5 Fun Things to do on Summer Solstice

Summer solsticeHere it is, the summer solstice.  Or as the bard would have it, a fabulous tribute to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  One of my favorite quotes from that describes me perfectly.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce!”
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

On June 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere, people everywhere have celebrated renewal, life, fertility, and hopefully a good harvest.

To be honest, I would like to be here today:

Aimee at Stonehenge
The Burned Hand visits  Stonehenge

But if that is not an option for you, as it is not currently an option for me either, then I have a few ideas for you to celebrate today and tomorrow should you desire.

5 Fun Things to do on Summer Solstice:

  1. Do some gardening with herbs if you can.  I recently went to my favorite local garden center (it is owned by a local family), and I purchased lemon verbena, honey lavender, and rosemary, which is a favorite of mine.  I already have my chives, thyme, mint, and some catnip actually (mosquitoes don’t like it).  I have been infusing my tea with fresh herbs, cooking with it and just smelling it.  My family has been gardening for years and my dad is considered a master gardener, so identifying plants runs deep, but herbs have been a favorite since my first taste of basil.  Yummy.  An old favorite is a tomato/basil sandwich with nothing else.  Just a bit of Himalayan Salt and pepper.
  2. Make a fairy garden.  I have been a bit obsessed with fairies for as long as I can remember.  I started collecting pewter fairies, castles, gnomes and anything I could as a pre-teen, and have passed on my things to my youngest teen.  But this new craze of fairy gardens can be expensive.  So just get an empty pot, some dirt, grab some sticks on a walk, bark, moss (that’s what grows in my yard), and make a tiny display inviting the wee folk into your display. You can make tiny mushrooms, houses, and put a few of the plants that stay small like succulents and walkables (they will spread, but can be walked on should you want to do this in your garden).  Now I have to put another favorite quote in here from my college days.  “Faërie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons; it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Practice yoga or meditate!  HEY.  I am doing that tonight!! Yes, I make up a special class for my friends and then we sip wine after, but you don’t have to do anything fancy.  In my Club, I break down a few yoga moves that can be done anywhere, including a chair, but you can just do a few Sun Sals.  I linked that for you to watch as she has a sweet energy.
  4. Set intentions of what you want to come into your life!  My club members have really gotten into the habit of this as it is so good to focus on what we want in our lives.  I do this monthly with them as we really clear out the old and then shift our thinking into how we want the next few weeks to look.  Focus on the feeling at the end, and then yoke that feeling towards you with all your might as you write out the intention.  I know you might be reading this thinking I am cray, and I won’t disagree with you, but I have changed my life and continue to do so each and every month.  Need proof of what I speak?  You can read my about me here. 
  5. Create a new self-care ritual.  My something new this month seems to be bringing me pain, but I am starting to feel alive again after a knee injury.  I admit I am somewhat hermit-y << that’s a real word.  I keep a tight circle, and I force myself to expand it when I feel it shrinking…as it periodically does because of my nature to keep to myself.  However, I joined a new ermmm torture chamber, others call it a gym/personal training type place.  Anyway, I think it is good for me and I have been setting my alarm earlier.  That is itself is a miracle I tell you as I can sleep like the dead, but usually only those two hours right before I wake up, so I sleep late.  Anyway, I have all the excuses you can think of down, but not this time.  In order to exact change, I myself and no one else can make me get out of bed.  If there is something you have been wanting to try that’s new, I say go for it!

I hope this helped you think about the things you want to invite in your life, and not just on the summer solstice.  Summer always brings that child-like wonder and energy that might be dormant, so if you want a helping hand or two, come find me.  I have some amazing content geared just for your soul.  I use my empath abilities to check into the collective of the group and see what we really need from a Head|Heart|Health perspective.  Get out and enjoy the day my friends!

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It didn’t go as planned…the story of life.

It didn't go as plannedIt didn’t go as planned…what truly ever does?

Do you remember your first day of school?  I don’t really.  I just have a recollection that I was in a dress with a tin lunchbox and it was Mickey Mouse.  I think I picked it out because I watched The Mickey Mouse Club, but I could be wrong and it was all they had.  It’s doubtful I had a plan that first day other than go to school, learn/play, and apparently throw a tantrum over being forced to nap <<< that has since changed.  I will throw a tantrum over not having enough sleep.

I went through school not really having a plan as I wasn’t aware I needed one until I got to high school and was told to pick out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  THE REST of my LIFE?  I was 15 years old.  I wanted to throw on my mix tapes, and listen to some singles of Heavy D and the Boyz, sing along to my Sir Mix-a-lot Swass tape and eat Taco Bell and drive my doo-doo brown car.  I really didn’t have a plan.  I went to soccer practice and got out my frustrations about teenage bitchy girls and how they could be so gossipy and wrong about things, and where did I fit in with this crazy universe.

So when I got to college and finally thought I had things figured out because, by the way, I was one of those kids who didn’t like homework and tests and refused to actually take the SAT, yup, shocking, I went to a 2 year community college where it actually clicked that I needed to work my butt off…and so I graduated Summa Cum Laude…but only because I wanted to.  No one could make me.  <<< and that’s the thing.  You have to decide for yourself what you are going to do and what is worth working for.

