“We are the Choices we Make”

“We are the choices we make”…Meryl Streep

News flash…you will never “find” yourself. The truth is, we “create” ourselves…every moment of every day.

That means our thoughts, our language, what we choose to act on, and what we choose to skip, all will have an effect on our lives. And not just our lives, but the lives of others as well.

We all know that saying “one person can change the world”…well, the reason it sounds cheesy is because there is truth to it. The ripple effect is real. There was a study done on this very topic. (“Implications of Vascular Theory of Emotions”…very dry read!) It’s summary states that 1,000 people are within 3 degrees of each other. That was not a typo…you are 3 degrees away from effecting the lives of 1,000 people. So how you show up in your life really matters. There is no better time then right now, to own our lives and the actions we take. And not just the big juicy actions…the little decisions matter too. And how you talk to yourself is crucial to your success and self worth. Despite how small this distinction is, it’s effects on your life are huge.

Do you ever listen to what you say to yourself? We all do it…we all have that running commentary going on in the backs of our minds. Who does your voice sound like? A cheerleaders or jailer? A loving supporter or destructive tyrant? A compassionate parent or an abusive one?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me” is total Bullshit.

Words mixed together into sentences are bundles of emotions. They can move you to tears of joy, or tears of pain.

Words matter.

Most of us have some fairly vile self talk that we fall victim to sometimes. And we all know that we would never say those things to another living being. For some of us, our self-talk is so violent it’s not fit for anyone to hear. Yet we listen anyway.

Why is it important to change our inner dialogue? Well, let’s apply some common sense. Let’s say the only water you drank was polluted and toxic? What would eventually happen? You would BECOME polluted and toxic.

It’s the same with thoughts! If all you feed yourself is harsh criticism and shame, you will BECOME fearful of everyone and most likely paralyzed by your shame.

So how can you expect to go out and take risks, and make the world a better place, if you think you are something to be ashamed of?

It’s time we changed our relationships with ourselves. And it starts by tuning in to what we tell ourselves on a daily basis.

I call the negative talk in my head “YSR radio…You Suck Radio”. And when it’s on in the background, I don’t just turn down the volume, I change the damn station!

I’m over simplifying, I know. But this self monitoring doesn’t’ have to be a total drag either.

Pull out your journal and write out your own “You Suck Radio” program. This won’t take long because you know it by heart by now. But taking the time to put it on the page is useful because then you can use your own words to shift your perspective.

For example, maybe you are unhappy with your weight. Write out all of your self talk around how much you weigh, why you’ll never improve, why you are destined to be as fat as a house for the rest of your life…(that was my self talk by the way), etc. Go for it. Let that vicious voice in your head have it’s say…and write it all down.

Now reread what you wrote. Is any of that true or helpful in any way? Does thinking you’re destined to fail motivate you to take positive actions in your life? And can the opposite be true as well…like the times you actually DID succeed at something?

What are you focussing on? Your successes or your failures? Is “You Suck Radio” blaring in your head? And if so, how do you think that will affect your day? How will it affect all the people you interact with today? Remember…we are all just 3 degrees away from affecting 1,000 people.

Start to listen to your thoughts about yourself. Your words matter whether they are directed at you or other people. Write them down and question their validity. Tune in to what station is playing in your head. And if it sucks, change the station.

Don’t forget to forward this to your friends, repost, and retweet!

The Truth about Change

Growth does not come from a checklist…The truth about change.

Real change can only happen when we love ourselves enough to stand up and do what we know is best for us.
Take a look at your To-do list. How do you feel when you read through it? Could you easily call it your “ to create more joy in my life” list? Does your list make you feel passionate and inspired? Does it help you feel happy?

Or, is this a list of “should’s” to someday feel like a better person? In other words, if you check all the boxes does that mean you’ll feel more validated, more worthy, more acceptable?

For some of us, our to-do lists have become a hustle for our self-esteem. We believe that the more healthy, organic, spiritual, and meditative we are, the ‘better’ we will be as people. On top of that, we have to take actions towards our goals, make more money, and somehow find time to stay current on the latest TV shows. Not to mention keeping up our Instagram feed…

The problem isn’t our goals or our desires or all the actions we intend to take each day. The problem is when we turn these goals and actions into a gauge of our self worth. Because if achieving all these things is our only way to feel okay with ourselves, our days will leave us exhausted and empty. After all, even if we do accomplish it everything, tomorrow we have to start all over again…new day, new list.

