inspirational

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!

My favorite daily habit to improve our dispositions

We are all born with different personalities, preferences, inclinations and dispositions. There was a vast study done in the 1950’s called the ‘New York Longitudinal Study’ where they studied infants to predict the various temperaments each child would likely exhibit as a toddler and further on in life.

And ask any parent with more than one child, they will tell you that they are all different…same parents, same DNA, different sensibilities.

So what about those of us drawn to the “broodier” side of life? Some people seem to be “hard wired” to see the negative, the mistakes, the worst case scenario. Is that you?

Or maybe you used to be pretty happy in general but life has just served you up platter of poopy life circumstances and you feel bummed out more days than not?

(Let me be clear, I’m talking about general malaise. NOT clinical depression. If you feel clinically depressed or suicidal, seek medical help immediately.)

Well, there is good news for those of you who tend to feel down. You can ‘rewire’ your brain to actively look for things that bring a smile to your face. It just takes daily practice.

– Random Acts of Kindness have been proven to, over time, help elevate people’s moods. That means, just doing something nice for someone else for no good reason, can nudge you out of a slump.

– Physically moving your body in positive ways (dancing, singing, looking up at the sky, etc) has a psychological effect on your moods. So if you are staring at your feet feeling sad, look up! That sends a neuromuscular message to your nervous system to change its focus thus changing your state from bummed, to uplifted.

But, my favorite way to rewire our brains to see the good, is:

– Journaling…in a very specific way

Everyday for the next 2 weeks, sit down and write about something good that happened to you that day. It can’t be the same thing as yesterday! You have to come up with and write extensively about something new that happened to you…every day for at least 2 weeks.

Our brains love repetition. Don’t take my word for it. Notice, do you brush your teeth with the same hand every day? Do you tie your shoelaces the same way every day? Do you drive to work the exact same way every day? Of course you do. Our brains are wired to create energy saving habits (more on that in upcoming newsletters). So, by repeating this action of positive journaling every day, your brain will start to look for more experiences for things to write about. Your brain can’t help it! It’s driven to create habits! And, this habit happens to feel good…so your mind will have no choice but to reinforce this habit daily.

This may sound overly simplistic, until you give it a try. For some of us, at first, finding a good thing to write about might be a challenge. So, start small and easy. Did someone smile at you today? Did your car get you from point A to B without incident? Did you see a funny video on YouTube? You don’t have to come up with monumental things that happened to you. Just write about something that made you smile, or laugh, or feel at peace. Stick with it for at least 2 weeks and then start to notice how much easier it gets to remember the great things that happened every day.

And no need to wait until you’re depressed to start this habit…I think we could ALL benefit from practicing journaling our good experiences every day.

FACT: We all have the capacity to increase the sum joy in the world every minute of every day.

Despite our dispositions, we do have a choice.

If this is something you have struggled with, get in touch. I’ve helped a lot of people break out of negative thought patterns and I am available to work with you if you want help with this.

How Being Self Critical actually Sabotages Your Good Intentions

Many of us are overly critical of ourselves. Some of us are hypervigilant about what we ‘should’ and ‘should not’ do to the point that any deviation from our plan is seen as a total failure. It’s an all or nothing stance to achieving our goals and it actually works against our odds of success. (if you are a self proclaimed slacker, than this doesn’t apply to you!)

A good example of this issue is the dieter who slips up. Maybe she has vowed to cut out sugar and then eats one of the cookies a co-worker brought into the office. Rather than letting it go and going back to her commitment, she proceeds to beat herself up with abusive self talk and by the end of the day is eating an entire cake by herself.

Her self criticism actually signaled the “what the hell” response. “What the hell, I’ve blown my diet. I might as well enjoy myself and eat whatever I want.” Sound familiar?

Science has actually studied this behavior and proven that the more critical you are of yourself, the more likely you are to fail at the very thing you are bullying yourself into doing. Instead of course correcting, you actually go further off the rails. In other words, if you want to spend less but berate yourself when the credit card bills arrive, you are more likely to go out and spend more money. If you are determined to cut back on sugar, but slip up with a piece of candy, you are more likely to eat more sugar for the rest of the day. If you have promised to keep in touch more regularly and notice you have fallen short of that promise, if you beat yourself up about it, you are more likely to isolate yourself further in response to your inner critic.

Bullying and tyranny never create the positive outcomes we want. And the worse the self criticism is, the more likely we will fail.

How do you get back on track?

Self supportive inner talk. This approach actually does make us more likely to succeed. Again, there is science to back this up. Being self compassionate when you slip up actually helps ignite your “will power instinct” which we all have. It’s hardwired into our brains. We all worked at eating, walking, speaking, etc until we succeeded. We needed to succeed at these things for our survival. I have several Pilates clients who have severe genetic abnormalities that make walking a true challenge. But, they have found their way of walking so they can get from point A to point B. They didn’t give up. We all have a primal instinct to survive.

So how do we “trigger” this instinct when we are faced with the temptation to throw in the towel and say “what the heck?” By learning and practicing self compassionate support.

