Posted in Awesome Stuff

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I came across this article this morning – the title is “How to be as Likeable as Mister Rogers”, and I kind of love it. Growing up with three TV channels in rural Canada, Mister Rogers was not part of my childhood (we had the Canadian version of him – Mr Dressup – who was just about as fantastic, let me tell you!). Once we got cable, though, I began checking out his show (yes I was 17, so what?) to see what the fuss was all about it…and I LOVED it. I found him to be everything that a person who hosts a show for kids should be – kind, sweet, caring, with such a lovely sense of joy and fun. I appreciated the cadence of his voice, the speech patterns he used were rhythmic and comforting…and don’t get me started on his magnificent puppets. I’m here for puppets anyway (I seriously love them – I don’t know why I don’t work at the Children’s Television Workshop on Sesame Street), but his were extra special. Sigh. I love him. Anyway, back to the list of ways you can be as likeable as Fred Rogers – and I hope you follow it and become as likeable as him. We need more of him in the world. For realz.

How to be as likeable as Mister Rogers

Tim Denning

Make light of dark topics

The TV show that made Mister Rogers famous was called “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” It was a kid’s TV show and often contained dark topics which Mister Rogers was able to present in a positive way.

His ideas about death and the inevitable event we will all face were spoken about using puppets, a dead goldfish lying in a tank that was later buried, and through the use of songs and puppets.

He took a dark subject like death and found something positive in it both for children and for the adults that would watch his show with their children. One such example saw Mister Rogers reflecting on what his mother used to say to him about death:

“Always look for the people who are helping.”

“You’ll always find somebody who’s trying to help.”

Even with a dark topic like death, there is a way to find the positive if you take Mister Rogers’ advice that he learned from his mother. It’s easy to find a horrible outlook from a dark topic — but it’s much harder to see the good and that’s one way to become more likable. Because people fall in love with those that can find the good in every situation.

Make everyone feel good

The whole way through watching both films, the viewer is left feeling good. You feel good for many reasons and most of them tie back to one central theme: it’s so easy to be a good person if you try hard enough the way Mister Rogers did.

There is so much to feel bad or guilty about in life and the internet only amplifies this problem. People that make us feel good are uncommon and so when we’re introduced to such an individual, we like them.

By making us feel good about the world, we feel good about ourselves.

And when we feel good about ourselves, we can achieve outcomes that we may otherwise of believed to be impossible. Make people feel good.

Give everybody your full attention

Ever spoken to someone about an important topic and they are looking at their phone or computer and giving you a small amount of their attention? You feel horrible and wish that they would just listen.

Mister Rogers was different — granted, technology was not robbing us of our attention during his era the way it is now. During many scenes reenacted by Tom Hanks in the film about Mister Rogers’ life (and confirmed by the journalist he was talking with, Tom Junod), Rogers takes a deep interest in everybody he talks with. He asked them questions about themselves and leaves them pondering thoughts long after the conversation is done.

He takes pictures with people he meets and calls them friends, making them feel important.

People love it when you pay attention to them and the way you do that is by being genuinely curious and asking questions about them, rather than talking about yourself.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less — CS Lewis

Plans don’t always work out

It one scene of the film, Mister Rogers says, “I want kids to know that plans don’t always work out.”

For a typically positive man, this may seem like strange advice. What makes Mister Rogers likable is that he tells the truth and doesn’t sugarcoat brutal life lessons.

By knowing that our plans won’t always work out, we can be prepared for it and not be disappointed or have our thoughts turn to trash when our plans fail. The corporate world has long told me that I must have a business plan (helpful advice), but what is often left out is that even with a plan, things generally don’t go accordingly.

Having a plan is not a way to prevent failure or even prevent it.

Positive ways to deal with feelings

Mister Rogers’ key theme of his TV show that made him likable was to find positive ways to deal with feelings.

We are going to have unhelpful feelings and learning to deal with them is far more useful than trying to suppress them or numb them with alcohol, drugs, binge-watching tv, being unkind on social media or eating junk food.

You deal with feelings by facing them head-on and looking inside yourself at the good and not-so-good parts of who you are.

Get people to tell the truth

Good luck ever trying to lie to Mister Rogers. He was known for getting people on and off camera, to tell the truth. There were the pauses and the stares into their eyes that unconsciously helped them to say what needed to be said.

Talking with Mister Rogers was refreshing because you knew that he wasn’t going to judge you or force you to agree with his view of the world.

Helping people tell the truth is useful and you do that, mostly, from listening to them and letting them know that you’re not going to judge them.

