Grit

and-perserverance

Have you ever failed at something so miserably that the thought of attempting to do it again was the last thing you wanted to do?

If your answer is yes, then you just passed this pseudo-captcha test. You are “not a robot.” Unlike robots, we human beings have feelings, emotions, and dreams. We are all meant to grow and stretch despite our circumstances and our limitations. This unique trait sets us apart from other living beings. Flourishing and trying to make our dreams come true is great when life is going our way. But what happens when it’s not? What happens when you fail despite all of your hard work? Do you stay down and accept the defeat or do you get up again and again until you are satisfied? If you have a tendency to persevere and keep going then you have what experts call, grit.

Human Experience
Falling down or failing is one of the most agonizing, embarrassing, and scariest human experiences. But it is also one of the most educational, empowering, and essential parts of living a successful and fulfilling life.  The old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” pretty much sums up what we should do in order to get better and better until we get the results that we want.

Nitty Gritty of Grit
Did you know that perseverance (grit) is one of the seven qualities that have been described as the keys to personal success and betterment in society? The other six are: curiosity, gratitude, optimism, self-control, social intelligence, and zest. Studies have shown that people who follow their passion and are determined to do the hard work to get “the job” are more likely to become successful in life. Grit is studied by many researchers. One of the leading researchers is Dr. Angela Duckworth.

Passion and Perseverance
Dr. Duckworth’s study on grit showed that people who have passion and perseverance in what they do are more likely to be successful. Thomas Edison is a model for grit for trying 1,000 plus times to invent the light bulb. If you are reading this with the lights on in your room, you know darn well he succeeded. When asked why he kept going despite his hundreds of failures, he merely stated that what he had were not failures.  They were hundreds of ways not to create a light bulb. This statement not only revealed his grit but also his optimism for looking at the bright side (literally!)

“Grrr”
Grit is very important in life. Grit makes the impossible, possible. Grit takes the “grrr” to a new level of success for those willing to work for the “It”. Maybe that is why “grit” is called grit. It takes a combination of “grrr” and having the passion for “It” to reach the goal that you’ve been working towards.

Grit and Mindfulness
Grit can be learned and developed to help you become more successful. One of the techniques that helps is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice that helps the individual stay in the moment by bringing awareness of his or her experience without judgement. This practice is a technique that many have used to quiet the noise of their fears and doubts. Through this simple practice of mindfulness, individuals have the ability to stop the self-sabotaging downward spiral of hopelessness, despair, and frustration. According the Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology, mindfulness is integral in stopping the mind’s inner critic and insecurities to rule the mind.

Grit and Strengths
Another way to strengthen your grit muscle is through using your top strengths and allowing them to help you rise to the occasion. In fact, grit is one of the 24 Character Strengths in the VIA Character Strengths Classification. The 24 character strengths were studied for over 3 years by leading positive psychology researchers, Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson. They along with many other top experts found these virtues have moral and cross-cultural significance in helping people live happy and successful lives. Using your signature strengths is a wonderful way to herald your top qualities to help you get your job done. My strength-based and solutions focused approach to coaching has been extremely helpful for all my coaching clients. Top strengths can help you see things under a different lens.

How about you?
When was the last time you failed at something? What did you do to overcome the negative and self-sabotaging feelings of failure? Reflect on what you did, and try to use those same powerful resources to help you today. If you need a coach and a cheerleader to help you reach your goals, contact me at info@healthandhappinessspecialist.com today. Together we can make your dream come true.

How Harry Potter Added Mindfulness & Magic to My Family Vacations

How Harry Potter Added Mindfulness & Magic to My Family Vacations

by Debbie Lyn Toomey, author of The Happiness Result

HarryPotter
My family and I recently had a vacation and instead of flying to our destination, we decided to drive. It didn’t take us very long to agree upon Acadia National Park in Maine. We went 3 years ago and had to go back because we had such a blast on our previous visit. Because this road trip was going to be a 4 to 5-hour drive for us, we planned on ways to make it comfortable and enjoyable for my 3 boys, my husband, and me. We made sure to carefully pack all of the essentials. In the trunk went our luggage, beach chairs, and the $1.50 kite that I bought on sale at the end of last summer. Also, within our reach were our sweet and salty snacks and an assortment of drinks that were sure to please everyone on the trip. Finally, in the front, we had our old Harry Potter book on tape. Cassette tape that is.

Mad About Harry

The Order of the Phoenix was the only Harry Potter audio book that we had on tape. Although we had the other ones on CD’s, it was the story that we wanted for our long drive. Luckily, our family minivan had a working cassette tape player that we often used to listen to 70’s music. We had our first experience with listening to the Harry Potter audio book 12 years ago when we did a 7-hour drive all the way up to Toronto, Canada to visit relatives. It was then that my husband became interested in the Harry Potter stories and my whole family fell in love with the audio book series.

