#2 Stop Overthinking

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.

#2

Stop Overthinking

Do you think a thought and then ‘run with it’? Do you thoughts ever take on a life of their own? Do you find yourself getting anxious or worried?  Do you have a hard time focusing or sleeping? Do thoughts get stuck in your mind and go round and round? These are all symptoms of overthinking.

Consequences

Overthinking is generally not good for your overall health. It can cause anxiety, depression, and persistent worry. It promotes obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors. It can strain relationships, work performance, and self-worth. To cope with overthinking, many people try to escape the distress by abusing food, alcohol, or drugs.

Notice

The first step to stopping the pattern of overthinking is to notice when you do it. Take another look at the list in the first paragraph and honestly assess your own processes. When does it happen? About what topic(s)? What is your response? How do you (if you do) get them under control? How do they prevent you from living your best life?

Facts

Are your thoughts based on facts? Or Fears? Are they happening now? Or at some point in the future? Stay focused on the facts that exist in the here and now. When you are facing facts, it’s easier to problem solve. There aren’t any real solutions to fantastical problems.

Distraction

Get busy! There’s only so much space in your brain for active thinking. When your thoughts go into busy mode, overrule them with direct action on something else; pulling energy away from the overrunning thinking. The more involved you are in the distraction, the better.

Meditation

When we are overthinking, it’s not really the thoughts that are problematic, but our feelings and associations we have with the thoughts that are the problem. If we can learn to become observers of the thoughts, their impact is reduced. Meditation is one of the best ways to achieve this. Using this technique may allow you to detach from the thoughts so that they become nothing more than something that moves through your brain.

We all do it from time to time but if your life is negatively impacted by too many thoughts too much of the time, follow these steps in an effort to …

Stop overthinking.

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

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#9 Go on a Retreat

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.

#9

Go on a Retreat

How many times have you wished you could get away from it all? Have you fantasized about sitting in silence or dedicating time and attention to your spiritual, physical, or emotional health? A retreat may be just the thing for you.

Abandon

A retreat is an opportunity to temporarily abandon the typical distractions that become a part of our day to day life. It’s an opportunity to deeply relax and allow enough time for an inner change to take place and be sustained. Generally, a retreat differs from a typical vacation in that it focuses on a developmental purpose. The examples include Yoga, Meditation, Massage, Spiritual, Mindfulness, Food, and Fitness; there are dozens of options.

Focus

Imagine a week of de-stressing in a relaxing atmosphere where your only concern is may be literally feeding your body, mind, or soul. A retreat can be effective even if it is for a weekend. The concept is getting away long enough to fix your focus on something healing.

Options

From websites like Retreat Guru to Google searches such as “retreat centers in [your region]”, there are literally thousands of choices around the globe that offer get-a-ways to recharge you. Depending on your budget, you can go local or halfway around the world.

Self-Care

A retreat is a kind of self-care on the next level. It takes you beyond a good night’s rest or an evening with friends and dedicates an entire period to individual care – much of what you do on your own (meditation, yoga, spiritual) but with the time and space to accomplish what didn’t happen at home.

When life is too much or preferably before it is overwhelming, do yourself a favor and …

Go on a retreat.

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.

#41 Practice a Ritual

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.

#41

Practice a Ritual

Sometimes, practicing a ritual can be an extremely healthy way to manage anxiety or stress. By definition, a ritual is “a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to a set sequence”. For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to expand the idea of ritual a bit and allow for it to be something we do the same way each time with intention and purpose.

Focus & Intention

A Catholic Mass falls into the category of a ritual and while unless you are a priest, you won’t be in the act of practicing the mass itself… you may find that attending mass and engaging in the mass ritual offers the same benefit. Going to the gym at the same time everyday and moving through the equipment in the same way with the same motivational music in our earbuds – is a ritual as long as there focus and intention with the movements. Rituals differ from routines with that focus and intention.

Conscious Energy

A ritual allows us to engage in an action consciously. Whether we are holding our hand over our heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or kneeling in prayer at bedtime, they often signify meaning. Many brotherhoods, fraternities, and sororities practice rituals as a way of bringing their membership together; strengthening the sense of belonging. Some families have the ritual of a family dinner on Sundays or in our house… it’s Mimosa’s and Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. They can be those things that unite and remind us of what’s good. Mr. Fred Rogers share his ritual of putting on slippers and changing into a cardigan as a way of getting comfortable each day; allowing us to feel as though we were at home with him.

