Category Archives for "Happiness"

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.

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.

Say Yes to Yourself

Do you constantly seek the approval of others? Are you quick to agree to help others without thinking about how that might affect you? Is it time for you to start saying yes to yourself and no to others?

From a young age, we are encouraged to act in certain ways in order to feel loved and accepted. This is the beginning of our loss of own power, sense of self-worth, and authenticity. When we try too hard to please someone else, we lose our identity.

Pleasing others is not the same as helping or being generous and loving to others. Generosity to others can be very fulfilling and personally rewarding. The problem comes when your motivation is less about the other person and more about yourself and being liked or loved.

It is not possible for everyone to love and approve of us. By trying too hard to be liked, you are just as likely to lose respect rather than gain it. We may try to make others like us but how someone feels about us is, to a large extent, outside of our control.

In order to change and to put yourself first, you can choose to believe that you are valuable, that what is right for you matters, and that your happiness is a priority. In many ways, it is as simple – and as difficult – as making the conscious decision to do what is right for you. Make the choice to take responsibility for every action in your life. Instead of seeking the acceptance of others, rely on your own values to guide you.

Start by being more deliberate about your actions. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Is it from a need to be liked or accepted? Is it from a fear of refusing to do what someone else wants me to do? Am I doing it to avoid feeling guilty?

At the beginning, it may take some courage to stand up for yourself. You may well get some resistance from those who are used to you granting their every whim. However, it is far better to cultivate our own values than worry about pleasing everyone else.  There’s a saying that if instead of trying to please others, you try to please yourself, at least one person will be happy.

What will you choose? Will you choose to stay in power by acting with the knowledge that you are responsible for every action in your life? Or will you continue to give your personal power away in order to feel valued and accepted in the eyes of other

Make it your priority to please yourself. Accept that a certain amount of disapproval from others is unavoidable. Be a friend to yourself and find true happiness by aligning with your own inner wisdom and values.

Are you a friend to yourself? Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com to find practical tips on how to recognize your brilliance and to treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and loved ones.

Subscribe to a free Daily Moment of Inspiration and each day receive a quote from Women with Spirit: Daily Quotations by Inspiring Women (distributed by Amazon).

Georgiana Carollus, MA, personal, spiritual, and intuitive coach offers coaching and resources to help accelerate your process of friending yourself at www.FriendYourselfProject.com

Meditate Three Minutes a Day to Increase Your Inner Peace

Are you willing to spend a few minutes a day to help relieve your stress and improve your happiness? A daily three minute meditation can have positive physiological, psychological, and spiritual benefits.

Many hesitate to start a meditation practice because they worry about doing it correctly. While there are certainly practices that take years to master, benefits are also gained from spending any length of time in any kind of meditation, regardless of skill or experience.

The best approach is to just do it and avoid focusing on what will happen as a result. When you first start, recognize that some days you will feel good about it and others days you may feel like you are wasting your time. Try to take a larger view and understand that the value of meditation is in simply doing it, not in how each experience feels or in how ‘well’ you are doing it. Each time you spend a few minutes moving yourself out of the busyness of doing, into the quiet of being, you are doing something good for yourself.

To start, it is a good idea to try a few different approaches to find the practice that works best for you. And, since there are no rules, feel free to adapt your practice to suit yourself.

One technique is to follow the breath. Breathe in, hold your breath to the count of five, and slowly exhale. Keep your attention on your breath. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to paying attention to your breath. You might want to notice if any of your muscles are tense. If so, let them gently unclench. Spend a few minutes, just noticing your breath, letting your thoughts float away, and relaxing any tense muscles.

Another method is to simply spend those few minutes in quiet contemplation. You may choose to spend time in prayer to, and communion with, the god of your understanding. Instead of trying to quiet your mind, move your thoughts from the everyday to spiritual.

Once you are comfortable meditating for a few minutes, increase the time you spend to 5 minutes, then 10. Keep it manageable for yourself so you aren’t tempted to stop your practice. You will receive benefits if you only spend a few minutes a day so don’t pressure yourself with unrealistic expectations.

Give your mind a break from its busyness and gift yourself with a few minutes a day of meditation to help balance your physical, emotional, and mental states. Discover the peace that can be found in just being instead of doing. Notice your level of happiness increase as you establish a daily meditation practice.