Know everyone’s name

One of the simplest hacks to be likable, that is often overlooked, is to remember people’s names. Cast, crew, journalists and the extras on set were often surprised by Mister Rogers’s uncanny ability to remember their first name and it made them feel valued.

No matter how famous or influential you are, do your best to remember people’s names.

Be well-researched

Researching someone before you meet them shows you care and they’ll like you for it. When Esquire journalist Tom Junod met Mister Rogers, he was surprised at how much research he had done on him.

Their conversations were deep and the friendship that developed later on was partly made possible by the research Rogers had done prior to meeting Tom. With social platforms dominating our lives, we can use them to be well-researched and incredibly curious when we meet someone for the first time.

I personally like to read up on the hobbies of business clients before I meet them to understand them from a different angle. You can tell me about your business, but I’ll learn more by hearing about your hobbies and why you chose them. Because hobbies and business are closely linked.

Give people a chance

Tom didn’t exactly have a brilliant reputation as a journalist with the way he wrote and it was risky, in a way, for Rogers to be followed around and written about by Tom.

But Mister Rogers gave people a chance and lets his character do the talking for him. Even with Tom’s controversial style of writing, it was impossible not to be inspired by Mister Rogers and share that truth with the audience.

See who people can be and not who they currently are, and trust your character to do the talking for you.

Show huge amounts of empathy

Another key theme of the TV show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was the teaching of empathy. It was a key theme throughout many of the 900 episodes and was acted out by Rogers himself and then portrayed through some of the characters featured in the show.

Joanne Rogers, widow of Mister Rogers, mentioned an interesting idea in an interview with NBC:

“Listen, it’s important for you to know that he was not a saint. Because if you think of him as a saint, then his message is unattainable.”

Being a saint makes the idea of empathy and kindness unattainable and the fact that you have made many mistakes and don’t always see the good in people is perfectly fine.

We’re likable because of who we are, not for unattainable perfection.

Work at your way of being

You may think Mister Rogers was never angry, given his outlook on life. In both films it becomes clear that he was, at times, angry. When asked about his children, he would admit that they were not perfect either.

Everything Rogers does is a work in progress. The reason his anger didn’t dominate was because he learned to work at it and deal with it. The same opportunity exists for you. You’re going to get angry, especially when you’re tired, and working with those feelings is useful. How can you channel that anger into something positive?

Rogers teaches us that we can choose how we respond to anger rather than have the default option selected for us and be held back by it. Working on yourself is how you become more likable and minimize anger that turns people against you.

Write back to people that support you

Mister Rogers would write back to his fans and meet them in real-life. He was generous with his time and gave it to people that needed it.

This is a huge learning for me. Lots of people will support you in your life as it progresses and when they reach out, you have the opportunity to connect with them. People find you more likable when you take the time to respond to them, even if it’s a brief response.

It’s one of the key reasons I do my best to respond to any reader that contacts me directly.

Don’t take the people who support you for granted, and you’ll be more likable for it.

Live modestly

Ever met someone with a giant mansion and a Lambo in the driveway? It’s hard to relate to them, isn’t it?

Mister Rogers was known for taking the subway each day to the TV studio even though his fame meant that he didn’t have to. Like the viral footage of Keanu Reeves riding the subway, Mister Rogers did the same because he lived modestly. You could relate to him because he was just like you.

He let his character shine rather than let his ego be polished and put on display with the accumulation of money. Perhaps Keanu learned this life lesson from Mister Rogers.

The world doesn’t need another rich dude flaunting their money and making us feel like a failure.

We need more people riding the subway and using their money to make a real difference.

Live within your means. Avoid the temptation to buy fancy stuff and you’ll be more likable because you’ll be relatable.

Sharing your problems is bravery

Mister Rogers wasn’t afraid to talk about his problems. It was a small act of bravery that helped the audience understand their own problems through his.

Demonstrating you’re imperfect through talking about your problems is useful. This insight was what inspired me to talk more about mental illness and it may have the same effect on you.

It’s okay not to be okay.

No normal life is free from pain

“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth” — Mister Rogers

All great advice, eh? I know!!! I love this so much! I’m on my way to start putting this to practice right now. 😊

xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I’ve been listening to podcasts in the car A LOT lately – not sure what has prompted the change, but since my drive to work is SO MUCH LONGER (argh the traffic blows around San Antonio these days), and I have a lot of time to fill while driving, so…I’m trying to learn stuff. Get smarter. Become a more interesting conversationalist. Podcasts are the way! 😊

