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The light will find you ©2017 Suzanne Belair Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

The light will find you
©2017 Suzanne Belair
Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

Today I am sharing a new painting recently finished. It speaks of the light that is in everyone’s life and that will come out after any episode of sadness.

 

When you are feeling sad, discouraged, in a rut, it is better to stop and take a few moments to think about it and feel it fully, than to keep on going, making believe it is not happening. It is important not to run away from your feelings.

 

Here is something that I do and that makes me feel better every time.

 

When you get a chance during your day, stop what you are doing, sit down or lie down and feel these feelings fully. It might feel like heaviness in your chest but it could also be the panicky sensation we get when fear wants to insert itself into our life, when indeed it has. What can we do to help this?  It all starts with mindfulness and acknowledging what is happening inside you.

 

Breathing slowly and becoming aware of the physical feelings and calming these, is essential. Here’s how I do it. I sit down and close my eyes and I imagine a beautiful space surrounding me like a lush garden or a deep blue sky.  My own preference is I see myself sitting in a forest beside a tree near a small river, and I hear the water flow and it is very calm. Once the image is clear in your head, start breathing mindfully.

 

Breathe slowly through your nose. Breathe in your sadness, feel it in your body, around your heart, and then release it with the out breath, feel the sadness get out of your body with the breath and vanish in the forest (or whatever space you created). Continue this for a while until you truly feel the release (minimum 10 breaths).

 

Continue the slow mindful breathing: Others are also feeling sad, so think of them also, feel their sadness at losing a loved one or at their situation. Breathe in their sadness through your heart and breathe all this sadness out toward your beautiful image surrounding you, toward the vastness it, feel the sadness dissolve around you. Visualize your out breath carrying the sadness away from you.

 

While you are doing this exercise, be present to how you feel when you release the sadness in the nature surrounding you. Be present to your feeling of compassion for others and your feeling that you are not alone.

 

Be aware that all in temporary, life is impermanence and your sadness is also temporary. The light will find you.

 

Site web Suzanne Bélair

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I have been looking for something I lost recently and went through a bunch of papers sitting in a pile near my desk. At the bottom, I found this quote I wrote years ago with the intention of displaying it where I can see it everyday, which I didn’t do yet:

 

BE THANKFUL !

No matter how good or bad you have it

Wake up each day thankful for your life

Someone, somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs

Instead of thinking about what you’re missing

Try thinking about what you have, that everyone else is missing.

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It reminded me that many years ago, I wrote a blog about finding a way to influence the first thought of the day in order to influence your mood. Essentially, if your first though is joyous, the rest of the day being off t o a good start, there is a good chance that your attitude will make it so that the day shapes up pretty good.

 

Here is a reblog of my own blog from 2009 – To see the original go to : https://enviroart.wordpress.com/2009/09/03/first-thought-of-the-day/

 

First thought of the day

 

I have been researching how I can influence the first thought of my day with the idea that if you wake up and your first thought is joyous, then the rest f the day is off to a good start and should have a joyous background that can probably be maintained throughout the day.

 

Looking into this, after asking many people what their first thought of the day was, I heard a lot of simplistic things like I am hungry or I have to pee, but this does not depict the first mood of the day. This only speaks of the body. Although, I found that in general, people are not starting their day with a very positive thought, unless they are on vacations. As a matter of fact, a lot of us wake up thinking “Oh no! Not another day at work, I’m still tired and want to sleep”, basically equaling: “I’m pissed off I have to get up, I’m resentful I have to work”, things along those lines.

 

It has happened sometimes that I have awaken exited and wanting to get up and accomplish something right away. I am trying to figure out what is the key element between these two states. Why are some days starting off better than others?

 

Sunshine is a big influence in our moods and how we feel about waking up. After a few sunny days, life just seems better and more exciting. But it is not all. I am convinced that our last thought before going to sleep and our adventures of the night, dreams and nightmares, are influencing our general mood when we wake up, our first thought and your day.

