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Being OK with Being Alone

In this article we will focus on what we can do when ALONE, what good comes from being ALONE – how we think affects our life

We all will come to a point when we find ourselves ALONE. Some of us reading this have experienced life altering changes that end with us being ALONE.  Others of us have always been more ALONE than with others.  What can we do to understand how being ALONE is not only OK but it’s a good place as we learn about ourselves?

Have you experienced something that changed your life to being more ALONE?  There have been several times in my life that I found myself ALONE.  When my first marriage ended and I became a single mom, those shared custody weekends when my daughter was with her dad, I was ALONE for the first time.  Really ALONE!  With the advice of trusted friends and a mentor I took the time to evaluate my life, my motivations and beliefs.  This was one of the first times I thought about and learned about myself instead of just cruising on auto-pilot.

Are you able to see some benefits of being ALONE?  When I think back to that first time of being ALONE I remember thinking – yahoo, I can eat cereal for supper!  I have complete control of the remote, I can go to bed when I desire and I don’t have to change out of my pajamas today if I don’t want to.  Simple pleasures.  What are some of the benefits you are experiencing or have experienced from being ALONE?

How has being ALONE changed your life?  Are you more independent?  Do you find yourself being more introspective?  Do you have time to be reflective about your life?  If not, I highly recommend you find a mentor, counselor, friend or Life Coach to guide you in this introspection journey.  This is one of the things I love to do with folks as a Life Coach.  You can reach me by simply going to the Speak To Me page

When we find ourselves ALONE we can now – take time for introspection – what is that?  Taking time to reflect on our souls, our thoughts, what we value, our beliefs and our influences.

Our society does not put much stock in taking time to really look at ourselves, to reflect on what our beliefs are for ourselves….NOT just agreeing with others or joining “a group” mentality – but really taking ALONE time to search our heart, soul and mind.  For those who have a  belief in Jesus, we have an added bonus of having the written word of our faith to reflect on, to get to know, to memorize and put in our hearts.  This time of being ALONE lets us put things in perspective, aligning our priorities with our beliefs.

Corrie ten Boom, who lived through the atrocities of WW 11 writes, “I remember moments during WW 11 when suddenly there was an immediate threat to our lives during an air raid or in prison.  At that moment you saw everything from God’s point of view, and it gave you a totally different perspective, because you touched death and therefore eternity.  You saw that small things were small and big things were big.  You would see everything in the right proportions.”

How many of us take the time to look at things and put them in the right perspective or realign our priorities/values?  When we have ALONE time we are gifted with time to do this.

What are some questions you might ask yourself that would help you decide what your priorities, values, or beliefs are?   How about trying a couple of these questions:

What do I believe to be truth?

How does (any of my actions or thoughts) fit into that truth?

What do I feel important things/people/beliefs are?

What do I value?  Do I live what I value?

How much energy and focus do I give things that do NOT fit into my values?

How do I filter my thoughts when I am ALONE ?  Do I go through memories or events or relationships looking for the positive in those OR do I focus on the negative?

When we are ALONE we can take the proper time to reflect on these thoughts…..run them through the filter of our beliefs.  If we are linked in our thoughts to our belief system we have those filters written for us.

As a Christian I have Philippians 4:8 for a filter – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 What is your filter?  How do you let thoughts come into your head and make their way to your heart?  This is an important step as you evaluate, discover, realize, question, decide what you believe.  As a general rule – how we ACT comes directly from how we THINK.  When we have the ALONE time to think, question, reflect and prioritize we are able to ACT out of those beliefs.

One of the beautiful thoughts I believe for myself and others – “It’s NOT too late to change”.  If after reflecting a little, you don’t like what you are realizing about yourself, how you are living out or NOT living out your priorities, values and more ….maybe that is a reason you are ALONE – change it!!  How you might ask?  Again, with your mentor, counselor, friend or Life Coach you can see the possibilities and get started on a path of living a more positive, meaningful and productive life.  Feel free to reach out at the Speak To Me  page.

