Sunday, September 18, 2016

You Have 86,400 Seconds to Change Your Life Every Day!

When I began writing this blog last month, I had no expectations or real goals, other than to write what was in my heart.  Over the last month I’ve watched this little blog grow and the encouraging feedback has been wonderful.  I have readers all over the US, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, India, Saudi Arabia and more.  I am truly honored that hundreds of people are possibly making more positive choices in their lives after reading something I’ve written.  What is more beautiful than that? 

One of my friends commented to me that she had a hard time reading my blog every week because I’m just so “happy!!!” and she isn’t always in the mood to be so positive.  Sometimes being positive comes easily to us; sometimes it is challenging.  I understand that.  We all have different life curves thrown our way – overwhelming schedules, family drama, frustrations at work.  How we choose to process them is what is important.  Once something negative crosses our path, it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole and star in our own pity party.  Determining the root cause of our feelings is important. When something is dragging you down or feels like an obstacle, ask yourself Why.  Then ask it again.  Ask yourself 5 times.  If you can ask “why” five times, going backwards five levels, you can usually figure out what the catalyst is.  Once you know the catalyst, there is opportunity for change.

This weekend I was in the car with Hubby on our way to dinner and I wasn’t in a particularly good mood.  He asked me what was up and I wasn’t really sure.  Then I asked myself  WHY.  1.  I wasn’t feeling particularly well and didn’t want to be out running around. 2.  So WHY was I in the car?  Because I didn’t want to let my husband down as he’d really wanted to go out. I was feeling a little resentful that I put his needs above mine.  3.  So WHY did he want to go out?  Because he had a long week and needed to have some fun.  4.  WHY did that bother me?  Because I did not feel well and needed to take care of myself before meeting his needs.  5.  WHY didn’t I feel well?  Because I didn’t get much sleep the night before.  Okay, so end result?  I compartmentalized my feelings and realized I wasn’t in a bad mood at all – I was just tired – so we compromised and ate at a restaurant closer to home so I wouldn’t be out too late.  I shifted my focus from being grumpy to enjoying my time with my husband.

The beautiful thing about feeling positive is that it is a choice that is always available to us.  We have 86,400 seconds in every day to change our patterns.  If you are in a bad mood, or having a bad day, you can tell yourself that tomorrow will be better.  But what if you decided Tonight would be better?  Or in an hour?  Or in a minute?  I saw a quote that I just loved by an unknown author.  “You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” Every minute of our lives is an opportunity for change.  I am “simply positive” that every minute of our lives is an opportunity to set the intention for positivity.  It may not always come easily, but the reward is worth the effort. 

Your homework this week is to stop a path of negativity in its' track.  Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed?  Did you get cut off in traffic setting you into a rage?  Just stop for a second and change your way of thinking?  You can stay in bed a few minutes longer and reset.  You can slow down your rage and get perspective on what's truly important and realize there is nothing helpful in that behavior.   Put on some calming music and move along.  You get the point.  Give it a try!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Journey Trumps the Race

I have a small request:   Put down your Pumpkin Spice Latte and slowly step away.  We still have ten more days of summer and I don’t know about you, but I’d like to savor it.

I realize we are in the midst of back-to-school craziness and the stores are offensively displaying Halloween decor, but it is not time to swap sandals for sweaters.  Why are we in such a rush to move forward?  Don’t get me wrong, Autumn is my favorite time of year.  I love all things pumpkin, cider mills, the colors of the changing leaves and the smell in the air – but I don’t love it until September 22nd.  I know I preach the “stop and smell the roses” routine but seriously people….stop…and smell the roses…because they will soon be gone. 

Life moves so quickly but I am “simply positive” that if you consciously choose to slow it down, your life will be sweeter. When you slow it down, you pay attention.  You focus and find that things take on more meaning.  Mindfulness can be a challenge but it’s worth the effort. 

