Make Happiness Top Priority

 

thumb_img_0793_1024What would change in your life if you decided make happiness your top priority?

Edwin Edebiri, thinks that happiness needs to be our default position and has declared himself the Chief Happiness Officer. Listen to his Ted- ex talk here. Happiness as a Default Position
He speaks to a core belief that happiness is a state you deserve to enjoy and everyone can find happiness. I agree that happiness is a state of mind that improves when you pay attention to what does make you happy. What I like about his talk is the idea that self-compassion or the ability to forgive your self is a key component to happiness.
I pulled a few ideas that appealed to me from his talk.

How to make Happiness your priority in life
1. Decide to be happy
2. Smile more and learn to laugh at yourself
3. Create a gratitude list, include what makes you happy
4. Create a list of all the things that make you unhappy and seek solutions
5. Eliminate some things that that contribute to unhappiness
6. Be active and make healthy choices for self care
7. Create a dream list and take actions towards your dreams
8. Play
Is it really that easy to become happier?

There is research that supports that idea of happiness linked to attitude and your focus on need satisfying goals. Remember that these are goals that nourish and support you, not just achievement goals.
Goals that nourish you can be long-term projects that you work on over time. Happiness comes from taking good care of your self in small ways.

What makes me happy?
I have small things that make me happy: hearing a bird sing, riding my bike instead of driving to the store, connecting with people on a summer walk, swimming and a quiet start to the day drinking tea. Consider the small things that you find pleasure in. What does make you feel good? It can be an activity or something you view or appreciate. When you pause at the end of every day and create a gratitude list, it gives you a reason to be happy. In hectic times the only thing we really can control is our attitude.

Look at the ideas above and find what fits your needs. Try one or two of them and see what happens.  Really it can be that easy to enjoy happy moments.
Need some other ways to check your happiness level? Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Self Talk Inspiration

 

 

thumb_7qrodllp5v6o_1024What do you want to hear when you talk to yourself?

How would you inspire your best friend who needed support in a time of crisis?

I hear too many why questions in my self talk.

Why did you do that? Why didn’t you finish that? Why are you still worried about what you cannot change?

You are strong. You have courage. Follow your heart. Be kind. Give yourself credit. Pay attention to the light within. Listen to your heart. Be caring to yourself so you have the ability to share that caring spirit.

I can change my self talk by focusing in the words that demonstrate love, courage and compassion. My mantra has been: you are loved, you are loveable.

What do you need to tell yourself? Find those words and repeat as often as needed.

Responsibility- Is this Mine?

When did I first learn that I was responsible?  Some where in the lesson of responsibility – I twisted up what I was responsible for. I took on the belief that I was responsible for all others first, that I was responsible for other people. That I was responsible for happiness, feelings, outcomes, being perfect, doing it all.

That other people’s feelings and needs came before mine. I used to think that doing things for others was important and I was not important.  Now I reject that belief and have let go of my idea of being responsible for the entire universe.  Are you really in charge of the universe today? Only when I ask myself that out loud does it sound silly.

Responsibility is a habit that is difficult to sort out at times. I am at heart a responsible person. It is the order of my belief that has changed. I cannot be helpful, compassionate or caring when I am overwhelmed or carrying the weight of all responsibility around with me. What happens if you pick up every task or problem that you see? How many of these problems or rocks can you carry and still keep moving without impacting your own health?

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On good days, I will gently hand you back the responsibility you attempt to pass over to me. On bad days, I will say yes to anything asked of me, and then get angry or upset when I realize I have taken on too much responsibility again. When I carry around things for other people, there is no space in my life for me. I am important. I need to be responsible to me before you.  Another lesson to be learned.

When I do forget and slip back into that outdated idea of what is mine, I am able to remind myself by asking better questions.  Is this really mine? Pause. Say no before yes. Who does this belong to? Why would you ask me that? Is this mine?

I am responsible.

I am responsible for my own happiness.

I am responsible for self -care, honoring my feelings, being kind to myself.

I believe that self- care is critical to self- development and growth.

I am responsible for me.

Words can be used as Weapons

Words can be used as weapons

Words can be used to shame, blamarchere, humiliate, hurt, discourage and intimidate.