Set Your Intention To Be Happy

Positive states of joy,  love, and enthusiasm can overcome and neutralize negative states of anger, hatred, or apathy. Strong determination, action, and effort can develop these positive habits and make them predominant. Setting an intention to be happy and living and acting from your intention can dramatically increase your level of happiness.

About 20 years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a series of lectures on happiness given by the Dalai Lama. According to the Dalai Lama, happiness is not only our right but it is our responsibility because by being happy, we elevate those around us with our contagious happiness. The Dalai Lama said that happiness is a mental attitude, a state of mind, and not primarily dependent on external conditions. We can actively choose to be happy and we can discipline our mind to choose happiness by confronting our negative states of mind and transforming them into more positive ones.

I have found that one thing that stood in my way of my happiness was my desire to be right. I’m now much more aware that “right” is only relative. Each of us has our own preferences and values that we have developed through our life experiences and what we have been taught. The more that I can acknowledge that each of us has our own mental model of the world and the less I can release my ego’s attachment to being right, the happier I can be. And, no doubt, the people around me would say that they’re happier, too!

Another method to move into happiness is to ask yourself, when stressed, if feeling badly is going to make your situation better. It may be that you need to process some feelings to feel better and if this is true, you should process those feelings. But you may realize that feeling badly in response to a situation creates a cycle leading only to anxiety, stress, depression, despair, and resistance to change. Ask yourself in that moment what thought you can have that would make you feel better. Your thought could be anything – the thought of a loved one, the memory of a sunset, music you love – whatever resonates as a good feeling for you. This newly activated thought may only make you feel better for a few moments. If you return to feeling badly, lovingly repeat the process.

Set your intention to be happy. Monitor your internal dialogue and watch when it tries when it tries to lead you toward more negativity. Cultivate happiness by actively working on and changing your mental outlook.

Celebrate Your Efforts as Well as Your Accomplishments!

How often do you congratulate yourself for something you have done? Are you more likely to criticize than congratulate yourself? Increase your happiness and reduce your stress by being more supportive of yourself and acknowledging your efforts as well as your accomplishments and results.

We are wired to want results and people tend to measure success by the results that they see. When we are overly goal-focused, we fail to acknowledge the good work that we expend prior to reaching a goal. If we fail to reach our predetermined goal, we may discount any of our efforts. In fact, we often only give ourselves some kind of acknowledgement if we achieve our goals.

Most people do not appreciate the value of personal effort. The problem with this is that life is not constantly filled with results. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we are unable to achieve our goals. Efforts are a critical element in the ultimate achievement of any goal. In fact, sometimes the more effort expended toward achieving a goal, the sweeter the sense of accomplishment once a goal is reached.

Goals are important yet there is great value in taking pure and simple action and doing what must be done, even if you don’t get the results that you want. In fact, just taking action can require great courage and fortitude. Is there any reason to discount this courage if the result one wants does not materialize? Is it not better to congratulate yourself and acknowledge your bravery than to criticize yourself for not achieving your goal?

Working toward a goal may involve struggle, actions that lead to dead-ends, and trial solutions that just don’t work. The actress Carol Burnett said, “I have always grown from my problems and challenges, from the things that don’t work out, that’s when I’ve really learned.” And, Thomas Watson said, “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.”

The fact is that we are wired to want results. Instead of judging yourself solely on the results you achieve, see the bigger picture and give yourself credit for your efforts as well. Value every action you take and every difficult step. Acknowledge your effort, determination, and persistence whether you succeed or fail. Increase your happiness quotient by giving yourself a pat on the back and allowing yourself to take pride in yourself and your actions.

Replace Your Shoulds with Coulds

Do you have an incessant personal judge that constantly tells you what you should or should not do? We each make choices every day about the words we use. Language is a powerful force and simple word choices can have an enormous impact. Create more freedom and less stress in your life by changing your language to a kinder tone and by changing your ‘shoulds’ to ‘coulds’.

The word ‘should’ often carries with it feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame. ‘Should’ implies there is an ultimate way of behaving in every given situation. ‘Should’ suggests that you are supposed to be different than you are, that you don’t measure up, you need to improve, and you must be perfect. Often ‘should’ carries with it feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame. It reminds us of the expectations of others for us and creates external motivation based on those expectations.