 

Have you ever had a wonderful dream, full of love and tenderness? You then wake up feeling great, or you come back to reality and are disappointed. But at any rate, you did experience it and you know it exists somewhere, and at some level, it fills you with hope.  What about a terrible nightmare that sends your heart racing and really scares you, giving you a glimpse of hell? In our mind, these experiences are real. They are night adventures which are sometimes difficult to leave behind and should not be left behind altogether. I find dreams are great teachers sometimes.

 

One of the ways to influence the first thought is to control the last thought. To reflect, as you go to sleep, on the people and things in your life that you are grateful for, no matter how small and far between, gives you hope. This becomes a building block on which you can start to construct the life you want. The only way, or at least the best way to effect change in your life is to find yourself in a positive hopeful mood, so it is of the utmost importance to be able to influence this first thought and, if we find ourselves waking up in a negative mood, have a strategy in place to turn this around as quickly as possible.

 

Going to sleep with thankful thoughts will influence your first thought in a positive way.
Site web Suzanne Bélair

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I started reading the wonderful book from Thich Nhat Hanh again “Peace is every step”. Since 1992, I have been carrying this book with me on and off and I remember the very first time I read it how I was able to become extremely mindful and calm and how everything made sense. Since then, I have lost some of my mindfulness by being caught up in everyday life and not taking the time to stop and be present to the moment.

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I had not touched the book in a few years when I picked it up again last week and since then, I am rediscovering some of its passages. I read a bit just before I go to bed, picking pages randomly and absorbing the message. Yesterday, I was reading about how Mindfulness must be engaged and how “once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what’s the use of seeing?” p. 91. Even if it is hard to see the world as it is, we must so that we can see how we can help. I really liked this chapter and its wisdom and how it empowers each and everyone of us to do something by living mindfully and by being an influence for the benefit of people and situations around us. It is by changing ourselves that we can change the world.

Ref: Thich Nhat Hanh, 1991. Peace is every step. Bantam books, NY

 

Site web Suzanne Bélair

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After close to 8 weeks unwanted break due to convalescing from my foot operation I am back to basics: Black and White painting before putting in the color.

 

©2016 Suzanne Belair-unfinished- 10 X 10 in

©2016 Suzanne Belair-unfinished- 10 X 10 in

 

I had a good time today working on this small painting that I will complete in the next few days and might or might not be the base for a larger canvas.

 

Although I feel like a kid in a candy store and want to paint anything and everything at this point. So I don’t really know if I’ll complete that one just yet.  I also worked on an experimental watercolour today and sealed some wood for further paintings.

 

Nice to be back in my studio after all this time ! The message here is to keep on going and never give up despite what is thrown at you !

Site web Suzanne Bélair

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Yesterday, I outlined the way overthinking and ruminating could take over our life sometimes, and why it just doesn’t work to find a solution to any problem.

Thinker by Rodin Photo©SuzanneBélair

 

Rumination can be very gripping and when we are in its web, it manipulates our thinking one way and the other. We feel stuck and compelled to continue in order to figure things out and find a solution but evidence proves the opposite happens. When we feel distressed, stressed out, no insight can be gained from ruminating. On the contrary, things get worse and we can start a downward spiral. So how do we break this habit once we realise that no good can come of it?

 

In the book “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, some strategies are outlined. I started putting some into practice and, to my surprise, they work:

 

1- Distract yourself- break the pattern. It sounds simple but it is very effective when you remember to use it. As soon as you realise you are overthinking, engage in an activity that usually makes you feel good and absorbed like a sport. Move, read something funny, go for a walk with music you like and listen to the words.

 

2- Say to yourself, even shout “Stop” or “No” or “Enough already” and go on to something else you need or want to do. In other words, force yourself to snap out of it and find something else to think about.

 

3- Set aside some specific and limited time everyday, say 30 minutes, to ruminate and refuse to engage in overthinking except in that time slot. Chances are when the time comes, you won’t be able to ruminate.

