What is Happiness?

Is Happiness a Choice?

Don’t worry, be happy” – that is how the song goes. The song is very uplifting, and I find myself singing along. At times it is hard to be happy. We tend to worry a lot, and are anxious, sad, or unhappy. Worrying can use up a lot of energy, as does anxiety, and sadness. Worrying usually doesn’t solve anything, it just tires us out and makes us miserable.

Happiness – joyful, excited, content, calm, relaxed, ecstatic, sometimes this results in a warm feeling, causing us to smile. Have you ever walked down the street and smiled at people as you walked past? If you haven’t,  try it and notice the reaction of others. It is a fun exercise to do. An article I recently read suggests smiling at the first ten people you meet today – I love this idea. Just smiling can make you feel better. I’m a Certified HeartMath Trainer and Coach, I practice breathing to help me get into coherence and I have found I can increase my coherence by smiling.

We don’t need to be unhappy. There are things we can do to help make us feel happy. According to Positive Psychology, a Harvard Health Publication, the following things can help make you happy (I’ve added a few of my own):

  1. Feeling good – seeking out pleasurable activities
  2. Being fully engaged – going after goals and activities that are important to you. Do you know what these are? Have you identified your values?
  3. Being of service – helping others, volunteering
  4. Children (to a certain extent)
  5. Gratitude
  6. Vacations and special events, if you live in the city – get out of town for a hike
  7. Being mindful and focusing on one thing only – i.e., no multi-tasking
  8. Enjoying simple things like sunshine, being outdoors – a walk around the neighbourhood or a park, curling up with a loved one, popcorn, and a movie
  9. Not taking on too much, or being a workaholic – spend time with yourself, family, and friends
  10. When is the last time you coloured, painted, or did something that you enjoyed as a kid – hide and seek, tag, a snowball fight, a pillow fight, a board game?
  11. Look through old photos, reminisce, and plan some fun activities for the future.
  12. You can also try meditation or going on a retreat (I have done at-home retreats; they can rejuvenate and be fun).
  13. Get yourself out of a boring routine, turn off the screens, don’t listen to the news for a few days, try new things – cooking classes, dancing, swimming, sports, reading a book
  14. Put on your ‘thinking cap’ and come up with some fun things to try, some boring things to get rid of, be active, be with others. You don’t need to spend money; you only need to think and get active.

Research has also shown that being grateful helps a person be happy. Though not having enough money, being ill, and being in a country at war certainly give you the right to be unhappy. Nonetheless, to get through such times with a bit of hope, and taking the time to think about what you do have, rather than what you don’t have can lead you to a state of gratitude. As nice as it would be if money could buy happiness, it just doesn’t.

Happiness is a Choice

Young people, those in their late teens, report being happy, but people in their eighties report being even happier. Positive Psychology also reports that happiness and enjoyment decline until about 50 years and then steadily increase over the next 25 years.

Where you live can also influence how happy you are. The following are the ten countries identified as the happiest:

  1. Finland,
  2. Norway,
  3. Denmark,
  4. Iceland,
  5. Switzerland,
  6. the Netherlands,
  7. Canada,
  8. New Zealand,
  9. Sweden,
  10. Australia.

The happy countries, according to Positive Psychology, are often those where the culture and economy allow the people to experience pleasure, purpose, and security. I don’t want you to dwell on this, but what is the culture and economy of your country now? The current state of the world has created economic concerns in many nations – this could decrease happiness worldwide. If that is the case, we need to be paying attention to our own state of happiness and take every measure we know to maintain and build our own happiness and that of our family and friends.

We have learned much during the pandemic. We have become very aware of the need for social contact. Social support has been identified as one of the Social Determinants of Health, it is not a new concept. Additionally, social support is also important for happiness. Accessibility to healthcare, another Determinant of Health, and “healthy years of life expectancy” also support happiness.

Marriage can assist in happiness, but that happiness can decline after the birth of the first child and not recover until the child(ren) leave home (these days they are often at home for an exceptionally long time – don’t wait for them to go to be happy). Personal relationships are important to happiness, as are having friends and frequent sex. Though we sometimes take our partners for granted, we don’t have to, and it does nothing for happiness. Plan for time together doing something you both enjoy. Plan for family time and learn to enjoy the children, they can be fun, and family fun is important. That is how great memories are made.

