Monthly Archives: October 2010

Attitude of Gratitude


Photo taken by Jen Saunders.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought;

and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

Thanksgiving is nearly here, & even though I grew up in Australia & so have never celebrated a real Thanksgiving, I’ve always been fascinated by it. I’m a big believer that the more thankful you are, the more abundant life becomes, so I’m going to celebrate my own Thanksgiving by listing the things I am most grateful for.

Making a gratitude list helps you to realise just how blessed you truly are & is a big step towards living a happier & more fulfilling life. You can either write them down or just list them mentally while you’re on the way to work, doing the dishes or waiting to fall asleep in bed at the end of the day.

After doing it regularly, you will begin to see a pattern. The things that pop up on your list every time are the things that are most important to you in life. By noticing what matters to you, you can become more familiar with where your priorities lie, & possibly what things you want to spend more time doing or which people you need to spend more time with.

Continuing on my journey of self-discovery, & following my 9th Commandment*, here is my list of ten things I’m grateful for:

1. Health.

For a body that is healthy, does what I want it to do & can heal itself.

2. Love.

For being loved, feeling love & giving love.

3. Possibilities.

The knowledge that I create my life with my thoughts, feelings & actions.

4. Mike.

For having a partner, a soulmate, a best friend & lover who knows me better than anyone & is always there for me & encourages me to live my best life.

5. Family.

People who love me no matter what happens.

6. Friends.

People to have fun with, laugh with, learn with & talk with.

7. Role models.

People who inspire me to live my best life, lead by example, make the world a better place & take action, all while staying true to themselves.

8. Education.

Not just school or university, but the education of life itself. Neverending opportunities to learn, grow & gain wisdom.

9. Trees.

By far the best spiritual teachers to have ever lived. They know how to be still, stay grounded, connected & play in the wind all at the same time.

10. Me.

For the person that I am, the experiences I’ve had, the memories I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learned & the person who I’m becoming.

I want to make this a regular activity, so to remind me & motivate me I have stuck notes around my apartment that say ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. I have stuck them next to my bed, on the fridge & even in the bathroom. Whenever I see a note, I think of at least two things that I am grateful for today, even if it’s just ‘For having a good night’s sleep’ or ‘For having pizza for dinner tonight’. There’s always something to be thankful for 🙂

What are you grateful for today?

Need more inspiration?

A fellow blogger, Grey Matter Life, wrote a great post a few days ago titled ‘The 30 Day Gratitude Challenge’. Check it out 🙂

*Note: After giving it some thought, I have decided to change my 5th Commandment ‘Show interest, ask questions, open up’ to ‘Nourish your spirituality’. I decided that showing interest, asking questions & opening up could be better utilized as more of a resolution, rather than a commandment. Also, I realised that I didn’t have any commandments relating to my spirituality, something that is very important to me… even if I haven’t completely figured out what it is yet. ‘Nourish you spirituality’ serves as a reminder to just be still, get in touch with the Universe, my higher self, God, whatever you want to call it. I do this through meditation, lighting candles & incense & just relaxing, reading my favourite spiritual books (all of which will be covered in later posts), listening to music, or being creative.

 

Keep Smiling 🙂

Jen xo

‘This Too Shall Pass’, ‘Follow Your Bliss’, & Other Clichés That Happen To Be True.

Break Free. By Jen Saunders.

Being the Pollyanna that I pretty much have always been, I’ve often been told that my views on life aren’t realistic, or that my beliefs, such as everything happens for a reason are ‘such a cliché’. But still, I stuck with my clichés and happily trod along my own path in my own reality. Being told these things when I was younger taught me quickly that other people aren’t as open to positivity as I am. Yes, sayings like everything happens for a reason might well be a big fat cliché, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. In my experience, I have learned time and time again that everything really does happen for a reason, but I guess you have to be open enough to accept that. Anything that has ever happened in my life that I saw as ‘bad’ at the time, always lead to something better for me, either by pointing me in a completely new direction or teaching me a valuable life-lesson that has shaped who I am today.

As a hopeful teenager, I would try to help others to see things more positively, but I then began to learn that until they decide that they want something different than what they have, there’s nothing anyone or anything can do to change their mindset. Some people are just so terrified of any type of change or are so afraid to let go of the controls that they just stay stuck, sometimes for their whole lives. I know this, not only because I’ve seen it, but because I’ve been there. I’ve been paralysed with fear, stuck in a negative mindset, had times when everything looked so bad that I didn’t know what to do. Who hasn’t had those times? I always remember the Buddhist saying,‘This too shall pass.’ And, even if I don’t believe it at the time, there’s always a way through it. In my world, no type of change is as scary as being stuck in the same unhealthy mindset or environment for the rest of my life.

