It’s a journey not a destination: Think you are going to do a little personal development work, fix yourself, and then go back to life as usual? That is not how it works! Personal development is a lifetime journey! While it can be challenging at the beginning, you will soon notice that the rewards make the effort well worth it.
Let the past be the past: While learning about what shaped you is an important part of personal development, once you understand the past’s influence on creating where you are currently, it is time to let it go. We only heal after we have let the past be the past.
Every day is a new day: Frustrated because you fell off your personal development wagon or forgot for a moment (or many) that you were trying to do things differently? Remember that this is part of the process too! As soon as you can, remember that today is a new day and nothing needs to hold you back from moving forward in the way that you want to.
It is all perfect: Was it not supposed to look like this? Did you think your relationship was your last one, that you would feel more excited now that your kids have left home, or that your career was supposed to really fill you up? Regardless of whether things look like you thought they would, or not, it is all exactly as it should be. What do you have to learn from your situation, and how can you use it to be more, rather than less, of who you are?
It is all for you: Does it seem like some days the world is conspiring to take you down? It might feel that way, but, in truth, every little bit of what happens is helping you in your process of personal development. See if you can see the gift in the challenge and open up to a more generous and benevolent world.
P.S. Feel free to download this handy-dandy reminder of my five tips for personal development.
Like a monster from under the bed, stress and/or anxiety is stealing the peaceful nighttime Zzzzzs of nearly 70 million Americans. Anxiety may also be sabotaging your confidence, turning your stomach into knots, and impacting your general wellbeing. Learn how to squash the uncomfortable consequences of stress and anxiety with these 5 tips.
1. Remember: This Too Shall Pass
Laundry is piling up, the baby has a fever, and your boss wanted that report yesterday. Sound familiar? No one managing his or her own life is devoid of stress and too much of it can lead to excessive worry, nervousness, dread, upset stomach, or difficulty breathing. The first step to overcoming such negative feelings is to recognize that you are experiencing a very common emotional state most commonly identified as anxiety (learn more signs of anxiety). Although it’s uncomfortable, the negative feelings WILL PASS. Fighting the anxiety can make it stronger. Paradoxically, accepting that you are feeling anxious helps activate the body’s natural relaxation response.
2. Learn How to Self-Soothe
Imagine walking down a nature path only to be greeted by a snarling grizzly bear — or worse, your boss demanding that report. When we are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation, our body’s sympathetic nervous system automatically triggers physiological changes. Our breathing quickens, adrenaline is secreted, and our heart begins to race. This natural survival mechanism — called the fight or flight response — is intended to help us to escape a true, life threatening emergency. However, when the threat is imagined (e.g., I’m going to bomb this presentation and everyone will know I’m a fraud), the fight/flight response is unnecessary and very uncomfortable.
Self soothing techniques that reduce the stress response:
One of the most effective ways to activate the relaxation response is by decreasing the heart rate. Since we can’t voluntarily alter our pulse, more tangible measures are needed. Luckily, a rapid heart rate can be lowered with deep breathing techniques. The most commonly utilized strategy is breathing by contracting the diaphragm, a horizontal muscle in the chest located just above the stomach cavity.
If a small child told you he was nervous about going to school the next day, what would you say? Unless you’re an abusive lunatic, phrases like “you’re such a dumb little kid” or “you should be nervous because no one will like you” would never leave your mouth. This is because we intuitively know how to help others combat stress sometimes better than ourselves. To increase emotional comfort, it’s imperative to practice reassuring and realistic self-talk. When anxious, practice self-talk phrases such as:
“This feeling will pass.”
“I will get through this.”
“I am safe right now.”
“I am feeling anxious now, but I have the power make myself calm.”
“I can feel my heart rate slowing down.”
Stress causes our muscles to tighten and become tense. To increase a relaxed state and physical comfort, tighten and release muscles beginning with the largest muscle group. Watch this video to learn progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
3. Check Your Diet
What we eat and drink largely impacts our emotional state. Foods most associated with exacerbating anxiety are ones containing caffeine and alcohol. Even consumed in small amounts, studies have found that the stimulating effects of caffeine can cause anxiety, trigger panic attacks, and increase feelings of nervousness and irritability. Caffeine — commonly found in coffee, colas, tea, and chocolate — also causes physical symptoms such as trembling and shaking. Abruptly eliminating caffeine from the diet can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, restlessness, and irritability so it’s important to decrease caffeine consumption gradually. Similarly, although alcohol is often consumed to “take the edge off” it dehydrates the body and ultimately increases anxiety.
