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Our health, happiness and our success is a direct result of our habits. We are not taking about the harmless or inconsequential habits but a pattern of behavior that repeats over and over again and keeps us stuck. It is an established pattern of being, of feeling, of living, or relating and is deeply wired in our psyche and has deep neurological grooves that are difficult to overcome with affirmations, will power and discipline alone.
There is no doubt how hard it is to change these patterns of behavior! Much harder, though, is to live a life that does not look like anything we had wanted because of our habits.
Habits are learned, we are not born with them. And when something is learned, it can be unlearned. Denial, resistant and rationalization is a natural part of the process as long as we are not stuck in it forever. We have countless examples and inspiring stories of people making radical changes in their lives. They change the way they view themselves, they change the direction of their lives, go back to school to finish their education, they leave that job that was sucking the life out of them, they leave that toxic relationship, kick the worst of addictions and much more. We all have that fire inside of us waiting to be lit. Once we discover that fire, it is no longer possible to live any other way.
Changes that stick are the ones that are made from deep within. Habit patterns are a symptom of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves, about life, about relationships, about health, about money and other things that affect the quality of our life. We know that in order to eradicate the symptoms completely, we must treat the root cause of those symptoms. Until we dive deep and change our beliefs, any change we make on the surface level will only be temporary. Our beliefs are a result of our past experiences, conditioning and old structures( that we once had to establish because they served a purpose then). Once they served their purpose and no longer represent us now, they are no longer needed. However, they become part of our conditioning and will continue to control our behavior unless we evaluate them from time to time and discard them once they have served their purpose and are no longer needed.
in that sense, habits by themselves are not good or bad, they merely feed the belief patterns that we are holding in the subconscious. The subconscious does not judge the habits, it simply does what it needs to do to maintain the status quo – the belief. A habit is a good habit if it is taking us in the direction we want, if it isn’t then it simply is a distraction away from our goals. It is up to us to decide our direction and evaluate whether a habit/choice/action is taking us in that direction.
Before doing the deep inner work that is necessary to make long lasting changes, it is important to establish a mental frame of mind that can serve as a foundation to make these changes.
Number one thing to realize is that changing habits is not about self-improvement, rather it is about self discovery. It is a much kinder and encouraging way of thinking and it actually IS the truth. It feels exhausting to think that we continuously have to improve regardless of where we are in our journey. It can feel like chasing our tails at times. The question to ask is, “Is this habit a true representation of me?” Anything that is not a true representation of who we are will naturally fall off as we move more and more towards who we truly are.
Replacing an old habit with a new one works much better for our psyche than getting rid of the habit. . Taking away something creates a vacuum and the subconscious will fill it with something else unless we consciously fill it with what we want. One of the most common example of that is weight gain after someone quits smoking. As life changes, what we need also changes. Therefore, it is good to review our habits from time to time to see which ones are no longer in alignment with our growth and our goals and replace them with the ones that are.
Habits are not a moral compass to judge ourselves or others by, i.e., bad habits don’t mean that you are a bad person. It just means that we have been there, done that and it no longer holds our interest. Ultimately, we are not our habits. An over identification with our habits is a mental trap that keeps us stuck in the same pattern. The negative self judgment makes us feel the familiar bad inner feeling that acts as a magnet for the same old habit that we are trying to change. So, putting a positive spin on this even on temporary basis and believing that we CAN change the habits works to our advantage and becomes a catalyst in doing the deeper work to make the changes stick.
When we are in the middle of the challenges, naturally we want to give up and do what we have always done. Our comfort lies in the familiarity not what is best for us; comfort, however, does not bring growth. It is in the middle of the challenge, that we must remind ourselves as to why we wanted to make the changes in the first place.
