#202 Meal Prep

People who are more organized are less stressed. People who are less stressed – are happier. People who have more free time – are happier.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#202

Meal prep

Hundreds, if not thousands of blogs in recent years have been dedicated to different ways of meal prepping. This is not one of them. I’m writing about it because when we have taken the time to do a little meal prep our lives become a little easier, happier, and ultimately… more productive. Yes, it takes a little time and commitment but if that’s how you spend a rainy day then on a nice evening when all you want to do is sit on the deck and enjoy a summer evening – your meal will be almost effortless.

Menu

Perhaps the most important element and the first step in doing a little meal prep is deciding what you’d like to eat this week and get the grocery shopping done. Thinking ahead means that those decisions won’t have to be made day by day – sometimes the most challenging thinking after a long day of work. Grab your family members and make it a joint venture or… kick everyone out of the kitchen to other tasks, turn on some jam music, pour some wine and go to town!

Sides

If you know that you’ll be grilling in the evenings then plan your ‘side’ dishes in advance. Boil a big batch of potatoes so that you can throw together a potato salad, smashed potatoes, or potato casserole (make that ahead of time and freeze).  If you’ll be having corn on the cob, cook a few extra on the evening that you want to eat them fresh and then shave the kernels off the cob for a corn side dish later in the week.

Stock the freezer

Don’t forget the endless opportunities to set aside pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups or stews! Most of them freeze really well and if you pull it out in the morning, it’s ready to bake when you get home – no thought or real effort involved! You’ll be able to come home, change, and spend 5 minutes making dinner rather than the 30 or 45 minutes it might  have taken to get dinner on the table.

Time efficiency

What’s clear in the study of happiness is that when we use our time efficiently, we feel more organized. People who are more organized are less stressed. People who are less stressed – are happier. People who have more free time – are happier. So, it stands to reason that you’ll be happier overall if you step away from binge watching HGTV or ESPN on the next rainy day and make an effort to …

Meal Prep

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#203 Plan Your Funeral

If you want Van Halen or Bach’s Fifth Symphony playing as you take your last breath – you can say so.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#203

Plan Your Funeral

Whoa… I know this is a morbid topic but keep reading. This is important stuff and may not make you directly happier but it will definitely benefit the people you love who are left behind. It doesn’t matter how old you are and while we all hope to live into a ripe old age – some of us may not. We will all die at some point and it’s just not fair for us to leave all these decisions to people who will be riddled with emotions. Who thinks clearly when riddled with grief? Take some time today to think about how you would like to be sent into the spirit world.

Organized Your Way

It’s rather easy these days with organizations like Five Wishes. You can either order the booklet or sit down online and answer a few questions. For a $5 contribution, you can print your completed booklet and tuck it in a drawer or give it to a trusted family member. Then, between a funeral director and the completed document from Five Wishes – your loved ones won’t have to be making any major decisions and can celebrate your life by going through photos and creating a memory board.

Decisions

Five Wishes serves as a ‘living will’ also in some states so if you want the plug pulled when there is no brain activity you can say so there. If you want Van Halen or Bach’s Fifth Symphony playing as you take your last breath – you can say so. If you want to be clean shaven or have the hairs plucked from your chin – you can designate that too! Do you want to be cremated? Or have your remains placed in a Mausoleum? Do you want pallbearers? A certain kind of flower? A particular hymn or Dixie band? Is there a reading or a poem that is meaningful? Do you have an interest in writing your own Obituary? My grandmother did and she didn’t leave out a thing! It cost a small fortune to publish it but she left money for that too.

Exit Strategy

Since we don’t get to choose when or necessarily how we are going to die – planning the funeral is about as close to being in control as we’ll get. You won’t ever have to say “Don’t let the kids….” at least as it pertains to your exit strategy and it saves them all from disagreeing. I had a client once who had a new outfit hanging in her closet specifically for her to wear to her own viewing. She left very clear and specific instructions for a hairstyle as well with a photo for artistic direction.

Some may say it’s silly but in a time that may be completely outside of our control – this little bit of planning allows us comfort in knowing that some part of it will be directed as we wish. If you haven’t given it any consideration, stop for a bit and think what feels authentic to you. Then sit down with Five Wishes or a piece of paper and …

Plan Your Funeral

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#204 Stop Internalizing

Learn to validate your thoughts and feelings. Look for concrete evidence – preferably direct from the source – that confirms your suspicions.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#204

Stop Internalizing

When was the last time you thought “what did I do”? Perhaps someone close to you snapped a sassy response and your thoughts went immediately to “why are they mad at me?”  Maybe you didn’t get a dinner invitation to a neighbors get-together and your internal voice is wondering why they don’t like you. Or, You see a friend across the parking lot but they keep walking without waving hello.

Internalizing

These are the kinds of scenarios that promote ‘internalizing’ – making the assumption that another person’s behavior has something to do with YOU. My mother often said “what makes you think you’re so important that everything is about you?” It’s a common misperception and one that is dysfunctional to the extent that it interferes with our ability to see things clearly. All too often, the behavior of another has absolutely nothing to do with us!

Check assumptions

Learn to validate your thoughts and feelings. Look for concrete evidence – preferably direct from the source – that confirms your suspicions. If you get the sense that someone is mad at you… ask them. If you imagine that you’ve being shunned from a party because someone is upset with you… ask them “have I offended you?”

Your responsibility

Our responsibility is to work with the information we have but only the information that is accurate. In order to determine accuracy, we have to validate. We can only ‘know for sure’ what we see and hear since we are not mind readers. Even when we ‘think’ we know what someone is thinking – if you find yourself internalizing – validate!! There’s a pretty good chance that you are NOT the center of another’s discontent. Once you realize this you can …

Stop Internalizing.

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#205 Take a Hike

The choir of natural life creates masterful sonnets designed to touch our soul. For some, it’s a downright spiritual experience.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#205

Take a hike

I know many of us take a walk day to day but few of us get out in nature and literally ‘take a hike’ as often as might be enjoyable. What exactly is the difference between a ‘walk’ and a ‘hike’? A hike is generally differentiated by distance; meaning a long way. Theoretically, a long walk could encompass the concept of ‘hike’ but generally it is also referenced as happening in the country or wilderness. Indeed, most of us conjure images of mountains, rivers, trails, and backpacks when we talk about ‘taking a hike’.

Body Benefits

The benefits of ‘hiking’ are similar to many of the other tips that I’ve referenced over the last six months in so much as the overall benefit is an increase in general well-being. Perhaps most prominent is the advantage that the exercise has on our body and spirit. Hiking develops muscle, strengthens our bones, and is overall heart healthy. The time we have to commune with nature is also beneficial as it helps us stay grounded.

Mind Benefits

Escaping suburbia or metropolitan chaos for the peace and quiet of tree studded hillsides allows our mind to settle and tune into the solitude. People who hike have lower rates of depression and anxiety. The choir of natural life creates masterful sonnets designed to touch our soul. For some, it’s a downright spiritual experience.

Be Smart

Walking for long distances is not without risks and so it is necessary to take a smart approach. If you are just getting started – go easy. Train your body to move consistently. Drink plenty of water, wear good shoes, and be prepared for the unexpected. Start locally and move your way up to more advanced trails. If the Appalachain Trail is on your ‘Before You Die’ list, you’ll need to be conditioned. Get off the couch and…

Take a Hike.

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#206 Take a Mental Day Off

Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#206

Take a mental health day off

When was the last time you took a day off for no reason other than to stay home and binge watch T.V., go on a hike, or picnic by a waterfall? All too often we save our vacation days for purposeful tasks or family vacations where the only thing that is different – is the scenery. Sometimes, we just need to have a mental health day.

Use sick days

All too often I find that people accumulate sick days in anticipation of having a major illness. I’ve known people to sell back more than six months of time that was accrued. While that was a nice ‘bonus’, most of us would have been better off taking one or two of those for no other reason than we wanted to have a champagne lunch with a friend.

