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August Book Review: You can be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective by Richard Carlson

Happiness – “It is our natural state,” says, Richard Carlson, Ph.D.  But, if so, then why are many of us far from “happy?”

Richard Carlson, Vilma Reynoso

Dr. Richard Carlson’s book, You can be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective, explains exactly how to be in a state of happiness and demonstrates why we
usually are not thriving with abundant joy. The author breaks the book down into two sections. Part one explains the principles behind true happiness such as thought, mood, separate realities, feelings and the present moment. In part two of this book, the author explains how to apply these principles in our relationships, stressful situations, in solving our problems, in addictions and more. Even though I have learned that my happiness is always my choice, Richard Carlson’s book explained to me how my thoughts and consequent feelings have a huge impact on my happiness every moment.

You can be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective by Richard Carlson is a pleasant and easy read; the material presented is very practical and solid with real-life advice. Dr. Carlson even includes a “Checklist for your Life” at the end of the book to help identify what is keeping us from truly thriving in abundant happiness. I recommend this book for anyone who might be wondering why happiness seems to be illusive or for anyone seeking simple solutions to improve the joy in their lives.

A bit about the author, Richard Carlson, Ph.D.:

Dr. Richard Carlson is considered one of the world’s leading experts on happiness and stress reduction. He is the author of thirty popular books including Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and was a psychotherapist and speaker. Dr. Carlson was a great television and radio personality, appearing on The Oprah Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show and The View. He died in 2006.

To learn more about Dr. Richard Carlson, visit Wikipedia on Richard Carlson.

To purchase You can be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective, visit Barnes & Noble.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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Expression Lives

Spring, Vilma Reynoso

I have learned that oppression is the opposite of expression, and those who oppress (in any form), live in constant fear. Oppression is the stifling of man and nature’s creative and exploratory need. The best way to stop oppression is to live in the opposite way: be the person who recognizes oppression and stands against it; be the person with an open and not brainwashed mind; be the person who loves expression, because expression is why we are here; be the person who sees and recognizes the creative source in all human beings; be the person who honors and loves all beings; be the person who encourages expression and not oppression.

Today is the first day of spring. All nature wants to be expressive. If you can, take a walk outside today and honor the life force that seeks to express itself and bloom every spring. Watch the plants, grasses and flowers begin their process of becoming. Just like plant life seeks to express itself, we seek and need to “bloom,” too. It is natural and innate. Be a person who helps the world BLOOM, in your own special way.

Wishing you all an expressive and creative Thursday, March 20th, 2014, the first day of the spring equinox!

Express!

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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Thirty Rightful Actions for Living a Happy and Fulfilled Life

Sequoia National Park

Today, I decided to make a list.

Thinking about how short life is sometimes, I wanted to share my wisdom, my thoughts, my experience and my take on life. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, nor do I feel I have mastered any of these, but I think this is a decent compilation of everything that I have learned, so far, in my decades of living. My hope is that you, the reader, might find encouragement if experiencing some difficulties, or that this list may help you embark on a new and more peaceful path through your life.

So, here it is (and I will repeat the title of this blog here): thirty rightful actions for living a happy and fulfilled life:

