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If Losing Your Job To The Pandemic Destroyed Your Identity, Here’s How To Find It

        “If I’m not (insert job title here), then who am I?”

This is the type of question some adults are asking themselves as they struggle through the darkness of losing a job to the pandemic.

Some never realized how tied their identities were to their careers until they lost them. They feel lost mentally and emotionally, as if they’re experiencing a bad breakup. The present is surreal, the future is uncertain, and they’re unsure how to define themselves.

Christa Black, a freelance copywriter from Ashland, Kentucky, said her work shaped her identity.

“I finally felt like a ‘real’ writer, because after several years of trying, I was actually being paid to do what I enjoyed and was good at,” she said. “I started to feel less like an artist and more like ‘a professional.'”

But when the pandemic hit, the work faded away. Black’s income decreased to little to none. She soon felt that she had lost her identity, that she was no longer a professional and that she didn’t fit in with the creative community from which she had come.

That might be because sudden unemployment is a threat to “narrative identity,” said Jonathan Adler, a professor of psychology who specializes in identity and narrative psychology at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts.

“Identity is the story of our lives that weaves together the way we reconstruct our past, make sense of the present and anticipate our future,” he said.

That narrative identity is the confluence of you and the culture in which you live. We grow up in a sea of stories about what a typical life’s journey looks like and what moments we’re supposed to hold onto, Adler said, so we take the templates available to us and tailor our experiences to those master narratives.

“We use our stories as the foundation for everything else that we do,” Adler said. “So when you rock the foundation, everything else on top of that crumbles.”

Through some inner work, however, you can take back your worth.

How our identities influence our jobs

For some, jobs provide merely a paycheck. For others, occupations also supply a sense of meaning that holds weight when they think about their sense of selves.

Our perpetually “on the grind” culture defines who we are by what we do for work.

“The first thing we ask when we meet a new person is, ‘What do you do for a living?'” said Nicole Hind, an Australia-based psychotherapist behind the online community, blog and practice Unveiled Stories.

“It’s as though we equate ‘goodness’ with ‘work’ when in fact goodness is so much more than that. It’s important to note that this is particular to our modern industrialized society: the idea that work is all of who we are and that we are not worthy humans if we don’t work.”

Additionally, people who feel motivated and engaged by and passionate about their work might have experienced psychological benefits from finding their calling, Adler said.

In the idealized college-job-promotion-passion trajectory, becoming unemployed isn’t part of the vision. “All of a sudden the end is totally open and uncertain,” Adler said.

Our narrative identities serve two additional functions that make us feel good. They provide a sense of unity, so that we feel we are the same people over time. They also provide a sense of purpose, so we know the meaning of what we’re doing and what our lives are about.

People suddenly faced with job loss are now challenged by a story with a cliffhanger and interrupted senses of unity and purpose — all of which can lead to anxiety, depression and anger.

 

mirror

What to do about it

Finding your identity begins with questioning yourself about three themes that construct life stories and tend to be the strongest predictors of well-being, Adler said.

“It’s not so much what happens to you [that matters]; it’s how you tell the story of what happens to you,” Adler said.

The first is agency, a characteristic of the main character in your story (which is you). Maybe your effectiveness at your job provided your sense of agency. Though no one is in complete control, how much are you in the driver’s seat of your life versus batted around by the whims of external forces?

Give yourself the space to grieve the losses, Hind instructed.

Don’t rush into proclaiming why you’re stronger because of it. Instead, acknowledge what you’re feeling physically, emotionally and mentally. Recall positive moments, too: the times when you advocated for what you believed in or hit a goal.

Summer internships have dried up because of the pandemic. Here’s how to get ahead without one

“People who do what’s called exploratory processing — which means deeply trying to make sense of their experience before creating a redemption sequence at the end — actually do better than the people who just do redemption without exploring the challenge,” Adler said.

Then find something else to prioritize, like a new venture or hobby. Revisit your core values and what really matters: What parts of your job were important to you? What fueled your passion? How can you express those during this period?

You can stay invested in those values whether you’re employed or not, Adler said.

For example, Black, the freelance copywriter, has found her roots again in creative writing. “It has helped me get back in touch with my creativity and given me something enjoyable to focus on while I emotionally recover from everything that came along with the pandemic and its fallout,” she said.

In this way, the underlying value of her job might be fulfilled.

Figure out your own definition of success, Hind said. What do you admire about your role models? Is it their “success” or their skills, compassion, kindness or wisdom?

And our stories aren’t just about ourselves. Communion, secondly, entails a sense of being connected to, nurturing and feeling cared for by quality relationships. Engage with the connections that matter to you.

“Step away from ‘job’ as being the only and step towards appreciating [yourself] and others for everything: the way you take care of someone or the meal you cooked today,” Hind said. “What [do] my everyday life, my interactions and my values say about who I am?”

