Happy New Year

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Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change – Arthur Burt

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What a way to end 2014 and prepare to start 2015 – but with a blast. I have some internal changes set before me that will be a work in progress this year to come. But as for my postings and web presence I set out to be better and increasingly consistent with new information. In 2015 I will bring 52 weeks of positivity with each posting made on Mondays. I will also begin posting the connection that physical health and mental health have and how there are double benefits. I plan to gain viewers and build my brand, which is a well guided concept offered by my friend and colleague Iris Draak.

So focusing on the quote above, change is constant and change is uncomfortable. Though often, change is inevitable to progress. There are many sayings that aid in a mindset of change. I will purposely avoid those for now but stay tuned as some may appear in my 52 weeks of positivity.

Pain is at the center of all change and a vital aspect that is unavoidable. Our inner strength is only awakened when we feel discomfort and slip into a sort of survival mode. That survival mode is meant to last until the proposed danger is gone and then fall back into a normal routine. This is how the human mind is equipped we seek comfort and routine. Though becoming stagnant in survival mode distracts the mind from what really is important. And truthfully being in a rut of any sort is distracting from goals. Stagnation and routine is at the center of why people dislike change. Therefore, to progress to someone new, one must fight against human nature and the comfort of routine, which essentially is painful. Though by defining the nature of the pain hopefully alleviates some of the fear toward the pain.

Earlier in another article I wrote I discussed the life of a caterpillar and metamorphosis. I am not sure about you but I would much rather live most of my days as a butterfly than a fuzzy or slinky worm like creature. But the question remains, does the caterpillar know its fate that it will one day become beautiful and soar high above without limitations or is it fixated on the comfort of the present being close the ground. As humans, we also have a great metamorphic ability if we focus on who we would like to become rather than remaining comfortable with our current situation and wormlike appearance. As in the butterfly, do not concern yourself with the impossible.   Unless I saw it with my own eyes I would not believe that a butterfly emerged from a caterpillar. So defy the odds and soar high without limitations.

Welcome change in the New Year and resist the temptation to turn away from the pain. Discomfort is your marker that something great is on the other side just waiting for you and your hard word. Decide where the pain of stagnation lies and what areas you wish to begin changing. This is not like the traditional New Year’s resolution that is thrown from the closest window mid January. I am speaking about long-term change that takes time to accomplish and before results are recognized. The 52 weeks of positivity will guide you through that process and how to live the life you really want. Stay tuned for the first installment coming Jan 5,2015. Sign up to be included in my mailing list if you wish to stay connected. Make this year the best so far and a symbol of the greatness to come.

Thank you everyone that was a supporter in 2014 your friendships and comments are genuine.  I hope that you return next year and bring your friends.

Claim Your Own Happiness and Success

Happiness will come to you when it comes from you. Success will be yours when you choose to take responsibility for making it so – Unknown.

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So many hopes for quotes came to mind today. Especially with Christmas on our heels, I had hopes of bringing something related to our Lord and Savior but the quote above really spoke to me. Not that we cannot put a God flair to this quote.

This was one that really resonated with me personally. I have found that my own transitioning heart has really lived from one side to the other, finding true happiness. Has anyone had that friend or family member who was negative no matter if something good or bad happened? I use that scenario often as we all have those people in our lives. When I am with these types of people I feel the life being sucked right from my vessel.

Though, when you expel positivity and happiness, others commonly jump on board for the ride. For me in my life, I feel less stress, anxiety and depressive feelings when I am happy. To top it off, happiness is a choice – it is taking on an optimistic outlook. So when life tends to happen, God never promised that it would only be happy times, so find your own way of bringing the good out of everything.

Changing gears toward success, one must want it for it to be so. I have never found success being dropped into one’s lap. Success comes from hard work and claiming it for your life. In Matthew 7:7 – it is quoted, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Success comes from searching, stating and working toward the goal.

None of the above is possible without positive thoughts. No matter how you approach a happy sense of self or claiming your success, it must be done with a positive outlook. Even though it states in the bible to ask for the things you want in your life, remember that blessings do not come in the manner you imagine but rather what God has planned for you. Therefore, setbacks and changes in the route do not equate to missed blessings or opportunities but rather a different route than the one we planned. I have personal experience with alternative routes and opportunities that felt missed at the time, though in the end thankful that they were missed as I was selling myself short of what the Lord had planned for me.

In the wake of the Lord’s birthday, Merry Christmas to your family and be loving, positive and happy. If you are feeling less than happy, evaluate if you are expelling enough happiness. Enjoy the blessings we have for today.

Challenge Yourself To Find Your Excellence

We are what we repeatedly do –

EXCELLENCE

Therefore, is not an act, but a habit – Aristotle

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When I was looking for a way to motivate those around me, I could not pass on Aristotle’s great words. It is no mystery that we are creatures of habit. I continually tell others to covet those desired behaviors and limit those one hopes to lose. But how does one actually go about strengthening desired behaviors?

First off, believe in your efforts. “Believing” was originally my positive thought for this week but I felt Aristotle took it up a notch. Yet one cannot expel excellence without the courage and conviction to unleash their strengths. Though excellence is not likely to occur quickly, as greatness takes time to develop. Though as described by Aristotle we must act out of habit rather than sporadically.

If this appears a bit confusing lets dissect the creation of a habit. A habit comes from repetition, which essentially is an action. Though to ensure your actions are not wasteful one must plan the point of the action, the action itself and the desired outcome.

As an example one may want to develop a more positive self-image. Therefore this will take some planning and specific behaviors. Below will describe how one can foster the creation of a positive self-image:

  • Point – The point of this action will help one to feel better about themselves, to see the world in a less negative way and may misperceive others intentions less.
  • Action – Use daily self-affirmations, recognize the positive in life, rely on positive comments from others
  • Desired outcome – One will hope to have less anxiety around others, less hostility toward others/the world, and may be able to engage in behaviors/hobbies previously feared.

Using the above example attempt to challenge areas of your life that you feel could use improvements. Excellence will show through over time and cannot be ignored because a positive self-change improves thoughts, behaviors and perceptions. Your excellence is determined by you and evaluated by you. But one thing is certain the way you will feel by coveting a positive self is like no other.

Challenge yourself to find your excellence.

Exercise The Blues Away: Improve Physical And Mental Health

Physical exercise serves various functions in our lives. Most exercise regimens lead to positive results. The only drawback to exercise is when one exceeds physical activity for their fitness level. Too much too soon is never the method. Aside from that one fact, exercise has countless benefits. Getting physical results in improved physical and mental health that can transform your life.

Exercise is the most potent and underutilized antidepressant – Author unkown

 Ways To Get Active

 Physical activity does not require a long-term expensive gym membership or countless hours of lost time running back and forth to the gym. The important part is getting active no matter the used method. So get creative and use a technique that is likely to keep your attention and motivation. For some the gym lacks that personal feel and can be monotonous which will lead in failure. Some clever ways aside from the gym to stay active include:

  • Brisk walks around your neighborhood
  • Co-ed local sports teams
  • Swimming in personal pool/community pool
  • Yoga
  • Martial arts
  • Boxing
  • Training for a marathon
  • Volunteering at a school or shelter
  • Volunteer for a local youth sports team
  • Yard work

Moods Connection To Exercise

 Many chemicals that are created and excreted in the brain are responsible for moods – both with positive and negative results. Most importantly when speaking about depression and mood – serotonin is most significant. Serotonin is a chemical that is naturally produced to regulate mood and has been found responsible for happy moods. This chemical has also been found to be missing in those that are experiencing depression. Thereby, regulating and aiding the production of this chemical is very important. Exercise has been found to help produce and improve excretion of serotonin. Therefore, exercise becomes a win-win activity. It motivates both physical health while maintaining positive mental health.

Improved Physical Health

 Heart – physical activity burns fat that may accumulate around many organs, including the heart. Anytime a person increases their resting heart rate into a more active rhythm one improves the strength of their heart muscle. Improved heart muscle equates to a healthier overall heart. Not to mention better blood flow leading to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

 Lungs – increased physical activity requires the lungs to play a significant role. With regular workouts the lungs must react to the demand upon them by functioning more effectively.   As lungs become healthier ones endurance to physical activity also increases. Therefore, the body has a better ability to respond to an active lifestyle and can lead to more activities.

 Muscles – along the same lines, muscles are strengthened with use and reduce the likelihood of injuries due to poor muscle health. Muscles protect bones, ligaments and tendons and exercise helps all parts function holistically, which increases ones ability for overall body health.

In addition to the health benefits to organs, exercise aids in fighting off disease and obesity. Physical activity helps to reduce high blood pressure and improves the “good” cholesterol HDL. Other medical issue such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and fall risks have also been known to reduce with physical activity.

Improved Mental Health

 Mood – physical activity gets blood moving and helps to create serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a needed chemical used to regulate moods, especially positive moods. Plus, exercise works on every system of the body – mind and body, which then reflects to how own feels about the self.

 Energy – getting the blood moving helps to increase energy, especially when the body is operating as intended. Energy is a direct result of mood. Feeling blue drains energy, but getting up and exercising creates energy. As one finds routine in exercise where energy is appropriately expended then sleep patterns commonly fall into place as well. So if you are having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep then exercise may solve that frustration.

 Self-esteem – when improving overall health, self-perception is likely to follow. Self-esteem is directly linked to various physical components such as physical appearance. Who doesn’t feel better when they interpret looking better? An added bonus to feeling better results in responding to your partner more actively. Yes, I am talking about sex. When one feels better about personal attributes and has energy as a bonus – one is more likely to have a more active sex life.

Social life – everyone feels better with friends. Getting active opens opportunities to make social connections. Especially if joining an exercise class or a sports team, friendships will certainly grow. Plus everyone that you are working out with will probably have similar goals and thereby are more apt to be a motivating and supportive factor.

 

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Starting A Routine

Knowing the facts about the benefits of exercise will not fix a thing. But creating a routine will certainly put you in the right direction. Making a plan for success is a great starting point. Make a list including how many days a week you intend on working out and for how long. It is recommended to exercise at least 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Though, working out more often and for a longer period of time will only improve all the above-mentioned areas.

Being accountable leads to better results so keeping a log will help out with that process. If accountability is problematic for you, try joining a class or a sport that requires committed practice times.   Evaluate your needs, restrictions and hoped outcomes. Tailor a plan for you based upon those factors. Remember work toward a common outcome rather than working against yourself.

Before starting any new routine make an appointment with your treating physician for a check-up. Particularly have an exam that evaluates vitamin deficiencies or concerns with heart, bone or lung health.

Get out and get moving.

Eating Yourself To A Better Mood

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Food is essential to existence and thereby known as the fuel to our bodies. Interestingly enough we wouldn’t imagine putting low quality, harmful or lackluster fuel in our cars, however, that same thought and concern does not apply to how we treat ourselves. If you decide your body is your vehicle and the fuel you fill up on is important then making small changes for the sake of getting the best out of your vehicle is a logical concept.

When food is ingested our bodies release certain chemicals in the brain. Most importantly the release of serotonin is imperative when considering mood. Certain behaviors aid the body’s ability to create and excrete serotonin. For example, sex and exercise are great sources of natural serotonin aside from food.

Serotonin is fundamental to feeling happiness or an increased range of mood. Many psychotropic medications used to treat depression create a synthetic version of serotonin. Well I have one better, how about creating serotonin the way our bodies naturally intended. In depressed individuals serotonin is not produced at a rate needed for overall mood control. Therefore, when feeling blue it is no surprise that you feel better when having sex, exercising, or eating a big piece of chocolate cake. No I am not encouraging to do any of the above-mentioned behaviors in order or at all, they are just a few examples of how our moods are controlled internally and naturally.

According to WebMD there are a few self-help measures when planning your daily meals that can assist with creating serotonin.

  • Choose smart carbs – whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes. These foods also increase fiber intake.
  • Increase Omega-3’s – fatty fish (3 times per week), flaxseed, nuts
  • Don’t skip breakfast – skipping breakfast leads to fatigue and does not provide essential fuel for the day. Eat lean protein, good fats, and whole-grain carbs.
  • Exercise – there is a link between obesity and depression. Increased exercise equals increased mood.
  • Switch to a Mediterranean Diet – poor nutrition may lead to depression
  • Get a dose of Vitamin D – increase mood with a supplement or natural sunlight
  • Selenium-Rich foods – seafood, nuts, lean meat, whole grains, legumes and low-fat dairy.
  • Limit caffeine intake – can lead to tiredness and thereby can reduce mood.

Remember all good things are best in moderation. Never begin a medication regimen without the consent or direction of a physician, even vitamins should be guided by a professional.

Wise Words

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become – Carl Jung

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Though abuse and adversities are commonplace in today’s society, those struggles do not have to define you in a negative manner. In fact, the past does mold your thoughts, behavior and perceptions, yet you have a choice to counteract the destructive aspects left behind from abuse. So Jung defines how all the internalized negativity usually overpowers a person that has experienced less than ideal circumstances. It is normal to believe those parts of you but learning to incorporate the positive parts of life is a choice. It also has the potential of setting you free from the torture of the past.

First off, learning to take on a positive outlook on life will reduce the burdens of the past. It may be difficult to find the positive if that is not your common life approach. But just as the bleak and dark parts of your life can be accentuated the positive is sitting out there for the taking. Yet that is often the part that is either deflected or felt useless to pickup.

It takes work to develop a new you and the positive outlook will surely come in handy. That is the simplest formula to take you from defining yourself upon your past and creating the person you actually desire. That challenge is frequently too much for a person to go through alone and they often get lost in the journey.

Start with a clean slate, forget what others have said to you and about you. Also, forget what you have said about yourself. Ponder what your goals are in life even if it appears too good to be true. Thinking outside the box is required when turning over a new leaf. No one can do it for you but guidance is certainly available.   One must be willing to become something different as the power is always internalized but often hidden behind self-doubt, hatred and insecurities.

Change usually requires going far out on a limb. It is lonely and scary out there but with a plan you are sure to make it out safely. Moving forward requires doing something challenging and new.

Remember if there is no challenge, there is no change.

Wise Words

Changing up a little from my normal “Motivational Monday’s” with the hope that I can reach more people aside from Monday alone.

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We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them – Albert Einstein.

A pondering fact put out by a brilliant mind so many moons ago, yet we lack the stamina and effort to abide by these simple words.  For me I guess this is the foundation of therapy and I do my best to guide clients toward the light on a daily basis.  However, another evident fact is that change is difficult.  I spend a lot of my time with that particular subject as I am empathetic to the complications related to change.  I too have experienced the overwhelming pinch that ultimately led me to my own self-discovery.  Though, even at a young age following the path given was not an option and I knew solving my problems required me to be quite a bit more cunning than the issue at hand.
Approach whatever problem in your life with a new angle.  Just as you are broadsided by adversities and problems, that same approach can rid the problem all together.  Don’t give into the problem in a determined and calculated manner.  But rather look at the situation as a challenge instead of  automatic defeat.  No one readily lies down and purposefully loses a challenge.  Go out and give it all you got.  Devise the best strategy your mind could ponder at the time.  Seek out to even shock yourself and your critics.
But before you don your armor, remember problems just don’t disappear. Yes they may go underground and appear to be dissolved for a while, though if you don’t look for a permanent solution they will return like Bermuda grass.  Don’t allow your problems to become dormant and torment you for endless years.
Fighting back with internalized anger and hatred is the root of the Bermuda grass.  Remember that.  So when you are searching for that master plan to rid the thorn in your side, solve it with a peaceful approach.  Who knows maybe that is what Einstein was referring.  The enemy will expect to return their hatred with hatred.  But stand your ground, strengthen your boundaries and set forth a peaceful response.
Actually I have an example that just happened  this week.  I was broadsided by a comment from a person close to me.  First off the person took something I said out of context and interpreted it in their own perceived judgments.  So I was able to firm my boundaries and replied that I referenced something in a jokingly fashion  (which by the way was not directed at them at all) and if they perceived it differently, then that defined them not myself.  But I also mentioned that I was shocked that this person felt this way.  So in closing, I was able to stand firm, not reply with the hatred spewed at me but also forced them to take a look at their own hatred which was not about me at all. 
Change the way you think and you will solve problems in a whole different light!