  1. Life Will Be the Death of Me – Chelsea Handler: I read the book first, and then listened to all of the episodes of the podcast. I LOVE this new, vulnerable Chelsea – and I love the focus she’s put on meditation. She’s inspired me – I’ve been doing Headspace for a couple of weeks now, and I can’t be sure but I think I may be mildly more chill? Hopefully?! Anyway – the podcast is good, she has friends come on and talk with her…it’s enjoyable. I like it. 😊
  2. The Conversation with Amanda DeCadenet: Full disclosure: Amanda’s show of the same name was one of my FAVORITE TV shows of the past 10 years, so I’m thrilled with the return of her interviews through this podcast. I wish there were more episodes (and I’m hoping like hell that they are coming), but Amanda’s interview style is one of my favorites – she strikes the perfect balance of light-hearted and serious, and she doesn’t shy away from politically-charged topics. She’s WONDERFUL – her podcast is on Spotify.
  3. Good For You – Whitney Cummings: I’ve just started listening to this one last week (it’s also on Spotify), and Whitney is a REALLY good interviewer as well. She hasn’t had that many episodes yet, but if you like Dave Grohl or Busy Phillips, be sure to check those ones out (the Busy one is really good, and I worship at the temple of Dave and think he is quite possibly the greatest man alive).
  4. Unqualified – Anna Faris: This is one of the first ones that I got in to listening to fairly regularly, and I love it! Again, she has a WONDERFUL way with the people that she interviews, and she gets celebrities talking and sharing things that they may not always be so forthcoming about. She’s on episode #227 this week, so…she’s clearly kicking ass and doing well with this. Yaa!😊
  5. Armchair Expert – Dax Shephard: I really enjoy Dax. His self-deprecating sense of humor delights me, and he does a really solid job of interviewing people – sometimes his guests are celebrities and the people you’d expect him to have on, other times it’s evolutionary biologists, pediatricians, or anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky (this episode is ACES, friends, you must check it out!)….Dax has varied interests, and I appreciate his eclectic mix of guests and topics. GREAT show! 😊 (Shout out to Dax for asking questions on one of the episodes of Jeopardy Greatest of All Time tournament last week – woot! woot!)

What podcasts are you listening to these days, friends?

xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Update: 21 Day Manifesting Challenge

So, as I mentioned previously, I signed myself up for Gabby Bernstein’s 21 Day Manifesting Challenge – and so far, so good! 😊 A real highlight for me has been the Facebook community….the people in the group are so wonderful, interesting, open…it’s been beautiful to read their stories and what brought them to the challenge. I love it!

Since the 1st of the year, Gabby has sent out an email each day with tasks to complete, and I have kept up – woot! woot! At the beginning of the challenge, we were asked what things we wanted to manifest, and to be CLEAR about those. My list included financial stuff (of course), improved health (not that my health is bad – for a fluffy person I’m in surprisingly good health!), and a way forward with my side interests. There was other stuff on the list, but these are some of the big ones. The main thing that I’ve taken away thus far is the importance of ‘clarity’…you can’t put something out to the universe and hope it will happen, if you aren’t 100% clear on what that something is! It just won’t work!

A second thing that Gabby frequently reminds us of is the intention behind the desires we have – and I think this is key. One of my items was that I want to improve my financial situation – the reason for this is that I don’t want to have to worry about money so much, I don’t want to be always running short on funds for things, I don’t want the stress and the worry… I want to be comfortable and happy, so that I can focus on enjoying time with my family (and not obsess over what everything will cost). I don’t want a heap of money so that I can buy strippers and drugs all day long – that would not be a great intention. I think my motivation is sound ….and I’m hoping like hell that it works!

“I’m worthy of my desires, and attracting what I want will bring more joy to the world.” – Gabby Bernstein

Here’s some other things I’ve made notes of to share with you:

When things get difficult…

  1. Notice the negative thought pattern. Take a deep breath and feel into whatever feelings come up for you. Then exhale.
  2. Stop the spiral of negative thoughts by silently repeating this: I choose to see peace instead of this.
  3. Close your eyes, breathe long and deep as you silently repeat that phrase for at least a minute.

Your energy creates your reality. Consciously choose new thoughts and you’ll raise your vibrations.

When we make feeling good our priority, everything else can flow.

Be unapologetic about how you want to feel.

I will keep you posted on how things are going as we continue through the rest of our 21 days – loving this!!!😊

xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Around the Bend

I’ve dabbled with yoga off and on over the years, and I love it so much that I honestly don’t know why I don’t do it all the time – my own damn laziness, I suppose. Anyway, one of my promises to myself for the year (since I am not doing resolutions) is to get back to yoga, so… that’s what I’m doing! The plan is to do it at least three time a week (and hopefully more!), and see how it makes me feel. It’s been too damn long since I practiced, and I have suffered not one but two broken arms in the past two months (because I’m special like that), so I knew I needed to start slow and easy. I hit up my absolute FAVORITE yoga teacher Adriene Mishler (https://yogawithadriene.com/), and as usual she didn’t let me down. I began with a simple, easy introductory session that got the muscles moving, focused on the power of the breath, and didn’t cause me much discomfort in the aforementioned broken-but-healing arms. It will be awhile before I’m doing anything too complex, but the first session felt GREAT! Now to keep it up!

