Don't Worry About A Thing.

“I can’t stop worrying.”  “I am such a worrier.”  “I come from a long line of worriers.”

What would it feel like to not worry?  How much time and energy would you get back in your life if worrying wasn’t a thing? 

I know…right now you’re thinking, “no way,” it’s impossible for me to stop worrying.  I am here to tell you it IS possible.  To start the process, we you must understand what worrying is.    

According to Webster’s definition, worry is to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

First of all, let’s highlight a KEY word in the above definition – ALLOW.  Which boils down to, you get to choose.  So, let’s be clear and agree that worrying is your choice.  Are you with me?  Good. 

Worrying is not just the way you are.  And although you most likely picked up this gift that keeps on giving from your parents or grandparents, the bottom line is worrying is your own doing. 

Worrying is to place your focus on one thing assuming and thinking it will be or end in a certain way.  You can create intensity of worry about arriving late to a meeting, failing in your marriage or surviving a disease you don’t even have.  Your topics of worry may vary, but there is no limit to what you worry about.  

The truth is you suffer far more in your imagination then in reality.

So, what do you do?

1.     Practice awareness of when you are worrying.  That feeling of unease, an increased heart rate, anxiousness, depression, perhaps overwhelm.  Start to recognize your worry symptoms. 

2.     Embrace that you are at choice to allow your thoughts to create that feeling of worry.  When you hear the little voice whispering worries, simply notice it.  Then say, “thank you but no thank you” and detach from the thought.  As in physically picture yourself letting it go.

3.     Know that worrying doesn’t help you or your situation…ever.  In fact, it robs you of your present and steals your mental energy.

4.     BE. HERE. NOW.  Practice bringing yourself into the present moment.  When you are actively focused and engaged in what is real and what is happening right now, then you will not be focused on the worry of what might be. 

It’s not an overnight shift, but through awareness and consistency of practice, you have the power to stop worrying. 

Just Breathe.

Of all the tools and strategies available to us, there is one that always reigns supreme.  Somehow we gloss over it, don’t realize it’s greatness.  It’s something we often take for granted, as we do it subconsciously, without effort.   That supreme tool is breathing.  Conscious, deep breathing – on purpose.

Some call it centering, some say mediation, some say mindfulness.  I’m not hung up on what you call it, I simply want you to make time to do it.  Breathing on purpose means slow, centering, deep breaths.  Choosing, consciously to fill up your diaphragm, hold the breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale the breath until you are empty – then begin the next round.  The benefits can create countless positive effects in yourself and in your life.  Before I tell you all the awesome ways, let’s get clear on a few things. 

Thing #1: Meditation is the practice of reaching ultimate consciousness and concentration.  Therefore, you can be meditative in many ways; deep, purposeful breathing, coloring, mindfulness, yoga, and tai chi are great examples.

Thing #2:  Meditation DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE NO THOUGHTS.  It does NOT mean you empty your mind.  You simply allow the thoughts to float by without attachment or judgement. You observe that they are there without grabbing on to any of them.  The magic happens in the space between the thoughts – the gap if you will.  As you practice more and more, the gap becomes wider and longer. That space between is pure consciousness, pure peace, pure presence.

Thing #3: You DO NOT need to meditate for an hour, every day for months and months to receive the benefit.  Some people feel the effects after their first experience.  Meditation offers long and short-term benefits. 

So, maybe you’re thinking, seriously? So, conscious breathing can change my life?  YES.  Change your life.  Let’s talk about ALL the things that it can do:

·        Silences obsessive thinking

·        Calms you down so you respond rather than react

·        Alleviates anxiety

·        Creates space from yourself

·        Cultivates clarity in your life

·        Gets you out of your head and dropped in to your heart

·        Facilitates healing in your body – physically

·        Supports you in rewiring how you think

·        Provides increased energy

·        Promotes an overall feeling of lightness and gratitude

·        Effects how you approach life and how you interact with others

·        Aligns you with your higher self

·        Decreases feelings of stress and overwhelm

·        Works wonders in behavior change and habit shifting

·        Promotes brain growth and access to more areas of your brain

Sounds awesome, right?  My invitation:  Get a pillow, throw it on the floor and sit. Silence your phone, set the timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and breathe. Focus mindfully on the feeling of the air entering in and out of your nostrils.  Feel the air, as you breathe in and out. When you notice a thought, like “what the hell am I doing?” don’t judge it, simply let it float by.  Then focus back into the way the feels coming in and out of your nostrils.  Before you know it, the alarm with sound and there you go…you meditated.  See, you ARE totally amazing!

