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POSITIVE, WISE & LOVING LIFE

Why self-compassion makes it easier to lose weight

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How can you be happy with your own body in an environment of perfection? Self-compassion is the answer, according to Buddhist and professor of psychology Kristin Neff: the ability to be kind and mild to yourself.

Does self-compassion start with the realization that we are all imperfect?

“The misconception is that ‘normal’ is the same thing as ‘perfect’. If there is something about us that we don’t like, something that’s not beautiful, we usually compare it to our image of what is normal. And that means: healthy, fit, slim, beautiful. Consciously or unconsciously, we believe that we are abnormal when something is wrong in that department. It is this feeling that makes you feel isolated and separate from others. It aggravates the discomfort you already feel because you don’t feel good about yourself.

Self-compassion is good for you in many ways. It’s good for your self-image and for the way you deal with your body. People with self-compassion look after themselves better, they exercise more and eat better. As it turns out, self-compassion has a positive effect on all sorts of neurological systems in the body, such as the production of oxytocin, also called the love hormone, the one that makes you feel good. It also helps alleviate chronic pain. A recent study showed that even the immune system shows a positive reaction to self-compassion.”

[…]

If you think you’re fat, for example, does self-compassion begin with acknowledging that it bothers you?

“Yes, that’s the start. Struggling against unwanted feelings only makes them stronger. But self-compassion is also about relieving unwanted feelings, so that takes it one step further than merely acknowledging them. It’s a strong need to look after yourself and to do what you can to alleviate your discomfort. Suppose you really are overweight, then you literally make life heavier for yourself.

Through self-compassion, you will do everything you can to become healthier and to lose weight, so you’ll be less of an impediment to yourself. Instead of telling yourself: ‘I am so fat, I am useless, I really must use weight…’ you say to yourself: ‘I would like to lose weight, because now I am not healthy, and I want to do something good for myself.’

It makes the motivation to change stronger: a sense of caring about yourself makes losing weight a greater success than when you scold yourself. You are less worried about failing and you will last longer. In other words, it’s a mistake to think that self-compassion means sitting back and not working on yourself anymore.” 

Text: Lisette Thooft - Photo: Jared Weiss

Want to know more about the effects of self-compassion? You can find the whole interview in Happi.Body. Check out our store finder, or order your copy here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 ways to live your life filled with wonder

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Living from a beginner’s mind is the main component of wisdom, according to Zen Buddhism. Because a beginner’s mind is an open mind: in the beginner's mind, everything is possible. How can you teach yourself to be a beginner again?

Stop going, start flowing

Having a beginner’s mind is not something you do, but something you allow. Today, crank down your drive a notch and relax. Sit back and let the abundance of the world flow in.

Do things differently

Lie in bed upside down, go see whatever movie is on at the cinema, spontaneously jump on the swing in the playground: it works.

Gentle power

Be curious today about everything that happens in your life, whether it is bitter or sweet. Wholesomeness and brokenness go hand in hand in our bittersweet life. Both will enhance the beginner’s mind: brokenness makes you gentle and wholesomeness makes you strong.

Turn poison into medicine

There are many stories in the Buddhist tradition in which poison is turned into medicine, weeds turn out tob e fertile compost, and arrows change into flowers. Learn tor egard setbacks as opportunities rather than obstacles. That traffic jam and the noisy neighbor are not merely annoying, they are also invitations for compassion.

The R-word

You may be right until you’re blue in the face, but you’d be miserably stuck in that rut. Today, choose compassion over being right.  

Text: Geertje Couwenbergh - Photo: Coley Christine

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Lighter living is easier than you think

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There are a thousand reasons not to make your dreams come true, but you only need one good reason to do it.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I was burning out. Everything I did went so laboriously, I was incredibly tired and couldn’t write anymore and my 26 children (there’s four of them, but it felt like 26) were so active and my boyfriend was away a lot, and then I read about a TV host being burnt-out and I thought: that’s me.

But it turned out OK. I deleted all social apps from my phone and turned off e-mail. I went to bed a bit earlier, ran and practiced yoga and read books, and all of that helped. And I worked less hard. Then it became spring, which also helped a lot.

But something else happened.

Happinez magazine asked me to interview modern hippies, people who live their life a bit differently. People who –that was the main similarity between their stories – make their dreams come true. I had to drag myself to the interviews, but as soon as I met the interviewees, everything changed.

Even though they all live different lives and have different dreams, they all believed in a life lived lightly. A life in which everything is possible. Or maybe not everything, but much more than we think. And a life that will co-operate with you, if you follow your dreams, no matter which path you choose. It was idealistic, you might call it naïve. But it made me feel better.

