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.

 

This Job Made Me Fat! 10 Tips to Manage Your Workplace Stress

This Job Made Me Fat!

10 Tips to Manage Your Workplace Stress
By Debbie Lyn Toomey

PSST, between you and me, have you gained weight since you started working?

I did. It happened when I worked as a fulltime nurse many years ago. I gained 20 pounds, but fortunately I found ways to get rid of the weight. I blamed my weight gain from the chronic stress I was experiencing. Back then, I had to work different shifts with varying work schedules. I developed crazy eating habits. The busier and more overwhelmed I got, the less healthy I ate at work and the more I ate at home. Emotional hunger took over and I ate comfort food to help me feel better about myself and how I did at work. The bottom line, the more I had on my plate at work, the wider my waist line got!

Emotional Hunger

What is emotional hunger? In a nutshell, it’s eating to comfort the suffering that is experienced within. Unlike physical hunger where the stomach is empty, emotional hunger feeds the feelings of stress or emptiness inside. Regardless of the distress, comfort food or drinks are used to “nurse” and ease the discomfort. Job stress can lead to weight gain. In fact, research has shown that workplace stress is linked to unhealthy lifestyle habits that lead to smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise.

On the Go

As a staff nurse, I had no eating pattern because of the nature of my job. I worked day and evening shifts. I worked every other weekend and some holidays. My work shifts ranged from eight to sixteen hours depending on the week. When I worked, I had little time to eat or enjoy my meal. I was constantly on the go and in demand. I found solace in the fact that I could always get a decent meal and snack when I got home no matter how late it was. The heavier I got, the more I took comfort in hiding my growing weight by wearing loose fitting and unstructured scrubs.

We All Have It

Workplace stress is real and escalating. Job demands are high in all industries, not just health care. According to a survey that Career Builder, did amongst 3,031 workers ages 18 and over, 2 out of 5 workers have gained weigh in their current job due to stress. Let’s be real, there will be days when we have to shorten our breaks or eat on the run to get a big project done but that doesn’t have to be the way to operate all the time.

10 Simple Ways to Manage Weight from Stress

Although stress levels are up, there are many techniques that we can use to help us feel good and look good at work.

Here are 10 simple ways to manage your weight despite workplace stress.

1. Drink the recommended 8-10 glasses of water a day. Hydration is important for our brain and body. Water increases the performance of our brain. Have a water bottle with you in the office.

2. Jot down your big and small wins during the day. This will make you feel good about yourself. This will help you focus on the good things that you’ve done during the day.

3. Pack your food the night before and plan on high protein snacks. Protein bars and nuts work really well to curb the appetite. Pack more for busy days.

4. Walk as much as you can at work. Take the stairs and park far away from your building. Ask a colleague to be your lunchtime walking buddy.

5. Listen to relaxing music or music that enhances attention at work. This will help keep your stress at bay and make you more productive.

6. Put chewing gum in your mouth instead of high calorie or fattening food. Chewing gum helps with focus.

7. Notice the triggers that make you upset and stressed at work. The more you recognize them the better you can avoid them or prepare yourself ahead of time.

8. Sleep. The more sleep, the merrier you will be. If you can, try taking a 10minute power nap from time to time.

9. Talk with a close friend and vent. Don’t let your stress eat away at you. Find someone you can trust.

10. Eat your meals. Although there might be days when a meal is a handful of nuts and a bag of carrots, be grateful and acknowledge them as your meal so that you don’t feel deprived and feel you can eat extra portions later on the day.

I hope these suggestions help you keep your cool and your weight under control in the midst of your busy days at work. To learn more about how you or your team can manage your stress, contact me at INFO@HEALTHANDHAPPINESSSPECIALIST.COM to learn how I can help you. Here’s to your health, happiness, and success!

 

The Upside of Bad – How to Find the Silver Lining During the Bad Times

The Upside of Bad. How to Find the Silver Lining During the Bad Times.
By Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Two weeks ago, I got sick. Sick enough that I had to stay on my couch for four days. I couldn’t do anything because I was achy, sweaty, and weak from the flu. I haven’t been ill like that in five years. Because of this, I got way behind with my work and came back to hundreds of emails in my inbox waiting for a reply.

Sick

During my awake times on the couch, I wondered if I willed this to happen. Because days earlier, I wished I had a day of rest with nothing to do. Then before you know it, I got sick!

Have you ever willed yourself sick so you can get rest?

What did you do?

Did you work despite the fact you had no energy or will to do anything?

A Break

Not me. When I am sick, I just don’t feel like doing anything. After a day of feeling badly about missing work, I decided to give myself a break. I gave myself self-compassion and self-care. I basically nursed myself back to health with rest, liquid, and medicine. Instead of forcing myself to work, I gave myself permission to be human and to trust the whole process. I realized that my immune system was low from overworking and worrying too much about my impending projects.

