Focused Breathing: Spiritual, Physical, and Mental Benefits

The Truth about Happiness

I’ve read tons of self-help books, listened to podcast, engaged in counseling and started a meditation practice all in an effort to learn more about happiness and fulfillment. 

What is happiness? Where is happiness? Once I find it, how do I keep it? Philosophers, psychologist, spiritual leaders, and theologians have all sought to define it. It is something that has seemed elusive for much of my life until the last several years. My search for it and the intermittent nature of it led to me wanting to know more about it. 

Of course, the self-help gurus all say “happiness is an inside job.” I have also read multiple times that “external things do not bring happiness.” I agree that happiness is found on the inside however, I also believe that external things can bring happiness also. For example, the beach makes me happy. Certain people make me happy. My dogs make me happy and yes, money makes me happy. I promise if you hand me $1000, I’ll be happy as a bug in a rug. 

These external things only become problematic when our happiness is completely dependent on them. Am I still happy without the beach? Am I still happy without that person in my life? Am I still happy without all the material possessions? Am I still happy if I can’t take that special vacation? Am I still happy without that 1000 dollars? After-all, research does show that much of happiness is under personal control.

I believe the truth about happiness is that it is only part of the equation. Unhappiness is the other part.

Happiness is intermittent and can be fleeting. To believe that one can be happy all the time is a falsity. Unhappiness is part of our normal existence on this earth. According to Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/happiness) happiness typically involves times of considerable discomfort. Life circumstances, achievements, marital status, social relationships and even your neighbors, all influence how happy you are or can be. 

We spend a lot of time trying to avoid suffering, pain and unhappiness. No one wants to suffer. No one wants pain. No one wants to be unhappy. Think of a fly. Did you ever try to swat a fly with a fly swatter? It is almost impossible. As soon as you get close, they fly away. Very quickly. They do not want pain or suffering either. Even the fly doesn’t want to be unhappy. 

I truly believe that when one door closes, another door to greatness opens. The issue is the hallway in between the two doors. That hallway in between can be a real bitch.  No one wants to be in the hallway. It can be an unhappy place to be. But the hallway is essential.  Sit down in the hallway and embrace the unhappiness. Learn what you need to learn in the hallway. Don’t beat yourself up in the hallway.  See that new open door. Begin to give thanks for the new door while you are sitting in the hallway sulking.  Being in the hallway is your preparation time. Preparing you for the new beautiful door. 

It is okay to not be okay. As a matter of fact, there will definitely be times when you are not okay. There will definitely be times when you are unhappy. No way to avoid it regardless of how spiritually evolved you are. It is unavoidable regardless of how connected you are to the unified field of energy that is oneness. 

When I lost my Mom in a tragic car accident there was no avoiding the overwhelming sadness and unhappiness. I was in the hallway and it was very dark. I felt paralyzed and had no choice but to sit there in my deep grief. Again, we have all been there. There is a purpose in the pain and unhappiness even though we do not understand it. That is where we must Lean not to our own understanding but instead simply trust.

Having said all of this, there are ways to minimize your time in the unhappy zone:

  • Maintaining healthy relationships and connections
  • Daily Meditation Practice
  • Regular consistent exercise program
  • Finding purpose beyond yourself
  • Set and meet goals
  • Let go of grudges
  • Practice random acts of kindness (Be a Giver)
  • Practicing gratitude

These are just a few of the many ways to ensure much more time in the happy zone and less time in the unhappy state. 

Happiness is only part of the equation. And that’s the truth. 

Much love,

Vince

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Hi, I’m Vince. I am a Author, Critical Care Registered Nurse and Speaker. Welcome to my site. On this site you will be provided inspirational, educational, motivational and thought provoking articles. It is my mission to have this information help you achieve Optimal Health which includes your  Physical Health, Spiritual Health, and Mental Health. My ultimate goal is to create change and stimulate self-healing. I would love to have your support by entering your email address on this site to receive my monthly articles. I look forward to your feedback.