For many of us, we have ‘self improvement’ reasons behind our plans. “If I include a green drink every day, my liver and kidneys will be happy. If I practice guided meditation I won’t get sick. If I stop procrastinating I’ll actually have enough time to practice yoga. If I get off my ass and exercise, I’ll be worthy of that gift massage I’ve been putting off.”

This sounds more like a “I’ll be a good person if I do these things” list to me.

Notice your plans…are they more about how to fix yourself than to create more of what you’re passionate about? Ask yourself this question…”Do I think that if I accomplish everything on my list, I will like myself more? That I’ll be a better, more acceptable, lovable person?”

Seriously, why are you doing what you’re doing?

More importantly, does getting all that done feel freeing to you?

Unfortunately, often we are so desperate to feel good about ourselves we can’t accept ourselves as we are in this moment. Believe me, if constantly viewing ourselves as a self improvement project actually helped motivate us to take action towards our dreams, then I’d be all for it!

But that is not how growth works. I repeat:

Real change happens when we love ourselves enough to stand up and do what we know is best for us. We naturally ‘improve’ when we are passionately living our lives…not when we are checking things off a list.

So, when I work with people on their goals, the first thing I get clear about is why they want those things in the first place.

And then? We toss that old to-do list. Instead of a long list of not so exciting things (I mean really, how exciting can green juice be?) we come up with 3 actions a day.

Personally, every day I write the 3 things I will do that day to help me feel like I’m moving closer to my desires…not my self esteem. The difference might seem subtle but it’s effects are huge. Working for what I’m passionate about creates energy and is exciting. Whereas, making up for my supposed shortcomings is depressing and only fuels my self-shame.

What if you rewrote your health plans in ways that excited you? For example, instead of listing ‘yoga 3 times a week’ how about saying, ‘this week I will move in ways that feel great 3 times’. Maybe yoga totally fills you with mojo. Great. But by taking away the restriction, maybe you’ll bust out the African drumming album and dance your ass off instead. (also excellent exercise and super fun!)

How could you revamp your spiritual practice? Maybe instead of insisting on doing a seated meditation every day, you could instead say “I will connect to my source every day”. This opens you up to more ways to fuel that desire. Yes, you could sit and meditate. But you could also include the option of compassion meditation (something that does not require you to sit still for any period of time…contact me if you want to learn more about it at brigittadau@yahoo.com). Simply stopping to enjoy nature for a moment could be a beautiful way to connect to your source. Also practicing mindfulness, or noting what you are grateful for could be a way to keep your spiritual commitment.

Putting extra pressure on ourselves to get things done will never lead us to joy and liberation. Loving ourselves, will. And by making your desires easy and fun to act upon, you’ll immediately start to move in the direction you want to move in. Your days will begin to change and be less about proving your worth through accomplishments. They will be more about bringing your true self to all of your encounters. And when you show up authentically in your life, your need for approval automatically dissipates.

So, go back and take a good hard look at your goals and your to-do lists…are they bringing you joy? Do they light you up? Do they fill you with enthusiasm? Or do you feel like you are hustling for your self worth? Don’t get trapped by your “should list”. Instead, lighten up on the restrictions and write your new “path to Joy” list.

As always, if you liked this, repost, retweet, and forward to someone you care about. And if you want help with this, get in touch.

 

Mindful Eating

Using Mindfulness to stop Distracted and Emotional eating

Raise your hand if you eat in the car. Do you tend to overeat when out with friends? Are there times you find yourself eating when you aren’t even hungry? Do you read or watch TV while you eat? Do you tend to overeat when you are around your family?

So many of us have a distorted, unhealthy relationship with food. I’ve had issues with food since I was a young child. So, getting over emotional eating was a part of my path to healing and ultimately re-creating my relationship with food.

The real gateway for me was what Geneen Roth (author of the fabulous book, “Women, Food, and God”) calls the ‘presencing practice’ also known as ‘mindfulness’.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is simply being totally aware in the present moment.

How do we apply this to eating?

Here are some things to try:

For one meal a day, do nothing. Just sit and eat your food. And, be present. Notice how it tastes, the textures, the smells, the colors. If you had to describe this food to someone who has no clue what it tastes like, what would you say? Also notice your feelings? Does eating without distraction bring up anxiety? Or other uncomfortable feelings?

