Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Motivation & Goal-Setting

December 8, 2017

Setting goals can be tricky. Staying focused, even harder. Motivation is key in setting and completing goals. Examining our desires, values, and ideals can inspire us to act and help us control our level of motivation.

5 STEPS TO HELP YOU GET MOTIVATED

Motivation begins with a choice. The following tips will help you maintain and gain momentum:

  1. Identify – Consider your core values, beliefs, and desires. How do these interrelate with your work, health, and relationships? Prioritize their importance to you. Then look for themes emerging from your list.
  2. Seek accountability – Surround yourself with supportive people. Encouragement is vital, especially from those who’ve completed a similar goal. Constantly competing with others can be very isolating.
  3. Inspire – Look for ways to uplift yourself daily. Consider posting an inspiring quote or picture to your mirror. Read about influential people and see what wisdom you can glean.
  4. Consider the alternative – If you don’t make this change, what will your life be like? Your reaction to this question is a clue to how much you value this goal.
  5. Forgive yourself – It’s easy to be your own worst enemy. Understand you will days you fail, make mistakes, and get rejected. Stay positive and keep moving forward.

GOAL-SETTING TIPS

Getting started is often the hardest part in goal-setting. Step out of the gate with these guidelines:

  • Think big – Put logic aside for a moment and dream big. Negative thinking is a dream-killer. Just because you cannot reach a goal today doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility.
  • Break it down – Goals should be broken up into attainable and measurable tasks. Setting a daily or weekly goal keeps you motivated and helps track your progress.
  • Stay positive – Use uplifting language when you’re writing your goals. Focus on what you want for yourself rather than what you don’t. Write a vision statement to help you stay on course.

Motivation and goal setting is a life-long process. As we move through life, our circumstances and passions will change. Stay flexible and adapt your goals as needed. As you achieve one goal, be sure to celebrate the victory.

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Handling Holiday Stress

November 20, 2017

From pumpkin spice to peppermint mocha, there’s a tangible feel as the seasons change. Yet, for every bit of holiday magic, extra stress and confusion can easily spoil the show. Parties, traditions, food, and scheduling conflicts can add up to a holiday handful. Whether you find yourself dreading or anticipating that annual event, consider these tips to keep your relationships happy and healthy.

  • Pay attention – Expectations, memories, and drama can easily complicate the season’s joy. Be mindful of your feelings and needs, particularly if you’re in a different situation than last year. Grieving the loss of a loved one, relationship, or job can leave you feeling sad. That’s okay. Even though it’s the holidays, you don’t have to be happy.
  • Be realistic – Communicate your expectations of others and yourself. Remember, you are only one person. You can only be in one place at a time, bake so many cookies, and spend so much money. Consider scaling things back to enjoy the most from each detail.
  • Prevent stress – Everyone has that one family member, coworker, or acquaintance that gets on their nerves. Postpone deep or controversial conversations. Stay cordial, stick to the small-talk and form an exit strategy to excuse yourself from a potential disagreement.
  • Say no – Practice the discipline of saying no to preserve feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Cherish your holiday, say no to the good and yes to the best.
  • Travel solo – Double-booked with multiple engagements? Consider splitting the events with your partner. Driving separately so one of you can leave early is another alternative. Stand up for your individual needs to strike the perfect holiday balance.
  • Plan – Reduce last-minute surprises by organizing a plan for who, what, when, and where. Communicate your plans by writing them down or sharing via your favorite mobile device app.
  • Minimize – Consider limiting your sugar, food, and alcohol intake. Avoid holiday hangovers by cutting back.

No matter what holiday situation arises, practice the art of being polite. Keep scrooge locked away and remember your manners. Say thank you, send a note, or consider a donation to your favorite charity.

Creating Your Personal Identity

November 16, 2017

Who do you most admire? Do you regularly achieve what you want? Have you thought about the legacy you’ll leave? If these sound like mature, adult questions, it might surprise you to know you began forming these answers in childhood.

