I’ve been putting off writing this blog because honestly I think I am a little afraid to write about fear. I know – the irony. It’s also been a busy time of year with all of the end-of-school activities for the kids. So it’s been hard to find the time necessary to write about such an important and deep topic.
But now, on a beautiful Saturday morning, with a thunderstorm brewing on the horizon, it’s time.
Thunderstorms are such an apt metaphor for fear. They loom…They are impending… and then they BOOM & CRACK & GUSH! But, in general, if one takes proper precautions they are not dangerous. They will not hurt us. In fact, I love thunderstorms. That’s not to say that I don’t have a healthy fear of them – especially if I’m driving. But again, if I’m prepared, I take caution, and yes, if I’m brave, I can weather even a ferocious thunderstorm (even the emotional kind 😉
“Suffering is one of the many possible responses to pain.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn
The practice of mindfulness allows, even encourages, the acceptance of feelings of sorrow. In the practice of mindfulness acceptance of negative feelings, whether physical or emotional, is actually a way of preventing ongoing suffering.
I started my meditation this morning with my mind inevitably flitting from one thing to the next. As is human nature, I was in my cognitive brain and thinking about one thing and another: The post I just put out on social media with my cat enjoying his mindful moment in the flower pot to a recent conversation I was having with a friend about being let down by other people.
And that’s when it happened – the rapid descent into sorrow and frustration. (more…)
It’s a very rainy Monday here in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. And honestly, having an upbeat mindset can be a challenge for me on these gray days! Being from San Diego, California I am definitely a sunshine person. Yet, I have learned to make a peaceful living day even if it’s gray. I’m cuddled up in my bed, the fireplace is on, I have my fuzzy socks on and my kitty is dozing at my feet. So I say, “let it rain because I feel warm and snuggy & peaceful!”
But, what about those days that are emotionally gray? Are you rushing through life feeling like you are in a gray haze sometimes? Can you find a way to feel peace and joy on those emotionally gray days? I know, sometimes that gray haze of stress just weighs us down. Some days it’s all we can do to make it through each day. I’ve been there! I know what it’s like to spend most of my moments wishing that each part of my day would just hurry up and happen so that I can get home and into bed.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is, you do not have to live that way! You can get your stress under control and start living each moment as if you don’t want that moment to pass because you are enjoying it so much!
You CAN live a happy, peaceful life!
Again, I know because I have been there. Here is the formula I use:
HAPPY DAYS = I embrace them with gratitude!
GRAY DAYS = I stay in each moment and detach from the overall feeling of the day.
And you can do this too!
You can live a peaceful, joy-filled life, in spite of the gray days!
BUT, YOU HAVE TO STOP MAKING EXCUSES!
Here are some of the top excuses I hear:
- My job is so stressful that I can’t do anything about my stress.
- My spouse/ partner makes me so unhappy I can’t do anything about my stress.
- My kids’ schedule is so busy that I can’t do anything about my stress.
- I am so busy that I can’t do anything about my stress.
- I have health problems, and I don’t feel good, so I can’t do anything about my stress.
Here is what one of my favorite authors, Jack Canfield, has to say about those types of excuses:
- You are 100% responsible for your life!
- You can decide to make an excuse and live with your stress and unhappiness.
- Or, you can adjust your response to life’s events and take responsibility for a different outcome.
- Event + Response = OUTCOME
You are 100% responsible for your life! ~ Jack Canfield
On first read, this can sound very harsh. But, I promise you it’s not. I’m not saying that very hard, challenging things don’t have an effect on us as human beings. I’m not saying that your job isn’t stressful, that your relationship isn’t hurting or that your kids’ schedules are not overwhelming. What I am saying is that through taking responsibility for yourself – how you think, how you care for yourself, what choices you make, HOW YOU RESPOND to life’s challenging events – you absolutely can have a peaceful, joy-filled life, irrespective of your circumstances!
At this point you may be asking: But, how do I do that Jen?
You need to figure that out for yourself, or even better, with a coach, friend or therapist! It’s about YOU taking responsibility for YOU! But, here are a few examples to go along with the “excuses” I mentioned above:
Excuse 1: “My job is so stressful…”
- First, make a list of the things you like about your job.
- Write out and say why you are grateful for these things.
- Second, make a list of the things that are stressful about your job.
- Problem-solve to find ways to alleviate the stress. Bring in a trusted friend, family member, coach or therapist to help you with this if you need.
- If you just cannot find a way to solve the problems look for another job or way of making money – i.e. entrepreneurship, an online business, even driving for Uber.
Excuse 2: “My spouse/ partner makes me so unhappy…”
- First, realize that you cannot control another person. You can only control yourself.
- Second, work on yourself and your own happiness. You may be pleasantly surprised that when you change your way of being, your spouse starts to change as well.
- Third, seek counseling!
- Fourth, figure out what each of you needs in the relationship and then start filling those needs for your partner. Again, you may be surprised at how your partner will respond by filling your needs.
- And while doing all of these things, communicate mindfully! Mindful communication makes all the difference.
Excuse 3: “My kids’ schedule is so busy…”
- This one is easy! Give both yourself and your kids a break and unscheduled them!
- Only allow them one sport or activity at a time.
- If the travel team is eating your time, have your kids play club sports instead. They will survive!
- If you are one of those parents who just won’t lessen your kids’ sports and activities, then at the very least, find a carpool.
Excuse 4: “I am so busy…”
Excuse 5: “I have health problems…”
- This is definitely one of the more difficult situations. Poor health and chronic pain are very hard to live with. But, it can be done.
- Know that you will need to live differently than you have in the past.
- Take exceptionally good care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.
- Ask for and be open to receiving help.
- Be mindfully accepting of your new normal.
- Find gratitude in the little things
THE BAD NEWS
The bad news is that if you don’t get your stress under control you are at risk of many stress-related diseases: heart disease; stroke; diabetes ; certain cancers; thyroid conditions ; the list goes on and on!
BACK TO THE GOOD NEWS
You can take small steps to lower the level of chronic stress in your life.
You do not have to live with chronic stress or the dis-ease it brings.
Changing your mindset and giving up your excuses is the first step!
Stick with me! I have lots of tips, techniques, motivation, inspiration & encouragement for you!
Would you like some of that?
Love & Light Y’all!
I don’t care how busy I am I will always make time for what’s important to me.
~ Kevin Hart
My Dear Friends,
I am writing this blog as a letter to you ~ a love letter, if you will allow me to say that ~ because I want you to read it as if I am speaking to you as someone who cares deeply about you. Because I do! Even if we’ve never met. Because you are a human being, I care deeply about you! I am worried that you are so busy you are not enjoying life!
I am increasingly having the feeling that society is suffering from an epidemic of being busy!
Now, don’t get me wrong, in general I don’t have a problem with people being busy. But, I’m seeing that Americans in particular are taking the idea of busy to new levels. As an American, I would like to proudly say that we are a high-achieving people. The problem is that our high-achieving nature is making us ill!
Okay – I know I lost some of you there… but, stick with me. I’m NOT saying that having high standards of achievement is making us ill. What I AM saying is that breakneck pace at which we go after those high standards of achievement is making us ill.
Additionally, many of my friends and neighbors are achieving high standards of being busy just for the sake of being busy. On this score I want to share three crucial points of wisdom:
- BUSY is not necessarily PRODUCTIVE!
- Taking time for SELF-CARE is NOT lazy!
- Being too busy = STRESS = ILLNESS
I chose the Kevin Hart quote at the top of this post because in it he talks about making time for what is important. My question for you, my dear, sweet friend, is:
“Are you important?”
Are you important enough to yourself that you will take time out of your busy schedule for self-nurture???
WHO COMES FIRST?
