3 Questions to Journal Yourself Happy

Sometimes the best path to happiness is a very intentional one. There are many times when circumstances and stress sap your joy, and you have to find your happy on purpose. Journaling is one way to pause, reflect and shift your attitude in a positive direction.

In the 9th habit of my book Successful Women Think Differently, I talk about the research of Dr. Laura King, a professor at University of Missouri, who discovered that writing about “your best possible future self” actually has health benefits such as boosting your immune system. Apparently, writing about your life has a very positive impact on your emotions. Combine that with powerful coaching questions that prompt you towards happiness triggers such as gratitude, anticipation and savoring, and you’ll feel a shift in your emotions in a matter of minutes. Here are three of my favorite questions to do just that:

 

  1. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? (Or tonight/this week/this season?)

Anticipation – having something to look forward to – is a happiness trigger.  So think about it. Notice the stuff coming up, whether dinner with friends this weekend or a favorite show you’ll watch tonight or that vacation that’s 46 days away and counting, thinking about what you’re looking forward to and why creates positive emotion.

 

  1. What was your favorite moment of the day and why was it meaningful to you?

This question cultivates gratitude. It prompts you to sift through the moments of your day and find the shiny, golden nugget. To deepen the positive emotion created by gratitude, research suggests you don’t just identify what you’re grateful for, but also reflect upon why you are grateful for it.

 

  1. What achievement are you most proud of (in your relationship/career/finances/health) and why?

Especially if you have a tendency to gloss over your efforts or beat yourself up when you don’t do things perfectly, stopping to reflect on something you are proud of can give you an instant boost. Overachievers and people with high standards (and since you’re reading a whole column on personal growth, you might just fit into that category ;)) tend to take themselves for granted. And that can leave you feeling that you’ve never done enough, that despite your best efforts, your progress isn’t worthy of celebration yet. Hogwash. You push through obstacles and challenges every day and continue moving forward. That is worthy of acknowledging. Pick an area of your life and journal about what you are most proud of and why you’re so proud. What did it take for you to get there, what did you have to push through, and what does it tell you about your ability to handle the opportunities and challenges that lie before you now?

 

My challenge to you this week:

Journal yourself to a happier place by answering questions that prompt positive emotion.

 

Journaling assignment:

This week, answer the three questions I posed in this column.  What are you looking forward to? What was your favorite moment of the day, and why is it meaningful to you?  What achievement are you most proud of?

 

For more support in your journey to more joy, I have these resources I think you’ll find really helpful:

Happy Women Live Better Coaching Program

Happy Women Live Better (book)

What to Say When You’re Afraid to Say “No”

Do you ever struggle with saying “no”? If you get so anxious about declining a request that you end up going against your better judgment and saying “yes” or avoiding the conversation altogether, here are a few ways to authentically voice exactly what you need to say.

 

  1. “Let me think about that.”

Sometimes, you’re just not sure you want to say “yes.” If it just doesn’t feel right or it is a request that deserves more than a knee-jerk reaction, say, “Let me think about that and get back to you.”  Especially if you are someone who says “yes” much too quickly and ends up regretting it, this statement should become a habit.  It gives you the breathing space to process the request and build the courage to be honest in your response. Then, if the answer is “no,” one of the next three statements can be your follow up.

 

  1. “That’s not going to work for me.”

Whether it is a conflict in your schedule or a conflict in values, “that’s not going to work for me” is a boundary-setting statement. It indicates that your decision is about your needs and/or boundaries.  If there is a negotiation to be had about the request, it communicates that the only way to get to a “yes” is for the person that made the request to adjust the request so that your needs are met.

 

  1. “I wish I could say yes.”

Especially when you feel badly about saying “no,” expressing that you wish you could say yes is a way to acknowledge this is not something you take lightly.  You want to be able to help, but you simply cannot.

 

  1. “No.”

Every “no” does not require an explanation. Sometimes a simple, “Thanks, but no thanks,” is really all you need. Especially if you have a habit of saying “no” tacked on by a long explanation that eventually turns into a yes, try saying “no” and then stop yourself from saying anything else. No is a complete sentence.

