Choose life. Life is wonderful.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

SOME THOUGHTS ON HAPPINESS



“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.” 

 Aldous Huxley

Chance photo taken in my garden

I love quotes. They can be gems. Wisdom in a nutshell. They make me think, and as I come across quotes that are relevant or interesting I save them for my blog. I have read that people who read blogs don't want to have to think, but I am sure this can't be true.

As the New Year starts it seems timely to think about happiness. 

 I try to find happiness in the small things. A cup of coffee or spotting a toadstool can spark happiness. Snuggling under a warm quilt or watching the waves. Financial necessity makes my life 'small', but it is still happy because I consciously set out to enjoy and be grateful for the small things.

Daniel Kaheneman, a cognitive psychologist, winner of the 2002 Nobel prize for Economics, argues that we are more concerned with satisfaction than happiness which is only fleeting. He contends that happiness and satisfaction are  2 different things.

He spent years studying happiness, yet now he considers satisfaction and life satisfaction of greater importance to people. In his podcast Conversations with Tyler (19/12/2018) he states that people want to maximise their satisfaction rather than their happiness. For example in his research Kaheneman found that spending time with friends scored highly for making people happy. Yet these same people did not make socialising a priority, rather they undertook activities which may not bring immediate happiness but would bring satisfaction in the long term, such as working on a career.


Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Sciences at London School of Economics is an expert on the measurement of happiness. He states that, 'Happiness is situated in what we do and who we spend time with. It does not reside in some story we think should make us happy.' In his book Happiness By Design (2014) he writes that 'the stories about how we ought to live our lives' can hurt us as much as they may help. So we shouldn't compare ourselves to others. We must find happiness within our own limits and in our own way.

In his article, 'Why the Quickest Route to Happiness May be to Do Nothing', David Robson wrote, ' Happiness really is like a timid animal. And once you stop chasing it, you might just find that it naturally appears of its own accord.' 


Dragon boats on the lake

Peter and I like to walk along Lake Illawarra and spotted these dragon boats on Tuesday morning.

Dragon boats in the distance



In the garden

I found this clump toadstools on my neighbour's footpath. I love toadstools so had to include this photo. Toadstools make me happy.

Toadstools on my neighbour's footpath

I came across an article on the internet about mint and using it to keep insects, spiders and mice away. So I did some more research and it seems that this does in fact seem to be the case. One of the things I am not short of is mint. I have a whole garden of it.


My mint garden
Some of the leaves are gigantic.


Gigantic mint leaves in my garden
So I have started putting vases of mint around my house to keep the critters away. 


Jar of mint in kitchen

Mint on my coffee table

My hope is that the mint will grow in the water and I won't have to replace it. The only problem is that something is eating my mint and I can't seem to see what it is.

I don't have any rodents in my house at the moment but I do have the occasional cockroach. So I am hoping they will all disappear. I will let you know how it goes.


Axis Mundi

Below is a poem I love. It represents why I write my blog. It's all about the small things. The things that don't cost much. The things we need to stop and appreciate. Beautiful things, that can just slip by if we don't take the time to notice.

This poem sits well with the quote above at the beginning of this post. "Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities," but we have to take the time to 'see' that happiness. 

Read and enjoy.


AXIS MUNDI

The point at which heaven and earth meet.
There are other definitions. But think about this one. 
Better yet, think of it this way:
"A" point at which heaven and earth meet.
There is a point at the base of a baby's neck where heaven meets
earth.
And, certainly,
when fall moves into winter,
in the late afternoon light filtering through not-quite-bare
branches,
there is a certain shimmering essence that nearly breaks the 
heart.
Consider the point at which,
lying on your back,
you look up into a blue sky and, in a moment of grace, imagine a
worthwhile tomorrow.
Or when an unexpected wind sweeps around a corner and brings
with it a hint of some distant unknown sea
Maroon and gray and gold strata on a rocky headland
above a green-gray sea.
Tea in a special cup.
Points at which heaven and earth meet.
A string of points, connected, make a line.
A line can be followed, to a destination,
can draw us in.
Axis mundi.

Dianne Crumbaker



Interesting sites


1. Entire Swiss village to become hotel.

Photo source
This old village in Switzerland is being saved from decay by being turned into a hotel. Click here to read more.




2. Why your brain is wired for pessimism.


About 25 years ago I read a book by Martin Seligman titled 'Learned Optimism' in an attempt to become more optimistic. At that stage I was not aware that I suffered from depression to the extent I did. This article by Martin Seligman discusses the reasons he thinks half of us are wired for pessimism. Click here to read more.



3.  Giant prehistoric bird eats Neanderthal child's bones.


Photo source




Evidence has shown that at giant prehistoric bird in Poland ate a Neanderthal child's bones. Click here to to read all about it.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

SUCCESS

 Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.

