A New Approach

Since my early adulthood I have studied metaphysics and philosophy, and it has provided me with the strength to get over hurdles and to enjoy my life, no matter what. As to one of my complications, I have been struggling with cancer for over 15 years, and knowing that there was no cure, but only the progression of the disease, I could have fallen into depression and hopelessness. But I always found light along the way, met the right people, and felt that this unexpected hurdle was helping me to grow and become spiritually stronger. In other words, my studies of metaphysics and philosophy helped me live a happy and fulfilling life. 

My medical treatment is one of my blessings, for which I am deeply grateful. My oncologist, who also is a student of metaphysics and with whom I sometimes exchange thoughts and insights, mentioned a few weeks ago, that he thought I was a stoic. He gave me a link, and I started looking into it. Of course, I knew the general meaning of being stoic, but I went deeper into researching stoicism and found a lot of similarities with my mindset. I realized that my approach to dying is one of my beliefs which lead my doctor to his opinion, as well as how I handle decisions in general.

I am very grateful that he opened this philosophical approach to me, showing me that I can dwell deeper and find more peace despite my illness. Although I seem to be a natural stoic, there is much to learn, and I am looking forward to it. I know it will be beneficial for me, and I see complete harmony with my other spiritual beliefs. It shows that we can always learn, as long as we are open and willing. I am only at the beginning of this new journey but wanted to share this discovery. Here are a few fundamentals on how to live like a stoic:

  • Live as if you died but were resuscitated, and every minute is a gift.
  • Every person you meet is an opportunity for kindness.
  • Be forgiving of others.
  • Try to hold as few opinions as possible.
  • Always consider the worst-case scenario.
  • Keep a list of what you’ve learned from other people (and remember to thank them often).If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.

Life is what we make it, and there is never a reason to give up or to be disillusioned. No matter where we stand in our life’s journey, there is beauty and love.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

 

Hugging

 

Coming out of a culture where hugging wasn’t commonplace, I had to learn to be comfortable with people frequently hugging and kissing when I moved to Belgium. But it didn’t take long before I enjoyed and loved this gracious and meaningful gesture, and I rapidly integrated it into my life. The amusing part was that when I visited my friends in Germany, they had a startled look on their faces when I hugged them and gave them three kisses. I hoped it brought them as much joy as it did for me.

Hugging has many positive aspects and is considered good medicine. Scientific research has shown that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight for maintenance, and twelve for growth. Hugs also allow us to communicate with others when we don’t know how to express our feelings in words. And the best part is that we usually cannot give a hug without receiving one in return.

What do I feel when someone hugs me? I feel accepted and loved, a warm feeling of gratitude flows through me, and I put my whole being into my response hug. When I have the privilege to hug someone, I am grateful and wish the person much joy and happiness. And sometimes, yes, I can communicate my feelings better with a hug than with words. Our little Romeo, our loving and sweet Yorkie, is smothered in hugs and thriving. Yes, hugs are therapeutic; so dispense them freely!

Why does being hugged and giving a hug feel so good, and why do hugs make us feel happier? Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, a hormone released by the pituitary gland, which heals feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger. Oxytocin is a chemical in our bodies that scientists sometimes call the “cuddle hormone.” It causes a reduction in blood pressure and of the stress hormone norepinephrine. In simple words: Hugging makes us feel better.

I know that the scarceness of hugging in my childhood was not because I wasn’t loved. I was. After meditating on this subject, I came to the conclusion that it was part of the culture and influenced by the consequences of two world wars. My mother was loving, but she had a difficult time expressing it. She lost her mother when she was 10, lived through WWI as a child, then WWII as a young wife, giving birth to a baby daughter and a son, but losing the son because of a lack of medication caused by the war. Then I came along, but shortly afterward, she lost her husband, my father. So, she struggled as a single working mother with two young children, and although she was loving and nurturing, hugging was not a priority – surviving was.

I am grateful that I was exposed in my early adult years to lots of hugging and kissing. I quickly learned to love it and have carried it through my whole adult life. One can never get too many hugs. If you haven’t hugged someone lately, try it and pay attention to how it makes you feel. Not only will it bring happiness to you, but it will also bring joy to the one you hugged.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Founder and Author of NotJustCooking.com

Another Lesson Learned

Another Lesson Learned

When I lost my mother at the age of 17, and consequently my life turned upside down, one of the pillars I hung on to was Christmas Eve, my mother’s birthday. I felt closest to her on that day, and I celebrated her as my mother, and later in my life as a special woman. It helped me navigate through the hurtful times of family harshness and indifference. My mother was religious, and I honored her with a church visit and the burning of a candle.