My boyfriend and I once conceived the idea of making a big trip together with the children, in a camping van. Lately, the dream had been sidelined. Everyone said it was impossible. Because how would we do that, with the children? With work? Money? Our house? Everything? For every adventurous step you want to take, you can come up with at least a thousand reasons not to do it. But after doing these interviews, I realized again. There may be a thousand reasons not to do something, but you only need one good reason to do it. And then it might be possible.

We bought the camping van.

Text: Pauline Bijster - Photo: Biel Morro

 

Why a personal crisis can be an opportunity for growth

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A personal crisis taught American author Elizabeth Lesser that love is an active choice. Be the love you want to see in the world, she says. And accept every person's individuality. 

A few years ago, a crisis presented itself in Elizabeth Lesser's life. Her sister Maggie's rare form of cancer came back after a seven-year remission. The only thing that could possibly save her was a stem cell transplant. And of Maggie's three sisters, Elizabeth turned out to be the most suitable donor, from a medical point of view, that is, because the two had pretty much grown apart emotionally. Apparently, it was time for a period of growth. Afterwards, Elizabeth described the events in her wise, moving, and often humorous book Marrow: A Love Story.  

Why are personal crises so useful?

"Wonderful times can be just as useful, you know," Elizabeth laughs. "It's not like the more misery you encounter, the wiser you get. But you might see a crisis - something that ruins your sense of security and brings unwanted change - as a kind of wake-up call. It's an opportunity to discover your own hidden strength and become more yourself that way. It's a choice. If you want to make use of a crisis, don't fight it. That's usually counterproductive anyway. When times are rough, try to realize that it's all part of life and that it happens to all of us. And try to figure out how you can benefit from it." 

When did you realize that your sister's illness might be a "useful" crisis?

"Maggie was dying. She didn't stand a chance unless she could have a bone marrow transplant real soon. The tests showed that I was the perfect donor: we had a 100% match, which is rare. I read all the information and it turned out a  transplant like that is not without risk. My cells could attack hers, her cells might reject mine; in either case Maggie would die. 

It struck me as an interesting metaphor, because attack and rejection were very characteristic of our relationship, besides the sisterly love. We had been each other's competitors, we hadn't always made room for each other, we had been unkind. What if we went back in time, explained ourselves, and apologized for the mistakes we'd made? It might take us to that open space which the Persian poet Rumi wrote about: 'Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there.'

It seemed to me the perfect preparation for the moment that my cells would be going into her body. Having this talk might even increase the chance of success, because our mental states play a big role too. Maggie was up for it. She tried every available method because her life was at stake; she got chemotherapy, she prepared for a bone marrow transplant. Why not try this too? We set up an appointment with a psychotherapist she knew and started with what we came to call our soul marrow transplant. We were able to heal the wounds from the past by offering our true selves to each other." 

Text: Liddie Austin - Photo: José Alfredo Lerma Contreras

You can find the whole interview with Elizabeth Lesser in Happinez 'Find your Balance'. 

 

This is how you'll realise your deepest desires

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A warning: once you've read this article, nothing will stop you anymore. No time? No money? No energy? It's time to liberate yourself from these restrictive notions.

"I don't have the energy" 

The tiredness excuse is often used to stay stuck in old habits. Sadly, you don't have the energy to exercise in the evening or to cook a lovely meal, although you'd really like to. You're too tired to transform your garden into the small paradise that would make you so happy. Being convinced that you have no energy can very quickly turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more energy you put into thinking about your tiredness, the more tired you will feel. Usually the energy will start flowing automatically once you simply get to work. It's important to combat the tiredness virus with stimulating thoughts. The first step is to focus your attention on the thing you want to create instead of on what (you think) you can't do and haven't done yet. 

Change "I don't have the energy" into: "I live my life with passion and this passion fills me with energy." 

"It's just who I am" 

It's true that your past has made you into who you are now. Nevertheless it's an excuse if you keep using your childhood or your family genes to explain why you're not living your life to the fullest. If you can't elevate your thoughts about the past, you'll get stuck in them and you won't make your life into what it could be. Everything that happened is part of the past. Make your peace with whatever happened in your life, no matter how painful these experiences may have been, and decide not to let them hold you back any longer. That was then, you are now living in the present. 

"It's just who I am" becomes: "I live in the now, I can decide right now who I want to be and act accordingly." 

