Boost Happiness Instantly with Gratitude

Boost Happiness Instantly with Gratitude
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, Mindfulness Educator

I am a founding member of Thrive Now Boston, a non-profit organization that “designs ‘WOW’ experiences that bring people together and make them feel happier.” We just had our first event at historical Boston Commons. We called this special event, Grati-Tuesday.

Practice

Our intention was to inspire the practice of gratitude by asking people who passed by what they were grateful for. While some had no time for us, there were many others who were more than happy to write down their gratitude, get their picture taken with the gratitude they wrote on a piece of paper, and to add what they wrote to our huge gratitude banner.

Why did we kick off our first event with gratitude?  Easy!

Research

Gratitude is an instant happiness booster that has lingering results according to a Harvard research study. Gratitude has also been linked to better relationships and also longer life.

It was an amazing time for the other “Wow-ers” and me! That evening the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Boston Common was filled with people from all walks of life. There were people kicking a soccer ball around, children chasing a dog, tourists marveling at the rich history that Boston has.

Powerful

Although making this event happen took months of preparation, the hours that we put into putting this event together was worth it. My group and I witnessed the power and grace of gratitude in action. It was wonderful to see people’s faces light up as they shared their gratitude and to see them walk away with a big smile on their faces. Some of the gratitude notes that people wrote were:

FAMILY

FREEDOM

KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

DIVERSITY

… and so much MORE!!!

Try It!

Practicing gratitude is one of the simplest happiness technique there is. Here’s how you can get started. All you have to do is finish this sentence stem and keep writing until you have fully explained why you are grateful.

I am grateful for… (fill in the blank) ______________________________
because … ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I suggest that you continue this gratitude practice for one week. Notice how you feel after you do each daily exercise. If doing this simple gratitude technique boosts your level of happiness, then keep going. The longer you do this practice, the more you benefit. “Thank you” so much for taking the time to read this article.

I wish you all the happiness in the world!

To learn more about how gratitude can help you begin a new chapter of your life contact me for life coaching at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

Five Simple Steps for a Successful Day

Five Simple Steps for a Successful Day

Debbie Lyn Toomey RN, author of The Happiness Result

Whether you work from home or not, what you do before you tackle your day can either make you or break you. These five simple steps will keep you from drowning due to feelings of frustration and overwhelm.

Just as you would pack an umbrella or wear a raincoat due to predicted rain, there are also simple steps to take to prevent you from sinking like the Titanic. It is possible to stay afloat despite knowing that you will have a crazy busy day.

Below are five simple steps for a successful day. They are:

  1. List – Set yourself up for success by writing down what your to-do list is before going to bed. This is a fantastic way to empty your mind and help you begin the next day with a solid plan. While it’s tempting to create lists within your list, keep your to-do task items to five or less. Begin by asking yourself one question. This principle is based on Steven Covey’s time management system of focusing your time and energy on the quadrant that you deem as being non-urgent and important to you. The topics that fall under this quadrant are building relationships, reevaluating priorities, planning, and prevention. Ask yourself this question. 

“What are the three non-urgent but important tasks for me tomorrow?”

  1. Star – Once you’re done creating your list, take a deep breath and ask yourself which of the five items is one that will create the greatest ripple of opportunities for you. Put a star next to that item and do it as soon as you can the next day. Doing this will help you feel ahead of the game and set in motion a more focused, organized, and successful day.
  1. Time – Once you’ve made your short list and placed the allotted time you want to spend on them, gamify your to-do list by trying to beat the clock. After you put the amount of time you want to spend on each task and stick to it. Doing this will keep you from dragging your feet and getting distracted. Beat the clock and do the task as fast as you can. Your prize is time. Use your extra time for self-care during that day.

Feel like a winner the rest of the day by completing your task list and having extra time to slack. Having time for slack in your schedule is something that Herminia Ibarra, author of Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader talks about that every great leader does. Slack is time that you spend doing something that is purposely unstructured to help you gain a new and fresh perspective in what you are supposed to do. This well-earned free time will help you go back to work with greater clarity and productivity.

