#108 Ask for a Hug

Because a hug can generate that sense of belonging and compassion, it fosters calm. It allows us to feel protected – if even only for that moment.

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.

#108

Ask for a hug

Connection is one of the most fundamental needs that a human being requires for survival. In fact, researchers in Chicago have postulated that not feeling connected to a ‘tribe’ may be more devastating to our life expectancy than smoking or obesity. There may be no better way to signify a connection than by hugging.

Often these days, we are racing around attempting to complete our own agenda and don’t take the time to stop and consider those around us. Consequently, we may fail to notice that people in our circle – our tribe – our family, are feeling disconnected from us. We may not feel comfortable speaking out when we are the ones feeling on the outskirts. And so it goes… we brush past one another, maybe with a smile but disengaged from a sense of belonging.

Take the Lead

It is during those times that it becomes imperative to ‘ask for a hug’. Whether you’re the one feeling disconnected or you are noticing that someone appears to be detached or unplugged from the group/family. Either we notice that we are in need or there is someone in our tribe that can tell we are deficient. Either way, the gesture of a hug will likely break the isolation and pull us into at least a temporary circle of comfort.

Benefits

Because a hug can generate that sense of belonging and compassion, it fosters calm. It allows us to feel protected – if even only for that moment. Consequently, our immune system may function better, our fear is reduced, and we may feel happier. More hugging may help with heart health, depression, anxiety, and overall life satisfaction.

That’s a lot of benefit just because we took the time to think about our needs and …

Ask for a hug.

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

#124 Realign Your Priorities

If someone tells me that their family is the most important thing on Earth but then works sixty hours a week, they are demonstrating that it’s not ‘time’ with family but ‘providing for’ family is the priority.

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.

#124

Realign Your Priorities

Why do you do what you do? What are your priorities? Do your actions – your behaviors – demonstrate your priorities? Are you engaged in the activity that you say is the most important thing?

Define Your Priorities

When asked this question, people often respond family, friends, home, work, etc… and often in that order. (Many people put God ahead of them all). Yet, as I ask a client to describe their day to day lifestyle, there is often a discrepancy between what I heard described and the values they shared to begin with. If someone tells me that their family is the most important thing on Earth but then works sixty hours a week, they are demonstrating that it’s not ‘time’ with family but ‘providing for’ family is the priority. This is a great example of what one person says and what the other ‘hears’. Jack and Jill both ‘say’ that family is their number one priority but their actions/behaviors delineated that further by drilling down to ‘time with family’ and ‘providing for family’. Often – those specific values work in contradiction to one another.

We could drill down even further to examine the nuances of each by describing ‘time’ more specifically… is that weekends and soccer games? Or is it story time and date nights too? Does ‘providing for’ mean any old roof over our heads or does it mean 3000 square feet and quartz counter tops? Does it mean private school and full college tuition or public schools and grant money?

Work in Progress

The fact is, our priorities develop and morph over time. If we are good communicators who are present and who spend time ‘going deep’ with our partners, they stay in alignment both with our actions/behaviors, and in tandem with our partner. I find that this is rarely the case – at least with couples who seek therapy.

Lose Sight

I think many of us fail to remember to check in with ourselves from time to time – let alone with sour partners. In our crazy busy world where we are constantly seeking more, we get stuck on auto-pilot – somehow thinking that because we got on ‘this’ road, it will take us where we want to go without more direction checking on our part. We set course based on the information we have garnered – at – that – time. Along the way, there are distractions, chaos, change, temptations, etc…. And we often lose sight of their original objective or we adjust course and forget to share that information.

Back on Track

Getting realigned takes little more than some self-assessment, a discussion, and honesty. It means revisiting your values and priorities to be sure they are still valid and then assess our actions/behaviors to evaluate their efficiency toward manifesting the priority. If ‘(quantity) time’ with family is above all else, working 60 hour weeks isn’t the route to that goal and it will require an honest conversation to realign the priority or to realign the action/behavior so that they work in tandem with one another.

Good Habits

We see our doctor for an annual physical. WE get systematic reviews of our professional performance. Our corporations are assessed for proficiency and profitability on a regular basis. As an individual who is ultimately responsible for backing up our words with action – it’s imperative that we do the same. Make it at least an annual habit to take a step back and …

Realign your priorities.

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

#137 Visit a Cemetery

When we realize that our days are numbered somewhere between 0 and 36,000 – generally speaking – we tend to pay more attention.

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.

#137

Visit a Cemetery

This suggestion isn’t specifically because it is close to Halloween, a time when a walk through a cemetery may take on a different meaning… It’s more because walking through a cemetery has a strange way of connecting us to our past.

