Val White Writes...
Creativity and Success
I recently read a post on Huffington Post by Daniel Burrus on the topic of Creativity and Innovation.
In the article Daniel breaks down creativity into three levels of creativity:
“#1. Discovery: The lower level of creativity is discovery. Just as the name implies, it’s when you become aware of or stumble upon something—discover it. For example, there is art called “discovered art.” It might be a rock with a unique shape or a piece of wood with an interesting pattern. If you have ever purchased a piece of natural stone or wood art, that art was discovered art. Many inventions start with a discovery.
#2. Invention: A higher level of creativity is invention. For example, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. But you have to ask yourself, “Would the telephone have been invented without Bell?” The answer is yes. Eventually the telephone would have been invented because the science was there. It might have taken longer, but it would have happened. So while invention is higher than discovery, it’s something that is going to happen. If you don’t invent it, someone else will.
#3. Creation: Creation is the highest level of creativity. For example, the stage play Othello is genuinely a creation. Elizabethan drama would have gone on without Shakespeare, but no one else would have written Othello. Similarly, there are things that only your organization can create! The key is tapping in to what those things are.”
What I love about this concept , is that any of these levels of creativity can be considered ‘entry points’, and no matter the point of entry, you can more easily access the other levels of creativity by entering the realm of creativity on any level.
How does this factor into success?
As an online entrepreneur, I am constantly creating something. Whether I’m creating a blog post, making a video, writing content for emails or social media, or creating a digital course, I need to access my creativity in order to do my work.
If I wake up and jump behind my computer and spend all day typing things, what are the chances that my tasks will be completed with ease and grace?
If however, I wake and meditate to tap into the universal energy of creativity, then listen to some music that inspires and triggers that ‘discovery’ part of my creative brain, and finally sit down to do my work, the work will flow through me in a more creative way with ease.
If I start to hit a wall midday, and decide to leave my desk and take a walk in nature to take in the glory of creation all around me, as look up to the clouds and see what sorts of shapes I can make from the fluffy heavens above, thereby tapping back into creativity; I can return to my computer and feel inspired to climb up over that wall and continue on with my creating process.
Creativity abounds and we all have access to it. Find your entry point of creativity and let that be the gateway into the realm of endless creative possibility.
Schedule in time to get out into nature and become inspired. Listen to good music, read books that provoke deep thought, watch films that move you, visit art galleries, find times in your week to pursue the ingesting of art and creativity so that the creative process in your own work begins to become easily accessible.
Success will come to you readily as you tap into creative possibility more and more.
Every year I see people proclaim how they are going to make big changes to get healthier, wealthier, and serious about getting happy; and, a lot of times they do just that! But, the likelihood of people accomplishing their goals with help, is substantially higher than those who set off on their journey alone.
I look on my life with so much gratitude! I am in an amazing relationship, I have an awesome kid, I own my own business, I work from home (or wherever I want), I help people change their lives, and I go to bed each night knowing that I have made a difference in the world. But I can say, with 100% certainty, that none of that would have been possible today, without the help, guidance, and support of my teachers and coaches!
Since I have started my own coaching business I have seen my clients blossom into the better versions of themselves, taking their ideas, and helping them to meet their inspired goals!
I have spots opening for 1 on 1 coaching clients NOW and this is the best time of year to work with me to make your new year your best year yet!
I am very passionate about working with people who are serious about taking control of their lives, career, and happiness! If you are someone who wants to take the leap and make the most of this opportunity please complete the application (found at the link below) and let's start your coaching journey!
I love using the time between Christmas and New Years day as a sort of incubation period to go within and get really clear on what it is that I want for the coming year.
Many people actually wait until the new year to think about what they want; when they are thrust back into their busy daily schedules and end up trying to play ‘catch up’ on all of the tasks and work that has been left undone throughout the holidays. This causes overwhelm, and so they hurriedly decide that something has GOT to give in the new year because they can’t imagine a whole other year being as stressful as the first few days of it!
When you set intentions from a place of overwhelm you aren’t really in the right head space of knowing what you want…you’re just in a space of knowing what you don’t want.
In fact, I find that many times people THINK they know what they want but they really only know what they don’t want. It’s not a practice I would adopt to focus only on what is NOT working. I would, and do, encourage my 1 on 1 coaching clients to spend some time getting really clear and specific on cultivating a rich vision of their desires, setting those desires as intentions, and letting those intentions pull them forward. It is way more powerful to be drawn forward by your desires than to push away and resist what you don’t want anymore.
