Secrets to Living a Happier Life 0 983

Akna Goonaratne University of Deikin, Melbourne
Akna Goonaratne University of Deikin, Melbourne

Our brains are focused on survival. Anything more than that, you have to work for it.

There’s an unfortunate reason why happiness is often elusive – our brains simply aren’t wired that way. Instead, our brains have evolved to survive, to protect ourselves, to keep us safe. Sure, we have moments of elation and periods of contentment and bliss. But many of us are plagued with persistent negative emotions – we are just plain stuck in the “blahs.”

How do we find more joy in our life? Like anything else, it takes practice to cultivate ongoing happiness. In a sense, we have to reset our baseline. It won’t happen overnight, but here are some things you can do every day to discover the secrets of being happier.

Focus on the positive

To find long-term happiness, you need to retrain your brain from a negative mindset to a positive mindset. Try these things: Spend one to two minutes looking for positives in your life. Do this three times a day for 45 days, and your brain will start doing it automatically.

Choose a positive mantra for the day — something you will repeat to yourself, such as “Today is beautiful” or “I feel grateful for all I have”. And when things go sour, take a moment to try and see it from a positive light. Never under estimate the importance of recognizing the silver linings in life.

Celebrate little victories

Life is full of ups and downs, but in between we have a lot of little victories that go unnoticed. Take a moment to celebrate these small wins.

Did you check off all the things on your ‘To-do’ list that you’ve been procrastinating on? Yay! Did you finally clear out the thousand emails that have been filling up your inbox? Woohoo! Take pleasure in these little achievements. They add up!

Find your work–life balance

Work takes up a lot of our day, but it shouldn’t be the only thing we do. It’s important to pursue activities and interests beyond our job. Do you have a hobby? Are you spending time with friends and loved ones? Are you getting exercise? Creating balance in your life will reduce stress and give you other outlets to express yourself and have fun.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness mediation, works by bringing your awareness and attention to the present moment. It’s about being non-judgmental and accepting how you are feeling. Practicing mindfulness means being present, aware and curious. Accepting what we are going through decreases stress and helps us see situations for what they are. Through mindfulness, we can find peace and affirmation in ourselves.

Celebrate little victories

You may think of artists as being moody and depressed but studies show that engaging in creative activities on a regular basis actually makes you happier. Those who spend time using their imagination and being creative have more enthusiasm and are more likely to have feelings of long-term happiness and well-being. Such creative activities can include writing, painting, drawing and musical performance.

Accept imperfection

Many of us strive for perfection – we desire to push ourselves to be our best. But in order to be truly happy, you must embrace the imperfection that is part of life. Perfection is impossible, and holding ourselves and others to these standards is futile. We will always end up feeling let down. Accept that life is imperfect and recognize that there is beauty and grace in that imperfection.

‘’Don’t waste the best years of your life in a joyless job’’

Akna Goonaratne University of Deikin, Melbourne
Akna Goonaratne University of Deikin, Melbourne

Do what you love

It’s pretty hard to maintain happiness if you hate your job. Don’t waste the best years of your life in a joyless job, even if it’s paying the bills. What are you interested in? What are you truly passionate about? Focus on building a career in an area that motivates you and will provide you with a high level of satisfaction, and your happiness factor will go up exponentially.

Spend wisely

It’s tempting to believe that the more money you have the happier you’ll be. But the reality is, it’s how you spend your money that helps you feel happier. The key is to do it wisely. Spending money on experiences — travel, dining, and concerts and so on — can make us happier because we are sharing those experiences with others. Happiness connected to material possessions fades, but experiences help us define our purpose and passions in life.

Live in the moment

Our thoughts and feelings often revolve around the past or the future. Reality is what you are experiencing at this very moment; what you are going through right now. Sometimes we want to escape that reality. But when we stay in the present, we are fully engaged in our lives. Endeavor to live in the moment, and you’ll begin to have a deeper appreciation for your life.

Cultivate gratitude

Find ways to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis. Giving thanks and being grateful for all you have will make you happier and more content. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have received in life. Those gifts may be tangible or intangible. When you spend time each day acknowledging all that is good in life, you’ll see there is more good than you realize, and you’ll find that sadness, anxiety and depression are diminished.

‘’Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you have received in life’’

Give back

Be generous with your time and your money. Give to others in need. Give to those you love and care for. Those who give back have a sense of selflessness and humanitarianism. Those who are generous in spending money on others tend to have good health, perhaps because giving has a feel-good effect that lowers blood pressure and stress.

