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15 Styles of Distorted Thinking

On July 17, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Distorted Thinking

Lately it seems like all I’ve been hearing are assumptions and conclusions on how the world really works. When I pay attention a moment longer, I can hear the blaring battle cry of distorted thinking. Distortion is a cunning and seductive beast. If you don’t give pause to your thoughts, you’ll completely miss her sleight of hand. Here are 15 styles of distorted thinking:

Filtering

You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For example, let’s say you blew a tire on the way to work, but after changing it you were given a free coffee for your troubles at the local coffee shop. You’ll tell the story of the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day – completely forgetting the free coffee and smile.

Polarized Thinking

Things are black or white, good or bad, possible or impossible. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground. You cannot compromise…on anything. You find all the options irrelevant because your mind is made up already… about everything.

Overgeneralization

You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. This happens after broken hearts. “All guys are douchebags. I’m just going to get my heart broken.” People are often quick to jump to conclusions after only one incident.

Mind Reading

Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to divine how people are feeling toward you. This is because you, much like the rest of the human populous, has a Ph.D. from Make Stuff Up University.

Catastrophizing

You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start throwing out “what-ifs” about it. What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you? What if it’s too risky and you die?!?!? Knock it off. Your blood pressure doesn’t ever need to go that high on a what if. And yes, catastrophizing is totally a made-up word.

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What Can a Coach do for Me?

On June 19, 2013, in Coaching, News, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

I get this question a lot. What exactly do you do? What can you do for me?

There is also an underlying question: What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

Check out my quick video and leave a comment below. What other questions have you got for me? What would you like a coach to do for you?

Stay brillant,

Blake

28 Powerful Questions for a Happy Life

On June 13, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Silhouette-of-a-Man

“Keep your head clear. It doesn’t matter how bright the path is if your head is always cloudy.” ~Unknown

This is an article I wrote for Tiny Buddha last year that was published January 1, 2013. If you’ve not heard of Tiny Buddha, I highly recommend venturing over there and taking in all the goodness.

Have you ever noticed that your biggest “aha” moment comes from someone asking a powerful question? Suddenly everything seems to make a little more sense, and you know what you need to do from that point forward, right?

That’s exactly how it is for me. Someone will ask me a seemingly trivial question and bam! I’m suddenly overflowing with answers, emotions, solutions—I’m practically made of clarity!

I remember a friend of mine asking me over coffee one rainy afternoon a few years ago, “What are you avoiding, Blake?”

“What? Nothing. I mean, I guess I don’t want it to fail.” I eventually replied.

“Yeah, and…” She quips back. “What happens then?”

I came to her because her willingness to face challenges head-on amazes me, and I needed her to facemy challenge and give me that sage advice I knew she could. I wanted to leave corporate America and venture out on my own, and I wanted her to somehow make that sounds less crazy.

I wanted to throw caution to the wind and follow what I most passionately believed in.

I wanted to be my own success story.

also wanted someone else to tell me it was going to work.

Calculating, weighing, analyzing—these things can only take you so far. I subconsciously needed something to get me out of my head and into some clarity. I needed that push.

We bounced back and forth for what seemed like eternity. When most people have conversations like this, one party inevitably snaps out of the pattern and either says something oddly profound, or simply gets frustrated and tells the other to bugger off.

I was lucky enough to receive the former rather than the latter.

“When do you stop calculating risk and rewards and just do it?” she asked. “Because it feels like you’re building a magnificent ship you’re too much of a baby to ever sail. What are more committed to, dreaming it or doing it?”

Holy cow, I was stunned. She was right. What was I more committed to? What a brilliant question.

As a coach (yes, I made the leap and ventured out on my own), I make my living asking these questions to help clients get out of their own way.

The beauty of these questions is there are no right or wrong answers. They are just meant to get your wheels turning, and maybe help you see the decisions you’ve been making, and the ones you’d like to make from now on.

These are 28 of my favorite questions:

1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make one. Where is this true for you?

2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail?

3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength?

4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life?

5. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

6. When do you stop calculating risk and rewards, and just do it?

7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

8. What do you most connect with? Why?

9. What one piece of advice would you offer a newborn child?

10. Which is worse—failing or never trying?

11. Why do we do things we dislike and like the things we never seem to do?

12. What are you avoiding?

13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now?

