How NOT to Multitask – Work Simpler and Saner

MultitaskGuest post by Leo Babauta

You’re working on two projects at once, while your boss has placed two new demands on your desk. You’re on the phone while three new emails come in. You are trying to get out the door on time so you can pick up a few groceries on the way home for dinner. Your Blackberry is going off and so is your cell phone. Your co-worker stops by with a request for info and your Google Reader is filled with 100+ messages to read.

You are juggling tasks with a speed worthy of Ringling Bros. Congratulations, multitasker.

In this age of instant technology, we are bombarded with an overload of information and demands of our time. This is part of the reason GTD is so popular in the information world — it’s a system designed for quick decisions and for keeping all the demands of your life in order. But even if we are using GTD, sometimes we are so overwhelmed with things to do that our system begins to fall apart.

Life Hack recently posted How to Multi-task, and it’s a good article on the nature of multi-tasking and how to do it while still focusing on one task at a time.

This post is How NOT to Multi-task — a guide to working as simply as possible for your mental health.

First, a few quick reasons not to multi-task:

  1. Multi-tasking is less efficient, due to the need to switch gears for each new task, and the switch back again.
  2. Multi-tasking is more complicated, and thus more prone to stress and errors.
  3. Multi-tasking can be crazy, and in this already chaotic world, we need to reign in the terror and find a little oasis of sanity and calm.

Here are some tips on how NOT to multi-task:

  1. First set up to-do lists for different contexts (i.e. calls, computer, errands, home, waiting-for, etc.) depending on your situation.
  2. Have a capture tool (such as a notebook) for instant notes on what needs to be done.
  3. Have a physical and email inbox (as few inboxes as possible) so that all incoming stuff is gathered together in one place (one for paper stuff, one for digital).
  4. Plan your day in blocks, with open blocks in between for urgent stuff that comes up. You might try one-hour blocks, or half-hour blocks, depending on what works for you. Or try this: 40 minute blocks, with 20 minutes in between them for miscellaneous tasks.
  5. First thing in the morning, work on your Most Important Task. Don’t do anything else until this is done. Give yourself a short break, and then start on your next Most Important Task. If you can get 2-3 of these done in the morning, the rest of the day is gravy.
  6. When you are working on a task in a time block, turn off all other distractions. Shut off email, and the Internet if possible. Shut off your cell phone. Try not to answer your phone if possible. Focus on that one task, and try to get it done without worrying about other stuff.
  7. If you feel the urge to check your email or switch to another task, stop yourself. Breathe deeply. Re-focus yourself. Get back to the task at hand.
  8. If other things come in while you’re working, put them in the inbox, or take a note of them in your capture system. Get back to the task at hand.
  9. Every now and then, when you’ve completed the task at hand, process your notes and inbox, adding the tasks to your to-do lists and re-figuring your schedule if necessary. Process your email and other inboxes at regular and pre-determined intervals.
  10. There are times when an interruption is so urgent that you cannot put it off until you’re done with the task at hand. In that case, try to make a note of where you are (writing down notes if you have time) with the task at hand, and put all the documents or notes for that task together and aside (perhaps in an “action” folder or project folder). Then, when you come back to that task, you can pull out your folder and look at your notes to see where you left off.
  11. Take deep breaths, stretch, and take breaks now and then. Enjoy life. Go outside, and appreciate nature. Keep yourself sane.
 

Raise Your Energy Right Now With These 3 Tips!

3 tips to raise energyI know you feel it too.  Some wonky, stagnant, possibly influenced by Mercury Retrograde, weird vibes.  The downdraft of negative energy is flowing around your T.V., other people, and your cell phone.  Anytime you see a headline of something negative, you feel yourself being pulled down.  Every click-baity headline designed to grab your energy is doing just that.

It is more vital than ever to surround yourself by those types of energies you really want to attract and protect yourself from the ones you wish you could repel.  So how exactly do we repel the bad stuff?

We raise our energy!

We work each and every day to detoxify our heads, hearts and improve our overall health by clearing ourselves of the energetic gunk that is trying to drag us down.  Our programming, our limiting beliefs, and much more that feels “heavy” and not in true alignment with who we want to be has got to be shed like a snake skin.

Great!  How do we do this?

