Tag Archives: mental health

Humility and the lessons of adversity

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels”

Saint Augustine

Humility seems to have lost the battle against pride. Our world of social media has provided the perfect stage for narcissism and self-aggrandizement with the world of illusion taking precedence over what is real and a fake.

On one of my Camino walks in northwestern Spain I met a pilgrim who told me: “If you don’t walk the Path with humility it will force you into humility.”

Walking the Camino is in so many ways walking through life. Every day the path has new lessons to learn where the pilgrim is confronted with new and old emotional demons.

The last section before reaching a destination is sometimes the most difficult. You are relieved that you have reached the top of a mountain and then you find that you still have another even bigger mountain to climb.

It is why so many people who started walking the Camino as hikers ended their journey as pilgrims, learning on the Path that when going slow and finding that inner rhythm, external personality merges with the internal needs of the soul.

An emotional and physical breakdown leads to the breakthrough

When we are confronted with adversity and almost insurmountable challenges, the path of life forces us from pride into humility. The wounded soul is cracked open for the light to shine into that inner truth.

Sometimes you have to shut a door and walk away from everything in order to rediscover who you really are. You are forced into falling forward and opening a new door.

David Bowie once said that “aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”

The elderly person surrenders to the cycle of life, the inevitability of death. There is nothing more to prove. There is a quiet solitude and acceptance. It is the same when an identity built on the weak foundations of personality breaks apart after a financial disaster, the loss of a job or a divorce.

Transformation begins where the world of certainty crumbles

There is a deep human need to be seen, to be heard and to have certainty. But when the world of certainty crumbles truth is revealed. This is the opportunity for real transformation and recognition of soul.

Pride and narcissism is about self-interest while humility is focused on being of service. If people are in search of their calling and having difficulty in finding an answer the clue is always in finding that niche where individual talent finds expression in the act of service for the bigger whole. You will have surrendered to that bigger plan that the universe has in store for you.

What is humility and what is pride?

Humble people are unafraid of expressing their vulnerability, and pain, and to seek help. They are listeners rather than talkers. They accept the transitions of life and are willing to learn from them while the narcissist in his pride is always right and is immersed in the illusion that the world is owing to him. He will always blame other people for his failures and take accolades for accomplishments that were none of his doing. Too many of such people find themselves in leadership positions causing much pain and suffering to all those around and ultimately to themselves.

Humility and adversity teach us that we always have another mountain to climb during life’s up-and-down cycles. Climbing those mountains make us more resilient. As long as we are alive we are never done as human beings. It is during those moments when we think that we are done that life inevitably throws another lesson at our feet.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Have you found your calling?

Are you having difficulty in finding your life calling? Well, you are not alone with many people stressing out on finding that one silver arrow pointing to meaning and purpose in life.

As a young person you are in a very different place than later in life. But you are confronted with the major decision on whether to take out a massive student loan to train for a particular career path. Finally you follow through with the predominant view of family and peer groups.

During midlife you find yourself in a very unhappy place, realizing that all those years you had placed the ladder against the wrong wall.

Photo by Xin on Unsplash

Are you flying or scratching with the chickens?

Friends and family are sometimes the worst people to ask when it comes to pursuing your dreams and passions. The reason is that they don’t want a member of the tribe to change so much that they leave and seek a new tribe that is a better fit for new ideas, philosophies and visions.

Instead of learning to fly and soar with the eagles you remain on the ground scratching with the chickens, living out a life of quiet misery. All the time there is that inner voice calling on you to plant that seed destined to make you grow into who you are really meant to be.

It is sometimes necessary to leave a relationship that has long outlived its purpose, an unfulfilling but well paid job or even the country you are living in when it comes to living your destiny. Our biggest fear is often the fear that the future might turn out worse than the current situation, so you settle for the status quo because you feel safe in your “comfort zone.”

Life is not a trajectory of predictability

The journey of life seldom takes you on a trajectory of predictability. The ship you are sailing on sometimes has to change course because a hurricane is coming your way. Political systems, institutions, economic sectors and careers are undergoing huge changes.

A choice might be the right decision now in learning certain skills, mindsets and networking you with a particular circle of people. Other times you are getting huge shout outs from the universe in the form of constant obstacles that are telling you to move on and try something different.

Every choice you make whether it is to fall in love with a certain partner, to choose certain friends, a career or the suburb or country you live in is based on your state of consciousness at the time. There is therefore no need to be too hard on yourself or put yourself under pressure.