Our potential is always greater than what we have accomplished today. Just because we can’t do something today does not mean we can’t do it tomorrow. Self – identification is important for us to find our purpose in life but the negative Self – identification can be detrimental. ” I am just a lazy person”, “exercise is not my thing”, ” I have anxiety or any other disorder”, are sure ways to remain stuck. We only know what we know. We never really know our potential until we put ourselves in the challenging or unfamiliar situations and realize we can do far more than we thought. Then we begin to see ourselves differently and more than what we once thought of ourselves. Attaching negative labels and adjectives to ourselves only undermine our potential as human beings and becomes a major mental block in uncovering that potential and really serves no purpose. We are all a certain way until we are not! We can break free of these mental limitations and labels that we impose on ourselves. Since Self- identification is important, find the one that is going to uplift you, make you more of who you truly are and take you in the direction of your goals.
The whole of life is a learning process. Just because you don’t know something today does not mean you won’t tomorrow. Actually, you can and you will!
Sometimes, we have to be shaken to our core to wake up for once and for all! I hurt for all the women, people of different color and race, who thought this was their chance to end the gender and race discrimination and inequality , But I realize, we can end that right now regardless of who runs this country.
Our power, ultimately, lies in our actions, never the outcome! We don’t know what to do right now, but we can meditate, pray, nourish our body and celebrate our very existence. We can celebrate the fact that we CAN bring change in our homes, neighborhoods, communities by how we treat each other.
The outcome does not change our values, our potential and our strength. Our daughters and our sons can achieve all that they want to achieve. Lets teach them equality, respect, self love and love for all humanity and teach them how to take care of themselves, love themselves, honor themselves and how to create communities that unite and not divide. Our lives are a result of our actions and our actions alone. Yes, we may have an uphill battle but don’t despair and hold on to the love that we feel for ourselves, and the whole of humanity.
Let the voice of fear and anger find its own way! Let’s not be controlled by our own fears! When the world is THIS divided and polarized, there is fear on both sides. In a polarized world, we all loose! A victory that is borne out of fear and hatred is not a victory. A victory that dims the light of so many people is not a victory!
Right now, to love is to yield to the parts of ourselves ..( the fear, anger ..our own darker, shadow side) and accept and love our own darker side. That is all the opposition parts actually showed us – our very own shadow side. We may right now be blinded by our anger and not see this; don’t allow the anger to turn into hatred, instead channel it to open our hearts even more. Become whole, as we bridge the gap between the good and the bad, the fear and the love. To love is to trust in our innate goodness!
Don’t mistake the process for the end result! The end result is not who won or who lost, the end result is how we feel in our hearts, how we show up for what is important and how we uplift ourselves and our communities.
So, chin up! There is a blessing in every curse and curse in every blessing. Our job is find the blessing no matter what, move on and become who we truly are! We are whole – with the good and the bad, the negative and the positive. Let’s open our hearts to those parts of ourselves that we don’t like. The results have merely mirrored what we experience within ourselves.
Let’s be the change we want to see in the world! Let’s love, love and love!
The whole of human life is a process of letting go. As children, we let go of old friends to make room for new ones, let go of our parent’s homes to make our own mark in the world. We let go of old for the sake of the new, we let go of our needs for the sake of the family’s, let go of our children so they too can make their mark in the world. As the letting go in our youth seemingly leads to expansion of our outer world (creating a family, home and all the material comforts of the world), the letting go in our later years leads to expansion of our inner world, if we let it. We go full circle and end up where we started. We may go back to what used to inspire us, invest in our growth, rediscover ourselves, or redefine our purpose. All of this prepares us for the ultimate letting go, letting go of our body and returning to the Source.
There is a flow to life; to resist that flow is to cause suffering but to dive in the flow is to gain momentum in finding our truth. A letting go that makes us more of who we are; one that brings ease and lightens the load is a good letting go.
Here are the 5 key points to ease the process:
Letting go is painful when our focus is on what we are giving up. However, when we shift the focus on what we are getting or where we are headed can give us that much needed relief. It is better to focus on where we are going instead of where we have been. We can choose how we see the process. If we keep our eyes focused on the rose that has just bloomed instead of the bud that it was before, we enjoy the flower. The truth of the rose lies in its bloom and the fragrance it shares. In the same way, our essence/truth is in our deeper Self, our inner Self. Every experience that takes us closer to our true Self is a good experience. Life is an evergreen rose bush, new roses continue to bloom.
