The research suggests that 70% of our self talk is negative. Practice turning these thoughts into positives to improve your outlook, your future, and your well being. A client gave me a file folder from Successories, www.successories.com which states the Essence of Your Destiny: “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, for they will become your character. Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Your body doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined things. It only knows what your brain tells it, so make sure your brain is telling your body positive things. A positive state of mind has been known to cure diseases, prevent sickness, or prevent a worse condition as evidenced by the research by Norman Cousins in The Anatomy of an Illness.
You can wake up and decide to have a happy day or a deliriously happy day . . .or not. Choose your vocabulary and self-talk wisely. The use of certain words can trigger physiological responses that can cause high blood pressure, stress, and other negative reactions. The power of positive thinking guides your behavior, which in turn guides your future. When you change your mind, you change your energy, and when you change your energy, you change your life. We can also change the energy of the people around us as our energy is contagious and we are part of other people’s environments just as they are a part of ours.
Be aware of the company you keep and how their thoughts and behaviors are affecting your energy. These positive thoughts also refer to the music you listen to, the books you read, or the movies and TV programs you watch. Be aware of the negative or positive messages your body is receiving from internal or external sources and be thoughtful of what you choose.
Your attitude, whether positive or negative is everything. It’s how you view the world and how you react to the world. It also affects how the world reacts to you. Your choice of attitude can bring you up, up, up, or down, down, down. Attitude is what draws people towards you or repels them against you.
Do you think anybody wants to hang around a crabby person? Have you ever paid attention to the negative energy of a worrier or somebody who is always sick or thinks they are sick or about to be sick? You can feel the negative energy emanating from their very being.
No matter what the situation, we always have a choice about our attitude. Positive attitude and enthusiasm are the secret weapons of successful people. Make a conscious effort to choose happiness and a positive attitude, and watch the positive repercussions stem from a resourceful state of mind. Your attitude really is contagious and we have a choice as to whether we want to infect people with our bad attitude or affect people with our good attitude. It not only changes our energy, but the energy of those around us. Remember, when we change our mind, we change our energy, and when we change our energy, we change our life.
What are you doing to make the right choice of attitude? If you notice that your partner, your family, or all the front-line service people you encounter are being especially cranky to you on a particular day, take notice of how your attitude might be rubbing off on them. We generally mirror back the same energy that is projected towards us. Matching energy is one of those things we do subconsciously and once we are aware of it, we can make it work to our advantage.
All behaviors (except autonomic responses) begin as thoughts. Make yours positive.
How about sending positive messages around the world in the form of greeting cards and gifts. Your words of appreciation can provide you with a way to make a living through giving. Take the Gratitude Challenge by sending 30 cards in 30 days to those who need to hear kind words from you – try it out at www.SOCGratitude.com/9431 with the Send Out Cards system.
Is the thought of sorting and purging these areas draining your energy? Tackle one section at a time and reward yourself for getting rid of unused items and make space for new things in your life. Better yet, don’t replace this stuff and celebrate a more simplified lifestyle. Start a desk drawer amnesty program at work where colleagues clean out their work stations and donate the stuff to a shelter or other needy cause or given to the break room. Coordinate this activity to coincide with national Clean Out Your Desk Day.
Double your good feelings at home when you donate your stuff to charity or sell it at a consignment shop or on E-bay, and then you don’t have to clean around it. Excessive stuff drains your energy and clutters your mind with how to manage it.
Extra stuff also costs extra money to store. (U-Store-It facilities, garden shed, larger home, filled garage, bulging cubicle, more credenzas) Think of the cost of renting a storage locker or pod and multiply the monthly rate by how many years you plan to keep renting it instead of making a decision to toss your stuff or sell it. There is cash in your closets and back spaces – it just takes a little time, effort, energy, and focus to reap a huge payoff of stored up energy that has been leaking into the depths of the dark spaces.
Simplify your life to boost your spirits and get rid of all those responsibilities, excesses, and unnecessary things that drain on your brain. Allowing only the things that you can comfortably handle into your life helps decrease the stress of thinking that bigger is better.
The American capitalistic system is set up to forever strive and not arrive. Rethink how much you really need to be happy, then listen to your inner-voice and not the advertisements or your neighbors. If you don’t need much, own much, or owe much, you don’t have to work as much; which allows more time for family and friends. What obligations, excesses, or other time-wasters can you cut out of your life? Are your back spaces clutter-free or are you closing doors on them in hopes nobody will notice? Are your back spaces representing a picture of you that you would like to present to the world, or are you living in fear that you will have unexpected visitors? Hopefully you aren’t primed to be a guest star on the TV show Hoarders: Buried Alive. Honestly….what are people thinking…..
Research has shown that those who wake up with a jolt to an auditory-assaulting alarm start out their day agitated. Add in the usual frantic rush to get out of the house and we get weary before we get to our destination. We often run on the temporary burst of energy from adrenaline or the stress hormones produced in the fight or flight response, instead of authentic, long-term energy.
