Posts Tagged ‘good habit’

Turn the Negative to Positive

May 5, 2015

We all experience negative events and emotions. Unfortunately, it’s part of life. The important thing is what we do with those emotions. We can let them bring us down, get the better of us, or use them for good. They can help us to become better people and play a positive role in our well-being. Which do you choose to do?

Use challenges to gain perspective. The challenges we face in life are opportunities for personal growth and development. These adversities help bring out valuable lessons and expected gifts. They can help highlight what’s truly important in life.

Discover compassion through shame. when we experience shame or humiliation, we often avoid connecting with other people, fearing they’ll see the flaws we’re trying to hide. However, when we’re able to work through these emotions, it can help us connect with others and become more compassionate and empathetic.

Find gratitude after a loss. Often we don’t realize how valuable something is until we lose it. Experiencing a loss can help us feel grateful for what we have now and not take it for granted.

Turn anger into creativity. University researchers found that when creative professionals began their day with a negative emotion, they had greater creative output. They were able to channel their anger into their work. They were also able to focus longer while brainstorming.

Spur determination from jealousy. When we become jealous of someone, it can drive us to better ourselves. Envy can help us figure out what it is we want in our own life and then place us on the path to achieve it.



The Power of Self-Talk

March 30, 2015

Our thoughts have the power to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, for it is our thoughts that fuel our words and behavior. Thinking well makes life less stressful, motivates our behaviors, and can improve our physical health with less risk of depression, heart disease, and even the common cold. Thinking well does not mean we need to ignore reality when life is hard; rather, we must simply reframe what’s happening to stay positive in the situation.

The best way to think well is to evaluate our self-talk. Self-talk is what we tell ourselves about the events that happen to us and around us, being comprised of facts and our interpretation of those facts. Herein lies the power. We can evaluate facts and stay positive, or we might walk into one of these four negative self-talk snares.

Black and white thinking. This is the “all-or-nothing” thought process. Life is either awesome or awful. There’s no in-between.

Personalizing. This thinking assumes everything is about you. (Ex: If you don’t get the job, the employer didn’t like you. A friend cancels plans? They don’t want to hang out with you.)

Generalizing. When you generalize, you presume you will always fail based on one mistake. (Ex: if you ask someone on a date, and they refuse, you will die all alone.) These thoughts leap to failure.

Catastrophizing. Here you expect the worst-case scenario always. (Ex: Forget your umbrella on a rainy day? It’s the start of something awful.) Catastrophizing always assumes the worst.

Self-talk can alter the outcome of many situations in our lives. Consider making small changes in your self-talk and watch your behavior follow suit.

Breaking Bad Habits

January 30, 2015

Do you typically think about every step involve din your daily routine? Probably not, thanks to habits. When we develop habits from our repeated action, it frees up our brains to focus on other tasks. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

Why is it so difficult to change our vices? When behaviors are enjoyable, even if they’re unhealthy, they can release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The habit becomes even stronger, and we continue doing it regardless of how we feel afterward.

Strategies to Break Bad Habits

It is possible to break bad habits, and humans are good at learning how to exercise self-control. Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several proven strategies to break bad habits.

Identify purpose. What purpose does the habit serve? If you aren’t getting something enjoyable from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it. for example, maybe you smoke to help calm you down or you overeat for comfort. When you identify the needs behind the habit, you can look for healthier alternatives.

Identify progression. What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting this progression of events can help set you up for greater success.

Identify motivation. Why do you want to change? Feeling deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it. Be specific for greater motivation.

Tips for Changing Habits

Plan ahead. Don’t trust your strength in the moment. Making a plan ahead of time for dealing with temptation prepares your mind to resist the urge. Try calling a friend or someone to hold you accountable.

Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful to the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body. This will help you take better care of yourself.

Replace with good. Trade out your bad habits for good ones. For example, swap out the time you once spent overeating and use it to exercise. Create healthy, daily routines to help fill the need or craving of your bad habit.