We are usually frightened after or in anticipation of what will happen but very rarely in the moment. As we master staying in the moment, we are continuously letting go of the moment past and are not anticipating the next. So we can begin to let all our life become one big letting go experience.
By not reacting, we can turn any situation around and create an exhilarating victory for ourselves. This all comes from developing and culturing our nervous system through self care, self investment and meditation practices.
This is our ultimate strength and defense as it brings lightness, freedom, flow and happiness. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Let go of clutter, grudges, limiting beliefs , and notice how you feel. Become empty of all that is weighing you down and get full again with what you consciously choose. Realize that you do not have to do it all and figure it all out! Why would you impose on your soul to figure out the why of others? Think of letting go as the ultimate act of self-love. You are only responsible for your actions. Do what you know to do. Create boundaries, cut the emotional cords, and invest time in unlocking the treasure that lies within you. That is when the answers will come.
Realize that resistance is not the final picture, It means you are not there YET, yet being the operative word and the process is underway. The resistance does not have to mean anything other than that it is natural, it is movement, and it is superficial and transient.
The human purpose is evolution as it paves the road to our next life. Letting go is not giving up, it is becoming more of who we are. It is not emptying, it is approaching our true Self which is fulfilling.
What we let go becomes part of ourselves, strengthening and carving us into our true Self, much like the leaves; when fallen become part of the tree strengthening its roots and sustaining if for years to come. It is a beautiful process that continuously fills the gaps and comes back to us multifold.
Happy New Year! How wonderful to have another opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start all over. There is a certain excitement, a readiness in the air that is inspiring and uplifting. We are reminded again of our dreams and desires and our fire is lit.
State of our health affects every aspect of our lives, so naturally it is at the top of everyone’s resolution. While there are many ways that we all may have found to work for us, I have summed up the 5 essential tools that have helped many clients over the past year.
The most important and perhaps the most challenging step is to begin or to simply show up. Too often, we get derailed by focusing on the outcome instead of our actions. We want to know what we will get before we even begin. Many times, the outcome is not predictable and is different for everyone
Make this an action oriented year as our actions is the only thing that is in our hands. When we do not know what is possible, how can we know what we want? Focusing on the outcome before even beginning is the mind’s way to rationalize away our actions and keep us away from our goals. For anything to work, we have to allow it to work. It is not about perfection, it is about progress. To begin is to make progress. Continue to begin again and again.
Don’t wait to be ready to begin. No one is truly ready for anything. Time is fleeting, it does not wait for us to be ready. It comes and goes. There is no right time, there is only NOW.
We give up too soon and/or begin to dabble into other easier options or quick fixes only to be further away from your goals. There is no easy route, it only becomes easy once we trust in what we are doing. Success lies just at the other side of failure. Joy is the other side of misery. It is just that we do not stay the path long enough to break through. We give up too soon. The underlying reason is fear: fear of healing/not healing. It takes 40 days to change a habit or to implement a new one. We have to give ourselves permission to go through the pressure and adversity so we can come out on the other side stronger, healthier and happier.
Dig deep and stick with it. The beauty of everything lies in its depth. Change comes from what we do day in and day out, not just what we do once in a while. It is about being consistent and staying the course.
Ultimately, it is our awareness that gives us insight into what is going on with us so we know what needs changing. The quickest and most effective way to cultivate awareness that I know of is to have a meditation practice. Wanting to be more aware does not make us more aware. Awareness is a state of existence ; to truly understand it is to experience it and the way to experience it is through a consistent meditation practice.
To be healthy is to be aware of the needs of our body, mind and spirit. Too much of our lifestyle that contributes to ill health is driven by sub-conscious patterning. Through the meditation practice, we can make conscious what is sub-conscious and therefore make the necessary changes.
Too often, too many of us are fighting a battle with disease. While not giving up, staying positive and strong are much needed attributes to deal with an illness, with some parts of us, we have to do it with a sense of peace. Ironically, this gives us more answers, opens more doors and solutions because the energy we invest in fighting is now free to do what is best for us. Every obstacle is a teacher, a gift. What is it asking of you? Give up the struggle, the fight and look at the bigger picture. Everything does not need to be “fixed” or fought with, it needs to be first deeply understood. The mindset of fighting back creates physiological changes that drive the fight or flight response, which continues to maintain the same inner environment that hosted the disease in the first place.