Life has many ups and downs, how you choose to respond to them will make a difference in whether you are happy. Happiness is a choice.

As a leader, you want to instill happiness in the workplace. The benefits are numerable. I can help you focus on achieving the happiness you want in your life, and in the life of your organization, you do not need to do it alone.

Book a ‘get to know you’ call: https://calendly.com/fromtheheartwithdr-elaine

More to come on Happiness, Mindfulness, and Inner Strength in the next few weeks.

08/04/22

Has Your Work Increased Over Time?

When you started your job, you probably had a fairly good idea of your job description and what your work would involve. You knew that as you became more competent at the various /tasks you would have more responsibilities added till you were proficient in your role.

You are starting to find this a bit too much for you to manage. You are becoming tired, less enthusiastic about your job, and the stress is starting to get to you. You are asking yourself, “how did I get into this situation”?Have you heard about boiling a frog?

You have become proficient and taken on the additional tasks and projects given to you. You have done well and are proud of yourself. Now the additional jobs and projects are becoming more frequent and many are now expected of you and added to your responsibilities.

Recipe for Boiling a Live Frog

Ingredients

  1. One live frog
  2. One pot large enough to cover the frog with water
  3. Enough water to cover the frog

Fill the pot with water. While waiting for the water to boil, catch your live frog. Once the water is boiling, drop the frog in the water. Boil till done.

Comment:

My frog jumped out of the water; I don’t think your recipe works.

Response:

My goodness, everyone knows you can’t boil the water first. You must put the frog in the pot of room temperature water, then bring the water to a boil.

Why Have I Given You This Information? What Does This Have to do With the Changes to Your Work Responsibilities?

More than once I have ended up in such a situation. One time when I moved on two people were hired to replace me. Has this happened to you? As in the opening description, I took on one more thing, then one more thing, and it continued – after all, how much time can just one more thing take? One little task, no problem.

More tasks are given to you and you are managing them quite well, but you are getting tired. You are no longer sure if this is the job you want. Your family is complaining that you spend too much time working and that you are too tired to do things with them when you get home.

What has happened here? Just like the frog, the heat was slowly turned up, you didn’t even notice until it was too much and you were done – just like the frog.

What can you do about this type of situation?

You might have been in the job for years and you are satisfied. You are working in a field of your choosing. When you first started you were excited to go to work every day. Some of that initial enthusiasm has worn off now as your workload has increased and no longer aligns with your values or the direction of your goals. It is not too late. You can start now to set your boundaries. Of course, it is difficult to backtrack, but it is possible. A carefully thought-out plan is needed, and this plan begins with an open mind, courage, and a clear understanding of your values and goals. What is important to you? What are your priorities? This can be a hefty task and you might want to get a bit of help.

Know your boundaries (ideally from your first day of work, but it is never too late). I suggest you go back to look at your values. Is the job in alignment with your values? As you determine your boundaries are they in alignment with your values and goals?

Guidance at such a time might be valuable. This is where a coach or mentor can come in handy. Give me a shout and let’s figure out what you want to do and how you will go about getting what you want.

drelaine@drelaineleadership.com

Follow Your Heart

I’m sure you have heard this somewhere, at some time. But what does that mean? To me it means living from my heart. That still might not be enough to give you a good understanding. Let me tell you more.

Our mind/brain tends to rule us like a dictator. When we follow the brain, we are ruled by what we have learned and what has been handed down over the years; this influences our understanding, actions, reactions, and decisions. When you think of actions and reactions think about emotions. So often we react to our emotions only to later regret our actions. We don’t need to do that; we can learn to reprogram our brains and respond rather than react. By reprogramming our brain, we can then respond in a way that aligns with our values, in a way that we choose, in a way that will lead us to be the person we want to be. By constantly following your brain there is a good chance that you are doing what you have always done. We know where that will lead – to the same results you have always gotten.

