#13 Lean In to Fear

#13 Lean In to Fear

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.

#13

Lean In to Fear

Maybe one of the hardest things in life is to face those things that we are afraid of. In October, I wrote a post about vulnerability but didn’t directly speak to the idea of facing fear in general. Being vulnerable is the first step in facing a fear and absolutely necessary in conquering them but there is more.

Understand Fear

Perhaps it’s important to begin by understanding fear. It’s the thing that our brain uses to move our body in such a way as to improve it’s chance for survival. No matter if it is physical or emotional… fear let’s us know that danger is pending. Sometimes though, the problem is that our fear is based on a perceived danger, a false danger, or an imagined danger. That’s right… the danger doesn’t have to ‘actually’ exist for us to literally feel fear. We just have to believe it exists.

Hard Wired

Because our very existence depends on surviving and surviving means that we must avoid great danger, we are hardwired to constantly be on the lookout for things that are wrong. (It’s one of the reasons we may not notice the ‘good things’ in life.) It’s literally in our best interest to be fearful of those things that we don’t know or that aren’t certain.

Having said that… fear can be very limiting and deny us opportunities to enjoy what life has to offer. A fear of airplanes may prevent you from visiting places you want to go. A fear of heights may prevent you from seeing amazing views. A fear of animals may prevent you from walking along magnificent forested trails.

Lean In

What does it meant to ‘lean in’ to fear? It means moving toward it instead of backing away. It means allowing the discomfort to encompass you instead of resisting it. Leaning in means taking a risk with that thing that you fear. Feeling uncomfortable and accepting risk takes courage so the idea of leaning in means to act courageously.

Identify Fears

We can often learn about our fears when we look to our emotions. Anger, anxiety, frustration, hate, bitterness, and resentment are the consequences of fear much of the time. We may be afraid of failing, of letting someone down, of not being accepted or loved. Perhaps we are afraid of disconnecting, of leaving, or of staying. When we zero in on our fear we will know exactly what to ‘lean in’ to.

A best life is when you are living the most authentically – that takes courage. It also may require you to…

Lean In to Fear.

TTAHListen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

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

#20 Expand on What You Know

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.

#20

Expand on What You Know

As a therapist, I am frequently talking to people who feel stuck in their lives and relationships. Sometimes, we can trace the ‘stuck’ feelings to the fact that people keep doing the same thing over and over again. It always reminds me of the old quote…

“The true definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of getting different results.”

Of course, much of the time it is a behavior or action we continue because we just don’t know what else to do. We move through the actions almost rotely, unaware that it is because our knowledge is limited and the solution is most often – learn more. I am sensitive to the fact that we only do what we know because we ‘don’t know what we don’t know’. You can only change something or grow when you become aware that you don’t know.

Simple Solution

The solution is pretty simple: expand on what you do know – assuming that there is always something more to learn. It’s my belief that we stagnate when we adopt the belief that we’ve ‘been there, done that’ and stop investigating. Learning isn’t just about the depth of our knowledge… it’s about the breadth as well. Most educators already know this as it applies to children’s education. It’s one of the reasons that the team approach works well – incorporating reading, history, and English together with the arts can help a child maximize their understanding of a topic. When they are composing poems or writing plays about the period of history they are studying and painting backdrops they researched in books… you get the idea. It fosters a much richer educational experience than a single liner assignment.

Your Life

We can do this in our day to day life as well. If you like plants, build a garden with landscaping and make it bird friendly. If you like organic food – grow your own. If you are creative, make things and sell them online; build a website and expand your technical skills. If you enjoy cooking, experiment with recipes and ingredients to reshape the original into something unique then start a blog. If you like to build things, find ways to repurpose things you have or pick up cheaply and donate them to organizations where you spend time volunteering. If you like to write, build a story and write a book… use resources from the internet to research and add character to the plot.

It Only Takes Time

Growing your body of knowledge doesn’t have to cost a dime or require much physical effort. It’s as easy as visiting the library or hopping online. Most university libraries will also offer the public free or very inexpensive access to their facilities – opening the door to more learning than can be obtained in a single lifetime. If you know how to read – you can learn. It may not be easy if you’re a more ‘hands on’ kind of learner but it’s possible with dedication. Time and desire are the only mandates as proven by Maria Beltran proved when she taught herself English and went on to become a lawyer while raising six children as a single mother. If she can do it, most of us will never have a valid excuse.

