A better way: approaching seasons of ‘excess’

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On particularly rough days,
when you’re sure you can’t possibly endure anymore,
remind yourself that your track record
for getting through bad days so far
is 100%.

For many of us, this season rings in “excess.” Excess busyness and consumption. Excess worries, expenditures and expectations. Half the time, I’m torn between the “If you can’t beat ‘em…” and the “Enough is enough!” spectrum. But the more we give from a heart of excess (see “…Sharing the gift of ourselves”), the more we have to give. As we find ourselves wrapped up in this holiday’s hubbub, I challenge each of us to adopt an attitude of excess kindness. It costs little to share a meal with an elderly neighbor (bring an excess so she can enjoy seconds). Or deliver dinner to the homebound. It simply takes a generous heart. And perhaps our kindness will be an answer to someone else’s prayer on a particularly rough day. Remember: holidays aren’t required for excess kindness to make a difference.

Merry Christmas!

How to make a happy life: think differently

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You do not find the happy life. You make it.
~ Camilla Kimball

During a recent yoga class, the instructor weaved her special blend of wisdom throughout the 90-minute lesson. One particular “ism” continued to resonate with me long after I’d packed my bag and headed home. Although not verbatim, it reads something like this: Happiness is not the destination; it’s an attitude you choose to bring with you on the journey. What I love about this can also be understood from Kimball’s quote at the beginning of this post. Another popular saying speaks of happiness as the journey, itself. Yet what about journeys fraught with illness or death, poverty or disaster or [fill in the blank]? Oftentimes those people swimming in a bevy of unfortunate circumstances still seem to radiate happiness. Because happiness is not a treasure to be found but, rather, a gift we already possess as a choice. And it’s all about choosing to think differently. I choose happy.

What choice do you make today?

Image courtesy of VectorHuman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Energy flows where attention goes

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focus-on-plenty

I’m happy to report that my focus on the ‘Power of p’ is off and running—peace, patience, purpose and prayer at the top of my 2017 pursuits. In addition, I plan to emphasize another P: my plenty (vs. lack). Thus far, this has proven an exercise in attitude adjustment. Sometimes you just want to pout because you’re not where you thought you’d be at this stage of the game (of life). For example, while hiking a couple weeks ago, I ruminated on my novel and how I still haven’t written it (yes, I wrote one a few years ago, during a 30-day challenge, but I consider that my practice)—and about all the writing workshops on my schedule this year. I’ve decided that, like any person training for a marathon or the Olympics or a trek into the Grand Canyon, that’s what my practice and workshops are doing: prepping me to write and publish my novel. It’s about keeping focused on the plenty.

How’s your energy flow?

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Responding to life’s challenges (without allowing them to break us)

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Responding to life

 

My recent blog ‘How (not) to be miserable for the rest of your life’ is all about attitude, and how it can make or break us. The same day I posted these words, I met my own situation headfirst—one that screamed ‘pity party’ at the top of its lungs. Oh the irony. No pitching a tent, but I did unroll a sleeping bag and camp out for approximately 60 minutes underneath the stars. I allowed myself to feel discouragement, frustration, sadness. And then I let it all go, released that which does not serve me. Instead, I donned my thinking cap, laid out the choices in front of me and began to consider other options within my power. The act of seeking, in itself, oftentimes lifts us out of feelings of hopelessness and/or lack of control. Although we rarely get to choose the challenges we encounter in life, we do have a say in how we respond to them.

How do you typically respond to life’s challenges?

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How (not) to be miserable for the rest of your life

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How not to be miserable

 

A recent disappointment cast a close family member into a weeklong mopefest, binging on Netflix and junk food. I told her it’s OK to throw a pity party, as long as she doesn’t pitch a tent and take residence. And then there’s Rob, the employee at my neighborhood grocery store who was diagnosed last year with stage three lung cancer. This past week I ran into him and learned his recent CT scan uncovered new growths on his lungs. For the first 24 hours after receiving the news, he holed himself off from the world. Then he picked himself up and said, ‘OK, I don’t want to be miserable for the rest of my life so let’s do this.’ Sometimes my pity parties last a day or two before I adjust my attitude. Because attitude is everything, isn’t it? Or at least half the battle. And our minds believe what we tell them. So remember: every situation is temporary. Now let’s do this.