BE HAPPIER NOW.

You work, you run, you schedule, you focus, you strive - all for the ultimate goal…happiness, peace and fulfillment. 

Happiness.  Isn’t that what we all, deep down, are working toward?  

I can go on and on with tips of what to do to increase your happiness and joy.  Right now, let’s walk through the 3 things to stop doing to feel an instant shift in increased happiness, more peace and deeper fulfillment.  I know, I’m excited too!

The 3 Shifts to Happiness:

1.      NO MORE COMPARISON!  ‘Comparison-itus’ serves no one.   When you compare yourself or your life to that of someone else’s, you are in judgement.  Judgement is toxic and skews the way you see the world.  It’s that feeling of “look how perfect their life is” when you see a post on Facebook or “She’s so pretty and always has it so together” when you see your co-worker. When you compare, you are in someone else’s business.  When you are in someone else’s business, you are ignoring your own.  So, stay in your lane.  Stay focused on you.  Remember, where your focus goes, your energy flows.

2.      SAY GOOD-BYE TO MULTI-TASKING!   I understand and appreciate that we have been raised in a society that encourages us to believe to do more, do it faster, accomplish accomplish, get it all done, schedule more activities, cram it in, more more more, and that if we are great at doing multiple things simultaneously then we are really awesome and valuable.  I’m here to tell you that multi-tasking is bullshit.  Multi-tasking is ineffective and exhausting, not to mention it’s burning you out and making you feel bad about yourself.   There’s no rush or expectation, other than what you are inflicting on yourself.  Decide what your priorities of the day are and chunk out time to be present and focused on each thing during that moment in time.  Then move to the next.  And if the dishes stay in the sink or you let your child drop their 3rd extracurricular activity, the earth will continue to spin.       

3.      EXPECTATIONS BE GONE!  At the root of 95% of your disappointment, frustration and let down is a failed expectation.  Here’s the thing, when we create an expectation we are basically taking our ideals, beliefs and ways of being, and throwing it onto someone or something else, expecting them to deliver precisely in that way.  Trouble is, no one is you.  Anytime you utter a should, a supposed to, a why aren’t they just…it’s an indication that you are sitting with an expectation.  The thing about life, is that if often doesn’t look the way we think it will. To be peaceful, it’s better to be open to what actually is, instead of what you think it should be.

Which one of these 3 shifts resonates with you the most?  You know, the one that as you read it makes you say, “Omg, that’s totally me, I totally do that all the time.”  Pick that one and try it on.  ‘Trying it on’ means practicing awareness and interrupting the behavior, for a short period of time.  When you feel lighter and happier as a result of the change, you will easily continue to make it more permanent.  Remember, you’re a student of life.

It's NOT Just The Way You Are...

How many times have you said something about yourself, followed up by “that’s just the way I am?”  Or heard someone around you talk about themselves and follow it up with “that’s just the way I am?”

“I take things personally, that’s just the way I am.”                                                                         “I always run late, that’s just the way I am.”                                                                                 “I’m a total neat freak, it’s just the way I am.”                                                                                 “I don’t have a creative bone in my body, it’s just the way I am.”

Here’s the thing…it’s not just the way you are.  It is how you think you are, a decision you made about yourself or what you have tolerated for yourself.  As humans we are not fixed creatures, we have the ability and capacity to grow, expand and change whenever we are ready to.

The reason we follow up with the “it’s just the way I am statement” is because somewhere deep down you are making a justification, reason or excuse for yourself.  The convenience of this keeps you from having to take full personal responsibility for the behavior and alleviates you from having to take any action to change it. 

In addition, continuously using this type of language sets self-inflicted limitations and labels.  If you say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” how likely are you to ever try to access your creativity?  If you say, I’m horrible with money, how likely will you be to create financial freedom?  Our thoughts become things.  Where are focus goes, our energy flows. 

Take a moment and think about yourself, your ways of being…where is it getting in your way?  How would it feel to not take things personally? What is running late all the time costing you? What would it feel like to let go and be a little bit less of a neat freak?

You have the ability to create the vision of who you are and be that. You have all of the power.  All it takes to start is a new decision…

Creating Untouchable Self-Esteem In Our Children

What is self-esteem?  Simply put, self-esteem is a way of thinking and feeling about yourself. Today we are going to focus on supporting our children to cultivate and maintain untouchable self-esteem. 