The word ‘could’ implies a choice rather than an obligation. Because it is more easy-going and less demanding, ‘could’ can open us up to opportunities rather than confining us to a supposedly righteous way. ‘Could’ can help create an internal motivation that is more powerful and compelling than an external motivation.

Consider replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’. Do you worry that you would not accomplish your goals without the harshness of ‘shoulds’ to motivate you? Consider how a set of demanding and rigid expectations makes you feel. Are your ‘shoulds’ helpful or do they serve to de-motivate you by making you feel guilty and inadequate?

Spend a day trying to catch as many of your ‘shoulds’ as you can. Take a neutral attitude as you notice these self-critical commands that you have been automatically telling yourself. At day’s end, notice when you used ‘should’ the most. Was it in relation to work, relationships, chores, leisure time, or something else?

Next, spend a day replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’. While ‘should’ implies an obligation, ‘could’ is more liberating because it implies a choice. Instead of saying ‘I should do better at work’ change it up to ‘I could do better at work’.  And, then carry it a step further by asking yourself, ‘How could I do better at work?’ What new options and possibilities do you discover when you do this? Do you find that you can tap more easily into a genuine internal motivation?

Treat yourself well and change your language to a more gentle and forgiving tone by replacing your ‘shoulds’ with ‘coulds’. Abolish ‘should’ from your vocabulary and increase your possibilities for more happiness and less stress by refusing to impose unrealistic expectations on yourself.

Be Friendly to Yourself!

 

Are you aware of a self-critical voice that has taken up permanent residency in your mind? Do you believe every nagging, mean, outrageous, guilt-producing thing that your self-critical voice says to you? Is it time to change the way you speak to yourself?

The mind is like your house. If its doors and windows are wide open, with nothing to stop or filter out the incoming thoughts, every passing thought is allowed free access to your mind. Any thought can enter your mind, take up residency, stay as long as it likes, and disturb and affect your behavior and actions. For most people, this is the way their minds function. The fact is, though, that our thoughts and belief systems can become our realities. Self-critical thoughts can dampen and destroy dreams, bring down morale, and lead to procrastination and laziness.

The first step is to recognize what is going on. Until we notice, self-criticism can be like background noise that is subtly below our consciousness. This is when its impact is strongest because often it is being accepted without question. Becoming aware of exactly what you are saying to yourself about yourself can help you understand why you react the way you do to people and events in your life.

We all know probably know someone who constantly puts themselves down and criticizes themselves. You may have found yourself thinking, “At least I don’t do that!” You may not do that level of complaining when you talk to other people, but what does your internal dialogue sound like? In your own mind and to yourself, are you constantly complaining and berating yourself?

Creating change always begins with noticing what needs to be changed. Begin to notice what you say to yourself. You probably don’t even realize how often you say negative things to and about yourself or how much that affects your experiences. Make an effort to become more conscious of your internal dialogue and its content.

At random times throughout the day, ask yourself, “What am I saying to myself right now?”  Notice what you are saying without censorship or judgment – just notice what you say and notice how it makes you feel. As you witness more and more of these thoughts, try replacing some of your criticism with kindness. If you were talking to a friend instead of yourself, what encouraging things would you say? Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a friend and be a friend to yourself.

Replacing your self-criticism with friendly encouragement and support can help you control your moods, overcome your shortcomings, and create more successes in your life. For more peace of mind and happiness, try being more friendly to yourself!

How to Center and Ground Yourself

Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed? Is your mind racing in a hundred different directions? Here are some quick centering and grounding techniques to help bring you some relief.

Center yourself. Are you feeling scattered and restless? When you’re stressed and lose your center, your mind and body are disconnected. While your body is in the present, your mind may be racing in many different directions. To quiet the mind, it can help to find and connect with your center. To do this, visualize a line of light and energy coming down from the sky above you, entering the top of your head, traveling down through your body, and then exiting out through your feet. Align your body and your thoughts with this energy. Spend a few moments breathing into your center and enjoy the peace you find there.

Ground yourself. You can feel scattered and out of balance when you are not focused on the present moment. Grounding exercises are meant to snap you back into reality and into the present moment, the place of your optimal functioning. Practice these and find what works best for you.