Words used as weapons can create emotional distress even when the intentions are careless instead of deliberate. Words can be thrown out in anger or frustration. Words can be used in a deliberate pattern of verbal abuse. I think we fail to recognize the effect of verbal abuse on our physical and emotional health. We have been told to toughen up and ignore hurt feelings, that we are too sensitive and cannot take a joke.

 

In reality your response or understanding of the intended meaning of words is what counts. If you think you have been insulted or ridiculed: then you have been. Trust your internal instinct on how the words were intended.

Suzette Haden Elgin reminds us, “ That verbal violence is a toxic menace. The majority of illnesses and disorders that develop in the workplace have emotional stress as their direct or indirect cause.” (1.)

Words can be carefully crafted as a verbal attack. Elgin describes here how

to recognize the “Verbal Attack Pattern”.

“The most reliable clue you have to verbal abuse is to listen to how different words are stressed in the spoken sentence. Listen for odd or abnormal emphasis to be placed on words spoken.”

Examples: If you really cared about your health–you would get off the couch and start exercising

What is so difficult about eating healthy? It is so simple any one could do it.

In both these examples the attacker is not interested in your answer.

These words are not used to encourage or support. A verbal attack is meant to injure, blame or shame. You don’t have to apologize or explain when under attack. Here are some short ideas about how to defuse a verbal attack.

The attack will include a bait: Some part of the sentence will attack you personally and expect you to defend against that part of the sentence.

Your best defense is to recognize that attack pattern and ignore the bait.

Instead keep your voice calm and address the situation at hand or agree with something that has been said.

All words spoken are not absolute truths. Just by understanding and recognizing a verbal attack can help you reduce its impact or power to inflict pain. It saddens me to realize how often we accept criticism as our fault without questioning the intention behind the words spoken to us. My hope is to raise awareness of the words we hear and speak. That we focus on how to communicate with sensitivity to others and learn to defuse or deflect words used as weapons. I have gathered many tools and skills over the years as a martial arts instructor and teacher of verbal self-defense. I hope this blog gives you some new ideas and would be happy to discuss your specific situations with a coaching call. Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Elgin, S. (2000). The gentle art of verbal self-defense at work. Paramus, NJ. : Prentice Hall Press

 

 

The Emotional Roller Coaster

The Emotional Roller Coaster- Cancer

What are your options when you know your emotions are running your life and you really need to find a center balance point to be there for your loved one?

How do you be the support person when your friend is upset and having difficulty dealing with loss or grief ?

I wish I could give you the right formula that would help you every time.

I can only share what I learned about accepting my emotions without letting them take over my life.

I now view my emotions as waves. Emotional waves can be large or small, expected or unexpected. You can learn to swim with your emotions by accepting them as just your feelings of the moment.

I hate crying, yet I have cried more the last 30 days than the last 30 years. I hate not having the answers, yet there are some questions that have no answers. I like having a plan and knowing what will happen next. Cancer of a loved one does not give you that option. Making plans is a waste of time and energy. Living on an emotional roller coaster is exhausting and unsustainable. So what do you do?

Most of us have tried two things, ignore your emotions or stuff them away to deal with some day. Some day never comes, so that is the same as ignoring them.

Ignoring emotions allow them to build up to a crisis where you are likely to explode over trivial things. Learning to accept and work with your emotions will allow you to accept them as an experience instead of a stress trigger.
Here are three ideas that have helped me stay steady and calm.

First: Accept the fact that you have emotions and they will show up unexpectedly.

Second: Recognize your feelings and acknowledge them. I do that my naming them.

Third: Ask yourself “what do I need right now?” as a way to focus on actions that support you in time of chaos.

Self-care will take many forms. I thrived on reading, exercising and focusing on small daily routines that brought me comfort. Judith Oeloffs’ book Emotional Freedom was useful for my handling this sudden change in my life. She describes emotional freedom as a chance to become better. “ To make this a reality, you must begin to see each event of your life, uplifting or hurtful, earthshaking or mundane as a chance to grow stronger, smarter, more light-bearing. “ My definition has been simpler. Emotional freedom means to flex your emotional muscles on a regular basis until you accept them as part of you. Do your current strategies work for handling emotions? Reach out and start stretching those emotional muscles by connecting with other people, a trusted friend, a coach.

