How Being In Nature Impacts Your Health and Wellbeing

More than two-thirds of people choose a natural environment when they are feeling stressed. Why? Simply because Nature gives us a relaxing environment – one in which it’s easy to let go of all of our pent-up stress. While in nature, we are able to rejuvenate our minds and bodies, gain clarity, and reduce stress levels. In turn, this makes us happier, kinder, and more creative people!

When you were last outside enjoying nature, do you remember feeling good? The fresh air, possibly the sun, open space, and the wonderment of it all gave you an “I’m letting go of it all” kind of feeling. You were happy.  We know that nature tends to do this, which is why we all love it so much and find ourselves yearning for it at times (like during stressful, busy days, or if we have yet to get out), but do we know why we benefit so much from time outside? Here are 5 ways that time spent in nature helps regulate our health; giving us properly functioning bodies and a healthier, happier mindset.

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1. Your Brain Gets Much Needed, Down Time

In a study published in the National Academy of Sciences, conducted by a group studying the Psychological effects of city dwelling, walking in nature resulted in less blood flow in the subgenual prefrontal cortex. This is the part of our brains that is responsible for the broken-record fretting. You know the, why are there so many things wrong with me, why isn’t my life better, why don’t I have these things, thoughts. The act of continually having these negative thoughts is called rumination. When studying adults who lived in cities – it was found that a walk along the paved sidewalks vs. a walk along tree-lined paths are not the same. Only in the ladder case, when one is truly walking in nature, does this part of our brains become less active.

2. Fresh Air Improves Blood Pressure, Our Heart Rate, Makes us Healthier, and is Good for Our Digestive System

Wow, what? Yes – getting out of heavy-polluted environments and high-traffic areas gives our body a full detox, all thanks to the increased oxygen that you’ll breathe-in in nature. Fresh air increases the flow of oxygen, which in turn, helps us digest food more effectively. Oxygen helps our white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and bacteria, keeping us nice and healthy. Fresh air also helps improve our blood pressure and our heart rate, because of the decrease in pollution. Talk about a body detox!

3. Oxygen Affects Your Sense of Well-Being

In addition to the benefits that were previously mentioned to our bodies with the increase in oxygen, it also helps improve our sense of well-being. You may have noticed when coming indoors from being outside, you feel a little brighter, more refreshed, and ready to tackle what’s next? Oxygen gives our brains the ability to better function, resulting in increased concentration and a boost to our energy. Next time you feel a little unfocused, burnt-out, or have hit your afternoon “slump” at the office, find a nearby park to take a stroll in. You’ll come back refreshed and eager to tackle the remaining tasks of the day.

4. Natural Light and Fresh Air Help Regulate Your Sleep

Ok, so we’ve covered that more oxygen is pretty much the key to a properly functioning body, so it’s no wonder that fresh air helps us feel calm, happy and relaxed. Natural light is another factor that can help us snag more sleep each night. By getting ourselves out in the daylight (exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning is best), we produce more serotonin. Seratonin is a precursor to melatonin, which controls our sleep and wake cycles. So why is sunlight in the morning the best? Simply because by exposing ourselves to the sunlight during the sun’s cycles, we keep our bodies aligned with the natural cycles of light, better regulating ourselves and allowing our bodies to “wind down” during the evening time to prepare for sleep.

5. Bacteria In Soil Makes You Happier

Quite Literally. Scientists have found a harmless bacteria that only exists in soil that in a way, doubles as an anti-depressant. It has been linked to boosting our serotonin levels. Serotonin is a key player in the regulation of our moods and our general sense of well-being. And because low serotonin levels have been linked to multiple mental health issues, such as depression, we want to naturally boost these any way we can. This same bacteria also helps our immune system by decreasing inflammation, thus helping to alleviate symptoms relating to heart disease or diabetes.