After our marriage, Steve adopted this personal tradition so that we could celebrate together.  It became a cherished Christmas Eve activity for us. It was the highlight of the evening, and we loved it.

We were looking forward to our traditional Christmas Eve, and I invited a dear friend to join us. In my heart I was ready to stand under the tree in the church courtyard to decorate an ornament for my mother, and to travel in my mind to times when she was still with me. However, it wasn’t meant to be this year.

The day before Christmas Eve, I learned I needed an emergency blood transfusion. Oh no, what about my tradition with my mother? We drove to the Mayo Clinic on the 23rd, stayed overnight, and I spent the next day in the Mayo Clinic getting a transfusion. My heart was heavy, and I felt sad and beaten down. The nurses were all loving and caring, but I was miserable and felt a deep and painful loss, a missed opportunity. And then it hit me. My sadness was only caused by my ego and long-lived habits and traditions. It had nothing to do with feeling close to my mother and celebrating her. I realized that I could have the same experience lying in my hospital bed. And I did. I sent my mother an ornament decorated in my mind, and I spent some time with her and my memories. It was an uplifting experience and a valuable lesson for me. Don’t attach yourself too tightly to traditions and habits. They are lovely to maintain and to keep in one’s life, as long as we allow ourselves to be flexible, to appreciate when they can happen, and to be in peace when we have to adapt to circumstances. This is the time to let our creativity soar.

I felt happy when we drove home, and when my Christmas Eve dinner was a slice of pizza at a Circle K on the road, I was able to smile and to enjoy it. I remembered the Christmas Eves of my childhood when we had so little, but never lacked for anything. Indeed, that pizza was delicious!

The rest of Christmas went as planned. We enjoyed a delightful dinner with friends on Christmas Day, and I felt blessed and grateful. Life is what we make it. We can fall into a dark hole following a disappointment, stay there, and feel sorry for ourselves.  Or we climb out of it and enjoy the moment. No one should feel they have to remain in a dark place, we live in a world of light, and it is our birthright to enjoy it. Sometimes one needs a reminder, a shakeup in my case, that circumstances can change, but that we remain who we are and have decided to be. Our capacity to love is unlimited.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

 

Affirmations


Positive and meaningful affirmations are potent, and they can be life-changing. When you use them regularly, you will feel the shift bringing you closer to the desired results. Tailor them to your life and dreams, and they are personal and unlimited. They can address all areas of your life, for example, health, relationships, professional career, and wherever you would like to effect change. Put the affirmations into your own words, feel them, and repeat them as often as you wish.

I have used affirmations for many years and have adapted them to changes in my life. At this time, I mostly aspire to simplicity in my spiritual approach and my daily life. How do I do this? I use the following affirmation as frequently as I can. Stressful situations calm down quickly when one repeats an affirmation and breathes deeply.

One of the affirmations I like to use is the following:

“I am living a life filled with love, compassion, empathy, joy, and laughter.”

A life without love would be sad and unfulfilling. Being loved and loving others is uplifting and brings us harmony. It fulfills deep needs within us and is the basis for other beneficial feelings.

Compassion, feeling concern for the suffering of others, should not be confused with pity. Compassion is born out of the feeling of love, and you can imagine it as offering a helping hand or a supporting shoulder, bringing strength and comfort.

Empathy is the ability to understand and listen to others and to feel their need. Without love, one cannot feel empathy. Empathy doesn’t mean we tell others what to do, because we think we know what they need, but instead, we listen with the heart and find the right word to bring comfort. Imagine it as gently stroking the back of a friend, caring but not overbearing.

Joy speaks for itself. It is different for everyone, but it is uplifting and cheerful. We can only feel joy when we are loving and caring. Joy comes from a happy heart.

Laughter makes us happy; it lifts us, and we feel joyful. It is said that laughter is the best medicine, and there is some truth to it. It is also contagious and used therapeutically in “laughter yoga.”

Try to compose your affirmations, in your words, in the present tense and clearly outlining what you would like to achieve. Repeat them regularly. The mind is a powerful tool; take advantage of it.

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of NotJustCooking.com

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

 

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