Category Archives: Emotional Health
I’ve had a busy six weeks and blogging got away from me! I’m back now, though, and hopefully I won’t be away that long again. You know how it is when there’s something you want to get to, but there always seems to be one more thing you need to do before you can get there? That has been me. I kept meaning to get back to the blog, but one more thing kept arising that kept me from it.
But while I was away, I still thought about the blog a lot, and I thought about some topics I wanted to cover. One topic that I think I haven’t touched on much that definitely adds to your quality of life is PLAY!
We all know the importance of physical activity, and there are efforts like the NFL’s Play 60, which is a campaign to encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. But what about play activities that aren’t necessarily active, but simply give you pure joy? They’re just as important.
When you spend time doing things you enjoy, it improves your quality of life. Engaging in play activities also lowers your stress level, increases your ability to deal with stress, boosts your optimism and immune system, and makes you happier!
So what can you do for play if you want some down time and don’t necessarily want to spend your playtime doing high-energy physical activity? The possibilities are endless. Think back to what you enjoyed doing as a kid. What was your thing? A musical instrument? Board games? Playing with dolls? Having a tea party?
Or maybe you have cultivated new interests as an adult – you might enjoy crossword puzzles, video gaming, or making funny videos of your pets. There are all sorts of things you can do to play. Brainstorm ideas by taking just a minute to think about what relaxes you and what gives you joy. Where those two things intersect is probably where you will find some great play ideas.
You may want to integrate your play time with your family time. This is a great way to spend some time together, learn what interests your kids, and maybe even let them teach you something new.
But if your idea of a good time is playing by yourself, that’s good too. Here’s how I’ve been spending my play time lately:
I bought this puzzle on a whim after seeing a gorgeous wood puzzle at an art fair. My husband has joined in the puzzling too, and there have been a couple of occasions where we were on our way out the door, got sidetracked by the puzzle, and missed out completely on getting to our destination! It’s time well spent together, though, so I don’t mind.
My Just For Today challenge for you is to spend a little time playing. That might be something active or not, it might be with someone else or alone, it might be for 15 minutes or an hour. Maybe even replace those couple hours you usually spend in front of the TV and use it for something that is truly enjoyable to you instead.
Regardless of what you choose to do, spend a little time playing and pay attention to how you feel when you’re doing it. That feeling alone will probably be enough to make sure your Just For Today becomes a regular habit. Have fun!
In yesterday’s article, Stress Relief: Are You Living The Right Life For You?, I wrote about the importance of making choices in your life that will create the best life for you, even if it is contrary to what you thought you wanted or what other people think you should do.
And today, I’m still thinking about that! The Kansas International Film Festival is coming up next month, and they will be showing a new film called, “I’m Fine, Thanks!” It’s a new documentary about the issue of complacency in everyday life. It’s a “collection of stories about life, the choices we all make, and the paths we ultimately decide to follow.”
In the words of the film’s producer, Adam Baker, he wanted the movie to “give thousands of people inspiration to live their lives based on their own hopes and dreams – not someone else’s vision or script for their life. We want to push people to take the first small action to reignite their passions.”
I love this idea! There’s this great line in the trailer, where a woman talks about how important it is to “Live your own dream, not the American dream.” And as someone who has followed her own path, and not the typical college, then marriage, buy a house, followed by 2.2 kids, I’m a big believer in it!
And even if you have followed that path, that doesn’t mean things can’t change if your vision for your life has changed. As people grow and evolve, their wants and needs change too. Foster the natural gifts and passions that you have, and make sure you make the adjustments necessary to live your own dream.
It’s easy to compare yourself to others around you, but only you know what works for you.
When all your neighbors are upsizing their houses and their cars, maybe you will choose to downsize because that gives you financial freedom. When your friends are taking long vacations in exotic locales, maybe you will rent an RV and drive across the country. When your siblings are settling down and having children, maybe you’ll decide kids just aren’t your thing. Just because society in general has created a definition of a successful life path doesn’t mean that definition fits you.
I’m really curious to check out “I’m Fine, Thanks!” when it comes out in theaters. I love to hear how others followed their own paths instead of prescriptions laid out by others. And I think it might just inspire me to find new ways to define my own dreams.
