Category: Self-Improvement

Articles on conscious living to better yourself and become the person you are meant to be.

This Little Known Mistake Could Ruin Your Friendships (And How To Avoid It)

We all want deep, fulfilling friendships in our lives.  But if you have ever spent a Friday night eating take-out (alone) and wondered why your Facebook feed is brimming with pictures of people having way too much fun while your phone is not ringing (is this thing dead or something?  Maybe youneed to charge it) you may be making a mistake in how you interact with your friends.

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The Writer’s Block Cure Simplified

Oh, writer’s block.  One of the many maladies of the human condition for which we have found no official cure.  Writer’s block may not be as dangerous as our latest media sensation, Ebola, and yet, were it not for having found a cure for his own writer’s block, the world may not have experienced the beauty of Shakespeare’s own literary genius.  It goes without saying that everyone has their own zone of genius, and finding a writer’s block cure is not as complicated as it may seem.

If you are a writer you know this feeling as well. Writer’s block, I have found, is a combination of the yucky feeling of inadequacy and the thoughts that gladly accompany such state. It stops you on your tracks and acts as a sort of boulder on the path of words that would otherwise flow naturally out of your mind and into (digital) paper.  Writer’s block, left unchecked, can, and will, destroy any piece of coherent writing before it has materialized itself. The desperation for a cure is palpable.

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Too busy to meditate? Try These Fun Meditation Techniques Instead

If you are anything like me, you have surely heard all about the different meditation techniques out there and the importance of meditating 5 minutes daily.

You’ve tried to do it… in fact, you get off to a great start, you create a new habit (or at least you think you have) and next thing you know your 5 minutes of meditation bliss have been replaced by [insert random activity here].

BUT YOU REMAIN DETERMINED. You know all about the benefits, you know you should be doing it, and you push yourself yet again.

The solution to the problem is easy: create new habits that stick. I started my mini-course on procrastination precisely because I wanted to learn how to create new and productive habits that could help me reach my goals. If you want to be the first to hear about it, make sure to sign up for my newsletter at the top of this page or below this article.

But what if creating and starting the habit of meditation itself is not the problem?

Have you asked yourself what is truly holding you back from sitting down cross-legged with your eyes closed for at least 5 minutes daily?

Yes, I am sure meditating cross-legged is more helpful than not.

Yes, I am sure meditating with your eyes closed is even more helpful than not.

But the truth of the matter is that if you are learning meditation, or if you feel like you’re too busy to meditate, the fact that you think that in order to meditate you must sit cross-legged or close eyes for five minutes will actually work against you. Take the following scenarios for example:

  • Scenario #1: You wake up and because you have heard the best time to meditate is right after you wake up you proceed to… ehem… fall back asleep for five more minutes.
  • Scenario #2: You actually do wake up, you sit up cross legged, spine straight, close your eyes, and let your monkey mind run wild as you go down your to-do list for the day ahead of you—so much for meditation.
  • Scenario #3: You just don’t feel like sitting still or closing your eyes and therefore you cannot meditate.

meditating with a straight spine, sitting cross legged and with your eyes closed while you chant “Om” may be the ideal way to meditate, but it is not the only way to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So if you could relate to any of the scenarios above, what can you do if you still want to meditate?

First, understand what meditation really is all about.

The benefits of meditation are everywhere on the interweb. MayoClinic, numerous HuffPo articles, websites created specifically for the different meditation techniques… we all know them almost by heart:

  • Reduced stress,
  • Better focus,
  • Increased happiness,
  • Increased self-awareness (and we all know just how important self-awareness is in the formula for success).

But what is meditation?

Is it really all about sitting down cross-legged? Not quite.

I have been practicing Kundalini yoga since 2009, a kind of yoga that combines physical exercises with chanting and meditation. And from my own practice, I have come to realize that meditation is both focused attention and a state in which you simply let go of that focused attention.

More importantly, I have found that all meditation techniques have three basic things in common. In fact, this is where these alternative meditation techniques come in. Instead of thinking that you must sit cross-legged, that you must close your eyes, and that you must chant Om, why not take the basics of meditation and apply them to your everyday life?

