Calling Me for a Date with Me.

Me time—time spent purposely alone is different than loneliness. Sometimes you need to treat yourself and carve out some “me time.” It is a pretty awesome idea! Don’t feel guilty about it. In the end, it will make you a better spouse, a better parent, a better colleague, and a better friend. We all need to recharge and we need to do something just for ourselves on a regular basis.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just plan to do something that you enjoy and that relaxes you. If you are already doing this, congratulations! If not, you have the delightful task of figuring out what you may want to do. Maybe it’s reading a good book or watching your favorite TV show. Maybe it’s getting back into a hobby you used to enjoy. Maybe it’s taking a nap. Maybe it’s a simple as having 10 minutes to sit by yourself and think, or thumb through a magazine.

Like I said, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time and it doesn’t have to involve anything complicated. Sure, a trip to the beach by yourself for a week would be great, but curling up on the couch with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine and a good book will do. Maybe there is a movie you want to see or a new coffee shop you would love to try.

Treating yourself to a new haircut, a pretty dress, a new gadget, or something that will help you enjoy your hobby more is another great option. Or keep it super simple, and pick up a favorite treat that you don’t have to share while you’re out doing the grocery shopping.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s ok to treat yourself and do something for the sole purpose of making yourself happy. While a piece of fancy chocolate may not seem like that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, treating yourself well and caring for yourself can have a huge impact on the quality of your life. Give it a try—schedule a date with yourself right now! Then do something nice for yourself—be happy.

Day 25 – Good Nutrition–Good Mood

The simplest solution to increasing happiness may be to change what we eat. It is interesting to learn how much the food we eat can affect our mood. I think it’s no accident that since the arrival of lots of easily obtainable processed food with added sugar in the Western diet, depression and other mood disorders have dramatically risen. A quick look at a couple of key ingredients and nutrients that have been shown to directly affect our mood.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 is a fatty acid that’s found in fatty fish and certain seeds and nuts. There’s another fatty acid called Omega 6 which is found in the corn oil and vegetable oils used in so much American food.  There’s an important balance between omega 3 and omega 6 that needs to happen. If you end up with way more omega 6 than omega 3 (which is often the case in a diet that consists of lots of processed foods), one of the side effects is depression. Here’s an article about the importance of Omega balance.

Vitamin D

We tend to get the blues more in winter when we can’t get outside and get some sun. A big reason for this drop in mood is a lack of vitamin D. With the advent of strong sunscreen and a global health policy that warns us of sun exposure and cautions us to cover up or wear sunscreen, it’s no wonder that vitamin d deficiency has become major problem that also happens to negatively affect our mood.

B Vitamins

Being happy takes energy and a key ingredient in making sure we get the energy we need from our foods are B vitamins. This whole group of micronutrients is crucial in how energized we feel. Make sure you get plenty to feel your best.

Magnesium

Magnesium is starting to become increasingly an issue as our soils are magnesium depleted and less of this mineral makes it into our food. Lack of magnesium can cause insomnia and you already know how important a good night sleep is to your overall well-being.

While you may want to consider supplementing with some of these nutrients to quickly fill the gap your diet is leaving, a much better long-term strategy is to work on cleaning up your diet. The more processed foods you can cut out and replace with fresh fruits and vegetables, quality meats (or other non-meat protein), and healthy fats the better. In other words, eat real foods!

Day 20 Positive Communication

Have you noticed how people are great about finding the positive in any situation and telling you about it?  They are the kinds of bosses, coworkers, teachers, and friends who give you some constructive criticism while pointing out everything you’ve done right, even if the project or situation turns out to be a total mess. They build you up and give you the confidence boost you need to go back and fix things or start over.

Then there are people who can’t give a compliment without also pointing out your shortcomings. They tend to focus on the negative in any situation and are quick to share that with you. These people can be hard to live and work with. The big question is what type of person are you? How do you think and communicate about your life and your surroundings?

If being happier is your goal, you need to work on making sure you think and communicate in a positive way. Why is thinking important? Because it is how we communicate with ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather spend my time becoming my biggest cheerleader, not my worst critic.

Here’s the good news. How you think and how you communicate can be learned and unlearned. That means if you’re a bit of a pessimist right now, you can learn to think, be, and talk in a more positive way. Learned behaviors and habits aren’t always easy to change.

  • First step is that you gotta want to change. Truly.
  • Step two is to learn to recognize your behavior as it happens. Listen to the thoughts that are happening in your head. Stop and make yourself think before you speak.
  • Step three is to practice the new habit and behavior.