By understanding just how nature can help us live healthier, happier lives, I hope this inspires and motivates everyone to get out there more regularly. No matter the weather, no matter the activity, just spending 5-10 minutes outside can do wonders for our mental and physical health. Won’t you make a promise to take better care of yourself and spend more time outdoors? 

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Sources: 
11 Scientific Reasons Why Being In Nature Is Relaxing
6 Benefits of Getting Fresh Air
How to Improve Your Sleep with Morning Sunlight

Photos: Pexels

How to Make the Most of Your Work Week (Hint: what you do on the weekend matters)

Sometimes weekends are boring. We may feel tired from the work week or just simply not know what to do with our time, wanting to make the most of our precious two days off. And other times, weekends are jammed packed with kids’ events, family obligations, social gatherings, and general errands that can eat up all of our time, leaving us to feel rushed, stressed, and frantic come Monday morning.

In both scenarios, when Monday comes, we feel ill-prepared. We can either be so overloaded from the weekend without being able to properly rest or stop moving for one second, that we are now burning out before work has even begun. On the more boring weekends where we aimlessly watch TV, sleep for hours, and just sit around, we can feel as though our weekend was wasted and have a hard time getting ourselves out of that mental rut and switching gears into work mode.

To feel both rested and ready for our work week ahead, it’s important to spend our weekends truly disconnecting from anything task related and fill our days instead with rejuvenating activities. If we practice the art of relaxing on the weekends (not TV watching, not going out with friends late at night), we can reap the benefits of a more productive work week, as well as have a more enjoyable weekend. Smart, happy people know how to do just this. They know the value of a truly rejuvenating weekend and how the benefits carry into their week ahead.

To get more from your work week while truly enjoying your weekend time, here are 9 things you can do this upcoming weekend and future weekends to come!

Exercise

Exercising will always be a recommend way to spend time. Not only is it necessary to maintain proper functioning of our bodies and minds, but it allows us to release endorphins, giving us that relaxed feelings, as well as clear our minds. Low impact exercises such as yoga, hiking, walking, biking, or swimming allows for a slower pace to reflect and be mindful of our movements, but any activity is good activity!

Spend Quality Time with Family

Time with our loved ones can create a sense of calm and peace when we choose to spend that time doing things we love as a family. This can be anything as simple as petting your cat and watching her play to taking the family on a walk at a nearby park. Not only does the time together strengthen the bond between your family (strong relationships are an indicator of happiness) but the playfulness can release some stress – the perfect combination for a disconnecting weekend.

Take Some Time to Reflect

Through journaling, writing, or simply sitting quietly in your own thoughts is a great way to spend time reflecting on your work week and on other areas of your life. By intentionally asking ourselves questions we increase our self-awareness and can gain a clear picture on what we may need or want to change in our lives. Not everything needs changing and this can also help us practice gratitude and reflect on things that we are grateful for in our lives, no matter how big or small.

Minimize Tasks and Errands

Because we deplete so much mental energy during the work week, it can be extremely beneficial to leave the work week for any other errands or tasks that need to be done such as grocery shopping, cleaning, dog washing, laundry pickup, and the like. If you can, pencil in these types of errands and tasks into your weeknights or for convenience, outsource some of these for low-cost by using an app like TaskRabbit (hire local people to complete errands for you). It’s amazing how much better we can feel waking up on a Saturday knowing we don’t have to get right out of bed to start taking care of things.

Go on A Mini Adventure

Go for a day-hike, book an afternoon at the spa, travel to a nearby city you have never been to, go to a concert in the park. Do this with your family, with your partner, by yourself – it doesn’t matter – the benefits are in the doing something different and new. It opens our senses, creates curiosity, excitement, and a sense of wonder that fills us up with good feelings. Call them what you’d like, but these mini-trips or day-cations work wonders for our psyche and mental health.

Pursue a Passion

You know those hobbies you loved years ago and started sort of doing recently but have been “too busy” to really devote time to? Well, the weekends are the best time to unleash your inner musician, artist, chef, sew-maker, woodsmith, photographer – you name it. Dedicate part of your weekend days to these things that bring you absolute joy and enjoy fully with no interruptions.