Isn’t that what building sustainable habits is all about anyways?

The basics of meditation as alternative meditation techniques

1. Breath

An integral part of any meditative practice or any of the many different meditation techniques out there is to take deep breaths. Simple as that.

That means that if you want to meditate, you can meditate anytime you take a deep breath—are you stuck in Houston traffic? No problem, take a deep breath; are you walking your dogs? No problem, breathe deeply; are you crocheting (my new favorite), no problem, breathe deeply.

Every breath you take is an opportunity to meditate on the spot.

2. Focused attention

Surely you have heard about focusing your attention on a mantra as part of certain meditation techniques. Just like with breathing throughout your day, create an opportunity to focus your attention away from the stress in your life and focus on something that is beneficial instead. Practicing target desired states is actually an excellent practice to help you achieve your goals.

Focus on the breath, a mantra, or your inner states. The point is to be in the present moment.

3. Observing your thoughts

Mindfulness and detachment are two very important byproducts of meditation. So why not benefit from them by observing your thoughts?

You know that voice inside your head that is reading through the words of this article? Yes, that one. Step away from it for a minute and observe it without judgment. Realize that you have thoughts about your thoughts. Now practice this exercise throughout your day—it will do wonders in your life.

Conclusion

Yes, you should eventually work your way to sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed for five minutes daily. Heck, maybe you can eventually work your way up to a 10-day silent meditation retreat!  But don’t feel bad if you are busy and feel like you don’t have time to sit down for five minutes—thinking that you don’t have time is part of the problem, and beating yourself over it is only making it worse.

I’m also not saying to re-invent the wheel. All I am saying is that you can still benefit from a meditative practice without going out into a cave for six months. All you have to do is to make it a point to take deep breaths, focus your attention, practice mindfulness, and voilá.

What about you? How do you meditate?

 

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10 Things you can do NOW to Improve your Life

To improve your life… isn’t that what we all strive for?

A couple of weekends ago the damnedest thing (or should I say “the best thing that could have happened”) happened to me.  Short of two pages into Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map, the very first words of the book stopped me dead on my tracks and made me question the life that I live.  If you want to improve your life, it goes without saying that questioning everything is a must!

Danielle’s message wasn’t anything I had not heard before.  She just so happened to have an uncanny way to drive the message home for me.  And so I sat around for an entire weekend depressed out of my mind.  I watched all of the Naruto episodes (yes, I still watch Anime at 28) that I know can make me cry, I re-scheduled one of my coaching calls, and I pretty much sat around in my PJs all day unable to get myself out of this funk.

The result of my soul-searching:  I don’t want to spend one more minute or any more of my energy “hating” or “disliking” any aspect of my life.  I realized that I’d rather spend my energy transforming my life.

It is very easy to focus on all that is wrong with our lives, but to find the real meaning behind everything, to improve your life, and to find the love that you seek you will have to shift your perception of the world.  No excuses, no questions asked.

Ok, so how do you improve your life?

So, without further ado, if you are ready to transform and improve your life, here are 10 actionable items and shifts in perception that you can execute right now:

1.  Be curious.

Everyone tells you that curiosity killed the cat, but no one ever seems to remember that Curiosity also landed on Mars on August 5th, 2012 and then went on to take the first ever selfie on Mars.  Opportunity, the other rover launched on 2003, had been roaming Mars already when Curiosity came into the picture.  Think about it, Curiosity and Opportunity.

Actionable tip:  improving your life is going to take work and self-awareness.  If you want opportunities, then you are going to have to activate your ability to be curious.  Next time you find yourself going on a tangent of doom (i.e., “I don’t feel good enough so I am just not going to do anything, I am a failure after all”), stop yourself and be curious about your thoughts.

Ask yourself “why am I having these thoughts?” and pay attention to the answers.

The point is… If you want to see more opportunities you are going to have to be more curious.

