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.

Mindfulness: How to Gain a Sense of Freedom by                                 Living in the Present
Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, Author, Mindfulness Educator

 

“By being totally immersed in the present moment we allow both the past and the future to stay where they are supposed to be.” DLT

Last week, I saw an old colleague and after catching up he excitedly told me about an audio book he just finished listening to called, Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright. Knowing that I’m a mindfulness educator and researcher he eagerly shared with me what he learned.

 Freedom

Our conversation led to what we know about mindfulness and how practicing awareness in the moment can bring about a sense of freedom from our anxieties, fears, and worries. Freedom that brings enlightenment by simply being in the moment without distractions from our filters. Filters are the way we view life. They are created from our culture, family, and society.

In the Present

Both of us agreed that mindfulness is the practice of being in the present and that this awareness is more than consciously acknowledging the moment. Fundamentally, it’s allowing our senses to fully awaken to what is going on and observing what is happening without attaching any thought, feelings, or emotions to it.

Definitions

Two definitions of mindfulness embrace the mindfulness philosophies that my colleague and I were describing. The first is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, definition of mindfulness as, “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present, nonjudgmentally.” The second, on the other hand, is Ellen Langer’s definition, “actively noticing new things.” Ellen Langer is considered the mother of mindfulness.

Get Started

Interested in how can you gain a sense of freedom from living in the present? Here’s how.

  1. Open: Be open to the mindfulness practice.
  2. Time: Set aside some time. Even 5 minutes can help transform anyone from being a sceptic to a believer.
  3. Begin: Start the practice by purposely paying attention nonjudgmentally.
  4. Observe: Be a spectator of your mind and notice what comes up.
  5. Notice: How did you feel not having to spend any extra energy on the past or the future? How did it feel to just be in the moment? How did you feel afterwards?

Be Patient

Trust that the more you practice mindfulness the more you can feel the freedom from feelings and emotions that we have about the past and the future.

Think of mindfulness as another muscle that you can exercise and strengthen that will give you more health and vitality.

Try this practice for the next 2 weeks and journal your experience.

Contact me

If you need 1:1 coaching in how to begin and sustain your mindfulness practice contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com today.

“I Get to” vs. “I Have to”: How to Add Meaning to What You Do

I recently met with a CEO of a hospital to discuss a program that I want to do for health care professionals for stress reduction and wellbeing. In the 30 minutes we spent together, I got a sense of how passionate he was about being a doctor and a hospital administrator.

As he reminisced about the past and how he learned about leadership, he said something that struck me. He said that no matter how busy the day may seem, he “gets to” make a difference by doing something that he loves. While I left the meeting excited knowing that he fully supports the program, I also felt inspired by his work ethic. He said something that I don’t hear many leaders or manager say and that is “I get to…”

Whether it is at work or at home, the idea of having to do something can be tiring and frustrating, right?

How many times do you say to yourself, “I have to…”? 

“It’s Monday and I have to go to work today.” This mindset feels heavy and sad which makes the rest of the day drag even more.

I have to go to a lot of meetings today.” There is powerlessness and frenzy in this way of thinking which will make you less effective when joining these meetings. 

“My room is a mess and I have to clean.” There is no sense of importance in this way of thinking. That is probably why many procrastinate doing this chore. 

Next time you feel like this, stop and think about the difference it will make in those instances to say “I get to.” No matter how big or small. Make a mental list of what can’t be done without you. Once you have your list add the words “I Get to” in front of it so that you will feel better about your role. Whether you are a farmer, a cashier, or a nurse, remember that what you do matters and without you, your community may not thrive.

Notice the difference in the sentences below.

“It’s Monday and I get to go to work today.” There are many unemployed people out there who would switch position with you in a second.

I get to go to a lot of meetings today.” When you shift from the “have to” to “get to” mindset, you will be at your game in all your meetings instead of feeling lost.

“My room is a mess and I get to clean it.” Cleaning and decluttering are physical activities that allow you to burn calories and create room for abundance.

I invite you to play with these three words this week and notice how happy and fulfilled you feel at the end of the day. This is a great exercise that can add more meaning to your life.

If you need coaching on how to add more happiness and meaning into your life contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com . Also, if you like to color, be sure to purchase a copy of my latest book, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book. It’s a great book for focusing, relaxing, and inspiration www.TheHappinessResult.com.

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.

Mindfulness and Happiness Through Art Making

Mindfulness and Happiness Through Art Making
by Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Are you a doodler or a dabbler of any arts?

