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The Enchanted Outlook

What is Enchantment?

A few weeks ago, I found myself trying to explain what I write about to someone and failing miserably. (There is a reason I’m a writer, not a speaker.) I realized that part of the confusion was coming from the word, enchantment. What exactly is enchantment? What does it mean to live an enchanted life?

While I’m sure there are a lot of different definitions, I would like to take a moment to explain what enchantment means to me and why it is such an important aspect of personal happiness. In fantasy literature, an enchantment is a spell or bit of magic cast on a person that alters their perspective. The physical reality around the person does not change but the way the person perceives the world around them changes.

You have probably heard it said that true happiness comes from within. When we experience a more enchanted outlook, we aren’t focused on trying to change the world around us or our place in the world. We focus, instead, on changing our own perceptions. It is only through changing our outlook that we can truly learn to be happy.

When we live a more enchanted life, we realize that we always have a choice. We can let our reality control our perceptions, in which case we are at the whim of the moods, the fads, the weather, the push-and-pull of everything around us, to dictate what we want and how we feel. OR, we can let our perceptions control our reality, in which case we are lead by our own inner light, our own contentment, our own spark of happiness. True enchantment is being in touch with our own inner light and letting that deeper truth be the filter through which we choose to participate in the world around us.

(Source: The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, Clute and Grant: Enchantment)

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Four New Things

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I have lately been trying to do four things every single day. These are things that I want to prioritize in my life. They can be big or small; sometimes each thing takes less than five minutes, while other times one item can take a large chunk of my day.

Something to invest in my future: This is something that will allow me to live a better life later. It could be career research, putting money into savings, or learning something new that will be helpful to me down the road. It could be as simple as sending someone an email to ask a career question or as complicated as redoing my entire home filing system.

Something that is laundry: By “laundry,” I mean something that needs to be done in the now and that I will likely have to do again later. This could be something like cleaning out my car, activating that card that’s been sitting on my desk for forever, or, well, laundry. It’s the stuff that tends to pile up of we ignore it to long.

Something to look forward to: I’ve been trying to make every day memorable. Even if it is something simple, like a nice bubble bath, my favorite cookie, or a show on Netflix, I have been trying to be very intentional about making every day count.

Something for someone else: For me, I am usually able to knock this one off the list at work or around the house so I don’t think about it much. However, I thought I would mention it because it is so rewarding to take a little time out of our day to do something for someone else. It can make our day so much more meaningful.

Well, there you have it. Those are my four things. Are there certain things that you aspire to do every day?

 

The Less One Loves

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From Birthdaywishes.expert

Contentment or Growth?

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Today’s post is more question than answer, but it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot this past week. I have sometimes been jokingly told in my life that I’m too content, complacent, even. This is usually related to sensory things like food and clothing, as I’m more of an ideas/imaginative thinker and don’t prioritize concrete, sensory things very much. It’s rare that I don’t appreciate a meal, for instance, so long as it hasn’t gone bad. It’s sustenance and I’m grateful for that. I’ve been grappling lately with when we should want to grow and change and when to practice gratitude and contentment.

Some choices are clear with this. I think that situations that involve harm to others or any kind of immorality require growth and change. In contrast, I think that, when it comes to living an overly-consumerist lifestyle and in situations where we are always looking outward for the “next fix”, we might do well to practice more contentment and be more grateful for what we already have.

So I guess my question is, if you could pick one way to live your life, would it be a life of growth and change, or a life of contentment and gratitude? Why? Or, do you have a way that combines both growth and contentment?

You Are Good Enough

Shared from Quotes ‘nd Notes 

Why I Don’t Depend on Concrete Goals

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There have been many times in my life when I wasn’t sure “how far” I wanted to take something. This has especially been the case with things that are a challenge. Blogging is a perfect example. I would love nothing more than to sit around blogging all day every day. The fact is I’m just not there yet. I don’t have the knowledge, the time, or the means to make that happen… yet.

Still, I get a lot of enjoyment from working on my blogging skills. I like honing the craft. I read blogs about blogging. I try new things. I enjoy thinking up new topics to write about. I take feedback seriously.

It can be very comforting to have a defined goal in life, to know exactly what we want to do and where we want to go. However, when that goal doesn’t work out, it’s tough. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of what we want. Personally, I prefer to look at every day as an opportunity for growth. I have been trying to be open to different options in life, because you just never know when something will come along that is the perfect opportunity.