One of my favorite exercises that I have my clients do, is to make a list of EVERYTHING that they want.
Make a list of everything you want in all areas of your life. Make a list of all that you want in your relationships, finances, work, and health and fitness. Make a list of how you’d like to contribute and serve. Make a list of all the things that you want! Get clear and specific! And don’t hold back…be unapologetic about what you want. Act as if money wasn’t an issue. Act as if all of your dreams were supported by cosmic forces! (Pro tip: They are!)
Remember that our thoughts become things, right? So spend some time during this week to really THINK about all the things you want for the coming new year..and write them out!
This time of year I always stress the importance of taking care of yourself and paying special attention to your needs as you navigate the sometimes stressful terrain of holiday season; and, today, I’m going to dig a little deeper.
It is almost certain that, at some point, you’re going to have to interact with people. In many cases, this could be your family members who trigger some unhealed past wound, or co-workers who know exactly how to mirror back to you that part which you don’t love about yourself. With the added stressors of the holidays, end of year, and the pressures of trying to get everything done, these interactions have the potential of becoming uncomfortable or down right ugly.
This is why taking care of yourself first is so important. If you’ve done your job to clean up your energy, return your own perspective back to love, and align yourself with all that you know to be true for you, then you can show up (wherever you go) with more love and peace.
I like to ask myself “What am I bringing to the table?”
In other words, if I haven’t tuned into and met my own needs through the practices of self care, I may bring stress, anxiety, resentment, and fear to the table. When I show up in such a way, it is almost certain that the triggers from family, friends, and colleagues will send me into a tailspin of unhappiness.
If, on the other hand, I have done my work, taken care of myself, and aligned my own energy, thoughts, and motivations with the Source of love, I can bring peace, happiness, joy, forgiveness, and gratitude to the table. This will result in a much more enjoyable interaction with those around me as I will be able to look from a vantage point of compassion rather than contempt, forgiveness rather than fury, and love rather than loathing.
Maybe you don’t celebrate the holidays and you may be saying to yourself, “This has nothing to do with me.”
Think again, my friend! Let me ask you; Are you going into public places? Are you grocery shopping? Are you checking your mail? Are you frequenting your favorite local coffee shop? Mall? Movie theater? Yoga studio? Bookstore?
If you are stepping foot outside your front door this season you are going to come into contact with someone who is bringing some frenetic holiday energy to the table. Again, if you’re taking care of you and your needs you will be far more likely to see each person (and their maybe irritating behavior) through the lens of love. You’ll be doing your part to make the world a nicer place, even in the midst of craziness and chaotic ferver.
And so I ask you today to take a good look at yourself and ask “What am I bringing to the table?”
If it isn’t joy, peace, happiness, and love, I urge you to tune into your inner GPS and find out what it is you need in order to feel more supported, so that you can show up in a way that is whole, light, and loving.
Happy Holidays friends!
It’s okay to say “No”.
We have so many things ‘to do’ these days. Whether it’s school, or work, or kids, or dating, or running your own business, it seems like there is constantly something to do. When holidays are thrown into the mix it’s a whole new monster and our time management skills have to jump from ‘regular getting by human’ to ‘gladiator’ status in order to fit all the things in.
By the time our week is over it is likely that we feel like we’ve been run over by a Mac semi-truck AND Santa and his reindeer driven sleigh.
I want to tell you something that you’ve probably heard before, but I’ll bet you never committed to practicing; It is okay to say “no”.
I like to call it saying “no” to the things that I don’t want to do (or things that make me unhappy) so that I have more time and energy to say “Yes” to the things that make me excited, energized, and feel alive!
If your energy is spent from the work week and you just can’t fit your co-worker’s child’s Holiday Party in your schedule without feeling like you want to pull your hair out…say “no”. Spend that time recouping at home with your own children (or boyfriend, or spouse,…or cat) and maybe tell them your favorite Holiday memories from when you were little. (Life hint: These are the things that really matter!)
If going to the parties are something that do mean something to you, look at your work week and ask yourself “What can I put off today and get done tomorrow?” or “How can I make this easier?” (Work smarter not harder).
This is a habit that I want you to adopt, not just during the holiday season, but all year long!
And listen, I get it. There are things that we are just going to have to do sometimes that we don’t like or want to do. But practice making feeling good a priority, and be proactive at filling up the free time in your schedule with things that do feel good to do, so that when the offers or obligations come along that don’t really feel good..you’re already booked!