POPULAR BELIEF PATTERNS
As young children, we began to form our personal identity by observing our place in the world around us. We then made conclusions about behavior, attitude, and ourselves. While this process is perfectly normal, it can become problematic when these beliefs go unchallenged and lead to distorted perceptions of reality in adulthood. Some examples are:
  • I can’t do things on my own.
  • I have to be perfect for people to like me.
  • I’m not smart enough to do what I’d really like.
  • I am/am not _____________ (you fill in the blank).

DEVELOPING YOUR PERSONAL IDENTITY

If you’re unsatisfied with how you view yourself and the world around you, you can work toward shaping a clear personal identity that can lead you to your desired vision of life. If your identity is shaped by external circumstances – like wealth, attractiveness, or relationship status – your perceived value can flip in an instant. A better and more stable choice is to base your personal identity on values and principles that you can actively control. Here are a few steps to help you discover and develop your personal identity:

  • Choose – Pick five values you desire to emulate in your life.
  • Identify – Determine what each value means to you. If you desire an honest life, write down what an honest life looks like to you. Try to be as specific as possible.
  • Determine – Consider how your choices contribute to or minimize that value. Learn from your past to help direct your future.
  • Practice – Incorporate your new values into daily actions. For instance, if you want to be trustworthy, ask yourself, “What would it look like to be trustworthy in this situation?”
  • Repeat – Work your plan and review as needed.

Growing Self-Esteem

December 16, 2016

Self-esteem is a loaded concept. We don’t have enough, or we have too much. Maybe it causes flashbacks of awkward teen years, or reminds you of someone who thinks to highly of himself.

Growing self-esteem means fostering confidence in yourself and your abilities. It reflects an overall sense of value or worth and filters our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-esteem impacts our physical, emotional, and mental health, and it plays a role in our relationships and jobs.

If you are someone looking to better your self-confidence, here are some practical steps to take inventory of your thoughts.

Triggers – First, identify what or who triggers negative thinking. A difficult coworker? Checking your bank account? Interactions with certain family members?

Self-talk – Next, listen to your thinking, or “self-talk.” What do you tell yourself? is it based on fact or emotion? Rational or irrational? Perhaps you are simply assuming the worst-case scenario.

Accuracy – Are your thoughts true? If not, challenge them. Often times our thoughts are influenced more by perception than reality. We jump to conclusions, downplay the positive, or overgeneralize.

Positivity – Finally, replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Avoid thinking of “should have” and “could have” scenarios. When mistakes are made, forgive yourself. Give yourself credit for good things and small wins.

Taking Care of Yourself

A health self-esteem translates into accepting and valuing yourself for exactly who you are, even your flaws. Rearranging your thoughts and prioritizing emotional self-care takes time and practice. The more you challenge your negative thoughts and habits, the greater the pride you can take in yourself. Remember, there is only one unique you, and you are valuable to this world!

Codependence

November 15, 2016

When a person is codependent, they are unable to define and meet their own needs in a relationship. This individual “loses” their sense of self because they are completely absorbed in the needs of the other person. This intense focus on the other person can jeopardize your health, safety, and success in life.

CHARACTERISTICS OF CODEPENDENT PEOPLE

There are many emotional characteristics of codependent people. They often experience low self-esteem and constantly compare themselves to others. They might have an overblown sense of responsibility for other people and fear abandonment. Often a person who is codependent finds it difficult to set and maintain boundaries in a relationship, and they also have a difficult time expressing their own personal goals or values as an individual.

HELP FOR THE CODEPENDENT PERSON

The following tips can help you or someone you know move from codependence to healthier relationships.

  • Identity – Embrace your own needs and emotions. Saying “no” to a loved one doesn’t mean you don’t care for them, and it’s healthy to set these boundaries. Tough love is sometimes the most loving thing you can do.
  • Self-reliant – What are some ways you could be more independent? When can you take responsibility for your own emotions and actions? Encourage others around you to do the same.
  • Stop “fixing” – It is not your responsibility to solve all your loved one’s problems. You can still support and love them without trying to “fix” their lives. Give them space to take personal responsibility for their actions and future.
  • Relax – Relieve stress, tension, and anxiety by practicing relaxation techniques. Yoga, enjoyable music, mindfulness, and activities you love are all things you can do to help dial down worry and guilt.