"I can't do it" 

What a pity if you don't realise your dreams ecause you are afraid that it will be too hard! You feel you're not good enough for that great job, not talented enough to paint, not strong enough to start a small hotel in France. This kind of fear paralyses many people. They would rather cherish the dream their whole lives than take the risk of seeing it fall apart. But what could possibly go wrong if you do what you wish to do the most? Research has shown that people who followed their hearts hardly ever regret doing the things they did, regardless of the degree of success. Most people mainly regret the things they have not done.

Change "I can't do it" into: "If I follow my heart, I can't go wrong." 

Photo: Averie Woodard

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How to find yourself again after a long relationship

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Just experienced a breakup? You haven’t lost anything, Susan Smit can tell you from experience. On the contrary. You'll be surprised how much you will retrieve.

Maybe you’ve been through it, just like me. Someone ended the relationship. And maybe, after the break up, you realized how this person had been disengaging for a while - in baby steps. You probably didn’t want to feel it at the time, but you noticed all of it. Every formal hug. Every dutiful ‘I love you’. Every strayed look. Every routine kiss. Every dull goodbye. Every soulless lovemaking. All of it.

Because you sense every imbalance in your relationship, you’re not mad. If a heart that is so important to you, remains locked to you more and more often, you notice. It feels as if you’re delightedly standing on their doorstep with a package, but the mailbox is nailed up. There you are, strolling with your package, going home eventually, planning on trying again tomorrow. 

On your toes 

You've worked harder and harder for less and less love. But the more you try to to delight the other person and the more you are on your toes, the less fun and attractive you are. At the same time, to you, your disengaging loved onebecomes more and more eligible (love’s economy is so unfair!). He or she isn’t entirely available, and a love you have to fight for becomes more and more important – to you.

Sometimes, you’re so crazy in love, so scared of losing your beloved, you don’t even notice what it is you’re throwing in the fire just to keep it burning. You throw in your self esteem, the comfortable jeans that he or she doesn’t like, your true opinion about the other’s project at work, your high heels –to make sure we don’t tower them-, your razors because she likes beards, your vulnerability, your morning mood, your exuberance that’s experienced as hysteria. Until all that is left is a sad pile of ashes.

You're still here 

And there you are, after it finally ended. On your own, gazing at everything that’s lost. That's OK - keep on gazing, for as long as you want to. But don’t forget you’re still here. You! And realize that all these things –from your strong opinions to your exuberance or your shyness – aren’t in that pile of ashes. They are still hidden inside you, and all they want is to appear again.

You haven’t lost anything, I can tell you from experience. On the contrary: there is so much you will retrieve. 

 

Text: Susan Smit - Photo: Naletu

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How to start your day with more awareness and energy

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You see them in the park sometimes: people doing tai chi exercises at the break of dawn. It looks as if they're pushing invisible objects away in slow motion and pulling them back in again... These simple exercises can have miraculous effects. 

Take about 15 minutes every morning and discover how to start your day with more awareness, feeling more relaxed and more energetic. 

Let your energy flow 

Start by tapping your body to loosen it up. Make a loose fist and tap the inside of your arm. Start at the top and go down bit by bit to the tips of your fingers. Tap your way up again on the outside of the same arm, all the way to the top of your shoulder. This way, you follow and activate the meridians. The energy in your body can start to flow.

After a few times, do the same for the other arm. Make sure your knees are slightly bent so you won't create a blockage. Next, make two loose fists and tap your chest, belly, hips and lower back, and down along the sides of your legs. When you go down, bend your knees and try to keep your back straight. Tap around the outside of your feet and back up along the insides of your legs. Again, you're following the meridians that way. Do your legs a few times too. This is how you prepare your body for tai chi. 

Make room in your spine

Stand firmly with your feet slightly apart and straight below your hips. Your knees are slightly bent again and straight over your toes. Now turn your upper body around its axis, from the center, back and forth. Your arms are completely relaxed. Start by making small, gentle swaying movements. Let your arms, shoulders and hips move along slightly. Then, make the movements bigger and bigger until finally glancing over your shoulder with the movement. Your knees are still slightly bent and over your toes; they are not part of the movement. By twisting your back this way, you loosen your spine. A few minutes is enough to loosen it up nicely. This exercise feels good in the morning because it activates your whole body. 

Want to know more about tai chi and try more exercises? You can find them in Happinez 'Find your Balance'. 

Text: Bianca Bartels - Photo: Oliver Pacas

 

 

Why Ben & Jerry's can inspire you to share your love

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Jerry Greenfield and his good friend Ben Cohen started selling ice cream from a garage in the 1970s. Happy cows and fair trade were their conditions for making good ice cream. According to Jerry, "Fair trade is a way of sharing love." 

