Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Are You Making It Harder Than It Is?

If we all let ourselves think that running was easy, would we do it more often?

"Marriage is hard."

It wasn't the first time I'd heard that line. Many a husband, wife—and even singleton—had declared it in my presence. But when I heard it a few weeks ago, my coaching siren immediately sounded.


Is it true that marriage can be a challenge? Absolutely. When you're in locked in wed, you have to live with the person day in and day out, through your moods and theirs, making compromises to maintain peace.

But letting your focus rest on a thought about anything being hard can make it feel even more difficult.  

A couple of years ago when we moved to our current house, my husband was still working in Los Angeles, and was only able to commute up on weekends. During the week, I was all alone in a slightly dilapidated house, missing my friends and my love, writing marketing materials for tech companies by day, taking care of chronically sick pets by night. Very quickly, my mental mantra became "Living here is SO HARD." I had a litany of evidence to support my frustrated story, so it played on repeat in my head.

The crappy side effect of this way of thinking was that as soon as my brain started telling me something was hard, my body felt exhausted. The thought drained my energy and made me want to crumple to the floor and be spoon-fed chicken soup until I could be convinced life was easy again.

Thinking something is hard makes it feel even harder. Even heavier.

Finally one day, I sat down and forced myself to turn my story around

"Living here is easy."

I wrote it in my journal and drafted a list of dozens of reasons why it was true—maybe even truer than the crappy story about how living in my new home was hard.

Guess what? I started to feel a little better. Though my outward circumstances hadn't changed at all, the change to my inner mental state made life feel less heavy.

I shared this example with the spouse who had commented on marriage being hard, and I think something clicked.

Marriage, moving, writing marketing copy—they can all be difficult.

But can they can also be easy.

It's all a matter of where we choose to stack our decks of evidence. And the truth is, unless you're willing to do something potentially drastic to change your "hard" situation, it doesn't serve you in any way to dwell in a place of distress.

Going from feeling crappy to happy can start with a simple one-word shift in your mental playlist. Goodbye, hard. Hello, easy.

So tell me—what feels like the biggest struggle for you right now? And why is it equally true that the thing you perceive as arduous could be effortless?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Greatest Gift for Anyone (Including You)

Last fall, I made the well-meaning decision to write each person in my immediate family a gratitude letter for Christmas.

I wanted to let them know why I was thankful to have them in my life. I wanted to bring them joy.

Also, I wanted to bring myself joy...

Actually sitting down to write each of the 11 letters was more difficult than I thought it would be. It felt like SUCH an undertaking.

I mean, how do you accurately express to someone the many reasons you're grateful for them? 

Turns out, it didn't matter.

All that mattered was that I did my best. And the beauty of it was that each time I pounded the keyboard trying to find the right words to thank these people, it filled me with such a feeling of happiness and fortune. The knowledge of how lucky I am to know each of them came flooding back. (Let's face it: Sometimes, we just forget.)

When I gave each relative their envelope on Christmas, I got a little of the the-crazy-life-coach-is-at-it-again look. Yet, days later, they contacted me telling me how I'd brought tears to their eyes or made them laugh or just made them feel valued.

Those reactions and the process of writing the letters were both pretty much bullet trains to Dopamineville. 

I felt like the letters were not only the best Christmas presents I could have given my relatives, but also the best gift I could have given myself.

At a time of year when most of us have to turn to another glass of wine to help tolerate our families, it felt so much better to celebrate them instead.

So if you're looking for an extra way brighten up your holiday this year, try documenting the reasons you're grateful for someone. 

Gratitude will getcha every time.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Secret to Happiness - Revealed

When was the last time you caught yourself in a moment of total happiness?

I can remember many times during my 20s, being on my way out to meet girlfriends, the stereo cranked in my car, that melded feeling of unknowing and endless possibility thumping in my chest. I would catch myself thinking I am so happy right now.

I felt so alive and so free just sitting behind the wheel of my Toyota.

Now, that same feeling creeps up on me when I set out on a hiking trail or spend the morning pulling weeds, listening to my chickens twittering back and forth. It happens when my husband and I try a new wine and watch each other's faces to try to guess what the other thinks. It shows up when I'm sitting around a table with family, listening to my parents tell a story I've never heard about something they did as teenagers.

Happiness pops up when allow myself to settle into the moment. When I'm fully consumed by the present.

According to a TED talk I recently listened to, that lost-in-the-moment feeling may in fact be the key to happiness. According to Matt Killingsworth, even when people are engaged in tedious activities like their morning commutes, they feel happier when they are fully present in traffic or on the train than when they let their minds wander.

It's reassuring that this small, widely and easily accessible step could be the key to maintaining a state of joy.

It means that happiness is right there with you, wherever you are. All you have to do is allow yourself to be in it. 

Check out Matt's talk below learn more about finding happiness. And be sure to stay fully present while you watch....

Monday, November 2, 2015

Start Your 30 Days of Gratitude

Last Christmas, I wrote each person in my immediate family a gratitude letter, telling them all the reasons why I was thankful to have them in my life. I can't lie: It was a time-consuming process. But each letter made me fall in love with its recipient all over again. I felt overwhelmed with joy every time I completed one.

That's the magic of gratitude—even if it's directed at someone else, it elevates you, too. It fills your heart right along with filling theirs. And with so much chaos and suffering in the world, I think we can all stand for a little heart-filling these days.

Being that it's the month of Thanksgiving, now is a perfect time to start practicing gratitude. I'll even give ya a little head start...

Download my 30 Days of Gratitude worksheet, free.

Happy gratituding to you.