As with any difficulty, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Find a therapist, support group, or organization to help you get started on learning more about yourself. The encouragement could steer you toward the best strategy to break your bad habits and change them for good. After all, Who wouldn’t want a healthy lifestyle to be second nature?

To be happy and less stressed, be creative.

September 20, 2013

There is a direct link between creativity and happiness. That’s because research shows that being creative stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers.

Not only does being creative make us happy, it’s a natural way to fight stress, to build confidence, and to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. The more we exercise the creative, right-half of our brain, the greater our ability to find creative solutions to difficult problems in our work or personal lives.

To cultivate creativity in your life, try the following:

Use creativity training techniques. Just as weight training makes a person stronger, creativity training can make a person more creative. Come up with as many uses as you can for a white paper bag. A chef’s hat? A comet catcher? A lunch bag (of course)? Now push yourself to 50 more. The technique is called brainstorming, and it’s only one of many ways to exercise the creative side of your brain.

Express yourself. Find a way to express yourself through writing, painting or doing a craft. But don’t overlook other forms of expression such as restoring an antique car, gardening or solving a difficult math problem. Whenever we lose track of time doing something just for the love of doing it, we’re in a heightened sense of creativity called “flow.” Flow is an ultimate human experience that refreshes and makes us happy.

Unlearn ways that stifle creativity. James Higgins, author of Escape from the Maze: Nine Steps to Personal Creativity, says that to be creative, we should look beyond certain rules in life that stifle creativity. For example, place someone in a maze, and s/he will likely walk the corridors in search of an exit. After all, isn’t that the rule one is supposed to follow when in a maze? But what about digging a hole and tunneling out, Higgins asks? Or pole vaulting? Or calling a friend with a helicopter so you can be lifted out? To unlearn ways that stifle creativity, look at the rules you follow, then look beyond them.

Change your environment. A new environment can give you a different, more creative outlook on something, such as a difficult problem. One software company encourages whole departments to take a movie break when they’re stuck on an especially vexing challenge. The employees carpool to the theater to see a movie with the understanding that no one will talk or think about the problem until they return to the office. Once back, managers say employees are so rejuvenated, they often solve the problem immediately.

Have creative things around you. Books of poetry, art, photography or architecture and other reflections of creativity can inspire your own creativity. But it’s not enough just to have these resources around – you must turn to them for inspiration. Higgins says that people who believe that their lives have become routine and dull should make use of the many resources that can inspire passion and creativity.

Identify times when you are most creative. Just before a deep sleep and after a good workout are naturally occurring creative moments. A workout increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and leads to other physiological changes that encourage an active mind. And just before a deep sleep is a period of highly creative dream-like brain activity.

Ways Writing Can Help You Heal

September 6, 2013

From the outside your life looks perfect, but inside your heart aches from the loss of someone you love or a spouse who filed for divorce. Or maybe old wounds are still simmering within your soul, caused by painful events years ago. You feel a violent emotional yanking on your heart and a labyrinth of confusion.

Journaling, it turns out, can help you heal on a number of different levels. The mighty power of words can help you to heal.

Studies show writing about traumatic events helps you recover and move on. Some of the other healing benefits you can reap from journaling include:

  • Resolving unfinished business. Writing unearths areas of hurt you thought you’d already dealt with so you can begin the process of putting them to rest.
  • Clearing your mind. Right this minute your mind is probably swirling with thoughts about everything from what you should eat for dinner to how you are going to cope with a difficult coworker. Journaling gives you the opportunity to “clear the clutter” and focus on what’s really important. Consequently, your productivity and concentration can improve.
  • Expanding self-awareness and self-knowledge. Journaling on a routine basis reveals what makes you happy or sad, worried or confident. This is important information for you to have as you begin the process of healing and growth.
  • Experience fewer physical symptoms of stress. As you release your angst on the page instead of turning it over and over in your mind, you may discover that stress-induced headaches may decrease or high blood pressure may return to normal. Your sleep may become deeper and more restful.
  • Seeing your progress. Capturing feelings in a journal allows you to look back later and see how far you’ve come. Recognizing improvement is a great motivator!

