Mini-meditations

Give yourself the gift of meditation this year.

The time you spend does not have to be long. Short stints are effective and brain altering.

Listen to what Dr.Wendy Suzuki, has to say on the subject:

Memorial Day thoughts

MH900399612I planned to write a brand new post for today, but then I started reading my earlier posts around Memorial Day and decided to offer a blend from the past. One of my favorite posts, is from May 28, 2010. It was about the life of a woman I never met, Vera Jane Clapper-Richter, but whose obituary inspired me. 

In 2011, my post began . . . “A lot has happened since I wrote about Vera Jane. Most important and touching of all, was being asked to and then writing my Dad’s obituary in 2011. Who knew that was ahead?”

And continued with the following, all of which still applies . . .

“But that’s the thing about life, we truly never know what’s ahead for us. There are so many experiences out there for us. I think the words I wrote just over a year ago ring even truer 367 days later. Here’s an excerpt from that post.

‘The reason I am bringing this up now, is summer is on our doorstep. I know it doesn’t officially begin for almost a month, but when I was growing-up Memorial Day signaled the beginning of summer, and I think summer is a great time to begin fully living the life I want.

This summer I will watch the moon rise and set from a mountain or a rooftop without interruption, or at least from my backyard with a really good friend. I will also watch the sun rise and set at least two days in a row, and I will run through a sprinkler.

I will sleep on a front porch or a patio, in a tent or on a beach, and with the windows open more often. (Yes, I know, I live in Florida, it will be hot and sticky, and I will sweat and the bugs will bite – but who cares, I will have more stories to tell and the teeny-tiny scars to prove them.)

I will spread more blankets out in the grass, and spend more time looking up at the trees, day dreaming and listening to the thoughts and wisdom of people under the age of 7.Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Thinking Summer Fun 1

I will ponder theories large and small – relativity, the chicken or the egg – without worrying about the answers.

I will be kinder and gentler; listen more and speak less; give more hugs, and send more hand-written notes. I will give people what they want, not what I think they need.

I will read more books, light more candles, and sing out-loud more often.

If you are in the mood to join me, please do. Summer is a great time to be a bit more courageous about being us.

This weekend, find your sleeping bag, or your bike, or your racquet or your glove, or your paint brushes and easel, or the book you have been meaning to read or paper and pencil to begin the one you have been meaning to write.

Open an ice-cold beer or bottle of Coke, pour yourself a tall glass of Sangria or lemonade, sip it slowly or with gusto, and then get started on the rest of your life.

Do what you think Jane might do. Or better yet, what you would do, if no one was watching, or if they were and you didn’t mind – not one little bit, which come to think of it, might be exactly how Vera Jane Clapper-Richter lived.'”

And, in honor of the true meaning of Memorial Day, in 2012 I posted . . .

mp900178942“Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day began after the Civil War to commemorate the Union soldiers, who had died. After World War I, Memorial Day evolved into a special way to honor all the men and women, who died while serving in the armed forces and to show support for the sacrifices of their families.

Today, my thoughts are with all who are currently serving, have family or friends who are serving, or who have served in the past.

My sincerest condolences to those of you, who have lost a loved one while he or she was serving our country. Your contributions and losses are in our hearts and minds this Memorial Day.”

Which brings me to Memorial Day 2013; my thoughts are still with the courage and commitment of all who have served or are serving in the armed forces. Special thoughts for each of them and their families.

Since the summer of 2010, I’ve spent time doing many of the things I mentioned above, but having fun, and finding flow and fulfillment is an ongoing process, so I will renew my efforts this summer to find new ways and to revive old ones that blend the carefree moments of childhood with the rich and satisfying experience of flourishing Permanently in adulthood. 

To welcome the summer of 2013, I’m visiting friends this weekend in the Fort Myers, Florida area and I’m heading out the door – right now – to visit one of my favorite nearby places – photo to follow! I hope your summer is off to a great start, too.

Finding your place in the “space”

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.

In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Viktor E. Frankl

Earlier this week, I chatted online with a friend to prevent myself from writing a petty and knee-jerk response to someone else. Chatting with my friend, and following the tips below, helped me find the space I needed so I wouldn’t do or say something I would regret.

Later in the week the topic of controlling our responses came up with two other friends on two different topics. It’s amazing how easy it is for all of us to take the bait, verbally one-up someone, or feel the need to have the last word.

But with practice and lots of fun, flow, and fulfillment in our lives the need to negatively respond to life’s surprises and slights and the gentle ribbing or intended jabs of others grows less and less and our ability to find positive ways to handle touchy, hurtful, or stressful situations grows stronger.

