3 Things To Do To Build A Life Full of Joy

For those of us in the US, July brings up a sense of freedom. Freedom from schedules, freedom from the dark days of winter, the cold, each other, oppression, tyranny, working to find freedom from the heat, the sun, the laziness that takes over during the summer months. We symbolize July as a month of freedom. Yet as Shawn Mullins sings in The Gulf of Mexico, “freedom’s just a metaphor when you’ve got now where to go” and many of us are just giving lip service to the idea of freedom, we don’t feel free at all. 

Many of us feel stuck in our lives. We are locked into work schedules that make us feel like we are on a marry-go-round we can’t get off, locked into debt so we have to stay on the wheel, in relationships we find un-inspiring to say the least. We claim to be free, but we aren’t. We are stuck in patterns that get us to the same spot everyday and we hate it, and we are scared to make the jump to what we really want. 

Most of us have been taught we must be “this” or “that”, we must live up to the expectations set for us, stuck under someone else’s rule. We must continue to produce in our society to be worthy, which keeps us stuck feeling unworthy. Many of us learned that we must have all the same things as the people around us have, which keeps us feeling less than. We learned that we should have those things even if we can’t afford them, which keeps us locked in work we hate. We learned that if we don’t stay on the track created for us we have failed and let others down. Ugh, it feels heavy just to write all that. Are you ready to change these patterns and really find freedom?

First, you’ve got to look inside. By slowing down and really listening to your own voice you find the way out. As you listen, take note of what feels exciting for you, where do you lose time doing tasks and it’s exhilarating, where do you finish an intense project and feel fulfilled, not drained and overwhelmed? What brings excitement to your life? These are all hints of your calling and the unique gifts you have to give the world. 


Here’s one of the ways I find freedom – finding easy ways to eat healthy and not do the work myself 
Delicious, Stress-Free Paleo Meals


Second, look for ways to incorporate the above excitement into everyday life. Freedom isn’t always about doing whatever you feel like in the moment, but it is about doing what you love and what brings you joy. As you balance your daily life between things you want to do and things that help you live that life (like work, I love electricity and flushing toilets, I want to earn enough money to pay for those things, even if I don’t always like the work) you find joy in daily living. The Budda said “Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good”. This tells us focusing on the small things, little by little, you fill yourself up. Little by little we build a life full of joy. It’s by doing the small things everyday that you fill your internal well of happiness. 

Third, you must notice. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent with people telling them to notice the small joy that surrounds them everyday. Somedays people fight me on this one – hard. They can’t seem to find even the smallest glimmer of good in their daily life, but you know what, they always figure something out. Things that bring drops of joy into your life are little, they are things like the way the breeze feels on your skin, the way the sun glints through the tree leaves as they dance, the way the water sounds as it tumbles into the pot. The feeling of knowing you did a good job or having something to eat. Joy comes in small drops and it comes from within.

The way to find joy is to notice. Most of us are so distracted everyday we miss all those small important and mundane moments. We have to notice and drink them in. This is the only way they’ll pile up and life will have the balance and focus we crave. As we find these small items, the profound finds us. 

So many of us are busy looking forward to or searching for the profound event that we miss filling up our inner well, and then feel that life is boring, uninspiring, or un-motivating. We feel that pull of doubt saying “what’s life worth living for anyway”? Before we know it our life is the burden of the metaphor – “freedom isn’t free when you’ve got no place to go”.

Today, break free for real. Get out of your pattern and start to notice all the joy that surrounds you. Delight in the mundane and everyday occurrences that are pretty profound in themselves – like the way my stove lights and my toilet flushes, wondering what the dog is really smelling, hearing the pine trees talking to you, and watching the pattern of people and traffic on a busy street corner. Today take the challenge to pay attention to your life before it passes you by – today find your joy. 

And if you are struggling to feel like your life is going in the direction you want to go, schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me. Together we can see about setting you free. Request Appointment

 

Photo Credits: Top photo: Beautiful in Jesus & Mid article photo: Real Buddha Quotes

11 Ways to Increase Your Joy This Summer

I often get asked how to create more joy. People come into my office and ask “how can I be more happy”. The answer isn’t in big changes. The answer lies in your perception of everyday.

