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

Ultimately, writing your story has the potential to provide a great sense of peace that where you are now is the result of a winding road and regardless of the bumps…

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.

#329

Write your story

If your life ended today, would people really have known you? Is there a truth you want told? Is there a perspective you’ve wished to share? What are the messages and ideas that you’d like to have be a permanent part of your story?

Writing your story is not only a great way for future generations to know you but it is a good way for you to put your life into perspective – to see it as a whole; a living, flowing creation.

The most important element derived from writing your story is that it most likely will demonstrate great resilience. Most of us have endured pain, heartache, disappointment, despair, and fear. By describing those times in conjunction with the resolution and emergence into something different, we are able to see the entirety of the cycle instead of staying focused on the more noxious elements.

Your story gives your life a living voice, one that others may connect to, and one with which others may resonate. It may offer hope to others experiencing similar adverse events; showing them how to move toward the other side.

Writing your story allows your voice to be articulated; to have shape. It demonstrates your side, your perspective, your focus; delivering context that has only been available from your view. It allows you to see the connectedness of events, time, and learning in a way that is only available in retrospect.

It may help you to reaffirm  your values. Often when we see our lives from a deep, rich, linear perspective, it validates our choices; affirms our position; cements our belief system. It helps provide clarity of the things we declare as important in our life.

Ultimately, writing your story has the potential to provide a great sense of peace that where you are now is the result of a winding road and regardless of the bumps… it led here. Even if ‘here’ isn’t where you want to be, you’ll likely notice that this isn’t the first difficult challenge you’ve faced and you’ve demonstrated the resources in the past to move through. You may find new energy to persevere.

No time like the present for you to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard as you begin to…

Write your story.

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

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

We know that the more people smile, the better they are to cope with stress and that they report higher in life satisfaction.

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.

#335

Smile

When was the last time you smiled without a reason? It turns out that the practice of smiling – randomly for no actual reason – actually increases happiness. The muscles stimulated by smiling triggers a release of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – the chemicals that, when activated, allow us to feel happy.

In a landmark study with college students, Kraft and Pressman (2012) validated that students who produced a smile were able to recover from stress more effectively than students who were instructed in the opposite. This concept has been further probed by leaders in the Positive Psychology field and substantiated. We know that the more people smile, the better they are to cope with stress and that they report higher in life satisfaction.

Especially interesting is that we don’t have to smile spontaneously for this effect to be present! Indeed, just the act of smiling produces some affect.

The goal then, is to make an effort to smile more often whether you feel like it or not. Smile in the car on your way to work. Smile in the shower or while you are dressing. Smile at strangers just for the heck of it (many of them will smile back – perhaps initiating the ripple effect). Smile for a full 60 seconds before you get out of bed in the morning and notice the difference.

I assign the task of smiling to The Elevate Class students and they report overwhelmingly how surprised they are when it really does make a difference. It’s like a water soluble vitamin though… it’s only in your system for a day or so after you take it…  you have to smile every day for the effect to be in place.

Experiment a little and for no particular purpose…

Smile.

Let me know how it goes! I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

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

I would pick up the book and without reading the cover, I would open it haphazardly and read what was there. IF it resonated, even slightly, I considered it.

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.

#351

Self-help books on the nightstand

Heraclitis, a Greek philosopher stated “Change is the only constant in life” – a quote you’ve probably seen a hundred times as you moved into adulthood. We know it to be true and some of us experience an unequal amount of change through the course of our lives. Typically, I find that we attribute this quote to external things; our jobs, our environment, our friends, perhaps spouses… Rarely do I find that people are introspecting about personal change.

Unless of course, they are of the ‘self-help’ mindset and/or focused on their mental health as a habit. I’d love to encourage everyone to adopt a ‘self-help’ mentality – in part so that we each take personal responsibility for our actions, reactions, relationships, and lives. The broader part though is that we too, are always changing and if we are not doing so in awareness, we get caught off guard.