 

Also proposed are talking to a sympathetic friend and writing. Personally, I don’t feel this would work as well. The friend might not be available at the time you need to talk and some fragile feelings of low self-worth or even shame might interfere with anything positive the friend would have to say. Writing ruminations down only makes them more real, it is rumination in the written form and will likely bring a feeling of helplessness when you re-read them later and are in the grips of it once again, thinking, Oh No !  I am still at the same point 5 years later !
In practice, each person does what works for them but the important thing is to stop the pattern before it gets too far.

 

Other actions to take are:

Put your hand in front of your face. Look at it. This is real. Your thought pattern is interrupted.

 

Take one step towards solving your issue. When you act and feel proactive about straightening out a problem, you won’t need to ruminate so much, and it will feel like you are going in the right direction, moving forward.

 

One thing I do sometimes is project myself in the future, “next year, next month, next week, it will be behind me”. Will this be important in 5-10 years from now?”

 

When I read the book, I felt I could let go of all my ruminating because it became very clear to me that no good can come of it. Rethinking decisions that have been made in the past, reliving sad moments or failures, imagining all kinds of negative things (even if it seems real), does not get us anywhere but down. I am working hard on freeing myself from this habit since I read about it. We need to move forward and realize that we do not control everything.

 

Better to use some of these strategies to stop overthinking in its tracks. I can say I am now a recent ex-ruminator. Like any habit breaking, it gets easier with time but awareness is important and remember, it does not mean you don’t care about the past, the future, someone else’s well-being, or have no problems, it only means you care enough about yourself to see that this is going nowhere, that it is only a big waste of time that could be put to better use.

 

Try the strategies, you’ll surprise yourself !

 

 

(1) Lyubomirsky S., 2007,The How of Happiness, The Penguin Press, New-York, London.

 

http://www.suzannebelair.com

©2014 Suzanne Bélair

 

 

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After a lot of internal complaining and feeling sorry for myself one day, I opened the “How of happiness”, a wonderful book by Sonja Lyubomirsky, that I recommend to everybody. I found myself at the chapter talking about “ruminations”. I must admit I am an expert ruminator and have been all my life.

 

I remember my mother telling me that ruminating was for cows- “Stop ruminating”, she would say. But despite this, my whole life sometimes seems like a giant rumination. Turning around and around in my head everything I don’t like. Have you noticed that overthinking is rarely about what is right in your life or what you are happy about?  We ruminate our problems and situations because we think that somehow, the more we think about it, the more we’ll find some insight that will give us the solution, the “key” to our own happiness.

 

The thinker by Rodin

The thinker by Rodin Photo©SuzanneBélair

But scientific research shows that it is the opposite that takes place. People that ruminate are generally unhappy and suffer feelings of distress and anxiety. (1) The author talks about rumination like a bad habit that needs breaking if one is to find some happiness. She gives tools to stop rumination when it starts, or as soon as we are aware that we started doing it. Although ruminators think that the more they think about their problem or issue, the more insight they’ll discover  into their own personality and solutions to their problems, or find the answer as to why something is not working, the opposite happens: Ruminators go deeper into their problem and their personal distress, bringing a lot of negative consequences to their life.

 

Sadness is enhanced and sustained, the overthinker becomes biased and doesn’t see reality as it actually is, it becomes a vicious circle. If we are ruminating on a problem, it impairs our ability to find a viable solution because our mind is being taken over by negative feelings, it saps motivation and often provokes a “victims” mentality where we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t see any solutions. It also interferes with concentration and stops us from taking any initiative.
So instead of gaining insight into ourselves and our problems, we gain a “distorted and pessimistic perspective” on our lives. If there is already a tendency to negative mood, the combination of ruminating and negative mood is toxic. Overthinking and ruminating will eventually take a significant toll on us and on our relationships if it hasn’t already.

 

I like that the ruminating is presented as a habit that it is possible to break. According to the author, becoming happier means taking the decision to break free from overthinking about both major or minor negative experiences, it is about learning not to pay attention to every bump in the road whether small or big, and not let them affect how we feel about ourselves and our life as a whole.

