Archive For November 30, 2014

Positive Thinking For the Holiday Season

“Relationships are mysterious. We doubt the positive qualities in others, seldom the negative. You will say to your partner: do you really love me? Are you sure you love me? You will ask this a dozen times and drive the person nuts. But you never ask: are you really mad at me? Are you sure you’re angry? When someone is angry, you don’t doubt it for a moment. Yet the reverse should be true. We should doubt the negative in life, and have faith in the positive.” ― Christopher Pike, Remember Me

The holiday season brings up feelings of stress and lack for many of us. I personally find myself thinking about the gifts I cannot afford to buy, the tensions in my family relationships and the things that did not happen in a year drawing to a close.

I came across the above quote today and it spoke to me very strongly and inspired me to try to reframe all that is to come in the next weeks. I am personally committing to being more positive, during this time and end my year the way I hope to begin my new one – with compassion, patience and joy – and I invite you to take the challenge with me.

Lets commit to taking time to pause, to reflect and to focus on the good that we do have, not our places of lack. To focus on what is good and right about our lives and especially our relationships instead of the places where they are painful. To celebrate the end of the year by celebrating the areas of our life where there is abundance, where there has been growth and where we are proud and joyful.

One of the ways I am staying focused on the positive is by taking 10 minutes to write about what I am grateful for from now until the last day of the year. Join me in this exercise and lets end this year on a positive note no matter WHAT comes our way.

Blessings to you in this very special, potent and beautiful time of year!

(more…)

6 Ways To Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude and appreciation are two powerful weapons we can use against depression and anxiety.

In fact, Dan Baker writes in his book, What Happy People Know, that it is impossible to be in a state of appreciation and fear at the same time.

Here, then, are some ways we can cultivate gratitude.

1. Keep a gratitude journal.
According to psychologists such as Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California-Riverside, keeping a gratitude journal —where you record once a week all the things you have to be grateful for — and other gratitude exercises can increase your energy, and relieve pain and fatigue. In my daily mood journal, I make a list of each day’s “little joys,” moments that I would fail to appreciate if I didn’t make myself record them, such as: “holding my daughter’s hand on the way to the car,” “a hot shower,” “helping my son with his homework.” This exercise reminds me of all the blessings in my life I take for granted and encourages me to appreciate those mundane moments that can be sources of joy.

2. Use the right words.
According to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, words literally can change your brain. In their book, Words Can Change Your Brain, they write: “a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. According to the authors, they propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and build resiliency.

3. Remember.
“Gratitude is the heart’s memory,” says the French proverb. Therefore, one of the first steps to thankfulness is to remember those in our lives who have walked with us and shown kindness for deeds big and small. I have been extremely fortunate to have so many positive mentors in my life. At every scary crossroad, there was a guardian or messenger there to help me find my way. The mere exercise of remembering such people can cultivate gratitude in your life.

4. Write thank-you letters.
According to psychologist Robert Emmons at the University of California at Davis, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, a powerful exercise to cultivate gratitude is to compose a “gratitude letter” to a person who has made a positive and lasting influence in your life.

Emmons says the letter is especially powerful when you have not properly thanked the person in the past, and when you read the letter aloud to the person face to face. I do this as part of my holiday cards, especially to former professors or teachers who helped shape my future and inspired me in ways they might not know.

5. Hang with the winners.
Peer pressure never really goes away, you know. Studies show that married folks hanging out with happy couples are more likely to stay married themselves; that if your friends eat well, their willpower will rub off on you; and that if you surround yourself with optimists, you will end up more positive than if you keep company with a bunch of whiners. By merely sitting next to a person who likes the words “thank you,” there is a high probability that you will start using those words as well.

6. Give back.
A while back I wanted to repay a former professor of mine for all his encouragement and support to me throughout the years. However, nothing I could do would match his kindness. No letter of appreciation. No visit to his classrooms. So I decided I would help some young girl who fell into my path in the same way that he helped me. I would try to help and inspire this lost person just as he had done for me.