There’s no reason for your life to be stagnant… you already have a bank of knowledge. All you have to do is…

Expand on what you know.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

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

#25 Compete in Something

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.

#25

Compete in Something

Do you play cards? Tennis? Chess? Do you run marathons or are you part of a sports team? If you do/are… you are most likely engaging in competition which, as it turns out – is good for you. If not, think of something you can do that will offer you an opportunity to compete, to win because the dopamine rush that happens when we win – may be important to our happiness.

Chemical Reactions

It seems as if we are biologically designed to be rewarded for “coming out on top”… for winning. In fact, low serotonin levels are the result of denying ourselves the opportunity to win. If you find that you avoid competition or don’t try to succeed when given the chance, it may promote depressed feelings. Winning is one of the ways that we validate our power or knowledge.

When we win at something, our bodies produce a surge of testosterone – temporarily providing a rush of ‘strength’ in both men and women. In addition, dopamine – the happy chemical – courses through the area of our brain that is responsible for pleasure and positive emotions.

Is it no wonder that winning is the goal?

Winning isn’t Everything

Competition isn’t just about winning however. There are great benefits to being a part of a team when it comes to those competitions that require cooperation and coordination. Learning to share energy in an effort to accomplish a task is an important life skill.

Competitions tax our body and/or our minds. Whether we’re competing in a triathlon or playing Euchre, we are using some kind of energy in the pursuit of playing. Our brains are constantly at work in an effort to figure out how to maximize our performance. It also promotes creativity as we vie to ‘get out front’ and win.

Against Yourself

Some people have negative reactions to social competitions and some, broken perspectives from poor experiences in the past. In these cases, I recommend competition against one’s self. Beat your best at anything; strive to do it faster, or earlier, or bigger. Anything that you can do to promote the sense of “I did it!” will induce similar chemical responses in your body.

Competition is good for you so the next time you have a chance to play a game of anything or to personally challenge yourself… just do it. You’ll be giving yourself an opportunity for some great chemical rushes should you win. After all, the only way to win… is to…

Compete in something.

TTAH

Listen to me on Try This at Home – a series of conversations about making life better.

You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, or Feedburner

 

 

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

#36 Learn How to Shoot a Gun

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.

#36

Learn How to Shoot a Gun

This is an emotional topic for some and yet it’s a skill set that – at the very least – might save your life at some point. Perhaps you are already be adept in this area and the following will validate your position. In either case, there is a certain amount of security that results when you know how to properly [safely] handle a gun.

Safety

Because a gun is a tool that has the capacity to kill, it is imperative that anyone handling one learn safety and responsibility. Just like the automobiles that we drive – it is a piece of machinery that deserves respect. Likewise, developing skill requires training, practice, and patience. When addressed properly, a gun is simply another tool or piece of sporting equipment.

Self-confidence

Knowing how to shoot a gun can generate self-confidence. There’s a certain amount of accomplishment and pride when the target you were aiming at is gets obliterated. Whether it’s a clay that you hit in midair, a can on top of a bail, or a bullseye on a clip at 50 feet – knowing that your hand was steady and your eyesight keen offers a sense of satisfaction.

Bonding

Target practice is a fun thing to do on a date night or with friends, especially if you’re a little competitive. Think of it as an extreme dart game. Clay shooting is another target activity that gets you outdoors in the fresh air. Because alcohol cannot be part of these experiences (liquor and guns are never a good combination), it’s an opportunity to gather and enjoy the experience of each other’s company without all the silliness and obnoxious behavior that alcohol tends to conjure.

Brain Power

Shooting a gun with intent and purpose is an empowering experience. Not only does it foster self-confidence but also attention, focus, and reactivity. All of those elements contribute overall to the sense of empowerment that supports individual esteem. It exercises brain and body muscles – all potentially leading to better physical and emotional health.

Just In Case

I’m not taking a side on gun ownership or gun laws in any capacity, only suggesting that knowing how to safely handle a gun – at the very least – may save your life if you happen to stumble across a loaded one. God forbid we ever ‘have’ to shoot one for self preservation but if we do, the first step is to…

Learn to shoot a gun.

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

#44 Stop Arguing

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.

#44

Stop Arguing

Arguing, what’s it good for? Arguments are rarely ‘won’. When you think you wond an argument, what did you win? The ‘loser’ at least learned something, right? But what did you get? Debating practice, ego satisfaction, and diminished brain power is all.

Reduced Brain Power

At times there are things that need to be debated, but most of the time, it just isn’t productive. You may want to argue the point, but what do you get from a useless debate? The more important question is what do you lose? I say you use effective brain power.