This isn’t to say to not ever have goals, but rather to be flexible and to enjoy the journey. If we learned something new today or we got a little farther along in the direction we wanted to go than we were yesterday, well, isn’t that success? If we tried our hardest, failed, and decided to find another door that was open for us, well, isn’t that a success, too? To me, success is being able to stand back up and try again, or to move just a little bit farther, having faith that we are right where we need to be at that moment.

Was there ever a time when you had a failure that ultimately resulted in a success?

 

 

Fairy Tale Forest

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I shared this on Facebook but wanted to share it here as well. Be sure to check out these stunning photos of a “fairy tale forest” from National Geographic. They are enchanting and just so beautiful! The artist is Ellie Davies:

Inside a Real-Life Fairy Tale Forest

Is Wellness “Alternative Medicine?” (Wellness Spells Series)

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I’ll admit, nothing quite grinds my gears like a conversation about alternative medicine. I think this is largely because I usually take a middle line between extreme approaches to the subject and… people don’t like that. So I get grief from both sides. In fact, I’ve gotten to a place where I generally avoid conversations about alternative medicine altogether. I guess we all have our Achilles heel; alternative medicine conversations seem to be mine. But what better reason to talk about it, right?

First off, what is alternative medicine? I think this is part of the discrepancy, at least for me, as I seem to run into two very different definitions online:

The first definition is any medicine that has not been scientifically proven to be effective, or has been scientifically disproved.

The second definition is any medicine that is not considered part of mainstream medicine.

Here, I think, is where the issues begin. I’ve heard it said so many times: “Alternative medicine that is scientifically proven is just medicine.” That’s all good and well, but where do wellness practices that have been scientifically-proven to be effective, yet are not incorporated into “mainstream” medicine fall?

To give just a few examples:

  • Meditation has been found to reduce anxiety.
  • Yoga has physical and mental health benefits.
  • There are a number of natural herbs and remedies that have been effective for literally thousands of years against various ailments.
  • And let’s not forget the importance of a plant-based diet in terms of our health.

Sure, in fairness, there are plenty of alternative practices that have not been scientifically proven or have even been disproved, and are being marketed by naive-but-well-intended salespeople at best and snake oil salesmen at worst. Who wants to fork over tons of money for a “remedy” that doesn’t work or is even harmful to us? Then there are herbal supplements that are largely unregulated. Certainly it makes sense to avoid those and stick to traditional medicine, then, right?

Here’s the problem with that plan, though. Traditional Western medicine tends to be illness-focused. It’s primary goal, at least as it plays out in the healthcare system, is the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses.

Traditional Western medicine tends NOT to be wellness-focused. There is not a strong focus on prevention, or on improving our wellness, or on looking at the body as a holistic system, at least not in practice.

If you are like me, most of your doctors visits follow this trend:

Symptoms>Diagnosis>Medication

I can count on one hand the number of times I was asked about my diet, or asked about the stress of my lifestyle, or if I rested when I felt ill, or really had any treatments or practices recommended to me other than medication. It’s happened, but it’s been rare.

If we are always only focusing on illness, we are essentially playing a game of wack-a-mole with our health, beating down diseases when they arise, but not looking at the full picture of what we can do to be truly healthy.

Now, I will point out that this varies significantly depending on what part of the world, or even what part of the US, you live in. I live in the American South, so I can only speak to my own experience. I have had others in different parts of the world say their experience is completely different. If you do live in an area that incorporates lots of wellness practices, great! I think -or hope- we will all be headed in that direction eventually.

This isn’t to blame doctors, or other healthcare professionals, either. I think there are several reasons for this mindset. For one thing, it’s the way we have always viewed and practiced health. It’s hard to change an ingrained system attached to a trillion-dollar industry. For another, healthcare is expensive for patients. We often don’t go to the doctor unless we have tried several home remedies ourselves, if even then. For another, there are lifestyle issues. I can’t hold American doctors responsible for the American diet when many of them fight so hard to oppose it, and we as patients don’t always take the time to ask questions about our wellness. And then there are just legal issues, like needing a diagnosis for insurance reasons or having limited time to spend with each patient.

