#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.

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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.

#123 Adopt a New Coping Skill

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.

#123

Adopt a new coping skill

Coping skill – those things that help us deal with the crap that life throws our way. They happen sometimes without much awareness and at others, with great intention. Some are health – others … not so much. Self awareness of the coping skills that we use to deal with things are super important. It’s necessary for us to distinguish between those things that work for us and those that don’t.

Dysfunction Coping

There are a handful of common ‘coping’ skills that are generally dysfunctional. Perhaps the most popular is avoidance. More often than not, when we avoid something – prevent ourselves from facing the problem – we do nothing more than save the discomfort for later. We deny ourselves the knowledge that we can exist simultaneously with the problem or better yet – solve it.

Overeating / Excessive anything

Another coping mechanism that we often turn to is that of comforting ourselves by over indulging in things that make us feel better like wine, chocolate, cookies, beer, and comfort food in general. Our overindulgence in the things that make us temporarily forget our problem doesn’t erase the problem and may raise our risk of developing unhealthy addictions.

While there are a number of other undeniable coping strategies that aren’t helpful, there are a number that are!

Functional Coping

There are a number of great ways to work through stress, problems, and life challenges that are immensely effective and have overall positive effects. Exercise, Me Time, and Self Care are at the top of the list. They are the some of the things that create balance in life.

Meditation / Mindfulness

These strategies are perhaps the most efficient and effective when it comes to overall feeling better. The research about mindfulness and its helpful effect on health, emotions, stress, and pain is overwhelming but it take practice and perseverance to be truly beneficial.

Laughter

Learning to laugh, to find humor in the mundane, and to appreciate silly is also a great coping strategy. When we become so stressed that our tempers flare, humor can generally take the edge of negative feelings if not neutralize them all together.

Social Support

Just when we may feel like we would be better off in our sour mood alone, or when we don’t want to trouble anyone with our ‘issues’, that is the precise time to lean on our social support system. The friends and family members that love us, that know us at our core… those are the people who can stand behind us when times are tough. When we need to ask for help… they are the ones we ask. And yes… learning to ASK is a functioning coping mechanism.

Assess your current repertoire of positive coping skills and research one that you’ve yet to develop. Practice, practice, and practice in the pursuit of

Developing a new coping skill.

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

#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

#236 Mindful Kissing

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.

#236

Mindful kissing

If you have a significant other or even a special friend, this suggestion can ignite a spark so, reader beware. Mindful kissing is a special kind of kissing… it’s kissing on purpose, with intention, for no other reason than to experience – truly experience – the kiss.

This type of kissing begins with intention. It is a desire to fully engage and participate in the experience of a kiss with particular notice to each and every sensation;

  • Notice the closeness of your partner.
  • Notice the smell of your partner, their skin, their breath, their body perfume.
  • Notice the texture of the lips you are kissing; their temperature.

Slowly inhale and exhale with the focus on the sensations you are experiencing in the kiss itself.

When your focus moves to another part of your body, or somewhere in your mind – bring it back to the kiss.

  • Notice your saliva production and it’s exchange.
  • Notice the desire of your tongue and its movement.
  • Notice the taste that is exchanged in your kiss.
  • Notice the interaction between lips, tongues, and mouths.
  • Notice the as your breath changes; notice your partner’s breath.

Allow the kiss to take time. Be patient while you explore and navigate your partner’s kiss. Be sure to keep your focus there without the distraction of other sensations. Try spending 5 minutes mindfully kissing – only kissing – and if you enjoy the interactions, increase the time with each engagement.

If you want to jump start a little energy in your relationship, this is a great way to get the engines rolling again. One of the key’s is free, easy, and innate for us all…

Mindful kissing.

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

#248 Sit in a park

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.

#248

Sit in a park

So, it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re at the park. Perhaps you’re walking through. Maybe you’re having a picnic. Could be you’re biking, running, or playing your way through the terrain… when was the last time you simply sat??

Why a park?

Generally, parks are green spaces created with our pleasure in mind. Pleasure because they offer an open space (open is relative here) where we can go for an outdoor experience. Of course that often means some kind of activity and yet all those benches that we see in parks aren’t only for rest in between activity. You might also sit on a blanket in the park or on a rock. Perhaps you prefer to plunge right down in the grass, allowing yourself to feel the ground specifically beneath you. The goal is to find a spot in the park and to sit alone and quietly there; contemplating or observing everything in your sight.

Parks are a great place to find a few quiet moments – perhaps not quiet from the perspective of sound – but from our individual lives. There in the park, we can slip away from responsibility, from demands of work and family, and utilize the energy of the outdoor environment to rejuvenate.

Be Mindful

As you sit there – in the park – take time to be mindful. Notice the grass, the sky, the people, the sounds, the temperature, and the textures. Pay attention to details… color differences, movement, and decibels.

Allow it all to move through your sight line without attachment and if you can… practice gratitude or compassion with each observation. (i.e., “I’m so grateful for the sensation of the sun on my face.”)

Sitting alone in a park can be an experience all in its own.

Paley Park

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One of my most favorite memories is finding the jewel of Paley Park in New York City. Walking east along 53rd street, just past MOMA, there’s a small break in the storefronts – almost unnoticeable – and yet with a glance you are immediately lured into an open square canopied by trees and flanked by a wall of water falling into a pond. The sounds of Manhattan cease and your senses are filled with nature. The temperature falls instantly by ten degrees as the air is cooled and pushed by the water cascading 20 feet across the entire back of the park. Without hesitation, I pulled up a chair and allowed that space to evaporate the metropolitan energy from my mind; replacing it with a lightness and freshness that can only be induced by Mother Nature.

