5 Reasons Why it’s Important to Commemorate Special Occasions

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“Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.” – Brene Brown

Since the dawn of civilization, man has given high priority towards the commemoration of special occasions. We can see this in the pagan rituals conducted by our tribal ancestors during initiations, the ancient Egyptians’ celebrations during the annual harvests, the elaborate coronation ceremonies during the Middle Ages, and the gruesome acts of human sacrificial offerings that were made by the Mayans.

 

The list of the number of rites, rituals and celebrations that the people on our planet partake in is almost endless and incredibly diverse. Commemoration rituals can be as simple as treating ourselves to a spa day after accomplishing something challenging at work to a full blown 3 day wedding extravaganza to share the happiness of our blessed union with our loved ones.

 

All around the world, special events and celebrations like weddings are even led up to with great gusto. The market for invitations, save the dates, and other types of celebration reminders are prolific and extremely popular. In fact there is a ubiquitous industry for the celebration of practically all mainstream holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve.

 

Every culture, nation and tradition has developed its own unique ways of honoring special occasions. Their customs and traditions are a direct product of their cultural background, history, religious beliefs and even the geography of the region they live in. We see this in religious and cultural festivals around the world like the Carnival in Brazil, Chinese New Year, Oktoberfest in Germany and Diwali in India.

 

As eclectic as these practices are, if we take a closer look, we’ll see that there is a common thread of themes that connects each and every one of them. We will see that all of these occasions center on universal human experiences such as love, sadness, joy, reverence, success and sacrifice.

 

No matter which country you visit, you will notice that we all rejoice in the same things, such as a happy relationships, the birth of a child, professional or personal victories and other milestones. Similarly, we all mourn the same things, such as losing a loved one or facing a major setback or disaster.

 

It seems that as a species we are instinctually driven to honour the significant moments in our lives. There are deep underlying needs that drive us to engage in celebrations. As a result, we have found so many wonderful ways to meet these needs and create more meaning in our lives.

 

There are, however, skeptics out there who perceive these celebrations as being fluffy, ostentatious and prodigal. These practical traditionalists view these occasions with an eye of cynicism, preferring to maintain a stance of reticence and living their life in a moderate and simplistic manner.

 

Of course everyone is free to live their life in a manner of their choosing, but they would be missing out on a lot of life’s “goodies” by excluding themselves from participating in gatherings that pay homage to the important milestones in life. Here are some significant benefits that they would miss out on:

 

  1. Cultivating a sense of community:

    One of the most opportune times to bond with our families and friends is during special occasions. Whether we come together to celebrate happy occasions such as a bridal shower or a more sombre occasions such as a funeral, we get a chance to connect with those we love and care about on a deeper and more profound level.

  2. Instilling a sense of meaning and significance to our lives:

    The unique rituals and practices that highlight important milestones such as weddings, graduations or birthdays all serve an important purpose. Participating in the customary rites (cutting cakes and drinking champagne) connects us to the significance of the role that an occasion plays within the grand scheme of our lives. It instills a sense of reverence and appreciation for the gift of life and connects us to a more omnipotent force.

  3. We will create lasting fond memories:

    The human mind tends to recall memories that carry a high emotional charge to them. When we commemorate a special occasion, we are essentially placing a mental bookmark on an experience, thereby making it easier to remember it in the future. The photos, videos and other forms of memorabilia from those occasions serve as triggers that we can use to re-live those pleasant experiences in the future.

  4. It adds fun and excitement to our lives:

    Celebrations can be incredibly fun and provides us with the perfect opportunity to engage in the joys of life such dance, song, food, play and laughter. Who doesn’t look forward to the fun-filled occasions where we can let our hair down and take a break from our mundane existence? The little kid within us still relishes in the excitement of an upcoming celebration and this is an emotion that we deserve to indulge in as adults as well.