14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

15. What are you most grateful for?

16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world?

17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or it influencing you?

18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing?

19. What are you committed to?

20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things?

21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy?

22. Have you been the kind of friend you’d want as one?

23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed?

24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?

25. What permission do you need/want to move forward?

26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it?

27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world?

28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing for your story or for someone else’s?

Powerful questions can change the very fiber of our construction. They give us a chance to challenge our own ideals and perhaps shed some light on what we are and are not committed to.

It’s important to understand that we’re always committed to something. If it’s not success out on our own, it’s staying safe in the comfortable success of someone else. If we’re not committed to creating our opportunities, we’re committed to floating around, hoping, waiting, and wishing for circumstance.

Are you more committed to dreaming it or doing it?

Ask yourself some of these questions when you feel stuck. What comes up just might surprise you!

Peace, love, and a million successes to you, my friends!

Photo by Tobias Mandt

A Taste of Bliss: Moving On in Four Steps

On January 23, 2013, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Guest Post by Greg Malouf of Epsilon Healing Academy

Buddha in the rain - clear and mindful.

“Get out of your head and get into your heart. Think less, feel more.” – Osho

 

I came to a point in my life where I felt like something was not working the way I wanted it to. I struggled with addiction, stress and anxiety, and had to go through a painful divorce. Once I was finally ready to make a change in my life, the question became: How?

Having the desire to change was an important first step because it led me to begin a search for answers. One thing that is necessary to understand, however, is that in seeking change, we are embarking on a journey. There are answers, but there is no magic that will instantly fix everything in life. I had to learn to be patient and to be open as I moved through the process.

With that said, I’d like to share a few tips I used to get through making a life change that you can try right away that will offer a taste of what is to come as you progress through this work.

Shift your perspective

Try this exercise for one day of your life—just one!

Throughout the day, stop yourself—as best as you can—from criticizing, judging, attacking, or acting out behaviorally when a negative emotion or uneasiness is triggered within you. Focus on your thoughts, your emotions, and your actions as you encounter people, things, and circumstances that trigger those negative thoughts and feelings in you. When those feelings come up, and you are tempted to speak harshly or act out of anger and frustration, catch yourself and take a breath. Instead of the response you would instinctively make, on this day, make a conscious effort to shift your perspective from negative to positive.

Watch what happens when you make a conscious choice to see circumstances differently. As you choose positive responses over negative ones, you will certainly notice a shift in your perspective and your outlook.  You will also notice a shift in those around you. Think about an argument you’ve had with someone. Typically, arguments start with something simple and relatively unimportant, but as heated words are exchanged, the hostility ratchets up until it seems there is no going back. But imagine if instead of fueling that fire, you step back, take a moment, and respond with openness and kindness. The situation would be resolved much quicker and without all the bad feelings.

Indulge only in loving thoughts and your day will be beautiful. Feelings that you have not felt in a long time will continue to surface – joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment.

Practice Forgiveness

The next step in the process is forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean condoning bad behavior. It simply means that we choose to release any anger or bitterness toward the person we believe has caused our unease. That can be difficult to do, so here is a way to start.

When you feel resentment, anger, or grievances, replace these feelings with the thought, “I love you, (name), and I accept you as you are.”

Repeat this each time you feel a change of mental state or an uneasy feeling.

Identify the thought and at whom this negative energy is projected. Forgive, using loving words and affirmations. Repeat the words above until you are free of any negative energy and unease.

Forgive yourself for your reactions—for carrying the shame of that past for so long. Recognize that you are now in control of your life!

Know that those who you reacted to have helped you recognize and release the part of your past that kept you prisoner within your mind and body. They helped liberate you, and you love them for it. This is true forgiveness!

Release negative feelings

As with any skill, learning to respond with love in potentially difficult situations takes practice. There is something you can do to help yourself be better prepared when you do encounter triggers.

At the moment you feel unease, take note of where you feel it in your body. It may be pain that you don’t readily associate with an emotional issue, or it may be emotional distress that you can now associate with a physical manifestation, such as stomachache, headache, or tension in your neck. Either way, when you feel pain, be aware that it is a sign that you are out of alignment with your true values; you are disconnected to your inner you.

