It’s as Easy as That!

Truth Byte #40

“There is good all around you.”

 

It’s easy to point out someone’s flaws.  It’s easy to gripe about how hard things are and complain about the state of the world, your family, and your finances.  It’s easy to find something to upset you in this time and place in human history.

 

But that’s not going to make you feel better.  Not in the long-term, that is.

 

I am here to remind you that there is good all around you.

 

You just have to want to see it.

 

I was talking to a friend of mine today about how many good things are happening for me and the people around me.  As I talked, I noticed how different I sounded to myself compared to the person I was just a few short years ago.

 

And it’s not that my life has somehow miraculously changed.

 

What has changed is my perspective.  I have realized I can’t sit around waiting for other people to make me feel better.  I have realized that the only things I really influence are my own thoughts and behaviours.  Sure, I may inform or inspire people along the way, but that’s only because those people are ready to be taught, ready to learn a new way.

 

Many people are simply not ready.

 

And if you find yourself banging your good ideas against them, you will likely find yourself exhausted and discouraged.

 

Because people change when they are ready….no sooner, no later.

 

So in the meantime, I would encourage you to celebrate the goodness all around you.  Whether it’s that guy that let you budge your car in despite the heavy traffic, or that teacher who actually made eye-contact as you picked up your kid, or that cheerful coffee-server in your favourite mom-and-pop’s-shop that always remembers to refill your decaf drink as you putter away on your laptop, whatever it is: notice it, celebrate it, and look for more.

 

And that, my friends, is as easy as that!

 

Want more? Join us for our weekly YouTube talk-show called Today is Your Day and get your life to where you know it can be!

A Smile Goes a Long, Long Way

Truth Byte #39

“It doesn’t take much to make someone smile.” 

 

Today, I read a story to my 3-year-old daughter as she waited for her dance class to start.  While we were reading, three other little girls and and older brother that was dragged along for the carpool snuggled up around me and secretly listened.  I invited them to join us (as if they already hadn’t), and their faces lit up.  Someone noticed that they were interested and invited them to join in.

 

That was all it took. 

 

As the dance teacher came out in the middle of our second story and the girls ran in to class, the older brother, who was about four years old, was left with a half-read story and a pile of ballerina books.  He shyly leafed through the book I was reading to them, sneaking glances up at me.  I asked him if he wanted me to finish the story.  His face broke into an ear-to-ear grin as he nodded enthusiastically.  So I sat there, for just five or six minutes, completing the story with this little big brother.  And he smiled the whole time.

 

There are a lot of things we can do to make each other smile, and most of them don’t even take five or six minutes.  The easiest thing is just to smile to ourselves as we look out onto the world.  Have you ever noticed a happy stranger?  The people who walk around in the world just looking like they are at ease with everything? That’s who I challenge you to be this week.

 

But here’s the catch: it’s hard to be genuinely happy if you are

  1. Beating yourself up about something
  2. Judging other people

 

And really, those are the only two barriers.  I know this because I have met and counselled people who have every reason to be miserable, and yet, have found a way to maintain positivity.  I have also met people who seem to have all the good things, and yet their “inside voices” are like pure acid.

 

Smiling, and being willing to seeing the world through the filters of hope and positivity, is simply a choice.

 

And for the scientists out there, here is a brain-science tidbit: your mind can’t really tell the difference between a fake smile and a real one (even though your best friend probably can!) So at first, it may just be about a fake smile.  Eventually, you really will start feeling better.

 

And I am not encouraging you to be inauthentic, or just put on a happy face.  I am a true believer in showing up as you are, and being the real you.  However, there are always a variety of ways to look at any situation, and if you really look for it, there is likely a reason to smile, even if it’s just because you are smiling at the irony of it all.

 

And if it’s too hard to smile in the grown-up world that we have collectively imagined and then created, take a break from it for a while and go hang out with some kids under six.  They will remind you about wonder and curiosity and being happy for no good reason.  No kids in your vicinity? Enter YouTube.  Hundreds of videos of kids just being adorable, lovable, and laughing uncontrollably.

 

Rather than furrowing your brow at the latest world news or family drama, what if you just allowed yourself to hang out with happiness and smile?