In my life, I want to always be moving forward, growing, learning, and evolving. If others choose not move forward with me, then that’s their business and I will let them go as I continue down the path that is right for me.

I don’t mean to sound self-righteous. I’m not saying that everything I’ve stated here is complete truth, it’s not, it’s just my opinion. It’s my own truth.

You Have To Follow Your Bliss

Image by Brandon Carpenter via Flickr

What I know for sure is that everyone has their own path. My path is not right for everyone (that’s for sure!) and the paths of others are not right for me. Over the years I’ve come to learn how to respect the paths that others choose to take, and I’ve also come to learn how to politely ignore others when they attempt to sway me from my own path or poke fun at me because of the way I view life and the world. There are always going to be people who don’t agree, don’t understand and don’t respect the paths we choose, but these people do us a great favour by teaching us how to be strong, to stick to our values & follow our hearts. They will challenge us, but their opposition tests our strength, courage & commitment, often causing us to move forward with our beliefs even more firm than before.

We will also come across people who follow a similar path to ours, people we will admire and want to learn from. Just by being in the company of these like-minded people, we can learn so much more about who we are and who we want to be.

Everyone who enters your life can teach you something about yourself. They don’t even have to be people you know, they can be fictional characters, politicians, movie stars, authors, even people you simply pass by on the street can change your life forever. Some people are meant to stay in your life so that you can always learn and grow with their help, and they can always learn and grow with your help. Others may only stay in your life for a few years at most, they will teach you what they need to and then you will go your separate ways. And that’s okay because everything happens for a reason.

People can teach you how to be strong by knocking you down. They can teach you to really explore who you are and what kind of life you want to live by poking holes in your beliefs, forcing you to rethink your ideals and either throw them away and start again or build on the beliefs even more, making them stronger than ever before. They can teach you more about who you want to be by showing you how they live, and they can also teach you more about who you don’t want to be by showing you how they live. It works both ways. But no matter what, as long as you remember that there is no wrong or right – there are only differences – you can learn something from everyone & everything that happens in life, if you just take a moment to open your eyes, your mind & your heart.

Keep Smiling 🙂

Jen xo

World Peace In This Piece Of The World.

 

'Peace Everywhere' By Jen Saunders

I wrote this in my journal as I was on my way to China a few months ago.

‘I’m sitting at Singapore Changi Airport, waiting to board our flight to Beijing. From where I sit I can see two Indian men sitting side by side at their terminal. Both have their arms folded & heads tilted back & to the left as they sleep with their mouths open. I can hear a French man ‘Oui-Oui-ing’ as he chats on his mobile phone. I look to my left & see an old man & a little girl colouring pictures together, she calls him ‘Opa’. I look to my right & smile at an asian toddler, who is proudly giggling at his attempt to walk whilst his Dad holds his hands. A Muslim woman wearing a burka sits across from me & sings softly to her little girl as she cradles her in her arms.

In this moment, in this little pocket of the world, peace is real.’

Whenever I hear about war, inequality, hatred or any of the negativity that the news media so desperately clings to, I try to remember this one moment in which we were all the same, no matter the colour of our skin, the language we spoke or the clothes we wore. We were just people, some of us on our way to new destinations, others on their way home, but all just enjoying the moment with the people they love & sharing a smile or two with a stranger. Peace happens everyday, all we need to do is see it.

Keep smiling 🙂

Jen xo

My 12 Personal Commandments

Jmsuarez - Full moon (by)

Image via Wikipedia

At last, the full moon is here again, shining it’s light on the darkest parts of ourselves. This is the time to look back over the past month & notice what you have achieved since the last full moon, congratulate yourself, & take some time to think about what you want to accomplish before the next full moon. What do you want to do more of? What habits do you want to break? What changes do you want to make? The three days of the full moon is the perfect time to take a step back, breathe, & take stock of what’s happening in your life.

In my last post, I mentioned The Happiness Project. Admittedly, at the time of posting I didn’t know too much about it, all I knew was that it kept popping up in my life & it was time for me to find out why. Since then, I have discovered the awesomeness that is The Happiness Project; not only is it a great blog, it’s also a book, a toolbox for happiness, & soon, even a TV show. It has grown from being one woman – Gretchen Rubin’s – search for happiness to being a worldwide movement. As fate would have it, I created this blog only one day before I really discovered this growing empire of positivity, so everything I learn from The Happiness Project will be recorded here, along with everything else that inspires, empowers & educates me.