  1. Celebrate – Once you are done with all of your to-do items, give yourself a high-five, hug yourself or shout out a big “Woo-Hoo!” It’s important to celebrate successes throughout the day so that you are able to feel that your efforts have been effective. Don’t wait for others to recognize your great deeds. Do it yourself. The more you do this, the happier you will be.
  1. Gratitude – While there is always something to do, it’s also very important to practice gratitude by appreciating all the good that you have done. A wonderful gratitude practice to do at the end of a busy day is asking yourself what are the three good things that happened that day. This will help ensure that your day was not only productive but also positive.

The little time you invest in doing these five steps will pay off in the long run. The more you do them, the more you can feel victorious in being able to ride the waves of your busy work day. To learn how to work more effectively and successfully, contact me for 1:1 coaching support at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today.

Self-Compassion for Work / Life Success

Self-Compassion for Work / Life Success
by Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

Have you ever quit on a project because of a mistake?

Did that mistake make you doubt your own ability to complete a task? 

Did your inner critic feast on your blunder and allow your old thought patterns and belief systems to hijack you?

Instead of persevering, did you throw in the towel and give up?

You are not alone.

I’ve been there and done that! Situations like these have knocked me down for months, leaving me feeling insecure and incompetent. I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and thought I was the only one who could make such a blunder. They shook my self-confidence and faith. Fortunately, I learned about the practice of self-compassion. Self-compassion lifted me up and helped me shake off the lingering “I’m a loser and leave me alone” mentality.

From what I discovered this feeling is not uncommon. Many of us have experienced this and while some stopped their projects all together, others gave themselves permission to be human and press forward. The latter group used self-compassion which helped them continue through until completion.

What is self-compassion?

I define this powerful practice of self-compassion as a commitment to accepting, befriending, and loving yourself, despite what you think about yourself. Simply put, it is compassion that you would give to someone you care about, turned inwardly towards yourself. It’s accepting all aspect of who you are no matter how imperfect you see yourself.

 

Kristen Neff’s research on self-compassion has found that this practice leads to a happy life and helps us cope and become resilient.

Recently Tufts Medical Center’s interim CEO invited me to speak at the Tufts Medical Center 1st Nursing Grand Rounds. I spoke about self-compassion and how it can help with self-happiness, resilience, and wellbeing. During one part of my speech, I explained that self-compassion can help us become more resilient when doing a task because it can be a source of inner strength that fuels us instead of one that frustrates and stops us. The grit and willingness to forge forward comes from knowing that trial and error is part of the creative process. Further, it is within these instances that we gain the sense of mastery over the process.

On the other hand, when a project is tackled with perfection in mind, any mistakes or delays can quickly be conceived as incompetence, ignorance, and a waste of valuable time. In this instance, the pressure to perform flawlessly adds to the stress which increases the chances of a flood of unwanted negative emotions that can increase the chance of more mistakes to happen.

To gain more success instead of more stress, next time you begin a project, try the practice of self-compassion. Not only will you complete the task, you will also enjoy the process along the way. The practice of self-compassion has helped me tremendously by stopping the self-punitive dialogue that gets triggered when I fail or make mistakes.

One quick self-compassion technique that can help you is to notice how you soothe or comfort yourself when you are stressed. Do you like warmth, a soothing touch, or comforting voice? The more you recognize what you do for yourself during these situations the more you can do for yourself in the future. Because we are human beings, we respond to the mammalian care-giving process of warmth, touch, or soothing voice. Next time you are stressed and need extra tender-loving-care (TLC), try any one of these three interventions to give yourself the self-compassion that you need to be a success at work or in life.

For coaching support and to learn more about self-compassion and how you can use it to gain more success in both your work and life, contact me at Debbielyn@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today.