  1. Stop.  Drop.  And meditate or sit in easy pose (sukhasana).  I am going to give you a tip from my Club this month.  I knew that people would need support during this time, so I wanted to introduce easy and accessible yoga poses to my Head|Heart|Health Club.  I want you to begin your practice seated…anywhere, but outside in the sun is great as well.  Close your eyes and feel the earth beneath you.  Feel every part of your body and visualize the earth supporting you.  You are at peace.  Take a deep breath in through your nose and as you let out a long exhale, feel your feet, legs and pelvis releasing a bit further into the ground.  As you begin to surrender to the pose, notice how you feel without resistance.  The spine naturally feels better and more light.  The crown of the head is nice and level.  You feel a good connection to the ground beneath you and you are at ease.  Thus easy pose has already helped stabilize your mood.
  2. Express gratitude for the world around you.  Do not spend this time yearning for the things you do not have.  Instead, appreciate the good in your life and it will come back to you ten-fold.  This practice begins to increase the abundance in life and I have personally noticed a huge shift upon repeating my 30 day Gratitude Journal exercises.  If you need more support on this, feel free to visit my E-book link.  The science of being thankful for what we already have in our lives was the true basis of how I learned to heal what I once perceived as a broken body.  Shifting my perspective to what I could do versus what I could not do continues to help me through life as well as through my yoga practice.  I am so very grateful that I can move again without crying because I can remember a time when this was one of the hardest things I ever did.  Making it from the bed to the bathroom.  Little by little, that practice of waking up and saying thank you with each step healed my soul.
  3. Learn to eat more mindfully.  This one can be a difficult task for lots of people.  I am teaching in my Club this month that eating Mindfully does not mean starvation.  It simply means being more aware of what certain types of food do to your moods, how you feel after you eat, and what actually makes you feel amazing versus what makes you feel regret and guilt.  Mindful eating also involves higher vibrational foods such as clean eating.  One ingredient good ole’ vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other things you can actually pronounce.  As well as upping the water intake daily.  It really can be that simple to start raising your vibration and blocking the energy drain.

I hope you enjoyed these tips today and if you want more information on anything that I teach, please see my brand new online portal.  When you click I need support, it takes you to read about the Club and what we have to offer you!

Tips to Raise energy

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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

7 Ways Starting a Daily Journal Practice Will Change Your Life

7 Ways Starting a Daily Journal Practice Will Change Your Life

I’ll never forget the night I sat down and decided that there was much more to keeping a journal than 30 days of Gratitude.  Don’t get me wrong, that is absolutely what started my goal of journaling for an entire year.  In 30 days, I saw more progress in my outside world than I had in a long time.  Starting a daily journal practice absolutely will change your life…if you commit to getting to know your subconscious mind. 

The thoughts.

There was a chasm, a freaking chasm, between who I wanted to be and what my thoughts were telling me.  I was not living up to my full potential and the 18 years of living with invisible diseases had worn away the once shiny coat I saw of life.  It was dull and bitter.  This wasn’t what I saw my life looking like, I would think through the hazy fog of pain.  Why bother getting out of my pajamas?  My subconscious would tease me.  Get under these blankets and rest.  You deserve it.  You have 7 invisible diseases.  No one blames you for sitting here.  You are just trying to survive.  And that’s when it hit me.

The goal.

I wanted to live, not merely survive.  I wanted to change my thoughts, my world and help others like me.  I wanted to be an inspiration to my children and I wanted my husband to stop feeling so helpless about the physical pain I was in.  I wanted my dad to stop looking at me like he broke me by passing on the genes that made me different.  And one night, it all came to me on how to help others with this.

