Happiness and the power of choice

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ”
― William James

Some years ago I met some of the happiest and kindest people in the small southeastern African country of Malawi. Over half the population live below the poverty line and some even in extreme poverty, yet the country is also known as “the warm heart of Africa” because its people have the reputation of smiling all the time.

The trip to Malawi set me thinking. While obviously many people in abject poverty fall prey to lethargy, some people in the very same situation appear to be taking on a very different mindset.

The 2020 World Happiness Report listing factors such as freedom of choice, the environment, social factors and the economy, consistently has the Nordic countries topping the list of the most happy countries. The report attributes happiness particularly to a high level of social and institutional trust as well as the social connections.

But there is much more to it. The United States, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, ranks only 19th on the life evaluation list. The Netherlands and Switzerland, in essence indistinguishable from many other wealthy countries on GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption, nevertheless have a lower overall score than the Scandinavian countries.

How much of your happiness is under your control?

Especially during these times when the pandemic is wreaking havoc on economies and businesses it is easy to blame external circumstances for our unhappiness. The happiness pie chart, first presented by researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M. Sheldon, and David Schkade in 2005, suggests that our perceived feeling of happiness is only influenced by external circumstances by ten per cent. The genes we inherited from our parents play a major part (50 per cent) but the researchers emphasize that it is possible to get happier and to stay happy by making certain choices and changing our mindset.

It appears that by far the major part of our happiness is determined by the way we process the external world and the way we program ourselves with our thought and belief systems. A large body of researchers from the school of positive psychology conclude that it is possible to completely transform a life for the better by changing ones attitude to whatever you have experienced. Thought discipline and taking control of the monkeys dancing in the head has been taught by spiritual teachers for centuries. Here are only some tips of how you can regain control:

Accept the up-and-down cycles.

Life is cyclical. It is part of the human condition to have moments of sadness and despair. The New Age obsession with “being happy all the time” is an illusion. It is only in the honest and full acceptance of the current state that we can take the first step to moving forward to a life of greater contentment.

What foods are you eating?

What we eat matters for every aspect of our health, but especially our mental health. A diet of junk food with a high sugar content and other additives not only affects your physical body negatively but also your mental health. It has inspired a whole field of medical research called nutritional psychiatry at Harvard University.

Practicing kindness and compassion

If we take care of others and practice compassion and loving kindness to each other this will have an immediate effect on your own sense of well-being. We know this from our own gut-feeling It costs nothing to be kind and you will in return attract the same energy in your surroundings. There is a saying called “givers gain” – the more you give the more you receive.

Faith

A core spiritual belief makes you more resilient during stressful times and will improve your sense of well-being. We are social beings and if you belong to a faith community you could be given emotional support. The spiritual seeker is on a journey to understand purpose and meaning in life. Dogmatic religion however could have the opposite effect and contribute to obsessive behavior and mental disorder.

Mindsetting

How you talk to yourself is crucial. If your self-talk is predominantly negative you need to change something. Finding a positively-minded personal mantra could be part of a process you could work at with a personal mentor or therapist. Meditating at the start of your day and at the end of the day with a gratitude ritual could form part of a realignment program.

Exercise

Low-impact exercise such as yoga, tai chi or qi gong helps to realign body, mind and spirit. It includes breathing exercise routines that help you breathe naturally through your nose rather than through the mouth. Your nose releases nitric oxide which widens the blood vessels allowing for better transportation of oxygen to vital organs. 

There is not the one silver bullet that will improve your overall happiness level and feeling of contentment. It is best to start with small steps in changing some of your daily habits. Keeping a daily journal will help you keep track on what you are doing in terms of action. And when you read some of the lines many months or years later you will be proud of what you have achieved.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you would like to learn more about these and other topics, check out my books and online video courses in my store or go to linktr.ee/redfishsword

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How resilient are you?