Have a Little ‘Me’ Time

This may seem redundant to the above passion pursing or even reflecting, but make no mistake – “Me Time” can be different. Studies have found that “Me Time” works best first thing in the morning, while your body is waking up and your mind is clear. This time essentially helps you start your day slowly and more mindfully, giving you a great sense of calm to begin your day with. What you do with this time doesn’t necessarily matter, but many have found more simpler activities such as writing, reading, enjoying 30 mins for a cup of coffee, meditating, taking a bath, sitting outside, listening to calming music, and the like have worked best.

Stick to Your Routines (even on the weekend)

This one is important. Waking up at the same time each day and going to bed at the same time each day, keeps us feeling grounded and rested – both of which are essential to maximum rejuvenating benefits. While the weekends should be spent intentionally relaxing, it doesn’t mean lose all sense of time and stay up into the wee hours of the night or sleep in until noon. By sticking to a few basic routines that you have all week long, it keeps us in our rhythm, making our transition from weekend to week, seamless.

Disconnect (even for part of a day or 1 day)

Sunday usually works best for this. It’s easier to power off our devices and disconnect from technology on Sundays. But, you can choose whichever day or part of a day that works best for you. Even if it’s for a few hours, staying off our phones, our laptops, and screens in general gives our eyes and minds a much needed break. There are so many other ways to find inspiration, so many other projects to work on, and so many other things to do; there is no need for us to spend so much time connected to everyone and everything, which can actually create additional stress for us.

Set your weekends with intention. By using our weekend days to fully recover and relax from the work week we are doing good things for our bodies and minds. The art of relaxing on the weekends and truly disconnecting creates an environment in which we can relax and feel whole, allowing us to welcome the work week ahead.

Relaxing doesn’t come so easily to people because we are shown that we need to constantly be working on something or be involved in something to get ahead or prove ourselves. By working past those feelings and allowing ourselves time to rest on the weekends we can be the best versions of ourselves and improve our overall productivity and happiness at work during the week.

Photo: Pixaby

6 Quick and Easy Ways to Declutter Your Mind, Now

According to scientific research back in 2005, we have about 50,000 thoughts per day (more recent estimates are 70,000), which in short, boils down 1 thought every few seconds. Further, 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of these thoughts we’ve had the day before. These thoughts have quite a toll on our physiology and physical health, weakening our systems and creating many of those illnesses we experience as a result of stress and other negative/cluttered thinking patterns. By the end of the day, we’re drained of our energy or worse, find ourselves feeling ill.

If we can learn to control our thought patterns and declutter our mind, we can be happier, more focused and positive as a result. It’s simple really, by becoming mindful of our thoughts and mind clutter, we can become intentional in how we choose to spend our time and energy, and where we focus our attention.

Here are 6 easy and quick ways you can take to declutter your mind, now.

Journal or make a list and prioritize

Journaling has been proven to help reduce stress, improve memory, and lessen the feelings of anxiousness. By writing out your thoughts, feelings, and goals into a journal daily you are allowing your mind to rid itself of hanging onto these thoughts day after day. A bigger payoff is the sense of clarity and assuredness that can come as a result of daily journaling. It has a wonderful way of opening our eyes to new perspectives or even confirming our inner truths.

If journaling isn’t your ‘thing’, just jot things down on paper. Even by jotting down a ‘to-do’ list, a ‘weekly goals’ list, or a ‘don’t forget’ list in a notebook or on a piece of scrap paper has the same positive effects on reducing mind clutter. As a result, you’ll have less things piling up in your mind day after day, with a significantly less chance of forgetting important things. Talk about win-win.

Exercise

Exercise has so many hidden benefits that it’s no wonder it’s recommended to get in at least 20 minutes of exercise daily. Ever feel more creative and inspired after a satisfying workout? Have you ever been able to more easily solve a problem or gain clarity on a situation during a workout? It is true that exercise leads to better problem solving skills, gives us the clarity we need in our mind, puts us in noticeably better moods, and allows us to work more effectively and efficiently throughout our days.

