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Day 13 – I am grateful that I have access to healthy, delicious, nutritious food

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Every weekend, our cook goes into town to buy fresh vegetables and fruits. There is a farmer’s market in the heart of Old Ahmedabad City to which she travels. In the midst of a cacophony of vendors selling everything to fruits to vegetables to nuts to meat and fish, she picks out the freshest, healthiest produce to last us for the rest of the week.

I order healthy and delicious produce from a list of my choice. I am grateful that I can afford such a wide variety of nutritious food. I am grateful for my cook for painstakingly picking out the freshest produce for us to eat.

I am also grateful  for the realization that food is literally fuel to my body. I am grateful that I no longer eat as much junk as I used to I am grateful that eating healthy food clears my mind. I am grateful for my daily green smoothies they keep me energized and feeling powerful. I am grateful for the awareness that my body works best when nurtured with healthy clean diet and not mindless oily, unhealthy junk.

I am grateful for the means to afford this healthy food and the luxury of feeding myself high quality produce. I am grateful for a healthy and functioning body that can enjoy such nutritious food. I am grateful for the awareness that enables me to make healthy dietary choices.

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Wholesome fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are essential to eating well and maintaining a healthy body but most of us have no time or patience to follow complicated diets. So I’ve tried to set up a better way to feed myself  healthier meals. Below are some of the practices that help me everyday:

Portion control

We actually do not need to eat as much as we think we do. Except veggies, of course. A simple way to eat healthy and still feel satisfied is to eat your veggies at the beginning of your meal. That way, you will be full when you get to the higher calorie foods. Studies show that Americans are not only eating more high calorie foods outside the home, but also that portions are slowly getting larger. Larger portion sizes coupled with sedentary lifestyles are a potent time-bomb waiting to detonate into a slew of health problems – obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, even joint and muscle problems from lugging all that extra weight around. To combat this, save high calorie foods for the end of your meal when you will be fuller from the veggies and more able to resist gorging yourself because of hunger pangs.

Pantry control

Restricting yourself to home-cooked meals also means you have to commit to eating low-calorie but nutrient laden meals in the home. So raid your pantry. It may sound extreme and wasteful but throwing out unhealthy foods will not only get rid of all the temptation, it will also help you avoid healthcare bills in the long run. Produce, lean protein, meat, whole grains – anything that looks like it came out of the ground can stay. The rest of the stuff? Dump it.

Dress up your veggies

If you’re going to eat them over the long term, your veggies need to taste great. If you can practice moderation, there is nothing wrong with using a table spoon of ranch, a few shreds of cheese, raisins, nuts, soy sauce or anything else that tickles your tastebuds. Dress up your veggie platter so it looks enticing. Flavorful herbs, colorful fruits and unusual spices can add adventure and novelty to otherwise bland vegetables without the burden of extra calories. Do what you need to do in order for your fruits and veggies to taste great. Make them the highlight of your meal.

Smart snacking

Some experts say that your snacks ( especially the less healthy ones) must be no larger than the size of your fist. Veggies, of course, are an exception. I am a certified junk food addict, so instead of snack time being a starvation struggle, I treat myself to a tiny (no cheating here!) portion of my favourite snack and enjoy it without beating myself up.

Manage your eating environment

Take a look at where you eat. Is everyone around you munching on cheesecake and chips? Are your friends laughing at your failed attempts lose weight? Do you watch tv while eating? get yourself out of these toxic situations. Find a new, fresh, clean and inspiring place to eat. In the summer, go out to the patio to enjoy the scenery and fresh air. In winter, find a cozy spot near the fireplace. Make your dining area your sacred shrine.

Sustainable food habits take much more effort than just going through the motions until you are so desperate for a bag of Cheetos that you drool in your sleep when you dream about them. Every meal is a choice – not a battle! Experiment to make your healthy food taste good so that you actually look forward to eating it. Think of it at as a love affair – keep it fresh and exciting, throwing in some new flavours here and there. Most of all, remember that food is not about comfort, stress-relief, reward or stuffing yourself just because it tastes so great.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″]Food is fuel.[/quote]

Go ahead. Tattoo that on the inside of your wrist. I’m joking!

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Day 9 – I am Grateful for My Faith and Spiritual Beliefs

I’m grateful for my spiritual beliefs

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I spent the better part of my teens believing I was an atheist. I was well into my twenties when I looked back and realized that all along, with my head in the sand, I’d been praying, believing, ritualizing my way through the good times and the bad.

I don’t believe in ‘a’ religion. I do believe in intangible things. I’m grateful for that. Which shocked me to no end when I first had that realization, but at 28, I’m starting to realize that in a world shredded by disbelief, skepticism, negativity, loss of human connection,  the belief in something you can’t see hear touch or smell – is at once beautiful and thought provoking.

I am grateful for the belief in something beyond myself and the human world I know. However founded, unfounded, scientifically or wishfully based these beliefs may be, they get me through the day. I am grateful for the security of believing that there is a force out there that is watching out for me, supporting me and cradling me even in the most difficult of times. I am grateful that in the good times, this force is rejoicing in my happiness and sharing my excitement. I am grateful for the freedom to believe these things and not being forced into a box of subscribing to particular religious or dogmatic beliefs. I am grateful for the freedom to pick from different faiths as I wish. I am grateful that I live in a free world where I am not forced to supplicate to spiritual systems that make no sense to me. I am grateful for the comfort of the belief in a higher power. I am grateful for the ability to feel gratitude and the moral responsibility of sharing what I have with those that are less fortunate.  I now realize that those who believe in organized religion are not all that different for me. Like me, they too are looking for a strengthening set of beliefs that supports them, encourages them and gives them faith as they go about their lives. I am grateful for the realization that perhaps, spiritual beliefs are just a way for us to feel supported in our human existence, no more, no less. And I am okay with that. [/message_box]

What are spiritual beliefs?

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“A set of mutually supportive beliefs. These beliefs may be religious, philosophical, ideological or a combination of these… the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true.”
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I read an interesting musing over at Live Laugh love mentioned above. In it, Life Coach, Vedam Clementi scrutinizes the meaning of spiritual beliefs.  He explains a simple (but very effective) concept of how our belief systems are made. Simply put, your mind keeps recording every situation, every experience that you encounter, how you reacted to it, what happened as a resold and over time, these cumulative thoughts, cause-and-effect-scenarios, rationalizations and experiences become your belief systems. Clementi further points out that  these repetitive thoughts need not be yours in order to be internalized and turned into beliefs, they can be inherited from others – friends, family, media, religious authorities. The very act of  repetition makes your mind believe these ideas to be true.

“Belief systems govern our lives. They determine how we look at something, how we perceive it, how we judge something, and our expectations about situations, experiences and life in general.”

Sometimes we get so stuck in these patterns of being that its difficult for us to look at these systems objectively and see if they’re actually true for us in that moment. In school, I had a teacher who described her religious beliefs in this very distinct manner.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″]My religion is over a thousand years old. Its resilient because its been passed down over and over through countless generations. Many of its beliefs are logical, even desirable,  but these are old beliefs. Do the truths of shepherds, nomads and hunter-gatherers apply to me living in the 21st century today? Most of them don’t. I just take what makes sense to me and treat the others like interesting stories[/quote]

 Going back to Clementi’s observations, “any belief system is nothing more than a bunch of thought forms”. The thing about thoughts is that they only have the power you give to them. If you pay them no heed, thoughts by themselves are nothing. If you feed and nurture them however, thoughts can become powerful vehicles for action and change – both good and bad.

Which thoughts would you feed – the ones that serve you, or the ones that don’t? 

The answer to that question explains why  “spiritual but not religious” is such a popular term today. Below, I’ve highlighted insightful quotes from two writers that I thought had some interesting things to say on the matter:

John Cannon from Another Perspective put it very aptly:

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If one decides that the evidence proves the non-existence of a supreme being, then one must scrutinize their beliefs as to what, if anything at all, we have to look forward to once that wee spark of life within us is extinguished by age or hate or disease.

Every act that we each perform which creates a kinder, more loving and co-operative and hopeful future is the greatest act that mankind is capable of. The spiritual sensitivity that I seek is one in which we all behave with love and charity and decency towards one another. I seek a time when we learn just how much is truly “enough” and to share that excess with all.

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Another Blogger, Tracey Jackson from Gratitude and Trust puts it this way:

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″]I believe in belief. And when I am enveloped by it, I let its power overwhelm me. Whatever you believe – for many this [Easter] is your week.  Love. Pray. Cry. Laugh. Feast. Rejoice. And then take that feeling with you, try and bottle it up, or tuck it deep in your heart.  And then on those days when one is not celebrating major religious holidays you can draw on it.  Take a sip from your belief cup.  Draw on that belief for sustenance love, and strength.  Give back, Be grateful. Trust. Because belief in any form is just that – trust. [/quote]

If you’re still skeptical and want more authoritative information on why engaging in spiritual practices is good for you, check our the following benefits of good quality spiritual care as prescribed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists:

  • Improved self-control, self-esteem and confidence
  • Faster and easier recovery from illness,
  • Maximized personal potential
  • Improved relationships—with self, others and our environment
  •  new sense of meaning, resulting in reawakening of hope and peace of mind
  • Increased ability to accept and live with unresolved problems

 

Today’s Task

Reflect on the following questions:

  1. What does spirituality mean to me?
  2. What are the formative sources in my environment what shaped my spiritual beliefs growing up?
  3. Do these spiritual beliefs inspire and uplift or frighten and bind me?
  4. For the beliefs that uplift you,
  5. What internal resources are strengthened by my spiritual practices?
  6. What external support am I able to access as a result of participating in spiritual practices?