I wrote an earlier blog for moms Want To Be a Supermom? Take Good Care of Yourself! about how to use the airline analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first. The airlines want you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first (in case of emergency) so that you don’t pass out before you can put the oxygen on your children and others who need help. Likewise, if a mom allows herself some self-care, it helps her to be a better mom because she’s not exhausted and stressed-out.
Honestly, this analogy is important for anyone who has a care-taking role for others. Whether you are a teacher, a nurse, a manager, a parent, an adult child who cares for an elderly parent, etc. etc. you NEED to take care of yourself first!
That does not mean that you are going to the spa or the golf-course every weekend in lieu of taking your kids to baseball or gymnastics. It means that you CAN take an amount of time that you specify (and perhaps work out with your spouse or partner if need be) for self-care on a daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly basis.
Give yourself a little care first and you will be able to give others a lot of care on a regular basis!
Here’s an exercise for you to try out. Make a list of things you can do for your self-care:
I’ll get you started with ideas
- Meditate daily: 10 to 15 minutes 2x is a good start!
- Go to yoga and/ or take a walk or leisurely bike ride 1x to 3x per week.
- Play golf or tennis or engage in another activity with friends 1x per week.
- Have a “date night” with your spouse 1x week.
- Have a night out with friends 1x to 2x per month.
Keep the list going!
TAKE A DAILY TIME INVENTORY
Another good way to figure out how to break busy is to take a look at how you spend your time. One of the very first sessions I do with my Peaceful Living Wellness coaching clients is to have them write out a detailed list of what they do with their time. I have them complete one list for weekdays and one for weekends. It helps us figure out how they are spending their time AND if the way they are spending their time is serving them.
Here are some things that I found when I did this exercise myself:
- I was spending so much time volunteering for my kids’ schools and organizations that it was almost a full-time job! Volunteering is a wonderful thing & it absolutely feeds my soul to help others in that way. But, volunteering so much that I was not taking care of myself or my business was causing a problem!
- I was spending a lot of time vegging out in front of the television in the morning and in the evening. Vegging out in front of the TV is something that can actually be good for you in small doses. 30 minutes to an hour to give your brain a break is really okay. But, how I was watching the morning news and starting my day with negativity and noise was not a good choice. And for those of you who veg out for several hours in front of the TV every night, it’s really not serving you as well as reading or listening to something enriching, meditating, doing yoga, cuddling with &/ or reading to your kiddos, etc. will.
- I was allowing myself to fall down the rabbit hole of SOCIAL MEDIA for too many hours. Even though my social media use was often sporadic ~ 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there ~ when I completed my detailed inventory it ended up being a lot of hours over the course of the day and the week! Again, social media is something that can serve us well. For business-owners it’s a must. For others, the social connection is very uplifting. But, when your time spent on social media adds up, when it gives you FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), when it makes you feel bad about yourself because you are comparing your life to the lives of others, or when it is exposing you to the negativity of others, it is NOT serving you well.
What I found for myself, and what my clients find, after doing this exercise, is that there is a lot of time we all waste on things that are not helping to make us happier healthier people!
Use this exercise to help you figure out what you are doing that is NOT contributing to your feeling relaxed and happy.
TRY TO DO THIS! NOT THAT!
- Spend 10 – 15 minutes meditating by cutting 10 – 15 minutes off your social media time.
- Spend an hour-and-half weekly going to yoga by carpooling for your kids’ soccer, gymnastics, etc. etc.
- Spend an hour reading (or listening to a good book) by cutting out an hour of TV time.
- Spend an hour taking a warm, relaxing bath at night by asking your partner to do the dishes and/ or put the kids to bed. Trade off nights with this if need be.
You get the picture! Fill in your own ideas. Once you get going I bet you will find that there are a ton of DO THIS ideas on your list!
Go to it Peaceful Living Warriors! Find your inner peace and healthy life by BREAKING BUSY! I know you can do it! And if you need support in your quest to Break Busy, reach out to me! We can schedule a breakthrough coaching session in which I can support and motivate you! I’m here for you friend.