When you’re stuck in the pattern of saying “yes” to everything and everybody, this seems like a far-fetched dream and you’d probably be more likely to believe a unicorn will bust through your door right now, singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”; but if you give it a shot and try (just try) to say “no” to something that you KNOW you’re going to dislike, it will get easier the next time the opportunity to respectfully decline comes around.
Your time is too precious to spend it doing all of the things that you don’t want to do and only dreaming of the things that you’re passionate about.
So get out there today and say “no”!
Enjoy this “Tuning In” meditation to help you get in touch with your intuition and see what your internal GPS is telling you to say NO to!
People tell me all the time that they can't meditate because they suck at it. They think that if they can't rid their mind of all thoughts completely, they aren't and never will be good at meditating. This is a huge misconception that frustrates the heck out of me, because I know first hand how beneficial meditation can be.
Are you one of these people, who have struggled to start or stick with a meditation practice because your mind just won't stop?
I spoke with a group of people recently who had a similar experience. In this video I attempt to de-mystify the concept of meditation and give you some practical tools and knowledge that will hopefully get you back to trying some meditation!
Have you ever been so in the flow of life that everything was just going absolutely swimmingly? You woke up feeling great, the weather is perfect, your hair looks amazing, your kids made their own breakfast, your favorite song is on the radio, and you just can’t imagine feeling any happier!
But then, as you begin your daily dance with the other people in your circle, you begin to sense that maybe they aren’t on your cloud. Your smiley “Hello” is met with a grumble and frown, you’re internal groove that’s still vibing from your amazing morning is not being mirrored back to you whatsoever in the faces, words, or actions of those around you, and before you know it you, yourself, are feeling more and more murky and dismal, and headed full speed ahead into your own personal brand of funk.
How does this happen? How do we go from feeling on top of the world and ready to face the day with enthusiasm to being ready to climb back into bed and hit the reset button?
If you’ve read much of my writing or taken classes with me you hear me teach a lot about vibration and energy. Our energy and vibration or frequency are much like that of a radio frequency. When you get into your car and tune the dial into 88.5, you get, in return, the sounds (energy and vibration) of that which frequency you’ve tuned into. You don’t expect to tune into your favorite country station’s frequency to hear death metal music projected back to you.
It’s the same with our daily lives; when we intentionally tune our energy, thoughts, and actions into the frequency of happiness, joy, and bliss then we start to hear, see, and experience those energies in our lives.
But just like your radio’s frequency can become muddled and interrupted by other radio signals, congestion in the airwaves, or the random CB of a trucker, your personal frequency can be interrupted or affected by the circumstances or people around you.
How can we prevent this from happening?
I have a practice that I call protecting my energy field. Firstly, every morning I intentionally start my day with a prayer and meditation, I will do the self care that I need to do in order to start the journey of an amazing day. Secondly, before I interact with anyone, while sipping my morning cup of bulletproof coffee, I will physically, with my hands, zip up an invisible zipper from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head, and say out loud “I zip up my energy, and protect myself from any negative energy I encounter.”
I then go through the motions of putting on a huge oversized coat and say aloud “I cloak myself with Love and compassion.”
Remember, my background is in the theatre arts and so I have a flair for dramatics! If this process is a bit too over the top for you that is fine; just find what works for you. Maybe, it’s just setting an intention that you won’t let the negative attitudes or actions of others pervade your own energy and experience.
However you choose to frame your process, it’s important to protect your energy!
Thirdly, it’s wildly important to hold space for the other person whose energy you’re protecting yourself from. While it’s true that we don’t want their negative vibe bringing us down, we don’t want to fall into judging them either. The truth is, we don’t know what kind of day they are having. We don’t know what circumstance has caused their mood to be placed as such and so we should extend an energy of love and compassion their way in this time of whatever it is that is going on for them.
So next time you’re having a truly fabulous day, choose to intentionally guard yourself from anything that may kidnap your joy and bliss. Send love to all you encounter, and keep smiling as you move forward in your perpetual hunt for happiness!
You know that old question “did you wake up on the wrong side of bed this morning?’ A question used to ask someone why they are in such a bad mood can actually carry with it a valuable way of looking at life.
Let’s call waking up on ’the wrong side of bed’; waking up in a negative mindset. There are a lot of things that contribute to the mindset that we adopt in the first moments that we wake up. If we didn’t sleep well, if we were woken frequently throughout the night, and we didn’t get sufficient and restful sleep then we may wake up with diminished energy and a negative mindset.