Taking a Break

Everything is easier when we take a break. When we exhaust ourselves physically, we take a break. When we sit too long, we take a break, and when we’ve worked our fannies off – we deserve a break. Even taking a half day can make a difference. Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

New Perspective

The little break you take with a mental health day can help you get a new perspective or at the very least, it can give you the metaphorical deep breath you need from work and the people there; stepping back from stress, controversy, or uncertainty. If we are seeking clarity or solutions, it may be the break that offers it to us.

Take a look at your work schedule as soon as you can and identify a time when you can…

Take a mental health day off.

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#207 Use Aromatherapy

When we inhale the oil molecules, they affect the limbic region in our brain which impacts our emotions, our memory, our hormones and our heart rate.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#207

Use Aromatherapy

For more than 5000 years, scent – the aroma of oils and plants – have been used as therapies for healing everything from clearing out sinuses, helping us sleep, improving circulation, and calming our mind. It’s considered an alternative or ‘holistic’ treatment to complement medical treatment.

Benefits

The oils used in Aromatherapy stimulate the olfactory system in our body – the one connected to our nose. When we inhale the oil molecules, they affect the limbic region in our brain which impacts our emotions, our memory, our hormones and our heart rate. When the diluted oils are massaged into our skin, it may improve circulation and improve the absorption rate.

Uses

Common plant oils like Basil and Pepper help with body aches and migraines. Eucalyptus is great when we have colds to help us breathe better. Lemon oil, Thyme, and Lavender are known to improve our mood, reduce stress, and enhance sleep.

Caution

Some of these oils can be toxic if used inappropriately. They can promote an allergic reaction or interact negatively with one another so it is imperative that a trained professional guide the use and application of essential oils. An aromatherapist will use a medical history, your current health history as well as diet and lifestyle to develop a strategic plan for medicinal uses.

Keep it  Simple

If you just want your home to smell good and trigger a tranquil feeling, try a diffuser with a diluted scent that you find pleasant (lavender is commonly used for tranquility). There is a large variety of diffusers from reeds, ultrasonic, and mist contraptions that allow the oil molecules to permeate the air. A quick search will return more options than you’ll need.

Once you do a little research and visit a pro you’ll find that your mental and physical well-being can be improved with a decision to…

Use aromatherapy.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#208 Reflect Honestly

When we are hiding from what is real, we are unable to demonstrate our most authentic self; to feel our absolute best.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#208

Reflect Honestly

Survival

I’ve encountered a lot of people who prioritize truth telling yet lie to themselves. If we are attempting to live our best possible life, it’s important to self reflect with complete honesty. We avoid the truth because it may induce feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment; none of which feel good. We conjure stories about our lives that help us cope with living them – sometimes regardless of whether or not it’ a reflection of what is real. We create subjective narratives for emotional survival.

Objective View

One way to access our life honestly is to step back from it and view it as if it is a stage play with players you don’t know or perhaps a television show with characters that are not emotionally attached to you. If your life was a television show – would you watch it? Would you be screaming at the screen trying to tell one of the characters something? Would you be disgusted and turn it off? How would you rewrite the script?

Sometimes taking this perspective means seeing things we don’t want to see. It means we may need to make a change that we don’t feel prepared for or equipped to make. It means accepting that what we wanted, may not happen or what we believed, is actually false.

Support

If you believe you have been avoiding a compelling truth in your life, garner a support system be it another family member, a trusted friend, or a counseling professional and begin the unraveling of what is true. Sometimes it’s a simple effort; at others, it’s more complicated because one lie often begets another and they become convoluted and woven into reality. It may take time and patience to see yourself in well focused light.

As a professional, I often find myself in the position of helping people in this manner and one of the distinctions is aiding clients in understanding the difference between ‘who’ they are and ‘what’ they do… one is personality and the other, behavior. Clarity may take time but the benefit is authenticity.

Authentic Self

Authenticity is not possible without truth. When we are hiding from what is real, we are unable to demonstrate our most authentic self; to feel our absolute best. There is great freedom in living only from a truth place. It’s the origin of true happiness and possible only when we …

Reflect honestly.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.