What I believe in

"I was brought up in the Jewish tradition, but I have let most of that slip. I do see myself as someone with a spiritual philosophy of life. I believe there's a greater power -you might call it God- and we are all a small part of it. We're all connected in that way. that's why it is important for all of us to do our best for each other and for the world.

Perhaps that power is better described as a huge source of love, and what we as humans should do is spread as much love as possible. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I really do believe that. By spreading love I mean: doing right by other people. Not only the people in your direct environment or the people you meet in the street, but all people across the world. That's why fair trade and cooperation are important to me. There are lots of people in the world who have fewer opportunities than you and me, people living in bad situations. It's our job to give them love. Every person is capable of helping others. I try to do that as much as I can." 

Doing more

"Even if you are a pessimist, you still have to do your best, although you can't save the entire world. Ben & Jerry's motto is "peace, love and ice cream." We should add something to that: it's not enough to wish for peace, you have to make it. Don't just talk about it, but do something. That has always been an important starting point for me, in the business as well as in my private life.

Every company has a social responsibility towards the community in which it is based. Taking good care of the cows, not exploiting or ripping off the farmers growing the sugar cane - those are also ways of spreading love." 

Text: Pauline Bijster - Photo: Ruthie

For more 'Words of wisdom' by Jerry Greenfield, read Happinez 'Go with the flow'

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Want to be more patient? Take a time-in

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When we are too busy to relax, we have to work harder to achieve it. But where can one find the peace of mind to become a meditative person? These two exercises point the way. 

Exercise 1 – Learn to accept impatience

“I’m not impatient at all! I just find it ridiculous that this should take so long.” A lot of things in life take long – the line at the checkout, the wait until you are the next caller on the phone, the traffic jam, the time it takes to have something repaired, the wait before the product you ordered arrives in the post, a friend who is late… Well, that’s life in this world.

The mind works faster than the speed of light, but matter is always trying to catch up wheezing. No one will ever say that it takes a ridiculously long time before a child in its mother’s womb is ready to be born, right? Everything under the sun has a natural duration; we can’t predict it down to the minute, we can only respect it.

Realising and accepting that you are impatient is the first step in practicing patience. Self-compassion allows us to treat our own feelings like an ideal mother would treat a child having a tantrum: with kindness and understanding, but firmly. “No, you cannot have your way. But I do love you. I understand that you’re impatient, that you don’t want it to take so long. Hush now, sweetheart, it will be alright.”

Exercise 2 – Take a time-in

Time-out is a popular term for a short break, but according to American psychiatrist Daniel Siegel, a time-in is even more important. Take three minutes a day at least to look inward, he says. Pay attention to your breathing, feel your heart, and then check all your senses. Realise how grateful you are that you’re alive and that you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Then focus on your spirit; be aware that you have a mental world, and realise how great it is that you can think clearly.

Next, focus on your relationships. See them in your mind’s eye and realize with gratitude that you are connected to other people. You can picture all these aspects of your life as a big round wheel, which Siegel calls the Wheel of Awareness. The spokes are represented by our focused attention, and the source of all that attention is the centre, the axis of the wheel. If you let all of this pass through your mind every day, says Siegel, your life will change for the good, because it improves the integration of all parts of your inner world. It can become a habit just as natural as brushing your teeth, for example; a kind of mental hygiene.

Text: Lisette Thooft - Photo Julia Caesar

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Why your heart will take you to your goal in life

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The spiritual grapevine is abuzz with his name: Bentinho Massaro, a young spiritual teacher, a new guru. His teachings empower the individual and the heart's truest desires. "There's an inner peace that never fails, a sense of freedom and joy." 

Your true self 

"I want to teach people to recognize the truth in themselves, that their true self is awareness. I don't want them to understand it intellectually, but to experience directly that there's an inner peace that never fails, a sense of freedom and joy. That ultimate state is always there, whether we feel it or not - just like the sky is always bright, even when it's obscured by clouds. Anyone can experience that state of peace.

Try it: if you let all your thoughts go, you will suddenly be in touch with awareness itself. You'll feel a presence that is aware, or an awareness that is present. If you reflect on that for a few moments, say 12 times a day, you'll notice a difference after just a couple of months. Because those brief moments of clarity will reveal more and more what you truly are." 

Longing

"People who say you're not allowed to have desires go against the flow of the source. We all come from that one infinite source from which everything is created. Even the source itself has a desire: to create creation. That source is manifested in all of us, wanting to experience itself in as many ways as possible. That source wants everything to be there.

