Ask me my Name

I was watching an episode of a show called GIRLS and there is a character Mimi-Rose Howard who storms in for a couple of episodes as this beautiful and eccentric artist. In one particular episode she is sitting in a cab and for no reason at all says to the cab driver “Your name is Adeem?” the driver replies “Yes” then Mimi says “That is a really beautiful name.” Adeem’s face lights up with surprise and he can’t help but blush and thank her for her kindness. I bet she made his day.

How often do you ask for or acknowledge the name of the people you encounter? When was the last time you were in a cab, at a Starbucks, or really anywhere, and when someone asks you “How are you today?” you respond with anything other than “Good and you?” while you look at your phone, the menu, or walk away. You may never see that person again outside of your 2-5 min. encounter so maybe you think you won’t make a difference in their life, it doesn’t really matter, or you’re distracted by your own thoughts. I am definitely guilty of this.

We forget so quickly that we are all human. That grey haired mother of two cashing you out at the grocery store. The young female athlete in the picture you are commenting on. The high school graduate working as a barista to pay of his pending college debt. All of them have a name, a family, maybe a lover, a dog, some amazing talents, a wealth of knowledge and a story – have you ever asked them?

You might say we can connect all the time in infinite ways, whether it be via email, text, phone, social media, etc. However, it is a double edged sword. The “screen” makes it easier to forget that the person on the other side is a real person with feelings and emotions. All while the instant and constant connection makes it a lot harder to be present with those right in front of you.

I want to be like Mimi-Rose. I want to see a 2-5 minute interaction as an opportunity to make someone’s day, leave them a little better than when I got there, or at the very least make them smile. I want to ask questions, give compliments, and acknowledge people because they are human.

  • Give someone a compliment just because (“Your hair is such a beautiful color”)
  • Ask someone anything other than “How are you?” – try “Has anything exciting happened today?” “Do you have plans for this weekend? – I heard it might rain” “Are you from this city? How long have you lived here?”
  • Call someone by their name and if you don’t know it, ask for it. “What was your name?” “Mike” “Thank you Mike, you were very helpful I really appreciate it”
  • Keep technology for designated times when you couldn’t be missing a connection right in front of you.
  • Smile more, and make eye contact.

You can make someone’s day and you might be surprised at how much it makes yours too.

Love Yourself First

I saw this post from Aubrey Marcus (CEO of ONNIT) on Facebook yesterday and couldn’t help but share it with you all.

He wrote:

“Have you ever gone to the supermarket starving, or with wicked munchies? You end up with a bunch of weird shit in your basket. This is the same as those who are desperate for love and trying to find others to satiate that desire. Often times, you will end up with something unhealthy you are taking home. So if you want to avoid dating the equivalent of Funyuns, self love is the place to start.”

Learning to love yourself is hard. What happens if you take a moment to get to know yourself and don’t like who you are? That will be painful, uncomfortable, and definitely difficult. However, that is the only way to get to the other side – self love. Spend some time alone, really getting to know who you are and what you need so you can ensure your actions align with your morals and values. The place you end up is where love is born and happiness thrives.

Without self love the partners you choose will all be loving that version of yourself you don’t even like. This is a recipe for disaster.

Stop Being a Worry Wart

I have just about finished my current book “The Big Leap – Gay Hendricks” and I would definitely say it is worth the read. If you want to learn about what is limiting you from becoming the happiest, most successful version of yourself, this book is a must.

Hendricks talks about all the ways that we limit ourselves from being happy and accepting wealth and abundance. When things are going really well rather than accepting it, enjoying it, and continuing to build upon it we do something that brings us down. It’s like the saying “too good to be true,” we naturally assume that with all good comes bad and we couldn’t possibly be happy all the time. Why not? Why aren’t we willing to be happy all the time?

One of those things we do to bring us down is worrying. How many of you worry? Worry about whether you left the oven on, if your success will be short lived, if you can pay the bills this month, if you made the right investment, anything at all. Hendricks challenges you to think of worrying as you crimping the flow of positive energy. What I found very interesting about this is that he links worrying to some positive or successful moment in your life. Things are going well at work? You worry about your wife cheating on you. You just qualified for a National Championships? You worry that you might get injured. Instead of embracing success and happiness you search for what must be going wrong – I couldn’t possibly have happiness without sacrifice.