After reading Gretchen’s blog, I signed up to The Happiness Project Toolbox, an affiliated website that provides some really useful resources to help those on the quest for happiness, such as an inspiration board, resolutions, lists, groups, & my personal favourite, commandments. In the blog, Gretchen lists her 12 Personal Commandments – ‘principles to guide your life’ – that she created for herself, & encourages those on the happiness journey to do the same.

So, my first order of business after I joined The Happiness Project Toolbox was to write my own personal commandments, & here they are (along with a short explanation of each):

My 12 Personal Commandments:

1. Love Is Louder!

Inspired by the recent Love Is Louder campaign started by actress Brittany Snow, The Jed Foundation & MTV in response to the high number of suicides caused by bullying in September 2010. The message is that Love Is Louder than hate & aims to give hope to those who have ever felt misunderstood, mistreated, or alone (& let’s face it, haven’t we all felt that way at one time or another?). It’s an amazing cause & you can support by following it on Twitter or becoming a fan on Facebook.

2. Express your true self – through talking with others, writing, painting, singing, dancing, loving.

I need to express my true self more often & not hold back. Whether it means doing a painting, having a heart-to-heart with a friend, writing a blog entry or just wearing bright colours for the day, it is essential to my happiness.

3. Let go a little. Then… let go a lot.

This is based on a quote I read a couple of months ago:

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” – Ajahn Chah

Even just reading or saying this to myself makes me feel more relaxed & reminds me to go with the flow.

4. People are more focussed on themselves than they are on you, so be free!

This is a reminder to care more about being true to myself & doing what I want to do rather than worrying about what others might think of me. It’s based on something I read about a few years ago, known as the 20-40-60 rule:

“At 20 you’re worried about what everyone thinks of you.

At 40 you don’t care what anyone thinks of you.

At 60 you realize no one’s been thinking about you at all.” – Bob Mercer.

5. Nourish your spirituality.

My spirituality is very important to me… Even though I’m not completely sure what it is yet. This commandment serves as a reminder to just be still, get in touch with the Universe, my higher self, God, whatever you want to call it. I can do this through meditation, lighting candles & incense & just relaxing, reading my favourite spiritual books (all of which will be covered in later posts), listening to music, or being creative.

6. Lead by example: deeds not words.

I don’t want to be one of those people who is ‘all-talk, no action.’ The best way to do this is to just ‘do’. If I stick to my principles, keep my chin up & live life according to my values, maybe I can inspire others to do the same without preaching or forcing my ideals onto others.

7. Be kind. To myself, others & the Earth.

I think pretty much everyone could benefit from following this commandment. Like many others, I’m sure, I’m often much too hard on myself. I need to think kinder thoughts about myself & others, & do my best to be kind to the planet.

8. Celebrate.

Sometimes I take life too seriously. It’s my new belief that celebrations don’t have to be reserved for special occasions only, I could celebrate pretty much everything if I wanted to! Even if it’s just a quiet ‘Woohoo!’ or pat on the back, if it makes me smile, then I want to celebrate it.

9. Attitude of Gratitude.

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the celebrating. I know from experience that the simplest act of listing 5 things that I’m grateful for can turn my whole perspective around & help me to see what really matters.

10. Music lifts you higher.

This is one I need to remind myself of more. Listening to my favourite music sends me on a natural high, singing along to the lyrics or dancing like a crazy person in my apartment always lifts my spirits & can leave me feeling awesome all day.

11. Laughter cures all.

I love to laugh, & I could definitely do it more often. Watching a funny movie or YouTube video is all it takes, otherwise there’s the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ laughing yoga method of just laughing for no reason other than you can.

12. Painting sets you free.

For me, painting is like meditation. When I paint, I leave all my worries behind & become a part of something much bigger than myself. I haven’t had the opportunity nor the resources to paint since I’ve been in China, so this is something I want to do as soon as possible.

Another awesome blog I’ve been following lately, Positively Present, has also listed their own personal commandments, inspired by Gretchen & The Happiness Project. Check them out for more inspiration for when it comes to writing your own personal commandments.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing to celebrate the full moon for this lunar cycle. I’m feeling very satisfied with my commandments & have already started implementing them into my daily life. My hopes are high & my quest for knowledge, meaning, truth, & now more happiness, is off to a great start!

Keep Smiling! Love Jen xo

Inspiration, Illness & INFPs…

Being bed – or should I say, couch – ridden for the past few weeks has given me a lot of time for self-reflection. I’ve been experiencing a lot of change & ups & downs in my life the past few months, what with moving to a different country, meeting lots of new people, running into a few obstacles & more recently falling ill, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about who I am, the life I live, the things I want to change & the things I want to achieve. Although being sick has been pretty unpleasant, it has actually been really nice to have so much time to just focus on relaxing & recovering. I’ve been using the time I’ve had to re-evaluate myself & learn more about who I am & who I want to be. I’ve also been spending a lot of time online, & when checking my Facebook for the thousandth (okay, ten-thousandth) time no longer satisfied me, I decided to combine my obsession with the internet with my obsession with self-discovery.