The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. -Benjamin Franklin
If you feel like you have a lot of stress in your life, it probably comes from a variety of sources: a difficult boss, your long commute, feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, family stressors – it could be a combination of many things. But if you boil it down, it’s really about your life and the choices you are making. So if you’ve been feeling stressed out lately, ask yourself – Are you living the right life for you?
If you really think about it and get honest in your answer, you might find that there are areas in your life that really don’t make up what you think your best life should look like. That may be what’s causing all the stress, and those are the things you want to really consider where there might be room for some changes.
Assess Your Life To See If It’s The Right One For You
One of the best ways to figure out if you are living the right life for you is to do a self-assessment of what’s working for you and what isn’t. Ask yourself these questions:
Am I getting enough sleep?
Is my diet mostly healthy?
Do I exercise? If not, what’s stopping me?
Do I get upset often? What things upset me? Which of these things can I control?
How do I respond to things that upset me? Do I have good coping mechanisms?
Do I have a good support system, or do I more often feel like I’m on my own?
What do I do well?
What things in my life am I not doing well that I wish were different? How can I make those things different?
What things constantly pop up in my mind that I feel I should be doing, but never do?
When you start to identify the things that are going well in your life, as well as the things that aren’t going well, you can figure out whether you are truly living the right life for you.
Some of the things that aren’t going well may not be within your control, such as a family illness. But you’d be surprised how many things are in your control if you really think about it.
Everything Is A Choice
I’m a big believer in the idea that life is a series of choices. Everything is a choice – even breathing if you really think about it! Truly, everything is a choice, and there is a consequence for every decision.
You may think that your boss is difficult or you have to deal with a lot of challenging personalities at work, and those things are beyond your control. They aren’t. Your job is a choice you make, and you can choose to leave it. You might not find another job with the same status or the same salary, but maybe you’re better off sacrificing those things in order to live a better life.
You may think you can’t sacrifice salary, because you have a sizable mortgage and a big car payment each month. But those are choices too. Maybe you would be happier taking less salary and living in a smaller house and driving a used car if that allows you to work in a better environment and would make a big difference in your overall well-being.
You get the point – everything in life is a choice. Look at the checklist again and really think about your answers. And then decide if you are living the best life for you, and if not – what can you do to make a change?
The simplest definition of perfectionism is the need to do everything perfectly. It might be a standard you place on yourself: to be the best, never make mistakes, always follow society’s norms, etc. You also might extend that to others, expecting your spouse, kids, or friends to be flawless, act perfectly, and always reach for something better.
The problem, when you expect perfectionism from yourself, is that it often will stop you from trying new things or working toward a goal. Your fear of failure – and failure to do something just right – stops you from even making an attempt. If you don’t allow yourself to make errors, you can never learn from your mistakes. And if you require perfection from yourself, you are always courting disappointment.
But what if you weren’t afraid to fail? What doors would that open for you? What if, no matter what you wanted to try, you just thought, “I can do it!” and then tried it? If you are having trouble getting started on things you want to do, because you’re afraid you might fail, I have some ideas you can try to help get past those concerns.
I’ve Been There
I’ll be honest, I used to really be hindered by perfectionist tendencies. I had a tough time even starting small projects, since I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it right. This was especially true for tasks that I didn’t have to complete very often, so I hadn’t developed a way to handle them, like packing a suitcase or packing boxes for a move.
I remember one time I moved to a new house and just could not get started with unpacking the kitchen boxes, because I wasn’t sure how I should set up the kitchen. Should I put food in this cupboard and dishes in the other? Would all the dishes fit best in the big cupboard with the glasses, or should I split them up? It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true. I just stood there in front of the boxes and literally could not get started on putting anything away.
Then my sister came to visit, she opened up all the boxes, put everything away, and that was that.
I still struggle with perfectionism from time to time, but I’m much better about it now. I have learned to figure things out as I go along, which is a much better way to live. Without that skill, I probably never would have been able to start my own business or even this blog!
If your perfectionism sometimes causes you to get in your own way, consider these ideas:
Break It Down
If you want to start a project, but can’t picture how to do the whole thing just right, that’s okay. Just do something. You may end up scrapping the first part you complete, you may end up keeping some and junking the rest, or maybe the whole thing will work! You won’t know until you start.