You’ve noticed, I’m sure, that when you wake up in this way things don’t tend to get any better until we consciously choose to shift our mindset or shift the vibration of our energy!
If we continue on, in the ‘wrong side of the bed’ mindset, we will find that we begin to experience more and more ‘wrong side of the bed’ experiences throughout our day. Maybe you stub your toe on the way to the bathroom, experience a lot of traffic and run late on the way to work, spill mustard on your shirt during your lunch break.
But if we notice that we are in that negative mindset before we leave the house and we take the time to shift our mindset, you will observe that you can take control on your outlook back and set yourself up for a great day, despite the fact that you ‘woke up on the wrong side of bed’.
I know what it's like to experience a huge transformation in your life and want to shout it to the world! You feel so inspired to share a message with the people that you know and care about, but you don't know how to start or what to do or say!
The desire to make a difference in the world and to serve in a big way is palpable but the task of figuring out how to start can seem very daunting!
I remember being in that exact headspace just over one year ago, when I decided to take a leap of faith and enroll in the Spirit Junkie Masterclass with my teacher Gabrielle Bernstein in New York City.
I remember her teaching from the stage the very first night of the weekend long training; "When we own our power it inspires others to do the same." In that moment I realized that, though my story was at times messy and uncomfortable to talk about, it was powerful. I learned how to own the power of my story and how to share it!
That was a huge revelation for me. I had been putting so much pressure on myself by trying to figure out how to do deep and meaningful work in the world, and I hadn't even thought of just "sharing my story”.
The truth is: sharing our transformational stories is one of the most POWERFUL ways to spread the message of Love to the world.
In January of 2017 I was just a few months sober and was dedicated to ‘showing up for myself’ because I’d heard that terminology thrown around, and even though I didn’t know exactly what it meant or exactly what I was showing up to or how I should dress for the occasion, I was committed to not waking up hungover anymore or being sick all night.
I was tired of everything being hard, nothing being easy, and everyone taking me as a drunken joke. Above all I was scared to death that the emotional baggage that I’d been procrastinating on unpacking since my Grandmother’s death, Mother’s suicide, other Grandmother’s death, Father’s death, and Grandfather’s death (yeah I really wanted to emphasize how many deaths I was dealing with) would take me to places that I didn’t know how to cope with; hence - all the drinking I’d been doing for the past five years.
If you knew me before January 2017 you remember this version of me. You remember when all the people died and I got drunk… for five years.
Of course, not ALL of that five years of moments were spent drunk; there were snippets of lucidity peppered here and there between embarrassment, slurred words, and extreme hangovers. In those moments of brief sobriety I was catching a glimpse of what was to come, by some inspired hope for what may be in my distant future, if only I could figure out what it meant to get sober long enough to ‘show up for myself’.
In my moments of clarity I would read some good self help books that had been recommended by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. I had figured out that there had to be a better way of living…and even though it scared the bejeezus out of me I was ready to figure out how to look for that way.
I had heard of Gabrielle Bernstein when I was working for a self help blog in Los Angeles five years earlier and I’d recently been reminded of her when I saw her on Super Soul Sunday. I had read one of her books entitled “May Cause Miracles” and I thought to myself…’if she can go from being a drug addict, to make something of her life and, in turn, help others to make something of their lives…then I can too.’
So, in the newness of sobriety and with a hope that surpassed my fear, I set the intention that I was going to be her student and learn everything that she did…so that I could follow suit.
When I arrived, in June of 2017, to the SVA theater in New York City, the energy was palpable. I couldn’t believe I had made the investment of time, resources, or energy into myself to be there. I was shaking with nerves and I felt like I may throw up. Somewhere inside my internal GPS I heard a voice that said “You’ve got this. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.” I knew that my life was about to change.
What I didn’t realize is how QUICKLY my life was going to change. I returned from NYC, after that weekend, elated; my energy was swirling around like a tornado and I had so many inspired ideas I didn’t know what to do, but I trusted and took action.
I put together my website, created a digital course, and launched it as a group coaching program.
BOOM! I had stepped into my purpose of sharing my light and my story with others and I would never, ever go back to being a victim of my circumstances again.
I have since grown my business as a life coach, spiritual teacher, motivational speaker, yoga instructor, and writer!
I have people stopping me on the street or in Walmart almost every time I go shopping to tell me how inspired a “Hunting Happiness” article has been to them and it validates the work that I do…but hear this: The sharing of my story is not to brag. The sharing of my story is not for self promotion. The sharing of my story is to inspire you to tell yours. Remember when we own our power it gives others to do the same.
By sharing my story I have helped countless others along their own path. It is my prayer that by reading my story this week, you will have the courage and confidence to start owning the power of your own beautifully flawed, broken and put back together story. The world needs you to step up to your purpose as a Happiness Helper!
Share your light, my friends.
“When we really desire a certain outcome, we cling to the idea of how we think it should work out in our mind. We cling so tightly to the idea of what we want, that we leave no wiggle room for any other possible outcome; and, when things don’t pan out exactly as we want them to, we can become disappointed, depressed, dejected, or down right angry. When other people are added to the mix, with their ideas and outcomes that they are clinging to, just as passionately as we are attached to our own outcomes, things can get pretty ugly really quickly!”
That was an excerpt from one of my 'Happiness Hunting' articles last December, and as I read it now it still rings true in certain aspects of my life. The lessons we are meant to learn seem to circle back around to us if we haven’t learned them, don’t they? Or, maybe, we have learned to apply a certain lesson to one aspect of our lives but we can’t quite use that same approach to another.
Maybe we are really good at loosening our grip with our work but not in our relationships with our spouses or children. Or maybe vice-versa, life at home is easy breezy but maybe we have freak out moments when things don’t go exactly as planned in our work.
This week I encourage you to ask yourself what is the lesson that seems to present itself to you time and time again, and then contemplate how you can learn from it each and every time it comes up. What thing always seems to show up in your circumstances and instead of getting angry about it or judging it ask yourself what you can learn from it!
When those lessons come along, instead of clinging to the outcome of how you think it should work itself out, stay open to creative possibilities for resolve that may not exist in the scope of your control. Surrender the outcome, take a deep breath, look for the lesson, and exhale. Take it all one day at a time, and know (in the word’s of my dear teacher Gabrielle Bernstein) that “the Universe has your back.”
In today’s fast paced society we are always on the go. So many people desire peace, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment in their lives, but they don’t know how to get it or what to do to keep it when they do experience it in brief snippets between board meetings, baseball games, dinner parties, and dance recitals.
People often say to me “But, I don’t have time…isn’t their a short cut?”
The best way to get into the alignment of all the things you want (like peace, happiness, a sense of fulfillment, a great romantic relationship, more money, and the list goes on…) is to do things that put you a ‘feeling good’ space. If taking a walk feels good to you, take a walk. If cooking is fun and brings you joy then cook your favorite meals…amp up the ‘good feels’ by creating a playlist of your favorite tunes and dance around the kitchen merrily as you make your family’s favorite recipes.
If driving with the top down or windows open is your go to for clearing your mind then take the long way home. Try to inject fun into as many spots in your day so that when you look back on your day it is seasoned with various sorts of ‘feeling good’ memories.
Make feeling good a priority, so much so that when you notice a circumstance or thought that arises that makes you dip out of your high vibration, you quickly do your next fun activity to raise you back up!
My teacher and mentor, Gabrielle Bernstein, says that “The Universe works fast when you’re having fun.” so try to fill your day with moments of fun, laughter, joy, and things that you love.
I created a guided meditation that is available for free on my website (www.valwhite.com) and it is a perfect tool to introduce this type of mindset shift into your daily life.
This week try to have as much fun as possible, and see how other ‘problems’ in your life seem to start work themselves out.
One of the quickest ways I amp up my happiness level is by doing something nice for someone else. If I’m feeling down and out, I could choose to stay sitting in no-fun-ville, or I could do something to spread a little joy to someone else. Maybe I pick up the phone and text my best friend to tell her how much I appreciate her, or maybe I surprise my co-worker with his favorite latte, or cook my beloved’s favorite meal for dinner.
The act of doing something to bring joy to another automatically puts you in the receiving mode for happiness because by the act of doing something to make someone else happy you are sowing seeds of joy, which will in turn bring you the benefits of reaping joy in your own life. But above and beyond the eventual reaping benefits, it just feels really good to do something nice for someone you care about. It automatically sends endorphins rushing to your brain and instantly makes you feel better; in no time at all you’ll be strolling happily down the street noticing all the good things you have to be grateful for.
Give it a try this week; see if you can do one new nice thing for someone each day. Try to make it a different deed for a different person each day! Remember it doesn’t have to be huge and you don’t have to spend money to do this - just try and do something that you know would bring a smile to someone else’s face and I’ll bet you’ll be the one smiling soon.