Energy & Pleasure

Engaging in a regular ritual may energize you and create space for happy feelings. The demand focus and intention which, allows you to immerse yourself in your life. Routines that are mundane can be elevated to ritual status by engaging in them differently. Being deliberately present in those things that take little thought and experiencing them completely – change them from an unconscious pattern of movement to something that serves a positive function and something from which you may experience great pleasure.

Get Started

If you don’t yet have one, think of an action that is meaningful, intentional, and can be achieved on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s sitting down with a journal every evening or meditation before you get out of bed in the morning. It could even be a Friday evening happy hour or date night with someone special. Self-care rituals may be the perfect starting point for those of you with busy lives and never enough time. A ritual can reduce anxiety by providing a period of certainty in your day or week.

No matter the details, your life can be enriched greatly with the simple act of …

Practicing a ritual.

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

#92 Be a Cheerleader

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.

#92

Be A Cheerleader

I’ve written about mentoring, appreciation, and friendship and in each case, there is potential for this suggestion – to be a cheerleader. Of course, I don’t mean the high school sports variety. By cheerleader, I mean someone whose focus is championing for another, directly encouraging and supporting.

We all need someone in our corner cheering for us – egging us on for a win – for success. Cheerleaders don’t criticize or correct, they inspire, urge, celebrate and rejoice in each little maneuver that delivers someone closer to the goal.

Pure Cheering

For some people this comes really easy – we all know one … that person (often a Grandmother) who encourages you no matter what – even if it’s not all that great of an idea or goal. And then there’s the rest of us (often parents) who who say “that’s good, but…”. A true cheerleader eliminates the “but”. A cheerleader leaves their personal opinion out of the equation. Unless someone is headed in a direction of self harm or violence – they are pure support.

Value of Cheerleading

While there has been a lot of controversy in recent years of building people up – sometimes without merit, it’s an important element of developing and sustained self-esteem. It feels good to know that someone is ‘on our side’ and that there is a person ‘has our back’ no matter what. Trust is established in this manner as well as confidence. Yes, it’s true that blowing smoke at people isn’t helpful because the real world doesn’t always ‘cheerlead’ for us. It’s all in the delivery!

Honest Cheering

It’s possible to be a cheerleader without going overboard and puffing someone up unrealistically. Instead of saying “you were great!” (if they really weren’t)… say “Your effort was amazing!” or “You’ll get it next time.”  Instead of claiming that a negative isn’t present at all… focus on the positives. Instead of buying into the disappointment that a ‘big’ thing that didn’t happen – celebrate all the small victories.

I’m sure there is someone in your life that can benefit from your decision to…

Be a cheerleader.

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

#110 Learn Origami

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.

#110

Learn Origami

When was the last time you even had a thought about folding big paper into little paper? For many, it was the last ‘cootie catcher’ you made in middle school or the last paper ‘football’ you made for the high school lunch table. Some of you may have folded paper in more appealing shapes in girl scouts or a crafting class, perhaps as part of a scrapbooking project. Origami though, takes folding paper to a whole new level.

Art

Origami is a true form of art. It’s attributed to the Chinese dating back to the 1600’s but there is reference to the process in different forms as far back as 1000 A.D. in a couple of cultures. Today, there are a number of world renowned artists whose only medium is paper and whose primary method is to fold.

giang-nudeback

Vietnamese artist Giang Dinh

Origami as therapy

Paper folding is a favorite de-stressing activity for a lot of hobbyists. It’s recommended as a ‘tool-box’ item for anxiety and depression. It’s attributed to lowering blood pressure, increasing attention capacity, and improves dexterity in people who’ve had injury to their hands. Some therapists recommend Origami for ADHD, Addictions, and raising self-esteem. It fosters creativity.

Mindfulness

Origami can be instrumental in the development of mindfulness as it brings your attention directly to the present moment and it can be done anywhere, anytime, and by anybody who has a piece of paper. It can help us let go of our need to be perfect and may foster a form of meditation as the skills develop and focused attention is deepened.

Family time

Some of the basic Origami folds can be accomplished by children as young as four years old. It’s a great activity that can bring the entire family to the table with very little – if any – expense. It has the potential to become a familial hobby – or one that is shared in an adult relationship – fostering time away from electronics and societal noise.

Real Deal

Origami as an art, a hobby, and a therapeutic tool is a real thing. There’s a National association, several annual conventions, and Meetup groups that allow lovers of paper folding to connect and share. So, if you saw the title of today’s suggestion and raised your eyebrow, I suggest you find a piece of paper and find out what all the fuss is by getting started on a basic fold as you watch the video and…

Learn Origami

 

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

#144 Give Up Your Favorite Beverage for a Day.

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.

#144

Give up your favorite beverage for a day.

