Last year I made a decision. I was going to say goodbye to watching, reading, or listening to anything that was negative. No more drama and action movies. No more listening to the daily news. No more reading anything that was violent or disturbing. There is enough pain in the world already, and I wasn’t going to actively seek out anything else that made me feel bad.
In its place, I looked for laughter. I wanted to know and understand everything I could about laughter. I learned how laughter impacts our health and how we can find more of it. I tried to find humor in every conversation, in every situation. I tried laughter therapy.
I read about the endless benefits of laughter:
· Strengthens our immune systems
· Clears our minds
· Relaxes our muscles
I went to an all-day laughter therapy session (yes they have those). I found it online and decided to give it a try. As the day approached, I found myself feeling really nervous about it. I literally had no idea what to expect. All sorts of imagined scenarios popped into my mind: a group of people chanting and waving their hands in the air. I saw myself being asked to stand in front of the room and tell jokes….and me not being able to say a word. Then I visualized a weird cult-like experience with people chanting together in unison. Was I going to have to do group exercises that I didn’t want to do? Would we be asked to literally roll on the floor laughing?
And what does a person wear to a laughter therapy day? Like for real. Does the occasion call for a dress? Work out clothes? What? So. Many. Questions.
The session was held in a public library. As I walked in through the doors and took a look around, I immediately felt out of place. I could feel every eye in the room watching me. I was the newbie. The rest of the group clearly all knew each other and were busy catching up with each other. As the session began, I learned more about the people there. It was an eclectic group of people that ranged from musicians to accountants. Apparently, laughter is something everyone is after!
We started the day with a game. A clapping game. We all clapped two times to the right and three times to the left, with our hands parallel to each other. Then we added saying “ho-ho-ha-ha-ha” for each clap. I felt so dumb. This seemed so stupid. I didn’t understand the point. At all.
Next we did a group exercise where we introduced ourselves to each other but we only spoke in gibberish. Okay, full disclosure. While I thought this was also dumb, I eventually busted out laughing. Maybe there is something to this after all!
The next couple of exercises I actually thought were more interesting. We pretended to pick up flowers. We bent over and mimed picking up a flower and sniffing the flower while inhaling deeply and then exhaling with a long aaaahhhh. After a few rounds of this, reaching to the left side and the right side, we did the Santa exercise. The idea was to go around the world with Santa arms out in a big hug with big belly and bent knees deep with a deep Ho, Ho, Ho!
Later in the day, we did the electric shock laughter exercise. We imagined that everything we touched gave a shock of static electricity (shaking hands, touching the wall, touching your shoes, etc.) We jumped each time it happened and then would touch random people lightly and jump abruptly backwards. This one was a sure laugh.
All in all, the day was fun. I would do it again and recommend it.
Laugh on my friends.
Our unique lifestyles tell a clear story about who we are and how we think. Lifestyle is everything from our hobbies to where we go to how we feel once we’re there. It’s how we dress, what we watch, and what we pay attention to. It’s what we do when we wake up each day.
Whether we prefer to spend our time in front of a computer screen, binge watch a series, or play games on our phone, our lifestyle is a reflection of our attitude and the things we value in our lives.
But very few of us analyze our unique lifestyles with a close eye.
Recently I decided to reflect on my own unique lifestyle. I strive to create a lifestyle that is aligned with my values. I value inner peace, financial security, positivity, and health. Yet I was noticing some really bad habits I had fallen into! I was starting my day in social media and email. When I woke up, I was immediately checking my phone. And when I looked at insta and scrolled down, I was subconsciously comparing myself to other people. I would think about why I didn’t have as many followers as they did, or why I didn’t have that many likes. And it was really dragging me down! By checking social media first thing, I was forgetting about my life and my day.
After getting my social media updates, my next habit was to check my email. This would start me in a time suck of answering OTHER people’s fire drills. By checking into other people’s lives and other people’s deadlines in my inbox, I was training my brain to live OTHER people’s lives!
I knew I needed to stop this but it was an addiction. I had to teach myself to stop this behavior. So, I started small. I turned my phone off. I put it in the other room when I slept. I didn’t turn it on until I had finished the top 3 things that I needed to get done that day. It was very hard to get over the addiction. Very hard. For years I was literally beginning my day by answering what other people needed from me. Not what I needed from me.
Breaking this bad habit was especially hard because I am a people pleaser! So when we live to please, we want to give our energy and effort to other people. But it takes perspective to realize that we lose ourselves when all day we are reacting to other people’s needs, drives, and ambitions.