Take a few minutes and reflect on how you have been thinking today. Think back on conversations you’ve had with others and get a feel for how you communicate with yourself and others. Are you as positive as you’d like to be, or is there room for improvement? If so, start implementing the simple three step process I shared with you and keep practicing until this more positive way of thinking and communicating has become a strong new habit. It will have a big impact in your own happiness and that of those around you.

Day 18 Dealing with Negative Thoughts and Emotions

Life isn’t all happiness and sunshine. Negative thoughts, emotions, and the events and people that cause them are part of life. We have to learn to deal with them and make the best of sad situations to live a happy life. Today I want to look at a few different ideas and strategies that can help us do just that.

Put Them In Perspective

Before you allow yourself to wallow in sadness, try your best to step back and look at the situation from a different perspective. Get some sleep, go out for a walk, and come back and look at it again. Try your best to see the positive side of things. Yes, there are undeniably sad and bad situations in our lives, but even so, most of them have a little glimmer of something good in them as well. Find that positivity and hang on to it.

There are also a lot of times and situations where we focus too much on the negativity. A little distance, and a little perspective can show us that it’s not as bad as we originally thought.

Just Go Ahead and Be Sad At Times

There are also times when life just plain sucks. It’s ok to be sad. Happy 100% of the time is pretty unrealistic. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take the time to be sad and grieve. There is a lot of healing and coming to terms with things that can only happen when you let the sadness in. Feel it, so you can start to heal and recover.

Look on the Bright Side

To make sure that you don’t spiral down into a black hole of sadness, despair and depression, look for the little flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.  Maybe that little flicker of hope is simply that you’re not feeling quite as sad as you did yesterday. Or maybe it’s a call from a friend, or a neighbor dropping off a card. Look for anything good and positive,  focus on it, and use it to find your way back to happiness.

Day 11 Fighting Our Brain’s Negativity Bias

 Have you noticed that negative comments and events stick with us longer and influence us more than positive ones? A positive comment by a spouse or friend for example is appreciated, but the effects wear off quickly. A negative comment on the other hand sticks with you much longer. Say what? Yes, our brains have a bias to negativity. It’s measurable– there have been brain scan studies that show that our brain reacts more strongly to negative stimuli. How do we fight against our brain’s bias to negativity? Good question, right?

The first step is to realize that there is such a thing. Knowing that we react more strongly to negative comments allows us to take each piece of negativity with a grain of salt. It can be incredibly helpful to acknowledge that our mind and heart may be overreacting about something negative. On the other hand, knowing about this bias also allows us to make it a point to savor the positivity. Don’t dismiss a compliment out of hand. Instead, savor it, think about it, and make it a point to remember it, and allow it to lift you up when negativity brings you down.

I know, I know. Easier said than done. We are blasted with negative news these days! Since this bias to negativity is hard wired in our brains, it takes a lot of time and effort to build new, more positive habits. Remind yourself each morning that your mind is trying to force you to focus on the negative stuff and that it takes a conscious effort to balance it out by being mindful off all the good and happy things in our lives.

Over time this will allow us to grow a thicker skin when it comes to unwarranted criticism. Should you ignore every single comment or suggestion that you don’t like? Of course not. There is such a thing as constructive criticism that helps us to grow and get better at what we do. What we need to guard against are the negative words, events, and feelings that make us want to curl up in a fetal position, preferably in a dark distant cave. Counter that feeling with positive action.

A great exercise or ritual is to reflect on both the good and the bad on a daily basis. This helps to gain a little distance and see everything that’s happening to us in a better light. Keep a journal to write and or draw in. Try these prompts: What I loved about today was ______________.  What I didn’t love was ___________. Just the acknowledgement and noticing help balance out your day!  When you’re struggling with something negative that you’ve having a hard time getting past, talking things out with a friend is another great idea.

Do what you can to outweigh the negativity with the good stuff. Keep a box or file with some of the best positive emails and comments you’ve gotten. Read through them whenever you need to counteract something negative.

 

Day 7  Happiness and Exercise

When you’re having a bad day, or are feeling down, exercise is a good way to boost your happiness,. There is a strong link between exercise and an improvement in mood and well being. Give it a try. Go for a walk whenever you’re feeling depressed and unhappy. You’ll notice your mood starting to get better after a short time.

This increase of happiness and well being after exercise is caused by two different mechanisms in our body. The first is that exercise causes the release of brain chemicals like endorphins and other mood enhancers. This happens just a few minutes after you work out and the effect can last for a good 12 hours. The second part to the equation is that exercise also helps reduce the levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in the body. That means you’ll instantly feel less stressed. This one-two punch can have a powerful effect on how you feel. Something as simple as a brisk walk can help you feel better almost immediately.