I still smile to this day as I recall my husband’s face as he drove us to Toronto. He was listening so intently that our bathroom breaks ended up happening only after the end of the exciting parts of the story. Listening to the Harry Potter audio books made what can seem like a long and boring road trip into a fun and memorable adventure for everyone.

Serious Blackness

I recall yet another family vacation where Harry came along with my us. It was 8 years ago and we were staying at our condominium in New Hampshire. My family had just finished clearing off the dinner table after having a tasty assortment of leftovers we collected over the previous days. It was a perfect night to stay in because of the heavy rains that were expected to come. Just as we were about to discuss which “oldie but goodie” movie to watch that evening; the lights went out. In fact, the whole condominium complex was seriously dark all around us. The only light source that we had was from outside: the full moon that came out from the clouds after the rain had stopped.

Lumos Maxima!

Luckily, as if I had my own magical wand, I grabbed my iPhone and it created a source of light for us. It gave us light similar to the charm, “Lumos” that the Harry Potter characters would say when they were in the dark and needed light. Thankfully my mobile phone gave me enough light to help me find my Yankee Candles jars and lighter easily. In order to keep my youngest Max, who was 3 years old at the time, from getting scared we decided to make the most of it by gathering around the kitchen table to play cards and listen to more of Harry Potter in my boom box that had newly replaced D batteries.

Eventually, the rain stopped, but only a few of the condominium complex’s emergency lights went on. Curious about the bright lights from the nearby town that was a couple blocks away, my family and I set out on an adventurous walk to get some much needed ice cream. What a night! What was supposed to be a quiet evening watching old movies became a magical one filled with storms, Harry Potter, and a walk to the nearby town in darkness. I would say it was an evening almost worthy of a Harry Potter chapter.

 To Harry!

As a parent, I noticed how something as simple as listening to an old Harry Potter audio books gave my whole family yet another common interest to enjoy together. Whether it was going for a long drive or listening to it as we played cards, it gave what we were doing together a greater sense of meaning and pleasure. To be silly, my family and I still do a playful toast with our best British accent and say, “To Harry!” mimicking a scene in the book. It never ceases to bring a laugh out of everyone.

 Mindfulness

As a Health and Happiness Specialist, someone who teaches and writes about mindfulness for today’s busy people, I have noticed how listening to a great story can captivate the attention of a group, similar to the practice of mindfulness listening. It’s a kind of listening where one becomes so engrossed in the story that your whole being comes to life with the story. It’s mindfulness concentration at its best. Further, listening to the Harry Potter stories had the power of gathering people together and appreciating their special time. I am forever grateful for the mindfulness and magic that Harry and his stories added to my family vacations.

How about you?

If you’re wondering about how to make your family time extra special? Try this.

  1. Encourage your family to listen to an audio book during your time together.
  2. Involve the whole family to pick an audio book and chose one that everyone will enjoy.
  3. Make sure to have a way to listen it both inside and outside the car.
  4. Hit “play” and start listening.
  5. Notice how your family reacts to the activity.
  6. Intermittently discuss what’s happening in the story.
  7. Share what went well by doing this together.
  8. If your family enjoyed this, repeat next time with another audio book.

I’m confident that once you start a family activity like this, it will become a tradition as it has for me and my family. Enjoy! Please leave your comments below and share with us some ways that you create lasting and meaningful memories with your family.

To learn more about ways to gain more time, more health, more love, and more success in the midst of your busy day, be sure to get my upcoming book, The Happiness Result. This book was created with today’s busy people in mind to help them use 7 simple techniques for creating an awesome life. Go to www.TheHappinessResult.com to read the reviews and sign up to be notified when the book is available for purchase.

3 Ways To Listen To Your Inner Voice For A Happy And Successful Life

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Have you ever woken up to a voice that came from nowhere?

It has happened to me many times. In fact, it has gotten to a point that when I do hear it, I know enough not to complain but rather listen when it wakes me up in the middle of the night. No, I’m not crazy. I’m a believer. That’s right. I’ve become a faithful student of this all-knowing voice, my intuition. What I found when I stopped arguing with it is that the guidance it gives me always leads me onto my highest and best path.

A Voice
I recall being woken up by a Voice that seemed to have come from nowhere. Half asleep, I thought I was dreaming. When I turned over to my side to try to switch the channel of this bad dream, the voice repeated. Again it said, “Do stress management workshops.” This happened for a few weeks. When I stopped resisting it and started listening to it, my life became happier and more successful.