Sit quietly, and focus on your pain. Say what you are feeling—grief, anger, resentment, loneliness, and so on. Separate the feelings from the pain. Release the emotion and simply be aware once again of the physical pain. Breathe deeply in and out, and allow the breath to carry this pain with it. After a short time, your body will feel rested.

Now you have isolated the negative energy that fed your thoughts. As the thoughts come, simply observe them without judgment. Continue to sit quietly and breathe.

Ask yourself ––in the inner silence of Self, “What part of my past caused me to feel this way?” Remember that your negative thoughts stem from your past traumas, large and small. Recognize any resemblance between your current feelings and that past experience.

Use positive affirmations

Positive affirmations are an excellent way to remind yourself throughout the day to check your emotional state and redirect or reframe any negative thoughts or feelings. Here are a few examples:

“I am now in control of my life.”

“I forgive those I now recognize for holding me in their shame, and I forgive myself for carrying it for so long. I send them love and offer myself love.”

“I am okay in Self.”

As you practice each of these exercises, keep in mind that the real miracle–– the major shift–– will come when you are ready to create your life consciously. Consider this a small miracle to enjoy, an opportunity to experience a mere taste of bliss, calm, and joy all around you.

Don’t be afraid to give yourself a chance – after all, the primary beneficiary will be you! In this one day, you may feel what it is to liberate the soul.

Let go of your fear, and give it a try! If I was able to do this, you can too.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below. What resonates the most with you in your life? What do you focus on when you begin to heal? Please comment and share.

 

Gregory MaloufGreg Malouf is the founder of Epsilon Healing Academy where he works with students throughout the world to take a journey away from life as they know it, and into the inner world of the Self – where they ultimately find healing. His book, “Silent: The Power of Silence,” was written to take readers on an inward journey to find the all-loving place and connection that is the silent connection to Self.

Stop and Hear the Music

On January 6, 2012, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Washington DC Metro Subway

“In Washington DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After about four minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At six minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At ten minutes, a three-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At forty-five minutes: The musician played continuously. Only six people stopped and listened for a short while. About twenty gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After one hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?”

Whoa. These are some hard questions to answer. We just came out of the holiday season, and for many of us it was a stressful time. It was hours, days, weeks, maybe even months of running around, fighting traffics, crowds, and weather delays – not really a lot of appreciating, was there? How often do you get caught up in the minutiae and noise of life, and forget to notice and celebrate the beauty?

Take a moment every day and notice.

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Action for Happiness – Now in America

On July 6, 2011, in Coaching, Events, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Action for Happiness

 

Today I came across Action for Happiness, a UK based non-profit organization that works to create change for the better in the world. They do this by educating and empowering people to discover and harness the power of what makes them happy. Moved by how much this spoke to me and my personal coaching mission, I created the first US based Meetup group. Action for Happiness – Chicagoland is the new home for stateside AFH help.

I have just started my journey with this, but I have BIG, BIG plans to bring this into the spotlight, both in my work, and in the global connections I have. Now I have another reason to get a flight to the UK. I encourage everyone to head to the Action for Happiness UK site, and pledge to be happy. It’s free, and the site is filled with resources and motivations to help you get started.

If you also happen to live in the Chicagoland area, I definitely recommend joining our meetup group HERE. Read more about the project, and get a taste for the incredible things to come!

I hope to see you all at our next meetup!

Peace, Love, and a million successes to you all!

Blake

Yes, There is such a thing as Bad Publicity.

On June 10, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

Angry Woman via Jason Ippolito (flickr)

“If you want to end your suffering, stop being the publicist for your problems.
If you treat it like front page news, it will behave like it.”

Contrary to popular belief, there really is something called bad publicity. Moreover, it’s affecting you more than you’re even aware. We spend more time communicating our opinions, beliefs, issues, passions, and shortcomings to other people than we realize. Every day we are our own publicists. Consider how connected we all are nowadays – social media has us plugged in at every moment. When was your last status update on Facebook? How about your last tweet? When was the last time you read through feeds on either site?  It wasn’t more than an hour, was it?