How to Use Gratitude for Stress Reduction and Resiliency


Next time, you find yourself in the middle of a project that is too stressful or tedious to do, think of gratitude. Gratitude can help you “hack” into your happiness so that you can reduce your stress and boost your productivity.

What exactly is gratitude?

Gratitude is not only a virtue, it is also a science, one of the 24 Character Strengths in the VIA Classification of Strengths, and a way of living a resilient life.

Researcher Robert Emmons, defines gratitude as a “felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

Gratitude trains the brain to look for the good. This heart-felt practice reminds us that we are connected to something bigger and greater than ourselves. It helps us realize that there is also something to be “thankful” for in every moment of our life no matter what or how we are feeling.

Here are 5 simple gratitude steps that you can use for stress reduction and productivity.

  1. Take three big deep breaths.
  2. Look around you.
  3. Find three (big or small) things to be grateful for.
  4. State why you are grateful for them. *Hint *If you can’t find anything, you are not looking hard enough. Look for something that if you didn’t have it, your work would be 10 times harder and longer to do.
  5. Notice how much better you feel just after a few minutes of doing this gratitude exercise.
  6. Repeat steps 1 – 5 until you feel better.

If you haven’t guessed by now, this whole “thank you” process is a simple way for you to cultivate the practice of gratitude. Studies have shown that gratitude builds optimism, reduces stress, and boosts happiness. Personally, my life was made even better from practicing gratitude. It’s enriched my relationships, helped me cope during my mother’s cancer journey, and also gave me a positive outlet when I felt overwhelmed. Gratitude is a practice that I enjoy teaching in my workshops and also in my coaching session with clients.

Great news!

I have opened up more slots to coach new clients. If you are looking for coaching to help you live the best version of your life, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

You will be thankful you did.

 

Have an Awesome Year with Your One-Word Mantra

 

At the end of every year I take time to think about one special word that I want to be my guide post for the following year. This one-word mantra is a word I try to commit to throughout the year to help me become healthier and happier. This year my one-word mantra is FAITH. It’s a word that has consistently come to me in my meditations.

Why Faith?

Why not.

I was involved in many projects in the last year and last year’s one-word mantra, SELF-COMPASSSION, helped me more than I could ever have imagined! Last year, I travelled for work across the country. I created a mindfulness training program for nurses at Tufts Medical Center, got my mindfulness study approved by the hospital’s Internal Review Board, recruited 40 nurses for my study and implemented my study. Also, to complete The Happiness Result book experience, I published the coloring book companion and got the support of great institutions and organizations to sponsor this positivity project. I spoke to amazing organizations and trained their staffs on mindfulness. Twice I was part of an all-women’s retreat and offered my first one with a colleague in the Fall. I was also fortunate enough to teach mindfulness to middle schoolers at my son’s school and taught mindfulness and positive psychology for adults in the evening. I led an online manifesting group for 2 months which ended with great results! And lastly, I created an online course with a colleague that was used in over a dozen countries across the globe.  Phew! No wonder I was tired when December finally came around. Remembering my one-word mantra throughout the year helped me create boundaries and kept me from taking on more projects than I could handle. “Self-compassion,” my one-word mantra helped me when I started feeling overly fatigued and stressed.

This year, I want to challenge myself to stop working so hard and have faith that all my hard work will lead to more opportunities and promising outcomes.  This is the year that I allow the Universe to do its part. Last weekend, I taught a Manifesting through Mindfulness and Gratitude workshop to a group of lovely ladies. Part of my message to them was that manifesting is like dancing with the Universe. We take a step and do our part in the dance and then we step back and watch the Universe do its part. This year I will allow the Universe to carry me off my feet and show me what it has in store for me.

Having a one-word mantra has been extremely helpful for me in the past. My past experiences with my one-word mantras has helped me stay true to the promises that I made to myself. They helped me grow and face life’s adversities in a mindful, grateful, and graceful way.