A calling can change many times during a lifetime

A calling can change many times over during a lifetime. What you are doing now may only set the stage in preparing and giving you the skillset for the next chapter in your life. You need only to take a step back to have a conversation with your 16-year-old self in realizing how much life has sculptured you into who you are today.

It is the trauma from a pain, the effort in finding the answer to an underlying question, a time-out during an illness, an unexpected event that pulls the rug from underneath your feet that catapults you into a new chapter and a new beginning.

But it need not be that way either. Sometimes one event, one chapter just leads into another like a wave washing to the shore. In a 1903 letter to his protégé, the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus, Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rilke pointedly reminds us that what has broken, destroyed or ripped us apart emotionally are the building blocks of what elevates us to a new level of consciousness and spiritual growth. When all is in flow, the moment arrives when you hear with clarity that inner song, that tune that merges personality with soul purpose.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Unbecoming who you think you are

We all need a purpose closely aligned with our personal philosophy and value system but can easily lose track of that purpose if we feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges and go into automatic mode.

When we let powerful emotions such as anxiety and fear take over we tend to seek gratification in external gods that keep us feeling empty and small. We seek set patterns of predictability, giving us the illusion of security. We function within a framework of the same road to work, the same friends and colleagues, and the same pattern of thought and thinking.

When the comfort zone of familiarity crumbles

It is when we are jolted out of this comfort zone by a crisis, when things go horribly wrong, and when the map of familiarity crumbles that we are freed from robotic habits, and seek new purpose and meaning. We need to unbecome who we think we are.

Every now and then it is necessary to seek out those quiet spaces in meditation, walks in nature, and alone time to recalibrate on whether the road I’m travelling on is in alignment with my personal value system and philosophy.

Our predominant thoughts and emotions determine the outcome of all our actions. If you believe that every person out there is an unfriendly cheat you will inevitably run into just these persons. If you on the other hand question your labelling of people every time and fundamentally believe in the goodness and kindness of human beings you will be mainly surrounded by such people because you emanate what you think and feel to your surroundings.

Taking time out to realign in nature

Mindsetting into a positive framework of opportunity

If you program yourself with a mindset of scarcity and that money is the root of all evil, you will never have enough. If you turn this thinking into an abundance mindset and really believe that the universe always provides at the right time, things will turn out this way.

Walking in new surroundings and going into uncharted territory is a huge challenge for humanity at this moment in time but also a huge opportunity.

Institutions including the big corporations, government, politics, religion and mass media have become dysfunctional. A crisis such as the pandemic has only brought to the open what has been simmering under the surface for some time. These institutions are made up of individuals often in automatic mode in their boxes, losing sight of the bigger picture because these jobs provide ever less opportunity for individual creativity.

Our mind becomes less anxious if we let go of the attachment to things we believe to be set in stone. Life is unpredictable and always in a cycle of change. One door closes and another opens. Those “flat-on-the-ground” moments are an opportunity to heal the wounds of the past, and to rediscover soul purpose and meaning.

Stepping out of the treadmill

It is vital to step out of the treadmill of routine, predictability and habit every once in a while. If you are marking the calendar and counting the months and years to retirement, or to the next vacation, you need to realign and restore meaning.

We have to sometimes carry out unpleasant tasks but the more we go into resistance when we carry out these tasks the more energy-depleting they will be. We can compensate such routines with fun activity that renew and refresh. It is when we do not count the minutes, when we lose the sense of time in tasks of creative imagination and aligned with our own values and soul purpose that we are in flow with the rhythm of the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. Check out the latest online courses for you to download and our special Retreat on the island of Majorca in October this year.

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Mental health and the food you eat

“You are what you eat” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Our distant ancestors once roamed the plains of Africa spending most of their days looking for food in hunting antelope or scouring the earth for berries, roots and leaves. Food rich in nutrients helped develop our brains to become very innovative so that we could migrate and survive in the harshest of conditions.

The problem really began when we started settling in villages and towns with the need to feed ever more mouths. Metaphorically speaking food is literally falling into our mouths from the supermarket shelves. Choosing food that is keeping us both physically and mentally healthy is becoming increasingly difficult.

