Breathing – Part 2

Last week I shared a peaceful reminder to breathe; today I wanted to share some tips on how to breathe more deeply and with purpose.

When our needs are not met, we have a tendency to respond by holding our breathe, clenching our teeth or tightening our facial muscles. When I say “our needs are not met” I mean anything as simple as our reaction when we spill our coffee, we get cut-off in traffic or we have to wait in line. The list of things and people that bug us is endless and unless we become more aware of our response to items on our lists, we will increase our frustration and decrease our peace of mind.

Short Term Solution

The stress from minor irritations adds up and our body pays the price. Learn how to do four square breathing to release tension on the spot . . .

Square Breathing (2).jpg

Repeat as needed – even if you have to do so 100 times a day!

The more aware you become of your reactions and what stresses you, the more relaxed you will become, because the awareness itself,  pulls you out of the stress cycle and gives you and your brain a chance to redirect.

Long Term Solution

You can enjoy,  free brief guided meditations daily that will, over time, bring increased awareness and calm into your life. Research shows that meditation positively impacts stress levels, productivity and pain control.  And, it is free!

If you have never tried meditating, I suggest going with a guided meditation to start. And, if you have started and stopped in the past, don’t give up; keep searching for the style of mediation that works for you. There are hundreds of free options on the Internet.

Even if you start by simply sitting quietly without any distractions for 15 minutes a day – you are ahead of the game, because you are letting your body, your brain and the folks around you know that you value the time alone and the time for yourself.

And, breathe.

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Weekend art escape

Need a relaxing, refreshing break?  Pour a cup of tea or coffee, or sip some wine – depending on the time, and enjoy Monet’s gifts to the world along with some beautiful music in this impressionistic seven minute escape.

If you lower your eyelids as if you are sleepy, gaze gently at the center of the screen,  breathe deeply and focus your attention on the colors, you will create a meditative experience that will relax your brain and renew your soul.



Breathe Beach Final (2)

Words with more meaning

Susan Perry’s recent positive psychology article inspired me to write this post. Her article was sparked by Tim Lomas’s research. Lomas is a psychologist at the University of East London.

Different cultures have many words that are not directly translatable to words in the dictionary-1149723_960_720English language. Some of the words are used to express very positive, specific feelings or conditions. A common belief in the study of languages is that if we value something we label it, so simply having these positive words as part of a language may speak volumes about that culture, what it values and how it perceives the concept of well-being. Lomas’ research is exploring these ideas and more.

Reading through the list of positive words Lomas collected made me stop and think about what words I would like folks to use when describing me. Those thoughts led me to think about how I want to be remembered by others, which made me realize I need to pay even more attention now to how I communicate with and treat others.

I also was struck by the beauty and depth of feeling these positive, descriptive words evoke.  Here are some of those words that I thought were wonderfully special and would love to be part of my life and how others describe me . . .

Ubuntu (Nguni Bantu): the culturally valued notion of being kind to others on account of one’s common humanity

Orenda (Wyandot Iroquoian): the power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces, such as fate

Kào pu (Chinese): someone who is reliable, responsible and able to get things done without causing problems for others

Suaimhneas croi (Gaelic): a state of happiness encountered specifically after a task has been finished

Fargin (Yiddish): to glow with pride and happiness at the success of others (often family members)

Nakama (Japanese): friends whom one effectively considers family

Kombinowac (Polish): working out an unusual solution to a complicated problem, and acquiring coveted skills or qualities in the process

Hoadult-18792__180w do you want to be described? How do you want to be remembered? What one thing could you do today to move closer to the you, you want to be?

Click here, if you would like to read the article that inspired this post. Click here, if you would like to read more about Lomas’ “positive lexicography project” .

Click “Like,” if you are happy!


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Your Pay-It-Forward Valentine’s Day Challenge

heart-1077724__180Want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a new and different way?

Step 1

To join you have to pledge to pay-it-forward by doing something nice for someone during Valentine’s week.

Your act can be simple or grand – it is up to you.  It can be for family and friends or a random act of kindness for a stranger.  The act can also be an apology to someone who you know you owe one to or the ask of a “do-over” in the coming days, when you say something you wish you hadn’t and ask for a do-over to make it better.

Or, you can write and present a gratitude letter to someone who has made a positive difference in your life, for more on how to do that, click here.

You can even send Valentine’s cards and/or notes to those who matter, and who you have never sent a Valentine’s before. (One year, when I was out of the country with Peace Corps, I sent Valentine’s emails to all the women who had made a difference in my life. It was great and so much fun to write and then read their responses.)

Your act must be something different, heartfelt and if it is a bit out of your comfort zone, all the better. And, the most important part is you do it without expecting anything in return!  To read about one of my favorite Valentine’s pay-it-forwards click here.

To join, just note in “Comments” that you are in.