If you don’t have a one-word mantra, I suggest you play with this idea and see what great things happen as a result of having one.

Here’s how you can get started.

  1. Sit down in a quiet room.
  2. Hold your hands over your heart.
  3. Ask the wisdom of your heart for a word that will best support you in the coming months.
  4. Wait in silence.
  5. When a word comes to you, say it.
  6. Notice how that word makes you feel.
  7. You know you got the right word when after saying it you take a deep breath and it makes you feel good inside.
  8. If no word comes, be patient and repeat this process until a word comes to you.
  9. Once you have your word, write it down or do something creative with it so that you can display it somewhere prominent as a reminder for the rest of the year.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tip.

If you need extra help in making this year more awesome, contact me for coaching at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com. To get your copy of The Happiness Result, go to www.TheHappinessResult.com. Thank you and here’s to your one-word mantra. May it bring you all the health and happiness you deserve!

Cheers.

Create the Best Year of Your Life: Learn Three Self-Coaching Questions to Get Started By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

Are you tired of your same old story?

Are you bored with life?

Are you ready to make this year better than you can ever imagine?

Let’s get started!

This year, challenge yourself by asking questions that will make 2018 the best year of your life.

Before you start asking yourself these questions, it’s important to understand why asking the right questions is really important. Basically, the questions you ask create your reality. It can help you shift from one state to another within minutes. It’s true!

The mind is obedient and intelligent. It’s programmed to answers questions. For example, when you ask the question, “What else can go wrong now?”, your mind will find anything that answers that question. We’ve all asked this question before and regretted asking it by the end of the day, right? On the other hand, when you ask, “What went well?” your mind will look for all that went well to answer your question. This question is an energy booster and will make you feel good.

Here are the three self-coaching questions you can ask yourself to help you stay true to your goals. Read them over once, then go back and take the time to answer questions from your heart.

1. AM I HAPPY?

According to Bronnie Ware’s work on the top regrets of the dying, the fifth regret was not allowing oneself to be happier. We all have a happiness set point. Some have more than others based on genetics and life circumstance. However, it’s important to know that you can cultivate more happiness from your intentions and actions. Happiness is not only a choice, it is also a skill that can be learned. While some people are born with more happiness genes than others, it is possible to become happier regardless of what is going on in your life.

Am I happy?

If your answer is “yes,” congratulations. Keep on doing what you are doing. Shine on!

If your answer is “no,” move on to the next question.

2. WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?

Happiness is a positive emotion that raises your vibrational energy and makes you more attractive. Doing something that makes you happy, no matter how small it is, is enough to positively influence all areas of your life. Just as negative emotions such as sadness or anger can impact all areas of your life, happiness can do that too.

If you are not convinced, think of someone in your life that is genuine happy. Do you like being around that person? Do they seem charismatic and somehow attract people to them? Ask yourself, what makes you happy and then go on to the next question.

3. WHAT IS THE ONE THING THAT I CAN DO TODAY TO BE HAPPIER?

It can be daunting to all of sudden make major changes in your life even for the better. The best and only way to start creating positive habits is by taking small and consistent actions every day. The more you mindfully take small actions by chunking down your goals, the more they will seem doable. Ask yourself, what is the one small thing that you can do today to be happier. Once you determine what it is, do it right away before your logical mind start talking you out of it.

Once you take action. Notice how you feel. The more you recognize the difference in how you feel the more you will want to do it. Give yourself permission to have fun.

New Story

I hope these three self-coaching questions will help you add more adventure and abundance to your life. Ask these questions daily. The more you work with these questions, the more you can live with no regrets. Print out a copy of these questions and keep them close by. The more you ask these questions, the more they will help you create the best year of your life.

