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

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning…

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.

#340

Turning should into could.

From the moment we become aware, rules guide us. We learn about standards, values, and expectations before we learn to talk. These elements become the list of ‘should’s in our life.

I should make my bed every morning

I should eat breakfast

I should finish my dinner

I should do my homework

I should be nice

Etc.

These should’s establish the base from which our life is guided and some of them are quite central to ‘who’ we are.

The problem with should’s is that many of them fail to make sense outside of the environment in which they were originally established but we continue to hold on to them.

One of my favorite stories is of a woman who began preparing dinner one morning while her mother – who was visiting – sat in the kitchen to keep her company. The woman was readying a large roast for the crock pot. She cut a healthy slice from each end, threw them away and placed the roast in the pot. Her mother, looking wide-eyed questioned the action “why would you throw away perfectly good meat?” The woman, looking perplexed at the inquiry explained “that’s what you always did…”. With a stout laugh, the mother quickly responded, “but honey – that’s because my pot was too small.”

This story exemplifies the all-too-familiar behavior that many of us are affected by from day to day.

By the time we are adults in our own homes, raising children, working jobs, and trying to maintain our relationships – the list of ‘should’s’ is longer than the day is long. We are striving to meet demands and expectations which have piled up through the years, without questioning their validity for this period of our lives, this day, or this hour.

Of course, we all have responsibilities and obligations that are important to us and we want to accomplish them. However, instead of commanding yourself to do something because you SHOULD…. First examine where it is coming from.

Are you taking down the curtains and washing them because it is important to YOU? Or is it something your mother did because she lived on a dirt road and the windows were open all spring?

Are you making a casserole for your sick neighbor after work today because that’s what the other gals who are at-home moms did? Or because you want to help your friend?

Are you saying no to lunch with a friend because you ‘should’ stay home and get the laundry done?

Rephrase your ‘should’ to ‘COULD’.

I should do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

I COULD do the laundry today instead of having lunch with my friend.

When you rephrase the thought with COULD… does it have the same pull?

When you use the word COULD – your brain understands it as if you are CHOOSING something rather than engaging in a behavior which is expected.

The psychological difference is dynamic. You’ve created CHOICE in your life instead of an expectation that is not authentic to you just by …

Turning should to could.

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

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

Browsing really old photographs of family and friends can remind us of people who were central to our youth, perhaps acting a reference for our value system or center of strength.

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.

#342

Photographs

Many of the photos we take these days are digital and hence, stored on our mobile device, in the cloud, or on a hard drive. Photos older than ten or so years are yet undeveloped, in a shoebox under a bed, or tucked into albums buried on the bottom of the bookshelf behind the sofa in the Den. If you’re lucky, someone with much patience and creativity created an album of cherished shots with stamps, paper, stickers and jovial comments.

How often do you peruse these memories?

We take photographs to capture moments that are important to us – in that time. In essence, the photograph enables us to savor the experience; not only in the moment, but at anytime that we revisit the photo. Research tells us that savoring increases psychological well-being.

Browsing really old photographs of family and friends can remind us of people who were central to our youth, perhaps acting a reference for our value system or center of strength. Remembering Grandma via a snapshot of Thanksgiving dinner might elicit memories of family and traditions; recentering our concepts if or when we get sidetracked. Additionally, recalling times of love and belonging or times of pleasure and joy can be soothing and comforting.

Clearly, some of us have prints of people and places that may not evoke pleasant memories. A client recently commented that she discarded any and all photos reminding her of a past relationship. I contend that even those photos have value. Looking back at historical events via snapshots can remind us of how far we’ve come. Another client who hated all photographs of her when she was heavy keeps an album of them now to inspire her to maintain new weight loss.

As I go through old photos, I am reminded of all the amazing friends I’ve had along the way. I may not have kept up with them or know anything about their life currently but looking at the memories stimulates great gratitude for their presence in that time of my life. Those thoughts often evoke smiles and laughter which, motivates feelings of well-being.

At the center of this message is the direction to keep taking photos – but more importantly… look at them frequently. Take time to scroll through your phone or tablet when you need a little pick-me-up. If thoughts of missing someone arises… go with it. Honor the memory, honor the missing, and savor the experience that the photograph captured. Embrace your past and savor the memories in your…

Photographs.

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

Photo by @boetter on Foter.com / CC BY

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

Perhaps it is this education – this kind of learning – that proves to be the ultimate training. While acquiring ‘data’ or ‘information’ allows us to answer trivia questions and fix things around the house, I contest that it is far less meaningful than what we achieve if we ‘learn’ about ourselves and the world around us.