 

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Day 8 – I am grateful for the luxury of following my passion.

I am grateful for the luxury of following my passion.

Many people don’t have the luxury of following their passions. They have a family to feed, bills to pay. I have none of those things. It may sound old fashioned but my husband takes care of all of these things. I love what I do. I love lifter, I love writing and waking up everyday to work sounds like more of a treat than work. In fact, its what I do when I want to break from child rearing. And I always end up feeling refreshed. But things weren’t always this way.

When I worked as a resource nurse, we rotated around different hospital units on different days. Some places were great, the work was exciting and the pace challenging yet fun. Some places on the other hand, I literally dragged my feet to. When I started realizing that I was actually dreading going to work on some days, I switched to a job I enjoyed more. I’d seen too many old and bitter nurses angry for having wasted their lives in a field they didn’t love – and guess what – their patients, colleagues and managers didn’t enjoy having them around much either because they were always complaining. So if you dread going to work everyday, go find yourself new work that inspires you.

Of course, not every moment of the workday is so beautifully engaging. Obviously, anything of value takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to build. However, the difference between toiling to build something you aspire to and something that you do for the sake of doing lies in the amount of engagement that you experience while working.

If you’re just there for the money, sooner or later you will burnout. You may even start to hate yourself and your job because you know that is not where you belong. I’ve seen it happen over and over again in the healthcare arena.   When you know you don’t like what you are doing, perhaps, you even know deep down inside that you’re not doing a particularly good job either, it creates a cognitive dissonance that will leave you restless. You risk becoming a bitter and resentful machine.   Find something to look forward to in your work day. If you can’t, then get out as fast as you can. There is better work elsewhere that desperately needs your skills and enthusiasm.

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3C738R4sLw&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

[message_box title=”Affirmation Day 8″ color=”beige”]I am grateful for the luxury and freedom to follow my passions. I am grateful that I do not have to worry about making ends meet, putting my child through school or putting food on the table. I am grateful for a husband who takes care of these things so that I don’t have to. I am grateful for the ability to learn, write and create so that I can come up with new ideas and pursue them. I am grateful for an education that has shown me a new path when my old means of earning money were no longer feasible. Most of all, I am grateful for the blessing everyday of waking up excited, fired up and passionate about whatever project it is that I am doing today. I am grateful that I don’t have to drag myself to work every morning. I am grateful that I don’t have to worry about child care because I get to work alongside my toddler while she is playing. I am grateful that everyday of working on the lifter website feels like such a treat that I often use it as a way to relax. I am grateful that I have been blessed with work I love so much.[/message_box]

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Day 7 – I am Grateful for the Gift of Human Connection

I am grateful for the gift of human connection.

Loneliness is an epidemic in today’s world. From kids to teens to adults and the elderly, we are all suffering silently in our private worlds of disconnection. As technology replaces a lot of our human functions, as we are drawn deeper into the world of automated messages and snapchats, we are slowly losing our ability to have a deep face-to-face connection.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I sat side by side for an hour and a half while our toddler slept beside us. Silently. Without uttering a single word. When I managed to look up front the novel I was reading on my iPad, I realized how equally engrossed he was in reading the Times of India on his iPhone. Then a thought occurred to me: If we were locked into a room together for an hour without any gadgets, would we be able to hold a decent conversation? What scared me was that I didn’t know if we could. Where I expected myself to rebut with a resounding yes, my mind came up with a doubtful blank. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband. I get along with him. Those of you who have been with your partner or spouse for a while may be able to relate. The conversations don’t have the sparkle they used to.

Then I got to thinking about other people. Can I find one person I can have a deep, long conversation with? Siblings don’t count, by the way. I tried to think of people in my life I could sit down with one-on-one and proceed to talk about an issue that mattered without giving in to the urge to fidget, check my iPhone or turn on the TV. Yes, there were a few people, but my list came up woefully shorter than I thought was healthy.

Nurturing Human Connections

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The other day, I was looking for something to help my preschooler deal with tantrums by teaching the concept of mindfulness. I ended up buying Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh

The book tells many stories – one of these is the story of James, a little boy in Plum Village (France). In a group of children learning mindfulness, James and two of his friends are rebels. They’re always engaging in disruptive activities when the other kids are meditating. Instead of yelling and disciplining them, the spiritual teacher keeps inviting them to join and making them feel welcome time after time. They never join in, but on the last evening of the retreat, James comes tagging along behind his mother, asking the teacher for a hug. As time goes on James becomes attached to the teacher, his spiritual understanding deeper, his hugs warmer.

The power of this story lies in its simple lesson that disconnected though we may be in our human interactions today, there is still hope. In a situation where it feels like your efforts are going to waste, the little things you do may affect the other person in ways that you may not even notice. So instead of getting overwhelmed by the impossibility of forging deep connections in today’s world, get out there and sow your seeds of kindness. You never know which of these can germinate into a tree of genuine love and friendship.

I am grateful for the human ability to forge connections. I am grateful for the close connections I already have – those unconditional relationships where I can do anything, say anything, be anything. I am grateful for the close connections I have yet to form, that are yet to germinate. I am grateful for the ability to think, to listen to respond, I am grateful that despite awkward conversations, difficult circumstances and emotional hardships, many of my important relationships continue to thrive and grow. I am grateful for the redeeming and forgiving nature of these genuine relationships. When your underlying foundation is solid, no matter how big a rift your relationship experiences, there will always be a way to heal, to make amends. I am grateful for the gift of peering into the soul of another human being, and being able to bare mine for another to see.[/message_box]

Today’s Task

There’s a beautiful exercise in Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh called “Building Anew” that can prevent feelings of hurt form building up and diffuses conflicts in order to restore emotional safety in your relationships. Find a friend, partner or a small group to do this activity with. This is also a great family activity to increase bonding and express gratitude.

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  • This simple practice begins with something called ‘flower watering’ where you essentially speak truthfully about the positive qualities of others without any flattery.  You take as much time as you need while the other person practices deep listening, resisting the urge to interrupt.
  • Once you finish, you express regret for anything u have done to hurt others. This requires a reg=cognition of the fact that sometimes, it only takes a small thought, action or word to  hurt someone. Whether you hurt someone consciously or unconsciously, you can undo this damage by acknowledging that the other person has been hurt by your actions, and sharing your regret with the person you have hurt.
  • When you have finished expressing your regret, you can express ways in which others have hurt you. Use loving speech.  Goal is to heal your relationship and not a content for who is right or wrong. As the listener, you would show compassion by listening to another’s pain and showing willingness to relieve their emotional suffering.Even if you disagree with something they are saying, listen deeply. In doing so, you give the other person the gift of freely expressing their pain and allowing them to release the tension within. This is a rare and precious gift – the gift of allowing a free release of pent up emotions. Give it unconditionally.
  • End the practice with a soothing song or mindful breathing together.

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Inspired from Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Day 6 – I am Grateful for the Ability to Release All Bitterness, Resentment and Dissatisfaction and Emerge Resilient

I am grateful for the ability to release all bitterness, resentment, dissatisfaction, so that I may see the blessings I miss while taking part in the everyday busy-making of life.

Sometimes we are so focused on the things that are wrong in our lives that we barely notice the good things that we are right under out noses. It takes a chance encounter, a life changing experience, a thought provoking conversation before you open your eyes and look around you with a different lens. When you do look around with a fresh perspective, you realize the beauty you were searching so desperately for, the one that you have been taking for granted, has been with you all along. You were just too caught up in the drama, the bitterness of things that didn’t go our way.

Resentment and bitterness can cloud your vision. Bitterness is a vice that holds you in its grip long after the offending incident has passed. Here’s the interesting part. When bitterness festers into resentment, it pollutes your entire being. Often, it also pollutes your relationships, your aspirations, your environment.

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4VbVNg7F3U[/youtube]

I once cared for a terminal cancer patient who had lost it all. I mean this in a literal sense. When he was diagnosed, he lost his job, his physical abilities, his beloved garden, even his wife who left him for a more physically able man. Yet, every time I saw him, he was polite, even kind, always trying to make others feel comfortable. When I asked him how he stays so positive, he replied with words that I will never forget.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″]“I have a few days left to live.  I refuse to let cancer win by spending those precious moments checking off the things that didn’t go right for me. Wherever my wife is, I hope she is happy. We don’t need two people suffering through this horrible illness.”[/quote]

His generosity of spirit brought tears to my eyes – but it was his utter lack of bitterness that left me stunned. This man who had been served the worst imaginable circumstances, was sending cosmic goodwill to the one person who should have been by his side but had deserted him in his worst time of need.