There is at least one thing we can probably agree on and that is that a person listening to arguments can learn something from both sides. But, what about the people in the middle of the argument? Are they even listening to the point or are they totally focused on being ‘right’ and ‘winning’? At what point does the onus of the argument shift from making a point to ego satisfaction?

Too much arguing creates a habit of looking for arguments more than for facts. We tend to get more deeply rooted in a rut as the defense continues and even avoid opposing evidence that may validate the other’s view so that we can be ‘right’. Ultimately, digging a rut and dismissing evidence doesn’t make us better thinkers at all; it diminishes our power.

Listening

Some things we argue about are based solely on fact and while we may think we are helping the other person learn if we have our facts correct, we’re really just challenging them – sometimes that completely backfires. If I say the earth is closer to the moon than the sun but you disagree, we’re either headed for a science lesson or a tug of war and chances are that the misinformed person will have negative feelings about the debate.

However, I say that nature is more important than nurture and you think it’s the opposite, we can both have solid positions based on our experience and current knowledge. These kind of debates are based on value, experiences, and poorly defined terms – often perspectives that are neither ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. We could argue all day on defining “what’s important in life” without any winner. In this position, the only logical, kind, and compassionate thing to do is to listen and both parties will likely learn something.

To break the habit of arguing, ask opinions and questions and then listen without judgement. You can ask for clarification but it’s best not to offer contrary ideas. This isn’t always easy to remember but with practice, your likely to be in less hot water and get to know people better.

It’s just a good idea all around in the effort of increasing your happiness and living your best life to …

Stop arguing.

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

#58 Build a Sandcastle

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.

#58

Build a Sandcastle

Hopefully, it’s not 30 degrees where you are currently… making this suggestion sound utterly ridiculous and unattainable for several months. If it’s a bit warmer, it may actually be the perfect time to try this happiness tip because the beaches are probably mostly deserted and/or there’s bound to be a sandbox that could use a little TLC this time of year.

Why?

Building a sandcastle may be an activity that epitomizes childhood. We don’t seem to care how many crooks and crevices get filled with sand when we are children and believe it or not – it works our brain.

Cooperation

Most of us don’t build sandcastles alone. When we enlist the help of others, we are automatically thrown into the task of cooperation. It’s a great way for children to learn how to cooperate and for others to delegate. It’s a useful opportunity for a group of people to see how individual efforts contribute to a bigger project and outcome.

Creativity

It may be obvious that building a sandcastle employs a certain level of creativity. Most of us have not studied castle structure or architecture and so we are building based on memory of books and television; maybe even solely from our imagination. We have the opportunity to design anything that we fancy and so it’s a great outlet for creativity.

Spatial Skill

It’s a time when dimension, volume, and depth become important to the overall task. It forces us incorporate vision and make adjustments for scale – at least a little. Our brains will naturally attempt to make modifications when an element is too distorted and so it is good practice for spatial awareness.

Sensory and Motor Skill

Working in the sand engages your brain in a couple of other interesting ways. Our senses are often intrigued with the juxtaposition of water and sand and even more so when they are combined to create an entirely different texture. It’s a great time to be intentional and savor the experience. Additionally, there’s a certain level of motor skill involved; both gross and fine. Shoveling sand to build a mound and then carving the sand for detail uses different muscles as well as different areas of your brain.

Family Time

I’ve outlined why building sandcastles is good for your brain and dexterity. It’s also a fantastic family experience and it doesn’t have to be a summer beach day in order to enjoy it. A sandbox in the backyard or in the park can be accessed at any time and if you can get past the idea of sand covered clothing (it is easier to wash off with a dip in the ocean) ~ it’s a wonderful treat for the entire family.

Treat yourself to a free play day by getting outside in the fresh air and …

Build a sandcastle.

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

#77 Switch Hands

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.

#77

Switch Hands

Want to give your brain a quick boost? Spend a day primarily using your non-dominant hand for a day. Try using it to zip, button, and snap. Soap your body, brush your teeth, and comb your hair with your ‘other’ hand. Keep going. Try buttering toast and reaching into the fridge opposite from how you usually do it.

This activity is considered exercise for your brain. Scientists tell us that if we are using one side of our body more often than not, it hold true also that we are using only one side of our brain more often than not. Something as simple as using a different hand will help you develop the other side of your brain; grow neurons.