The Last Quarter

The thought has crossed my mind several times lately that I am probably in the last quarter of my life. The average current adult life span in the United States is 76 years.  The older I get, the more I realize that it doesn’t take long to get to 76. Time flies when you’re having fun. But are you having fun?

Being in the last quarter is not a negative or gloomy thought for me at all. It is instead a time of gratitude, reflection, and contemplation. 

Gratitude for where I am in this moment.  Gratitude for all that I have.

Reflection related to the past with all the experiences and lessons learned. 

Contemplation over questions such as, what do I want the last quarter of my life to look like, feel like, and be like?  What experiences do I want to have in the last quarter? The beauty is that it’s all up to me and me alone. We have that beautiful gift called choice. 

I have been working a tremendous amount lately, which has only led me to think about things more. I am feeling more like a human doing as opposed to a human being. In this last quarter, I want to be, and not just do. It is about balance, which is something I’ve been lacking. Again, we get to carve out what it is we want our lives to look like.  

I think of my Mother who worked very hard until the age of 72. Three months after her retirement, she was gone in a tragic car accident. It is important to experience life today. In this last quarter I want to be less fixated on getting things done and instead just enjoy the journey. Seems I am always striving and trying to cross the finish line. I end up many times missing the beauty of being right where I am now. I have learned that for me, new insight and guidance comes from accepting where I am right now and being present with what is.  

From an optimal health perspective, I want to be the best I can be physically, mentally, and spiritually in this last quarter. That may look different for each of us but again, it is up to each individual. No matter what quarter you are in, you can make it what you want it to be. Time is precious. 

I want to live, love, and serve more in this last quarter. I want to spend more time appreciating and being aware of this very moment, with no thought about the past or future. I want to take care of the body I’ve been given through proper nutrition and activity. I want to facilitate my spiritual growth through prayer, meditation, and anything that feeds my spiritual being. I want to take better care of my mental health by filtering the thousands of thoughts that come into my mind daily being careful not to give focus to the negative. Focus on the positive. Remember what we focus on expands. Where we place our attention is where we place our energy. 

For me, quality of life is more important than quantity. I realized during reflection that much of my life has been spent on obtaining material things. I want that degree. I want that new car. I want that house. I want a swimming pool in the back yard. Want, want, want. Do you find yourself always wanting material things? What about your quality of life? Are you peaceful, happy, fulfilled and living life with intention and purpose?  

Experiences or Material Possessions? Which is more important to you? Do you want a new dress, new set of boobs, new car………….or do you want an incredible experience that will transform your life and lead to personal growth and evolvement? Perhaps a spiritual retreat, a trip to another country, or weekend away with loved ones. Maybe a gift to someone in need as opposed to something material for yourself. 

I believe most of us have way more than we need in terms of material possessions. Growing up in a house with no indoor bathroom, I realize that now many people have 2 and 3 bathrooms. A lot of people have 2 and 3 cars. We can live with much less than we have. A lot of people are living with the bare necessities but they are very happy. On the other hand, many people have everything material and are not happy at all. They have the 3 bathrooms and the 3 cars. Unfortunately, the 3 bathrooms and 3 cars do not translate to happiness. They do nothing for our evolvement and personal growth. They do nothing for our spiritual awakening. 

Why would 2 people need a 4000 square foot home with a 3-car garage and a tiny home in the backyard? Again, there are people living in 400 square feet and are perfectly happy. 

In this my last quarter, I choose experiences over material things. Regardless of what quarter you are in, stop and evaluate where you are and what’s important to you. Is that huge home important? Does it bring you inner happiness? Does it connect you to your spirit? Does it awaken you? 

What changes would you like to make to ensure the last quarter of life is fulfilled, content, happy and purposeful. What changes would you like to make whatever stage you are in?

I look forward to your thoughts and feedback and as always am deeply grateful for your existence, love, and support. 

Much love,

Vince

______________________________________________________________________

Hi, I’m Vince. I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse, Author, and Speaker. Welcome to my site. On this site you will be provided inspirational, educational, motivational and thought provoking articles. It is my mission to have this information help you achieve Optimal Health which includes your  Physical Health, Spiritual Health, and Mental Health. My ultimate goal is to create change and stimulate self-healing. I would love to have your support by entering your email address on this site to receive my monthly articles. I look forward to your feedback.