  1. Be present. The happiest people in the world are present. Even though they may work towards something in the future, they do not concern themselves with the future. They have learned to live at peace and be content in the present moment.  Be present in all you do.
  2. Resolve your past. Your past remains in your past, and it is part of your present only if you allow it to be. Happy people have resolved their past and do not live in it.
  3. Leave your future in the future. Your future has not yet arrived. Dwelling or worrying about possible future events will only take away from your precious present moment.
  4. Eat healthy food. Your body is designed to flourish when you feed it healthy vegan food. Do that and you will have all the energy needed to live a life of ultimate pleasure and vitality.
  5. Drink lots of water. Our bodies are made mostly of water. Drink lots of it (64 oz. per day), and you will aid your body daily in its processes, and you will have abundant energy.
  6. Sleep eight hours per night. Your body heals while you sleep. Give it proper and consistent rest, and you will feel good every day of your life.
  7. Exercise daily. Your body is created to move and not sit still for long. Exercise your body every day to help it release toxins from your environment. You will feel fantastic!
  8. Develop a routine.  Our minds and bodies work best when they are in a rhythm. Create a basic routine for your life that nourishes your spirit with what you love to do. Your body and mind will respond favorably, and you will be happy. This does not mean there will not be spontaneity in your life, but you will find peace through a basic routine.
  9. Pursue your dreams. Never think that you cannot have what you dream about. Always pursue your dream or vision, even if you can only take a small step right now. Always believe in your dreams.
  10. Believe in humanity. Basic human needs are all the same. We all want creative freedom, love and happiness. Do not harbor a negative attitude towards humankind. For if you do, it will come back to bite you.
  11. Drop the addictions. No one can live a truly satisfying life if they are in denial. Addictions of any sort are the ramifications of trying to deny pain or fear. Embrace your pain or fear, and it will diminish and you will live a happy life. There is no other way around this.
  12. Love unconditionally.  Do not be afraid to love others with all of your heart. Being hurt in the past does not mean you will be hurt in the future. Realize that love is what you are, and giving of yourself will only bring back more of what you are.
  13. Give abundantly. Be cognizant of where and to whom you could give in whatever way you choose. Giving opens your heart and the heart of those who you give to; it also spreads goodness onto the world.
  14. Release judgment. The only thing that judging others does is take us away from our own humanity and it puts us in a position of eluding ourselves, thinking we are superior to someone else. We are all on a unique path through life. With the measure that you judge others, you will be judged.
  15. Expect the best. As you pursue your interests, goals or dreams, expect the best outcome. What you expect will be given to you.
  16. Embrace yourself fully. Accept and love yourself with all your perceived imperfections. You are special, unique and loved. No one is perfect. You must love yourself before you can love others.
  17. Think positive thoughts. What you think, you create. Choose very wisely what you think about, for what you think will come to pass. A man creates his reality by his thoughts.
  18. Feel your emotions. Your emotions are indicators of what you are thinking. Change your thoughts, and your emotions will change. Do not suppress your emotions; feel them and move on. If you do not feel your emotions, your body will produce a manifestation of your emotions in the form of disease.
  19. Act fearlessly. Fear is an illusion. Fear is only the boundary between what we know and do not know. Fear stops most people from living the life they would love to live. Step out in fear, and you will conquer that fear. Do not let fear stop you from living your best life.
  20. Live peacefully. Choose to live in peace no matter what is happening in your life. A mind at peace is able to make better decisions. A body at peace is disease-free. And, a spirit at peace can do anything.
  21. Smile often. A smile changes your entire physiology positively; a smile will not only help you to feel better, but will also light up people around you. Smile always.
  22. Forgive always. Holding on to grudges does not do anything but harm ourselves. The sooner you forgive, the sooner your body, mind and spirit can heal from your past so you can live in the present. Forgiveness does not mean acceptance. It means releasing the thoughts and feelings you hold towards that person or situation so you can fully thrive.
  23. Practice gratitude. Be thankful for every good thing in your life. Practicing gratitude will change your heart so quickly that you will not have room enough to contain your joy!
  24. Live passionately. Explore and know what you are passionate about. What is it that lights you up? Make it a point to practice and do whatever those things are.
  25. See the small things. Notice the beauty in a cactus; notice the color of the sky; notice the beauty in the face of your child. Realize when someone is doing something to make your life better. If you notice these things, you will live at peace.
  26. See the big things. Realize the big things happening worldwide. Do your part to change or end that which is harmful to humanity, but do not dwell on those things or focus all your thoughts on what is negative and chaotic.
  27. Surround yourself with beauty. Make your living environment an orderly and beautiful display of all that you love. It will nourish your spirit and expand your creativity.
  28. Use your gifts. Create a life that involves using your unique gifts. You will make a contribution to this thing we call life and go to bed a satisfied person.
  29. Embrace each new day. Be excited and passionate about each new day every morning. It is a brand new day, and it is your responsibility to make it the kind of day you want to experience.
  30. Know you are not alone. No matter what you believe, whether in God or not, know that you are not alone in this universe. You are one of many. You are one of many living beings. Know you cannot take a breath without the aid of whatever it is that makes life happen. You are a part of a larger, incredible and expanding, creative system. Feel the love and not the fear. We are all One.