So if you don’t know my story by now, just as I was getting my stuff together to be a teacher, I worked really hard at the 4 year college I transferred to, I started to feel awful.  Like physically beat down.  I would sleep more during the day…and have to take later classes.  My skin started acting funny, and the rest is history which you can read here, then continue here.  << Note, if you want to keep reading those, hit the next button at the bottom of the post.  So by 2010, I had been diagnosed with around 7 invisible diseases.  But the thing is this, was that the plan all along?  I actually believe it was so if you didn’t see me speak on this during my Live chat, here it is.  <<<

I have been through more than most and less than others.  I have changed my “plans” to suit those pitfalls and I have tried to hang on for dear life when things get too crazy.  I honestly have to believe this was meant for my highest good.

So my friends, if your life sentence really is “it didn’t go as planned” I want you to think long and hard about whether it really did…because if you ask me, it did.  It was up to me how I navigated those changes to my path, and it is truly up to you how you navigate yours.  Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. ~Ferris Bueller

If you enjoyed this message, I would love to have you read more about my group coaching here for times such as these.  When life doesn’t go as planned…just click the “I need support” button.  Thank you my friends.

Top 20 Motivation Tips

top 20 motivation tipsGuest Post By Leo Babauta

This article is a list of tips and tricks that, if used in combination, are a nearly sure way to achieve your goals.

Achieving goals is not a matter of having “discipline”. It’s a matter of motivating yourself, and keeping your focus on your goal. Follow these tips, or any combination of them that works for you, and you should have the motivation and focus you need.

Here are the top 20 Motivation Tips:

1. Chart Your Progress. Recently I posted about how I created a chart to track my progress with each of my goals. This chart is not just for information purposes, for me to look back and see how I’m doing. It’s to motivate me to keep up with my goals. If I’m diligent about checking my chart every day, and marking dots or “x”s, then I will want to make sure I fill it with dots. I will think to myself, “I better do this today if I want to mark a dot.” Well, that’s a small motivation, but it helps, trust me. Some people prefer to use gold stars. Others have a training log, which works just as well. Or try Joe’s Goals. However you do it, track your progress, and allow yourself a bit of pride each time you give yourself a good mark.

Now, you will have some bad marks on your chart. That’s OK. Don’t let a few bad marks stop you from continuing. Strive instead to get the good marks next time.

2. Hold Yourself Back. When I start with a new exercise program, or any new goal really, I am rarin’ to go. I am full of excitement, and my enthusiasm knows no boundaries. Nor does my sense of self-limitation. I think I can do anything. It’s not long before I learn that I do have limitations, and my enthusiasm begins to wane.

Well, a great motivator that I’ve learned is that when you have so much energy at the beginning of a program, and want to go all out — HOLD BACK. Don’t let yourself do everything you want to do. Only let yourself do 50-75 percent of what you want to do. And plan out a course of action where you slowly increase over time. For example, if I want to go running, I might think I can run 3 miles at first. But instead of letting myself do that, I start by only running a mile. When I’m doing that mile, I’ll be telling myself that I can do more! But I don’t let myself. After that workout, I’ll be looking forward to the next workout, when I’ll let myself do 1.5 miles. I keep that energy reined in, harness it, so that I can ride it even further.

3. Join an online (or off-line) group to help keep you focused and motivated.  Editor’s note, join an online community by searching for what you love near you.  If it is daily motivation you are searching for with an online community and a closed group, check this link here and click on “I Need Support”.

Each time I joined a forum, it helped keep me on track. Not only did I meet a bunch of other people who were either going through what I was going through or who had already been through it, I would report my progress (and failures) as I went along. They were there for great advice, for moral support, to help keep me going when I wanted to stop.

4. Post a picture of your goal someplace visible — near your desk or on your refrigerator, for example. Visualizing your goal, exactly how you think it will be when you’ve achieved it, whether it’s financial goals like traveling to Rome or building a dream house, or physical goals like finishing a marathon or getting a flat stomach, is a great motivator and one of the best ways of actualizing your goals.

Find a magazine photo or a picture online and post it somewhere where you can see it not only daily, but hourly if possible. Put it as your desktop photo, or your home page. Use the power of your visual sense to keep you focused on your goal. Because that focus is what will keep you motivated over the long-term — once you lose focus, you lose motivation, so having something to keep bringing your focus back to your goal will help keep that motivation.

5. Get a workout partner or goal buddy. Staying motivated on your own is tough. But if you find someone with similar goals (running, dieting, finances, etc.), see if they’d like to partner with you. Or partner with your spouse, sibling or best friend on whatever goals they’re trying to achieve. You don’t have to be going after the same goals — as long as you are both pushing and encouraging each other to succeed.

6. Just get started. There are some days when you don’t feel like heading out the door for a run, or figuring out your budget, or whatever it is you’re supposed to do that day for your goal. Well, instead of thinking about how hard it is, and how long it will take, tell yourself that you just have to start.

I have a rule (not an original one) that I just have to put on my running shoes and close the door behind me. After that, it all flows naturally. It’s when you’re sitting in your house, thinking about running and feeling tired, that it seems hard. Once you start, it is never as hard as you thought it would be. This tip works for me every time.

7. Make it a pleasure. One reason we might put off something that will help us achieve our goal, such as exercise for example, is because it seems like hard work. Well, this might be true, but the key is to find a way to make it fun or pleasurable. If your goal activity becomes a treat, you actually look forward to it. And that’s a good thing.

8. Give it time, be patient. I know, this is easier said than done. But the problem with many of us is that we expect quick results. When you think about your goals, think long term. If you want to lose weight, you may see some quick initial losses, but it will take a long time to lose the rest. If you want to run a marathon, you won’t be able to do it overnight. If you don’t see the results you want soon, don’t give up … give it time. In the meantime, be happy with your progress so far, and with your ability to stick with your goals. The results will come if you give it time.

