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Monday, December 26, 2011

Kindness--The Gift that Keeps on Giving

'This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.'
The Dalai Lama

Kindness--The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Do you or someone you know get the holiday blues? You're not alone.

For so many the winter holidays are anything but joyful. Whether it's missing a loved one who already passed, or dealing with seasonal affective disorder  (SAD) or ghosts from the past--depression and a sense of social isolation can move in during the cold winter months.

Warm up your days by reaching out to others--and give what you'd like to get--a bit of human kindness.  As difficult as it may be to initiate contact when you're not at your best, you'll discover the connection is as good for you as it is for the others. 

Face Life with an Open Mind, Faith, Love and Kindness

Choose to face your winter blues with an open mind, faith, love and kindness. Open your heart to reach out to others through little concrete acts of kindness. These acts of kindness do not need to take a lot of time so you can pace yourself according to your energy level. Start small and let each new act of kindness towards others re-energize and lift your own spirits.

The greatest gift you can give yourself is a life fully engaged with others. Kindness towards others will come back to you tenfold. The smallest act of kindness--a smile, a well-wishing, a thank you, or praise for a job well done-- can have a big impact in the life of others and brighten your own.

A Year of Giving-- A Year of Happiness

If you want more love and happiness in the New Year, commit to consciously and generously give of yourself to others each and every day. Don't wait for others to come to you and don't wait until you have enough money. The most important things to give do not cost anything but your time.

How to be Kind? Let Me Count the Ways....

  • Look for ways to give people recognition and praise for a job well done daily.
  • Give thanks for the gifts others provide you. Let them know they matter.
  • Give your time--volunteer, read a book with a child, help in a classroom.
  • Provide a listening ear--provide empathy, love and hope.
  • Do concrete acts of caring--Write a letter, lend a book, make a phone call, spend time visiting, make a work referral.
  • Give back to your community--collect food and clothing for the needy, participate in clean up efforts to beautify your environment.

Don't Just Sit There--Do One Act of Kindness Right Now!
  • What do you have to offer others?
  • What can you give that would make you feel good about yourself?
  • What would you like to receive from others?
'Stillness is what creates love, movement is what creates life. To be still, yet moving-- that is everything.'   Do Hyun Choe, Sufi Master

Do you need help cultivating a more compassionate and productive attitude towards yourself and others? For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule individual or on-going coaching sessions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Positive Words for a Negative World

 'One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.'
Leonardo da Vinci

Is the World a Friendly or Hostile Place?

* How do you view the world around you? Is it a friendly or hostile place to live?

* Do the people around you mean to do you good or harm?

When I asked myself if I consider the world a friendly or hostile place I quickly and smugly responded 'friendly'--then I was shocked to discover myself currently responding as if 'they're out to get me'.

This morning I woke up thinking about a health assessment I agreed to participate in to lower my health insurance costs. What surprised me was HOW I was thinking about it--'as if they were out to get me and knowing they planned to use my personal health information against me'.

Ah, quite a shock to discover a conspiracy theory at work within me--a truly strange thought for a Health Promotion Professional who believes in health assessments and being honest with herself. What can I say--I wasn't quite awake when I had these thoughts.

When I examined the basis of these negative thoughts I discovered I felt controlled by the company linking my participation in taking the health assessment to lowering my health insurance premiums. For someone who values self-rule and freedom above all else, feeling controlled isn't a good thing.

But never mind that. The point is at that moment in time I was viewing my world as a negative place with people out to do me harm--and that simply won't do.

But Some People Do Wish Me Harm

Granted, not everyone out there has our best interests at heart. Some people DO have wicked intentions. When you decide to view the world as a friendly place you don't throw common sense out the window. The old 'trust, but verify' still applies.

When you choose to see the world as a friendly place you set a positive expectation that where ever you go, loving, caring people are ready to help you succeed. You step out into the world knowing even if there are scam artists and evil doers; there are good people out there too, ready and willing to guide you to positive outcomes.

 As If!

You are the one who makes decisions for your life and the faceless 'they' can only influence your decisions if you let them. You are the driver of how you deal with the world. You decide whether to deal with the world as if it is hostile or as if it is friendly.

'As If' thinking is a very powerful tool that can work for or against you. Since you're in charge of your thoughts you are the only one who can turn your negative 'As If' thinking into positive 'As If' thinking.