Taking action and finding community foster the growth leading to redemption — stories that start out bad but end well.

“There’s a lot of research on the theme of redemption. It’s sort of a classic American master narrative,” Adler said. “We have the Puritan settlers finding freedom. We have ex-slaves’ narratives about liberation. We have the rags to riches stories.”

The outcome of finding yourself

Reclaiming your identity requires both a quick shift in mindset and a journey of changing your thought patterns and behaviors — just like setting an intention to lose weight, Adler said.

“That’s something that takes place over time, but it actually happens every moment of every day. You can’t just diet and exercise on the weekends,” he explained. “Changing your narrative identity is like that — it’s a cumulative process that builds up over time, but the intention … is something you do in the here and now every day.”

When we’re focused only on work as a measure of success and what defines us, we lose touch with many other areas, Hind said.

We might devalue our contributions to our families or forget to be present with them, ourselves, pets and other sources of joy. We say we “don’t have time” for leisure and then wonder why we’re so anxious all the time or need a drink to unwind. Then we wonder why we’re unhappy, Hind said.
Just as a threatened identity might have upended every area of your life, a solid identity can also flow into different domains and increase your confidence.

By Kristen Rogers       June 18, 2020
source: www.cnn.com


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Ikigai: Your Reason for Being

What Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning?
When asked what is the single most powerful contributing factor to one’s health and vitality, integrative medical doctor Oscar Serrallach answered without hesitation: having a sense of purpose. Serrallach went on to describe that while some of his patients have developed great regimes of nutrition, lifestyle activities and movement to support their wellbeing; those without a clear sense of purpose in their life experience continuing struggle with physical health issues. The distinguishing quality of many of his healthiest patients – those who  transcend common health challenges despite not having lived by the book, in terms of healthy lifestyle factors – is that they seem to be the most aligned or ‘called’ towards some primary focus of meaning in their life.

Japanese culture actually has a word which addresses this focus. The word is ikigai and translates simply as, ‘reason for being’.

What is Your ‘Reason for Being’?
According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. To find it often requires deep enquiry and lengthy ‘search of self’ – a search which is highly regarded.

The term ikigai is composed of two Japanese words: iki referring to life, and kai, which roughly means “the realisation of what one expects and hopes for”. Unpacking the word and its associated symbol a bit further, ikigai is seen as the convergence of four primary elements:

  • What you Love (your passion)
  • What the World Needs (your mission)
  • What you are Good at (your vocation)
  • What you can get Paid for (your profession)

The word ikigai, that space in the middle of these four elements, is seen as the source of value or what make one’s life truly worthwhile. In Okinawa, Japan, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”. Interestingly, while certainly incorporating the financial aspects of life, the word is more often used to refer to the mental and spiritual state behind our circumstance as opposed to our current economic status alone. Even if we are moving through a dark or challenging time, if we are moving with purpose, if we are feeling called toward something or have a clear goal in mind, we may still experience ikigai. Often the behaviors that make us feel ikigai are not the ones we are forced to take based on the expectations of the world around us, but rather they are the natural actions and spontaneous responses that emerge from a deep and direct connection to life.

 

Ikigai

The Question of Purpose
Many ancient indigenous cultures took time to honour the question of purpose through ceremony, vision quest and rites of passage in order to help reveal the essential role that each member was born to play in the greater tribe and story of life; though the space and reverence for this question does not always seem to exist today. For many, our decisions around life-focus unfold in a more reactionary way, propelling us into educational, professional and life-directional paths based less on deep inner calling or soul-inspired vision, and more on societal expectations, so-called ‘practical reality’ and what is required to survive in the systems we’ve created to live in.

The truth is, if there was ever a time on our planet where a sense of true purpose was needed, required, or desperately called for, now would be that time. But amidst the multi-layered pressures of our modern world, how do we peel back the layers and discover why we are here and what we are really supposed to be doing?

American mythologist and author Joseph Campbell shared his view on fulfilling our purpose when he said,

My general formula for my students is,

 ‘Follow your bliss.’ Find where it is, and don’t be afraid to follow it .

Sacred Activism, encourages us on the other hand to find our purpose by ‘following our heartbreak’. Andrew Harvey calls us to discover that which is most deeply disturbing in our world and to use this as a catalyst to propel our actions and discover where we can make the biggest difference.

Meanwhile, philosopher and civil rights leader Howard W Thurman said:

 Don’t ask what the world needs. 

 Ask what makes you come alive and do that… 

 Because what the world really needs is people who have come alive. 

While each of these viewpoints are powerfully compelling in their own right, whether we are following our bliss, following our heartbreak, or that which makes us come alive (or a combination of all three!), for many of us there is also an apparent need to follow that which pays the bills each month and allows us to cover the basic necessities of life. So how do we balance all of these factors in the creation of a life which is meaningful, purposeful and aligned with our true calling? Is it possible to have it all? The essence of ikigai gives us a framework to balance these elements into a cohesive whole.

