Tag Archives: Self-development

Fall & Recover

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“There is a split in the human psyche between each person’s rational and intellectual side and our chaotic and emotional being. The true essence of modern dance is the movement that happens in between these extremes.”

“Dance occurs in the fearful moment between falling and recovering by the arc swept by a body moving between equilibrium and uncontrol.”

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fall and recoverI am not a dancer, but I love this concept. Mainly, I want to live this concept.

People always talk about balance as being so important to our well-being. I used to be one of those people. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s not simply about balance and stability. It is about a rhythmic balance. It’s not one or the other, it’s somewhere in between. Its not about smooth sailing. It’s about rising after falling.

Life doesn’t work in a way that’s completely balanced. There isn’t one good day for every bad day. Being a good person doesn’t stop bad things from happening to you. That’s just not how it is. In life there are ups and downs, and what’s important is to make some sort of rhythm out of the highs and lows. We must find the space between equilibrium and uncontrol that allows us to live our lives on the edge. We must trust the rhythm of falling and recovering.  We must not be afraid of falling, and we must know how it is that we recover.

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Yesterday, I mumbled and stuttered through my 75 minute yoga sequence – the sequence I am to teach to graduate from my teacher training. It was supposed to be a rough draft, and it was certainly rough. After I taught it I almost wanted to crawl back in bed and quit my training all together. Isn’t teaching supposed to be easier? I thought. No, it’s not. After talking with my husband I realized that I need to put more effort into my teaching if I really want to become a great teacher.

In order to fall, we must put ourselves out there, but we must be real with our efforts. Over the past few years, with my holistic lens and many interests I have always had one foot out the door throughout many of my experiences. For example, when I was working a nice gig in a “green” job, I found myself signing up for a couple weekend programs related to wellness. I even started volunteering as a doula at a hospital. I wasn’t totally invested in my day job, and because of my multiple efforts I could not engage fully in the world. Living that way certainly got me to fall but not the kind of way I am talking about in this post. Now I am aiming for the kind of fall that happens when you put yourself out there and you put all you have into it. Whatever the it may be.

Today I taught a 30 minute yoga sequence to some teens and it was amazing. Just one day after questioning my choice to be a yoga teacher, I had a reality check. While at first I was attached to my bad teaching experience and then became attached to my awesome experience, I realize now, that I cannot be attached to either outcome.

Now I see that both of these outcomes are part of life, part of the rhythmic balance – the dance. And I know that the more I put myself out into the world, the more I will fall. And as long as I fall with integrity and full engagement, I know it will become easier to recover and grow stronger with each new experience.

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8 Ways to Happiness & Satisfaction in Your Life

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happiness_250Spring has sprung, or at least that’s what I tell myself! Despite the cold weather and snow sprinkles we’ve seen the past few days, my body still senses a new season approaching. I can also see and hear it at appointments with coaching clients – showing up in bright clothing, with new-found motivation and general excitement around goal-setting. Spring is a time when moods begin to shift. People are waking up from winter and getting ready to move around more. Everyone’s energy climbs with the lengthening of days. It’s great.

But for some of us, just the thought of a new season isn’t enough to get us ticking. Thanks to Sonja Lyubomirsky of University of California, this post includes some helpful practices that will make your days brighter as you wait patiently for Spring to show up more fully. I also added some of my own suggestions to the mix, so I hope you enjoy!

1. Count your blessings. So maybe your life isn’t perfect. Nobody’s is. However, research shows that if we pay attention to the things we have in our lives that are going well, our overall happiness is greater than our peers who do not practice gratitude. Not sure how to be more grateful? Try out one of these practices:

  • Start a gratitude journal. Each week, pick one day to write down 3-5 things that make you feel grateful. Try to switch it up so your entries vary. Be sure to include the big and the little things that make you happy. If it brings you joy and gratitude, write it down.
  • Pay a gratitude visit. Write a testimonial to a friend, teacher, or mentor, or even better, pay them a visit and read them the letter in person. Studies have shown that this one act can give you a whole month’s worth of feeling happy…that would buy you until May!
  • Three Blessings: Martin Seligman finds that an exercise he calls, Three Blessings, can provide you with three to six months of satisfaction. Every day write down three things that went well in your day and why. Keep this up over time and see what happens.