The first interesting thing I found was something called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test. I had actually taken the test a few years ago but I couldn’t remember my result & wasn’t really interested back then anyway, so I decided to give it another try. After choosing all my answers I received the result of INFP (Introversion; iNtuition; Feeling; Perception). I’ve been scouring the internet for descriptions of my type since I took the test (I even joined the INFP Facebook group to hear what others of my type had to say) & after reading a lot it is clear that I am definitely an INFP. Apparently this personality type is one of the rarest, which explains why I’ve often felt like an outsider, but we are also very intuitive, extremely deep thinkers, & are often referred to as the ‘healers’ or ‘dreamers’. According to the many descriptions I’ve read, INFPs are great listeners, extremely creative, sensitive, idealistic & are always searching for meaning in their life & ways to help make the world a better place, but can often be too hard on themselves & sometimes set their expectations too high. There’s much more information out there about what it’s like to be an INFP, as well as any of the other fifteen personality types, so if you’re interested in your type just check out the links attached to this post.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how much this test could help me in my quest for self-discovery, but it really has opened my eyes to a lot of things & explained why I often feel, think or behave the way I do. I feel like I know myself on a much deeper level now, & finding others out there like me, through Facebook, Twitter & even YouTube, has allowed me to feel the most normal I have felt in a long time… maybe ever.

Other things that have inspired me today are:

Eliza Doolittle 1

Eliza Doolittle. Image by Clive Rowland Photography via Flickr

– Eliza Doolittle; a singer whose songs I just discovered today through a link on Facebook. I especially like her song ‘Pack Up’, which is about not caring about what other people think or say about you. Very cool 🙂

Check her out here.

iGoogle; this has probably been around for a while but I’ve only just started using it today. It allows you to completely individualize your Google homepage with pretty much whatever you want, you can choose the page theme & even add things called ‘Gadgets’ which include the weather, a calendar, etc. I’ve customized mine to show me my hotmail, facebook & twitter all at the same time, as well as adding practical things like a to do list & the ‘Supercook‘ app, which gives you a recipe using the ingredients you have in your kitchen, & fun things like a daily Simpsons quote, current moon phase, entertainment news & my personal favourite; quotes from the book ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘.

The Happiness Project; I had heard about this every now & then for a while, but today I did a bit more exploring of the website & blog & discovered it’s pretty damn cool. I’d really love to read the book once I’m back home, but until then I’ll be following the blog for more inspiration & a daily dose of extra happiness 🙂

Happiness Project

– Getting back to being an INFP, yesterday I watched a few YouTube videos by INFPatty, who is totally cool & very insightful. It was really great to listen to someone talk about the same things I think about & have trouble with. Might not be of much interest to non-INFPs, but I think it’s always beneficial to learn about how other people see the world. If you are a fellow INFP, I definitely recommend checking her out here.

Thanks for reading! See you next time with more inspirations 🙂

An Introduction…

In this, my very first post on this blog, I am going to attempt to tell you who I am & what I’m doing here… Even though I don’t even know the answers to those questions myself just yet 🙂

So, I will be very brief. This is me in point form:

  • My name is Jen 🙂
  • I’m 23.
  • Originally from Melbourne, Australia but currently living in Daqing, Northern China for a year.
  • I’m an artist – I paint, draw, photograph, photoshop, print, write… I’m also a qualified Makeup Artist.
  • I’m engaged to an awesome, afro-haired, incurable optimist named Mike.

In this blog I will be writing about whatever I’m interested in at any one time, as well as things/people/places that inspire me, lessons I’ve learned, experiences I’ve had… as it says in the ‘About Me’ section; I’m addicted to learning new things & am constantly finding new thought-provoking quotes, books, websites, people, stories, places etc that inspire me & I wanted a place to put all these things together, as well as include my own experiences, thoughts & creations that may be able to inspire others.

Some topics I intend to cover include; art; philosophy; spirituality; health; music; books; tv/film; self-discovery; relationships; travel; career… & I’m sure many other subjects will pop up too. If people read my posts & find inspiration from them, then that’s awesome, if not that’s fine too 🙂

I’m on a quest to find more meaning & truth in my life & the world & I hope to use this blog as a way to document my findings.

I’ll leave it at that for now, it’s a very brief introduction I know, but seeing as this blog will be written by me & about me, there’s no doubt that much more will be revealed with every post.

Until then, Peace 🙂

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