Do Stress Management Workshops
After a few weeks of being woken up with the same instructions to “Do stress management workshops,” I went from saying, “No” to the Voice to “How?” Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always loved making people feel good and the idea of teaching. This passion led me to becoming a nurse. As a nurse in the Boston area, I was able to help many people feel better. But after taking care of hundreds of patients with stress-related ailments, I knew that health prevention was important. I believed that it was integral in helping people feel better, but the only way to do that was through doing workshops in the community. This passion seemed to make sense, but I felt it was too farfetched for someone as introverted and afraid of public speaking as me. My long list of reasons why I couldn’t achieve this aspect of my dream triumphed until the voice started waking me up in the morning.

Why Me?
I remember mornings when I would hear “Do stress management workshops” from the Voice, and I would try to silence it by putting my pillow over my head. Not surprisingly the pillow did not offer any sort of a sound barrier. Eventually, I stopped saying, “No, I don’t know how” or “Why me?” and started saying “How can I do it?” and “Where can I do it?” Although my heart somehow knew to trust this inner voice, my insecure mind wanted to challenge it.

I Started to Believe
I would start testing the Voice by asking questions of how I can make this come true. Every time I would ask one, it would give me a simple answer. I started to believe it. Despite my nervousness about the whole idea, I knew that it was going to happen. Further, the more I believed, the more I really wanted it to happen.

My Answers
When I asked The Voice who I should contact and where can I offer the stress management workshops, it gave me the answers. At first, I could not believe it when it would answer me, but eventually, I got used to it. The Voice said, ask “Father O’Brien.” Also it said, “the convent” for the location. Coincidently at that time, the church was looking for a nurse practitioner to volunteer to take people’s blood pressure. I thought I could offer my workshop along with taking other parishioners’ blood pressure as a way to do my workshop as well as build engagement in the church. I told myself that if Father O’Brien declined my offer then I would be done with trying to do any stress management workshops. Later that day, I hung up the phone in disbelief that Father O’Brien said yes, and I was on my way to start realizing my dream.

Today’s Workshops
To this day, I smile when I think about what happened and how it has led me to where I am now. Presently, I am the owner of Ultimate Healing Journey, a company that I founded almost 5 years ago that specializes in offering “happiness management” workshops. Instead of the stress management workshops that focuses on how negativity impacts our health and performance, my company focuses on the positive. My company purposely applies happiness skills to boost positivity. Positivity has been proven to enhance peak performance and productivity. I love what I do and I am so grateful that I followed the guidance that The Voice gave me.

Trusted My Intuition
So how did I change from a “Nervous Nelly” of a nurse who was afraid of speaking in front of large groups to a happy-go-lucky international speaker? Well, I remained true to my heart’s desire and trusted The Voice inside of me—my intuition. Although it took me years to be a speaker, author, coach, and facilitator, I believe that it all stemmed from my willingness to follow my dream and listen to my inner voice. My intuition is The Voice. As I wrote in my new book, The Happiness Result, “your inner GPS will always steer you towards your own North Star.” This book combines self-help, with science, and the power of intuition to inspire today’s busy people with ways to create the life of their dreams.

How About You?
Do you have a dream that you would like to come to fruition and just don’t know where to begin? I suggest you begin with following your own intuition. The Voice, your intuition, will steer you on your own magical path. If you have not had any experience with being woken up by The Voice, you can still follow your own North Star by tuning into the your still small voice from within.

Here are 3 ways to get started:
1. Trust- Have faith that you have The Voice inside you.
2. Exercise- Build your intuitive muscle by talking to it, testing it, and tuning into its answers.
3. Love- Trust that your intuition is love-based. It speaks the language of your heart’s desires.

Try following these 3 techniques to help learn how to trust and follow you own inner voice. The more you do it the more natural it will become.

To learn more about how follow your heart’s desire and cultivate your inner voice visit www.TheHappinessResult.com today to pre-order your copy of The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success. 7 Simple Techniques to Create You’re A.W.E.S.O.M.E.™ Life today.

a-HAHS Tip #6 Bye Bye Loneliness

 

Do you ever feel lonely and need someone around to talk to or just be with?

Why not try doing something for someone.

When you do a random act of kindness or volunteer for a good cause you are doing something positive for more than one person.

Here’s what happens:

  1. You have a purpose that day.
  2. You make a difference in someone’s life.
  3. You connect with someone.

Next time you are feeling lonely just know that you can get out of rut by just getting out of the house and doing something kind for someone. This is a great way to say bye bye to your loneliness and hello to kindness.

If you are interested in learning more about ways to increase your level of happiness contact us at info@HealthandHappinesssSpecialist.com.

How the Angry Birds Movie Helped Me Beat Procrastination

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Have you ever procrastinated doing a task because it felt so boring, monumental, and time-consuming?