The first thing that happens when you do this, is you slow down your eating. And if you are eating to stuff down your emotions I guarantee you are eating too fast.

The other thing that happens is your body is now free to tell you how it’s feeling and more importantly, when it’s had enough to eat. The cue to stop eating is usually subtle. And if you were raised to “finish everything on your plate”, then your natural experience of feeling full is likely skewed.

For me, if I’m paying attention, my breathing changes when my body has had enough. It’s subtle, but eating beyond that moment would be overeating.

I promise you if I’m out with friends I will often miss that cue! But, if I remember to eat just one meal a day, totally present without distraction, I will be more likely to notice when my body really has had enough.

Some of us eat so unconsciously that we’ve forgotten how it feels to feel hungry. So, that is another thing to try to do once a day…

Don’t eat until you feel actual hunger. Our natural feelings of hunger are also subtle.

I’m not saying to starve yourself! When you’ve gone too long without food, that’s when “I’m hangry” kicks in. And that’s when you are more likely to choose something with too much sugar in it. There are countless commercials preying on that very impulse telling you things like “you’re not yourself until you have a snickers bar”. So no starving!

Just choose a meal that you can eat when you are hungry, rather then at a designated time (lunch break, etc). Practicing this once a day will also help if you have a fear of getting hungry. That is quite common. Feeling panicked that you won’t have food, can lead you to eat before you are truly hungry. Which leads to overeating because your body wasn’t ready to eat in the first place. Thus, your body’s signal to stop eating likely won’t happen. If going hungry is a fear of yours, have food with you. I have nuts with me all the time so if I’m worried about getting hungry later, I know I’m covered.

Try those two exercises for a few weeks and see what changes in your behavior around food. Again, just one meal a day, totally present. And for one meal a day, wait until you’re actually hungry before you eat.

I’m here to help if you are ready to tackle this and need extra support.
Having said that, if you know you have an eating disorder, PLEASE get medical help. Do not wait or think you can handle it alone. Contact your Doctor immediately.

We all deserve to have a healthy relationship with food. And we can. But for some of us, we have to slow down and get present first.

If this resonated for you…forward it, retweet it, repost it.

And let me know how these practices went for you.

Feeding the Wolves

In Wayne Dyer’s book, “the Power of Intention,” he shares a conversation he overheard soon after 9/11.

A grandfather and his grandson were talking. The grandfather said, “I have 2 wolves fighting inside of me. One is filled with anger, hate, violence and revenge. The other is filled with love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”

“Which one do you think will win?” asked the grandson.

“The one that I feed”, replied the grandfather.

Stop and think about that for a second. Which wolf are you feeding these days?

Your self-talk, your values, and your beliefs effect how you react to your world. And your beliefs are created by thinking the same thoughts over and over again until you ‘believe’ they are true. Which means it’s important to know what you’re thinking!

When you are thinking attack thoughts, you are feeding the wolf of hate and negativity. Just like, when you are thinking loving thoughts you are feeding the wolf of compassion and kindness. I’m going to make the assumption that most of us would prefer to feed the wolf of kindness.

So, how do we manage our thoughts?

By paying attention. Here again, is yet another great reason to meditate and practice being mindful. And, I’m actually going to rename the practice of mindfulness to “mind awareness”, because that more truthfully describes the practice.

“Mind awareness” is exactly what it claims to be: becoming aware of what your mind is thinking. This requires you to disconnect from your thoughts and observe them, rather than associating and hooking into them. By that I mean, you don’t take your thoughts as “truths” and act upon them. Instead you notice them and allow them to show up. But, you take no action based on those thoughts because you are now simply observing them. Thus, you are disengaging from the power they have over you. They are just thoughts. You decide whether to act on them or not.

Not to get all “Matrixy” on you, but the truth is, you are not your thoughts…you are the one thinking your thoughts. Your true self is the” observing self” as some call it.

This is where meditation comes in. There are many forms of meditation. And there is a specific way to meditate for mind awareness.

Before I go any further, I want to clear up some confusion about this form of meditation. The goal is NOT to have no thoughts while meditating. The goal is to allow TONS OF THOUGHTS while meditating, and instead, notice the thoughts and then let them go.

So how do we do this? For some of us, we follow our breath in and out. Some of us use a mantra that we silently repeat in our head. Some of us listen to pretty music. (My faves are at the bottom of this newsletter) What’s most important is that you sit down and do it, not whether you’re saying the right mantra.