“If we have peace of mind, even negative experiences do not upset us. Peace of mind is also good for our physical health. Medical experts have found that anger, hatred and fear eat into our immune system. Being calm and relaxed is better for our physical well-being.” – The Dalai Lama –

During these times it is all-important to look after your immune system. We will have to live with the pandemic for some time with the rollout of vaccinations taking their time and much uncertainty about virus mutations.

In my last Blog we looked at the importance of breathing through the nose. The nose is a natural filter system, releasing nitric oxide which widens the blood vessels allowing for better transportation of oxygen to vital organs.

But there are many other building blocks to a healthy and resilient immune system. When your immune system is weakened your emotional and physical defense walls will break under the strain. The big question everyone is asking: What can I do to protect myself and my loved ones?

Vitamin D deficiency

Early indications are that people with a vitamin D deficiency are more prone to catching Covid. The vitamin is connected to the activation of T cells in the body, which play a key role in immune response. Elderly people and those living in climate zones with little sunlight are especially prone to vitamin D deficiency. When you get older the skin gets less efficient in producing vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. It leads to a loss of bone density and in extreme cases to osteoporosis and other diseases. It is suspected that vitamin D deficiency may also lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and other autoimmune conditions. Known also as the sunlight vitamin you would need exposure of between 10-30 minutes of sunlight per day to get enough vitamin D into your body. But it also depends on the sensitivity of your skin, your age and how dark your skin is. Seafoods, mushrooms and egg yolk are another way of getting vitamin D into your body.

Avoid sugars

Sugar is found in most processed foods and sodas. There are multiple reasons why you should avoid sugar. One of the primary reasons is that sugar is responsible for weight gain and diabetes 2 which puts you in the major risk category for Covid. A recent Spanish study found that 80 per cent of serious Corona patients were overweight. Obesity is characterized by a chronic state of low-grade inflammation with an increase in cytokines, or inflammatory molecules, which reduces the body’s ability to respond to respiratory infection. You are also putting your mental health at risk with a high sugar diet. Researchers believe that blood sugar swings, neurotransmitter dysregulation and inflammation may all be reasons for sugar’s detrimental impact on mental health.

Emotional stress

Negative stress is often triggered by a thought. Negative news media. Negative people around you. Dwelling on the past and the future robs you of the preciousness of the moment. A negative mindset and toxic emotions such as anger, resentment, jealousy, anxiety and fear have a devastating effect on the immune system. It puts your body into fight or flight mode triggering those stress hormones that you don’t want too much of. “Emotional shifting” is a good way of dealing with a negative mindset. Ask yourself what you can be truly grateful for. Recall those moments or memories that expand your vibrational energy. Focusing on a positive experience will relax your breathing and trigger the recovery mode that you need to bring those stress hormones back to a normal level.

Deep walking in nature

Walking in a forest or on a beach, spending time in those green and blue spaces of nature has an enormous impact on boosting your immune system. Exposure to the natural sounds of nature will reduce your blood pressure, muscle tension, heart rate and the production of stress hormones. Spending time in nature also provides a welcome respite from those countless distractions pulling at our minds throughout the day.

Relationships

We human beings are social beings. We need people around us to make us feel seen, cherished and wanted. Social bonding is essential for our health and a good immune system. Social support systems play a pivotal role in managing high stress levels. Loneliness and social isolation have a huge effect on mental health. Connecting with friends, family and loved ones should be a primary focus, even if the pandemic currently prevents direct physical contact.

These are only a few guidelines to help you navigate these difficult times. But Challenging times can also be important stages of transition, elevation of consciousness and restructuring of soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you would like to learn more about these and other topics, check out my books and online video courses in my store or go to linktr.ee/redfishsword

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Stress and how you breathe

During these times of high anxiety the body is flooded with stress hormones that have a major impact on how you breathe, exacerbating problems for people with pre-existing respiratory and other health conditions. The good news is that you can do something about it by changing the way you breathe.

Breathing through the nose

Inhaling and exhaling naturally through the nose is what you should be doing. As you inhale the nose warms and moisturizes the air. Your nose releases nitric oxide which widens the blood vessels allowing for better transportation of oxygen to vital organs. Your breathing will be deeper and slower increasing the volume of your lungs and diaphragm.