If you aren’t familiar with Adriene, check out her YouTube channel (and join the other millions of us who subscribe and follow her!) – she’s got videos for everything, her dog appears sometimes, and she’s so encouraging that you will feel like you’ve had a warm hug when you’re finished. She’s awesome! 😊

Namaste!

xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Can’t Get You Outta My Head

Happy Monday, friends! Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend – mine has been rather low key, as I’ve finally succumbed to the wicked cedar in the air here, and I’m feeling rather crap. 😔 I hope it passes soon, but I’ve been here in South Texas long enough to know that it’s just getting going…it’s going to be a long couple of months. Yuck.

Last Monday, I decided it was high time to get serious about meditation – this is the year I’m going to meditate regularly! I paid for the full version of Headspace for a year, and, as I predicted, paying for something had already forced me to use it…and I’m seven days in! Yaa me! If you aren’t familiar with Headspace, you should check it out – it’s a great app, super easy to use, and I’m loving it so far.

There’s tons of benefits to meditating regularly – check this out:

12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation

Written by Matthew Thorpe, MD, PhD on July 5, 2017

The popularity of meditation is increasing as more people discover its benefits.

Meditation is a habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts.

You can use it to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings. Many people think of it as a way to reduce stress and develop concentration.People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns and even increased pain tolerance. 

This article reviews 12 health benefits of meditation.

1. Reduces Stress

Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation. 

One study including over 3,500 adults showed that it lives up to its reputation for stress reduction (1Trusted Source).

Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. 

These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking.

In an eight-week study, a meditation style called “mindfulness meditation” reduced the inflammation response caused by stress (2).

Another study in nearly 1,300 adults demonstrated that meditation may decrease stress. Notably, this effect was strongest in individuals with the highest levels of stress (3Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can also reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.

2. Controls Anxiety

Less stress translates to less anxiety. 

For example, an eight-week study of mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce their anxiety.

It also reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks (9).

Another study followed up with 18 volunteers three years after they had completed an eight-week meditation program. Most volunteers had continued practicing regular meditation and maintained lower anxiety levels over the long term (10).

Meditation may also help control job-related anxiety in high-pressure work environments. One study found that a meditation program reduced anxiety in a group of nurses (13).

SUMMARY:Habitual meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

3. Promotes Emotional Health

Some forms of meditation can also lead to an improved self-image and more positive outlook on life. 

Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults (1Trusted Source14Trusted Source).

One study followed 18 volunteers as they practiced meditation over three years. The study found that participants experienced long-term decreases in depression (10).

Inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are released in response to stress, can affect mood, leading to depression. A review of several studies suggests meditation may reduce depression by decreasing these inflammatory chemicals (15Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:Some forms of meditation can improve depression and create a more positive outlook on life. Research shows that maintaining an ongoing habit of meditation may help you maintain these benefits long term.

4. Enhances Self-Awareness

Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.

For example, self-inquiry meditation explicitly aims to help you develop a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you.

Other forms teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. The idea is that as you gain greater awareness of your thought habits, you can steer them toward more constructive patterns (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).

A study of 21 women fighting breast cancer found that when they took part in a tai chi program, their self-esteem improved more than it did than in those who received social support sessions (20).

SUMMARY:Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself.” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.

5. Lengthens Attention Span

Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention. 

For example, a study looked at the effects of an eight-week mindfulness meditation course and found it improved participants’ ability to reorient and maintain their attention (23).

A similar study showed that human resource workers who regularly practiced mindfulness meditation stayed focused on a task for longer.

These workers also remembered details of their tasks better than their peers who did not practice meditation (24).

Even meditating for a short period may benefit you. One study found that four days of practicing meditation may be enough to increase attention span (26).

SUMMARY:Several types of meditation may build your ability to redirect and maintain attention. As little as four days of meditation may have an effect.

6. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young. 

Kirtan Kriya is a method of meditation that combines a mantra or chant with repetitive motion of the fingers to focus thoughts. It improved participants’ ability to perform memory tasks in multiple studies of age-related memory loss (27Trusted Source).

Furthermore, a review of 12 studies found that multiple meditation styles increased attention, memory and mental quickness in older volunteers (28Trusted Source).