Compare that frazzled episode to awaking on our own to our body’s natural rhythms after a good night’s rest, or to pleasant music with plenty of time for morning activities, most of which has already been prepared the night before. Ease into your day, start off on the right foot, and make the first hours as pleasant as possible. If you must use an alarm, try a Zen Alarm clock that starts out very quietly and grows to a slightly louder volume or an alarm that has other soothing sounds of soft music or nature.
Try listening to calming music instead of the morning news, taking a morning walk to clear your head, and plan the day sipping herbal tea on the deck, or practicing yoga to start off in the right frame of mind. Gulping coffee, slamming down a donut and dashing out the door combing your hair is no way to feel good about yourself. Ingesting caffeine causes our body to run like an engine revving to 70mph in second gear. It will move, but it’s not natural and it can’t keep up that pace without negative repercussions.
To get a jump on stress, ditch the coffee and the caffeine that has been found to elevate your blood pressure throughout the day and into the night. Caffeine exaggerates the stress response and the affects last for 8-10 hours. Stress hormone levels were double that of those who were not ingesting caffeine in one study done at DukeUniversityMedicalCenter. If you must sip a hot beverage, try herbal tea, green tea with its anti-oxidant factors, or rooibos tea which has even more anti-oxidant power than green tea and both have much less caffeine than coffee to avoid the highs and lows that coffee can bring on. Decaffeinated teas are also available. Make sure to look for those brands that are naturally decaffeinated and not chemically decaffeinated for the most healthful choice.
There are numerous studies about the positive affects of these teas such as helping us fight against cancer and preventing heart disease by helping lower our cholesterol. Why not try sipping hot water with lemon instead of coffee to help cleanse your system. Another great starter is an energy shake made with fruit, yogurt, tofu, milk, wheat germ, and juice to get your protein, carbs, fruit, fiber, and dairy in your system in an easily digestible form.
Fill your day with energy inserts, short breaks, breathing room, downtime, toys, and playful items that speak to you and that are appropriate or allowed in your workplace. Studies show that using colored pens, stickers, and getting creative will cause you to look forward to your daily planning sessions. When we plan our time better, we usually have more time to insert some energy into our schedule.
Turn your planner into an adult version of a coloring book and color-code your schedule to quickly see how balanced or unbalanced your life is. With a quick glance at your colorful calendar you can see immediately which color dominates or if they are in balance. Our eyes see color before they see words, so using different colors for personal, professional, meetings, deadlines, or other categories will save you time and eyestrain from reading all your activities. Plotting both personal and professional time slots in your palm pilot or day timer will help you schedule your day and keep you from becoming overscheduled, over-committed, and overwhelmed.
Recognize that you will need some downtime for your brain or your body after a taxing project and schedule the downtime into the project planning time. Insert pleasurable things into your day to help you practice safe stress and mark it on your calendar. Some clients have a family calendar on the refrigerator and use a different color for each family member on the master calendar for easier planning.
Professionalism can be playful – remember fun and effectiveness? Energy inserts could be candles, flowers, juggling, music, people, pets, art, free time, fresh air, or anything else which makes your smile or nourished your soul. Create your Fun Meter list and write down as many things as you can that make you smile and that you enjoy doing in your leisure time to practice safe stress.
Taking several joy breaks daily can liven up your life. Look at photos, stretch, call a friend, turn on music, have fresh flowers, walk outside, or move your body to release the tension and get your left and right brain integrating more effectively. Research shows that those who plan for daily joys can cope with stress much better than those who don’t. Become aware of what brings you joy and create moments in your routine to experience aspects of that positive feeling. Just thinking about joyful things brings positive physiological and psychological changes in your body.
Joy is a step beyond happiness; it is more active and animated than plain happiness. What joyful things are you putting into your life as an energy insert today? See Appendix A for more energy inserts to get you started on your own list. If you have trouble wondering what to do with an extra 15 minutes in your day, keep your list handy and start inserting some energy and joy into your day.
Take control of your immediate circle of influence. You don’t always have control over what comes your way, but you have the power to control your state of mind and reactions to whatever life hands you. When you change your mind, you change your energy, and when you change your energy, you change your life. Our thoughts turn into actions and our actions turn into habits and our habits turn into our character . . . so what are you thinking about?
You can also control your immediate physical environment. Give yourself an energy boost by hanging up cherished photos, or have a nice rug under your feet, play soft instrumental music to soothe your nerves, and have your space make a positive statement about who you are. What image do you want to portray with your space. Is it working for you or against you? Take control of your immediate environment whether it be your space, your thoughts, or your circle of friends. Our clutter is a symptom of our internal chaos – a visual of postponed decisions and procrastination. Is your environment telling others you have control or that you’re out of control? Take control over what you have the power over and let go of things that are out of your control to avoid undue energy drainage.
