You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them, or as NIKE says “Just do it”! But what if it seems like there is some unseen or unknown force just simply stopping you? You know it’s there but you can’t see it or put your finger on it. It’s a perceived barrier or a wall that you believe is unbreakable.
These barriers all have to do with our thoughts and emotions. Have you ever heard the quote:
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford.
This relates to positive thinking. Pay attention to negative thoughts or what you vocalize such as:
It’s too hard
It’ll never happen, etc, etc…
Are these based on reality? How do you know? Try this – take a deep breath by inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply a few times, ground yourself, dig deep, and consider what thoughts are causing the lack of forward movement in your life. Contemplate these thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts:
This WILL happen…
Let’s face it, you really need to break through that wall or step over that barrier. Consider how badly you want to achieve your goals.
As Tony Robbins says “take massive action toward your goals”.
Perhaps you might consider some minor short term pain for long term gain? Take the first step and then repeat. Repeat again. Soon enough you’ll realize that it’s amazing what you will find on the other side.
Remember that a life coach or a trusted family member or friend can help you start, keep on track, and achieve your goals. So let’s get you on your way to:
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It’s the start of a new year and you are pumped to get or keep going on your new years resolutions…right?!? Or, now that we are a few weeks into the year have you found yourself stumbling out of the gate? Do you need a push or a gentle reminder? Do you find yourself doing “busywork” much more than some of your most passionate work, you know…the things that motivate you? We are all human, but that’s the point. We are human beings, not human doings. Sure, you have things that must get done every day but are you consciously making time for the things you really want to do?
As human beings we have the ability to make a conscious choice to embrace life, and live our best life. But why do we get caught up in all of this busywork hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year? It’s because we chug along in life doing what we feel we need to do, but we don’t take enough moments to clarify what it is that really matters to us. We just keep doing what we’re doing because others have told us that this is what we should do in life. Have you taken the time to figure out yet what YOUR bestlife looks like?
Living your bestlife may include many different areas including:
So how are you going to live your bestlife? Start with this: picture yourself doing what you love to do whether it’s serving others, taking a walk in nature, slowing down at times
to appreciate the little things in life, or taking a course in something that you love. How does it feel? Pretty good hey? So how do you get to this place? TAKE ACTION! Sure, easier said than done. So how do we take action?
Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat.
Research and spend time with who/what you love.
Take a course or read about something that’s interesting to you.
Say no to busywork sometimes.
Strike a healthy balance between work and play.
Make better choices (i.e. stop and ask yourself if this current decision is beneficial for yourself, or serves others).
One more important thing. Put aside all of the things everyone told you about who you are and what you should do. Now take some time to figure out who you really are and what you love to do (your life purpose). Once again I’ll repeat this…then TAKE ACTION! Always remember that this is all on you, and you can do it. Make it happen.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
Is your mind caught up in negative thought patterns?
Life satisfaction begins with a positive mindset.
If you believe you are pathetic, guess what…
If you believe you will fail, you are destined to.
If you believe you are powerful, you are!
If you believe you will succeed, you can!
Mindset is a way of thinking, based on a set of beliefs, that determines one’s behaviour, outlook and mental attitude.
Your mind is a powerful tool, fill it with positive thoughts and your life will start to change positively.
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by CHANGE.
What do you want? What do you truly want your everyday “normal” to be? Really think about it.
Maybe you want to start working out each morning before the kids wake up, and feel energized.
Or you have a weight loss plan you are considering;
How about an education or career plan that you have been thinking about? Put it into action!
Are you thinking you would like to travel more?
Or do you and your partner want to spend more quality time together?
It is not an unreachable dream… a future plan. Part of creating your “normal” for today is picturing it as a natural part of your everyday life now. Visualize it, and master the art of living it now. Be the energy you want to attract. Begin to live it, create your “normal”, your new reality.
Right now some of you are saying:
“Ya but, my life has been so hard.”
“My circumstances don’t allow for the changes I want to make.”
“You don’t know what I’ve been through.”
I, like you, have endured some struggles.
In the past 5 years, I have been widowed in my late 30’s, after 13 years of marriage (suicide as a result of PTSD); lost my dad to cancer; battled for my own life twice with two ruptured ectopics, and suffered the loss of those pregnancies; coped with the effects of our adopted daughter’s mental illness and the associated loss; and am currently dealing with the neurological illness that my thriving 14 year old has suddenly developed and is now affecting her athletic and academic performance; I have had to change careers; and more… My struggles will not be the same as yours, and can’t be compared. But we all have struggles. It is how we choose to let them affect us.