Research tells us that being a positive, optimistic person can influence areas of our life such as:

Overall health and well-being

Mortality and longevity

Infections

Greater achievement and performance

Greater ability to meet goals – and to set goals

Clinical issues like depression and anxiety

Relationship success and satisfaction

Stress and recovery from illness

After you have taken the time to reflect during your ALONE time, do you find yourself on the positive or negative side of things?  Do you have HOPE in the future or do you dread the future?  Are the people around you more positive or lean towards the negative?  How you see things and who you associate with, effects your positive or negative thoughts.  I’m not suggesting that positive thinking helps everything become awesome, however, we know again through research that, optimism and positive thinking can change your life.

If you have the choice – do you enjoy spending time with negative thoughts or positive thoughts?  Why?  Do you think OTHERS want to spend time with negative or positive people?

For a start, look at these tips to become more positive – even an optimist.

  1. Optimistic thinking is NOT the same as being in denial.  Denial says that everything is FINE.  We all know, that is far from the case sometimes.  Optimism embraces reality and says that although things might be really bad today, they will get better eventually and will work out.
  2. Optimism and faith are much related. Faith says that although I might not get, or did not get, the outcome that I desire, God is God, He still loves me and whatever He is doing will be for my good.
  3. When bad things happen check ourselves for our interpretation of the events. Optimists see a bad occurrence or event as not meaning something about THEM ,“I’m a loser.”  Instead positive thinkers see it as a bad outcome that is based on factors besides themselves, like timing, random circumstances….etc. – they do not see it as something to be generalized but something specific – “That meeting didn’t turn out” RATHER than – “ALL meetings I go to will never work out”.  AND they do not see bad outcomes as something that will be the outcome always.
  4. Optimism comes from taking little steps and achieving success in small increments….then you believe for the future. Do NOT say – “I’m going to have the biggest garden this summer.” But rather – “I’m going to enjoy the seeds I’m planting in this container this Summer.” When you set realistic goals, you are doing growth, one little step at a time.
  5. Do not let your past say discouraging things to you. What did you learn and change from that experience.  Many people who are very successful had a LOT of failure first.  Ask for forgiveness if necessary, change the behavior, learn from it and move on.
  6. Optimism or Positive thinking can be learned! To change and become positive surround yourself with positive things, books, your bible, people that believe in you.  You cannot learn positive thinking from pessimists….they only know negative thoughts.  Find people, resources – a place of worship that helps you in your quest to be more positive!  If you need help, please contact me by going to the Speak To Me  page.

Thanks to Women of Faith  for some of the Positive Tips.

Do you think changing is possible?  Have you been around people who are positive?  How did that make you feel?  Did their positivity rub off on you?  What did you think about those people when you left the situation?

Have you been around those who have a negative filter for life?  How did that make you feel?  Did their negativity rub off on your and how you were thinking/acting?  What did you think about that experience when you left those folks?

We/you have the opportunity to change from a negative thinking person – if that is how you look at the world, to a positive – more optimistic person.  The choice is yours.  If you desire a change, or want to discover your values, beliefs and purpose and want help, please contact me by completing the Speak To Me  page.  I would enjoy working with you.  Feel free to leave a comment or your thoughts on this article.  We do reserve the right to edit comments before publishing.

Our next article will be discussing ALONE vs LONELY.  Until then, have a blessed day and take some time to discover a bit about yourself!

 

 

 

 

What?  It’s a new year?  Let’s work together to do something different!

Have you noticed there have been a lot of lists for starting something in the new year?  Lists that tell you…..what to do, when to do it, why you do it……10  steps to a better _____, the first 3 things to do to have a better____, what your spouse needs from you, what you need from your job…..and many more.  Are your inboxes filled, newsfeeds rolling with ideas, tweets, retweets, posts, reposts and on and on.  Have you found yourself asking – But what to work on first?  What area to focus on?  What is going to be the best for you?  Who is going to do it with me?  Should I do it all alone? And then finding yourself yelling, “STOP, I can’t make up my mind, so I’m not going to do any of it!” You are not alone.

What I love about this time of year is the strong intention we all have to make an improvement.  Whether that improvement is in our physical, spiritual, mental, relationships or emotional areas of life, we want to have “it” be better or at least different than it is now.  I’ve heard from some that the options are too many, the work is too hard or the project is JUST TOO BIG.  So, they just won’t do any of it!  Why even try? They tell me, I will be doing the same thing over and over again without getting any different results.  Well, that may be true if we continue to start but not finish, if we don’t have anyone to help us along the way, or if we have started to work on something that really doesn’t fit with our values, life or situation.