You sit, for a chosen amount of time, and notice when your thoughts distract you from your focus. Then, when you notice your mind has strayed, you simply return to your breath or mantra. That’s it. Easy peazy.

I can already feel your resistance…”I don’t have enough time”. First of all, you do…(my last newsletter was about that very thing and if you missed it let me know and I’ll send it to you). You likely have that resistance because someone said ’20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening were best’. Well, really? I started with 3 minutes a day! I’m not kidding, that is how I started my practice. Now, I meditate almost every day and for however long I can. Some days it’s still 3 minutes, some days 10, sometimes several times a day…As long as I’m doing it, it’s helping.

Let’s get back to how that translates into real life. When you practice noticing your thoughts when you are still and quiet, you will find it easier to notice your thoughts when you are busy living your life. And by noticing your thoughts, you can start to clear out some of the negative ones and replace them with something more positive. You will more quickly notice when you are being judgmental, impatient, and self critical. And because you are conscious of those thoughts, you can then actively begin to cultivate more compassion instead.

And, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Set your time to meditate. Remember, just 3 minutes most days is a great place to start. I don’t care how busy you are, you can carve out 3 minutes to sit and notice your thoughts. Then start to be more mind aware throughout your day.

Some people have a reminder on their phone that goes off several times a day to remind them to observe their thoughts. Some people post it in various places reminding them to be mind aware.

After a while, you won’t need the reminders. But when first practicing this, I recommend doing something to help you remember throughout the day. After all, most of us are on auto pilot for a good amount of the time so remembering to shift into awareness can be challenging. So, set up some reminders to make your life easier.

Try this for a week and see how much easier it is to notice which wolf you are feeding…and let me know how it goes!

And, if you want to go deeper with meditation and mind awareness, get in touch. This is one of my favorite practices to work on with people.

And if you liked this, remember: retweet, repost, forward to a friend!

And lastly…if you want to meditate to my fave music…check it out here
(link)

The Truth about Excuses

The Truth About Excuses…that four letter word that stops us every time:

We all do it. We use that four letter word “can’t” to avoid doing things for numerous reasons.

“I can’t get to the gym today because it’s too late.” “I can’t go to that networking event because I’m too tired.” I can’t sit down and write the next chapter because I have to call my mom”. “I can’t meditate every day because I don’t have enough time.” “I can’t go to that workshop because I don’t have enough money.”

(By the way, not having enough time or money are our most common reasons for why we can’t stick to our goals.)

But, the problem with buying into these BS stories is that they keep us in victim mode. When you say you “can’t” do something it suggests that you have no control over the situation at all.

Which by the way, is NOT true. Now yes, it’s true you can’t control other people, the economy, or all of your life’s circumstances. But you CAN control your reaction to what’s happening in your life. You have control over your attitude and responses. AND, by making one little shift, you can take back the reins of control once again.

How? Replace I “can’t”, with I “won’t”.

Ouch.

But, saying I “won’t” is more truthful, isn’t it?

It’s not that you don’t have enough time to meditate every day. The truth is, you just don’t “want” to carve out that time from your busy day. Finding the time will take work and require you to sacrifice doing something else.

It’s not that you can’t get to the gym, it’s that you “don’t want” to go to the gym. You don’t want to have to deal with all the effort that it will take, not to mention the potential muscle aches you’ll feel tomorrow.

Because if it’s really important to you, you’ll make the time and find the money to get it done. So, it’s not a matter of “I can’t”. It’s a matter of “I won’t”.

Which is super empowering! Because you are no longer a victim to your circumstances. You are taking responsibility for your actions and you’re either willing to accept your excuses or not. This honesty policy puts you in the driver’s seat.

Here’s a great assignment to bust those lies.

Write down at least 10 of your excuses. This shouldn’t take that long because we all know our excuses by heart. But, stop right now, and actually write them down.

This is not a “See, I AM a loser destined to be a failure” expedition. This is not something to beat yourself up about. This is part of being human and we ALL have tons of excuses that seem like really good reasons for not getting things done. Yes, me too!

So, write out your top 10 excuses.

Next to them, write out why those excuses are total BS.

As I said, time and money are our favorite excuses but rarely are they true. “Where there is a will, there is a way”. Why are those excuses big fat lies? Write it out.