 

My challenge to you:

In that situation where you need to say “no,” tell the truth and just say it.  Trust that things will unfold as they should.

 

Journaling assignment:

Where in your life are you saying “yes” too often and ending up overwhelmed?  To whom do you need to say “no”?  What are you afraid will happen if you say “no”? How would it feel to have the courage to tell the truth and say “no”?

Coach Training Intensive Preview

 

When I made the decision to step on to the path of coaching, I pondered it for a long time…actually too long. Looking back I realized that becoming professionally trained in the art and science of coaching was one of the best investments I ever made in my career and my life. Within 3 months of completing my training, I not only earned back my investment but my business really took off. That dream isn’t just for me though. Many of the coaches we train have been able to build their coaching business over time. They’re able to do this because they learned how to be not only a stellar coach, but also how to build a stellar coaching practice. So if you’re ready to take that next step, to make your biggest coaching dreams come true, then register for our upcoming Coach Training Intensive. Join us October 8-10 in Atlanta, GA. We can’t wait to equip, train, and support you as you create your highly successful coaching business and your dream life!

Register and pay in full by MIDNIGHT ON MONDAY to receive 25% OFF plus automatic enrollment into a FREE group mentor coaching call with me!

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What if Everything Goes Right?

What If Everything Goes Right?

 

I am an Invisalign® brand spokesperson and all opinions expressed are my own.

Full disclosure.

 

Fear. It creeps up on us, often without a sound. It asks, “What if everything goes wrong?” “What if I fail?” “What if I never get what I want?” And disastrous answers to those questions can send us down a path of negative thinking that spirals out of control. Psychologists call it “catastrophizing.” Next time it happens, stop fear in its path with an opposite question: What if it does work out?

 

What if you succeed? What if you finally get what you want? Like that new job, going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, meeting that right person or finally fixing your crooked teeth that has bothered you for years. What if things go right? Asking these questions gives you a sudden burst of energy. That energy is hope. It can feel like a small light in a dark place. What if your idea does manifest into all you have hoped? What if that relationship does work out? What if your persistence despite your discouragement does pay off? What then? Then, perhaps it will all have been worth it.

 

A great example is Kristina from Los Angeles who knew her teeth were holding her back. When she finally decided to fix them with Invisalign® clear aligners, which discreetly straightened her teeth without the embarrassment of metal braces, it changed everything for her.

 

Living and working with passion means giving your all because you believe in the possibility of success. You hold more closely to your dreams and desires than your fears and doubts. So in this moment, I invite you to consider the challenge or possibility that causes you the most doubt or anxiety. You know the one, that thing that causes the persistent question, “What if it doesn’t work out the way I hope?” And ask the opposite question: What if it does work out the way I hope? Don’t just ask the question. Imagine your answer in depth. Take a moment right now. Imagine what it would look like for things to work out. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. What would it feel like? Really imagine yourself there. Imagine who is with you. What you are doing. How things are different than they are in this moment.

 

Now, move forward focused on the possibilities for your success. Allow your motivation to be a spirit of faith rather than a spirit of fear. Choose optimism. Stop obsessing about what might go wrong, and put your energy into what could go right.

 

There are so many people taking the steps necessary to improve their lives. I actually went onto Invisalign’s Facebook page and saw so many great examples of women taking a step to improve their lives and transforming themselves. They are all perfect examples of using positivity to achieve their goals!

 

But the real proof is in the photos. You have to see these incredible before and after images of real women who discovered their stunning smile with Invisalign

 

If you’re like any of the above amazing women and have always wanted to fix your teeth, now is the time: Invisalign is giving away five Smile Grants for free treatment! All you have to do is click here and share what you would accomplish with a new, more confident smile, and it could be yours.

 

Action Steps:

Consider the thing in your life you most want, but are afraid you will not get. What if it DOES work out? What will that look like? What action can you take that will demonstrate you are operating in faith rather than fear?