Find whatever type of exercise works for you; do what brings you joy and is fun for you and do it every chance you get. This can be any type of physical movement; working out doesn’t have to be boring ‘work’.

Zone out or meditate

Zoning out is not the same as removing yourself from reality and withering away in front of a TV. To zone out properly, we need to remove ourselves from anything that requires our minds to download or process any new information. Instead of reading or watching tv, try sitting in nature – or even on your front porch. Watch the wind in the tree leaves, hear the natural sounds of your surroundings and breathe in the fresh air. This type of zoning out can do wonders in helping your mind free itself from those never-ending thoughts.

For those who want a more ‘focused’ zoning out, meditation is a great way to empty your mind. There are several different ways to meditate and none is better than the other when it comes to mind decluttering. Simply choose to sit however you are most relaxed and comfortable and select something to focus on, whether it be your breath, an object, a mantra, etc and breathe deeply as you focus on your item of choice. By making meditation a part of your daily practice, even for 5 minutes, can help alter the state of your mind.  Over time and with much practice, you’ll be able to go into your meditative trance whenever you start to feel your mind begin to clutter, with ease at anytime or in any place.

Stop multiasking

Multitasking isn’t helping keep a clear, focused mind. In fact, multitasking is not only impossible, but it can contribute further to the stressed out or overwhelmed feelings that we have. This in turn, continues to feed negative thoughts and repetitive thoughts into our minds that are otherwise unnecessary to begin with. Although negative thinking can sometimes fuel productivity and spark action if used properly, negativity in this way is unproductive because we’re just trying to keep up with ourselves and pushing our minds into overdrive.

To clean up your mind is very similar to how we clean up our physical spaces. We typically select one starting point (a room perhaps) and clean and declutter this room fully before moving onto the next. For our minds, it helps to pick one task to focus on, set a duration, and do nothing else but that task for that time. It’s amazing how productive and efficient this method of single-tasking is.

Speaking of cleaning up your physical space…

Clean up your physical space

Many books and advocates will tell you that having a physically cluttered space is a definite way to give yourself a cluttered mind. When we can see physical disarray our minds translate this into more things we have to do, so we spend more energy producing these thoughts and adding to our negative clutter in our minds until the physical space is clean.

Tackle your physical spaces, even the ones you don’t actually see or don’t see on an every-day basis, but know are there (think closets, garages, sheds). Use whatever method works for you; you can tackle one room at a time or use the Marie Kondo method and tackle by category. Tidy up your paperwork, your desk space at work, your linen closet and every other nook and cranny of your living and work spaces. Everything should have a place in your space and if it no longer serves a purpose, remove it for good.

Be decisive and put routine decisions on auto-pilot

There’s no better way to clear our minds than by ridding them of an unnecessary thoughts or stressors. If there is something on your mind that you can easily remove by making a decision, please do so. There is absolutely no need to mull things over day after day, hour after hour, piling and piling the clutter in your mind. Any opportunity you have to clean up those lingering ‘to-do’s’, you need to jump all over.

If decision-making is not your forte, refer to this helpful guide on how to make decisions less difficult. The key is to make a choice and know that you can always make another one. In order to declutter your mind, you have to start somewhere and once you start to make a decision on one thing, they all get a little easier from there.

We as humans are inundated with decisions that need to be made, on a daily basis. Many of these decisions we can turn on ‘autopilot’ so that we need not think twice about them, freeing them from our minds. To put these more routine decisions on ‘autopilot’ means to simply remove any other choices from being an option. You can do this by eating the same lunch every weekday, wearing the same outfit on specific days of the week, workout at the same time every day, have a morning routine, only watch TV on Wednesday nights, do your laundry every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM, and so on. Without going overboard on ‘autopiloting” everything in your life, you can tackle a large part of your mind’s clutter.

