Success and Happiness

Many people measure success according to how much money they have or how high they have climbed on their professional and social ladder. But in reality, real success is how happy we are. We like to be successful, but when it is not accompanied by happiness, success can leave an empty and fleeting feeling, and we cannot enjoy our achievements. We all have read stories of actors, singers, or lotto winners, for example, who couldn’t cope with their newfound wealth. Although they were able to satisfy virtually any material wish, they were unable to enjoy their abundance.

“Very little is needed to make a happy life;
It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking”.

Marcus Aurelius Antonius

As outlined in the quote above, true happiness comes from within, no one can give it to you, and you cannot buy it. But happiness is available to everyone without discrimination, as long as we believe in ourselves and are willing to take the necessary steps lined out below. By improving our thinking, we open the gates to a happier life.

Yes, it is that simple, but is it easy? Everyone can find happiness within; it all depends on motivation and desire. To change one’s way of thinking requires practice and determination, it doesn’t happen overnight, and we have to be patient with ourselves. Wanting to replace unwanted thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, criticism, and judgments, etc., is the first step, and then comes the second step: “How can we replace those troublesome thoughts?” A positive affirmation or mantra tailored to our specific needs and desires is an effective way to calm the mind and allow pleasant thoughts. Meditation may give us the peace of mind required to replace our disturbing thoughts with positive ones gently. We can also use memories of pleasant and enjoyable experiences. I use affirmations often, and they work well and rapidly for me. I like to feel happy and at peace, but my health challenges sometimes generate dark clouds that roll in and obscure my mind. Repeating my affirmations make the clouds disburse, and the sky becomes bright again. At this time of my life, success and happiness translate being in peace. I no longer have material aspirations having left those behind when my life became finite.

You might want to explore what success means to you. Success is a personal goal, and it is an exciting road to travel. There is no right or wrong, and only your aspirations will guide your journey. Allowing the happiness within to be part of this journey will bring harmony and full enjoyment.

Finding happiness is the most significant success one can find, and it allows us to enjoy one’s life to the fullest. Traveling in the fast lane can be lots of fun, as long as we don’t lose happiness along the way. With happiness planted solidly within, we can fly as high as we want and appreciate life and what it has to offer at the same time.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Inspiration

Many sources of inspiration surround us, and they can touch us as long as we are open and receptive. Many things can be inspirational: people, books, pictures, quotes, movies, dreams, or you might have a brilliant idea stimulating you to reach new heights. I have been inspired many times, bringing me to who I am. Some shaped my professional life, others motivated me to pursue certain spiritual studies, and others gave me the desire to emigrate twice in my life. Here is a straightforward inspiration, which has lasted for over 45 years and which I still enjoy every day.

One of my friends in Brussels had a little Yorkie, and I was madly in love with this sweetie. She called her Shahbanu, meaning “Empress Consort of Iran.” This little girl was the inspiration for my first Yorkie, followed by three other girls and the little boy now living with us. My love for Yorkies was born many years ago in Brussels, and it has never dimmed. I had the inspiration, but I had to make practical arrangements to allow it to blossom. The apartment I lived in didn’t allow pets. I canceled my lease and moved into a pet-friendly one. I never had a dog, and of course, we didn’t have Google or other search engines at that time. I tried to educate myself by talking with people, but looking back, I don’t think I was very knowledgeable. Still, I knew enough to make Sunny safe and to raise a happy puppy. I cannot imagine not following that inspiration. My life wouldn’t have been the same, and I would have missed out on so much.  

Keep an open mind and heart, so you can become inspired, and never get discouraged if some inspirations do not thrive. Just being inspired is a blessing in itself, and it keeps you young and connected to life. When the impulse is strong enough and touches you deeply, you don’t mind making the necessary adjustments and putting in the work that allows it to grow. Be grateful for the opportunity. I do not spend much energy on inspirations which die on the vine. I enjoy them as long as they last, and then when they get weak and lifeless, I let them go without regrets, knowing that others will pique my interest. I remind myself that some will live, and some won’t. 

Have the courage to explore an inspiration when it presents itself. It might hold a unique opportunity you are looking for. Should you decide not to pursue the inspiration any further, remember that you are wiser because of it and that you are ready for the next one. There is an endless ocean of inspirations. It is up to you to find the one you would like to explore.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

 

Life Cycle

Becoming a senior or struggling with health doesn’t only mean that we have less energy, but because of it, our priorities and how we look at things change as well. We might think that our lives are less fulfilling, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have more free time and can focus on relationships and relaxing activities. A phone call, email or text from a dear friend or loved one brightens the day, a simple dinner with some candlelight lifts our hearts, and a good book is always a faithful companion. Playing with grandchildren and our pets bring pure joy and spending time with loved ones, and dear friends are rewarding. Enjoying this new segment of our life is a gift. Gone are the big parties, exotic trips, and special dinners, and they didn’t leave regrets or nostalgic feelings, but fond memories.  I enjoyed them as long as I could, and then, one day, when entering the sunset of my life, I had to step back and regroup if I wanted to enjoy this last part of my life journey.

The cycle or circle of life starts with our birth, and it comes to a close with our sunset years. The last segment of this journey might come sooner than anticipated, like in my case. No matter when or how, it always requires change, adaptation, and our willingness to live a meaningful life in the remaining time. Having the opportunity to close the circle gently is a blessing. We can focus on the opportunities in front of us, enjoy them to the fullest, and bless every day. My morning walks with a dear friend bring me lots of happiness, and I am so grateful that I can still enjoy friendship and exercise. I also had to accept that hosting big dinner parties had to become a memory because of my lack of energy.  I always loved to cook and still do, but now I prepare simple meals focused on great nutrition. My love for cooking hasn’t changed; just my approach to it. I apply this to all activities I have to give up or adept, and I do it with an open mind and heart. I am still the same, and the only things changed are my rhythm and energy.