• Ground yourself visually by taking a deep breath and then start to mentally catalog the things you see around you, down to the very smallest detail.
• Ground yourself using auditory senses by noticing all the sounds in your environment, including the pitch and rise of all the sounds and the layers of sounds.
• Strong smells can help you reconnect to the present moment. A whiff of a strong peppermint smell works for many people.
• A tactile exercise to ground yourself is to press with the heel of one foot onto the big toe of your other foot – press just hard enough to notice it but not so hard to cause pain.

Deep breathing. If you are feeling stressed, deep (or diaphragmatic) breathing brings more oxygen into your body, helping you relax your muscles, release tension, and feel more alert and refreshed. To perform deep breathing, take a breath in through your mouth, like you are slowly sipping a straw. Hold your breath a few moments, then gently exhale, like you are blowing out a candle, until every little bit of breath is exhaled. Your next breath will automatically be a diaphragmatic breath, improving your body’s ability to oxygenate your cells and systems. Do a few more of these breaths and notice how you feel. This is a simple exercise that you can do whenever you feel stressed. For maximum health and stress reduction benefits, make deep breathing a regular practice.

We’re usually unproductive, uncomfortable, and dissatisfied when we’re in the grip of feeling stressed and scattered. Use these simple centering and grounding exercises to bring your body and mind into alignment and increase your sense of well-being and happiness.

 

Breathe In Peace and Breathe Out Stress

If you are feeling tense and stressed, relief may be only a breath away.  Use the time-honored stress reduction technique of deep (also known as diaphragmatic) breathing to relax muscles and reduce your stress. Breathing exercises can help you relax and increase your happiness and sense of well-being because they make your body feel like it does when it is in a state of relaxation.

Deep breathing involves your diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen, and is marked by the expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest. Although the focus seems to be on the abdomen, during deep breathing, the lungs are filled with much more oxygen than during shallow or chest-breathing. Breathing oxygenates every cell of your body and deep breathing raises levels of blood oxygen, promoting health by stimulating the digestive process and by improving fitness and mental performance. Shallow or chest-breathing, on the other hand, causes a constriction of the chest and lung tissue over time, decreasing oxygen flow and delivery to your tissues.

To do deep breathing effectively, slowly inhale through your nose or mouth. Put a hand on your stomach, and as you inhale, feel your stomach gently expand. Pause for about five seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth, pushing out all the breath you inhaled. Feel you stomach contract.  Repeat a few more times. If you feel yourself become light-headed, take a break or slow down your breathing.

You can add some very simple visualizations to maximize the benefits of deep breathing. When you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in peace and relaxation. On your exhale, imagine that you are breathing out all the stress and tension that your body is holding. Breath in peace, breathe out tension.

Another simple technique that many find helpful is to work with color and your breath. Ask yourself, what color would benefit you? Then, imagine breathing in the color or colors that come to mind for you. Breathe in that color and imagine it saturating every cell of your being. Most people who do this find that it is very relaxing and nurturing.

For added comfort during your deep breathing, gently rest one hand on your heart. Placing your hand on your heart is an excellent way to give yourself a little extra self-care.

Improve your energy, release tension and stress, and simply relax by practicing deep breathing. With approximately 20,000 breaths each day, you have plenty of opportunities to practice! Add simple visualizations to increase the sense of well-being optimal breathing can deliver to you!

Be a Friend to Yourself

Are you looking outside of yourself for validation and happiness? Do you let the opinions of others determine if you are happy or not? If so, you’re not alone! And, it’s probably not working too well for you. Take control of your own happiness by being a friend to yourself.

When we depend on others for our happiness, we set an impossible task for ourselves. You really have no control over the happiness of others and if you depend on others for your happiness, you have no control over your own happiness. On the other hand, if you try to make yourself happy instead of everyone else, you know that at least one person will be happy.

Make the commitment to owning your own happiness by being a friend to yourself. Ask yourself, as your own friend, how can you make yourself happy?

The first step in being a friend to yourself may be to learn to look after yourself and put your needs first, without feeling guilty. Are you someone that caters to the needs and wants of everyone else? Has it left you feeling exhausted and resentful? It may be time to set stronger boundaries for yourself and exercise your right to refuse the requests of others. Before jumping in and rescuing others, ask yourself what is the best course of action for you to take? Pay attention to the “shoulds” – they’re often a clear signal that you’re doing something out of a sense of obligation or guilt. Learn to say no, clearly and simply, without lengthy explanations or excuses.

