Authenticity: A Simple Way to Boost Happiness

Authenticity: A Simple Way to Boost Happiness

By Debbie Lyn Toomey RN

Author of The Happiness Result

Last Saturday was a typical bone chilling and drizzly October day in New England. My family and I committed to attend a friend’s surprise 40th birthday party. Unfortunately, instead of the party being indoors, it was held outdoors in a medieval attraction park. Surprisingly, the parking lot was filled with cars. Coming out of some of them were kings, princesses, and fairies who traveled far and wide. As we entered the park, the gloomy day quickly turned in to a great one. I saw people proudly walking around dressed as their fantasy characters. Although they were in a costume, their real selves shined through. It was as if their make-believe outfits allowed them to embrace their authenticity.

Free to Express

It was a magical wooded scene. Everyone was having fun and freely expressing themselves as their favorite medieval persona. The shops were bustling with both first timers wanting to find the perfect piece to wear and old timers looking for yet another article to add on to their already elaborate attire. While I saw some men who wore armors and capes, others wore tiaras. Likewise, while some women wore gown and tiaras, others wore pirate outfits with swords. The customs transcended gender, age, and culture. Everyone was accepted. Everyone became a part of the theme. Everyone was free to be themselves.

Basic Tips

It’s easy to pretend and express who we are by wearing costumes especially when everyone is doing it. But how can we do that in real life without playing a character? That’s easy. Here are some basic tips on how you can unleash your authenticity and become happier.

  1. Wear your favorite colors. Color is a powerful tool that effects our minds and bodies. Color psychology dates back to the ancient time of the Egyptians and Chinese.
  2. Notice how it makes you feel.
  3. Pay attention to your energy level.
  4. Note your confidence and productivity level that day.
  5. Be aware of how others approach you.
  6. Listen to how you talk and respond to others.
  7. Try this for 7 days and notice how much happier you feel by just allowing your inner self and authentic-self to shine through.

My Book

If you need more ideas and inspirations on how to express yourself, get my book, The Happiness Result. My book contains seven pillars that can help you lead a happier and more meaningful life. To learn more about it, visit www.TheHappinessResult.com .

Contentment and How to Have More of it in Your Life

Contentment and How to Have More of it in Your Life

By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN

Author of The Happiness Result

I surprised myself one day. It was during a family vacation and I felt so connected to the scenery around me, the warm weather, and the people I was with. All of a sudden, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m content.” It’s not a word that I tend to use. To describe my feelings, I typically say, that I feel “great”, “awesome”, or “happy.”

I remember it well. It was two months ago during my family’s summer vacation with my husband and three boys. It’s been a tradition since our boys were school-age. And even though our oldest lives in an apartment and our middle is in college, they still look forward to our annual family get-away. I love seeing the excitement in their eyes when we start discussing details of our trips. This year our vacation destination was Montreal, Canada.

Our 6-hour drive was a breeze. We stopped for a country breakfast in New Hampshire and listened to a Harry Potter audio book the rest of the way. Montreal had changed since I was there last in high school. This time it seemed bigger and busier. We fell in love with Montreal right away because of the mixture of the new and the old buildings, the quaint little restaurants, and the majestic churches. It was a fantastic city to experience on foot. We delighted walking around the city.

Then one day it happened. My family and I were walking from one end of the city to the next and a sweet and warm feeling consumed me. Out of nowhere, I said to my husband that I felt content. At that very moment, it felt like all the stars were in alignment. The skies were blue, a gentle breeze was blowing and I was there in Montreal with my family. That moment has embedded itself deep into my heart and mind. 

What does contentment mean?

One of the definitions of content that I found in the Merriam Webster Dictionary is a feeling of being satisfied. That was exactly how I was feeling that day. Even though, I knew there were areas in my life that still need improving, there were bills to be paid, and I was getting older by the minute, my awareness of them did not cloud how blessed I felt in that very moment.

How is contentment different from happiness?

While both contentment and happiness have been used interchangeably, they are different. The biggest difference between these two feelings is that contentment is a delicious blend of appreciation, mindfulness, satisfaction, and connectedness. It is long lasting. Happiness on the other hand is a more dynamic state of being and is often short lasting.

Here’s how you can gain more contentment in your life for the next seven days.

  1. Stop and look around every chance you get.
  2. Notice what you have, what’s working well, and appreciate it.
  3. Look around at the people who make your life better.
  4. State your contentment to yourself or to another person.

In the next seven days, I invite you to slow down enough to savor all the goodness around you. When you do, you will find magical moments of contentment that can bring so much richness to your life.

If you need coaching on how to cultivate contentment into your life, contact me for coaching at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com . Your goodness is waiting for you.