Passion as a Vehicle for Change and Contribution
As the world moves through massive change on many levels, more and more people are feeling called to align their skills and gifts with a higher cause or sense of contribution. Beautiful examples are emerging in many arenas of social change and activism where people are not abandoning their passion for the cause but rather channeling the thing they most love doing in the direction of positive change – and discovering inspired ways to support themselves along the way.

Sixteen year old rapper, dancer and global youth director of Earth Guardians Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is a living example of ikigai, blending his creative gifts and passion for the Earth in the rise of a world-wide youth-lead revolution in support of future generations.  Poet/rapper/Facebook sensation Prince Ea has woven his love and concern for humanity and Earth with a gift for capturing profound messages into powerfully creative 3-5 minute videos – an expression of ikigai which galvanises the energy and support of millions of people online each week. Visionary art therapist and yoga teacher Atira Tan responded to her “heartbreak” witnessing child sex trafficking in Asia and has discovered incredible passion and aliveness through the sharing of her global foundation Art2Healing, bringing justice and transformational healing and movement arts to those who have suffered from this experience.

Youth Director of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, in hip-hop expression of ikigaiYouth Director of Earth Guardians, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, in hip-hop expression of ikigai.
The truth is many of the challenges we face in today’s world are not simple, technical challenges. They are complex, multi-dimensional issues which will require expansive, multi-dimensional thinking and action. The type of thinking, action and energy that emerges naturally when we are in the throes of creative expression or connection with others. When we are immersed in any endeavor that brings us into our hearts, that makes us come alive – and we are bringing ourselves fully to it – instantly we become more generative, more magnetic and more dynamic in our ability to navigate challenges and discover pathways of breakthrough.

What is Your Ikigai?
Take a moment to draw your own version of the overlapping circles of the ikigai symbol and consider the following:

  • What do you Love? What aspects of your life bring you into your heart and make you come alive?
  • What are you Great at? What unique skills do you have that come most naturally to you? What talents have you cultivated and what do you excel at even when you aren’t trying?
  • What Cause do you believe in? What breaks your heart or pulls at your gut? What change would you most love to create in the world? What would you give your life for?
  • What do people Value and pay you for? What service, value or offering do you bring, or could you bring, that brings real value to others? Something people need and are happy to pay for or share some value in exchange?

Take a few minutes to write whatever key words, phrases, and ideas come up for you in each circle, then look for areas of natural overlap. Reflect on the sum total of these elements and how they may relate to each other. Bring yourself quietly to the centre of the circles and leave space in your mind for whatever impulse or calling may emerge naturally in the coming days… What is one simple thing you could do or be today that would be an expression of your ikigai?

By Chip Richards        Monday January 14th, 2019
 


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Formula for Success

Do you have what it takes to get what you want?

The winners in life know the rules of the game and have a plan. Whether you want to begin a new career, shed pounds or find the love of your life, consider these characteristics which Dr. Phil says are common to people who succeed:

Have a vision.

Champions get what they want because they know what they want. They have a vision that keeps them motivated and efficiently on track. They see it, feel it, and experience it in their minds and hearts. What is success for you? You won’t get there without knowing what it feels and looks like.

Make a strategy.

People who consistently win have a clear and thoughtful strategy. They know what they need to do and when they need to do it. They write it down so they stay on course and avoid any alternative that does not get them closer to the finish line.

Find a passion.

Are you excited to get up in the morning? People with a passion are, and they’re energized about what they are doing. You need to live and breathe what it is that you want, and be passionately invested in both the journey and the goal.

Live the truth.

People who consistently win have no room in their lives for denial, fantasy or fiction. They are self-critical rather than self-deluding, and they hold themselves to high but realistic standards. They deal with the truth, since they recognize that nothing else will make their vision obtainable.

Be flexible.

Life is not a success-only journey. Even the best-laid plans sometimes must be altered and changed. Be open to input and consider any potentially viable alternative. Be willing to be wrong and be willing to start over.

strive-for-progress

Take risks.

People who consistently win are willing to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. Be willing to plunge into the unknown if necessary, and leave behind the safe, unchallenging, and familiar existence in order to have more.

Create a strong nucleus.

Surround yourself with a group of people who want you to succeed. They will move with you toward your goal. Choose and bond with people who have skills, talents and abilities that you do not. Winners give and receive by being part of other people’s nuclear groups.

Take action.

Do it! People who succeed don’t just sit and think about what they want to do. They take meaningful, purposeful, directional action consistently and persistently. Every step they take puts them toward the outcome they’re looking for.

Set priorities.

People who are consistent winners manage their challenges in hierarchical fashion. They commit to managing their time in such a way that does not allow them to keep grinding along on priority number two or three if priority number one needs their attention.

Take care of yourself.