Another step in being a friend to yourself is to learn to praise yourself and enjoy your efforts and successes. If you wait for someone else in your life to do it, you will probably end up feeling resentful when they don’t notice or care. Be your own cheerleader and congratulate yourself for both your large and small efforts. If you feel called to compare yourself to something, compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself rather than to someone else. Make a habit of patting yourself on the back!

As your own best friend, meet your own expectations. Hold yourself accountable to the promises and commitments that you make to yourself. As your own best friend, enjoy the liberty of choosing the way you want to spend your time. Make yourself someone that you can be proud of.

Take control of your own happiness by learning to treat yourself as a friend. Take the time to change, grow, explore, and comfort yourself in ways that no one else can. You and those in your life will all enjoy the benefits of this!

Lighten Up!

Do you take yourself a bit too seriously? Does your mind feed you a constant stream of self-critical messages? Has your mind told you that you can’t do anything right? Really – you can’t do anything right? Can you gently laugh with yourself and see some humor in that?

We have the choice to change our train of thought. We don’t need to listen to our inner critic and self-talk! People often resist the idea of monitoring and changing their thoughts because they see it as form of escapism. You may worry that if you change your thoughts, you may start to actively avoid facing problems and issues in your life. This won’t happen if you pay attention to what you are thinking. Are you considering action to help you move forward or are you only berating yourself? Distinguish if your thinking is helpful or hurtful and make your choice from there.

The key is to consider your thoughts as they happen. One way to tell if you should allow a thought to continue is to apply a ‘lightness test”. Does the thought make you feel light or heavy? If a thought is helpful to you, it will feel light and may include action to move you forward; A hurtful thought will feel heavy and may make you feel defeated or depressed. Choose those thoughts that make you feel light and consciously override those that make you feel heavy.

Our thoughts generate our feelings. When we choose to allow thoughts that make us feel heavy, the stress response is engaged. Your heart may begin pounding, your breathing becomes shallower, and your muscles tense. Once this is set in motion, it may take more effort to change your thoughts and mood.

If the stress response is engaged, laughter and humor can be used to counteract the physical effects of stress and panic. You can start that laughter by exaggerating your fears to their extreme and most absurd conclusion. Create a parody of your fears by accentuating the negative until you just have to laugh at yourself.

Another technique for moving into happiness when you’re stressed is to ask yourself what thought you could have that would make you feel better. Your thought could be anything – the thought of a loved one, the memory of a sunset, music you love – whatever creates a good feeling for you. If the newly activated thought only makes you feel better for a few moments and you return to feeling stressed, repeat the process as often as needed.

Be a friend to yourself and apply humor and thought-changing to break the grip of your mind and self-talk over your emotions!

How to Be a Friend to Yourself

Do you constantly criticize and belittle yourself? Are you your own worst enemy? How would you treat yourself differently if you treated yourself like a friend?

The advice to love yourself is a common self-help theme. This is of little help to most people, especially those who expect they should be exceptional and extraordinary in order to be worthy of self-love. While there are spiritual paths that can lead to self-love and self-acceptance, if someone has low self-esteem and doesn’t feel special, it’s hard for many people to love themselves.

An uncomplicated and easy self-care path to feeling better about yourself is to simply treat yourself as a friend. Those qualities that make being a good friend to others work as well for being a friend to yourself.

What are the qualities you value in friendship? Here are some qualities commonly recognized as key elements in friendship:

Acceptance. A true friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t try to force you  to be something you are not. A friend accepts both our good qualities and our shortcomings. Can you extend this acceptance to yourself?

Loving.  A true friend is loving, kind, and generous. A friend makes us feel not only liked but loved, cherished, and cared for by their words, their tone of voice, and how they treat us. Can you be more loving, kind, and generous to yourself?

Champion. A true friend will cheer you on. A friend uses encouragement rather than insults to motivate you. A friend is optimistic rather than pessimistic about what you can achieve. Can you motivate yourself with positive rather than critical words? Can you be optimistic about your efforts.

Honesty. A true friend will tell you the truth, even when the truth is hard to hear. A friend will give you well-deserved compliments but will also call you to task when you are avoiding something or trying to disguise the truth. Can you be honest with yourself?