 

How to Save Time

take your seat

 

Would you like to have an extra hour in every day? How would it feel to have plenty of time every day? We all have the same amount of time. We all get to decide how we spend it every day. In reading articles about time management: I found two main areas of focus. One was how to create systems and shortcuts to be more efficient with your time on daily tasks. The second idea was to make deliberate choices on how you spend your time in a way that reflects on what is important to you.

I think the easy logical path is to plan ahead, creates systems, get rid of clutter and make specific to do lists to manage your time. This is frequently the first choice for traditional time management. Best ideas for this area include:

Plan your weekly menus. You will save time and money at the grocery store. This helps you avoid extra trips to the store and you have healthy snacks and lunch stuff ready to go every day.

Cook in batches. Make enough food for leftovers and to freeze for another week.

This gives you an easy healthy option for a busy day.

Get rid of clutter. It is easier to focus when your physical area is clear. No clutter makes it easy to find things, you spend less time searching, moving piles around or repeatedly sorting through things.

 

 

The other time management choice is to stop and examine how you are spending your time.

Here are some questions to help you clarify where you want to spend your time.

  • Are you spending your time on high value activity?
  • Do you find joy in your daily routine?
  • Are there things you want to stop doing or get rid of?
  • Are there areas that that you want to spend more time in?

Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” The choice is yours. You can learn to catch yourself before things catch and entangle you. Try to apply mindfulness — intentional and nonjudgmental consideration — to everything you do, say, and think, before you blindly react.

Instead of keeping an ongoing list of things we should do or need to do. Stop and reflect on what things you want to do that enrich your life and nourish you. Turn your to do list into a “what matters most list”.

Need more ideas on your specific needs around time?

Schedule a call with Coach Gwen

Do you Have Spring Fever?

What is spring fever? The common definition is restless and distractive behavior brought on by changes in weather and daylight. It seems that spring weather brings out my urge to clean out my closets, start new projects and reflect on how I am spending my time. I use the wild ups and downs of the weather patterns in Colorado to refocus, slow down and think. Some days we get clear sunny days and I just want to be outside. Then when it snows or hails again I get this urge to take massive action on projects and complete undone tasks.

 

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Why does the weather or longer sunny days affect our mood or behavior? I know there is a research-based answer; I am more interested in what longer sunny days can do for us. Do you feel like skipping work and spending the day outside? Is that an outrageous thought? Have you really looked at how much you work lately? What would it take to get you outside and enjoying the weather more often? Spring weather can be an opportunity to reflect, reassess and make changes that allow you to feel centered and happy with how you spend your time.

 

Is there a cure for spring fever? Yes. Get outside. Spend time on things just for you. Stop doing everything for others. Start doing things for yourself. Start with a change of pace. Slow down and pay attention to how you feel and what you really need. Then decide what actions will support you in this changing season. Short-term ideas are simple steps.

  • Create a change in your daily routine.
  • Get outside more often
  • Do something just for the fun of it
  • Be social
  • Take a trip for a day or longer
  • Be lazy and unproductive for a full day

A good solution to make a lasting change is to take a day to reflect and consider what you want from life. What do you want more of in your life? What do you want to spend less time doing? Dream big. Consider all options before you start making plans. Review your long-term goals. Break those down into shorter actions that you can do daily or weekly. Use this changing spring weather to create a positive space in your life for healthy change.

 

Daily junk food or weekend binge?

Are Weekend Binges as Harmful to Gut Health as a Regular Junk Food Diet?

 

junk food

Eating healthily during the week and filling up with fast food over the weekend is just as bad for your gut health as eating junk food
every day of the week, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales.

In the study, two groups of rats were either given constant access to either a healthy food or junk food, while another group cycled between the two diets, receiving healthy food for four days and junk food for three days, over 16 weeks. A variety of metabolic markers were analyzed, including body weight, fat mass, insulin and leptin.

At the end of 16 weeks, rats on the cycled diet were 18% heavier than the rats on the healthy diet. In addition, the rats who were fed the junk diet food had reduced levels of microbial species which metabolize flavonoids, which have been linked to weight loss.

Researchers also established that the microbiota of cycled rats was nearly identical to the microbiota of rats on the junk food diet, with both groups’ microbiota being substantially different to the rats on the healthy diet.

Head researcher, Professor Margaret Morris, the Head of Pharmacology at UNSW said, “While these findings are yet to be replicated in humans, those who are strict with their diet during the week may be undoing all their good work by hitting the junk food over the weekend.”