If you just nodded your head, then I know I’m in good company. I, myself, have a project at home that I’ve been avoiding. It’s going through all the bins of old clothes in my basement to make room for my new home office. Every time I think about it, I cringe knowing that it is going to take all afternoon. These days, I am extra mindful of what I do with my time. I have a full schedule, and I don’t want to spend my time doing something that doesn’t make me happy. After all, the overall mission of my company, Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC is to inspire and inform busy people on how to use happiness skills to help them reach their goals.

A Playdate
This past Saturday, my son, Maxwell, and his friend, Aaron, had a playdate. Aaron’s mother and I took them out for lunch and then we saw the movie Angry Birds. For 11-year-old boys who enjoy playing online games, this movie was a great hit! As a parent, I loved spending quality time with my son and his friends. And as a positive psychology practitioner and coach, I was interested in how the characters used their strengths and talents during the course of the movie.

Angry Bird
The main character, “Red,” who was this red looking bird with thick bushy black eyebrows was a grunt and a loner. He disliked being liked or showing any positive emotions. As the movie evolved with its twists and turns, Red used his courage, determination, and anger to lead the bird community who have turned against him. Without giving away too much of the plot for those you of who haven’t seen this movie, the good guys, in this case the Angry Birds, won and saved the community from the bad group of green pigs. Interestingly enough in this day of anger management and stress reduction, this movie used the opposite to feel better. It used anger in a positive way as the driving emotion to herald courage, clarity, and creativity to save the day.

Ride Home
The movie was a big hit for my 11-year-old companions that afternoon. It brought on an interesting and lengthy conversation on various video games they play during the ride home. By the time we got home, Max and his friend were still immersed in their talk. They both asked to have an extra 30 minutes together to trade their game cards. Because Aaron lives 5 houses down from ours, both mothers consented to this extra time together.

Timer
When I got home, I decided to put the timer on for 30 minutes to remind me to pick Max up. As I prepared a cup of tea for myself, I wondered what I was going to do with myself while I waited. That’s when I got the idea to get “angry!” Just as the angry birds used anger as their driving force to get the job done, I will use it as well to help me tackle what needed to be done. I will sort through the old clothes in my basement. Having less than 30 minutes to start this project seemed less intimidating to me because I knew that it wasn’t going to consume my whole afternoon.

I Got Angry
Noticing that my 19-year-old son, JT, was in the kitchen playing a game on his computer, I decided to add more fun to what I was about to do. I declared to my unsuspecting teenager that I was going to get “angry!” He gave me a quizzical as look he turned back to his game. I kept repeating to myself.
“I am going to get angry!”
“Yes, I am!”
“I’m angry.”
With a smile on my face, I was ready and excited to for what I used to call ‘mission impossible’. I got giddy about using anger to motivate myself and begin my own game against time, my kitchen timer that is.

Pumped with Adrenaline and Anger
I decided to further challenge myself by setting a goal of filling 3 trash bags full of clothes that I would give away for donation. I went down my basement stairs pumped with adrenaline and anger. As I opened bins of old clothes, I kept saying,
“I’m angry.”
“Oh yeah, I am angry.”
“Yup, I AM ANGRY.”
I couldn’t have been any happier playing my version of this online game! Each bin of clothes became easier and easier to go through because I wasn’t approaching my old clothes with nostalgia. I approached them like a gamer who had little time to win this obstacle.

I Won!
And it worked. Using play helped me win over my procrastination. By the time my kitchen timer went off, I was so engrossed in filling my 3 trash bags full of clothes that I asked my son JT to get Max for me so I could finish up what I had been postponing for that last few months. I felt like a winner! By the time my sons got home, I had 3 bags of clothes at the bottom of my basement stairs ready for donation and I had fun doing it.

Play Saved the Day
Adding the elements of fun and play to what I was doing helped me become more effective and efficient. As I’ve mentioned in my book, The Happiness Result, experts like Dr. Stuart Brown, researcher and founder of the National Institute for Play, have found that play can help us become more creative, optimistic, productive and so much more. In fact, play can save the day by helping you search out new solutions to your problems as it did for me.

Here’s how you can create your own winning game to overcome procrastination.

1. Play — Decide how to playfully to approach a specific project. I used my inspiration from the Angry Birds movie to power up and get excited.
2. Time — Decide on how much time you want to dedicate for this. I recommend giving yourself no more than 30 minutes. Any longer might feel too overwhelming or too time-consuming.
3. Celebrate — Celebrate your accomplishment. Recognize that you are much further along than before you started. This will give you more motivation to do it again. Remember, you’ve taken the hardest step, which is the first one.