Practice Experiencing the World 'As If' it is Friendly

When you catch yourself fighting that invisible enemy out to get you-- pause-- and choose to practice acting as if the world is a friendly place. Start by playing 'what if'--what if everyone in my world was out to help me achieve my greatest desires? What would your world look like? What options and opportunities would open up for you? For example:

If everyone in my world is out to help me achieve my greatest desires then:
  • A free health assessment provides me an opportunity to focus my attention on what I'm doing right and what I still need to improve to achieve my own stated health goals.
  • Everyone who posts a job I'm interested in writes the position with me in mind.
  • People interviewing me for a job want me to stand out as a candidate. They're secretly rooting for me.
  • If I am laid off, the universe is making way for a better situation for me. I am now free to invite creativity and more challenging work into my life.
  • Where ever I go I meet people who are looking to be my friend, my partner or employer.
Seek Help from a Trustworthy Person

If you have difficulty transitioning from experiencing the world as hostile to friendly, seek the assistance of a person in your life you and others know to be trustworthy and ethical.  Sometimes it helps to practice seeing the world through another set of eyes--ones you can easily trust and safely learn from.

This is Your Year to Shine

This is your year to shine! If last year failed to provide you with a positive and energizing environment in which to contribute your gifts and build loving relationships, find ways to get a fresh start. There is no time like the present to go out there and give generously of your gifts. 

What are you waiting for? That friendly world with people who mean you good is waiting for your contributions and gifts.

Believe it!
'Before complaining you are a slave to another, be sure you are not a slave to self. Look within--You will find there-- perchance-- slavish thoughts, slavish desires, and in your daily life and conduct slavish habits. Conquer these; cease to be a slave to self, and no man will have the power to enslave you.' James Allen

Need Help Seeing the World as a Friendly Place?

For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule one or on-going life change coaching sessions.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Unexpected Consequences of Bad Thoughts

'Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and our clarity of purpose.'
Brene Brown

What Makes You Squirm?

The way most of us shun being vulnerable, you'd think there was something shameful about showing our soft underbelly or sharing our struggles.

When you think about it, what makes you feel totally vulnerable and exposed? How about:
  • Getting laid off
  • Applying for a job
  • Asking someone for a date
  • Telling someone you're unemployed or struggling in a new job
  • Asking for help
  • Telling someone you're lonely
  • Telling someone you love them before you know how they feel about you
  • Thinking you need to lose weight or change your body shape
  • Admitting you have a chronic disease or 'something wrong with' your body
  • Thinking you're not good enough exactly as you are
  • Putting yourself or your work 'out there' publicly
  • Stating what you want or who you are to the world

I don't know about you, but just the thought of putting one of these things out in the world makes me squirm in discomfort. I like to appear worthy, strong and in control of my life at all times. The thought of coming clean about any of these gives me pause--yet what's so bad about any of these things anyway?

The Unexpected Consequences of Bad Thoughts

What's startling is when you look behind our need to hide the last part of our tale you'll discover a sense of shame is driving the cover up. I know-- really embarrassing to admit. Kind of gives you the shame shudders to realize the thoughts behind the need to hide:  I'm not good enough; I'm not worthy; I'm imperfect; or there's something wrong with me.

According to Brene Brown, author of 'The Gifts of Imperfection' and TED Talk, 'The Power of Vulnerability', shame is the fear of disconnection--we think there is something so shameful about us that if people really knew us they would reject us--so we keep our mouth shut and stay invisible.

The unexpected consequences of thinking this way is it keeps us from being seen, heard, and known by others. Through our secret negative thoughts we bring on the very thing we fear--a feeling of disconnection and distance from others.

The Inner Conflict--The Desire to be Seen vs. Invisible

I'm fascinated by a duality of thought I've witnessed in myself--and I suspect is present in you too. Although I live my life in a 'naturally authentic what you see is what you get' way, there is another hidden truth at work deep within me. As I show myself so completely in the world I am also acutely aware of how much remains hidden and unseen by others. I am a master at artfully keeping myself hidden in plain sight.

I once read that an artist is a person who has an overwhelming desire to be seen at the very same time she has an overwhelming desire not to be found. I don't think you need to be an artist to find this conflicting thought at work within yourself.

Consider that moment you showed up for a job interview, first date, public speaking engagement, or first day on the job. What was your internal dialogue?  There's always that singular moment when we feel vulnerable and exposed---and that's the moment we want to be seen, heard and known and it's the very same moment we want to retreat, be invisible and keep quiet.

Crisis--Dangerous Opportunity

We all experience these private moments of trepidation at the very moment of exposure. Think of them as mini-crises. A crisis is merely a turning point--a moment in time when an important decision is made. The Chinese symbol for crisis is two pronged with the meaning dangerous opportunity.

Another unexpected consequence of your negative thoughts is when you acknowledge them as natural consequences of stepping into your life you give yourself choice and opportunity. It always feels dangerous to be seen, to be heard and to be known. It is also thrilling.

To step into your life and achieve your heart's desire you must experience, then walk past, the fear of not being worthy or good enough. Choose to see this moment of fear as your 'dangerous opportunity' and consciously chose to step out of the danger into the opportunity.