That’s exactly my point. We’re sharing our lives – the good and the bad – with the world all the time, and sometimes it gets the best of us. Have you ever told a story enough times that it makes you feel worse, not better?

I remember working in sales a few years ago, and after busting my ass and working all my tricks, the promotion train came around. I was absolutely sure the new position was mine. I was so sure that I didn’t even entertain the notion that it might not be my turn. When the announcement was made that another representative had been promoted instead of me, I lost my mind. I couldn’t believe that all my hard work was not enough for them. I posted that “I’m the victim of this stupid company and their stupid people and their stupid policies” story on my front page.

This was a poor move.  I vented to friends and family, coworkers in other departments – even people at the grocery store. I felt like absolute crap. As the publicist for my life, I was running page after page of bad news, and it was doing me no good.  My articles were all about how difficult and unfair my life was. And as a direct result, I was treated that way… and my life became difficult and unfair.

Fast forward to 2008.  I had just started my life anew. I was opening my first company, embarking on new relationships with friends and new loves. Life was exciting. My front page read, “AWESOME” across the top. The stories I told reflected the great experiences I had, and those I wished for more of. When unfortunate setbacks came (as the always do), I didn’t put out a personal press release to the world.  Instead, I vented to a select few in my circle, and moved forward.

Why is this important?

I consciously chose what I publicized about myself and my life, and it allowed me to keep my energy on the up-and-up. When energy and confidence are up, life is easy, fruitful, and exciting.  Much better than difficult and unfair, no?

Another example is the “water-cooler-complaint break.”  If you’re always complaining about something to your friends or co-workers, you are publicizing negativity.  We all know someone like that, right? Case in point: Debbie Downer – she’s always negative and finds a way to turn a parade into a prison exercise. She’s got problems, right?

So what’s the lesson here, Blake?

 

If you want to change the world according to you, change the world you put in your news.
How do you like that – it even rhymes!

 

I know this can feel harder than it sounds. It’s easier to follow the media and crowds, and just complain like everyone else. I know that. But this isn’t about easy. It’s about better. We all believe life would be better if we didn’t have all these (insert your problems here), right?  Now it’s about declaring that we’re no longer going to give those problems strength. We’re taking the wind from their sales, and we’re going to stop promoting them. Let’s see how influential they are when they’ve got no more publicity!

I know this is a big step, but I know you can do it. For good measure, though, I invite you to vent it one last time here in the comments below, and let it go.

What are you willing to let go – to no longer publicize?

The Power of Words

On April 14, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

 


This video is a brilliant example of the power of words and communication.  We are only human, creatures of habit, and products of our environment – often our affinity for believing we know best or we know the truth about something prevents us from taking action. When you want something, do you simply ask curiously, or are you asking with a judgement that you won’t receive it?  When something is confusing, do you ask for clarification, or do you seek validation that your opinion is correct?

Here’s an example:

Pete: “I think I’m ready to quit my job and run off to be a rodeo clown.”
Kelly: “Don’t you think that’s a stupid idea? Aren’t you worried about your bills? What will people think?”

vs.

Pete: “I think I’m ready to quit my job and run off to be a rodeo clown.”
Marie: “Wow! Pete, that’s quite an idea! How did you come to this decision? Do you have a plan already?”

Clearly, Marie feels a little friendlier than Kelly, right? Kelly believes that Pete is making a stupid decision, and because she knows best, her questions will feel like statements, i.e. “that’s a stupid idea, you need to worry about your bills, and what people think.” Can you notice the difference in responses between Marie and Kelly.  Which do you find your responses resemble most often?

I know we’ve all been in a situation where someone may say something and we immediately react with judgmental questions. Instead of asking why to that person, we ask why on Earth would you want to do something like that?. The tone and judgment are much louder than the words.

So Blake, what’s the moral of the story here?

There are stories all around you. Which stories are you actually hearing?  How are you responding? The words you use can make a big difference in how you’re received. I invite you to find examples in the world around you, and change the words. Notice any difference in emotion. Did you feel any different when the words in the video above changed? Would you have given your change?

This is a beautiful life, my friends. Sometimes it just takes the right words to express it.

What words do you use to describe your beautiful life?