Giving back doesn’t mean reciprocating favors so that everything is fair and the tally is even. That’s the beauty of giving. If someone does an act of kindness for you, one way to say thanks is to do the same for another.

Originally posted on Everyday Health.

(more…)

7 Obstacles to Mindfulness (and how to overcome them!)

I came onto the path of mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality when I was 16 years old. I saw the TV-series Ed where the main character started experimenting with lucid dreaming.

That got me interested, and that is where my journey started. It hasn’t been an easy journey by any means, but I’m nearing a decade on this path, and I don’t regret it for a moment.

I’ve been through a lot of challenges, such as going through brief spurts of depression. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, and that life wouldn’t work out the way I wanted it to. In every one of these cases I let my thoughts run wild. I started focusing on the negative instead of on the positive, and I think many people have the same tendency.

So there have been both ups and downs, but in the end they have all been there for a reason. And with each “bad period,” I’ve learned more and more about myself.

Truly living in the present moment isn’t easy, but it is highly rewarding. The best way to move forward on your own path to “here and now” is to understand the potential obstacles and plan in advance how you’ll deal with them.

1. Mindfulness takes ongoing effort.
Mindfulness takes work, but the good news is that the longer you practice, the easier it gets, and the more joyful your life becomes. Mindfulness is best practiced throughout your day. It’s not just for when you sit down and meditate. Focus on being mindful of your thoughts when you’re doing everyday tasks and it will be easier to remain mindful when things get tough.

2. There will always be distractions.
When you’re on your journey to becoming more mindful, it seems as if the universe starts throwing stuff at you just to give you challenges. The distractions could be problems in your life, drama in your relationships, or old negative beliefs popping up from your past. These are great opportunities to practice present moment awareness. They will help you become stronger, better, and more in tune with yourself. The problems and challenges we face are teachers in disguise. They are there to help you grow and to realize who you truly are.

3. Progress doesn’t always come quickly.
Progress may seem excruciatingly slow. There will be times when you attach to things and situations that you want, which will make it difficult to be fully in the present moment. It’s impossible to be mindful when you’re dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future. We all do those things sometimes. I’ve experienced it countless times in my own life. The more I want something, the more I fixate on not having it and wanting to get it. Once I release the attachment and focus on being grateful for what I have in the moment, my life seems to shift, and progress seems to happen naturally.

4. You may want to give up.
Like with any worthwhile journey, you may feel like giving up and throwing in the towel multiple times. But it is during the times when you feel most frustrated that you are often on the verge of a breakthrough. Our lives are very similar to the seasons. We go through cold, dark winters, and joyful, expanding summers. It all comes and goes. It’s the ebb and flow of life. When you realize that the challenging times are there to help you grow, you will automatically feel more peaceful and relaxed.

5. Your goals may challenge your mindfulness.
Having goals is fantastic, essential even, but when you become overly attached to them, something bad happens, just like we talked about above. You know that you’re too attached to something when you start feeling frustrated, angry, and negative. Attachment muddles our clarity. You’re likely pursuing your goals because you believe they will make you happy. Remember that when you start letting your goals pull you into a stressful state of mind. If you focus on the good things around you, you’ll feel that happiness that you think you need to chase. This will make you much happier in the long term, and, of course, right now.

6. You might forget that the journey is the destination.
Most people miss the fact that the reward is in the journey. Have you ever noticed that when you reach a goal, it’s not as exciting as you thought it would be? Sure, it feels great to hit a milestone, but if you do not replace that goal with another one, you will soon find yourself feeling unfulfilled. That’s because we are goal-seeking mechanisms. Humans need goals so they can have a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It is in the journey that we learn, grow, and become better. When you’re practicing mindfulness, remember that there is nowhere to arrive at. If you focus on what is going on right now, the rest take care of itself.

7. Sometimes you’ll want to be anywhere but in the now.
Even the most enlightened masters on earth have to deal with difficult situations and chaotic thoughts. The difference is they have learned to accept the moment for what it is. When you do this, you become the guardian of your inner space, which is the only way to feel good inside and find peace of mind, right now.

Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud and he is also the author of Find Your Passion: 25 Questions You Must Ask Yourself and Follow Your Heart: 21 Days to a Happier, More Fulfilling Life. The above article reblogged from TinyBuddha.com

(more…)

A Key To Making Big Decisions Easier

It comes and goes. Sometimes we feel like we are on track to our  dreams and other times we can feel overwhelmed and a bit hopeless about ever reaching them. Devoting yourself to your soul’s ambition is not always an easy street.

Here are some things that are helpful to know:

 

It gets harder once you commit: When you decide to fully commit yourself one of the first things that you can come up against is all of your resistance. This is not a sign that things are going wrong. Keep moving. You are on the right track.

 

The eternal revisions: Think you have it down once and for all? Well, um, unlikely. You have committed to a process. There will be points along the way where events will encourage you to take a second, and sometimes fifth, look at where you are going.  This can be hard but having the courage to look will go a long way.

 

When it is over: Sometimes, our greatest dreams turn out to be stepping stones. Know that if your dream turns out to be less on target than you originally thought that this is not a failure it is the beginning of something larger than which you were previously able to dream.

 

Overall, the key is not to figure it out. It is to get deeply connected with yourself and your own truth. The more that you can connect in to your core, the easier it will be for you to make the decisions you need to grow.

(more…)

Increase Your Positive Impact

This past weekend I was teaching on Values to my LifeWork Community Group. I love talking about values with people as it gets us down into what is MOST important to us. I consider values to be an essential part of any heart-centered business or project. Our values are what set us apart from just being someone who runs a business to someone who runs a business that can make the world a better place.

Here is an example: Think of the difference between two businesses that sell scarves. One may support child labor, bad work environments, and invasive sales tactics, but the other can sell the same product but support fair trade, healthy work environments, and educational sales approaches. The first company might value profits at any cost; the second company might value sustainability. Big difference, right?

What I love about values is that this is the point in the planning process where we get to really see the difference we are going to make — not just in the big picture, but in the day-by-day. Each and every action we take for our business or project can support our values. Right away, this increases our well-being and our positive impact in the world!

Here is a quick exercise to get you thinking about your values:

If you asked three friends to describe three to five positive traits you possess, what would they be? Write them down as they come to you. If you cannot think of anything, try actually asking one to three friends this question to see what they say.

For more exercises like this, check out my book Real Answers

(more…)

Five Ways To Make Peace With Failure

Let’s face it.  We all make mistakes.

Most of us know that failure is a reality of life, and at some level, we understand that it actually helps us grow. Intellectually, we even acknowledge that the greatest achievers — past and present — also routinely experienced colossal failures.

But still, we hate to fail.  We fear it, we dread it, and when it does happen, we hold onto it.  We give it power over our emotions, and sometimes we allow it to dictate our way forward (or backward). Some of us go to great lengths to avoid failure because of all the pain and shame associated with it. Why is it so hard to let go, forgive ourselves and move on?  And how can we keep failure – or the fear of it — from derailing us?

Here are five strategies:

1.  Don’t make it personal.
 Separate the failure from your identity. Just because you haven’t found a successful way of doing something (yet) doesn’t mean you are a failure.  These are completely separate thoughts, yet many of us blur the lines between them.  Personalizing failure can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence. There was a man who failed in business at age 21; was defeated in a legislative race at age 22; failed again in business at 24; overcome the death of his fiancée at 26; had a nervous breakdown at 27; lost a congressional race at 34; lost a senatorial race at age 45; failed to become Vice President at age 47; lost a senatorial race at 49; and was elected as the President of the United States at the age of 52. This man was Abraham Lincoln. He refused to let his failures define him and fought against significant odds to achieve greatness.

2.  Take stock, learn and adapt.
Look at the failure analytically — indeed, curiously — suspending feelings of anger, frustration, blame or regret. Why did you fail? What might have produced a better outcome? Was the failure completely beyond your control? After gathering the facts, step back and ask yourself, what did I learn from this?  Think about how you will apply this newfound insight going forward.

