#31 Learn to Juggle

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.

#31

Learn to Juggle

For those of you who’ve been reading these last eleven months, this suggestion may seem like a stretch in the pursuit of a happier, easier, and more productive life but there are a number of reasons to include it here.

Fun

In order to feel ‘happy’, we must include moments of downright belly laughing opportunities. If you’ve ever watched someone attempt juggling or tried it yourself, you know the potential for fun is prominent. It’s fun to watch someone try and juggle and also fun to watch when they’ve mastered the skill. Juggling is the kind of ‘sport’ that works your body, mind, and soul.

Physical Benefits

Juggling is a great exercise for hand to eye coordination. This kind of activity builds neural pathways in the brain which, is super important for people of all ages. In addition, it promotes better dexterity.

It forces your attention and physicality into the present moment which, we know is a treatment for people with anxiety. If you’re not paying extremely close attention, you won’t be able to manage the coordination and so it is necessary to pull all of your mental and physical resources into the present in order to juggle.

Lastly, you can’t juggle without good posture. Practicing juggling on a regular basis will help you keep a straight stance – adding to the health benefits overall.

Mental Benefits

As was mentioned above, you must have great focus in order to juggle successfully. There are some reports that suggest kids who began juggling experienced less expression of their diagnosed attention deficit disorder. The same is said to be true of adults with in the same position.

Some people posit that juggling qualifies as an ‘active meditation’ since you are present, focused, aware of your surroundings, and aware of your body all at the same time.

Learning

If you feel inclined to learn how to juggle, I am going to suggest starting with YouTube where there are a number of videos explaining how to start. The most important part of this process of course is practice… as with any other thing that utilizes dexterity, coordination, and mental concentration – practice makes perfect.

If you’ve hit a wall… a plateau… or just have some spare time on your hands, it may be helpful for you to completely switch it up and get into something new by…

Learning how to juggle.

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

#59 Ride a Horse

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.

#59

Ride a Horse

I’ve spent a little time this winter watching a period drama on television where the only method of transportation was horseback and I have a client whose passion it is to ride; she trains year round. It reminds me of the couple of times my grandfather pulled me up onto his saddle and pranced me around his farm and a single trip down a Caribbean beach later in early adulthood. Both times, I recall feeling the horse beneath me and being amazed at the sense of power there.

Good for You

Horseback riding is actually good for you. Sitting on a horse, whether you know ‘how’ to ride, or not will challenge you physically. First, you’ll experience body awareness as you need to sit on the horse in a specific way in order stay balanced. As you do so, it’s likely that you’ll use muscles that aren’t used to being used – also, good for you (and those muscles). There’s an element of coordination required of riders that is also good for your body and posture.

The mental aspect of riding is also quite beneficial. If you are a recreational rider that only occasionally takes a trail ride – at the very least you are outdoors. Indeed, you are most likely in a beautiful location where there are endless opportunities for appreciation and gratitude.

If riding is a full blown hobby for you, the additional benefit is the connection and ultimately the relationship you have with your horse. Very different from that of a house pet, the energy shared with a horse takes trust to a whole new level when you are the rider. Often, that horse is five to ten times your size and while you are communicating through body movement and reign management, that horse can still do darn well do what it wants. When you work together, the symbiotic energy of the relationship is evident and can be quite lovely.

Grab the Chance

Obviously, we don’t all have the ability to step out and hop on a horse after we finish our morning coffee but if not, the next time you are on vacation and have the chance to take an excursion that involves a horseback ride along the beach, through the forest, or around the foothills, I hope you have the courage to…

Ride a Horse

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

#74 Find a Therapist

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.

#74

Find a Therapist

I don’t mean this suggestion to be self servicing in any manner. I have always touted the benefit of having a confidant, professional or otherwise. The difference between a psychotherapist and a best friend is that the latter most often cannot be as objective.

Objectivity

Objectivity is important because someone needs to call us out on our shit. Not that assertively of course, but hold us to seeing ourselves honestly when we are tempted to lie to ourselves. They are the ones that have no emotional connection to the outcome of your decisions and therefore, can give you an honest perspective.

