Thanksgiving is in the air, which means there’s a lot of talk around every mindset guru’s favorite topic: gratitude.
Most of us have heard (and hopefully experienced) the life-changing benefits of gratitude: it reduces stress. It boosts our well-being. It’s even good for our immune system. It’s key to a healthy mindset, a happy mood, and a fulfilling life.
And yet, despite how important it is, sometimes it feels like there’s a limited amount of info out there about how to practice gratitude. Most of the time, people talk about keeping a gratitude journal. And while that’s a fantastic tool and I absolutely recommend it (and I even remember to do it sometimes), it’s not the only way.
Today, I want to introduce you to a twist on gratitude – a not-so-common way to shift your mindset toward positivity and thankfulness. It’s called benefit finding.
Here’s how it works.
Your brain is designed to answer the questions you ask it....
Every single time I walk in my front door, my dog Sadie barks like mad. She celebrates with all she’s got. It takes her a full five minutes to calm down, and even then, she’s still panting.
This happens every. Single. Day. Not once has she ever greeted me like, Oh, it’s you again.
Of course, most people’s dogs are like that. For them, you coming home is cause for maximum joy. Pull out all the stops! Kill the fatted lamb! Break out the fine china—Mom’s home from work!
Dogs are always prepared for happiness. They live in a constant state of waiting for something good to happen. And when it does, they don’t hold back. They celebrate the crap out of it.
There’s a name for that magical quality: positive expectancy.
What if we were like that? What if we were more like our dogs, especially when it came to reaching our goals?
Honestly, a lot of adults these days are the opposite. We fall into patterns of negative expectancy so easily. We get...
If you’re like me, and about a gazillion other people right now, you might be completely dreading winter.
For many, winter is hard enough in “normal” years. It means less outside time, short dreary days, and seasonal affective disorder. This year, though, it’s poised to be especially difficult, with the tumultuous political climate and the threat of another lockdown.
Fortunately, I have good news: no matter what’s going on in the world, you are not powerless.
Your choices, thoughts, and actions impact how you feel, and how those around you feel.
Let me reiterate that: You are never powerless.
Today, I want to introduce you to an idea known in psychology as “small self.” This is an important idea because by tapping into it, we can free ourselves from those feelings of sadness, helplessness, and anger. We can open ourselves up to feelings of wellbeing, possibility, happiness, and joy.
Even in the dead of winter, we can choose to feel alive...
This summer, I had the privilege of working with Shauna, a stay-at-home mom whose dreams of going back to work were completely trampled by Covid.
“I left my career in finance eleven years ago to raise my children. When they were old enough, I started to home-school them,” she told me over the phone. “The plan was always for me to go back to work when they reached high school, but my husband’s job isn’t doing well with the pandemic, and I just don’t know if I’ll ever get to go back to work. Or even work on the things I want to work on.”
“What are some of those things?” I asked.
“I’ve always wanted to start a business,” she said. “I’ve had different ideas over the years. Lately I’ve been thinking that I’d really like to write a home-schooling curriculum and sell it. There’d be support to other parents in the form of an online community, and interactive field trips...
Carla sat across from me in my office, looking miserable. Her dark hair hung limp over her eyes, which were fixed on the floor between us. She looked nothing like the radiant, confident woman I’d seen on camera a few weeks before. She’d sent me her audition reel, because what she wanted, she said, was an acting coach. Now, meeting her in person, I could tell she needed more than acting tips.
“Tell me about yourself,” I said, and after a minute or so, she began to open up.
Carla told me about how she’d gone into acting because she loved performing in her high school musicals. She just lived for that feeling of getting into character, rehearsing with her fellow actors, and stepping out onto the stage. From the first rehearsal until closing night, she was in “flow.”
That’s what she wanted to feel when she moved to New York to pursue acting. But now, five years in, she was depressed, out of work, and starting to lose hope.
Years ago, I sat in the audience at a Tony Robbins event, avidly taking notes while he spoke about living courageously. One line in particular struck me like a bolt of lightning:
“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.”
As soon as I heard it, and a hundred times since then, I have circled it, underlined it, starred it, dog-eared the page, written it in my journal, posted in on my bathroom mirror. I try to keep it near me so that I never, ever forget it.
Why? Because it’s 100% true. The more you’re willing to step out into an uncertain world – which requires a great deal of courage – the more big, beautiful, unexpected things will come to you. Because if you don’t step out into that world, if you stay inside your comfort zone where things feel so safe and certain and predictable, you won’t feel fulfilled, challenged, inspired.
The more courageously you live, the more...
When my client Raymond first came to see me last fall, he was looking for clarity and direction. He had a good job in the hotel business, but overall, things were shaky. He was worried about his health; he'd had a series of bad relationships, and last but not least, his apartment was a mess.
It was a lot to work on, so we started with one small goal. After talking through some things, Raymond chose something that sounded both doable and meaningful: to clean up his apartment, enough that he could have friends over.
"Great," I said, and decided to take it even deeper. "Why is that important? What will you gain by doing that?" (I often ask my clients to name their Why. Not only does it help motivate them, but also because it can lead to unexpected places. As you'll see, this happened with Raymond…)
"Well," he said, thinking, "I've always wanted to have friends over for a game night, like I used to. But with the disaster area that is my living room, well, that's just not...
Ah, February in New York. It's that time of year when the snow is the slushiest, the days are the darkest, and many of us feel cranky, tense, and cooped-up. Magical, isn't it?
Spring is just around the corner…even if that corner is still a couple months away (it'll get here, I promise!). Till then, here are some ways to invite the warm, bright liveliness of spring into your wintry days:
Recently, someone asked me about how and when to say no. I’m glad they did, because it's such an important skill, and because it's one I've struggled with.
Okay, that's an understatement. Sometimes it feels like my entire life is about not saying no enough. Which is why I know all about it!
Let's talk about why it's crucial, and some ways to go about saying no – especially when it's hard.
First, it helps to understand why it's such a hard thing to do. There are a few reasons:
A couple years ago, a woman named Jenn came to me for coaching. She was an interior designer here in New York, and she was going through a lot of changes: the end of a long-term relationship, moving to a new apartment, adjusting to living alone. She wasn't sure exactly what she wanted, but she felt like she was starting over, and she wanted to make it count.
At the end of our first session, I asked Jenn to choose something to work on. "In what area in your life do you want to make some real change?"
She thought for a minute. "You know," she said, "I thought I'd say growing my business, or start dating again. Because I do want those things, eventually. But that's not what I thought of just now." She looked nervous.
"What did you think of?" I said.
"I've always wanted to learn how to dance," she said sheepishly. "I've always wanted to be a ballerina. Maybe now's the time...
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