Stress is a survival mechanism that we require to function properly. Short periods of stress can help sharp-focus the mind to accomplish an important task. It enabled our ancestors to scamper to safety up the next tree when faced by a predator. Stress hormones such as adrenalin or cortisol are essential tools, enabling for example the driver of a car to slam on the brakes if a deer runs across the road.

Breathing and stress

The hypothalamus in the brain sets off the alarm in a dangerous situation. Nerves and hormones signal the adrenal glands near the kidneys to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These cause the muscular system to tense up, raises the blood pressure, enabling that quick burst of energy to address an emergency situation. As we use more body energy our inhaling and exhaling breaths come in short bursts from the mouth, circulating in the upper throat and chest area. After the threat has disappeared the body normally calms down with the cortisol levels dropping as we go into relax mode.

The problem in our modern world is that our stress is mainly triggered by thousands of thoughts circulating on events of the past or future. The body is in a constant state of alert. The sprint and recovery cycle is out of balance. A constant high level of cortisol will eventually break down the body’s natural defense systems, weaken the cardiovascular system, and impair brain and memory function. We are constantly “stressed-out”, not breathing properly and thus not getting enough sleep.

Our ancestors never had the problem of chronic stress. Scientists, studying the shapes of jaws and mouth cavities from ancient skulls, determined that they probably spent most of their lives in relaxed breathing through the nose. However, probably from dietary and other effects our mouths have changed dramatically in less than 200 years. Our heads have become more shallow, vertically oriented, with smaller teeth and a tongue extending well into the neck. This contributes to a smaller and narrower airway.

What you can do to change your breathing patterns?

Conscious and focused deep breathing through the nose can instantly bring you from a state of high tension into a relaxed state of mind.

  • Sit upright holding one hand on your lower belly and the other in the heart area.
  • At the count of one inhale and exhale through your nose.
  • Continue until the count of twelve then switch your hands
  • Continue until the count of 24
  • Close by placing both your hands on your belly

Nourishing your mind and body during times of crisis cannot be over-emphasized:

  • Avoid the consumption of negative news media
  • Surround yourself with positive-minded humorous people
  • Avoid white sugar and processed foods as much as possible

Low impact body exercises such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong and deep walking in nature will do wonders in reducing stress hormones in the body. When you focus on nasal breathing your body posture will also improve naturally.

So what about high-impact exercise such as jogging and cycling? The bottom line here is that you will probably be forced to take big inhaling breaths through your mouth to get more oxygen. This will decrease carbon dioxide in your blood levels inhibiting the body’s ability to release oxygen into your cells. The point here is to slow down again so that you can breathe naturally through the nose.  

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you would like to learn more about these and other topics, check out my books and online video courses in my store or go to linktr.ee/redfishsword

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How healthy are your relationships?

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
— Epicurus

Humanity’s greatest challenge in the 21st century is ultimately about relationships that manifest themselves in the crisis of political, educational and religious institutions as the degradation of life systems on earth hangs like a sword of Damocles.

From the day you are born, you are defined by your relationships. It makes you into the human being you are today. Family, friends, marriage partners and associations influence who you in multiple and subtle ways.

German philosopher Martin Buber in his book “Ich und Du (translated as I and Thou) finds finds that human life essentially finds meaning and purpose in relationships.

Know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe

Ultimately it is also the relationship with the inner self and God. “Man, know thyself: then thou shalt know the Universe and God,” according to Greek philosopher Pythagora.

A traumatic relationship breakdown, the loss of a loved one or boundary issues in a marriage are often reasons why people seek help from a therapist or a counselor. An experienced therapist will then guide the client along the lines of for example:

  • reflecting on the major issues that led to the relationship breakdown;
  • communication patterns in a relationship and or
  • identifying positive relationship traits and conflict resolution.