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How to be an Everyday Superhero

On March 8, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton



I’ve stated in my other blog that we could really use a hero. Even if it’s only a hero for our own desires, it would really bring the best out in the world. Batman did it for Gotham, Superman for Metropolis, and Wonder Woman – well, she was a heroin for every city the government sent her into. Rather than tout the benefits, albeit through illegal means, of a vigilante hero, I’m suggesting a different kind of hero or heroin. I’m suggesting the modern day hero get some attention.

Here’s the assignment:  Be a hero or heroin for the next 5 days.  Each day I invite you to flex your proverbial guns and make life better one-step-at-a-time. Starting Wednesday, make an effort to be the change you want to see in the world. – Thank you, Ghandi.  To get your super-minds primed, here are a few things that make a huge difference:

Acts of Kindness

For the next five days do things for others without questioning the WIIFM – What’s in it for me. It make cost you an additional 20 minutes in travel time, but still choose to go out of your way to pick up diapers, groceries, dinner, donuts (insert items here) for your coworkers, sibling, significant other, roommate, best-friend etc. Men often reduce the frequency of flowers and/or chocolate only on Valentine’s Day and her birthday, but are amazed how HUGE the impact is when they do it (even when it’s expected). Go out and grab a bouquet. Do it.

Bite The Bullet

For the next five days, stop complaining about things nobody wants to do but have to. Stop listening to the complaints. Take a deep breath, and get it done.  The 400 TPS reports have incorrect cover letters, huh? That’s a big endeavor to correct. It sounds like a job for.. exactly! Superman. After a long day of work, it’s nice to come home and relax, right? What if you promised the kids they could get ice cream for dessert, but you’re both too tired (maybe even crabby) to pack everyone back into the minivan and head to DQ? Take a deep breath, and remember that acts of kindness suggestion above. Go get ice cream with the kids. Get something for yourself too. Who doesn’t like ice cream for dessert?!

Acknowledge Others

Oh man, this is monumental. For the next five days open your eyes and notice people around you more. What are they doing well? What do you appreciate about who they are and/or what they’re doing? For the next five days, make it a daily (once in the morning, once in the afternoon) or more event to acknowledge someone for who they are, and what you appreciate in them.

“Sarah, you’re a beacon of integrity here. You tackle all of these accounts, handle assignments that really shouldn’t be your responsibility, and you never give it only half effort. I cannot tell you enough how much I personally, along with the rest of us, deeply appreciate who you are and what you bring to the table.”

Whoa! That’s a pretty powerful statement right there.  You might work in an environment where the last sentence may sound more like, “…how much we think you’re friggin’ awesome.” Either way, the key is to acknowledge other people for who they are.  It’s more than telling someone you like his laptop bag, or her blouse. It’s more than telling someone they’re a good worker. It’s recognizing and stating the values you appreciate in the other person. Practice.

When you appreciate another person for who he or she is, it makes an ordinary moment magical.  Take the time, for the next five days, to be a hero. Small steps are all it takes to make a very big difference.

What ways are you a hero/heroin in your life? Share your story in the comments below!

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15 Habits for Your Best Year Ever

On January 9, 2011, in Coaching, Everyday Life, by Blake Alexander Hammerton

We’re a week into 2011, and I wanted to hit you all with a great list of habits to sink your teeth into. Happy people are passionate, grateful, fulfilled, and true to themselves – among other things.  They have habits and ways of going about things that help them experience what they love in their lives more often than anything else.  These are highly effective, life-changing habits, and they’re coming to you at the perfect time. Start developing these in your life, and I promise you this will be your best year ever.

Honest Appreciation – The “attitude of gratitude” is more than a clever new-age catch phrase. When you genuinely appreciate the experiences, people, opportunities, and challenges in your life, you set your world in motion.  You reap what you sow, right?  Well start sowing the seeds of gratitude.  Soon you’ll be reaping a harvest of your design – love, passion, purpose, achievement – a life fulfilled.

Humor – Use it. Recognize it. Champion it.  Look, life can be unparalleled in its awesomeness, and it can also be incredibly hard.  This greatly depends on your perspective of the world around you.  Have you ever heard the expression, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry?”  When life gives you two rusty nails, a rubber band, and a stick of Dentyne when all you wanted was a few lemons, it would probably feel better to laugh, rather than cry.  There are some hilarious moments, events, and people in the world. Join them! Laughter truly is the best medicine.

