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Seize The Day

by Andrew Shaw on Jan.18, 2010, under Archives

Carpe diem.  Seize the day.  Live life to the fullest…  Phrases of life advice you’ve no doubt heard before.  The only problem is, we tend to forget these important words and become distracted by all our other plans and problems.  Until, something snaps back our attention.  Turn on the news right now and we’re witness to the devastation in Haiti.  We see the tragic loss of life and people struggling to survive.  There is no more powerful reminder of the preciousness of life than an event such as this.  We see how very fragile we all are.  We see how life can end in an instant.  This may be difficult to think about, but keeping this truth in mind, awakens you, changes your priorities, and motivates you to not waste time or opportunity. 

About a year ago, a plane landed on the Hudson River.  You know the story.  Interviews with passengers from this flight have shared a resounding theme.  All of the survivors have described a dramatic change in the way they live.  They say they’re grateful for every day they have now.  They say they’ve been given a second chance and they’re not going to waste that opportunity.  Some have changed careers, many have done some of the things they always wanted to but put off before, most spend more time loving than in anger, and all have an enormous appreciation for being alive.

The point of this week’s post, and this blog in general, is to provide small reminders for what’s important in life, and of ways of living that bring about greater happiness and well-being.  I love this picture of a sign in Santa Ynez, CA.  We all need signposts in our lives, to point us in the direction of what truly matters, in the direction of love, in the direction of gratitude, in the direction of living fully in the present moment.  I hope you can use this picture, this blog, the people of Haiti, the passengers of flight 1549, as a signpost, a reminder that life is short and precious.  Life is a gift and we know not what may happen tomorrow.  Carpe diem.  Seize the day.

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Beginner’s Mind

by Andrew Shaw on Jan.11, 2010, under Archives

Over the Holidays, my wife and I visited her family in San Francisco.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed every minute as we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like.  We were also able to be with our nephew, William, who at 15 months, is completely fascinated by the world around him.  It is such a joy to watch him explore, so full of curiosity and enthusiasm.  Even something as simple as a light bulb going on and off is a profound event.  If you have children or have been around little kids at all, then you know what I’m talking about.  They are seeing everything for the first time.  For these young eyes, everything is full of wonder.  Everything is new and interesting.  Theirs is a whole-hearted eagerness. 

Unfortunately, I think we lose this sight as we grow older.  We lose this special ability to be amazed by, and to see the wonder in, the everyday.  We forget, or we take for granted, the mini-miracles happening all around us.  And we are quick to judge or presume we know everything there is to know about something.  There is a concept in Zen Buddhism called Beginner’s Mind.  It refers to having a mind like a beginner; an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions.  If we are able to practice letting go of all that we think we know, of letting go our need to be right or to be the expert, we open ourselves to new possibilities, to new discoveries, to surprises and to new insights.  We can shake off the old and like a child, see things anew.

Children are our best teachers in living this way and in showing us how to get back to the basics.  By watching how they live, we are reminded to awaken to the present, to be open to new experiences, to be curious and excited about life, to see the world anew, and to live in awe and wonder.  This can be an incredibly enriching and meaningful practice, one that brings greater clarity, appreciation, joy and happiness.

Be Well

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Renewal

by Andrew Shaw on Jan.04, 2010, under Archives

Happy New Year!

I have always liked this time… the beginning of a new year and the opportunity to start anew or to renew a commitment to something old.

2009 was a difficult year, full of setbacks and hardship.  A new year brings a chance to let go of the past and move forward with optimism and a renewed sense of passion and commitment.  I’m not necessarily fond of the term “resolutions.”  But I still think it’s important to start the new year by reflecting on what truly matters to you and what you’d like to focus on in the year ahead.  As we start a new year and a new decade, what are you looking forward to?  What are some of your goals?  What would you like to accomplish and how do you want to use your time and effort?

I’m excited about the year ahead for this blog, theweeklywell, and for the DeepWell center.  I believe it’s a time for growth, a new wave of energy and hope, and I look forward to sharing more with you!