Choose to Be Seen, Choose to Connect

Practice finding your courage in your moments of crises and decide to show yourself instead of to hide. The more consciously you practice this, the better you'll get at stepping into the opportunities that are always present in your life.

In 'Four Steps to Authentic Communication' Robert Holden shares a Zulu greeting so simple and direct it's worthy of practicing it in your head even if it unnerves you too much to say out loud. When you come into the presence of another person face one another, look directly into each other's eyes and say 'I'm here to be seen'. The other person replies, 'I see you'.

Choose to be seen and choose to connect. Practice stepping out into your life, knowing you have value and wealth inside you worthy of sharing. Your vulnerability and imperfections are what make you lovable and human. Choose to use them to your advantage.

View Brene Brown's TED Talk-- The Power of Vulnerability
Thank you to Laura Ingels and Molly Erwin for posting this TED talk on Facebook.

Do you need help stepping past the danger and into the opportunities in your life? For more than 25 years Susan J Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule single or on-going coaching sessions.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Self-Calming Activities Provide Cure for Stress

What's on Your Mind This Morning?
What did you wake up thinking about this morning?  Were you calm or stressed as you thought about it?

Whichever way we start--calm or stressed-- it usually builds momentum and determines  the course of our day.  It's just the way our brains work--stress begets stress, and calm begets calm.

Self-Calming Activities Provide the Cure

Like you, I have to figure out how to get myself out of that overwhelmed feeling when a bout of life hits.  I have a low tolerance for discomfort. I hate feeling overwhelmed, and I'm very motivated to get out of it as fast as I can.

To return to being clear and focused sooner, I've learned to engage in self-calming activities when overwhelmed.  It's a simple, effective strategy for redirecting my focus, and I make good and reasoned choices when I'm calm.

Heart Rate over 100? Kiss Your Ability to Think Clearly Good-Bye!

John Gottman, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and co-founder and co-director of the Gottman Institute, studies couples to determine what makes for harmonious relationships and what gets in the way.  Use of self-calming techniques is part of the answer to what makes for more harmonious relationships.

As part of his research, Gottman takes physiological recordings, including heart rate and blood pressure readings to determine how stressed or relaxed couples are while talking to each other.

Gottman has shown when our heart rate goes above 100 in non-exercise situations, such as when engaged in an argument with a spouse, our brains go diffuse. In other words, our ability to problem-solve or think clearly flies out the window, and fear and irrationality move in.

In order to bring their heart rates down so they can think more clearly and problem solve more effectively, Gottman teaches couples to pause and practice self-calming techniques when their emotions cause their heart rate to raise above 100.

You Know Best What Calms You

What are self-calming activities for you? You know best what will calm and relax you.  It's anything you can engage in that redirects your attention away from the stress to a calmer state. This activity can take as little as 5-10 minutes, or it can be sleeping on it overnight.

Try one of the self-calming activities below, or use one of your own making, and see what happens. Life is too short to live it tied up in knots. Take steps to improve your life daily.

Self-Calming Activities

Take a Walk
Take a Break
Take a Nap
Take a Shower
Take a Bath
Take Action
Laugh with Friends
Play a Game
Read a Book
Write in a Journal
Brew some Tea
Nourish your Body
Make a List
Talk with a Friend
Get the Facts
Take a step
Put it down
Do Something Else
Sleep on it
Give it Time
Let it Go
Ask for Help or Advice

Be Calm

Need Help?

Do you need help moving yourself out of feeling overwhelmed by your situation into a calmer, more productive and peaceful state of mind?

For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before. Contact Susan to schedule one or on-going life change coaching sessions.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

Your Moment of Choice

What's happening in your life right now?  Has something happened that has your attention or are you reacting to something that has recently happened? Perhaps like my friend TMR you find yourself stuck--'permanently poised mid-step'.

TMR says, 'Honestly, the older I get, the more my stuckness sticks to me. In the past, I marched on oblivious to direction, directions or obstacles. Lately, I am permanently poised mid-step. I need a kick in the behind!'
When life piles up, we can find ourselves stuck--forever bouncing between stressful life experiences and reacting to them.  If we fail to sit quiet in response to a stressful experience we miss our clear moment of choice allowing us to go confidently in the direction of our dreams.

Where is this so called moment of choice? When we sit quiet, we discover a space of time between when something happens in our life and when we respond with action. It is in that space you have choices.

Something Happens---SPACE OF TIME--Your Response
But when something seemingly bad happens--you get laid off or fail to get the promotion; your relationship breaks up or your new love interest just isn't interested in you--it can send you into a tailspin of emotion paralyzing you in inactivity and you can fail to experience that space where your choices lie.

 It is only natural to respond to threatening situations with fear and self-consciousness. We all do. But fear and self-consciousness are what paralyze us and clouds our vision.