Keeping a ‘self-help’ book on your nightstand or in your kindle/e-reader will help you stay present with where you are and what you are thinking. If doesn’t have to be heavy duty stuff all the time. It can be a book of inspiring quotes that reminds you of the progress you’ve already made. It can be a bible that reinforces your faith (yes, I put the bible in a ‘self-help’ category).

I’ve been known to have a stack; a variety of books on a variety of topics – all designed to make me ‘think’ about myself and my life below the surface of where I am living it. Some books are the kind that I am reading from beginning to end – perhaps slowly so that I can absorb new ideas as I go along. A few are the kind that I can just open randomly and benefit from the words on that arbitrary page. Others are ones that I began but didn’t connect with right away and they’ve gone to the bottom of the pile for future contemplation.

I don’t pick self-help books – I let them pick me. In the days that I began my collection, I would peruse the personal development and/or the spirituality section of the bookstore; allowing my eyes to roam across the titles like a gentle wave until something specific caught my attention. Once it did, I would pick up the book and without reading the cover, I would open it haphazardly and read what was there. IF it resonated, even slightly, I considered it. I still use that method, but I buy half as many bound books these days as I’ve fallen in love with Audible and the ability to listen no matter what I am doing. I often listen to books over music and find that I’m ‘reading’ more than ever with this option available to me.

I will caveat this idea with the warning that one can ‘overload’ on information and it’s equally important to allow yourself to step back from ‘self-improvement’ from time to time so that the things you’ve learned can take root. Personal growth is best accomplished the way we physically grow – in spurts with solidifying periods in between. I found the best way to keep myself motivated along the way is to have…

Self-help books on the nightstand.

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

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

While I do sometimes use it for my day-to-day tasks, this running list is more about those obscure details that sit under our obvious awareness and, because they are not common in our thoughts, are easily forgotten.

My goal, for those of you who are curious, 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.

#356

Keep a running list of to-do items

For years now, I’ve kept a running list of to-do items on my computer desktop. I keep it open so that it is easily accessible when I think of something to add. I add everything… even those things that are more wish list than to-do matters. When items are completed, they get deleted.

I acknowledge that this technique isn’t necessarily advantageous to everyone. I often suggest it to clients as a method to be more organized and I see varying reactions. Perfectionists sometimes feel too anxious to leave something open and undone at the end of a day. People who think more concretely may react to the inclusion of ‘wish list’ items as too indefinite.

The benefits out weigh the objections in my opinion. I think we all have had moments when we can’t remember what we wanted to do in reference to a particular project, or we’ve had the experience of doing one thing and then thinking we should have included another but forgot it had been a consideration.

I glance at my list when I head to Home Depot, the mall, or my local craft store… how many times have I returned from the home improvement store only to remember that I wanted to get spray paint for another project, a decorative knob, or a specialty lightbulb? On a rainy Saturday afternoon, the list reminds me to look for a misplaced necklace, clean out the junk drawer, or fix the torn seam on my coat.

While I do sometimes use it for my day-to-day tasks, this running list is more about those obscure details that sit under our obvious awareness and, because they are not common in our thoughts, are easily forgotten.

Truth be told… some of the items on my list sit there so long they become obsolete. I had the intention of making a window seat cushion for years in my old house… it never got done. I have items like that on my list now. They are wish list pieces that keep me motivated and focused. They may or may not come to fruition, but the ideas sit there and I don’t stress about them. In fact – I appreciate that I have a forum to keep them in my consciousness. Try it!

Keep a running list of to-do items

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

Photo by Stacy Spensley on Foter.com / CC BY

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

When we sing, we literally send vibrations through our body and affect brain changes. Studies have repeatedly shown that people who sing experience less anxiety and have better quality of life.

My goal, for those of you who are curious, 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.

#357 Sing

As children, we sing songs to learn things and to just have fun. We sing with carefree voices regardless of our tone. We celebrate our birthday, our school loyalty, and our patriotism through song. As we move into our teens and young adulthood we tend to associate songs with events such as first dates, key dances (prom), weddings, and fun times.

I recall singing along with favorite songs frequently in my lifetime, particularly when I was alone and happy. I never thought too hard about how good I sounded. I was just in the moment, enjoying the music, and expressing myself in unison with the beat; mostly.