For example: Stress often causes people to react (respond) by habit to challenging situations with anger, resentment, frustration, hurt feeling. We know these behaviours are destructive, to both you and the receiver.      

https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-based-living/

The term Heart-based living can mean something as simple as including your hearts’ intuition, your mind, and your values as you make decisions/choices. Your heart has wisdom in its/your feelings you want to learn to discern this wisdom and find the guidance to make that process easier (HeartMath is one source of guidance).

What would it look like to follow your heart? What would others see?

Love, compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness, cooperation – these are a few of the qualities you might see in yourself when you begin to follow your heart, and you can look for these qualities in others.

You do not need to follow any specific religion to follow your heart. Following your heart is an intelligent way of living that can help reduce stress, separation, and greed which are the drivers of our major problems (think world, and then focus on your community, then yourself).

The information in this blog is from https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-based-living/

Love Makes the World Go Around

porapak-apichodilok

Is it love or money that makes the world go around? Or might it be something else? I shared my thoughts on money making the world go around, now my thoughts on love making the world go around.

Check out Dion Jackson’s song ‘Love Makes the World Go Around’. I like to believe it is love that makes the world go around, if it isn’t it should be. Yes, we can be hurt by love. I’ve been there a time or two. But I am better for having loved and been hurt than to not have loved.

Love is a great feeling, regardless of what kind of love it might be, whether we are giving love or receiving love. The love of your parents or children, of your partner, or a friend. As I searched to find out what others had to say about love I found eight types of love. 1) Passionate love (Eros), 2) Deep friendship (Philia), 3) Self-love (Philautia), 4) Enduring love (Pragma), 5) Universal love/ selfless love (Agape), 6) Familial love (Storge), 7) Playful love (Ludus), 8) Obsessive love (Mania).  Other than obsessive love, all love is positive.

What if love were the foundation of all relationships? What would that look like? In a romantic relationship, if we always treat the other person with love, and also love ourselves, it seems we would be able to work through just about anything. Though partners might decide they no longer want to be together, for whatever reason, that break can be much better for everyone if done with love. Friends can do the same thing. What about our jobs? If you don’t love your job, would it be a good idea to change jobs? Even if you do love your job, if you are not treated with love you might want to consider leaving.

Could our world leaders really go to war if they considered the love of others? Maybe different solutions could be found if war or embargos were not an option.

As COP26 enters its second week, can you imagine how different it might be if everyone loved our earth and all the people and animals it holds? A very different outcome could be a real possibility if we came at the challenges from a place of love.

All You Need is Love according to the Beatles. And some health experts agree we need love. There are 10 ways in which love improves your health 1) fewer doctor visits, 2) less depression and substance abuse, 3) lower blood pressure, 4) less anxiety, 5) natural pain control, 6) better stress management, 7) fewer colds, 8) faster healing, 9) longer life, 10) a happier life. I don’t think we can get those things from money. *

I am going to continue to love; how about you?

*This information comes from a reputable medical site as shown by the display of this image       

Money Makes the World Go Around: Is That What Makes Your World Go Around?

Money Makes the World Go Around, by Liza Minnelli. I remember hearing this song in the movie Cabaret. I enjoyed this song. I don’t remember if I believed it at the time. I now think that money making the world go around is what many people believe and value. Do you believe that? Is money one of your values?

Photo: porapak-apichodilok

I watched Greta Thunberg today, for a few minutes. Her comments were interesting, and I think her intentions are good. She commented on money taking priority over decreasing our negative practices leading to climate change. That caught my attention. I have often thought the same thing. I didn’t hear any suggestions from her, but we need to find practical ways to help our environment.

A bit later I got thinking ‘we are f—ed’. My husband asked why – my response was, ‘because we – humans – seem to put money ahead of everything’.

How much money do you really need? I need money for food, shelter, clothing, water, electricity, gas, sewer, transportation, health care, and education. I also want enough money to look after my dog. I might be missing something, but if I am maybe it is because I don’t need it.

I don’t need to be able to eat out, I don’t need such a big house. I have more clothing than I need. I could easily cut back on these things. I don’t need a tv, definitely not three. I don’t need to go on expensive vacations. I don’t need fancy clothing. What do you need? What do you want? What is important to you?