The question is how soon will you move out of the fear that has you poised mid-step back into having faith in your abilities to go confidently in the direction of your dreams?

Sit in it!

A lot of emotions arise when the world knocks us a blow. Truth is we need time to just sit in it after we've taken a hit to lick those wounds, feel that anger or sadness, and to acknowledge the injustice of it all.  And we need time to clear the cobwebs of fear from our minds so we can then move on to creating a more productive and empowering perspective. As Lao Tzu said:

'To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.'

All Things Seemingly Good or Bad Work in Your Favor

There's no way around it: If you hold on to bad feelings long after something happens, you are the only one who is affected by those bad thoughts and feelings. Why allow those people or negative experiences to continue to control your life and emotional well-being after they've disappeared from your life?

Put yourself in the driver seat instead. Sit in your emotions without taking action until you can still your mind. Then calmly allow your mind to move toward the mantra 'all things seemingly good or bad work in my favor'. The more you recite this to yourself and others, the sooner that space of time where you have choices will open up to your full view.

Go Confidently in the Direction of Your Dreams

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, knowing all things seemingly good or bad work in your favor. Ignite the circuits of your highest potential. Live the life you imagined.
About Susan J Meyerott
Do you need help going confidently in the direction of your dreams? International speaker and award-winning author, Susan Meyerott provides dynamic interactive workshops for people ready to better manage their work, life and health. Her programs have won national recognition and have been used in homes and organizations throughout the United States, England and Canada.
For more than 25 years, Susan has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. As a speaker and writer, Susan blends her unique background in health promotion, accelerated learning, and communication with a very personal, practical, and humorous style. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leadership--Do Your Actions Inspire Others to Dream More, Learn More and Become More?

Do you fancy yourself a leader?

I hope so. All of us are in a position to positively influence the lives of those around us. That makes you a potential leader no matter what official title or position in life you may hold--even if you are jobless at the moment.

Sometimes I feel like a Leader-less Child.....

Perhaps in your current situation you feel 'leader-less' despite being surrounded by high-titled 'Senior Leadership' or other such formally sanctioned persons. Why not step in and fill the leadership void in your life?

Yikes! You mean just Take Charge?

No. Leadership is not about exerting power, it is about acting in ways that others want to follow you. The best leaders are calm, clear, focused and understated.

So how do you fill the leadership void in your life? What is a leader--and how do you qualify as one? Personally, I like the definition of a leader provided by John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States:

'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.'
While anyone can call themselves a leader, few sanctioned leaders satisfy this powerful standard set by John Quincy Adams. In fact, many who call themselves leaders do the opposite of inspiring others to become more. Through their own self-centeredness or fear they leave others feeling powerless and full of self-doubt.

But there is no reason why you cannot choose to become this leader, inspiring others--as well as yourself-- to dream more, learn more, do more and become more through your own actions.

Inspire Others through Your Own Struggles

So what is your situation at the moment? Are you in the middle of a confidence crisis? Have you temporarily lost your ability to dream? Have others made you doubt yourself?

Take heart. You have within you the strength and ability to handle whatever life throws at you. And you are the perfect person to inspire others.

 We are inspired when we witness others continuing to reach for their dreams despite difficult circumstances. The most inspiring stories--like that of J.K. Rowling, author of the highly successful Harry Potter series--are always about people who recovered from dire circumstances to go on to achieve great things. We want to see others dare to dream and achieve so we have the courage to do the same.

Choose An Inspired--Or Spirit-filled Life

Dr. Wayne Dyer says moment by moment we choose to live inspired or not. We are either enthused--or spirit-filled--or not. We have a choice.

Inspire literally means in-spirit---or filled with a spirited, animated or exalted influence. It also means to inhale or to breathe life into.

Now, more than ever, we need leaders who can inspire others--as well as themselves--to dream more. Too many have lost their ability to dream as hope fades, fear rises, and good jobs seem to disappear. But without dreams we cannot create for the future.

So be of good cheer--and chose an inspired life. Choose to have the courage to dream and take action to follow your dreams--especially in troubled times. Through your courageous actions you'll inspire others to follow your lead.

What are you doing to Inspire Yourself?

What are you doing to keep the dream alive in yourself?
What are your aspirations?
What actions are you taking to step into your dream? 
How can your actions be an inspiration to those around you?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. Do you need help keeping your dream alive? International speaker and award-winning author, Susan Meyerott provides dynamic interactive workshops for people ready to better manage their work, life and health. Her programs have won national recognition and have been used in homes and organizations throughout the United States, England and Canada.