I do a lot of work on re-framing my thoughts so that I can show up as the best version of myself - MOST of the time. Sure we all have our off days and we show up cranky, moody, or depressed by whatever life circumstance we are in the midst of but how much better could we handle those circumstances, show up for ourselves at our jobs or in our families (or for ourselves) if we have done the diligent work of mastering on our mindset.
Mastering your mindset is an absolute game changer when it comes to how you show up in the world and it can make all the difference in creating the life you desire.
If you are showing up at your work, for example, with a negative mindset, it is likely that you’re going to begrudgingly do your daily tasks without much care for the quality of work you’re putting in. This can result in your coworkers or upper management viewing you as incompetent or lacking the skillset to perform your job well.
If you show up with a positive mindset and do your tasks mindfully and from a place of joy and happiness, that will reflect to everyone around you as someone who is really good at what they are doing and you may likely get promoted or a raise!
When we take the time to create a positive mindset so that we can show up as the best versions of ourselves everyone wins!
Have you ever decided that it’s finally time to take action on that thing that you’ve always wanted to do only to be inundated with a paralyzing fear or feeling of overwhelm that stops you dead in your tracks?
Maybe it’s painting a mural on your kid’s wall, or planting an organic garden of veggies in your back yard, starting a home business, or writing a book; whatever it is you’ve been wanting to get started doing but have had difficulty amping up your ‘getting started’ juices. But you’ve finally worked up the motivation to do it and just before you get ready to take that first action you are flooded with thoughts like “What if I fail? What if I’m really bad at this? Who am I to think I could paint a life size painting? Who am I to write a book? I will never be able to tend a garden. I should just stop now before I even have the opportunity to fail.”
If you know what I’m talking about, and I know you probably do, then I want you to know you are not alone in this. We all have these fears and these limiting beliefs. It took the famous inventor, Thomas Edison, over 1,000 attempts to successfully create the light bulb; but, instead of giving up he kept pursuing his desire to invent the light bulb. He said "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
Ask yourself “What if I don’t fail? What if I’m an overwhelming success at painting, or gardening, or writing a book?” and add to that “Even if I do fail at first, imagine how much better I’ll be equipped to begin again!”
This week I encourage you to take a look at the list of things you’ve always wanted to do and just start. Just take one little tiny action daily toward getting that thing done. If it’s gardening, go and buy some organic potting soil, if it’s painting a mural then sketch out some ideas. If writing a book is your thing, then start by writing an outline or just sitting down to your computer and start typing. Get something done and see how the energy of actually doing that which you’ve always wanted to do pulls you forward to your goal! It’s a really exciting feeling to create something from a space of diving in head first, so go ahead and let yourself get excited. Even if you fail at first, it’ll be an exciting journey; and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
COULD WE START AGAIN, PLEASE?
Did you ever have one of those days where things are just not going your way? You slept through your alarm, rush out of bed, stub your toe, hop to the bathroom on one foot to discover that you’re out of toothpaste, end up rushing into whatever plans you’ve laid for the day but carrying these feelings of angst and anxiety with you and ultimately have a…really… bad… day.
It’s easy to let one wrong thing spiral into a rabbit hole of negativity, and once we get started noticing the things that aren’t going right, it seems like an avalanche of dung gets dumped on you over and over and over again. Nobody likes this feeling, but few know what steps to take to reset, reboot, and restart once they are inundated with the feelings of frustration that come along with those moments when things aren’t going their way.
I had one of those days recently; I woke up with a long laundry list of things to do in my calendar and from the minute that I woke up, it seemed like I was jumping from one task to the next, with barely the time to catch my breath at all throughout the entire day. As a result of feeling rushed to finish one task in order to meet the next task on time and prepared, I ended up not being present whatsoever in ANY task, which prohibited me from doing my best at anything I was trying to accomplish, and nothing on my calendar that day felt completed in a quality that was fulfilling.
When we find ourselves in days like these, where the moments and stresses pile up around us and on top of us, here’s a couple of things we can do to make it a little more bearable. Instead of complaining and continuing…STOP! Even when we don’t think we have a moment to spare, taking a three minute break to simply breathe deeply with our eyes closed can save us a lot of frustration in the hours to come. Breath connects us to our body and eases our mind. It’s amazing what breathing deeply can actually do for the body and mind, for health and clarity. Sometimes this easy slowing down process can reset your day and put you on a new track.
Another thing you can do is ask yourself “What is it that this is teaching me?”. I know there are plenty of moments you can look back on in your life and see the life lessons that came hidden in the ‘challenges’. In the midst of the worst day, instead of complaining about it, shift your attention, reframe your thoughts and simply accept that maybe this horrible day COULD be holding a valuable lesson that could eventually help you in becoming a better version of yourself.
