Make Your Mark on 2011

The dawn of a new year is always an exciting projection. There’s the chance to build on the success of the previous year, or, if you’ve had a shocker, it’s an opportunity to put the past behind you and make this sparkly new year a winner. It’s a clean slate, obviously, and a time for you to think about what the next year is going to bring you. Or rather, what you’re going to bring you.

For me, there’s plenty of travel on the agenda, with an upcoming trip to South Africa and Mauritius, followed by a week in New York, some time in Turkey with my family mid-year and who knows what after that. I’m also dedicating even more time to The Happiness Cocktail, as it’s something that brings me more pleasure than, well, that Eton Mess I made the other night.

I’m sticking with the meditation and upping it to daily. I’m going to train for the New York marathon just like Oprah and I’m going to make more time to give back to the community. I’ve talked a little on THC about how the notion of community is being lost in the Western world. We (meaning I) haven’t even taken the time to chat to my neighbour and learn their name. This, Happies, is about to change. This year, I am keen to hold out my hand and meet people. Actually meet them. Talk to strangers, listen to the wise elderly ladies at the bus stop, chat to the man standing awkwardly next to me in the lift. Mix. Communicate. Learn.

Funnily enough, the Lord Mayor and creative director of the Sydney New Year’s Eve celebrations agree. This year, in case you’ve missed the news, there will be a giant hand made out of sparklers on the Harbour Bridge as our sign for the coming year. The meaning? MAKE YOUR MARK. Mix with your community, get involved and forge friendships with those around you. All that from one giant hand made out of fireworks. Wowza.

At the end of the day, new year’s resolutions are there as a guide, Happies. It’s great to have goals to work towards, and if you make small goals and achieve them regularly, you know that happiness is ahead. It’s a proven formula.

So, let’s all make our mark on 2011 Happies and set small goals to achieve regularly. I have a feeling 2011 is going to be the best year yet. Don’t you?

Tell me Happies…

What are your new year resolutions?

Are you looking forward to 2011?

Lunch is officially served

In my household we have a strict no wastage policy. It just seems so, well, wasteful to throw out food when A) you’ve paid money for it, B) there are people with no food at all who would do anything for those greens in your bin, and C) the resources used to make that food are already stretched. It’s just how we roll. So, the day after a dinner party is always amazing because lunch is akin to something out of the Four Seasons Smörgåsbord.

That day was today. That’s right Happies, the Four Seasons officially set up shop in my kitchen and as a result, lunch was probably even more glorious today than it was last night. There’s something about food the next day that makes it all the more tasty.

Anyway, last night’s feast saw a multitude of healthy goodness being served up to our dear friends. We had oregano chicken done on the BBQ, brown rice pilaf similar to the quinoa one I’ve talked about before, curried carrot salad, tomato and basil salad and a big, fluffy green salad with miso dressing. Add homemade hummus and homemade pita crisps to the mix and you have yourself this for lunch…

and…

Delicious yes? Yes. So delicious in fact, I have no other choice but to share some of these recipes with you.

1. Curried Carrot Salad

This simple, yet beautifully flavoured, salad is the creation of my BF who is THE KING of healthy, tasty food. In fact, his nickname is Sal, because he makes me delicious salads of all varieties everyday for lunch. Winner. This salad simply mixes three carrots, finely chopped parsley and pre-soaked raisins. The dressing is then drizzled over the three ingredients, giving it a subtle Indian-style flavour thanks to the curry powder inside it. Said dressing can be made by simply mixing 1 x heaped teaspoon of curry powder with a good glug or two of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar (two parts oil to one part vinegar). Mix. Eat. Enjoy.

2. Green Salad with Miso Dressing

The simplicity of this salad is offset by its designer accessory more commonly known as a F*off dressing. It’s green, fluffy, crunchy and a massive winner with your guests time and time again. Simply throw some lettuce, baby spinach, cress (AKA SUPERFOOD), alfalfa sprouts, crunchy combo sprouts and avocado into a bowl. Then, glaze each ingredient with the dressing, simply made of white miso paste, honey, apple cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. You can add a few drops of sesame oil in there too if you like. Heaven! Mix. Eat. Enjoy.

There’s something so wonderful about having friends around and serving simple, tasty food. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Tasty, yes. Fancy, not always. The spread was incredible, easy and all shared, which is my favourite way of eating. Until the Eton Mess is served and then it’s all mine baby, all mine.

Tell me Happies…

What are your common dinner party dishes?

Any of these take your fancy?

Power Up Your Positive Affirmations

Aha, I’m back Happies and ready to bring in 2011 with even more positivity than I end 2010 with. After a brief hiatus in which I ate far too much Christmas ham and drank far too many glasses of champagne, I am feeling revived and ready to tackle the next year. Of course, I have 3 weeks in South Africa to look forward to from the 6th of January, but more on that later. Today, it’s all about positive affirmations and how they really, seriously, truly work when you want them to.

I have read many, many times that ENERGY FLOWS WHERE ATTENTION GOES. That’s right, when you think about something enough, all your energy is poured into that subject like gravy over Christmas turkey and the more you think about it, the more real it becomes. This, of course, is the case in a whole manner of things and definitely not reserved only for positive situations.

