#335 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

We know that the more people smile, the better they are to cope with stress and that they report higher in life satisfaction.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#335

Smile

When was the last time you smiled without a reason? It turns out that the practice of smiling – randomly for no actual reason – actually increases happiness. The muscles stimulated by smiling triggers a release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – the chemicals that, when activated, allow us to feel happy.

In a landmark study with college students, Kraft and Pressman (2012) validated that students who produced a smile were able to recover from stress more effectively than students who were instructed in the opposite. This concept has been further probed by leaders in the Positive Psychology field and substantiated. We know that the more people smile, the better they are to cope with stress and that they report higher in life satisfaction.

Especially interesting is that we don’t have to smile spontaneously for this effect to be present! Indeed, just the act of smiling produces some affect.

The goal then, is to make an effort to smile more often whether you feel like it or not. Smile in the car on your way to work. Smile in the shower or while you are dressing. Smile at strangers just for the heck of it (many of them will smile back – perhaps initiating the ripple effect). Smile for a full 60 seconds before you get out of bed in the morning and notice the difference.

I assign the task of smiling to The Elevate Class students and they report overwhelmingly how surprised they are when it really does make a difference. It’s like a water soluble vitamin though… it’s only in your system for a day or so after you take it…  you have to smile every day for the effect to be in place.

Experiment a little and for no particular purpose…

Smile.

Let me know how it goes! I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo on Foter.com

#336 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Self-awareness and self-compassion are essential components of splitting up with that judicial speaker. Each time you hear the criticism begin to drown out your more rational loving voice…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#336

Speak kindly to yourself

It’s still a bit amazing to me when I become aware of how difficult it is for some people to engage in kind ‘self-talk’. From little put downs such as “I know this is dumb but…” to looking in a mirror and thinking “you stupid idiot” in a loud critical internal voice, some of us engage in self talk that is demeaning, shaming, and downright hateful.

People who struggle to feel ‘worth it’ are the most frequent offenders and may simply be repeating condemning assertions that were absorbed over time from critical or abusive parents, bosses, or partners. Rarely, do I find that the statements represent truths, yet many of them do underline belief systems.

Entire industry segments of publishing and psychological research have built up around this problem from books such as Shad Helmstetter’s What to Say When You Talk to Yourself to Dr. Kristin Neff’s Self Compassion lab at the University of Texas at Austin. Both of which, are resources I use with clients who experience antagonistic inner critic aggression.

Self-awareness and self-compassion are essential components of splitting up with that judicial speaker. Each time you hear the criticism begin to drown out your more rational loving voice… put your hand over your heart and imagine that you are speaking to someone you love. Begin a supportive and compassionate conversation that is empathetic and loving – the way you talk to a friend who is having difficulty. Be intentional with this practice and you will foster the ability to more consistently…

Speak kindly to yourself.

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

#337 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Either rearrange your perfunctory behaviors or add something significant. Beginning something new is especially effective when it is constructive to personal growth. Begin a gratitude journal or take a class; learn a new language or how to play an instrument.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#337

Change your routine

How often do you feel you’re in a rut? Do you ever get the sense that life is just full of habits, routine, and rituals? Perhaps mostly unconscious?  Has your daily routine become mundane?

You see, moving along in the rut of routine can impact our ability to be notice life. It becomes so rote that we enter autopilot mode and tend to fall asleep at the wheel, so to speak. Remember that time when you arrived at your destination but noticed that you had no recollection of actually driving there? That’s how easy it is for our brains to check out… to shift into unawareness.

What doesn’t grow, will eventually die and so when you notice monotony settling into your day to day life it’s important to be aware. It’s a loud and clear signal that some element of your routine needs to be rearranged. Perhaps you go for a walk after breakfast instead of before. Maybe you eat your largest meal around noon and lighten it up in the evening.

Deleting habits that aren’t productive can also be beneficial. If you habitually wake up, pour coffee, and light a smoke… try waking up – meditating (or praying) for 5 minutes – and shower before grabbing your coffee. Set the alarm 30 min earlier and take a walk, go to the gym after work, or make dinner from scratch. Making these small changes to your daily activities can produce enough variety to kick you out of the doldrums. Getting out of that rut may be a simple tweek, as you just…

Change your routine.

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

#338 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

While I believe we all miss that personal touch a bit, it is the older generation who is most affected by our reduction of using paper mail. They know what they are missing!

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#338

Spontaneous letter

Remember when we used to get ‘real’ mail? Think of how you feel when you get a card in the mail these days… it’s so nice to pick something up from the mailbox that is sent from an actual human being and isn’t asking for money, right?

Why not offer that feeling to someone you are thinking of and write a little note – or a long letter – and send it via snail mail? Really… even a short note that is handwritten for no reason other than to say “hello, I am thinking about you”. Imagine how that gesture would brighten someone’s day.

In particular, an older relative or friend who isn’t as proficient with electronic communication. While I believe we all miss that personal touch a bit, it is the older generation who is most affected by our reduction of using paper mail. They know what they are missing! And… they haven’t mastered the substituted forms of communication that connect the rest of us to the world.

It doesn’t even have to be fancy to be impactful. Just grab a piece of paper… share a few kind thoughts… fold and slip into an envelope… address & stamp… and let the postal services do the rest of the work. For the price of a $.50 stamp (in the US at least), you’re sure to brighten someone’s day because for no particular reason you wrote a …

Spontaneous letter.