 

There is a real sentiment of freedom once we realise that no good can come out of overthinking and ruminating. It is the first step to recovery and seeing our lives clearly and finding happiness.
Tomorrow I will post some strategies to overcome this bad habit.

 

 

(1) Lyubomirsky S., 2007,The How of Happiness, The Penguin Press, New-York, London.

 

http://www.suzannebelair.com

©2014 Suzanne Bélair

 

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According to  Sonja Lyubomirsky, researcher and professor of psychology at the University of California ” Construing benefit from trauma involves seeing some value or gain (a silver lining) in your loss or negative life event” (1) . This does not by any means signify that you forgot the event or feel good about it in any way. It means that somehow, you now view your life with other eyes, with a different perspective that sometimes can render your life richer, deeper.

 

Even if it seems impossible to one day believe that your life has been somehow “enhanced” by the traumatic event, numerous studies of populations affected by major trauma have found that 79 to 80 % of people affected by a traumatic event report that they see some benefit in their experience. (2)

 

Often, it is the famous “wake-up call” that makes one review the order of their priorities and start living with a new purpose, become more grateful for what we have. Studies show that people that have been touched by cancer, HIV, aids and heart disease and that are coping effectively with their disease, generally perceive some benefits in their ordeal. This perception becomes a coping mechanism.

 

Some survivors of major tragedies have reported seeing colours more sharply, paying more attention to what surrounds them, living in the present. Of course, this fact does not diminish in any way the pain, the shock, the incredible pain victims of traumatic events go through.

 

The people of Lac Megantic have been affected by such a traumatic event on July 6th 2013 when an out of control train full of fuel derailed in the middle of the center of their town and destroyed a large part of what was the main area of the village , le “centre-ville”.

 

This year, the cultural committee has organized a wonderful exhibition named  “Les Chemins de la renaissance” (Paths to rebirth), a title that talks about the next step, hope, life after major hardship.

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Our first visit since the event was the week before and had left us shocked, distressed, so sad. When you realise the magnitude of what is today gone, how anything can change in a split second, it makes you reflect on death and you spend a moment of silence for all these victims.

 

Last week-end was very different. The opening of the show talked about hope, of reconstruction, there was activity everywhere you looked, workers busy paving a new street, between new stores.

expo vernissage

There was good energy, an extraordinary effervescence surrounded us, optimism. The high-caliber exhibition regroups 18 local artists  and 21 artists from outside the region. I am very happy the jury picked my painting “Innocence” and that it was part of this exhibition because several elements of the painting are symbolic of rebirth and hope, the child, the dove of peace in the background, her concentrated and serious expression while looking at the flower. We made great encounters with dynamic and involved people, dedicated and courageous men and women.

expo vernissage 2

The reconstruction is being done in a very modern architecture next to the Sports Center where the gallery is situated and this week, we noticed that piled up debris seemed less high, the affected perimeter is still closed but we can see that they are progressing with enormous strides even if there is still a lot of work, decontamination, decisions.

 

Today, 1000 bikers and more than 700 facilitators of the Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie are making a stop in Lac Megantic.  It is on the host site of the Sport Center Megantic and the new Promenade Papineau that they will all meet.

 

Lac Mégantic needs our support, our presence, to share their experience. I invite everyone to go this summer to see how life is rising back, how these courageous men and women are rebuilding their wonderful part of the country and at the same time, stop by the Galerie du Centre Sportif to admire the artworks of artists from the region and elsewhere in Quebec.

 

(1) Lyubomirsky S., 2007,The How of Happiness, The Penguin Press, New-York, London.

(2) Nolen-Hoeksema, S., and Davis, C.G., 2002, Positive responses to loss: Perceiving benefits and growth, in Handbook of positive psychology. Editors: Snyder, C. R.., Lopez, S.J, (pp. 598-606), Oxford University Press, New-York.

 

http://www.suzannebelair.com

©2014 Suzanne Bélair

 

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