[message_box title=”AFFIRMATION” color=”beige”]I am grateful for the human ability to forgive and move on. I am grateful for the release of bitterness, for dissatisfaction , grudges, and resentment. Releasing pent up bitterness not only frees the other person from the shackles of your negative energy, it also ironically frees you , releases you and cleanses you from whatever pain you are holding in your heart. I solemnly resolve to release all bitterness from my mind. I choose to remember instead the liberating power of a joyful mind. Regardless of the awful things I’ve been through, the heartache that loved ones have inflicted upon me. Regardless of the countless personal dreams I’ve seen crash and burn, I promise myself that from this moment forward, I will release the failures – both mine and those of other people. Starting from this moment until my last breath, I resolve to choose freedom. Freedom from bitterness. Freedom from resentment. Freedom to focus on positive things that will drive me in the direction of my dreams instead. [/message_box]

So here’s the thing…

In order to turn your disappointments into learning opportunities,  you need to nurture a mindset of resilience. Resilient people bounce back from disappointments and failures, using these setbacks as rungs on the ladder to success. Resilient people:

Remain accountable.  They own up to their part in the problem. They make no excuses. They never play the victim card.

Remain optimistic.  In the best-selling book, Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain, author Elaine Fox talks about the fear-seeking brain and the pleasure seeking brain. Those that have a sunny disposition are optimistic, friendlier and also likely to get more of what they want out of life. This is based off of actual research. So remain optimistic – it might just make the difference between achieving our dreams – or not.

Have strong boundaries. Many people confuse being a people-pleaser with being compassionate. Resilient people create and exercise strong boundaries for themselves. When people walk all over them, they react by reinforcing their boundaries, clarifying what is acceptable to them, and what they will not stand for. They do not react with complying and then feeling bitter or resentful.

Avoid self-bashing.  As important as it is to not let people walk all over you, resilient people realize that it is also unacceptable to beat yourself down. Whatever mistakes you may have made in the past, forgive yourself.

Ask for help. Resilient people know when they are in need of help and seek it. They recognize the fact that if they do not tend to their issue, it will only get bigger and take more energy to resolve.

Learn from challenges. Resilient people don’t dread challenges. They relish them. Opportunities to learn, grow and to refine their methods in their quest for success. Challenges are just learning opportunities in the grand scheme of things.

Stop seeking control. Resilient people recognize that everything in life will not be under their control. They learn to be flexible and roll with the punches life throws at them. They learn to let go of the petty things and choose to focus instead on what matters to them.

Embrace change. Resilient people welcome change. They know that change, both good and bad presents opportunities for personal growth. They learn to accept change and even thrive in it.

This list was inspired from (but not exactly the same as) ’10 ways to be better, not bitter, through deep challenge’ by Kathy Caprino

Today’s Task

I want you to start noticing how you feel inside. Start noticing how incidents throughout your day make you feel either positive or negative. Grab a piece of paper, make three columns:

Column 1: Notice the events that trigger feelings towards the negative end of your emotional spectrum. Simply make a note of them without analyzing, making inferences or judgements

Column 2: Write down your reactions. Did you react with your gut? Did you think about it first? Do you believe that negative statement in your head or one someone else has said is true? Is your reaction external (verbal communication, physical action) or internal (introspection, anxiety, brooding)? How does your reaction impact your thoughts.

Column 3: Identify the underlying issues. Did the comment about your weight strike a nerve with you because of larger body image issues. Did your brother’s comment about getting a ‘real’ job make you feel inadequate? Rank each incident from 1 to 10. 1 being very important, 10 being  not so important. How important is this issue in your life. Which ones align with your goals? How much energy should you expend on it?

 

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Day 5- I am Grateful for my Body, Just the Way it is

Our body is the vehicle through which we experience the world. And yet, so many of us are unsatisfied with our bodies. We are caught up more in its structure, than its function.

The other day, I witnessed my neighbour’s nine year old daughter complain about her legs looking fat. I was shocked inside out. She was, in fact, genuinely distressed about getting too fat. I tried to think back to when I was nine.  All I worried about was running round, peering into bird nests, collecting flowers, leaves and building little model houses.

Another time, a mother at my toddler’s preschool complained about her three year old saying “these clothes are too tight on me mommy, am I getting fat?” I’m willing to bet that this came from her child having heard an adult say it before. Kids are like a blank canvas that mirror our insecurities. So I wonder, what unconscious messages are we sending to the future generation?

I’m not judging. I’ve been struggling in the same rabid waters of self-doubt and loathing. When you and yours are looking at photos of airbrushed celebrities and dangerous images of ‘thinspiration’, maintaining a healthy body-image can become an ongoing uphill battle. Our bodies are somewhat of a engineering masterpiece to be celebrated rather than a source of negativity to worry about.

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I am grateful for the flawed, imperfect body I’ve been blessed with. As flawed as it may be, my body allows me to move, run, jump, and walk. It also allows me to feel sensory pleasure, to travel, to grow and to learn new things about the world everyday. My imperfect body allows me to enjoy difficult workouts, soothing massages and even to do things like driving, cooking and playing with my daughter. There are so many things we take for granted with our body. For a long time, I’d look at the stretch marks, the sagging skin, and see nothing but the loss of a strong, youthful body. But I’ve learned to appreciate the body I have – exactly as it is right now.

Rather than an object to be used, abused, loathed and criticized, I choose to view my body as a temple, a shrine. A monument to my life. Each scar, each stretch mark telling a beautiful story about my life. These scars give my life meaning. These imperfections make my body beautiful.

When all is said and done, I am grateful that I look like no one but myself. I am grateful for the ability to nourish my body with healthy foods. I embrace my flaws. I embrace my scars. For it is the flaws, the scars, the imperfections that make my body so exquisitely perfect.

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Extra Resources

We’ve rounded up some extra resources to support you in today’s gratitude journey of appreciating your body and cultivating a healthier body image.

Affirmations

Affirmations are powerful. Use them frequently, and you will subtly alter your thought patterns to bring you over from negativity about your body into a more positive, imperfect body-loving state of mind. Check out the following affirmations from Happy Life Circle

  • Today I love my body fully, deeply and joyfully.
  • My body has its own wisdom and I trust that wisdom completely.
  • My body is simply a projection of my beliefs about myself.
  • I am growing more beautiful and luminous day by day.
  • I choose to see the divine perfection in every cell of my body.
  • As I love myself, I allow others to love me too.
  • Flaws are transformed by love and acceptance.
  • Today I choose to honor my beauty, my strength and my uniqueness.
  • I love the way I feel when I take good care of myself.
  • Today my own well-being is my top priority.

 

Dialogue

If affirmations are powerful, dialogues are doubly powerful. They have the power to spread, to educate and perhaps even go viral, both online and offline. That’s how societal change happens – and what better way to start a dialogue about body image than with your own child. Read the following excerpt from a powerful letter written by mommy blogger Gemma Hartley to her little girl. I highly recommend that you read the rest of the letter. If you are a parent, it will move you, change you and inspire you. Its that powerful.

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There is beauty in the fact that your body is strong and able—that you can run and jump and swim and dance and cartwheel and kick and whatever else you choose to do. Your body is powerful and amazing. Appreciate all it does for you. Embrace it as it is. Love it. Love yourself.

My body is strong. Amazing. It has brought life into this world. It has housed you and your brother, kept you safe and warm and healthy even before I knew you existed. These scars and marks on my stomach tell a story. A story of love. If that is not beauty, I do not know what is. My body has nourished you and comforted you. This stomach which is not lean and flat, this face which has aged so quickly; all these things sing of my love for you. How could I not celebrate this body? How could I not think it beautiful?

-Gemma Hartley, author of Journey of Love blog
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Will Powers

Finally, here’s an authoritative list of ten ‘will powers’ from National Eating Disorders Association by Michael Levine, PhD and Linda Smolak, PhD to help you improve your body image.

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  • I WILL ask myself: “Am I benefiting from focusing on what I believe are flaws in my body weight or shape?”
  • I WILL think of three reasons why it is ridiculous for me to believe that thinner people are happier or “better.” I will repeat these reasons to myself whenever I feel the urge to compare my body shape to someone else’s.
  • I WILL spend less and less time in front of mirrors—especially when they are making me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious about my body.
  • I WILL exercise for the joy of feeling my body move and grow stronger. I will not exercise simply to lose weight, purge fat from my body, or to “make-up” for calories I have eaten.
  • I WILL participate in activities that I enjoy, even if they call attention to my weight and shape.I will constantly remind myself that I deserve to do things I enjoy, like dancing, swimming, etc., no matter what my shape or size is!
  • I WILL refuse to wear clothes that are uncomfortable or that I do not like but wear simply because they divert attention from my weight or shape. I will wear clothes that are comfortable and that make me feel at home in my body.
  • I WILL list 5 to10 good qualities that I have, such as understanding, intelligence, or creativity. I will repeat these to myself whenever I start to feel bad about my body.
  • I WILL practice taking people seriously for what they say, feel, and do. Not for how slender, or “well put together” they appear.
  • I WILL surround myself with people and things that make me feel good about myself and my abilities. When I am around people and things that support me and make me feel good, I will be less likely to base my self-esteem on the way my body looks.
  • I WILL treat my body with respect and kindness. I will feed it, keep it active, and listen to its needs. I will remember that my body is the vehicle that will carry me to my dreams!

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Today’s Task

Reflection is a powerful tool for when you are stuck in  a self-destructive body-hating thought pattern. Consider your responses to the following questions. Write them down in your gratitude journal.