The way food is produced today is not only destroying the planet’s ecosystems but has a major impact on how you feel and how long you will live. Our ancestors knew very well from past experience which poisonous plants they needed to avoid and which roots or leaves were good to cure an illness. Over the centuries our lifespan has steadily increased but longevity does not equal quality of life. By mid‐century, the number of Americans age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s dementia may grow to 13.8 million. 

Toxic foods are being sold as healthy foods

It has become almost a science to unravel the true meaning of the ingredients listed on a package, many of which are not only harmful to your body but have a major impact on your mental health. The food production industry has become so powerful that what is marketed as “healthy” is in reality ruining your health.

So-called “energy drinks” are sold as boosting your energy and vitality. Their high sugar and caffeine content however can seriously affect cognitive function, especially in combination with alcohol. Some countries have even banned them after studies on rats revealed bizarre behavior, including anxiety and self-mutilation.

Many cereals and packaged foods are laced with countless hidden sugars called fructose, sucrose, dextrose all of which are major contributors to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart circulatory problems and cancer.

Foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving. These trans fats are being increasingly linked to mental illnesses such as depression. Consumption of these trans-fats found in most processed foods also affect cognitive and memory functions and harm the central nervous system.

So what should I eat?

Countless books and diet experts will tell you what to eat. Some people will religiously lecture you to adhere to a vegan, vegetarian, Atkins, Keto or other diet. A good guideline is to avoid processed foods and soda drinks. If you eat mostly what is locally grown and raised without pesticides you are doing pretty well.

Scientists, who have studied communities in the world’s five “blue zones” who are happiest and live the longest, however point out that a combination of exercise, good food and solid community bonding help us live healthy and long lives.

A typical Mediterranean “blue zone” diet emphasizes olive oil, vegetables, beans, fruit, moderate amounts of alcohol and low quantities of meat and dairy products.

Food grown from organic farming is infinitely healthier than food grown from fertilized monocultures. Animals raised in industrial factory farms where they are kept in restrictive spaces and cages are often given antibiotics to make them grow faster. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria then threatens human health. The foods needed to feed such livestock is destroying natural ecosystems in many parts of the world and is the largest contributor to the warming of the earth’s climate.

By eating the right foods you will have a high probability of living a longer, happier, and healthier life. At the same time what you buy in the supermarket and put on your plate is directly affecting the health of our planet.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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The broken modern workplace

The more a job inherently resembles a game – with variety, appropriate and flexible challenges, clear goals, and immediate feedback – the more enjoyable it will be regardless of the worker’s level of development.

– Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi –

Roughly two-thirds of employees hate their jobs, according to a global Gallup poll conducted two years ago. Clinical burnout, depression and suicide are only some of the effects of the broken workplace. Many people simply find no meaning or purpose in what they are doing for most of their lives.

The modern workplace has not only alienated many people from their inner being and purpose but is having a huge toll on productivity and long-term prosperity. The complexity of the individual becomes reduced to a role within an institution which is seldom congruent with core values and soul elevation.

People want to be seen and to be validated

Basic human emotional needs are to be seen, to be heard and to be validated. If these needs are met from an early age the child will thrive, and feel protected by the parents leading by example.

Especially if there has been a pattern of emotional neglect in childhood with parents giving recognition and validation only with achievement, the “inner child” will desperately seek validation through career achievement. The tragedy is that many a modern workplace implies that the employee is a “family member” but ruthlessly discards that member when it no longer performs or when times get tough.

With the person’s identity becoming closely intertwined with the corporate identity there comes a disconnect to soul purpose, as individual talent and the need for elevation of consciousness find no room for growth and expression.

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

The modern workplace stifles creativity

Clockwork performance parameters, the rapidity and the bland similarity of job descriptions stifle imagination and creativity that is so much the food for the soul.

Over the past decade I have conducted countless workshops in the corporate environment on topics such as “stress resilience” burnout-prevention, reintegration of absentees after long-term illness and the creation of a healthy work environment.

My key take-aways are that much of the problem can be found in lack of leadership or failed leadership. Most companies still have a top-down approach to management. Supervisors and managers are often chosen on the basis of job performance skills rather than people skills. They are then not even trained in the basic skills of coaching, mentoring and guidance of people.

The other, not to be neglected aspect, is how we spend our leisure time. Over-consumption of negative mass media absorb a huge amount of psychic energy, leaving little time for inner reflection, recuperation and alignment.