9. Break it into smaller, mini goals. Sometimes large or longer-term goals can be overwhelming. After a couple of weeks, we may lose motivation, because we still have several months or a year or more left to accomplish the goal. It’s hard to maintain motivation for a single goal for such a long time. Solution: have smaller goals along the way.

10. Reward yourself. Often. And not just for longer-term goals, either. Above, I talked about breaking larger goals into smaller, mini goals. Well, each of those mini goals should have a reward attached to it. Make a list of your goals, with mini goals, and next to each, write down an appropriate reward. By appropriate, I mean 1) it’s proportionate to the size of the goal (don’t reward going on a 1-mile run with a luxury cruise in the Bahamas); and 2) it doesn’t ruin your goal — if you are trying to lose weight, don’t reward a day of healthy eating with a dessert binge. It’s self-defeating.

11. Find inspiration, on a daily basis. Inspiration is one of the best motivators, and it can be found everywhere. Every day, seek inspiration, and it will help sustain motivation over the long-term. Sources of inspiration can include: blogs, online success stories, forums, friends and family, magazines, books, quotes, music, photos, people you meet.

12. Get a coach or take a class. These will motivate you to at least show up, and to take action. It can be applied to any goal. This might be one of the more expensive ways of motivating yourself, but it works. And if you do some research, you might find some cheap classes in your area, or you might know a friend who will provide coaching or counseling for free.

13. Have powerful reasons. Write them down. Know your reasons. Give them some thought … and write them down. If you have loved ones, and you are doing it for them, that is more powerful than just doing it for self-interest. Doing it for yourself is good too, but you should do it for something that you REALLY REALLY want to happen, for really good reasons.

14. Become aware of your urges to quit, and be prepared for them. We all have urges to stop, but they are mostly unconscious. One of the most powerful things you can do is to start being more conscious of those urges. A good exercise is to go through the day with a little piece of paper and put a tally mark for each time you get an urge. It simply makes you aware of the urges. Then have a plan for when those urges hit, and plan for it beforehand, and write down your plan, because once those urges hit, you will not feel like coming up with a plan.

15. Make it a rule never to skip two days in a row. This rule takes into account our natural tendency to miss days now and then. We are not perfect. So, you missed one day … now the second day is upon you and you are feeling lazy … tell yourself NO! You will not miss two days in a row! Zen Habits says so! And just get started. You’ll thank yourself later.

16. Visualize your goal clearly, on a daily basis, for at least 5-10 minutes. Visualize your successful outcome in great detail. Close your eyes, and think about exactly how your successful outcome will look, will feel, will smell and taste and sound like. Where are you when you become successful? How do you look? What are you wearing? Form as clear a mental picture as possible. Now here’s the next key: do it every day. For at least a few minutes each day. This is the only way to keep that motivation going over a long period of time.

17. Keep a daily journal of your goal. If you are consistent about keeping a journal, it can be a great motivator. A journal should have not only what you did for the day, but your thoughts about how it went, how you felt, what mistakes you made, what you could do to improve. To be consistent about keeping a journal, do it right after you do your goal task each day. Make keeping a journal a sensory pleasure.

18. Create a friendly, mutually-supportive competition. We are all competitive in nature, at least a little. Some more than others. Take advantage of this part of our human nature by using it to fuel your goals. If you have a workout partner or goal buddy, you’ve got all you need for a friendly competition. See who can log more miles, or save more dollars, each week or month. See who can do more pushups or pullups. See who can lose the most weight or have the best abs or lose the most inches on their waist. Make sure the goals are weighted so that the competition is fairly equal. And mutually support each other in your goals.

19. Make a big public commitment. Be fully committed. This will do the trick every time. Create a blog and announce to the world that you are going to achieve a certain goal by a certain date. Commit yourself to the hilt.

20. Always think positive. Monitor your thoughts. Be aware of your self-talk. We all talk to ourselves, a lot, but we are not always aware of these thoughts. Start listening. If you hear negative thoughts, stop them, push them out, and replace them with positive thoughts. Positive thinking can be amazingly powerful.

Motivation Tips

3 Ways to Harness Inner Change

Inner Change

Life is always changing…yet inwardly, we resist.  Do you find change to be a scary process?  Especially if you are trying to harness inner change?  I know that at times, I do.  I am facing something right now that could be a very simple change, yet I am finding it hard to consider.

Moving.  Changing addresses.  I feel like that is a really hard thing for many people.  It’s just a house, right?  No.  Not to many people.  It’s memories, feelings, neighbors and more.  So why the resistance to change?

Resistance can show itself in many ways.

The “what ifs” start to surface.  It is this area of uncertainty that drives us mad.  We know the reality we are living in, correct.  We don’t know this scary possibility over here.  So let’s just stay in the reality we know.

We have no control over the change.  It’s like this, does the caterpillar start to freak out as soon as it goes in the cocoon?  Everything happens as it should once it gets in there…and then the butterfly emerges and flies merrily away.  None the wiser I suspect about all the little close calls it might have faced while in that cocoon.  But we start to question what will happen as we set this in motion..never stopping to think that it could just take its natural course and everything will turn out the way it should…or maybe always was going to anyway no matter what we did.

Nothing looks familiar over here!  I went to sleep thinking about the possibility of a new house.  Insert whatever you are thinking of here.  I have a little routine down right now and it works wonderfully.  What if my routine is interrupted?  What if moving messes up my business for a bit as I get settled (I work from home).  I need to remember the important things, and the things that are going to take some time getting used to.  Not focus so much on all the differences.