Healthy Brain

In the same way we strive for better health in our bodies, it is imperative that we are attentive to keeping our brain healthy. If we change those little things that we do rotely, it forces us to use brain power and think about what we’re doing.

Healthy Body

If you’re right handed, your right bicep is probably stronger. You are likely right footed as well with more developed right leg muscles. Shifting things into your left hand will activate the left side and balance the muscle development in your body.

Marketing

Researchers have suggested that we tend to ‘lead’ based on our dominant hand; meaning that we will lead to the right when we are moving through a store, an amusement park, or generally anywhere we go. Watch what direction people tend to move as they exit an escalator or at the entrance to a concert hall. One of the most helpful tips I read when going to Disney World the first time was to go left as soon as we entered the park because most of us will automatically go right. [More than 70% of the world’s population is right handed.] And, by the way, it worked. Change is good for us all.

You may be surprised to discover the benefits of exercising your brain by making a commitment to …

Switch hands.

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

#157 Wear A Blindfold

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.

#157

Wear a blindfold

Ok… don’t get too excited just yet. This suggestion is geared toward highlighting all senses when sight is not available and not just during sex. If you have a ‘sleep mask’ – go ahead a grab it, otherwise, close your eyes and follow the honor system. Take a few minutes each day this week to experience the conditions outlined below – without sight – to notice elements of everyday life that you’ve never experienced before.

Suggestions:

  • Stand in the kitchen when someone is cooking – notice how you smell more or differently when you can’t see that is cooking.
  • Sit outside on your deck or porch – notice the sounds that you may not have heard before. What birds are singing? Do you hear traffic? Or people? What do you smell?
  • Shower with your blindfold on or your eyes closed. Notice how rotely you perform each maneuver and don’t really need sight to move through the task.
  • Try eating without sight. Do you notice a difference in how quickly you devour your food? Are you more in tune with the smell or texture?
  • Make love while wearing a blindfold. Do you notice a difference in the level of pleasure that you experience?

Brain Power

Eliminating your ability to see, heightens your other senses. Your brain automatically redirects its reliance to sound, smell, and touch in order to identify the experience. This one of the reasons that using a blindfold during sex intensifies the experience for women. Men, who are more dependent on sight for stimulation, may not enjoy the same benefit.

Caution

Wearing a blindfold for a prolonged period can induce hallucinations. Research is demonstrating that when a sighted person is denied the ability to see – the brain will create visions. We seem to develop an ability to ‘see’ through our ‘third’ eye. Indeed, there is a retreat that promotes this process for those who want to ‘destress’ by using blindfolds to open a path to your subconscious. I would encourage anyone moving in this direction to move with caution and with someone psychologically trained. Going that deep – if there are old wounds – can be more harmful than helpful.

In any event – for a SHORT duration – you can intensify your other senses and develop a stronger sense of being present by taking a few minutes each day to….

Wear a blindfold.

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

Photo by Kirill Balobanov on Unsplash

#169 Memorize a Poem

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.

#169

Memorize a poem

Aside from “Roses are red…” and “Miss Mary Mac…” have you ever memorized a poem? Can you recall it now? Memorizing is good for your brain and poems are often good to practice because there is typically a cadence that makes it a little easier. It may be good for your spirit as well… the material we memorize sits a little further in our brains and becomes deep knowledge.

Repetition

Unsure of your ability to memorize? Think of all the song lyrics you know… you’ve memorized them without intent just by listening to the song over and over. Really, anything we do over and over can be implanted in our memory banks. Think of the church service you cantor without much forethought, or the pledge of your fraternal organization. Repetition is a key to memorizing.

Irish Blessing

My mother had a plaque above the kitchen sink that I often read as I washed dishes and I remember it now… decades later; The Irish Blessing:

May the road  rise to meet you,

May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon  your face,

And the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

I encourage you to pick a poem from this list of Best Short Poems to Memorize or another that resonates with you, print it out, and tape it in a location that you can easily read it a couple times a day (computer desk, kitchen or bathroom mirror). Before long, you will have memorized the poem in its entirety.

Benefits

Memorizing a poem that you enjoy helps to build upon appreciation of artistic expression in general. The ‘artistry’ in the poem exposes you to language that may not be a part of your typical vernacular; expanding your vocabulary. It has the potential to expand your verbal and emotional intelligence which, are attributes associated with higher rates of well-being.

Take a short tour of the link above, visit the library, or think of a poet you’ve enjoyed in the past, pick out a verse, print it out, and …

Memorize a poem.

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