2.  Find the Silver Lining.

Let’s be real here:  Life can be sucky.  Your first true love breaking up with you, Ebola ravaging West Africa, and the ongoing problems in the Middle East. If you want to improve your life, then you are going to have to move on.  Simple as that.

You have to keep in mind at all times that life is not a destination or a goal, life is a journey.  And in order to keep things in perspective at all times you have to find the silver-lining to every situation–the good and the bad ones alike.

Actionable tip: Grieve, remember that this too shall pass, and focus on how this experience has helped you build your character

3.  Its not all About Having Positive Thoughts.

I used to be one of these New Agey people who swore up and down that being positive was the key to happiness… and then I got real with myself and realized that there is a wealth of knowledge hiding underneath all of the shit and ugliness in this world.

In today’s world, happiness, joy and optimism have become nothing short of a band-aid you place on the ugly… and this is simply an unrealistic mindset.

Actionable tip:  When shit hits the fan, it is ok to feel lame.  Again, grieve, throw yourself a pitty party (when you allow yourself to feel the way you feel, the feelings typically lift), and just sit with the ugly until you are ready to get back up and re-align with your positive mindset again.

In other words:  don’t force yourself to be eternally optimistic if it doesn’t feel right–you’re a human, not a saint.

4.  Honor where you are at. 

That means that when things are shitty and you are feeling sorry about yourself, you honor that.  You don’t judge yourself based on how you or someone else thinks you should feel.  Should is a dangerous word that is based on external rules and ideals.

If you are struggling in a relationship with yourself or your significant other, know that you are exactly where you are meant to be; if you are broke like a joke, know that you are exactly where you are meant to be; if you are experiencing self-doubt around your abilities to reach your goals, know that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

Actionable tip: Be mindful of where you are at and then realize that in this very moment you have the choice to engage in self-talk that is either self-serving or self-destructive.  Which one will you engage?

Depending on your choice, you may just realize that when you are present and honor where you are at and who you are in this very moment, you have the opportunity to start over and change your reality.

5.  Question EVERYTHING.

This is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I am a huge conspiracy theorist… but I am not talking about government conspiracies or historical conspiracies (although those can be interesting too), I am talking about the conspiracy which holds that the universe has to deliver nothing less than what you are ready to receive.

If your mind is open to receive new opportunities, then you shall receive; but if your mind is caught up in old beliefs about the world, then you will most likely continue experiencing the same story over and over again.

Question everything from your thoughts, beliefs, and reactions, and you may just realize that there is a place beyond thought and beyond belief where possibility resides.

Actionable tip: Next time you get mad at the person who cut you off in traffic, stop and ask yourself why you chose to react that way.  OR, next time you judge someone else because of the way they dress, ask yourself why you are judging others.

6.  Love Yourself.

I am a huge believer of the power of self-esteem and self-worth. If I could tell you about the one thing you can do to improve your life right now it is simply to love yourself more.

I am sure you’ve heard that quote “treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love”–to love yourself is exactly that.

Self-love is super important because when you love yourself you do not question your worth against the things that you have to do. You do not say things like “Who am I to think that I can make a difference in the world?” you simply know your value and you follow through.

Actionable tip: be kind to yourself, keep track of your mental chatter and notice when you are being judgmental of yourself or others; choose to put yourself first when appropriate.

7.  Make it Happen.

If you want to improve your life then you better make it happen.  It’s ok to sulk and have a pitty party for a minute or two, but you will eventually have to get back up and face life head on again. If you are unhappy with a certain aspect of your life, then you change it, no excuses, no questions asked.

Action tip: bring back some of that good ‘old curiosity to the table and stop the mental chatter about how sucky your life is right now and how the world is conspiring against you and blah blah blah.  Then ask yourself what you can do today to improve your situation and listen for an answer. Trust me, the universe always delivers.

8.  Re-Align Yourself.

The ego (or the mental chatter going on in your head at all times during the day) is a funny little guy because it likes to think that it is the only reality out there. Truth be told, the ego is only a small piece of your psychological and spiritual world.