Do you ever feel like your child’s self-esteem rises and falls based on their grades in school? Does their self-esteem crash based on how make followers they have on social media?  Do they beat themselves up if they don’t make the soccer team?

How our children feel about themselves often comes from what is happening outside of them.  The KEY to cultivating untouchable self-esteem is to understand it is based on what is going on inside of them.

Think of it like this – your self-esteem is not what you do, it’s who you are.  So if they attach how they feel about themselves to how they perform in school, what parties they go to, and what teams they make, then self-esteem will inevitably be a yo-yo. A rollercoaster dependent on the last “good” or “bad” thing that happened.  We need to help shift them from an external focus to an internal focus.

Tip #1.  Talk to your children.  Explain and teach them what self-esteem really is. 

Tip #2.  Check yourself.  How is your self-esteem?  What happens with you when something goes wrong at work?  When you aren’t included in an event? When you feel you made a mistake?  Our children model us, always.

Tip #3.  Teach them to art of disconnection.  For example, your daughter comes home from school with a F on a test. She starts saying things like, “I’m so stupid. I’m such a failure.”  Explain that she is not the failure. The failed test is simply feedback on what areas she still needs to practice. 

Tip #4.  They are as unique as their fingerprint.  Work with them to create a list of all the things that makes them special and unique.  This will help them focus on the positive and create self-love. 

Tip #5.  Rid them of 'comparison-itus'. When they compare themselves to kids around them, it promotes the rollercoaster self-esteem.  If they compare with someone they see as “less than them,” they feel high.  If they compare with someone they see as “more than them” they feel low.  Comparison also promotes judgement, resentment and not feeling worthy. 

Tip #6.  Encourage positive self-talk.  Be aware of your self-talk and what they observe.  Teach them that what they say to themselves is the most important thing.  Teach them to be their own best friend.

Self-Esteem is not something we can give to our children, however it is absolutely something we can cultivate and teach them how to develop for themselves.  

The Value of Our Values

When was the last time, if ever, you were asked to identify your values? 

Values are the center of your being and are key to understanding how to make meaningful choices. Whether or not you are aware, when you find yourself reacting strongly to events, issues, opinions or tasks, it is because they either align with or go against your values.

Understanding your values creates a doorway to clarity...clarity of vision, clarity of goals, clarity of priorities, clarity of purpose, and clarity of what drives you to take action. In addition, being able to articulate your values to others offers opportunities for enhanced communication.  

Identifying your personal values is an important part of understanding yourself and creating a space where you can be successful with personal and professional goals. In this context, the word "value" may refer to how you feel about the work you are doing and the contribution it makes to society. The word “value” may also refer to your personal life and how you choose to spend your time and with whom.  Effortless fulfillment and joy are experienced when you create a personal and professional life that is congruent with your core values.

So, how do you start to figure out what your core values are?

Step 1:  Ask yourself, “What, in life, is most important to me?” Write out everything that comes to mind.

Step 2: From your responses, go deeper and ask yourself, “What does ________ mean to me?” For example, you may have an initial answer of money, but after further digging, it really means freedom.

Step 3: Choose no more than 6 values from your list.  Rank them in hierarchy from most valuable to least valuable.

Step 4: Now it is time to drill it down to your core 3 values.  Look separately at each value and ask yourself, “If ___________ were missing from my life, I would be okay.” Or “If I have to live without one of these values, I can let go of ________.”

Step 5:  Take your 3 core values and write them down, with a definition and what it means for you to honor that value.

Yay!  You have now created your core value system.  You can refer to and call on this as a foundation for the intentions you create, the goals you set and the choices you make in each moment of who you want to be.  If at any time, you find yourself feeling disappointed or frustrated, check in with yourself and identify which value you feel is being compromised. 

Understanding and owning your values creates a sense of empowerment and clarity that can profoundly support your life, personally and professionally.

Listening Works!

I dedicate this article to my unparalleled mother, Toby Litt. Her work as a communication specialist and spiritual guide continues to power and inspire me everyday. The name of her company was Listening Works.

Few of us have been taught to listen because so few of us have been listened to. 

First as children, then as adults… we live in a society of impatience, distraction, of multi-tasking and self-serving agendas. We are in such need to be heard, to share what we have to say, to explain our side of the argument-- to show what we know.  