For more than 25 years, Susan has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. As a speaker and writer, Susan blends her unique background in health promotion, accelerated learning, and communication with a very personal, practical, and humorous style. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Turning Fear into Faith--A Tribute to a Life Well Lived

A Life Well Lived   
"The universe is the stage on which you dance, guided by your heart."
"The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."
"Delight the world with compassion, kindness and grace."
"Grace brings trust, appreciation, love and compassion."
"Laugh because that is your purpose in life."
"Happiness is every human beings birthright. Be happy so long as breath is in you."
Yogi Bhajan
Today as I was contemplating the passing of a highly spirited, well-loved woman, Faith Sinanan, I came across these simple Yogi Tea messages from the Yogi Bhajan. As I read each one I was struck by how each described Faith's life all the way to her last breath. She embodied a life well lived and served as a model for all who knew her.

What does a Life Well Lived Mean to you?

When someone we know dies it moves us to contemplate the meaning of our own lives and how we want to live. What do we believe creates a life well lived? When we are gone, how do we want to be remembered by those left behind? In the end, what will others consider our legacy--how will they describe us?
  • What do you think of these words to live by?
  • Do you believe in guiding your life by such words? 
  • How would you rate your life at this moment?
  • How does it measure up to these guiding principles? 
  • If people were to examine your life after your death, could they say you were one of those rare people with a life well lived?

Faith Sinanan--A Life Well Lived 

Faith Sinanan drew her last breath on October 18th after a long battle with cancer. She was surrounded by family and supported by a vast network of friends.

Faith was one of those people with an effervescent quality that drew people to her. She was a warm, funny, high spirited woman who laughed often, enjoyed life, and delighted those around her with compassion, kindness and grace.

I loved that her name was Faith and her warm and fuzzy dog is named Grace.

Faith Sinanan (on right) with friends
 Want to help in the fight against cancer?
Faith's family asks for remembrances to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Attn: Donor Services, P.O. Box 650309, Dallas TX 75265-0309

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feel Good, Be Good, Do Good

'Feel Good, Be Good, and Do Good.'  Yogi Tea Bag Wisdom

Giving--the Key to Feeling Good

Feeling low? Want a way to get out of your funk? Recent studies point the way--find a way to 'do good' by giving to others.

Giving to others makes us feel good. According to current studies, we are happier, more energetic and develop better friendships when we reach out to 'do good' for others.

 But apparently giving to others doesn't just make us feel good. In addition to decreasing our chances of getting depressed, giving to others improves our ability to think, strengthens our heart, lowers our stress and increases our lifespan.

In a nutshell, giving to others makes us happy. It is the doing for others that keeps us connected, provides our lives meaning, and extends our lifespan.

Do Good--Be Pro-Lactive!

 I admit some days I get discouraged when I see how poorly people in the workplace are treated or how poorly those without jobs are dealt with. There are plenty of 'equal opportunity employers' who discriminate against the unemployed, older workers, or employees who think differently from themselves.

I'm sure you've had your days too with things that get you down. But if we get stuck looking through the 'they outta treat us better' lens it ultimately leaves us feeling helpless, hopeless, and un-empowered.

We can regain our power and get out of the helpless, hopeless funk by being 'Pro-Lactive'--nurturing and giving to others.

Prolactin is a 'nurturing hormone' best known for its role in producing milk for nursing mothers. When you are 'Pro-Lactive'--you spread the milk of human kindness to nourish the spirits of those around you. The result of your 'Pro-Lactive Action' is better health and well-being for you too.

I Am Good--I Am the Change I Want to see

What we're talking about is social support. We've known for decades that the amount of social support you have in your life greatly affects your health and longevity.

Did You Know?
  • High levels of social support are as predictive of longevity as exercise, while low levels of social support are as detrimental to your health as high blood pressure?
  • There is a high correlation between the amount of social support you perceive you have and your level of happiness?
  • In the workplace the greatest predictor of your job satisfaction and engagement is the amount of social support you perceive you have. (And your productivity is directly related to your job satisfaction and engagement.)
  • The amount of social support you give is more important than the amount you get?

Yes, that last fact is new! Recent studies indicate the amount of social support you give is more important than the amount you get. This is great news! You do not need to rely on the actions of others to increase your happiness, job satisfaction and engagement at work or health. You can positively affect your own well-being by reaching out and supporting others.

"It turns out, that giving feels better, does more for you, and provides greater returns in the long run, than getting ever does."
Shawn Achor, researcher and author of the Happiness Advantage.
Be the change you want to see-- do good for someone else and give yourself an uplift too. Lend a hand, provide a listening ear, or give a moment of kindness.

'I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.'
Helen Keller

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Breathe Uplift into Your Heart and Calmness into Your Gut

Breathe, Just Breathe

Stressed? Can't get away from your stressor? Use what you've got to get a 5-Minute No Brainer Vacation from stress right when you need it. Breathe, just breathe.

The simplest, most accessible stress reliever is always just a breath away--slow, controlled breathing in and out. It doesn't matter where you are you can employ this easy-to-use technique--and no one else needs to know you're using it (so stop feeling silly about doing it).