 

How to Instantly Boost Your Confidience

Confidence is what turns your thoughts into action. It is impossible to be successful without it because it is your belief that you can, that you’re worthy, and that you will ultimately succeed.  But sometimes, insecurities can get in the way of feeling confident. When that happens, there are a few shifts you can make to immediately boost your confidence:

 

  1. Open your arms. Sit up straight.

Before we dive into the quick shifts in thinking that boost your confidence, let’s start with one of the most basic techniques: Changing your body position. How you position your body sends a signal to your brain about your state of mind. When you slump your shoulders or cross your arms, you are physically protecting your heart and shrinking to appear smaller and less threatening. So right now, roll your shoulders back and lift your chin – a physical signal of the courage to be seen and be bold.

 

     2. Get a small win.

Self-efficacy – your belief that you can accomplish your goal – can be built.  When your confidence wanes, identify a small goal you know you can achieve and do it. Small wins boost your confidence to go for bigger wins. So perhaps don’t focus on losing 30 pounds. Focus on the 30 minutes you’ll exercise today.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with the $10,000 in credit card debt you want to pay off. Instead, set a goal of paying off that $500 store credit card in the next two months.

 

     3. Own your flaws.

Confidence is largely about showing up fully. And you can’t show up fully when you are hiding who you are. So just who you are? You’re human. That means you’re imperfect. You’ve made mistakes. You’ve been embarrassed about some choices. But here’s what matters: You’re still here and you’ve made a decision to keep moving towards your dreams despite your imperfections. “Yeah, I messed up that project and I’ve learned a lot from it.” “No, I don’t have as much money in the bank as I’d hoped I’d have at this point in my life, but I’m done beating myself up, and I’ve started saving. Better late than never.” “Yes, I’m divorced and it’s hard, but I’m still believing for real love to come into my life.” It’s not easy, but it’s honest. It’s freedom. Own your flaws. Don’t hide them. Get comfortable with your own imperfections. When you do that, there’s no reason to hide. And people can’t use them against you. It’s a bold move that will free you to show up fully – just as you are.

 

     4. Drop the belief that you need to know all the answers.

One of the biggest thieves of confidence is the fear that we’ll be found out – that we won’t know the answer, won’t know how to “do” whatever it is we need to do. It can leave you constantly anxious that you’re about to be embarrassed or mess up. What if you simply dropped the belief that confidence is about knowing everything? What if instead confidence was about your ability to find the answer if you don’t already know it? With that new belief, the pressure to know everything instantly diminishes. Go into meetings and conversations with the attitude that you won’t fake what you don’t know. Be authentic. “I don’t know, for sure, but let me find out.”

 

My challenge to you:

Intentionally boost your confidence in an area where you feel insecure.

 

Journaling assignment:

  1. When are you most likely to lose your confidence? Which of the techniques above most resonates with you? In what specific situation(s) in your life will you try the technique this week?

4 Ways to Connect with the Present Moment

If your schedule is like most, you probably have over-the-top multitasking skills. But is your ability to do everything at once causing you to miss the moments that matter? If your mind constantly wanders to what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, what you need most is to practice focusing on the moment right in front of you.  It is about learning to “be” and not just “do.” Focusing on the present improves your relationships and productivity while lowering your stress levels and boosting happiness. And there are some easy ways to do it in the heat of the moment when you and your thoughts start racing. Your senses are a tool to bring you back into the present moment. Stop and intentionally savor the sounds, touch, smell, sight and flavors around you.

 

 

  1. Feel your breath as it comes in and goes out.

Notice your breath right now.  Is it shallow or deep? When we are stressed, most often our breathing is shallow. In fact, you may have gone all day without stopping to take a nice, deep breath. So just assume your eyes are crossing paths with these words because that’s exactly what you need to do in this moment. More than a hurried breath, actually feel the air as it enters your nose. Notice it breeze through your throat and into your lungs. Feel your diaphragm expand. Conscious breathing is the quickest way to slow down and enter the present moment.