 Booker T. Washington

My word for this year is 'success'. I read somewhere that rather than make New Year resolutions it is good to give yourself a word for the year. So my word is 'success' - I'm not sure in exactly what yet. There are a few things I want to achieve this year.

I would like to get my house under control. I am the only one who lives here, but I collect far too many craft materials and don't have enough time to use them or enough storage to keep hidden away. As a result I tend to move stuff from room to room in an attempt to tidy up. I am not quite sure how I am going to do this, but plan to start on my back room.

My back room
I think I need to make small changes and be consistent with them.

I am keen for Peter and I to find a hobby we can do at home and keep us busy together. We do far to much sitting around, working on the computer and watching TV. We are not bored but I feel that healthwise we need to be more active. I think I might start with some water colour painting and see if I can persuade Peter to do some too.


I would like to increase my fitness. I have customised exercises I should be doing for my knees and my back and I intend to get back to doing them on a more regular basis, as well as get back to walking each day. We seemed to stop doing a lot of good things over Christmas and the New Year. We also ate too much and I went right off my Plant Paradox diet. 


I plan to start a more professional blog. I haven't quite figured out the niche yet - probably Plant Paradox recipes and I need to sort out a few financial aspects so I can afford to set it up.

I plan to start writing a children's book. I have had a few ideas for this for a few years.
 
I don't think these are really resolutions - they are more just general statements of what I would like to do. But now I have written them down and shared them I have made myself accountable.

Tim Herrera suggests the S.M.A.R.T method for setting goals and this may be useful for daily or weekly goals.

Specific: Set concrete, clearly defined goals with specific points of success.
Measurable: Whatever the goal is, find ways to measure progress.
Achievable: Aim high, but within reason. Your goal should be a stretch, but something you could actually achieve.
Relevant: Find a goal that matters enough to you that you’ll be motivated to stick with it.
Time-bound: Set a reasonable timeline for your goal, and focus on the small wins along the way.

I think I need to break my goals down into more measurable bites. This links back to our quote at the beginning - attend to the small things. 

I intend to give the 3x3 method proposed by Michael Hyatt in his podcast Lead to Win. a try. This is where you set up 3 goals for the year; 3 goals for the quarter; 3 goals for the week and 3 goals for the day. He has a great looking journal that goes with the method but with the exchange rate with the US dollar it becomes very expensive.

Why do we make resolutions with the New Year? There is no real reason for it.  It's a completely arbitrary time, but it seems a time we reflect on the past year and think about how we can change things as we embark on the New Year.


Here's a baby pig

My daughter posted this little pig below on Facebook and I thought I would share it with you.




Kimchi

Photo source
 I decided to try making some Kimchi. I haven't really used it before. I was interested because it is fermented and according to the  diet program I am following, good for gut bacteria.I found the recipe here  for ginger, carrot, daikon Kimchi (Vegan.) 

The recipe made 2 jars. 


 

So far I have used it in a stir fry and it was quite tasty, and on an open sandwich with tuna.

Poetry

I love poetry and come across many poems in my reading. this is one i would like to share. It is beautiful and somehow haunting.


To The New Year

 W.S.Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
  untouched and still possible



Interesting sites



1. Great rooms of 2018

Photo source
These are the most liked rooms for 2018 on Apartment Therapy. Click here to see them.




2. Mermaid paintings

Photo source
 



Click here to see the mermaid paintings of Ralph Cahoon.





3. The comfort trap.

Photo source





Why the pursuit of an easier life creates a harder one and what to do instead. Click here to read more.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

LIVING IN THE PRESENT

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Henry David Thoreau


 With the new year approaching this quote seems worth considering. While we may make time to consider the year ahead it is always worth remembering that we live in the present. This is it. This is our one life now. There is no use thinking 'one day'...Time is limited.


According to Thoreau 'fools stand on the island of opportunities and look toward another land.' In other words we don't realise what we already have. We look 'toward another land' - towards another time in the future when more opportunities will arrive. But we need to seize the present.
 
This doesn't mean we don't plan for the future. In fact we plan now. We keep planning. Intelligent planning is one of the key proponents of productivity, no matter whether we are still in paid employment or not. 

But it is so easy to let life pass us by. For time to just slip by.

As we reflect at the end of the year and consider what we want to accomplish in the next year, we need to look realistically at what is possible. But we need to view the coming year with a 'glass half full' philosophy - appreciate the opportunities that exist for us and seize them. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

I realise that I write this for my own enlightenment. I find it so easy to drift through life. In a previous blog post I shared about the 3 times I really had to work to make changes to my life. I am hoping this year I can make a few changes. The main thing I want to achieve that is different this year is to embark on writing a more professional blog - or maybe two.