As a visual learner and self-taught artist, I’ve always turned to some form of art making activity to help me quiet my mind and soothe my spirit. I love creating anything with my hands. I love to draw, paint, take pictures, etc. I remember many years ago, in nursing school, I used art to help me study. I used to draw what I learned in my science classes to help me remember what I was learning. For me, using art this way provided me with a positive outlet to help handle my stress. The mindfulness and happiness I experience through art has always been a game changer for me.

Flow

Any form of arts therapy based exercises put me in the state of flow. The concept of flow according to positive psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is the secret to happiness. When you are in the state of flow, you are in “the zone.” The zone is where you are fully immersed in an activity and your whole being comes to life. It’s mindfulness in motion at its best! Being in flow, makes you lose track of time because of the combination of doing something you love and pushing yourself to the next level. Art making is one of my favorite mindfulness practices because it helps me get into the zone and makes me happier.

Participants

As a workshop leader and mindfulness educator, I introduce arts therapy based exercises to my participants. I use art making as another form of mindfulness to help people reduce stress. Mindfulness is being in the present moment purposely and with no judgment. And what better way to explain that definition than through art. I use art therapy based interventions as an avenue for people to add play to their day and to feel better.

Workshops

My signature workshops incorporate positive psychology, the science of happiness and mindfulness, for people of all ages. There is something magical about taking time for art that makes everyone excited. When I pull out the colored pencils and paper and explain the art making technique that I am about to cover, the room is silent and all eyes are on me. It’s a class that everyone absolutely loves! There is a general sense of relief when I explain that not only are they creating art but also experiencing a mindfulness state that reduces stress, increases focus, and boosts their sense of wellbeing.

Creative Process

Art making is not about having a perfect and professional looking master piece. It’s about the creative process that gives way to self-healing, personal transformation, and mindfulness. The process of creation is as important as the end product that reveals so much of what you are not able to put into words.

How to

Here’s how you can access mindfulness through art making and become happier.

1. Preference – Determine what form of expressive art you love. If you don’t have a preference, try doodling. Doodling is spontaneously drawing lines on a piece of paper. Doodling has been found to help with remembering and retaining information.

2. Supply– Have your supplies readily available and accessible. If it is out of sight, then it is out of mind. Keep it visible so that you will remember to do it when you need it most. Have extra supplies at work and in your bag. Set yourself up for success and keep your arts therapy based tools handy.

3. Exercise– When you are doing your arts therapy based exercise, notice the feelings and emotions that you have before, during, and after the practice. What did you learn about yourself and the situation that might have upset you.

4. Masterpiece– Study your art piece and non-judgmentally observe what you did. Are you getting any insights or inspirations? Are there any surprises from what you are seeing?

5. Write– Journal about your experiences to learn more about the art piece you have in front of you. You may start the journal by completing this sentence:

“This art piece is about…” Write for a few minutes until you feel you have flushed out as much hidden meaning as possible from what you just created.

6. Read– When you are done writing, read what you wrote. You will learn more from doing this.

Permission

If the pen is mightier than the sword then, next time you are stressed, pick up a pen (or colored pencil) and make your mark on a piece of paper and express yourself. Give yourself permission to take the time to do this. Pour your feelings and emotions in between the strokes. Notice how you feel during the whole process. The more you do this, the more you will gravitate to it as a stress reducing activity that makes you feel better and happier.

Great News!

If you love to color, my latest book is going to be ready soon! The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book – Express and Enjoy Yourself is going to be available on Amazon early next week – just in time for the holidays! Get one for yourself. It will be the perfect stocking stuffer for your friends and family.

For instant arts therapy ideas and inspiration, my online course that I created with master trainer, Patrick Howell is ready for you to access at a special price. It is called, Therapeutic Arts: Art Therapy Based Practice for Self-care, Stress-reduction, and Mindfulness. This comprehensive course will introduce you to more art therapy based practices. Here’s the link to help you get started https://www.udemy.com/artstherapycourse/?couponCode=NEWSLETTER .

I hope that you take advantage of the great resources that I provided for you to help you add more mindfulness and happiness to your day. See you in the class.

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!

How to Create a Relaxing Space at Work for Stress Reduction within Minutes

 

The best way for us to sneak some time for self-care and stress reduction at work is to create a relaxing space that reminds us of what we love to do outside of work. That’s right. When we bring in personal objects that we are passionate about to work, it makes our work space less dreary and more inviting for us. The whole idea is to give our mind and body a way to mentally reflect, refresh, and relax. This special spot doesn’t have to take up our whole office or cubicle.