If you want to write a book, but don’t know exactly how the whole story arc will go, that’s okay. Just write a page. Tomorrow write another page. When you have a full chapter, reevaluate. You’ll probably find more of it is usable that you thought it would be.
Looking back, when I was trying to organize my kitchen, I should have just unpacked one box and put the contents in a cupboard. Later, I could have unpacked another, looked at the cupboards I still had available, and put the contents somewhere there. Worst case scenario, I would have had to done some rearranging. Not a big deal!
If even those “get started” steps seem unattainable, you can try something even smaller, like mapping out your project. Or writing some notes about it. If you have to create a presentation, make an outline of it first. Any first step that you can handle and follow through on is a good way to start managing your perfectionist tendencies.
And whatever step you choose to start with, don’t worry about getting it exactly right. Instead get it good enough. No, I’m not arguing for mediocrity, but the fact is that if you can get started on small steps, keep doing more small steps, and keep getting them good enough, you’re going to get it right in the end. Repeating small successes over and over will help you to accomplish your bigger goal.
Know (And Honor) Your Own Idea Of Success
For every project, big or small, that you might encounter in life, someone has written an article or book on how to do it right. In fact, 10 people probably have, with 10 different ideas about what is best. But only you know what works for you.
Take parenting for example. If you’re new at it, you might be a bit overwhelmed at how to do it right. You want to do it exactly right, and everyone from doctors to family to friends has an idea on how to be the best parent. And there are countless books and websites with information about all kinds of different parenting styles.
You have to do what feels right to you, and not what feels right to someone else. Of course you should do your research, learn what you can, and create some ideas about what makes sense to you. But don’t try to live up to someone else’s expectations of what is right. What works for 99 other parents might not work for you.
The same can be said for other overwhelming tasks and decisions: What should I choose for my college major? What neighborhood should I move to? When is the right time to have kids?
Society in general has all these ideas about how things should be done. There’s no such thing. There’s just your thing. Do your thing.
Avoid Competition And Comparisons
Many perfectionists are competitive, because they need to be the best at everything. If you want to curb your perfectionist tendencies, be careful about comparing yourself to others.
Choose friends and organizations that foster a supportive environment, rather than one where there is more criticism. By surrounding yourself with people who give you the message you want to remember (such as, “As long as I am trying, I am succeeding!”) instead of messages you want to stop reinforcing (like “There are flaws in my work, and I’m not as good as she is”), you can start making your life a bit easier, and you can move into a place where your tendency is to embrace your successes instead of criticizing your own failures.
You Learn More From Your Mistakes Than You Do From Your Successes
It’s true – some of my biggest learning experiences have come from mistakes I’ve made. When you let go of your need to be perfect, you allow yourself to make mistakes. My friend Sherie Venner wrote in The Shocking Truth About Making Mistakes, that when you make a mistake, you should remember three things:
- Forgive yourself
- Look at why the mistake happened and see what wisdom you can gain
- Recognize that mistakes are the greatest path to learning
If you’re a perfectionist, you probably have tried to do everything in your power to avoid mistakes. But these are your greatest learning tools! You learn more about your project, about yourself, and about how to do things better. When you refuse to start a project out of fear of making a mistake, you are really just depriving yourself of learning lessons that simply can’t be acquired if you only have success. So jump in and see where your failures take you!
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
There are times in our lives where we are faced with more than we think we can handle. Although we can probably find ways to work through most of life’s challenges, the fact is that sooner or later we all end up facing a problem that threatens to overwhelm us. It might be a divorce, illness, job loss, or anything else that shakes us to our cores.
In times like these, it helps to have a game plan. Even with the biggest crisis, if you put three steps into action, you will be well-equipped to handle it the best you can – which is all you can ask of yourself.
Sometimes just talking to someone helps you process what you’re going through. If you’re facing a crisis, take the time to tell someone about it. If it’s something that involves your whole family, sometimes it helps to go to someone who’s not in the thick of it. Maybe you have a co-worker who is a good listener. Or maybe there’s another mom in your kids’ playgroup who might give you a chance to share your story.
Just talking about the challenges you’re facing helps you to feel less alone in your struggle. Share your story, gauge reactions, and see if people might help you see your troubles from another point of view.
Talking about your troubles also helps you process your grief. If a family member is facing a terminal illness or you’ve lost a job or you had to put down a pet, just talking about it helps you process through the parts that are troubling you the most.