 

Let me know what you think. Peace.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com, Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2014, Vilma Reynoso


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The Crack

On the last day of the year, 2013, I thought I would ponder, once again, that age-old question: “What is the meaning of life?”

What a crazy question that has been asked over the centuries since the beginning of time! There is no other question, I believe, that has been asked more. And, answers? There are probably as many answers to this question as there are thinkers and philosophers who have asked it over the ages. It is a question that really has no direct, easy answer.

One such thinker and philosopher who asked this question and contemplated the answer to it was Henry David Thoreau. In the mid 1800’s, this man decided to take up the challenge of trying to answer the important question, “What is the meaning of life?” Thoreau decided to ponder the question as he lived by himself in a small house in the woods which contained one room and a nearby outhouse for two years, two months, and two days. There, in this peaceful and serene place, he thought, studied, meditated, and experimented, deeply pondering not only what the meaning of life is, but also why it is that man is always wanting more and seems to never be satisfied with what he is and has. Alone and at peace, Henry David Thoreau became in tune with the Creator, the force that exists in all creation, the universal spirit and intuition that resides in all people and which stimulates man to live. During this momentous time, he wrote his best work, Walden. Thoreau discovered that life is always seeking to expand, emerge, to grow. He also concluded that what we dream about for our lives is not only that which is seeking to emerge from us, but it is nothing less than the creative force, the infinite Creator, or God (whatever your choice of words) that wants to manifest itself in our lives through our expression and creativity. Life, and the meaning thereof, is all there is. The meaning of life is to adhere to the creative force within and express it outward. It is to allow the life spirit within to live.

Have you ever taken a walk and have you ever pondered the cracks in the pavement? How many times have you seen that tiny, soft green plant emerging from concrete? It has managed to grow through that thick material wanting to live, hasn’t it?  We are the same. Everything we do, the very reason we get out of bed in the morning is because life is seeking to emerge from us; life is seeking to have a fuller and freer and more expanding expression through us, all the time.  We want more clothes, more money, more friends, a bigger house, a larger yard, a new profession, a new book to read, a special relationship, more freedom, more creative expression, more LIFE! We seek because we are expanding beings who MUST create and expand. It is not wrong to want more; it is actually normal and natural. Like the blade of grass that needs to break through the payment, we always need to break through to a fuller and more expansive life. And, this is where our dreams come in. The life we would love living is the life that is seeking to emerge from us.

How do we live our dream life? Our first step is to decide what our core values are and then start to imagine a life we would love that would encompass those values. You might value your time with your family, or you might value spending time by yourself reading and need this time to relax and recharge. You might value nature and prefer to spend an hour a day experiencing the outdoors. You might value health and prefer to eat healthy foods and exercise daily. You might value peace, love, or respect. Or, perhaps you value friendships and desire to spend time socializing more than spending time alone. Whatever it is that you value must be in line with whatever you desire for your dream life.

Once we know what our core values are, we then decide what it is we LOVE. What makes you smile, makes your eyes and body light up fully? What activity do you do that when you do it makes you wish time would stop at that very moment? Or, what do you day dream about doing and wish you could practice all day?  What do you know that is welling deep inside that needs to be shared with others? What passion do you have that you desire to share with the world? These are only beginning questions to ponder in starting to create a life of your dreams, the life that is seeking to emerge from you.

Henry David Thoreau truly believed that the creative force within is seeking to come forth and blossom into a greater and fuller life through us on this side of existence. Many other thinkers and philosophers have agreed with Thoreau and have lived magnificent and full lives of creative expression and true happiness. But before they were able to create truly fulfilling lives, they learned that they needed to listen to their creative voices first. What is it that you feel and know in your spirit that wants to emerge in 2014? Whatever it is, there is never a better time than NOW to allow it to come forth.