If you or your loved one is struggling with codependency, be courageous and seek help. A licensed counselor or therapist can help you explore how you began to act this way. Together, you can establish a plan to change your life’s direction and move from a codependent relationship to a mutually satisfying one.

Resiliency in the Workplace

October 14, 2016

Whether you have a fast-paced job or not, stress exists in every workplace. Having a “bounce back,” or resilient, perspective is a key element to coping with stress. Workplace resilience helps you handle coworkers, interoffice events, and outside situations that impact your job.

THREATS TO OUR WORKPLACE WELL BEING

  • Work culture – Anything that happens outside the organizational culture of your job can increase stress levels. This includes the structures, policies, mergers, expansions, layoffs, etc.
  • Interactions within your job – Events such as bullying, intimidation, and being overworked can make your job difficult. Other stressful situations might include accidents, grieving a coworker’s death, and the fear of supervisors.
  • Personal lives – Stress and anxiety from other parts of our lives can also threaten our workplace well being. Our behavior toward others can reflect this stress.

TIPS FOR BUILDING RESILIENCE

  • Interpersonal intelligence – The ability to empathize with your coworkers and understand their point of view is a key component to managing relationships. When we are socially aware in the workplace, it helps us monitor our own reactions to problems. Then we can seek resolution to a workplace conflict or interpersonal confusion.
  • Remaining active – A resilient person does not shut down when adversity comes their way. They speak up for themselves and their goals in an assertive way. Active in teamwork, this individual also takes a self-initiated approach toward problem solving.
  • Proactive – Resilient people can identify potential problems and take actions to prevent them. These individuals won’t wait until a disaster occurs before they clean up a mess and work toward resolution.
  • Self-care – A work environment that values good self-care will be more productive in the long run. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy and a regular exercise routine are keys to resilience. In addition, spending time with family and friends eases stress and helps us bounce back faster when times are rough.

Escaping Financial Stress

August 12, 2016

We know our minds and bodies are connected, but did you realize they’re also linked to our bank accounts? Financial stress can have a large impact on your physical health, thoughts, and relationships.

The largest obstacle between financial wisdom and lowering our stress is our attitude. In our quest to make the right decision, we can become scared about the wrong one. Sometimes we assume if we try to make wise financial choices we’ll just end up failing. However, it would be better to take the risk, and even possibly fail, than to never make a move.

Tips to Alleviate Financial Stress

The pinch on our bank accounts and the ever-changing market isn’t something to take lightly. The following tips may help ease the financial stress and strain on your wallet.

Adjust your perspective – Often times, when we have failed in the past, success seems farther out of reach than it actually is. Perceptions can easily be flawed. Our attitudes about what we have control over and what we don’t control can impact our level of success.

Stick to your budget – Knowing how to track your money is critical. Establishing a clear budget shows you exactly how much inflow and outflow you have. If you’re unsure how to make a budget, there are online tools and mobile apps available to teach you.

Identify unhealthy emotions – If you’ve made a poor financial choice this doesn’t mean you’re destined for failure. Guilt is rarely a helpful emotion. Instead, focus on what you can changeĀ  rather than beating yourself up for your prior financial mistakes.

Know your weaknesses – Avoid places, people, or situations that will tempt you to spend money you don’t have. For example, if you make impulse purchases after a stressful day at the office, try taking a walk and avoiding the mall. Practice saying no to people who pressure you to spend too much money.

Seek help – Look to the experts for help if you need it. Speaking with a legitimate professional can answer your financial questions and guide you toward a specific, attainable goal. Why not benefit from their expertise?

Balancing Work and Family

July 28, 2016

Some days 24 hours just doesn’t seem to be enough. Between family priorities, practicing good self-care, and juggling work responsibilities, it’s easy to feel stressed. Even though we choose how to spend our time, our to-do list sometimes crowds out what gives us the greatest enjoyment.

Our lives naturally fall out of balance from time to time. When this occurs, we struggle to regulate our responsibilities and what we enjoy most. Taking the time to assess how things are going gives us insight to realign our priorities. Consider these questions when work and family are out of sync:

  • Do you regularly set aside time to spend with your family?
  • When you are with family, do you feel anxious or guilty about not working?
  • At work, what triggers you to feel like you should be spending more time with your family?