Thomas Edison reportedly failed 10,000 times while he was inventing the light bulb. He was quoted as saying, “I have found 10,000 ways something won’t work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” The Wright brothers spent years working on failed aircraft prototypes and incorporating their learnings until they finally got it right: a plane that could get airborne and stay there.

3.  Stop dwelling on it.
Obsessing over your failure will not change the outcome. In fact, it will only intensify the outcome, trapping you in an emotional doom-loop that disables you from moving on. You cannot change the past, but you can shape your future. The faster you take a positive step forward, the quicker you can leave these debilitating, monopolizing thoughts behind.

Don Shula is the winningest coach in the NFL, holding the record for most career wins (including two Super Bowl victories) and the only perfect season in NFL history.

Shula had a “24-hour rule,” a policy of looking forward instead of dwelling on the past. The coach allowed himself, his staff and his players 24 hours to celebrate a victory or brood over a defeat. During those 24 hours, Shula encouraged them to feel their emotions of success or failure as deeply as they could. The next day, it was time to put it behind them and focus their energy on preparing for their next challenge. His philosophy was that if you keep your failures and victories in perspective, you’ll do better in the long run.



4.  Release the need for approval of others.
Often our fear of failure is rooted in our fear of being judged and losing others’ respect and esteem. We easily get influenced (and spooked) by what people say about us.

Remember, this is your life, not theirs.  What one person considers to be true about you is not necessary the truth about you, and if you give too much power to others’ opinions, it could douse your passion and confidence, undermining your ability to ultimately succeed.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job because someone thought she was “unfit for TV.” Stephen King’s first book, Carrie, was rejected by 30 publishers. Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job because he “lacked imagination and good ideas.” Winston Churchill failed sixth grade and was considered “a dolt” by his teacher. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off the stage the first time he tried comedy. Soichiro Honda was rejected by an HR manager at Toyota Motor Corporation when he applied for an engineering job, leaving him jobless until he began making scooters in his garage and eventually founded Honda Motor Company. ’Nuff said.

5.  Try a new point of view. 
Our upbringing – as people and professionals – has given us an unhealthy attitude toward failure. One of the best things you can do is to shift your perspective and belief system away from the negative (“If I fail, it means I am stupid, weak, incapable, and am destined to fall short”) and embrace more positive associations (“If I fail, I am one step closer to succeeding; I am smarter and more savvy because the knowledge I’ve gained through this experience”).

Indeed, one can hardly find an historic or current-day success story that isn’t also a story of great failure.  And if you ask those who have distinguished themselves through their achievements, they will tell you that failure was a critical enabler of their success.  It was their motivator.  Their teacher.  A stepping stone along their path to greatness.  The difference between them and the average person is that they didn’t give up.

Michael Jordan said it best: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Find Susan at www.authenticleadershipalliance.com or follow her on Twitter @susantardanico

www.forbes.com (more…)

Turning Epic Failure Into Inspiration

Epic Failure

I was the presenter at a New England eWomen event on Wednesday and I totally enjoyed the people who were there. I highly recommend (if you are local and in business) checking them out.

I was all prepared for my speech. I had spoken at eWomen groups before. I felt at ease and confident. And then, a curve ball. Unexpectedly I was asked to talk about my business for 2 minutes.

When it was my turn, I froze. My mind just went completely blank. I have introduced myself this way hundreds of times but my brain could not access the information it needed and I stumbled over my words. YUCK! Who likes public failure? No one does!

So, with the desire to turn this uncomfortable event into something positive, I started to think about what good might come of it. I decided that this post would be the start. And, maybe a book. Inspiration comes in so many ways!

Transforming Failure Into Inspiration

One thing that I hear over and over is that people are afraid to fail. They are afraid of what others are going to think about them. They are afraid to feel the pain of failure and because of this fear of failure they stop short or do not take action at all.

I have definitely been someone that has been afraid of failure. I have been afraid of it to such a degree that at times it has been totally paralyzing.

Truth be told, I was once quoted as saying “Everyone in my family is a perfectionist (including myself) but I suck at it.” This is interesting in two ways. First, saying that means I was the pinnacle of perfectionism. Second, this way of being clearly comes with a desire to be mean to myself in the form of judging everything that is not perfect.