People who consistently win are consciously committed to self-management. They are the most important resource they have in achieving their goals. They actively manage their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

July 13, 2005


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Stop Letting Your Feelings Color Your Thoughts

Imagine getting into a political discussion with someone who is highly passionate about their beliefs. If the conversation is a good one, those beliefs will likely, at some point, come under question. If their emotional PH is high enough, they’ll interpret that as not only their ideas being threatened, but their identities too. Soon, you’re not having a conversation anymore, but a back-and-forth defense match. It’s not about listening, it’s about being right. You reach for over-generalizations, they argue with singular, personal anecdotes, you make sweeping assumptions, cite studies you read once-upon-a-time, their faces widen with bewilderment at how you cannot possibly see what’s so logical and self-evident to them.

This is a really common example of what happens when people allow their emotions to color their thoughts.

Being passionate is fine. Feeling a lot is fine. But when you lose your ability to differentiate what you feel from what you think, you debilitate yourself. Your arguments lose their edge. You can no longer think clearly. You panic. Irrational fears take hold, because you have corresponding emotions which make them seem true.

Twist your wrist really hard with your opposite hand. Enough so that it hurts a bit. Enough so that the sensation is comparable to what you feel in your chest when you have anxiety. Are you panicking as you twist your wrist? No, because you haven’t assigned meaning to that sensation. In other words, your emotions are not coloring your thoughts right now, because you know better – and that is the key.

thoughts

Your emotional child cannot run the show. Your mental parent must do that, which is something you develop over time.

It’s rare to see an intelligent person become overly-emotional about one fixed, definitive idea. They’re often passionate about concepts, topics, or subjects, but never singular “truths.” This is because well-read, studied, informed people are aware of complexity, possibility, valid, opposing arguments. They know they don’t know everything, and they also know that almost nothing is black-or-white.

You must learn to apply the same logic to your emotional life.

Most things people become extremely emotional about lack depth. They get stuck on one idea, and convince themselves it is unfailingly, unquestionably true. They assume they know everything. They leave no room for growth or learning or possibility.

Your feelings can inform your thoughts, but they cannot color them. Your feelings should be utilized as a mechanism to guide you – show you what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable. From there, your mind must discern. Is this discomfort healthy, or indicative of a problem? Is this pain coming from true hurt, or making meaning of a situation where there is none? From there, you can choose a course of action. You are no longer flailing around, being thrown by temporary, subjective, illogical, inapplicable emotions. You are using your feelings to guide you, not govern you.

BY BRIANNA WIEST


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What Are the Building Blocks of a Good Life?

These 5 elements can change your life for the better.

I spent years studying damage, deficit and dysfunction in the human mind. I don’t remember once in my training hearing the words “joy,” “awe” or “wellbeing.” We talked about “happiness” but only in a negative sense. During a manic phase of bipolar illness, patients may experience excessive happiness. The diagnostic criterion of mania includes a persistently elevated or expansive mood and inflated self-esteem. This is a bad thing. It has negative consequences like irresponsible spending or reckless sexual behavior.

Genuine happiness is not given much thought in the training of psychologists and psychiatrists. The goal of treatment is to get a patient “back to baseline” (not clinically sick) and the goal of most research is to gain a better understanding of mental disorders.

Studying what people are like at their best has not received much attention until recently. In 1998, Martin Seligman was the President of the American Psychological Association. He had a successful career studying depression and was known for his work on the theory of “learned helplessness” as a model for depression. Yet the singular focus on illness troubled him:

Psychologists (and psychiatrists) have scant knowledge of what makes life worth living. They have come to understand quite a bit about how people survive and endure under conditions of adversity. However, psychologists (and psychiatrists) know very little about how normal people flourish…

Seligman set out to change that. He broke new ground by founding the modern field of Positive Psychology.

Positive psychology proposes to correct this imbalance by focusing on strengths as well as weaknesses, on building the best things in life as well as repairing the worst. It asserts that human goodness and excellence is just as authentic as distress and disorder, that life entails more than the undoing of problems.

Positive psychology has flourished over the past two decades, leading to a greater understanding of optimal human functioning and resilience.

Seligman’s life changing book, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, outlines his groundbreaking theory of wellbeing known as the PERMA model. The theory holds that the following five elements are the building blocks of a good life:

1. Positive Emotion (P)

Positive emotion such as peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, awe and love are life enhancing. A “dose” of positive emotion creates an upward spiral of positivity.

upwardspiral

 

2. Engagement (E)

When we’re truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow: time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self, and we concentrate intensely on the present.

3. Positive Relationships (R)

We are “social beings,” and good relationships are essential for wellbeing. Strong social connections are linked with good physical and mental health and are also protective against stressors.

downwardspiral

 

4. Meaning (M)

Meaning comes from serving something larger than ourselves. It puts life in perspective. It may be a religion, a cause, or an overriding sense of purpose that we belong to something bigger.