What is your function in life? Studies show that those who have a purpose, and are actively working towards achieving their goals, are happier than those who just show up for life each day. Set goals, change them, as your needs or situations change, and actively work on them. Do you have a mission statement and vision statement for creating your personal life as well as running your business or working in your organization? How does your professional function merge with your personal purpose? Writing down your goals, your purpose, and your function help to ingrain those visions into your subconscious to assist you in achieving them and giving you energy by looking forward to them. I’ve said it before in other posts – find your why that makes you cry and you’re on your way to living out your calling.
Anticipating and preparing for congruent personal and professional functions add energy and enthusiasm to your life. Knowing your function can give you the strength to face adversity in the world. Help increase your resilience to stress by choosing to align your workplace values with your personal values and purpose. When these two foundational things are congruent, you get the least stress and the most energy from the partnership. A playbook by Kathie Hightower called Your Enchanted Life: A Journal of Discovery & Delight at www.JumpIntoLife.net has tons of exercises and action steps to help you discover your function and what you really want. Spend some quiet time and meditate on your fuction and your why, then match that to how you can best serve. I find that being in nature helps me clear my head and clarify my thoughts.
Adults, in our infinite wisdom, think that children have short attention spans. Children know they are just shifting to a task that brings them more energy when they are getting drained from the task at hand. Shift from left-brain tasks such as budgeting and “administrivia” to right-brain-oriented tasks such as reading your mail, playing with a pet, or talking on the phone. Your productivity will increase and your mind will feel refreshed with this shift in gears. The same shift is needed when working on a right-brained creative project. If the ideas stop flowing, shift gears to something more mundane or something fun to give your brain a break.
Shifting your body also shifts your way of thinking and gives you a new perspective. Get up and move to jostle your body, jog your memory, and get that blood flowing to your brain to carry more vital oxygen to your cells upstairs. If you have been staring at a computer screen for too long, even shifting your gaze and your focus to something else will help with your energy.
Shift your tasks according to your body and brain rhythms to be more productive. If you are brain-dead after lunch, use the morning hours for creative tasks and the afternoon for less taxing projects. If you are not a morning person, then make sure your important meetings and difficult tasks are scheduled after your body wakes up and is alert enough to handle the task. Becoming more child-like, which is not to say childish, will give you more energy by going with the flow of energy and shifting your tasks, your brain, and your body to something that excites you and holds your attention.
Listen to your body and when it is fighting the urge, take a break and come back to your task when you are fresh. It will save you stress, mistakes, and mishaps. Sometimes you have to shift your space and move towards the Escape key to shake things up and shift into high gear. As I wrote this revision for my book Keys to Energize, I was floating aboard ship in the Caribbean harbor of St. Kitts to have the solitude I needed to think and type without interruption. Cruising solo having the world come to your balcony is a fantastic way to write and recharge. Take stock of your needs and figure out if you need to downshift or shift into high gear to charge up your energy.
Sometimes it’s a shift in thinking, a shift in perceptions, a shift in your environment, a shift in attitude, a shift in your belief system, or a shift in movement. It’s up to us to figure out the category, intensity, frequency, or duration of the shift for the most positive results.
Physically fleeing the scene of stress for a holiday restores personal energy. Sometimes all we have is a “holimoment” where we can purposefully escape into daydreams or meditation if we can’t physically escape to take a break. Americans lag far behind most of the world in reaping the rewards of longer vacations and time to escape the real world responsibilities.
Employers in Europe know the secret to having employees be refreshed, renewed, and recharged for more productivity is taking longer or more frequent holidays. Europeans average five weeks per year holiday time as compared to the paltry American two weeks annual vacation. If you are saving up those vacation days, or worse yet, losing them because they have expired, you are doing yourself, your family, and your colleagues a disservice by not giving them the best you can be at optimum performance levels.
We need a break to clear our minds and re-connect in order to perform at peak performance at other times. If you must hang around the office, surround yourself with items that bring back good memories or that state your affirmations boldly. Take a mental health break by gazing at your memorabilia while you wait on hold on the phone. (Research suggests we are on hold an average of 15 minutes/day or 60 hours/year). Fresh air and movement do wonders, as do office toys or a personalized treasure map of things you want to accomplish in your life.
Treasure maps are collages of pictures and words representing your desires, goals, or affirmations. These posters filled with cut and past magazine photos and headlines are a physical and mental reminder of what’s dear, and act as a magnet to attract you closer to your goals and aspirations. The more you use the powerful force of visualization; the imagery of your dreams becomes imbedded into your subconscious and you start behaving in a manner to elicit responses to move you towards your image. There have been numerous studies of athletes and performers using guided imagery and visualization to help them compete and win. When you start imagining the possibilities and show your brain concrete images, it sends your body signals to help make that image materialize.
Travel can generate excitement, adventure, intrigue, and other awesome feelings all rolled up into one package. Experience other cultures and new ways of life, or just get out of town for a weekend escape. We need this time for creative renewal in order to be our best to meet our challenges. Seeing how other cultures live gives us a fresh perspective on what may be out of kilter back home. Flexibility and an attitude of discovery go a long way in creating positive travel experiences. Where are you going next?