Of course not every worry can be to stop the flow of positive energy, some worries are real and necessary to ensure your house doesn’t burn down! So how can we know when the worry is real or something we use to limit our own happiness?

There are two questions you should ask yourself:

Is it a real possibility?

Is there any action I can take right now (in this exact moment) to make a positive difference?

When the worry is if you left the oven on the answers are obviously yes to both. It is definitely a real possibility and you can take action to go home and check. However, if your worry is something like – my success won’t last – and leads to a “no” answer to these questions stop yourself right in your tracks and tell yourself one thing: you deserve to be happy, wealthy, and loved. Worrying is only limiting yourself from the happiness you deserve. Give yourself permission to be happy.

In the movie “Bridge of Spies” the character on trial was never worried even though he was facing terrible charges that would surely change his life forever. His lawyer asked him on a number of occasions “Do you never worry?” and he always replied “Would it help?”

Therapy is Cool

For the longest time I thought therapy was for people that were broken, weak, or had something “wrong” with them. Whenever I heard people mentioning “talking to a professional” it was always followed by discomfort, an awkward silence, or someone being offended. I automatically assumed therapy was something negative, something I would never need, something we needed to whisper about.

Over the past year my life has drastically changed. I went from being a full time student and athlete to running a company with 12 employees and thousands of active clients all while living in a new country with my new boyfriend. I have freedom of place and time, and I can honestly say I love my life. So many people think my life is “perfect” and I am “living the dream” so why on earth would I need therapy?

I met my boyfriend Michael Cazayoux and he completely changed my life. He is a recovering heroin addict and through that experience has been through years of therapy and treatment. I saw him living a life of honesty, vulnerability, and actively working every day on being a person of integrity. I wanted so much of what he had “figured out”. Nothing phased him, he rarely gets upset, talks bad about people, and always sees the good in those around him. Imagine being at an airport and your flight gets delayed, then the next one is over booked, you have to spend the night sleeping on the airport floor, and you miss 2 full days of your vacation. Michael would laugh, smile, and kindly tell the customer service agent “It’s okay, I know it’s not your fault.”

I wanted that. I wanted to be happy all the time and to feel like my emotions don’t control me. Michael attributes much of his current state of mind to the years he spent in rehab. This triggered curiosity in me. Do I need to “need” therapy to benefit from it?

Absolutely not.

Talking to a neutral third party, with no hidden agenda, that is experienced in mental health is for everyone and anyone. You don’t need to be an addict, have a mental breakdown, be diagnosed with a psychological disorder, or be struggling with anything serious at all. We all struggle with something and I can guarantee that you will be happier, healthier, and more successful after talking to a professional.

I have never had a rock bottom experience the same way Michael has but having someone to speak to where the focus is 100% on me has been one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. I vividly remember before my first appointment I thought to myself “What if I don’t have anything to talk about? I’m not really struggling with anything right now.” To my surprise 1 hour was not enough time. I have become better in every single way and have gotten to know depths of myself that I didn’t know existed.

I could grow and learn without professional help, but that’s like saying I could lose weight without a nutritionist, or do my taxes without an accountant. They are the experts for a reason, let them do what they do best. Taking the time to work on yourself is the most unselfish thing you can do. It will, without a doubt, be uncomfortable, painful, and bring up things you’ve spent years trying to bury, but it will be worth it.

Therapy is cool.

The Voice in your Head

You hear that voice in your head? The voice that seems to always have something to say. You could be sitting trying to relax and in your head you hear “Am I hungry?” “Did I forget to turn the oven off?” “Maybe I should call Michael and see what he’s up to.” Where is that voice coming from? Who does it belong to? Is it you?

I am currently reading a book called The Untethered Soul – I highly recommend it. This book starts off by discussing this voice and who it belongs to. I never really took the time to think about it, is that voice me? The voice constantly contradicts itself, it sometimes gives terrible advice, sometimes I completely disagree with it, so then could it really be me?