1.     1.
the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
"their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
2.     2.
a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique

Mindfulness comes in all shapes and sizes.  Some people start their day by meditating or journaling.  Some make conscious decisions to give 100% of focus to “one thing at a time.”   I am a Sagittarius and it’s my nature to have a million things going on in my head at once.  Mindfulness is a challenge for me, and not something I’m successful at in all points of my life, but one thing I choose to focus on is Dinner Time. I have long upheld the tradition in my house that we sit down at the table for dinner. It may not be a fancy, home-cooked meal all the time, but it’s serious business.  There are “no toys” at my dinner table.  When my kids were little, it meant that I did not make extra food for Thomas the Tank Engine or a Ninja Turtle.  As they grew up, their toys moved to electronic games and then iPhones.  Whatever the material, it’s still not welcome at my table.  We do this amazing thing called “talking” and “listening”– exchanging ideas and sharing thoughts.  We don’t rush through our meals to catch the next episode of Wheel of Fortune – we take time to be together.  It is one of the few times during the day when my mindfulness is at its strongest.  I am 100% focused on our exchanges; I savor our banter; I relish our laughter; and I look my people in the eye during our conversations.  Taking time to sit for dinner is something a lot of people just don’t do anymore.  They are so busy working, or running errands, or taking kids to ballet and soccer, that dinner it has become an enigma.   I’m not saying “dinner” has to be your tradition, or your mindfulness intention – but it would be fulfilling to find time to slow down your pace of life and interact with, and pay attention, to those around you.

Your homework this week is to set an intention of mindfulness.  Find one area of your life you are willing to commit total focus to.  Discover how much sweeter that time becomes to you.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Just Because

Political signs are taking over my city.  My eyes glaze over the confetti of red and blue cardboard polluting the street corners; their slogans run together. This morning, however, alone on the corner, I stopped, read and rejoiced.  Someone took the time to make a sign that read “Not Running for Office – Have a Great Day!” 

There is so much about this that I love.  I love the simplicity of this gesture. “Have a nice day.”  It is something we hear often but seeing it on a poster board elevated it and gave it life.  The tiniest gesture can make the biggest impact.  How often do we offer a smile, thank a clerk, share a compliment?  These little things can be the change in someone’s day and this sign was a friendly reminder that we can all do better. I am “simply positive” each and every one of us has something we can share with the world today.

What I love most about this gesture is that nobody has taken credit for it.  So often we notice big charitable gestures, celebrities visiting children in the hospital, singers traveling to third world countries to feed those in need.  While the acts of kindness are lovely and important, there is often common thread – attribution. It's such a marketing buzzword right now -- Attribution -- and there is no place for it in the world of positivity.  Needing affirmation of your good deeds takes just a bit of sweetness away. 

“Carry out random acts of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in knowing that one day, someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

I am not standing on a soap box saying I’ve never taken credit for the good things I’ve done, but the ones I’ve kept silent give me the most pleasure.  I’ll tell you a secret just to support my point – and I hope this doesn’t sour my memory.  Many years ago, there was a woman who was very kind to my child at a time he needed a lot of help.  I never forgot her.  I heard through the grapevine she had fallen on hard times after a divorce and losing her job.  It was nearing Christmas and it broke my heart to think of her struggling with three kids near the holiday.  A friend and I collected gift cards from local stores and restaurants and left them in a Holiday Card on her porch.  We didn’t sign the card, nor did we ever tell her it was us.  I see her occasionally and it makes me smile to know that this small gesture probably made a big difference for her at that time. 

Anonymous gestures of kindness don’t have to be grand.  Something as small as returning your shopping cart and others you see stranded along the way is an easy thing to do.  Take in your neighbors’ garbage cans if you notice they’re getting home late from work.  Put change in someone’s parking meter. Make a charitable donation quietly.  One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a donation for Kiva.  With Kiva you can repeatedly give money to different people in various countries who need loans.  When they pay it back, it goes back in your “bank” and you can regift it – over and over.  The opportunities are endless.

Homework this week is easy.  Do something nice for someone without telling them or your friends/family/social media.  I would, however, love for you to share what you did in the Comments as it may inspire others looking for ideas on how to spread positivity.