Happiness Result

If you need more help to reach your goals, contact me for 1:1 coaching. You can reach me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com. If you haven’t yet, gotten a copy of my book, The Happiness Result- More time, More health, More love, More success, click here to get your copy www.TheHappinessResult.com

Appreciate the Good: Five Reasons to Start a Gratitude Practice

Appreciate the Good: Five Reasons to Start a Gratitude Practice
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP

 

 

Next week in the United States, Thanksgiving will be celebrated. Thanksgiving symbolizes the start of the holiday season. Thanksgiving is a special day when Americans give thanks. This special holiday feeds the body with delicious food and the heart with sincerity. While it feels good to give thanks on that day, giving thanks daily will make us feel better in the long run. One of my favorite sayings when I was studying Positive Psychology was from professor and author, Tal Ben-Shahar: “when you appreciate the good, the good appreciates.”

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is more than an attitude or saying thanks. It’s a science that has been proven to have significant benefits. Robert Emmons, considered the father of the science of gratitude defines gratitude as, “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life.” This definition opens us to endless opportunities to be grateful. The challenge is remembering to do it every day, especially during the tough times.

Why is it important?

The best way to start the exercise is to know why it is important and how it can benefit you. Here are 5 reasons that caught my attention and inspired me to begin adding the gratitude practice into my life.

1. Resilience – Gratitude fosters resilience. A 2003 study found that gratitude was the main contributor to resilience following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York.

2. Relationships – Gratitude is the antidote for failed non-abusive relationships. A studyfound that couples who express gratitude for each other are motivated to maintain their relationship with each other.

3. REM – Gratitude before bedtime helps with sleep. A study in the Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being found that 15 minutes of writing in a gratitude journal before sleep promotes better sleep.

4. Rich – Gratitude cancels out envy. According to Robert Emmons, gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, regret, and depression because gratitude makes you feel rich and feel you have more than enough.

5. Rejoice – Gratitude is linked to a happiness booster according to Harvard University study. If you need a quick way to cheer up, start listing some things you are grateful for to turn your emotions around.

I hope one or all of these reasons inspired you to begin a gratitude practice. If you have one already, thank you. If not, try any one of these techniques.

1. Journal – Start a gratitude journal. This was the first gratitude exercise that I did and it helped me during the good and the bad times of my life. This exercise trained my brain to look for the good in all situations. It was extremely helpful when I was coping with my mother’s three cancer journeys.

2. WWW? – What Went Well? Is a question that helped me teach my husband and three boys the practice of gratitude without being too “mushy”. This question has helped me and my family cultivate the practice of gratitude. Next time you are with your friend or family ask, “What went well?” and notice all the goodness that come out of this powerful question.

3. Walk – As you walk from one place to another, find as many objects to be grateful for. This helps increase my level of energy and happiness when I feel tired or anxious. It can definitely turn your “frown upside down.”

4. Jar – Collect moments of gratitude in a jar. This is a great practice for you and your group. This exercise is a positivity booster and it’s fun to watch as the gratitude fills the jar. Reading gratitude from the gratitude jar is another way to deepen relationships in the group and improve communication.

5. Letter – Writing a gratitude letter to someone you love and has greatly influenced you is a proven gratitude technique that has shown to create lasting positive emotions. Once you write your gratitude letter, deliver the letter in person and read the letter to that special someone.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope that it has inspired you enough to begin a gratitude practice. Try one of the gratitude practices that I shared with you for the next 30 days and watch your appreciation grow.

I am grateful for…

This year I have so much to be grateful for. Besides my awesome family and friends, I am grateful for publishing my coloring book, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book – Express & Enjoy Yourself. This book is going to be available next week on my website, www.TheHappinessResult.com.

Also, I am grateful for doing my first online course called, Therapeutic Arts: Art Therapy Based Practice for Self-care, Self- healing, and Mindfulness. This is terrific course that I created with master trainer and colleague, Patrick Howell. Here’s the link for you to get your special price and immediate access to the course https://www.udemy.com/artstherapycourse/?couponCode=NEWSLETTER.

Lastly, I am grateful for you and your continued support and interest in my health and happiness message.

Thank you!

