Would You Rather Be Right or Be Happy?

Do you hold a strong need to be right all or most of the time? Are you judgmental and do you spend a lot of time keeping track of who’s right and who’s wrong? Do you often benefit from allowing others to share their opinions? Is your need to be right enhancing or limiting your life and happiness?

The need to be right is deeply embedded in our culture. Being right affirms and protects the image we want to project to others and ourselves. A personal investment in being right can naturally lead to wanting to impose our way of thinking onto others.

What if there are few – if any – fixed rights and wrongs in the world? We all have our own preferences that have been shaped by our past experiences and what we have been taught but what if there are fewer rights and wrongs than you imagine?

The fact of the matter is that each of us views the world through our own lenses. Convinced that we are right, we often try to force our opinions on others. But trying to control the opinions others is futile and doomed to fail. This becomes very clear when two people are asked to describe the same event and they deliver two very different accounts. How can we declare that we, alone, are right about anything when we don’t see things the same way and everyone has their own mental model of the world?

It may be time to ask yourself: would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Invariably, the compulsion to be right sidetracks our lives and diminishes our happiness and learning. The inflexible thinker lives life on the defensive and often alienates others by showing rigidity and intolerance. On the other hand, you will be more approachable and you can feel more at ease with your life when you relax your need-to-be-right attitude.

Loosen your grip on your need to be right. Extend tolerance to other people. Give up proselytizing and trying to “fix” others. Release a lot of unnecessary anger and frustration by accepting people for who they are rather than whom you want them to be.

Make the choice for happiness by extending tolerance, accepting others, and releasing your need to be right. Be a friend to yourself and others. Enjoy – instead of curse – the wonderful diversity of ideas and opinions that make up our shared human experience.

Expect the Unexpected

How can one expect the unexpected? How can we expect something, by definition, we did not expect? Regardless of semantics, the sentiment of the expression is to be open or prepared for the unexpected. If you’re expecting the unexpected, you’ll be ready for any changes to your plans.

While having plans and goal setting can provide structure and help us reach our objectives, we also need to be flexible and adaptable when our plans don’t unfold in ways that we expect.

When we are convinced that we should be able to control the outcome of events, we set ourselves up for disappointment. What may be unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of failure when the anticipated success doesn’t happen. Any problems may be quickly compounded if we are not prepared to take action on unexpected challenges.

When you are too tied to a specific outcome, you limit your possibilities and options. Allow yourself to be delighted – rather than annoyed – by surprises that happen to what you envision as your perfect plan. Approach these surprises with curiosity, wondering where they lead. Recall a time in your past when a surprise led to a much better outcome than you could have planned or imagined.

Action in response to the unexpected will bring new options and will open possibilities that may have been previously unavailable. Think of your life as a puzzle and each time you take action, you are given a new puzzle piece. Many action steps will give you more puzzle pieces and gradually, your picture will become clearer and more identifiable.

Adjusting to the unexpected can be a challenge but it is easier if you maintain an optimistic attitude, a belief that your experiences are helping you stretch and grow as a person. You might even admit that your imagined future was safe and comfortable and would allow less room for personal growth. Look back on your life at those times when you were challenged in a way that you would not have chosen for yourself. From your vantage point now, would you give up the wisdom you gained, despite the costs to you?

Keep your options open and expect the unexpected. Be especially gentle and kind to yourself when life is not following your blueprint. Congratulate yourself on your efforts and consider your life a great adventure rather than a life measured solely by defined and carefully planned outcomes.

Reduce Your Stress Within Minutes!

How do you relieve your stress when you are feeling overwhelmed? When stress strikes, we usually can’t indulge in a relaxing massage, a venting session with a friend, or a 30-minute workout. Here are a few quick techniques to help you deal with stress quickly and in the moment.

Take a Deep Breath

One of the best – and easiest – stress reduction techniques is to use your breath to create feelings of calm and relaxation. Deep, full breaths can help your mind and muscles to relax by slowing down your heart rate and releasing serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter, into the bloodstream.

Breathing energizes us by oxygenating the cells of our body. Optimal breathing involves not only your lungs but also your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. Deep diaphragmatic breathing fills the lungs with more oxygen than shallow or chest-breathing, raises levels of blood oxygen, and promotes health by improving mental performance, digestion, and fitness. Shallow or chest-breathing, on the other hand, causes a constriction of the chest and lung tissue, decreasing oxygen flow and delivery to your tissues.

When we are stressed, our tendency is to take shallow breaths. To improve your breathing, breathe more from your abdomen. Do this by inhaling a deep breath. Then, imagine that you have a balloon in your stomach and as you exhale, force all the air out of that balloon or imagine that you are using your exhale to gently blow on some food to cool it off. In both cases, once you exhale every bit of air, your next breath will automatically be a diaphragmatic, oxygen-rich breath.

Do a few of these deep breaths, with a relaxed and satisfying pace. If you begin to feel light-headed, slow down your breathing or take a little break.

Improve your energy, release tension and stress, and simply relax by practicing deep breathing.

Stretch

Common stress relief advice is to exercise. When you only have a few minutes to spare, you can still gain some of the benefits of exercising by performing a few simple stretching exercises. These exercises could range from stretching your arms over your head, rolling your shoulders, flexing your hands and fingers, and bending to touch your toes.

