#3 Be Introspective

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.

#3

Be Introspective

Perhaps the single most important aspect of personal growth and development – the cornerstone of authentic happiness – is the ability to be introspective. The willingness to observe one’s own emotional and mental processes demonstrates courage in many cases… sometimes, there’s a lot going on in that brain.

The 5 W’s

When making the effort to look within, it’s important to be curious – not judgmental – about the five W’s… Who? What? When? Where? And Why? It goes like this:

Who is triggering me?

What was the behavior?
When did it happen?

Where were we?

Why is it a trigger?

Or

Who are the people of my tribe?

What do I like the most about them?

When do I feel the most supported?

Where do I feel it [in my body]?

Why is it important to me?

You may not ask the same questions about each and every situation. Sometimes, you also want to ask How? How much control do I truly have?

Self Awareness

Introspection develops self-awareness and self-awareness is necessary for growth and development in both your behavior and in your spirit. As we ask questions and seek awareness, it’s important to be an observer, not a judge. If you discover something that you don’t like, ask more questions about how you might change it and take action.

If you get stuck, ask for professional assistance. Sometimes an objective fresh perspective is all that is standing in the way of discovery.

If you’re looking for more joy, for better relationships, and for increased self-awareness, start with the effort to …

Be introspective.

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

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#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.

#37 Sing Karaoke

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.

#37

Sing Karaoke

After recommending that we try Stand Up Comedy as a way to improve your well-being, I’d be remiss to ignore the idea of singing publicly as another way to foster fun, laughter, friendship, and joy in your life. And, while I am quite sure that I may be the spectacle of fun were I to stand up and attempt to sing a popular song… it would make for great memories.

Evidence

Several years ago a Japanese research team published a study indicating that those people who participated in the practice of getting together with friends and singing, were less stressed, had better cardiovascular health and less susceptible to heart disease. I mean, clearly those are benefits of reduced stress all around so essentially, they’re saying Karaoke reduces stress – no matter if you can carry a tune.

Talent

The point of Karaoke isn’t necessarily showcasing vocal talent – although it does certainly serve that purpose. We are generally entertained when someone is able to carry a tune and has even a little depth in their vocal range. But even if you can barely make it through Happy Birthday, gathering a group of friends and joining in on a collective rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’ is great fun.

Physical Benefits

Maybe one of the best physical benefits of singing is that it forces us to control our breath and breathe deeply. It works our memory which, is exercise for our brain. It strengthens throat and palate muscles which, may improve snoring and apnea. It supports good posture by forcing you to stand more upright, allowing for better breath control. And, it may be one of the most natural antidepressants. People who sang regularly in church were found to have higher dopamine levels than those who did not.

Social Connection

Karaoke is an ongoing opportunity to gather with friends whether it is in a public forum or someone’s living room. It gives you rhyme and reason to connect. If you are a ‘regular’ on open mic night, you may develop a following; fostering confidence and esteem with like minded people.

There doesn’t really seem to be a downside to this recommendation except for the fear you may have revolving around judgment, rejection, ridicule, or failure… all derogatory and ultimately unhelpful; totally worth staring down. A great way to face your fears while having a great time inside a supportive environment is to…

Sing karaoke.

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

#38 Try Stand Up Comedy

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.

#38

Try Stand Up Comedy

I can only imagine how many people read this suggestion as a way to improve your life and laugh out loud because it may be the farthest thing from something that sounds fun. I suspect there are only two basic perspectives here…  one being that “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up and try to be funny because I’m not” or even if you think you could be funny… “there’s no way in hell I’d stand up in front of strangers”. And still… I stand by the recommendation.

Finding Funny

Everyone has a funny side or at the very least, comedic memories; stories of times when the absurdity of life found you belly laughing. The longer you’ve lived, the more you have to relate with. But, you don’t have to be on the older side if you are a good observer. There’s a lot of funny in the world and your ability to see it and describe it to other people is what makes good comedic material. In many of the basic struggles that we experience as humans, there is a humorous perspective. Some of the most famous comedians have been able to elaborate on the light side of everyday conflicts; relationships, work, raising children, proposals, traffic, etc.

Writing Funny

Where many of us lose the momentum is between writing the ideas and crafting the ‘script’ of the story. The website CreativeStandup.com offers some great advice about “understanding the principles of comedy” versus “applying rules and techniques”.  In some cases, it’s better to record yourself telling the tales and then have the recording transcribed and begin working from that point. In that way you are breaking the creative process into two distinct pieces but allowing the ‘material’ to flow naturally. There are several highly rated transcription services (apps) that are relatively inexpensive.