The fact is that each of those graves represents a person with a history; someone’s child. Maybe they had siblings, fell in love, and worked hard – or not. Whatever they did, they had a story. Even if we are not connected to any of those particular stories, standing in the middle of a cemetery can remind us of several things that are important life lessons to keep in the forefront of our mind.

Life Ends

Maybe it’s morbid, but it’s also a fact and one that when considered… literally helps us to be present more often. When we realize that our days are numbered somewhere between 0 and 36,000 – generally speaking – we tend to pay more attention.

Relationships Matter

When we consider that there are perhaps, only 8 or 9 thousand more days to share, those people that are important to us somehow take on a new urgency. We tend to sweat the little things a lot less when we think of life as limited initiative.

Life Goes On

When we walk through a cemetery and consider all of the lives represented there and then think of our own, we can’t help but become acutely aware that life goes on and the world keeps moving. We become aware of our despensibility and while that may be a little discerning to our ego… it’s great to know that everything continues to turn in our absence.

Traditions

Cemeteries are full of traditions which, is fun to notice and experience. It can be a cultural learning tool. There are religious, ethnic, generational, and socioeconomic differences visibly obvious from the headstones and ornaments that are displayed throughout. All of these variations tend to change across time, making it an interesting archaeological study as well.

Architecture

Architecture may not be the most precise term here yet there can be tremendous examples of architectural intrigue and ornamentation in some of the more elaborate structures. A stroll through the grounds may be visually stimulating – raising an itch in your artistic energy. The Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia is one of the most famous for this element along with Sleepy Hollow in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Whether it is one of these famous ones, or the one in your hometown – there’s something for you there so go ahead and make a date to …

Visit a cemetery.

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

 

#151 Send Postcards

You can save a little money too! Sending a postcard only costs $.35 today compared the the $.50 of a regular stamped card/envelope.

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.

#151

Send Postcards

Remember when people would go on vacation and send us a postcard with the sentiment “wish you were here?” You’d get a little envious or jealous or just happy that someone you care about was in a place that looked amazing.

Today, with social media, the need for postcards is practically obsolete yet, they still adorn racks near the cashier of retail establishments in those places that are considered tourist attractions and exist mostly for the benefit of collections.

I’ve written about sending snail mail before and the cheer that it brings to most of us when we actually receive something significant in the mailbox. A postcard from a place you’ve been, a place that is meaningful to you, or a place that you may want to share with someone would be a great treat as well.

Postcards can be used as thinking of you cards’, ‘get well cards’, or even to send birthday wishes. In this age of image bombardment – the picture focus of Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, the photo element of a postcard seems apropos.

No matter where you are, there’s likely to be a place that offers at least a small collection of postcards to choose from. Even in non-descript places off a major interstate may offer some depicting the best features of the state you’re travelling through.

You can save a little money too! Sending a postcard only costs $.35 today compared the the $.50 of a regular stamped card/envelope. The savings of $.15 adds up over time and those little cost savings is how the rich get richer!

The next time you’re at the shore, the lake, in the mountains, or on vacation… maybe even the next time you stop in a Cracker Barrel restaurant… pick up a few postcards and surprise your friends and family with a little mailbox treat! I’ve written extensively in this series about the benefits of doing nice things, surprising someone, and the effect of receiving good will. In each case, there is a shot of dopamine for both you and the receiver… increasing your happiness level just a tad with the quick and easy effort of…

Sending a postcard.

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

#162 Ask Friends and Family for Feedback

We have a deep seeded belief that if we bring attention to them, somehow people will think less of us.

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.

#162

Ask Friends and Family for Feedback

One of the most basic tenets of self-awareness is to understand how you are perceived by people in your environment. There’s no better way to get honest feedback than to ask those who know you best. It’s one of the homework assignments that students in The Elevate Class complete and the results are always a major part of our coaching conversations.

Be Open

Being open to the constructive criticism that people share is a necessity. Your ability to hear their perspectives without feeling attacked or ‘bad’ can help you understand how you are perceived by others. Try to remember that people who love you offer a view that is shared from a place of acceptance; they love you – anyway! It’s always interesting to see things about yourself that can’t be seen from the inside out.

Changes

Not everything that is observed needs to be changed. You are who you are! If an observation suggests offensive behavior, of course you’ll want to consider how it is impacting someone you love and ask yourself if that’s what you’re goal is… It may be just something you want to stay aware of so that you can mitigate its negative impact – where applicable. Perhaps it is something that when changed, would benefit your relationship.

Seeing Ourselves

Sometimes, we look at something so long that we stop seeing it – having become so accustomed to its presence. The feedback we receive is important for a complete picture. If you’re concerned that the response may be too critical – qualify your request by asking this:

“Please offer gentle and constructive critique about my behavior/actions and how they impact our relationship: a mix of positive and negative observations would be appreciated.”