Then, write out what you will DO instead.

For example, let’s say “I can’t get to the gym because I don’t have time” is your fave excuse. You’ve identified that’s a big lie because you do manage to have time to watch Netflix every day! So to revamp the “I don’t have time” excuses, you may:

– set your alarm for earlier in the morning
– gather your gym clothes and have them ready the night before
(I know people who’ve slept in their gym clothes so in the morning they just got up and went to the gym!)
– set a time to meet someone else at the gym (workout buddies work!)
– bring your gym clothes with you in the morning and then go straight from work
– look into classes being offered and schedule them into your week
– check out YouTube for FREE tutorials and classes which eliminates the time needed to even go to the gym
Do you see how there are actually many ways to “create” time by having a plan of attack? Just by having your clothes ready to go ahead of time, saves a lot of time if you are trying to squeeze in a workout before work…

What about the money excuse? “I can’t take that workshop because I don’t have enough money”. Really? Let’s bust that wide open.

you could contact the organization and work out a payment plan
ask the organization if they need volunteers which could help you lower your attendance fee or even eliminate it
you can make your own coffee and/or pack a lunch to save on overpriced meals out
could you pick up a side job?..maybe drive for Uber or create an account on Task Rabbit.
find a neighbor who needs help with babysitting or housekeeping
All of us have too much junk…do you have something you could sell on Ebay or Craig’s list?

Those are just a few ways you can create extra money for something, if you REALLY WANT IT.

Don’t let that four letter word “can’t” get in your way. Swap it out for the truth. “I won’t” and get honest about why you’re stuck. Then take back the reins of control by calling out your excuses and replacing them with concrete actions.

And sometimes this is too much to do on our own. “I can’t ask for help” is another popular excuse. If you need help, ask. Get in touch at brigittadau@yahoo.com and we’ll get to work on this together.

How to use Polarization to Create Clarity

You’ve heard it over and over: “Like energy attracts like energy”…in other words, focus on the negative and you are sure to experience more of it.

yes, that is true when you are visualizing an outcome or a goal. Focussing on the negative will only prompt your brain to create more of that negativity. This is why I always say, when setting goals, clearly state them in terms of moving FORWARD. For example, you are not losing 10 pounds because you are sick of feeling gross…you are losing 10 pounds so you can feel awesome in your clothes. The first example is reflecting on what is not working, whereas the latter creates images in the mind of something positive to move towards. And our visual minds follow whatever image we put in front of them…so, dwell on what you DO want.

However, when it comes to making decisions, forming partnerships, launching projects, etc, having a clear look at what you don’t want will point you very clearly and quickly in the direction of what you do want. Polarizing your plan is an excellent decision making tool.

For example, let’s say you are producing a play. What don’t you want? Likely, you don’t want actors showing up late, set builders and stage managers not keeping their agreements, thus ending up having to do all the work yourself.

Now spin it to the positive. What does what you don’t want mean? For example, if you don’t want to work with people who are chronically late, then maybe you want to work with professionals who do keep their agreements and actually have a track record of getting things done. And maybe you want a more, collaborative team so its easier to delegate. Do you see how flipping the negative to the positive gives you a clear roadmap as to who you will work with?

You can use this for all your decisions.

Let’s say you are wanting to take a yoga class. Being clear will help you enjoy it more. If you’re like me, you likely don’t want to leave feeling sore and needing a nap! So then how do you want to feel? Connected to your body in a positive way and more energized than you were before class? Sounds good to me! Having that clarity will help you choose the time, the instructor, and type of class you’re going to take.

And, when you make the big decisions…buying a house, starting a new business, creating a project involving multiple partners…you can use this clarity tool to ensure you are gathering the right people to help you see your vision come true. This also helps you spot the red flags…the gut feeling you have about certain people. Likely they are exhibiting something from your “don’t want” list.

“Start the way you want to finish” is not just an old saying, It is absolutely true when starting something big. Choose your team wisely…by knowing what you want and what you don’t want.

So again, list clearly all the things you do not want. Then, spin that list to the opposite…what you DO want? Get clear on THAT list, and then go find your team!

And if you liked this…forward it, retweet it, repost it…share it!

Living with Passion and Tolerating Fear

Fact: Your biggest passions will bring up your biggest fears. Why? Because going for what you’re passionate about raises your emotional commitment level. The bigger the goal, the bigger the challenge. Said another way, the more you ask of life, the more life asks of you.