In addition to fighting normal age-related memory loss, meditation can at least partially improve memory in patients with dementia. It can also help control stress and improve coping in those caring for family members with dementia (27Trusted Source29Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

7. Can Generate Kindness

Some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others.

Metta, a type of meditation also known as loving-kindness meditation, begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings toward yourself.

Through practice, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness externally, first to friends, then acquaintances and ultimately enemies.

SUMMARY:Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy and compassionate behavior toward others.

8. May Help Fight Addictions

The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors (34).

Research has shown that meditation may help people learn to redirect their attention, increase their willpower, control their emotions and impulses and increase their understanding of the causes behind their addictive behaviors (35Trusted Source36Trusted Source).

One study that taught 19 recovering alcoholics how to meditate found that participants who received the training got better at controlling their cravings and craving-related stress (37Trusted Source).

Meditation may also help you control food cravings. A review of 14 studies found mindfulness meditation helped participants reduce emotional and binge eating (38Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:Meditation develops mental discipline and willpower and can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, lose weight and redirect other unwanted habits.

9. Improves Sleep

Nearly half the population will struggle with insomnia at some point. 

One study compared two mindfulness-based meditation programs by randomly assigning participants to one of two groups. One group practiced meditation, while the other didn’t.

Participants who meditated fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer, compared to those who didn’t meditate (39Trusted Source).

Becoming skilled in meditation may help you control or redirect the racing or “runaway” thoughts that often lead to insomnia.

Additionally, it can help relax your body, releasing tension and placing you in a peaceful state in which you’re more likely to fall asleep.

SUMMARY:A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control the “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.

10. Helps Control Pain

Your perception of pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can be elevated in stressful conditions.

For example, one study used functional MRI techniques to observe brain activity as participants experienced a painful stimulus. Some participants had gone through four days of mindfulness meditation training, while others had not.

The meditating patients showed increased activity in the brain centers known to control pain. They also reported less sensitivity to pain (40Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used as a supplement to medical care or physical therapy.

11. Can Decrease Blood Pressure

Meditation can also improve physical health by reducing strain on the heart.

Over time, high blood pressure makes the heart work harder to pump blood, which can lead to poor heart function.

High blood pressure also contributes to atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

A study of 996 volunteers found that when they meditated by concentrating on a “silent mantra” — a repeated, non-vocalized word — reduced blood pressure by about five points, on average.

This was more effective among older volunteers and those who had higher blood pressure prior to the study (41Trusted Source).

A review concluded that several types of meditation produced similar improvements in blood pressure (42Trusted Source).

In part, meditation appears to control blood pressure by relaxing the nerve signals that coordinate heart function, tension in blood vessels and the “fight-or-flight” response that increases alertness in stressful situations (43Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.

12. You Can Meditate Anywhere

People practice many different forms of meditation, most of which don’t require specialized equipment or space. You can practice with just a few minutes daily.

If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it.

There are two major styles of meditation:

  • Focused-attention meditation:Concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of attention and distraction. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra or a calming sound.
  • Open-monitoring meditation: Encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of thoughts, feelings or impulses that you might normally try to suppress.

To find out which styles you like best, check out the variety of free, guided meditation exercises offered by UCLA and Head in the Clouds. They’re an excellent way to try different styles and find one that suits you.

If your regular work and home environments do not allow for consistent, quiet alone time, consider participating in a class. This can also improve your chances of success by providing a supportive community. 

Alternatively, consider setting your alarm a few minutes early to take advantage of quiet time in the morning. This may help you develop a consistent habit and allow you to start the day positively. 

SUMMARY:If you’re interested in incorporating meditation into your routine, try a few different styles and consider guided exercises to get started with one that suits you.

The Bottom Line

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health.

You can do it anywhere, without special equipment or memberships.

Alternatively, meditation courses and support groups are widely available.

There’s a great variety of styles too, each with different strengths and benefits.

Trying out a style of mediation suited to your goals is a great way to improve your quality of life, even if you only have a few minutes to do it each day.

Do you meditate? How does it make you feel?

Xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

From This Moment On

Yesterday I was talking about flipping the way we plan for the new year – instead of talking about all of the things we will do without, how about we focus on all of the great things we are planning to do? I love it! As promised, here’s the start of my list for the new year:

  1. Spend more time reading! Plain and simple, it makes me happy – so why not do it more often? Yaa!
  2. Get back to yoga! I’ve been feeling stiff and shitty lately, and it’s not getting any better…I need to get my arse back into a regular yoga practice. I predict it will make me feel better, inside and out. I’m not going to go crazy and declare that I need to do it daily, because I know that won’t happen (sadly my schedule isn’t conducive to that!). I will set the target for 3 times a week, and consider anything more than that a bonus. Yaa! I’m excited!!! 😊
  3. More time writing – keeping a journal is an excellent thing for my mental health, and I’m going to do a better job of writing regularly in 2020. I started keeping a daily journal in March of 2019, and I wrote in it at least 5 days a week every week for the rest of the year – I noticed a difference in how I felt about things, and I noticed a significant difference in my stress levels. Success!
  4. Take up meditation once and for all – I keep dabbling, trying it out…but nothing ever sticks, and I have to say that I often feel like a failure when trying to meditate. I get so easily distracted (it’s ridiculous), and then I get disheartened and give up. Not this time.
  5. Eat better – I quit eating meat in September 2019, and it’s made a significant difference in how I feel. I have been eating seafood, and for now I will keep that going on – but meat is out. I’ve been working on getting more fruits and veg into the system, but that remains a struggle for me – I don’t know why. Actually, that’s a lie – I do know why. I like vegetables when somebody else prepares them for me, but I can’t stand them when I prepare them – go figure. It’s dumb. I’m going to try to do better with smoothies and get the fruits and veg in that way – as well, I will continue experimenting with supplements and see if I can’t improve my nutrition that way. All of the experts say that cutting out dairy is the way to go, but…it just makes me so sad. I love dairy – cheese, yogurt, cheese…. It’s all just so good. Yum.
  6. Stop sweatin’ the small stuff – this will likely be the biggest challenge for the year, you know that? I’m a world-class fretter, and I can worry about nothing like it was my damn job. I’ve noticed that in the past year I’ve been able to let a lot of shit go that previously would have caused me to obsess, but I’ve still got such a long way to go. Hopefully this will be the year that I quit reacting to stupid shit, and only focus on what really matters.
  7. Have more fun! I plan to embrace the idea of the return of the Roarin’ 20s with a passion – learn to dance the Charleston, wear a flapper dress (I bought a 20s style dress recently, actually…it’s gorgeous!), drink more gin, listen to more records, visit as many speakeasies as humanly possible, watch Midnight in Paris on repeat….all of it. Bring on the 20s – I’m ready!

This list is really specific to me and the things I want to focus on from a personal development perspective – of course I plan to spend more time with the kid and the family, enjoy them more, etc etc etc, all of that good stuff. I’m excited about all of it! Yaa!

What are you most looking forward to in the new year, friends?

Xxx

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Play That Funky Music

For whatever reason (or about 253 reasons), I’ve been super-deep in my feelings this week. I’ve felt overly sensitive and on the verge of tears about a hundred times; I actually turned my phone off on Christmas Day rather than have one more text full of questions from friends that I didn’t want to answer. I don’t know if I’m overly tired, suffering from allergies (that has been a big part of it, I’m sure of it), or what is going on, but…this week has had me riding the emotion train – and I’m not loving it. At all. My arse has fallen into a tremendous funk, and I need to find a way out – but how?

According to this list, getting out of a funk is so easy you can accomplish it in 15 minutes! Crazy, eh???! I know! Here’s the list:

10 Ways to Get Out of a Funk in 15 Minutes

It’s all about mind over matter. Here’s how to take an off-day and turn it into a productive one.

By Paresh Shah

This story first appeared on The Muse, a web destination with exciting job opportunities and expert career advice.

We all have off days from time to time. It’s human nature. But barring the occasional disaster or tragedy, a bad day is really only bad if you decide to stay in that frame of mind. As Martha Washington put it, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions and not upon our circumstances.”

In reality, there are some simple actions that can put a positive spin on things and flip your switch from “ugh” to “awesome.” Here are a few things that can help you turn your day around.

1. Create Your Own Talisman

I have an electric guitar in my office. I’ll slap my headphones on and play my guitar to snap out of lethargy or bad moods–or to simply help my brain start solving problems. Find a physical object that you puts you in a happy, energized state. In A Few Good Men, Lt. Daniel Kaffee needed his baseball bat to think best. You likely have something similar, and it’s not only OK but essential to use props like these to get out of a funk. If you’re stumped, consider Play-Doh, a doodling pad, or a toy you loved as a child.

2. Make Connections

Instead of glancing over your News Feed, try making a connection with someone real. Even chatting with the barista at your local coffee shop can help put you in a good mood. (Here are a few conversation starters.) At my company, we make it a habit to touch base with one another before getting down to business. Sharing something that’s inspired us or that we’re grateful for during the day not only helps form human connections and build a positive atmosphere, but also makes our meetings shorter, more productive, and action-oriented.