Use stretching as a time of active relaxation. Enjoy the benefits of a change of pace and mini-break from your routine.

Laugh

How does laughter help to relieve stress? Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of feel-good endorphins and neurotransmitters. A good laugh can generate overall good feelings, happiness, and deep relaxation.

Is it hard for you to manufacture a laugh? Laughter is involuntary and almost impossible to fake. If you are trying to laugh, it may help to remember the last time you laughed and see if that generates another laugh for you.

Even a smile has some of the same benefits of a laugh. The simple act of smiling sends a message to your brain that you are happy and the body automatically pumps out those feel-good endorphins and helps you change your mood.

The next time you’re feeling stressed, try these quick stress-busters to change your mood and increase your sense of well-being and happiness.

Give Yourself a Break: The Power of Self-Compassion

Are you super-critical of yourself? Do you set high standards for yourself to meet?  Do you believe you should punish yourself for your shortcomings rather than treat yourself kindly?  If you are like this, how can you change your thinking? A good place to start is to offer yourself self-compassion.

Research shows that accepting our imperfections and giving ourselves a break may lead to better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion tend to be happier and more optimistic and have less depression and anxiety.

Those who don’t like themselves often feel that they don’t deserve their own kindness and compassion. However, we can extend compassion to ourselves even without necessarily liking ourselves. Self-compassion is the ability to relate to the emotional state of oneself. Self-compassion stands alone and is given freely without limitations. While self-compassion suspends judgment, it encourages us to see ourselves honestly and it is not to be confused with self-indulgence or lowered standards.

Self-compassion involves recognizing that suffering and personal failures are part of the shared human experience. By offering yourself compassion, you acknowledge and forgive, rather than ignore or criticize, your own suffering, difficulties, and personal shortcomings.

Self-compassion is founded on self-kindness. Instead of condemning ourselves and our mistakes, we try to understand and accept our shortcomings and negative emotions. Then, we actively offer comfort and sympathy to ourselves instead of criticism.

Self-compassion has the added element of wanting to alleviate or reduce suffering. By extending this determination to help yourself feel better, you will naturally begin to treat yourself more kindly and gently. Offering compassion to yourself can help you distance yourself from destructive self-criticism. Many find that once they begin to consistently offer themselves self-compassion, they begin to escape the damaging effects of self-criticism. As a result, they begin to be more comfortable with themselves and they begin to like themselves more.

Research studies show that self-compassionate individuals experience greater psychological health, including well-being, happiness, optimism, social connections, and emotional resilience, than those who do not extend compassion to themselves. Those who score high on self-compassion are also less likely to experience self-criticism, depression, anxiety, thought suppression, and perfectionism.

Self-compassion can be developed by anyone. By deliberately establishing a practice of extending good will toward ourselves, especially during times of suffering, we can reverse old habits and develop self-compassion. Research has also shown that self-compassion can be heightened by acting compassionately toward others. Taking the opportunity to support other people can also make you feel better about what you’re going through.

Give yourself a break and offer yourself self-compassion. Break your life-long habit of self-criticism and reap the benefits of increased happiness, reduced stress, and improved psychological health.

A Simple Guided Meditation for Relaxation

Have you tried to meditate and given up in frustration? Does this frustration make you feel more anxious than relaxed?  If you feel frustrated by your inability to quiet your mind, try this guided meditation as a simple alternative to a more formal practice.

Any kind of meditation can have physiological, emotional, and psychological benefits. Guided meditations give the mind a focus while still allowing you to escape the mind’s every-day busyness and constant chattering. Using your imagination and a guided meditation can help you naturally find peace and a sense of contentment by quietly allowing your mind to settle into a state of calm.

This simple exercise relies on using your imagination to help you relax. First, read through the directions and then try it for yourself.

Imagine yourself in a sunny place where you feel safe and secure. It can be a place you have visited before or it can be a place you only imagine. See yourself sitting in this place feeling very safe and secure. Feel bathed by the soft sunlight. Bask in that sunlight, feeling it bathe and warm you. Enjoy the experience of feeling that warmth. Breathe in the warmth and let it fill you from head to toe.  If you notice any tensions in your body, let the sun’s soft warmth gently relax your muscles and any tension your muscles may be holding. As you’re imagining yourself sitting there, if your mind starts to drift or gets busy with everyday concerns (as minds have a tendency to do), just bring yourself back to feeling the sunlight bathe you. Relax into the warmth of the sunlight.

That’s all there is to it! Spend a few minutes imagining yourself in a safe place being bathed by a warm, golden light. There are no rules to this and you can change it to suit yourself. You can even change the color from golden to any other color that appeals to you. Maybe you feel you would rather be bathed in blue or purple! When you start, you can ask yourself what color appeals to you most and go with that.

You can create your own mini-vacation and enjoy the physiological, emotional, and psychological benefits of meditating by travelling in your mind to your favorite space and allowing yourself to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Increase your happiness and sense of well-being by gifting yourself with time for yourself. Give yourself a break from your constant busyness and let your mind and body relax. After a few minutes, you can return to your everyday life feeling more relaxed, refreshed, and restored.

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