Life. It really can be ALL that it is cracked up to be.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.com Inspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life. 

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso

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October Book Review: Hand Wash Cold: care instructions for an ordinary life by Karen Maezen Miller

“Change your perspective, and the most ordinary things take on expressible beauty.”  – Karen Maezen Miller

Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read on the simplicity and beauty of all of life is Karen Maezen Miller’s, Hand Wash Cold: care instructions for an ordinary life. She uses the metaphor of tending to the laundry, the kitchen and the yard as explanations of how we can successfully maneuver  through the idiosyncrasies, pain and albeit joy in life, every day and every moment! Household chores and caregiving tasks become opportunities for self-examination, lessons in relationship, and liberating moments of selflessness. Miller’s brilliant piece of prose explains how attending to daily tasks with awareness and a loving, open heart, will lead us to fall in love with our lives!

A bit about the author:

Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest and sensai, a wife, a mother and an expert “laundress.” She is also the author of the book, Momma Zen. She teaches at Hazy Moon Zen in Los Angeles and at workshops and retreats around the country.

To learn more about Karen Maezen Miller, visit her website at:KarenMaezenMiller.com.

To buy and read this fabulous book, visit: http://www.karenmaezenmiller.com/books/

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso


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The Bench

I recently took a long walk through my neighborhood and beyond not only to smell the summer flowers, but because I am currently without a vehicle. I live in a small suburb of a large city with the feel of the country but with all the city’s amenities. There is literally everything an American could possibly need (and perhaps want) close to the center of the town in which I live. If I desired, I could stumble into a Starbucks, visit Home Depot, buy used books, hang out at the local bar, watch a local rendition of the play, Oklahoma, or visit the farmer’s market all in one afternoon with ease.  All of this is about four miles from where I live via a beautiful, paved and clean biking/walking path filled with the sounds of the birds chiming and the deer hiding behind the trees. As a cyclist and runner, I had never actually just WALKED the path to downtown until now.  What a surprise!

Once I reached the downtown stores and shops, I ran a few errands, ate delicious Chinese food, mailed a package, and then finally relaxed at my favorite coffee shop.  During my trek through town, however, I could not help but notice all the benches – everywhere. They were at the park, on the path, near the restaurants, close to the coffee shop, across from the day care center, in front of the law office, across from the Italian restaurant in the old, Victorian house – everywhere. I had been to downtown many times but never, until now, noticed the benches.  I was in awe. How in the world did I miss these benches when I rode my bike or drove through town on so many other occasions? How? As I walked, I began to appreciate each and every bench as I came across them. I noticed what was around and beyond them, and I became more grateful for them!

Glancing at one bench after another, I asked myself, “What else am I missing that if I were to slow down, I would enjoy, love, or even cherish? What is life trying to teach me when I slow down? What do I need to stop and absorb deeper? Or, what do I not see that is right in front of my eyes? What have I missed throughout my years of life because I was in a hurry?” I pondered these questions as I walked and walked and noticed more and more benches downtown.

I think most of us want to see only what we want to see. And, I believe we do not always see what we need to see. We also do not notice what life is trying to teach us when we are so focused on the destination (or the goal). Benches are snippets of our journey through life. They are markers that help make the walk through our lives more pleasant. They are there to remind us to take a break, enjoy the scenery, and take a load off. They are there to remind us to pay attention to the details, because it is in the details that beauty happens. They are on our path to remind us to SLOW DOWN. They are there to remind us of what is most important in life – peace, joy, creative expression, compassion, and love. The benches are markers and reminders of what we might be missing, what we might be hurrying through, what we need to stop and think about, or what we need to “see” that we are refusing to see. They remind us that life is always about the journey and not just about the destination. They are visual reminders for us to stop, breathe, feel, think, and just be.

I will undoubtedly walk the four miles to and from my house again this summer. And, this time, I will be walking with greater appreciation, greater ease, and greater expectation of not only every single bench on the path, but also of what life is trying to teach me. And, I might just sit on one and ponder. You can too!