Make the choice to change your perspective and embrace today with positivity, despite the challenges and stumbling blocks, and always be grateful for the little things (a sunset, a puppy licking you, a baby trying to walk, a horse running through a field, the majestic mountains in the distance, a cup of coffee, a smile from a stranger…).
My life would not be as happy, fulfilled and wonderful as it is without gratitude and a shift to a positive mindset.
A positive mindset, gratitude, alwaysremember that everyonehas struggles, and it is how they choose to deal with them, that can create positive change; this is how I have achieved my goals, and chosen to live the life I am living.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
-George Bernard Shaw
What choices do you need to make to create this “normal”?
What actions do you need to take?
Define your goal(s)
Change your beliefs – from negative thought patterns to positive thought patterns; “I am worthy of this”; “I am deserving”; “there is time”; etc
Think positive thoughts – “I can do this!”
Identify fears and potential obstacles – “I will not succeed”; “I have failed in the past”; “I will not have the support of others”; “I do not believe in myself”; “I cannot stick with anything”; etc
Practice gratitude – be grateful for what you do have, and each step that you do accomplish toward achieving your goal and shifting your mindset
To achieve goals and live the life you want to live, you don’t need superhuman strength, or the ability to time travel or wall crawl like Spiderman. All you need is tochange your mind. Sounds pretty simple really, doesn’t it?
Are you kind? Do you practice kindness? If not, how do you do it? Let’s explore…
Let’s start with a basic definition: Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Does that sound like something you would like to incorporate into your daily life? Wouldn’t that make this world a better place to live? If you’re on board, then read on…
In a recent blog on Aligning Your Values and Goals I mention that kindness is an important value that not everyone has (but I certainly wish it was widespread). In some cultures you may generally notice that kindness is more common than in others.
However, did you know that there is a World Kindness Day celebrated every year on November 13? A simple Google search will pull up several organizations that are resourceful for day-to-day kindness information. One example is the Random Acts of Kindness organization which states on its website:
Imagine a world.
Where people look out for each other.
Where we all pay it forward.
Where success is measured in selfless acts.
Where kindness is the philosophy of life.
Now what about happiness? Does kindness actually lead to happiness? Yes, studies have shown that practicing kindness by giving to others (rather than receiving) can lead to more happiness.
What’s even more exciting is that this can lead to a virtuous cycle which may increase our lasting happiness. According to one study completed by Harvard and University of British Columbia researchers and published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, two happiness findings were apparent according to the authors:
People in general felt happier when they recalled a time they bought something for someone else. People felt even happier than when they remembered buying something for themselves.
The happier people felt about their past generosity, generally the more likely they were in the present to choose to spend on others instead of themselves.
So then how do we get to a point where we are practicing more kindness, especially if we feel like we need more of it within ourselves in order to be kinder to others? Kind behavior tends to come to us more naturally when we’re moving towards compassion and connection with others.
Intentionally practicing kindness in our everyday lives, even on days when we’re not in a particularly generous mood, can go a long way toward turning kindness into a habit. That’s largely because of the way kindness breeds happiness: The good feelings serve to reinforce our kind acts and make us more likely to want to perform them in the future.
To state this another way – making concerted effort to perform more kind and generous acts in the short term tends to increase the amount of kindness we perform over the long term. Wow, pretty simple hey?
As Tim McGraw’s song Humble and Kind says:
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin
Don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind.
Maximizing the positive effects of generosity can help with kindness as well. One strategy is to take the initiative to learn about the impact of your generosity, which can elicit contagious feelings of joy. For example, see this video of a bone marrow donor meeting the little girl whose life he saved.
So get out there and practice kindness. Let’s all chip in individually to help make this world a better place.
Goals, behaviours, values. Have you ever wondered how to link these things together so that what you say and what you do are in alignment?
If these things are out of alignment it’s likely obvious to you (or maybe not). As discussed in one of our recent blogs, goals and values tie in to Resilience. When our behaviour towards our goals aligns with our values, then bouncing back from life’s setbacks feels easier and more natural for us.
Let’s see how all of these things important concepts are linked….
Values are like a built-in GPS that guides us in the direction of what truly matters. Values help guide daily actions and decisions. It’s a chosen life path with regard to relationships, personal growth, leisure, etc. For example, a value could be a love for travelling, or being a good mother or father.
A value is something that is meaningful to you, regardless of what’s meaningful to friends and family. It’s individual; however, many of our values tend to align with social values. One example of this alignment is kindness. One of your guiding values may be kindness, but we all know that not everyone finds kindness as one of their guiding values. That’s unfortunate (more on the importance of kindness in a future blog…stay tuned!).