Surprise yourself

It’s hard to feel happy if you are bored or feeling blah about life. Part of feeling happy is feeling stimulated, interested and a little surprised by life. So surprise yourself by setting goals outside your comfort zone. Put yourself in new or unexpected situations. Set goals for yourself and then work to achieve them. And remember to enjoy the ride!

Listen to and engage with music                      

Listening to music lifts our spirits. It makes us feel better, in part because listening to music causes our brains to release dopamine, a neurochemical connected to pleasure and reward. Those who engage with music through dance or through attending concerts report high levels of happiness and a sense of well-being.

You, be you

One of the best things you can do to boost your happiness is to just be yourself. That means not being dependent on the approval of others, but accepting yourself for who you are. Spend some time getting to know yourself. What defines you? What do you believe in? Who are you, underneath it all? Search for ways to be comfortable in your own skin.

Hang out with happy people

Ever hang out with a gloomy person and leave feeling bummed? That’s because moods can be contagious. It turns out that feelings can be transferred from one person to another, and the more we share experiences with one another, the more our emotions and behaviors become synchronized. One secret to long-term happiness is surrounding yourself with others who are also happy.

Nothing compares to you

Stop comparing yourself to everyone around you. Most importantly, stop comparing your things to all the things everyone else has. Social media has a way of making us feel like everyone else has it better than us. How often does scrolling through your newsfeed make you feel negative emotions? Allowing envy and resentment to take root, robs us of appreciating what we have.

‘’Constantly worrying about everything creates toxic anxiety’’

Stop worrying

Constantly worrying about everything creates toxic anxiety, where your mind is steeped in negative, spiraling thoughts. Worries plague your mind and make you afraid and apprehensive about things you often have no control over. Sometimes we believe that if we worry enough, we can keep bad things from happening. But the truth is, you cannot experience joy or even contentment when you’re consumed by worry.

Akna Goonaratne University of Deikin, Melbourne
Akna Goonaratne University of Deikin, Melbourne

Build meaningful relationships

Happiness, love, friendship and community go hand in hand. As humans, we have a fundamental need to interact and connect with others. We naturally seek our tribe – the people who will support us, understand us and be there for us through life’s roller-coaster ride. Without meaningful relationships, we are lonely and isolated. We’re happier when we pursue happiness with others.

Spend time in nature

Some researchers believe that today’s ultra-wired generation is actually suffering from a nature-deficit disorder. Studies have shown that the more time we spend in nature, and the more we relate to the natural world around us, the greater our sense of happiness. Our connection to nature also plays a role in maintaining positive mental health

Reminisce over happy memories

Why do we love all things retro? Perhaps because nostalgia makes us happy. Nostalgic feelings, or reminiscing about our past, can help us reconnect with feelings of love and a sense of wonder and fulfillment. Our past shapes us and defines our identity. When we remember good times and happy memories, we can increase our self-confidence and feel closer to those around us.

Article by: Chantal D.

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Darshi Keerthisena, Sri Lanka’s Batik savant 0 635

A JOURNEY FROM TRADITIONAL WEAR TO WEARABLE ART: By David Ebert

Every country has its share of unique local artisans that churn out products that capture the minds of the many foreign visitors looking to take home a memento of their experience in a far off exotic land. Sri Lanka like any tourist hotspot boasts an overabundance of exceptional locally designed and produced handicrafts. These products have not only helped Sri Lanka build on its already colorful identity but more importantly, have paved the way for thousands of rural families to participate in their own economic uplifting. The tourist industry, being the country’s largest foreign revenue earner, has long given such artisans the push to innovate, create, and develop not only their craft but themselves and the lives of their families too.Today, Sri Lanka is not only known for its sunny beaches, misty mountains, wild jungle treks, vibrant cuisine, and the one million watt smiles of its inhabitants, but also for a handicraft culture spawned by the thousands of rural Sri Lankans that churn out their creations targeting the millions of tourists thronging its shores every year.

However, among these, few have made as large an impact on the country’s identity as the Batik industry. In Sri Lankan culture, its colorful hand-printed fabrics have adorned almost every traditional festivity, and have become an essential part of the Sri Lankan look. Quite an achievement for an art form that doesn’t traditionally have its roots in early Sri Lankan art.

Introduced to Sri Lanka by the Dutch, who brought the stylish fabrics from their Indonesian colony, it was embraced by the local elite who themselves became quite proficient in the art form. Since then, Sri Lankan batiks artists have through the centuries, infused their very own artistic interpretation and have today helped make batik a part of the country’s unique cultural landscape. Sri Lankan Batiks today are in a class of their own, with a clear differentiation visible between them and any other.