Imagine it is your birthday, you are waiting on your boyfriend for dinner and he’s late. The voice in your head is quick to say “He forgot my birthday, he doesn’t even care about me.” A couple minutes later your boyfriend calls and the voice in your head is saying “Ignore him, he forgot your birthday you don’t even want to talk to him right now.” You decide not to listen and answer anyways to find out he is late because he was planning an incredible surprise for you. If you had listened to the voice in your head you would have gotten it all wrong ruining the surprise and your birthday.

Now imagine that voice was coming from a friend, would you appreciate their advice in the future? Definitely not as much. Then why 10-20 minutes after getting terrible advice do we listen to that voice in our own head no questions asked? We think it’s us.

That voice is not you.

That voice is insecurities, shame, fear, excitement, anger, all the emotions expressing themselves incessantly. This is not you but rather a voice that you have created and if you let it one the will never shut up making it harder to actually hear your own voice. The way to mindfulness is to quiet that voice. You may never be able to turn it off completely but letting the thoughts and emotions pass will ultimately help you become a happier, healthier, and more successful human being.

One of my favourite quotes I heard from a friend Brooke Ence is to think of thoughts and emotions like birds flying by. You want to see them, acknowledge them, but let them fly by without a care. What you want to avoid is allowing those birds to build a nest in your hair.

Stop Making Excuses.

You have a goal, a dream, something that you are striving for and almost without fail whatever you are chasing after comes with an excuse. We rarely every just dive into something headfirst admitting to our friends, family, even ourselves that we truly want what we are going after.

“I really want to get into that graduate school but I have had to work long hours, and I got really sick, so who knows what will happen.”

“I would love to win the National Championships but I had to travel and was out of routine a lot this year.”

“It would be the best thing ever if the book I wrote got published but I also have school and it doesn’t really matter to me that much, books are lame.”

We make excuses to protect ourselves. If we fail, we think those excuses will soften the blow. You didn’t get that job but you didn’t really want it that bad any ways, you didn’t win a medal but you were sick the weeks leading up. In theory this makes sense – protecting yourself from the pain of failure – but in reality you’re doing yourself a disservice.

What would happen if you were just honest and didn’t use a single excuse?

First and fore most getting rid of those excuses is going to automatically increase your chances of success. Now you know that failure is something you cannot deflect so you will naturally work harder to avoid it. Even just putting an excuse out there is going to subconsciously allow the idea of failure leak into your mind. You don’t want this.

Making those excuses is a natural habit but what if we thought about it this way?

If everyone around you knows you were sick, you were traveling, you got injured, and then you failed, will they console you the same way that they would if you didn’t make any of the excuses? Sure, without any excuses to lean on failing might sting a little more at first but your friends and family will be right there beside you to take some of the sting away. If they don’t think it was that big of a deal to you, it won’t be as big of a deal to them.

On the flip side, if you succeed but you “didn’t really try that hard”, or it “didn’t matter that much to you” the celebration around your triumph will not be as great as it could be. When you know you tried your best, you worked as hard as possible, and made no excuses, victory will be that much sweeter. Everyone around you will be glowing with pride and excitement knowing that this is something you wanted wholeheartedly. If you carry those excuses with you, when you succeed it will be as if you happened upon that success rather than earning it. Sure your friends and family will be excited for you but it will become success “even though you were sick”,“even though you took time off.”

Failing will never be easy but If you’re going to do it you might as well give it everything you’ve got.

Choose Happiness

 

There is always going to be something that you can be unhappy about. However, on the flip side there is always going to be the option to just be happy.

I’ll be happy when I lose 5 lbs

I’ll be happy when I get a new job

I’ll be happy when I make more money

I’ll be happy when I’m on vacation

Why can’t “when” be now?

The only thing that is stopping you from being happy right NOW is you. The second you really accept that, believe it, and become aware of it you will be set free from the confines of unhappy, sad, angry, frustrated, and all the other things we want to do without.

I recently had a conversation with my friend Melanie Barnshaw and she told me she couldn’t understand how people don’t ensure they have some time in the morning to be alone and present with themselves. She said “I couldn’t function without that time.”