Now knowing this fact is not a reason to set lame goals! I truly believe that we are all here to do something special and that likely has a lot to do with what we are passionate about. So set big juicy goals!

But then let’s be honest, we need to get comfortable with being…uncomfortable.

Synchronicity seems to be a law of nature. The minute we take the leap, if it’s in alignment with our passions, the universe sends us a hefty dose of happy coincidences. So, we’re jazzed and moving forward and feel somewhat magical as we see the help that comes our way. And then another law of nature pops up: something big comes our way and asks us “Really? Do you really have the guts to do this? How badly do you really want this?”

Maybe you actually get the audition you’ve been fighting for, or an advance for your book proposal, or a loan to open your own shop…that’s great! But now you’ve got to actually follow through. Put your money where you mouth is…and step up to the plate.

Which means for most of us: red hot fear.

People at the top of their game have found a way to get comfortable with being freaked out. And most often, they acknowledge their fears first…BUT THEN THEY TAKE ACTION ANYWAY. They also have something that else that is consistent for them to focus on. So, although dramatic change might be happening in one area of their life, there is something else NOT changing or being challenged at the same time.

For me, it’s exercise. I do a cardio workout every single day, pretty much first thing in the morning. (well, after some coffee!) I also meditate every day. Not always at the same time or even for as long as I may want, but I do it every day.

I also make sure to “create my day” at night before I go to bed. I’ve mentioned this exercise before but it’s worth repeating. Writing out how you want tomorrow to look, before you go to bed, helps your subconscious mind look for ways to make that happen. Also, when something happens that you weren’t anticipating, you have a plan to go back to after you have dealt with whatever challenge came up.

Even if your schedule changes day to day (as mine does) you can create some consistent actions that you take on a daily basis to create a sense of safety for yourself. By doing that, you are less likely to be thrown by your fears when they arise.

Remember, when your fear bells start ringing, first acknowledge your fear. You can even thank it! Your fear is signaling you that the time has come to take big actions on your passions. It’s telling you that you are officially upping your game.

And, keep cultivating some of those non-negotiable actions you already have in your life so you can feel stable in the face of change.

If you need help creating those consistent habits, get in touch (brigittadau@yahoo.com) and we’ll come up with a plan together.

And if you liked this…forward it, retweet it, repost it…Share it!

When I grow up…

“what do I want to be when I grow up?”

I don’t know about you but I wanted to be one of “Charlie’s Angels” and definitely a part of the Jackson Five.

Obviously, neither of those things happened (…yet). So now we flash forward into being grown ups and for some of us, this question is still left unanswered. But, in my opinion, we’re asking the wrong question. The problem with focussing on what we want to “be” is that it stops us from acknowledging that what we really want is to FEEL a certain way. How will you FEEL when you achieve your goals? Why do you want what you want?

So the real question we should be asking ourselves is, “who do I want to grow into in this lifetime?” The truth is, a quality life is less about our achievements and more about our personal growth as we navigate our road to success.

Ask any successful person about how they felt when they achieved their goals. They will tell you that yes, achieving their success felt great! But they will also likely say, they were just as happy while working towards and striving for their goals. I’ve seen this time and time again with artists, entrepreneurs, and business people. They work hard and enjoy their success, yes. But then, they are soon setting a new goal to challenge themselves once again. Because successful people actually enjoy the process as much as they enjoy the results.

So, what are your goals these days and more importantly, who will you become as you work to achieve them?

Think about a goal you are passionate about…

What would your life look like on the road to that success? Who would you meet and how? Who would you have to seek out and recruit? Who would help you and how would you ask for that help? What would you have to learn? From whom? How would you get paid and who would you have the pleasure of paying, once the money started rolling in? What would you have the pleasure of buying for yourself and others?

What would your breakthroughs say about you?

Do you see a pattern emerging? Your answers to the above questions will steer you more clearly in the direction of how you want to live your life. Armed with this level of clarity, you have a clear roadmap as to how you want to feel on a daily basis. Meaning, you can feel that way NOW rather than waiting until you achieve your goals!

For example, I met a guy in Vancouver who was a ticket agent for Delta airlines. Probably not the most fun job in the world when you think of how many angry travelers you’d have to deal on a daily basis.