The need for new leaders

The good news is that the pandemic is changing the way we work in more ways than we could ever have imagined. Working flexible hours mainly from home not only reduces the stress of commuting, and looking after family but is visibly illustrating that people work more effectively in their own time and space if they are not micro-managed in a big office.

While the baby-boomer generation looked at work primarily as “a job” with clear boundaries between work and life, the millennial generation places far more emphasis on a company culture of personal growth, and self-development. The new managers are mentors and coaches with a social skill set that takes cognizance of individual expression and visibility within the company matrix.

Are you selling your soul?

If you currently find yourself mired in a structure that is making you feel unhappy, unfulfilled and constantly fatigued and tired then hard questions need to be asked. You could well be in an environment or a company that has outlived its purpose for you. It is a tragedy to see people selling their soul. They wither away in a life of misery and ultimately fall seriously ill because they are deeply unhappy in the environment where they spend much of their most valuable productive years. The remaining energy is drawn primarily on focusing on the next vacation and counting the years to retirement in the illusion that life begins after a career is over.

On the long term you cannot suppress the presence and inner needs of the soul, crying out for imagination, creativity and growth. It is in those moments when we feel energized, empowered and in flow with our inner truth and our being that we are on the right track.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

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Is anger controlling you?

Fred was a successful professional sportsman in his younger days. His life began to fall apart some years ago with his anger tantrums leading to an acrimonious divorce and financial disaster. Later his children and remaining friends refused to deal with him any longer. He lives today in a shelter for the homeless in melancholy sadness over the life that was and is no more.

I could go on and on about stories of people whose lives have been torn apart by anger issues.

Negative emotions such as anger have become pervasive with a poll taken just prior to the recent American elections showing that nearly 80 percent of people felt particularly angry about the pandemic and the economic situation.

We are all susceptible to an occasional outburst of anger but when you or a family member fall into a temper tantrum over seemingly small matters by throwing things, and becoming physically abusive professional help should be sought for what is described as “intermittent explosive disorder. The root cause could be anything from a childhood trauma to substance abuse.

The more common anger is an undercurrent of irritability and negativity that will rapidly reduce your vibrational energy, and inevitably turn you into a person people don’t like to be around with. You will lose friends, relationships and risk your job and business ventures.

Negative and compassionate anger

The Dalai Lama points out the difference between uncontrolled and compassionate anger which he describes as anger that “helps us repel forces that are detrimental to our survival and well-being.”

“In some situations strong compassion may give rise to an equally strong sense of outrage—that is anger about an injustice.  Again, feeling angry can, in the short term, make our minds more focused and give us an extra burst of energy and determination.”

This is the “holy anger” that Jesus demonstrated in turning over the tables of the money-changers in the temple of Jerusalem with the words: “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” It is not relevant whether the incident happened historically.

The message Jesus communicated was the importance of standing guard at the doorway to your soul. What books, newscasts and social media are you feeding your mind with? What associations are making you or have made you into the person you are?

Negative feelings only become destructive when the “intensity is disproportionate to the situation in which they arise.” according to the Dalai Lama.

Are you or your emotions in control?

The problem arises particularly when emotions such as anger start controlling your life. “No one intentionally creates problems, but we tend to be slaves to powerful emotions like anger, hatred and attachment that are based on misconceived projections about people and things,” the Dalai Lama teaches.

We probably have the least understanding of ourselves. When we have uncomfortable feelings and emotions we turn to blaming external circumstances and others. It is the reason why so many relationships go sour. If we expect a partner to fill an inner void, it will inevitably result in disappointment because no other person should be given the responsibility of “making us happy.” Likewise we should not have the expectation that politicians or other professional deceivers are responsible for our happiness.

Beyond the anger lies fear

You don’t have control over unexpected external events such as a pandemic but you can choose how you react. In going deeper into anger there are the emotions of fear and anxiety. When analyzing any situation there are always different perspectives. In the bigger picture all has meaning. If you are experiencing a difficult situation tell yourself: “This too shall pass.” Impermanence is a fact of life. Sometimes we just have to surrender to a given situation and ride out the storm.

Shifting into a positive mindset

If you are having feelings of fear and anxiety it helps to name those feelings. Be truthful to yourself. Write down the feelings in a journal. Before you can transmute the demons you have to name them. Replace the word “Fear” with the word “Trust”. Replace the word “Anger” with the word “Compassion”.