I want to have a healthy life. I want to be able to spend time with family and friends. I want to be able to help others. Gardening, making my own clothes, cooking, and baking more are all things I enjoy. I love the smell of my clothes when I bring them in from the clothesline. I want to be able to hang my clothes outside and not have them come in smelling of smoke from the forest and grass fires.

How many of our products are polluting the environment? Remember, it isn’t just the ‘weather and climate’ as in coal and methane gas, that are being affected by our activities. Our earth, the soil to grow food, and water are being polluted. Soil nutrients are being depleted. Yet it seems like every day I see something new on the tv (that I don’t need) being advertised and, it seems to me, many of these items are definitely going to pollute the environment in many ways; from the manufacturing process, to the use, and the disposal of these products.

Growing up, and not having a lot of money, I was taught to turn the lights out when leaving a room, electricity was expensive. We had a water meter so no running toilets, or leaky faucets, no running the water while brushing our teeth, and no long showers (we didn’t even have a shower). We don’t think about how much water and electricity cost, let alone what they are costing our environment. At what temperature do you keep your home? Do you have air conditioning, and at what temperature is it set? I remember hearing ‘don’t leave the door open, I’m not paying to heat the outdoors’. If you are cold, you can always put on an extra sweater, or wrap up in a blanket.

Do we have to go back to all the old ways? Not necessarily. I think we must look at those old ways and determine if some of them aren’t better than what we have now, whether it be for money or for the environment.

Money makes the world go around. Or is it love that makes the world go round? Watch for part 2 – Love Makes the World Go Around.

Our Heart: Pump, Emotions, Stress, Energy

Our Heart: Pump, Emotions, Stress, Energy

Just like our brain, we all have a heart. We know our heart acts like a pump to circulate blood throughout our body. We know that we can have heart attacks and other cardiac diseases.

Something many do not know is that the heart and brain communicate and that the heart communicates with the brain more than the brain communicates with the heart.

When you are feeling stressed, your heart is involved along with your brain. Our emotions influence our hearts and brains. The heart is an electrical system. This shouldn’t surprise you because the ECG (electrocardiograph) that traces our heart rhythm is tracing the electrical rhythm of our heart. The functioning of the brain can also be examined using an EEG (electroencephalograph), which measures the electrical functioning of the brain. Muscles are also measured electrically. We are made up of electrical energy.

Enough about the electricity for now. Next, a bit of information about how our heart and brain work together when we are experiencing stress.

What is stress and how do you know if you are experiencing stress? Definition of stress:

In a medical or biological context stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. Stresses can be external (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal (illness, or from a medical procedure). Stress can initiate the ‘fight or flight’ response, a complex reaction of neurological and endocrinologic systems.

Definition of stress:

Stress affects many areas of our body. Remember too, that all areas of the body are connected. We cannot separate our mind and mental health from our body and physical health. Our emotions affect our brain, mind, and mental health which in turn affect our body. Stress can lead to physical illness and physical illness can lead to stress. A bit of a vicious circle.

Researchers have discovered that our emotions are a result of our hearts and brains working together. Neurocardiology (a specialty of how the brain and heart interact) research has determined that the heart is a sensory organ. The heart can learn, remember, and make independent functional decisions that do not involve the cerebral cortex. (2003. McCraty, R. energetic-heart.pdf  Institute of HeartMath.)

Our emotions drain our energy. Think about it, when you have had a disagreement with someone, you will often feel tired and make poor decisions. Afterward, we are apt to say to ourselves (maybe even to others) ‘what was I thinking?

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.”
— Hans Selye

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/stress-and-heart-health

The HeartMath™ System (programs, techniques) includes methods of mental and emotional self-regulation and energy management techniques that lead to a restructure of neural (nervous system) circuits. The techniques assist in the alignment of our mental, emotional, and physical systems. All the techniques affect several areas of the brain: amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and thalamus and improve the synchronization of the heart-brain, hormonal balance, the autonomic nervous system, and vagal pathways. Breathing is a vital component of the HeartMath™ systems. But HeartMath™ is much more than breathing. Remember, our heart and head are communicating with each other.