Love & Light,
Want more easy, helpful tips on how to break busy? Check out my blog “Are You Addicted to Being Busy?”
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Happy Spring Peaceful Living Warriors! I hope that spring is bringing all of her glorious energy and color to your world! This month, we are going to be laser-focusing on MINDSET. Now of course, almost all of what I talk about through Peaceful Living Wellness is mindset-based. But, I don’t think I have ever used that particular word before.
I think this begs the question: What is mindset?
Mindset is the way you DECIDE to think about life! That’s right. It’s your DECISION. Your mindset can EMPOWER you or it can DEFEAT you!
Mindset is the way you DECIDE to think about life! That’s right. It’s your DECISION. Your mindset can EMPOWER you or it can DEFEAT you!
I come across so many people who are unhappy, disenchanted, dissatisfied and many other “diss” and “un” words. But, they don’t seem to want to do anything about it. In fact, I had a woman tell me the other day that she thinks she’s pretty sure that she is just negative to her core! EEEEEKKK!!! This is what I am here to disavow you all of!
- You are NOT negative to your core!
- Life is not supposed to be overly stressful!
- Busy does NOT mean that you are a good person!
- Being relaxed does NOT mean that you are lazy!
- Taking good care of yourself through things that feel good does NOT mean that you are a selfish person!
- Oh, just ’cause I’m on a roll, skinny does not necessarily equal healthy! (But, that is for the May blogs 😉 )
This is what we are going to be focusing on all this month: CHANGING YOUR MINDSET so that you can lead a peaceful, joy-filled life!
You Have THREE Choices:
To be bitter
To grow & strengthen
WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?
No matter who you are life will be challenging at least some of the time! I do not know one person in his or her forties who has not had at least one major challenge in life. And then there are people like me who have had a life full of major challenges. Here is my question for you:
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH THOSE CHALLENGES?
As I see it, we have THREE CHOICES:
- We can become bitter and cynical.
- We can wallow in complaining.
- We can grow stronger and wiser and use the strength we gained and the lessons we learned to live more peaceful, joyous lives!
~ And let’s just say that there is a 3-A: We can use our strength and wisdom to lead and help others.
The Cynical and Bitter Path
The main question you need to ask yourself here is, “is my outlook on life more negative than positive?” If you are a person who is easily frustrated by other people, who feels hassled most of the time, and / or complains about the world around you much of the time, you are at risk of being cynical and even bitter. If you are a person who thinks you are just negative to your core, you are already there!
If you are going down this path, or you are already there, my question for you is:
Are you happy like this?
SERIOUSLY? If you tend towards living in the negative, are you happy on a daily basis?
If your answer is, “YES!” Well, by all means carry on. Just don’t take your negativity out on those who are around you. And be aware that you could be doing significant damage to your health. Negativity correlates with stress-based disease.
If you are not sure, here are some ways to assess the situation:
- Keep a note-pad handy and every time you have a negative thought jot it down. Or, just mark an X. At the end of the day take a look at your log. Are there a lot of negative thoughts?
- Ask your family, friends and neighbors. Tell them to be honest with you!
- Take a look at your social media participation. Are you posting complaints on your neighborhood Facebook or Next Door page? How are you interacting overall? Is it more negative or positive?
- Finally, and maybe most importantly, monitor your reactions to other people.
- Are you angry at other drivers most of the time?
- Do you feel like you need to tell people why they are wrong – either in person or on social media – more often than you give support and congratulations?
- Do you find fault with people and events more often than you find a reason to praise them?
If your answer is, “yes, I feel like that. But, no, I do not want to feel like that,”
then read on to the end of this blog!
The Complaint Path
The main question: “Do I spend a lot of time complaining about my life or people in my life?”
The follow up question: “Am I complaining about the same things/ people over and over again?”
And finally: “What am I doing besides complaining to change my circumstances?”
Again, make a log of your complaints and see how long it is. Or, ask your family and friends if they think your conversations are more complaint-oriented than upbeat or even neutral. Take a look at your social media interaction. Do you use social media to complain?