An imbalance of bacteria in the gut can also cause many symptoms associated with anxiety and other mood disorders. Researchers at McMaster University found evidence that the balance of bacteria in your gut may have more to do with your mood than any other contributing factor.
4. Get Moving
Most of us know that exercise is good for our physical health. For the past few decades, research has suggested that exercise is even more effective than medication (learn more from this helpful article from Huffington Post (link is external)). Maintaining a regular (healthy, non-obsessive) exercise routine has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood, enhance self-esteem, and increase energy levels. During exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain to causing euphoric feelings and reduction in physical pain.
5. Get More Sleep
Nearly everyone feels a little crabby after a rough night’s sleep. Disrupted sleep is common in many emotional disorders and it’s difficult to know which started first — stress or poor sleep. A study from the University of Pennsylvania (link is external) showed that losing just a few hours of sleep increases feelings of stress, anger, sadness, and exhaustion.
“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you are fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
reposed from Psychology Today
I have to be honest about how I typically deal with my distaste for winter – I get the heck out and go somewhere warm! While I will be making some trips to warmer climates this winter, I still try to find ways to be happier and more at peace when I find myself wishing I had three jackets on instead of only one. This – and any situation that makes us uncomfortable – is a great chance to reflect on how to find happiness with what IS rather than seeking to change our situation.
Of course, when we have the power to change our circumstances for the better, I believe we should take it (i.e. hit the beach in some tropical destinations for some fun and sun). But, sometimes what we are experiencing in life is beyond our control –just like the weather. When that is the case, the only thing that we have control over is ourselves – our thoughts, emotions and actions. Here are 5 ways to cultivate happiness in your day to day life, no matter what comes your way.
1. Start Positive – The first few moments of your day make a real imprint on how the rest of it goes. Start with a moment to be quiet, an affirmation, journaling or any other way that helps you start your day centered and focused.
2. Look For It – What you focus on gets bigger. Unfortunately, we often focus on what makes us unhappy rather than the things that make our day better. Make an effort to recognize what is going well and what you do enjoy.
3. Be Clear On What Makes You Happy – This may seem like a no brainer but it is actually something that we overlook. What most brings you pleasure and happiness? Alone time or social time? A good home cooked meal or enjoying take out and a movie? Becoming conscious of the things you most enjoy means that you will choose them more often.
4. Say “Thank You” – Whether it be to yourself, your partner, your child or a co-worker. Express your gratitude for what is working as often as possible. Expressing your appreciation will immediately make you and the other person feel more positive. It also reinforces the liked behavior so that you are more likely to see more of it.
5. Slow Down – Slow down and savor the good parts of your life. Pay attention when you are eating something delicious or really listen when talking to a friend. Or take the time to notice what is around you on your daily walk or drive. The more you can be present with your 5 senses and what you are experiencing, the better.
Life is always a mix of things. No matter how bad a day seems, there is always something there that is positive as well. Using the list above will help you to collect the good out the simple, daily events of your life and can drastically increase your happiness.
What to hear more on this topic? Join Dr. Kate on her weekly radio show Real Answers, Thursdays at 12pm EST. This week she will be further discussing how to find (and stay!) happy in the day to day.
Creativity isn’t a physical product: a story, a painting, a wreath. Acquiring the skill to make items takes practice. Creativity, on the other hand, takes a commitment to a certain mindset. As Robert Henri put it “The object is not to make art, but to be in that state which makes art inevitable.”
Creativity is the intangible quality of being able intelligently synthesize concepts in a fresh way. But how can access this place of innovation and new thinking?
Here are some tips that may help out when things seem stagnant:
Be playful. That’s the first rule. Creativity will not flow freely from an uptight, unwilling source. Don’t be afraid to be irreverent or silly, or to create something that is not your best. Looking at your life or business from a playful attitude may help you see things in a new light.
Embrace failures. You’re going to have ideas that flat out will not work. But that doesn’t mean that parts of your ideas aren’t useful or can’t be recycled for later projects. Don’t give up after just one draft of an idea, but whatever you do, don’t force bad ideas to happen. Instead, put them aside and you may reinvent them later.
Keep a record. Write it. Draw it. Record it. Whatever you do, make sure you take note of the things you’ve done and keep these notes in a central location. It helps you gain creative momentum. Once you see the great ideas you’ve come up with, it gives you the confidence to keep pushing them further. Keeping a creative journal can help you draw from past, unused ideas and watch yourself progress. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even intelligible by other people. As long as you know what your shorthand means, your notes are invaluable.