So instead of starting my day in Instagram and email, I start my day by asking “What are the top 3 actions I need to do TODAY to move forward on my dreams?” “Who do I need to reach out to or connect with?” “What are my key deadlines today?”
I had to shift my mindset to start seeing my inbox only as a way to communicate. Not a place for over reacting to everyone else’s urgency. I started to block time during my day to ensure that some things that I need to happen actually happen.
I had to take back control and do the things that really needed to get done. For me.
Shifting our time to spend our energy on things that will advance our own lives vs. everyone else’s takes patience. And practice. So we can all start by beginning the day with intention. We can show up consciously, present, and engaged. We can think about the major things that have to happen today to move our lives forward. We can close our eyes and think about the things that we want to accomplish today. Then we can get going.
We can all live better. By simply realizing what we value and by creating more space in our lives to do the activities that align with those values, we can live uniquely.
Command Joy today by Embracing Change. We live in a world of constant change. From the latest 3D printing capabilities to the newest Tesla model, change is constantly driving growth. At no other time in history are we more connected to new ideas, methodologies, ways of living and being.
But all of this change can be overwhelming!
We may inherently know that change is inevitable, but we also like to have a sense of control over our lives. Whether through our everydayisalwaysthesame routines and habits or holding onto jobs that give us a steady paycheck, we like to feel that we are in charge.
When I look at my normal day, I do about the same 10 things in the same way every day. Whether it’s how I drive to work or what I eat, I am a creature of habit.
Think about it. Do you drive to work or to school the same way each time? It’s crazy but that’s how we roll. We naturally like routine.
But then life happens. Major tragedies hit. Unexpected circumstances come up. And in those times, we are thrown for a loop. When we think that something “should” happen and it doesn’t, we may feel frustrated, annoyed, or angry.
When my Mom died, I was prepared to deal with the sadness and grief that overcame me. That all felt normal, natural, a common part of the experience. But there was an emotion that I wasn’t ready to deal with. One emotion that I was surprised about feeling. And that was the anger. This overwhelming feeling of frustration, unfairness of life, and pure anger that came along on my rollercoaster ride of emotions.
I was so angry at so many different things. I was frustrated that the doctors couldn’t cure her. I was angry that she died too soon. I was overwhelmed and annoyed that I had to deal with this.
But behind the anger, there was fear. And behind the fear was the unknowing. I hadn’t known a life without Mom. I knew that life would be forever changed. And I didn’t know how to deal with it.
Behind the anger was fear of change.
I knew intellectually that I couldn’t control the situation, but my brain still wanted to try.
Can anyone one relate to this? Has this ever happened to you? When things are going as they always were in your life but then a tragic event occurred. And you are forced to deal with a new normal your world. One you may not have been prepared to deal with.
So then if we know this may happen, how do we deal with this constant change to ease our frustration when it does happen?
We can learn to welcome change. To see change as a new opportunity.
To calm the anxiety that change can bring, there is one thing we can do: Prepare for the different outcomes.
We can think through each of the different scenarios that may come up and what you will do.
o For instance, if your company may be going through layoffs and your job could be eliminated, prepare for not having a job. How much money do you have in savings? Can you live off unemployment? Is your resume updated and have you applied for jobs lately? Then prepare for the scenario where you keep your job. How can you make sure that you aren’t in a position to worry about losing it in the future?
We can help ourselves see the excitement in change. Rather than attempt to hold on to what was and the way things were, we can embrace change and find the strength in it.
When we take a day away from our busy lives and spend time investing in what our future vision is for ourselves, it can re-energize our souls.
Have you ever taken a day to step away from it all? A day alone to reflect on your life? To understand yourself better and what you want out of life? Like what you really really want?
For years I felt burned out, stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to give up on everything. I was ready to walk away from life. I was done. Over it. It was all too much for me to handle. I wanted to leave it all: my family, my friends, my city, my job.
Nothing was going well and I thought everything would be better if I just ended my life. But I didn’t. I sucked it up and put on a happy face when I needed to, even though I felt dead inside. I didn’t let anyone know how I was feeling. I didn’t want to “burden” anyone with my problems. So, I isolated myself. I quit my hobbies. I stayed home at night and on the weekends. Showing up for work was the extent of all of the energy I could generate within myself. I spent my days going to work and going home. After work, I would shower and crawl into bed. This habit went on for weeks, which became months, and then became 3 years.
And then one day I read a book that changed my life. It forced me to see that my unhappiness was my own damn fault. It wasn’t the boyfriend or the boss or the bad traffic that was driving me to exhaustion. It was me.