7 Ways Starting a Daily Journal Practice Will Change Your Life:

  1. Journaling clears your head.  As you begin the “getting ready for bed” routine, your brain has probably been on some sort of tech.  Your brain still thinks it’s play time actually, so it’s time to start clearing our heads, and start putting our brains to bed so to speak.  It is time to reduce the scattered thoughts that so much information available to us at one time (the internet) provides us.  As we get ready for bed, it is time to increase our focus on a few specific things and start to recharge.  We are now providing the bridge between our subconscious and our conscious waking thoughts.  So much information can just flow if we let go!
  2. Your intentions become more clear.  A few weeks ago, you would have thought I asked people to throw away their phones.  I simply suggested getting an old-fashioned alarm clock and stop relying so much on your phones to wake you up in the morning.  I merely pointed out that the tone with which you start your day stays with you (and that link is even a few years old, it is much greater now as it points out in the study).  So if you take 5-10 minutes to think about what your wrote the night before, and how to utilize the first 10 minutes of waking up as pure visualization, gratitude practice, and goal setting, you will start to see tiny changes in your productivity during the day.  New opportunities will arise.
  3. Abundance in your life will increase by your ability to be very specific with what you want.  Last year, I paid off a very high credit card bill because I wrote about my monthly goals every single month until that thing was paid off.  I was not in a good place financially at the time due to me leaving work to have my “sabbatical” of healing.  This is a true story.  I was driving a mini-van that was falling apart, and I knew that I wanted a new vehicle.  The funds came in for me to pay off the credit card bills, and have money left-over to get the vehicle without worry or fear.  I also renewed my passport and traveled overseas where I had been invited to speak at a conference.  It was exactly what I had written out.  I was specific on some things I wanted to get done and each month as I started a new month, I would plan out that month’s goals.  I got very clear and things changed.
  4. How do you want to feel each day?  Why is it so frustrating that as we live our lives, we focus so much on what we DON’T want to attract??  Why is it that we don’t ever take a minute to connect to how we actually want to feel?  To live?  What do we really want to experience on a daily basis?  I am by no means saying that there aren’t wonderful people out there who can help you figure this out in therapy, but I was spending my co-pay ($25 a visit at the time…now up to $30), trying to get “unstuck” from the depression caused by the diseases when I finally had the Epiphany that if I wrote just a little bit each day on how I wanted to feel, and what I wanted to create, that I could make more progress through the mental jungle in my head than the lady sitting there listening to me could.  I was holding back what I told her anyway (note, you can also use this in addition to, so just letting you know. There are many ways to use journaling).
  5. Gratitude starts to increase as you notice the good in your life.  Do you ever think that someone in your life could use more thoughts of gratitude?  I did too.  But trying to change another person is like changing a light bulb using the Force (unless you truly are a Jedi and I am mistaken).  You can mentally torture yourself about this other situation that you can’t change, or you can start focusing on the good you already have in your life.  As we think about the good in our lives, and we seriously raise our vibration to one of thankfulness and gratitude, things start to take on a whole new perspective.  Trust me, I know.  I will never forget the day I got to stock up my refrigerator with good food because surprisingly, gluten-free items are way more expensive than things with gluten…as well as things that don’t have additives.   I was so very thankful that I lived in a time when I could find the food I needed without getting sick.
  6. Comparison starts to melt away.  I was once friend with someone who always wanted what other people had.  Nothing in life made her happy.  At all.  This kind of stuff melts away as you focus on your monthly goals, your monthly intentions, your happiness and what you have.  Who cares what person x “appears” to have?  Truth bomb.  They are faking it too sister.  Yup.  Marriage might be rocky, job might be stressful, and they never have time to just breathe.  Don’t focus on their fappiness.  <<< My word for Fake-happy I made up one day.  That’s another story before the healing process…read later if you are there.
  7. Journaling gets you closer to self.  Head is where your thoughts are and they are things you really don’t want others to know.  Heart is actually where your self lives.  The two don’t always agree.  In fact, they often argue.  Your head is like “Let’s be practical with this money.”  Your heart is like “Oh my gosh.  I need a pick-me-up today.  Going to shop.”  This is just my example as I couldn’t put 2 thoughts together the other day as it was a bad news day for 2 friends, so I listened to my heart and stopped working and left the house.  AS I let go of that fear though, and learn to write about it, I actually visualize things working out.  Not just for me, but for others in my life as well.  Self is my essence and I know that it distinguishes me from others.  In this instance, I am not talking about the ego.  I am talking about who I was before I let all the labels of disease try to take over that essence.  For me personally, I had to find my way back there and that journey will look different for each and every one of you, but whether you write two lines on a page, draw art therapy photos under quotes, bullet journal, or just jot down monthly goals and intentions, you can find your way back.  Trust the process.

For more information on what came to me one night while I was journaling, see this link on my Mindful Coaching.  If you want some guidance on this process, with no strings attached, you can leave at anytime, click on the word support on that page and find me in my closed group.  The Head|Heart|Health Club would love to see you this month!

Who are you choosing to be?

Coping When a Dysfunctional Friendship Ends

 dys·func·tion·al

The friendship started innocently enough.  We had lots of things in common so small talk led to drinks after work, outings, and even group adventures.  I was so happy that I had found a friend who really listened to me and supported me.  As time went on, I started feeling heard less and less.  I tried to make adjustments in the conversation, but it always circled back to whatever new and terrible thing had happened to her.  Some nights, I would be on the computer for hours consoling her and helping her through something.  I would go to bed mentally and physically drained.  The “friendship” was not reciprocal.