3 Ways to Harness Inner Change

  1. Get very clear on why you are even considering this change in the first place.  What are the benefits of doing something new, taking a new job, moving, making new friends or doing something that you might consider equally scary right now?  Do you have support should you wish to make a change?  A sounding board that really has no vested interest in your decision other than for you to be happy?  If not, consider joining us in my closed group, <<< but you really do need supportive people around you.
  2. Uncover the block to this change.  This one is really a big step.  If you haven’t journaled around this idea, might I suggest drawing a giant boulder in the center of a page, and then putting all the reasons around this “block” until you have exhausted this, and honing in on the one reason you really think might be the biggest block of all.  It will probably stem from fear, but you do the work and see if that is where it leads you.
  3. Don’t give up.  If the change is scary, worth it, and you know you can do it, make it your mission to succeed.  Put reminders everywhere (fridge if it’s food related, mirror for self-esteem, on the scale if you are wanting to lose weight, etc.), and affirm to yourself that this inner change is worth a few months of discomfort if it is what you truly want.  New thought patterns can be created, and soon those new patterns will become your fall back.  The old paths will become overgrown, and you will feel much better for making that commitment to yourself as you learn to harness inner change.

Here comes the part where you really get real with yourself.  Is this inner change worth the discomfort?  Yes as long as it is within your alignment of what you want for path.  Breathe in and take 3 deep breaths.  Imagine this change has already happened and everything went well.  How do you feel now?  You have your answer.

For more monthly guidance on getting out of your head, aligning with your heart and helping your overall health, join us in the Head|Heart|Health Club.

Harness Inner Change

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10 Tips for Quitting Smoking

A Guest Post By Leo Babauta

I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of quitting smoking (editor’s note, he quit in 2007). Well, of finally quitting … like most smokers, I had tried to quit many times and failed. But this quit stuck, and I’d like to share the top 10 things that made this quit successful when the others failed.

1. Commit Thyself Fully. In the quits that failed, I was only half into it. I told myself I wanted to quit, but I always felt in the back of my mind that I’d fail. I didn’t write anything down, I didn’t tell everybody (maybe my wife, but just her). This time, I wrote it down. I wrote down a plan. I blogged about it. I made a vow to my daughter. I told family and friends I was quitting. I went online and joined a quit forum. I had rewards. Many of these will be in the following tips, but the point is that I fully committed, and there was no turning back. I didn’t make it easy for myself to fail.

2. Make a Plan. You can’t just up and say, “I’m gonna quit today.” You have to prepare yourself. Plan it out. Have a system of rewards, a support system, a person to call if you’re in trouble. Write down what you’ll do when you get an urge. Print it out. Post it up on your wall, at home and at work. If you wait until you get the urge to figure out what you’re going to do, you’ve already lost. You have to be ready when those urges come.

3. Know Your Motivation. When the urge comes, your mind will rationalize. “What’s the harm?” And you’ll forget why you’re doing this. Know why you’re doing this BEFORE that urge comes. Is it for your kids? For your wife? For you health? So you can run? Because the girl you like doesn’t like smokers? Have a very good reason or reasons for quitting. List them out. Print them out. Put it on a wall. And remind yourself of those reasons every day, every urge.

4. Not One Puff, Ever (N.O.P.E.). The mind is a tricky thing. It will tell you that one cigarette won’t hurt. And it’s hard to argue with that logic, especially when you’re in the middle of an urge. And those urges are super hard to argue with. Don’t give in. Tell yourself, before the urges come, that you will not smoke a single puff, ever again. Because the truth is, that one puff WILL hurt. One puff leads to a second, and a third, and soon you’re not quitting, you’re smoking. Don’t fool yourself. A single puff will almost always lead to a recession. DO NOT TAKE A SINGLE PUFF!

5. Join a Forum. One of the things that helped the most in this quit was an online forum for quitters (quitsmoking.about.com) … you don’t feel so alone when you’re miserable. Misery loves company, after all. Go online, introduce yourself, get to know the others who are going through the exact same thing, post about your crappy experience, and read about others who are even worse than you. Best rule: Post Before You Smoke. If you set this rule and stick to it, you will make it through your urge. Others will talk you through it. And they’ll celebrate with you when you make it through your first day, day 2, 3, and 4, week 1 and beyond. It’s great fun.

6. Reward Yourself. Set up a plan for your rewards. Definitely reward yourself after the first day, and the second, and the third. You can do the fourth if you want, but definitely after Week 1 and Week 2. And month 1, and month 2. And 6 months and a year. Make them good rewards, that you’ll look forward to: CDs, books, DVDs, T-shirts, shoes, a massage, a bike, a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, a hotel stay … whatever you can afford. Even better: take whatever you would have spent on smoking each day, and put it in a jar. This is your Rewards Jar. Go crazy! Celebrate your every success! You deserve it.

7. Delay. If you have an urge, wait. Do the following things: take 10 deep breaths. Drink water. Eat a snack (at first it was candy and gum, then I switched to healthier stuff like carrots and frozen grapes and pretzels). Call your support person. Post on your smoking cessation forum. Exercise. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES, BUT DELAY, DELAY, DELAY. You will make it through it, and the urge will go away. When it does, celebrate! Take it one urge at a time, and you can do it.

8. Replace Negative Habits with Positive Ones. What do you do when you’re stressed? If you currently react to stress with a cigarette, you’ll need to find something else to do. Deep breathing, self massage of my neck and shoulders, and exercise have worked wonders for me. Other habits, such as what you do the first thing in the morning, or what you do in the car, or wherever you usually smoke, should be replaced with better, more positive ones. Running has been my best positive habit, although I have a few others that replaced smoking.