So everyone is infinitely valuable, because we were created from a desire that came from the creator himself. We are all here to learn something new, to study one little aspect of creation, to express something of the source that wasn't there before. Every person's contribution is completely unique. It is possible to reach a state in which you no longer feel something is lacking - you feel completely fulfilled. But that doesn't mean you can't still long for something."

Text: Lisette Thooft  

Read more about Bentinho Massaro in Happinez 'Find your balance

Out now! Happinez 'Find your Balance'

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‘You are here on earth to be yourself, so it’s best to love yourself’ – says American author Elizabeth Lesser in this issue of Happinez. Maybe that’s the essence of finding your balance: be the love you want to see in this world.

This issue challenges you to find your balance in life: by breathing, by experiencing the power of tai chi, by becoming aware of your energy centers: the chakras. But it also helps you discover how to reveal your soul: with the wisdom of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and exercises of Thich Nhat Hanh to heal yourself and the earth.

Happinez Magazine is for sale in over 20 countries worldwide. Check out or store finder, or order your copy here

Introvert or extrovert? Learn from your opposite

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Do you prosper when you have people around you with whom you can share every spontaneous idea? Or do you recharge your batteries in silence and solitude? Whether you feel more like an introvert or an extrovert, it might be interesting to try and switch 'sides'. 

If you get stuck inside your own introverted or extroverted tendencies, try borrowing the behavior of the opposite pole. Do you lean towards introversion? Then be carefree and launch a plan that has no detail but only a vague outline. Then ask others how they would complete your ideas. Are you an extrovert? Keep a plan a little longer to yourself for a change; you'll be surprised how many ideas will emerge from your inner depths.

In a social context, a person with introverted tendencies can learn from an extrovert to be a little more light-hearted and noncommittal about (making) contacts. This will make social gatherings feel like less of a burden. An extrovert can be stimulated by the example of an introvert and try for some more depth in social contacts. Don't let your eyes wander around the room looking for new stimulations, but stay with the conversation a bit longer. You may discover a gem that otherwise would have remained hidden to you. 

Text: Astrid Maria Boshuisen

How to enjoy a mindful sex life

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With an attentive and conscious approach, you can enrich a stale sex life to no end. Discover these three insights and do the companion exercises, to focus on the sensual present. 

Be where you are 

London-based masseuse and writer Claudia Blake advises turning the place where you have sex into a sort of sacred room. Light some candles, use scents and calming background music (no complicated lyrics or melodies, because these will distract you). Put out a few "sacred" objects that represent special things for you. If you have a TV in your room, cover it with a sheet like you'd cover a birdcage to silence a talkative parrot.

These are all possibilities, but you don't have to make it complicated. People manage to have the most memorable sex in the weirdest and most uncomfortable places (among rolls of wallpaper! In the garden shed!) just because they want each other right that minute. 

Exercise

When you're about to make love, take a moment to let the room you are in have an effect on you. Notice the size of the room, the light from the windows, the way it smells and feels. Listen to your partner's breathing. Even if it's a mess, with laundry piled up in a corner and dirty windows, this is where you are right at this moment in your life. There is no better place. 

Shelve your expectations 

Obviously, it would be nice if sex were always perfect, but it can be very refreshing to realize that, often, it simply isn't. In his recent book, How to Think More about Sex, philosopher Alain De Botton writes: "For most of us, it's not about how we can have even better sex with our lover who is already keen to try out new positions with us on the sofa with the scent of jasmine and the sound of singing hummingbirds all around us. We're much more troubled by the fact that sex with our steady partner has become so problematic due to fights about how to raise the children or about money."

You could ask yourself, says De Botton, how often you may reasonably expect the sex to be satisfactory. "Like happiness in general, terrific sex may be the fantastic, sublime exception." 

Exercise

Put away all expectations about how great sex should be. Say to each other, "We're going to have really dull sex!" and see what happens. Meanwhile, practice your "inner smile" by looking at yourself without judgment and with kindness. Be receptive. Be light about the whole thing. 

Play with habits

As Claudia Blake writes in The Joy of Mindful Sex, "If you can't lose yourself in kissing your partner's neck, you can't lose yourself in sex." She recommends regarding every sensual experience you have with your lover as a sexual experience. Don't stick to a fixed pattern with an orgasm at the end as a "logical conclusion." It would be better to think of everything that gives your partner enjoyment as a form of mindful sex. If you really make love attentively, it won't become routine in a hurry because you approach every moment as a new one. 