If you experience this you know how much it sucks.

Perfectionists never feel good enough. When they make a mistake, and they know that they made a mistake, it is enough to take them down –really far down.

Sometimes this stops them from doing anything at all. Their perfectionist streak can hurt both career and relationships but it’s worst aspect is the internal judgement and negative dialog.

You can change the game by embracing your limitations and failures. This is not an easy thing to do and takes patience and practice, but it can be learned. Here are five things that you can do to become less of a perfectionist.

1. Stop performing: Do you find yourself making everything polished and perfect? Does everyone think you are amazing –all the time? It can be great to be amazing but know what is even better? Being liked for who you really are. Instead of perfect, aim for genuine.

2. Lean into your mistakes: If you are screwing up, let yourself screw up. It can even be fun. Take it from a serious person. Make a point of not taking YOURSELF to seriously.

3. See your mistakes as opportunities: There is something to be gained from every time we fail. How can you turn coal into a diamond?

4. Give credit to and enjoy both your strengths and limitations: Funny thing happens when you embrace either a strength or a limitation of yours, you become better able to embrace its opposite. This means you get to increasingly step more and more into your full self.

5. See it as a gift: When you are willing to be accepting of your limitations everyone around you is able to breath a bit more easily. Being honest about and accepting your shortcomings helps everyone around you heal themselves by creating an environment of love and acceptance. (more…)

Creating Clear Intentions

In one week, I am starting my LifeWork Community program. If you relate to my blog, workshops or book and you are not too far a drive from Providence, you really need to talk to me about this program! LifeWork Community is about creating a fabulous, intentional, creative and impactful life. It is going to be amazing and I know you will want in.

Email admin@projectspace.in to find out more!

The first workshop in this new program is about being more intentional. Until we know just what we want to create and some of the steps we know we need to take to consistently to make it happen, we tend to be less satisfied, have less of a sense of meaning, and get hit or miss results.

There is this great question that I read somewhere, I can’t remember where right now. It is: What would you want if you were absolutely certain you would get it?

Take a moment to think about that.

Is your answer any different than what you are going about creating on a regular basis? If it is, this is a perfect place to employ the practice of intention.

What if your intention was to create what you really want instead of what you have convinced yourself that you can have?

What would you need to do on a regular basis to be as likely as possible to create what it is that you truly want? And, who would you need to be in order to reach that desired goal for yourself?

These questions are at the heart of intentional and fulfilled living.

(more…)

True Wealth

If you have gone into business for yourself, chances are you were in some way lured in by this promise of freedom –the freedom to work when you want, where you want, and how you want.

To create business in line with your values and have the money to support the things you believe in. What you likely learned is that creating that level of freedom, quality and profit is far from easy. In fact, you can end up running on an even faster treadmill or swimming with even more vicious sharks than you would if you were working in corporate.

So, is this promise land of freedom and riches even possible?

Absolutely.

But big secret is that who you are on the inside makes a huge difference in your success. In fact, psychological research is showing that our perception is key to whether we feel like we have what makes us happy regardless of what it is that we have.

In other words, you can have all the riches in the world and your mindset will dictate whether or not you feel wealthy. So, if you are thinking that if you increase your income, or lower your work hours you will feel successful or happier, you may be chasing the proverbial carrot.

Having a Ph.D in Psychology and having worked in one way or another in the health and wellness industry for the past 20 years, I believe that business can be healing. It can improve the quality of life of the entrepreneur, the customer or client, the community, and the larger world. It can support things that have value and decrease the value of harmful practices and products in the world.

But, what is it that makes a business quality driven AND profitable? It is the character, values, and general consciousness of the entrepreneur themselves? Without engaging in self-reflection, gratitude, creative practice and personal development, it is impossible for the entrepreneur to create a business that has both a positive effect and a profit. Our perception restricts us from seeing the opportunities that would allow us to create positive alternatives.