How many times have we focussed on a negative or scary image in our head, only to realise that, yes, it is in fact coming true before our eyes because we’re making it happen? Case in point: I once had a friend who was convinced her boyfriend was cheating on her. She obsessed about this to the point of despair, swearing that he was unfaithful. The result? She drove him away with her craziness only to find out that no, he wasn’t cheating, but her fear of losing him had, in fact, done just that and had the opportunity been presented to him in the form of a not-at-all jealous girl wanting to enjoy his dreamy eyes and calm demeanour, perhaps he would have taken her up on said offer. Just saying.

Of course, I am not saying that cheating is OK, or that it’s the girl’s fault. Every situation is different and I can’t make judgements on that, but what I can say is that my friend’s constant belief and fear of losing her man made it a reality. True story. But it’s not sadness, she’s now found the love of her life and has realised the errors of her ways, like so many of us do after a not-so-positive situation.

Recently, I’ve been thinking more about the power of positive affirmations, partly due to my meditation course and partly due to a book my beautiful boyfriend gave me for my birthday – Choosing Happiness – Life & Soul Essentials by Stephanie Dowrick. If you haven’t read this book, may I suggest you do. There’s not one page I don’t look at with adoring eyes. It’s glorious, and further proof I am a massive nerd.

There were two distinct areas of my life that needed attention. The first was about finances (hey everyone could do with a bit more cashola – except you Donald Trump, you’ve got enough) and the other was around fears. I am not afraid to admit that I am scared of far too many things in my life and am ready to change that mindset.

So, over the past two or so months, I’ve been saying to myself everyday that my income is constantly increasing and that my loved ones and I are always supported and safe in everything we do. Sounds a little loopy, I am aware, but honestly Happies, the changes are insane. Freaky even.

Firstly, about two weeks into the mad manifestation, my accountant called me to tell me they’d been working on my parent’s tax and as a result, I will be receiving a rather nice sum from the tax department. Tick. She then emailed me the next day to say they’d overlooked something so that figure she told me yesterday was now doubled. DOUBLED. Double tick. I then received two freelance jobs that were paying wonderfully, and went to Medicare with two old receipts in the hope I’d swap them for peanuts and walked out with $270. This never happens. Medicare never gives you hundreds unless you’ve had a set of dentures put in for $20,000. The positive affiramtions were working.

In regards to the fear factor, this is another area where my thoughts are drifting away from focussing on what could and would go wrong (let’s put it down to being a creative type and having an insane imagination) and moving towards focussing on where to go next. Shark diving in Africa? Heck yes. I’m safe remember.

There are thousands of books, journals, thoughts and beliefs on the power of positive thinking. Gosh, the woman from The Secret made millions out of it. There’s truth to it, it makes sense and if you don’t believe me, take this guys word for it. I listen to him everyday…

Yes, these A Little Bird Told Me Affirmations are, by far, the cutest way of remembering that there’s a lot to be happy about in this life. Even shark diving and taxes and yep, even Medicare queues.

Tell me Happies…

Do you practice positive affirmations?
Do you want to start?

When life gives you floods…

You make a YouTube video so perfectly positive that the world has no other option but to respond with laughs and lots of love.

Now this is what I call turning one seriously shitty situation into a positive. Amazing work guys, you’ve made my day. I hope it makes yours too.

Tell me Happies…

What do you think of this video?
Do you try to turn negative situations into positives too?

Sweet, Sleepy Dreams

After seeing the movie Inception, it occurred to me that A) I do not have the brain for such cryptic films and B) random, almost nondescript daily events can have an impact on your dreams.

I know this to be true, Happies, because I often have random, sometimes nightmarish dreams that revolve around things I’ve seen or thought that day. Weird, yes? Yes! But then I came across this strange concept called image-rehearsal, which involves visualising your dreams and thoughts before going to sleep in order to alter the outcome of your dreams.

It’s a bit of a strange concept, but with such a strong believe in putting out positive vibes in order to get positive vibes back, it does make sense to me. Surely, if you think happy thoughts all day, your dreams can’t be racked with negative ones. Right? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.

There are three steps to image-rehearsal therapy that are easily practiced from your desk, on the couch or even in the shower.

The first, and perhaps the most important of all is about positive visualisation. Throughout the day, make a point of focusing on the things that make you happy. Like food, holidays or even clothes. The more you fill your mind with these happy influences, the more likely they will creep their way into your dreams at night. Beats the boogieman, I have to say.

The next phase of image-rehearsal therapy is all about turning negatives into positives. If you have a nightmare, or perhaps you have a reoccurring nightmare from a traumatic experience you’ve had, it’s important to reverse that negative into a positive as soon as you wake. How? By visualising a different outcome or changing the script from something scary, to something playful and fun. For example, if you dream of falling down the stairs and someone is chasing you, visualise being in your dream-home, with your dream-man chasing you and sliding down the handrail, instead. See, much more palatable.

The final step in the process involved repeating this positive scenario over and over again. It’s almost like retraining your brain to believe that this is the new version of the dream and that the old one no longer exists. It’s just about breaking habits, thought patterns and beliefs and in order to do so, you need to practice.

In 2001, the journal of the American Medical Association published a study of 168 women, who were split into two groups in order to test this theory. The group who practiced this method of eradicating nightmares came out with a far better result after six months, with fewer nightmares, less severe nightmares if they do have them, and a reduction in both insomnia and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

So, what now? I guess we need to start thinking happy thoughts and your dreams will follow. Either that or the boogieman. I know what I’ll be doing.

Tell me Happies…

Do you suffer nightmares or reoccurring dreams?

What do you do to combat them?

Have you heard of this treatment before?