Complaining about the same thing over and over again, without doing anything about it, is a recipe for exhaustion. It’s like beating your head against a wall – repeatedly!
You may be thinking, “well Jenn, the things I complain about are things I cannot do anything about!”
But, I ask you, “is that really true?”
And even if it is, if you stop focusing on the things that make you unhappy (and thus, complain about) and focus on the positive, you WILL find that your overall outlook on life becomes happier and healthier 🙂
The Path of the Peaceful Living Warrior
I begin every one of my VLOGS on Facebook Live with that moniker because staying in a positive mindset does require strength, practice and commitment ~ just like a warrior. The human brain has what has come to be known in the scientific community a “Negativity-Bias:” That is, our brains are more likely to attach to negative thoughts and events than positive thoughts and events. Some researchers believe that we are even two-times as likely to imprint negativity as positivity.
BUT, that is not an EXCUSE for living in a state of negativity! It just means that as humans we need to work at focusing on positivity.
And the good news is that because our brains have neuro-plasticity we are able to overcome our negativity-bias and retrain our brains to focus and imprint on positive thoughts and events! And more good news: It gets easier as we get older!
Yes, that’s right my friends, the power of positive thinking is REAL! If you practice a positive mindset you can and will train your brain to be more attracted to positive thoughts than negative thoughts. That is very exciting news!
Instead of waxing on about all of the research in this area. I’m going to give you a few things to try on for size:
- Start with empathy. For example, if someone around you is in a bad mood, think to yourself, “I wonder they had something challenging happen in their life.” And then give them a kind word or just send them a positive thought.
- Try on super patience. I use the word “super” because I’m thinking particularly about when we are out driving. When people on the roads are acting up, see if you can take some deep breaths and say something like, “I will not let this ruin even a moment in my day.”
- Practice positive reactions. If someone says something directly to you (or says something on social media!) that you don’t like, rethink why you don’t like it and see if you can react in a positive way.
- Give away compliments. This is something I try to do with my children, my spouse, my friends and family and society in general. It is so nice to see someone’s face light up when I say something like, “that is such a pretty dress” to a perfect stranger.
- Give yourself love. Our brains love it when we love on ourselves. I make my yoga students give themselves hugs and tell themselves that they love themselves. They often think it’s silly at first, but after some time they tell me that they look forward to it. Give yourself compliments every day. Write your affirmations down and tape them up around your home and office. The constant reminders will sink in and you will feel more confident, happy and healthy!
When Bad Things Happen
LIFE can be challenging. Your happiness is dependent upon what you DECIDE to do with those challenges.
I’m not going to fill the page with platitudes and fluff and tell you to just think positive thoughts and everything will be okay in the face of the really challenging life events.
It is okay to feel negative feelings like frustration, anger and sorrow when life gets really tough. What I will say is that dwelling on the negative feelings for too long is not healthy. In fact, it can make the situation worse!
There is a tenet in Zen Buddhism that teaches about giving our negative feelings their due diligence and then letting them go. By allowing the mind to accept any emotion it allows us to be human. By letting the emotion go once we have accepted it we allow our minds to come back into a state of neutrality, peace or perhaps even happiness.
Remember, dwelling in the negative releases stress hormones and trains the brain to focus on the negative. This is a vicious cycle of ill health.
Accepting negative feelings, letting them pass, and replacing them with positive, hopeful feelings, releases relaxation hormones. This is a cycle of good health.
One of the kindest gifts you can give to yourself and others is to take the lessons you have learned from facing life’s challenges, and moving through them with positivity and grace, and pass them on to others!
By teaching others how to be positive, hopeful, happy and peaceful you allow them to reap all of the health benefits of positive thinking. And bonus! You also flood your own brain with healthy hormones and give yourself the gift of a happier healthier life!
So drop the negativity!
Embrace positive thinking!
And pass it on! 🙂
As always, your comments and shares are appreciated!
Love & Light!