer know who they are, as their despair further disconnects them from their soul.

Our sense of joy—or lack of one—, thus, serves as another measure of our soul health. Our sense of joy is much like the pilot light for our inner ally—as long as it is lit we are still experiencing at least some pleasure in life and are able to tolerate the darker sides of the human condition. However, when that light is dim or snuffed out, nothing seems to matter—not even oneself. Therefore, awareness of what brings us joy is of utmost importance to our overall health. Essayist Logan Smith notes, “If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul.” Indeed, our souls do define us; and if we don’t listen to them, we will never find our way back home to this inner ally. More tragic is the risk of losing who we really are.

Joy stems both from the fun and leisure we create06 June pic2 in our lives and from the meaning we place on the activities we choose for recreation. Individual recreational needs may differ as widely as the people on the planet do. What we all have in common, though, is that fun and leisure not only buffers the unpleasant aspects of our human condition, but also fortifies or feeds the soul.

The recreational branch of soul health relates to both the fun and the leisure we allow, invite, or create in our lives. There is a difference between the two, though. We experience fun through “acting playfully”—reacting in a light-hearted, humorous, or jesting manner —at home, work, or social situations. Leisure time, however, allows us to find respite from our responsibilities—personal and professional—which usually represent the heavier aspects of our human condition. Both fun and leisure are necessary in fortifying our soul and promoting its evolution.

Unfortunately, most people don’t make or take time for fun and leisure. In a 2010 survey, an online travel agency found that only 38 percent of Americans use all of the vacation time they were allotted. This may not be surprising, given the standards for long hours of work in this country; however, the physical and emotional cost may outweigh the praise we get for the long hours worked. In fact, there is often a direct impact on physical health when people don’t take time to relax. One researcher found that people who don’t take time to slow down from daily life may find it harder to relax in the future since the neural pathways that produce feelings of calm and peacefulness become weaker, making it increasingly more difficult to shift to less stressful states of being. This demonstrates that our bodies are indeed restored when we are at rest or at play—and that this is necessary in sustaining our well-being.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

 

Twitchy Without Travel: Confessions of an Adventure Junkie

 DSC00982If there’s anything that makes me uneasy, it’s a blank travel schedule.  Seriously!  I start to feel anxious, sometimes a little depressed, and get an uncomfortable sense that something is missing.  I call it “twitchy”—a feeling that isn’t calmed until I actually have at least one trip on the books.  I’m always pondering where to go next, whether hitting the road, flying the friendly skies, hiking in a national park, or floating on a giant hotel somewhere in the Caribbean.  It’s in my blood.  And I have no intention of trying to ditch the habit.  I simply need my fix.

I experienced my first taste of transformational travel quite by accident.  My best friend and I went to the Grand Canyon the summer after my dad died, which was also the year after her sister had passed away from a long struggle with Leukemia.  We both held hectic college and work schedules and decided to take a break to head to the Four Corners region and head down to the giant hole in the ground.  Needless to say, we had an amazing trip!  The drive gave us time to laugh, talk, and air out our souls, while taking in the interesting topography along the way.

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I will never forget the sound of her gasp as my friend saw the Grand Canyon from the passenger side window for the first time.  It was my turn to drive, and I’m glad it was—because hearing the absolute awe in her voice was just as memorable as seeing the canyon for myself.  We treated ourselves by taking a helicopter ride through the canyon, getting a close-up view of the steep walls, the Colorado River below, and the seemingly teeny lodges perched on the rim.  What was most notable about the trip, though, was how rested and restored we both felt as we drove back home.  Both of our souls had been filled—and fed—in a way that nothing else had done following the loss of our loved ones.  We had both been transformed by a three day visit to one of the wonders of the world.  With 6 visits to date, the Grand Canyon remains both my favorite national park in the United States, and also my most cherished place to clean out the human condition and restore my soul.

A transformational travel junkie was born!

