Tag Archives: life balance

Exploring Fun as Essential to Soul Health

Fun is vastly under-rated, and most people feel like they “fail” at creating more time to laugh and play. With clients, I often suggest creating a list of 5-10 things they can do for fun that they can integrate into their lives on a regular basis. It is rare that they return with a full list, noting that they just can’t name that many things that make them laugh. With this in mind, I taped the following vlog to help you get back to the basics of a fun and leisure. (It looks like I’m meditating… but YouTube has it’s own fun by choosing the still-shot it uses for the start page– always comical!) Take a look:

To get a bit more info about how to integrate fun, read the excerpt from my book below:

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

Like the other branches of soul health, the recreational branch consists of many elements that you might never have considered. Your ability to recognize the differences among fun, leisure, and life balance, to understand your beliefs about them, and to identify your general outlook on life all help you feed your soul. Most importantly, your willingness to create a strong recreational branch can fortify and boost your resilience in handling more stressful or challenging aspects of the human condition.

Fun

What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.  ~ Yiddish Proverb

03 Mar picThe word “fun” means “to behave playfully.”  And when we do so, it clearly does our soul good. There is nothing better for your soul than an uncontrollable belly laugh that brings you to the point of tears and leaves your sides aching, your energy spent. No other experience feeds your soul more than these hearty bouts of mirth, and no other experience leaves your soul more content.

One study shows that the average four year-old laughs three to four hundred times a day, while adults average fewer than four times a day. When I share these statistics in workshops, a sad, desperate sigh usually fills the room and most agree that they do not have enough fun or laughter in their lives.

No matter how you look at it, fun is under-rated. Research is clear that laughter, itself, produces multiple health benefits including a decrease in blood pressure and stress hormones, an increase in endorphins (natural pain killers) and immunity to illness, and fewer physical effects of stress altogether. Thus, if you have a lot of fun in your life, you can bet that you will be healthier than those who have lost their joy and therefore have more emotional and physical ailments. Not only does the fun in your life heal your body, it also soothes your soul.

  • When was the last time you behaved playfully rather than acted for a purpose other than fun?
  • What fun are you leaving out of your life?
  • Are you resentful of others who seem to have more fun than you?
  • Have you forgotten what makes you laugh?

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

Grateful for Gratitude

Gratitude is a salve for the soul. In challenging times, it is easy to slip into the doldrums, allowing our souls to dim. But despite the difficult realities of the human condition, our ability to remain grateful can serve as the best anecdote to all of life’s problems.

Thankful listWhat is your biggest struggle right now? What is dragging you down? As you focus on these concerns, you will notice your energy and mood taking a dive. Now, take a few moments to list at least 5 things for which you are grateful. How has your mood changed? Do you feel more energy? Now, list a few more positive things about your life. See how quickly your outlook improves?

Emotions are seductive. When we allow our attention to drift toward sadness, worry, or grief, these feelings seem to pull us in, inviting us to feel the insidiousness of each emotion. Like a vacuum, our psyche draws us deeper into whatever it is that is disrupting our lives. However, by injecting gratitude into any situation, we can not only prevent a downward spiral, we can also raise our consciousness about what we are supposed to learn from life’s challenges.

During the last several months of my mother’s life and the two months since her death, gratitude has greatly soothed my soul. I remain grateful for the many beautiful experiences we shared and the invaluable time spent with her in her final weeks and days. I’m well aware that the upcoming holidays will likely stir the grief of my recent loss, but I’m already actively working on lessening this by allowing the many memories of years past to enter my awareness, taking note of the blessings, joy, and laughter that permeated our annual events.

gratitude

As the year winds down, take stock in the gift of gratitude. Allow yourself to realize that life could not only be much worse, but also that it is much more tolerable—and even enjoyable when we become grateful for what we have, who we are, and the ways in which we have grown.

Most important, give thanks to yourself for investing in your growth and evolution—the most priceless gift you could offer your ultimate soul health.

Environmental Health: Find Soul in Our Surroundings

 (Taken from Chapter 8 of Soul Health: Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

Pleasure is nature’s test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment. ~~ Oscar Wilde

Environmental_Conservation[1]

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental health pertains to all physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person that impact health. The WHO’s main mission is to educate society to create a health-supportive environment by raising people’s awareness about their everyday choices and behavior.

The Soul Health Model takes the environmental branch of health further. Not only is it important for people to understand how their behavior either promotes or undermines a health-supportive environment, it is also imperative to create an environment conducive to the soul’s evolution. When we think about environmental health, we tend to focus on factors that support our basic needs— the science aspect of our surroundings. Equally important, though, is an awareness of what we need to truly feed our soul— the art aspect of creating this environment. For some, this may mean paying attention to the aesthetic qualities around them, while for others it might mean surrounding themselves with objects that instill a sense of peace or inspiration. Developing the art of creating a soulful environment simply means that you have an awareness of what you need that resonates deeply within your soul. Achieving a balance between the science– and art-based elements of the environmental branch allows us to thrive— and allows our soul to evolve.

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

The Angel in Starbucks

I can’t get this out of my mind.  It revisits me nearly every day as I try to create my “to do” list.   In fact, if it weren’t such a true reminder of what we all need to be doing, it wouldn’t haunt—or perhaps bless me the way it has.