Are You a Dreamer, a Doubter, or a Doer?

Are You a Dreamer, a Doubter, or a Doer?

Be a Doer and Make Your Dream Come True.

By Debbie Lyn Toomey

Are you a dreamer, a doubter, or a doer?

Besides being a dreamer, I am also a doer. I bounce back and forth from dreaming, doubting, to doing and back. But my goal is always turning my dreams into reality.

Daydreamer

I’ve always been a dreamer ever since I can remember. I spent most of my childhood with my head up in the clouds daydreaming. Being socially awkward and insecure, I didn’t get around much. But it was different when I daydreamed. Anything was possible in my mind. When I wasn’t saving the world, I was discovering new ones!

Scary-Good

Although, I am not an Amazon Marvel heroine, my husband sees me as a wonder woman. Why? I really do not know. All I know is that by stretching myself out of my comfort zone I can take leaps of faith in order to turn my dreams into reality. I do this because I still want to save the world and discover my full potential. For me that means living a happy and meaningful life that is not limited by my doubts or defined by other’s fears.

Actions

Little by little I took scary-good actions that purposely got me out of a safe routine. I joined Toastmasters even though I have a fear of public speaking. I wrote a book even though I didn’t know what it really entailed. I proposed to do a mindfulness research study even though I had no experience in doing research.


Mantra

Many years ago, during a melt-down from feeling like I was going to fail big-time, I heard a voice in my head. It said, “Failure is not trying!” After hearing it, I repeated it and realized how true that statement was. Ever since that day, “Failure is not trying” has become one of the mantras that I use to shift myself from the “doubting” state to the “doing” state. It gets me out of the imposter syndrome right away.

Done

I’m happy to say that since joining Toastmasters, I have won speaking competitions and become an international speaker. I’ve also published three books and I’m finishing up my mindfulness study on stress reduction for nurses. Anything is possible when you realize that failure is not about making mistakes but rather, “Failure is not trying.” The key is to keep learning along the way.

Do it!

Here’s how you can become a doer and make your dreams come true.

1. Dreams- Pick an idea that keeps coming up for you at night in your dreams and during the day. If the idea seems too big for you to undertake, just let it simmer. As it percolates in your mind, allow it to drop into your heart. Put your hand over your heart and ask your heart what it thinks about the idea.

Notice how your heart is receiving this idea. Does your heart soften with peace and joy? Does the idea resonate with the truth of who you are? If so, this dream is worth the pursuing. If not, let it go for now. It’s best to leave it alone for now until you get a sense that it is heart-led and not ego-led. Ideas that are ego-driven will exhaust you and leave you empty inside while passion-driven ones will make you feel fulfilled and help you flourish.

2. Describe- Have a way of describing this dream with words and images. Using an arts therapy based journal will allow you to creatively express yourself. You can create an arts therapy based journal from a regular journal and use it for self-expression, empowerment, and enjoyment.

Your arts therapy based journal will help your turn your thoughts into a real thing. Have fun with this journal. Remember, it is your journal you can be as elaborate as you want in between the pages. Keep this journal close to you. Use it as a reminder of your goal. Allow it to be a source of inspiration and strength during your uncertain days.

3. Doubt- Notice the doubts that come up after a while as you entertain your dreams. What negative words do you hear? Have you heard the same ones before? We learned about fear from our parents when we were growing up, from society and culture, and from stories we hear. Learning to recognize the voice of your fears and doubts will help you gain the control to release it. This is a life-long unlearning process that will help you unleash the best version of yourself so you can live a happy and well-balanced life. Lastly, anytime any fear or doubt hijacks you, remember to repeat my mantra, “Failure is not trying.” Be sure to add this mantra to your journal.

4. Doer– Once you have examined your doubts and released as many layers of them as you can, take small actions daily that will help you get closer to your dream. It could be as little as asking other people about your dream or buying a book to learn more about it.