In the “space” Frankl speaks of, there is room for all of us. It’s a cozy, safe place and hidden within it are more options than we ever imagined for achieving growth and experiencing freedom. Give it a try.

Here are some tips for holding your tongue or stilling your fingers that will help you find your place in the “space”:

  1. The minute you feel the sting, take a deep breath. A few seconds of deep breathing will help switch your brain from automatic pilot and lead you off the slippery slope you are sliding down. Breath, long, slow and steady, in through your nose out through your nose.
  2. Pause, even for a few seconds, and then admit what you are feeling. “Wow, that hurt!” “Ouch.” “Yikes.” “Ooh, I felt that one.”
  3. Slowly step back from the situation: stand-up, sit down, move away from the computer or leave the room. Find a way to give yourself physical space from the situation or the person and do it slowly and without drama – no stalking off or slamming down paperwork or doors behind you.
  4. Next, give yourself some mental space by doing something you like or that is on your to-do-list. Something as simple as making a cup of coffee and/or getting a treat; taking a walk around the block or the office or throwing in a load of laundry or making copies can help you relax and redirect your thoughts.
  5. And, then be prepared to be uncomfortable. Not reacting is difficult, but as Frankl learned firsthand under the horrific conditions in concentration camps, there is space between stimulus and response and that is where growth happens. Your uneasiness is an emotional growing pain, that’s a good thing.

Tips for dealing with the situation or person.

  1. Later talk out your feelings with someone you trust or Mind-Map or draw them out. (Make this Step way more about exploring your true feelings than venting your anger or what the other person did.) Admit what you are feeling, if not to your friend, at least to yourself.
  2. Do something nice for yourself. (If your friend or child were hurt, you would treat them kindly, treat yourself the same way, dealing with change isn’t easy.)
  3. Now share your success about not responding with someone you trust or congratulate yourself for holding your tongue or not writing the email. (“I’m proud of myself for not reacting. It was hard, but I did it.”)
  4. Give yourself time to deal with your feelings, and do not convince yourself you need to have an immediate “showdown” with the person you are upset with. Talking with them in the future might be the way to go, but wait until your anger has subsided and you have time to get your thoughts together. When you do talk to them focus on your needs and your feelings, you can mention their behavior, but don’t critique it. Write a script if you need to. (“O” magazine features monthly scripts to readers by Dr. Phil. Use those as a sample or starting point.)
  5. Figure out your role in the situation and decide what changes you need to make to reduce the likelihood that this or similar situations will happen in the future and to increase the likelihood that you will be able to handle them calmly and immediately, if they do. Come up with a plan for making those changes happen.

If you weren’t able to hold your tongue or still your fingers, don’t beat-up on yourself, but do make a sincere apology and then start over at Step 1 of “Tips for dealing with the situation or person.” (I’ll be sharing tips for making sincere apologies in a future post.)

And, then enjoy your new-found freedom.

Doing what you love.

Nothing gets me more excited than doing what I love. Today I’m meeting with a group of Wishful Thinking Women, and I can’t wait. I love talking with interested, talented women, who are exploring their lives, sharing their thoughts and moving toward their dreams.

I hope wherever you are and whatever you are up to this weekend, your life is filled with fun, flow and fulfillment, because that is the key to flourishing, PERMAnently!

Let us know what you are excited about these days. Your happiness, can inspire others. Go for it!

Up next

Patrice Koerper, American Corner, Bitola, Macedonia

That’s me. Happy and fulfilled because I was using my strengths and was very grateful to be where I was, doing what I was doing – talking about positive psychology at the American Corner in Bitola, Macedonia to a great group of people!

For my next project I am heading to the Republic of Georgia for three months as a Response Corps Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps. I love the Peace Corps; 2011 is their 50th anniversary. Who knew during the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps I would be a volunteer with them again! That’s the fun of creating the life you want, it is often a mystery – until it unfolds in front of you, like Macedonia and Georgia have done for me.

I will live in the capital of Tbilisi, and will work with the Ministry of Environment Protection writing a public relations plan for them. Before becoming a life coach, I worked in public relations for 25+ years, but could never have predicted I would someday be using those skills in Macedonia or in Georgia.

Georgia and Macedonia have a number of things in common, they have both been republics since 1991, and they are both beautiful mountainous countries with lots of vineyards; wonderful, warm people and rich histories. Their climates are similar, and much like Cleveland, Ohio were I was born and lived for 36 years.