Falling in love is not enough

Falling in love is simply not enough to make a relationship work. Its one of the things I had to learn the hard way in my own relationship history. There has to be at least some consensus on basic values, interests, life philosophies, and expectations.

While healthy relationships based on mutual respect and trust make out a huge part of personal happiness, it is primarily the walking over the hot coals during times of crisis and transmuting that experience that helps to solidify that relationship.

Yet, far more significant is the relationship to yourself that will ultimately define all your relationships. Some of the issues that have profound importance are the following:

  • What is your self-image? Is it authentic or defined by external factors such as social media?
  • How are you talking to yourself? Is that inner conversation with yourself positive and uplifting or constantly filled with self-doubt, recrimination and negativity.
  • Do you love and accept yourself unconditionally and at the same time take full responsibility on how you respond to circumstances outside of your control? You cannot change the behavior of people. You can however determine how you respond to that behavior.

The misconception of “soul mate”

If you are lonely and seeking the love of your life, you will never find that person and inevitably be disappointed if you expect the other person to fill an inner void. A “soul mate” is a misconception. You will only find that soul mate within. Ask yourself instead:

  • What do I need to change within myself to attract the person or persons that will make me shine and develop?
  • Rephrase, “what I want” to “what I can give and contribute.”

We are being distracted with the preoccupation of the crisis in our institutions while these are only reflections of an inner state of mind. Fundamentalist belief structures appear to provide clear answers and solutions to complex human problems but inevitably disappoint. They initially provide an anchor of hope but cannot replace that inner voice of authenticity, found in that quiet space of introspection and peace.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you would like to learn more about these and other topics, check out my books and online video courses in my store or go to linktr.ee/redfishsword

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The happiness illusion

Our culture has been indoctrinated with the happiness illusion with the self-help industry promoting the image of the perfect human being, successful in all areas of life and beaming a happy smile on social media outlets.

The “happiness” and “positive thinking” preoccupation is one of the many fallouts of a culture addicted to the distraction of the 10,000 things and immediate external gratification. Something is “wrong” with you if you are struggling with the challenges life throws at you.

Admitting to your surroundings that you are going through a bout of sadness or even depression is frowned upon.

Life is cyclical

One of the key lessons the pandemic is teaching us is that life is cyclical. There is never only growth, happiness, prosperity and celebration. The ancient wisdom of the Five Elements emphasizes that impermanence is an essential aspect of evolutionary growth and an inherent aspect of cosmic law.

Saint John of the Cross, the great 16th century Spanish mystic, narrates in the Dark Night of the Soul, the elevation of consciousness during periods of hardship and difficulty. In the darkest of nights the soul reaches the light in the union with the Creator. The ego has been killed and in that humility of quiet emptiness a door opens.

The architects of Europe’s finest medieval cathedrals were aware of this central spiritual message. The light from the stained glass is most pronounced when the light from outside illuminates the darkness within.

The power that lies within

Nelson Mandela, during his darkest of nights in solitary confinement, repeatedly recited and found solace in the poem Invictus written in 1875 by William Ernest Henley. The poem reminds us of the great strength that lies in the unconquerable soul during challenging times. In confronting adversity we come out on the other side greater and stronger as the “captain” of the soul.

The trap of falling into resistance

The greatest obstacle in transmuting those struggles, humiliations, losses, and relationship breakdowns is by going into resistance. Typically its the response: Why me? Who can I blame? Instead you should be asking: What is the universe trying to teach me? Which new direction do I need to take? How can this experience make me a more valuable, vulnerable, humble and a wiser human being.

Often the resistance is to making the necessary changes. You might have been pursuing an image of yourself that does not align with your soul purpose but has been dictated by the ego, your parents, immediate associations or other external influences. The universe gently nudges us into the direction we need to go but with so many distractions we miss the road markers on the way.

Life is a topsy-turvy world of ups-and-downs, challenges, failures, mishaps, disappointments but also victories, joys and celebration. One of the reasons why the deep walk pilgrimage is becoming so popular is that it is such a perfect analogy of life.