Seek Expert Guidance
We are not meant to do it alone and we are not meant to know everything. We live in the times where there is information overload. It is important to understand that the information is too general, out of context and fragmented. To try to implement a few things here and there leaves you scattered, anxious and without real results. Get the advice, help and guidance from an expert who knows you so they can guide you step-by-step throughout the journey to health and help you to stay the course.
Here is to your best health in 2015!
A great read I came across that I wanted to share……..!
In recent years the question “How can I help?” has become meaningful to many people. But perhaps there is a deeper question we might consider. Perhaps the real question is not “How can I help?” But “How can I serve?”
Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I’m attentive to what is going on inside of me when I’m helping, I find that I’m always helping someone who is not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity and wholeness. When I help I am very aware of my own strength. But we don’t serve with our strength, we serve with ourselves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.
Helping incurs debt. When you help someone they owe you one. But serving, like healing is mutual. There is no debt. I am as served as the person that I am serving. When I help I have a feeling of satisfaction. When I serve I have a feeling of gratitude. These are very different things.
Serving is also different from fixing. When I fix a person I perceive them as broken, and their brokenness requires me to act. When I serve I see and trust that wholeness. It is what I am responding to and collaborating with.
There is distance between ourselves and whatever or whomever we are fixing. Fixing is a form of judgment. All judgment creates distance, a disconnection, an experience of difference. In fixing there is an inequality of expertise that can easily become a moral distance. We cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected, that which we are willing to touch. This is Mother Teresa’s basic message. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy.
If helping is an experience of strength, fixing is an experience of mastery and expertise. Service, on the other hand, is an experience of mystery, surrender, and awe. A fixer has the illusion of being casual. A server knows that he or she is being used and has a willingness to be used in the service of something greater, something essentially unknown. Fixing and helping are very personal; they are very particular, concrete and specific. We fix and help many different things in our lifetimes, but when we serve we are always serving the same thing. Everyone who has ever served through the history of time serves the same thing. We are servers of the wholeness and mystery in life.
The bottom line, of course, is that we can fix without serving. And we can help without serving. And we can serve without fixing or helping. I think I would go so far as to say that fixing and helping may often be the work of the ego and service is the work of the soul. They may look similar if you’re watching from the outside, but the inner experience is different. The outcome is often different too.
Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us.
Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery, which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose. Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help you see life as weak, when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected. All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.
Lastly, fixing and helping is the basis of curing, but not of healing. In 40 years of chronic illness I have been helped by many people and fixed by a great many others who did not recognize my wholeness. All that fixing and helping left me wounded in some important and fundamental ways. Only service heals.
My last article addressed the issue of love and fear. It is my hope that it helped us separate when we operate out of love and when we operate out of fear. It is not fun or comfortable being in fear and it is definitely not easy to overcome it. This article will address how we can continue to move through fear as it arises in an effective way of overcoming it.
Fear is a reactive mechanism that operates when our identity and safety is threatened. Sometimes, this mechanism can save us and another times can debilitate us. We either move to destroy the threat, seek revenge, grasp at safety, pursue distraction, or protect our position. Because we are less present to what is actually taking place, our actions are correspondingly less appropriate and less effective. We get stuck in our beliefs and ignore the consequences of maintaining them.
If we threaten others or are threatened by others, that also results from fear. On the other side, no one can threaten us unless we have fear. If we can get rid of our fear, threats no longer exist. Resistance to something different, especially if it attacks our core beliefs, creates more fear of it and we get stuck in operating out of fear.
How to experience fear and not react? Sit consciously in the experience of fear, become aware of the feeling itself and how it resonates with other areas of our life. Have we experienced it before? We may become aware of older, uncomfortable, buried feelings. We may understand and know directly the reactions that formed in us to keep us from being present in our life. The task is to dismantle the projections and know fear directly as it is, a movement of emotional energy.