What would you say to a friend who blew their diet? “You are a total failure and are destined to be fat for the rest of your life!” are not likely the words you would use! You’d probably say something like, “let it go, move on…we all have bad days. Just start again.” No doubt, you would be supportive.

For those of us who have lived with our self judging self talk for many years, we will find this approach to our mistakes rather strange. It might even cause anxiety for some of us. Journalling can be a very helpful tool to help with this. Write out all your judgments, criticisms, and self shaming words. Then, imagine being a supportive friend to yourself. Write out those supportive responses. For example: “I blew it again! I’m a total failure!” can be responded to by saying, “Welcome to the human race!…we all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world just start again.” Also, take the time to really look at those harsh words you used on yourself. Would you EVER say those things to another person? No. The truth is, your inner thoughts are skewed and you need to retrain your brain to support you properly.

If you really want to create those changes and achieve your goals, you have to learn to manage your self talk. Because if you punish yourself harshly when slipping up, you are setting yourself up to fail. Period.

Start keeping a journal. When you can, write down what that voice is saying to you in your head. Then, rewrite it in the voice and with the words of a supportive friend. Notice how you are able to “bounce back” from the slip ups when you are feeling safe and supported. Stick with this. The more you do this with the harsh thoughts, the easier it gets to then turn them into supportive thoughts.

If you need help with your inner critic, get in touch and we’ll tackle it together.

WHY do you want what you want?

“CHANGE IS NEVER A MATTER OF ABILITY. IT IS ALWAYS A MATTER OF MOTIVATION”-Tony Robbins

So, here we are at the brink of a new beginning. We are inundated with messages of resolutions and self improvement. Many of us follow along and set some goals and then look back at them in frustration when, after a few months have gone by, we notice we have done little to achieve them.

Well, I encourage you to try a new approach.

Why do you want those goals in the first place?

That’s the most important question you can ask yourself when you are goal setting or looking to change something be it a bad habit, a relationship, your career…”why?”. Why do you want it to be different?

Here’s the trap…a lot of us will answer with “because I don’t want to feel ___ anymore”. In most cases, that answer pretty much insures that the change you want won’t happen.

Our brains are hard wired to “go towards things”. Particularly, things that make us feel GOOD. That’s pretty obvious, I know. But if you want to change something, you have to focus on how you WANT to feel when you have achieved that change. Not on how you don’t want to feel.

For example:

I want to lose weight.
Why?
“Because I hate the way my body feels in my clothes”…is the trap.
Instead maybe you can answer:
“Because I want to feel fabulous and confident in my clothes, I want to have more energy”…etc

Another example:

I want to earn more money
Why?
“Because I’m sick of living paycheck to paycheck”…is the trap.
Instead, maybe you answer:
“Because I want to take a vacation, get my car cleaned, go out with my friends”…etc

Another example:

I want to get a better job.
Why?
“Because my boss is an asshole and my life is being flushed down the toilet”…you can clearly see the trap there!
Another answer?
“I want to tap into my natural talents at work, I want my work to be fulfilling and soul affirming”…etc

You get the point. You have to phrase your desires in “moving towards” language. And then, focus on THAT rather than focusing on what you DON’T want to feel. Focussing on what you WANT moves you forward and brings you closer to actually getting it.

It also elicits the energy required to receive that which you want. This is not new age “woo hoo”, it’s basic physics. Low vibrational energy attracts low vibrational energy. And, high vibrational energy attracts high vibrational energy. So, focusing on what’s wrong, what’s not working…low energy thoughts…will attract more of that energy. The same is true for higher energy thoughts. Thoughts of enthusiasm, gratitude, and vitality attract more of those high energy vibrations. The old saying “ What you focus on, expands” is not self help jargon. It’s a law of physics.

And if I was breaking a habit or embarking on a new career, I’d be harnessing all the high energy I could! I’d want the law of physics on MY side.

By reframing your goals from “moving away from” (low energy) to “moving towards goals” (high energy), you can effectively get the energetic world on your side. Which leads to: better results more efficiently and with greater ease.

If you want support as you go for your New Year’s resolutions and goals, get in touch and we’ll get to work on them together.

How AWESOME are you?

How AWESOME are you?…how flooding good feelings helps build momentum with your actions
We are almost to the end of the year. That means celebrations, catching up with friends and family, and for some of us, it’s a time to reflect on the past year as well.

If you are looking back at the year, notice where you are placing your attention? Many of us zero in on where we fell short. Maybe you didn’t lose the weight, book the gig, find a partner, etc. Maybe some of your dreams didn’t become a reality this year…

First of all, I’m yet to meet anyone who ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISHED EVERYTHING they wanted to do! So, we’re all in the human race and we all get side tracked sometimes. Cut yourself some slack.

But more importantly, in reflecting on the year…where were you AWESOME? When and where did you kick ass? When were you hilarious, grateful, supportive, intuitive? When were you freaked out but courageous anyway?

Make this list of awesomeness LONG. Riff on all the great things you did, experienced, and created. Include the times you laughed so hard you almost peed your pants. All the goodies…reflect on them all.