I cannot wait to begin my assignment in Georgia, but it is just as difficult to say goodbye to Macedonia and my friends and “family” here, as it was to leave my family and friends in the States. Change and courage go hand in hand with each new adventure. We can never be certain where our journeys will take us, but I know that happiness is my constant traveling companion if I only remember to open my suitcase!

I hope wherever you are in the process of creating the life you want, you are experiencing fun, flow and fulfillment and are surrounded by friends and are finding ways to use your strengths, because as noted on the screen in the above photo those five things combined are the key to creating the life you want, PERMAnently.

Below is the next stop of my journey, where will yours take you? (Please remember, the internal places we travel and the friends we make are as important, and are usually more life changing and lasting, than the locations we visit.)

The Republic of Georgia

And, in true Georgian tradition, I will toast to you and your journey as soon as I can in my new location. You see, in Georgia . . .

“Toasts, however, are not simple declarations; they are expected to be speeches mixed with mirth, spoken verse and insight. Toasts are usually made with wine, toasting with beer is an insult to the one toasted. We are very generous with our wine, but since toasts are the only time you are supposed to drink your wine, we have many toasts (we have always been a practical people). In fact, we will use just about anything as an excuse to toast, a foreign guest happens to work quite well. So get used to your family, your country and friendship and your character being toasted. ”

http://georgia.travel/culture/food/toasting/

And, since Georgians never toast without a table laden with delicious homemade food, I know I will be feeling at home very soon!

PS  This post is filled with interesting links and videos about Georgia and posts about Macedonia and Wishful Thinking Works. Please take a minute to scroll up and click to learn more about where I am heading next, where I have been and what I’ve been thinking about along the way.

Why positive psychology matters

This Thursday at 6 p.m. I will be presenting my second “Why Positive Psychology Matters” talk in Macedonia at the American Corner in Bitola. I presented my first via the Internet in March at the American Corner in Skopje.

We will be discussing gratitude, the 3 F’s of Happiness, PERMA, personal stories and strengths and how are brains are designed to help us create the lives we really want.

If you are in the area, please join us! If you can’t make it, clink on the links above to read some of what we’ll be talking about. It may change your life.

And, if you like what you read, you can subscribe to Wishful Thinking Works, and follow on Facebook.

Thoughtful challenge epilogue

The “Thoughtful Challenge” survey results – as totally unscientific as they may be – were 100% negative, which indicates that negative thinking is our most common internal conversational approach.

We tend to spend a great deal of time telling ourselves what we should have done; blaming ourselves for a wide variety of situations, which may or may not have been our fault; predicting the worst; and remembering and ruminating about the one bad thing that happened on an othewise perfect or pretty good day.

Why does it matter how we talk to ourselves?

Here’s a few words on the subject from an article titled “Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk” from the Mayo Clinic web site:

“The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

Increased life span

Lower rates of depression

Lower levels of distress

Greater resistance to the common cold

Better psychological and physical well-being

Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.”

As noted in the article above, the jury is still out on the details as to why positive thinking has so many emotional and health benefits (We do know it increases brain growth and neural connections.), but researchers tend to agree that in most situations, positive thinking is the way to go.

So how do you turn those nagging negatives into precious positives?

  1. Become more aware of your thought patterns. The “Thoughtful Challenge” is a good first step.
  2. Start small, but think big. Don’t expect to change overnight, but do predict better for yourself and start picturing yourself doing and feeling better. Spend a few moments a day picturing wonderful things happening to you – finding the parking space, arriving on time and prepared. Picture projects, meetings, events and appointments working out well, and friendships and relationships blossoming. If that all sounds too Pollyanna for you, ask yourself why you find it easier to accept a Cruella de Vil approach to self-talk than the possibility of living life sunny-side-up. Then ask yourself if your answers hold-up, or are they simply hold-overs from your childhood, parents, relatives, etc.? Who taught you to be timid about being happy? Why does being cynical seem fashionable? What is scaring you out of a life of fun, flow and fulfillment?
  3. Enlist the help of the three “H’s”: Humor, Health and Happiness. Laugh more – especially at yourself. Create a  healthier lifestyle – eat better, exercise more. And, last but not least, become aware of the good things in your life by developing an attitude of gratitude. Begin focusing on what is going well rather than what is “wrong”; notice what makes your heart sing and makes you feel good and then find ways to bring more of what you love into your life, instead of complaining about what’s “wrong”.

And, don’t worry if your glass is half-full or half-empty. Either way there’s room for more good stuff, and if you fill it with what you love, you will never mind if it overflows.

Have a great weekend!

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