On this particular day, I had just taken a seat in the waiting area when he came on the speaker system to say “Hello my waiting passengers! I know you are admiring the beauty of the Vancouver International Airport so I have good news! You get to enjoy another 20 minutes of it! We will now be boarding at 2:45.”

All of us passengers looked at each other and laughed. (How often do you laugh at airports?!?)

Then, when boarding was to begin, he introduced himself as “Greg, your master of ceremonies…and these two ladies (gesturing to his co-workers) are my mistresses of ceremonies. Please have your passport ready when boarding.” Again, more laughter from all of us.

Our master of ceremonies then said “children and passengers needing assistance could board the plane.” At that point, a bunch of first class passengers jumped up and got in the line. He stared at them for a second, then, over the microphone asked, “are you all jumping into line because you behave like children and therefore need assistance?”

We all are laughing at this point. Even the obnoxious first class people laughed and even apologized.

It doesn’t end there! Once we were all on the plane and waiting to push back from the gate…Here comes Greg again over the loudspeaker. This time, he told us a funny rhyme, wished us all a safe journey, and said goodbye. To which we all responded…”Bye Greg!” (Have you ever remembered the name of the ticket agent you passed when boarding a plane?!)

This guy was clearly not waiting to achieve his goals before he started sharing what he was passionate about. Obviously he is a comedian or an actor or a comedy writer…But, he’s not waiting until he sells his script to hear people laugh at his jokes. Nope, he’s turned his day job into yet another area to share his humor. (And, when Delta sent me their survey on my experience, you can imagine who I mentioned as an outstanding employee!)

So, how can you approach your goals with this kind of passion? How can you enjoy the ups and downs along the way?

DO NOT WAIT until you achieve your goals to be who you want to be. Start to view your daily life as an opportunity to be your best self possible…start today…start now.

And if you liked this…forward it, retweet it, repost it…Share it!

Paying Attention instead of White Knuckling it

Why willpower isn’t the best way to break bad habits

You have made your declaration…this is the year you will quit smoking, overcome mindless eating, give up sugar, etc! Good for you! You no doubt feel inspired, enthusiastic and unstoppable. Until about halfway through the day…

That’s because changing our behavior, whether breaking a habit or incorporating something new, is very difficult. And, hoping you will have the willpower to stick with it, almost ensures failure.

Yes, willpower is an instinct that we do have. And you should indeed include it in your arsenal to create change. But it is not the most effective tool in your mental tool kit. In fact, it’s the least effective way to create lasting change.

The reason willpower often lets us down is because change is exhausting.

Think back to when you were learning a new skill. For example, driving. When you first got behind the wheel, think of how much you had to pay attention to. The gas pedal, the break pedal (the clutch for some of us!), the gears, the mirrors, the lanes, pedestrians…there was a lot to think about!

Flash forward to today. Did you think about any of those things when you headed to work? Not consciously, you didn’t. You were on total “auto pilot”.

Here’s the obvious truth: Our brains are wired to create habits.

How long would it take you to type an email if you had to find every key? How tired would you be if you had to focus on holding your fork every time you ate? What if brushing your teeth required your 100% attention? You would be wiped out before noon.

Our brains are wired to create habits to save our energy. (Which is quite amazing and brilliant when you think about it.) But, it is also for that same reason that it is so hard to create lasting change. The problem with learning new habits is that the process takes a ton of energy! And by the time we are tapping into our willpower, we’re too tired to utilize it.

This is where mindfulness (being present and curious) can be your most powerful tool to create change.

Let’s say you’re cutting out sugar but at the moment you are having a major sugar craving. Rather than fighting your urge, lean into it. How does this craving feel? Where does it feel in your body? What are you thinking? What are you telling yourself right now? Get super curious and focus on what is actually going on in this moment.

Then, “ride the wave”. This is a mindfulness technique which has you ask yourself the above questions, and feel what you’re feeling as if riding a wave. You can even say, on a scale of 1-10…the size of this ‘craving wave’ is…And again, how does that feel?

Once you are present and mindful of what’s going on, remind yourself of why you really want to create this change in the first place. If you declared this to be the year you gave up sugar…why? You had great reasons for wanting to make this change. What are they? Remind yourself why.