When you're in the middle of a contentious meeting or anticipating a contentious meeting, take a moment to calm your energy and nerves through focused breathing.

Breathe Uplift into your Heart and Breathe Calmness into your Gut

You can't be stressed and relaxed at the same time. When you begin focused, deliberate breathing you signal your body to switch nervous systems from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic. With simple, focused breathing you take control and gently guide your mind to a more relaxed state.

 Grant Soosalu in Australia adds to this focused breathing by directing his breaths into his heart and gut. Grant writes:

'When things get too serious, I like to say to myself 'take yourself and life light-heartedly' then I take a 5 minute 'breather' in which I breathe 'uplifting' into my heart and breathe out calmness into my gut. Works like magic!' 

 Can You Be Influenced? 

I love to connect with, and be influenced by people I've never met who live in other parts of the world. Today's less-than-five-minute No-Brainer Vacation, and the 'Breathe Uplift and Calmness' heart art is my response to the simple wisdom of my blog buddy, Grant Soosalu in Australia.

What about you? Can you be influenced to try out this simple breathing technique to put you in a calm, alert state to better help you move through your day? Are you willing to give it a try?

One-Minute of Slow, Relaxed, Conscious Breathing

I breathe in 'uplifting' into my heart; I breathe out 'calmness' into my gut.

Check out Grant Soosalu's Life Enhancing Blog

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

5 Minute No-Brainer--Take a Break

Spend more time focused upon your dream than upon the reality. The reality gives birth to the dream—but the dream is where you want to put your attention. Abraham
Had Enough?
Sometimes I hit a moment in time when I've had enough. I'm tired of thinking. I'm tired of reaching out to others. I'm tired of preparing for the future. And I'm tired of being productive.
At those times I want to be irresponsible and self-centered--and I want a mind-reader to appear to offer me the perfect high-paying opportunity that fully utilizes my creative talents. That's when I know I need to take a break to revitalize my spirits.
Stop Working so Hard at Life
Let's face it--sometimes we just need to unclog the congestion in our brain. We need to stop working so hard at life, and let the present moment gently unfold without any prodding from us. Our brains need to be freed from reality so our minds can wander, and we can relocate our dreams, refresh our spirits and regain our vitality. But how do we do that in the midst of our busy days?
Minute Vacations
Remember the song 'Girls just want to have fun' or the saying, 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'? It's true. Our brains just want to have fun--and all work and no play makes for dull brains and dull boys and girls.

Be kind to your mind--give it 1-5 minute vacations at least once an hour. You'll do better at whatever you're working on and stay healthier by taking frequent minute vacations--with no purpose but to relax and perhaps enjoy a quick chuckle.

What You Need is a No-Brainer

When you're on overload and need to take a break you need to treat yourself to a no-brainer activity:
  • Take a 5 minute walk.
  • Sit quiet and do nothing for 5 minutes except consciously focus on slowly inhaling and exhaling.
  • Go into the No-Brainer Zone.
What's a No-Brainer Zone?  It's a place where you've compiled a collection of your favorite funny YouTube videos, email jokes or funny photos or music.

Yeah, I know you haven't set up one of those yet. But you know all those funnies sent to you on facebook or email that you've held on to, but haven't organized? Take the time to organize them under favorites or bookmarked into a No-Brainer folder. If you feel like sharing, send me some of your favorites. I like to laugh.

Enjoy One of my No-Brainers
To get you started, here's a couple of no brainers from my file. Kick back and listen to a bit of British humor, dog owner humor--or the answer to life from B.B. King.

Warning: You will not grow smarter by watching and listening to these clips-- but you may regain your sense of humor, smile and relax.

B.B. King 'Better Not Look Down'

Dog Owner Humor

British Humor

 'Stop living for reason,
Time to start living for rhyme.
I'm on a spree and I'm...
Gonna make sure it's a perfectly good waste of time!'

Monday, October 3, 2011

Make a Mistake? Belief in Yourself is Key to Correct Errors

Happy People Make Happy Mistakes
 'Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.'
William James

 Do You Believe You Can Learn From Your Mistakes? 

Mistakes happen. It's what happens after you make the mistake that's interesting.

When you make a mistake, which path do you choose?
  • Do you move forward to problem solve and figure out how to correct your error--and ultimately bounce back from making the error?
  • Or do you feel stupid, inept and give up?

Whether You Believe You Can Grow Smarter or Not Determines How You React to Mistakes

It turns out whether you believe you can grow smarter or not determines how you'll respond to making mistakes--whether you'll take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes or  just give up.

According to a recent study looking at brain activity in response to making mistakes, people who believe they can learn from their mistakes have brains that pay more attention to mistakes--and they share a belief that intelligence isn't fixed--it can be shaped (i.e. we can learn from our mistakes).