If you are interested in more ways to gain more time, more love, more health, and more success, stay tuned for information on how to get my new book, The Happiness Result — coming out this summer! You will learn 7 simple techniques to help you create an awesome life. If you have any question or want to learn more about our services visit, contact us at  INFO@HEALTHANDHAPPINESSSPECIALIST.COM today.

3 Myths on Work/Life Balance

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”

James Allen


3 Myth Busters on Work-Life Balance (1)-82422
What does work/life balance mean to you?

Does it mean a perfect work and life situation with no stress or worry?
OR
Does it mean you have more than enough time to do what you want on your schedule?

People in pursuit of this illusive idea of work/life balance are often left disillusioned, disappointed, or depressed. Frankly, it is unrealistic for us to strive for this work/life balance when life delivers so many unexpected situations that can ripple into all areas of our lives such as lay-offs, health crisis, and divorce to name a few. Work/life balance should not be a way we measure our success but rather the tool we use to check in with ourselves so that we can make the best choices.

Stillness and Happiness

What I have learned is that work/life balance begins inside of us, not outside of us. I liken it to the stillness of deep waters underneath stormy waves. Similarly, our stillness and happiness are at the depths of the oceans of our being. Knowing this can help us withstand any storms that try to sink our boat. In other words, when we are happy, we feel centered and in control. We make purposeful and powerful decisions that allow life to work for us every moment. In this basic framework, the work/life balance is not an end goal but rather a tool for us to decipher how to steer and command ourselves, maintaining our course of our living our best life.

Tug and Pull

As a business owner, a part-time nurse, a mother of 3 boys, and daughter of aging parents, I am mindful of the constant tug and pull of work/life balance. There are times where I purposely burn the candle from both ends in order to help my company grow. It’s a choice that I make in order to be able to make my dreams come true. It’s a choice that I happily make in order to be the change that I want to see in this world — our world.

North Star

From time to time, I have people in my life that view me as a hypocrite for teaching about harmony, health and happiness because they feel I’m not living up to my own message. I would get comments such as, “Debbie, I don’t know how you do it all?” or “I don’t think you are living up to your message” or “Your desk is not Zen at all and you teach about mindfulness.” While these hurtful comments have knocked the wind out of my sails, I have found that they have made me stronger inside. I’ve become even more determined not to let their judgment take me off course from following my inner North Star.

Life Force

What I’ve come to realize, as I’ve mentioned in my new book, The Happiness Result, is that work/life balance not only starts from within us but it is constantly occurring. Balance is the life force that is in all living things. Balance is what we living beings naturally do in order to grow and flourish. It’s no different from when we are listening and following our calling; working extra hours to make our dreams come true. I believe that resisting our calling by listening to our fears and insecurities is the primary cause of the imbalance within and the cause of the work/life imbalance that we hear about.

Balance Happens

Balance happens when there is no resistance towards growth and flourishing. Balance happens when we allow ourselves to break free from our limiting beliefs and comfort zones. Balance happens when we are happy and clear about what we want. Lastly, balance happens when we feel in control of our lives.

Here are the 3 myths on work/life balance that I have discovered:

Myth #1: Balance means 50/50 all the time. This is impossible because we spend most of our time at work and less at home.

Myth #2: Balance can’t happen when we are busy. Balance is always happening even when we are busy. It’s up to us to trust to our gut instincts when we start feeling off-balance in anyway.

Myth #3: Work/life balance means success. Work/life balance has been overrated leaving way too many people feeling like failures because they can’t get it. Work/life balance needs to be reframed not as the measurement of success, but rather a tool that we use and a habit that we must cultivate in order to give voice to the treasures in our heart. When we do this, we can make healthy, happy, and harmonious choices that will lead to a rich and fulfilling life.

For further learning about how you can add more of what you want to your life, get your copy of The Happiness Result — coming out early July 2016. For coaching on how to create your awesome life, contact us at info@HealthAndHappinessSpecialist.com.

How to Get More Energy and Reduce Your Stress with Awe

How to Get More Energy and Reduce Your Stress with Awe

by Debbie Lyn Toomey
Author, Speaker, Coach

Santa Barbara

 

“You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind.
Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing…
Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something!
Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something…
The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself,
the more energy you will have.”
Norman Vincent Peale

 

Have you ever woken up 3 hours before you were supposed to and just couldn’t fall back to sleep?

I did about a month ago. I woke up 4 AM and no matter what I did, I just could not go back to sleep. After adjusting and fluffing up my pillow to get comfortable and getting up to take a sip of water, I still laid on the hotel bed wide awake with thoughts of what I had to do that day. Although my body needed the rest, my mind was ready to go to work. It was the last day of my colleague’s retreat for speakers. I was there to assist and support her to make sure her first event was a success. Knowing that I needed my rest for my full day’s trek of wrapping up the retreat, a two-hour bus ride from Santa Barbara to LAX airport, and the red eye to back to Boston, I got more and more concerned that I couldn’t fall asleep. Nothing worked!