My suggestions for would-be and seasoned entrepreneurs alike is that they make sure that their own personal development is part of their business plan and that they use this self-reflection to create businesses and lives that are healthy, wealthy, and happy.

(more…)

Forget Balance! – Work, Life And The Surprising Secret to Happiness

The elusive goal of balance keeps us teetering on a tightrope of insanity as we frantically juggle the plates of our compartmentalized lives.

Balance may be the big buzzword in corporate America, but parceling yourself out in the quest for perfect balance often makes you so worried about the moments you’re missing that you forget how to enjoy the moments you’re actually in.

The problem isn’t lack of balance. It’s that we’ve sub-divided our lives into a series of endless to-dos that hold no meaning for us whatsoever.

The truth is, balance isn’t a strategy; it’s a tactic, and a reactive one at that. And you don’t create success or happiness with tactics. Think about it. Do you know anyone who achieved nirvana by mastering the art of the Franklin Planner?

It’s no coincidence that when people talk about balance they’re usually lamenting their lack of it.

I should spend more time with my kids. I should take more vacations. I should get to the gym more often. I should call my folks. The list is a mile long, and we’re convinced that true happiness will descend upon us when it’s all checked off.

But the real secret of happiness isn’t balance at all; it’s two very simple things: We’re the happiest when we’re connected to others, and we know that what we’re doing with our time makes a difference.

That’s it. Not new cars, not big promotions, not even more sex, the perfect life partner or photogenic kids. It’s been proven time and time again, by everyone from the researchers at Harvard to religious leaders; we human beings need both pleasure and purpose to be happy. And we need to experience them both at the same time.

All the angst around balance is merely masking a larger issue which is lack of purpose and an inability to experience the pleasure of fully engaging in the present moment.

Our culture has perpetuated the myth that our work is over on one side of the equation and fun is on the other, two competing arenas that must be carefully balanced against each other at all times. Spread yourself around in the right proportion, and life will be bliss. But in reality, our challenge isn’t trying to balance out the drudgery with the fun; our challenge is to learn to how enjoy every aspect of our life while we’re actually living it.

Meaningful work – be it parenting, PTA or powering your way to the top of P & G – is the cornerstone of a happy and successful life.

Exhaustion may make you crave more pleasure. However, as the angst ridden botoxed ladies at the country club can attest, you can spend every day of your life at the spa, but unless it’s connected to a larger purpose, at a certain point you’re going to get tired of exfoliating yourself.

On the flip side, you can selflessly spend hours scooping soup for the poor, but until you learn to be fully present and experience the grace while you’re ladling, there won’t be a big serving of joy waiting for you at the bottom of the pot.

We human beings are hard-wired with an innate desire to create meaningful connections while we’re on this planet and to make a contribution that outlasts our stay on it.

Yet, despite the lofty yearnings of our souls. we often get ourselves so mired in our own muck that we’re not fully engaged with the people around us, and we completely miss the potentially larger purpose of our daily grind. There aren’t too many world leaders, kindergarten teachers, or jingle writers who create fabulous results by distractedly going through the motions.

Trying to balance out your priorities by employing superb scheduling tactics will always feel like a rat race if you don’t have a meaningful strategy or goal. If your true objective is to become happy, you’re going to have to spend a little time thinking about what that actually means to you.

Whether you know it or not, you do have purpose on this planet – we all do – and I suspect that much of our angst over balance comes from the gnawing knowledge that we’re not fulfilling it. But before you quit your day job, you should know that you don’t have to create world peace to give yourself a reason to get out of bed. Sometimes your life’s purpose is something as simple, elegant and meaningful as being a great friend or boss.

I have no idea what your purpose is; it took me the better part of 44 years just to start getting an inkling of my own. But I do know that the meaning and joy you get out of your life is in direct proportion to the meaning and joy you put into it.

You can’t make good decisions about where to spend your time until you know how you want to share your heart. Guiltily parceling out bits and pieces of yourself in the name of balance never makes you happy; it just makes you tired. So forget balance. Figure out your purpose, get present in the moment and decide to be happy instead.

reblogged from bnetworking.info

(more…)