Let Go

Laying on my couch barely having energy to walk from one room to another, I was able to see things with better perspective. I realized that I had to slow down and let go of any extra burdens that I placed on myself. Despite the glassy-eyed look I had in my eyes from having the flu, I was able to see my life and work with clarity. I saw what was important and what was not. In other words, I found a silver lining in my sad moment. You can do it too.

Silver Lining

You don’t have to wait until you are bed-ridden and sick to see the silver lining of whatever it is you are experiencing in life. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to get started in finding the silver lining during bad times.

1. Ask yourself what has been working well in your situation?

Focus on the good. Taking time to reflect on the good things that have happened will make you feel happier about yourself.

2. Ask who has been helpful to you?

Who has your back? The more we recognize and appreciate the people who are on our side and help us the more we will feel supported and less alone.

3. Ask what successes you have accomplished recently?

Count your winnings. Celebrating all successes (big and small) will give you confidence and positivity.

Reflect

Life is so busy and can be discouraging if we don’t take the time to find the silver lining during the bad moments. Don’t wait for the situations to get worse. The best way to see the silver lining clearly is to stop and reflect upon who and what you have around you that is good and worth celebrating.

Support

If you or your organization needs more support in increasing positivity levels and finding the silver lining, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com for ways we can work together.

3 Ways to Win Friends and Be a Positive Influence at Work

3 Ways to Win Friends and Be a Positive Influence at Work

by Debbie Lyn Toomey



Have you ever had a bad day that quickly changed after someone did something nice for you?

Have you ever given someone heartfelt praise that left them smiling from ear to ear?

Have you ever gone out of your way to let your boss know that you appreciate him or her?

A long time ago when I worked as a nurse in an inpatient floor at a hospital, there used to be a worker called Buddy. Buddy was very popular not because he was a world renown surgeon who saved lives, but because he was a kind person who was extremely friendly and appreciative to nurses. He respected nurses and took care of us. Buddy won us over and became friends to all the nurses.

Buddy

Buddy’s job was transporting patients to and from their tests. Everyone loved seeing him because he always came with a smile on his face, a pocket full of mints, and a thoughtful statement of appreciation. Even when he was busy, he took the time to give praise or a piece of candy from his bottomless pockets. Kind deeds and heartfelt gestures are wonderful ways to brighten someone’s day.

Positive Influence

Businesses can use a lot more people like Buddy to help decrease negativity in the workplace. While it’s few and far between to have a “Buddy” in every workplace, there are ways to adopt his winning and positive gestures to be a positive influence at work.

Three Ways

Here are three ways to win friends and be a positive influence at work.

They are:

1. Time: Take a few seconds to extend your good wishes to a co-worker or a boss. This gesture is one of the best uses of your time in the workplace. In fact, consider it part of your duty.

2. Treat: Keep a stash of hard candy or gum at your work desk. Always be ready to give someone a treat. It’s hard to say no to someone bearing gifts. No matter how small the gift may be.

3. Talk: Instead of emailing someone, walk over to their desk and speak to them face-to-face. It’s always better to interact with a real person than a virtual one. Texting is cheap. Talking is priceless.

Invest

The more you invest the time in a personable communication, the more your company will see you as a positive force in the workplace. Positive people can inspire others to do more for them than negative ones. Be like Buddy and be the change you want to see at work. To learn more ways to add more positivity in the workplace, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com for ways I can bring more content to your workplace.

3 Super Simple Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Bucket List in 2017

3 Super Simple Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Bucket List in 2017
by Debbie Lyn Toomey

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Happy New Year to you and yours!

I love this time of the year because it is the time for new beginnings. It’s the time of the year when we can fill our clean New Year’s slate with our bucket list of goals. It’s a time for reflection and intention.

Questions for You

1. What do you want for yourself this year? Once you get an answer. Go to the next question.

2. What do you really, really, really want for yourself this year? Take your time and dig down to discern what you want. Once you get your answer, imagine what that will look like and how you will feel once you have it. Repeat questions 1 and 2 until you have your bucket list of goals for this year.

Regardless of what your goals are for this year, I have learned and experienced that there are 3 super simple ways to ensure that you not only reach your goals but also sustain them.
Like so many people in the world, I have my own New Year’s goals because I am passionate about growing into the best version of myself.

I Fell in Love

I reached many of the goals that I set for myself last year. One of them was having a regular yoga practice. My mind and body fell in love with yoga after just a few classes. I felt less stressed and my body became stronger and more flexible. I wanted it to become a part of my life, and I wanted to go to yoga classes more. Unfortunately, I found no sessions that fit my ever-changing schedule. My schedule was tight. I didn’t want to waste my time driving to and from classes in addition to committing to an hour yoga class. That’s when I got creative.

A Newbie

I realized that there was another way to add a yoga practice into my full day. It was doing it at home! I wanted to give it a try. “Why not? It was better than nothing,” I thought. I challenged myself to do a 30-day yoga challenge that I found on YouTube. I chose Yoga with Adriene. I liked her vibrant energy and her philosophy of yoga. What initially was an intimidating challenge for a newbie-yogini like me, eventually became something that I looked forward to every morning. When the 30 days finished, I started venturing out picking and choosing the yoga practice that worked for me and my schedule. Yoga has since become a part of my life.