Several years back, I had a dog, Journey, who was diagnosed with cancer and given 2-5 weeks to live. I was shocked and so upset. I spoke with a friend of mine immediately after getting the news. She wasn’t even a dog person, but I was so distraught and needed to tell her what was happening.
I remember saying something to the effect that if I had known this was going to happen I would have taken him for more walks or spent more time together or something like that. It was silly, really, since my dog really lacked for nothing in his life, but it was said out of grief. My friend said to me, “Maybe you and Journey just had exactly the life together that you were meant to have.”
I never would have expected such a profound assessment from someone who wasn’t a dog person! But in that one powerful sentence, she helped me put aside all my regrets and focus on the present.
So when you are facing a crisis, talk to someone and let her help you process it. You never know what simple thing she might say that will make a world of difference for you.
Another tool you should use to help build courage in a time of crisis is to seek out help and resources. This can take a variety of forms.
If you are facing job loss, talk to the unemployment office, see what social services are available, and call your city to find out what resources they offer. Go to your library and find a good book on building a strong resume, and see if they have a class on bolstering your interview skills.
Besides services that might be able to help you, also search out ways that you can restore your mental health. For instance, if the crisis you are facing is marital instability and possible divorce, look for new ways to help you feel better.
This might mean finding a new yoga class or doing some reading on stress management or even talking with others who have gone through a divorce and came out of it just fine.
Classes, books, and services are just a few things that you should seek out to help you move through your crisis in the most positive way you can.
The third piece of the puzzle in finding courage in crisis is to surround yourself with your support system.
Often when we go through difficult times, our friends will say, “Let me know what I can do to help,” but you’re so distraught you don’t even know what to ask, and you worry about imposing or whether they really meant it. Take them for their word that they want to help, and allow them to do so.
If, for example, you are facing an illness, take the time to focus on your health by allowing others to cover for you in some areas. Ask your mom to take your kids for a couple of days or see if a friend can organize a dinner delivery for a couple of weeks with the rest of your friends.
You also might be able to find support groups to help you face your crisis. There are bereavement groups to help you after a loss, support groups to build you up if you lose a job or your marriage dissolves, and other groups where you can just vent or listen to others or just escape for a while.
There are a variety of ways to get support for others, and sometimes the way that support helps the most is just because it offers the simple reminder that you are not in this alone – some people have faced the same challenges, and others just want to help you.
Whatever it is in your life that has thrown you for a loop, you can find your courage to face the crisis and get through it by talking about your troubles, finding resources, and leaning on support. The easy thing to do is to hunker down deep under the blankets and stay in bed. But the things that will help you thrive – and not just survive – are the ones where you seek help and let others help you.
Every test successfully met is rewarded by some growth in intuitive knowledge, strengthening of character, or initiation into a higher consciousness. -Paul Brunton
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what’s important to me, assessing what things I still feel I need to accomplish in this life, and trying to figure out if I’m living a life that moves me toward realizing those dreams. This has all been spurred by a few things, including the fact that my husband and I are in the process of turning a major dream into a reality, and in the last week we have taken some big steps where we can finally see how it’s all going to (hopefully) fall into place.
Sometimes I do these little self-checks, where I think about:
- What’s important to me?
- What do I really want to do?
- Am I doing that, or at least moving in that direction?
- Am I realizing my dreams, or is my life becoming stagnant?
I really think it’s so easy to get complacent, keep living your regular day-to-day life, and just get by on “it’s fine” rather than “This is what I really want!”
Are you doing what you need to do to get to what you really want? If you aren’t entirely sure what those things might be, you can start by making a list of what’s important to you.
It might be more time with your kids or more time to yourself or more flexibility in your schedule. Or it might be something that feeds your soul in a different way, like learning to play a musical instrument, or spending time doing volunteer work. Or maybe even something bigger like completely changing your career or moving to another country.
If you haven’t made a bucket list, that can help a lot with your self-assessment. Meanwhile, here are some questions you can ask yourself to try to get in touch with what really matters to you:
- What did you used to love to do as a kid?
- What have you always wanted to be really good at? A sport? Fluency in a foreign language? Something else?
- When have you been happiest? Who were you with, and what were you doing?