To begin, set aside about 20 to 30 minutes in a place where you won’t be disturbed. Write about what you are feeling at that moment; explore how that relates to other aspects of your life, such as your childhood or relationships.

Write continuously and don’t worry about proper spelling or grammar. Simply allow yourself the freedom to express your thoughts. Remind yourself that things will get better. You will heal. And as you do, be sure to keep writing!

(Source: 3 Things You Can Learn From Life’s Little Knots by Hunter D. Darden)

Positive Thinking Can Bring Good Health

August 22, 2013

Positive thoughts can motivate healthy behaviors, such as eating right, being active, and feeling good about yourself. It sounds so simple, but it is very true. unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Your thoughts can be defeating. “I’m already overweight, so it doesn’t matter if I eat a second piece of cake.” Or, “I only have 10 minutes, I’ll never get this assignment done.” Negative thoughts, often called negative self-talk, may sabotage your good intentions.

“I think I can”

Studies have measured the success of positive-thinkers and found that those who think they can lose weight or increase their physical activity, do! These people are more successful than people with less faith in themselves.

How to Stay Positive

Positive thinkers admit when they feel frustrated or depressed. They don’t ignore it. But they also don’t blame themselves. Instead, they try to understand the negative thoughts and feelings and counter them with more positive ones.

So how do you stay positive, maintain momentum and sustain healthy behaviors? here are some tips:

Look for a good role model. There is always someone who seems to be doing just what you want to be doing. Learn from a successful friend, family member or colleague.

Try some positive self-talk and avoid negative-talk. Take a minute to give yourself an ego boost. Repeat some motivational words out loud or to yourself. Negative talk, “I can’t do it,” “I’m fat,” is dangerous for your well-being.

The Key to Balancing Family and Work? Prioritize.

May 31, 2013

Keeping a healthy balance between your work and your family can seem almost impossible to a parent or spouse with full-time employment. However, making conscious choices to prioritize the most important events in both spheres can help you live a balanced, happy life. If you let your work define your entire life, there is a good chance you will miss out on precious family bonding time that you can never get back.

Put Your Family First. Amidst the importance of both your career and your family, a balanced life is not easy, but making the decision to value your family will point you in the right direction. A practical way to get focused on your family is to collaborate to create family goals. Find out what your kids want to do as a family (i.e. to visit a local attraction or play a family game) and do it! Put it on your calendar, and be sure not to miss it.

Dealing with the Difficulties. Though we can endlessly discuss the decisions you should be making, even if you make all the right choices, there will still inevitably be times when work takes over. Sometimes responsibilities will mount that cannot wait and you will miss out on a family event. Accept this possibility now so that when the time comes, you aren’t overwhelmed or disappointed in yourself.

In the meantime, you can take positive action to ensure that your time at work is spent efficiently so that you can get home to your family as quickly as possible. Don’t let endless distractions and procrastination rule your life.

Practical Tips for Parents. The most important decision for parents to make is to be present where they are. Don’t come home to your kids with you mind still at the office. Separate your roles, leaving work at work so that you can more fully enjoy the time you have at home with your family. In doing so, you’ll quickly notice more of the little things that make life special, both at work and at home.

Plan Regular Family Dinners. The concept of family dinners may seem too simple, but plenty of studies have demonstrated that kids whose families regularly eat meals together are less likely to do drugs, smoke, drink, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide and more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, do well in school and communicate with their parents. That being said, make your family dinners a priority. Use the time together to catch up with each other, figure out what it is that your kids want to do as a family, discuss upcoming family events and delegate responsibilities for those events.