Prime Our Environment

Having positive and purposeful reminders of the feeling state that we want to achieve is the best way to do it. Priming our environment with inspiring images, empowering quotes, objects, and aromatherapy is a wonderful way to get started without breaking the bank. Priming, in this case, means mindfully using visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and olfactory reminders to help us achieve the feeling state that we want.

Suggestions to Get Started

For the sake of offering different types of settings, I will use the example of the hiker, the ocean lover, the gardener, and the sports lover in the following examples. Here are four easy suggestions to get started in creating a relaxing workspace for stress reduction within minutes:

1. Visual (Seeing)

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

~ Helen Keller

The Hiker – Have pictures of the mountains and the hiking trails.

The Ocean Lover – Have a picture of you on the beach or a boat.

The Gardener – Have a picture of you with your prize plant or vegetable from your garden.

The Sports Lover – Have a picture of you at a sports game.


2.
 Kinesthetic (Touching)

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has

struggled with in vain.” ~ Carl Jung

The Hiker – Have a piece of rock from your latest hike.

The Ocean Lover – Have a big shell or starfish.

The Gardener – Have either a real potted plant.

The Sports Lover – Have a ball from your favorite sport.


3.
 Auditory (Hearing)

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

~ Bob Marley

The Hiker – Listen to acoustic music or country music.

The Ocean Lover – Listen to island music or ocean sounds.

The Gardener – Listen to music that you like to listen to when gardening.

The Sports Lover – Listen to music like the Rocky theme or music that is used during the game.


4.
 Olfactory (Smelling)

“Stop and smell the roses.” ~ Walter Hagen

The Hiker – Have a scent of evergreen or cedar.

The Ocean Lover – Have the scent of the tropics that has the coconut or lemon scent.

The Gardener – Have scent of lavender, rose, or peppermint.

The Sports Lover – Smell the leather from the ball that you have.


Inviting Workspace

Creating your special relaxing space and priming your environment can show off your personality and can help you feel more comfortable. The more inviting you can make your work space, the easier it will be for you to mindfully take a few minutes to stop, reflect, refresh, and of course relax.


Learn More

To learn more on how you can reduce your stress and increase your sense of well-being creatively at work contact me for coaching at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com. Also, for those of us who enjoy coloring de-stress, my coloring book, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring Book – Express & Enjoy Yourself is going to be available at the end of October! Visit www.TheHappinessResult.com to get your copy.

 

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.

 

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

Art Heals: Express Yourself and Reduce Stress with Art

by Debbie Lyn Toomey


Ever have a terrifying nightmare from childhood that sneaks up on you?

Similar to the usual “falling” dream that some people have, I have one that I call the “Tidal Wave” dream and it happened last weekend. Thanks to art, I was able to rise above the lingering feelings of dread. By drawing and coloring, I literally “drew” out the feelings of uncertainty that stayed with me all morning long.

Nightmare

I hadn’t had this type of nightmare in a long time. I was confused as to why it occurred again. Frankly, I thought I was over that type of dream a long time ago! The last time I had the “Tidal Wave” dream I woke up happy! I was so proud of myself because, instead of being swallowed up by the Statue of Liberty size wave, I was riding the wave with a big smile on my face boldly going where ever it took me.

Transformed

I woke up feeling transformed. That was about 5 years ago when I started to feel more confident and clear about my life’s work (the big “W” work/life purpose one). That was around the time when I started my company Ultimate Healing Journey, LLC, a company focused on motivating and coaching today’s busy people with happiness and mindfulness skills to fuel their success. It was an exciting time!

Wave

Why did the wave dream came back? That dream first occurred when I was much younger; when I didn’t feel strong or sure of myself. Back then, this tsunami size wave would come out of nowhere and swallow me up causing me to gasp for air and fight for my life. I hated that sinking feeling of fright that always stayed with me for days. Although, the Tidal Wave in my recent dream disappeared way before it got to me (thank God!), it still shook me up.

Morning

I thought I was done with this dream! I wondered what could have brought it on. At breakfast, I told me family about it. I always encouraged my family to share their nightmares because I feel it was a good way to chase the nightmares away. In other words, the dark always disappears in the light.

River

After breakfast, my family and I took advantage of an unusually dry and cool August morning and went for a walk down along the Neponset River. The nice day and the cool breeze made it a great day for boaters and fishermen to be out on the relaxing waters. It was such a beautiful scene to watch. I really enjoyed that walk.