Take Responsibility – Your next best step to greatness is to take the wheel and steer.  You have to accept 100% responsibility for the course your ship takes because nobody else is going to.  In interviews with highly successful and happy people, one key lesson they always seem to share is that they took responsibility for their actions and outcomes in life… and that’s when it all changed for them.

Know Your Choice – Even when you don’t think you have a choice, you do.  Even when you don’t think you made a choice, you did. In this new year, make it a habit of choosing what you truly want in your life. Remember, when you say yes to something you don’t really want, you say no to something you do want.  The same works in reverse. When you say yes to things you want, you say no to things you don’t.  Pretty simple, right? It takes practice, but you’ll get there.  It takes 21 days to make a habit. Start today.

The Company You Keep – Your friends and colleagues play a big part in your actions.  Surround yourself with people that support your values and ethics.  If they share the passion you share, they’ll help you achieve your goals.  People have a way of building each other up when they’re in a like-minded group.  Give yourself permission to get a new group of friends and be received as the new guy again.

Give Yourself Permission – This is so huge.  Give yourself permission to fail.  Give yourself permission to succeed. There are a lot of people that don’t give themselves permission to do enough of either.  “I don’t want to fail, but I don’t want to draw too much attention by being too good.”  Define what success and failure looks like to you, and give yourself permission to experience both.  When you do, take lessons from it and move forward to you next great adventure!

Do What You Love – Another characteristic of happy and successful people is they do what they love. Life is short. Too short to hate what you do, or do something that doesn’t make you feel alive. Chase your passions, my friends.  Make time to enjoy yourself and your hobbies.

Never Stop Learning – Your brain is a muscle – a mental muscle.  It gets stronger and more “fit” as you learn and expand your mind.  Open your mind up and keep learning.  There are 356 days left this year – read something challenging and new.  When your mind is sharp and engaged, your well-being improves and you feel more equipped to handle more in your life.

Get Active – Get off the couch and get moving! I’m not suggesting everyone go out and train to be a marathon runner – even a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood makes a difference.  Exercise releases endorphins which helps to ease tension and stress.  When you’re less stressed, you feel better, more focused, and you’re confident.  Try it!

Keep Your Word – There’s something so powerful about a person that is true to his or her word. When you’re honest, you have nothing to risk.  Be honest with the people in your life, and keep the promises you make.  Nobody loses when words are kept.

Go Boldly Everywhere – Venture into new experiences with confidence and an open mind.  Start new projects and adventures with people.  Take a vacation to an unusual place.  In everything you do, make it a habit to give it your all – boldly going everywhere.

Forgive – Practice forgiveness in your day-to-day activities.  There’s no reason to rage against the person in the Toyota that was driving too slow in the fast lane.  If you pass that car, the moment is passed. Forgive the driver, and forgive yourself for getting heated about it.  We’re all humans, and we’re all trying to do what we can to live.  Sometimes one way will interfere with another. It happens.  Forgive it, and let the weight go.

Practice Compassion – This goes right along with forgiveness above.  Rather than hold a judgment against someone based on your perspective, show a little compassion.  Here’s an example: When you’re on the train and you pass judgment against a passenger you don’t know, based on something they’re doing or saying, recite the following phrase to yourself – “just like me, this person is struggling to make sense of it all, and is learning about life.”  People are different than you are.  They’ll see things, hear things, want things differently than you will. Accept and practice compassion.

Mind Your Business – Focus on your life only.  Take care of yourself and your family. Work on how you are received in the world.  When you focus on what others should or should not be doing, thinking, or saying, you’re in their business – and you don’t belong there.  Everyone is entitled to live a life they love, and one all their own… including you.

Take Care of Yourself – In the world today, there are a lot of pressures that wreak havoc on the mind, body, and spirit.  Take time to get away from all of it and restore.  Spend an entire weekend napping and relaxing when you feel stressed.  Get a massage! Turn your phone off for a day or two! When your mind and body are nurtured and well cared for, your ability to thrive is top-notch.  You’re the most important person in your life.  Treat your spirit that way.

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