Posts-March 2014

Take These 4 Steps for More Happiness Now

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

 

Let your happiness expand this week. Plan on it, and then take steps to arrive there.

For some, happiness feels elusive. Just out of reach. A tomorrow that never arrives.

To others, happiness is a regular occurrence. It’s their natural disposition.

You might find yourself somewhere between this spectrum — happy sometimes, or not, depending on the day. No matter where you are, it’s great to know that we can simple steps can lead to consistent joy. Joy on tap!

Recent research by Robert Epstein, PhD, founder and director emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavior Studies, find that as much as a quarter of our overall happiness rests on our ability to manage stress — and that planning our days effectively can help us do just that.

After analyzing the results of an online questionnaire completed by more than 3,000 people from dozens of countries, Epstein found planning ahead to avoid stress had by far the greatest health and mood benefits, besting other strategies including relaxation techniques and thoughts management.

“If you can prevent stress from happening by planning, you’re going to be much better off,” he says. “Because once the stress is there, it doesn’t matter how good you are at deep breathing or meditating — you’re going to be affected by it.”

Here’s 4 tips that you can use today to steer clear of the stress before it starts: 

  1. Make a list. What are your 3 “daily musts” — things that, once you check them off, will make today a “win!”
  2. Prioritize.  What’s the best way to approach your “musts?” Get ‘em done! 
  3. Break down big tasks. Few things feel as paralyzing as huge, amorphous tasks like “clean out the garage.” Break big projects into 15-minute tasks that give you a sense of forward momentum. For example, “Box up old toys for Goodwill” and clear out top shelf.”
  4. Celebrate each accomplishment! As you check off task, feel the satisfaction that comes along with it. When we achieve something of value, our brains release dopamine to reinforce the reward pathway. Each subsequent achievement brings more feelings of accomplishment — but only if we allow the space to FEEL IT.

We always have those big (and little) things to do each day. Creating a habit of doing, then celebrating, each one unlocks the door to more joy. When we’re aware of what needs to be done, we can take action.  

From here, happiness is always just a few steps away.

 

Stress Release Tip

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Especially when it comes to work at home; the laundry, cleaning the bathroom, putting the kids’ toys away, cooking dinner, shopping for groceries; it can be easy to fall into the habit of doing it all on your own. Asking for help can bring the family together and give you a rest. Both good things.

Mindful Moment

To be mindful is to be aware of how you are feeling, how you are sitting, what you are thinking, what you are doing — all at once. How? Well, first, slow down. For the next few minutes, do everything three times more slowly than normal. Feel your muscles engage, notice your thoughts. What are you aware of?

Posts-March 2014

A Timeout in Paradise

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as everything is a miracle.”

                   ~ Albert Einstein

 

When was the last time you took a time-out?

Aloha! This is Dana posting from the lush island of Oahu this week. 

 I’m here hosting ZenLife’s First Ultimate Freedom Experience. What a dream! I have the best job in the world!

 As I sit here on white sandy beaches, gazing out into the crisp clear waters of the Pacific, soaking in the warm, serene beauty of the island, I am overwhelmed by the unconditional support and love I feel from the people in my life, from my family, and from the solid earth beneath me. I’m so grateful that as part of my work, I get to take times out like this.

But wait, I realized, I can do this any time. I don’t have to wait till I’m ‘away’ or ‘off’ work to touch paradise, to touch this freedom and contentment.

 How often do you rush through your days and weeks going from appointment to appointment, from responsibility to responsibility, not noticing the beautiful world that surrounds you? Whether you’re enjoying yourself or just plugging away, you might forget to stop and reflect, to be still, to sit in the experience of the now. 

 No matter what is happening — whether things are going super well, or things may be a bit tough — it is so important to take a “time-out” to appreciate life in its wholeness.

 This week I encourage you to stop. Take stock of your life today. Even if you are going through a rough patch — if you look back to where you were before, you’ll probably notice how far you’ve come and how much support and love you truly have in your life. And once you do, go out and celebrate yourself! 