When you make small conscious choices to notice more of what’s around you joy begins to follow. When you make a conscious choice to look for good things – we can all find the crap – it’s those of us who find the beauty that surrounds it who find where joy lives. Deep within us.

Finding joy can be difficult to do, especially if you’ve been taught to find the negative. Here are 11 actions you can use to bring more joy into your life starting right now.

  1. Rest more – we hear this all the time, and the reality is rest helps us balance our lives, our bodies, and our emotions. By making sure you are getting enough rest – not just sleep but rest – throughout your day, you are more likely to enjoy your days more.
  2. Take it slow – along with more rest comes taking it easy. This isn’t about doing less, but being more deliberate in what you do chose to do. Rather than rushing from item to item on your to do list, build in buffer time. Personally I struggle with transitions and “wasting time” if I arrive somewhere early. However, in reality the 10 minutes I think I’m “wasting” help make sure I go to the bathroom, find a parking place, and arrive in a relaxed mood for my next project etc making the quality of my life much better. By slowing down a bit I notice more and am more engaged. In the end it doesn’t get wasted after all. Thanks – Roxann – still hard for me, but great advice!
  3. Laugh – hard, really hard. Laughing is good for our physical system and good for our soul. Find something every day that makes you laugh. Maybe it’s a movie, a song, a child playing joyfully, a friend who tells funny jokes. Doesn’t matter where you find your inspiration as long as you can laugh deeply and fully – big belly laughs. Don’t have anything to laugh at? Here’s a trick … just start laughing. The physical sensations and act of beginning will eventually keep it going.
  4. Find Water – this time of year those of us in the northern hemispheres are feeling the heat cranking up. It’s time to find water. Water helps us release and let go, it helps us recognize that all things are fluid and to find strength. If you haven’t seen the strength of water’s steady determination check out this video … just might help you figure out how to accomplish #5 & 8 below:
  5. Watch the moon come up and find the stars – for many of us, the lazier days and later sunsets have us up into the late evenings. Go outside and find the moon. Watch as she rises and the stars come out. We need moon light just like we need sunlight. Enjoy a full moon hike or lay out under the stars while it’s warm and enjoy preparing for sleep in the quiet of the evening.
  6. Smell the “green” – During the summer months when plants are in full swing there is more oxygen kicking around and you can smell it J Humans like oxygen. Take advantage by taking deep breaths and observing the behavior of leaves, the feel of the breeze, and the smell of “green” as I used to call it when I was little. Up here in the Rocky Mountains flatlanders pay for this stuff (in bottled form) on the ski slopes and in their hotel rooms. When the trees and grass is green no need to shell out the extra bucks.
  7. Read – Summertime is a great time to read. Find a good book or two and just lounge while you read. Get into your imagination as you make your way through a story. It is so fun to find good reads and finish them under the sun or in the shade of a great tree made just for leaning against.
  8. Hang with friends – in the season of vacations – the ones we chose, not necessarily the obligated ones we experience in the winter, allow us to pick our adventures and who we want to adventure with. Find some friends, find an adventure, enjoy! Then repeat.
  9. Start your day with mindfulness – by taking some moments to enjoy your morning beverage on the porch (because it’s warmer) you have the option to breathe deeply and experience # 6 above or talk to a passing neighbor (human or animal) enjoying # 8. By starting with mindful observation you participate in #2 and I think your day incorporates more of #1 just because you set it up to start that way.
  10. Sleep in or wake up early – many of us have an altered schedule in the summer. Be it due to school being out, or co-workers and clients on and off vacation, many of us have something slightly different in the summertime. So take advantage. Maybe you want to do # 5 above so you sleep in, maybe you want to wake up with the sun and have a full fun and long day. Whichever your preference today – make it happen.
  11. Did I say rest more? Even if you ignore all the others on this list … make sure you get this one done!