FOCUSING ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT:

In his policy document Vistas of Prosperity & Splendour, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has identified the country’s local textile industry as a sector that requires much-needed attention. The government says that it is committed to creating a new ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ apparel industry. This resulted, after the recent local government elections, in the appointment of a State Ministerial portfolio for Batik, Handloom, Fabric, and Local Apparel Products, that will focus solely on promoting local production of textiles. Further, with the imposition of restrictions on textile imports, including Batiks and other handlooms, the government is now expecting to save almost Rs.1 billion annually by replacing imports with locally manufactured alternatives.

The government’s path is clear and, in all intents and purposes, the right way to go. Right now no one knows what the ‘new normal’ will be. With so much uncertainty surrounding the global landscape in the midst of a pandemic that looks to make permanent changes in how people and businesses operate, being self-reliant and reducing import dependency is beneficial in more ways than one. Developing Sri Lanka’s local manufacturing capability can not only save the country much needed foreign exchange but also open up new opportunities while reducing its trade deficit as well.

State Ministerial portfolio for Batik, Handloom, Fabric & Local Apparel Products, Dayasiri Jayasekara, recently tabled a proposal that will encourage state sector employees to embrace Sri Lanka’s Batik and local textile culture with a mandatory Batik day at least once a week. For local Batik producers, this move could compensate in some way for the dearth of tourist dollars they’ve faced in the past year.

PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS:

However, the issues faced by local Batik producers are many. Their chief gripe remains in the lack of standardization in the raw materials required for the process. These include the dye, fabric, and wax for which quality varies, and information remains vague. The lack of clear product information is a huge deal when it comes to sustainable manufacturers like Buddhi Batiks, where clarity on the source and its environmental impact plays a huge role in adding value to their creations.

So far the government seems to be clued in and willing to get onboard in reducing the factors that stifle the industry. Pledges have been made that standardization will be pushed through, and environmental impacts will be reduced. However, when it comes to an industry such as Batik, where the main by-products are the dyes it uses, the need of the moment is safe water treatment and disposal. The environmental impact of the haphazard dumping of chemical dyes into the country’s rivers by large industries cannot be underscored enough. Hence, the road ahead for the government is long and winding, and what remains to be seen is whether the Batik industry will see the change that it expects.

GIVING CREDIT WHERE DUE:

Much of the credit for popularising the Batik culture in the country has to be attributed to local artists such as Buddhi Batiks, spearheaded by its iconic Managing Director, and former National Craft Council Chairman, Buddhi Keerthisena.Having made a name for itself as far back as the 70s with its range of traditional Batik clothing targeting the tourist market, the brand has witnessed a renaissance of sorts in the past 15 years. The beginning of which came about with the changing of the guard at the helm of its operations.

With the business having hit a stagnant patch during the 30-year civil war and the resultant low tourist numbers, Darshi Keerthisena, the company’s heiress apparent knew that the road to recovery lay in fresh ideas and injecting a new outlook. A restructuring of its core design ethics was vital, not simply for the long term survival of the company, but for the many rural craftswomen that had spearheaded its production efforts since its establishment.

Taking over in 2006, Darshi’s journey has taken Buddhi Batiks from Sri Lanka’s best known Batik house to a fashion powerhouse, that has taken it to places no one ever expected the art form to reach. These days Buddhi Batiks designs can be seen on everything from saris worn by top Bollywood cinematic sirens to high fashion clothing worn on international catwalks.

What used to be restricted to traditional wear has now become Sri Lanka’s contribution to international fashion, with its new collections being the most highly anticipated and looked forward to at exclusive events such as the country’s haute couture centerpiece, the Colombo Fashion Week.With Sri Lanka currently experiencing its second wave of COVID-19 infections and a mega cluster putting the curbs on what was expected to be a post-pandemic recovery process, we spoke to batik savant, visionary entrepreneur, and vocal advocate of female empowerment in industry, Darshi Keerthisena, on the impact on her business, and her hopes and expectations in these uncertain times.

What were the early days of Buddhi Batiks like?

I grew up in the back yard of Buddhi Batiks, taking my home-cooked lunch and swapping it with the home-cooked lunch of the artisans. We used to play carrom and ‘elle’ after eating together. There I would make clothes for my dogs and my dolls, and try my hand at creating batiks. I learned from the best local artisans, as well as Central St. Martins fashion graduates. Buddhi Batiks was a booming business back then.

What was it like bringing change to a traditional business as it was back then?

When I took over the business in 2006 it was not the booming business we had back in the 80s. With the civil war and the decline in the tourist industry, the batik industry had become a very monotonous handicraft still stuck in the 80s with no one creating anything contemporary. I wanted to create fashion and textiles that I would want to wear. Thinking different to the norm was something I learned from my parents. I too started looking at the Batik business differently, in how I could update it and create a contemporary product.