If you happen to be reading this just as you move your favorite coffee cup up toward your nose, simultaneously enjoying the aroma and the bold flavor of liquid caffeine… I apologize. Yet – any negative reaction to the suggestion is further evidence that it may be just what you need.

We tend to get sewn into our habits and that morning cup of coffee, tea, lemon water, the evening frosty mug of beer, or the stemless glass of wine are easy habits to do without much thought or consideration; and that’s the danger. Some habits aren’t necessarily good for us. Indeed, it has been postulated that any  habit at all is rather detrimental if we have little awareness of it.

Perhaps the best part of making a decision to give up your favorite beverage for a day is the subliminal (or direct) understanding that YOU are in control of your being. It’s a reminder to your psyche that YOU have authority over your actions. Far too often I hear people say… “I couldn’t help it” or “I don’t even realize I am doing it” when it comes to habits. Paying attention to something as automatic as pouring a cup of coffee or a glass of wine helps you to raise awareness overall.

It’s a simple suggestion and a simple effort that helps you stay focused on the little things. Make a decision to…

Give up your favorite beverage for a day.

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

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

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.

#287

Listen to the sound of water

If you’re looking for a different way to relax and/or meditate – try listening to the sound of water flowing. There’s no denying that aside from initiating the urge to pee – running water is known to help us relax. Indeed, it’s true for so many people that white noise machines routinely include the sound of streams and/or oceans.

Science suggests that our brains relate the sound of water to a NON-threat environment; walks on the beach, picnics by the brook, and sitting by lilly filled ponds are all pleasant, pleasure inducing visions or experiences. Others suggest that the sound of water is one of the first elements that we experience in our womb environment – more data that our brain relates the sound of water to safety and security.

I’m not suggesting that being IN the water is the same as I know many people have negative experiences in regards to being in water; not knowing how to swim, bad boating or ocean experiences, etc…. But listening to the sound of water is the prominent point.

If you find yourself with a cranky infant – walking over to the sink and running the water will almost instantly calm the baby.  Oceanfront rooms around the world attempt to capitalize on the idea that you can hear the waves simply by opening the window or sitting on the patio/deck. We’ve added fountains and water features to our pools and landscaping in an effort to bring that calming effect to our outdoor living space and there are any number of tabletop fountains that bring the sound of running water neatly indoors for your listening pleasure.

If all else fails, you can head over to YouTube and discover thousands of video options to include beach waves, waterfalls, babbling brooks, and fountains from around the world so that your smart TV (or connection via HDMI) will generate the sound and vision simultaneously.

Focusing on the sound of running water will induce a calming effect within minutes, especially if combined with mindfulness. Use this strategy to bring a tranquil element to your space when stress is present in your life or if you anticipate a stressful situation. In an emergent scenario use this tip… find the closest bathroom, stand at the sink, turn on the faucet, and …

Listen to the sound of water.

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

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

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.

#292

Create a vision board

This suggestion is a leading recommendation of life coaches across the country. It went mainstream when the Law of Attraction merged into Pop Culture. Even Oprah got in the game when she included a Dream Board on her website.

A vision board is a collage encompassing all the things you wish to ‘attract’ into your life. The premise is that what you ‘focus’ on – you will create / attract in your reality. It’s not meant to act as a metaphoric ‘Jeannie in a bottle’… it’s meant to inspire you to engage in activities that lead you in the direction of the goals / vision of your life that you’ve included on your board. What do you want? Go ahead and include the material items you wish to attain. Spell out the words of the attributes you want to grow (i.e., patience, compassion, etc.) What is your dream job? Include a photo of a graduation or a photo of a location where you’d like to vacation. It’s a combination of photographs and words that will inspire you to keep going… to keep working.

A vision board uses the concept of ‘imagery’ to encourage and inspire. There is no right or wrong way to do it. I have encouraged clients to use photographs, cut pics out of magazines, find words that are meaningful, ideas that you want to expand upon. Ultimately, a vision board is a visual representation of where your FOCUS lies. Theoretically, what you focus on is where your energy goes. Why not create a physical representation to remind you what to focus on day by day? It’s easy… think about what you want; where you want to go; and what you want to achieve and …

Create a Vision Board.

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

 

Feeding My Spirit

One of the things I do to feed my spirit is read. Actually, I listen. My eyes have changed so much as I have aged that reading a book for too long of a period is hard on them and I’ve fallen in love with ‘listening’ to books. I listen while I walk, at the gym, while I drive… Sometimes I just put my headphones in and listen to a few minutes for a pump-me-up if I am in the middle of something inspirational.