Have Fun with Your Kids. Don’t just split your attention all the time – make intentional plans with each child to make sure that they are all nurtured and loved in the unique ways they need. Also, many people today work so hard that they never take a break – don’t be afraid to take a family vacation! Those memories will be invaluable.

Don’t Forget Your Spouse. The trap of focusing all your energy on work and the kids is far too dangerous. Be intentional about one on one time with your spouse as well. Your relationship still requires work, even after years of marriage. Plan romantic dates, or just meet up for coffee in the middle of a workday. Find ways to keep on dialoguing, no matter where each day finds you.

The Benefits of Balance. Although balance may appear to be a daunting goal, difficult to achieve, any steps you take towards it will seem like a heavy load lifted off your back. Small choices can make a huge difference in your family life. Assess your responsibilities carefully and decide which ones make the cut of your priorities and which ones are not worth your time and energy.

Tips for Reducing or Controlling Stress

March 5, 2013

Getting to work on time… paying your bills… keeping on top of your household chores… it can all add up to a lot of stress. Sure, many of us realize that we have an abnormal amount of stress in our lives, but how do we deal with it and move on? Here are some tips to get you started down the path of tranquility.

As you read the following suggestions, remember that success will not come from a – effort, nor will it come overnight. It will take determination, persistence and time. Some suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress is chronic, it may require more attention and/or lifestyle changes. Determine YOUR tolerance level for stress and try to live within these limits. Learn to accept or change stressful and tense situations whenever possible.

Be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities (yours and/or your family’s), learn to say NO! Eliminate an activity that is not absolutely necessary. You may be taking on more responsibility than you can or should handle. If you meet resistance, give reasons why you’re making the changes. Be willing to listen to others’ suggestions and be ready to compromise.

Shed the “superman/superwoman” urge. No one is perfect so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask yourself, “What really needs to be done?” “How much can I do?” “Is the deadline realistic?” “What adjustments can I make?” Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Meditate. Just 10 to 20 minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. Use the time to listen to music, relax and try to think of pleasant things or nothing.

Visualize. Use your imagination and picture how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully. Whether it’s a business presentation or moving to a new place, many people feel visual rehearsals boost self-confidence and enable them to take a more positive approach to a difficult task.

Take one thing at a time. For people under tension or stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. The best way to cope with this feeling of being overwhelmed is to take one task at a time. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. The positive feeling of “checking off” tasks is very satisfying. It will motivate you to keep going.

Exercise. Regular exercise is a popular way to relieve stress. Twenty to 30 minutes of physical activity benefits both the body and the mind.

Hobbies. Take a break from your worries by doing something you enjoy. Whether it’s gardening or painting, schedule time to indulge your interest.

Healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition makes a difference. Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol (alcohol actually disturbs regular sleep patterns), get adequate rest, exercise and balance work and play.

Share your feelings. A conversation with a friend lets you know that you are not the only one having a bad day, caring for a sick child or working in a busy office. Stay in touch with friends and family. Let them provide love, support and guidance. Don’t try to cope alone.

Give in occasionally. Be flexible! If you find you’re meeting constant opposition in either your personal or professional life, rethink your position or strategy. Arguing only intensifies stressful feelings. If you know you are right, stand your ground, but do so calmly and rationally. Make allowances for others’ opinions and be prepared to compromise. If you are willing to give in, others may meet you halfway. Not only will you reduce your stress, you may find better solutions to your problems.

Go easy with criticism. You may expect too much of yourself and others. Try not to feel frustrated, let down, disappointed or even “trapped” when another person does not measure up. The “other person” may be a wife, a husband, or a child whom you are trying to change to suit yourself. Remember, everyone is unique, and has his or her own virtues, shortcomings, and right to develop as an individual.

Where and when to seek help. Help may be as close as a friend or spouse. But if you think you or someone you know may be under more stress than just dealing with a passing difficulty, it may be helpful to talk with a doctor, spiritual adviser, or a psychological health care professional.