If you believe intelligence can be shaped you think 'I learn from my mistakes', 'happy mistakes', or 'a mistake is just a learning experience'.  But if you believe you either have the smarts or you don't (you have a fixed intelligence) you fail to take actions to learn from your mistakes and just give up.

Act As If  is the Key to Overcome Belief Preventing You Learning from Mistakes

Okay, so now you know. You hold the key to bouncing back from making mistakes in your head--If you believe you can grow smarter you can make happy mistakes and learn from them. But what if you're one of the people who simply believes you're not smart?  Then you Act As If--and step over the invisible belief barrier to taking action.

When you make a mistake or error-- don't think, act as if
Act As If:
  • You can learn from your mistakes and grow smarter. 
  • You have confidence in yourself.
  • You can correct your mistakes.
  • It matters that you know the correct answer to perform better in the future.
  • You are coachable.

Beliefs Follow Actions

Why does 'acting as if ' work?  Research shows if you want to change a belief, take action. When you experience a discrepancy between what you believe and how you act, you will change your beliefs to follow your actions. Acting as if you can grow smarter will result in you believing you can --and improve your ability to learn from your mistakes.

We all want to be the best we can be and therefore hate making mistakes and looking stupid. But our brains are wired to make mistakes so errors are going to happen. When you make a mistake, stop thinking and step into problem solving instead. Get the most out of your life--show yourself you're someone who learns from you mistakes.
 'There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.' The Buddha

Many thanks to Grant Soosalu in Australia for sharing the study in his Life Enhancing Blog. Please visit Grant's post @

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Secret to Life and Happiness

'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' Mark Twain

The Challenge: Discover the Best Way to Get the Most Out of Life

Each of us is challenged to discover the best way to get the most out of life. As Twain says, playing it safe only leads to a disappointing life.

To achieve a satisfying and happy life you must risk being hurt, wrong, scared, disappointed, rejected, ridiculed, and silly. You must throw off the things keeping you tied to your safe harbor and venture into the vast ocean of possibilities.

What Matters to You?

Putting yourself out there and going after what you want is a risk. The courage to risk comes from discovering what matters to you. Start by defining what you want out of life at this juncture so you can better guide your choices and daily actions. What you care about matters--it is the wind in your sails propelling you forward into a satisfying life adventure.

Discover what matters to you so you can:
  • Concentrate your limited time and energy on those things that count.
  • Plan your life so you feel more control over the things that matter to you.
  • Create a sense of urgency for the things that are most important to you.
Explore ~ Dream ~ Discover

 Helen Keller said, "Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing." The secret to a happy life is to have the courage to continuously explore what matters to you and cast off the things keeping you tied to your safe harbor. Stop letting fear keep you tethered.

Navigating a Course of Action
  • What would you do this week if you knew you couldn't fail? Take a step.
  • What do you wish someone would ask you to do? Go do it.
  • If you had all the money in the world, what would you spend your life doing? Start doing it.

Sail Away from the Safe Harbor

 What is one step you can take today to catch the trade winds in your sails?

'A ship is safe in a harbor, but that's not what ships are for.'
William Shedd  1820-1894

My sincere thanks to Antonio Tonelli from Venezuela for sharing William Shedd's 'safe harbor' quote.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Secret to Time Management--Discover Your Word to Refocus Attention

'I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.'
Douglas Adams

A Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Finish. That's my secret word that's been helping me refocus my attention and have better time management for 15 years.
I knew I had 'arrived' a few years ago as I was helping my daughter figure out her preferences for dealing with life. As I asked her questions about who she was and how she dealt with the world she turned to me and said, "Don't you know?  I'm just like you--except you finish things."

Ha! I felt like a sheep in wolf's clothing. From the outside I had begun to look like someone who naturally finishes things. Only I knew the truth--I love to start things and have only learned to ease into finishing them.

What Are Your Time Management Challenges?

We are all capable of being good at anything we choose to master. But we tend to favor some ways of dealing with life over others. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Depending on your preferences, some aspects of managing your life will excite you and others will stress you.

  • You're sociable and fun once you know a person, but you feel awkward and anxious about starting a relationship.
  • You're a great finisher whose excitement goes up the closer you get to the finish line but your stress goes up before you start a job.
  • You prefer to lay a plan and stick to it and your stress rises when someone asks you to be more flexible about changing those carefully laid plans.
  • You excel at working independently and you get stressed by working with others.
Fifteen years ago I chose to improve my time management skills to get more out of my life.  Since I was a great starter of projects I decided to consciously refocus on the opposite of what I do best--finishing. I discovered by refocusing on the word finish when I started a new endeavor I took things to completion sooner. Today it's almost second nature for me to finish what I start.

 Discover Your Secret Word to Refocus Your Daily Actions

My secret time management word is finish. What's yours?