9. Make it Through Hell Week, then Heck Week, and You’re Golden. The hardest part of quitting is the first two days. If you can get past that, you’ve passed the nicotine withdrawal stage, and the rest is mostly mental. But all of the first week is hell. Which is why it’s called Hell Week. After that, it begins to get easier. Second week is Heck Week, and is still difficult, but not nearly as hellish as the first. After that, it was smooth sailing for me. I just had to deal with an occasional strong urge, but the rest of the urges were light, and I felt confident I could make it through anything.

10. If You Fall, Get Up. And Learn From Your Mistakes. Yes, we all fail. That does not mean we are failures, or that we can never succeed. If you fall, it’s not the end of the world. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again. I failed numerous times before succeeding. But you know what? Each of those failures taught me something. Well, sometimes I repeated the same mistakes several times, but eventually I learned. Figure out what your obstacles to success are, and plan to overcome them in your next quit. And don’t wait a few months until your next quit. Give yourself a few days to plan and prepare, commit fully to it, and go for it!

BONUS TIP #11: THINK POSITIVE. This is the most important tip of all. I saved it for last. If you have a positive, can-do attitude, as corny as it may sound, you will succeed. Trust me. It works. Tell yourself that you can do it, and you will. Tell yourself that you can’t do it, and you definitely won’t. When things get rough, think positive! You CAN make it through the urge. You CAN make it through Hell Week. And you can. I did. So have millions of others. We are no better than you. (In my case, worse.)

 Editor’s note:  Lots of people have asked for this, so I pulled a guest post.  If you are interested in replacing some thoughts with positive ones and being more mindful of getting healthy, see the Work With Me tab as I would suggest the Gratitude Journal to keep you going on the right path.

Mental Badassery: Becoming Aware of the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Mental AwarenessMental Badassery: Becoming Aware of the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Guest Post By Leo Babauta

There’s a hidden mechanism that creates unhappiness, difficulty changing habits, relationship problems, frustration, anger and disappointment.

Barely anyone is aware of this hidden mechanism, even though it’s happening all the time, in all of us.

It’s the stories we tell ourselves.

We do it all day long: we tell ourselves a story about what’s happening in our lives, about other people, about ourselves. When I call them “stories” … that doesn’t mean they’re false, or that they aren’t based on the truth. It just means we’ve constructed a narrative based on our experiences, a perspective on the world around us, an interpretation of facts as we see them. Not false, but not necessarily the entire truth — just one perspective.

A different person could look at the same situation and tell a very different situation.

A few examples:

  1. You might have a story about how your boss is very supportive and praises you a lot, which means you are doing a good job and like your work environment, and this story makes you happy. Another person might look at the same situation and tell a story about how the work area is messy and people are always interrupting him and he’s tired and the clients are rude and smelly.
  2. You might be upset with your spouse because she was rude to you or didn’t clean up her messes for the last few days. Another person might have the same experience but tell themselves a story about how his spouse has been working hard at her job, has gone out of her way to cook a nice meal for you, and is tired and needs some comforting.
  3. You might have a story about how you keep procrastinating, keep failing at being disciplined, never stick to a workout routine. Another perspective might be that you have gotten some great things done despite getting distracted, you’ve been passionate about learning something and that’s taken a priority over work tasks you’re dreading, and you are tired and need some rest before you can tackle exercise with vigor.

Each of these examples have very different stories about the same situations — it’s about which details you pay attention to, and how you shape the narrative of those details.

Now, telling ourselves stories is natural — we all do it, all the time. There’s nothing wrong with it. But if we’re not aware of the stories we tell ourselves, we can’t understand how they shape our happiness, relationships, moods, and more.

Becoming Aware of Your Stories

Throughout the day, you’re telling yourself stories about what’s going on, about how wrong other people are to do what they do, about how good or bad you are at things.

My challenge to you is to start to notice what you’re telling yourself about everything.

It’s important to be aware of what those stories are, and how they’re affecting your happiness. If a story is making you happy, and you’re aware of that, then great! If you’re not aware of it, it’s not such a big problem if it’s making you happy, but what happens if the story starts to make you unhappy with your life? Then if you’re not aware, you have difficulties.

So start to become aware of your stories, good and bad. Notice them throughout the day.

Notice when you’re getting stuck in the story, spinning it around and around in your head. So and so shouldn’t have done this, and on and on, making you frustrated and unhappy with the person.

When we get hooked on a story, it’s hard to break away from it. But becoming aware of being hooked is the most important step.

What We Can Do

So what can we do if we’re hooked on a story? It can be very difficult to break out of that trap. I know, because it happens to me all the time — I see the story I’m telling myself, but it seems so solid and real that I can’t just let it go.

The first thing you can do is regard it as a dream. That doesn’t mean it’s false, it just means it’s not so solid. It’s something you’re playing out in your head, just like a dream, with very real emotional results. See it as a dream, not solid, and see if you can come out of the dream to the physical reality of the world around you in this moment. What sensations are happening right now, as opposed to in this dream?

The next thing you can do is not act on the story. Even if you’re caught up in it, that doesn’t mean you have to lash out at someone, or run away to distraction or comfort. Just sit with the story, notice how it’s making you feel, notice the physical sensations in your body. Notice that you’re caught up. But don’t act, just stay with your awareness.

There is another way of being: where you don’t cling to the stories but instead drop below them, and are just aware of the moment as it is, without interpretations, judgements, preconceptions. Stories will still come up, but you can notice them and not get caught up. Or if you do get caught up, notice that and don’t hold so tightly to it, coming back to the present moment.