  1. What makes you proud of yourself?  It could be about your body, it could be about anything else. The point is to see that you are a person that is much more than a sum of his/her body parts.
  2. Start noticing the good things about other people. Their body, their actions, no matter how flawed, start noticing, rather than judging other people that you encounter, observe or interact with during your day. If the opportunity presents itself, take the initiative to compliment them on it.

 

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Day 4 – I am Grateful that I Can Think and That I Have Free Will to Use Those Thoughts to Change My Life

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. – Rober Frost [/quote]

The ability to think. Such a precious faculty.

When you think of people like Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week as an activist for female education in the Taliban-ruled Swat Valley, you begin to realize that education is a privilege that is denied to millions of people around the globe.

Millions of people so far removed from our comfortable western world educational institutions. Where nobody has to fight everyday for the right to learn, to question to think. The free will to think and to be inspired by revolutionary ideas is indeed a precious privilege that we take for granted.

Yet, in our high-tech world, we see thinking as such an obsessive activity reserved for the over-sensitive, the nerds, the writers, the misfits. You think too much. Stop Over-thinking. Don’t think. Don’t think. Don’t think. This basic mental faculty has earned a bad reputation over the years as relationships have moved from the ‘engaged’ end of the spectrum to the more superficial. The ability to think critically and clearly is a privilege if you think about it. For a long time, I didn’t think that way though. When I moved to India, I was suddenly among people of varying educational, aesthetic and intellectual backgrounds. All so different from mine.

Peter Clemens, author of The Change Blog (www.thechangeblog.com) writes that people around us have the free will to help or ignore us. I say the opposite is true too. I’ve turned his words around with the thought that we also have the free will to help or ignore others. We have the free will to embrace or reject others’ visions; to be rude or kind; to kill or cure; to love or hate; to be genuine or to manipulate; to treat them like kindred beings or to use them; to be honest or lie; to be grateful to them or to resent them. We have the free will to choose all of those things for everyone from our loved ones to the janitor that opens the door for us.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb48″]The good that we strive to attract as well as the evil we hope to avoid are both, nine times out of ten, the result of interactions with our fellow human beings.[/quote] Peter Clemens, Author of the Change Blog.

Prayers, meditations and affirmations are essential. According to Clemens, this introspection has the power to transform our gratitude from an internal endeavour to one that is manifested in the real world. One can do this by letting the people in our lives, from the most important, to the ones on the periphery know of the ways in which they inspire gratitude in us.

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6EG1R1lewE[/youtube]
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At first, it was a huge cultural shock when I encountered different types of people. India is a country of extremes. There are extremely rich and extremely poor people living side by side. There are people who have no concept of the basic politeness, social intelligence and thought processes that run our lives in the western world. Some people have no verbal filters, blurting out rude observations – all unsolicited. At first, I was repulsed by such crassness. I used to look down upon these people for their ignorance, rudeness and superstitious beliefs. Until I realized that my ability to think and to set lofty goals are a result of a privilege. A privilege that is rarer than most people realize: access to higher education. it took me a long time to realize that my education does not make me superior to these so-called illiterate people. My cook is far more intelligent than some of my college classmates. She has not attended a single day of university. I realize now that the ability to think critically and articulate sophisticated thoughts is a blessing – not something I have earned.

I am grateful for a world class education. I am grateful for parents’ generosity in helping me pay for grad school. I am grateful I grew up in a country where education was freely available. A friend of mine put herself through school by working part-time jobs and relying heavily on student loans. She came from a single parent family of seven kids, all of whom were in Africa. Where I live now, there are people so far below the poverty line that even primary school is a pipe dream. I am grateful that I’ve been exposed to ideas that have expanded my understanding if these people. I am grateful all my schools had comfortable desks, air conditioning and heating facilities. These are schools in India where kids sit in the infernal heat, studying with crude writing tools, far, far away form the tech-oriented, internet-ruled classrooms that I know. I am grateful that at the ripe old age of 28, I can go back to school for another Masters or Doctorate degree if I choose. I’ve seen seven year old girls who are pulled our of school to sweep floors of rich peoples’ homes. I’m grateful that I have the privilege of holding pen in my hand, not a broom. I am grateful that I can think and that I have free will to use those thoughts to change my life.

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Today’s Task

Make a list of five people in your life (doesn’t have to be loves ones or friends, just people you interact with everyday) that have impacted for in a positive way. Write them a note saying why they are important to you. Add in how they’ve changed your life. Then pick up the phone, call them and tell them.

This exercise was inspired by the following video from Soul Pancake:

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHv6vTKD6lg[/youtube]

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Day 3 – I Am Grateful I Have The Power To Initiate Change

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]The essence of all great art, all beautiful art, is gratitude. -Friedrich Nietzsche[/quote]

Keeping a gratitude journal can help you feel powerful. The act of writing down things you are grateful  for can have a powerful effect on your life and relationships. Think of these things that come form maintaining a daily focus on gratitude.

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Helps the negativity vanish for a brief moment.

Brings you back to the here and now.

Makes you feel lucky rather than sorry for yourself

In times of stress and fear, it reminds you that you have support

Reminds you that things could be a lot worse.

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Inspired by Gratitude Works : A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity by Robert Emmons

In his book, A Simple Act of Gratitude, author John Kralik opens his book with a thank-you note to his son. He goes on to write 365 notes in total and that’s what his book is about. Anyway, Kralik goes talks about how the thank-you note set off a series of interactions that began to heal his rocky relationship with his son. No matter how broken, hopeless things are, you always have the power to make amends and turn things around. In fact, instead of sitting around thinking things are ruined and too far down the wrong path to change – if you just put one foot ahead of the other, surprising things will happen, as Kralik discovered in his journey. Things that you may never have considered or thought possible.

We often think of power as aggressive and money-based – perhaps even corporate, political or hard-nosed.

But there is a subtle kind of power too.

One that is much more effective. One that heals, convinces and supports. The aggressive kind of power is one that rifts people apart, establishes competition and one-upmanship. This subtle power, on the other hand,  joins, encourages and builds things together. For a long time, I used to think that the aggressive kind of power is more powerful because its so vocal, visual and seems to have dramatic effects. Slowly, I’m starting to realize that this other subtle power is far more effective, far more intense, and far more impactful. And it lasts a long, long time. Even today, through social media, people are starting to realize that being aggressive and vocal doesn’t always get you the audience you crave. Instead, its the subtle helping kind of power (the one which gives without asking), that ends up more powerful.

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bMm_CEiWOo[/youtube]
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Each and everyone of us has power. Even the most disadvantaged of us. Helplessness is a state of mind – not a physical or mental condition. I once had a paraplegic patient who was more empowered than any other soul. She may have been trapped in her immobile body, but if you came anywhere within hearing distance, you’d be left in awe. Even when asking for help, she was quick, witty, unapologetic, vocal and incredibly intelligent without being pushy.

Suffice to say that with my four working appendages, she was more powerful than I was, in that moment.

I am grateful for the ability to think, to recognize the need for change and distinguish between things I like and don’t like. I am grateful for the flawed, but perfectly functional physical body that helps me move, work, run and stretch. I am grateful for the often straying but perfectly functioning mind that helps me stay strong, decisive and sure-footed even in the most unusual and frightening situations. I am grateful for an education which helps me make my point in a sophisticated manner. I am grateful to my old folks for an upbringing that gave me the unshakable confidence in myself so I could take colossal leaps of faith and giant risks –  and for the perseverance to stick to my decisions despite unsurmountable odds.  I am grateful for having moved half a world away from one set of roots to another. I am grateful for the wider perspective I have on life now. I am grateful for the reassurance that no matter where I go or what I do, I have power to initiate lasting change.

I am grateful for the realization that power comes in many different forms. I am grateful that I am no longer limited in my recognition of power. Most of all, I am grateful that despite the occasional harshness of life, I have the power to change things in the world around me.

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Today’s Task

On The Change Blog, Paul Clemens talks about the three benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. Reflecting on gratitude through a journal provides insights into our busy lives that we may not even begin to notice as we go about our day. Reflecting on gratitude cultivates the discipline necessary for any type of successful endeavour – long before we succeed, we need the ability to sit down everyday and reflect on our actions and reactions so that we can do things better tomorrow. Reflecting in gratitude also leaves a legacy – whether it is for yourself fifteen years from now, or for your kids fifty years from now, your gratitude journal can tell a deeply personal story about your life’s journey.

So sit down today and pick out a simple notebook to fill up with daily gratitude reflections.

Here are some excellent tips for successful journaling

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  • Make a commitment to write in your journal for 5-10 mins everyday. Honor it.
  • If you’re too lazy to use pen and paper, an easy way is to use the voice dictation in your smartphone
  • Write in specific details. Have less points but make them real, deep, specific. Journalling is more than a list of stuff.
  • Write about the unexpected blessings that improved your day or the horrible thing you were expecting that didn’t happen.
  • Call these unexpected blessings gifts. Relish and savour them.
  • Who has helped you today, who are you grateful to, and why?
  • Think about things you take for granted. Talk about why you appreciate them.
  • Repeat your blessings everyday if they are meaningful, as long as you keep adding details and layers to them
  • Think about people that you overlook – people who have helped people you love.