In studying yourself you will become more aware of typical emotional reactions that stand in your way. Anger directed at a stranger is often anger toward the self and the hurt inner child. Emotional shifting is a powerful tool in moving from a negative into a positive mindset. Be mindful and caring of your inner child that is in need of attention.

A negative mindset might be programed by over-consumption of negative news media. Flip the channel to a comedy or a funny video. For me one of the most powerful shifters is taking time out walking. Nature is one of the most powerful healers. When you open the senses to the sights, sounds and smells of nature, your body and mind will start relaxing and falling into alignment. A solution to your problem will come almost naturally as you open yourself to the whispers of the universe.

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. Also check out the recent reviews of my book “Deep Walking for Body, Mind and Soul.

Leave a comment

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What comes after the pandemic?

There is a growing sense of optimism that by late summer we can start returning to normal lives when a large percentage of the populace in most countries has been immunized against Covid-19. Little attention is being given to a far deeper underlying problem.

Sometimes a major shock or jolt is needed to change perceptions. A major threat to public health such as a dangerous virus can bring the entire globally economy to a halt.

The people at risk

While not all patients who died from Covid-19 had underlying health conditions, the major number of people at risk were those older than 60 years or who have health conditions like lung or heart disease, diabetes or conditions that affect their immune system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lifestyle choices are key

Researchers are still puzzling why some people who contracted the virus had relatively mild symptoms while it was deadly for others. The bottom line is that governments and health institutions are not investing enough resources in preventive medicine. Individuals need to be educated that lifestyle choices made on a daily basis are major determinants of longevity, health and well-being.

WHO defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” But the feeling of well-being is subjective. Some people live in constant pain, are dependent on a host of medications and still describe themselves as healthy because they are still functioning in some way.

Longevity and quality of life

Prior to the pandemic the lifespan of most people in the industrialized countries had steadily increased over the years. But lifespan says little about the quality of life as we get older. When we reach the age of 60 the likelihood of requiring some form of care because of a disability rises significantly. Common diseases in our time such as diabetes II, obesity, heart-circulatory problems and some forms of depression are all in some way related to lifestyle choices.

Relatively little attention has been given to the fact that Covid-19 has been more deadly in patients with obesity. Even people merely overweight were found to be at higher risk, according to an article in Science Magazine.

What we eat, how we move our bodies and how we deal with mental stress are far greater health determinants than the genes we have inherited from our parents.  Scientists speculate that for the first seven or eight decades of a lifetime typical lifestyle choices such as healthy foods and physical activity enable these individuals to stay healthy into old age. Genetics only appears to play a larger role in the longevity scale from the age of 90.

Health perceptions need radical scrutiny

When a body is under stress because of high blood pressure, obesity or another illness a dangerous virus has easy play in breaking down the body’s natural defense systems. There is a general misconception that we can all return to normal lives once enough people have become immunized against the virus. The truth is that if we don’t change our perceptions of health in a radical way it is only a matter of time before the next, possibly even deadlier, virus hits us.

Only a century ago it was common for people in China to visit the local doctor regularly for acupuncture, herbal treatment and lifestyle guidance such as what Qi Gong exercises needed to be done to balance the flow of the body meridians . The doctor was paid when you were well. If you got ill you didn’t have to pay the doctor because it was believed that he hadn’t done his job properly.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is deeply rooted in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy. Man is seen as an integral part of nature and the cyclical laws of the seasons or Five Elements. The microcosm of a person’s health reflecting the macrocosm of nature and the universe.

Eat healthy and save the planet

What we eat not only determines our own health but that of our planet. Eating foods produced from large animal farms and monocultured agricultural methods is a far greater contributor to the climate crisis that our means of transportation. Mass agriculture and the production of animal feed is destroying a large part of our natural ecosystems, in turn increasing the danger of more virus mutations jumping from animals to humans. The climate impact of eating beef and dairy products dwarfs that of a mainly vegetarian diet. The conversion of land for beef production and animal feed is a leading cause of deforestation in many tropical regions.

Each individual has been born with a purpose and you can only live out your full potential if you are feeling vibrant, happy and healthy. German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is quoted as saying. “The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness.”

Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker

One more thing…

If you have found this article useful please share to spread the message. I’ve also recently compiled brand new online courses that you can download onto your computer or smartphone on ways of how you can transform your life on multiple levels. I will also host from March 10th every week for eight weeks a live online event of practical Qi Gong exercises to boost flexibility and mindset.

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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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