However, this is a pretty advanced skill, and most of us can’t stay in this mode of being for very long. For now, just focus on awareness of your story, regarding it as a dream, and not acting on the story as much as we normally do.

In this way, you’ll be less caught up in whatever is causing unhappiness and frustration, and more present in the current moment.

 

Feel free to start changing your story today…

Mindfully Free of Wanting People to Be a Certain Way

Mindfully Free of Wanting People to Be a Certain Way

Guest post by Leo Babauta

One of the biggest sources of difficulties for every single human being is the desire for people to be a certain way.

We can’t seem to help it: we want the world to be the way we want it. Unfortunately, reality always has different plans, and people behave in less-than-ideal ways.

The problem isn’t other people. It’s our ideals.

Yes, I think it would be great if people stopped killing animals for food and fashion, and became vegan instead. But that’s not the reality I’m faced with, and it’s not going to happen for quite some time, if ever.

Yes, I think it would be great if my kids behaved perfectly all the time, but that’s not the reality of kids. Or any human beings, for that matter.

Yes, it would be great if my wife always agreed with me, but that’s not going to happen.

So the problem is:

  • We have ideals about how people should act, or ways we’d like them to be.
  • People don’t act in those ideal ways, or aren’t the way we’d like them to be.
  • We get bothered by that reality. Frustrated, angry, sad, disappointed, stressed.
  • This makes us unhappy, and damages our relationships with others.

This is obviously not great.

We have a couple of options:

  1. Stick rigidly to the way we want people to be, and be upset when they don’t meet those ideals.
  2. Stick rigidly to the way we want people to be, and try really hard to make them be that way. (This pretty much never works.)
  3. Let go of the ideals and be happier and less frustrated.

When we think about it this way, it’s obvious that option 3 is the best route. We’ll talk about this option soon, but let’s talk about a couple of objections first.

Objections to Letting Go

When people are confronted with the idea of letting go of their ideals about other people, they usually have a few objections:

  • Objection: But then people get away with bad behavior. There’s a difference between wanting someone to behave a certain way (and getting upset when they don’t) … and accepting that a person is acting a certain way, and then compassionately finding an appropriate response. In the first case, you are angry at them for their behavior, and your response out of anger is likely to make things worse. In the second case, you aren’t bothered too much, but can see that their behavior is harmful and want to help them not harm. You can’t actually control them, but you can try to help. If you try to help but need them to accept your help, then it will be continued frustration. Help but let go of the ideal outcome you’d like from your offered help.
  • Objection: But what about abusive behavior? There’s a difference between being agonized about the abuse, and accepting that the person is abusive and taking appropriate action. Letting go of your ideals about how the abusive person should act doesn’t mean you let them abuse you. It just means you accept that they are an abuser, while taking the appropriate action of getting away from them, and reporting them or seeking help for them if it’s appropriate. Don’t leave yourself in a place where you’re being harmed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be afflicted by someone else’s actions.
  • Objection: But then we don’t make the world a better place. If people behave in less-than-ideal ways, you can agonize about it while trying to change them, or you can accept that the world is not ideal … but calmly and compassionately work to help others. In both cases, you’re trying to do good … but in the second case, you’re not agonizing about how things are.

So these objections are all about wanting to change people’s bad behavior. This article is about inner acceptance of “bad” behavior (or what I think of as “not ideal”) … but once you have inner acceptance, you can take appropriate external action. That might be helping, being compassionate, getting to safety, talking calmly and lovingly to someone, reporting abusive behavior, getting counseling, or many more appropriate actions that come from a place of love, compassion and understanding rather than frustration and anger.

Letting Go of Ideals

So how do you let go of wanting people to be a certain way?

First, reflect on how these ideals are harming you and others. This wanting your way, this wanting a specific version of reality … is making you frustrated, unhappy, angry. It’s harming your relationship. It’s likely making the other person unhappy as well. This is all caused by an attachment to expectations and ideals.

Next, reflect on wanting yourself and others to be happy. If the ideals and expectations are harming yourself and others … wouldn’t it be nice to stop harming yourself? Wouldn’t it be nice to be happy instead of frustrated? Think about the desire to have a better relationship with other people as well, and for them to be happier in their relationship with you. This is your intention, and it is one of love.

Third, notice the ideals and frustrations as they arise. See when someone else is frustrating you, and reflect on what ideal you’re holding for them. How do you want them to behave instead? Don’t get caught up in your story of why they should behave that way, but instead just take note of the ideal. See that this ideal is harming you. Decide that it’s not useful to you.

Also notice your mental pattern of resentment when someone doesn’t meet your expectations, and decide to try to catch it early. It’s a pattern you can be aware of and catch early, and decide to change your pattern.

Next, mindfully observe the tightness. Turn your attention to your body, the tightness that comes from holding on to this ideal. Pay attention to how it feels, the quality of the energy in your body, where it’s located, how it changes. In this moment of observing, you are awake, rather than being stuck in the daydream of your story about why this person should be behaving differently.

At this point, you can decide to try a different pattern.

A Different Way

So now, you can practice a different way of being.