I suggest the response be written so that you can take time to consider their perspectives and your memory won’t be challenged in recalling the comments; email is fine… texting not so much.

Fear

The biggest pushback that I typically see to this suggestion is the fear we experience when we think that our faults are going to be highlighted. We have a deep seeded belief that if we bring attention to them, somehow people will think less of us. Interestingly enough – those traits are always exposed… just because we don’t acknowledge them, doesn’t mean they don’t show through. It’s always better to brave the exposure. Nothing changes if it stays packed away… even if no change is desired, keeping it out in front will make sure that it stays healthy.  So, give yourself an opportunity to grow and …

Ask friends and family for feedback.

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

Photo by Yolanda Sun on Unsplash

#168 Create a Piece of Wall Art

These are only a few options and a really great way to decorate on a limited budget. It’s also a great way to change up your home decor without breaking the bank …

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.

#168

Create a piece of wall art

Just getting started in your first home? Feeling crafty? Wanting a change of decor? Creating your own piece of wall art isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think! Depending on how industrious you feel, it can as little as a few minutes with some simple supplies or you can go all out, using power tools and scrap wood.

Starting small and easy is generally a good idea. Some masking tape, a couple of canvases, and complimentary paint colors is all you need for this first abstract look.

wall3

I used this technique for the bathroom walls in my daughter’s hall bath a number of years ago. It encompassed a pack of coordinating scrapbook paper, an inexpensive canvas, and some Modge Podge. Any shape works but this ‘leaf’ or ‘pointed oval’ makes a pretty great flower. You can make this for less than $20.

wall1

Using circles is also a great idea. There are lots of options here…  Paper on canvas, wood on canvas, wood on wood, even plastic. You can use a variety of items here or simply spray paint wood circles and clue them to a painted board or repurposed canvas you pick up at a thrift shop.

wall2

Getting more labor intensive, a variety of wood projects are also low cost. Scrap wood can be purchased at surplus shops for next to nothing and joined to create a panel ready to hang. A painted word purchased on Etsy or at a craft show adds a pop of color and personal interest.

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A creative use of different stains can also be interesting. While the picture below depicts inlaid wood – the same effect can be accomplished by using tape and different stains.

This last piece may be as simple as sending the kids outside to pick up a few sticks nature provided the last time it was windy! Cutting them to fit inside a shallow box you’ve built and painted creates a really interesting focal point for a room anchored in natural elements. It brings the outside, inside.

wall4

These are only a few options and a really great way to decorate on a limited budget. It’s also a great way to change up your home decor without breaking the bank or investing so much that you feel compelled to keep something even though your tastes have changed.

This is a great family activity and a fantastic way to encourage creativity. Art is a completely subjective endeavor and so… if YOU like it – that’s all that matters!  Hopefully, this gets your wheels turning about how to fill some empty space on a wall in your home just waiting for you to …

Create a piece of wall art! 

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

 

#172 Review Your Will

It’s important to understand what happens if you do NOT designate your wishes.

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.

#172

Review your will

We hear this legal advice all the time and yet I am amazed how few heed the recommendation. When did you originally write you will? [Stop reading right now if you don’t have one and make THAT your priority today.]

While I am not an attorney and no one should take my advice as officially ‘legal’ – I spent half my adult life as a financial advisor and would often review this element with clients as we were addressing the complete ‘financial’ picture. I served as Executrix for my Grandparents’ estate and learned more about what ‘not’ to do as we plan for the time when our assets get distributed to people we love.

Times Change

Many of us design our first will using very basic structures because we’re young and have little to distribute. As we grow older, accumulate material items and wealth, have children, and lose older relatives, the way we think about ‘who gets what’, will change. The people we want to carry out our wishes may also change as relationships morph over that time. This is all in addition to and separate from what needs to be addressed when there are dependant children who need to be considered.

Digital Information

Today, in conjunction with the traditional considerations, we need to think about some things that have never been issues such as your digital legacy. Many of us have photographs in online accounts… Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social identities. What do you want to have happen to that data? Your Executor needs to have a list of your electronic passwords and some direction of what to do with that information. Facebook offers a “Legacy” account; Read THIS. Do you want that information deleted or protected as historical data?

Disbursement

Experts agree that our wills need to be revisited every five years; more if our circumstances change (buying house, having children, etc.). It’s important to understand what happens if you do NOT designate your wishes. Dying Intestate (without a will) will activate a line of distribution that is automatic when someone fails to make their preference; spouse first, then children. Without a spouse (married partner) or a child, the line of disbursement moves to parents, legal siblings, and eventually – if none of those relationships exist – aunts and uncles. There may be a friend or charity that would benefit from your estate more than great Aunt Mary and so a will is a necessity.

If you haven’t recently considered your afterlife wishes, take some time to think about what is important to you and then…

Review you will.

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