Awe, a Study
Resigning to the fact my good night sleep was going to have to be only 4 hours that night, I decided to get up. I got up at 4:30 AM. Not knowing what to do with myself, I decided to check my email and became inspired by one of the ones I got from Greater Good Science Berkeley. One particular article peaked my interest. It was about the art and science of awe. Scientists like Dacher Keltner have found that this new science can improve our mental, physical, and social well-being. In other words, being in awe or what I also call “wonderment” in my book, The Happiness Result, can shift our mental, emotional, and physical state from boredom to bliss. Wonderment is a combination of anticipation, awareness, and appreciation.

Energy Booster and Tension Reducer
In fact, what I and thousands of others have experienced is that being in a state of wonderment and awe can actually reduce stress and tension as it makes us curious, excited, and happy. According to “awe“ expert, Dr. Kirk Schneider, being in a state awe uplifts us, which temporarily buffers the effects of stress and worries. I found this to be true when I got dressed and headed out of the hotel at 5:30 AM to go for an “awe” walk. I needed to get rid of my feelings of tension from thinking about my full day. I wanted to find a way to shift from being worried about not having enough sleep to having fun. And what happened next caught me by surprise.

Wonderment
I repeated to myself that I was going on an “awe” walk to help me focus on anything that would catch my attention. With my iPhone in my hand I walked around the hotel grounds across from the beach and I was ready to take any photo that peaked my interest, took my breath away, or made me smile. With wonderment as my intention for this particular walk, I saw things that I overlooked the previous days. I saw an old palm tree branch laying on the side walk that must have been 8 feet long. Being from Boston, I was used to seeing maple leaves or twigs on the ground not palm tree branches. I must have taken 2-3 pictures of that palm tree branch just to keep it as part of my Santa Barbara trip.

awe

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Then I came across two beautiful Bird of Paradise flowers growing behind a big tree and when I got closer to them, they looked like they were playfully peaking around the tree to say “hi” to me. Across the street on the beach were more surprises. I took my shoes off to feel the cool Santa Barbara sand on my bare feet. The shock of the cool sand made me giggle as it made me feel more energized. The beach was so beautiful as I watched the sun rising off in the distance. It was like a picture perfect scene with the sun rising, gentle waves, and a couple walking along the beach. It was definitely a “Kodak moment” as we used to say growing up. The scene took my breath away! Of course, I took many pictures of that beautiful moment on the beach to bring back with me. The pictures that I took in my “awe” walk are definitely worth a thousand words.

How about you?
Next time you need a bolt of something different try adding more wonderment into your life. Here’s how:

1. Create an intention to add more “wonder” or “awe” into your day.
2. Decide how long you will do it for.
3. Bring your smartphone or camera to view people and things through a new lens and fresh eyes.
4. If you have are having a difficult time looking for something interesting, then you are looking too hard.
5. Start by noticing what is in front of you and lean in to get a closer look.
6. Once you find someone or something that makes you say “Ahh…” or “Awe” or “Wow”, take a photo of it.
7. Then look at the photo and compare it to what is actually in front of you.
8. Ask yourself if you really captured the feeling that you wanted to with your photo. If so, move on and look for the next thing. If not, re-take your picture until you get an image that makes you smile inside and out.
9. Optional, show others your picture to spread the good vibe.

Interested in more simple ways to add happiness and wonder to your life, contact me at info@HealthAndHappinessSpecialst.com today. Also, if you have other ideas on how to add more “awe” and “wonder” into your day please share your comments below. Thank you.

 

More on Mindfulness and Difficult People

Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to a particular experience without judgment. It is a science that has a wide range of benefits for many people in all walks of life. It has been proven to help people with physical, mental, and emotional stress. People of any age can certainly benefit from what mindfulness offers. I have taught mindfulness to many groups, such as corporations, hospitals, colleges, and wellness centers. The practice of mindfulness is helpful to everyone. It has helped me cope with my stress and I know it can help you too.

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The Practice is a Powerful Attractor

Mindfulness has a way of centering and calming not only ourselves but also those around us. One thing I have experienced and witnessed with many mindfulness practitioners is a great magnetism. This attraction has the ability to draw people towards you. People will be drawn to your positive vibes and feel supported and grounded from it.