3. Make Someone Else’s Day

Choose a person–whether you know him or not–and decide to make his day with a random act of kindness. Leave a note to brighten someone’s day, pay for someone’s coffee in line, or buy extra muffins and distribute them to your team members. Ask a co-worker if you can help her with something. Giving to others and appreciating what we’ve been given are two of the shortest paths to shaking yourself out of a bad mood. On that note:

4. Express Gratitude

Whether you do it in person, over the phone, via social media, or just in your own head, taking a moment to express gratitude leads to improved health, happiness, relationships, and income. A popular restaurant in Los Angeles, Café Gratitude, has its staff practice this every day, and it has one of the highest levels of customer and worker satisfaction in the business.

5. Daydream

Imagine what you might be doing if you were six, 10, or 15 years old. Draw it or write it down, then take a moment to find a photo online that captures its essence. By accessing part of yourself that’s younger, you tap into a time before your aspirations and dreams were reshaped by society. Better yet, spend time with a child. Just watching and spending time around a child opens you up to the freedom and carefree feeling of being young. 

6. Breathe

As one of my yoga teachers says, shallow breathing results in shallow experiences. Deep breathing, on the other hand, helps clear your mind, reduce stress, and reset your mood. An easy way to get started is by downloading The Mindfulness App, which Healthline called “straightforward and simple.” The quiet alerts, regular reminders, and customization options can make breathing such a routine part of your day that you may even find yourself needing to take mood-calibrating breaths less often.

7. Avoid the 4 Cs

There are four things you need to avoid to stay out a funk (not to mention office drama) in the first place: comparing, competing, criticizing, and complaining. If you catch yourself engaging in one of these unhealthy behaviors, redirect your attention to something happy, like a funny video, for an instant mood booster. (Just make sure the funny video doesn’t lead you to the latest dark headline or celebrity drama.)

8. Find a Quiet Space

Even if it means taking refuge in a bathroom stall, find a place where you can have a moment of quiet or move around and shake off the negative thoughts and feelings.

9. Listen to Music

Everyone has a few tunes that never fail to lighten their spirits. Put on some headphones, and crank it up. Better yet, play it out loud in your car, and sing along.

10. Take a Walk

Go for a walk, or try having a walking meeting. In addition to the health benefits, walking has shown to have amazing mood-boosting powers. Sometimes you just need a quick change of scenery to improve your state of mind.

There are a variety of other techniques that can help you shift your day from bad to better. Sometimes escaping a bad mood is all about remembering that, as author Regina Brett put it, “No one really has a bad life. Not even a bad day. Just bad moments.”

A bad moment is just a tiny fraction of your entire day, and a bad day is just one out of your entire life. The more good moments you create, the fewer bad days you’ll have, and the less glaring the bad ones will seem.

So the next time you feel like your day is going south, put these tips into practice, and let the good days commence.

There’s a few things here I can work with – taking walks usually helps improve the quality of my day, as does listening to music. I’m ALWAYS seeking quiet spaces to be (another anomaly with me – I find the world entirely too loud these days…I want more peace and quiet), so that one makes sense as well. I keep hearing about the magical restorative powers of deep breathing, but…I struggle to make that one work for me. I find myself getting light-headed sometimes (especially during cedar season, which has hit my part of Texas with a bloody vengeance)…maybe it’s just me. I think the big one for me is the 4 Cs…comparing, competing, criticizing, and complaining. I’ve actively worked on the complaining bit for years – and I’m still trying to cut that shit right out of my life….it’s hard, though. I’m trying. I don’t think I’m much of a criticizer (out loud), so that’s one thing. The big struggle for me is the comparing and competing – I ALWAYS feel like I’m in a competition with other people, and I don’t.know.why. I don’t know why I have to compare myself to others ALL THE DAMN TIME, and why I ALWAYS come up short. It’s frustrating. It’s no joke that comparison is the thief of joy – but how do you overcome that? If you have ideas, please send them my way – I need the help.

 

I hope that you’re managing your holiday time with as little anxiety and stress as possible. It’s almost time for the new year, and it’s a new decade to boot! Exciting!!! Bring on the ‘20s…time to roar!!! 😊

Xxx

 

Posted in Awesome Stuff

Take Me Away

This post is from January 2017, and it still rings true with me now, nearly three years later. Let’s give it a read:

Take Me Away

I saw this article on Lifehack, and thought that I would share it with you:

Removing These 8 Things From Life Can Make You More Successful
By Amy Johnson

Lots of people think that the best way to become successful is to pick up lots of new habits and skills. While this can help, sometimes the best thing you can do is give up the things that distract you from your goals.