When Thoreau writes that we must find our 'eternity in each moment' he reminds me of the words of William Blake who wrote four beautiful lines that I love in the beginning of his poem Auguries of Innocence.

 To see the World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour 

It's all about seeing the beauty in what we have - in the small things - in the things that don't cost a lot, and making the most of every opportunity.




In my garden

I came across this green cicada in my garden and was really entranced. I think it had just metamorphosed from its original shell and was flapping around in my coriander seedlings. The black cicadas are most common around my place and I rarely see a green one, but Peter says the green ones were everywhere in Marrickville when he was growing up. 
The common name for this cicada is Green Grocer.

Green cicada in my garden



Green cicada in my garden


Movies at the Botanic Gardens

On Thursday evening, Peter and I went to the Sunset Cinema at Wollongong Botanic Gardens to see Bohemian Rhapsody, a movie based on the life of Freddy Mercury from Queen. It was a lovely evening and we enjoyed the movie.



Before the movie



Bohemian Rapsody




Thank you

Many thanks to those who write comments and those who try. I really appreciate it. For some reason my blog will not allow some readers to leave comments. I will try and remedy this.



Interesting sites

1. Indonesia's first zero-waste restaurant

Photo source
This restaurant is built from recycled materials. Click here to read more.


2. Playing Tetris is good for anxiety 

Photo source
Good old Tetris has been found to help alleviate anxiety.  Click here to read more.



3. You won't be afraid of Australia's deadliest animals

Photo source
If you're really worried about Australia's deadliest animals, your best bet is to give horse riding a miss. Click here to read more.

Monday, 17 December 2018

THE RUN UP TO CHRISTMAS





Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

Paul J. Meyer








I love quotes because they often contain little gems of wisdom and when I come across ones that resonate with me, I include them here on my blog.

I am thinking of starting a new blog - one that is more professional and deals with general lifestyle and living well  on a low income. I have been slow starting and then came across this quote above. I have printed it off and put it up near my computer. The three principles - commitment to excellence; intelligent planning; and focused effort - have become a bit of a mantra for me, especially when I feel like giving up.

The run up to Christmas is well and truly upon us. How quickly the days pass now. It is only 2 weeks until the end of the year! As always the time has caught up with me and I marvel at the way the younger me coped, in fact blossomed, many years ago at Christmas time with school aged children and many Christmas committments and presents to buy (and a lot fewer aches and pains!)


Last weekend we travelled to Canberra to spend time with family we won't see on Christmas Day. As always it was a lovely weekend, made even more enjoyable by watching the 3 great-nephews aged 2, 4 and 6 decorate a gingerbread house.




Later the house was smashed and we shared gingerbread.


 Flowers

Christmas is time for the Illawarra Flame Tree to flower and they can be seen dotted around the Illawarra. I spotted this one in Figtree.




The photo above was taken through the car window as we picked up donated bread from a baker for a charity we work for known as Manna House.


These orchids bloomed in Peter's yard. They receive absulutely not attention and are extremely pot bound, but flower nevertheless and are quite beautiful. 



Speaking of plants I have discovered that basil grows in water. I bought a bunch recently, cut the top leaves off and then stuck lot in water to use the lower leaves later. Surprisingly the stems grew new leaves and copious roots.





I am going to try a few more herbs on my windowsill. You can read more about how to do it here.



Clean your house with toothpaste

After having a scare with cancer I am determined to use as many non-toxic house products as possible. I already make my own general cleaner with 1/4 cup liquid dish detergent, 1/4 cup of white vinegar (the cheapest you can get) and 1 litre of water. Put into spray bottles to use in the kitchen and bathroom. Sometimes I also add some peppermint essence because I like the smell.
I was interested to come across this site suggesting the use of toothpaste for household cleaning. Of course toothpaste has preservatives and other chemicals but I reckon that since it is safe enough to put in your mouth it must be a reasonably non-toxic cleaner. I am planning to give it a try. You can read the article here.


Biggest blessing

Our biggest blessing this Christmas has been the birth of little Emelia Grace to Peter's daughter. She is their third daughter and Peter's seventh grandchild and will be much loved.








Interesting sites


1. Glass treehouse in Mexico City


Photo source
A Mexico city architect has built a tree house out of glass instead of wood. Click here to read more.



2. England once forced everyone to be buried in wool

Photo source
As of  March 25, 1677, everyone in England had to be buried in woollen (rather than linen) shrouds—on pain of a hefty £5 fine taken from the deceased’s estate or his or her associates. Click here to read more.

 3. These spiders decorate their webs

Photo source.
Some spiders seem to decorate their webs and scientists don't know why. Click here to read more.