Support. A true friend will support you when you are going through challenges and will stand by you when you have setbacks. A friend can help put your challenges in perspective. A friend can help you see lessons that you are overlooking in the challenges that you are struggling with. And, a friend will know that sometimes all you need in time of trouble is a friend to listen to and support you. How can you offer yourself more support?

Forgiveness. A true friend is willing to forgive you your errors and mistakes. Can you forgive yourself?

One of the most important relationships you can have in your life is with yourself. Is it time to break old habits and invest in a healthy friendship with your internal self? Make the commitment to be a friend to yourself and increase your happiness by decreasing your self-criticism.

 

Acknowledge and Celebrate Your Accomplishments!

Do you find it’s easier to notice other people’s successes than it is to acknowledge your own? Do you even acknowledge your accomplishments before you raise the bar even higher for yourself and set another goal to achieve? By neglecting to acknowledge your accomplishments, you may be missing an opportunity not only to increase your happiness and self-satisfaction but also to fuel your motivation for future achievements.

Why is it that we have such difficulty in identifying and acknowledging our successes and our strengths?  There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Some of this may trace its roots to an upbringing where bragging was discouraged. Carried to an extreme,  many are uncomfortable identifying their successes even to themselves.  Those who do this miss the happiness and joy of taking ownership for something well done.
  • Another reason some may be reluctant  to acknowledge their successes rests with their belief that their achievements pale in comparison to those of others. Many people have a perfectionism complex and feel that anything less than perfection does not merit mention. The problem with this is that perfection is ultimately unattainable for anyone.
  • Some people may be unaware of their own greatness and they don’t appreciate their own courage, bravery, or kindness. They take it for granted that everyone does the same, when in truth, many people don’t.
  • A key factor in people not taking ownership for their successes is that our society does not encourage us to stop and take stock of what we have achieved. In the work world, the resume can fulfill this function but there are many other, and usually more important, personal successes that will never be featured on a resume.

Why is it even important that we acknowledge our successes? Our past successes can give us a clear sense of our ability to overcome obstacles. Knowing that we have succeeded before can give us the motivation we need to persevere when we are faced with new challenges.

I would encourage you to perform an annual inventory of your large and small successes. Identify those things that you feel good about either starting or finishing. Don’t measure your successes against those of anyone else. This is only for you. This is your chance to see what you have done and to acknowledge your efforts and personal successes.

Are you finding it difficult? If so, look at yourself with the same loving perspective of a friend. What have others complimented you on or praised you for? When did you notice yourself brushing aside compliments or claiming that what you did was nothing special? Allow yourself to own each and every one of those achievements.

Acknowledge and celebrate your successes! Be a friend to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back!

Are you a friend to yourself? Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com to find practical tips on how to recognize your brilliance and to treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to a free Daily Moment of Inspiration and each day receive a quote from Women with Spirit: Daily Quotations by Inspiring Women (distributed by Amazon). Georgiana Carollus, MA, personal, spiritual, and intuitive coach offers coaching and resources to help accelerate your process of friending yourself at the Friend Yourself Project website.

Be a Friend to Yourself

Are you your own best friend or your own worst critic? Does your mind generate a constant chorus of self-talk criticizing you and your choices? Is it time to change your mind – specifically, your way of thinking and talking to yourself?

The words we say to ourselves go to the very core of our being. These words shape what we think of ourselves and what actions we take. The brain believes what we tell it and we become what we think about most. We can be our own strongest motivator or our own worst enemy. We can, in fact, create our own happy or unhappy state of mind.

What words and tone do you use when you talk to yourself? Chances are, it’s unlikely that you would ever talk to a dear friend or loved one with the same tone and criticism that you shower on yourself. In fact, there is probably no one whom you treat as badly as you treat yourself.

Our culture sanctions the idea that you should be hard on yourself. Do you believe, as many do, that self-criticism serves to keep you in line? And, that if you weren’t self-critical, you would become overly self-indulgent?

Has all this self-criticism and negativity helped? Has it motivated you to improve or meet your ideal? Studies show that children and adults are more motivated by encouragement than by threats. Research also suggests that giving yourself a break and accepting your imperfections may lower stress, depression, and anxiety, and improve happiness and life satisfaction.