Here’s to a happy and fun summer – Enjoy!

Meditation & Mindful Movement

There is more and more research coming out about meditation on the benefits on mood, emotional regulation, ability to concentrate and focus, as well as, brain development and changes in those who meditate … for the better even as we age.


Looking for a comfortable meditation seat? Try this one. Keep your resolutions this year with YogaAccessories.com!


If your idea of meditation is sitting quietly, legs crossed, eyes closed, with a weird hand position – think again. There are lots of ways to mediate. One popular way is to move. During mindful movement you pay close attention to all the sensations of the body, the way your body moves in space, your breathing, and your muscles. Begin right now. Notice how your body is being held in space. Do you feel places of tension? Ease? Move your arms up, and then return to your starting position. Turn your hands over and back. Walk forward, sit, stand, turn.


As you perform these movements move slowly and pay attention. What does the area around your body feel like? What’s the sensation of the air on your skin? Notice if your body feels like it is pulsing? How far does that pulsing move away from your physical self? Where does your breath go in the body? Can you move it into places you have not paid attention to yet? Places you feel “stuck” or places of tension?

Spend 1-5min noticing these items then return to whatever activity you were doing. Notice how you have changed by taking a short break. How is your concentration, focus, mood? Make a note – mental or physical and plan to repeat maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Just know you are going to continue to practice this mindful movement.

Want to Read More Like This One? Try: Facing Fear With Movem ent,   The Power of Mindfulness, or Body Mindfulness.  And always a fun one: Fuck That Guided Meditation.

Need some guidance? I LOVE this App:Insight Timer

Motivation comes from within – Inspiration feeds motivation, Where will you find your Inspiration today?

 All the time I hear people say “I just need more motivation and then I’ll be able to stick to a workout plan”. It’s not more motivation they need it’s inspiration.

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I cannot motivate anyone to workout, I can’t motivate anyone not to, either. All I can do is act and support in ways that inspire others toward being their best selves. However, even that isn’t enough. People need to find their own sources of inspiration – which could be a picture, a blog, a phone call with a friend, watching another person doing the thing they’d like to do – to maintain and build their motivation.

So today, go find a thing or two that you can use each day as inspiration toward your goals to help you  build and maintain your motivation to complete the mundane steps of daily exercise and healthy eating.  Then get ready to use them everyday and watch your progress grow!

Want more inspiration? Check out the tags below and find the topics that inspire you! Or try: Sticking with your workouts when they get boring and mundane  or The motivation game 

 

7 Sentences for Successful Goal Setting

As with all things … things will be changing soon. Take some time to consider these questions. Although your answers are really just for you, it does help when you actively write things down.

When you write you take an abstract thought and make it concrete on the paper. It’s easier to stick with concrete ideas as you continue to change your behaviors. When you consider what you’ve learned through the last month, where do you see yourself going next? How do you want to continue to work toward and reach your goals? What did you try that didn’t work, that you might want to adjust? What worked great? What surprises did you have?

Here’s 7 sentences to help you notice your accomplishments, create motivation, find your focus, and set your next successful goal. Write a statement to your current self from your future self:

This last year has been_______. I am so grateful I accomplished ______. I am most proud of ______ and thankful to myself for _______. These last 5 years have been ______. I am so thankful to have accomplished_______. I am most proud of ______ and grateful to myself for _________. I am so happy I am planning to accomplish _______ next.

Answer them as honestly as you can. Answer as if you really have reached your goals, are the person you hope to become, and as though you’re ready to set your next goal for your future. Do not concern yourself with the how you are going to get these items done or financial burdens of completing them right now.


Tools that can help you stay on focused: 

Are you looking for a fitness community? Someone who can provide a workout and motivation for you? Check out the Top 10 Instagram Accounts for the Ultimate Fitspiration on Positive Health & Wellness’s Blog.

Do you need a fitness/health tracker to help you measure your progress and stay focused?

Need focus to Live with Intent? Try an online class to help you focus yourself and make your goals happen.