 

  1. Turn off your electronics and listen to the sounds.

I remember a hike I took in Sedona, Arizona back in 2002. What I remember most isn’t the beauty of those red mountains or the rocks battered and worn by a waterfall that had since evaporated. I stopped and sat right in the middle of that former waterfall to savor my surroundings. What I remember most is the quiet. No cars. No planes overhead. No air conditioners buzzing in the background. Nothing. It was the sound of peace. And until I heard it, I was deaf to the nonstop buzz of modern conveniences that most of us hear every day in our normal environments. Turn off everything you can – the television, your phone, the computer, and just notice the sounds around you. Then intentionally add to your environment what you most want to hear – the music, the people, the sound of outdoors when the window is open – and savor those sounds.

 

 

  1. Try to identify the flavors in your meal by taste.

I know, I know. Some days, you feel lucky to get time to eat all three meals. And one of them might be in the car or in front of the TV, or a side note while you scroll Instagram. But how about trying this? Next time you eat, savor each bite. Close your eyes. Taste the flavors. See if you can perceive the ingredients and seasonings. Chew slowly. Take a breath. Then another bite. Mmmm…

 

  1. Look the person you are talking to in the eye.

Ever notice lately how often we talk to each other without looking at each other? It’s easier to keep typing on the computer or texting or surfing the internet and talk than to give someone our full attention. But breaking this one habit can boost your ability to connect and it can lower your stress level as you fully focus on the person in front of you. You’ll probably notice you don’t have to ask people to repeat themselves quite so often either.

 

Being present is about how you want to show up in the world. You can be the hurried, stressed out person or you can be the wholehearted, fully-engaged friend / co-worker / partner. What will you choose?

 

My challenge to you:

Show up fully. Be present.

 

Journaling assignment:

In what way(s) or with whom do you need to be more present? What shift will you make today to bring yourself back to the present moment?

 

Join us this fall and learn how to create your own breakthroughs and help others reach their potential, October 8-10, 2016 in Atlanta, GA.

Click here.

5 Ways to Bounce Back From Your Bad Day

No matter how positive of a person you are, there will be days that you wish you could undo.  Whether you mess up on a project at work, end up in a disagreement with someone, or find out your air conditioner went out and will cost a small fortune to fix, some days just feel like bad days.  When it happens, it can be easy to wallow in self-pity or get stuck venting and complaining to anyone who’ll listen. But none of that will turn things around. There are, however, a few behaviors that can help you bounce back every time.

 

  1. Take charge of your thoughts.

It is our thoughts that lead to our feelings, not the other way around. So if you are intentional about noticing what you’re saying to yourself about your circumstances, you can consciously decide whether the thoughts you have are ones you want to keep or ones that need to be replaced. “Things will never change” isn’t the kind of thought that’ll help you bounce back. “What can I do to make sure tomorrow is less stressful?” is an empowering thought – a question that gets you thinking about what is within your control to change.

 

  1. Talk to your funny friend.

Negative emotion is more powerful than positive emotion. In fact, psychologists have discovered that it takes about three positives to undo the effects of negative encounters in our lives. So it’s no wonder it can feel hard to just “snap out of” a bad mood. You have to make intentional choices and activate happiness triggers such as play, anticipation and gratitude to take you to your happy place. This is not the time to hang out with negative people. Call your friend who always makes you laugh. Happiness is contagious.

 

  1. Take a nap.

Sleep is like pressing the reset button. Bad days can zap your energy big time. So listen to your body and give yourself some much-needed rest.  Medical experts advise that the ideal amount of time for a nap is either 25 minutes or 90 minutes. So curl up in a cozy spot with your favorite blanket, set your alarm and take a nap.

 

  1. Go for a brisk walk.

Did you know that just 20 minutes of cardio will boost your mood for up to 24 hours? Get out of your regular environment and get your blood pumping. Whether a walk outdoors or a quick jog on the treadmill, don’t wait to “feel” like moving to get moving. Just do it. You’ll notice a change in how your feel almost immediately.