One top of that, some of us received more quality health education in schools than others. Some of us live in food deserts where we don’t have access to healthy food. Then the surge of issues like heart disease and diabetes can be so overwhelming that a wellness focus may seem like a distant dream. And we are all inundated every day with ads and commercials for unhealthy food. So, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

On the flip side of the illness-focused industry are those who have jumped on the wellness bandwagon and have become opposed to traditional medicine altogether. Let’s be clear: medication is not bad; far from it. Many medications, like insulin, are essential in keeping people alive. Vaccinations prevent the spread of deadly diseases. Anxiety medication can curb severe chronic disorders. I would never, ever, advocate not following a medical professional’s advice, especially with regards to life-saving medication. Furthermore, it isn’t helpful to deny legitimate scientific findings, whether they support the evidence of traditional medicine or more alternative methods.

The “wellness bandwagon” can become especially problematic when it comes to mental illness. Yes, diet, exercise, and sleep have a positive impact on mental health. However, there is often an impression that if a person with severe depression would “just exercise” they would feel better. Here’s my tip: if you wouldn’t suggest something to someone with a life-threatening physical illness, please don’t suggest it to someone with a mental illness. That person with severe depression may need their antidepressants to live just as much as a cancer patient needs chemotherapy. In the quest towards holistic medicine, persons with mental illnesses seem to be the first to be demonized. It’s important to trust that those persons with mental illness have worked through a treatment plan with their doctors, just as we would for someone with a physical illness.

Ultimately, I think what we need is to move away from the term “alternative medicine” with regards to scientifically-proven wellness practices and to use terms like holistic medicine, preventative medicine, and complementary medicine. In that way, we can distinguish between valid, but underused, practices and those which truly have no scientific validity. From there, we can begin to address our bodies as holistic systems that might need a combination of diet, exercise, meditation and other wellness practices, and sometimes traditional medications as well in order to optimally function.

So, a few tips:

  • Consider finding an accredited, holistic medical practitioner who is willing to discuss the wellness of your body as a whole, including diet and potentially non-traditional practices like meditation or home remedies. Or, if your traditional family doctor doesn’t bring it up on their own, express an interest. Who knows? They may be thrilled that you are trying to be proactive about your health.
  • If you use a wellness method, consider doing some research on your own to check the scientific validity or your practice. Some practices, like acupuncture, or massage, have produced some limited results but may or may not be helpful in treating your particular ailment.
  • Consider the cultural history of your wellness practice. “Exotic” does not automatically equate to more effective and in turn may be disrespectful to other cultures. On the flip side, be aware of how making fun of other cultural practices may come across to those within that culture. For more on this, check out my post on Elitism and Wellness. 
  • Don’t shell out tons of money for something that promises to be a miracle cure. You will get much better results from good sleep, moderate exercise, and eating a largely plant-based diet.
  • Don’t quit taking any medication, especially life-saving medication, because of alternative medicine. Don’t avoid important preventative practices like vaccinations. Discuss any concerns about this with your doctor. If you have a wellness practice that is helpful to you and you have a serious illness, it may be that you can incorporate your practice with your traditional medication for a more holistic approach.
  • Don’t judge or blame others who need traditional medication to live or to have a good quality of life. This is especially important for “invisible” illnesses such as depression or chronic pain.

Today’s Wellness Spell is:

Be your own advocate.

By this I mean, take your health into your own hands. Do the research and check your sources carefully. Look at the original studies. Come to your doctor’s with a list of questions. Put in the work needed to make your body healthy. Don’t turn away from a truth about health simply because it makes you uncomfortable, whether about traditional or less traditional practices. Recognize that your body is a system and treat it as such.

Any additional thoughts that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below.

C.S. Lewis quote

The Power of Failure

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This week I am intending to fail at something. By this I don’t mean that I will purposefully try not to succeed. Rather, I mean that I will purposefully go out of my comfort zone. When we are afraid of failure, we tend to remain stagnant. By embracing failure as the occasional inevitability, we can push ourselves as human beings to the very edge of our capacity.

When we fail, and the world still turns, and our lives keep going, and our friends and family are still by our side, we realize a fundamental truth: nothing we strive for is as pressingly important in the big scheme of things as we try to make it seem. All we can really hope to do is strive to be the best that we can be.

Think of your favorite heroes in your favorite books, or in real life. What makes them human is not their successes, but their failures. We don’t admire our heroes because they kept succeeding. We admire them because they fell and got back up again. To me, there is nothing more brave than being willing to fail. This means facing our own inadequacies head on, embracing our own imperfections, embracing our very greatest fears and yet being willing to grow past them and fight for the life we want, even when it is difficult to do so.

Is there something you can do this week that you will fail at? What will this teach you?

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