5. Accomplishment/Achievement (A)

Mastering a skill, achieving one’s goal and living life in concert with one’s values is important for wellbeing. Working towards a goal is rewarding in itself.

The good news is that all five elements of PERMA can be cultivated.


Your assignment: get more PERMA in your life today.

 
Samantha Boardman, M.D       Aug 01, 2016
Samantha Boardman, M.D., is a clinical instructor in psychiatry 
and assistant attending psychiatrist at Weill-Cornell Medical College.
For science-backed, actionable insights delivered
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10 Words Everyone Should Live By

BY DR. LAWRENCE ROSEN     JULY 10, 2013 

I’ve noticed a trend in wellness circles. Whether in my work with patients or in my yoga classes, I keep coming across the same words. On a given day, one might be the theme of a dharma talk or a TED Talk video someone mentioned to me. (Or, as was the case one strange morning, the same word was featured in both.) I am sure the universe is sending me messages, and the more I mention these to friends and colleagues, it seems like they’re hearing the same words.

Which of these words resonates with you?
My guess is some will at different times, but they’re all good words to live by.

1. Presence: To be fully engaged in what you are doing right now. And right now. And right now. Mindfulness of the present moment is something we never fully attain 100% of the time, but it shouldn’t stop us from trying. Whatever tools you use to cultivate presence, make time to hone them. That is why we practice (not perfect) yoga and meditation.

2. Vulnerability: The willingness to be let others see you as you are. Vulnerability is to admit, “I am human. I am not perfect. I struggle, just like you.” No one has described vulnerability more effectively than Brene Brown. She teaches us that vulnerability is NOT weakness; in fact, being vulnerable is the most courageous thing we can be. Only when we are vulnerable can we truly connect and be open to intimacy.

3. Clarity: Transparency and lucidity of vision and thought. Not just an uber popular, kinda creepy song by Zedd. Clarity is that aha moment when everything is crystal clear and it all just makes sense. I find it comes to me when I’m not trying to achieve it, but allowing my mind to relax and focus. It’s one of those things that the harder you try to achieve it, the further away it may feel.

4. Equanimity: The evenness of mind to stand steady in the face of stress or challenge. I didn’t really “get” equanimity until last weekend, when a very wise friend told me it could best be explained by the phrase, “It’s all good.” The next day, I was meditating on this phrase at the beginning of a particularly challenging beach yoga session. (I know, boo-hoo, poor me.) Still, it was hot, with no wind, black flies biting. The teacher began by saying, “I was reading something this morning about equanimity…” Aha.

gratitude

5. Gratitude: An intentional appreciation of what and who you have. An acceptance and explicit acknowledgment of what life brings you. Not taking anything for granted. As psychologist Robert Emmons notes, “Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present.”

6. Creativity: The use of your imagination to produce something—a thought, an object, really anything. Creativity implies a childlike playfulness, having the courage to make mistakes and keep pushing on. We desperately need more creativity in education and in the workplace. Never forget: you were once a child and some part of you always should be.

7. Authenticity: Walking the walk. The real you. The most honest “way of being.” To be authentic is to accept your self as is and offer that self to the world. The challenge is to learn to be OK with who you are and then… just be.

8. Passion: An incredibly intense and compelling desire for something (or someone) that is barely containable. And I think that’s the key. Your passion should be so palpable that it’s going to burst out of your eyeballs… but it just quite doesn’t. That’s what separates a crime of passion from the kind that makes you invest your whole being in the pursuit of your dreams and inspires others to follow you.

9. Compassion: Love and acceptance for another as if they were you. To treat them as you would want to be treated. To walk a mile in their shoes.  To see through their eyes as if they are your own. Compassion for yourself is the first step in having compassion for others.

10. Love: Do I really have to explain this one? OK, just one quote: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower


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11 Ways to Become a Better, More Positive You

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

Life can be very challenging. With constant demands being placed on our time, it can feel like life is happening to us, not for us. We can get caught up and allow other people and events to run our day, sometimes missing out on opportunities for ourselves.

But, there is a solution to this ever increasing problem – the power of positivity. Consciously making a decision to become a better, more positive version of yourself can and WILL transform your every day life.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth happens.  With your continual willingness and practice you’ll begin to see more evidence of change. Making gradual small changes in your habits will create big positive ripples down the road. Soon enough, you’ll look back and be astonished at the transformation you’ve made.

And the good news is . . . with the power of positivity it just keeps getting better and better. 😉

Here are 11 Ways to Become a Better, More Positive You:

#1. Use visualization to reinforce what you want to become.

If you really want something, visualize it. Take your focus off of what you don’t want, and spend more time thinking about what you do want.  It might take some conscious effort, especially in the beginning. But, eventually you will spend more time visualizing and focusing on what you do want, that you’ll start to see it happening!