2. Practice self-care. Do you chronically go to bed late, wake up early, and then feel lousy the rest of the day? How do you feel when you get enough rest? Better, right? Sometimes the key to happiness is as simple as getting enough sleep. Such a simple answer but for many of us so hard to execute. Understanding what you need to do to keep your body and mind at optimal functioning is important. Start by making a list of your basic needs and try to check a few off the list each day.  Experiment with it, and practice, practice, practice. The more you are able to work what you need into your life on a regular basis, the easier it will become.

3. Be compassionate. Being kind to other people for the sake of being kind is so good for your well-being. Pay it forward. It makes you feel generous and capable, and it builds your self-efficacy – your belief that you can do it! It also gives you a sense of community and connection to others which provides you with acceptance, smiles/appreciation, and reciprocated kindness. All of these results will bring you more happiness. Being kind to others puts you in a good mood, it’s that simple. Just make sure that it is genuine. If it is not something you are doing from your heart you will not get the same benefits.
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4. Have fun. On average babies laugh 300 times a day. Adults laugh 20 times a day. These figures are staggering and affect our ability to be happy. In order to raise the bar, do things that you enjoy every once in awhile. Smile. Smile when you look at yourself in the mirror. Smile at someone else. Smile with your eyes. If you really can’t get yourself to smile, hold a pencil or pen between your teeth, and your body will passively start to generate some positive feelings. Do this while looking in the mirror and you may actually start laughing 🙂 If you find yourself too busy to “do” something fun each week, try to work on enjoying or simply noticing the parts of your day that are fun or pleasurable. 

5. Forgive, forgive, forgive. The time you spend mulling over experiences and people that bother you or have wronged you is time wasted. Being angry or resenting others will only suck the energy and vitality out of your life. Write a letter of forgiveness to the other person and send it to them, or just strike a match and let it burn away. Let it go. Work on practices that help you let things go. Yoga is a great framework to help with forgiveness. Through breathwork – breathing in nourishment and letting go what no longer serves you – you can change your life and learn to let go. Meditation is another great way to work on forgiveness. Imagine a person in your life that you love a lot and focus on sending them all your love and compassion. Then repeat with the same focus and feeling but send your love to someone who you are trying to forgive. It’s not easy, but it helps. The sooner you can detach from being angry at others, the sooner you can achieve freedom and happiness in your life.

6. Spend time with friends & family. Study after study shows that after you reach a level where your basic needs are met, where you live, more money, your job title, or even your health status will NOT make you more happy. What does make you more happy appears to be strong personal relationships. When you are busy chasing life, if you want to be happy, do not forget this piece. When you are too busy for your friends and family, reconsider. If you don’t want to see your friends or family, ask yourself why. If it is because the people make you feel rotten, then build a new community. Always surround yourself with people who support you, and make sure to take time for these special friendships as they will bring you the most joy.

7. Find meaning in your life. As mentioned in the healthy retirement blog post, having a purpose is central to our ability to be satisfied and happy. For a lot of people this is tough. What this one boils down to is a lot of self-study – the ability to know yourself inside and out. What makes you tick? The better you know yourself the easier it will be to understand what drives you and motivates you. Knowing your strengths and finding ways to realize them in the world can boost your happiness and feelings of satisfaction. If you have trouble with pinning down your strengths, ask people that know you well and that you trust. See what they say. You might be surprised or you might receive affirmation in what you already know about yourself.