The entire Camino walk of five weeks can be a hard, painful slog through mud, bad weather, painful blisters and emotional flat-on-the-ground moments. But at the end of the journey there is boundless joy in entering one of the world’s great architectural masterpieces, the Cathedral of Santiago in northwestern Spain, and celebrating the accomplishment with fellow pilgrims.

It is upon the reflection of life’s journey that we become aware that from the day we were born, life sculptures us into the human being we are destined to become. It is part of the beauty of the human condition that the struggles define and make us who we are. Living authenticity is the unconditional acceptance of the low-moments as the precondition to fully experiencing the high moment.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

I have a special New Year offer on my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. If you buy my new video Deep Walking with the key lessons from the book in my store, I will send you the paperback edition of the book for FREE.

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The herd-madness of the crowd

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”― C.G. Jung

There is a famous picture of a single individual with his arms crossed in defiance amid a sea of German dockworkers giving a Nazi salute in the port city of Hamburg on June 13th 1936. The picture went viral after being rediscovered in 1991.

The man in the picture was later identified as August Landmesser. The workers attended the launch of a new ship with Adolf Hitler personally attending the launch of the “Horst Wessel”. It was an extraordinary act of defiance with tragic consequences for Landmesser.

The individual who stood against the crowd

Records show that Landmesser joined the Nazi party in 1931 to get a job. Then he fell in love with the Jewish girl, Irma Eckler. Sex and marriage between Germans and Jews was strictly prohibited at the time. When the party learned of the affair they expelled him. The couple nevertheless had a daughter out of wedlock in 1935. When the couple refused an order by the authorities to break up they were arrested in 1938. Landmesser served time in prison and was later forced into the army and is presumed to have died in battle. Eckler was murdered in the Ravensbrück concentration camp in August 1937.

The famous picture illustrates that Landmesser must have felt a deep resentment toward the Nazis, having experienced firsthand how their doctrine had destroyed his life. It symbolizes great courage in resisting the crowd hysteria in the idolization of an evil leader.

The individual mind versus the herd-mind

There appears to be a particular herd madness to a crowd. We were starkly reminded of this by the recent events in Washington with the storming of the Capitol by a frenzied mob. Many of the participants, ordinary people with good jobs and businesses, now themselves seem to be surprised by the consequences of their own actions, pleading for pardons from the president.

Education in the Western world emphasizes individual freedom of expression and individuation. At the same time an inner loneliness and spiritual disconnect appears to exert a gravitational pull toward the herd-mind. Affiliation to a particular football club, political parties, music groups or a brand take on a fanatical religious fervor.

A dark destructive force seems to awaken in the large human group when the individual mind succumbs to the herd-mind. The famous Swiss psychotherapist Carl-Gustav Jung, who spent much of his lifetime studying the Nazi phenomenon, distinguished between the liberated conscious individual mind and the “unconscious” collective mind.

Sinking to the level of mob psychology

“A group experience takes place on a lower level of consciousness than the experience of an individual. This is due to the fact that, when many people gather together to share one common emotion, the total psyche emerging from the group is below the level of the individual psyche. If it is a very large group, the collective psyche will be more like the psyche of an animal, which is the reason why the ethical attitude of large organizations is always doubtful. The psychology of a large crowd inevitably sinks to the level of mob psychology,” Jung wrote in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

We are experiencing exceptional times of change where acute vigilance and critical awareness is called for. It is tempting to join the fan clubs of the professional deceivers offering simple solutions for complex problems. Mass media, reflecting the voice of the mass crowd, has been contaminated with distortion, lies and conspiracy theory. Very few news channels still abide by the professional ethic in providing objective information to the public, instead falling prey to the general trend of stoking toxic emotions such as hate, fear, xenophobia and anger. News on many channels and social media is no longer information but designed to jolt you into a negative emotion.

At last there are first signs that the social media giants are realizing their co-responsibility. For too long they have acted as echo-chambers of the dark unconscious mind.