Our minds are a powerful force. They have the ability to shape much of how we act, how we feel, and how we live our lives. It’s important that we take the time to take care of our minds so we can better take care of ourselves in turn. By taking some of the steps outlined to clear our minds, we will live our days more intentionally and focus our attention and energy on things that will better serve us. 

 

 Photo by Simon Migak from Pexels

Hearing Things We Don’t Want to Hear

There are times when we all hear it, words from our friends, family, or even coworkers about ourselves that we sometimes don’t want to hear. Who wants to be told that there are things they should work on? Who wants to hear our problems might be our own fault, or that we aren’t right about something? Often times, these things are told to us in roundabout ways, hidden beneath passive-aggressive comments and remarks, that we know are meant to mean something other than how they come out. Other times, they may be direct, gut-wrenching, blood-boiling statements about ourselves that we are uncomfortable listening to.

Think to a recent conversation you have had – with a family member, friend, boss, stranger, even – that maybe didn’t go the way you intended and maybe you felt as though you were being personally attacked. Maybe someone had brought up a topic that you feel they have no business bringing up (that is an entirely different thing). Or perhaps, you brought up a particular topic or situation or idea and had solicited someone’s thoughts or advice on the matter. Regardless, you ended up on the topic of “X”, and you just did not care for the way “so and so” was speaking to you, or the things that they said. It could have felt they were talking at you, telling you what you should have done, should have said, should have acted, or should do now. You ended the conversation feeling a little frazzled, somewhat hurt, and definitely judged.

Sound like a conversation you can recall easily?

Don’t fret. We all have those from time to time. Here, we’ll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is that you’re not alone in feeling these things after some conversations and in fact, many of us experience these on a daily basis or every time we speak to “so and so”. The bad is that we don’t realize, but we often put ourselves in those situations or conversations ourselves (even by not removing ourselves from it or ending the conversation, we are participating and allowing it to continue to happen), and the ugly: These are good conversations that can ultimately lead to better versions of ourselves and better relationships with others. Yes – they can – if we can work to be a little less “sensitive”, or at the very least, learn to deal with “tough love” from others.

How to Deal with Tough Love from Others

 

First things first, if you asked for someone’s advice or opinion or what they thought, etc, then be prepared to hear what they have to say. You can’t expect people to tip-toe around your feelings if you are outwardly asking for their honest feedback. Not to mention, what good would it do anyone if people were not fully honest? How would we grow as people if we didn’t have someone who cared enough or was willing enough to be honest and bring a fresh perspective to things? Those are the kinds of people in our lives that we all need to work on appreciating more.

But secondly, use this as a learning experience to grow and also put yourselves in their shoes too. When you are on the receiving end of these hard-to-hear conversations, don’t take everything personally. Sure, it can feel personal, but the giver of the hard-to-hear advice or opinions may not be communicating what he or she means, very well. So while they have good intentions, it may be coming off a way that had not intended. This is because tough-love is called that for a reason – it’s tough to give. Often times, the person having these conversations with you or being honest with you is having a more difficult time telling you these things than you are listening to it. It’s important to listen to them, but also important to participate in these conversations to better understand their perspective, intent and advice.

And lastly, remember that these people care about you otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to help you – even if it may not seem like they are “helping”. They want you to be happy and do whatever that means you need to do. So although the words may not come out in the best way sometimes (do they always?), they have your back and want to see you succeed in life. Never assume they meant to burn you with that comment, or that they don’t like you because they are criticizing you.  Many things can be mistakenly taken out of context, or misconstrued.Think of the people in your life who just tell you what they think you want to hear. Those people do not truly care about you and would not be there for you if/when you really needed it. The people who can say it like it is; those are the people to keep around.