Lastly, take action. If you’re craving sugar, maybe have a glass of water or a Kombucha. (you are still giving your mouth something to do!) Maybe the temptation is in your eyesight…the waiting room candy jar! Can you move to a different seat where you can’t so easily see the candy? Can you give your hands something to do like playing sudoku on your phone? If you are driving home and you know your favorite bakery is on the next block, take a different street home!

I’ve had clients addicted to Netflix and their first step in breaking that addiction was to move their computer to another part of the house. “Out of sight out of mind” so to speak. Believe me, it works!

Remember, your brain wants to conserve energy and it wants to feel good.
If you stay present and acknowledge how good you feel to have dodged the candy jar bullet, your brain will instinctively “memorize” that new behavior and how good it feels. Then, your brain will begin making a new habit.

If you are changing any behavior (breaking a bad habit or creating a new one) your willpower will be challenged at some point. So, getting curious and present…feeling your true desires…and then acting on them…will give you the energy to make your new habits stick.

This is a huge topic and one of the most common challenges we all face. If you are struggling with this, please get in touch (brigittadau@yahoo.com) and we’ll tackle this together.

How cultivating Happiness leads to Confidence and Success

Shawn Achor of Harvard has spent his life studying happiness and its relevance in corporate America as well as corporations around the world. Countless studies have been done to prove that happy workers not only perform better at their jobs, but actually create more profit for the companies they work for.

But, most of us are not CEO’s of Fortune Five Hundred companies. So how can we use this research in practical ways to improve our own lives? After all, if it works for corporate America, shouldn’t it work for us?

Yes it can! By practicing the same principles they do. According to studies, the minimal amount of happy/confident experiences required to increase the likelihood of success, is 3 new experiences a day. But, these experiences must be specific to our own personal preferences. And these preferences are known as, our ‘signature strengths’.

What does that mean? It means at least 3 times a day, you have to consciously engage in different things that make you feel confident and happy. Some examples: admiring the pretty flowers in someone’s garden, complimenting a co-worker, finding the humor in a situation, being grateful for a good nights sleep, learning something new, reviewing your previous successes… The key is, you have to figure out what makes YOU happy and confident and start looking for opportunities to experience more of those feelings on a daily basis.

So what makes you happy? Humor? Love of learning? Creativity? Gratitude? Curiosity? Sit for a few minutes and remember the times you were genuinely happy. What was going on? What were you doing? Did you find something funny about the situation? Were you engrossed in learning something new? Write down all the activities that contributed to your happiness.

And, when did you feel successful? What were you doing and how did it feel? For example, maybe you got the client because you were super prepared and have a knack for reading the room. Then ‘being prepared’ and ‘great people skills’ should go on your list of signature strengths. (If you want to get scientific about it, go to viasurvey.org and fill out their survey…its fun, fast, and free!)

Some of you still might think that pain and struggle is the only way to success and all this happiness talk is nonsense. Well, just to inspire you even more, here is an interesting experiment done by Margaret Shih at Harvard. She gathered a group of Asian women of the same IQ and administered a math test. But, before the test, she told them that because they were women and generally women are bad at math, she didn’t expect great scores. Not surprisingly, the women scored low. Then, a different test was administered. Only this time she told them that because the were Asian they were expected to do well because Asians are culturally better at math. You guessed it…they scored high!

Another test at Harvard, involving Doctors, proved that Doctors primed with happy feelings before seeing a patient, yielded more accurate diagnosis’ than those Doctors simply going from patient to patient. I don’t know about you, I’d rather have a happy Doctor see me the next time I’m sick!

Science has repeatedly proven that the happier and more confident you feel, the more likely you are to succeed. (and thus Corporate America has jumped on board because success = money!)

So…what if you primed yourself to feel confident before going into your job interview, pitching your project, sitting down to write, or dealing with your children? The key is to remember what makes you happy, and remind yourself of the great skills you already have (rather than what you lack).

So…think back to the times you were most happy. What was going on? What were you doing? What made you feel awesome and confident?

Get your list of 3-5 things that you can do on a daily basis to feel great, and then do them every day. (I have my list posted front and center on my journal so I start every day feeling positive and confident…and what are my signature strengths, you might ask? Gratitude, Spirituality, Humor, Love, and Fairness. So my day starts with a Gratitude list…every day.)

Again, I repeat, practice them DAILY. And more importantly, practice them purposefully and consistently when faced with challenges.

And…share! Pass this on to anyone you know who could use a happiness boost today! And feel free to share your signature strengths with me!