The most direct solution to short-circuiting self-criticism is to give up judging and evaluating yourself and to replace this with self-compassion, an acceptance of yourself despite your perceived weaknesses. This is not about self-indulgence or lowering your standards but rather about accepting your humanness and accepting that ups and downs are part of life.

Cultivating self-compassion provides a foundation of love, acceptance, and security for yourself despite the circumstances of your life, despite your failures or disappointments. Self-compassion looks beyond your actions, values you for yourself and your imperfections, and respects all aspects of your humanity. In short, you exercise self-care and give yourself a break!

Many of us find it easier to extend compassion to others. One way to extend it more to yourself is to commit to treating yourself as well as you would treat your friends and loved ones. Encourage yourself and acknowledge all of your efforts, just like you would for a friend. Be kind to yourself and be your own cheerleader, your own motivator, and your own comforter.

What would your life be like if you had a more positive set of attitudes, beliefs, and feelings about yourself? Find out by gifting yourself with self-compassion and by being a friend to yourself

Laugh Away Your Stress!

Have you laughed today? Did you know that globally we are laughing much less than we used to in the last century? What are the benefits of laughter and why should we be laughing more?

The International Congress of Humor reports that laughter is down is some areas up to 82% from the 1950’s. In the 1950’s, people laughed on the average 18 minutes a day and today the average is only between 4-6 minutes a day. We are much more serious than we used to be! Part of the reason for this may be because electronic media such as, television, computer, Internet, video, CD’s, and audio equipment, has reduced our social interactions and laughter is a social activity.

In fact, laughter usually occurs in groups and some believe uncontrollable laughter only occurs in groups. Try to laugh out loud right now. Do you find it difficult or forced? Most people would find it feels forced and a little unnatural because laughter is involuntary and almost impossible to fake.

Laughter happens more naturally in social interactions. Laughter builds relationships, creating camaraderie and lessening our sense of isolation. In groups when some are laughing and others are not, it becomes evident that people have very different senses of humor. A sense of humor is the ability to be amused and laughter is the physiological response to humor. While many believe a sense of humor cannot be taught, it can be developed by paying attention to what others find amusing.

Why would we want more laughter in our lives? As a physiological response, laughter has many health benefits. When someone laughs, all of the body systems are engaged. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones, including cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline, dopamine, and growth hormone, and increases the level of healthy hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters. As a result of these physiological activities, laughter may help fight off illnesses and diseases like heart failure. After a good laugh, stress reduction occurs when overall good feelings, happiness, and deep relaxation are generated.

In addition to the health benefits, people who laugh a lot don’t worry as much as those who don’t laugh. A laughter break can help us gain fresh perspectives and new insights about our problems and conflicts.

Laughter, like crying, can provide an excellent physical and emotional release. Laughter can also make us feel happy and create a more positive state of mind by breaking the painful emotional grip of fear, anger, guilt, stress, and boredom.

Be a friend to yourself and enjoy the many emotional and physical benefits of laughter and humor. Lighten up and, for the greatest benefits, share a laugh with others!

Gift Yourself with Rest and Relaxation

Do you consider relaxing a waste of precious time? Do you feel guilty if you aren’t constantly productive? You may be overlooking the very real benefits of time to rest and relax. Instead of a luxury, relaxation can lead to extreme happiness by playing an essential role in mental and physical health.

Stress is a major health problem and it has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, and other serious illnesses. In fact, according to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all visits to doctors are for stress-related disorders.

Rest and relaxation top the list of effective self-care and stress management techniques. Relaxation boosts happiness by counteracting the stress response – muscles relax, breathing and heartbeat slow down, and the digestive system functions more efficiently. Regular relaxation strengthens the immune system and helps the body heal itself, reducing the effects of chronic stress. Incorporate relaxation into your life and notice that you begin to feel better!

While it may not seem logical, you may get more done by taking breaks and doing less. When you take a break, relax, and let your thoughts slow down, the mind begins to access the resources of the right brain – the creative, intuitive, and non-linear part of the mind. After relaxing, you may find that you approach your work with a new perspective and that you are able to generate new solutions to problems.

Relaxation further contributes to happiness by providing a detachment from everyday busyness that enables us to realize what is really important to us. When we operate from our values, we are usually happier and more satisfied with our lives.

