Hope

hope-1804595__340Many of us in the States and around the world are participating and enjoying the Oprah and Deepak Chopra 21-day free meditation series on hope. Each day they share a message and a quote, along with a meditation. I love this quote from Day 3 of the series from Bernard Williams, an English philosopher.

“There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

I truly believe there is always a solution. When my sons were growing-up, I often shared that thought with them: “I know this is a big deal, but I also know there is always a solution. Let’s sit down and try to figure this out.” Hope also kept me centered and moving forward through a divorce two decades ago, a Masters degree a few years later and three life-changing assignments with the United States Peace Corps 10 or so years ago.  Hope makes tough things manageable and good things great!

You may not have an answer to a dilemma you are facing or a dream your are delaying, but with a calm and centered approach and a sense of hope, finding a positive solution or creating a positive outcome can be a reality. (I believe this to be true on a personal and a global level.)

Here are some hopeful guidelines to help you:

Don't give up

  • Don’t give up too soon, or try too hard. Sleep on it if you can. Give the situation a bit of space – we often create deadlines for ourselves that aren’t necessary or realistic.
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed or hopeless, take at least three deep breaths. (Inhale, slowly – 8 seconds in through the nose, and exhale 8 seconds through the nose).
  • Give yourself a time out! Take time for a bit of peace and quiet. (In nature, cyclones and hurricanes have a calm in their center, known as the eye of the storm. Follow nature’s lead, and give your internal eyes a bit of time so they can relax and refocus to allow them to “see” the situation from a new, calmer perspective.)
  • Ask yourself a series of five questions when dealing with problems.
    1. Does this problem or situation really have to be solved right now?
    2. Is it both urgent and important? (Make sure all deadlines are real – yours and others – and that they truly matter to you.)
    3. Have I faced other problems and solved them successfully?
    4. If your answer to #3 was “Yes”, and the answer to #3 is almost always “Yes”, if we are being truly honest with ourselves ask yourself: What helped me then? (If your answer is honestly a “No” go directly to step question #5.)
    5. What resources – including my own skills and talents and the help of others – do I have to help me solve this problem? (Or,  grow this dream.) Begin figuring out how to use these resources. (I have a free great sheet to help you with this, check it out here.)
  • Don’t let yourself be caught up in anger or the blame game. I know this is much easier said than done, but if you are at least able to say to yourself, “I really do not want to get caught-up in blame games or anger,” you send a calming message to your brain, which will avoid the release of fight or flight chemicals and hormones into your blood stream that anger and blaming always stir-up.
  • Say out loud, as often as you can “I know I/we can figure this out. I know I/we can.” This calming, confidant message releases a swell of positive chemicals and hormones into your body, which will help you relax and think more creatively – increasing the possibility you will resolve the situation positively. (This works for your dreams, as well. “I/we know I can do this. I/we know we can.)

HopeI truly believe you can reduce your stress and sense of despair and turn-up your dream meter by developing a more hopeful outlook and by taking hope-based actions.  Positive responses dramatically increase the likelihood of a positive outcome and help build your personal hope reserves, which make hope more accessible when strife and stress appear or when you begin to doubt yourself or  your abilities.

Another great way to build your reservoirs of hope is to take time to meditate or sit quietly at least five days a week for 15 minutes.  This peaceful, relaxing habit has many positive benefits for your mind and your body and can provide a cushion of calm to protect you from the emotional bumps and bruise of life.

It’s not too late to join the free 21-day meditation series, click here to begin or grow your meditation practice and to gain new perspectives on hope.

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Circle of strengths

Would you like to start your Monday morning with a surge of excitement and a bit of bliss? Would you like to feel energized and motivated, while improving your concentration and deepening your ability to relax?

No problem, begin the day by exercising your strengths.

Are you curious, creative, wise, kind? Do you love learning, have a deep appreciation for beauty, a rich capacity to love and be loved, to express gratitude and to forgive and offer mercy? Are you brave, honest, genuine and authentic? Do you persevere or have a deep sense of spirituality? Are you a leader, loyal, and fair? Do you proceed with caution and show great self-control? Are you playful and full of optimism and hope? Are you modest or do you have strong social intelligence?

all+strengthsThe combination of positive psychology’s 24 character strengths are varied and personal. Each of us has our own set of strengths, and exercising them is one of the fastest ways to feel good about ourselves and the world. All of the strengths are equally valuable, and every combination offers something special, which makes each of us special, too.

Immersing ourselves in activities that use our strengths can create a sense of flow, which allows us to focus our abilities and can relax us by transporting us beyond ourselves and the world around us. Flow can lead to fulfillment, which will leave us feeling good about ourselves and the world around us. It’s the sweet little circle of strengths.

Exercising your top strengths is a great way to start your day, a super way to create the life you want, and it’s free and doesn’t require breaking a sweat.

If you aren’t sure what your strengths are, an easy way to discover them is to take the Value In Action (VIA) Survey of Character Strengths, which you can find at www.viacharacter.org    The survey is backed by years of positive psychology research that you can read about here. It is a valid and inspiring way to move forward with creating the life you really want. I have used it with lots of folks in personal and professional settings.

If you would like to receive a copy of the Wishful Thinking Works one page Circle of Strengths, which will help you identify ways to apply your top six signature strengths, just complete the form below.