To be identified as the things you own, the person you’ve become, and the achievements you’ve accomplished is only half the story.  There is a greater reality that can only be accessed when you re-align yourself with that part of you that is closest to god, the universe, Shiva,… whatever you want to call it.  The secret to transforming and improving your life is to tap into this reality.

Actionable tip: re-connect with your spirituality from time to time. Depending on what denomination you subscribe to, reconnecting with your spirituality can be as simple as going to church, taking a walk in nature or simply sitting in silence.

9.  See the Big Picture.

Sometimes when we are caught up in how sucky life can be you forget to look at the big picture of your life.  Seeing the big picture is similar to finding the silver lining but with a bang.  It means that you make peace with the present for the sake of what you see in your future.

When we are focused on the big picture you can easily see how the job you hate can actually be easily re-framed into the skill that you needed to land your dream job in the future, or how the relationship that didn’t work out can actually be easily re-framed into the opportunity to love yourself more and put yourself first in relationships.

There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

Actionable tip: remember that this too shall pass. You can also ask yourself “how can what I just experienced contribute to my spiritual and psychological growth?”

10.  Life your Life from the Inside Out.

Without a shadow of a doubt I can tell you that to improve your life you are going to have to re-align with your greatest Self and live your life based on your inner-most values and principles.  Danielle LaPorte calls it the Desire Map, and Neuropsychology calls it target states.

Whatever the name, living your life from the inside out means that you look beyond the external object of desire and find the intrinsic reward that this external object is triggering.  For example, emotional eaters eat because it soothes their emotional states, and shopaholics spend all of their money shopping because it fulfills a particular emotional need.

The reason we seek external rewards is because we have been conditioned to look for approval, love, and wealth outside of ourselves by our culture and the media.  In reality, the emotional states that any of these triggers activate within us are already within us and can accessed at any time.

Actionable tip: next time you have a specific desire in mind, ask yourself what it is you are trying to feel in response to this desire.

Do you want to travel to the beach because you want to relax? If so, do you really need to visit the beach right now to feel relaxed or can you evoke feelings of relaxation in this precise moment? I am not saying “don’t go to the beach to relax,” what I am saying is “don’t wait for the beach to deliver relaxation next month when you can be relaxed right now.”

 

In conclusion…

Transforming and improving your life is going to depend on your commitment to follow through with these 10 simple shifts in perception.  It all comes down to self-awareness and the desire to transform yourself from the inside out.

The important thing is to be kind to yourself, love yourself more, and keep your eye on the goal.

 

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Thank you for reading and bestestest of wishes to you!

How to Namaste all day long (and what Namaste really is all about)

Namaste is an ancient greeting that is very popular amongst those of us who have discovered the joy of Eastern religion. In our Western societies and religions, I believe that Namaste is known by Christians as the question:  What would Jesus do?  I wanted to explore these ideals this week because they speak of a state of being beyond our usual ego-centric concerns.

Unfortunately, sometimes greeting someone with reverence and asking oneself what Jesus would do is easier said than put into practice. Because I wanted to implement more of this ancient wisdom into my life I wondered whether I struggled to put these principles into practice because I didn’t fully understand what they are really about.

This is what I found…

Namaste is about transcending the stories we tell about our world.

This world we live in is made up of stories. Some are fascinating tales of adventure while others are the uneventful tales of our daily lives. Ultimately, these stories we tell ourselves are what make us who we are.

In the past I have written about how the stories we tell ourselves actually limit our understanding of the world around us and ultimately dictate what we attract into our lives. This is because what you tell yourself are your beliefs about this world are the result of all of your past experiences, cultural conditioning, and what your immediate environment (primary caregivers) has told you is true about the world you live in.

Some of us have been lucky enough to be conditioned to tell ourselves that we are valuable and beautiful beings who deserve infinite wealth, health, and love; while some of us have not been that lucky and have learned to think the opposite is true. Even better, some of us have realized that all of our past conditioning (whether good or bad) falls short of the vision we have of our lives.

