#19 Realign 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.

#19

Realign Yourself

This post is NOT about your spine although I could definitely do a post about visiting a Chiropractor… this post is about realigning your behavior with your value system. You see, as the driver of our lives, we do many of the same things we do when we drive our cars… we hits bumps in the road; we go too far without routine maintenance; and we can spin our wheels so long that we get worn out along the edge. When that happens on our vehicle, we take it in for an alignment and this post is suggesting that we do the same for our mind/spirit/body connection.

Off the Straight Line

You know when a car needs an alignment because the steering is a little wobbly and it won’t go in a straight line when you take your hands off the wheel. It takes more effort to steer. The same is true for life. When you despise going to work every day – or home… when your stomach turns each time the phone rings or mail gets delivered… when you run into someone you know or when you get invited to a party – any negativity that arises may be indicating that your action(s) may not be consistent with your value system.

Physiological Evidence

Our bodies are great barometers for when our actions are out of alignment with who we want to be. We feel bad, guilty, or ashamed. We get defensive, argue, and raise our voices. We may get headaches, have stomach trouble, or back pain. We may even break out with zits, pimples, or hives.

Real Examples

Let’s say you made a decision to value honesty but you – out of habit – told a series of ‘white’ lies in an effort to avoid confrontation…  or you go to work everyday to a department that has historically reported jacked up results to look good… or you volunteer with someone who helps themselves to product when ‘on duty’ – all examples of dishonesty. The migraines you began having last year soon after you committed to being a more honest person may be indicative of the discord between your value and the dishonest environment in which you find yourself.

Or perhaps you’ve made a commitment to have a closer relationship with God by living the doctrine of your faith more passionately. Now, you find that every time someone uses the Lord’s name in vain or curses up a storm – the hairs on your neck tingle. Or perhaps those are habits that you are finding difficult to break. The angst you feel getting up each morning may be your body reminding you to pay close attention today – to the commitment you made.

Values Change

As we grow, mature, and experience life as too do the values that we hold dear. As a young twenty-something, I valued parties and social variety much more than I do today where sharing a bottle of wine with one or two friends in a quiet, relaxed environment is my idea of meaningful engagement. Were I to step out and try to ‘party’ every weekend, it would be inconsistent with my current ‘value’ and I may find that I am ‘off’. If I keep doing it… If I keep dishonoring the value that I’ve adopted, being ‘off’ turns into something more obvious and I am left with the need to figure out why I have developed insomnia or a bad attitude.

Just like you do when the steering wheel starts to wobble… step back every once in awhile and take stock of your values – matching them against your actions & behavior. Pay attention and notice when it is time to …

Realign yourself.

TTAH

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#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.

#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.

#72 Learn to Label Emotions

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

#72

Learn to Label Emotions

Far too many of us are in the habit of commenting only on the experiences of happy, sad, and mad. Indeed, some people only know those three emotions and have great difficulty articulating anything but.

Innate knowledge

We are born knowing how to emote. We laugh, cry, squirm, babble, etc., in perfect expression of our feelings. At some point, an adult in our life tells us to sit down, shut up, suck it up, pull yourself together, etc… and we are told not to do that thing which, comes so naturally. Consequently, we learn NOT to express ourselves effectively.

Vernacular

Making it more difficult is the way we learn to string words together in an effort to describe things. We may say “I feel like a maid” but ‘a maid’ isn’t a feeling so we really are not expressing feelings with this statement. We may say “I feel like you don’t care” and similarly, ‘like you don’t care’ isn’t a feeling. That’s me expressing what I think you feel.

Instead, we can learn to use emotion words and the sentences become more clear … “I’m really frustrated that I need to pick up after everyone” or “I’m not feeling very loved today”. In these examples, what we say is more easily digested by the listener because we are using literal language to express our feelings.

Variations

There’s more to life than happy, sad, and mad. There’s disappointment, frustration, defensive, betrayed, anxious, excited, nervous, and dozens of others. How would your communication change if you were able to say “I’m feeling pretty defensive right now” instead of something defensive and projecting?

Feelings

Feelings are neither right or wrong, they just are. Having said that, they don’t necessarily represent the truth. Someone can ‘feel’ stupid but that doesn’t make it true. We can get caught up in the feeling without validating if it is a fact or not. When we feel something that isn’t based on facts, it’s a clue for what we must work on. The less time we spend there, the better. Life is better when we concentrate on what is real.

When learning to express feeling more effectively, I recommend that you keep a list of emotions (there are thousands to choose from) handy and begin by describing your day with as many of those as possible. Think about your feelings before you express them to make sure the words you are using actually describe the sensation. Break the habit of happy, sad, mad and…

Learn to label emotions.