One of the goals of drelaineleadership.coach and HeartMath skills is to guide you to increased internal awareness. Everyone deserves to have a beautiful life that includes self-awareness and limited stress. You can be in control of your emotional responses.

Stress often leads to us adopting poor coping behaviours that can increase our risk of heart disease and stroke. Some poor coping behaviours include smoking, alcohol, drugs, overeating, absence of physical activity, unhealthy diet. Being overweight, and not taking your prescribed medications as per your doctor’s instructions are also symptoms of stress.

Stress can show up in your body as a headache, back strain, painfully tight shoulder muscles, and stomach pain. Other things that stress can do to you include zapping your energy, create sleep problems, and adding to crankiness, forgetfulness, and not being as in control of yourself as you would like. A chain reaction begins:

Stress > release of adrenalin and cortisol > increased heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure

You are prepared to fight or flee even though there is no physical danger, no lions, or tigers, or bears.

There is a large body of information and research about stress and ways to manage our emotions. I will continue to share information about stress, emotions, the heart-brain connection and how to take control of your emotional reactions in future blogs. But just a little bit at a time.

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Who needs emotional intelligence (EI or EQ)? My answer is everyone. In fact, I think it is something that should be taught throughout school. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a stand-alone course, though it certainly could be. EI could definitely be included in courses for communication, psychology, sociology, and definitely be a part of nursing and medical curricula. How can anyone effectively work with people and not have stellar EI.

Daniel Goleman’s theory of EQ is as follows:

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

Goleman also states that “Great leadership works through the emotions.”

(Goleman, Boyatzyis, & McKee. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. 2013 )

What is the process for learning about EI? As with many things, it starts with self; Self-awareness and Self-management followed by Social Awareness and Relationship management.

I found a test online that can help you discover your EI and begin your journey. This test only gives you an idea of where you are, and it is not the full test. I encourage you to check this one or another one out.

Note that the first item of EI is Self-awareness. This is straight -forward, if you aren’t aware of your emotions, you won’t be able to change how you respond in various situations. Once you are self-aware you are in a position to self-manage, I also refer to this as self-leadership. Self-awareness is the foundation of all of the rest. Becoming self-aware also helps you to develop Social Awareness. Having paid attention to yourself, your emotions, and your reactions in various situations, you will be more likely to be able to notice how others react or respond to a variety of emotional events. Empathy comes into play in this area: being aware of what others are experiencing. This doesn’t mean you want to respond to someone going through a traumatic event with “I know how you feel”. That isn’t empathy. Empathy is understanding where that person is coming from. You understand the pain, grief, and sadness being experienced. Developing these three areas naturally leads to Relationship management. Our lives are filled with relationships.

Why does this make a difference to anyone, or in this case, to leaders? I want my boss, coach, guide, or anyone in a leadership role to have these qualities; to be Emotionally Intelligent.

A leader with a high EQ would be likely to be much better at inspiring and leading teams. Hopefully, an EI leader will guide and assist in the development of the other leaders in the organization. There can be more than one leader. We all have different skills and abilities in which we can lead. A socially aware leader will know when to call on others.

You do not have to be a leader to become more EI, it is worthwhile for everyone. Synchronicity occurred today: I am once again taking part in a research study and one of the lessons today was about the brain – our caveman brain and our frontal cortex. These are the areas involved in our reactions. Too much to go into here. But watch for my next blog on our caveman brain and our frontal cortex.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Whew! It Isn’t COVID What I’ve Learned

I’ve had a sore throat, runny nose, head and body aches, and have felt crappy for almost a week now. I canceled two medical appointments because I didn’t want to spread anything. I got tested for COVID – negative. A big sigh of relief.I thought about this and gave myself a bit of a kick for not listening to my intuition. I let my guard down and eased up on COVID precautions: I didn’t wear my mask if everyone had both their jabs. I went out a bit and saw a few people, I thought I was safe.