An Overlooked Fall Prevention Tip for the Aging Adults

An Overlooked Fall Prevention Tip for the Aging Adults

Debbie Lyn Toomey RN, CIPP

 Author of The Happiness Result

 

 

Do you remember the last time you fell and got up quickly?

While most people instinctively get up as soon as they fall, seniors are not so fortunate. Many aging people have a difficult time getting up after they have fallen because they are too weak or they’ve injured themselves.

It’s Staggering!

Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal and fatal unintentional injuries by people age 65 and up (CDC, 2016). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there were 27,000 seniors that died as the result of falling in 2014. Further, 1 in 4 elderly report that they have fallen. This number is staggering!

Changing Body

Our body is always changing. The population that is impacted the most are the elderly. As we age, we unfortunately get slower, more frail, and weaker making it more and more difficult “to do the things that we used to do.” For these reasons and many others, it’s no wonder that the elderly develop a fear of falling.

Fear of Falling

While the physical factors that I just mentioned may contribute to a senior’s fear of falling, there is also a mental factor. The belief that falling is inevitable. This powerful fear also contributes to falling. The more someone is afraid of falling, the less they want to move around. The less active they are, the more deconditioned they become. The weaker they are, the higher likelihood is that they will fall. In other words, the fear of falling becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!

My Dad

My 83-year-old father got into the habit of walking with a cane. It happened as a result of needing an easy-to-use device to help him move around due to swelling of his legs. Soon enough, he became dependent on the cane and lost his confidence in walking without it. Even though, the swelling stopped and his leg condition improved, he still held on to that cane for fear that he might fall without it.

Ask the Doctor

During one of his doctor visits, I suggested that he ask his physician for a physical therapy consult so that he could strengthen his body and build endurance. After weeks of exercises with his physical therapist, my dad became stronger and steadier. He’s become more active and more confident about his ability to move around by himself without a cane. It worked!

 Physical Therapy

What’s a physical therapist? It’s a highly trained licensed health care professional whose job it is to “help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility”, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Depending on your needs, a physical therapist may be able to work with you to a point that you may be able to reduce your pain medication needs or even avoid surgery all together.

 Overlooked

There are several fall prevention tips that are useful and practical. However, the one that is not often used is requesting one’s doctor for a physical therapy consult. I believe it’s an overlooked and underutilized specialty for prevention because it is usually associated with rehabilitation. It’s worth noting that physical therapy has an important place in fall prevention. It’s not to say that aging adults should not join a gym or an exercise group. Of course, they should. As long as they have the consent of their doctor.

Prevention Tip

If you know a senior who is afraid of falling, one of the best tips is to inform that person that he or she can ask their primary care physician for physical therapy. This request will notify their doctor of their concern and will make it a part of their routine evaluation every visit. If physical therapy is not indicated, then ask for information on an exercise program that can improve their condition.

National Awareness

The first day of the Fall season has been named Falls Prevention Day. This year, it is September 22, 2018 in order to bring increased awareness and education to the seriousness of falls for the aging population. To find out more about resources for the elderly, contact your local Council on Aging.

It’s good to note that while the elderly do fall, it doesn’t have to be a part of aging. There are many ways to prevent it from happening.

Contact Me

It’s never too late to set goals for yourself, no matter how old you are. If you need professional coaching on how to live a healthy and happy life, contact me at info@HealthandHappinessSpecialist.com.

Happiness and Workplace Bullying

Happiness and Workplace Bullying

Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, CIPP
Author of The Happiness Result


Have you ever been bullied?

Whether your answer is yes or no, this article is worth the read because you or someone you know may find it useful.

People of all ages can fall prey to bullying. While we typically hear of incidents of bullying on school grounds, little is mentioned about bullying that occurs in the workplace. Since August is “Don’t be a Bully Month,” it’s the perfect time to bring more awareness around this insidious and silent issue.

Bullied

Workplace bullying is toxic. It creates an unhappy and unhealthy environment. Workplace bullying effects not only the victim, but also the witnesses, and eventually the organization. The closest incident that I have experienced of being bullied (lateral violence) was when a nursing colleague complained about me and challenged my nursing practice in front of other nurses. It came unexpectedly and it shook me to the core. I couldn’t focus on my work after that because I was consumed with feelings of anger, betrayal, disappointment, and so much more!

Unhappy

Needless to say, I was not happy due to the unprofessional treatment that had just occurred. I’ve never been treated like that before! I always strived to be kind, thoughtful, and helpful to everyone. I always went out of my way to support that nurse because she always complained about something unfortunate in her personal life.
What is workplace bullying?