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

#100 Quit a Bad Habit

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.

#100

Quit a bad habit

It’s not quite the New Year when many of us will jump on the idea of eliminating the bad habits that hinder our best selves which, might just make it the best time to go ahead and quit now. Bad habits are those things that we do that we know aren’t helping us; the things that nag us more than our moms.

Obvious

These malicious behaviors are quite obvious and include doing anything in excess (drinking, eating, spending, etc.), smoking, nail biting, and snacking. They are the things we ‘know’ we need to stop doing for our health and overall welfare. These habits can literally put our life in danger. They impede our self image, our confidence, and esteem.

Subconscious

Some habits have developed underneath our awareness. Some of us twirl our hair incessantly or click a pen to the extent that our co-worker want to jump across their desk just to grab it away from us. Or how about that foot that shakes or the leg wiggle that indicates nervousness? Constantly smacking gum, or slurping coffee are common habits that go unnoticed by the habitour but are obnoxious irritations for those in the vicinity.

Verbal

Some of our bad habits are verbal… Saying the word “like…” far too often and contextually inappropriately; speaking too loudly for the environment; and using the sound “um…” in more than just an occasional sentence. While not directly verbal – many of us don’t make eye contact while speaking – a habit that is considered downright rude in many cultures.

Notice

As with anything, in order for it to be changed, you must be aware. Ask friends and family members for their observations to catch the things you aren’t aware of. Make a list of the items that you may want to work on and consider which ones are priorities – don’t try to make too many changes at once.

Twenty-one Days

In order to break a bad habit – replace it with a good one. If you are trying to stop smoking – chew gum instead. If you’re trying to break the habit of nail biting – find a way to keep your hands busy; crochet, knit, play with a fidget spinner or stress ball. If you can eliminate your bad habit for at least 21 days, the odds of beating it all together is greatly improved.

Don’t wait for the New Year and a resolution that will likely be broken quickly. Make the effort today so that you will go into the next year without that annoying behavior. Take a minute to pick one and then commit to …

Quit a bad habit.

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

#131 Sleep on the Other Side of the Bed

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.

#131

Sleep on the other side of the bed

I will occasionally recommend this suggestion to clients who have difficult sleeping and/or couples who are attempting to inject new energy into their relationship. It is sometimes met with resistance and declarations that they won’t be able to sleep yet, when they report back in, I often hear how making that shift was a new and interesting experience.

Habit

We are creatures of habit and without realizing it, we tend to slip into comfortable routines that create the potential for chunks of monotony to set in. The side of the bed we choose is one of those ‘chunks’. It’s necessary to notice comfortable, unconscious patterns and challenge them from time to time; to force a ‘shift’; to shake things up! In doing so, we are organically more present; more conscious of our being; and more aware of our power.

Just Try It

In 2015, a survey concluded that people would rather give up the TV remote than to change the side of the bed they sleep on so if you share the bed with someone, this suggestion will need to be a team effort. Consider sharing this post with your partner and make the suggestion. It doesn’t have to be a permanent change, or even a long term one. It can be for a night, a weekend, or however much time you may need to experience an awareness of the difference.

Potential Benefits

Changing bed sides may be good for your mattress assuming that different body sizes and shapes are on the new side – mattresses tend to conform to our bodies over time and changing it up will work to smooth out the ingrained shape. You may also find that sleeping is easier on one side versus the other; perhaps you will change the side you sleep on – shifting the pressure points to which your body is expose. You may find more romance by shifting sides… it could feel like you’re in bed with a different partner – playing into fantasy or simply refreshing a staleness in your relationship. You may snore less, be warmer, cooler, or be on the side with less light.

At the very least, you’ll be challenging your brain and the way it remembers – an activity that is all over healthy for your memory and it reminds your psyche who is running the show! Maybe start on a Friday night so that you’ll have the weekend if it totally ruins your sleep pattern. Generally though, people consider it an interesting experiment when they…

Sleep on the other side of the bed.

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

#331 People Watch

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.

#331

People Watch

Whether we are in an airport, on a train, standing in line, or sitting on a park bench… we are likely to be watching the people surrounding us. Sometimes we are absent mindedly observing, not paying any particular attention. Sometimes we are sitting there unwittingly passing judgement. Sometimes we are trying to ascertain the life story of an individual, couple, or family in our sight line; curious to know if our observations have any merit.

People watching can help you develop mindfulness habits; tuning into the acute details of your environment. People stop being random subjects in our space and we begin to notice their humanity. When we pay close attention we can discern worry, joy, hesitation, and humor in people’s facial expressions and body language. An astute observer can decipher how an individual identifies (by the way they dress, condition of fingernails, jewelry, makeup, hairstyle & color, etc.), their self-esteem (do they stand tall with confidence or crouch small with insecurity?), their emotional state, their level of ‘niceness’ (do they smile back or hold the door open?), and perhaps even their level of extroversion.