Visualization is simpler than you think.  You probably did it way more when you were a child and teenager than you do now. If you do still “daydream” maybe you think it’s something that’s not realistic for you? Otherwise you would already be there or have it.

Visualization is ALL about positive energy and replaying the story that we wish to see in our mind.

The Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle put it this way:

“First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective.
Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods.
Third, adjust all your means to that end.”

Athletes like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods have sworn by visualization. So get at it and start visualizing what you want more often. 😉

#2. Express gratitude for everything good in your life.

It’s very important to realize the power of being grateful for what you have. Typically, it’s very easy to focus on what is going wrong instead of what is going right. Research shows, again and again, that people who practice gratitude on a daily basis are healthier, happier, and more effective.

Throughout the day, intentionally look for things to be thankful for. If you really want to get into the art (and success) of gratitude, create a list of five or ten things that you are grateful for and commit to that practice daily.

Gratitude is important to practice every day. If you’ve never done it, at first it may seem like a chore; that’s okay. Eventually it will become second nature and you’ll be expressing gratitude naturally all throughout the day. Especially when you find yourself going the wrong direction, switch your attention to what is going right.

stay positive

#3. Place inspiring quotes all around you.

We’ve had the great fortune of living after and amongst some of the greatest human minds: William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Norman Vincent Peale, Confucius (if you want to get old, old school with it!)…  The list is quite literally endless. Find a person or persons who inspire you the most and surround yourself with their words. This is so, so powerful.

#4. Listen to uplifting music.

I’m sure this is just a reminder… but, music can uplift and inspire in ways that few other things can. Music emanates from our alarm clocks, car radios, cell phones, MP3 players, and laptops. It can make us smile, laugh, sway, dance and groove. It’s energizing, powerful, and encouraging. Listen to whatever music inspires you and watch magic happen. 😉

#5. Read motivating books.

Not the corporate drivel that your workplace or school has assigned you, but real, powerful, uplifting books. Books that will open your mind and keep you dreaming. Books that will make you appreciate and value yourself. Books that will empower and inspire you to become and do more – there are many, many literary masterpieces out there that will do this.

#6. Create personal affirmations and restate your affirmations every day until they are part of you.

We’ve written some great articles about affirmations – what they are, what they do, and a complete guide on how to use them.  If you are new to affirmations then please >>Read more here. Otherwise, we are reminding you to take full advantage of the words that are coming out of your mouth. Every word we speak is an affirmation and when we can consciously keep our focus in the positive direction we can effectively change the brain and reality.

#7. Become a student of meditation.

Meditation is not just for spiritual gurus or yogis. Meditation is a practical way to bring peace, tranquility and consciousness in the midst of our busy lives. You can practice traditional yoga or even try an exercise that puts you in a meditative state like walking, running or yoga. A good 15 minute meditation can do wonders, but even 1 minute of your time can help.  Seriously, Google “How to Meditate in One Minute”! Meditation helps ease anxiety, anger, depression, stress, and insomnia.

#8. Be around positive people.

“You are the company you keep.” This quote says it all. If you hang around and interact with negative, downtrodden people, how do you think you’re going to feel and act?

On the other hand, if you surround yourself with positive people (like other PoP members) you become exposed to positive values and ideals while reinforcing and strengthening your positive mental attitude. This is why it is so important to remain attentive of the people you surround yourself with and even more so the frequency and the length.

#9. Get some sort of exercise.

Exercise is magical. . . seriously. The benefits of a brisk walk, a jog, lifting weights, or any other kind of physical activity are astounding. The Mayo Clinic reports six major benefits to any kind of exercise. Exercising: controls weight, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy, promotes better sleep and enables a better sex life. Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. You can even break the 30 minutes into 10 minute intervals if time is a stretch for you.

#10. Carry a personal, powerful memento with you.

This can be a quote, a picture of a hero, scripture…anything as long as it powerfully resonates with you. Visual reminders are important for our brains, as they reinforce the kind of person that we want to be. These mementos can change your brain and change your life. Put it in your purse, wallet, and pocket; or on your desk, dashboard and end table. Look at it numerous times throughout the day for inspiration.

#11. Take on a hobby or passion.

Remember to have fun and enjoy yourself – that’s the secret to a happy life and better you. Put work and obligations aside once in a while and do something that you love. Of course, if you love your work  and it doesn’t feel like work, then BINGO  you are definitely on the right path.


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7 Exercises That Train Your Brain to Stay Positive

As a daily positive thinker,  life’s distractions, negative people, and other external “brain drainers” can leave you faced with challenges to conquer. The good part is, you can learn to train your brain to help stay positive when times are tough.

Try these 7 tips to help train your brain to stay positive:

1. Daily Gratitude

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Place your journal, a pad and pen or your phone with the gratitude app next to your bed each night.  When you wake up each morning, make it a habit to write down at least three things you’re grateful for. It can be anything from family and work to a good nights rest or the morning sunrise – whatever is positive in your life deserves a little thank you note from your soul. When attention is focused on gratitude, that which we’re grateful for will expand.