Be Well

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Pause

by Andrew Shaw on Dec.21, 2009, under Archives

I’ll be taking a couple weeks off for the Holidays, so the WeeklyWell will be on pause until the first week of January.

I hope you have a wonderful and restful Holiday.

Please come on back to the Well in 2010!

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The Gift of Giving

by Andrew Shaw on Dec.14, 2009, under Archives

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to get outside of yourself, by giving and helping others.  Not only are you doing your small part to make the world a better place, but studies have also shown how altruism immensely benefits the well-being of the giver as well. This is a great time of the year to give, as that is what the Holiday Spirit is truly about, sharing love and compassion.  There are countless charities and organizations that depend on the support of the community to keep their doors open.  Consider donating a few dollars to a homeless shelter.  Buy a bag of groceries and take it to your local food pantry.  Join your community school or church as they usually organize a charitable campaign.  Donate a toy to Toys for Tots.  Go through your closet and put together a box of items for the Salvation Army.  If you’d like to donate to a charity, but you’re unsure where to start, check-out http://www.networkforgood.org/

Not everyone can write a check to their favorite charity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lend a helping hand. These days, there is an increasing number of ways you can pitch in, offering your time rather than money, and the value of your service is priceless.  Consider volunteering at a homeless shelter, a hospital, a school, or another non-profit.  Sign-up to become a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister”.  Organize a canned drive.  Make a visit to a senior home and listen to a person’s story.  Be a good friend to someone in need.  Check-out http://www.serve.gov/ or http://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find volunteer opportunities in your community!        

Finally, it doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life.  Even a simple small act of kindness can make a person’s day.  If you don’t have money or time to give, just offering your love and compassion to others is a wonderful gift.  You can start your day with the conscious intention to do good, to wish others well, to treat all human beings the way you would want to be treated.  Remind yourself throughout the day, and throughout this Holiday Season, to give the gift of kindness; a smile, words of encouragement, forgiveness, a listening ear, a helping hand, or a loving hug.

Be Well

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Community

by Andrew Shaw on Dec.08, 2009, under Archives

You know how the song goes… it’s the most wonderful time of the year.  If you are lucky enough to have family and friends, to be with people you love and who love you during the Holidays, you are lucky indeed.  I feel very fortunate to find myself in this category, that I have a loving family and supportive friends.  But for many people, this isn’t the happiest season of all.  In fact, it can be quite sad and lonely, especially for those who are alone or who have lost their loved ones.  Many of my clients have shared feelings of sadness and loss and describe how they feel more isolated this time of year.  As I think about both my situation and that of some of my clients, I really see the importance of connectedness and of being surrounded by family, friends and/or a community. 

Community serves a vital role in strengthening and maintaining a person’s well-being.  A community, friends or family, act as an essential support system.  It can be particularly helpful during times of need.  With our society moving at a faster pace and more detached manner due to technology and increasingly busy schedules, it’s becoming harder to feel any sense of community or belonging.  It’s easy to be isolated, and yet isolation tends to beget a sense of loneliness, depression and detachment from life.  Whether you already have an existing network of friends or you are feeling isolated, here are some ideas you may consider to strengthen your sense of community, and as a result, improve your health and wellness.

• Participate in random acts of kindness.  For more information, visit: http://www.actsofkindness.org/

• Acknowledge a passerby in your neighborhood or at work.

• Attend community events.

• Attend church, synagogue or another religious group.

• Volunteer.

• Meet your neighbors.

• Buy from local merchants.

• Take a class at your community college.

• Join a support group (If you’re in L.A., check-out http://www.shareselfhelp.org/).

• Organize or attend a neighborhood or community party.

• Spend less time on the internet or watching television and more time outside.

• Attend a lecture at your public library.

• Young or wise… visit your community youth or senior center.

• Join a club or other social organization.

The idea of community may simply come down to supporting and interacting positively with other individuals who share a similar interest.  Ultimately, a strong community benefits the individual, the community, as well as society as a whole.  People who are engaged and feel a sense of belonging tend to lead happier and healthier lives, and strong communities create a more stable and caring society. 

So, Stay Connected and Be Well

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