  • If you are exposed to information where you immediately have an uncomfortable feeling, then ask yourself: Where does this come from?
  • What intention does the communicator of the messenger pursue?
  • Does it really serve my life and my well-being today?

Reino Gevers – Author – MentorSpeaker

One more thing…

I have a special New Year offer on my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. If you buy my new video Deep Walking with the key lessons from the book in my store, I will send you the paperback edition of the book for FREE.

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A mental health challenge

The other day I observed a heavily-masked woman in a supermarket in no uncertain terms telling off a customer to keep his distance. A passenger on the plane refused to take his window seat when he found another person sitting next to him. Many people are currently feeling anxious, afraid and even paranoid.

The pandemic is having a huge effect on mental health, according to a report released recently by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety,” the WHO said.

During these times when we are constantly being bombarded with “Covid news” on all channels it is more important than ever to guard your mind against the indoctrination with negativity. These are challenging times where it has become more important than ever to protect your mental health and to guard your mind against fear and anxiety. We cannot ignore this dangerous virus and have to take precautions but we do have it in our power to reduce the consumption of negative news.

Learning the lessons from a crisis

Every crisis teaches us something.  We need to look beyond the surface. As a humanity we need to go into deep introspection on what we are doing to our earth and our fellow living beings.  Nature is teaching us that we need to move away from an exploitative to a more sustainable economic model.  Short-term external gratification cannot replace the soul’s yearning for spiritual growth and meaning. Because humanity is in this together in fighting a common enemy, it is a huge opportunity in bringing communities and nations together. The mere fact that a vaccine could be made available in such a short time is a result of an unprecedented level of international cooperation between scientists and governments.

Practicing awareness of thoughts and emotions

Being locked down in our homes gives us time for reflection on what truly matters. If we stay calm, centered and in alignment with the higher self we can be of much more support to those loved ones around us, especially those facing a mental health challenge.  

Here are some of the things you could do to remain centered:

  • When you feel a negative emotion such as fear accept that fact first. “Yes, I am afraid and anxious.” You can then go to the next step by replacing that emotion with a good thought or happy moment. What image or memory comes to mind that will expand your energy or makes you laugh?
  • Practice a gratitude ritual. What am I truly grateful for? Thank the universe for all the good things in your life. Do it first thing in the morning and last thing before you fall asleep. It makes a huge difference to your feeling of well-being!
  • Breathing meditation. Focus your mind on your breathing. At the count of one I inhale and at the count of one I exhale – counting until 21.  Check out my immune-boosting meditation on my Podcast.
  • Take a walk in nature. Meditative deep walking in natural surroundings cleanses body and mind on many levels. Do it however without the distraction of electronic gadgets. Focus on the moment. Feel the wind stroking your face. Hear the birds singing in the trees. Inhale the aroma of the wild flowers.
  • Our environment, our associations and our thoughts have a major impact on our mental well-being.  Radically reduce associations with people who bombard you with negativity, abusing you in dumping their rubbish onto you. Reduce the consumption of negative media to a minimum. What you feed your mind with is who you are and who you become.

Reino Gevers – Author, Mentor, and Consultant

One more thing…

I have a special New Year offer on my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. If you buy my new video Deep Walking with the key lessons from the book in my store, I will send you the paperback edition of the book for FREE.

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Why most New Year resolutions suck

Life so often becomes predictable in the way we function and go on automatic. We have the same patterns, thoughts and feelings. We take the same route to work at  the same time each day. We have the same conversations and relational interactions. We plan an agenda for the week, the month the year and the day we retire.

One of the many things the past year has taught us how unpredictable life can be. It is in those moments of crisis when we are hurled onto the ground, when the familiar map disappears, when we are forced out of familiar territory that  we can truly take a look inside. It is during these moments that elevation of consciousness takes place.

How did you start the previous year?