I’m talking about an experience I had the day after Thanksgiving last year.  A friend and I got together to grab a java, then go do some work on a few videos and photos for my website.  We went to a Starbucks Coffee on her side of town, one that I rarely visit since she lives several miles away.  I had ordered my usual Venti Decaf Skim Latte and was over at what I call the “chemistry counter” sprinkling cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla powder onto the nicely done cloud of foam that was resting gently upon my drink.

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I could sense someone’s energy just behind me so I started to move to the side, apologizing for taking up the entire space.  What I heard next still rings loudly in my ears.   An older man’s voice came over my right shoulder saying, “Oh, no ma’am, please take your time.  When I was your age I rushed through too much and missed a lot of my life.”

Ouch.  I could feel his pain, but it immediately flared mine as well.

I went back to the table where my friend sat and shared what I had just heard.  We had a short conversation about it as I spotted the man a few tables away from us.  He was sitting alone, wore an ex-marine’s baseball cap, and was probably about 75 or 80 years old.  He looked weathered but generally healthy.  Throughout the time there, I would glance over at him just to see how he went about reading and drinking his coffee.  I mostly wanted to see if he was fully taking in his day.

Why is it that we go through life saying that we wish we had more time, yet we fill our day with meaningless tasks—mindless t.v. shows, surf time on the internet,  and any number of other things that won’t necessarily change or improve our lives?  Why is it that our regrets are almost always about what we didn’t do rather than what we did?  How did we get so lost in this human condition that our limited time on this planet doesn’t even enter our awareness?

I have to admit that this anonymous man made me think.  And still does.  In my book, Soul Health, I talk about the need to be discerning about every aspect of our lives in order to align ourselves for radiant living.  I suppose I wouldn’t have written the book if I had it all figured out, but this brief interchange has changed me in a deep way.  It penetrated my core and reminded me in a very profound way that there is a greater purpose to being alive.

Time FliesI’ve always taken life very seriously, gleaning whatever I can from each experience.  But this unnamed angel has deepened my awareness that time really is of the essence.  We have all sorts of sayings and clichés about the word (“Timing is everything”, “Standing the tests of time…”, “Time flies…”, etc.), but perhaps the most profound is Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Lost time is never found again.”

The funny thing is, a client of mine reminded me just the other day of the words I said to him a few sessions earlier.  We were wrapping up the session and he asked me how things were going in the rest of my professional life.  I told him about the many projects I’m working on and he said, “Ya know, someone with long, brown hair once told me about the word discernment…. something about picking and choosing your activity to make sure you get the most out of life…..  I wonder if you know her.”  I hate it when my words come back to haunt me.  But the truth is, like the angel in Starbucks, even my clients serve as messengers of things I need to hear sometimes.  He was quite proud of himself as he walked out the door—a gentle and wise man in his own right—but clearly gloating that he had gently nailed me about the goings on of my own busy life.

Time.  An underappreciated word.  Think on it.

Embracing Your Greatness

Be not afraid of greatness.  Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.  ~~  William Shakespeare

greatness 3Although many people struggle with feeling good enough at all, it can be an equal or even bigger struggle to embrace one’s greatness—your gifts, blessings, achievements, and even your natural talents and qualities.  While greatness might seem like a good problem to have, it’s not unusual for people to dismiss and minimize who they are for various reasons.

Do you have a hard time receiving compliments or positive feedback?  Do you downplay your accomplishments and even hide your success?  Have you been told that to be proud is to be boastful?  Has someone shown jealousy toward you for how you look, what you achieve, or just because of who you are?  Has someone manipulated you to feel bad about yourself because they were feeling threatened themselves? Or has someone rejected you or left a relationship simply because they couldn’t measure up?  Your answers to these questions all contribute to why you might not fully appreciate the greatness that you have to offer.

It may come as a surprise, but most people are much more comfortable identifying their faults than their strengths.  Some of this comes from how we were programed by others throughout our lives while some results from our inability to see through our negative perceptions in order to see our inherent greatness that lies beneath.

While last month’s article addressed the need to own your darkness and challenging parts of yourself, it is equally—if not more important—to embrace your greatness as well.  We cannot truly be who we are unless we are able to identify, acknowledge, and embrace the spectrum of our overall qualities and characteristics.  And this means stepping into our prominence as well.

So, how does one embrace their greatness?

  • Make a list of all of your positive qualities—big, little, and in between. (Resist the temptation to start negating these with all of your faults or flaws.)
  • Identify what you’re good at both at home and at work, even if you feel these are insignificant in your own mind. (Avoid “yeah, but….” thoughts and just write the facts.)
  • If you have a difficult time starting this list, ask your closest friends, family, coworkers, etc. about the top quality they see in you. (Do your best not to dismiss or minimize these qualities as you receive their feedback.)
  • Acknowledge that, like everyone else, you have made it through some tough times and challenges in life. Ask yourself how you did this and how you changed for the better as a result.
  • Compliment yourself or at least do an “atta girl/guy” for each item on these lists. (It might feel contrived and artificial, but it will still feel better than criticizing yourself as you usually do.)
  • Assess how you feel. You might feel a bit uneasy with the process, but you will notice a positive shift almost immediately.  We all want acknowledgment and praise and the most important person to receive this from is ourselves. greatness 2

How would your life be different if you embraced your greatness?  How much happier would you feel?  Who would benefit from you feeling better about yourself?  What else would you achieve if you stepped into your worth?

Our ultimate soul health, as well as our radiant living, depends heavily upon how much we are willing to not only accept, but also embrace the entirety of who we are.  This includes acknowledging our strengths, gifts, and natural awesomeness.  It’s time that we move past our darkness and enter the beauty of our light.