How difficult was it to reposition your business into one that focuses on empowering individuals; especially women?

I didn’t have to reposition it. It was always the guiding light of Buddhi Batiks. We always had women from our village working with us and over the years they grow in the team or they eventually become entrepreneurs themselves.

What more does the country need to do to increase women’s participation in the country’s development drive?

  • The lack of safety in the workplace is the biggest issue for the lack of women in the workforce.
  • Sexual harassment in the workplace and also during travel to work is one of the main reasons women are reluctant to enter the workforce.
  • Support from the family is also essential. Especially if you are a married woman with kids, the husband’s support is essential in managing the work at home and kids.
  • Just because the husband says, it’s ok you can go to work too isn’t enough. He needs to actually engage in support and sharing the responsibilities of the kids and managing the household.
  • Apart from that not having anyone responsible to leave the young kids with is also a reason why women stay at home after having kids. Encouraging workplaces to have a daycare center for the young kids will be helpful to solve this issue.
  • Flexible working hours will also be helpful.

Where does Sri Lanka’s Batik industry stand now?

          “With the civil war and the decline in the tourism industry, the batik industry had become a very monotonous handicraft still stuck in the 80s with no one creating anything contemporary.”

Since the collapse of the Batik industry in the late 80s, things have changed for the better lately. Buddhi Batiks introduced a new look to the Batik industry with the new collection reveal in 2007 at the Colombo Fashion Week. With this collection, silk satin, silk chiffon, and silk georgette were introduced to Sri Lankan Batik. We also showcased men’s Batik T-shirts, satin silk sarongs, and Batik denim as well. The bold floral designs with bright colors and pastel shades on the saris brought back the sari to the younger generation. Today the Batik industry is so popular, the government had recognized the importance of this craft and seen its potential in becoming a revenue generator in the international market too. In fact, there is a Batik and Textile State Minister for this industry.

How did the industry fare through the lock-down?

It was hard. Most factories were closed, it wasn’t possible to get raw materials, and retail outlets were closed. Since Buddhi Batiks does a lot of custom products like bridals, we continued communicating with clients and designing from home, so we had designs ready to go into production as soon as the lockdown lifted.

Being a sustainable business, are there unique challenges you face in the virus era?

As a brand that has taken the path of sustainability, we face many challenges in the batik industry. First, the lack of standardization of raw materials, may it be fabric, dyes, or chemicals. This is a common problem for any area not just during the current period. Second, sustainable raw materials like organic fabrics are expensive, as is water treatment, so during a time where there are added financial stresses caused by the virus it becomes harder to run sustainably. But it is something we have committed to and we persevere on this path.

How has your road to recovery been to you and your stakeholders?

We recovered quickly. There were a lot of pent up orders that allowed us to hit the road running. The team really came together, multi-tasking and taking on roles that they wouldn’t normally have to do. In hindsight, it made us more efficient because we also had to quickly find ways to reduce costs to survive. Now that we are facing another lockdown, we have a better idea of what we have to do to keep going.

Has governmental support been forthcoming towards businesses such as yours?

Yes. Finally, there is appreciation through having a dedicated minister for the locally produced Batik and textiles industry. The restriction on imports has helped the industry.

What would your budget wish-list be for sustainable SME businesses?

“Payment gateways to receive foreign payments are expensive and complex, requiring lengthy documentation and compliance paperwork.”

Primarily, standardization on pricing for raw materials for the batik and local textile industry. Need a cheap payment gateway that allows small entrepreneurs to get paid by credit card from foreign buyers. Indians, especially like our products, and courier charges to India are cheap. Existing payment gateways to receive foreign payments are expensive and complex (Webxpay and PayHere) requiring lengthy documentation and compliance paperwork. Also generating a payment link is complicated. Perhaps the Central Bank can develop a payment gateway where a supplier only needs to plug in a bank account and can then start doing business with the outside world. Rather than one million dollar order in one go, you can have thousands of small orders ($500-$1000 amounts) which will add up to millions.

BUDGET WISHLIST

  • PRICING STANDARDISATION FOR RAW MATERIALS
  • PAYMENT GATEWAY TO ENABLE FOREIGN CARD PAYMENTS TO SMES

Many businesses have identified new and unique opportunities in the current virus hit economy. What are yours, if any, and what has your approach been in identifying them?

We are always on the lookout for new products that we could create and introduce to the market. We spend a lot of time and resources in our research and development. You will see our new reveal in December.

What changes has this brought to your business model?