My husband had enough and told me to just ignore the messages that always started out the same way.  It seemed she wanted to catch up and “talk”, but we never did anything anymore.  She didn’t call me on the phone, didn’t answer my text messages, and didn’t want to see me.  She just wanted to use messenger as her personal dumping ground all night long.

I felt alone and isolated in the friendship.  I was not important enough to make time for.  There were other examples as well.  An event we were going to go to together that she said we would plan…weeks later, photos of her with someone else at the event.  Exercise class no show…and excuses on nights I asked her to do something with me, or just come over and chat.  However, throughout this process, when she needed me or wanted to come over to see a mutual friend, I made the time.  I was always making time because trust is something I value.

That’s when it finally hit me.  I didn’t trust her anymore due to the lies and excuses.  I was nurturing a friendship that was crumbling because I believed she would wake up and see what she was doing to me.  It wasn’t going to happen because I was not the only one she lied to.  She lied to her husband, to her work, to mutual friends, and most of all, to herself.  I could not fix this.  She had to get back to seeing a weekly counselor and nothing I did or said would ever be enough until she was ready to work on herself.

How to cope when a friendship ends?

  • Make a plan. What would you do if you were to run into this person again?  What would happen if this person wanted back in your life?  I know the answers seem hard to think about, but it’s best to run through that now while you are fresh to whatever happened in the relationship.  The main question is does the relationship empower me or deflate me?  Is there capacity for an authentic, honest relationship or not?  Honestly, you already know the answers to these questions.
  • Write your feelings down. I know that this is not like a funeral…but in a way, it is.  You are dealing with the stages of grief, and it is a serious thing.  You have loved that friend, cared for that friend, and despite your best efforts, the friendship ended.  I haven’t forgotten the moments of happiness the friendship brought me, and despite the fact that for the better part of a year I saw the friendship going down a steep hill into a black abyss that sucked all the joy out of it, I still regret the way it ended.  But I also know it takes two working together to save a relationship.  Not one.  The primary emotion that comes to me is anger because of the way it ended.  Anger that I was made to be in the middle of something that was never about me anyway. 
  • Think about the qualities you really want in a friend.  I was in a bad place when we met, but as I started to get better, it seemed to make my friendship worse.  That doesn’t even sound okay to me now.  How could a friend not be happy for me?  I wanted someone who could talk to me in person and not make excuses because they were mad that I was doing better.  I am not sure why I didn’t notice it before.
  • That brings me to “Don’t take it personally.” Everyone is dealing with their own demons.  If the friendship ends, there is a good chance that it is freeing you up for something new.  It will hurt for a long time, but eventually you will realize that you have broken the cycle and moved on.  New friends await you, and this time, as soon as you see something that doesn’t sit well with you, be brave and have that conversation on what is important to you in a friendship.  If this person is meant to be in your life, they will understand, value you, and most importantly, make time for you.

As your self-esteem and self-worth improves, these old friends WILL fall away if they are not meant to be in your life.  You are making room for so much more my friend.  In my closed group, the Head|Heart|Health Club, we are working on exactly what we want to attract in our lives and that includes new boundaries for ourselves and realizing that it truly is okay to feel worthy.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life!

Well, we did it.  We made it to the first day of spring, but for many of us, it doesn’t quite feel like that outside yet.  In fact, there might have been sightings of snow yesterday or it might still be on the ground.  Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather has been a bit interesting.

For many of us though, no matter where you live or what the weather is, we can all use a little light cleaning, or perhaps some deep cleaning, of our lives.  It’s time to re-evaluate who and what you want to keep in your life so let’s get started.

5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life:

  1. I have no closet space!  Okay, so guess what this means?  It’s time to take out as much as possible, try it on, and part with it if it doesn’t fit, you aren’t going to wear it again, or you haven’t worn it in 3 years.  Yup.  Now make those piles, and include your shoes.  If you don’t love it, and it doesn’t work for you, it goes.
  2. Check the expiration dates…in your fridge.  It’s time to get some fresh food in there, you know?  Start with some nice leafy greens, more fruits and veggies and less processed stuff.  You will start to feel better.  More smoothies, and more prepping the snacks ahead of time.  Go ahead and add some fruit water while you are at it.  You will feel much better.
  3. And cue the Rocky music in your head.  It’s time to add a bit more exercise to your day.  I know, I know.  You have been avoiding it.  Well, guess what?  93 days until summer starts.  Let’s make the best of it right now!  Try some exercises at home if you don’t want to get out or even jump-start the next 4 Weeks of your Life with my baby-step plan.
  4. Clean the friend lists and streamline social media.  If you don’t really speak to acquaintances who send you requests because you might know each other from something long ago…or even better, have never met and they don’t speak to you, start thinking about clearing some space.  Especially if they are politically charged and you don’t have the energy for that in your face all the time.  Your energy is important…and keeping it clean is valuable.
  5. Mirror, mirror on the wall…I need sleep before I fall.  How’s your sleep schedule?  Try knocking off from technology an hour earlier.  No matter what.  Tell people as well.  Look friends, I really like you, but at 9p.m., I shut my phone off  There.  It’s done.  Now relax with a new routine.  Read a book, soak in the tub, and get some sleep.  Start a gratitude journal practice.  But try something new that helps get you into better sleep habits.

Start being more mindful today of what you allow into your home, your car, your work area, and of course, your life.  As you work to spring clean your life,  things will start to fall into place.

 

 

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Reduce Stress Now With These 3 Tips!

tips for stressEvery single day, I see signs of stress.  The most stressed people seem to pop in to my yoga class as beginners.  They are literally alive with stress.  I can read their energy like a neon sign.  Do I have the right mat?  Let me look at my phone again for just a second to alert everyone not to bother me for an hour.  Oh, look at her yoga pants.  Is that what I should have bought?  My toes.  Crap.  I didn’t get a pedicure and this class sees my toes.  What if she makes me ohm?  I can’t be doing that.  It’s against my beliefs. 

Okay, so some of these have actually been said directly to me as the yoga teacher…and others said to a friend nearby.  It’s a small quiet space and I pick up on things.  The truth is, I can actually narrow it down to 3 tips because we just don’t do this in our lives.

Reduce Stress With These 3 Tips:

  1. Be present.  <<< I can actually end the article right here, but most people don’t know how to be present, so let me explain.  I read somewhere that being present is an ART.  And I want you to remember that.  In your Activities, Routines, and Triggers.  What we do daily…where we are.  Kids activities or yours.  Be mindful of your feelings and stress levels.  In your daily routines, pay attention to what you are thinking about.  Is it in the now or the past or future?  Focus.  Lastly, triggers.  These we need more help with.  <<< You can open my linked guest post after this.
  2. Are you taking a step back and breathing?  Most people do not take a step back and inhale deeply.  Even in my yoga classes, I actually have to teach deep breathing.  People even breathe quickly.  Like hurry up breath, I got things to do.  But instead, rephrase and mentally say “I can slow down and breathe today.”  If you take longer, deeper, more cellular breaths you will actually start to lower your blood pressure, so do that for a full round of three.  Daily.  Each time you feel stress, panic or anxiety come on.
  3. Think for yourself in a non-judging way.  As I said today on my FB Live, yes, this one is hard people.  Most people lack the ability to just let the thoughts pass by as observations.  Sometimes we think not nice things.  About ourselves, others, society as a whole, etc.  Sometimes, the thoughts aren’t even ours.  They were programmed in long ago by things we heard our parents say and now we say them to ourselves too.  But what if we practiced discernment?  The ability to practice more understanding or awareness.  What if we knew we sounded like a programmed robot on auto-pilot?

My glorious and wonderful friend was so scared of letting me down, her words, in my yoga class that she came in apologizing.  She hadn’t seen me in years, and wasn’t aware at all of how I taught yoga.  She knew she wanted to do it, and in her eyes, it was the Instagram version.  Umm no.  I am not an Insta teacher.  She thought she had to be flexible (no), dressed in the latest (no), and have a pedicure.  No.  It took several classes of me actually teaching the yogic breathing, philosophy and more to get her to come in to class and just breathe a sigh of relief.  No one was watching her.  They were all in their own heads.  It is okay to fall out of a pose.  It is okay to try something and fail.

The stress she had created in her mind was all based off assumptions of judgement, and fear of wanting to fit in.  As we practice patience, trust, acceptance, and letting go, we can begin to feel the stress melt away.  So what if you mess up?  In anything?  The beauty of life is that you can start again.   

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.

Can You Change from Being Reactive to Proactive?

The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it.  ~Stephen Covey

If you aren’t sure if you are proactive or reactive, think about this quote for a minute.  Covey goes on to say that our behavior is determined by three main factors, and unfortunately, they start to look like a “Pavlov reaction” soon enough.