Finally, celebrate the power of surrender. We are so conditioned to believe that success means “take the bull by the horns”, and when days aren’t going as we’d like them to, we try to take control and manipulate the situation until it looks just like we’d planned it out in our day planner. Sometimes the best thing you can do is say “You know what? I had a plan but it’s not working and I surrender to creative possibilities that maybe a power beyond my own can work something out better than my plans had involved!”
MY Cup runneth over
I recently saw an interview with inspirational speaker, life coach, tv personality, and lawyer Iyanla Vanzant in which she said “My cup runneth over; what’s in the cup is mine and what overflows is yours.”
She was talking on the importance of taking care of yourself, creating healthy boundaries, and making self care a top priority. You see, you cannot give to others if your own cup is empty.
So many times in our lives we identify ourselves as caretakers. Whether we are caring for our children, our spouses, or others in and through our work, we can expend a lot of energy, care, and emotion on other people. While this is a noble venture, if we don’t take the time to fill our own cup first, what ends up happening is we become burnt out, resentful, and even sick.
“It is not a ‘selfish’ act” as Iyanla says, to make caring for yourself a priority, but a “self-full act”.
How much better can we care for the ones we love if we can care for them from a well rested, and healthy place? How much better can we serve others when we first take the time to care and serve ourselves, ensuring a sense of peace, sanity, and well being in our own bodies and minds?
What could you do to implement some more self care into your week?
Maybe it’s eating healthier and moving more. Maybe you could sleep longer and put away your electronic devices at bed time. Maybe you could meditate and practice yoga or take a brisk morning walk. I suggest this week seeking out ways you can fill your cup; so much so, that it overflows and you can easily and gratefully say “My cup runneth over; what’s in the cup is mine and what overflows is yours.”
Looking Ahead to a fresh new year
Happy New Year! With every new year comes a feeling of determination and a spirit of new-ness. When I was growing up, on days that I would stay home from school sick, nothing brought me more comfort than watching the “Anne of Green Gables” movies. Long before the days of binge watching on Netflix, I would watch the four VHS long saga (totally about eight hours) of the orphan girl, Anne, on all of her adventures and it kept my mind off of being sick for the better part of the day. I remember a line from the movie that has always stuck with me on the topic of forgiveness, or starting over. She said “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.”
Isn’t that a great way to think about the new year? Forgiving our past and embracing the creative possibilities for a fresh new future?
In the new year, many people make resolutions and set strong intentions for change. When the old behavior which is contrary to our new goals rears its head we can sometimes fall right back into the habit of the old patterns we wish to change. The best thing to do in these situations is to mentally take that thought or behavior and place it back in the past. Literally visualize yourself cleaning up the new year by removing the old thoughts and behaviors and putting them in the past where they belong. And gently remind yourself that the new year is a place you’re holding as ‘fresh with no mistakes in it’.
The most important thing to do is not judge yourself when these old habits show up. Remember that life is a practice and that each new day is a fresh new day so don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up when things go awry! Just take a deep breath and start again.
Looking back on 2017
Another new year is quickly approaching and as we draw to the end of 2017 most of us already have our attention focused on our New Year’s Resolutions and intentions for self-improvement. Whether it’s losing weight, starting a new career path, or putting away more money in savings, we all have our eyes on some sort of prize for 2018. In fact, it seems that many people often give up on the last week of the year as if to write it off altogether.
I would like to encourage that we take this last week of the holiday season, between Christmas and New Years Eve, to really amp up our mindfulness and gratitude muscles.
Here’s what I’m doing: I’m pulling out my calendar and looking back on all of 2017. I’m going to make a list of all the things that I resolved to do this time last year and check off all the things that came to fruition. Furthermore, I’m listing all of the things that I’m grateful for that I’ve accomplished.
Maybe you finished a project, remodeled your home, started a new business, or adopted a healthier diet; Those things are worthy of honoring and remembering. Let’s take this week to look back on our year and give ourselves a pat on the back for all of our hard work in achieving our goals. Let this exercise of congratulating yourself on all that you’ve done and also giving sincere thanks for the great things that were bestowed upon you (by a power greater than your own) catapult you into the new year with a sense of momentum that encourages continued growth that’s fueled by gratitude. Instead of focusing on all the things that we want to ‘be better at’ let’s look at all the good that’s happened this year and ask ourselves “What can I do in this new year that will get me even closer to living my best life?”