We are always ready for change, and having a team mindset for constant improvement has been very useful during this time.

 

 

Is the future bright for small industries in Sri Lanka?

With the restriction on imports and during the lock-down, we all learned to appreciate local and locally made products. The same applies to the craft and apparel industry too. This opens up a huge opportunity for the local small industries too.

Sri Lankan Batiks are now being recognized as uniquely Sri Lankan the world over. Where can it fit in when it comes to country branding and promotion?

Sri Lankan batik emphasizes hand drawing with inspiration derived from our own rich heritage in terms of motif and design. At the same time, being an island that has been always open to outside ideas, we tend to incorporate our traditional craft with worldwide contemporary trends. This is very much the case in batik apparel. It’s not just batik saris and sarongs now, we use batik on dresses, swimwear coverups, accessories, and increasingly in interior design.

Milla Resort – They Speak Our Language! Comments Off on Milla Resort – They Speak Our Language! 910

Milla-Resort-02

“I always forget how amazing it is to be in nature until I’m actually out in the thick of it, and think to myself, ‘Oh yeah! I should probably do this more often’

I’m not a spiritual person, but it is always in the great outdoor that I’ve had the closest thing to a spiritual experience. Sitting out in the terrace between sets as the sun is rising and there’s nothing but you and the silence. Lying in the sun in the luxurious meadow with a good book or camping in the woods in the middle of nowhere, listening to the whisper of the wind and fall of the water. So much tranquility!

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Life in the countryside of Sri Lanka can be a truly spellbinding experience. In this part of the country it is generally warm during the day but surprisingly quite chilly towards the evening.

Surrounded by lush greenery and a secluded mango-fringed garden fronting the Uva country side, there is an exquisite Villa located in Buttala; one of the best parts of the country for combining lazy days around the lush greenery by exploring the country’s natural wealth.

Milla Holiday Resort has the ideal facilities for a family vacation and honeymooners to experience the village life in the countryside of Sri Lanka. It is unified by the fact that it is totally unique.

Set in Monaragala, the journey towards the resort itself is quite eventful with a few elephants parked in the middle of the road waiting to be fed by motorists bypassing them the Kataragama area. When entering the village, it presented a change of nature suiting to dry weather with where more shrubs and stretches of fields laden with golden crops. It was a joyful endless sight. As far as the eye could go, we saw standing tall plants with ripe grain as we were enchanted by the whole outlook of the village.Milla - 04

Boasting a village life in the countryside, the Holiday Resort offers relaxing stays amid a landscaped garden at Milla. The name ‘Milla’ is given as the whole structure is built centering a Milla tree shielding the resort. The rooms are built with rustic wood that blends with nature and open up to a private balcony facing dense vegetation and solid trees. Split into two separate eco-friendly units, the three bedroom bungalow has a panoramic view of the acres of organic garden heavy with its growth.

The villa has a spacious lounge, dining area and a BBQ facility outside in the garden. The villa’s restaurant serves interesting twists on classic local and international dishes sourcing many ingredients from its organic garden. Guests have the experience of picking various vegetables they would like to include in the meal right before it is prepared from the organic garden. The staff here is just amazing, and is willing to cater to your every whim. A leisurely picnic lunch under a mango tree with peacocks walking about freely is an experience that should not be overlooked.

 

A night at Milla Resort is not going to include a bubble bath and champagne cocktails but an authentic experience of a dip in the Kumbuk Oya. Fenced by the silence and acres and acres of Kumbuk trees, the coldest water which seeps through your body will transfer you to peacefulness.

Hidden away in the Monaragala District, just about 1Km from the Milla Resort is the Maligawila Buddha Statue, the tallest free-standing Buddha Statue in Sri Lanka, at 45ft high. Carved from a single piece of limestone rock, the statue dates back to the 7th century A.D. The site also contains a rock Bodhisattva, standing at 34ft tall. The site also lays claim to the only square moonstone in the world. The surrounding jungle and pleasant walk make it that much more magical. It’s also much more off the beaten track, hence generally you will have the site all to yourself.

In this part of the country, houses are usually inhabited by entire family generations. The people living in these rural areas are generally curious over visitors and quite welcomingly take you to their homes for a cup of tea. Eating simple food in rustic surroundings has its own taste, which you would surely appreciate. During this country side trip, you will experience various aspects of village life, their feelings and emotions, how they scrape a living. It is truly fascinating to experience the simple facts of life focused on fishing, wood carving, bakery, farming, village market, village trekking, a simple herbal tea with homemade kithul jaggery, can be a heaven on earth!

By: Chantal D.
Photography by: T. A. A. N. Siriwardane