Try something new. I’m sure you have heard the quote “Same actions get same results.” So, when in search of creative thinking, try something (anything!) new. Attempting new things may shed new light on the things you’re interested in. The more versatile you become, the more experience you’re able to use to leverage your creativity.
Flâner. A French word meaning, “to walk around aimlessly without a plan.” (It actually means something closer to I would like to meet/stroll around with you). The phrase has roots in the actions of 19th century writers, who would would leisurely loaf around Paris seemingly without purpose. However, this downtime has two purposes: you can draw inspiration from taking in the world around you, and you can let the ideas in your head marinate and mature. Take a break from your hard work and nap. Drink a cup of tea and watch a thunderstorm. Loaf around and be with your thoughts. Some of the most creative ideas come when you focus on yourself, or even when you focus on nothing at all.
Cultivating a creative mind takes some effort. Challenge yourself. The more you can put yourself in a space of creativity, the more you can imagine greater potentials for your life or business. And what you can dream, you can do!
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
Most people agree that self-confidence is one of the most important factors in how well we do in life. We are born with perfect self-confidence, but that is eroded by many factors as we grow up.
Instead of focusing on the things that drag down our confidence, it is important to remember the things that boost it. Whether we are going to a job interview, a first date, giving a speech, or just getting through the day, there are some basic ways that we can give ourselves that extra boost of confidence that will win the day:
1. FOCUS ON WINS
Have reminders of your achievements in full view so you can see them every night before going to bed and every morning when you wake up. They can be trophies, awards achieved, or anything that you are proud of. If you have no visible record, write down at least five things you are proud having achieved and post them by the mirror in your bathroom and on the wall in your workplace.
2. REMEMBER WHAT YOU ARE PROUD OF
List all the things you are proud of. What can you put on your résumé? What did you do that took courage?
Perhaps you moved away from your family, struck out on your own, or left an abusive relationship. Things that others would be afraid of doing, but you did them. How about the people you helped? Or maybe things you didn’t do, like say negative things about someone when everyone else was. Have you gone out of your way to help someone, when others might not have?
List these things and read them whenever you face a situation where you will need all your confidence.
3. ALWAYS GIVE YOUR BEST
Give your best in all situations. The outcome may not be what you wanted, but you will come away feeling good about yourself–every time you do you will come away a stronger person.
Stand up for what you believe in and what is right. Defend someone who is weaker, someone who is being bullied, or someone being treated unfairly. Resist the urge to go along just to get along. Be true to yourself and you will respect yourself and earn respect from those that matter.
4. JUST DO IT
We all are afraid of doing unfamiliar things for the first time, but those who succeed do things they have a fear of doing.
Get into the habit of pushing your comfort zone and doing things you are a little bit frightened to do. Make a list of something every week and every month. They don’t have to be huge but require some courage for you to do.
Try taking a dancing class, going to a movie alone, or starting a conversation with a stranger. See how it makes you feel after. Keep track of these things on a calendar. Review them every so often, or before that big date, interview, or event that is going to demand all the confidence you can muster.
5. KEEP BUILDING YOUR WINS
Don’t get into comparing your win with that of others. Your achievement is as important as anyone else’s.
Only share what you are doing with those that totally support you. Confidence builds upon itself, and the more you think you can do, the more you will attempt and be successful at.
Keep adding to your win list and watch yourself soar.
Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, speaker, and internationally published author of THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success, published by AMACOM of New York and found at www.theotherkindofsmart.com. He writes a monthly column for HRProfessionals Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy.
1. Love yourself to safety
Love is truly the most powerful force. We often spend a ton of time trying to figure a situation out or do something to change it. However, if we learn to be loved and bring love to the situation, amazing things happen! Easier said than done — for most of us — but well worth the effort.
2. Never give up!
To get what you want, it actually feels better to keep trying — even after we fail again and again — than it does to just give up. Trying for something even in the face of great challenges keeps us opening up — it keeps us growing. So, worry less about failure and more about what you think is most important.
3. Hide nothing. It will destroy you!
It might not always be on the outside that we see these problems, but, when we hide things, we are doing damage inside ourselves as well. We feel out of integrity. That’s a big price to pay — all for supposedly saving some face.
4. Don’t expect any guarantees
It can be so easy to go through life looking for someone to ensure us a safe passage. And there just isn’t one. The only things we have left at the end of the day are our intent and our integrity. So it helps when we stop looking for safety, start being who we know we should be, and start acting the way we know we should act.
5. Care more than makes sense
If you want to be fulfilled, a sure-fire way to get there is to “give a damn,” as I would say. In the face of uncertainty, care. In the face of problems, care. When people say you should not care or that it is hopeless, be brave enough to care. It will change your life forever.
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