 

As you continue to focus on your goals you will find the opportunities you need to make them happen. Remember, what you put your attention to is what you will find. Want something different in your life … You better be focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want. Need some motivation? Check out this video and let the words sink in … you can do what you put your mind to.

I have done these exercises for years. I like to distill my thoughts into bullet points I file away. Every so often I take them out and am amazed at how much I accomplished on the list, yet had forgotten I’d put on the list in the first place. Now it’s your turn – see what you can make happen next!

Photo Image Credit: Success Magazine – 18 Motivational Quotes About Successful Goal Setting | SUCCESS

What Does Clean Living Mean to You? 

This was a contest I entered on Instagram. 

I thought it posed an interesting question that lead to simple or complex answers. It made me think beyond the New Year’s detox diets, breaking up with sugar rules, and weight loss desires. 

My answer included all aspects of my life, my food & beverages, my exercise habits – do I train too hard? Too light?  Not enough? Too much? The things I let into my awareness  – news, music, people, TV, photos, etc, and the concept of who I want to be. All these role together to create my concept of clean living. 

Check out my response below & visit the two health coaches who sponsored the program on Instagram – Sarah Teddy Klein @wholehealthlab and Karen Wojciechowski @realenergyfood #wholecleanliving

Here was my response… 


Clean living is about burning away all the choices that clog you up. Living clean is about staying grounded enough to be open to the possibilities that cross your path. 

One cannot do that without feeling well. For me to feel well and remain open I must be vigilant about my daily movement, my food, my spaces, and my social times. 

I must honor myself in each choice doing just what is needed to move me in the direction I want to go. Doing too much will clog me up, doing too little will clog the path. 

To remain clean I must focus on the pleasure of treating my mind, my body, my heart, and my soul well. It starts simply with movement and is followed by what I allow in. Will this food item, news report, musical song, person help or hinder me? 

Then I must choose wisely, burn away all that is no longer serving me, let go of all I no longer need, and live fully into the moment right in front of me. That is clean living. 

Can You Accept Yourself?

Can you truly accept yourself? Fully accept yourself? Just as you, today, in this moment, whatever it brings? So many of us answer a big fat Loud NO. We have all sorts of reasons we aren’t good enough and plenty of ways we could be acceptable … If we’d just ____________ (Get it together). Today lets focus on what we are doing well. 

In what area of your life are you proud of yourself? Really proud of yourself, not in service of your children, parents, employer, or anyone else. Where are you really proud of you, your actions, behaviors, commitment, follow though, etc.
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Why do you love this part of you? What’s so good about it?
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How does it make you great?
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What is a small change you can make right now, today to be a little better at this? Keep in mind sustainable change in lifestyle habits happens in small (think 10%) increments. Must be realistic within your time frame, make it specific, and measurable. This is the SMART goal principle developed by George Doran (1981). You are better off stating “I’ll eat 2 more servings of vegetables today. One at breakfast and one at dinner” rather than “I will eat more healthy today”.
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Next what are you going to do to make this change happen? Here we are looking for a change in behavior. What will you do differently?
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How was that exercise? Easy? Difficult? Were you able to find something you love about yourself? If not, I wonder why not. I may not know you and yet, I do know if you found nothing to be proud of it’s bullshit and old learning. I have seen the under belly of human experience and still find treasures there. It doesn’t have to a huge thing. We are looking for the big AND the small things. For example I was really proud of the way I used a new skill of asking questions this morning while I was talking to my husband. This mattered to me because it helped me be more effective in my communication and if I can use this skill in one more conversation today (2) and add 10% more tomorrow (2.2 conversations) soon I will be having effective communication in more than half my conversations, and then most of them before you know it. With each interaction I will feel a little more mastery (the key to building self-esteem) and pride. As I build those I begin to approve of myself more and more, leading to more and more positive change in my life. So I’ll ask you again …
What’s one thing about you, you can be proud of?
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Follow the above prompts now that you’ve found your thing. If you are still stuck … Maybe that one thing to be proud of is that you don’t give up on this exercise. ?
Know that getting stuck isn’t the problem. We all get stuck. It’s staying stuck that is. The way out of the muck is to shift your thinking. It isn’t easy if you’ve been caught In a negative rut, to turn toward the positive, drop your judgment of yourself and others, and stop listening to the negative vibes of others. Commit to yourself and work on remaining in a positive frame of thought for 10% more of your day today.
If some of these words are too strong for you right now change them to make sense for you. I challenge you to consider why not use these words?
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Does whatever holds you back from using them need to be released?
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Is it an old belief or message you can drop?
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What would happen if you did embrace words like love, great, good enough for yourself as descriptors?
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What to do with my emotions????!!!!!