Relationships: Rules of the Game

We are involved in many different types of relationships over the course of our physical existence on this earth. For the purposes of this article, I will be referring only to romantic relationships. It doesn’t have to be difficult. As a matter of fact, it can be a pleasurable experience if both parties understand the “Rules of the Game” going into the relationship. 

What does a healthy relationship look like? 

I am finding that more and more people are approaching me to talk about their relationship and receive counsel and feedback. Am I the expert? Not at all but life experience has taught me valuable lessons. I would like to share some of those lessons with you in this article. 

I have indeed been guilty of projecting my expectations on my partner. The expectation that you will tell me you love me every day. The expectation that you will touch me and show me affection every day. The expectation that you will surprise me with gifts and flowers occasionally. The expectation that you are supposed to be my everything. 

The truth is, I am my everythingTo put that expectation on anyone else is a recipe for disappointment and a failed or unhappy relationship. 

Is it okay to want to be shown affection? Yes. Is it okay to want to be surprised by your partner? Yes. It is okay to want affection from your partner? Of course. The important question I had to ask myself was, is it a want or a need.What is lacking in me that I have a need to feel validated by my other half? 

Relationships are about being a loving partner. Not a parent. There is a fine line between being a partner and acting in a parental manner. No adult appreciates another adult telling them what to do or attempting to control their life. 

All the questions such as, “Where have you been?” “I tried to call you and you didn’t answer.” “Who just texted you?” “Who was that on the phone?” “How do you know him/her?” “Why are you late coming home from work?” Those are all questions a parent would ask a child. Your romantic partner is not your child. 

Have a meaningful conversation with your partner to talk about the“Rules of the Game.” Ideally, I have found it works better to have the conversation in the beginning then repeat the conversation if the rules change as you both evolve because we know that NOTHING stays the same forever. 

Do you want an open relationship? Do you want a strictly monogamous relationship? Do you want a polyamorous relationship? There is no right or wrong as long as the individuals involved are aware of the rules. It becomes problematic when there is deceit, cheating, lying, having secret relationships on the side, playing on the DL, and just plain ole being dishonest. Have the conversation and allow the other party to decide if they want to play the game. They can’t play if they don’t know the rules. 

Are you in a happy, loving, completely honest relationship? Are you aware of ALL the rules? Are you feeling resentful because your partner is acting like a parent? Are you hiding things? 

Have a healthy, respectful conversation with your romantic partner today if you haven’t already done so. Don’t project your expectations and needs onto your partner. Instead, ask yourself the hard questions such as “Why do I feel this way?” I have discovered that it has nothing to do with my partner but instead is more about my personal insecurities, fears, and past experiences. 

If you truly feel the need to go through your partners phone, computer, wallet, pocket-book or other personal items, then you should pause and reflect. Am I truly with the wrong person or is it my insecurities and fears that are driving my behaviors. Either one could be the case. 

You may need to seek counsel regarding the “rules of the game” and that is fine. I always see counseling as a great thing. My only word of caution would be, NEVER seek counsel from your single friends or from your friends who are in dishonest relationships and “playing around on the side while hiding it from their partner.” Secrets lead to sickness.

Friends can sometimes give selfish, unconscious advice. They may actually make it worse by steering you away from the relationship simply because they are single and have no one special in their life or simply because they are not fulfilled. They may frequently invite you to go to the bar with them. They may try to influence you that it is okay to be dishonest and have a fling with another person. They may constantly tell you about all the wonderful sex they are having or constantly send you X rated pictures in an attempt to subconsciously say, “look what you are missing out on.” They may say things such as “Child, I don’t want a relationship.” Really?

I believe we all desire that special intimate relationship. It will look different for each individual couple but we all desire that intimacy. Someone to share life with. 

Bottom line: Live your life to the fullest and allow the one you love to do the same without expectations. At the same time, be conscious of the gift you have in your partner and express gratitude for that. If the relationship is not working for you, have the courage to admit that and move on to make room for what the Universe has for you. Don’t waste another day pondering and analyzing. Your heart already knows the answer. Listen to it and move forward. 