And once I had awareness that it was me doing this to myself, I knew I was the only one accountable. I had no one else to pass responsibility onto but myself for my environment, my circumstances, and my surroundings. This was all my own doing.
This realization was frightening and freeing at the same time. Frightening because I had to finally come to grips that I had no one to blame but myself for where I was. This meant though, that I had to actually DO something to make it better. It was freeing because I had no one to rely on to make the changes I needed to make in my life. No one but me.
So I took a step away from the crazy for one day and I got clear. I turned off my phone. I removed the remote control for theTV. I shut down the laptop. I had a pen, a highlighter, a pencil and a notebook. I was going to spend time with just me.
Here’s what I did on my day away:
This day helped me reconnect with myself. I came out of my day away refreshed and re-energized with life. I knew that the good times would be just around the corner because I was now clear on what I wanted.
When we dedicate time to work on ourselves, our lives can transform. When we take a pause, a break, and see if we are growing and making progress, we can figure out how to command joy in our lives.
Here’s the deal. Priorities change based on our current circumstances. So we have to constantly be back in tune with ourselves and with what we want out of life. We owe it to ourselves to get clear.
Dedicated time to work on ourselves is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves. When we reflect on where we are growing, where we are making progress, we can gain the confidence to really go after what we want!!
We can command joy with a day away. Just for ourselves, we can re-imagine what our lives could be like!
“I’m sure it’s fine.” The doctor said. “It will be okay, everything will be fine.” I heard these words as I sat in a doctor’s office for the third time in three months. “With the holiday Monday and with the doctor going on vacation, it might take us 10-15 business days to diagnosis this.”
Great. So I may have skin cancer. But I may not. As I was leaving the doctor’s office, I knew that I had 10 days in front of me to anxiously await the results of my test. 10 Days. 10 DAYS.
As I made the slow walk back to my car and got out my keys, I thought through my two options.
When I got home, I sat silently on my couch and contemplated the roller coaster of emotions that I was confident I would experience for the next 10 days. I weighed out the two options in my mind. Do I give up and accept Option 1? Do I try to calm myself down and strive to be like Option 2?
I realized that I was going to go through a little bit of Option 1 and a little bit of Option 2.
There was no denying it. I may be an emotional mess for the next 10 days. Crap. I am the one who is always happy and positive. People are counting on me to lift them up. I have to get myself together. I can’t let them down!
As I started listening to myself judge that I was going to be a mess for the next 10 days, I worked on quieting the self judgement.
I decided to give myself a break. I decided it was okay if I wasn’t going to be all sunshine and roses and happy go lucky for a couple of weeks.
No matter what the results are, I can control one part of my health. I can commit to having some love and compassion for myself.
I realized that we all have a healer within each of us. We can all Command Joy by Healing Now. We can start by healing our relationship with ourselves.
When we Glow, we allow others around us to Glow too.
When I was a little girl, I spent my summers at my grandparent’s house in Ohio. Living in Texas and having to get to Ohio, we would pack up all of our stuff in a big Chevy suburban and drive north. It would take us 2-3 days to get there. A car ride for 2-3 days with 2 kids under the age of 10 in the back seat. Can you imagine what my parents had to deal with? Whoa.
To me, the road trip was always a fun one and I looked forward to it every year. Growing up, I idolized my older brother and here he was stuck in the back seat with ME! I had 2 days of uninterrupted time to be with him. As the annoying little sister, I loved it. He was stuck with me for 2 entire days! My brother, of course, was not so amused. He did everything he could to entertain himself in any way possible to not have to deal with me. He would listen to music on his Walkman, play on his Gameboy, really do anything to avoid me. I would try to get his attention by pointing out things I saw outside the window - cars driving by, funny signs on the road. We would drive and drive and drive. Since I wasn’t getting anywhere annoying my brother, for hours I would stare out the window and dream of being an adult. I dreamt of a bigger, richer, more exciting life than the one I had with my family. One where I could do anything or be anything I wanted.
When we would finally arrive at this small town in northern Ohio, I always noticed how it was so different than Texas. The houses were huddled together with smaller lawns, and with much different architecture. AND the best part? They all had basements!! I had never seen or heard of such a thing until I visited Ohio. It was like an entire built in extra playroom! There was a town square with a huge century old bell alongside train tracks. And a huge creek where kids went swimming in the summer. It seemed so quaint, so small, and so safe. The homes in my grandparent’s neighborhood were very early 1900s with large white columns and a screened door that slammed when people went in and out of it. Their house was the oldest in the neighborhood, on the corner and across the street from the elementary school.