(If you haven’t made the transition yet, what are you waiting for?)

Yet, despite how different all of the stories we tell ourselves about the world are—I am beautiful, I am ugly, I am a Republican, I am a Democrat—they all have one thing in common. Want to know what it is?

Take a deep breath. Notice how the air flows deep into your belly as your lungs expand beyond their usual capacity. Exhale. Repeat.  If you take a moment you may just notice that you are a being that has thoughts; you are not your thoughts.

Your mind is a beautiful expression of the divine. It can either be your best friend (when you program it to have thoughts that are positive and self-serving), or it can be your worst enemy (when you program it to have thoughts that are self-defeating). But the one thing that we all have in common is that we exist. Simple as that.

If you have ever heard of the quotes “I think therefore I am,” or “you are the universe experiencing itself subjectively,” that is exactly what they speak of. This means that your story is but a fragment (a very important one of course) of God’s imagination. What a beautiful idea, isn’t it?

Tweet this:  I am the #universe experiencing itself subjectively

The problem we run into as humans is when we believe that “my story is better than your story“. We seem to have bought into the idea that “it is my way or the highway,” and this mentality has done nothing but cause wars and destroy our one and only planet. We seem to have forgotten that we exist as One despite our differences.

What is Namaste?

Namaste is the acknowledgement of the expression of the divine that is manifest in each of us. Namaste means that you are willing to make the choice to look beyond and transcend the story you tell yourself about who you are and who the people in your life are. It means that you chose to focus on what you know to be the best possible image of yourself and that of the person in front of you.

Namaste is a beautiful and awe inspiring concept when put into practice. But, as Marie Forleo often says, “insight means nothing without action.”

When Namaste is easier said than done.

It is easy to love the word itself and focus on judging others as we are accustomed to do. Trust me; I do it quite often when I drive. That is why time and time again I swear by the idea that driving in Houston traffic is a spiritual test from the universe to measure my commitment to my ideals. You know… do I walk the talk?

So if you find yourself struggling to “walk the talk” when it comes to putting the concept of Namaste or WWJD into practice, here are three simple steps I take when I want to stay on track.

1. Take a deep breath.

Lately I’ve been on this “deep breath” kick because I have found that it helps me come back into the present moment every time I notice that my mind has gone on a tangent. Taking deep breaths brings you back to the present moment where everything and anything is possible, beyond the limited confines of your mind. It is in the present moment where you can now make the choice to disengage from your mind and story.

2. Connect with your inner-divinity.

It is much easier to honor another’s divinity when you are in touch with your own. That is why I like to shift my awareness into my heart chakra and focus on my connection with God or the universe. Of course if you do not subscribe to Eastern thought, you may want to simply ask yourself what Jesus would do in this situation.

Same concept, different story.

See? That is exactly how Namaste works.

3. Namaste all day long.

After you’ve put your story aside for a bit, all that is left is your own commitment to honor the divinity of others. Honestly, at this point it just feels perfectly effortless to see others as divine beings with human stories and human flaws—because you too are a divine human with human flaws.

When you honor another’s divinity “long enough” you may just realize what Namaste is really all about:

My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one.

Tweet this:  #Namaste, the divine in me honors the divine in you

Namaste

What about you?  How have you put Namaste into practice in your daily life?  Leave a comment with your answer below!

If you liked what you read, subscribe to my newsletter below for future tips and updates on changing your life from the inside out.  As always, thank you for reading and sharing this article and helping me spread my message so that together we can reach our fullest potential and change this world, one person at a time.

5 lessons for a lifetime in love from Sex and the City

I’ve been a Sex and the City fan for many years now.  All through college my roommate and I would hold Sex and the City and cheap champagne marathons and we would sit on the couch all day eating ramen noodles (I added chili and lime to mine of course) and getting drunk.  Our only objective for that day was to vicariously participate in Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha’s every day search for love in the city.