For many people the year 2020 turned life upside down. But life is never a one-way street. How we look at things is a matter of mindset and perspective. How about looking back at the beginning of last year and what thoughts you had then. Did you have any resolutions on how you would approach the year? Did those resolutions come into fruition? In fact studies show that most people give up on their resolutions before the month of January has even ended.

A much better way of starting the New Year is by reflecting on the blessings of the past year. What were those five best moments and successes you had? Looking back will help you pick up on the positive lessons you learned and what positive habits you can build on.  What is it you want to choose and learn from in 2020?

  • What three key lessons did I learn in  2020?
  • What has to be accepted that cannot be changed?

Starting a daily gratitude ritual

Numerous studies show that people who have a daily gratitude practice and who count their blessings are happier in their lives. It shifts your  attention from what is negative to what is positive in your life.

There are two exercises you could do in making the start of the year more positive. Start and end your day with a gratitude ritual. What three major positive experiences, meetings, or insights did I have during the past 24 hours?

We instinctively know that living a more fulfilled and happier life is linked to what habits we pursue. This is why we like to clean the slate and start the New Year with a positive outlook. But there are two common mistakes why most people give-up on their good intentions:

  • The plan is too ambitious and unrealistic. A long list of all the things you want to change will leave you with nothing done. Keep what you want to change short, simple and realistic. If you want to get out of debt. Start by putting a small amount of money onto a savings account every month and don’t touch it. If you want to exercise more, start with a short ten-minute walk instead of trying to do a half hour every day. Improve on your diet and avoid all white sugars as a first start. Small changes in your daily routine, done every day of every week and every month bring about the big changes.
  • Negative self-talk will inevitably scuttle all your good intentions. How you talk to yourself has an immense influence. “I will never be able to do this?” “I’m not good at this.” “I was just born fat and ugly.” “Life is just the way it is and I just have to bear with it.” Try to turn the conversation around. “What can I learn from this?” “I love and accept myself unconditionally.” “I am blessed, everything is good and will turn out fine in the end.”

Change comes with small steps

Changing your set routines and habits starts with small baby steps. A good way of tricking the mind into doing something positive is by “piggy backing” a positive habit with an existing habit. If you have to take the dog out for a walk anyway, try taking a different route next time and walking a little longer. Or park the car some distance away from your workplace so that you are forced to do that extra walking. Replace a negative thought with a positive thought. Try breaking typical routines like reading a chapter in a good self-help book instead of spending the evening watching Netflix.

Highly successful people never rest on their laurels. They are continuously refining on their self-development, knowledge, associations, physical and mental well-being. It is in finding true purpose that we become who we are meant to be from the day we were born. Quiet moments of introspection, meditation and deep walking in nature are crucial for realignment and aligning your intentions with the intentions of the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

I have a special New Year offer on my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. If you buy my new video Deep Walking with the key lessons from the book in my store, I will send you the paperback edition of the book for FREE.

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A year to remember or forget?

Reflecting on the past year a scene that remains particularly poignant is the Saturday morning in May when children were allowed out onto the Spanish streets for the first time after six weeks during one of the strictest Corona lockdowns in Europe.

It was that dazed, wide-eyed expression in those innocent faces that more than anything was telling me that our world had changed for a long time to come. Walking outdoors was allowed but no playing with other children. Humanity had gone into hibernation, triggered by a virus that insidiously finds entry into the body when we are most vulnerable in seeking touch and intimacy with our fellow human beings.

Every crisis heralds a new beginning

But, in every crisis the seeds are sown for a new beginning. The questions that need to be asked both on an individual and collective level:

  • What can we learn from this?
  • What opportunity can grow from this?
  • What has to be accepted that cannot be changed?

One of the big lessons from the pandemic is that we need to appreciate more the many things we have simply taken for granted.

Travel to faraway countries, if at all possible, is hampered by countless restrictions, as if the virus is telling us to slow down, and stay in one place for a while, making room for introspection and appreciation of the immediate surroundings.