Perspective

Therapists offer perspective – a chance to see the forest AND the trees – so to speak. Sometimes, we are so caught up in our own scenario that we cannot get a full view of the situation at hand. Other times, everything gets tangled and a therapist can helps us pull pieces apart so that they can be seen clearly.

Universality

One of the benefits of therapy is to discover that you are not alone. Not that the therapist tells you specifics about other people in similar circumstances, but they are often able to share general information they have collected over time. Finding someone who can relate to our struggles has great benefit.

Good Fit

One of the challenges about therapy is making sure to find a therapist that is a good fit for your personality and issues. In many ways, a therapist becomes a kind of friend. Not the kind you have dinner with or invite over for birthdays but the kind that knows you and your vulnerabilities but continues to support and offer advice without judgment. The therapeutic relationship enhances healing opportunities immensely

Priorities

When I think of the price of therapy, I think about the roof on my house. If it leaked, I wouldn’t spare any available expense to fix it lest the problem gets worse and ruins the entire home. I’ve heard people excited that they bought the newest flat screen television, iPad, or cell phone; booked a cruise, a weekend in New York City, or Disney yet they deny their ability to cover the cost of a few counseling sessions. These choices speak only to the order of priority of mental health and well-being. Many challenges are addressed in a matter of those same costs even if insurance is unavailable.

Nothing is more important than your emotional and physical health – without it, your best life is just out of reach so just like you make the effort to find a good dentist, a good attorney, and a good accountant, spend some energy and…

Find a therapist.

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

#91 Host a Party – Just Because

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.

#91

Host a Party

The days of dinner parties for the sole purpose of spending time with people we enjoy seems to be a thing of the past. Granted, some of us may invite friends over for a barbeque or pizza night but in my world it most often meant the kids too and was the only way we made the effort to socialize at home. I’m making this recommendation to bring the party back home – just because.

Hosting

Back in the day of dinner parties, people used their best china, set out the crystal and sterling, and donned a string of pearls when they hosted friends. I’m not recommending that kind of formality as it also – has gone by the wayside in most urban homesteads. A ‘party’ for this reference is any gathering of people for the enjoyment of one another company and not for a special occasion. It can mean dinner, or not. It can mean decorations, or not. It can include alcohol, or not. And it can be formal, or not. Hosting means that you decide, you plan, you do the work (or delegate), and it’s at a location of your choice, preferably your home where you can relax and enjoy.

Doing the Work

I know. Hosting a party can be a lot of work but … it doesn’t have to be! Learning to keep it simple and allowing the pleasure of one another’s company to be the center focus is easier than one would think IF, you can learn to let go of a few things. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be creative. It doesn’t have to be homemade. Giving the bathroom a wipe-over and running the vacuum will help others feel less germ-o-phobic but no one is going to be looking at your baseboards or inside your kitchen cabinets. Asking people to bring a dish to share eliminates a day of cooking and introduces you to different culinary options. Chill out and stay focused on the laughter you’ll generate as you play a round of Cards Against Humanity or belt out a few Karaoke songs.

Theme

Since the goal is to have a party “just because” get-togethers for exchanging something (ornaments, cookies) don’t count; nor do demonstrations like Pampered Chef or Lularoe. The goal is not ‘thing’ related – it’s ‘doing’ related. Get together and engage in comradery. If you absolutely need something to go on – create a theme:

  • Ask people to bring their favorite bottle of wine and do a wine tasting.
  • Ask people to bring a board game and try to play them all.
  • Ask people to bring their favorite dip and snack all night.
  • Ask people to bring a taco topping – provide shells and protein.

Benefits

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last 270 days or so, you’ve no doubt read about the benefits of friendship, laughter, belonging, and doing… hosting a party combines some of the best criteria for positive mental health outcomes so go ahead and look at your calendar … sometime around the middle of January when nothing else is prevalent and …

Host a party… just because.

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

#99 Step Back From Negativity

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.

#99

Step back from Negativity

Are there any ‘Debbie Downers’ in your life? Any Eeyore types? People who find the dark clouds in life and describe them in detail without ever looking at the liner? Have you ever noticed how you feel when you spend time in the company of these people?