We enter conversations with our point or angle in mind. Sometimes it’s as if you let the other person speak just so you can get your turn to say what you need to say. To be right or to win. 

When we don’t listen, we all lose. 

Did you know that most conflicts and challenges we experience are caused by ineffective listening which translates into miscommunication?

Yup, it’s true! 

So how do you know what kind of listener you are? Let’s take a look at the three levels of listening:

1. Subjective Listening: Also known as "selfish listening" because the listening is based on the agenda and needs of the listener. Whatever is said is heard through the experience of the listener. This type of listening rarely satisfies the person who is speaking.  

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Yeah, I missed my daughter’s play once and I felt awful.


2. Objective Listening: Also known as "selfless listening" because the listening is completely focused on the speaker. There are no thoughts about how it relates personally to the listener and can be very effective. It allows the speaker to feel heard.

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Seems like you’re really disappointed. 


3. Intuitive Listening: Also known as "powerful listening” because the listener is hearing all components and intuitively connecting with the speaker’s real message. The listener is not only paying attention to the words, but also tone, emotion, and energy, as well as what is not being said. This level of listening creates the deepest connection with the speaker. 

Speaker: I’m so upset that I missed my son’s soccer game. 

Listener: Being so upset is totally understandable. It seems like like you’re feeling really down on yourself about it and what it may mean about everything you are trying to balance right now.  

In life, we all listen at all the levels. After all, you’re human. But by being more aware, you can take steps to reach for those deeper levels. 

I will say this, to powerfully listen is to hear with the intention to understand. To powerfully listen we must be silent, we must be present in the moment, we must pay attention, we must be curious, we must be open-minded and vulnerable. And most importantly, we must kick our EGO to the curb.

The Hidden Gifts of this Presidential Race

Well wow. All I can say is that I am actually happy I watched last night’s presidential debate until the very end. The last two minutes were, without question, the highlight.  Did you feel the energy shift? I sure as hell did. Positivity works.  Leading with respect and kindness works.  As soon as each candidate had to focus on the good, they calmed, they seemed a bit humbled and were able to see the other as a human being.  Could you imagine what the debate would be like if they started that way? Or even better, if we didn’t allow this disgusting, disrespectful behavior at all?  Requiring that each candidate answer questions directly and without turning it around to discuss something negative about their opponent?  The truth is, neither is better than the other in this category.  You can talk all you want about the high road, but talk is cheap and action is everything.  With all the EGO on that stage, it’s amazing that there was any room for the town hall guests.

This 2016 presidential election is a gift to us, as it most definitely shines a light on areas of opportunity in us all, individually and as a society. In short, watching the demeanor of our two candidates is showing us exactly what NOT to do in life…

1.     Opportunity #1 – Judging

Can we please cut this shit out?  He made mistakes, she made mistakes. One can argue that he is worse, or she is worse.  It doesn’t matter, because all of that is judgement. Then we decide what “meaning” we are going to put to things and then bam, evil. And really, who the hell are we to judge? Have you never had a moment that you wish you could take back? If someone followed you around all day, would we witness nothing but ideal behavior, thoughts, and language? I’m not defending, because that too would be a form of judgement, nor am I saying not to be informed on each nominee’s merits and policy. I’m simply saying: each person’s journey in life is unique and valid. Period. End of story. We are all connected, so stop judging as if you are the chosen one.

2.     Opportunity #2 – Not Listening

There is ZERO listening and ZERO effort to communicate going on.  What’s happening here are two huge EGOS fighting to be heard, to make their point, and to say whatever they want, even if it doesn’t apply at all. To listen is to seek to understand. If each of us slowed down when we communicate, truly listen, and then in return are given the space to be listened to, we would have immeasurable improvement in relationships, business, parenting, and overall fulfilment.

3.     Opportunity #3: Meanness and Bullying

The antics of this presidential race and debate are all about tearing down your opponent to build yourself up. Come on people!!! How can we be so evolved and have so many advancements, but this one we’re still struggling with?! If you want to win or gain something, do it on your own accord, under the merits of who you are, what you stand for, and what you have to offer. Being mean only makes you look like an asshole and discounts anything positive you may have brought to the table. We are working as a nation to eliminate bullying, and here, our two leadership options are covered in it.  Unacceptable.

I believe everything is a gift, yes everything.  So our gift in this 2016 craziness is to see that we are always at choice. We can choose openness over judgement, listening over needing to be right, and kindness and respect over meanness and bullying.