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

Photo by jjpacres on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

#339 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Regardless of whether or not you acknowledge the religious aspect of Easter, it’s a great day to begin doing something meaningful – to add a new element, a different spin – on the day.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#339

Start a new tradition

Today is Easter Sunday. I hope it is a day of peace and joy for you, regardless if it is a religious holiday, or not.

It’s a great day to honor old traditions, be it finding Easter eggs and baskets, going to Church and celebrating Christ’s rise into Heaven; or drinking mimosas and eating lamb. Perhaps you dress up and spend the day with family. Maybe you have ditched all the standard traditions and wonder how to make this Christian holiday one that is meaningful for you.

It’s a great day to start a new tradition. Focus on brunch instead of dinner. Make ham sandwiches and go on a picnic. Fill plastic eggs with treats and distribute them in a pediatric ward of your local hospital. Maybe it could be a day when you all ‘unplug’ from electronics and spend the day playing games with your family.

Regardless of whether or not you acknowledge the religious aspect of Easter, it’s a great day to begin doing something meaningful – to add a new element, a different spin – on the day.

Traditionally, Christians celebrate the ascension of Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven. If Christianity is your thing – really celebrate! Throw a party. Do something in the spirit of Christ.

If you follow a path other than Christianity but find that most of the world is shut down and you have the day off… do something a little different. Celebrate your family, your faith, or your community. Begin a tradition of your own – one that takes advantage of your day off.

Take stock of how you spend the day and consider the possibilities if you were to …

Start a new tradition.

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

Photo on Foter.com

#340 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#340

Turning should into could.

From the moment we become aware, rules guide us. We learn about standards, values, and expectations before we learn to talk. These elements become the list of ‘should’s in our life.

I should make my bed every morning

I should eat breakfast

I should finish my dinner

I should do my homework

I should be nice

Etc.

These should’s establish the base from which our life is guided and some of them are quite central to ‘who’ we are.

The problem with should’s is that many of them fail to make sense outside of the environment in which they were originally established but we continue to hold on to them.

One of my favorite stories is of a woman who began preparing dinner one morning while her mother – who was visiting – sat in the kitchen to keep her company. The woman was readying a large roast for the crock pot. She cut a healthy slice from each end, threw them away and placed the roast in the pot. Her mother, looking wide-eyed questioned the action “why would you throw away perfectly good meat?” The woman, looking perplexed at the inquiry explained “that’s what you always did…”. With a stout laugh, the mother quickly responded, “but honey – that’s because my pot was too small.”

This story exemplifies the all-too-familiar behavior that many of us are affected by from day to day.

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning their validity for this period of our lives, this day, or this hour.

Of course, we all have responsibilities and obligations that are important to us and we want to accomplish them. However, instead of commanding yourself to do something because you SHOULD…. First examine where it is coming from.

Are you taking down the curtains and washing them because it is important to YOU? Or is it something your mother did because she lived on a dirt road and the windows were open all spring?

Are you making a casserole for your sick neighbor after work today because that’s what the other gals who are at-home moms did? Or because you want to help your friend?

Are you saying no to lunch with a friend because you ‘should’ stay home and get the laundry done?

Rephrase your ‘should’ to ‘COULD’.

I should do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

I COULD do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

When you rephrase the thought with COULD… does it have the same pull?

When you use the word COULD – your brain understands it as if you are CHOOSING something rather than engaging in a behavior which is expected.

The psychological difference is dynamic. You’ve created CHOICE in your life instead of an expectation that is not authentic to you just by …

Turning should to could.

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

#341 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Perhaps the most compelling reason to change our sheets is the sense of comfort and pleasure that fresh sheets compel almost Every. Single. Time.

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#341

Fresh Sheets

The mention of fresh sheets brings a sigh of ‘ahhh’ when ever it is considered. Memes suggesting fresh sheets and shaved legs are heavenly experiences float through social media with happy puppy faces and satisfying smiles.

when-you-got-fresh-sheets-and-you-just-shaved-your-4140554

As I investigated people’s thoughts about sheets, I found a variety of practices as it pertains to how frequently people do change their sheets. From “weekly, duh!” to “umm…. I really can’t remember”, it seems that only some of us have a hard fast rule.

There are all kind of reasons that we might consider a more regimented protocol for clean linens but this post is not about hygiene. Perhaps the most compelling reason to change our sheets is the sense of comfort and pleasure that fresh sheets compel almost Every. Single. Time.

Have a rough day at work? Change your sheets before going to bed.

Feeling lonely? Change your sheets before going to bed.

Need to be your best tomorrow? Change your sheets before going to bed.

We are programmed to associate cleanliness with good health and/or a sign that things are ‘right’. The act of going to bed in an environment that smells and feels clean, tricks our brain – if only momentarily – to believe that everything is in place – in order – and good to go.

To make the experience as good as it can be, I strongly recommend that we all have at least one set of amazing sheets. While the experts vary in their opinion of thread count, they all seem to agree that Egyptian cotton is by far, the best.  As long as the thread count is at least 200 and European Egyptian, you will be sleeping on some of the most comfortable fabric in the world. An 800 count EE sheet is some of the most luxurious bedding to experience. It compels nudity for an entire sensate experience. Think about it tonight and treat yourself the experience of …

Fresh sheets.

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

Photo by Chechi Pe on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND