Gratitude is boring: revive your lifeless practice today

gratitude photo

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Having a gratitude practice is a bit “in vogue” right now. From celebrities to self-help books, people are claiming that gratitude helps you feel happy, attract a mate, reduce stress, and even prevent disease!
 
The advice varies. Some say to write down three things you are grateful for in the morning. Others to tell your partner something you are grateful for before you go to bed at night. Some believe that TELLING the person that you’re grateful for them to their face is needed to get the benefits, or that you have to put in to writing what and why you are grateful. And, ok, I’ll admit it, I’m guilt of the same thing – when I begin working with new wellness coaching clients, I have them write down 3 things they are grateful for at the end of each day.

I am here for you

following your intuition photo

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

“The greatest gift we can give someone else is our presence”. I agree – true listening can be powerful. It helps us connect more deeply with those around us. It helps us to anticipate needs and respond appropriately. Most importantly, true presence ensures that the other person actually feels listened to.
 
But how often do we extend the same courtesy to ourselves? The last few newsletters have centered about knowing when to detach from the emotions of a situation and redirect your course, but those strategies aren’t useful if you aren’t aware of what emotions and reactions you experience in the first place. In order to detach and redirect, you first have to see the link between a situation you experience and your response, yet many of us fail to pick up on those connections.
 

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh offers the following mantra as a path to true happiness: “My darling, I am here for you”. Thich Nhat Hanh says to employ this message when you are with someone you love in order to experience your true presence, and to show this presence to others, so they are also able to experience your genuine devotion and listening. All you have to do is take a breath in, say this message, and feel it’s truth to get the full power of the mantra.
 
I think this mantra can be just as powerful when we use it with ourselves. You can take a deep breath in, and say – “I am here for you” (the darling is optional, though it does feel nice). And then exhale. On your next inhale, “I am here for you”, and exhale, feeling the truth of that statement. You repeat this as many times as you wish, finding joy in that acknowledgment that you are fully present for yourself.
 
Giving ourselves care and attention is the critical step that allows us to both hear and interpret the signals our gut or intuition is sending us.
 
A great example of this phenomenon came from my friend Reid. She was talking about how she used to drive home at the end of a long day and tell herself that she “deserved” a hot chocolate because of whatever had happened. In her mind, it wasn’t that she wanted the hot chocolate, rather, it was her right to have it. Reid has since gone on to start her own bicycling apparel company, and no longer feels that sense of urgency to reward herself for a stressful day. “Since I’ve started doing what I love, it is less important that I indulge in these phantom emptiness fillers.”
 
Reid was able to go from being overstressed and blind to the ways she tried to compensate for unhappiness to being aware and able to make conscious decisions about how she generates fulfillment in her life. How does this happen?
 
By truly listening. By being present with and for yourself.
 
So if you have been looking for signs to guide your decisions and just not finding them….check in. Can you say “I am here for you” and truly believe it? Perhaps it’s time to start listening a little more.
 
And now I’d love to hear from you. How do you experience a “gut feeling” or intuition? Go on and leave a comment down below. It might just help someone else who is struggling to find their intuition and voice.

 
  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day, samantha attard sig
 
 
 
 
 
This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 
More weekend wisdom posts you may enjoy:

 


samantha attard healthSamantha Attard is a wellness coach and yoga instructor helping individuals bring health and energy to their careers, families, and communities. She also works with companies to improve employee engagement and wellness. Learn more about her blog and business here.

 

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Quiet the mind chatter for good

quiet your mind photo

Image courtesy of janeheller.com

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

Do you ever just wish your brain would turn off? So many of us walk around with a constant stream of consciousness bubbling through our heads. We’re analyzing the past, predicting the future, checking off to-do list items, and thinking thinking thinking about how to solve problems.
 
This last weekend, I was talking with my dear friend Jess about the brain chatter, and particularly how we both have a hard time getting out of our brains to make the decisions that we truly want and need to make.
 
“Aha!” Jess exclaimed, as she realized why our minds love to jump in and help us problem solve, even when we don’t need or want it to join the party. Our high-achieving brains always jump in because they’ve done such great work in the past.
 
Our brains have helped us ace tests in school. Allowed us to anticipate others’ needs. Helped us find gaps in the marketplace, to convince others of our position, and to create – whether it be music, art, a product, or the written word. Our brains have done so much for us in the past, that of course it’s the first place we turn when we need some problem solving help.
 