Exercise

Staring exercise: all you have to do for this exercise is look each other in the eye. You will probably want to look away after a few moments, but don't. Keep looking each other in the eye and do it for five minutes. Then slowly sink into an embrace and hold each other. Blake says, "This is a fantastic way to further strengthen your emotional bond. The exercise works perfectly as the beginning or the end of an intense experience." 

Text: Anne Wesseling

Curious about all 7 insights and exercises from the article in Happy.body? The magazine is for sale in over 20 countries worldwide. Check out or store finder, or order your copy here

 

 

3 natural sources that keep you young

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Staying young comes from within, no matter what age you are. The most valuable secret of vitality is found in your own body! Renewing yourself time and again is possible by staying agile, bringing rhythm into your life, and knowing how to appreciate nature’s generous gifts.

1. Oil

Glowing health in liquid form. Quality oils contain mono-unsaturated or poly-unsaturated fatty acids that the body needs, but can’t produce by itself. They are called essential fatty acids, which help keep your cholesterol levels low. That’s why a so-called Mediterranean diet is so healthy. Swim around in extra virgin olive oil!

Omega-3 and omega-6 also help combat allergies and colds. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, can be found mainly in wheat-germ oil and sunflower oil. Coconut oil is also wonderful. It consists of 50% lauric acid, which increases your resistance. In addition, coconut oil contains fewer calories than most other oils. You can use it for a number of things, internally as well as externally, from soothing babies’ irritated bottoms to cooking, baking, or as a spread for bread.

2. Turmeric

Turmeric is the miracle powder that gives curry its green-golden color. Also known as curcuma, Indian saffron and haldi, it has been used as a medical herb for thousands of years in India. It heals wounds and infections, and is said to prevent serious diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s because it protects the brain from poison and damage. It has a slightly bitter flavor and so it probably protects many other things as well. As the saying goes, “Bitter pills may have blessed effects…”

3. Vegetables

Vegetables are your best medicine. Ever since vitamins were discovered, at the start of the 20th century, one scientific study after another has proven how incredibly healthy and essential vegetables are for us. Cabbage, sprouts, turnips, celeriac, spinach, endives and carrots… our grandmothers may have boiled them to a pulp, which didn’t do much for the reputation of vegetables for a number of decades. But now we eat them steamed, raw, or stir-fry crunchy, and it’s heaven.

“Forgotten” vegetables with beautiful names like oyster plant, purslane and cardoon are happily on offer again too. Or take the unsurpassed Swiss chard, parsley carrots or Burdock root. Adventurers pick their own vegetables in the great outdoors. We all know about nettles and sorrel, to put in the soup, but there are many more edible herbs and wild plants to eat and discover.

Text Lisette Thooft - Photography Jeroen van der Spek

 Want to read more about natural sources of youth? Find the whole story in Happi.body

Perfectly happy on your own

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We all know happiness is only to be found within ourselves, never in anyone else.  But it doesn’t always feel like that, especially when you’re single. Sometimes doubt and loneliness can overcome you. How do you prevent your desire for love from wearing you out?

These are four spiritual ‘rules’ for living a happy and fulfilled life – with or without a lover.

1. Embrace your desire

There’s nothing wrong with longing for love, a buddy, arms around you. If you try to repress that feeling, it will not disappear, but goes underground and will put a haze over your life. So: feel that desire. However, the trick is to focus on how desire feels in your body. Make sure it doesn’t get to your head, where it tends to transform into depressed thoughts, regret or resentment. In your body, at worst, desire gives you a cramp: your stomach’s in a knot, there’s a pressure on your chest. Focus on this feeling, lovingly and acceptingly. Examine it, welcome it. Embrace the desire. Accepting your desire doesn’t mean you give in to the temptation of drifting away. It means you take your desire seriously, in reality, as a source of energy.

2. Contribute

What is it you have to contribute, to add to the whole? Whatever it is, this talent is what you live for – not the partner you might not have. If you haven’t found your gift yet, the search for it is your priority. Keep in mind, every day, that you’re alive because you have something important to do. Something the world can’t do without.

3. Live from your body

Loneliness can only come up when you’re astranged from your body. As long as you’re in touch with your own body, you feel connected to nature, to people around you, to life itself. For singles, it’s even more important to maintain contact with their body. Pay attention to it every which way you can. Meditate, practice sports, do tai chi or any other  physical exercise. Dance. Spoil yourself at the spa, get a massage. Garden, be in touch with nature.