At that point in our lives, my roommate, a recent college graduate, and I, still enrolled in college in a small city in West Texas, could not imagine owning a pair of Manolo Blahnik strappy sandals.  To us, a pair of “mythological” shoes like these belonged only in the feet of hip NY women.  Especially in West Texas where the mall did not have any luxury department stores.

Looking back, I now realize that I also felt incredibly identified with Carrie Bradshaw’s character and her super spicy (for lack of a better word) relationship with Mr. Big.  I did have a “Mr. Big” in my life after all, and watching Carrie’s struggles in their relationship gave me hope that my Big would come to me in Paris one day and confess in a gesture of true love how he finally realized I was the one.  It was a beautiful fantasy.  One that I was soon to find out would never come true.

But all of that happened over six years ago.  My roommate is long gone to another city, I now live in Houston, TX where Manolo Blahnik strappy sandals can be bought at the 8th largest mall in the U.S. for a small fee, and cheap champagne gives me a headache now.  That is why, for old times’ sake, I make it a point to watch Sex and the City every change that I get.  And that is exactly what I did Saturday night.  This time, in company of my boyfriend.

In true “Carrie Bradshaw” fashion, I got to thinking about what Sex and the City has taught me about my life.  More specifically my love life and the relationships in my life.  So here are 5 lessons for a lifetime in love that I learned from watching Sex and the City.

1.  “I am an emotional cutter”.

If you have watched the first Sex and the City movie, then you may remember this quote when Miranda asks Carrie why she would read the Vogue magazine in which she is featured wearing designer wedding dresses prior to her wedding fiasco.  Honestly, this quote reminds me of a song by the band Chevelle:  “I like having hurt”.

Think about it.  This quote is a confession, almost like an introductory statement to an “emotional pain addicts anonymous” meeting:  “Hello, my name is Carrie Bradshaw and I like having hurt.”  Like Carrie, I put myself through hell for a boy I thought I liked, so I can totally relate to this statement.  Carrie’s entire relationship with Mr. Big is one masochistic circus all in the name of “butterflies”.  And there’s nothing wrong with this.

Unless, that is, you want to have healthy, meaningful relationships.

Like I said, been there, done that.  But somewhere along the way I realized how unnecessary it all was to enter into relationships with unavailable men.  In the end, it certainly took a lot of courage and inner-work to transform my self-hatred into self-love.  And it paid off.

2.  An unrealistic love story.

The whole idea of being an emotional cutter makes me wonder if Sex and the City was all about glorifying the relationship between Carrie and Mr. Big, or if it was about saying “HEY! WOMEN out there!! Whatever you do, DO NOT fall for THIS kind of man!!”

Ultimately, 6 seasons and two movies later, I am going to have to take a guess and say Sex and the City is all about glorifying the delicious pain of a relationship with an unavailable man.  Many of us have been there and can relate after all.  And maybe, just maybe, that is why the show was so popular.

…But is that idea of a relationship realistic?

Yes, but only because you have not learned to love and respect yourself.

3.  Relationships are mirrors.

I realized that Carrie put her desire to love and be loved by Mr. Big before her own love of self.  She doesn’t know her own worth because she hasn’t taken the time to look within for the love that she seeks so desperately.  Unfortunately, Carrie’s story is the story of many girls and women out there who have been lied to by the media that tells them “you are not pretty, you are not worthy.”

Once I learned to love myself my relationships changed accordingly.  That is when I realized that my relationships are a direct reflection of my self-esteem.  Another way to look at this situation is by asking yourself:  does this relationship I am in bring me joy, or does it bring me down?  Your answer may surprise you.

4.  I love you but I love me more.

Ok, so I still think that the reason Sex and the City was so freaking “Big” (see what I did there?) was because most, if not all of the people who watched the show could relate to Carrie and her trials and tribulations.  But, if there is a person in the show who, despite her inflated sense of self, loved herself and had a healthy relationship with herself, it is Samantha.  Yes ladies and gentleman, Samantha Jones.

Samantha understood that it is not selfish to love yourself even though selfishness is typically thought of as a no-no in our society.  More importantly, she understood that it is when she came from a place of self-love that she could love others more.