Here are some ideas I’ve found useful:

  • Instead of fixing on one way this person (or situation) should be, be open to other possibilities. Open yourself to lots of different ways this person or situation can be.
  • Try to understand the person, rather than judging them based on limited information. Try to understand why they’d act this way — perhaps they are afraid. Perhaps they’re suffering in some way. Perhaps this is their strategy for protecting themselves.
  • Try to see the good-hearted nature of their actions, rather than one where they are a bad person. For example, you might see that they are tender-hearted and afraid, and so are acting out of fear. Or they just want to be happy, and this is their strategy for being happy. Or maybe they have good intentions and want to help, but are misguided. We all have a good heart deep down inside, but it might take several layers to see that. Anger can stem from jealousy which stems from insecurities and fear, which stems from a tender-hearted worry that we’re not good enough. The angry action isn’t justified, but there is still a good heart at the core.
  • See their suffering that causes their actions and know that you have suffered in the same way. Remember how that suffering feels, so you can see what they’re going through. Compassionately wish for an end to their suffering.
  • Tell yourself that you don’t know how people should act. Honestly, I don’t always know how I should act … I am fooling myself if I think I know how other people should act. Instead, I might be curious about their actions.
  • See the other person as a teacher. They are helping you practice mindfulness, and let go of your old patterns. They are teaching you about reality vs. ideals, about how humans act.
  • Relax. Seriously, see the tightness you’re holding, and just relax. Smile. Be happy in this present moment.
  • Practice see the goodness in the other person, in yourself, and in the present moment. There is always an underlying goodness in this moment, if you choose to notice. Trust in this goodness, and you’ll be afraid less and happier more.

These are some practices. Try them, practice them over and over. I think you’ll be happier for it, and every relationship will be better.

Do you need more mindful living in your life?  Check out the Head|Heart|Health Club.

5 Signs You are Shifting Unsettled Thoughts.

The waves of energy from you guys, my readers on the fan page for the blog, have been almost knocking me over.  This leaves me feeling some energy that I would like to calm right now.  It is a feeling of general “unsettledness”…which might not really be a word, but basically it is a feeling of unease.

What the heck is going on??

I can tell you.  It is a new year and with that comes the desire that is so strong to change ourselves and leave this old nonsense behind.  We are done.  DONE with blocks to our future.  We are DONE with this past nonsense that tries to come back to haunt us like Jacob Marley.  Not Bob, that would be okay.  We are DONE trying to make sense of what is happening in the future. And the truth is, all of this is okay.  We need to learn to be content with where we are.

Old wounds do, from time to time, split open.  THAT my friends, is the place where growth happens.  It’s messy and sticky and uncomfortable.  We want to put the band-aid back on our souls, my God we do.  But what if it is bleeding so much we can’t use a band-aid right now?  What if we need to clean it up a little, find the source of the pain, and then start to heal?  <<< that is where we are right now.  And I feel it so close to the surface for so many people right now I am about to burst wide open myself.  But guess what?  It’s exciting!

We are shifting into our purpose, so get ready.

AS we shift, that energy is messy.  It makes us feel unsettled and we might bounce from idea to idea or topic to topic until the right one clicks into place.  It’s like we are breaking into our soul vault and we don’t know the combination.  That is why we are feeling this way.  We are getting closer to the correct combination.  Heck, maybe we only are one number away.  But we have to be willing to stick this out my friends.

5 signs you are making the shift:

  1. Your past is trying to haunt you.  Jacob and his chains are all over.  I know that they make a lot of noise, but in reality, they can’t hurt you.  They are merely trying to get your attention that it is time to move on from that.
  2. Signs keep coming up that show help is near.  The perfect article on what you are feeling is right there.  The friend you have been thinking about calls.  The feather in your path might signify heavenly help is near.  Rainbows appear.  The numbers change to 11:11 or 3:33.  11 is a powerful number of dreams, intuitive illumination, and connection with Spirit.
  3. You are a bit moody.  Look out!  You might feel weepy, angry, unworthy and just plain over it right now.  It is normal, but let’s help this part pass.  In my Head|Heart|Health Club, we are working on really shifting into the feeling we want, and getting clear on what makes us happy.  I want you to practice that too.  So when you are in a mood, get clear on the exact emotional trigger that caused it.  Use a thesaurus if you need to and write down the opposite of that word and then write out what makes you feel supported and ________.  <<< the opposite of how you feel now.
  4. You are ready to pick a fight with anyone who will listen…including yourself.  This is the build up of energy and it needs a place to go.  Have you gone on a walk, gotten out of the house, taken a nice epsom salt bath or re-charged with your favorite things lately?  What are you doing for you??  Seriously.  Use the search button on side here and read more about self-care or explore my online catalog if you’d like to try your hand at my Gratitude E-book Self-guided Journal.  Find ways to shift this energy into thankfulness for the good in your life.
  5. Your about to make a big break-through and then your heater goes out and money is due here, here and here.  We have to let go of this feeling of lack.  This happened because we needed to shift into the thinking that everything is going to truly be okay and everything we need will be provided for us.  Sure, not everyone feels this way.  This leads to scarcity feelings and it leads us to panic.  It is normal.  Totally normal to have a flip out just as you thought your life was coming together and something bizarre happens.  <<< I have had so many of these things happen it is not funny.  I should make you a list to make you feel better…you probably wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff that happens to me like this.  BUT, I am not going to dwell on it right now.  I had to write out a big check the other day, and I just said with gratitude that I was happy to be giving this man my money to fix my heat.

Trust me on this, you are not alone.  If you have been reading my blog for a while you know there are years that take from me, and years that give.  We have to accept a few truths.  We can’t go back.  We are not always going to feel the same way and there are times none of this makes a bit of sense to us.  Trust me on this, but in the end, the pieces are really going to fit together and you will be surprised at the whole picture.  The dust will settle and the outlook will really be much better.  Let’s work on shifting into a comfortable flow this year.  The work on the inside will lead you to greater results on the outside.

Speak to you soon.  ~Aimee

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Energy Right Now!