4. Solve your own problems

If there’s a conflict bothering you, perhaps you feel like you need a lover to support you. Or perhaps you believe you’ve put on an armour of cynicism, because you’re alone: if you had a loving, understanding partner, you would dare to be more vulnerable in life. In fact, you’re looking for a babysitter, a handyman, a coach or a father figure. But there will never be someone solving your problems for you. Best case scenario: you’ll find a partner who wants to save a needy woman or man, and you’ll be doomed to be needy forever, just to keep them satisfied.

Stand on your own two feet. It makes you happier and more attractive.  Sooner or later, love might just knock on your door again – Amors ways are unfathomable, and you’re never too old to fall in love. Then you’ll find that these four spiritual rules will remain in full force during a relationship.

Text: Lisette Thooft

How to argue properly

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No one enjoys it, but an argument every once in a while can bring great benefit. If you argue well, it adds depth and intimacy to your relationship. How can you make sure that you’re heard and make the other person feel heard at the same time?

1. Pick the right time

Do you find yourself in an argument late at night, when you’re both tired, settle to pick up the conversation later on. If you’ve been frustrated or angry for a while already, let the other person know you’d like to set a time for a talk. Passions sometimes run high when you’ve been saying ‘yes’ for too long, when you felt like ‘no’. Don’t let it simmer, talk about it before you explode.

2. One step at a time

It is hard not to start ‘piling up’ things during an argument. One annoyance leads to the other, and before you know it, the argument becomes muddled by the amount of issues. Try to stick to one topic at a time. If you want to, you can make a list of all the other things you want to discuss – later on.

3. Weigh your words

Express yourself carefully. You love the other person, so they are worth making an effort – even, or especially, when you’re angry. Make sure you convey an “I-message”: I feel that, I would like you to, it makes me feel… It makes you much more successful in conveying what the problem is. Try to avoid ‘always’, ‘never’ and ‘very’. They are like a red rag to a bull.

4. Make sure you really understand them

We often act on assumptions: ‘They probably meant this or that’. But as the French writer Anaïs Nin put it: ‘We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.’ So make sure you really understand what the other person meant to say, for instance by telling their story in your own words (an exercise from the marriage counselor’s office). It can do wonders for communication.  

5. Hold hands

Another exercise from the marriage counselor: if you’re in a fight, sit next to eachother. Grab the other person’s hand. Take turns and tell each other what’s going on, how you feel. At first, you’ll probably feel the urge to withdraw your hand, especially when the other person is tough on you. But please keep trying to explain, find the right words, until you can keep holding hands.

6. Take the dog for a walk

Marriage counselor Roefke Carmiggelt: “When my clients keep feeling overstimulated, I hand them a drawing of a dog. It’s a dog that often bursts for a wee. When clients get into an argument at home and fear they’ll lose their temper, they ‘take the dog for a walk’, which means: take the drawing out of the room, and cool down. It works!”

7. Discuss your needs

Hoping for another person to do something, and then getting angry when they don’t, isn’t fair. Make yourself heard, and discuss what you need and desire. For instance, say: ‘We’re going to my mom’s now. I’m driving, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t criticize my driving.’ It’s even better if you intend to respond patiently if the other person does however comment on your driving.

Text: Catelijne Elzes - Photo: Demi Deherrera

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Dare to be happy

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Being happy takes guts. But sometimes, your ideas on what happiness should be, get in the way of happiness. Deep inner contentment comes from the inside, and in order to feel it, you have to allow yourself to open your heart and soul.

But how to do that? Coach, yoga teacher and writer Rosalinda Weel put together three inspiring exercises.

1. Time your joy

Inner happiness comes from experiencing joy in your heart. This is something different from being cheerful. Once you experience inner happiness, you’ll find there’s a special connection from your heart with the here and now. You can choose to be silent at any time of the day, and wonder what gives you joy. It is often in the simple things: the sun shining, breakfast, meditating, someone smiling at you or a butterfly passing by.

To experience these things mindfully, you can set a timer named ‘joy’ in your phone. Every time it buzzes and you read the word ‘joy’, you’ll be in the moment – realizing what can spark joy right here and now. You can write it down or take a picture of it. Set your timer at the same time each day, for a week, and set it at another time the next week. You can also write the joyful moments down on notes and keep them in a special Happy Jar. Keep doing this for a year and then open the lid – you’ll be surprised of the amount of happy moments.

