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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.