donderdag 29 oktober 2015

A healthy body and mind

Like most people I have a busy life and a job that requires my full attention. It can be quite stressful at times. If I am not careful it consumes most of my energy,  leaving me feeling too drained and tired to have happy adventures. I can only be on top of my game if I take care of myself. Eating healthy and exercising are important elements to a balanced life. However, I believe that this is not enough. Everyone needs alone time every once in a while. A moment when you can let go of everything else and just be, reenergizing your mind to find complete balance.

I often hear people say I don't have time. They find it a struggle to do everything in their life AND find time to reenergize. When you find life a struggle, you lose your balance. When you find balance, there is no struggle to be found. Take a step back, look at your schedule and prioritize. The people around you will understand if you need a moment to reenergize and in the end they will be grateful for the happier and healthier you. Remember there is a reason you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you help a child on a plane that loses pressure. How can you help others or do everything you are dreaming of if you are out of breath? The answer is simple, you can't.

To help you along the way I compiled a list of a few of my favorite ways to keep my mind healthy.

The morning ritual:
I start my mornings with a little ME time. I have issues leaving my soft comfy bed in the morning. Don't we all? So I take my time. I deliberately set my alarm clock earlier so I can snooze till I finally come to terms with having to leave my bed. First I catch up with the world and do a little social media browsing. After that it's finally time to say goodbye to my bed and start my day. For 20 to 30 minutes I do yoga and meditate, making sure my energy flows through my body and my mind is calm and peaceful. I listen to the soothing voice of Deepak Chopra while I let go of all thoughts and empower myself.  When I am done I hop into the shower and start my singing and dancing routine.  Reenergizing my mind and body only takes 60-90 minutes of my day.

Breath in, breath out:
If I feel stressed or jumpy throughout the day I take a few minutes to concentrate on my breathing, slowing down my heartbeat and emptying my mind. The good thing about breathing exercise is that you can do this anywhere.

The road to nowhere:
When the weather allows it I take a walk and let my feet decide where I will end up. This way my mind can be at peace and wander off to happy places. Just make sure you don't bump into any lamppost or cars on your walk to zen paradise.

Let your body take control:
Doing things that require your hands to take control is a good way to let your mind rest. Muscle memory will be activated and this way your mind doesn’t have to think about doing anything. Your body decides and your mind will simply follow. Gardening, cooking or painting are perfect examples of these types of activities that let your mind rest for a bit.

With love, Ana

maandag 26 oktober 2015

Fall happiness

Saying goodbyes to a warmhearted summer logically gives sadness to many, since it is the season where sunshine paints the world in bright and shiny primary colors. It is blunt, it is out there. There is no way to deny it, this in your face style of painting wraps us all in her blanket of happiness. When fall sets in, she changes her style to soft pastel colors and gentle strokes, which is more subtle but just as beautiful if you learn how to appreciate it.

Every season has its own charm. In spring we are greeted by the most beautiful flowers, but in fall it are the leaves that wave in the wind to say hello. The rain can be brutal, but it can also leave the world in a moist of mystery. This season brings so much joy, that we have put our favorite ten must do's in random order for you:
  1. Photographers are going out of their minds, there is so much beauty to capture.
  2. It's the season of the hot chocolate and marshmallow comeback.
  3. Put your boots on for a long fall stroll without having your toes freezing off yet.
  4. In China men invite women to watch the beauty of the red leaves together. (They 一起看红叶) or with other words, bring the romance back alive. 
  5. It's the perfect season to look adorable in knits. 
  6. Summer heat is no longer an excuses to procrastinate running.
  7. Spending more time indoors, means more time to pick up a new hobby, do a meditation course or any other thing you have been wanting to do for a long time. 
  8. Fall is a good excuse to be seen in a onesie again.
  9. Go pumpkins! Nothing says fall happiness more than eating homemade pumpkin soup, drinking a pumpkin spice latte at your favorite coffee house or carving pumpkins to decorate your house. 
  10. Just a few more days till All Hallows Eve, the night of the horror and the dead, the trick or treats and dressing up without anyone calling you crazy. Pure scary bliss!
Share your fall happiness with us! Leave a comment below or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Have a joyful day!

donderdag 22 oktober 2015

Mind overload!