So what if it feels like things are getting in the way of living your values? You’ll need to identify and overcome those things that get in the way. This is an important step, otherwise it may feel like there is constant internal conflict.
Even minor adjustments in behaviors can help steer us towards our overarching values. For example, if one of your values relates to health and wellness yet you continue to eat badly and get little if any exercise, then an internal conflict will likely surface. A minor adjustment will be required (i.e. a little more sleep or exercise).
Values are your guiding direction, whereas goals are the achievements you set along the way towards the values. For example, if one of your values relates to travel, you could make a goal to go to Australia or the Bahamas – sounds good to me! One behaviour towards this goal may relate to how you spend money. Is it being spent in pursuit of the goal or is it being spent frivolously?
Another example is having a value related to life-long learning. A goal may be to finish a course, or pursue a certificate or degree. Ultimately, goals are informed by our values.
Stress is an important piece that weighs in on living our values. Part of being and living consistent with ones values is to clarify your values, be firmly aware of what they are, know which behaviors enable you to live consistent with these values, and then staying committed to them – despite experiencing stress and unwanted thoughts or experiences. These are the things that will take us off-course or out of alignment and cause us to live inconsistent with our values. For more info on this check out our blog on Changing Your Reaction to Stressful Thoughts.
It’s important to perform periodic check-ins to ensure our behaviours are consistent with our goals and values. If these are out of alignment then it’s time to sit back and re-think and re-adjust. Then commit to trying again. If you need to re-align again that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Keep at it until your goals and behaviours align again with your values.
Australian psychologist Russ Harris said this about commitment:
Commitment isn’t about being perfect, always following through, or never going astray. Commitment means that when you inevitably stumble or get off track, you pick yourself up, find your bearings, and carry on in the most meaningful direction possible.
Living a life where your goals, behaviours, and values are in alignment is an important step to living your bestlife!
If you lost everything tomorrow would you be able to bounce back? Do you have the skills or talent, the strength or determination to turn failure into success? In spite of obstacles and setbacks, are you willing to keep going…to keep doing…to not give up? All of this relates to resilience.
Let’s start with this example – why is it that a child who grows up in an extremely adverse circumstance may end up doing well in life, whereas a child who grows up in a well-to-do family may end up doing so poorly in life?
It comes down to the fact that there are two basic elements to resilience – surviving and thriving in life. So what does this mean exactly? Another way to consider resilience is that it’s the ability to survive, or the ability to bounce back in life from tough situations. And then, thriving is about the ability to do what matters most in life, and optimizing well-being.
Fall seven times, stand up eight – Japanese Proverb
So where does resilience come from? Is it genetic? Well, here’s some great news – resilience can be acquired! Anne Masten from the University of Minnesota is one of the foremost experts in resilience and her research has shown that resilience can actually be acquired. Acquiring resilience happens by having a general awareness of resilience, engaging in intentional practices, being open to learning, and applying and integrating good lifestyle habits and routines.
Here are six ways you can practice resilience and in essence get the most out of life…
Practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness includes actions such as meditation, mindful breathing, and bringing your awareness to the present moment. These things can help you achieve mental clarity and lower life stressors. One study on the link between mindfulness and resilience in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences found that “Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down.” Pausing and observing the mind may help us get un-stuck in our story (thoughts) and as a result empower us to move forward.
Ensuring your goals are in line with your overall values (more on this important concept in a future blog…stay tuned!).
Managing negative emotions. Negative emotions narrow attention and behaviour. While emotions are generally a positive thing (some anxiety, anger, happiness is good); emotions can become overly negative when they start to impair – panic, violence, and mania for example. This is where rational and logical thinking get tossed out the window.
Cultivating positive emotions. This is all about paying attention to positive emotions such as joy, serenity, hope, love, etc. Why is this important? First of all, this is essential to building resilience. Also, cultivating positive emotions can help to undo the after-effects of negative emotions. Positive emotions tend to broaden attention and behaviour. Because paying more attention to positive emotions helps you to bounce back from adversity, helps you cope better with stressful situations, and generally creates a more satisfying life. Choosing to pay attention to the positive relates to searching for the silver lining in things, and choosing to see the positive in others. Practicing gratitude is a part of cultivating positive emotions as well. For more information on gratitude, see one of our several gratitude posts.
Meaningful relationships. This includes social connectedness, social support, mentorship, doing good for others, and including positive role models in your life. Regarding mentorship, the relationship includes the mentor – which is someone who can provide knowledge and wisdom on various things, and the mentee which is someone who is seeking to grow.