If it’s difficult to think of something right away, realize that something JUST happened that you can be grateful for…  you woke up today.   Not everyone gets that opportunity.

2. Stay Centered

Staying centered throughout the day will help keep you from being derailed by negative energy that tries to consume your confident, positive attitude.  You can find balance in many activities, such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing, walking in nature or any other activity that puts your mind at rest.  When you the mind ceases, the soul is allowed to speak. The calming energy produced from a good centering exercise surrounds the body, bringing about an unshakable spirit that will surely help you stay positive.

“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” Hermann Hesse

3. Stay Active

The adage “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” couldn’t be more true.  When the mind is focused on completing the day’s schedule successfully, negative energy is powerless.  Now you may ask “but what about the external shocks from other people or experiences that go sour?”

There are always things that may come up when you are staying active and focused on positively completing your day, but that’s where the other exercises like staying centered are ultimately going to help you stay positive throughout.

4. Eat, Drink Well & Sleep Well

It has been known for hundreds of years that our intake of food, water, and sleep can greatly affect our mood and mental health.  A study has found that just vitamin deficiencies alone can cause declines in mental health that can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, addictions and other psychological disorders.

And when it comes to sleep, evidence suggests that when people are sleep deprived, they feel more irritable, angry and hostile.  Sleep tight rather than stay up all night and you’ll be feeling happier, more friendly, and more refreshed each day.  Little tweaks and additions to your routine like these can make a big difference. Eat whole foods, drink lots of water, and sleep 8 hours or more as often as you can.

5. Help others

Sometimes, the best way to help yourself stay positive throughout the day is to help others stay positive as well.  When others are down, that’s when they need positivity the most. Instead of avoiding their negative energy in fear of it spreading to you, jump in head first with your positive mindset and help shine the light to brighten their day!  You will leave the situation knowing that you have created a ripple effect and multiplied the positive energy in your environment, and this energy will return to you ten fold.

6.Subconscious re-training and inner healing work

Sometimes, to have a positive experience on the outside, we have to uncover and release the past negative experience trapped on the inside.   Exercises like tapping, affirmations, NLP and mirror work are all great places to start.  The journey of discovery from within has the ability to heal the original wound that could have been created from our childhood, a bad relationship, or a traumatic experience.

“The fact is, you can transform your life. You really do have that power.”

When the affected area is showered with love and positive energy, the emotional wound can be healed and the fear released.  This work will help you not only attain a true positive mindset without facade, but make it easier to maintain one moving forward.

7. Follow your passion

One of the greatest things you can do to stay positive throughout each day is to make sure you’re doing what you LOVE!  If your job or hobby involves something that makes you feel guilty, or something that takes you further from where you desire to be in life, it’s time to switch it up.

Write down three things you love to do, followed by three positive changes you’d like to see in the world.  Compare this to your current lifestyle and see how they match.  Being in alignment with what your soul calls for is one of the most important aspects of staying positive throughout life – trust us, it makes it a WHOLE lot easier!

Practice these 7 exercises to retrain your brain to stay positive through any challenge and live a life you truly desire!

 


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10 Words Everyone Should Live By

BY DR. LAWRENCE ROSEN     JULY 10, 2013 

I’ve noticed a trend in wellness circles. Whether in my work with patients or in my yoga classes, I keep coming across the same words. On a given day, one might be the theme of a dharma talk or a TED Talk video someone mentioned to me. (Or, as was the case one strange morning, the same word was featured in both.) I am sure the universe is sending me messages, and the more I mention these to friends and colleagues, it seems like they’re hearing the same words.

Which of these words resonates with you? My guess is some will at different times, but they’re all good words to live by.

1. Presence: To be fully engaged in what you are doing right now. And right now. And right now. Mindfulness of the present moment is something we never fully attain 100% of the time, but it shouldn’t stop us from trying. Whatever tools you use to cultivate presence, make time to hone them. That is why we practice (not perfect) yoga and meditation.

2. Vulnerability: The willingness to be let others see you as you are. Vulnerability is to admit, “I am human. I am not perfect. I struggle, just like you.” No one has described vulnerability more effectively than Brene Brown. She teaches us that vulnerability is NOT weakness; in fact, being vulnerable is the most courageous thing we can be. Only when we are vulnerable can we truly connect and be open to intimacy.

3. Clarity: Transparency and lucidity of vision and thought. Not just an uber popular, kinda creepy song by Zedd. Clarity is that aha moment when everything is crystal clear and it all just makes sense. I find it comes to me when I’m not trying to achieve it, but allowing my mind to relax and focus. It’s one of those things that the harder you try to achieve it, the further away it may feel.