Presenting Funny

Once you have a few ideas and a routine you’re comfortable with, try an Open Mic night at a local comedy club. It’s a great way to face any fear of public speaking because people are ‘supposed to be laughing at you’. It’s a great night out with friends if everyone is participating and an awesome way to work on confidence and esteem.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘everyone’s a comic!’ – although notably it may have been a sarcastic expression at the time but there’s a little bit of truth in most sarcasm. Use this as fuel to recall some of your most memorable personal experiences, tell the story with as much absurdity as it can support, and …

Try stand up comedy.

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

#39 Overcome Self Doubt

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.

#39

Overcome Self Doubt

Do you ever doubt yourself? Do you doubt you can do whatever it is you’ve set out to do? It’s perfectly normal. We all do it. Self-doubt is something anyone faces at some point in their life. And for some of us it can be a real struggle. When self-doubt – which is defined as the lack of confidence in oneself and one’s abilities – keeps us from doing that we want to do and from reaching our goals, it’s time to take action and work towards overcoming it.

And since self-doubt by definition is caused by a lack of confidence, the solution is obvious. We need no to work on becoming more confident. But how do you go about boosting your self-confidence? Saying “You need to be more confident” is easy, actually doing it can be a little harder, but it can be done.

Fake It Until You Make It

I’m serious. As odd as it sounds this actually works. By acting confident, you can trick your mind into becoming a more confident person. Stand up tall, talk with conviction and take some action. Act like a confident person until you become just that.

Find A Cheerleader

If you’re the kind of person that thrives on praise and gets a big boost in confidence whenever they receive a compliment, go find yourself a cheerleader. Talk to a friend, find an accountability partner, or hire a coach or mentor. Let them know that you work well with praise and ask them to cheer you on as you work on your confidence.

Make a List of Accomplishments

There are probably dozens of things that you’ve accomplished over time. Make of list of all of the challenges that you’ve mastered, the goals you’ve reached, and the problems you’ve solved. This list will act as a reminder that you’ve been here and done that; that you have a track record of accomplishments.

Take On A Challenge

Setting and reaching a goal is another big confidence booster. Set yourself a challenge. It doesn’t matter what it is or what area of your life it applies to. Then tackle it and rise to the challenge. Reaching your goal – whatever it may be – will boost your confidence overall and help you in all areas of your life.

And don’t stop there… throughout your daily life pay attention to your confidence. It won’t take you long to get out of the habit of doubting yourself and becoming the confident and productive person you’ve always wanted to be when you use these tricks to …

Overcome self doubt.

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

#45 Make Eye Contact

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.

#45

Make Eye Contact

How did you feel the last time you talked with someone who didn’t make eye contact with you? Were you left wanting more? Suspicious? Disbelieving? It turns out that making eye contact during conversations is a type of communication in and of itself.

Positive characteristics

It’s a social skill. It’s good manners. It’s a sign of interest and attention. Indeed, according to the research, people who are able to make and sustain eye contact are perceived as more dominant, powerful, warm and personable, qualified, trustworthy, honest, confident and emotionally stable. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with those characteristics?

Positive Consequences

People who engage in direct eye contact make more sales, date more frequently, and report more satisfactory interpersonal interactions. Each one of these consequences can improve the quality of our lives. It’s postulated that our eyes are have evolved specifically to assist in our ability to communicate.

Communication

Indeed, they contribute individually and specifically to non-verbal communication. “I saw it in his eyes” or “Her eyes told the story”…. Statements that describe a ‘look’ we can all relate to. Our eyes convey attention. We are more apt to listen to people who are looking directly at us and we will feel more intimately connected when making eye contact with other people. Intimate connections convey trust and belonging.

Difficulties

People who find it hard to make direct eye contact with others may be challenged in a variety of areas. It’s very difficult to keep a gaze when we are being dishonest. Darting eyes can be an indication of a false story. People who are fearful of being judged may also find it hard to make eye contact. And, because our eyes communicate so much information, people who are masking emotion may not allow themselves to make eye contact for fear that their eyes will disclose too much information.

Work on It

If you find it difficult to make eye contact – ask yourself why. Perhaps it would be helpful to seek guidance for any insecurities or fear. If you realize that your effort to avert a gaze is simply a bad habit, make a conscious effort to work on it. Eye contact can be overdone, it’s not natural to stare constantly at someone so practice moving your eyes aside from time to time; side to side movement is the least disruptive to communication.

If you want to improve your connections, your communication, and ultimately your confidence…

Make eye contact.

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

#127 Identify Your Triggers

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.