It is the fifth day of me sitting by a pool somewhere in tropical south China, staring at water, thinking of "nothing" when I realize I needed to travel 5000 miles to empty my mind. 5000 miles! Not to mention it took me eighteen days of my twenty one vacation days to get to that point. Give it up for the quiet mind guru! I am of course by no means a quiet mind guru, but it is a personal topic of interest and I talk about it often, if not all the time. It is even written on a post-it at my "all I want for 2015" wall (I firmly believe it is good to be driven by the things in life that you want to achieve instead of all the things you don't. Dream big, change your can not’s into can do’s, therefore one New Year’s resolution later my post-it wall was born).

How come we get so distracted in daily life that we forget about ourselves and the things that matter? Walking around with a mind so packed it feels like an average commute to work on the subway in Japan. Thoughts keep on bumping into each other and are on a high level of irritation. They have no intention hopping off, and don't give other thoughts the opportunity to hop on. It is a cramped mind on the verge of explosion!

Walking around as a ticking bomb is not my ideal lifestyle. I have just let it happen without realizing it has come this far. If you think about it, I am not the only one. Many people have a high blood pressure, isn't that just our body telling us the mind is too packed and too stressed? The only solution to an overloaded mind is to empty it. Meditation is a perfect way to do that. Take some time everyday to sit down and let your roaming thoughts that don't serve you any longer go. Imagine them floating away in a bubble or on a cloud to useless thoughts graveyard. If you’re not a person with a wild imagination, you can listen to guided meditations on YouTube, or the pyromaniacs amongst us can write their thoughts down on paper and burn them. Letting thoughts you no longer need go will make space for new and creative ones. Your mind will no longer be an overcrowded subway in Japan but a calm pool in the tropics. Why complicate things if it can be that simple? 

Be happy,

maandag 12 oktober 2015

If monday is a flower

This is not a Dandalion, but a lovely flower anyway
If everyday of the week would be a flower, Monday would not be the prettiest kid on the block. It can not beat the flair of a Sunday rose, nor has it the sexy curves of Saturday nights' Orchid. Monday is nothing but an ordinary Dandelion, trying to be loved, while being disliked by so many. Trying to fight the bad image of being weed, even though she is actually a wild flower. When it is time for her seeds to leave, she has the  ability to brighten up your day when those seeds are taken up by the wind and you watch them choosing their own path while flying away. The Monday flower can make your heart filled with joy like any other day. 

If you suffer from Monday morning blues, like most of us, you are forgiven. It is probably because you were looking for Saturday and Sunday things on a Monday. Naturally Monday can not deliver, it is hard to cope with so much pressure. Like the Dandelion she fights a bad image all the time, whilst she has so many to offer. Before you tune in on the Monday morning blues, think about all the things this day brings you like any other days; the love of family and friends, waking up after a good night sleep, enjoying the sunrise while sipping on a cup of coffee, doing a dance of joy because of your good health. These things are given to you on a daily basis if only you could see the beauty of it. 
Be happy,

donderdag 1 oktober 2015

Happystepz steps up

Dear happiness practitioners!

"The music is not in the notes, but in the silence within" (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart).
We have been playing music for a while before we went silent. Ana and I would like you to know that the silence is a good thing. The silence is a moment of creation.

Now that August and September have passed us by and October is here to happily greet us, we realize it is time to break that silence. You must know that it has been a summer filled with happiness and laughter. Fun activities gave us the inspiration we needed to continue the blog. Many new ideas came to pass leading to the creation of our own happystepz website, a platform for happiness. A place you can visit whenever you need a happiness boost.

Right now we are both enjoying, what we both believe to be, a well deserved vacation. We can not wait to update you with all our new plans. Until then, stay happy!

With love,

Ilona and Ana