- When you daydream, what do you usually think about?
- What’s the best (and most reliable) way you know to recharge your batteries?
- What do you hope is different in your life in one year? What about in five years?
Like me, you probably sometimes get little reminders about how short life is. Try to “check in” with yourself on a regular basis and ask yourself if you are doing the things that will get you to your dreams and bring you the most joy. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day, but it’s also so important to always keep an eye on the big picture.
We all have disappointments. Some are big and some are small, but we don’t want to let them ruin our day, throw us off track of out bigger goals, or spend too much time dwelling on them.
I’m sure if you have tried to get over a disappointment, you may have tried the usual tactics of distracting yourself, counting your blessings, or simply putting it out of your mind. But if those things don’t work, you might like some new ideas, especially if you find yourself in a rut or unable to move beyond the disappointment.
4 Simple Steps
Figure out how to avoid the same disappointment in the future.
Whatever it was that was a disappointment to you, don’t assume you know all the facts that led to it. Gather information, ask questions, and try to understand the situation better. For instance, if a potential business client decided to hire a competitor instead of you, find out why. Without trying to change his mind, ask him the main reasons for his decision and what you might have done differently to win his business.
Also, examine your own actions and see if you contributed in any way. Sometimes it’s easier to accept a disappointment if you can pinpoint exactly where you went wrong. It puts you in the driver’s seat to know exactly how to avoid the same disappointment in the future.
In my job as a legal recruiter, I was recently working on with a client to place a paralegal in a new position. I was practically obsessive with preparing my candidate and I did everything I could do make sure my client would offer her a position and she would accept – or so I thought. Very late in the process (at the very last step before an offer would be extended), there was a breakdown, and the whole thing fell apart. What a huge disappointment! But when I found out the details of the breakdown, I saw exactly where I failed to take an important step. Instead of beating myself up for it, I realized immediately that this was a huge learning experience and a lesson I wouldn’t forget. It didn’t take me long to get over the disappointment and move forward with finding another candidate for my client because I knew exactly what I needed to do to avoid that problem in the future
Stop Going Over The Details
That’s right, in Step One I said to go over the details, and now I’m saying to stop! The thing is, once you get your best understanding of the situation, that’s all you can do. It’s okay if you want to talk about it once to someone who will sympathize or if you feel the need to vent – once. But then after that, stop repeating your story, and stop going over it in your head.
This is important even if you can’t get a good understanding of what happened. Sometimes there is no logical explanation to something that happened, and there might not even be a way to avoid it in the future.
We’ve all known someone in a new romantic relationship who thinks it’s going great, and then just like that – it’s over. Why? Who knows. Maybe there’s no explanation. Or maybe there are a million reasons. But if you can’t get a good read on what happened, and the other person isn’t forthcoming, let it go. Some things just can’t be explained, and going over every detail of the relationship in your head over and over again still won’t provide you with any answers.
Don’t make the situation worse once you have done your best to understand it, and don’t let it suffocate you.
Get Completely Engrossed In Something Fun
After you’ve done your best to understand the disappointment and you have put a stop to going over it in your head, think of something fun you can do for a short time that will completely absorb your time and energy for a bit. My suggestion? Plan a surprise for someone!
The thing about planning a surprise is that you have to be secretive about it, and you really have to pay attention to details, so the person you’re surprising doesn’t find out.
If you plan a simple surprise, it won’t take up too much of your time, it will completely distract you for a brief period, and you will lift your own spirits with the excitement of lifting someone else’s.
Go online and hunt for the perfect surprise bouquet to send to your mom, plan a surprise picnic lunch for your spouse in the middle of the work week, or even plan a surprise scavenger hunt for your kids!
Take It In Stride
When you suffer a disappointment in life, remember that it is NOT about you. A failure to get a promotion does not mean you’re a failure, it just means you have room to improve. If your brother lets you down, your friend forgets your birthday, or your child tells you a lie – that’s more about the things going on in their lives, and not about you.
Rather than thinking the disappointment highlights your own shortcoming, think about not letting it define you. Here are a few examples of people who didn’t let disappointments define them:
- Albert Einstein failed his first college entrance exam.
- John Canfield, author of the famous Chicken Soup For The Soul series, was rejected by 123 publishers before it was accepted for publication.