The big caveat of course, is that what we see isn’t always what it IS.  Some people are experts at hiding their truest feelings. Some people walk through life ‘faking it until they make it’. Some people have developed defensive personas for their public engagements. While we can’t know ‘for certain’ without checking our assumptions, we can definitely hone our perception skills by taking the time to pay attention to details when we are passing time in public and …

People watch.

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

10 HABITS THAT RUIN RELATIONSHIPS

“We become what we repeatedly do.” ― Sean Covey

1. INTERRUPTING: interrupting your partner demonstrates that you are NOT listening. 

How can you listen well if you aren’t letting your partner finish their thought? Wait for them to finish speaking – take a deep breath – and then respond.

2. TIT FOR TAT: You do it so, why can’t I?

Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they? When your partner is attempting to discuss something that is troublesome and we point out that they do it too, we are triggering a spiral escalator that often ends up in a place no one wanted to go. If you partner is attempting to address something that is problematic for them, hear it through – resolve it – and then bring up your own issue. Remember, one thing at a time.

3. LACK OF APPRECIATION: Who cares?

Over time, we typically learn to ‘expect’ and fail to acknowledge the effort that people put into daily living. Does your husband always have his check deposited into a joint account to pay bills? Be appreciative! Does your wife transport the kids from one activity to another day after day? Be grateful! Gratitude is free! And there are hundreds of ways to express it so make it a daily habit to find something that you can appreciate in your significant other.

4. TOO MANY ASSUMPTIONS: Don’t be a mind reader.

Over time we learn to make assumptions based on prior history. If Tim always like his mother’s meatloaf, it doesn’t mean that he wants it every Sunday. If Mary didn’t want flowers when you were on a tight budget, it doesn’t mean she wouldn’t like them occasionally now that things are better financially.  We tend to generalize our knowledge without checking in with our partner to validate what we think is true. Even if there is no doubt in your mind – from time to time it is important to ASK and VERIFY.

5. “YOU….” STATEMENTS. Playing the blame game.

Whenever anyone hears a sentence that begins with ‘YOU’… they are going to call up defenses. We tend to start sentences with “you… “instead of sharing what is happening for us by using “I” statements.  Expressing oneself by accusing another person for what is wrong or frustrating is rarely a solid communication skill. Change “why don’t you ever help?” to “It’s important to me that we share the responsibility”.

6. FORGETTING THAT YOU ARE A “WE”; Failure to consider your partner

Too many times I hear partners in crisis mode talk from the perspective of ME instead of WE. It is ‘my’ child instead of ‘our’ child, or ‘my house’ instead of ‘our house’.  Failure to think of yourself as one part of a whole may lead to your partner feeling as if they don’t matter.

7. FAILURE TO PRIORITIZE TIME TOGETHER: How do you spend your time?

Yes, our lives are busy. Raising a family, working, and taking care of a home are all time-consuming activities but when you make a commitment to share your life with one another, it means dedicating at least some attention to growing that relationship. Think of your relationship as a plant – if you don’t’ water it a little every week – it WILL die.

8. CRITICISM: Focus on mistakes.

Constructive criticism can be helpful but frequently pointing out mistakes will erode even the most fortified self-esteem over time. “That shirt is too wrinkled.”, “How could you forget to pay that bill?”, “Seriously, you’re doing that now?” If you must point out something erroneous – use love and compassion. “Sweetheart, can I iron your shirt for you?”, “Don’t worry babe, I’ll sit down and go through the bills to make sure everything is on time.”, “Honey, can we do that later?”

9. COMPLACENCY: Failure to compliment.

Think about how easily we hand out compliments when we first meet someone… “You look nice.”, “I love your beard”, “You work so hard.”, etcetera. Let’s face it… we all enjoy compliments and whomever is dishing them out the most consistently will get our attention. Make sure it is YOU.

10. DISTRACTION: Failure to be attentive.

Even if you are home a lot, don’t say much, and share household duties it’s possible to starve your relationship from true emotional connection. We are constantly connected to the world via the internet on our phones, tablets, laptops, and the television. When we can’t disconnect our attention from the outside world and direct it specifically to the people we love, we are failing to nurture the emotional vibe that keeps us wanting to be with one another. It doesn’t have to be dramatic to be effective; hold hands while you watch a TV showed of shared interest, look at one another while you describe your day, have a dedicated ‘no phone zone’ like your family room or bedroom.

This is by no means, an exhaustive list but eliminating these ten habits will most definitely provide a healthier environment for a positive and supportive relationship.

 

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