Why Tough Love is so Important

Many of the things we are told by those who love us and know us best are exactly what we need to hear. Often times we are lying to ourselves and are unable to see a situation for how it really is, or solve a problem on our own with our bias lenses. Those who bring to us those criticisms or hard truths about ourselves aren’t usually way off base, if we really think about it. In reality, they are quite often pretty spot on, if we can admit that to ourselves. Without hearing these truths or having someone call us out on our BS, we would forever spiral on our own misery. These wonderful truths can be just the wake up call we need. They force us to take accountability for ourselves and our lives and by realizing that we are accountable, we can realize that we are in control. And when we can realize we are in control, we have the power to make changes!

Recall a few recent conversations in which you received a little tough love from someone else. Did you open your heart and mind and really listen to what your friend had to offer? Were you accepting of their advice or their words, even if you disagreed with some points? Did you have a good, open dialect with them or did you quickly and instinctively become defensive and closed-off, changing the subject or ending the conversation abruptly? The next time you see or catch up with these people or person, give them a hug and thank them. Let them know how truly you value them and how you know they mean well in their intentions. Thank them for always listening to you, even when it’s tough, and for giving you the honest advice and tough-love that you need to hear. Then, don’t stop there – do them and mostly yourself a favor and take accountability for your situations and take action my friend!

Good Relationships Make The World A Better Place

In reading this month’s copy of Happinez magazine, I stumbled across an eye-opener of an article about Relationships. It was a series of interview questions from a world-class relationship therapist, based in New York, who has written two groundbreaking books on modern love. Her name is Esther Perel.

Esther gave such a fresh perspective on today’s relationships and modern views on love, and has clearly lived a life of purpose teaching these perspectives to couples to help change the dialogue of love. She speaks of how love and the expectations or rules that may have existed in love just a decade ago, no longer exist or apply today because “the role of love in our lives has changed so fast”.  Ester goes on to stress the importance of communicating about love and working with your partner to identify how you want to be together. In today’s day, those conversations aren’t likely to happen. Most relationships lack communicating about what their love will look like and feel like to them. Most couples assume the rules that society has applied to couples of years’ past.

Ester is dedicated to helping remove the pre-established rules of love and helping couples build their own views and rules (which will change throughout the course of a relationship – and should!). This view may work for couples today, but because the world is changing – and fast – these conversations must continue to happen.

When things happen in relationships, especially with happy-couples, such as infidelity, Ester is energized to help couples understand why this occurs and then helps them decide how to move forward. “In order to answer that question”, she says, “you have to move past the whole mentality of victim and perpetrator and look at the context of the affair. Often, when someone new catches your eye, its not because you want to leave your partner, but because you want to leave the person you’ve become.”  She is most interested in affairs within good relationships because she believes that “Rather than the quality of the relationship or the wish to leave your partner, an affair sometimes reflects the desire for a missing piece of yourself.” She goes on to say, “It isn’t to meet another because there is no greater other than a newer version of yourself.”

The happening of an affair is not the end of a relationship. In our lifetimes, most of us will have several marriages, or long-term relationships, and some of those could be with the same person. Ester does believe, however, that the happening of an affair is in fact, the end of a marriage. But, she then asks her couples if they want to begin a new marriage with one another. By asking her couples this question, she says they have a sense of dignity, as though they can come out better or stronger, and not be defeated or feel powerless. Her goal is to help couples feel energized by their relationships, to feel in control of them and to determine the outcome and course, themselves, without any external pressures or societal expectations.

This all ties in so expertly well of the model offered by capitalism consumerism today, which is ‘Not enough’. This model applies to every area of our lives, and Ester is helping her couples have more control in the Relationship area of their lives. What I found most insightful in this article and Ester’s views, was her ability to shed light on the fact that while infidelity is wrong, by your own definition of both infidelity and wrongness, it shows these deeper layers of people and what they be missing from themselves or within themselves – which is exactly the model we are living in.

What this all meant to me, was that her work is to have people feel as though they are enough and to establish communication with the people they are in relationships with in their lives about their views and needs. She helps people grow, to understand themselves, and to have healthy, happy relationships – not only with others, but with themselves as well.