 

It will probably make you feel better.

 

And it may even rub off on someone around you.

 

It’s your life and only you can live it!

 

Check out my weekly talkshow for inspiration and practical advice on how to live a happier and more effortless life.  More at www.talktosaira.com.

Healing the Broken Heart

Truth Byte #38

It’s time to heal your heartbreak.

 

Most of us have experienced heartbreak.  And not in the traditional sense. 

 

Sure, many of us have lost a romantic partner to another, had someone leave us prematurely, or fell in love in that classic, unrequited way.

 

But I am not talking about those heartbreaks.

 

I am talking today about something much deeper.

 

The reasons that those heartbreaks felt so devastating at the time was because we were nursing a hundred thousand other heartbreaks before those romantic ones happened.

 

Let me explain.  Your first heartbreaks happened before you turned 10 years old.

 

You probably don’t remember it happening to you, so let me tell give you some scenarios:

 

  1. You were the first and adored child in the family. Then another baby was born.  She/he was cuter, smaller, and drank in every adult’s attention. Heartbreak.
  2. Your heard your parents arguing about money one night as you were trying to fall asleep. You remembered them buying you new shoes for preschool earlier that week. You feel like maybe if you didn’t ask for those shoes they wouldn’t always be arguing. Heartbreak.
  3. Your best friend moved away in grade four. Heartbreak.
  4. Some adult you cared about made fun of the goofy way you danced. You were a kid, and danced liked no one was watching (because you didn’t’ think they were!). Heartbreak.
  5. Your dad left your mom and you were shuffled from house to house. Heartbreak.
  6. Your dog died. Heartbreak.
  7. Your fish died and no one told you. You just came home one day and there was a new fish in the bowl and you could tell it wasn’t yours, but no one would admit it. Heartbreak.
  8. You found out the truth about the whole Santa Clause conspiracy.  Heartbreak.

 

And the list could go on and on.  These are childhood moments that happen to most us us.  And many of us can just shake them off.  But for those of us who are a little bit “more” as kids, those of us who would get lost in the beauty of a leaf as it turns orange, or those who actually felt like we could communicate with animals, or those who unabashedly opened our hearts to the world, these simple events can create the beginnings of what I call “heartache”.

 

Heartache is different than heartbreak.

 

In heartbreak, you have a good long cry, either out loud or in your own mind, and you vow to never “do that thing again.” Heartache is where we walk around with a giant wall around our hearts so we don’t ever get hurt again.  Heartbreak comes from an external event, and there is little we can do except brave through it.  Heartache is an orientation, a way we approach love and connection, and the world itself. 

 

Too many people who run this sweet planet are mired in heartache.

 

And those who could actually turn things around are too busy talking about and nursing their heartbreaks to do a damn thing about it.

 

Today, I appeal to you, my brothers and sisters who are recovering from heartbreak, to just let it go.  That heartbreak started when you were small, and has continued time and again throughout your life.  And if the point of this human life is to experience joy and connection, then you can simply choose to believe that these painful situations helped to orient you away from pain and towards what you really do want.

 

You are making the mistake by concentrating on the pain. What if, instead, you looked at this heartbreak (whether past or present) as an opportunity to forgive?

 

In the heartbreaks that happened in childhood, we interpreted them as heartbreaks because we couldn’t see the full story.  Your friend didn’t move away to hurt you, and your parents would have bought you those shoes anyway.  It wasn’t your fault.  In the grown-up heartbreaks, because there is so much heartache that has built up over the years, we are often not willing to see the big picture until years, even decades later.

 

I finally forgave my first boyfriend for breaking up with me LAST WEEK!! That’s like, 20 years of holding on.  Incredible. Unnecessary.

 

So learn from me and save yourself some time.  Let go of those heartbreak stories today.  And you don’t have to follow some formula of how long it’s been until you can forgive.  You can begin to forgive him/her/them right now.

 

Happiness and a healed heart are waiting on the other side.

 

It’s your life, and only you can live it.  More at www.talktosaira.com (and connect with me if you want to learn a fast-track method to heal your own heartbreak!)

 

 

 

 

Shut Up and Dance

Truth Byte #37

 It’s okay to have a bad day.