  • Genes: Did you inherit this character from your family?
  • Nurture: You got your character and ideas from how your parents brought you up.
  • Environment: The people and places around you are starting to influence your behavior.

So now that we have determined the basis for being proactive and reactive, it is likely you just decided that you might be just a wee bit reactive.

I don’t mind joking on myself to make a great point, and you can probably see this coming, but I was raised by very reactive people.  It makes for funny stories, it really does, but it makes it difficult to break out of such a cycle.  Here is where it is necessary to start though.   It is time to take off the gauntlets, and start learning your own set of skills for enacting change in your life.  After all…it is YOUR life. 

At some point in your life, it is likely that you have gotten drawn into the “I am going to have the last word” argument.  If you are someone who usually loves to have the last word, then this part will be difficult for you, but you have to try.  What can you do when every form of logic they are speaking just makes no sense, but they keep talking anyway???  <<< try not to flip out.

Here are a few tips for this situation.

  • They really just want you to come back and argue more in this situation…and nothing you say will actually change their mind.
  • Try this “I am not interested in having this debate with you…so I am going to do something more productive with my time.”
  • Stay silent and just look at them.  How often has this worked for you?  The key to your empowerment is to actually NOT have the last word…thus sending the message that there really is nothing to discuss.

When we are in the reactive state of mind, they control our reactions.  I repeat.  They are in control and usually know this by continuing to bait you. 

Here’s another one for you to think about.  You are at work and that co-worker who plucks your last nerve is spouting off at the meeting, the copy room or the lunch area.  You are minding your own business until they insert something that they claimed they did, but it was your idea first.  It could even be that PTA lady at your kid’s school, but it doesn’t matter.  They are being loud in order to get reactions from people.  They want praise and encouragement to continue this line of thinking.  How are you going to handle this?

  • Look them straight in the eye and congratulate them.  This is one way to handle it, but keep it simple.  Nothing more.
  • You have the choice to explore a different route now…and make your original idea much better.  After going down this route, then present it to your boss.  There’s nothing wrong with waiting until you have tweaked it.
  • Enlist in the support of others if you want to make a bigger impact with your idea.  If you really want to get over this person trying to control the situation, you could even ask them to help you with how to execute this plan.  It’s all in how you phrase it.

As we learn not to be reactive, and turn more towards the proactive way of thinking, we learn not to be stuck in this victim mentality that so many people are using each and everyday.  These reactive people exhibit the following signs.

Signs of reactive thinking:

  1. Failure to accept any responsibility.  It is always someone’s fault…except for theirs.
  2. Everyone in the nearest vicinity is at fault.  Blame never gets caught in their own two hands.  It’s like the game of hot potato…and they throw that thing away before you can see it stopped on them.
  3. They rationalize their destructive habits.
  4. They focus only on the problems...never wanting to move to a solution.
  5. They might live in the past or the “what if” land.  What if things had been different??  But they aren’t.  So here you have it.

Signs of proactive thinking:

  1. The buck stops hereIt is your responsibility to get things done.
  2. You are accountable.  Your goals are clearly defined and you know what you need to do in order to reach them.
  3. You have good problem solving skills or seek out others who can help you create the skills you need in order to accomplish the change you want to see in your life.  It does not have to be business related, it can be completely personal goals.  For example: losing weight.  You have been struggling, so you seek out ways to make it happen with a plan.
  4. They are consistent.  Slow and steady really does work for keeping your eye on the change you want to create in your life.
  5. They aren’t worried about reaching out to the right people in order to succeed.  I have been running a closed group of motivated people from all over the world.  On days we need to remember that our goal is mastering our thoughts, we put in the work, ask the questions in the group, and start back at our monthly goals.  We have surrounded ourselves with like minds in order to really focus on creating this lasting change for ourselves.

In the end, being honest with yourself is best.  If you think it is time to do the work on the inside in order to get results on the outside, we would love to have you in our group.  Being reactive throughout life didn’t really yield any personal satisfaction when I was in my worst pain.  However taking control of those thoughts, and taking control of my Head|Heart|Health, has given me an entirely new outlook on life.

I went from pain of hardly being able to move, to completing 200 hours of Vinyasa yoga teacher training.  I then continued on to get certified in yoga for pain and arthritis.  I left a job that was taking a toll on my health and I learned how to heal myself naturally, and then continued on to get sports nutrition certification.  I started counseling others how to do the same and this year, was proud to announce the new online catalog that includes different options to really take back control of your life.

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