Spread the love and remember that we are all good enough. Pay attention to what you do on a daily basis; what actions are you taking that may be an indicator of you thinking you may not be enough in your relationship? What conversations do you think you need to have with your partner? Write these things down and then take action on them. Make the conversation happen and open up opportunities of happiness and love into your life!

Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya from Pexels

You Must be Dreaming

When is the last time you dared yourself to dream?

Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, we lose sight of our deepest dreams and all of the things we want for ourselves and our lives. We tell ourselves what’s the point, I won’t ever have that, or I can’t do that because of [insert excuse here], but really, we stop dreaming because we sneakily avoid holding ourselves accountable for taking action towards our dreams. Instead of spending the time dreaming up what we want in all areas of our lives, and admitting to ourselves what they are, we cowardly avoid it all together because we can’t face the fact that even though we are responsible for our own dreams becoming a reality, we continue to day in and day out, not take any action towards them. We would rather not admit to them at all. How sad, right?

I am currently reading a book called Maybe It’s You by Lauren Handel Zander and she is a wizard in helping people from all over the world get out of their own way and not only realize their own dreams, but finally do something about them all. I won’t share my opinions on the book quite yet, but there is an exercise in the beginning where you are to write out your dreams in all 12 areas of life that I think is particularly interesting and exciting.

If you want to start living your dreams, first you need to identify what those dreams are in the following areas:

  • Self
  • Body
  • Love
  • Spirituality
  • Career
  • Money
  • Time
  • Home
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Fun & Adventure
  • Community & Contribution

Do you remember how to dream?

The key to writing out your dreams is to remove any negative feeling and any negating words. The point is to write these out as if they are already happening and as if you are already living them. Describe them in detail, describe how they make you feel, and be very specific. This is the part where you have to be honest with yourself and remove anything that might hold you back from writing out your own truth. Nothing else matters – not whether or not they can happen, not whether or not someone else reads these – write from a place of inspiration. Dig deep and find what sparks your soul and what you know would make you happy.

This can be a very exciting exercise and one of significant self-discovery. It could unfold some new dreams you never realized you had because you never allowed yourself to spend time dreaming of them, or affirm some existing dreams you’ve long since tried to make a reality.

To sum it up, here are high-level steps to keep in mind when writing these out:

  • Be specific; capture what your dream looks and feels like so you can fully visualize it.
  • Write in the present tense; it keeps you accountable and allows you to accept that this is your dream.
  • Be kind; focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
  • Be honest; admit to everything you want, otherwise how can you fix what isn’t working now so you can get to what you truly want?

Here’s an example taken from the book itself of how a well-written dream may sound:

The area is SELF:

When I walk into a room, people want to know me. I’m that guy Bold, happy, and unstoppable. I am always looking for the next adventure. I am proud of the contribution I am making to the world. I am decisive, transparent and, did I mention, confident. I am exceeding my every dream and then some. I am a leader everywhere in my life: professionally, socially, and with my family. Yes, even mine! I am a masterful ring-master, proud of the difference I have made and how open, honest, forthright, and fun I am with everyone. I am deeply happy.

How motivating and inspiring is that?

Don’t be discouraged if you’re finding this to be a little bit more difficult than you originally thought. We have spent so much time not dreaming that of course it is going to be hard or feel a little awkward at first, but if you keep working on them, you’ll eventually get them right. I am currently on draft #2 of most of mine and am still finding it hard to allow myself to dream. The hardest part is the actual dreaming – what do I really want, what would this look like if it could be the exact way I want it? Those are hard questions, but I just start writing. Then I edit. Then I get more specific. Then I describe.

You’ll know it’s right and complete when you are able to read it back to yourself and it makes you smile and feel motivated, inspired, and excited, just as reading that above example made you feel. When you can’t help but feel completely overcome by happiness in reading it that you can’t wait to get started on making that dream become a reality, then you know it’s done.