Of course, this doesn’t mean to love yourself only.  It just means to always do what is right for you when the situation calls for it.

5.  Life is better with “the girls.”

To me, the most important lesson learned from Sex and the City is that friendship is sacred.  Despite the many men Carrie dated throughout the show, there was always a constant in her life–“the girls.”  They were there to listen without judgement, to call her out when she got out of line, and to laugh and cry with her.

Whether you have someone to share a day full of Sex and the City with, a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to listen, life is better when you have a close group of friends who are there with you through thick and thin.  So love them with all you’ve got (even after they block you on Facebook).

If you liked what you read, subscribe to my newsletter below for future tips and updates on changing your life from the inside out.  As always, thank you for reading and sharing this article and helping me spread my message so that together we can reach our fullest potential and change this world, one person at a time.

Dealing With Stress: How you Can Do it Now

Stress.  We all know that feeling… tense neck and shoulders, racing thoughts of impending doom, and even packing an extra pound or two because of the cortisol our body produces when we are stressed.

Maybe you take a couple of days off and book a fabulous massage to help you relax, but for some reason, only a few hours later your back is all up in a knot and you are worrying about work, relationships, finances, you name it.  For some reason you keep going back to our good ol’ friend stress.

On the other hand, you may have noticed that during vacations all the problems in the world seem to melt away.

Have you ever felt so relaxed after engaging in any particular activity and wished you could feel this good ALL THE TIME?

Have you ever considered the idea that you could and are meant to feel good all the time?

I certainly had not.

It never occurred to me that I was going through life in a perpetual state of stress and anxiety. It’s like I became so used to being stressed that I had not considered the fact that being in a perpetual state of relaxation was even an option.

Tweet this now:  “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” -Seth Godin

I don’t imagine I need to remind you about the negative side effects of chronic stress, but because I really want to drive this point home I am going to go ahead and do it anyways.

  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Heart problems
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

And MUCH more!  Visit WebMD for a more comprehensive list of symptoms and effects of stress in your body.

HELP! I am stressed even during my vacations!

Worst of all is realizing that despite going on vacation, you are somehow still stressed out.  That is exactly what happened to me in Japan. Until I put my foot down and made the choice to experience conscious relaxation.

Here are 4 things that helped me relax that you can do to deal with stress now:

1. Move your body.

I am a huge advocate of yoga and really value the positive effects it has had on my mind and body since I started my practice back in 2009, but it doesn’t have to be yoga… walking, running, boxing, anything that gets your body moving and keeps your mind focused away from the stress triggers in your life works well.

When you move your body and focus your mind on your body you enter into a trance in which you clear away cellular and muscle memory that is holding onto the stress you experience.

2. Take a conscious breath.

Now that you have cleared away stress through body movement, you want to keep that stress out of your body and mind, and the best way to do it is by taking a big, nice, deep breath any time your mind goes on a tangent you know causes you to get stressed out. It really is as simple as that. But you must be committed to catching yourself having said thoughts and interrupting the pattern immediately over and over. This will eventually teach your brain to stay in the present moment.

3. Let go of how you think life should be like.

One of the biggest stress triggers is the suffering caused by your expectations of how anything in your reality should be like. Your mind, if not kept in check, has carefully devised a way for you to experience reality as you want it to be in order to protect your sense of self-identity. Not making enough money, the job you hate, your Facebook relationship status, they are all as they are and resisting what is will only cause you despair and stress you out. I’m not saying to stay at your job you hate, but rather to accept your circumstances as they are, because, guess what?, you can hate your job all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact you still work there. In fact, by choosing to experience the negative emotion of hate towards your job you are lowering your vibration and your body is the one taking the toll.

4. Realize that you have a choice.

Once you accept your circumstances, you now have the responsibility to choose how you will react. Will you act out of hatred as in the example above, or will you act out of love and give your body a break?

You have the power to design the life you want.  As always, with great power comes great responsibility, so take every opportunity you can to be the person that deep down you know you already are and want to become.