I”m 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.

#344

Educate yourself

The expectation of education is motivated from a very early age. In several cultures the idea of education includes post secondary instruction without question and many of us are groomed to attend trade school, Community colleges, or Universities before we are fully able to comprehend the extent of that commitment.

Our pursuit of knowledge is primarily vocation driven; we learn what we need to know in order to produce the income that sustains our lifestyle. Some of us expand our competencies in the pursuit of secondary incomes or hobbies. We amplify that expertise over time so that our proficiency is deeply rooted but perhaps not especially broad.

And yet in reality, the entire world is a classroom. Indeed, our very lives are a continuous curriculum of material offering educational content. Each failure, each joy, undeniably – each day – brings us information that we can attribute as educational and learn from if we choose.

Perhaps it is this education – this kind of learning – that proves to be the ultimate training. While acquiring ‘data’ or ‘information’ allows us to answer trivia questions and fix things around the house, I contest that it is far less meaningful than what we achieve if we ‘learn’ about ourselves and the world around us.

Yes, academic education has value and its continuous pursuit is desirable; do as much as you can regardless of your age or position. The public can utilize most college libraries for little to no cost; offering motivated learners unlimited opportunities and the internet can perhaps match that offering.

Self knowledge is just as accessible with introspection, mindfulness, and reflection.  Read books on emotional development, emotional intelligence, communication, relationships, and spirituality. Be curious – about everything and stay open to new ideas. Take advantage of wisdom where you can find it; older relatives, friends, counselors, & clergy. Don’t let teachable moments slip away unnoticed or unappreciated. Use them to…

Educate yourself

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

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

All too often we fall into the trap of routine and favorites without adding intrigue anywhere in our life. Exploration protects against stagnation. Grab a friend or explore alone…

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#349

Explore

This tip is subject to individual interpretation. My favorite type is exploration involves an automobile and a map. Waking up on Sunday morning, packing a snack bag, and heading out to discover treasures on a road never before traveled.

It’s a tradition started by my father and one that I’ve carried on to this day. I’ve found quaint villages, amazing diners, quiet spots, and captivating historical nuggets simply by traveling down a road that I’ve never investigated. It’s true that as time goes by I need to travel further out but the discoveries continue and the pleasure of new information and charming revelations has yet to be exhausted.

Of course, exploration doesn’t have to mean a car – it can be applied to people as in meeting new friends. It can be information as applied to learning something new. It can be an expedition through YouTube.com or a University library. Explore anything that is interesting to you. The point here is to motivate and enhance curiosity and interest so that life doesn’t get stale.

All too often we fall into the trap of routine and favorites without adding intrigue anywhere in our life. Exploration protects against stagnation. Grab a friend or explore alone… step into that little shop you’ve been curious about or stop for desert in that restaurant you’ve wanted to try. Is there a park you’ve been meaning to walk through?

Don’t wait until a moment of boredom overtakes a hot summer weekend. Make exploration a part of your journey in some form. Add this one word to your to do list today…

Explore

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

Photo by byzantiumbooks on Foter.com / CC BY-NC

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

The brief disruption from stressors allow our mind and body a ‘break’ … a mental nap of sorts. It provides an opportunity for reset, which is proven to increase our overall sense of well-being

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#350

Read Fiction

Yesterday I wrote about keeping a self-help book on your nightstand and incorporate reading them as an integral part of your constant personal growth. Today, I am suggesting that you need to mix it up a little. At the core of my suggestion is the inclusion of ‘trash’ fiction; you know – the stories that may or may not be terribly well written but in a weird way, take you into another mental space free of any daily life stressors. The stories that whisk you away to far away islands or planets in another galaxy.

It may be a national best seller or on an obscure list of sci-fi thrillers. It could be an epic trilogy based on real historical events or an unrealistic saga of Zombie rampage. No matter the genre, fiction has a way of whisking us onto a different plateau where reality is temporarily displaced, and our imagination can run amok.

A good story not only allows for us to step out of our lives momentarily, it helps us to foster empathy as we are transported into the perspective of a character who lives and thinks differently than us. Additionally, it creates a space where we can imagine ourselves interacting with a variety of circumstances and personalities; potentially improving our own relationships.