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Inspired from Robert Emmons’ book Gratitude Works: A 21-Day Program For Creating Emotional Prosperity

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Day 2 – I am Grateful that Though I May Stumble, I Always Find My Way Back Up Again

I started today’s gratitude practice by reading Robert Emmons’s “Gratitude Works : A 21-Day Program For Creating Emotional Prosperity“. He opens with the story of a 98 years ‘young’ woman who stays mentally and physically healthy with a simple gratitude practice. She wrote him a poem called “I Choose“, which made me think hard about the little things that can inspire gratitude in us. Stop for a moment in your busy day and find moments like these where you release the tension that you are holding in. Sometimes the tension is physical like a dull ache radiating through your shoulders. Often, the tension is subtle, only recognized in the way your breath hitches with every passing hassle. The tightness in your chest that makes you feel simultaneously irritated and trapped.

The funny thing about gratitude is that you can start where you are. No matter how bad your situation is, you can start exactly where you are.

Emmons writes, “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, promote happiness and well being and spur acts of helpfulness, generosity and cooperation.”

Gratitude is far more powerful than you think. Try it today. Instead of focussing on the dark clouds, pay attention to the breathtaking mornings. Notice the little things that make the world around you beautiful. The mischievous laugh of a toddler. The smell of the earth after rain. The taste of perfectly brewed coffee rolling over your tongue.

Have that faith in yourself and the Universe around you that no matter how bad things get, no matter how badly you stumble, you will always be able to pick yourself back up. I’d like to leave you with the beautiful poem that I referred to at the beginning of this post:

I Choose

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I choose to be happy

I choose to be grateful

I choose to be caring

And always be thoughtful

I choose to be well

I choose to be fine

I choose to be healthy

All of the time

I choose to be patient

I choose to be strong

I choose to be calm

All the day long

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Excerpted form “Gratitude Works : A 21-Day Program For Creating Emotional Prosperity.” by Robert Emmons

 

Affirmation Of The Day

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnvuUzoVBYg&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]
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I’m not addicted to anything. I have no illnesses. I am not poor or disadvantaged. But I have bad days too. Days where I want to curl up under a rock and never see a single human being again. Days where I am angry, hateful depressed. Days where I feel like human existence is just an exercise in greed, stupidity and slyness.

Affirmation: I am grateful that thought I may stumble, I always find my way back up again. Every. Single. Time. I am grateful that there is so much to live for that I always have my faith in humanity restored after an internal storm.  I am grateful that I have the mental faculties to crawl out from under the dark cloud even on the worst of days. I am grateful that no matter how bad it is, there are reminders littered through my physical, mental, emotional space of the fantastic life I’ve been blazed with. I am grateful for a spouse, for loved ones who always recognize my need for space or my need for encouragement – whatever the case may be.

I am grateful that there is beauty in every single morning that draws me out of my bubble on the dark days and help me engage with real life again. I am grateful for the little hands that hold me and the little pink mouth that kisses all my boo-boos away.

I am grateful that every time I stumble, there’s a universal force that cradles me and brings me back up again.

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Today’s task:  Pick a person or event that makes you hurt, angry or uncomfortable. Spend a few minutes thinking about ONE good thing that came out of that situation.
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Gratitude Challenge Day 1 – I am Grateful I Have a Place to Live

The #21daygratitudechallenge is about making your life positive, vibrant, worthwhile. This challenge features a daily multimedia recording of affirmations, daily pictures of things that inspire gratitude, an action challenge and personal reflections.

Why you need gratitude

There are numerous benefits to practicing gratitude. Our List is inspired by Robert Emmons’ (world’s leading gratitude expert) article on the Greater Good website.

Physical
  • Stronger immune system
  • Fewer muscular aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Less stress-induced heartburn
  • Increased awareness of physical health
  • Increased physical activity
  • Longer and deeper sleep
  • More refreshed in the mornings
  • Better postures and parasympathetic responses

 

Psychological
  • Increase in positive emotions
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased feelings of joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness
  • Feeling “alive”
  • Higher self esteem
  • Blocks toxic emotions
  • Increased presence and attentiveness
  • Refreshed by positive thoughts regularly
  • Reduced stress

 

Social
  • Engaged relationships
  • Increased positive behaviour (helpfulness, generosity, compassion)
  • Increased social interaction
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Less superficial relationships
  • Authentic interactions with others
  • Less compulsion to put on a “front”
  • Reduced feelings of hostility and fear of others

 

Studies show that happiness strongly linked to gratitude. More than material possessions, marital status or age. Later in this challenge, we will share a video of people engaging in acts of gratitude and how it changed their perspective.

Robert Emmons, a professor at UC Davis and an authority in gratitude research has conducted numerous studies and written textbooks on the topic of gratitude. In fact, his studies show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%.  He talks about the concept of a happiness ‘set-point’ – your baseline level of happiness.  Good or bad events temporarily raise or lower your happiness but you always returns to your set-point once the effect of the external stimulus has passed. Practicing gratitude raises your happiness set-point so that regardless of external circumstances, you stay at a higher baseline of happiness. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Emmons’ website:

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“In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events” (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

“A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.”

“A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.

“Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.”

“In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.”

Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

Those who practice gratitude tend to be more creative, bounce back more quickly from adversity, have a stronger immune system, and have stronger social relationships.

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For the next 21 days, we want you to look at the people, challenges, personal tragedies, daily hardships and pet peeves in your life with a gratitude filter on your eyes. Whether you are materially blessed or just getting by, we want you to cultivate the habit of seeking gratitude and positivity in every life experience. One thing we promise, the more you practice living in gratitude, the more natural it will become.

Some of our exercises and activities will include:

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  • taking the 365 gratitude photo challenge
  • writing letters that you may or may not share
  • reflecting on situations in your life
  • journalling
  • keeping a gratitude diary
  • random acts of kindness
  • refocussing on the positive things
  • ignoring negative energies

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Obviously there will be many more as we delve deeper into this month’s intensive.

It is our hope that as we approach Thanksgiving festivities this month, you will join us in focussing on personal growth rather than material things. Rather than stuffing yourself full of leftovers, we ask you to join us in our practice of mindfulness. Your belly will thank you,  so will your mind.

If you want to join us on our journey, simply use the hashtag #21daygratitudechallenge on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.  You can connect with us on these social media platforms by clicking on the icons at the top right of this page.

We want to leave you with the following affirmation to kick off the first day of our #21daygratitudechallenge:

[quote align=”center” color=”#4acb58″]I am grateful I have a place to live.[/quote]

There are scores of people all over the world who cannot boast this basic luxury.  Check out this powerful article about the lives of homeless people by John Hwang, who started the “Being Kind is Cool Project

[youtube height=”480″ width=”940″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjpJwvWjVUw[/youtube]

Today’s Task: Give the money you would normally spend on a dinner to a homeless person in need.

Finally, here’s a transcript of our multimedia recording for those of you who are watching this at work, beside a sleeping baby, on the subway or anywhere you need some silent reading.

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As I get chauffeured home everyday, I pass by scores of homeless people. The reality of living in a developing country. There are naked toddlers. There are little girls with ragged dresses. Mothers breastfeeding their kids on the infernal streets of the dusty,  arid city I call home. Finally, there are boys that look barely above ten. Labouring at construction sites with pickaxes almost their size.

Affirmation: I am grateful I have a place to live. I am grateful I have running water, electricity, a house made of stone and glass. I am grateful I have the security of a gated community and the luxury of privacy. I am grateful my child never has to experience the harsher realities of life. I am grateful she not only has a big house to live in, but also a big garden where she can safely romp. Where the biggest danger she faces is to get thirsty, tired or tanned. There are kids out there whose playground is a dirty, dangerous, high-traffic road. I am grateful that with or without these material luxuries, I am alive, loved, fed and sheltered. I am grateful for things that I used to think were a scourge: a mortgage, car loans, having to mow the lawn. I am grateful because these ‘problems’ mean that I have a roof over my head. I am sheltered from the heat, the noise, the pollution. I am even sheltered from other people. I am grateful that as a result of a random, perhaps divine lottery, I have been blessed with things that these street people I would consider unimaginable luxury. 
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Squash the Negative Thoughts that Are Destroying Your Productivity

In a haze of exhaustion, anger, PMS and the stresses of child-rearing the other day, I completely lost it while trying to get this project done.

It started with my toddler refusing to have her omlette and demanding cookies for breakfast and quickly snowballed into a full-blown cascade of negativity.

Problem is, it had nothing to do with my toddler or breakfast or even child-rearing. There is this tape that keeps playing over and over in my head whenever I get upset. Its like a continuous refrain that crescendoes into self-doubt and tears. What am I doing half a world away from family and friends trying to raise a child when I can barely take care of myself? How long did I think I could keep up this charade of domestic bliss living in an extended family of eight? Yes , eight. What am I, with my professional degrees and independent rearing doing depending on my husband for everything like some 19th century stay-at-home wife?

I became so fixated on these “issues” that I started bawling right alongside my two year old. The project I was working on? Straight out the window.

Funny thing is, on the whole I am genuinely happy. I chose to live half a world away from family and friends and raise my child with my husband. I actually like living in a huge family, not the least because it gives me so much more support in raising my two year old but also because I am a better mom for it. And not to piss the feminists off, but I actually enjoy having a capable, strong and protective man take care of me emotionally and financially for this brief period in my life while I devote myself to the first few years of our child’s life. Contrary to popular belief (and to my own) I am blessed to have the kind of life that I do.