DSCF5455What transpired next was a variety of adventures both in and outside of the U.S.  From Niagara Falls to the Everglades, Alaska to Florida, and everywhere I could stop in between, I went to every place that I could find an excuse to visit.  I traveled to Europe, both Central- and South America, and various islands in the Caribbean.  I set a goal to reach all of the natural national parks (27 of the 56 so far…), visit all the major cities, and take as many road trips to unique places as time and money would allow.  I’ve driven Highway 1 up the coast of California, the Overseas Highway down through the Florida Keys, all of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and many other scenic roads and major highways throughout the country.  Years ago I decided that every adventure I had would include an element of reflection and spiritual enrichment, which isn’t that difficult given all of the magnificent features that this world has to offer.  I always take my journal and as a result of some dedicated time away in majestic surroundings, I always return home with a new perspective and heightened mood.

The fun of my work now is that I can take it on the road!  As of next month, I will be working with Cross Country Education to do nationwide continuing education workshops throughout the country.  No better way to see more of the country than to make it part of my passion of work as well!  Not only will I be able to teach others within mine and related fields, but I will be able to nourish my travel bug at the same time.  Not a bad gig.

Most exciting is that I am now creating transformational travel excursions for others as well.  Yes!  I have found yet another way to make my work another form of play!  As the author of Soul Health, I am well aware of the need to “align” one’s life with what feeds their soul in order to create optimal living.  And because travel has fed my soul so well, I am well-nourished and able to provide transformational travel for others.

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There are many research studies which show positive health benefits of travel.  Those who take time away are shown to have both better mental and physical health than those who choose to “bank” their vacation time.  This statistic is a bit scary since only 38% of Americans use all of their allotted hours away from the office.  Studies also show that when we experience awe and wonder, we also feel more connected within, to the world, and to all others.  So, if travel can be such an uplifting experience, why not pair it with a transformational adventure designed specifically to help you learn, heal, and evolve?

Life, itself, is an adventure.  But when we consciously choose our travel destinations and journeys to enhance our growth, we open ourselves to a level of evolution that nothing else can stimulate.  I know for myself that it is difficult to reach this awareness in the day-to-day grind.  So, it gives me great pleasure to create transformational travel experiences for others.

Soul Health Travel is simply an extension of my passion to help people evolve beyond their previous ways and align their lives for optimal living.  When we feed our souls through travel, we provide the essential “nutrients” for not only optimal alignment of our human lives, but also for our soul’s evolution.  What could be better than visiting a magnificent sight while also growing our soul?

For more information, visit www.soulhealthtravel.com.  I’m excited to take care of the details so you can fully take care of you!

Friendships as a Reflection of Soul

(Taken from Chapter 5 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

A true friend is one soul in two bodies. ~~ Aristo

best-friend[1]No one can deny the power of a strong friendship except those who have never had one.  Everyone has different needs and comfort levels for the non-family relationships in their lives.  Research regarding the positive impact of friendships is extensive in the sociological literature.  Among other things, friends abate loneliness, enhance a sense of kinship, and help each other minimize both emotional and physical health.

In their book Rethinking Friendship, authors Liz Spencer and Ray Pahl describe the following types of friendly connections:

Associates—those who share common activities like hobbies and sports.

Useful Contacts—those who share information and advice whether for career or other           purposes.

Favor Friends—those who help each other in a functional, but not an emotional manner.

Fun Friends—those who socialize together but don’t offer deep emotional support.

Helpmates—friends who offer both favors and fun but little emotional support.

Comforters —similar to helpmates, but with some emotional support.

Confidantsthose who share personal information with each other but aren’t always in a position to offer practical help (i.e., if they live far away).

Soul matesthose who display all of the elements listed above.

Whether a person has one or all of these types of friendships, the evidence clearly shows that it is important to our soul health to cultivate relationships of this kind.  As previously noted, many people consider friends to be a vital part of their family network, which enhances your soul health.

 

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

“Banking” Laughter

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”  ~ Mark Twain

I have a confession to make.  The Recreational Branch of my Soul Health Model was the last one I added to the tree, even though I’ve always placed great value in the benefits of laughter and play.  Long ago I even said that my first book would be about adult play since we seem to take our lives too seriously, causing a great deal of stress and enjoying our lives way too little.  It is rare that I meet someone who says they have enough fun.  Why is that since it is well-documented that laughter can bring great benefit to our overall health?