2. Light in the darkness

The ideas you have on happiness might actually make you feel less happy. Once we realize life can never be perfect –because, just like during a day, there is light and darkness – we can accept the less joyful parts of life as well. Accepting doesn’t mean you don’t want to be happy anymore, it means embracing life the way it is, trusting it will be lighter. Grab a pen and paper, and write down the things that feel heavy in your life. Then ask yourself: can I change it?

a.     If the answer to this question is ‘no’, then ask yourself if you can accept it. Acceptation always takes the weight off things. It means you’re at peace, and you’re focusing on the light things in your life. You can’t change night time into day, but you can change your own attitude. Think of it as switching on a little lamp in the dark. 

b.     Is ‘yes’ the answer? Then explore what you can do to change the situation. Value every step in this direction, even if it’s a baby step. Which choices can you make from your heart, to make your life lighter? Write down these steps.

3. Meditation with a smile

Sit down peacefully, and make sure no one will disturb you. Close your eyes, make sure you’re comfortable. Focus on your breath. Are you breathing up high, in your chest, or deeper, in your stomach? Just feel it. Then breathe in deeply three times – breathe in through your nose, breathe out through your mouth. Then, breathe in deeply, focusing on your belly, as if you are blowing up a balloon. While breathing in, you blow up the balloon in your abdomen, breathing out, you let go of the balloon. Then you allow your breath to go on naturally, and visualize a big smile on your belly. Let it grow with each breath, until it feels as if your whole body is smiling and you’re smiling too – while meditating. 

Text: Rosalinda Weel

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Out now! Happinez - 'Go with the flow'

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What gives you energy? What can you easily do for hours on end? This issue of Happinez challenges you to ask yourself these very questions. Discover what makes you flow and forget about the rest of the world.

Because the more you discover about those moments when you lose all sense of time and where everything just melts together, the lighter your life will be.


Happinez Magazine is for sale in over 20 countries worldwide. Check out or store finder, or order your copy here

 

Travel: Amsterdam hotspot 'De Ceuvel'

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De Ceuvel is an extraordinary place close to the bustling city center of Amsterdam. It was built with little money but plenty of goodwill and creative collaboration. Here’s how practical idealism combined with innovative energy magically created a new way of living together.

De Ceuvel consists of 17 boats – 17 studios offering work spaces – and a café. One of the boats is for rent for businesses or meetings, one is used for dance classes, yoga sessions and movie nights. The Ceuvel Association has about 40 permanent members; together they are responsible for running the place and maintaining it. The official opening was on June 21, 2014. De Ceuvel has been regularly featured in the media, both at home and abroad. For instance with this article in The New York Times. They won numerous awards since opening, such as the Dare Devil Award, a prestigious award in the hotel and restaurant industry as well as a Dutch Design Award. Architects and students from all over the world come visit for the tour and for lectures.

De Ceuvel
Korte Papaverweg 2-6
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


For more pictures and the full story behind 'De Ceuvel' read Happinez 'Go with the flow' 

Photography Mirjam Bleeker

Start working with the focus of a monk

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Monks – derived from the Greek word 'μοναχος' which means lonely – sometimes work with immense focus and for months on end, on a sand mandala. Then, when this complicated drawing is done, they wipe it all away again. Where can one find this focus the monks work with? And how could you apply it to your daily life, where Facebook, Instagram, datingapps and Netlix are always there to tempt you?

find focus in a world of temptation:

1. Clean up your desk.

2. Shut down your email and your browser before you start working. When you need to work with your browser, don’t open more tabs than you need.

3. Turn off notifications: from your phone, your smartwatch, really anything that bleeps, rings or makes any noise.

4. If you don’t need internet to work with, find a spot where there’s isn’t any. Yes, they exist! For instance here, or herehere and here.

5. Put your headphones on before you start.

6. Make sure you have a special assignment to perfect. Tell yourself to write a chapter of your book, create a fantastic bit of code or work out a creative proposal. There is a big difference between small tasks that require little thinking capacity but will tire you – like answering you email, updating your to-do list, organizing your documents or tagging your messages – and the focus you need for bigger tasks like writing a bestseller. All the little things can wait, it’s about the big, sweeping things that are so monumental that you’d rather do a thousand little things than start on one major thing.

Procrastination

Here’s how to prepare yourself to begin your task with attention and focus. This doesn’t mean you should use all day to perfect your work playlist, clean and tidy your desk and unravel your phone settings to make sure not only the sound but also the data, brightness and group notifications in WhatsApp are switched off. This would be considered procrastinating. A random Spotiy playlist, a quick tidy and the mute button on your phone will suffice.

What’s your secret to working with focus? Share your story with us on Facebook.