Therapeutic lifestyle choices (TLC’s). TLC’s combine to optimize physical and mental well-being. What are the three biggest TLC’s?…exercise, nutrition, and sleep. Yes, that’s it. Getting some adequate exercise, paying attention to what you eat (you are what you eat), and for adults – getting approximately 7-9 hours of sleep every night. When it comes to nutrition, I’m not suggesting that you never eat ice cream or pizza again. Moderation is key. Other TLC’s include getting out in nature (or anything else that calms the mind), and scheduling time for relaxation (e.g. deep breathing, listening to music, gardening, etc).
The more difficulties and obstacles you face and overcome or conquer, the more resiliency you will naturally develop. Generally, resilient people are able to welcome change and difficulty as an opportunity for self-reflection, learning, and growing.
So go ahead and practice the six aspects above. See if you can work your way to bouncing back from life setbacks or adversity to RESILIENCE! Good luck and let us know how it goes!
If I said I found the secret to a happier and more fulfilling life, and it is an effortless habit, that takes only minutes a day…
Would you be interested in knowing what it is?
Lift your mood
Help you focus your time and energy on the things in your life that you really want to “live with intention“
Not allow you to take things for granted
Lift your spirits; experience joy, even in more difficult times
Have you guessed yet? (here are a few more hints…)
Focus on what is already here, what already surrounds you
Focus on what you can be grateful for in your life
Focus on GRATITUDE EVERYDAY, throughout the day!
That’s right… it is GRATITUDE!
Gratitude fosters happiness, and doesn’t everyone strive for happiness?
To cultivate both gratitude and happiness:
Pause/Breathe: simply pause throughout your day, a brief pause, and ask yourself the question – What or who can I be grateful for today, in my life?
Enjoy the View: look around you throughout your day, and appreciate and acknowledge your surroundings, be grateful for them (the beautiful sunset, the laughing children, the cute puppy, the majestic mountains)
Be Insightful: improve your self-esteem and self-confidence by being appreciative of yourself. Make a habit of identifying things you can be grateful for about yourself each day (you helped someone out, you made a good decision, you met a goal, your sense of humour was spot on today)
The Little Things: look for the small daily things you can appreciate, the things you may take for granted (your lunch, your dog welcoming you home each day, your car getting you to work each morning, the pen that allows you to write your thoughts/lists)
Timing is Everything: You will learn to recognize and acknowledge gratitude all the time, before you know it! But until then, it helps to set aside 1 minute in the morning each day or 1-2 minutes in the evening, before bed, and use a journal or Gratitude Box
Yell It From the Rooftops: You can’t keep all of this gratitude bottled up inside! You need to express it! You are grateful for all that surrounds you and you are happier, so let others know you are grateful for having them in your life – make them happy as well!
So there you have it! The secret to a happier and more fulfilling life:
Happiness isn’t about finding something new, it is about focusing on what is already here, and appreciating it, being thankful for it.
Gratitude turns what you already have into enough.
You can always choose to be grateful, which in turn, means you can always choose to be happy. Think about it…
With overwhelming gratitude for my multitude of simple life blessings, and in happiness,
Attitude is contagious, is yours worth catching? Consider this – your attitude towards anything can work with you towards your goals and dreams, and can lead you to accomplish things you didn’t think were possible. OR conversely, your attitude can work against you and limit your potential, which keeps you in a spiral of negative attitude.
It’s also contagious in that your attitude affects others – whether it’s family, friends, or co-workers. If your positive attitude today makes one person smile then isn’t it worth it? I think so. Remember that you may only be one person to the world, but to one person you may be the world.
So which one do you choose? Yes, it is a choice! If you want to live your best life, it’s an easy choice. Choose a positive attitude.
Stress. One little word that seems to be on many people’s minds these days. If you’re finding stress entering into your day-to-day life, I would like to offer some suggestions on how to alleviate this state of mind. Here’s one simple way. Wayne Dyer says:
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
So what does this mean, exactly? Consider for a moment that an outside event can invoke completely different thoughts for two different people. Person #1 may think – wow, that’s so cool!, or I’m good with that. Meanwhile the exact same event may cause person #2 to melt down or say I am so not good with that. What’s the difference? It’s the immediate unconscious thoughts due to years of conditioning. That’s all.
Consider how you might change your own thoughts and responses to outside things or people. It’s really not important to change people or things (good luck with that anyways), it’s more important to consider your own reaction to the seemingly unchangeable. So just let it go, and change the way you view the thing that is seemingly creating stress for you. Of course that sounds easy but it can be difficult to take either of these actions (changing your thoughts or letting go).