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Almost 20 years ago research indicated that children around the age of   7 laughed approximately 500 times a day, while adults laughed about 10 times in the same time period.  Now, studies show that children of similar age laugh about 200 times a day, and adults less than 5.  It appears we are heading in the wrong direction, if you ask me.

Research also indicates that less than 40% of Americans use all of their vacation time, choosing instead to “bank” the hours and continue to work their typical long hours.  What’s wrong with this picture?

It is up to us to make fun and leisure happen.  We may say we “don’t have time”, “don’t have the money”, “can’t find anyone to play with”, “feel too guilty”, or that “I don’t know what is fun to me anymore”.  But why do we all long for more of what we won’t create for ourselves?

Fun feeds the soul and laughter bathes the psyche.  But many—no, most people don’t have enough of either in their lives.  Is it that we don’t value ourselves enough to carve out the time to have some fun? Are we ashamed to “laugh out loud” in reality while we are more than willing to type “LOL” in a text or email (which I’d bet happens much less frequently than the usage of this abbreviation implies).

True soul health requires that we feed the soul in all ways necessary to enhance our overall experience of life, including nourishing ourselves with laughter.  Can you honestly say you have enough fun?  Do you really want to get to the end of your life and wonder how much more laughter you could have created?

 DSC_2353 As you plant the seeds of change for this year, consider your Recreational branch of health and determine what needs work.  What would you regret not doing this year to create more fun and leisure in your life?  Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go?  Why not plan a trip?  Have you been putting off taking that art class?  How about signing up?  Have you missed hanging out with your friends or family who make you laugh?  Give them a call.

Fun rarely comes to us—we have to go toward fun.  In our culture, we must intentionally plant it in our day in order to reap the benefits that lie within and store up on this much needed commodity.  Consider spending some time identifying what is fun to you, then put a plan into action to plant the seeds of change so that fun and leisure are a bigger part of your life.

What needs to happen to make love and laughter blossom as a more important part of your soul health?

A World of Love and Laughter

Back in July of last year, I came to more fully understand the importance of love.  It started in the typical romantic sense, and although that relationship never fully got off the ground, I was thrust into a whole new awareness of the importance of living in a world of love.  It’s hard to explain how this happened, but what I came to realize is that most people live in fear rather than allow their loving nature to guide their lives.  Our world is rampant with examples of fear-based actions and reactions, and all one has to do is view the local and national news, or watch our families and friends to start making this list.

The opposite of fear is love.  All negatively “charged” emotions are based in fear, while those that are positive all stem from love.  Up until July I believed I was a fairly positive person, being the eternal optimist and “Pollyanna” both personally and professionally.  But I spent my summer in a boot camp of sorts—being challenged left and right to identify and acknowledge my own fear-based living in order to shift it to a more love-based consciousness.  I learned that every time I got irritated by a driver, made a judgment against myself or others, or allowed myself to succumb to sadness for whatever reason, that these were all fear-based reactions.  But when I turned these thoughts and feelings into love-based responses—wishing the driver safety in their travels, sharing compliments and praise more often, and finding joy even in the saddest of moments, I learned to live more fully in a world of love.  I felt more satisfied with life, less disillusioned with the state of the world, and also more enriched by the experience of shifting my own consciousness from fear to love.

01 Jan.In my book, Soul Health, I talk about joy as the soul’s most natural state.  When we feel joy, it is evidence that we are more fully aligned with the desires of our soul, and we experience more radiant health overall.  The trick is that when we live in fear, it is nearly impossible to fully reach this state.
Two themes will be explored in 2015—both are challenges for you to keep in mind as you evolve throughout the year.  My first challenge for you is to start shifting your own fear-based thinking to a greater experience of love consciousness.  To do this you must be willing to examine each of your thoughts and reactions to determine whether they are fear- or love-based.  If you are left with a negative or uneasy feeling, it is fear-based, while a carefree and joyful feeling assures that your responses are more love-based.  Identifying this is the easy part, changing it is the challenge.  Find every way possible to catch yourself, and shift away from fear, even if it scares you to do so.  Letting go of our old ways is a necessary part of our evolution, but it is often laced with fear as well.