What I loved the most about my grandparent’s house was their huge front porch. It was one of those classically large porches that go all around half the house. They had a huge rocking chairs that felt like you were in a swing – I can still hear the sound of it creaking back and forth on the wooden porch.
It was in Ohio, where, during the warm summer nights, we would see fireflies. I would sit in the chair on the front porch, lookout over the yard and see these little things light up in the sky! They were so beautiful – it was like a light show! Illuminating the darkness with their glow! I thought it was stunning.
Here did these little tiny insects have so much power to glow and light up the night? As I look back on this now, I realize what an extraordinary thing this is.
I also realize, that like a firefly, we have the same power. Like a firefly, it’s strength is not in itself, it is that when it is illuminated with others.
We can glow through our hearts and light up the world! And when we all commit to doing so, what a well lit world this could be!
She leaned forward with a look of confusion, her eyebrows starting to crinkle on her forehead. After a minute of looking puzzled, she finally asked, “You? They picked YOU? How on earth did they give you that opportunity? I mean, why? How? And, oh yeah, congratulations!” Her question was fair because I was also in disbelief. I wasn’t sure how I got so Lucky either! I mean, I just applied for the position, was interviewed, and got the offer. It wasn’t that unbelievable that the odds were in my favor…or was it?
Was this all a matter of Luck?
It’s been said that Luck is 95% preparation and 5% opportunity. If this theory holds true, then we do create our own Luck. Even Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States, agreed with this. He said, "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it."
So then, if we have the capacity to create our own Luck, then we have to start it with a Lucky Mindset. No one else is going to do it for us.
If we decide to, we can find so many things to feel Lucky about! If we reflect on all the joyful things that have happened over the course of our lives, we can find instances when we were Lucky. Like really Lucky!
Commanding Joy with Luck looks like:
Luck is unlimited and is happening all around us. Command Joy Today with a Lucky mindset…this could be the luckiest day of our lives!
Let’s talk about how to Command Joy with our Top 10 – the Top 10 things we love to do. And let’s figure out how, in this crazy busy world, we can incorporate them into our life!
Take our careers, for instance. The conventional corporate career path would tell us that we start our careers in our 20s, usually in entry level positions. After we have built our foundational skills, we become managers and leaders in our 30s. Then, by the time we hit our 40s -50s, we are leveraging all that experience and cashing in those higher salaries as executives. We expect to see progressive income increases year after year.
Yes….buuut…not necessarily! For me, my career has taken many different routes. I have worked for companies that have merged together and I had to take a decrease in salary. My position title has changed. I’ve been in jobs where I had 6 different bosses within a two year time frame. I’ve worked for companies that were growing so rapidly that what my actual day to day job looked nothing like my job description!
More than likely, our careers are going to start and stop. With corporate downsizing, re-structures, and layoffs, incomes will have some high years and low years.
The so called “steady paycheck” is steady no more.
So if we can’t rely on finding big corporate jobs in the future, what do we do about it? Well…one thing we can do is protect our paycheck by figuring out our Top 10 Skills.
We can unleash our brilliant potential by understanding what it is that we really LIKE to do and what we are GOOD at doing.
Here’s one way to get started….
We have to protect our paychecks by finding multiple streams of income. And it doesn’t have to be hard or stressful or overwhelming! We can take the things that we love and find ways to make money doing them.
Unleash your limitless potential and act on what you already know and love…the more we help each other, the better we’ll be!
Cheers to your Top 10!
A client friend of mine, Jessica, has been ambitious for as long as she can remember. When she was just 10 years old, she started a habit of waking up at 5AM every morning. During high school, she used this extra time in the mornings to work out and catch up on her schoolwork. Graduating at the top of her class, she got into every college she applied to. With full academic scholarships. This same drive helped her climb the corporate ladder. Over the last 10 years, Jessica, now 45, has held a number of VP level positions at large LA based creative agencies.
Jessica isn’t quite sure what the source is of her fierce ambition. She knows that her parents both had a very strong work ethic and were go-getters, but Jessica thinks there must be something else. She thinks that something is ingrained in her personality that makes her always strive for more.
Ambition has been defined as an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, such as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. Originally derived from the Latin “ambitio,” ambition initially meant literally 'a going around', especially of candidates for office in Rome soliciting votes.
Today it can be viewed as striving for some kind of achievement or distinction. It involves both desiring the achievement and having the determination and motivation to get it, even in the face of failure.
So is Ambition a learned trait or something we are just born with? Can we learn to be more ambitious? Is Ambition Good or Bad?