Continuously, asking ourselves the question “Why am I doing this?” cuts through the layers of projection or suppression until we arrive at “I don’t know.” Right there we will be experiencing an emotion. Ordinarily, we do not experience feelings because we either act on them and the energy goes into the action, or we suppress them and the energy goes into the body.
Stop all action and all reactive thought. The feeling will be right there. Take residence in it and be the feeling. Being the feeling is different from being with the feeling. This feeling can have all kinds of secondary feelings that may conflict with one another. Open to all of it as fully as possible. What emerges is a distinct and identifiable feeling.
The next step is to evoke the feeling at least once a day and be it. It will release. When it does, evoke it again. Keep entering the feeling by evoking it until we can stay in it. Our relationship with the feeling will change. While being in the feeling, continue to engage in daily chores. Look at the world while we live in the feeling. In this step, we can see clearly that the way the feeling causes us to experience the world is purely projection.
Once we can be the feeling and know its nature simultaneously, the feeling no longer has any power over us. We are free from its projections. We no longer believe what the feeling says about the world, so the impulse to go to war, to fight, to grasp at security, or to protect status dissipates. We let go of our own limited beliefs and perhaps see someone else’s in a different light. We let go of trying to make the world or ourselves into something solid as we understand that all experience arises and subsides. Instead of reacting to fear and terror with hatred, discrimination, or confusion, we live in awareness, not looking to the past or the future for meaning or motivation, but responding precisely and appropriately to the needs of the present.
I like to believe that we all have been touched by love at some point in our lives, because it is as basic a need as having air to breathe. Obviously, I am talking about more than the romantic love, which is fixated or directed at one particular person. If we have ever loved deeply, then chances are we have also been wounded deeply. On the contrary, if we expand our definition and therefore circle of love and do not confuse love with ownership, then love can only be healing and expanding.
I am talking about the love that is all encompassing. When we operate out of love, we let go and forgive even our “enemies” because with our hearts so open, we can identify with the humanness in them. It flows out of us effortlessly in everything we do, how we live, relationships we build and everything we create. Love is the vital force, a positive energy that sustains the universe. All else is just an illusion. Without love, all creation may shrink to nothing. In being love and in giving love is the only way to get love.
I truly believe that inherently we are love and gravitate towards love and light. Love is a much more powerful force than fear. Unfortunately, many of us put on the masks and layers of fear and mistrust and bury our true essence so deeply that we forget. We become so disconnected with ourselves and consequently can never get past the more obvious ways we vandalize our opportunities for happiness and damage the people in our lives.
Love expands us and fear shrinks us into nothingness. Love is rooted in a state of ‘knowing’, whereas fear is based entirely upon ‘beliefs’, most of which are false. When we operate out of love, we know and feel deeply that everything in the universe is interconnected and that we are part of all creation. When we separate ourselves from “them” we are operating out of fear not love. When we love, we see everything as whole and not fragmented, we feel safety in the universe regardless of how threatening our outside situations or events may be. To open ourselves fully means that regardless of how often we have been hurt, our love of life is much bigger and stronger than the fear of getting hurt by it. We are willing to take a chance.
Stress is a by-product of fear. The signs are pretty obvious; we are all intuitive enough to feel our energy constricting. Tightness, pressure in the chest, clenched teeth, confusion, obsession, magnetizing negative energy are just some examples of fear and stress. Our energy spirals downward, and the fear itself grows like a monster and takes over our lives. We close down to possible solutions because we only see what we lack or what we fear. Fear breeds self-doubt and lack of confidence. Coming from a place of fear brings on more fear and eventually emotional paralysis.
The key is to be aware of our thought patterns and the resulting emotions and physical sensations. We can work towards changing our thought patterns and actions and releasing the negative energy not only from our mind but also through our body.
Working with our breath is a quick and effective way to release negative energy of any type. It also stops any negative energy entering our body and mind. We can breathe in love and breathe out fear. Fear of what in particular? Breathe it out gently. Continuing to breathe with this intention will eventually bring a sense of neutrality and lead to an absence of fear or stress. Every time we notice the symptoms of fear, we can pay attention to our breath repeatedly, persistently and lovingly.