My second challenge for you is to laugh and play more.  Research indicates that American adults laugh less than five times a day, despite the vast knowledge of the positive benefits of this response.  Because our soul’s most natural state is joy, try giving yourself a jumpstart on your soul health by intentionally creating more fun and leisure for yourself throughout the year.

Just think how different our world would be, if we all lived in love and laughter?  We would be more connected rather than separated, more joyful than sad, and more relaxed than stressed. No doubt the world would be a better place.

A Celebration of “You”

“Throw your hands up in the air and celebrate life!”

~ Steven Tyler

 group celebrationSo, how much more “you” are you after a year of living in a way that is more aligned with your soul?  Although it can be scary and difficult to share the real you with the world, it also assures our ultimate soul health.

At this time of year, we tend to be busy celebrating other things.  But how do you celebrate you?  The more authentic we become, the more joy and freedom we experience as well!  So, it is important to acknowledge that you’ve faced your fears or hesitations and have stepped into a greater alignment with who you really are.

I’ve mentioned before that it’s important for people to review the progress they’ve made in their personal growth, both because it affirms our efforts, but also because it “hard sets” our evolution.  Although we may know we have changed, the time we take to reflect back on the specific changes we’ve made confirms our growth.  Consider the following:

  • How are you different from who you were a year ago?
  • What changes have you made that have helped you to be the person you are today?
  • What did you overcome? And what did you leave behind?
  • How much freer do you feel now? How much more joy have you experienced as a result of having stepped into your truth and your path of evolution?
  • What can you do to celebrate these changes and congratulate yourself for your success?

I often encourage clients and workshop participants to do or buy something for themselves that will celebrate the milestones of change.  When I was in graduate school, I would purchase a small piece of pottery to mark the completion of key steps toward graduation.  Now, I can look around my house or office and be reminded of the many steps I took to get where I am today.  I would encourage finding something you love to do or collect so that you can also celebrate the stepping stones of your own journey.

Take some time before the start of the year to reflect on your growth, affirm your part in it, and celebrate the new you that you have become.  Your health depends on it!

The Gratitude of Harvest

The theme of “the year of you” has focused on many aspects of aligning more deeply with yourself to live a more radiant and fulfilling life.  As we near the end of the year, it is time to step back and reap the benefits of working to become the “you” that is more real, genuine, and authentic, which is the path to enjoying true soul health.  As you’ve heard many times before, to know your soul is to know true health—and as Thanksgiving approaches, it seems timely to give thanks to yourself for embarking on your personal journey.

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When was the last time you said “thank you” to you?  Do you realize how many things you do for yourself during the day that you would thank someone else for, but neglect to say to yourself?  Have you shown appreciation for yourself for all of the things you’ve done and accomplished this year?  Have you patted yourself on the back for investing the time to learn about yourself, to grow, and to evolve?

Our journey through the human condition isn’t easy.  We spend plenty of time praising and thanking others for their service and assistance to us, but few people stop to thank themselves for getting through a busy or difficult day, let alone a year of challenge and growth.  For those who have committed themselves to personal development and evolution (by reading things such as this newsletter, for instance), it is particularly important to acknowledge yourself as the real you unfolds.

After 11 months of working on becoming the most “you” you can be, it is also time to admire the fruits of your labor.  I often encourage clients to stop and recognize the changes that have taken place throughout the process of therapy.  This allows them to “hard set” the change and also step back to acknowledge the growth they have undergone—all through their own efforts and dedication.  It’s always gratifying to witness change in clients, but it is even better to hear them realize how much they have evolved simply by putting some conscious effort into their growth.

harvest By “harvesting” your efforts, or saying “thank you” to you for your efforts, you will solidify the hard work that you have invested in your soul’s evolution as well as raise your consciousness about how to reach radiant health.  Enjoy the gratitude and harvest of you during the upcoming month!