The brief disruption from stressors allow our mind and body a ‘break’ … a mental nap of sorts. It provides an opportunity for reset, which is proven to increase our overall sense of well-being. It quiets our mind by distracting us from our daily grind. Reading fiction before bed is indicated for people with insomnia. Reading fiction opens our mind to creativity by stimulating our imagination. It fosters our ability to produce mental images and it builds our vocabulary.

Dust off your library card, download Audible, and/or charge your Kindle and spend a little time with this one daily goal…

Read Fiction

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

Photo on Foter.com

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

Technology makes it super easy for us to include laughter in our lives today. At any point, we have instant access to videos like I’ve included above or a plethora of websites with jokes.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.
#353
Laugh every day

Laughter really is the best medicine. The health benefits of laughter are well documented and the focus of legitimate scientific research.

A good belly laugh releases endorphins similar to crying that are known to promote healthy functioning. One study indicated that people identified to have a good sense of humor literally live longer. A sense of humor is defined as being able to see the funny side of things and to appreciate jokes or funny things. The people known to have a good sense of humor may burst into laughter over something as simple as a pun…

…What do you call cheese that’s not yours?
… Nacho cheese!!

Or a solid, comedian proven joke…

An Irishman is struggling to find a parking space.
“Lord,” he prayed. “I can’t stand this. If you open a space up for me, I swear I’ll give up the Guinness and go to mass every Sunday.”
Suddenly, the clouds part and the sun shines on an empty parking spot. Without hesitation, the Irishman says: “Never mind, I found one!”

But one doesn’t necessarily have to be a comedian to experience laughter in the ways that it becomes a benefit. We all can laugh, we just have to connect to the things that we find funny. Perhaps it’s a television show (or their YouTube clips) such as America’s Funniest Home Videos…

Sometimes it the spontaneous moments of innocence and/or ignorance that we can all relate to that are the funniest.

Perhaps it’s the variety of programs that dupe us as in Candid Camera …

Personally, those get me almost every time!! I laugh so hard that I cry. (I wonder if that means double the endorphins?)

Or for those of us who laugh at just pure cuteness of babies and/or animals…

 

Technology makes it super easy for us to include laughter in our lives today. At any point, we have instant access to videos like I’ve included above or a plethora of websites with jokes. We have memes and GIFs in our streams on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Laughter is only a swipe away at any time we want it.

The trick is to include it. Sign up to receive a Joke a Day with the LMAO app for iphone or the LOL Jokes app for Androids. Instead of surfing Facebook – spend a few minutes on YouTube searching funny videos. Check out Reader’s Digest collection of humor – some of the funniest written jokes I know of. Make it a habit!

Laugh every day!

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

Crying may solicit attention from others, rallying our support system and generating a sense of belonging. Our bodies naturally release oxytocin and endorphins in emotional tears; chemicals found to relieve physical pain. Those same chemicals are known to promote better moods so the simple act of crying may indeed, lighten our mood.

My goal is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#354

Cry it out

On the long running television show Grey’s Anatomy, the lead character Merideth has been known to “dance it out” with friends when full of intense emotion. That’s great strategy but it’s mostly great for fictional television.

Sometimes, in real life, we just have to let the tears fall. We were born knowing how to emote. Babies laugh and cry when they have something to express and somewhere along the line we are told to suck it up, dry up the tears, and pull up the boot straps. We are taught to repress something natural and innate. I am not suggesting that we have a meltdown in the middle of a supermarket but taking the time to cry if we are sad, deeply disappointed, or full of other emotion in an appropriate environment can be a game changer.

Crying has its benefits. In fact, it is postulated that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system which stimulates a relaxation effect. Crying may solicit attention from others, rallying our support system and generating a sense of belonging. Our bodies naturally release oxytocin and endorphins in emotional tears; chemicals found to relieve physical pain. Those same chemicals are known to promote better moods so the simple act of crying may indeed, lighten our mood.

Most of us who have had ‘a good cry’ with solid sobs would probably attest that even though it was exhausting, we felt better afterward. The energy (emotion is energy) that we feel when we are tempted to cry is best released. If we don’t ‘cry it out’… the energy remains in our system and may be redirected via anger, passive aggression, or a related negative expression. Perhaps worse, is the theory that proposes unexpressed emotions contribute to other major health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and even cancers.

It takes courage and strength to move against the cultural norm; to develop a productive coping mechanism; and to face down feelings. Allowing yourself to cry is an act of bravery. And keep in mind that tears don’t have to be public to be productive so the next time you fill with emotion and get the urge to release it, remember to…

Cry it out.

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