Instead of adding more things to your life, try removing some negative things that hold you back from success. Some are very easy to give up, while others require a little more time and effort.

Here are 8 things that you should remove from your life to be more successful:

1. Remove Excuses
Successful people don’t try to blame their family, their friends, their boss or their co-workers for their life. Instead, they understand that they are fully responsible for their own life and situation. They see this as a good thing as it means that they hold the power to significantly improve their life. When you make up excuses you are lying to yourself, which will hold you back from achieving your goals.

2. Remove Perfectionism
Perfection is unattainable, so trying to achieve it is a waste of your time. Instead of worrying about mistakes that you have made or physical flaws that bother you, simply focus on trying to better yourself with small steps. No one is perfect, but anyone can make the decision to be a better person.

Playing Twister is an excellent way to be successful, don't you think?!

Playing Twister is an excellent way to be successful, don’t you think?!

3. Remove Fear
Lots of people make themselves smaller without realizing; they keep quiet during discussions when they want to say something; they avoid taking risks; and they always think about the worst-case scenario. This fearful attitude will stop you from achieving your full potential, so remove it from your life and be brave instead; speak up, voice your thoughts and actively chase your dreams and goals.

4. Remove The Need To Control Everything
You can’t control everything, and trying to do so is a futile task. It won’t help you to become more successful, but it will make you feel stressed, upset and frustrated. Instead of trying to control everything around you, make an effort to care less about the things you can’t control and focus on the things that you can.

5. Remove A Fixed Mindset
Lots of people have a fixed mindset and they make no effort to learn more or change their perception. This makes it hard for them to become more successful as their mindset is stuck in the past. Try to embrace knowledge and learning, and remember that you can always become wiser.

6. Remove The Desire For Overnight Success
Some people believe that the majority of successful people became successful overnight, or that they became successful by chance. While luck can certainly play its part, you can’t rely on luck to become successful. In reality success takes time and dedication, so you should plan for the future as well as the day ahead of you.

I drank this on Christmas Day. Straight out of the bottle, no glass needed. I was VERY successful!

I drank this on Christmas Day. Straight out of the bottle, no glass needed. Never been more successful in my life!

7. Remove Toxic People
If the people around you are negative and pessimistic, over time you will start to become negative and pessimistic too. Remove the toxic people from your life and replace them with optimistic, supportive people who genuinely care about you and your dreams. You will find that you are more motivated to work on your goals, and you will be happier and less stressed.

8. Remove The Need To Say Yes (When Really You Want To Say No)
Some people struggle to say no to the people around them, even if they want to say no. This normally means that they end up wasting time doing things that they don’t want to do, and other people might start to take advantage of them. Be brave and say no when you want to; only you can make your dreams a priority, and it is difficult to do that if you are too busy helping other people with their dreams.

This list is golden, don’t you think? Instead of telling you all the things that you need to learn to do and add to your already-overflowing life, this one suggests removing the things that don’t feel good. I LOVE this. I am crazy about the idea of not doing the things that don’t make you happy – for example, I don’t hang out with people who make me feel shitty anymore. I’ve known people who used to like spending time with me because they would put me down, and in the process build themselves up – which is no way to treat a friend, if you ask me. I’m done with it. I didn’t have a dramatic scene where I spelled out just how bloody much they sucked – instead, I always found reasons to say no to making plans with them…and eventually they took the hint. Done with that crap.

I’ve written before of my refusal to keep saying ‘yes’ to every single damn thing that comes my way – if I don’t want to do something (and I don’t have to for work/life), I don’t. Again, no big dramatic moments ever go down…I just say no. It’s liberating! I’m master of my own domaine, and I get to decide how I spend my time and how I am going to feel about it. Woohoo!! 🙂 Just say no – you should try it! 🙂

I’ve never had the perfectionist gene, and I’m pretty good at taking responsibility for my shit and not offering up lame excuses. I am addressing the fear issue at the moment, as this is a biggie for me. I avoid doing all sorts of things that would probably revolutionize my life and how I live it  – all because I am afraid…which is silly. I have gone back to Gabrielle Bernstein’s book “May Cause Miracles” and I am working my way through it, day by day – I’m even doing the exercises and everything! Yaa me! This week, the focus was on being the witness of my thoughts, actions, and energy – and choosing love over fear. I love that. When things get shady and the fight or flight instinct kicks in – take a step back, and choose love. I will keep you posted on how this works out – I am a girl who could realllllllly use a miracle!

Have a good day, mes amis!!! 🙂

xxx

This stuff will definitely make your life better!

This stuff will definitely make your life better!