Create your Own Moment

Understandably, most readers won’t be running to Paley Park anytime soon (highly recommended if you find yourself in NYC) and yet there are dozens of options near you at any given time as our culture is rather park-minded overall. A local town square, a community green space, a state game land, or a national treasure all offer opportunities to get grounded if we just take a moment and …

Sit in a park.

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

#271 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.

#271

Get up for the sunrise

Some of you may do this daily as you prepare to begin your work day and yet there are millions of you who don’t frequently make time to experience this daily wonder, but do you really ‘see’ it??  Depending on the day of course, the sunrise is either visible, or not. It is either majestic, or not. But, it is always dependable and THAT is part of it’s wonder.

The sun comes up regardless of politics, pains, joys, seasons, etc. and while it may seem like a rather primitive or conspicuous concept, it has value because of its constancy. Like ‘Annie’ always sings… “the sun will come up tomorrow”. It’s good to know that no matter how much change happens in our lives, the sun will still come up like it did yesterday and will again tomorrow; whether you actually ‘see’ it or not.

So, getting up and watching the sun rise may impact your thoughts; reinforcing that there are constants in the world. Standing with your face against the Eastern breeze as the sky turns orange and/or pink offers a perfect opportunity to experience a very specific type of mindfulness. Depending on where you live, it takes somewhere between 2 minutes (at the equator) and 5-6 minutes in northern latitudes for the sun’s disk to rise above the horizon. That offers a short – but impactful – opportunity to practice mindful gratitude with a very specific visual.

Yes, gratitude because the sunrise represents yet another opportunity for you to begin anew. It acts as a reminder that some things just are – no matter what – a reminder that is beneficial to us periodically. It represents a certain amount of energy available from the Universe and if you are there – watching it… go ahead and grab it.

It’s just a few minutes of your time and although it’s early in the morning, I can’t think of any other way to jump start each morning. Grab your coffee or tea, step outside, and embrace the magic of the moment since you made the decision to…

Get up with the sunrise.

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

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

#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.

#305 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.

#305

Eat mindfully

Most of us never do this and even those of us who have tried it a time or two don’t spend many meals engaged in intention but when you do… is a whole new experience.

Eating mindfully is frequently taught with a raisin. Sometimes it is referred to as an eating meditation -mostly because ALL of your focus is on the process – the entire process – of eating.

Imagine the raisin. Hold the raisin and notice how it feels in your finger; notice the ridges, the color, and the size. Intentionally, place the raisin on your tongue and let it sit there for a minute; noticing its smell, the sensation of it there, and perhaps how you begin to salivate. Move the raisin between your teeth and gently squeeze… notice the texture, the flavor, and how your mouth responds. Notice with each movement of your jaw – how the raisin changes – the change in flavor or texture or size. And finally, swallow the raisin – paying attention to the sensation of it moving across your tongue, to the back of your mouth and then down your throat.

Now do this for an entire meal. Same process with each and every bite.

Yes – it will take a long time to consume your food – and it will be good for you. The first time I had ate something other than a raisin intentionally I immediately noticed how reflexive it was to put a spoonful in my mouth and then immediately shovel the spoon back into my plate of food – prepping the next bite. That’s NOT mindful.

I was curious enough to persevere through an entire plate of Kung Pao Chicken but it was cold by the time I was finished and an entire hour had elapsed. I had visions of my father telling me to “stop fooling around and just eat!”

Out of all the people I’ve ever known, very few eat slow enough to truly ‘experience’ their food and my personal belief is that it is becoming problematic in our culture. We eat so fast, we don’t know when we’ve had enough to satisfy hunger and consequently, we frequently overeat. Mitigating that issue is easily rectified when we …

Eat mindfully.

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

#306 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.

#306

Meditate

Wikipedia says that meditation has been “practiced since antiquity” – it’s the exercise of being still and directing all focus to a single object or thought. If you haven’t heard about meditation and its benefits, you’ve been living in a cage without WiFi!

Developing a ‘practice’ of meditation will reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It will increase your sense of calm, peace, and ultimately… happiness. When meditating daily for more than 30 minutes, one develops control over mind processes and is potentially able to reverse heart disease and well as other ailments that are caused by over-activation of  the parasympathetic nervous system.

Research in recent years has demonstrated that meditation may be significant in the reduction of anger, pain, stress, fatigue, depression and more. A well developed meditation regiment may be just shy of a magic pill for most of what ails our sick and tired, fast paced and distracted society.

Most of the time, I find that people who don’t have a regular practice actually misunderstand the process of quieting the mind. People say “I can’t stay focused” and “My brain is too active” – indicating that those elements must prevent them from having any success. Actually – we all experience those barriers when we begin.

I think of meditation as the art of noticing thoughts just like the lights that pop up on a peripheral vision test while I am focused on the white dot in the middle… I see – and stay trained – on the dot in the center, not allowing the other lights that pop in and out of my field of vision to redirect my attention. It’s not NOT having other thoughts that is the goal… it’s to NOT pay attention to those other thoughts that we work to accomplish as a beginner. I was once told that after 10 years of dedicated meditation practice, a teacher was excited when as much as 5 whole minutes passed without a recognized thought – 10 years!

Just keep coming back to your point of focus; and coming back; and coming back – without judgment about how well you’re doing or if you’re doing it wrong. Using an app like Headspace or guided meditations like those of Ron Seigel are great ways to begin. The challenge is to add dedicated time to your day in pursuit of meditation.

It’s like anything else though… what you prioritize – you WILL make time for. It’s a universal law. So think about what ails you and do a little research. I’m sure you’ll find that relief may be as simple as some still time. Set aside some time, get comfortable, find a focus, and …

Meditate.

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