So why do these same old thoughts cycle through my head when I’m struggling to be productive – like some well-worn belt of a treadmill that goes nowhere? Because I think too much.

Although new mothers are often ones who over-think and mire themselves in a pattern of negative self-talk, I am pretty sure we aren’t the only ones with a penchant for brooding over an issue until everything explodes around us and we lose track of what it was that we are actually trying to accomplish.

Do you over think things too? What if you nipped these seeds of negativity in the bud? Negative thoughts often trigger a chain reaction with one dark thought roping in another and before you know it, you find yourself in the throes of anger, resentment and depression.  What if you could declutter your mind and streamline your thoughts?

Sometimes its better to just let experiences wash over you without analyzing, judging, inferring or processing at all. Experiences, after all, are the primary products of life, and you cannot completely avoid unwanted situations. What you can control, however, is whether or not you fuel these unproductive feelings with your thoughts. The way you think influences your productivity. Do you want to live a positive life or a negative one?

Just how do you clip your negative thoughts anyway?

I had this crazy clinical instructor in university. The kind that told you quirky stories that you thought went nowhere but you listened because they were interesting. Then BOOM! You realized that they applied to your life and your learning goals. Some of them weren’t just interesting anecdotes but practical, engaging learning tools.

This one time in my freshman year, I was close to tears dealing with a particularly difficult patient when she pulled me aside and told me about the acronym ‘STOP’. I listened politely until she went:

“You need to STOP”

“Slow down, you mean”

“No STOP, you think too much and get yourself worked up”

I looked at her trying to figure out if it was a random story or one with a moral. You never knew with her.

She went on to tell me about a concept that I have been coming back to over the years when I’m wrangling with a particularly challenging situation or emotional problem. Or when I’m looking to make a quick, impactful decision.

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Stop. The deciding factor in how most situations turn out for us is how we react to them. The S in the STOP acronym stands for disengaging from a situation before you react. Gut reactions are great in fight or flight situations but we no longer live in the caveman days of running away from the carnivorous beast that wants to devour us. We live in a social world and staying calm in an upsetting situation is a skill we can only master by stepping back before we react emotionally. Not only do rash decisions clip our productivity, they may also cause us to make mistakes that we may regret later. Some mistakes are much harder to undo and it is much more productive to just take a moment to step back and make a rational decision rather than try to patch up a crappy decision later.

Take a Breath. In fight or flight, the adrenaline seeping into your system makes you breathe rapid and shallow.  The oxygen in your brain drops as your brain shunts the blood to your limbs for fight or flight. Take a deep breath in. Smooth and slow. Take your time breathing it out it out. Breathing deeply tells your brain that you are not preparing to fight or flee.

Observe. Not all thinking leads to negativity. When you react instinctively, you are often focussing on how wrong or unwanted the instigating event or behaviour is. If you are in conflict with another person, observe how they are feeling, try to see what has caused them to behave I  a way that has upset you. A little empathy goes a long way in human interactions. If the conflict is self-imposed or internal like mine was, try to step back and look at the whole picture. Observe how your body feels when you are upset. Observe what events or thoughts may have triggered your response. Perhaps naming this emotion may help you understand and resolve the situation in a rational manner. At this stage, your observation is as objective and detached as you can possibly manage.

Proceed. This is where you step back into the situation at hand, preferably calmer, with a bigger picture in your mind. When I put my toddler situation into perspective, it wasn’t such a big deal after all. Just because my toddler asked for cookies at breakfast doesn’t mean I failed as a mother or as a human being. Rather than focussing on my overwhelming self-doubt, I ended up calming my baby down with crayons so I could carry on working on my project. Stepping back and putting the situation into context will help you be an effective problem-solver when you come back to resolve it.

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At first using STOP may feel awkward. Lets face it, that’s a lot of steps to go through in the split second between getting upset and thinking negatively. Avoiding a downward spiral of negative thoughts takes practice especially if you (like me) have been thinking negatively for a long time. Difficult thought it may be, learning this skill of putting things into perspective will do wonders for your productivity in a stressful situation.

Try the STOP strategy the next time you are upset – and let us know how it went for you. Leave a comment below!

 

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Mindful productivity- working in the present

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.
– Khalil Gibran[/quote]

In a discussion about productivity, people seldom expect to talk about mindfulness. Sometimes though, mindfulness is exactly what we need in order to stay productive, just like in other aspects of our lives.

In particular, being mindful of our internal dialogue, limiting beliefs and personal strengths can be helpful in identifying the style of work that is most productive for us.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life. ― John Lennon[/quote]

In her best-selling book Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain, author identifies that human beings have two primal responses to stimuli- fear and pleasure. Those of us that are governed by fear are preoccupied with protecting ourselves and seeking safety. Those of us who are governed by pleasure seek excitement and novelty and new situations. Obviously both temperaments in excess can be harmful. The fear brain can lead you down a path of worry, nervousness, suspicion and negativity. The pleasure brain can cause u to seek out excesses, hush-risk activities, and even substance abuse in order to feel that thrill of doing something unique.

The body, like the mind, also has two responses to any situation – yes and no. The next time someone asks you a question or proposes an idea, observe your body closely for its internal answer. When your internal answer is yes while thinking of an idea, a question or a situation, you are relaxed, and positive. Your breath is even, the tone of your voice is level.  When it is no, you scrunch up and tense. Your shoulders pull up to your neck, your breath quickens, your body tightens.

 

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Jot down two or three questions that have been on your mind lately.

Keep these questions in mind as you proceed through the exercise.

Sit down on the flow or in a yoga mat. Cross your legs put your palms on our thighs. Imagine a thick gnarled root coming out of your spine, grounding you into the earth below. Think of your head sending out a million shoots and leaves reaching high towards the sky.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Notice the tension in your shoulders, let it go. Notice the tension in your abdomen, let it go.

Notice what is going on in your body. Breathe like a baby – with abandon and trust.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Ask your first question.

Suspend your conscious thinking. Do not try to think logically or drive the answer into a certain direction. Restrain your rational and logical responses.

Listen instead to your body. Is your body tightening up, grabbing on to your roots? Are you holding tightness in a particulate part of your body as you ask this question? Just observe the reaction of your body as you hold his question in your mind.

When you’re satisfied with the answer, breathe, and let this question go.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Ask your second question

Repeat the thought process above for the first question.

Maybe you’re feeling free and peaceful as you think of this question. Is there a sighing, a release, a sense of relief as you hold this question in your mind. What is your body telling you?

When you’re ready, breathe and let go of this question.

Repeat the whole thing if you have a third question.

Breathe.

When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and reflect upon the wisdom your body has just shared with you.

With practice, you will learn to respect and recognize the powerful decision making of your body. The silence that this bodily awareness creates in your mind will be more valuable, restorative and productivity-inducing than any expensive vacation you will ever take.

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Often people think of meditation, inner peace and achieving a state of “flow” as some esoteric mumbo jumbo. But these things can be applied in your everyday working life too.

Here are some ways you can infuse awareness into your everyday work activities:

  • Being present in the moment. Wherever you are, truly engaging in conversations and making meaningful connections with those physically around you will create a special bond and magical memories more than conversations online ever will. Remember there will always be time to write on someone’s facebook wall, or send your crush a text message.
  • Focusing only on the current task. Eliminate any negative feelings that keep you from being productive. Attempting to achieve multiple goals all at the same time is not only an inefficient venture but also a counterproductive one. Remember that grasping new concepts and getting a project done properly is a big responsibility and requires all the attention you can give it.
  • Not worrying about the past or the future. This is similar to being in the present moment, but cultivating mindfulness can help reduce anxiety, nervousness and agitation which stems from negative experiences or feelings of the past, and anticipation of what is to come.

 
The ability to identify both fear and pleasure stressors in our lives, create a quiet space to rejuvenate and work free of your everyday tensions can create an avalanche of productivity in your everyday productivity as you learn to let go and ease into the activity at hand.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh[/quote]

 

Working in fear

Fear is a manifestation of misplaced hope. When you are constantly hoping for an external miracle to solve all your problems,  you’re also in constant conflict with reality. Leaving behind your fantasies about life to fully embrace the reality that is present here and now is the key to unlocking your happiness and creativity.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear. ― Cheri Huber[/quote]

Contrary though it may seem, giving up your rigid notions of the world, can set you free. There is no limiting beliefs or castles in the air interfering with your fluid perception of reality. And when these limiting beliefs are gone, you can really work with yourself and get into the elusive “flow”. Speaking about the state of “flow”, working in the “zone” isn’t really different from mindfulness when you think about it. When you work in the “zone” you are present, fully focused on what is in front of you. No past and no future limiting, obscuring or altering your present reality.

 

Working with pleasure

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more. ― Mother Teresa[/quote]

Joy is the pervasive happiness that stays constant regardless of the internal and external circumstances pressing upon us. Unlike the superficial notions of happiness, living in a state of joy simply means focusing solely on the present. It means living in the present moment with intensity, experiencing the world around us with a heightened sense of attention.