 

I am sitting in the lobby of my 3-year-old daughter’s ballet class.  I am new to this whole classical-dance world, and I think I am just excited as she is (okay, maybe a little more!) for the little pink tights and tiny leotard.

 

It’s our first day, and we started a month after everyone else. 

 

The class is 45 minutes, which is long enough to awkwardly check social media from my handheld device on the semi-uncomfortable IKEA couches, but too short to go anywhere useful and come back in time.  Lucky for you, my brand new MacBook was in the car, and it’s just long enough to capture some weekly thoughts for my blog.

 

And here’s what I noticed about myself, sitting here in this lobby.

 

Three years ago, I wouldn’t have even tried to sign my kids up for something if I was a month late.  I would’ve let it go until next year, watching wistfully as all the other ballerina-moms posted recital pics on Instagram.

 

Three years ago, I wouldn’t have whipped out my computer and done some work here. Instead, I would’ve headed to my car, acting like I had some important errand, and then hidden there to have a nap or feel annoyed that my precious time was just slipping away while I waited around for my kids to have cultural experiences.

 

Three years ago I would have felt overwhelmed by the requirements of the dress-code of the studio rather than amused and humbled at the uniformity of these tiny little people taking a dance form so seriously at such a young age.

 

A lot has happened since my daughter was born three years ago.  I have changed, and so has my perspective.

 

Today, I allow myself to be late sometimes.  Today, I don’t beat myself up if I am unorganized, or the last parent to “be in the know” about something.  Today, I don’t make excuses about having too much or too little free time.  Today, I notice how I feel in any given moment and squeeze in a creative oasis where I can.  Today, I don’t think of being a parent as a burdensome infringement on my freedom (as I did when I had only one little guy to worry about) but rather a lovely, chaotic package of hugs and tears and laughs and misunderstandings and overall bumbling through.

 

A lot changed for me when I gave myself permission to have a bad day every once in a while. 

 

The seeds of this permission started years ago with a hip-hop dance teacher.  She was my closest and dearest friend in the real world, and in the dance studio, she shined like no other place.  She encouraged us to use the intense, raw, street-roots dance form to express our emotion, express our desires, express the parts of us that we couldn’t actually communicate anywhere else in our lives.

 

In the studio, I got to express the sides of me that were passionate, overlooked, angry, ignored, misunderstood and just plain done with the god-damn status quo. In my university classrooms, I was a different person: someone who was poised and articulate and always kept my cool.  In the studio, I could let go. I could have a bad day.  I could just dance the hell out of the song, and when the time was up, the sweat and the racing heartbeat and the dance we had just all created together was the only proof I needed that I was letting go, that I was transforming.

 

It was through dance that I learned to harness the energy of a bad day.

 

As a fully cooked adult, I have fewer outlets to identify, express, and move the energy of my bad day.

 

Or at least I thought I did. 

 

I thought I needed the dark lighting and interested eyes of a nightclub or the polished floors and banging drums of a studio to really feel that catharsis.  I have learned in the last six months that all you need to dance is music.  Who knew? Just music.

 

So now, while I know it’s okay to have a bad day, I also know it’s not okay to have a bad year.  It’s exhausting.  When I feel like my bad day is turning into a bad week, I remember to dance.  Whether it’s Zumba at the gym with the 60-something group that shows up on a Wednesday morning, or the hardwood of my own kitchen, I turn on music and dance.

 

I know there is a bunch of science that proves the positive impact on music and movement on mood.  My job is not to convince you of all that using the science.  You can Google that yourself. What I can do, is give you an open window into my own life, and very generally, into the lives of the hundreds of people I have worked with, and remind you of how transformative music and dance can be.

 

So next time you find yourself in a funk, for more than a day (because, like I said, it’s okay to have a bad day every so often!) I would challenge you to put on a song you love, and just dance.  And if you can’t dance, no worries, just move awkwardly from side to side.  But get moving and listen to what makes your heart soar.

 

Dance: good for the body, better for the soul.

 

Stay tuned for my uber-affordable online course where we will talk about all kinds of easy, evidence-based  tools that will change your life from bearable to incredible.  More at www.talktosaira.com