I thought about this for a second and realized that we don’t know better. If you have never felt what a perfect, productive, and invigorating day feels like you don’t know what you are missing. But once you have consciously decided to be happy and because of that choice have a day where you are in a state of flow, nothing can go wrong, and you just can’t help but smile, you cannot un-feel it.

Choose happiness.

If you are unhappy right now do something different. You cannot keep living the same way expecting a different result. Wake up earlier, read more, meditate, journal, sing, take up a new hobby, volunteer, call an old friend. If it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, you’re not doing it right.

You can be happy TODAY!! Turn that fear into excitement and choose happiness.

For those that think you just don’t have the time to be happy I would recommend reading or listening this book: The Perfect Day Formula – Craig Ballantyne

The 1-10 Rule

Sometimes it amazes me how complex we are as human beings. The number of emotions we feel and the depths to those emotions is mind boggling. What I find most intriguing is that what you feel is entirely different than what I feel even if its in reference to the same thing or event. I might get frustrated when someone is late to a meeting where you might not think its that big of a deal.

How many times have you been annoyed, frustrated, or irritated by something and your partner (boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, lover) didn’t think it was that big of a deal? You thought in your head, “how can you not be mad about this?” “how can you be okay with this?” Their reaction to the issue at hand is not what you wanted, their level of attention does not match the magnitude in which the situation matters to you, and all of a sudden you’re in an argument.

We see our partners as extensions of ourselves and expect them to feel the exact same way we do but that’s just not the case. This is why I love the 1 – 10 rule. If you can quantify the level of feeling you are going through, the person you are talking to now has a frame of reference. The way this rule works is that when you are feeling something you need to literally verbalize the level, out of 10, that you are feeling it. I am 7/10 annoyed, I am 3/10 stressed, I am 9/10 jealous. It is important to be honest with your assessment so that the other person can learn which situations bring you closer to the breaking point and which don’t. If you have a hard time choosing an exact number out of 10, try starting with I am over 5 or under 5 [insert emotion here]. Michael and I use this for even the littlest things like hunger, and level of tiredness.

Now all of a sudden you can show exactly how much something matters to you or is affecting you. The other person in the situation will then have a better idea of the kind of reaction and attention you are looking for. Once you start putting this into action you’ll realize so much about each other. Something that is 9/10 for you could be 2/10 for them and that explains so much!

For example –

Michael loves to go with the flow, I on the other hand get excited about plans. Not that I like to plan things (I am not that organized) but when there is a plan in motion already (ex. we are going camping, seeing a movie) I get fired up in my head about it and think about how to time my day, what I’m going to wear, and anything else I think would add to the experience. Once in a while Michael will just completely change the plan last minute and let me know that it’s changed literally in the car on the way. This is 7/10 annoying for me and 1/10 annoying for him. Before we knew that about each other he just didn’t think it was that big of a deal so he would expect me to just go along with the plan and not need to talk about it where I would become upset thinking he was being inconsiderate of my feelings. From using the 1-10 rule I know that Michael will probably do this again because its not something he cares too much about but he also knows I might get upset because it really matters to me. Naturally, I will be more understanding when it happens, and he will be more apologetic and aware so it happens less frequently.

–       Start by telling your partner that you want to try this rule. Talk about it, get on the same page.

–       Begin quantifying things other than emotions – hunger, boredom, humour. Yes, it will be uncomfortable at first, laugh about it!

–       If you have a hard time picking an exact number use “I am over/under 5”

–       Start seeing your love grow deeper!

The Zentangle Method

Seated meditation has always been a struggle for me. I know countless people who have struggled to “see the point” and are immediately turned off the idea of meditation all together. To sit there, in silence, with my own thoughts racing, it is so easy for me to feel like it’s a waste of time or just fall asleep. Even though I know that is so far from the truth. I have read all about it, I understand the benefits, and I even see first hand through Michael daily. It still is so hard for me to motivate myself to get into the routine of meditating.

A couple weeks ago I decided I just wasn’t going to force it. I know deep down that one day I will want to practice seated meditation because I believe wholeheartedly in its benefits. The problem is that right now I am getting wrapped up in the frustrations that comes from feeling “bad” at it which defeats the purpose. Mindfulness is about acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. So I was on a mission to find something else to practice in the interim.