Working with joy doesn’t mean that you’re not aware of the negativity around you. Instead, working with joy means that you’re constantly living the present moment with a pervasive awareness of the grand perspective of things. Working with joy means stepping back from our fear and pleasure stressors and working in a “zone” that is neither altered by the situation nor the actions of totters around us.

 

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30 Productivity Hacks to Help You Make The Most of Your Workday

  1. Try the Pomodoro technique. Chunk your tasks into 25 minutes and take a 5 minutes break in between. Use focus booster for getting some serious work done!
  2. Race the clock. Use an old fashioned timer, or for anywhere access try www.onlinestopwatch.com.
  3. Try working in a coffee shop. Train your brain to work efficiently in public.
  4. Prime yourself to get into “the zone”. Set yourself mentally to begin work at a certain time.
  5. Exercise. It gets blood flowing to the brain, making you more alert.
  6. Ditch your desk. Let go of the non-essential gadgets, streamline, and take your essentials outside to work.
  7. Vary work spaces to keep things exciting to boost both creativity and productivity
  8. Stay accountable with apps like WriteorDie, Lift and If This Then That.
  9. Use social media to your advantage. Go public with your tasks to stay accountable and productive.
  10. Ask a friend to check on you. Someone nagging you to finish your tasks on time is unparalleled in its effectiveness to help you get things done.
  11. Have a long-term countdown to your big project. On your cellphone. On social media. On your website. Maybe even on your desk.
  12. Take frequent breaks. Stay productive by recharging frequently and paying attention to body/mind cues.
  13. Make a distraction list. Then determine how to eliminate these distractions.
  14. Spend time with your peeps. Have guilt free distractions scheduled into your day or week so when you sit down to work, you’re focussed on the tasks in front of you.
  15. Don’t watch TV. Its called an Idiot Box for a reason. Watching in moderation os okay, but stay mindful if you’re starting to get fused with your living room couch.
  16. Take care of other needs so you don’t end up interrupting yourself. Pee breaks, food, water, exercise. Deal with these before you sit down to work so that you can work free of interruptions.
  17. Use your strengths. Delegate the tasks that you don’t want to do, or that someone else is better at. Keep your energy focussed on doing things that will give you the highest returns.
  18. Wear comfortable clothes but dress like you mean business. Appearances are important even when you’re working by yourself. A drumpy outfit signals to your brain that you’re not really on your A game.
  19. Limit obsessive email checking. Set times during the day when you will check your emails and reply to important correspondence. Make your habits public knowledge so people know when its best to contact you. Once you’ve checked your email, refrain from checking it again until the designated time.
  20. Be firm with yourself. When working for yourself, especially, if you work by yourself at home, its easy to slack off and tell yourself you’ll do an important task later. Don’t talk yourself into being less productive. Set deadlines like you would at a job. Then stick to them.
  21. Use pen & paper. If you’re getting distracted by your gadgets, try switching things up a bit by going back to old-fashioned pen and paper. You may be surprised at the creative ideas that seem to suddenly crop up out of nowhere.
  22. Wake up earlier. Things seem so much saner earlier on in the day ( or later on at night – depending on whether you’re an early bird of a night owl) when no one else is around to distract you from the task in front of you.
  23. Curb your perfectionism. If a task is done, and is of reasonably decent quality, you need to let it go and stop nit-picking at the little stuff. If a task is done, then label it as done, and move on.
  24. Meditate. Closing your eyes for a few minutes to ground yourself can make a huge difference between getting burned out and staying productive.
  25. Take a walk. Walking for productivity and creativity isn’t just for the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. You can do it too. Take a walk in fresh air whenever you’re stumped by a work problem. You just might happen to stumble upon a creative solution.
  26. Switch to a different task. If you’re on a tight deadline and cannot afford to take a complete break, try switching form a sedentary task typing away on your laptop, to getting up and looking up a reference you’ve been meaning to.
  27. Eat right. Eating clean will keep you alert and active. It will clear your mind of cobwebs and focussed on the task in front of you. Make sure to eat lots of produce, while grains and lean protein. Don’t forget to flush out toxins with lots of water.
  28. Eat on time. So many of us wait until we are starving to start thinking about what to eat. His is the basis of many of our terrible diet choices. Not only is it bad for your health, it also erodes your productivity when you’re sluggish from an unhealthy meal.
  29. Isolate yourself. When working, stay away form distractions. If you’re in an office, put up a temporary “Do Not Disturb” sign to discourage chit-chatting co-workers from barging into your office e or cubicle. If working from home, let your family or roommates know you’re going to be going off to your home office and not to disturb you unless its an emergency.
  30. Don’t stress about productivity. If you keep scaring yourself to death about how little you’re getting done, you’re just going to make yourself miserable and even less productive because instead of focussing on the solution, you’re distracted by thoughts about how you’re going to fail.

 

Your Turn! What’s your best productivity hack? Share it with us in the comments below.

 

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How taking a vacation can boost productivity

In our busy, everything to-go filled lives, it is important to take a moment to reflect on the impacts of such a lifestyle. First, let’s acknowledge that working too much is bad for you, your employer, your family and friends. Yet it is a lifestyle that so many of us fall victim to. We live under the illusion that everything we are doing is equally important and more often than not, get so drowned in all the important tasks that we completely give up. The busy routines we find ourselves in are not providing ideal lifestyles for our productivity and creativity to thrive.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking. -Earl Wilson[/quote]

Every once in a while, get out of your routine. Even though routine is thought to be the core of productivity, often what is missed is the need for a break. It is extremely important for us to take time to take a break. Both on a small scale and a larger scale. In this article, I will convince you on why you need to take more vacations. In the next article, I will discuss the benefits of taking small breaks throughout your day.

The best phase in my life which was coincidentally the most productive one as well was after my most memorable vacation in the summer of 2009. I travelled to India with my family after seven years and was completely rejeuvinated upon return. I’ve noticed after coming back from every vacation since then, there is a magic that follows after every period of rest and relaxation. Leave a comment to share your experience.

[message_box title=”Exercise:” color=”beige”]Think back to your last vacation. When was it? What is your best memory from it? On a scale from 0-10 think about how badly you needed that vacation. Now stop reminiscing and come back to the present. How much do you need a vacation now? Do you constantly feel irritated, anxious, tired, frustrated of it all? How close to burnout are you? [/message_box]

 

The Facts

An estimated average of 9.2 vacation days were left unused by Americans in 2012. More than 6 out of 10 Americans reported working through their vacation. While advocating for more vacations, Tony Schwartz, Energy Project CEO compared energy to time. “Like time, energy is finite; but unlike time, it is renewable,”  he wrote in the New York Times. “Taking more time off is counterintuitive for most of us. The idea is also at odds with the prevailing work ethic in most companies, where downtime is typically viewed as time wasted.”

 

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it”  Jim Goodwin[/quote]

 

The Logic

Our bodies are very flexible and accommodating of what we put them through, for the most part. However, living with chronic stress which comes along with our busy lifestyles hinders the body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and its ability to avoid injury. When we’re stressed out and tired, surviving on only a few hours of sleep and a poor diet, our immune systems become weaker and we are more likely to become ill. Chronic stress also has impacts on our mental health. We become more irritable, depressed, and anxious. It is also linked to memory problems and poorer decisions.

Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We need to take breaks in order to allow our bodies to recuperate from all the insults and catch up on rest. During the vacation, we gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines. As the vacation ends, there is a sense of empowerment; we emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again.

[quote align=”center” color=”#4bac58″]The purpose of a vacation is to have the time to rest. But many of us, even when we go on vacation, don’t know how to rest. We may even come back more tired than before we left. – Thich Nhat Hanh[/quote]

 

Benefits of taking a vacation

  1. Recharge and enjoy life
    • Avoid burnout
    • See the bigger picture
    • Gain more energy
    • Experience new things
    • Strengthen family ties
    • Allow for personal growth
  2. Increase productivity
    • Enhance job performances
    • Increase focus
    • Promote creativity
    • Improve mental skills
    • Gain new perspectives
  3. Stay healthy
    • Relieve stress
    • Improve mood
    • Catch up on sleep
    • Reduce risk of depression
    • Boost heart health
    • Promote well-being

[message_box title=”Try this…” color=”beige”]What is the one place you have wanted to visit since you were a child? Why haven’t you been there yet? What is the one activity you have been thinking of doing? Take a few minutes to plan your next vacation. If you don’t have the money or time right now, plan a stay-cation budget trip. Take just 2 days from your busy life where you will just let everything go and exist in the present- worry free.[/message_box]

Pack your bags, cut out the routine and take a vacation, and watch your productivity fluorish in the weeks that follow! Stay tuned for an article on planning a vacation.

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16 Experiments to clear mental chatter and stay productive

Its 3 am and these scary, creepy, toxic thoughts start creeping into your mind. What if you fail and the project you’re working on tanks? What if your best friend is backstabbing you?What if he is cheating on you?  What if?

We go through life with so much negative mental chatter, its a miracle we survive at all. From the moment we are born, we are cautioned and protected. Watch out for that sharp edge of the kitchen counter. Be careful not to climb up too high on that chair. Don’t speak to strangers.

Most of us are lucky – our worst fears never come true.

The funny thing with mental chatter is – the more you entertain it, the more it  flourishes, like a  parasite eating through your brain until you have nothing left to give.