“Maybe it’s time to find a new solution.” I said, acknowledging the fact that getting angry or putting our fingers in our ears and shouting “I can’t hear you!!” doesn’t seem to be working.

3 surprising reasons you’re having that food craving

food craving photo
You know the feeling. You’re innocently going about your day when suddenly – all you can think about is food. You’re seriously consumed with the thought of “what is the next thing I can get in my belly?” All thoughts about the report you’re writing, the meeting your attending, or what your friend is saying goes to the wayside.

 

In my experience, these sudden-onset cravings often come as a surprise. Sometimes they appear just one short hour after lunch, or in the midst of a rather indulgent holiday or weekend. There’s no reason why I should be hungry, yet I can’t deny that my brain is fully focused on priority number one: food.

 

I experienced the surprise cravings a lot during my recent (food-filled) trip to Savannah, Georgia, so I began to investigate: why was I feeling hungry if I had enough calories?

 

What I found was 3 surprising reasons why you may feel hungry, even if you’re eating enough calories. If you’ve ever fought with yourself over whether you truly are hungry and need food, or if you’re just having a craving, you need to read on!

How to keep focused on your mission

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

Have you ever found yourself doggedly working for a specific goal, only to wake up one morning asking yourself “how did I get here?” So often, we get caught up in the minutiae of our current project that we lose sight of our overarching goal or mission.
 
The same thing can happen in our personal lives – we get caught up in cleaning up the dinner dishes, driving kids to soccer practice, getting up going to work coming home going to sleep that our actions lose their intended meaning.
 
This is a dangerous place to be. When we lose sight of the overarching goal or mission, we stop making the best decisions. We choose what looks best at the moment, we determine the most reasonable, practical decision, instead of what ultimately serves our project or life best.
 
If on the other hand, you keep your eye on the prize, it’s so much easier to stay on your path. Sure, you may make minor calibrations, but you lose the need for major overhauls. It saves time, money, and sanity.
 
So how do you keep your eye on the grand prize, even when you’re caught in the weeds?
 

1.Make sure you know your mission from the beginning.

Whether large or small, at some point in the life of your project you have to justify to yourself (and potentially to others) why you are doing what you are doing.
 
Who are you serving, and what is the value of what you are doing? Name your why, as Simon Sinek says, and make sure your product or project solves a problem. If you’re naming a why for your family – what are your core values for your time together? Rally the troops, whether it’s colleagues, family, or friends, and figure out why it is you do what you do.
 

2.Make sure you know what your mission is NOT.

Amazingly, knowing what you’re not doing or what you don’t stand for can be just as important as knowing what you do. No project or product solves every problem or addresses everyone’s needs, so what are purposefully not addressing?
 
Naming what you’re not is one of the most important boundaries you can set, because inevitably, someone will ask why you’re not adding a certain feature or addressing a certain need. You need to know why you aren’t you running and swimming or why you choose to bring store-bought food to the potluck. If you’re not clear on what you’re not, you’ll end up living other people’s values instead of your own. You end up diluting your mission and message.
 

3. Regularly reassess.

This might be daily, weekly, or monthly. Take a moment to look at your main mission and ask yourself if what you are doing still supports that mission. Make sure that the mission still feels right to you, and still addresses your core values.
 
These periodic assessments are what ensures that you stay on track, and that if you have to make adjustments, they are small.
 

4. Keep your mission always accessible.

This could take the form of pop-ups on your phone, post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, artwork, a bracelet, or a phrase you always repeat.
 
You want to know your main mission. You want to keep it continuously showing up in front of you, so that when something tough happens, when you want to turn back, when things aren’t going well – you know why you’re here.
 
When you keep reminding yourself about your why, all potential decisions are filtered through that core mission. It simplifies your decision making process, and ultimately means you spend less time fixing mistakes or re-doing.
 
Imagine with me for a minute: imagine that you get to strip away all the things from your life you are just doing “because”. Imagine that you get to simplify your job description to the things that bring you meaning and value. Imagine that you don’t have to spend time going back and forth, trying to decide what you should focus on next.
 
Instead, imagine going to bed feeling powerful and satisfied. Imagine that you go through your entire day with a sense of “flow”, knowing that your actions add value and are enjoyable. You suddenly have time to forget the overwhelm, and start focusing on the now.
 
We make a million tiny decisions each day that either bring us closer or farther away from our main mission. Choose carefully.
 