Workplace bullying is any act of incivility, disrespect, and mistreatment to another at work. In its most severe form it can become violent. Damages from such unprofessional and inappropriate actions can cause psychological injury, physical injury, or death.


CDC

According to the CDC, professionals who are at most risk for fatal violence in the workplace are people in sales, protective services, and transportation. On the other hand, professionals in the health care and social services are at risk for nonfatal violence that results in sick days or leave of absences.

Workplace bullying is real and should not be normalized or dismissed by any employers.

Happiness

Here are some ways to help you rise above this negativity and reclaim your happiness at work.

• Breathe and regain your composure. If the bullying behavior is out of character for this person, you can give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, he or she is going through a negative personal event.

• Talk to a close friend to get validation about the situation. Be sure to have allies where you work.

• Approach and talk to the person that caused you to be upset. Relay back to him or her what they did and share how it made you feel. Tell him or her that you will not tolerate that kind of behavior.

• If the person, repeats this behavior, be bold. Stand up for yourself. Know that your efforts will contribute to creating safe, supportive, and happy work environment.

• Talk with your manager or Employee Assistance Program department for assistance.


Speaking Up

As for me, what worked after being humiliated by a nursing colleague was to confront her face to face. After talking with my husband about how shocked and upset I was, I mustered up the courage and the words to explain to her what she did and how she made me feel. Further, I told her to never to treat me like that again. And it worked! After that moment, that nurse left me alone and became more courteous. I was so proud and happy with myself for speaking up!

It is important to avoid toxic and harmful behavior from escalating by speaking out and standing up for yourself. You should never feel that you have to be subjected to any sort to bullying from anyone. You have the right to be happy and feel supported at work so that you can perform your duties.

Need Help?

I hope you never have to experience workplace bullying, but if you do, never feel you have to put up with that kind of behavior. You have a choice to either take it or leave it. If you do decide to take it, be sure to give it back and stand your ground.

If you need coaching to gain more happiness in your life, contact me at info@healthandhappinessspecialist.com.

Mindfulness and Injury Prevention

Mindfulness and Injury Prevention
By Debbie Lyn Toomey, RN, author of The Happiness Result

What does mindfulness have to do with injury prevention?

Almost everything!

Most accidents are preventable.

For example, have you ever tripped and fallen because your mind was elsewhere and you were not paying attention to what was in front of you? 

Or have you ever closed the door on your finger because you were stressed and overwhelmed from what you have to do.  

Or have you ever hit another car “by accident” because you were distracted.

As a Mindfulness practitioner and injury prevention professional, I tripped and fell on my hands and knees recently. It happened during a hike. My husband was pointing out another possible hiking trail to me to and before you know it … BOOM! I was on my hands and knees on the dirt and old fallen leaves. Instead of paying attention to where I was going, I looked away. I should have stopped and looked at what my husband was showing me. Doing this would have allowed me to appreciate the other path while maintaining my footing on the hiking trail. In other words, I should have been more mindful. If I was, I wouldn’t have the bruise on my right knee right now.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is purposely paying attention to whatever it is you are doing, seeing, and feeling -without judgement. Some say that it is being in the present moment or being in the “now.” Mindfulness is a research proven practice that can be taught to both the young and the old. 

Why is it important when it comes to injury prevention?

Mindfulness, when applied in the workplace setting, can reduce work-related injuries tremendously. When stress goes up, our ability to concentrate goes down. Stress from many factors such as lack of staffing, lack of team support, lack of time, and lack of self-care time impacts concentration that can increase the risk of mindless actions that can impact the health and safety of the worker and those around them.

Likewise, mindfulness, when taught to high school athletes, can help reduce sports related injuries, such as traumatic brain injury. When mindfulness is practiced as a daily habit, it has a self-regulatory way of helping the person feel more in control, more centered, and calmer. All traits that are important during any games.

What’s a good mindfulness tip for people on the go?

Next time you catch your mind running around like crazy or even jumping around from one thought to another, stop and take 3 slow deep breaths to get back to the present. Reclaiming your sense of presence through breathing is an easy and powerful skill that anyone can develop no matter how old they are.

Need more support?

If you need coaching on how to add more mindfulness into your life, contact me at info@healthandhappinessspecialist.com. If you need a great summer book to read, get my book, The Happiness Result. You can get my book on www.TheHappinessResult.com. 

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.

Self-Compassion for Work / Life Success

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

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

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

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

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

You are not alone.

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

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

What is self-compassion?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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.

How to Use Gratitude for Stress Reduction and Resiliency


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

What exactly is gratitude?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great news!

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

You will be thankful you did.