So, get to work – start dreaming!
Photo from Pixaby on Pexels

How to Make Difficult Decisions Less Difficult

A major life decision is never a choice, but rather a realization that the decision has already been made. – Doug Cooper

We’re all faced with difficult decisions that we must make. Most of the time, we struggle over large, life-changing choices like ending a relationship, moving someplace new, leaving a job, starting your own business, getting married, and so on. It’s no surprise that these come with the stress and pressure of choosing the “right thing” – and even figuring out what that “right thing” is.

But even the seemingly smaller decisions can hold such a weight in our minds that makes it difficult to choose for even those. Sometimes it’s hard enough to decide where to go eat for dinner, what clothes to wear today, whether or not you want to cut your hair, or if you should press snooze one last time.

I recently made yet another life-changing decision (because I somehow cannot get enough of these), and have decided to leave my job. I don’t need to share my ‘now what’ plan or explain why I chose this in order to get the point across that this was no easy decision to make. But, it was without a doubt, the right decision for me to make for myself, which is exactly why I did it.

The good news is that these decisions, no matter how big or small, don’t have to zap you of all your physical or mental energy. They don’t need to be so difficult that you can’t seem to think straight, or you make yourself ill over them.

Sometimes the hard thing to do and the right thing to do are the same.

So how do you know what the right choice is? From my very personal and very recent (2 days ago) decision to put in my notice, I want to share some advice. I would like to say that I flowed very effortlessly through these helpful tips for making difficult decisions less difficult, but it was not until after my decision was made that I then reflected upon the process. I thought about what it was like for me to go through the journey ultimately arriving at my decision, the extremes and messiness in between that I had experienced and felt, and how I could have made it a little easier on myself.

“Doing what is right means doing what benefits your body, mind and soul. It has to light you up. If it doesn’t, it isn’t right for you.” – Tara Jean

Here are my steps into making difficult decisions a little less difficult:

  • Leave your emotions out of it
  • Don’t ask for anyone else’s opinion
  • Pretend you’re alone in the world and are in charge of the outcome
  • Don’t ask Google and don’t read any articles telling you what you should do
  • Don’t add in any additional decisions; no matter how small. For now, it’s just A or B.

The biggest favor I could have done for myself would have been to disengage from everything and everyone for just 10-15 minutes with no interruptions to just hear my own internal voice. What was it telling me I wanted or needed – not what did so-and-so think of it, not what will so-and-so think of it, not what did I fear about it, not what was the right way to decide this, not how will people think of me if I do this, and certainly not what would I do after this decision (that doesn’t matter quite yet). No. Had I been able to just think for a minute about what I wanted and why I wanted it, the decision would have been clearer a lot sooner and wouldn’t have caused me so much internal distress. It’s only when we allow our emotions to get in the way or allow ourselves to listen to others, that decisions become difficult for us to make.

And here is what not do after your decision has been made:

  • Apologize
  • Explain yourself or find a reason to justify it
  • Put anymore thought into it
  • Wonder if it was the right thing

The hard part is over. There is absolutely no need to be so hard on yourself or make it more difficult than it needs to be. Never be sorry for something that is right for you. Just like you are fully capable and entitled to make decisions for your own life, so is everyone else (and they do), so never apologize for yours. Also, instead of spending time thinking more about it, lay it to rest. I am only 2 days after making such a large decision, but I spent most of yesterday thinking about it, the conversation I had with my boss, what everyone else will think when I tell them, and if I did the right thing. I wish I hadn’t wasted my mental energy on those thoughts yesterday, because really, it doesn’t matter. I know it was a decision I needed to make and am happy I made because I feel a sense of relief and excitement, a sense of pride and bravery for doing it, and an entirely new sense of calmness as I stare into the face of the unknown.

So for anyone else out there facing a difficult decision, I hope this reaches you and helps you be more confident in what you already know to be the right decision for you. Stay true to yourself and your needs and believe that you are strong enough to get through anything. You’ve got this.

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