Lessons from nature

The quiet spaces of nature teach us to go into stillness in order to perceive the whispers from the universe. With calm breathing, the anxious heart calms to the rhythm of nature. The hunger for external gratification starts receding. With each long in-and-out breath we turn deeper inward, opening consciousness for growth.

In a world with a powerful negative drumbeat it is easy to run with the crowd. Minds are being poisoned and confused by a barrage of conspiracy theories, lies, distortions and exaggerations – nowhere more visible than in the recent U.S. presidential elections. Public discourse is being polluted by the power of algorithms on social media, amplifying toxic emotions. The more extreme a behavior the greater the attention.

Spending alone time in nature has become a welcome source of spiritual rejuvenation during these times. It is in the attuning of the senses to the ocean waves crashing to shore, in the observance of birds of prey soaring effortlessly against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the thousands of starlings flying in intricately woven patterns that an inner stillness starts inhabiting the soul.

The ancient mystics were very much aware that happiness is a creation from within, even in times of crisis. St. Augustine (354-430 AD) wrote that amid the fragmentation and times of anxiety “the soul is weighed in the balance by what delights her.” Natural beauty draws the soul into an experience of where natural order and tranquility resides.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. It is available at all major outlets or at a discount from my my own store.  Check out all the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

My choice of the ten best spiritual books can be found here.

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Christmas: A message of Hope

People are crowding the streets, buying foods and other goodies at the elaborately decorated stalls of the Christmas markets. There is a hurried frenzy in the shops with choirs and musicians performing carols in the town square. That was Christmas last year and most years prior to that.

The world has gone into hibernation, I thought as I took doggy for a walk in the empty streets of my village here on the island of Mallorca where a curfew takes effect from 10 pm. Gatherings of more than six people are prohibited in a stage 4 lockdown.

Collectively humanity is going through a winter time of the soul period. But it is also in the darkest of nights that we can see best the first glimmer of light. It is a good time to reflect on the deeper meaning of Christmas that has degenerated for much of the world into a loud celebration of meaningless consumerism, family squabbles and gluttony.

The world Christmas stems from the words “Christ Mass” – the celebration of Christ at mass in the Catholic tradition. But this time of the year has for thousands of years, long before Christianity, been a day of celebration and ritual for people. In the northern hemisphere the sun moves to its lowest arc in the winter solstice on December 21st when the North Pole is tilted furthest from the sun.

Worship of the sun or the light was at the heart of many pagan religions as a reminder that all life on Earth stemmed from the sun. It was the basis of the Roman and Greek religions, Mithraism and Zoroastrianism. The early Roman Christian bishops found it therefore convenient to set December 25th as Jesus’ date of birth thus incorporating the old religions with the new.

Moving from the darkness into the light, and turning the soul outward back into the light after a period of grief and sadness is very much also the story of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. It gives sense to the seasonal and cyclical nature of life. With the birth of Jesus, the Christ is invited within.

In recent decades humanity has see-sawed between a mindset of rigid fundamentalism and nihilistic, non-comital consumerism that found special expression around Christmas.

The search for the Holy Grail is on a symbolic level the search for meaning and purpose, finding soul purpose and aligning with the inner Christ on a heart level. In connecting with the soul it becomes your inner friend and guiding light. That moment of connection between soul and purpose is rebirth and resurrection. The soul has turned outward into the light after a long period of inner hibernation.

Christmas is a story of hope, optimism and a new beginning as humanity moves collectively from this period of great anxiety and fear.

Pointedly a “Star of Bethlehem” constellation will be seen in the sky on Monday, 21st December. Two of the solar system’s brightest planets Jupiter and Saturn align closer together than at any time during the past 400 years. The two planets last lined up this close in the year 1623!

Among the star gazers and astrologists this unique star constellation is seen as a symbol of hope and new beginning.

Reino Gevers – Author. Mentor. Speaker

One more thing…

You might want to check out my latest book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul”. It is available at all major outlets or at a discount from my my own store.  Check out all the latest five-star reviews on Goodreads.

My choice of the ten best spiritual books can be found here.

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