4. Equanimity: The evenness of mind to stand steady in the face of stress or challenge. I didn’t really “get” equanimity until last weekend, when a very wise friend told me it could best be explained by the phrase, “It’s all good.” The next day, I was meditating on this phrase at the beginning of a particularly challenging beach yoga session. (I know, boo-hoo, poor me.) Still, it was hot, with no wind, black flies biting. The teacher began by saying, “I was reading something this morning about equanimity…” Aha.

Gratitude

5. Gratitude: An intentional appreciation of what and who you have. An acceptance and explicit acknowledgment of what life brings you. Not taking anything for granted. As psychologist Robert Emmons notes, “Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present.”

6. Creativity: The use of your imagination to produce something—a thought, an object, really anything. Creativity implies a childlike playfulness, having the courage to make mistakes and keep pushing on. We desperately need more creativity in education and in the workplace. Never forget: you were once a child and some part of you always should be.

7. Authenticity: Walking the walk. The real you. The most honest “way of being.” To be authentic is to accept your self as is and offer that self to the world. The challenge is to learn to be OK with who you are and then… just be.

8. Passion: An incredibly intense and compelling desire for something (or someone) that is barely containable. And I think that’s the key. Your passion should be so palpable that it’s going to burst out of your eyeballs… but it just quite doesn’t. That’s what separates a crime of passion from the kind that makes you invest your whole being in the pursuit of your dreams and inspires others to follow you.

9. Compassion: Love and acceptance for another as if they were you. To treat them as you would want to be treated. To walk a mile in their shoes.  To see through their eyes as if they are your own. Compassion for yourself is the first step in having compassion for others.

10. Love: Do I really have to explain this one? OK, just one quote: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower


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8 Simple Ways To Lead A More Blissful Life

BY MONICA COULTER     AUGUST 1, 2014

Are you living each day with vitality and enthusiasm? Or are you just getting by, painfully stuck in the status quo? It’s normal to get bogged down with life’s details, but it’s also important to make happiness a priority. Consider the following simple tips if you’re looking for an emotional tuneup:

1. Make friends with your past and find the lesson in the pain.

Offer love and forgiveness to yourself at every age, along with your family of origin, ex-friends, lovers and any other key players. Watch in awe as decades of emotional debris disappear and the real self begins to make itself known. Also, consider using the experience to help someone else that is going through a similar situation. No experience is wasted, particularly when it’s used to facilitate healing.

2. Don’t let your tongue get you into trouble.

Maybe you’re not dropping f-bombs or verbally assaulting others, but are your words as kind as they can be? How’s that internal dialogue? If you aren’t speaking to yourself as you would a dear friend, there’s a problem. Our words hold power, and it’s vital to eradicate hateful speech toward self and others if we want to know lasting peace.

3. Love your body.

You only got this one, so treat her right. Eat colorfully and organic when possible. Avoid chemicals and toxic, impossible-to-pronounce ingredients and preservatives. Your body needs whole foods to function at its prime. Stay on the perimeter of your grocery store, or better yet, visit the farmers market. Of course, too much rigidity isn’t helpful either. If you simply can’t resist that extra scoop of gelato, don’t condemn yourself. Just remain mindful of your body’s wants and needs, and it will naturally balance itself out.

4. Stay in your own hula hoop.

This is a piece of advice a friend of mine loves saying, and it’s about more than just not gossiping, though removing hateful chatter is important. Keep the focus on your issues instead of delving into everyone else’s perceived problems. The truth is that it’s hard enough to dissect what’s going on in your own life, let alone that of a friend or family member. Why waste time making assumptions or judgments? Practice staying out of it and enjoy the freedom that comes with healthy boundaries.

5. Give it away — money, your time, your energy, your passion — whatever those things are that are your precious gift to humanity.

Whatever it is, give it generously and because you feel compelled to do so. Giving is receiving, so give with the knowledge that your sharing is an endlessly multiplying act. It’s also a surefire way to get out of your own ego-based mind for a minute.

6. Be kind.

In speech, as noted above, but also in expression, behavior, and attitude. This means speaking with truth and compassion, and understanding that our actions affect one another and the planet. We’re interwoven, and not in some indeterminate future. Here and now, every day and with every decision we make, we’re carving our shared destiny.

7. Implement a gratitude practice.

Supremely simple and yet so profound. Whether it’s a quick thank you as you’re fading into sleep or a disciplined habit of putting pen to paper, gratitude is a powerful act. It serves as a mental reset and automatic affirmation of the abundance in your life. The fastest way to usher in more of a good thing? Recognize the ways in which you’re already blessed.

8. Keep happy company.

The people you surround yourself with and the energy they carry matter — period. If you’re constantly around bitter, cold, or critical people, it will be harder to keep your loving center intact. More than that, you will not be elevated and allowed to shine in all your magnificence. Surround yourself with people who are turned on and appreciate your light. It’s only here where your brilliance can escape and make its way into the lives of everyone you meet.