Different cultures have different ideas of Ambition. Western cultures view Ambition as a key to business success but others see it as negative. Some view Ambitious people as selfish and never satisfied because they always want more.
The components of what makes a person Ambitious are hard to exactly pin down but there are a few contributing factors.
· Self-esteem. Studies have seen that those with higher self esteem are more ambitious than those with low self-esteem. When you have more self-esteem, you are more ambitious because you think you can do things. Whether or not you can is less important than your idea that you believe you can achieve something.
· Background. Our childhood experiences are also important factors in ambitious. Kids with successful, ambitious parents or grandparents often become ambitious too. Success is simply expected of some children.
· Personality. People who have high degrees of conscientiousness, and who are extroverted, are more likely to have Ambition. This could be due to extroverts liking the external approval which could contribute to their drive.
Research has shown that Ambitious people are likely to have higher levels of education and income, but they are also more likely to experience anxiety. Ambition tends to put expectations in a person’s mind, so they could become afraid to fail.
Jessica thinks that she is just goal oriented. “Without a goal, I don’t have a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It’s my goals that keep me going.”
So maybe then, there is no right or wrong when it comes to ambition.
I say that we commit to learning and let’s see where that takes us. Let’s Command Joy by facing life with our eyes and ears open to the possibilities that might be just around the corner. That’s enough ambition, to me.
I wasn’t ready. I was nervous. I had practiced, rehearsed, memorized my presentation for weeks. For an entire month, all I thought about, cared about, and cried about was this huge presentation. This was my chance. This was my one golden opportunity to show them what I could really do. To prove that I was more than the peon they thought I was. With this presentation, I was going to show them.
I was going to face the people who didn’t think I could do it. I was going to look right at them, give my talk, and they could look back at me in awe. I was going to prove to them, and to myself, once and for all, that I could do it. That I deserved more than what they currently thought of me.
But as the days grew closer to THE DAY, I grew more and more scared. I could feel the anxiety rising. I could actually hear my heartbeat. I started not being able to sleep. I found myself overwhelmed with thoughts about it not going well. I thought I would get up there and not remember what I was going to say.
Doubts crept in. The worst case scenarios played out in my mind. What if they start laughing at me? What if they roll their eyes? What if I forget completely what I was going to say? What if my voice sounds like it is shaking? What if my nerves take over and I throw up on stage? Worse, what if they give me a look of pity as if to say…”aww…that poor girl thought she had what it takes.”
So I thought through my options:
· Option One: tell the event staff that I was going to have to cancel
· Option Two: tell them I am sick the day of the presentation
· Option Three: beg the event staff to re-schedule me to a later date
· Option Four: suck it up and try
Then I googled “prepare for a big presentation” and found the following tactics:
· Tactic One: visualize yourself giving the speech and it going well
· Tactic Two: act like superwoman with a power pose
· Tactic Three: deep breathing exercises: in for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts, out for 3 counts
· Tactic Four: rehearse out loud
I did every tactic. Tactic One to Tactic Four. Then I repeated them. But nothing worked. My heart was still beating out of my chest non-stop. My mouth was still dry. I still couldn’t take a deep breath. My insomnia continued.
But I kept going through the motions, I went through all of the tactics. Again and again. I tried to keep myself calm. I kept running through my talk out loud so I could hear myself. I recorded what I looked like while I practiced. I noticed things that could make it better. I adjusted, I tried different inflection points with my voice, different ways of moving across the stage, different hand gestures.
I had gone over this presentation so many times that I literally felt sick to my stomach when I started from the beginning of it. Again.
Then the big day came. After a night of little to no sleep, I woke up at my usual wake up time. I did my usual morning routine. I took a longer time getting ready, trying to hide the huge circles under my eyes.
As the hour of the presentation came suddenly closer, my nerves were so bad I was visibly shaking. My breathing was short, my mouth dry, my heart racing.
Then a voice in my head came through loud and clear. Get yourself under control Erin! This isn’t life or death! You did everything you could do. You are ready! You got this!
And so I had. As I walked up onto that stage, I was calm. I was ready. I could do this. Yes it was scary. Yes I was nervous. Yes there was a risk of it not going well.
But in that moment I realized that there was a greater risk. The greater risk would have been not trying. The greater risk would have been dodging the opportunity and calling in sick. The greater risk would have been giving up.
The greatest risk in life is not taking any risk.
Command Joy by Taking a Risk. What are you currently afraid of or avoiding in life because you are scared? What steps can you take towards it? Tell me in the comments below!