Tsunami

Later that day, I found myself sitting at my desk with a blank white piece of paper and a pencil. I decided to draw. The image I started with was the Tidal Wave. It took up 95% of my paper! At the bottom of the page was a tiny stick figure of me as if looking up at the gigantic body of water. I was taken aback when I saw it right in front of me. As I colored this all-consuming wave with my light blue colored marker my breathing soon became fast and shallow. It brought up feelings of frustration and powerlessness and of being overwhelmed! It was strange (and interesting) how my kindergarten looking drawing reflected how I’ve been feeling for the last few weeks.

Stress

The last few weeks have been tiring and tough for me. I did my best to stay afloat of what was going on. I had self-imposed stress such as creating the coloring book companion for my book and trying to get my mindfulness study approved. I also had other stressors that were beyond my control which included dealing with a strange water leak that happened on my birthday and having to go without my car for 2 weeks, helping my 79-year-old mother after having total knee replacement surgery, coping with the fact that my oldest son was ready to move out of our house, and helping my nervous 12-year-old son get excited for his week-long boy scout camping.

Depressed

Thank goodness it wasn’t a typically month for me. Despite my self-care routine of yoga, mindfulness meditation, and gratitude practice, I still felt down and depressed. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time. This became clear as I looked at my finished drawing.

Peace

I decided to draw the image that I saw during my morning walk. On a separate piece of white paper, I drew the river and the boats that were on the water. I found peace in that piece. I outlined the bench that my husband and I sat on and added the shrubs and flowers that were at the river’s edge. As I colored, a deep and soothing breath filled my lungs. It made me smile. Although, my art work was far from being a Renoir filled with pastels and pretty color, it was a relaxing work of art! I noticed my breathing change. It was slower and deeper. There was nothing stressful about my drawing. Then, I took another step.

Feelings

I compared both pictures. I noticed how different they were and how they made me feel. Then, I wrote down on one side of the Tidal Wave picture how the image made me feel. I wrote down my stressors and what caused me sadness. As I listed them, I was surprised at how many I had. The more I wrote, the more my head nodded with agreement.

Balance

I did the same thing with my other drawing. In that one, I wrote down how it made me feel. I wrote that I wanted to have balance, fun, and time to relax and be with my family. Then, I wrote down I how I would like to feel. A couple of ideas came to mind. One was to simplify and slow down my calendar. I created a schedule that included activities and projects that I needed and wanted to do. I made sure I allowed for extra time to rest and have fun. Another idea was to invite my parents over for a homemade pizza dinner so we can see each other and catch up.

Tides

These two drawings were such an eye opener for me. While they were opposites, they gave me an important insight into my internal and downward turbulence. This visual expressive exercise healed me! It freed up so much of what I was feeling in such an innocent and tangible way. I highly recommend this exercise to anyone who is feeling stressed. While a nightmare was the motivator behind my experience, you can start doing this now to determine how you are feeling.

Express

Allow art to heal you from your pain and reduce your stress. All you have to do is express yourself. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art is a form of therapy that helps people “explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem.” Don’t let the simplicity of this practice fool you. Art heals and you don’t have to have any artistic talent for it to help you. Any expressive medium can help you such as clay, paint, wood, music, dance, photography, etc.

Benefits

There are many studies that show the beneficial effects of art for healing, stress reduction, and personal growth. Art as form of therapy has helped people with ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum, Age management, Abuse, PTSD, Cancer, and so much more. Art as a form of therapy is found in many settings such as: hospitals, wellness studios, schools, and home. While it is becoming more widely used, it is always recommended for people with mental health problems to seek professional advice before undergoing any sort of treatment.

How?

For those of you who are not under the supervision and care of mental health professionals, there are simple ways to get started. Here’s how you can express yourself and reduce your stress with art.

1. Choose: Pick the expressive art medium that you like and start creating. Allow the medium to move you.

2. Compare: Do a comparison. Have a before and after version of how you are feeling. It could be a past vs. present or bad vs. good version.

3. Clarity: Accept the different feelings that come up and view them with no judgement. This will help you to avoid clouding your mind with any self-limiting or more negative thoughts.

4. Control: Notice how much a sense of calm, control and confidence comes to you with this exercise.

5. Create: Be creative in how you do this practice. Make this practice your own.

Happiness

Go forth and express yourself through art. You will be surprise at just how much better you will feel afterwards. A great way to get started is by coloring and to help you along, The Happiness Result Art Therapy Coloring book will be available to you by the end of the summer. Coloring books have been proven to calm the mind and reduce stress. It’s a great way to combine art with mindfulness. To learn more about its companion book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success go to www.TheHappinessResult.com.

Class

Master trainer and coach Patrick Howell and I are going to be offering an introductory online course on this topic soon. Please stay tuned for more information on this unique and fascinating art therapy class.