Right now, I am reading Gary Zukov’s Seat of the Soul. It’s been out for twenty-five years and he was one of Oprah’s most interviewed guests so it’s not new but I never read it before. It’s another one of those books that when I am finished listening, I will have to buy a print version and sit down with a highlighter. It is a ‘night stand’ book – one of those books that you keep on your nightstand and read parts of when you are stuck or wanting a bit of a reminder about life.

It’s a little hard to follow sometimes because he talks a LOT about five sensory versus multisensory people and I think maybe you have to be in a place where you are open minded about the nonphysical ideology.

I find it fascinating that I am reading it now – that it wasn’t on my radar during other periods of my life when reading was how I gathered information and expanded my awareness. It’s also really interesting to me that it validates all the other stuff I have read. Remember my thoughts about coincidence?

“You cannot find your soul with your mind, you must use your heart. You must know what you are feeling. If you don’t know what you are feeling, you will create unconsciously.”~ Gary Zukav

I really like how he separates the idea of our ‘soul’ and our ‘personality’… in fact – I may use that with clients because I think it’s an easy concept to understand. I typically speak about heart and ego (Eckhart Tolle) but I like the ‘personality’ element. Our personality – the part of ourselves that we allow people to see – is where we live most of the time and its where all the stuff we don’t want exists (i.e., fear).

“The human emotional system can be broken down into roughly two elements: fear and love. Love is of the soul. Fear is of the personality.” ~ Gary Zukov

Did you read my post the other day about being right?? Today, I heard this:

“A power struggle collapses when you withdraw your energy from it. Power struggles become uninteresting to you when you change your intention from winning to learning about yourself.” ~ Gary Zukav & Linda Francis

And those of you who have been reading for a while may remember my ‘Soul Theory’… and the thoughts I have about spirituality and reincarnation…

“You may seek companionship and warmth, for example, but if your unconscious intention is to keep people at a distance, the experiences of separation and pain will surface again and again until you come to understand that you, yourself, are creating them. Eventually, you will choose to create harmony and love. You will choose to draw to you the highest frequency currents that each situation has to offer. Eventually, you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is. The journey may take many lifetimes, but you will complete it. It is impossible not to complete it. It is not a question of if but of when. Every situation that you create serves this purpose. Every experience that you encounter serves this purpose.” ~Gary Zukov

Of course, whenever something ‘bad’ happens, we are inclined to ask the question “why?” It’s in that question that I often lean on my beliefs that there is value in each experience but I still find myself looking for an immediate answer. I recall Dr. Brian Weiss’s work in Messages from the Masters where they too state “Love is all there is” … echoing Jesus and Gandhi. Perhaps then, the lesson in EVERYTHING is searching for how to love more. And… maybe sometimes, the love we are needing to learn is how to love ourselves!

I know some really phenomenal people who exhibit love wherever they go but are terribly self-critical. And maybe it’s just that we need to be reminded because we fall back into old self-destructive habits.

In a conversation this morning, I was talking about how hard it is to be consistent with the things that we know. Harlan and I are both challenged in this regard. He loves his ice cream and cookies (albeit they are cardboard, oatmeal nut, healthy kind of cookies) but we know that sugar isn’t good for him. He goes in and out of periods where he commits to avoiding sugar and then slowly it creeps back in until he notices that there is little to no thought about the amount of sugar he consumes.

I am the same with my dieting. I know – beyond doubt and especially the older I get that I have to limit my calorie intake. When I do… I like my body and it likes me – when I don’t … we both get to the point where we are hating on one another constantly (my body and me). Why do we allow ourselves to forget what we know? Why do we slip?

It must be like being on vacation with your family. While there, when the only thing to focus on is having fun with the people you love, everything is wonderful – you all feel connected and close. Then we come home – where there is work, responsibility, and commitment. The loving connections we experienced on vacation seemingly disappear into the wind because we aren’t great at placing our attention on everything all at once. In fact, we only have a certain amount of attention to give… could this be as simple as prioritizing the places we put our focus?

I know, I know … I think it myself – “what can I possibly give up”, “where do I find the time to add another ‘practice’ to my life?” I am the Queen of multi-tasking an honor that is shared by a gazillion of us… we try and make ‘everything’ a priority. That’s why we drop stuff.

Zukov’s book is about “intention” and I am excited to get through the rest as I believe this very question is addressed and now… perfectly ordained by the great Universe… is the time that I need (perhaps am open to) hearing how can be accomplished. I invite you to read with me and we can ‘discuss’ it in the comments or on Facebook… or I can share as I go along. What is your heart saying?

“An intention is a quality of consciousness that you bring to an action.” ~ Gary Zukov

 

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