What the fuck are my emotions good for anyway?!?! If this statement resonated with you, read on … If it doesn’t read on, too.

In my line of work I meet so many people who were never taught the answer to this question. They were brought up thinking that emotions were something to be tamed, controlled, eradicated.
The idea that emotions are not intelligence is lie. Emotions are a form of intelligence. They are your first intelligence system. The one that informs the meaning making system (i.e. Thought). You can tap this larger intelligence by embracing your emotions and learning how to effectively use and express them.

The ability to effectively use and express emotions is known as self-regulation. Self-regulation is important. It helps us get through our daily routine, create intimate relationships, parent effectively, and manifest the life we want, rather than the one we were handed.

The point is not to get rid of your emotions, but to use them to your advantage. If you are asking how the heck do I do that, read on.
First you must get good at tagging your own emotional experiences. My sadness and joy will look different than yours. Know what yours feel like by following the physical sensations it brings … slow down here take time studying your own experience … many emotions have similar sensations. For example anxiety/fear have a similar somatic (body) presentation as excitement. The way to know the difference is to pay attention to what triggers it, the situation, and circumstances taking place. These become big clues to what you are really feeling (note: don’t get caught by what others tell you you are feeling. Only you will know). Begin this practice by spending time each day noticing what you are feeling, thinking, and sensing. As you take this moment internally, notice what is going on around you externally. Aim for practicing 3-5 times per day. The point of the practice is to notice, not to change anything.
Now that you have a better understanding of what you are feeling emotionally, begin to pay attention to what triggered this emotion for you. This circumstance or internal state gives you clues as to how to deal with the emotion. Did you lose something you cared about? This may mean sadness and grieving is needed. Allow yourself to feel sad for the thing you lost. Did someone cross one of your boundaries or did something unjust happen to you? This might mean you are angry and need to set a boundary, say no to something or someone, or take an action to make an injustice right. Is the physical sensation one of openness, warmth, or buoyancy? Maybe you are feeling happy, joyful, or content. Look around, notice what triggers it, and soak it up.
Paying attention to the physical sensations using mindfulness (focusing only on the sensations for a moment) allows you to neurologically wire in new neurons for experiences. In any given moment there are thousands of choices, allowing yourself a deeper understanding of the experiences you want, makes it more likely you will choose the options that support these desires – what you want rather than what you don’t.
If you spend a lot of time noticing your sadness, despair, anger, guilt, shame, etc you are telling your mind to go find more of these. This is where your attention is, therefore what you find more of. I know this isn’t easy. Everyday I work with folks who suffer from depression, anxiety, psychological trauma, physical issues that impact mental health and I know changing thoughts and behaviors is not easy. However in the witnessing of human experience I know things follow attention. When one of my clients begins placing attention on what they want rather than what they don’t, they get better. Remember sustainable change happens in small increments. Begin by placing your attention on one more positive item today then add another tomorrow.
The other thing I know is placing this positive attention on things is not meant to sugarcoat all the shit that happens in life. It doesn’t fix problems, rather it gives you more strength to deal with them as they arise. When you are dealing with things as they arise they don’t pile up and become festering wounds that get infected and impact all areas of your life.
Last thing on emotions for today. They are ALL valid and welcome. All of them. Even the uncomfortable ones. My hate informs me as much as my happy. My guilt helps me grow and my shame tells me where I need to step up, listen to myself, and how to connect to my community, should I want to. My anger sets strong boundaries so I get a stronger sense of self and more depth to the relationships I want to deepen. Can my emotions become toxic? Absolutely.
That’s why it’s so important to deal with them as they arise instead of pushing them away. If I don’t honor my anger and set a boundary my self esteem suffers, soon my shame builds, and then I might get stuck believing it will never get better … aka despair. Getting stuck in despair can lead to depression and now I’m stuck in ruminating thoughts about how horrible I am so I don’t get out of bed and my daily activities and relationships suffer. The spiral can be a slippery slope and hard to get out of.
The good news is, the same why I can go down … I can also go up. I spend a moment deepening my knowing of my joy, and because I know it better I have it more often. As a result I find more opportunities to build it, and I find myself in situations with people I enjoy who support me. My self esteem builds because I am doing things I feel confident in and the people around me are accurately reflecting me. This helps build my personal sense of self authentically and congruently (with how I too see myself). Now I’ve got a stronger sense of self, take on new challenges, and begin to engage in life more fully and more inspired.