There are so many small things packed into every day starting when you open your eyes in the morning. Be mindful when you savor your first cup of coffee and open your heart so you can listen to the birds singing their morning songs. Go within and feel the blessing of another day.  Be kind to yourself. Don’t regret what has passed, but be grateful for all that is. You might have enjoyed the thrill of high-speed trains and jumbo jets, but traveling in a horse-drawn carriage has its charm as well!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustcooking.com

 

It is Your Choice

I can still hear my mother saying: “You need an attitude adjustment, dear,” and I realized already then, in my younger years, that my attitude was my choice, and that I was in control.

Our attitude is up to us, no matter what is happening. We can decide to be optimistic and handle things as they come along to the best of our capabilities, or we can choose to be a victim and feel sorry for ourselves.

We are often confronted with having to make difficult decisions concerning relationships, challenges in our professional lives, heartbreaking illness or addictions in our inner circle, to point out a few, and last but not least our own personal struggles.

I recently posted on a medical social media site and received comments that my attitude was remarkable and unusual, considering my late stage Myelofibrosis. This reaction inspired me to write this blog and share how I maintain my positive outlook.

It took some inner work after I received my medical diagnosis years ago. I was stunned and shocked. I had to dig deep within me to find the strength to cope. My metaphysical studies helped me tremendously, and I was grateful for this tool in my toolbox.

Attitude is our choice, and ours alone. No one can make that decision for you. When we realize this truth, we have successfully taken the first step. And then we have to accept that our thoughts define our attitude and that we are in control. We can let the monkey brain create havoc, or we can focus on positive feelings, which will then become the basis for our positive attitude. Now you have completed the second step. The third step is to breathe deeply and to find peace and quietness within. Fill your heart with gratitude and let it flow throughout your body. Yes, there is always something to be grateful for. When I received the estimate of my life expectancy earlier this year, which was shorter than I had anticipated, I was able to focus my gratitude on the exciting life I have lived, the many places in the world I was privileged to visit, my loving husband supporting me with kindness and love, my caring friends, our sweet little Yorkie Romeo, and the list goes on. Anything else was not an option for me. I didn’t focus on what I will be missing or how I was cheated out of a long life. When I am asked how I can maintain my positive attitude, my spontaneous internal reaction is “how could I afford not to”? Being positive allows me to enjoy my remaining life. The other choice would mean lots of sadness and depression.

There are many circumstances in our lives, calling for a decision on how to best handle them. Worrying excessively and/or falling into a black hole doesn’t cause things to improve, on the contrary. But going through the three-step approach outlined above will allow you to keep a smile on your face, gratitude in your heart, and the possibility of maintaining a positive attitude.

I hope this will help. It has been my lifeline and still is.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

Furry Blessings

Five little Yorkies have made my life special for over 40 years. I am so grateful that they decided to live with me, and now I enjoy my every moment with Romeo, the fifth sweetie.

I didn’t grow up with a pet because my mother couldn’t afford the additional cost. Postwar Germany was not easy, and she had her hands full to feed the three of us. So, I adopted our neighbor’s kittens, when possible, put them in my baby carriage with little bonnets on their heads, and proudly walked around with them. They must have felt my love because they stayed in the carriage and didn’t jump out.

Life went on, and when I lived in Brussels, I decided to get my first dog, a little Yorkie girl. I named her Sunny, and she became the sunshine of my life. She was tiny, full of personality, and I loved her deeply. It was a new experience, and we both learned together. I took her everywhere, and she participated in my yoga seminars, spiritual workshops, and traveled with me when possible. We emigrated to the States together and she adapted quickly to the different and more restrictive lifestyle, as well as to her new daddy, who adored her.

Sunny was followed by two Yorkie puppies, Gigi and Bijou. Traveling with pets was complicated in the US, and I always felt something was missing during my extensive travel years, not having my two sweeties with me. They were so adorable and brought lots of joy and love into our lives.

Mignonne was number four, a little girl again, and she conquered our heart the first time we saw her. She was such a sweet and loving little dog, and she made a big difference in Steve’s recovery from a heart attack and open-heart surgery.

Now we enjoy life with Romeo, our first boy, and it is a new experience. There is a difference between a girl and a boy, but then it is only logical! I tried to educate myself but wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming love this little boy shows us. All our puppies were loving, but Romeo is one of a kind. We named him when he was six weeks old and still living with the breeder. And he lives up to his name. He is a blessing, and I am so grateful that he decided to live with us. He fills the final stretch of my life journey with joy, love, happiness, and lots of laughter. I cannot thank him enough.

Living with a dog has taught me the meaning of unconditional love and to keep an open heart and mind. They do not need to get even or hold grudges. I am a better person for having spent over four decades with these incredible, noble creatures. I wouldn’t change it for anything, and I know I would have missed so much if I wouldn’t have had the courage to move out of my apartment in Brussels which didn’t allow pets, and move into another one just so I could welcome my first Yorkie. Dogs bring so much love and joy, and I bless every day I have the privilege to be with onr.

Thank you, my four little furry angels, and my loving boy Romeo. I wouldn’t be who I am without you!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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