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.

 

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.

 

Five Steps to Unleash Your Inner Superhero

Five Steps to Unleash Your Inner Superhero and
Defeat Work/Life Stress
by Debbie Lyn Toomey

Which super hero is your favorite?

Super Man?

Batman?

Wonder Woman?

My favorite is Wonder Woman. Besides being beautiful, brainy, and bold, she embodies so much of what I believe in. For my birthday this year, I asked my 12-year old son, Max, to give me a Lego Wonder Woman key chain. I was so excited the day he gave it to me because now I can carry around a little reminder of how I can unleash my inner superhero to help me defeat work/life stress.

Scratches

One week later, while Max and I were waiting in line at the grocery store, I happily pulled out my new key chain to show him. He examined it closely and immediately said,

“Oh no, it has scratches on it!”

Although, I was surprised that he noticed the tiny scratches on it, I was even more surprised with the reply I gave to him.

Honey, she wouldn’t be Wonder Woman if she didn’t have scratches on her.”

Scars

As we walked across the parking lot over to our car, I thought about what I had just said to him. It made me think about how the adversities that many of the comic-strip super heroes faced allowed them to fully discover their unique power. Then I reflected about my own internal scars that were caused by dealing with life. Some of them were a result of failures, rejections, and feelings of inadequacy.

Strengths

These permanent imprints have become my well-earned badges of honor. They came from moments in my life where I chose to persevere, forcing me to awaken my inner super allies; my inner strengths and talents. Without these negative obstacles and conflicts, I would have never had the chance to discover how strong I am. I wouldn’t have known what I was really made of. These were epic moments that made me resilient in dealing with life’s ups and downs.

Soar

As mortals, we may not wear capes but we can soar to the top of our game. Here are five ways to unleash your own inner superhero so that you can defeat work/life stress.

1. Reflect- Think about your life in the past year and reflect on your challenges. Determine what you did in all cases that helped you rise above the circumstance.

2. Recognize- Watch for patterns in what you did and how you did it. The more you recognize your strong and positive actions the more you can “own them” and be proud of them. You can consider these positive attributes as your strengths.

3. Remember- Have reminders of your strengths. Whether it’s a powerful quote, an image, or a Lego key chain of your favorite hero, use something that will align you to your best self.

4. Read- Once you know your strengths, read more about how you can strengthen them. If you haven’t already, take courses or learn from a coach or mentor about how you can make them your own super powers.

5. Reap– Ask people in your life to list your positive attributes. Reap the positive words that they use to describe you. Compare their list with yours. Notice the similarities and notice ones that you did not think about but agreed with. You can consider the similarities as your top strengths in this case and the others your lesser strengths.

Support

Use all of your strengths. They will help you deal with work/life stress. The more you learn how to unleash your super-hero-self, the more you can beat work/life stress and become your own hero. To gain support and learn more about how to become the best version of your super self, email me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com 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!

 

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening –

Mindfulness: Decrease Your Stress with Mindful Listening

Learn Seven Steps for Better Communication

by Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

In college, many moons ago, I had an English professor who challenged me and said, “listen to your listening.” He said this on the first day of class wearing his summer straw hat and Hawaiian shirt. Professor Nelson was witty, authentic, and a lover of life. He captivated the class as he stood up on top a desk and recited his favorite butterfly poem. When he spoke, everyone listened. It was he who talked to us about the importance of effective communication. To my surprise, listening was the most important part of communication. I didn’t understand what he meant until years later.

Exchange of Energy

As I grew older, I realized he was right! Communication is not just about talking. It’s more than that. It has to do with the exchange of energy and words (said and unsaid) between the parties involved. When the mind, body, and spirit are engaged and when the parties involved are fully present for the other, mindful communication happens. Languages such as verbal, body, and intuition are part of our expression. The more we pay attention and listen to all these aspects of expression, the better.

Difficulties

With so many forms of languages available to us, why is it so difficult to communicate? Perhaps it’s because we have gotten into the habit of thinking we are too busy and feel that we can multitask while someone is talking to us. Maybe it’s because our attention span has dwindled to a mere
8 seconds. Or maybe, we are just so stressed that although we are hearing what the other is saying, we are not comprehending or remembering what was just said. Is being an irritating “squeaky wheel” the only way to be seen and heard these days? I hope not.

On the Go

Although our lives were supposed to be made easier by modern technology, it hasn’t happened. The level of stress that Americans live with has sky rocketed. We are constantly on the go and when we are not busy, we feel guilty. We feel like we always have to be doing something worthwhile with our time.

Source of Stress

Professionals in my corporate wellness training programs complain that communication is one of their sources of frustration and stress. This problem has caused feelings of resentment, staff-splitting, wasted time on valuable projects, and costly mistakes. Poor communication is confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a contributor of workplace stress.

Invest a Few Minutes

One of the best ways to take care of the communication problem is to invest in a few minutes of mindful communication. Here are four ways mindful communication can benefit us.