- Before he was Indian aJones, Harrison Ford was fired by Columbia Pictures and told he would never make it as an actor.
Remember success isn’t built only on previous success. It is also built by learning from past disappointments. Learn from them, put them behind you, and then use them as a step toward your next big goal!
You may know some people who seem like they always have to be right. Regardless of evidence to the contrary, they insist their opinion is correct. They may be close-minded, insecure, or needing attention. Regardless of the reason, people who always have to be right tend to alienate other people. Others might view them as needy or controlling or simply unpleasant to be around.
Do you sometimes find yourself insisting on your own ways or opinions or preferences without hearing what others are saying? Maybe you dismiss other people’s ideas before you hear them out? Do you roll your eyes or break eye contact or let your mind wander when other people are talking to and you don’t agree with them? If so, it may be time to take a step back and think about what you might gain if you let go of the need to be right.
What You’ll Gain From Letting Go Of The Need To Be Right
- When you let go of the need to be right, you open yourself up to learning a lot from others. Think about it – if your own opinions aren’t etched in stone, you will be more willing to hear other people’s ideas. You can learn a lot by listening to what other people have to say and asking questions about their opinions.
- Another benefit of letting go of the need to be right is that you will have less conflict in your life. If you don’t have to always be right or always have things your way or always have people see things your way, you are bound to have less conflict and more peace in your life. Even if it’s an issue that you KNOW you are right about, you can ask yourself whether it really matters if the other person agrees. Probably not! Accept that you both have different opinions and leave it at that.
- When you lose the need to be right, you will also find that you have less anger in your life. If you always feel like you have to convince others that you are right, and if they are resistant to your opinions, that’s likely to cause you to be angry with them. The more people you are trying to convince of your own truths, the more anger you build.
And, when you have more anger, you usually have less empathy. Empathy has to do with being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they are feeling. But how can you do that when you are angry and right about everything? You can’t. Empathy is important in your ability to build bonds with other people. Don’t jeopardize that by insisting on your own ways.
How To Let Go Of The Need To Be Right
If you’re ready to let go of your need to be right, there are a few things to keep in mind and a few simple exercises you might try.
Where to start
- Know who you are – What’s special about you, and what contribution do you make to the people around you? When you know the true you and your value to others, you’re less likely to feel the need to assert your every opinion on them. Everyone brings something to the table. Know what you bring, know your strengths and what people rely on your for, and then let go of everything else.
- Remember that being wrong isn’t always a bad thing. You may be wrong about something, but you learn from your mistakes. And you may be right about something and have a hard time convincing someone of your opinion, but remember that he will also learn from his error, so there is no need for you to prove you are right.
- Instead of needing to be right, try embracing the idea that everyone is different. People have different experiences, knowledge, and opinions. Nobody is more right or wrong than someone else. Know your truth and allow others to know theirs.
Try these steps
- When someone is talking, really listen. What are they saying, and why is it important to them? Pay attention with both your mind and your body language. Be engaged, and don’t formulate a response until you’ve heard them out. This is a great exercise that really gets you in the mindset of letting go of being right, and you can use it all day every day to get a lot of good practice! Just listen.
- When you do disagree with someone, before stating your objection, verbalize your understanding of the other person’s point of view. Start with, “I think what you’re saying is…” and then listen to her response. That will give you clarification on her opinion, and it also helps her feel like she is heard.
- Try paying closer attention to your feelings. Is it really that gratifying to convince someone you’re right, or are you actually more at peace when you let go of that need and consider that they might be right too? Pay attention to your feelings in both scenarios and see which one leaves you feeling more calm.
- Practice letting go of your need to be right. Do this by practicing keeping your truth to yourself and resisting the urge to tell people what you think or know. Pay attention to the degree with which conflict and negativity in your life decrease, and then consider if that isn’t really the better way to live!
Remember that when you learn to let go of things that really don’t matter, you continue to move in the direction of contentment. And more contentment will always lead you closer to inner peace.
What would our world be like if we ceased to worry about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, or ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and simply acted so as to maximize well being, our own and that of others? Would we lose anything important? ~ Sam Harris
Think about that quote, and then start living it!
It’s free, easy, simple and fun. It will strengthen you physically, mentally, and socially. It’s (you guessed it) laughter. Did you know it had so many positive health benefits? And – more importantly – are you getting enough of it in your daily life?