Does your attitude need adjusting?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When life isn’t perfect

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I think I can

Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t,
you’re right. ~ Henry Ford

My life isn’t perfect. Surprise! However, when I publicize on social media or speak to others, I attempt to post or express words of affirmation and encouragement. Because a positive, can-do attitude is one that builds up, rather than tears down. Especially when life isn’t perfect. This doesn’t suggest I’m less than genuine or true to myself, but it can sometimes be misleading. Yet I choose to speak life in a society that is consumed with hate and greed. After all, if we attract what we focus on, it makes sense to choose the good things. And that’s just it: it begins with a choice. Not only that, it’s easier to win over the people around us with a smile or kind word than with a complaint or angry look. Plus—even if it’s not a good day, there’s always something good in every day.

What kind of life do you portray to others?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Living with intent

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Living with intent

[Image credit: samarttiw]

 

In my post A recipe for happiness, I list three essentials to happiness in life: something to do, something to love and something to hope for. With that in mind, I began my 30-day happiness challenge a week ago, each day seeking out one thing that makes me happy. I’ve discovered that 1) it requires me to live my life with intent—purposing to keep my eyes open and look for happiness; 2) it’s sometimes hard to pick only one thing that makes me happy  (not a bad problem to have) and 3) the “things” I attribute to my happiness aren’t always tangible. One morning I volunteered my time and I was “high” with happiness all afternoon and evening. Another day I spent several hours networking at a writer’s convention. What I look forward to the most upon waking is first I set my intention to be happy, and then I allow that attitude to carry me throughout the day.

In what ways do you live with intent?

Mind over matter

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[Image credit: jscreationzs]

During Monday’s Hot Yoga session, our instructor made a comment similar to one I’ve heard before: that we are shaped by our thoughts.  For example, if we perform a “bad” pose, we are to remove the thought from our minds as it may lead to a repeat during the second set.  I applied her advice and, consequently, it was as if everything bad that happened to me the previous week — hurtful or careless words spoken or received, disappointments or setbacks — was purged with each exhalation, droplet of sweat, contraction of muscles.  My focus and balance were more aligned as I went deeper into each pose and pushed harder.  This concept of mind over matter is true outside of the studio, as well, where oftentimes one failed job or relationship or something as simple as a dud recipe requires a new attitude to avoid making the same mistake twice.  But it’s ultimately up to us to make that choice.

Do you choose to replace the negative with positive instead?

My happy pill

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[Image credit: posturize]

Writing is the best anti-depressant.
~ Fierce Dolan

The other morning, the first person I encountered was a Mister Grumpy Gills.  This required me to make an immediate choice: either put on happy and just keep swimming or walk around with a chip on my shoulder.  I think it’s a lot harder to perform the former strategy after initially being knocked down.  But I guarantee the people you run into for the remainder of the day will mentally thank you if you don’t adopt the latter approach.  The primary thing I did was situate myself in front of my laptop and write.  Immediately I felt the tension begin dissipating as it flowed from my fingertips.  Next, I ate a snack to prepare for my gym time and then I rode off any lingering bad attitude in spin class.  I have no doubt the other drivers on the road, my barista and the people I work with were very appreciative of my efforts.

What does your happy pill look like?

A timid sign of courage

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[Image credit: digitalart]

Resignation is the timid sign of courage. ~ James Joyce

Sometimes, no matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to matter.  The starting and middle points may look differently each time, but the ending place — or outcome — is relatively the same.  I might change my attitude or choose to travel an alternate route to get where I’m going, believing these little differences may modify the near or distant future for me and/or others.  But instead, I’m confronted with a familiar terrain.  It’s called resignation.  Eventually I learn that resistance is futile and, even with the best of intentions, I find it’s better to courageously accept that which I cannot change.  I have yet to perfect it, but I am learning that some things simply defy explanation and it’s easier to acquiesce than to put up a fight.  Throw in a little patience, too, and hopefully I possess a recipe for a successful outcome.

Do you resign yourself to the inevitable or work hard to change an end result?

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