  5. We take our place in the circle of life:

    When we commemorate special occasions, we are essentially connecting with our humanity and the commonality that we share with all those who have been long gone before us. We tap into the timelessness of the human spirit when we take the time to pay respect to the important rites of passages that were celebrated by our ancestors in the yesteryears.

 

 

Why Being Vulnerable is the Only Way to Real Connection

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“Vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for. “ –Brene Brown

 

If you’ve lived long enough, you have been hurt several times in your life. Some of these incidents were seminal because it taught you tough lessons on issues of trust and matters of the heart. Pangs of disappointment might still linger on in your memories and sting you sporadically.

 

Whenever we were let down by others, it’s natural to react by shutting ourselves off from intimacy by building walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from ever getting hurt again. The more pain we endured, the thicker our walls.

 

We find solace within our solitary confinement where we are freed from the burden of forming any emotional attachment that could tug at our heart strings. We might also attempt to numb our wounds from the past with substances such as alcohol, drugs, or any other compulsive forms of behavior.

 

As a person who has loved and lost, this is familiar terrain of which I have traversed before. I coped with my pain by escaping into a world of idealism and choosing to approach life with an almost child-like naiveté.  I was in denial about my feelings and deemed any relationship that required a heavy emotional investment as risky and potentially disruptive to my inner peace.

 

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future becomes one.”  ~Alfred Hitchcock

 

My stance on this issue took a dramatic turn after I stumbled upon the work of celebrated author and speaker, Brené Brown. Her revolutionary work on vulnerability, shame and self-acceptance sheds light on these potentially awkward yet pivotal topics. It created a seismic shift in my perspective on what it really takes to love myself and receive love from others from a place of wholeheartedness.

 

There are so many gems of wisdom that I picked up from her teachings, but one that really struck a chord with me was a key finding from her book, The Gift of Imperfection, which I quote here: “We cannot selectively numb emotions; when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.

 

In other words, if we block out negative emotions, we will also block out the possibility of experiencing enriching and fulfilling emotions such as love, joy and belonging. Our fear of intimacy will keep us away from all the sublime treasures that meaningful connections can offer. Taking refuge in a cold cave might protect us temporarily but without the warm fires of love and caring, we will eventually freeze.

 

This is because we are all wired to have a meaningful connection with others. Within us is a deep, intrinsic need to be seen, loved and accepted for who we are. In fact, research has shown that newly born babies need to be embraced in order to promote healthy psychological development. The lack of the loving assurance that comes from physical touch can inhibit normal development and can even result in death.

 

Yet even with this intellectual understanding of the need for enduing and authentic connections, it can still be daunting to put yourself out there if you’ve been burnt in the past. So this brings me to the prevailing dilemma, which is this: how can we stay open and vulnerable in our relationships without the risk of having our hearts broken and having our worlds crumble? 

Here are 5 practices you can employ to reach this sweet spot:

1. Clear away any past intimacy issues: When we allow pain from past hurts to fester in our thoughts and hearts, we drastically reduce our chances of forming a genuine connection with others. Just as how a runner needs to rehabilitate an injured foot to run again, we need to heal our emotional wounds before we can love again. You can process and assuage your pain in healthy ways by writing about your feelings in a journalreading information that gives you perspective, or speaking to a friend, therapist or coach.

2. Set clear boundaries in your relationships: The reality is that we can’t be equally vulnerable with everyone – this necessitates the need for building healthy boundaries. We can be vulnerable with those we trust but we still need to protect ourselves from any unanticipated changes in others’ behavior. I’m not saying we should be constantly paranoid but that we should maintain a healthy form of skepticism and remove those rose-colored glasses for reality checks if needed. Letting people know what you will and will not tolerate is one of the ultimate acts of self-care.

3. Become a good judge of character: In order to set good boundaries, we need to become discerning about who we offer our love, support and trust to. We must learn to be vigilant for relationship ‘red flags’ that many people often don’t pick up on in the early stages of getting to know a person. On the other hand, we must also actively learn to identify ‘green light’ signals that indicate the abundance of wonderful human beings with whom we can share warm and harmonious bonds with.

4. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose: Every relationship, both personal and business, is inherently risky. There is always a chance of being let down or an unanticipated change in circumstances. It’s only upon accepting the impermanence of all life circumstance, that can we decide how much of our personal energy to invest in a relationship without the risk of getting emotionally bankrupt in case things don’t pan out the way we expected.

5. Create your own emotional “first aid kit”: No matter how careful we are, there may still be times when we choose to ignore the signs and throw caution to the wind. The good news is that now that you are armed with this knowledge, even if Mr. or Ms. Wonderful does blow it, you will have a soft fall instead of a violent crash. I suggest having your own set of go-to coping tools that you can utilize if you find yourself in this position. This is your “emotional first aid kit”, which includes several activities that can get you out of any form of funk you find yourself in. Here are some ideas in a past post I’ve written.

 

Committing to a life of vulnerability and open-heartedness may seem like a scary proposition but I believe that it is one of the most courageous ways for us to live authentically. Like a valiant knight armed with the sword of reason and a shield of hope, we possess the personal power and integrity to charge ahead into the flames of passion and slay any demons that may come our way.

 

All my best on your journey,

Seline Signature

 

 

How to Create More Magic in Your Life

10366132_10103104566635383_9038330468988894513_nDo remember the last time that you said “Wow!”? 

Did it happen while you were…

… witnessing a beautiful sunset?

… watching a movie or musical performance that took your breath away?

… playing with a child who was bursting with giggles?

 

Whatever caused you to say it, you can never forget that exquisite feeling that you experienced during those delectable moments.

 

As we grow into adults, a lot of people find it difficult to feel these emotions. We accumulate numerous layers of conditioning, while attempting to fit into society’s moulds. In this way, our curiosity and sense of wonder gradually gets diminished and is replaced with a scepticism and seriousness.

 

The hectic and busy pace of life adds to this numbing process by desensitizing people to subtler energies around them. Like hamsters inside a running wheel, they get so caught up in their day-to-day routine that they cannot perceive the world beyond their five senses.

 

Now some may argue that this transition is a necessary part of the maturation and growth process. While it is true that we should avoid getting our heads stuck in the clouds when dealing with real world problems, I don’t believe it is necessary for us to completely disconnect from this child-like sensibility.

 

Allowing ourselves to have experiences that create a sense of awe within us is one of the most effective ways to feed our spirit. And no matter how vigilant you are about your health, relationships or bank account, if you are not feeding your spirit, your life will lack texture, depth and vibrancy.
Experiencing magic is like having a surge of electrical current run through our body. In an instant, our life can go from black and white to technicolor. Our intuition, creativity and ability to sense the underlying wisdom that exists below the surface of everyday living gets heightened.

 

I know this because I have witnessed this phenomenon many times in my life – you see, magic has been a constant theme throughout my journey. I watched spellbinding shows and concerts; I allowed myself to get lost in the magical worlds of video games, movies, music and theme parks.

 

Yet the experience of magic is very personal. Everyone feels it in different ways and contexts. For example, my mother experiences it whenever she sees her flowers bloom in the springtime. I’ve seen my brother in this elated state while celebrating the victory of his favorite sports team.