Body Mindfulness

I’m sure you’ve heard of mindfulness, and I would bet a number of you practice, but what about body mindfulness? Sure, in flexibility training, yoga class, or pilates you notice when you are asked to check in. What about when you run, bike, climb, shoot the ball, or skate? Do you focus your attention on where you are in space, how your body feels, and the sensations you experience? Here’s three steps to creating more body mindfulness.

Mindfulness allows us to focus our attention as a “Witness”. This allows space to observe what is going on around us and within us without attachment to the activity, thought, emotion, etc. From this point we have more access to our internal wisdom and therefore are better able to effectively meet the challenges in the given moment.

First, begin by setting an alarm on your phone, watch, oven timer, computer, or another way you can remember to do a “moment to pause”. Set it to random times throughout the day. This way you are training your mind to reflect despite your activity levels.

Next, pause when you hear your alarm. Notice how much you feel connected to your body. Stop whatever you are doing, take a deep breath and feel it all the way to your feet. Notice your feet on the support they are touching, then move to the legs – notice the front vs the back. Then your torso in space. Is is tilted to one side, twisted? Then pay attention to your arms, your hands, your shoulders. How do they feel? Finally, notice your neck, your head, your face. It may help you to close your eyes or choose a gazing point. Soften your gaze so you aren’t distracted by visual stimuli.

When you have finished the above it may be helpful to notice how in your body now. Is it different? How so?

Then return to your task and your day. Next bell check again. Notice any differences throughout the day. Over time this exercise allows you to gain more wisdom about your personal process, adds space in your day, and helps refocus your attention. See how you feel after a few weeks.

Planning for Fitness Success

This week’s idea for healthy living = PLANNING

It’s Fall, back to school, and illness season. So planning will be key. If you haven’t paid things forward it will matter that you determine your strategy to get through the season and how to maintain workouts if you get ill. How will you adjust your schedule for busy days or days/weeks you feel like crap. Falling completely off the wagon doesn’t seem to be the best option because most have trouble getting back on – Damn horse ran fast after I fell off – SO … here are some tips for planning balance in your life.

1)      Determine what you can do – maybe you usually workout an hour but the first week of school or during a big project it might be 30min a day or 2 15min segments. Maybe find activities that you can include for calorie burn like parking and walking or picking events with friends that include activities to participate in.

2)      Pay attention to food – if you aren’t working out as much or hard you may need to cut back on calories – often easier when sick than during a busy time. So just notice and maybe choose the salad and lean chicken, smaller portions, or eating less snacks throughout the day – don’t go too long between meals or you’ll tank your blood surgar.

3)      Know this is how healthy living works – life happens, we get sick, go on vacation, have a whole town party for a week where we dress up. Give yourself a break and keep postive. This is the stuff that makes life worth living and if you can strike the balance between healthy eating, working-out, and living you are doing it. Your horse won’t take off with your wagon – you’ll have no trouble living the fitness lifesytle if you have put some effort into planning for life.