I’d love to hear what strategies you use to stay rooted in your why – in the comments below, share one thing you do to keep yourself focused on your overarching goal.

  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day, samantha attard sig
 
 
 

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

More weekend wisdom posts you may enjoy:

 


samantha attard healthSamantha Attard is a wellness coach and yoga instructor helping individuals bring health and energy to their careers, families, and communities. She also works with companies to improve employee engagement and wellness. Learn more about her blog and business here.

Receive exclusive health tips & free weekly updates delivered straight to your inbox.

A simple trick to recapture wasted time

Photo by @qyosaurus & @etrosie


 

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

I was at the ready: pencils sharpened and to-do list in hand. I had just returned off my flight from Brazil, and I knew what I was supposed to do with my Thursday morning: get back to work.
 

I stared at my computer. And then stared some more. My brain was trying so hard to get working, but there was like an impenetrable fog around my entire head. I continued making attempts at writing paragraphs, answering emails, anything that I could claim was “productive”. And finally, after doing battle for an hour, I admitted defeat, and I climbed into bed.
 

Do you ever do this too? Have a “should” so stuck in your head that even when all signs are claiming “NO WAY, JOSE. TURN AROUND.” you still persist, trying to keep your course? It certainly happens to me. And I’ve found that usually if we are battling ourselves and going against every sign our bodies or minds are giving us, eventually something happens to force us into retreat.
 

For me this week – that force came in the form of incredible cold thing that rattled my chest and gave me a pounding headache whenever I tried to move too fast. The cold stopped me in my tracks, even if I didn’t want it too.
 

But most of the time, we receive more subtle signs that we need to change course. The slight queasiness when you go to a party you didn’t want to attend. The knowledge in your gut that a partnership doesn’t make sense. The understanding before you go on a run that today’s just not your day – try again tomorrow.
 

We hate to turn back though. Perhaps it’s stubbornness, perhaps it’s the desire for a sense of control, often it’s just that we have already put some effort in to the activity or relationship, and the idea of letting that work go feels wasteful.
 

But what is more troublesome? Having past effort that is for naught, or continuing on a path that brings more struggle than ease? Jack Kornfield provides this interpretation of a Buddhist teaching: “the trouble is, you think you have time.”
 

 

When we think we have time, we are more willing to spend it on things that don’t matter, on hitting our heads against a wall, of pushing a project to completion.

 

So if you endeavor to move forth without wasting time – ask yourself this simple question: If you forget about the time you already have spent – if you forget about the past, and if you just had this moment to go forward – what would you do with your time? Forget your routine from yesterday, or your plans for tomorrow. What is calling to you right now?
 

If we can take time out of the equation and simply go based on what we need at this moment, we spend our time better. We stop fighting the shoulds. We let go of the “investment” we have already made, and we do what calls to our mind and soul right now. And if we string together these moments, always acting from our current needs and desires, we find that all of our time is well spent.

 

This week, I learned that fighting the moment right in front of me is futile, and as always, I endeavor to do better in the future. But I’m curious – have you ever continued on a course you knew was wrong, simply because you already had spent time on that path? Why or how did you eventually change direction? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.
 

  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day, samantha attard sig
 
 
 

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

More weekend wisdom posts you may enjoy:

 


samantha attard healthSamantha Attard is a wellness coach and yoga instructor helping individuals bring health and energy to their careers, families, and communities. She also works with companies to improve employee engagement and wellness. Learn more about her blog and business here.

Receive exclusive health tips & free weekly updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Interview with an Entrepreneur: Chad Myers

Running a business and still making time for yourself is not easy. There are always more ideas to test, work to be done, and people to meet with.

 

Is it possible to be a successful entrepreneur and still eat well and exercise? How do you balance healthy living with productivity and business success? I went out to find entrepreneurs and members of the start-up community who are working hard and living well so that we can learn from their successes and struggles in building a healthy business and life.

 

First up is my good friend Chad Myers.

Chad is the founder of Lexercise in Raleigh, NC, and knows the importance of good health. Take it away…

Turn your one day dream into today’s reality

achieve your dreams today photo

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 
Do you have a case of the one-days?
 
One day I’ll be happier. One day I’ll start working out. One day I’ll get more organized. One day….
 
What is your “one day”? Why is it not “today”? Most of us would say that we’ll do something one day not because we fear the effort or lack motivation, but because we simply don’t have time.