#127

Identify Your Triggers

Defined

An emotional trigger is something that provokes you. It may be a person, an opinion, a situation, or an environmental condition. When we are ‘triggered’, we generally REact emotionally – often with a defensive behavior. We experience a swell of emotion and it may or may not be specifically connected to the experience at hand.

Discovery

In order to properly manage your emotions, it’s imperative that you know what your triggers are. Ninety-nine percent of the time, our triggers are based in fear. Fear of losing something, having less of something, or never having something – that ‘something’ being anything really… trust, respect, time, money, love, etc… When we understand ‘why’ we are reacting – managing our reactions is much – much easier.

Management

Once we know ‘why’ we get triggered we can learn how to communicate and manage our reactions. Often, it’s about learning how to be present – not allowing our histories to overrun the present moment. It’s about communicating our truest emotion – that thing we fear (i.e, not being loved, having enough time, etc…) By being aware of our immediate thought, engaging our breath, and making an intentional choice in our response, we can stand down those automatic responses that tend to stand at attention when we are triggered.

In order to change anything – we need to be aware and know what needs to be changes and so to improve our reactions it is imperative that we make an effort to ….

Identify our triggers.

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

 

#134 Believe in Yourself

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.

#134

Believe in Yourself

As a therapist, I see lots of people who are challenged with this ability. When our self-esteem is damaged or underdeveloped, it can be quite difficult to have faith in your ability to achieve success. I’d like to suggest that success is relative and that the only person whose opinion matters – is yours!

Self-Doubt

Our self-doubt is often a seed that was planted in childhood either by parents, peers, or society. I’ve heard children make the comment “I’m trying” and an adult in the vicinity says “no you’re not” or “not hard enough” which, is hard to reconcile if you feel as if you’ve given it all you know to give. Unfortunately, these patterns often continue into adulthood and become hard held beliefs that are challenging to reframe.

We Know

We, as individuals, intrinsically know if we have given it our all or not. We KNOW, regardless of what others comment – even as children, we know. What we have to do is believe that if we think we’ve given it everything there is to give – it was ENOUGH, regardless of whether or not it met an outside standard. If we gave it our all… there wasn’t any more to give and we need to learn to simply believe that as a fact.

Fear

When we don’t have an established belief in our ability to succeed, we become afraid of trying because our culture promotes a fear of failure. One thing is for sure – if you don’t try – you will not succeed so the first rule is to TRY. The second rule of thumb is to assess your willingness to work for the success you want. When we say “I can’t” – most of the time we are saying that we don’t want to do the work required in order to become successful.

Almost anyone with dexterity can learn to play the piano – this fact is illustrated by all of the young people who perform at recitals all over the world. It’s only those who diligently work at their craft that become proficient however. Somewhere along the line, those people believed in themselves.

Mantra

It’s the ‘Little Engine That Could’ mantra… “I think I can, I think I can…” that makes the difference and becomes an overall mental health – healthy perspective. If you don’t already, make an effort to grow your esteem and learn to …

Believe in yourself.

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

#142 Make That Appointment You’ve Been Putting Off

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.

#142

Make that appointment you’ve been putting off

Almost everyone I talk to speaks to the fact that our lives are over scheduled these days. It’s become worse over the last several decades as we have to work longer and harder to meet our obligations or catch the American Dream. Consequently, those necessary appointments – the ones that hold our reality together – are often sliding to the bottom of our priority list.

Do you need to go to the DMV? Have you had your annual physical? Your 6 month dental cleaning? Have you procrastinated on your mammogram or colonoscopy? What about your fireplace or carpet cleaning? Sadly, most of us have to take a full day off – some of us, without pay – in order to accomplish these tasks.

Be Efficient

My recommendation is to make a list of all those ‘appointments’ that need scheduled and make as many of them in one day as possible. It’s the peak of efficiency to manage your day in this manner. This is practical time management solution.

Fear

Procrastination occurs for other reasons too… particularly with medical appointments. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to fast or to clean out our system. We’re fearful of what the test may find or we anticipate bad news or judgment from the doctor. Occasionally people will tell me they don’t want to change parts of their lives – knowing that a doctor will make that suggestion (i.e., weight, smoking, drinking, etc.)

Overwhelmed

Sometimes we don’t make an appointment because the things we need to do leading up to them feel cumbersome and/or overwhelming. Something as little as getting a money order for an application can stifle the completion of that task. If you don’t need an ‘appointment’ for the pre-task, get that completed either before or after work.

Accomplishment

Getting those things completed that you have been putting off… especially when they are medical related may in fact, save your life. There’s always a sense of accomplishment when we get things done that we’ve been putting off. The appointments you keep for home repair and maintenance are for your welfare and safety. Don’t waste another minute… make that list and then…

Make that appointment you’ve been putting off.

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