Recently I was hanging out with one of my good friends Jorden Woodworth (@jswould) who is an amazingly talented artist. He was using these pens called Micron and was teaching me some cool techniques. I went home and took to the trusty internet to buy myself a set when I stumbled upon The Zentangle Method. Zentangle is simple, structured patterns that almost anyone can use to create beautiful images. They are the kind of designs you can’t help but stare at.

The coolest part about this is that I get so excited to grab my sketchbook, pens, and focus on nothing but the designs I am creating. My heart rate slows, and I become completely present in that moment. It is by far the most satisfying experience I have found for myself to promote mindfulness to date. For me practicing The Zentangle Method increases my focus and creativity, fulfills my craving for artistic expression along with increasing my sense of personal well being.

I could probably draw all day, so I have found a system where I make sure I complete the 3 most important tasks for the day and reward myself with some drawing time!

Try it and let me know what you think!

Find more on The Zentangle Method here

Buy Micron Pens here

Here are a few of the Zentangle creations I have been working on. I usually go to Google and search in Images for “Simple drawing of (insert thing you want to draw here)” so I can copy the outline of something and then fill it in with my own tangles! Remember, you cannot make any mistakes and the cool think about tangles is the less perfect the better!

Zen4

Zen2

Zen1

 

Hello From the Other Side

Arguing in relationships is natural and I like to think of it as an opportunity for growth.  This is a moment where you get to learn about the other person and what they need to be happy.

Take a moment and think back to your most recent argument – what were you really arguing about? Was it that someone didn’t return your call fast enough? Your partner didn’t do the dishes? What is really going on? The root of the problem probably lies in one or both of you not feeling love and acceptance. Could be that you don’t feel love from them, someone else, or yourself. You can tell each other from now until tomorrow that you love them but neither of you can hear it – you’re not speaking the same language.

Two people come from different families, different backgrounds, and have lived separate lives where they have learned (differently than you) how to love and accept love – this is your love language. The moment we begin speaking in our own love languages we literally cannot understand each other. No one wants to hurt the other, you love each other, but there is a struggle to be understood.

There are very few (pretty much zero) situations in life where you absolutely cannot see the other person’s perspective. For so long I used to think of issues in my relationships as something they needed to change, something they had to work on, and then we would be happy. But if you put your ego aside and take the time to actually listen to what your partner is upset about you might realize they have a point. Whoever it is, they love you and are arguing because you matter to them, the things they are upset about are often rooted in our own ignorance, not spite, and self-reflection can help us see that.

This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned this year. Whenever I find myself in a fight with someone I love it is a practice to take a moment before I react and reflect on what part I am playing in the scenario. Take a deep breath (a.k.a Get Zen) and remember, no matter what you are telling yourself in your head, they love you and are arguing because they want to find a solution. This is a chance for you to learn how to speak their love language.

For example –

Michael and I have pretty much the same job. We spend a lot of our time focusing on work and physically working side by side. I like to talk about it a lot more than he does – a lot more. He wants to be excited about my job and all that I have going on but there have been many moments where I talk about something and he just brushes it off unenthusiastically. For so long this crushed me. I created this story in my head: “He doesn’t care about my work, he doesn’t love me and want me to be successful.” In reality I was just invading his space when he didn’t have room to hear me. I needed to respect that his head is full of his own projects, thoughts and worries.

After some self-reflection and help from our wonderful coach Annie Lalla I realized I had a huge role in that reaction. I would constantly blurt out things I wanted to say about work rather than ask Michael if he had the space or energy to listen. If I began the conversation with “Hey, I have something I want to share with you about work do you have a second?” he then has the opportunity to prepare himself or let me know if another time would be better (and he actually says no sometimes).  This is something I can control.  

Rather than trying to change someone else’s behaviour there is almost always something you can do yourself that will help lead to a different result. You can’t change them, but you can control your own behaviours which will in turn change theirs.

  • Take a deep breath and some time before you react
  • Really try and see the other side
  • Identify the role you played (even if you don’t agree with it)
  • React with kindness and love (that’s all they want to feel)
  • If you’re trying to win, you’ve already lost