Now, flood yourself with these great feelings. In other words, jump from great memory to great memory like the waves of the ocean. Remember one time, then another time, then another, then another…Let the good feelings literally flood over you and take you over completely. For the next week, do this for at least 3 minutes every day.

Aside from giving yourself a serious boost of self esteem and kick ass mojo (which should be reason enough!), this practice creates more neuro-pathways based on positive results and responses. In other words, you are not only training your brain to look for more ways to feel good, you’re programming it to take more actions to feel good. Practicing this daily, is a quick and easy way to add momentum to your goals. (and the more you practice this, the more great memories will pop up!)

So…How friggin’ great are you???

Write it out. Post it where you can see it. Keep adding to it as more great things show up.

Own Your Awesomeness.

Attack thoughts…turning anger into peace

We’ve all been there…wagging our finger at someone who we feel need’s shaming. But, as Marianne Williamson says, “It’s not our job to police the universe”.

But sometimes it feels like it IS our job!

Sometimes, someone does something that hits all our angry buttons at once and we not only fly off the handle, we hold onto that anger and stoke it like a fire. Anything can set us off if we’re triggered the right way…unconscious drivers, obnoxious coworkers, demanding family members…personal or not, there are times when we get overly upset and feel the need to rant and rave.

Whether it’s your boss, spouse, parent, child…we all have had the experience of been so angered that we start an entire make belief fight with them in our mind. Usually this involves you being vindicated in some way and almost always leaves them feeling ashamed and feeling horribly remorseful.

If this sounds familiar, it’s important to take a “time out” for yourself and notice the endless loop you are in. Whether it’s in your head, or on the computer as you rewrite an angry email over and over…however it’s transpiring, notice that you are stuck in an anger rut. (And don’t sent the email!)

Then, ask yourself how YOU are feeling. If you want to prove them wrong, that’s an indication that you feel you were let down and wronged in some way. It’s a signal that somehow, your expectations were not met. If you want to make them feel ashamed, take a look inward…are you ashamed of something yourself? Did they hurt you in some way? The desire to hurt someone else almost always comes out of our own feelings of being hurt.

First question to ask yourself: will confronting this person help me in any way? Will it open up the channels for communication, or will it lead to more negativity and failed communications?

If there is something you can do about the problem, I recommend taking at least 3 deep breaths. Then, respond respectfully and proactively rather than knee jerking a negative reactionary thought. And, if you feel like you will likely still overreact, go home and address it tomorrow after you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

If however, you know you are being irrational and want to let this go, there are a few things you can do to transform your feelings of upset into a more peaceful mindset.

#1. Ask yourself: Do I want to keep these attack thoughts? Can I find the place inside of me where I can genuinely say “I don’t want to feel this way towards them.”?

Then ask:

#2. Am I WILLING? Am I honestly willing to give up making them wrong over and over again in my head? Another way to ask that question is…what do I have to give up in order to let those thoughts go? What am I hanging onto?

Chances are, you will have to spend a good amount of time answering these questions. This is where journalling can be a huge help. It keeps your mind focussed in the present rather than drifting back into your anger again. You can clearly see your assumptions and your thoughts and then more easily find the place in you that’s ready and willing to drop this negative thinking.

Then what? Let it go. Some people visualize their thoughts in a balloon floating away. Or drifting down a stream or getting swept up in a breeze. For some people, just stating out loud “I am willing to let this go. I am now, letting this go.” is enough to feel peace.

However you do it, just do it. And then, when those feelings crop up again, (because they usually pop up again a few more times), you can kindly remind yourself that it’s actually in your best interest not to dwell on those thoughts anymore. You’ve examined your feelings on the matter and would rather feel peace, than anger.

As you know, I always like to start small. Start with the person that was so engrossed in their smartphone that they failed to look before they stepped in front of your car. Yeah, that unconscious idiot…start with your attack thoughts about them. Go through the process of asking if keeping these attack thoughts are helping you feel good. Find out where within you, you could be willing to let those thoughts go. And then, let them go…
I would love to hear your stories about this!

July 24th Workshop

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How to  Get Out of Your Own Way and Get What you Really Want!

workshop led by Brigitta Dau

~ Is another year speeding by without seeing your goals come true?

~Are you “shoulding all over yourself” rather than taking REAL ACTIONS to get what you      want?

~ Are you ready to try a new approach?

In three hours, you will gain clarity on why you want what you want, discover your patterns of resistance and self sabotage, learn quick and effective strategies to move beyond what’s holding you back, and leave with an effective and doable plan to make those goals happen. We’ll cover everything from procrastination, to rejection, to perfectionism. As well as cultivate skills to manage stress, like mindfulness and cognitive exercises. Learn how cultivating what you’re passionate about and ending self sabotage will help you create the life you are meant to live.

Date: Sunday, July 24th
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Location: Los Angeles
Cost: $50
Contact: brigittadau@yahoo.com for more information or to register today. Must register by July 15th. Space is limited.
Brigittadau.com

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