Mindfulness Emergency Manual

This article aims to operationalize basic mindfulness techniques in order to help you apply them. Allow the techniques to be your mindfulness emergency manual when dealing with difficult individuals. The techniques have been highly effective for me and those of whom I have taught in my mindfulness workshops. While there are many different techniques that will be discussed here, please note that the application of all of the techniques can happen simultaneously and not necessarily in order. Operationalizing the steps is helpful when learning to apply them to situations that are different from the usual peaceful setting of your meditation space.

The Physical State

Being in our peaceful and powerful state is beneficial when we encounter others who want to use us as their sounding board and verbal punching bag. As mentioned in my previous article published on HuffingtonPost.com on March 7th, 2016, mindfulness can be used quite effectively when dealing with difficult people. There are 4 simple mindfulness practices that can help you stay in control of your actions in the moment and can also soothe the irate person. The person will be calmed and will leave feeling heard and satisfied.

These techniques purposely alter the physical state from feeling stressed to feeling strong. They are Mindful Body, Mindful Breathing, Mindful Listening, and Mindful Seeing. These are what I call Phase One of using mindfulness with difficult people. To learn more about these mindfulness techniques, I invite you to read my March 2016 article called: Mindfulness and Difficult People.

More Mindfulness Techniques

Phase One consists of the 4 basic mindfulness techniques that can subtly shift your stance from victim to victor. In most cases these are enough to help diffuse an uncomfortable confrontation. If however, you are having little to no progress, use the following mindfulness techniques to help you. This is what I call Phase Two. Phase Two is made of 2 mindfulness techniques that involve verbal dialogue that occurs in our mind and comes out of our mouth. They are mindful thoughts and mindful communication.

The Phase Two techniques are:

1. Thoughts– Mindful thoughts is a technique where we purposely self-monitor and challenge our negative emotions and thoughts. Using mindful thoughts avoids harmful thoughts from hijacking our mental and emotional state. These unwanted thoughts can be set off by any perceived threat from a situation, preconceived ideas and prejudices that can derail us from being fully present in the moment. In other words, our thoughts can lead us down a negative spiral of doom and gloom that may keep us from being calm and in control of our actions and the situation.

When you feel that your thoughts are being clouded by such ideas, do a quick check. Ask yourself if what you are thinking is really so. If the answer is no, change that thought by engaging your mindful body and mindful breathing to get back to the present moment. During encounters with difficult people, it’s very important to stay in the present moment because that is where your power lies.

2. Communication– Mindful communication comes more easily after we have challenged and quieted our harmful thoughts. Mindful communication, done face to face, is a way of effectively communicating and confirming to difficult people. Doing this helps them know that you are actually with them and hearing their problems. Remember, people just want someone to listen to them and help them find the best solution to their problems.

Mindful communication is a combination of slow and deliberate dialogue with no judgment, and periods of silence to allow the difficult person to speak. Mindful communication uses proper tone and pacing to further convey a sense of concern and control of the situation.

Lastly, Safety First!

Always remember that your safety as well as the safety of others is of the utmost importance. Here are some reminders for you when dealing with difficult people anywhere and anytime. They are:
– Never hesitate to ask for help when dealing with difficult people.
– Never allow yourself to be cornered by difficult people.
– Never go anywhere alone with difficult people.
– Never turn your back on difficult people.
– Never take the encounter personally.

Being Calm, Clear, and Resourceful

Use mindfulness to help yourself remain calm, clear, and resourceful during any encounter with a difficult person. The sooner you can use mindfulness during any encounter the sooner you and the other person can move on in a positive way. If you have any other mindfulness techniques that have been effective in dealing with difficult people, please share them below.

Contact us at info@HealthAndHappinessSpecialist.com for unique mindfulness programs for your company or organization.

a-HAHS Tip #5: Easy Yoga Pose

I know you are busy, so I will keep my post quick today and remind you of this powerful tip that can make your day and another’s that much better.

Whether you’ve been doing yoga since the day you were born or not, here’s a pose that will turn your frown upside down.

This movement has been proven to boost levels of positivity within seconds. In fact, it’s so powerful that it can also make other people happy.

It’s a smile.

That’s right! This innate gesture has been proven to make people happy inside and out. This simple movement is enough to trick our brain when we are feeling badly into feeling better.

Try it next time you need a lift.

If you are looking for more ways to feel better in your life whether it’s reaching your goals or having support to gain more clarity in your life. Contact us at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today to learn how A.W.E.S.O.M.E™ Life coaching can help you live your best life.

Mindfulness and Difficult People

Mindfulness and Difficult People: Learn 4 Mindfulness Techniques to Deal with Difficult People

By Debbie Lyn Toomey, Health and Happiness Specialist™

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Much of what we hear about mindfulness has to do with how it can enhance the stillness of our mind, soothe our nerves, and awaken our senses for stress management and wellness. But rarely do we hear about how mindfulness can help during encounters with difficult people.