Road Snacks: Kale & Quinoa Travel Bites Recipe

healthy snacks for travel photoHello Friends!

This week I’m off to Brazil for the Global Healthy Workplace Awards and Summit. I’m very excited for the conference and opportunity to visit Brazil again – I traveled to São Paulo last summer and fell in love with the culture and the country.

What I am not looking forward to is 15+ hours of travel to get there. Luckily, I have some podcasts to catch up on, books to read, and the perfect snack ready to go. These delicious treats are filled with eggs, quinoa, and chickpeas for tons of protein, and the kale sneaks in a good dose of greens.

Transform negative emotions to find clarity

This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.

 

What do you do when a negative emotion arises? Unfortunately, most of the strategies we use are not very good at helping us move past those emotions. Some of us ignore the sadness and put on a happy face, perhaps you talk to yourself about why your anger is justified, or get stressed about your stress. I am a classic ruminator, telling myself a story over and over in my head about what I am feeling and why I shouldn’t let it go. But I’ve been using a new strategy that has completely changed how I deal with my negative emotions to lessen their impact on my life.
 

When I feel anger, sadness, anxiety, I start to act like an annoying five-year-old in the back seat of a car on a 10-hour road trip to Disney land. “But why?” I ask myself. And then the rational, adult part of my brain has to answer. “But why?” – the five-year-old persists.

 
I continue on and on like this. Explaining and refining my definition of my emotion until I uncover the true core feeling behind it. The fascinating thing I discovered is that most of my surface emotions – the anger or sadness – tend to truly be caused by fear. These other emotions were just my reactions to the true, root fear.

 

Most of us focus on the surface emotion we are experiencing. Each surface emotion is like a weed popping up in reaction to the specific situation we are facing right now. The surface emotions come up again and again in different locations. But once you start to tug on those weeds by asking “why?”, you start to discover that they belong to a deeper root system. You realize that the same fear can underlie many of the negative emotions you experience on a daily basis.

 

Uncovering the true root fear is key to moving past your negative emotions. If you don’t know what the root fear is, you simply continue to react with those negative surface emotions when you are triggered. If you know your root fear, you get to decide: is this fear justified? If it is – thank goodness you discovered it! Time to change your situation. If the fear is not justified, you can take means to start dispelling that fear and the cause of your negative emotions.
 

As an example, I was experiencing some anger this week with my dissertation because of some unexpected additional work.
 

Rather than grumbling to myself or manically canceling other meetings and obligations, I asked myself – why am I angry? Following this line of questioning, I realized that I was upset that I might not hit all of my deadlines for the week. I realized that this anger spilled into worry that I wouldn’t make my deadlines for finishing my dissertation. And that worry led to a fear of having to work so hard that I cut out things in my life I need to be happy and healthy – yoga, meditation, quiet time by myself, the opportunity to see friends….
 

My anger was not really about that work as much as it was a fear of not taking care of myself. I know that I have the tendency to overdo it, prioritizing others before myself, and my fear was simply my body sending up warning shots that it was not the time to ignore my personal health and wellness.
 

Uncovering my true fear, I was able to soften in my original anger. I was able to acknowledge the vulnerable place that my fear was coming from, and take means to correct the actual problem instead of the surface anger. In the end, I didn’t have to cancel my meetings or work huge extra hours, but instead be more intentional about my alone time.
 

If you want to use this strategy in your own life – find a latent anxiety or anger in your mind, and start to ask why. Follow that emotion down a rabbit hole, and you may find that the surface weed leads you to the root fear.
 

Once you find that root fear – how can you nurture it? How can you alleviate the pain that the fear is causing in your life? Of course, you may not dispel it once and for all in one try, each time you nurture that pain instead of focusing on the surface emotion, you lessen it’s strength over you.
 

I have found this process truly extraordinary in helping me work through negative emotions, and I hope it does the same for you. Do you think that fear could be underlying some of your negative emotions? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day, samantha attard sig

 

 

 
This post originally appeared in my free weekly newsletter that’s filled with tips and tools to keep you living well every day. If you liked this post, and want to have more messages like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here! Thanks.
 

More weekend wisdom posts you may enjoy:


samantha attard healthSamantha Attard is a wellness coach and yoga instructor helping individuals bring health and energy to their careers, families, and communities. She also works with companies to improve employee engagement and wellness. Learn more about her blog and business here.

 

Receive exclusive health tips & free weekly updates delivered straight to your inbox.