1. Show appreciation to the other person by fully allowing the other to speak

2. Prevent misunderstanding that can lead to errors or hard feelings

3. Save time by knowing what is being said so that the right action can be taken

4. Foster positivity by modeling respect for each other

Seven Steps

Although communication has become a big problem during our lifetime there are ways to improve it by listen to your listening. Here’s are the seven steps for better communication:

1. STOP: Create the intention of fully listening to the individual

2. LOOK: Be curious and watch his/her body language

3. LISTEN: Listen to what is being said and unsaid. Listen to what your gut instinct is telling you

4. WAIT: Allow the individual to finish his/her thought or sentence before you answer

5. SENSE: Notice your body language. Adjust yourself so that you are fully face-to-face with the individual

6. SUMMARIZE: Repeat what you just heard to make sure you heard correctly

7. REPEAT: Repeat 1-6 as necessary until the message has been fully accepted and received

A Skill

Mindful communication is a skill that is worth cultivating to be successful in life. The more you practice it the easier it gets. To learn more about mindful communication and ways it can enhance your work and life, contact me at debbielyn@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

 

Mindfulness: 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers of Effective Communication By Debbie Lyn Toomey

 

Mindfulness: 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers of Effective Communication

By Debbie Lyn Toomey

What?

Huh?

What did you say?

These questions are what my aging parents ask me when I am talking to them. My mother, a three-time cancer survivor, lost most of her hearing from the side-effects of the chemotherapy, and my father lost his from aging. I have to be mindful when I talk with them so that they are able to hear me. That said, what if you are trying to converse with someone who has great hearing but who is not fully listening to you? Don’t take it personally. It’s not you. Nowadays, there are many obstacles that get in the way of effective communication. Here are three noteworthy barriers to consider and five solutions to help you become more successful at verbal communication.

Screen Time

The more you understand the about barriers, the more you will be able to use the right skill to enhance your relationships and increase your success. According to a Nielsen report(2016), the average American spends almost half the day on a screen. To be exact, an average US adult devotes about 10 hours and 39 minutes a day consuming media. This number is expected to increase. Whether it be a phone screen, computer screen, or television screen, it is still something that people compete with to get the undivided attention of others.

Age of Distraction

Another barrier is our decreasing attention span. More and more people are taking medications to help with their ability to “focus.” Why? Because we are living in the age of distraction. Distraction from technology that we have for personal use and professional use. In 2015, Time magazine wrote an article about Microsoft’s report on attention span. It was an article that caught the attention of the world showing that a goldfish has a longer attention span than the average human. It stated that the attention span of an average human has decreased to eight seconds mainly due to the widespread use of smartphones.

Pet vs. Master

While it might sound comical at first to have a simple house pet win over its master, the truth is not funny! In the 2015 Microsoft report, a goldfish was able to sustain its attention for 9 seconds. One second more than its highly-evolved competitor. Moreover, this report shared that our attention span has deteriorated from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. 2000 was around the time of the mobile technology revolution.

CPA

Another cause for the impaired communication is our need to stay in the know of what is going on all the time. This is what Linda Stone in 1998 coined continuous partial attention (CPA). Unlike the heralded act of multi-tasking where we are trying to do more than one activity at the same time to be more efficient, CPA relies on the need to not want to miss anything. This need to not miss out on any new connection or news makes us feel as though we must be constantly connected to media. According to Stone, CPA makes us feel alive when we are connected and plugged in. CPA is another barrier that inhibits our ability to fully listen and engage with another person.

Still There?

I hope I haven’t lost you yet. Are you still reading this article? If you are, thank you! Because I have 5 solutions to help you overcome these barriers so that you can have more effective communication and connection with people in your life. Some might think that what I am about to share are all common-sense-solutions. They are right! But as I mentioned in my book, The Happiness Result. More time, More health, More love, More success, common sense is not so common these days.

5 Ways

The key to all of these solutions is mindfulness. The more we create purposeful actions toward better communication, the better our interactions will be. The 5 ways for better communication are:

1. Mobile device: Put your mobile device away when you are about to talk with someone. PERIOD.

2. Eye contact: When you are talking with someone, make sustained eye contact with the individuals for about 3-5 seconds. Eye contact, according to James Wirth, social psychologist, provide us with some of the strongest information from social interactions. Be mindful and make eye contact.

3. Listen: Be silent when the other person is talking with you. Avoid interruptions like giving your opinions right away. Use this silent time to actively and empathically listen to what your mind and heart are telling you. Listen to the words being said and watch his/her body language (active listening) and try to pick up on his/her emotions (empathetic listening). Shut up and listen up.

4. Summarize: Once the individual is done speaking, rephrase or summarize what you heard. This will ensure that you fully understood the content of the conversation and show the individual that you were engaged with the conversation. Show you care and summarize.

5. Concise: Remember you have only 8 seconds to captivate someone’s attention. Therefore, speak clearly and concisely. The clearer you are expressing yourself, the less likely a misunderstanding and misinterpretation will happen. This is one of the basic elements of being a competent communicator. Get to the point.

Keep Practicing

Next time you feel that you are not being heard or people are not listening to you, be mindful of the common obstacles that stand in the way of communication in this age of distraction. Try the 5 mindfulness solutions that I shared with you and above all else, keep practicing. Effective communication and mindful listening are skills. They require practice in order for you to master them.

To learn more ways to add more time, more health, more love, and more success in your life, get a copy of my book, The Happiness Result. It will give you 7 awesome skills to live your best life. Click here to get the book www.TheHappinessResult.com.

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.