Physical Benefits of Laughter
- Boosts your immunity by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
- Helps guard against heart disease, since it increases blood flow and blood oxygenation.
- Physically relaxes the body.
- Exercises countless muscles, including your abdominal, facial, and even your back muscles!
Mental Benefits of Laughter
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, making you feel happier.
- Reduces the intensity of negative feelings or just gives you a break from them. It’s hard to be mad or sad when you are laughing!
- Reduces stress and decreases levels of stress hormones, helping you to relax and recharge
Social Benefits of Laughter
- When you share a laugh with someone else, it helps you increase the bond you share.
- Regularly spending time with people you like to laugh with strengthens your relationships with them.
- You are more likely to be able to diffuse conflict with the people that you enjoy spending time with.
- Laughter also helps you feel less defensive, be less inhibited around others, and express your feelings more openly.
Need A Quick Fix?
If you’d like a quick dose of laughter in the course of your day, I have a few fun suggestions for you!
Text From Dog is a silly little blog written by a man who says, “My dog sends me texts. I post them here. Yeah. It’s weird.” The dog texts about the postman, the neighbors, and (of course) dog treats. Some of the texts are rated R, but if you (like me) think your dogs would have a lot to say if they could speak, this site will give you a good laugh.
If you like a little more sophistication in your humor, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency is a collection of columns by a variety of authors. They essays are sarcastic, smart and funny. Another website described McSweeney’s as “Highbrow comedy articles, essays and works of satire,” which is probably pretty accurate. You’ll find comedy lists, funny short stories, and satirical essays. Be warned, though, it’s easy to lose track of time once you start digging around on that site!
Another site that’s always good for a quick laugh is Awkward Family Photos. This site is updated pretty regularly with mostly older (and cheesy!) family pics. The poses and wardrobes and hairstyles alone will make you laugh,and it might just remind you of your own awkward photos from back in the day.
Two more I will mention are Ugliest Tattoos (self-explanatory and definitely worth checking out!) and Funny India. The latter is a facebook page with various photos of crazy/odd/hilarious things you see in India. It doesn’t make fun of India or Indians, but just shows some of the scenes and signs you won’t see anywhere else.
What are your favorite humor sites? Do you have a couple of go-to pages that always make you smile? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Do you know the value of your own thoughts? Have you ever stopped to think about how powerful your own thoughts are? You may not realize it, but the reality is that what you think is what you create.
Now that doesn’t mean that if you daydream about winning the lottery, it’ll happen. And it’s probably unlikely that if you only think about your dreams without any corresponding actions, that you’ll get any results.
But, it’s important to know that your thoughts have a huge influence on your life. If you focus on the things you don’t have or what’s lacking in your life, that’s what you get. But if you instead think about what’s going well, what you do well, and what you want to achieve…that’s what grows.
How does that work? Well, the truth is that you can only achieve what you believe is possible. And when you spend more time thinking about your dreams and the positive things in your life, you really create the circumstances and experiences that make those things multiply and grow.
As an example, let’s say you want to earn more money, because you feel like your budget is too tight right now. If you spend your time thinking struggling to pay your bills, envisioning your tiny bank account, and always being short on cash, then it’s almost like you get stuck living that life. That’s all you expect from yourself, so that’s all you achieve.
On the other hand, if you think about your financial goals and what it would mean for you to achieve them, that causes you to change your focus. You envision yourself being able to spend more freely, having enough money at the end of the month, and being able to splurge a little.
When you picture those outcomes, you automatically start thinking about how to get there, even subconsciously. Your focus shifts and you start doing things – almost without realizing it – that will get you to your goal, like supplementing your income, cutting expenses, and curbing spending.
When you focus on the positive, you start to believe you can create that outcome, and it starts to happen without you even having to try that hard. It just becomes natural, because that’s where your thoughts are focused. And you always live up to what you believe you can do, whether you are selling yourself short or setting astronomical goals.
Your brain can hold only one thought at a time, so you need to decide which thoughts you will allow and which one you won’t. Will they be thoughts that help you reach your goals, or will they be ones that hold you back?
Believe in yourself, know what’s important to you, and then keep your focus on positive outcomes. That is how you start living your life with intention – by knowing your goals and knowing you will get there.