Like a battery, you feel completely drained.  Depending on what’s going on around you, you feel like you haven’t the energy you once possessed.  Could you be getting sick?  It’s possible.  But I want you to take a look at a few things first.

Have you ever noticed that being in the presence of someone truly and miraculously seems to lift you up?  After spending time with that person, you come home humming, or want to do things you might normally not even think about doing?  Just think for a moment if there is such a person like this who is your lift force.  I have spoken about this before during my talks and written about it before, but if you have your journal, you can even take a page and think for a moment about all the supportive people you have around you.

Likewise, we are now going to draw our attention to something that energetically feels so draining that we can’t wait to escape their presence.  The drag force.  When I speak of this during my talks, I actually have to roll my shoulders as my back gets tight.

There was once a time I felt well, except that I constantly felt drained by someone’s presence.  I would go to work happy and content, and then this person would tell me every one of her problems…repeatedly.  There was never a solution that worked or a way out…or so it seemed. How did I find a way out of the draining cycle?

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Energy:

  1. It sounds like a cliché, I know, but your vibe really does attract your tribe.  Yogananda called this phenomenon “the law of invisible vibratory exchange.”  It is vitally important that you understand this principle to be true as you start building up your “lift force” around you.  Make your list in your private journal of who really lifts you up.  Once you become aware of the energy, you can start to see a pattern where you have dips or energy loss after being near someone who is more of a drag force, or negative influence on you.
  2. It is important that if you have to come in contact with a negative force, you get grounded before and after the visit.  As you center your thoughts, you can imagine being protected as you come in contact with that person.  Read more on the above link as well, but make sure that you keep your contact to as short a time as possible.  What happens if you live with a negative force?  Enroll in yoga, meditation, or a group activity where the people around you have a like-minded goal.  There is more under my Head|Heart|Health tab for an online community as well where keeping our heads clear and our hearts on how we want to feel is the end goal to overall wellness.
  3. Listen to music that moves your soul and uplifts your heart.  On one of my other talks, I showed the difference between me normally when I come on the FB Live show, and me after listening to the Bee Gees.  <<< yes.  I love to sing with them.  But seriously, think about the song “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys.  Ever thought about it?  It really does raise your vibration with the right tune.
  4. Be conscious of what you put in your body.  During my 4 Weeks to Wellness class, I talk about nutrition and the effects of sugar on the body.  I know people are going to be coming after me when I take away their sweets, but that’s why I train you to look for the hidden ingredients and do it for yourself.  This has to be done on your own time and it has to be something you want in order to move forward and feel better.
  5. Know how you want to feel.  Again, this one might sound simple, but do you know how you want to feel each day?  What are your weekly goals and how are you working to create a life that is working FOR you…not against you.  With a few small tweaks to your everyday routine, you can learn to block the energy of others by focusing more on what you want each day.  Getting clear on your thoughts before coming in contact with someone who might try to dis-rail your progress is imperative in strengthening your energy.

 

3 Reasons a Fresh New Year is So Appealing.

Many people are stuck in a relationship they just don’t like, a job that sucks the life out of them, and debt that is dragging them down.  But this, my friends, this is the year that can change all that…or so you tell yourself.

The problem is unless you change some of your thoughts, patterns of behavior, and habits, it is just going to continue.  Many of us are looking for that blank slate.  Ahhh.  The clock strikes midnight and it is a brand new year.  What can we accomplish that is going to be different from last year?  What heights are we going to soar to if we have a fresh year before us?

Wherever we are in life’s journey, it is, quite frankly, up to you to decide what you are going to do with your fresh start.

3 Reasons a Fresh New Year is So Appealing:

  1. At any given point in our lives, we really do have the power to change.  We have to accept full responsibility though, and oftentimes, we want to blame other people.  But as the New Year starts, usually our resolutions are written in I statements.  This is the year I will…  It is in that moment, when we aren’t thinking about others and who to blame or lack of money, etc, that we really are grabbing the reigns of our future…and that my friends, is empowering.
  2. We get really clear on what we want.  This is the time we stop second guessing ourselves.  We say things like “I am going to lose 5 pounds.” and we know that we want to do this thing.  We don’t even think about how at the moment, we just get really clear on what we want to do.  This attitude is the one that helps us prepare for what we really want in our lives.  if we can stay in this state of mind by constantly re-aligning to this statement, we can actually make this happen.
  3. We believe anything can happen in this new year…and so it can.  This is the time our thoughts have turned inward.  This is powerful!!  We start thinking more about what our heart wants, and we get out of our heads long enough to believe it can happen.  As we turn inward and listen more intently to intuition, we again affirm what we already knew.  We’ve got this.  We just need a little re-direction every now and again from our heart strings…as they are pulling us in the right direction.

Last year, I got really crystal clear on what I wanted my life to look like.  As I started my journal therapy, my life began to change in ways that were astonishing.  I would look back over the new month where I had my goals that I really wanted to accomplish that month and there were so many checks by the end of the month.  Sometimes the check marks appeared a few months down the road, but still, I was able to check things off at a much higher rate than I ever had before.

I was able to pay off a huge amount of debt, buy a new vehicle, renew my passport, go on vacation, and do many of the things I had set as long-term goals.  But just by writing them on my future goals sheet in my journal, they were there and I was held accountable to my dreams.  It was actually quite powerful.  Of course, not everything has happened yet, but I am moving those dreams over into my new journal for next year.

I invite you to get crystal clear with me in the new year by checking out my monthly content under the Head|Heart|Health tab and start shaping your future the way you want.  It really does feel amazing to take ownership of your life!

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