The fear-mongering limits us, clips our wings and makes us doubt who we are and what we stand for.

The only way to stop that debilitating mental chatter is to go to the source and cut it off from the root – your mind. Consider these common sources of negative mental chatter:

 

Family

In the groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence, author Daniel Goleman talks about how our families and upbringing shape our destiny.

Early in childhood, we begin to form lasting perceptions about the human relationships around us. Countless moments of negative talk and harsh criticism over the course of childhood can shape some of our most fundamental ideas about ourselves – essentially determining the course of our lives.

While you cannot change your upbringing, studies show that even in adulthood, we have the power to change our emotional patterns and become adept at overcoming our negative thought patterns.

 

 

Significant Others

Often our closest relationships – lovers, spouses, boyfriends and girlfriends – bear the brunt of our toxic  emotional conditioning. Even a small reaction such as a contemptuous expression can cause an increase in the other person’s heart rate, with prolonged conflict leading to a host of health problems. Since most of us live with a spouse or partner in adulthood, how we interact in our most significant relationship has a massive impact on our productivity and motivation.

 

Workspaces

Since most of us spend majority of the week working, our workspace can also be a significant source of stress that detracts us from being productive.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that social integration in the workspace employment and peer support are potent predictors of the productivity, quality of life, and surprisingly even mortality. When the focus is on the drama and conflict at work, it can be incredibly difficult to focus on the project at hand and be productive.

Negativity in the workplace wastes time, hinders creativity and innovation lower morale and decreased productivity.

 

Commuting

The average American spends 51 minutes a day commuting to and from work. A Swedish study found that long commutes increase stress levels and reduce productivity.

Earlier this year, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its report on Commuting and Personal Well-being. The study found that “commuters have lower life satisfaction, less pride in their work, less happiness and higher anxiety than non-commuters.”

In fact, a 2012 study by the New Cities Foundation, San Jose found that if travel time could be made more interesting and less stressful then commuters would be more productive.

Internet and Other Media

Watch this TED talk to understand how social media is negatively impacting our internal dialogue and making us lonely. Sherry Turkle, a psychologist, sociologist and MIT professor talks about how our mobile devices aren’t just changing what we do, but also who we are. Social media has become so powerful that we don’t use it just as a tool to share our lives with other, but that technology has taken over our lives and we now simply find things to do so we can post them up. Our superficial interactions online have left us without the skills for self-reflection or face to face conversations. Turkle asserts that we are so lost now without social media that we cannot stand the discomfort of being without the constant online chatter when we are temporarily disconnected from our gadgets.

Joel Bain of Sour Grapes Winery puts it beautifully:

We are closer to each other than ever before, yet more distant emotionally and mentally than has ever been seen in human history.

These five common sources of negative mental chatter and toxic thoughts : family, spouses, workplace commutes, and social media are a testament to our increasing distraction from out own lives with constant, negative mental chatter. This constant chatter is what keeps us browsing, sharing, surfing all day –  and yet, we have nothing to show for our ‘hard work’ at the end of the day.

Not only do these sources erode our productivity, sucking our energy, ruining our quality of life they also impact our morale and mental focus.

Listening to Authentic Voices

Your search for inner motivation and creativity can be counterproductive when all the information you are consuming is created by other people. Whether it is your family, spouse, or the negative thoughts that spring form your workplace, commute or social or other mass media media that are influencing your thoughts – know this – In order to access your inner strength and sit down and do some authentic work, you need to block these outside influences (even if it is temporary) and listen to your own little voice of dissent.

Below are 16 practical experiments you can do to eliminate mental chatter and toxic thoughts from your mind to unleash your productivity today:

  1. Go on a social media fast
  2. Take a vow of silence for a day
  3. Listen to a positive audiobook on your commute
  4. disconnect from the internet
  5. have a heart to heart conversation with a friend or family
  6. Make eye contact when you talk to someone – give them your complete attention
  7. Catch yourself criticizing or judging someone – give them a compliment instead
  8. Create an hour of solitary time just to be alone with yourself
  9. Make a cup of green tea – take each sip mindfully
  10. Sit on the couch with your spouse. Do nothing else.
  11. Hug your parents. Call them if they are far away.
  12. Write a letter to an old friend
  13. Do a walking meditation
  14. Roll your shoulders, close your eyes, look up and take a deep breath
  15. Play with a child
  16. Go for a run outside – especially if the weather is bad.

 

Which ones did you do? Tell us about your battle with mental chatter in the comments below!

channelingyouranger

Eliminate The Toxic Habit That is Ruining Your Life

 Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. – Buddha

 

Define Your Anger

Whether you’re an irritable person by nature, or usually maintain a cool, you’ve experienced anger at some point in your life. It’s very hard to withdraw yourself from the moment and not allow the anger to take over control.

Take a minute to evaluate what exactly it is that you are feeling. Do you feel betrayed, are you furious and feel like punching someone?

Ask your self uncomfortable questions about your anger. In her book “The Dance of Anger”, Harriet Lerner, a scholarly writer, psychologist and a renowned relationship expert asks readers to pose the following incisive questions to identify the true source of anger:

  • What about the situation makes me angry?
  • What is the real issue here?
  • What do I think and feel?
  • What do I want to accomplish in this situation?
  • Who is responsible for what?
  • Specifically,what do I want to change?
  • What are the things I will and will not do?

Understand that whatever you are feeling is normal. Accept that it is completely human to get angry or upset, I’d be worried if you never felt that way.

Rate your anger on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most severe. Anywhere above 8, and you’ve got yourself in a pickle. This is a serious concern, which you must address. But if I were to give you a piece of advice it would be this: pick your battles. Feeling emotions of anger is okay, but allowing it to control your actions in a negative way is not.

Discover The Root

Do some detective work and figure out what the cause of your anger is. A lot of times, the trigger may not even be the actual issue. There is often a hidden, more prominent reason for your anger. Don’t ignore it. In most cases, people keep their feelings bottled up inside of them and allow their anger to build up over months or even years, and then explode in at a seemingly “random” situation because they can no longer maintain their composure. That is why it is so important to determine the underlying cause, and not work on the superficial root.

Once you spend a little time thinking about what the cause of these feelings is, you have two options: deal with the root of the anger or let the anger go. Choose wisely, because you will have to accept responsibility for your actions and its consequences. My advice is to first deal with the problem and then let it go.

Eliminate Anger From Your Life

So you’ve decided to confront the issue and reach some middle ground with the source of the anger. Kudos to you! Avoidance is a sign of weakness, not maturity.

Talk to the person at the root of the anger. If it is something they did or do on an ongoing basis that you don’t have any part in or control over, then you need to let them know how much it bothers you and affects your mood and life. They may not even know that it bothers you and discussing it with them may lead to a surprisingly easy and positive outcome.

If it is something not out of the ordinary about the other person, or something that angers you in every aspect of your life, regardless of the environment and people, perhaps you should think about the possibility that it is your ideas and beliefs about certain things that are causing you all the anger, rather than an external source. In this case, accept the cause and start working on yourself so you can live an anger-free life.

Now that you’ve dealt with the cause of the anger, its time to explore ways in which to release your remaining anger in an appropriate manner. The first step is, give yourself permission to let the anger go. Chances are you’ve held onto these feelings for quite some time and you’ve become accustomed to having it around. It’s almost become a habit. You may feel lonely without it’s presence in your head and daily life. So allow yourself to be strong and let it go.

Then, give yourself a break! You’ve just accomplished a big task, and freed yourself of a lot of draining emotional baggage. So celebrate!

How To Cope

Okay, so this is great advice for long-term anger management. But what can you do in the meantime while you haven’t had the time to deal or let go, but need to control your anger habits from day to day? Use any or all of these techniques that work for you:

Breathe. Count up until you feel your anger dissipating with each breath. If you can, keep a track of the number you stop at each time and try to monitor the progress. Hopefully, it will take less and less time, each time for your anger to dissipate.

Visualize. Anything that helps you NOT feel aggressive or violent is good. If visualizing punching the person who angers you helps you release the anger against them, then do it. If visualizing a scenic waterfall, helps calm your anger, then do that. I’m not going to tell you what you should visualize, but rather urge you to explore what helps calm your mind the most. You can do this by trying to visualize different scenes each time. You should find, just like with the breathing and counting exercise, that some scenes will help you relax faster, so use those.

Confront. Stand up for yourself if you think that is important. I still emphasize the fact that if you’re not sure how you should react, just don’t and save it until you have some time to analyze the cause. But at the same time, don’t allow someone to walk all over you. Sometimes it is just important to put your foot down, stand up for yourself and let the other person know that you are not going to accept poor treatment. The only advice I can give is make sure you are not being illogical and emotional in your confrontation, otherwise this strategy will work against you and make you look like an emotional fool in the other person’s eyes.

Channel. Invest your time and energy in hobbies, projects and social relationships. Write, paint, dance, run, create, exercise. Take up a reading list, join a martial arts class, go out with friends and family. Learn to relieve your anger in a controlled environment. This can be anything of your choosing, something that truly makes you happy and calm.

NO substances. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to cope. This only delays dealing with the issue and then you end up with even bigger issues than you started with. Use healthy means of coping with your anger that are listed above or unlisted yet positively healthy.