 

  1. Remember the vision.

The danger of a bad day is that when bombarded with negative events, it can be tempting to “ruminate” on them. Ruminating is when we mull over the same negative thoughts over and over again. Interrupt your ruminating by asking a simple question, “So…where will you go from here?” Look up from your obstacle long enough to see the vision of what’s next.  Today is just one day. Shake it off. Imagine how you want to feel instead. Then take a step that will lead you closer to that feeling.  Joy is a choice, and on some days it’s a harder choice than others. But the choice is still yours.

 

My challenge to you:

Be intentional about bouncing back from bad days. Don’t let the negative emotion drag on any longer than necessary.
Journaling assignment:

What is your vision of how you want to feel and act in the face of a bad day? What will you have to change in order to get there? Which of the five bounce-back behaviors will you practice today?

3 Things Successful Women do Differently

Have you ever seen two women, similar in background and talent, but one excels while the other seems to do just alright? Or maybe you have been one of those women and wondered what the difference was between average results and spectacular ones. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make much sense, but you only need to dig a little deeper – and listen for the differences in how they speak and think – you’ll find the clues that make all the difference. I am intrigued by the nuances in what successful women do differently. And I’ve spent quite a few years combing through research and interviewing women. There are many differences, but here are the big three:

 

  1. They explain their successes and failures in a distinct and empowering way.

They attribute their successes to personal traits and see them as repeatable. They attribute failure to changeable factors and see them as isolated incidents. This allows them to turn today’s failures into lessons that create future successes while average women will often see failure as a personal flaw. Psychologists call it “explanatory style” and you can pick up on it just by listening to how someone explains a success or a failure. An optimistic explanatory style can predict success and tends to explain successes by attributing to their own efforts, believing it will spill over into similar successes in other areas and that success will keep flowing. A pessimistic explanatory style tends to explain successes in the opposite way – attributing it to luck and outside circumstances and seeing it as an isolated incident that may be hard to pull off again.  Interestingly, those same pessimists explain failure the way optimistic women explain success – believing it is entirely a result of their own personal (failing) traits, that it will spill over into other areas and that it will keep happening.

 

  1. They don’t underestimate themselves.

Research shows women are far more likely to underestimate themselves and their worth. As a result, we are less likely to believe we are ready for opportunities that we are actually qualified for, more likely to take the first salary offered without negotiating for more, and less likely to speak up with our great ideas and opinions. The most successful women recognize that they have far more potential than even they know. So they are willing to risk failure and imperfection in order to go for it. Success is more likely when you adopt what researchers call a “growth mindset,” in which your current success is just a starting point. A “fixed mindset” believes that things such as your talent and intelligence are set. A growth mindset believes that your current talent and intelligence can expand – with effort and intentional learning. You don’t have to be afraid of that opportunity because you don’t have the skills right now. You can learn and grow into potential the opportunity offers.

 

  1. They consider happiness a success strategy.

The most successful women do not fall into the trap of pursuing success because they believe it will make them happy. Instead, they recognize that it is actually happiness that causes success. They pursue what brings them joy, knowing the rewards will follow.  Research actually shows that happier people are more likely to get promotions and raises, take action towards their goals, have stronger relationships, fight illnesses better and even live longer. Start with happiness and success will follow.

 

My challenge to you this week:

Stop underestimating yourself. You are capable of far more than you know.

Journaling assignment:

What would it look like to focus on happiness more than “success” right now? In what way(s) are you underestimating yourself? In your most recent success or failure, did you explain it in a way that empowered you – or did you feel discourage? What change could you make that would empower you to learn and grow from the experience?

All of this and more can be found in my book Successful Women Think Differently .

Facebook or Fakebook?