Am I operating out of fear or love? This is a question we can ask ourselves with every thing we do. We can become a vehicle of change. We may be the only encounter of love that someone may experience. How do we want to touch others, with love or fear?
What sustains us when everything around us falls apart? What do we hold on to when everything we were holding on to just slips away and vanishes?
At one point or another in our lives, we all have been devastated by divorce, death or an illness. The time in between now and until we make it is the meantime and it may prove to be the most significant time of our lives. The question is what do we do in this meantime?
We can blame others, be angry at our luck, or believe that we are doomed no matter what. This will make us feel worse than we already do. When nothing else will work, we may feel compelled to look for answers within ourselves. We may begin to remember other painful incidents in our lives and wonder why? Why what we are going through feels like we have been there before? And if we continue to contemplate, we may begin to notice our habitual way of being, thinking and reacting. This may be a moment of relief because we have just begun to understand ourselves.
This meantime is the time for unconditional self-love, self-knowledge and self-awareness. The desire to be deeply known and understood is no one else’s but our own responsibility. When our happiness and security is dependent on someone or something else, it means it can also be taken away. We may also push away this external source of happiness and security by constantly worrying that we might loose it.
I am not suggesting that we won’t ever fall back into our old habit patterns of self-pity and blaming others. The learning is hidden in the falling and climbing back on. Mastery of life, we seldom can, it is in its trials and tribulations that we may begin to understand it.
How we do one thing is how we do everything. When we take away all the dramas, it is all about choices. It takes continuous, repetitive and persistent effort to have our actions reflect our choices. In this meantime, what do we choose to do?
We can trust that whatever has happened and will happen is for our higher good. We can sit with whatever comes up and allow ourselves to feel deeply what we feel. We can choose to be gentle, kind and loving to ourselves and open our hearts to no other but ourselves.
Why do all this work? What is the point? That is for each one of us to figure out for ourselves. I do know that if we do not learn from our experiences, they will continue to repeat. We can choose not to be prisoners of the past. We can let go of a rigid picture of the future that we dreamed up a long time ago. Where we begin and where we end up is hardly the point. It is all the stuff in the middle, the meantime that life is made up of.
We are all equipped to handle anything that comes our way and this meantime is the time to realize that. In spite of all the cracks in our foundation, realize that we are whole inside. When we are convinced of that, we will understand that this meantime is not the time to “fix” ourselves; it is the time perhaps to see ourselves for the very first time. We may rearrange our stuff. Only then, we can let go of fixing others, forgive others and most importantly forgive ourselves. Our biggest and most important teachers are those who have hurt us and therefore have forced us to take a closer look at ourselves.
No one can make our meantime less painful. We must spend time alone to gather up all the pieces and parts of ourselves that we have given away or lost. Behind every experience there is a lesson. Let go of the experiences, hold on to the lessons. Share them with others. Everything we are, we are because we have made it through our experiences.
I do not know what we will find on the other side when our meantime is over. I suspect that our heart will be so open to love ourselves that it would hardly matter. There would no longer be a need to change others. We will accept ourselves and therefore others unconditionally and be glad that we took this meantime to understand our own making.
Happy New Year! How wonderful to have another opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start all over. There is a certain excitement, a readiness amongst people that is inspiring and uplifting. We are reminded again of our dreams and desires and our fire is lit. Regardless of what we name our resolutions, they all come from a desire to be more healthy and happy.
As we move into the year, our energy wanes and we forget what we wanted. This happens for many reasons. One of the reasons is that the gap between where we want to be and where we currently are is too big, too ambiguous and without any template for making a change, we repeatedly land in the vicious cycle of getting off and on the track. Naturally, we fall back on what’s familiar and therefore “comfortable”. Secondly, we have no internal reference or experience of what it would feel like to be more healthy and happy. Our current state becomes the norm and we have nothing to compare it with.
To experience health and happiness in the full spectrum of our lives, the changes must be internally driven and not externally imposed. Consider this to get started on some simple steps:
This is your year! Name it and Claim it!