Step 2

After you have done your act(s); post your act in the comments of this post. You can give as many or as few details as you wish, but include how it made you feel!valentine-candy-626447_960_720

Step 3

Make sure your act comes for a warm and happy place. (You can tell if you are smiling inside or out, or feeling cozy all over after you do it!)

Heartfelt participation is guaranteed to make you and someone else feel happier. Sharing your act with all of us, allows us to share a bit of the sweetness, too.

I truly believe we should all be feeling the love this week.

With love,


A path to peace

PeaceTo read more about bringing peace and joy into you life, click here.


Getting stronger than the tough stuff!

Lately, I have been talking with folks who are facing tremendous challenges and sadness such as illness, job loss, relationship troubles or the loss of a loved one. sad girl -517555_960_720

Their situations and their bravery made me think about the fact that when we are knee-deep in a crisis or dealing with sad times we don’t always have the time or the wherewithal to figure out we can do to get through the difficulties and sad times. Yet, if you are human, you have been through some type of hard times and did do something to get through them.

Even if you are thinking “Well, just barely,” you are still here, and now is a good time to review what worked for you then as a way of helping you now and in the future, and to give yourself credit for making it through!

Start by asking yourself, “What has worked for me in the past?” “What did I do to regain my footing, strengthen my resolve or help myself create a new perspective?”

  1. Did you reach out to friends?  This is a great way to start sorting through what is happening to you. Via phone, social media, face time.
  2. Did you reduce your outside commitments? Increase them?
  3. Did you make more time or less time for yourself? Were you able to key in on what you really needed or what really mattered to you?
  4. Did you try to refocus or better understand your worries or negative train of thoughts? (Rumination – rehashing negative thoughts primes your brain to release  stress hormones, getting too much of them is not a good thing.)
  5. Did you use music, movies, TV, reading or another method to relax? Which worked best for you? Least?  (I note in “My Courage Diet” how often I have used movies and music to make me feel better and ready for anything.)
  6. Did you try something new – even if only because the situation forced you to? (This is referred to as becoming a “reluctant hero”, like Hans Solo or Finn in Star Wars – they didn’t start out wanting to do good, but ended-up on the right path for them and others.) As an example, if a loved one was in the hospital or lost a job, did you take on new tasks or responsibilities to get through the hard times? Did those choices take you out of your comfort zone? What did you learn by doing that? Did you gain any new insights or skills? Have those choice away made your life better or you stronger?
  7. Did you simply grin and bear it or did you focus on comforting thoughts such as, “This too shall pass?”
  8. Did you under/over eat, drink or medicate? Did that help or hinder your situation? Would you want to repeat those patterns, if not, how would you change them?
  9. Did you exercise intentionally or by accident due to circumstances – change in schedule or environment, lack of transport, or increased activity?
  10. Did you meditate, breathe deeply, count to 10, take relaxing baths, light candles, connect to nature? (Any and all can be effective what matters is what worked for you.)
“I am stronger than the tough stuff!”

I have created a free Wishful Thinking Works “I am stronger than the tough stuff!” sample to review and sheet for you to print and customize for yourself, so when a difficult situation arises you can pull it out to help you deal! Download as many copies as you need to list everything that you have done that works for you. Keep the list(s) around and add to them as you think of new activities, thoughts or quotes that helped you. Using the lists is a  form of resiliency, which  is a very good thing.

The key is to objectively review and write down how you got through the tough times using the benefit of hindsight and perspective.

As you start the process, it is human nature to think of all the things you did that didn’t work . . . Don’t beat up on yourself for anything you did, but also don’t make excuses. Simply review what you did and whether it helped or hindered your situation

Developing Resiliency

Resiliency “is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”

Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others.[1] Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had.[2]

A common misapprehension is that resilient people are free from negative emotions or thoughts, remaining optimistic in most or all situations. To the contrary, resilient individuals have, through time, developed coping techniques that allow them to effectively and relatively easily navigate around or through crises.[3][4][5][6] In other words, people who demonstrate resilience are people with optimistic attitude and positive emotionality and are, by practice, able to effectively balance negative emotions with positive ones.[1]

Your life may never be exactly as it was before a traumatic or sad event or before other circumstances beyond your control entered it, but it can be good again, even great.  Developing resiliency will help you find your way until your path is clear again.  (Please note: I am not saying  losses are without pain, loss can be very painful. I am saying if you are still standing, sitting, kneeling or even crawling you got through them and somehow, someway you can do it again.)

Get your free Wishful Thinking Works “I am stronger than the tough stuff.” plan.

Creating a plan for coping in advance can reduce the shock and may help the pain pass more quickly.  The Wishful Thinking Works “I am stronger than the tough stuff.” sample and sheet are an easy way to started. Click here for sample to review. Click here for blank for you to record what works for you.

Let me know how they work for you and please share any thoughts on what works for you when you are sad or facing difficulties. We can all learn from one another.

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