 

You too have specific triggers that elevate you to a heightened state of wonder. If you are finding it challenging to recall the times when you have felt this way, I’ve outlined some guidelines that will facilitate your inner processing and help you connect with these emotions on a regular basis:

  • Step 1: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Remember a time in the past when you felt light, joyful, and experienced a wonderful feeling of enchantment. Visualize the experience vividly in your mind’s eye and notice your surroundings – the environment, people, and any other details. Spend a few minutes soaking in this experience and enjoying all the delightful sentiments that you felt at that time.
  • Step 2: When you are ready, open your eyes and begin making notes about what you saw and how it made you feel. Focus on your emotional experience and what made this particular memory so special. Be as specific as possible. You can repeat this process if would like to visualize other similar experiences.
  • Step 3: Now bring yourself back to the present moment and ask yourself what kind of activities can elicit the same kind of emotions within you. Make a list of at least 2-5 activities. Would you like to be accompanied by other people (your partner, friends, family) or would you rather experience it yourself?
  • Step 4: Do any necessary research and sign up for these engagements if necessary. Then take a look at your schedule and make some time to engage in these activities on a regular basis.
  • Step 5: Pass on the magic by bringing a sense of joy into another person’s life. Whether it’s someone in your immediate circle or an elderly person in a retirement home, choose someone whose life you think you can brighten with your presence and positive energy.

 

The whole purpose of conjuring more magic into our lives is so that we can understand instinctively our role as powerful co-creators of our reality. When we realize that we are by-products of the incredible forces that orchestrate the Universe, we can begin channeling this power to manifest our heart’s desires.

 

All my best on your journey,

Seline

 

The Top 3 Surprising Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Own Happiness

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If you ever ask people what they want most out of their life, one of the most common responses you will get is this: “I just want to be happy.”

 

The search for true happiness has been an ongoing quest for many and continues to elude most of us. The reason why it seems so out of reach is because most people don’t realize that happiness is not dictated by their external circumstances, but their perception of those circumstances.

 

Mother Nature has given us the gift of self-awareness. Unlike other creatures on the planet, we are not solely being driven by our instincts. Yet so many of us don’t know how to handle our consciousness in a healthy way. Most of us are not taught how to do this and we usually gain this wisdom after going through many years in the “school of hard knocks”.

 

 

But why should we go through pain and hardship when we can easily bypass most of it? I truly believe that all of us have the capacity to self-manage and learn by example if we are open to it. That’s how it worked out for me.

 

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Of course in my case it did take a few challenges to wake me up to the fact that I was creating my own misery by the mismanagement of my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes it does take a difficult experience to shake our world and motivate us to change; but most of the time these “life crises’s” could have easily been avoided if we had the right perspective.

 

So based on my personal experience and what I have observed in the world, here are what I think are the top 3 most common and surprising ways people sabotage their own happiness:

  1. They base their happiness on external events and people: We live in a world driven by consumerism. Corporate giants skillfully deceive us with the false notion that if we buy their product or service, we will be smarter, richer, hotter, etc. Some people who derive their happiness and identity from relationships want others to approve them and develop an unhealthy dependency on this external validation. What I have realized that is that this is all ultimately an attempt to fill an internal void- a void that can only be filled when we genuinely love and accept ourselves no matter what.
  2. They don’t take care of their bodies: I truly believe in the mind-body-spirit connection. We have to accept the fact that our body is our vehicle for our life. When we abuse or neglect it, we are ruining our vehicle thereby ruining our ride for our journey. Our body is essentially a bunch of chemicals that is directly impacted by the kind of lifestyle that we choose. Most of the health-related issues and mood fluctuations are a result of the poor management of health. Respect your body and it will return the favor with good health and great sense of wellness, balance and vitality.
  3. They are disconnected from their internal world: We are living in an age where we have become more distracted and busier than ever. This has resulted in a world filled with people who are constantly on the go and living in what I call “auto-pilot” mode. With all this focus on the outside world, very few take the time to pause and tune in within themselves. We miss the opportunity to check in with our thoughts, emotions and body which are constantly in flux based on what is going on around us. The practice of mindfulness can significantly reduce our anxiety and dissatisfaction and help us tap into the gifts that we have. True and lasting happiness can only happen when we are willing to enter a deeper realm of existence and develop a strong connection with ourselves.

 

By consciously handling these potential roadblocks, you will be well on your way to creating fulfillment, joy and meaning in your life!

 

All my best on your journey,

Seline

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