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso


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The Turning Point

It’s funny how memories come to mind. At one moment, we are thinking about one thing and in the next split second, we are taken back to the not-so-wonderful past.  This happened to me yesterday as I was driving. I passed by a familiar restaurant and memories flooded my mind. What is particularly funny is that I had driven past this restaurant probably dozens of times this year alone, but it was yesterday’s drive that spurred the memories.

Five years ago.

It was five years ago today that my fourteen year marriage ended, legally. After the judge declared the marriage “dissolved,” I remember my ex-husband stating, “Well, that was that.” I thought to myself, “That IS that; it’s over. Finally OVER.”  As we walked out of that emotionless, cold courtroom, it was apparent that now we both had to “move on.” There were to be so many changes ahead for me. And, even though I was the one who instigated the breakup of a very troubled marriage, at that moment, I knew another level of healing (and suffering) had just commenced for me. I wish I could write that I was brave through all of it, that I handled every crying session, every sad day, every angry moment with dignity and grace, but that is not true. I would love to say that every thought I had back then as I was healing was inspired by love, peace, joy and ultimate good (for myself and for everyone involved) but they were not. I would love to say that it was an easy road to travel, but it was not. My days and healing time were a mix of almost complete bliss and sometimes utter despair.

On one particularly sad day five years ago, I ventured into the same restaurant that I drove by yesterday to order some take-out food. As I was ready to pay for my meal, the clerk gazed at me, and with a Spanish accent, said, “It’s okay; you don’t pay – my gift to you.”  I remember the look of bewilderment on his face as he slowly and compassionately mouthed these words to me, and quite frankly, I was shocked not only by the generosity of this man but by the way he looked at me. I can only surmise that the look of astonishment on his face was because my spirit and my appearance must have looked and felt like I had just been hit by a truck running amuck. This kind gesture from this man was perhaps something he did regularly, but his actions touched me and snapped me into reality! That moment was my turning point. It was the moment when I said to myself, “It is time.” It was time to stop wallowing; it was time to start trusting, to release my pain, to forgive, to allow goodness to come to my life. It was time to allow my spirit within that was squelched by all the years of an abusive marriage to now live.  It was time to let go and let God flow. It was time.

From that moment forward, as each day passed, I became closer and closer to discovering who I really was and what truly made my spirit come alive. I allowed healing to take place by allowing the tears to flow, by choosing to forgive, by letting go of the anger, and by embracing the changes (all good) that would come. I learned to love myself holistically – emotionally, physically and spiritually. I learned to be brave. I learned to let go of fear. I learned to step out in faith.  I learned to make decisions that were in line with who I was and what I wanted in my life. I would eventually forget the man at the restaurant – the catalyst that begun my journey into complete healing. As days turned to months, and the months turned to years, I was to discover all the beauty and healing that life has to offer!  I learned that all things can be changed and healed with hope and courage.

Perhaps yesterday’s drive was a sober reminder of what I experienced years ago for the sole purpose of reminding me of how incredible the journey of life truly is when we allow healing to take place. It was a reminder to never fear change but to embrace all its gifts. Whenever I am tempted to lose hope, I look back to five years ago. Whenever, I think about giving up on myself, I think about what happened five years ago. Whenever, I am tempted to think that I can’t, I remember how far I have come. Whenever I falsely think, “Give it up, Vilma; you can’t do it,” I think about that moment in that restaurant.

What is the turning point in your life? Everyone has one (or two). Have you allowed healing to take place in your life, or are you still wrapped up in fear, anger, pain and self-inflicted misery? Why not point yourself towards the ever-present love that, if you allow it, will change you from the inside out and propel you into the confident, healthy and vibrant person you are meant to be?  The choice is yours. Choose to turn and point yourself in the direction of abundant life.

Vilma Reynoso, www.vilmareynoso.comInspiration for Creative Health. Abundant Life.

Copyright, 2013, Vilma Reynoso