Quick relaxation techniques are useful in dealing with immediate stress. Stopping, even for the shortest time, will recharge your batteries and will give you more energy.  Create little breaks in your busy schedule. Consider your home your sanctuary and place of relaxation. Set boundaries to keep it as work-free as possible and avoid the temptation to bring work home by complaining about it.

Regular, concentrated rest and relaxation has a deeper and more permanent effect on reversing stress. Explore leisurely activities apart from your work. Choose something that you consider relaxing and that you will commit to doing on a regular basis. This might be sports, gardening, reading, exercise, or even time to daydream – whatever you choose should be something that you enjoy. There is no point in creating more stress for yourself by forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy!

Be a friend to yourself and give yourself the gift of rest. Learn to value rest and relaxation as much as you  value activity. And, enjoy increased happiness as you reduce the stress in your life!

Gift Yourself with Daily Inspirational Quotes

Would you like to start your day on a positive note? Consider reading an inspirational quote and gifting yourself with some inspiration before you get launched into your busy day. Reduce your stress and increase your happiness by introducing some positivity into your life right from the beginning of the day!

On a daily basis, we are all exposed to negative and fear-based messages. Most of us are strongly influenced by this negativity and the greatest struggle we have is maintaining our commitment, motivation, and persistence. We may have a vision that motivates us for a while but often, before we know it, our vision is a vague memory.

How can we keep ourselves motivated and on-track? Words can be powerful motivators. Inspirational quotes by known or relatively unknown writers, thinkers, heroes, and leaders can be the spark that re-ignites our vision.

Daily inspirational quotes can inspire, inform, motivate, encourage, nourish, entertain, validate, and at times, challenge us. While some quotes are religious in nature, many are not. The best quotes will have us considering their underlying meaning and how this meaning relates to our own lives and values.  In many cases, quotes will inspire us to action.

Inspirational quotes can introduce a daily dose of positivity into our lives. Our thoughts, both negative and positive, influence our actions. When we dwell on negative thoughts, these thoughts usually generate uncomfortable feelings and emotions. It can be hard, if not impossible, to maintain motivation in the face of negativity and self-criticism.

When you read an inspirational quote that touches you, you start to think and feel more positively. When you have a positive attitude, your mind begins to access the resources of the right brain – the creative, intuitive, and non-linear part of the mind. When you feel more positive, you may often find that you approach everything with a new perspective and that you are able to generate new solutions to problems.

One of the biggest values of daily inspirational quotes, I believe, is that they offer a single, isolated idea to contemplate. Quotation collections are fine but sometimes overwhelming because they offer too much to consider all at once.

Because the range of quotes is so broad, people have different preferences and resonate with some quotes more than others. Some prefer quotes that focus on a specific topic, such as success, motivation or inspiration, while others prefer a variety of topics. When you’re starting a practice of reading daily inspirational quotes, it is a good idea to identify what you would like the quotes to help you accomplish and what kind of quotes appeal to you most. If you like quotes by women, consider subscribing to a Moment of Inspiration by the Friend Yourself Project.

Begin your practice of reading daily quotes and introduce some inspiration and positivity into your life!

 

Are You Trying Too Hard to be Happy?

Do you hold yourself to a measure of happiness that you think you need to obtain and maintain? How is that working for you? Do you become angry and judgmental about yourself when you aren’t able to maintain the level of happiness you think you should have?

What if you no longer equated unhappiness and failure?

Maintaining a happiness high is unrealistic. And, as long as we judge our emotions as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, we are refusing to embrace all the aspects and parts of ourselves that make up our wholeness.

All feelings, including happiness, sadness, anger, fear, joy, grief – every feeling! – is impermanent. Every feeling is there so we can experience life to the fullest.

As humans, we want to embrace and enjoy those feelings that make us feel good and we tend to avoid those feelings that make us feel bad. We push away those bad feelings and try to escape them as soon as possible. But – as the saying goes, what we resist, persists.

I have found that if I stay with the feelings that make me uncomfortable, they transform and release. In much less time than I expect, they release their grip on me. If, however, I try to ignore those feelings, they hold a grip on me that I can’t shake. It is only by facing them that these feelings transform.

Imagine loving every feeling because it adds to the richness of your life. And imagine, loving yourself for your ability to have and experience all of your feelings.

Join the Friend Yourself Project and commit to treating yourself as well as your friends and loved ones. Visit www.FriendYourselfProject.com for more information.

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