Force Field

People often report feeling ‘drained’ after spending time with negative people. It’s not surprising. When we are exposed to negativity for any length of time, it can feel like an attack against our system. Our natural instinct is to defend against the negativity and so we spend subconscious energy blocking it. The longer we have to keep our shield up, the more exhausting it can become.

Negativity

Of course negative things happen and occasionally they are significant, rendering it almost impossible to distract our focus. It’s always important to be realistic and see things for what they are. Yet, the negativity being called out for the purpose of this post is generally finding and commenting on what’s wrong. It’s expecting the worse. It’s assumptive failure no matter the conditions. It’s a downright failure to seek the light.

Unhealthy

As it turns out – constant exposure to negativity is downright unhealthy. Negativity generally produces stress. Stress produces Cortisol. Elevated levels of Cortisol interfere with our immune function. Compromised immune systems are susceptible to disease, bacteria, and viruses. Negativity stunts creativity. Negativity exposure has also been demonstrated to decrease the power / effectiveness of the Hippocampus – the brain area responsible for reasoning and memory.

Limiting

It keeps us from taking risks necessary to invent, discover, and explore. It stifles our self confidence, our self esteem, and our perseverance. It is destructive to relationships. It destroys hope and encouragement. It’s almost impossible to feel happiness when covered in a shroud of negativity.

If you find yourself exposed to negativity that feels / seems unbalanced or overwhelming, set boundaries. Engage the tenets of self-care and create an exit strategy that allows you to …

Step back from negativity.

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

#133 Practice Loving Kindness

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.

#133

Practice Loving Kindness

The practice of loving kindness stems from the Buddhist practice of the Metta prayer. It’s a specific method of meditating that promotes compassion for others and for the self. It’s easy, and it makes a difference.

Love

The essence of a loving kindness meditation is to conjure up a sensation of deep love, of significant loving energy and then metaphorically – send that love out into the universe toward humanity as a whole or to specific people. There are a number of amazing websites (linked below) and YouTube videos that can walk you through in a guided meditation as you get started.

Imagery

As in many other mental health wellness practices, loving kindness utilizes imagery. It is suggested that as you begin your meditation, you imagine people who love you, surrounding you and sending vibrational hugs toward you until you can essentially feel the loving energy coming from them. You may imagine the swell of love that you felt as you held each of your children or married your spouse. Each of the meditations begins from this place – deep in the experience of sensing love.

Well Wishes

Each phrase found in most scripts begins with “may you…/may I”. The concept is that while in an envelope of loving energy, you send some of it out or reflect it back you yourself in phrases that represent wishes.

“May you feel loved, may you be happy, may you be healthy’

“May you find acceptance, may you feel joy, may you live with ease”

In each phrase, the “you” can be replaced with “I” for the experience of self-compassion.

The objective is to build upon the empathy and compassion that is an innate element of your spirit. The more you practice, the more it grows.

Peace

Those who cultivate a practice of loving kindness speak about the sense of inner peace that develops over time. It is attributed to a deeper sense of happiness. It works to evaporate anger, resentment, and past pains. It becomes a coping mechanism for those times when our humanity loses perspective and emotions become overwhelming.

There is much benefit for you personally, for those people you love, and for the collective consciousness that comprises our universe when you commit to …

Practice loving kindness

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

Mindful

The EI Institute

CMind

#160 Practice Mindful Compassion

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.

#160

Practice Mindful Compassion

One of the ‘new’ buzzwords in psychotherapy is ‘mindful compassion’. It’s not new really… Buddhists have been practicing mindful compassion for thousands of years and one might even argue that most prayer regiments are akin to this practice. Mindful compassion is the specific expression of empathy, goodwill, and compassion towards oneself and/or others. It’s learning how to extend a deep level of compassion, without judgment, to oneself or to others.

Imagine

Think for a moment of how you would comfort a child who has just lost his mother. Imagine that child sitting on your lap in a deep state of sadness and you are helpless to ‘fix’ the problem. Your only comfort can be a deep level of empathy and compassion for the pain that this child feels. Now, imagine that you can generate this same level of compassion for yourself each time you experience emotional discomfort or send that compassionate energy – via thought waves – to another human who may be suffering.