When we sing, we literally send vibrations through our body and affect brain changes. Studies have repeatedly shown that people who sing experience less anxiety and have better quality of life. Think of the last time you saw someone in a car singing along to a song, perhaps alone and yet seeming to be in the process of intense enjoyment. Singing can produce higher levels of dopamine and oxytocin – both brain chemicals that are associated with happiness.

After a particularly challenging time in my life had started to settle, I spent a long weekend alone finishing a list of abandoned responsibilities that had been badgering my psyche. I turned on some calming music and set about the tasks at hand. Before long I realized that I was humming along to the familiar tunes and stopped for a minute because I realized it was the first time – in many years – that I found myself singing.

It was one of those things that you didn’t notice was missing until you found it. It was a moment of realization that I recall because it was proof in my own mind that the changes I had just finished making were in part, survival for me. I was singing again.

I don’t have a nightingale voice. Indeed, one of my vocal chords was paralyzed during Thyroid surgery a few years ago and since then, any ability I had to carry a tune has been impaired. Our brains don’t care about tone – they care about the act of singing – the rise in happy chemicals. The point is to sing, with or without other people; with or without accompaniment; with or without the right lyrics…

Just sing.

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

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

My goal, for those of you who are curious, 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.

#360

Appreciate nature

So, maybe the ‘tree huggers’ were on to something. It seems as though literally embracing nature is good for mental health and fosters happiness. There is a certain homeostasis in the outdoors to which our internal barometers react positively. While it’s better to get outside on a sunny day to absorb as much of that Vitamin D as possible, studies tell us just communing with the great mother earth in any capacity will bolster our feel good rating.

It can be a walk in the fog which offers a distinct visual perspective that ignites our sense of mystery and wonder. Perhaps taking a stroll in the rain that excites your auditory system from the sound of the droplets on an umbrella to the great rolls of thunder in the dense sky above. It might even be as simple as sitting in the center of your backyard as you watch the squirrels scamper across a fence or the branches of a nearby tree as you notice how the evergreens have sprouted new spring growth.

There is so much to notice and hence, appreciate about the natural state of our planet and its animal inhabitants. Even though I work diligently to keep them away from my kitchen counters, I easily find myself mesmerized by the workings of an outdoor ant colony and could make their trail the focus of a meditation without much effort.

No excuses here. Even city dwellers can step outside and look up. All kinds of birds allow us a window to the appreciation of one of Mother Natures wonders. The goal is to see, acknowledge, and appreciate the essence of nature and its interwoven magic.  Just a few minutes at a time; deliberate and with attention…

Appreciate nature.

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

Photo on Foter.com

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

My goal, for those of you who are curious, 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.

#361

Open your hands and let it go.

Coping literature and psychological dictates frequently make suggestions that are parodied into concepts which, insist we “just let it go”, “forgive and move on”, or “get over it”, to name a few. The idea/concept is great and truly I think most of us attempt to follow any advice that implies we will move away from something that instils emotional pain.

I’ve talked to hundreds of people over time that have certainly heard and/or read that advice but have failed in finding peace. Eventually, the question is raised “so how is it done? How do you ‘let go’ of something?”

There are plenty of strategies but the one that has worked the best for me when necessary and is reported to be a successful option by many of my clients is the practice of holding your hands open flat when imagining that you are letting go (literally) of the thing that you wish to disappear. I must admit to the absence of any scientific evidence validating the efficacy of this gesture and yet I know enough about the way our minds organize rational thinking to believe that it simply makes sense.

In a closed position, our hands are capable of ‘holding’ something. In an open position, they are not. Our brains just don’t make the correlation of ‘holding on’ if we imagine it in our open flat hands. One caveat… letting go is not a one and done thing. The trick is to open your hands EVERY time a thought / feeling you are attempting to diminish, presents itself.

Thought arrives > vocalize “let go” while opening hands.

As often as that thought shows up. Try it and let me know how you do!

Just open your hands and ‘let it go’.

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

Photo by Jlhopgood on Foter.com / CC BY-ND