Strategies for Achieving Greater Balance

Limit distractions – There may be times of the day you are more distracted or procrastinate. How could you use your time more efficiently during this period? Perhaps limit the frequency you check emails or use social media.

Know your values – Write down what you desire most from life. What activities are important for you to do with your family? Determine what is non-negotiable in your life.

Say no – Practice saying no to tasks that fit outside your values. This helps you avoid the stress and tension of over-commitment.

Organize – Is your workspace messy? Your home cluttered? Taking opportunities to organize will save you time in the long run.

Remember, life will happen. When it does, things will typically fall out of balance for a time. Stay positive. Use the knowledge you’ve gained, take a step back, and assess. Proper planning is always a good start to swing an imbalanced life back into perspective.

Depression Self-Assessment

June 13, 2016

Everyone feels down in the dumps sometimes. It’s normal to be sad or tired occasionally for unknown reasons. Whether you’re just feeling down or something more, it’s worth exploring.

Depression invades every area of your life, impacting your day-to-day affairs. Maybe you can’t get out of bed in the morning or your appetite is never satisfied. Overcoming depression isn’t just about will power; it’s about getting the professional help and treatment you need for a happy, productive life once again.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

  • Are you feeling depressed or down lately?
  • Have activities you once enjoyed lost your interest?
  • Are you struggling to fall asleep or sleeping too much?
  • Do you feel lethargic, lacking energy to get through your day?
  • Has your appetite changed? Eating too much or too little?
  • Are you struggling to focus on work or activities like reading?
  • Do you or others notice you moving or speaking more slowly?
  • Have your thoughts leaned toward death or harming yourself in any way?

If you identify with these questions and answered yes to several, you might be struggling with depression. It’s important to see a physician or mental health professional for an official diagnosis, rather than self-diagnosing. They can rule out any other possible causes for your depressed mood.

THE NEXT STEP

Having a plan is a great start for treating depression. These suggestions can help you begin your journey toward a new beginning.

  • Take notes – Write down all your physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Even if these don’t fall under the depression category. It’s still helpful information for your physician or psychiatrist to rule out other causes.
  • Give yourself grace – Experiencing depression is no one’s fault. Improvement takes time. Celebrate the small victories and be kind to yourself during the setbacks.
  • Access resources – Affordable counseling is often available through your employee assistance program, community services, religious organizations, and universities. Support groups can also be invaluable.

Smile as You Work Through Difficult Challenges, Failure and Tragedy

April 7, 2016

Author Andy Andrews has determined that there are seven characteristics that each successful person has in common. He strongly believes in “the butterfly effect”: even the smallest action can have dramatic consequences. It has been found that the flap of a butterfly’s wings is inexplicably intertwined with the birth of a hurricane around the world.

Using these seven principles can make positive changes in your life:

  1. Be responsible – make a decision. Harry Truman signed his name on a sheet of paper that authorized the atomic bomb used to end World War II.
  2. Seek wisdom – listen to the guidance that is offered from people you trust. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he failed to listen to his troops.
  3. Be a person of action – seize the moment. Bill Gates decided to drop out of Harvard to build a computer system that would one day become Microsoft.
  4. Have a decided heart – ignore rejection; let your passion be your guide. Thomas Edison tried and failed over 1,000 times before creating the incandescent light bulb.
  5. Choose to be happy – put a smile on your face. If there are two prospective employees with the same qualification but one of them complains, and the other one smiles and is happy, whom would you hire?
  6. Forgive! Forget anger management – use anger resolution. Joshua Chamberlain was chosen by President Lincoln to accept the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. There, Chamberlain stunned the world with a show of forgiveness: he ordered his troops to attention, saluting General Robert E. Lee and the defeated South.
  7. Persist without exception. Nelson Mandela sought to transform a country filled with racial oppression into an open democracy. His qualities of forgiveness, patience and persistence were revealed to the world after he was released from prison.

(Source: Mastering the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success by Andy Andrews)