Extend It

This level of comforting – this extension of deep compassion – can be very healing. Cultivating an ability to self-sooth is the focus of new treatments for anxiety and depression. It is also a wonderful way to begin each day – extending compassionate ‘vibes’ to people in your life who may benefit from a little extra love.

Doing so is quite easy if you sit quietly and imagine yourself in a state of deep compassion; going to your core. Next, create an image of the person you want to send energy to… and offer these words:

“May you be well; May you be happy; May you be free from suffering”

Spend 5 minutes in that space, sending love and energy to one or more people – or even yourself. Practicing this on a daily basis will not only increase your personal depth of compassion, it will calm you, build inner peace, and increase the endorphins that are associated with acts of benevolence.

Learn More

This suggestion is a mere blip of an introduction to mindful compassion and I encourage you to investigate leading teachers and practitioners such as Sharon Salzberg, Kristin Neff, Paul Gilbert, or Christopher Germer, just to name a few.

Benefits

This is one of those ‘tips’ that anyone can do; requires no tools; is completely FREE; benefits others; improves mental health; and can be accomplished anytime – anywhere. It may be a perfect activity! So, sit quietly for a few minutes and let the sun shine on your face as you close your eyes and …

Practice mindful compassion.

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

#206 Take a Mental Day 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.

#206

Take a mental health day off

When was the last time you took a day off for no reason other than to stay home and binge watch T.V., go on a hike, or picnic by a waterfall? All too often we save our vacation days for purposeful tasks or family vacations where the only thing that is different – is the scenery. Sometimes, we just need to have a mental health day.

Use sick days

All too often I find that people accumulate sick days in anticipation of having a major illness. I’ve known people to sell back more than six months of time that was accrued. While that was a nice ‘bonus’, most of us would have been better off taking one or two of those for no other reason than we wanted to have a champagne lunch with a friend.

Taking a Break

Everything is easier when we take a break. When we exhaust ourselves physically, we take a break. When we sit too long, we take a break, and when we’ve worked our fannies off – we deserve a break. Even taking a half day can make a difference. Leaving work at noon – grabbing a pedicure without waiting and getting into the house before anyone else can shift an entire perspective from raunchy to rested.

New Perspective

The little break you take with a mental health day can help you get a new perspective or at the very least, it can give you the metaphorical deep breath you need from work and the people there; stepping back from stress, controversy, or uncertainty. If we are seeking clarity or solutions, it may be the break that offers it to us.

Take a look at your work schedule as soon as you can and identify a time when you can…

Take a mental health day off.

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

#207 Use Aromatherapy

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.

#207

Use Aromatherapy

For more than 5000 years, scent – the aroma of oils and plants – have been used as therapies for healing everything from clearing out sinuses, helping us sleep, improving circulation, and calming our mind. It’s considered an alternative or ‘holistic’ treatment to complement medical treatment.

Benefits

The oils used in Aromatherapy stimulate the olfactory system in our body – the one connected to our nose. When we inhale the oil molecules, they affect the limbic region in our brain which impacts our emotions, our memory, our hormones and our heart rate. When the diluted oils are massaged into our skin, it may improve circulation and improve the absorption rate.

Uses

Common plant oils like Basil and Pepper help with body aches and migraines. Eucalyptus is great when we have colds to help us breathe better. Lemon oil, Thyme, and Lavender are known to improve our mood, reduce stress, and enhance sleep.

Caution

Some of these oils can be toxic if used inappropriately. They can promote an allergic reaction or interact negatively with one another so it is imperative that a trained professional guide the use and application of essential oils. An aromatherapist will use a medical history, your current health history as well as diet and lifestyle to develop a strategic plan for medicinal uses.

Keep it  Simple

If you just want your home to smell good and trigger a tranquil feeling, try a diffuser with a diluted scent that you find pleasant (lavender is commonly used for tranquility). There is a large variety of diffusers from reeds, ultrasonic, and mist contraptions that allow the oil molecules to permeate the air. A quick search will return more options than you’ll need.

Once you do a little research and visit a pro you’ll find that your mental and physical well-being can be improved with a decision to…

Use aromatherapy.

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