I haven’t had a cold in two years. Before COVID I was getting chemo. I completed chemo in February 2020, the beginning of COVID. During chemo, I was isolating a lot because my immune system was knocked out. So, the restrictions were merely a continuation for me, a bit more stringent as I hadn’t worn a mask, I just hadn’t gone out.

I concluded, the restrictions for COVID had aided in my not getting my usual frequent colds. I have believed in and practiced good hand hygiene for many years – that is what comes from working for years in an ICU.

I have a couple of autoimmune disorders that make it a bit more difficult to fight off infections and I’m considered a senior citizen (no one cares that I don’t feel like I’m old). Though I remain in remission from my cancer I still choose to be careful to not catch whatever is going around.

As we all wait for the restrictions to be over, so we don’t need to worry about getting sick, I am thinking of backtracking. I intend to go back to wearing my mask when in groups, if I can’t maintain a distance of approximately 2-meters when shopping (though I don’t like shopping and rarely do it). If I am sick, I will stay home, without visitors. I will continue to cover my mouth when I cough or sneeze – remember the phrase – sneeze in your sleeve.

I hope the days of going to work when you have “just a cold” are gone. If an employer expects someone to work when they have a cold and the employee doesn’t dare to go against that, I hope the employer is supplying masks for everyone and supplying hand sanitizer. Remember to wash your hands.

I hope the cleaning practices that have been learned will be continued. Maybe we can have a winter with less flu – oh yes, get a flu shot. The world in which we live is a dirty place. But we do know how to clean, make soap and water a priority.

Are Your Decisions Based on Fear?

When that bear is after me, I hope I can run faster than you can. I also hope that my fear has kicked in enough that I can actually run. I used to love running, but as with many of us old folk – the knees are gone.

If some dude or dudette breaks into my house while I am home, I hope I have enough fear to either hide or run. Fear can be good. The adrenalin gets you going, hopefully, to someplace safe. Fear today is different from the fear in the caveman days (I think there were cavewomen too, but we don’t seem to talk about them). We don’t have to run from the lion, tiger, bear, or any of those aggressive animals who look on us as prey. Today our fear comes from the political climate, the pandemic, racial issues and inequality, women’s inequality, the environment, and what we are doing about it – or not doing. Some still fear not being able to feed or house their families – wow – how long has this been going on??

Every day we are apt to experience fear when we drive, when we are walking, when someone we do not know approaches us, or if someone is not wearing a mask. How do you react to these fears? In most cases, you know your heart and respiratory rates increase. The increased heart and respiratory rate can also happen when we talk about politics and pandemics (starting to be hard to separate the two).

We are facing numerous fears with the ongoing pandemic. Mask versus non-mask, vaccine versus anti-vaccer, conspiracy versus non-conspiracy, and there might be other divides of which I am not aware. Why are these divides present – fear.  Fear is often the doing of politicians and the media.

There are numerous other things occurring causing us fear. No income, no school or only home-school, and you can’t work from home, not enough money to feed the family, pay the bills, and keep a roof over your head have become too common.

Our mental health is being stretched like it has not been in the lives of many of us. The Polio scare in the mid-50s, The Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early to mid-’60s when I was still fairly young, definitely scared us. By the time the Missile Crisis came along, I was old enough to read the paper and be frightened along with the adults. I didn’t understand everything, but I knew there was a possibility that we might be gone and I might not be with my mom when it happened. I was scared, really scared.

I am not scared now. I am fortunate and old enough to be able to live on my retirement pension. I will continue to look after my health, wear my mask (heck my immune system has been crap since long before the pandemic), and I have my two jabs. I wasn’t going out before the pandemic hit because I was undergoing chemo – I just haven’t changed what I was doing then.

That only gives us a bit of understanding of the effects of fear. When the pandemic has run its course there will be other fears. What else causes us to be fearful and how does fear influence our decisions?

We have been subjected to fear-causing news reports, health reports, and general pandemic discussions for a bit over 18-months. What an incredible amount of stress we have been put through, and that stress affects our decisions. Why? Because the fear creates stress which then influences our decisions. The decisions we make when stressed are often not the best decisions.