Professor Morris believes that “The study suggests certain gut microbiota, including Ruminococcus and Blautia, may be promising targets for future therapeutic strategies to treat metabolic disorders”.

Source: University of New South Wales. “Weekend binges just as bad for the gut as a regular junk food diet, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160120112112.htm

There is no Perfect Plan

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There is no Perfect Plan

Do you have dreams? Do you have plans that are waiting for the right time to implement? This can apply to your professional goals or your life plan. Each of us has an ideal concept of how we want to live, work and play. What are you doing to achieve that ideal goal or vision? Most people will admit to having some vague ideas or goals. Very few people have their goals written down.

Yet I would suspect many of us are avid list makers. Why? When I capture my tasks on a list, they get done. It is that simple. If I don’t write them down or get them on my list, there is a much higher chance they get neglected or postponed. What does this teach us about getting what you want in life? Have written goals. Goals need to be very specific so you can work towards a real objective with a time line attached. One year I decided that my goal was to live in a cabin in the woods for a month. What I had in mind was a cozy cabin on a stream with lots of walking trails where I could spend a productive month working on next year’s projects. I did achieve that goal. My goal was not very specific, so what I got was living in a KOA cabin with no heat or running water for a month while on a travel assignment. I laugh now at this comparison between my ideal and my reality of a goal achieved. To me it is a great reminder that goals need to be very specific or you might get something completely different then your intended outcome.

Now comes the action part of any goal. What are you willing to do for this goal to be achieved? There will be a cost in time, effort or choices. Every step can be broken down into small actions that are reasonable and fit into your daily schedule.

The last step is to make a plan. Here is a sticking point for many people. We want to get it right. So the plan has to be air tight, all options considered and be sketched out all the way to how you achieve your final goal. Right?

Wrong.

Your plan for achieving any goal is to start with a plan. Getting starting is the plan. As you move forward you then will monitor, modify and adjust your plan based on how it works for you. Remember this is how adults learn, by doing. By making mistakes and adjusting or changing course from learning what does not work.

Throw out the idea of a perfect plan. Get a plan that gets you started on your goals.

That plan is the basis for taking action. Spiral Coaching offers a Laser Coaching 3 call special this month to jump-start your actions.  Decide Act Results- Click here to Start

Small actions will move you towards your goal. Say yes to your dreams by turning them into realistic goals one action at a time.

Why tracking success makes you feel better

Why does tracking your success make you feel better?
Do you stop and celebrate completed projects or successful actions ?
If you are like most of us, you are too focused on mistakes or failures to pay any attention to what you did accomplish this week, month or year. The habit of keeping failure or mistakes in mind negates our success and allows us to be discouraged about any hope of self development or improvement. This year try starting a new practice of keeping a success journal. Writing down your successes helps you become more empowered. Once you write something down, your subconscious reminds you that you are successful and accomplished. Celebrate actions steps as they get completed. The ability to acknowledge your self for a completed task reinforces the habit of getting things done.
Why is it important to celebrate success? Taking the time to remind ourselves of what we 4are proud of achieving builds self confidence and motivates us to strive for new goals.
What do you consider worth celebrating? That answer is very personal. Anything that you have worked hard on or been persistent in making happen counts. I make a year end list of everything that I have accomplished. My list this year includes reducing my paper files by one drawer, swimming twice a week, getting a twitter account and facilitating a leadership retreat for women. I am proud of one hike on a very high steep trail. If I had tried this alone, I would have turned around because I am not comfortable in high exposed places. I let friends help me through the tough spots. The reward was the most amazing view of the summer: once I could sit down and enjoy the view. Your list will be unique to you. Try this as an exercise. Sit down in a quiet space. Use paper or computer. Write for one hour everything that you can think of over the last year that you accomplished. Don’t censor it or analyze the list, just let your thoughts flow out. Enjoy the feeling of success as you read and review that list.
Here are some questions to help you with your flow of accomplishments.
What did I learn?
What challenged me?
What habits have supported my self care?
How have I contributed to my community?
What have you achieved that surprised you?
What smaller steps have you made towards bigger goals?
What are you most proud of?
Now decide how you want to celebrate all these amazing accomplishments. Do something just for you that is nurturing and rewarding. Paying attention to your success steps will build confidence and your overall appreciation of your skills and expertise. Enjoy and have fun with this new habit of celebrating your success.

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