Amanda logged onto Facebook one evening after getting home from work and scrolled through the news feed. Her fellow high school track buddy Ericka posted an adorable video of her two-year old daughter playing in the backyard. A colleague from her first job out of college posted a pic of her and her husband hiking with the caption, “My hubby is amazing. How lucky am I to be his wife for 15 years. Love you, sweetie!” They were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary at a cabin in the mountains. Her ex-roommate’s sister Mia had just landed a promotion and posted her excitement “Promotion today! And a raise! I feel so blessed!” her post read. Judy’s co-worker Barbara from accounting, a sweet woman in her sixties had a new profile pic with her son at his graduation from medical school. He looked so happy in his cap and gown. It was all good news. Everybody’s life looked spectacular and exciting. But that night, Amanda didn’t cheer. She sat in front of her computer and cried.

“What’s wrong with my life?” she thought. As she sat in front of the computer, wanting to post something interesting, she wondered what would happen if she posted the truth: “I suspect my husband is cheating on me with a co-worker, my son just told me college isn’t for him and he’s dropping out, and my boss gave me an unfair review that’s going to sabotage any hope that I’ll get promoted in the next year!” She wondered how many people will click “like” on that post?

That night, Amanda shut down her account. She realized the constant peering into the online lives of people she never talks to, and some whom she hasn’t seen since graduating high school or college, was not a diversion from her problems. Instead, it made her feel worse about her problems by suggesting that everyone else didn’t have any.

One of the most significant cultural shifts of the last decade is the extent and pace with which we can communicate and connect with an ever-increasing network of people – many of whom we never come in real life contact. In the 1950s and 60s, television gave us a 3-D visual point of comparison of what life should look like based on the sitcoms and dramas that were presented. But today, real life and reality collide every day, not just on television, but on your computer, your tablet, your phone. You keep tabs on what everyone is doing – or supposedly doing – 24/7. Research has shown repeatedly that comparing yourself to those you think are doing better than you in some way, decreases your happiness. If your comparisons are balanced with comparisons to those who are not doing as well as you, the perspective keeps your happiness in check. But we are often more likely to notice who has what we want than to pay attention to those who haven’t yet attained what we already have.-

The solution? Limit your exposure to constant upward social comparisons. And secondly, practice gratitude as a means of remaining aware of the blessings in your own life rather than obsessing over everyone else’s. Gratitude can keep you grounded when you feel tempted to make upward social comparisons. Have you ever felt worse after logging into your social media account? How so? Why? What steps can you take right now to be more grateful and resist social comparison? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 Ways to Boost Your Mood!

Sometimes, you just need a pick me up. Whether you had a bad day at work, your kids are acting up or something more serious, having the skills to boost your mood can make the frustrations of life a whole lot more bearable. So tuck this list away in your wallet or tack it to your refrigerator or computer screen. You never know when you need a mood-booster. Here are five research-based ways to boost your mood in under five minutes:

  1. Count your blessings.

Write down three things you’re grateful for.  Gratitude is good for you. It shifts your perspective – forces you to think about the good rather than dwelling on the bad. And writing your blessings before bedtime can even help you sleep more deeply.

  1. Curl up the corners of your mouth.

Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Now

smile.   Studies show that even if you don’t feel happy, making yourself smile releases feel-good chemicals in the brain! So bite down on a pencil if you need to – but flash those pearly whites, turn up the corners of your mouth, and you’ll feel better.

  1. Dance!

OK, my preference is to dance. Turn on your favorite song, but if you prefer jumping jacks or a run around the block or whatever, do your thing. The point is, get moving! Exercise is a mood booster.

 

  1. Sing – badly!

Did you know singing is good for you? But the key is to not care how good you sound. Just belt out that tune – off key, if necessary – purely for the joy of it.

 

  1. Bless somebody.

There’s no better way to feel good fast than to do something to make someone else smile. Altruism takes the focus off of ourselves and helps us connect to the people around us, reminding us that what we do matters. Self-absorption is a recipe for depression. Who could you help right now?

 

My challenge:

Boost your mood in the next five minutes. Then put this list somewhere to remind you of the little things that can make a big difference in how you feel.

Journaling assignment:

What are your favorite mood boosters? What feelings do they provoke in you? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!