Using Acceptance to Become Self-Motivated

February 8, 2013

Even in our busy world of scheduling, calendars, and planning, we may have the best intentions, but sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way we expected them to. If everything works out the way you planned, that’s great. If things don’t work out the way you planned, that can actually be a positive thing too, because change can open up new possibilities that you had not even imagined.

Give your best thought, effort and attention to the factors that you can control, but also give your full acceptance to the factors you cannot control.

What’s the best response when some unforseen event beyond your control prevents things from working out as planned? Acceptance. If you accept the situation, you will find the very best of the new possibilities that have been created and can move forward with those options, rather than dwell upon what could have been.

Acceptance does not mean that you agree with it or that you can resign yourself to live with the outcome of events that have occurred. Acceptance means that you see it for what it is and make positive use of it.

Instead of constantly worrying that something will come along to disrupt your plans, remind yourself that you can adapt to whatever may happen. Instead of being paralyzed by the fear of what you cannot control, be confident in knowing that even the most difficult situations harbor positive possibilities.

Learn not to fight against what has already happened or to be impeded by what “might” happen. Instead, choose to accept what is and use it as a springboard for magnificent success.

-Adapted from Ralph Marston from

Six Ways to Say Goodbye to a Bad Habit

December 28, 2012

Bad habits can range from the trivial, such as biting one’s nails, to the serious, such as the use of tobacco products, excessive drinking, or over-eating. The trouble with bad habits is that many times they are easy to start, but difficult to stop. There are many simple ways to help break a bad habit. Here are a few ideas to help you start on a new path.

1. Use a journal. Sometimes it helps to really think about why the bad habit is a part of your life. Are you trying to fill a void? Is it helping you cope with stress? Are you addicted to the bad habit? You need to answer these questions. Some people find that journaling, or keeping track of their thoughts in a book (or even online) can help them work through their bad habit. If you get a craving to engage in your bad habit, stop and think about why you want to do it. Then write down your feelings and explore them. A journal can also help you keep track of your many successes as well.

2. Get expert help. It’s important to realize that some bad habits are too big to break alone. You may need the help of a mental health care professional, such as a counselor, psychiatrist or employee resource professional in order to stop your bad habit. Other people may look to spiritual leaders like pastors or rabbis for advice and counsel. If you are dealing with an addiction or other health-related addiction, your primary care physician may be able to help you assess your problem, give you tips, and possibly even treatment to help you break your bad habit once and for all. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional during this important decision.

3. Replace the bad habit with a new, good habit. One reason many people find it difficult to quit a bad habit is that they don’t know what to do with their time once they stop engaging in the habit. Boredom strikes, and they feel tempted to fall back into their habitual behavior. Taking up new hobbies or activities can help you work through your boredom and cravings. Many people find that taking up a new exercise class or sport can be a useful and healthy way of avoiding their bad habit.

4. Find resources. In the age of the information superhighway, there is no shortage of information to help you fight through your bad habit. If you don’t have internet access at home, most public libraries and even some community centers have free computer access. Online you can access tips and advice on just about everything. Additionally, many 12-step groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) list their local meeting schedules and hotlines on the web.

5. Find support groups. Trying to break a bad habit alone can sometimes be a difficult task, especially if the habit you are trying to break is actually an addiction. You need not suffer alone. Many people find support groups or 12-step meetings are very beneficial to the improvement of their lifestyle and can help them fight through the urge to engage in their bad habit or addiction. There are 12-step groups for a variety of problems and addictions such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Over-Eaters Anonymous. Support groups meet in a variety of locations and at all times of the day.

6. Be proud of your progress. You should always be proud of your successes, no matter how large or small. Celebrate your progress, from week to week and month to month, and reward yourself for all of your hard work. If you meet a weight loss goal, treat yourself to a new outfit. If you have managed to stay smoke-free for a month, reward yourself with a new DVD. Just make sure your rewards aren’t triggers for your bad habit.