You don’t have to be on vacation or on some tropical island to experience miracles and to touch gratitude in your life now. 

 Have a great week in your own ‘paradise’! 

Mahalo,

Dana 

 

Stress Release Tip

Look at your schedule this past month. When was the last time you spent time outdoors, just soaking it up and being still? Schedule a time this week to treat yourself to a drink of the outdoors — just you and the earth. Be still. Breathe. Reunite your mind and body with the breath of life.

Mindful Moment

Go outside, barefoot. Dig your heels into the sand, the grass, the dirt, even cement if that’s all you have. Curl your toes and feel the earth beneath you. Take several cleansing breaths. Let the fresh air awaken your senses. Even if you live in the thick confines of a city, go outside and find a small patch of grass or walk through a flower shop. Immerse yourself this week in nature and soak it up as much as you can. Let it infuse life into your cells, and into your soul again.

Posts-March 2014

Do you dread Mondays?

Happy Tuesday!  Your case of “the Mondays” may hold some nugget of knowledge, a gem of wisdom.

At my old job, I used to hate going back to work after a few days off.  I’d get up Monday mornings and trudge along, reluctant and recalcitrant.  This went on for years.  While at work, I was difficult to be around – all mumbly and grumbly, so everyone knew just how unhappy I was. I made it a point to shower others with my storm cloud.

At first, I blamed everyone and everything else for my grumpypants. Gradually though, I began to see that I was always putting happiness just outside of my reach. “When I get a new job, then I’ll be happy.” “When traffic is flowing, then I’ll be happy.” “When the weekend is here, I’ll smile again.” “Someday….I’ll be happy!”

But happiness attached to some outside event is only fleeting. As the event passes, so does the happiness associated with it. 

Oftentimes we don’t know we’re even thinking this way. We don’t know that the dread that we feel is conditioned by the thoughts we’re having about the future, conditioned by the past. We label the experience upcoming (“another day at the office”), as dreadful, and then proceed accordingly. 

Are you aware of the thoughts that are bringing you down? Can you see the point when your blue skies turn grey?

The most interesting thing is that our natural resting state is one of peace, joy, stillness, happiness. When our mind gets wrapped in judgment and confusion, it kicks up the clouds that shade the light.

“Let the Light Shine” Exercise
This week, if you feel the creeping feeling like something just ain’t right, try this quick exercise, designed to draw out the hidden wisdom:  

Take a moment to take a few breaths, allow your body to relax, and then bring a smile to your face. Where is this feeling coming from? Jot down the first three reasons that pop up.

Looking at the reasons, which of these can you take action on? Which do you have control over now? If you can take action, write down one thing that you can do today to move closer to the light you’d like to see.  If you have no control over the reason for the feeling, write down one thing that you can do to surrender, let go, and relax more fully into the way things are.

In each moment, we can either surrender and accept things as they are, or we can take action. In both cases, we make room for the light to shine again.

How will you let your light shine today?

 

Stress Release Tip

Do something that makes your heart sing.  What’s something that you love to do, that you can TODAY? Find that little something that you forgot — slowly sipping tea or coffee instead of rushing to the next destination. Lingering with your favorite song instead of shutting the car off right away. Sing at the top of your lungs with the radio…no one’s watching! Anytime you bring a feeling of unbridled and unregulated joy to your heart and spirit, you are free.

Mindful Moment

Leave some space in your day today. Schedule it. Block out at least 15 minutes for you to do slow down, rest, nap, chill out, journal – whatever it is, make it your time. Be mindful of what it feels like to be in this space of “not-doing.” See if you can linger here just a bit longer…  And notice if you feel the urge to rush off to the next thing on your agenda. Just notice. When your time is up, deliberately move to the next thing in your day, bringing this spaciousness along for the ride.

Stress is Optional Kick the Habit