Blessings,

Vince

______________________________________________________________________

Hi, I’m Vince. I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse and Author. Welcome to my site. On this site you will be provided inspirational, educational, motivational and thought provoking articles. It is my mission to have this information help you achieve Optimal Health which includes your  Physical Health, Spiritual Health, and Mental Health. My ultimate goal is to create change and stimulate self-healing. I would love to have your support by entering your email address on this site to receive my monthly articles. I look forward to your feedback.

Box Thinking

 

fullsizeoutput_1f56From the moment I came out of my Mother’s wound, I was placed in a box. The box of what other’s thought I would and should be. The box of what others taught me was the only right way to belief. The box of how others informed me I should think.

I was taught things such as you meet that special one, get married, have children and live happily ever after. Oh, and let’s not forget that the special one must be of opposite gender and of the same race.

I watched my Mom live with the man known as my father for 25 years. It was not a healthy relationship but she stayed because box thinking told her it was the right thing to do. Miserable or not, “I must stay because that’s what Christians do.”

I was taught that you must believe in Christianity as the only way and all other ways of thinking were wrong. If you weren’t a Christian, you were going to this place called Hell.

I was taught that men have certain functions in the home and women have certain functions.

I was taught that boys wear blue and girls wear pink.  Boys play sports and girls are the cheerleaders.

I was taught that women are nurses and men are doctors.

For most of my life, I remained in the box out of fear. Fear of thinking for myself. Fear of listening to my own spirit for guidance. Fear of what others, including family, would think.

Box thinking will keep you stuck. Stuck in the “way we’ve always done it.”

Sitting at my desk reflecting and writing, I am thinking about what a big world there is out there. Thinking about all the beauty there is to experience. All the culture there is to experience. And here I sit.

I always said, “If anything ever happens to my Mom I am moving to a different country.” She’s been gone for 8 years and here I am. So, it wasn’t her keeping me in the box at all. It was my box thinking and cultural indoctrination of the way things should be.

There is so much of life to experience and many of us live our entire life in the same spot, on the same job and with the same person. Now, I am not saying that is wrong. I am only trying to provoke thought and ask the question, “What else is outside this box?”

As I’ve traveled to many other countries, I have learned that there is a lot outside the box and that all the things I was taught are not necessarily the truth. Your truth may be completely different from my truth. Walk in your truth.

I have also found myself stuck in box thinking as it relates to choosing a romantic partner. I had all these preconceived ideas about what he should look like, what he should do for a living, how much money he should have, and he should own his own home and be self-sufficient. That’s my box thinking but what if God has another idea? What if he has someone else for me who doesn’t meet my preconceived criteria but they are loving, kind, compassionate, caring and would be with me until the end. I pass them up because they do not fit in my box.

If I had listened completely to my box thinking, I wouldn’t have been a nurse for the past 31 years and would have missed out on my vocation. Because remember, women are nurses and men are doctors. If I had listened completely to my box thinking, I would have lived a life of fear because of this place called “Hell” that people go to and burn forever if they are not a “Christian.” Grateful to have come to the realization that Hell is a state of mind and not a physical destination at all. Glad I stopped drinking that Kool-Aid that was used as a fear tactic by the church.

I feel very blessed to be moving to a new level of awareness daily and evolving to a greater understanding.

Get out of the box today. Open your mind and spirit to all the infinite possibilities that await you. They can only be yours if you get away from the box thinking that is full of limitations, barriers, and restrictions.

Blessings,

Vince Shifflett, RN BSN CCRN

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Hi, I’m Vince. I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse and Author. Welcome to my site. On this site you will be provided inspirational, educational, motivational and thought provoking articles. It is my mission to have this information help you achieve Optimal Health which includes your  Physical Health, Spiritual Health, and Mental Health. My ultimate goal is to create change and stimulate self-healing. I would love to have your support by entering your email address on this site to receive my monthly articles. I look forward to your feedback.