For best results, you want to exercise a few times per week. Take some time during your lunch break to go for a walk, or work a quick workout in before you head to work in the morning. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you start moving around and get that blood pumping. Pick activities you enjoy that you will stick with.

In addition to the everyday mood booster you get from exercising regularly, there are a lot of long term benefits. Exercise is good for your health and you will start to get fitter and even slimmer and more toned if you stick with it. This in turn will improve how you feel and how you feel about yourself. That added confidence can be a great additional mood booster.

Try to get as much exercise as you can outside. Fresh air and sunshine add to a feeling of well being. Come up with some simple things you can start doing right now. Maybe it’s going for a walk each afternoon. Maybe it’s running. Maybe it’s signing up for a yoga or Pilates class at your local community center, or maybe it’s joining a sports team. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do as long as you make it a goal to get more active and move around. Switch it up and plan a group hike for the weekend, or dust off your bike. There’s a lot of fun ways to get moving and enjoy the world around you.

27 Your Loved Ones Will Benefit from A Purpose Driven Life

In yesterdays’ post we talked about how we can use our communities to have permanent positive change by living a purpose driven life. Those changes can be small or large, and they all add up. We can make a difference. Today I want to take a look at the impact living a purpose driven life can have on the people you care most about.

You Set a Good Example

The most powerful thing about living your life with purpose is that you are setting a good example for those around you. Trust me, your kids are watching. Your spouse or significant other is noticing what you’re doing. So are your family and friends. Living a purpose-driven life can be quite contagious. Start and see how much of an effect you can have on those around you.

In other words, not only will they benefit from what you do directly (by being more attentive and patient for example, or making an effort to spend more quality time with people important to you), they also benefit by being encouraged to live a more purposeful life themselves.

You’re More Confident in Yourself

As you start to live with purpose and see the impact even small acts can have you’re gain more confidence in yourself. As you gain self-confidence, you start to feel more comfortable in your skin. You’re making a difference and live with purpose. This in turn makes you a more confident parent, spouse, and friend. Your loved ones will benefit because you are no longer busy second guessing yourself. You take massive action that benefits everyone.

You’re Happier and More Fulfilled

One of the big reasons self-confidence is so important is that it is directly linked with how happy you feel. Add to that the fact that living a life with purpose is very fulfilling and it’s no wonder that you are happier and more content! All this in turn will make you a kinder and better person overall. Living a purpose driven life makes you a better parent, a better spouse, a better coworker and a better friend. It has a positive impact on all the people who are close to you and who have an important part in your life. Use this as motivation and encouragement on those days when things get hard and you’re ready to give up. Don’t let them or yourself down.

Monetary Identity Part 2: Session 5

Working through all the areas of Monetary Identity to create a holistic monetary identity that corresponds with your current values, resources and goals is deep work. Your investment in yourself by this deep examination and clarification of your Monetary Identity begins a process of awareness that continues even after the class is completed.  

The last five areas of Monetary Identity are:

  1. Philanthropy/social causes.
  2. Receiving wealth.
  3. Technologies.
  4. Hobbies.
  5. Community/family roles.

Register now! Use code gap by March 17 for $50.00 off. How cool is that?

 

Halloween Costumes. Already?

pumpkinYes, I know, school is just getting underway, but believe me as soon as the notebooks and backpacks are cleared, the Halloween stuff will be out. Take advantage of it–now is a great time to be thinking about Halloween costumes! Unless you really, really like running around anxiously on October 30 trying to find ANYTHING that you or your kids like. And in the right size!

I have gathered a few ideas from TV, movies and video games and will be posting details about what the characters look like. Once you have picked what you want to be, you can decide whether you want to buy a costume or make it yourself. Here is a YouTube example of a Shopkins character. And OMG if you start now you might actually be able to DIY.

So here is my list of what I think will be hot:

  • American Horror Story
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Batman and Superman
  • Captain America Civil War
  • DC Super Hero
  • Deadpool
  • Disney’s Descendants
  • Dragon Ball
  • Election 2016
  • Finding Dory
  • Game of Thrones
  • Ghostbusters
  • Lego Ninjago
  • Little Charmers
  • Paw Patrol
  • Pennywise
  • PJ Masks
  • Pokémon  for Adults
  • Pokémon  for Kids
  • Shopkins
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Suicide Squad
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • Through the Looking Glass
  • Walking Dead
  • World of Warcraft
  • X-Men Apocalypse

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Today, take a moment to think about the stellar gift of your sense of hearing. Just as with sight, “hearing” can go beyond physically hearing with our ears. What parts of this sense do you most appreciate? What memories do you have associated with sounds? Play with your memories and appreciations in your micro journal today!

~whispering sweet nothings, Karen