The more steps you take in the alignment of your dreams, the more you will find that the dreams will take a life of their own and become more of a reality instead of a fantasy. Ask yourself daily what small step you can take that will help you reach goal. Take immediate action on the answer or a sense of inner knowing that you get from asking.

Need Help?

If you need coaching to help you reach your dreams, contact me for coaching support. I would love to work with you and to teach you how to reach your goals. You can contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

 

Gimme Five – Part Two: Powerful Reflection to Increase Happiness and Boost Success “Where are they?” By Debbie Lyn Toomey

Gimme Five – Part Two:
Powerful Reflection to Increase Happiness and Boost Success

“Where are they?”

By Debbie Lyn Toomey

If you recall, in part one of this article, I shared with you a message that I heard during a recent National Speakers Association Influence conference. It was a powerful statement from one of the gifted keynote speakers. It stirred me up inside and motivated me to really reflect upon what it meant to me. The message was:

You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.

In part one, I asked you to list the five influencers who are currently positively impacting you and your career. I also asked you questions to think about to help you determine who they are. Moreover, I explained it’s not about the quantity but rather the quality of people that you have in your life.

Truthfully, there have been times in my life when I have hung around mostly with only one or two people. I didn’t have five all the time in my journey because I didn’t need them. I was happy with those who supported me and what I was accomplishing with them at my side. But as I grew as a person and changed, the people I spent time with changed also—except for my husband, of course. I met new friends and hired coaches to help me reach my goals.

I found that, as we open ourselves up to new possibilities, we attract new teachers and allies to help us along the way. In this article, I will share with you five steps to help you find and attract such people. Once again, the number five is not etched in stone. It’s just a number to challenge us to think about who, in life, is in our corner, has our back, and provides an example for us to model. If you don’t have any or enough positive influencers in your life, there are ways to find them. No worries.

First of all, ask yourself if you are fine with your life and your career and have enough people to support and encourage you. If your answer is yes, then you are all set. However, if your answer is no, then there are ways to gain more positive influencers in your life.

Here are five steps (and a bonus step!) to get you started. These steps have consistently helped me in the past.

1. Who — Set an intention. Whether it’s finding a new mate, looking for a coach, or needing an accountability buddy, the clearer you are, the better.

2. What — Establish your needs. What area in your career do you want the new person to help or support you with?

3. Where — Locate the person or persons. If you know #2, then you will have a better idea of where to find people.

4. How — Follow-up. Forge relationships by following up with people you’ve met. Ask when you can meet up one-to-one.

5. Why — Share your big why. Once you’ve gotten to know each other, explain to your new connections your big “why” and ask what theirs are as well. This will deepen your relationships. The more you know about your new acquaintances, the more likely you will see if they are in alignment with who you are and what your dreams are.

6. Bonus — Tell them what they mean to you and thank them. After you meet with these people for a while, I encourage you to show your appreciation by letting them know how much they have helped you.

It’s important to note that we are all on our own happiness and success journeys. That means that, even though you may have certain people in your top five, they may not have you as one of theirs. Don’t take this personally. It’s not about you. It’s about them and where they are in their personal and professional life.

I wish you much success in this exercise. Be patient with this process as you find your next influencer. They are all worth the wait and the work you put into looking for them. I hope that this exercise helps you as much as it has helped me. If you are looking for a coach to help you reach your goals, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

Gimme Five

Part One: Powerful Reflection to Increase Happiness and Boost Success

“Who are they?”

By Debbie Lyn Toomey


I recently attended the National Speakers Association (NSA) Influence 2017 conference in Orlando. It’s a yearly conference that draws professional speakers and consultants from all over the world. Happy international professional speakers met up with old friends and mentors, networked, and celebrated the best of the best in the field. The convention was fantastic!

The event was held at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. The venue was buzzing with excitement with a children’s regional dance competition, the public speaker’s conference, and independent visitors from around the world. Everyone was dressed to the nines, especially the little dancers and their proud parents.