Some of the nastiest leaders in the world gain, and have gained, power because of the fear they instill. Is that what our leaders are doing now, or are they also being fed fear every day? I am not a conspiracy theorist. On the other hand, I do believe if you tell yourself something over and over again you begin to believe. After all, isn’t that what we are being taught to do to become more self-confident, to build self-esteem, and to make the most of ourselves? Darn right it is! And guess what – it works. So let’s use the same strategy to eliminate or reduce our fear now. You can stay in fear, or you can choose to live a beautiful life without ongoing fear.

It is a big ask for anyone who is afraid. Believe me, I have been there in the past. I am not there now and do not intend to be. I am in control of me, and I can help you be in control of you. Change is never easy, but small steps repeated over time accumulate and can make a huge difference. What is amazing is how the practices that can help get you out of a fearful state can be used every day, in a pandemic, or non-pandemic times.

At any time, each of us can benefit from someone who is a sounding board, or from a coach. Now, more than ever, someone to talk to is of the utmost importance. Many are experiencing feelings and fears they have never had to deal with before, and the people in their social support system are experiencing the same concerns. Find someone to talk to individually or as a group. I offer these kinds of services and I am sure there are others also offering individual and group coaching, mentoring, or training. As humans, we need each other. We are not meant to be alone. Seek what and who you need. You were not meant to live in fear.

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What is Your Mindset?

Our mindset can lift us up, tear us down, gives us a positive attitude or a negative attitude. Much of our mindset has been instilled in us since childhood. The views of our parents, grandparents, teachers, and other important figures in our life influence us, whether we are aware. Our philosophy of life directs our life experiences. Some people, fatalists, believe that no matter what they do the outcome will be the same. What about you? Do you think you have some control over outcomes? Let’s think about that – if you do not study for exams will the outcome be the same as if you do? Does your diet influence your health? These examples seem obvious. Let’s look at some other ways mindset could possibly influence our life. If you are generally a happy person and find an opportunity or something positive in most situations you have a positive mindset. Those with a positive mindset focus on positive results and good outcomes. For many of us, we prefer to be around people with a positive attitude or mindset. A positive mindset also has health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are attributed to a positive mindset: – Increased life span- Decreased rates of depression- Lower distress levels- Increased resistance to the common cold- Better psychological and physical well-being- Better heart health and decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress. Considering these positive connections, I encourage the development of a positive mindset. Among the ways to build a positive mindset are:- Identify negative thoughts – that’s right – identify the negative, you need to be aware of your thoughts, identify your negative self-talk. – Focus on positive thinking and positive self-talk. Even negative thoughts and self-talk can be turned around to positive thoughts and talk. (Give me a shout, I have some tools for this). Laugh, find the humor in situations (laugh at yourself, not others), surround yourself with positive-thinking people, schedule a couple of times during the day to assess how you have been talking to yourself, and if your thoughts are positive or negative. Remember – what isn’t identified can’t be changed. Can you think of some negative thoughts that can be reframed into positive thoughts? Negative Thoughts Positive Thoughts can’t do that; I’ve never done it before. A great opportunity to try something new. That’s too complicated. I will approach that from a different perspective. I don’t have all I need to do that. I will be creative and workaround or substitute where necessary. I’m never going to get any better than I am now. I will take a chance and try some new things, some self-development courses. That won’t work. That is far out, let’s give it go.No one talks to me, so I never know what is going on. I will make an effort to engage others in conversation and show interest in what is happening. You might also consider watching less news, more comedy, or forget about tv and read positive material. Listen to upbeat or relaxing music. Spend some time outside enjoying nature. If you don’t care for nature, try just a few minutes when the weather is your favourite kind (for me sunny and warm). You can also try meditation. Or try taking a few moments to identify the things in your life for which you are grateful – a roof over your head, food to eat, a job, a family, health, life, your pet. Start a list of these things for the times when you can’t think of anything positive, and you can refer to your list. When you first wake up, or when you are brushing your teeth take a minute to take 3 – 5 deep, slow breaths, and then focus on something positive for another few breaths. It can’t hurt anything, and you might just find yourself feel more positive. I have a variety of strategies for you to try if you would like to feel more positive; direct message me and we can talk.