Whether you want to be more compassionate or less judgmental, loosen up, be timelier, or relate better with others--you can begin to master your less preferred ways to manage life by discovering your secret word to refocus your attention.

If you want to better manage your time and life, choose a starting place to redirect your focus so you attend to what you want to master. That's what choosing a single refocusing word is about. 

 Deep inside, you know what that one word is for you. You know if you were to consciously embrace one less preferred aspect of how you deal with life you would be more balanced and your life less stressful.

So what is it that would make your life more balanced, and what is the secret word that could serve to refocus your attention on what you want to master?

Is Your Critical, Judgmental Nature Getting in the Way?

Perhaps you are too critical and judgmental towards yourself and others. You want to be in a loving relationship, but your critical and judgmental thinking is getting in the way.

A healthy relationship requires an equal amount of courage and compassion. If you are too critical and judgmental you may demonstrate lots of courage to speak your mind and not enough compassion towards others and yourself.. 

Refocus your attention with the word compassion to guide you to soften up and lead with more heart, than head. An added bonus to focusing on the word compassion is you will be kinder to yourself—and have more courage to let go of the fear and be yourself.

Struggling to Learn a New Skill or Job?

When you're struggling to learning a new skill or job you can feel overwhelmed by where to begin. If your reaction to being overwhelmed is to avoid stepping into the learning process, you may want choose the word start or small to cue you to just jump in and take the first small step.

Become the Person You Already Are--Only Better!

Don't worry about picking the perfect word. Pick one word to guide you daily--and start using it.  If you need to change the focus, do it. Just keep it simple.

I was always a person who was flexible and adaptable. By focusing on finishing, today I am a flexible and adaptable person who is easy to work with--and who finishes projects and meets deadlines.

By choosing to focus on one word to help you manage your life better, you'll become the person you already are--only better!

Refocusing Words--Choose One
  • Start
  • Finish
  • Follow-through
  • Tenacious
  • Persistent
  • Patient
  • Adaptable
  • Flexible
  • Compassionate
  • Courageous
  • Flexible
  • Decisive
  • Enjoy
  • Engage
  • Relate
  • (Stay) Open
  • Suspend (Judgment)
  • Choose
  • Happy
  • Active
  • Action
  • Pro-active
  • Describe
  • Trust

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
Lao Tzu

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cultivate and Practice Love, Kindness, Compassion and Tolerance

'My message is always the same: to cultivate and practice love, kindness, compassion and tolerance.'   
The Dalai Lama

Cultivate and Practice Concrete Acts of Caring

 The message doesn't get simpler than this--cultivate and practice:
  • Love
  • Kindness
  • Compassion
  • Tolerance
The words--cultivate and practice--connote on-going processes--ones you nurture, foster, and commit to daily.

You cultivate the things you want to grow, and you practice the things you want to master.

When you look within yourself:
  • Do you find your self-talk resulting in concrete acts of caring towards yourself and others?
  • Or do you find yourself nursing past hurts and looking at others with envy, simmering anger, and an intolerance causing you to withdraw from, or lash out at, others?

 While you may claim you want to live your life with love, kindness, compassion and tolerance only you know the truth of how miserably you fail to be led by them on a daily basis. If you truly want love, kindness, compassion and tolerance in your life, commit to consciously cultivate and practice concrete acts of caring. 

Charity Begins at Home

My mother used to say, Charity begins at home. She understood if we are to sustain charitable thoughts and actions towards others we must begin by building a solid foundation at home--or within ourselves.

It is difficult to be kind and compassionate towards others if you're critical, judgmental and un-attentive towards yourself.  When you fail to spend time taking care of yourself or participating in activities that make you feel good about yourself, you grow to resent others as you grow to feel worse about yourself.

Begin to cultivate and practice love, kindness, compassion and tolerance towards others by first cultivating and practicing these things on yourself. Once you've created an emotionally-stable and secure core within you, you will find it natural to reach out to those around you compassionately.

Demonstrate Self-Love Daily: Concrete Acts of Self Care

Daily Self-Assessment-- When you wake up check where your attention goes. Check: Did I begin with kind, compassionate thoughts-- or did I find myself going down the path of envy, anger, fear, and frustration?

Daily Focus--What are the ways in which I can show myself love, kindness, compassion and tolerance today? What do I want to grow and master within myself?

Daily Self Care Activities--What are the things I wish someone else would come in and take care of for me today? I will take care of these things for myself. I will be kind to myself by taking action on the things that make me feel good about myself.

Daily Self-Talk Activities--What are the things I wish someone else would say to me today? I will say these things to myself, and then I will reach out to others with concrete messages of love, kindness, compassion and tolerance.

'I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless-- as it extends into the world around us-- it goes an equal distance into the world within.' 
Lillian Smith