Tweet this now: Take every opportunity you can to be the person that you want to become!

Now, over to you:  How have you dealt with stress in the past?  Leave a comment in the comments section below and join in the conversation!

If you found what you read useful, subscribe to my newsletter below for future tips and updates on changing your life from the inside out.  As always, thank you for reading and sharing this article and helping me spread my message so that together we can reach our fullest potential and change this world, one person at a time.

27 reasons skinny women are better than overweight women




Allow me to apologize to you for luring you into my article with such a controversial title.  You see, the truth is that I could not think of a better way to get your attention other than by pushing a certain button.

Also, I do not think I could come up with one single reason why being skinny is better than not being skinny.  On the other hand, I could go on and on about the many different reasons why being skinny growing up sucked big time.  Yes, you read that right—I could complain on and on about why being skinny sucked. 

Do I sound like the lottery winner complaining about winning the lottery?

Before you pass any judgment on why anyone in their right mind would think that fitting the ideal image of a woman would hate to fit that idea, hear me out.  Because despite what you think, it does not change the fact that I too grew up in a world where not fitting the idea of beauty that is spoon fed to us through the media meant growing up disliking my body image.

Skinny or curvaceous, we have more in common than you have ever thought.

I will not complain about growing up skinny—or growing up “skin and bones”.  I will not feed into the very same negative self-image that I was a victim to for many years.  The one thing I will complain about, however, is the pervasive insecurity in our culture that puts down other people in order to feel better about whom you are.

betty

Think that this argument will liberate you from the power that skinny women have over you? Think again.  P.S. MY DOG LOVES ME THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

That’s right.  Every single time you like that status update or retweet that photo that claims that real women have curves you are feeding into the very same cycle of hate you think you are breaking.  And quite honestly, it hurts me to read that you would deny me, a skinny woman, of my womanhood just because you are insecure about your own.

It hurts me because I feel your pain.

Because skinny or thick, in our current self-hating society, we’re f*cked either way.

A moment of brutal honesty:

If you have to attack another woman’s body image out of your own insecurity, then you better get your self-esteem in check and learn to love yourself more.

About a month ago I came across this little gem by Chelsea Fagan on ThoughtCatalog.com in which she humorously exposed the great human potential that drunken women have—and I could not agree with her even more.

In her article, Chelsea talks about the reality of the everyday sober woman.  She is catty and judgmental of other women—if only because they pose a major threat to her own insecurities about her self-image.  This is a reality in which “look at what she’s wearing, she looks like a slut” is far more common a dialogue between women nowadays than “wow, she’s really pretty”.

“We protect ourselves, and what we perceive to be our social value, by being fearful and threatened by the value of other women… When drunk, we feel the euphoria of realizing that all of our greatness can co-exist and enhance one another, and we deserve to feel it all the time”—Chelsea Fagan.

Of course, Chelsea is not encouraging you to walk around in a constant state of drunken stupor.  Her article is simply food for thought.  So go on and read Women Are At Their Best While Drunk.

I love loving me and I want you to feel the same way.

You and I, we have been lied to all of our lives.  We have been told that we have to look like the girls in the magazines and TV.  We have been taught to plaster toxic chemicals on our face to look prettier; to inflict pain on ourselves with tweezers and hot wax to fit in; and that our body will never be good enough.

Let me put it to you like this:  I am a real woman!  I am naturally skinny, I eat like a pig (no offense to pigs here, I love pigs, especially swimming pigs) and after many years of wanting to gain weight so I would fit in I have finally learned to love myself and my body just the way it is.  I am tired of comparing myself to other women or being what others want me to be or look like.  And I love it!!!

So I raise this glass of merlot to you, to your daughters, to your sisters, and to your mothers.  And here is to self-love, and loving your body just the way it is, cherishing who you are just the way you are.  Here is to looking at another woman and honoring her womanhood, whether she is thick or thin, curvy or slender, tall or short.  Here is to a sisterhood of women.

Cheers.

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