8. Show up. Get engaged in what you do. Dig into the good, the bad, and the ugly. The more you disconnect yourself from your surroundings, your work, your friends, your family, the worse you are going to feel about your life. Life is not easy, but if you come to the table with your eyes and heart open, you will have a better chance of being resilient to the daily stress and challenges that life ultimately brings. If you try to avoid or ignore the hard stuff, you are only going to cause more trouble for yourself down the road. The best thing you can do for yourself is show up and be an active participant in your life. Nobody else is going to live your life but you. So go out there and live out your legacy!

I hope this post gives you a little inspiration, I know it revs me up! It can be a little overwhelming, I know – believe me. But what I find works best for me is to pick one or two items to focus on at a time.

How many of these 8 practices do you have in check? 

Which ones do you feel like you need to work on right now? 

Any other practices you find helpful in your own life that you would like to share?

Be the change

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Most of us have heard the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world.” We get it, right? Or do we?

Have you actually stopped your busy life and really thought about what it means? I don’t think I really got- got it until today, when I heard a story. Because the story moved me, I wanted to share it with you. Maybe some of you have already heard it. Either way it’s definitely a nice, short, and “sweet” tale to keep handy.
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A mother from India was very worried about her overweight son’s addiction to sweets. No matter what she did, she could not keep him away from sugary treats. Running out of ideas and absolutely desperate, she decided to bring her son to the well-respected, Mahatma Gandhi. Because Gandhi was so well-known and wise, she thought if only she could get Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating sweets, maybe then, her son would listen.

So mother and son made the trip and waited in line and waited some more. When it was their turn, the mother explained her son’s story to Gandhi. She then asked him to please tell her son to stop eating sweets as they were harming his health. She knew that her son would stop if Gandhi said so. Gandhi listened to her request and thanked the woman and son for coming. He then said, “Please come back in a week.”

The mother didn’t understand but left with her son. She was at least pleased that Gandhi agreed to see them again. After a week passed, she and her son made the trip again. They waited in line. The second time, not so patiently.

Once they could see Gandhi, the mother’s worries went away and hope filled her heart. As they approached him, he remembered them right away and thanked them for coming back. He then said firmly to the little boy, “Son, you must cease eating sweets.” The boy nodded, and the mother had a confused look on her face.

She asked, “Why, sir, did you ask us to come back a week later? Why couldn’t you tell him that last week?” 

Gandhi replied, “Because dear miss, I did not know if I, myself, could accomplish what you asked me to ask your son. I needed a week to try it myself before I could say anything. For if I could not do the task myself, how could I ask him to do it? We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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This story is a great reminder for all of us in our work and in our lives, especially those of us who are in positions related to well-being. Discipline and knowledge can be communicated most effectively through messengers who practice what they pass along. We all know this. We see it in our everyday lives. Most of us can spot the teacher who is the fake, and we all feel beauty and grace in the presence of someone who is doing the work.

As I begin my wellness coach training and will soon be coaching people for a living* (I already have 21 people signed up for the month of March!), there is no better time than now to recommit myself to being the change I wish to see in the world. Lately, my own readiness to follow the principles I believe in is apparent, and I am doing it. While discomfort sometimes arises with that reality, I have made the choice to not step down, and I am starting to feel the health benefits that occur from not turning away from the hard stuff.

The most effective way we can help others around us is truly to model the behavior we wish to see. Thank you Mahatma Gandhi for this lesson. I am deeply humbled and nervous and excited all at the same time to embark on such a journey in my own life.

To those reading, I hope that you, too, can create moments in your life where you feel like you can embody your vision of well-being and make your life principles into a reality.

Or if anything else, next time you want to ask someone to do something, take a minute to stop and think if you, yourself, are able to do it.

*First, wellness coaching has little to do with telling people what to do. Second, I do not necessarily believe that Mahatma telling the boy to stop eating sweets would do the boy any good, in reality. However, I do greatly appreciate the wisdom that Gandhi highlights with the importance of “practicing what you preach.”