When we ask ourselves empowering questions, backed with the evidence of a fruitful and blessed year, we are able to step into the new year with a foundation of strength; vested with and arsenal of tools to propel us forward with focus on the things that are going right. When approaching the new phase of our life in this way we have really good chance of accomplishing even more of the things that we seek to find on our ongoing quest of happiness hunting.
Let there be peace on earth
We are all familiar with the lyrics of that old holiday tune “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”, but with so much unrest, political debate, acts of terrorism, and war torn lands all around the globe and pumped into our homes via television news outlets, it’s sometimes hard to grasp the concept that anything we do, on an individual level, could affect any peace at all. In fact, we get so caught up in the discord around us that we start to feel helpless, hopeless, anxiety ridden, depressed, and fearful; adding to the divide between ourselves and our fellow humans.
During this time of year, as we talk about coming together, honoring traditions of old while celebrating with family and friends, the subject of ‘peace on earth’ peeks in through the decorations, carols, tv programs, and even the ugly Christmas sweaters read ‘peace’; in fact, we are reminded, during this season, of peace at almost every corner. But what does peace look like on an individual level? What does peace look like when cultivated in one’s personal practice?
It’s waking each day with gratitude. It’s breathing a bit deeper. It’s greeting strangers with a smile or holding the door for the person coming in behind you. It’s pausing before reacting. It’s being mindful of the feelings of not only those you love but those you hold in contempt. It’s releasing feelings of unworthiness, judgment, fear, and un-forgiveness. Peace looks like a calm ocean mirrored in the eyes of one who isn’t quick to anger. Peace looks like a mother proud of her children in the Christmas play. Peace looks like the kiss of two lovers under the mistletoe. Peace looks like the tiny fingers of an infant tightly gripped around your adult sized finger. Peace is ultimately an understanding and acceptance of the Love that governs all of the universe. Peace is extending that love to one another freely, gladly, and without hesitation.
If you find yourself in a situation this week, during the sometimes hectic rush to get all of the things done before the big holiday, I offer you a simple practice that can center you and welcome peace into your heart.
Try reciting the mantra (silently in your head) “Peace begins with me.” Touch your thumb to your index finger, middle finger, ring finger, and finally the little finger - each finger is assigned one word of the mantra. So ‘peace’ is the index finger, ‘begins’ is the middle finger, and so on.
Wherever you are, when feeling a bit overwhelmed, close your eyes and take a deep and slow inhale while reciting the mantra “peace, begins, with, me” and counting down each word with the fingers. On the exhale repeat the process. Do this several times or maybe one to two minutes until you feel the feeling of peace wash over you as you deepen and slow the breath down.
When you’ve finished you will feel a little more centered, calm, and indeed more at peace.
letting go during the holidays...
When we really desire a certain outcome, we cling to the idea of how we think it should work out in our mind. We cling so tightly to the idea of what we want, that we leave no wiggle room for any other possible outcome; and, when things don’t pan out exactly as we want them to, we can become disappointed, depressed, dejected, or down right angry. When other people are added to the mix, with their ideas and outcomes that they are clinging to, just as passionately as we are attached to our own outcomes, things can get pretty ugly really quickly! And when we add in a whole family of clingers we up the chances for discord exponentially. This is what can, very easily, happen during the holidays as we all gather together and mingle our energy and ideas with everyone else’s!
The holidays are my absolute favorite time of year, and so, I definitely hold ideals and expectations of how I think things should go and how I want things to happen, but there is a way to step into our holiday events without such rigidity in our expectations so that we can essentially set ourselves up for fun and joy. What approach could we take that would create a less stressful and happier ending for us during the holidays?
Firstly, by all means, be clear on how you’d like things to play out. Set intentions for joy, and fun, and everyone getting along and having the best time together. Set your hopes high for the meal preparations, and planning, and gathering together very smoothly with ease and grace. Make feeling good and having fun a high priority; and then…let go of all attachment to your idea of HOW that should look, and move forward into your day, trusting that all will play out in the best possible way for everyone.
Have you ever looked back on a time and thought to yourself “Man, that worked out way better than I had even imagined it would!” ?
When we open ourselves up to the creative possibilities of even a better way than our own ideals then we can really be present to the gifts that unfold before us in our life experiences. When we let go of our attachments to how we think things MUST be done, we are open to the blessings that can miraculously unfold before us without our micromanagement.
What stresses can you let go of during this time of year by trying to control all of your outcomes?