Knowing and using our signature strengths doesn’t guarantee a perfect or challenge-free life, but it can create a life filled with fun, flow and fulfillment, which may lead to accomplishments and can help us deepen our relationships with others. Oh, and did I mention it’s free, and it feels good?

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Unleash yourself from your personal whipping post

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In her Thanksgiving Facebook post author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love and others), wrote that she had “. . . lost the stamina for self-hatred. Dear Ones, my heart just isn’t in it any more. I just can’t commit to those deep, long, self-destructive shame spirals anymore — not like I used to. Even when I fail, and even when it’s all so painful, and even when I don’t rise to my best, I just can’t seem to tie myself to the whipping post anymore . . . “
I liked her message and these comments that followed:
Reader Question:
 “What and how did you get to the point of not whipping yourself? I am going through the worst whipping year of my life and I don’t want to do it anymore. I have tried serving others, breathing techniques, positive self talk and it isn’t working and is actually getting worse.
Gilbert’s Response:
Elizabeth Gilbert Pro tip: Pretend you are a lost dog that you adopted from a kill shelter. Treat yourself accordingly. And then treat everybody else the same way. :)
Another reader’s response:
Amateur tip: I have a small picture of myself when I was 4 on my kitchen table to remind me to be as nice to myself as I would be to her. She’s still in there and deserves to be loved. I still forget at times, but to try is enough right?
Give it a try this holiday season, let it be a gift you give yourself. Unleash yourself from your personal whipping post, and learn to treat yourself and others much more kindly and gently this holiday season and in the new year ahead. Experiment and find the method that works for you, and then work at it everyday, because you my darling are absolutely worth it!

Explore what you love

lotus-1205631__180Some of us recently finished a new 21-Day meditation series offered by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. It was free, and through a Wishful Thinking Works Facebook group we met and touched based during our 21 days of meditating.

On the 22nd day, Oprah and Deepak shared a extra post and in it Oprah noted, “Spend time doing what lifts you up and brings you love.”

Oprah’s words are more important than they may appear at first. You see, to follow these words we must first know what lifts us up, which is something we talk about all the time at Wishful Thinking Works and our Wishful Thinking Women gatherings. We have to take time to truly understand what makes our hearts sing, then and only then can we spend more time doing it.

Ocoffee-782171__180.jpgften, you will find what lifts you up is in the simplest moments – stretching in bed in the morning, planning something special for someone you love, watching the sun set or rise, drinking a rich delicious cup of cappuccino or accomplishing a difficult task at work or home.

In the last few weeks of April, practice noticing what brings you true pleasure. Then spend a bit of time digging deeper to unearth the essence of those moments, the reason they bring you happiness.

Stretching connects us to our bodies. It is one of the few moments of the day that we really experience a mind-body connection. (Most of the time we only notice our bodies when they hurt or cause us discomfort.) If you like stretching, maybe you need to do it more often, to add yoga or exercise to your life as a way of connecting your mind and body.

If planning something for someone you love makes you feel wonderful, explore the topic of relationships in your life and doing things for others. How can you deepen your connection to those you love and to your community and the world?

If cappuccino is your thing, perhaps you need to provide yourself with more peaceful and delicious moments. Long lazy baths or simply a new body cream might make you feel relaxed and luxurious or maybe cooking a new dish or finding a new favorite restaurant. Maybe you need to add more time for reflection to your life.

There are so many reasons sunrises and sunsets could delight us – being outdoors, taking time to enjoy the moment, the majesty of the color  – explore what makes them special to you personally and find ways to expand on the essence of what they bring to your life.

Accomplishments come with widely varying benefits that may change throughout our lives. Personality, age, culture, environment may all play a role. Explore why your degree matters to you, why a promotion makes you happy, why making the sale motivates you, why refinishing a chair brings you joy – then keep going until you get to the core of why those “whys” matter and you will create a journey, which may help you plan or enrich your emotional and economic lifestyle.

There is a lifetime of wisdom and happiness in what you enjoy! Let all of your discoveries – big or small – pave the way for new paths in your life. Let them lead you and provide a solid foundation for bringing more peace and joy into your life.

Namaste.

PS And if you worry for even a moment that you don’t deserve more wonder and joy, you are not alone. We often create roadblocks for ourselves on new journeys, especially when we are focusing on giving ourselves more of what we love.

Know in advance this might happen, and if it does, be prepared to find ways to gently and calmly quiet those voices in your head. You can invite them in – don’t resist them, simply say something to yourself like “I knew you would be coming, please come in, take a seat.” Then take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and then smile to yourself for being so smart! You are not only are brave and courageous you are insightful and prepared –  you can handle whatever comes your way.  Great things are waiting for you, go ahead and explore.

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.

Are you ready? Life could be better  . . . Wishful Thinking Works Life Coaching

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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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Snowed in? Perfect time to . . .

Patrice Koerper  Life Coach Wishful Snowbound. . . celebrate by getting started on your free Wishful Thinking Works downloadable “Ta Da” List

Don’t start the new year with a long list of what you want to do until you have created an eye-opening, awe-inspiring, mega-motivating “Ta Da” List!

A “Ta Da” List is much more fun than a “To Do” list, because it’s for all the wonderful things you’ve already accomplished!  It will help you capture the best of 2013 to build forward in 2014, which can help you make it your best year yet!

To gain  “The Happiness Advantage” in 2014, click here.

Don’t forget to share the links with family and friends so they can begin celebrating their 2013 accomplishments, too.

For Wishful Thinking Works services that can change your life, click here.

 

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