As a professional speaker myself, I was star struck because I met other speakers I had heard so much about. There were so many talented speakers at the conference. I was impressed by how many of them gave sincere appreciation and credit to speaker colleagues who had supported, inspired, and coached them.

The keynote speakers were amazing. Although they all had their own stories and style, they all had one thing in common—a powerful message. While some moved me to tears, others moved me to take action.

One message that Vinh Giang, a keynote speaker, stressed really stuck with me:

You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.

Giang said this as he shared his success story. Three years ago he was a novice speaker, and now he has fulfilled his dream of owning a successful business.

“Hmmm…” I didn’t know what to make of this statement at first until I repeated it to myself: “You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.”

All of a sudden, a light bulb went on. “Yes, of course!”

As I half listened to the captivating keynote speaker, my mind went off on a tangent and a mental quest to figure out who my five were.

“Do I hang around with people who are helping me shift to the next level of my business?” I asked myself. “Who are these five people? What if I don’t have five people right now?”

I started to reflect upon the people I hang around with most, either in person or by phone. While we might not have a choice about some people we either live or work with, there are those whom we purposely seek out to make us feel better and do better.

You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.

“Who are my five?” I asked myself.

Half-panicked that I may not have the “five” people, I started thinking about the people I really did spend the most time with consistently. I flipped my conference workbook over and pulled out my pen. I listed the numbers 1 through 5 down the left side of the blank back cover.

The first person on my list was my husband, Bill, who loves me and is a great supporter in my career. Second was my business and speaking mentor, Naomi, who has been a blessing to me both personally and professionally. Third was my nurse scientist mentor, Judi, who has guided me through the world of nursing research and helped me write a winning proposal to do mindfulness research. Fourth was my dear friend, Patrick, whom I met when I studied positive psychology and who has been a wonderful accountability buddy. Fifth was Linda, my NSA friend, whom I meet with regularly for masterminding.

Except for my husband, the other people had not been a part of my life when I started my business almost five years ago. I met these people as a result of networking, joining associations, taking classes, and being at the right place at the right time. I am fortunate to have a great circle of friends and mentors. Without these five people in my life, my career would not be in the upward trajectory of success that I have always wanted.

How about you? It’s your turn.

Who are the five people you hang around with most?

Who are the people that you look up to and to whom you can consistently go to for advice?

Who are the people who are impacting your life for the better?

You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.

You might ask, is it really necessary to do to this exercise? Absolutely!

The more we are aware of the way people influence our thoughts, actions, and behavior, the more we gain control and clarity in who we are becoming and where we are going. This awareness is key in moving toward the direction of our best self. Once we recognize the positive influencers in our lives, we can appreciate the value these people add to our lives. Realizing this helps to increase our happiness and boost our success.

To gain the most out of this exercise, read the message one more time and then reflect on the following steps.

You are the sum of the five people you hang around with most.

1. Who — Who are they? Reflect on the people you purposely spend time with most.

2. What — What brings each of you together? What kind of a relationship do you have together?

3. Where — Where is each relationship taking you? Do you like where it’s going?

4. How — How is each relationship going for you? How do you maintain the connection?

5. Why — Why do you choose to spend time with each person? Why him or her instead of others?

The bottom line is, the clearer we are about who we spend our time with, the more likely we will be able to discern and wake up to the value they bring (or don’t bring) into our lives.

If you don’t have five, don’t worry! It’s really not about the quantity; rather, it is all about the quality and what you need currently. I haven’t had five all the time in my journey. If you are venturing into a new phase in your life and need extra support from experts or people going through a similar journey, then it may be time for you to start opening yourself up to more influencers who can help you enjoy the path. In part two, I will share with you simple steps to find and attract the people you need to help you gain more happiness and increase your success.

Until then, enjoy this exercise and share with us your top five and how they have helped you in your career. Also, if you are looking for a coach to help you reach your goals, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com. I would be happy to talk with you to see how we can work together.