No matter how many self-care practices we embrace, or stress management workshops we attend, we will always encounter people in our lives who have complaints in some form or another. I am sure that you have heard these things said to you or someone near you at one point in your life.

I want to talk to the manager!

 You’re not listening to ME!

NO, I WILL NOT QUIET DOWN!

Mindfulness can help. It has helped me in more occasions than I care to imagine. When faced with difficult people or circumstances, mindfulness allows me to keep present in the moment and feel calm and in control of not only myself but also the situation.

If you are new to mindfulness the techniques shared here will seem like common sense to you especially during those regular days when things are going well. But what if your day is not going well and you are overwhelmed with work and someone approaches you all upset, wanting you to fix a problem. Often, an unexpected stressful moment can make common sense seem not so common. When our fight or flight reaction gets triggered it is difficult for our prefrontal cortex, the rational part of brain to think straight. In fact, the amygdala, the alarm part of our brain, takes over, making it difficult to calm ourselves down. If you are a mindfulness practitioner (or even a mindfulness dabbler) then the skills that you are about to read will be good reminders for you.

What is Mindfulness?

Before I share with you the techniques let me just briefly define mindfulness so as to avoid any misconceptions of what this practice is all about. Mindfulness is not yoga. Mindfulness is not a religion. Lastly, mindfulness is not about emptying our minds. It is more than that! I like to describe mindfulness as the awareness and acceptance of the actual of ebbs and flows of life— without attachment or judgment. It is purposely living in the moment.

Mindfulness Day In and Day Out

Hundreds of studies have proven that practicing mindfulness is effective in lessening chronic pain, depression, stress and so much more. Fortunately for us there are many ways to practice mindfulness in everyday life. We can practice mindfulness day in and day out if we want. In fact, anything we do in life when done with purpose and with full awareness of our senses can be considered a mindfulness practice like, bathing an adorable little baby, eating a piping hot cheesy pizza, or hugging someone you love.

Mindfulness Test

While practicing mindfulness is easy in a controlled and quite setting, it can be a challenge out in the real world. One of the true tests of mindfulness is when someone invades your personal zen-bubble and decides to burst it. I call these situations the true test of mindfulness practice. The reality is mindfulness does not shield us from life’s tribulations. But what it does do is help us become more resilient so we can bounce back quicker and prevents us from taking difficult situations personally.

Safety First

Here are the 4 mindfulness skills that have helped me remain calm, cool, and centered in the midst of heated encounters with difficult people. Please note the intention of this article is to provide you with a mindfulness plan to help you deal with difficult people. Always trust your gut instincts when you encounter a difficult person especially when they start escalating. Always err on the side of caution— safety first!

4 Mindfulness Techniques

The 4 Mindfulness Techniques for Dealing with Difficult People are:

  1. Body– Mindful body is very important during negative encounters. Maintaining a grounded and powerful pose puts you in a state of relaxed attention that will also keep you on your toes. Body language speaks much louder than words. Whether you are sitting or standing, it’s best to position your body so that both feet are on the ground with both feet at least shoulder width apart. Look at the person’s hands to see what they are doing and keep a safe distance away from them.
  1. Breath– Mindful breathing is one of the best practices to do when you are stressed. Taking slow deep breaths during negative encounters has a subtle and powerful effect on you as well as the other person. When possible, purposely and subtly deepen your breathing pattern so that the other person can see what you are doing. Doing this has a subtle way of encouraging the other person to slow down their breathing to match yours and may help them feel better too.
  2. Listening– Mindful listening is also crucial during heated moments. People like to be heard. By giving the other person your undivided and compassionate ear you will help them feel important. Pay close attention to what is being said in order for you to relay the story back. Mindfully listen to your own thoughts during the encounter. Avoid jumping to conclusions before the person is done speaking. This will help you listen more intently.
  1. Seeing– Mindful seeing is very important because this will allow you study the person in front of you. Always keep your eyes on the person so that you can best read whether he or she is distraught or delusional. Notice what the person is doing. Do they seem relieved from talking or are they escalating? If you notice that all of your great mindfulness intentions are not working, ask for help. Remember you don’t have to do this by yourself.

Don’t Take it Personally

It’s very important to remember not to take these negative situations personally.  While it is upsetting to have some yell at you, try to keep your dignity and the others’ intact as much as possible. At times, being respectful is enough to take care of the situation. Try to give the other person the benefit of the doubt when possible.

Once again your safety is very important. If your instincts are telling you to get help, please do so. I hope that this mindfulness plan will help you in the future as it has helped me.

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Please share any other mindfulness techniques that you feel would help during difficult encounters. Thank you!