Part of alleviating stress in your life relates to letting go of things you cannot control or change. It’s an inner choice:
– you can choose to stay in an out-of-control spiral where external stressors like people or things typically don’t change; or
– you can remove yourself from the stressor by thinking differently about it; whether it’s for a moment or longer term. So again you basically have two options:
1. Stay the course and continue to feel the stress; or
2. Change your inner thoughts and reaction to the stress event. Then feel the weight lifted off your shoulders (in other words, stress begone!).
Which do you choose? I prefer the one that lessens my stress.
Emotions. Everyone who wants a piece of inner peace say “I”. We discussed thoughts earlier, but consider that your thoughts create your emotions (because without a thought there would be no emotion – where do you think emotion comes from?). It’s true that emotions can be beneficial in some ways and for some things. They’re part of our system of sensing and responding to the world. But try not to let emotions completely control you. They will chew you up and spit you out if you let them run rampant. So please, make a good choice. Never allow another person or event to control your thoughts and emotions.
Again, this sounds simple on paper, and it may be easier said than done. How do you change your thoughts and resulting reactions. Better yet, how do you sustain this change into a learned behaviour? This is where “leverage” may come in handy. Tony Robbins says “Leverage is uncovering what’s most important to a person to help them make the commitment to making a change. To ensure that change is lasting, the commitment has to be overwhelming. It has to overcome the forces of inertia that hold our old behaviours and beliefs in place.”
He goes on to say that “to access leverage, you must…associate massive PAIN to not changing NOW, and massive PLEASURE to changing immediately. The motivation is based on both pain AND pleasure. Pain is short-term motivation, but you need the pleasure side for long-term motivation.”
To sum up, consider how a better life choice decision for alleviating stress, like changing your thoughts or emotional reaction to external events, could help you change your life for the better.
Continue to practice these strategies and you’ll be on your way to living your best life!
It’s here! That’s right, now that the International Day of Happiness is upon us, what better way to celebrate than by checking out the Day of Happiness website. Also, let’s add a few more actions to increase your general happiness! Remember in Part I, I discussed practicing Pro-Social Qualities and Mindfulness as ways of increasing happiness. Then in Part II, I discussed taking actions like Flow and Awe as methods we can use to tap into more happiness.
So let’s get right to it, here are two further researched happiness actions you can try…
5. Laughter. When is the last time you laughed? When is the laugh time you had a really good belly laugh? If it’s been a while, get on it! There are lots of funny movies, funny people, and other things that can induce laughter – like remembering funny times in the past, or surrounding yourself with people who like to laugh and find the humour in everyday life. So, try not to be so serious all the time, seriously. A vast amount of research has shown that laughter can contribute to overall health and wellness including increasing your resilience and improving your overall mood.
6. Self-compassion. Kristin Neff, author of Self-Compassion, says that self-compassion is a state where you understand your own suffering and use mindfulness, kindness, and openness to hold it non-judgementally and consider it part of the human condition. In other words, self-compassion is where you would consider grace for the self even despite unfortunate circumstances.Kristin Neff says that self-compassion entails three core components:
She goes on to say that we must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.
Research has shown that people with self-compassion tend have an inner strength of a self that is worthy of respect, and their sense of self-worth tends to be less rattled. They also tend to worry less about social comparison, and feel less need to retaliate for perceived personal slights.
This research suggests that self-compassion provides a sense of calmness. Think of it as a safe place from a perceived hurricane of positive and negative self-judgment. It can shelter you from questions like “Am I as good as they are? Am I good enough?” By practicing kindness, and realizing that all of us have an imperfect human condition; you can be confidently on your way to feel more safe and secure, feeling like you belong, and embracing life fully.
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds and it does take some work to realize and practice self-compassion. It may take baby steps to break old habits. A pause for self-awareness can help to self-identify when we need more compassion for ourselves. Consider how allowing, with an open heart, life to be as it is could help you change your life for the better.
You may be asking “isn’t it selfish to consider the self”? In response to this I would say that allowing self-compassion into your life may, over time, allow you to respond to others and lifes’ challenges in a way that is more open-hearted and loving.
So there you have it. That’s 6 all together. Let’s summarize these happiness actions one more time:
So what are you waiting for? After you reflect on these a bit, start practicing these actions to increase your #happiness. Let’s GO!
Please let me know how this goes for you, or if you have any questions on these Actions. And don’t forget to go to the International Day of Happiness site to join in with other people celebrating this day of happiness!
Benjamin Franklin said:
“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances”.