KISS

Curious about how I was able to create a sustainable home yoga practice? It’s easy. I used the KISS principle of “keeping it super simple” to avoid setting myself up for failure. I wanted my practice to work for me and not the other way around. In order for it to support me, I had to anticipate and accept the fact that there would be days that I will miss due to unexpected life circumstances. Understanding this made the process nicer for me because I didn’t feel guilty when I did miss a morning ritual.

Here’s are my 3 Super Simple Tips to Help You Succeed in 2017:

1. 20-Second-Rule
Every evening, I placed my yoga clothes next to my bed so that when I woke up; it was the first thing, besides my husband, that I saw in the morning. This technique is based on the 20-second rule that Shawn Achor shared in his book, The Happiness Advantage. By taking a few seconds to put my yoga clothes by my bed the night before, this crucial step ensured that I would not miss my morning practice. Once I put on my yoga clothes right after getting up, there was only one thing to do, and it was…yoga. “Set yourself up for success. Prepare and take a small action the night before.”

2. Create Your Rules
After the 30-day yoga challenge, I decided to allow my mind and body to choose the best yoga practice it needed that day. If my neck and shoulders were tight, then I chose a practice that focused on those areas. I made sure that this home practice was practical for me. Because I work long hours on certain days and have other days off, I defined my yoga practice as “any purposeful stretching or movement” that I can do in the morning. I created the rules that worked for me. While sometimes it was a 60-minute practice, other times it was a 5-minute practice that involved a couple of forward bends, stretches, and a few deep breaths. “It’s your practice. Define it on your own terms!”

3. Self-Compassion
Life happens, and it derails us from our normal routine. I know that I am not alone in this. Every time I noticed myself getting side-tracked from my morning yoga ritual, I gave myself a break and practiced self-kindness. I gave myself self-compassion when I didn’t have the time to commit to my morning yoga practice. There were times last year where my personal practice needed to take the back seat because my family needed me such as when my father had his heart surgery, when my mother needed someone to talk with, or when my kids got sick. That is life. In order to make up for the lost day of practice, I made sure I did a yoga practice the following day and a longer practice on the weekend. “When you get thrown off the track, give yourself permission to be human then jump back on.”

Applicable to Anything

I hope these 3 Super Simple Tips are super simple enough for you to be successful at achieving the goals in your 2017 bucket list. These tips can be applied to anything that you want to manifest this year. Remember to keep it super simple so that it will be easier for you in the long run. My goal this year will be sleep. I want to add 30 more minutes to my sleeping hours a night. What is yours? Please share below.

Need Support?

If you need support in how to reach your goals this year, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today. I’m here for you. If you want an “awesome” journal to manifest with, get my new book, The Happiness Result- Goals, Gratitude, & Success Journal. This powerful journal will help you create more positive habits to train your mind and heart to dream big, expect goodness, and have fun! In the meantime, I wish you a happy and healthy 2017!

Gratitude: A Simple Way to Accept Appreciation and Recognition

Gratitude:  A Simple Way to Accept Appreciation and Recognition
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, Health and Happiness Specialist™

gratitude

Have you ever been given a compliment that you turned down by saying something that completely negated the great gesture?

 You are not alone if you just nodded your head. There are so many people (myself included) in this world who are not used to receiving appreciations easily.

For some reason, although this positive gesture is expected, many think the following:
“Oh, they were just being nice.”
“They said that because they had too.”
“They didn’t really mean it.”

Self-deprecating
Our own self-deprecating thoughts can cause us to end up missing out on a gift of appreciation. We quickly respond by saying:
“I could have done better.”
“No. You were much better.”
“Oh, I was just lucky.”

Deserving
While it is better to give than to receive, we cannot throw away the kind gesture of appreciation or recognition when it is given to us. We stand the chance of hurting the feelings of the person who took the time to give us appreciation and gratitude. It is important to recognize the balance of expecting to receive negative feedback and positive feedback. Positive feedback given in a form of appreciation boosts our sense of well-being. This wonderful gesture reinforces the value that you offer to others.

Give and Take
Here are three gratitude “truths” that I love to teach in my positivity in the workplace workshops. They cover the powerful “give and take” art of gratitude nicely.

  1. Gratitude is an instant way of boosting your levels of happiness.
  2. Both appreciation and recognition are important in the workplace.
  3. When appreciation or recognition is given, simply say “Thank you.” Then keep your mouth closed.

The Practice
Today’s busy professionals must not only work hard to get ahead in this world but they also must work hard to accept a genuine gesture of gratitude that is given to them. Doing this will help you feel more valuable in the workplace and an important part of the team.

Keep practicing by saying “thank you” to yourself so that when the time comes and someone gives you the gift of appreciation you will be prepared to receive something that you well deserve.

To learn more about my coaching services and my positivity in the workplace programs, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today. Until then, thank you for just being you.

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.