If this sounds familiar maybe you need a little guidance.  I would welcome the chance to explore what you want to change, improve or stop doing.  Over this past year I have been privileged to coach people in many different areas of life.  We’ve worked through job changes, job loss and career changes.  I’ve been able to coach couples to learn new communication skills and practices to deepen their relationship.  Several are working through past belief’s that have held them hostage to ways of behavior that are not honoring who they are or who they desire to be.  Others have felt a nudge to do something in their life, but had difficulty clarifying that “something”, together we worked through finding their gifts, values and what they have been called to do.  It’s been an exciting year of growth, discovery, challenges and changes!  Are you ready?  I would be honored to coach you through changes, improvements, challenges and new discoveries, let’s do this together. Let’s make 2015 different!   Please go to the Speak To Me page and we’ll start together.  We can work together in person, by phone, through SKYPE, individually, as a couple or even as a group.  The first step is to reach out!

Blessings to you on this new year!

Looking for a way to feel better?  SERVE someone else!

Have you thought about why you feel so much better when you are serving someone else?  Have you ever felt the warm “fuzzy’s” after blessing someone with a favor or kind deed?  Have you found yourself the recipient of someone else’s gift of serving?  What is it that they have?  Why do they seem happier and/or healthier?  It has been studied and proven that when we are serving others, giving, caring, doing for another…not only is the recipient blessed but we feel better too!

Do you realize it’s not just the way we think that is impacted by serving, it’s physical and emotional too!  Several studies have found that not only does serving others cause mood improvements but it has health benefits as well.  Giving helps you overcome stress – your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps you buffer stress while increasing social trust and tranquility – the “compassion hormone” as it has been labeled helps limit exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, says Stephanie Brown from Stony Brook University, New York.  Stacey Curnow, creator of Midwife for Your Life, says about experiencing a release of oxytocin, “It’s a self-perpetuating cycle! After a positive exchange, more oxytocin is released and we are even more likely to reach out and interact with others in a cooperative and nurturing manner.”

Other studies have found that those who serve live longer. A study by Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD at the University Of Minnesota School Of Social work, showed that seniors who gave 100 hours or more annually lived 22 percent longer than seniors who did not serve others.  And one of the beautiful findings is that it’s not just seniors or adults, but young children, even toddlers.  A study by Aknin, Hamlin and Dunn: Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children, found that given a choice toddlers are happier when they share with others, even if it is at a cost to themselves.  WOW!!

Additional health benefits are pain relief, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and discomfort.   If you want to manage your pain serve others dealing with the same or similar pain.  A study done by Paul Arnstein, PhD, specialist in pain relief at Massachusetts General Hospital found when people suffering with chronic pain helped others with the same ailment, they reported feeling less discomfort themselves and recognized the positive effect they had on others in the same situation.  Which then gave them a greater sense of purpose.  I know this is true from personal experience in the MS world.  A group of 20 and sometimes more of us who battle MS work out together at a gym.  We all come with differing levels of physical ability, we raise the level of JOY in the room simply by cheering each other on and/or challenging each other to try new things.  It’s amazing and very heartwarming!  Each of us are improving our health by increasing our stamina, challenging our bodies to do more AND having fun being supported by each other.  We have a group of dedicated volunteers that come weekly to record our progress, encourage and challenge us.  Ask any of those volunteers why they serve – you get an answer of how they are inspired and motivated by those they are serving.

Another study in the journal of Psychology and Aging found adults over the age of 50 who reported volunteering at least 200 hours in the past year were 40 percent less likely than nonvolunteers to have developed hypertension four years later!  Researchers believe that the stress-reducing effects of being both active and altruistic helped the volunteer’s lower blood pressure. And we find from another source that, raising our oxytocin hormone level limits our exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, from Stephanie Brown, PhD Stony Brook University, New York.

What do we do with all of this? How can we impact our health and mood?  I firmly believe we look for opportunities to SERVE!  To help us remember, give a few more reasons and a couple of simple suggestions, let’s look at serving this way.

SERVE

S – Simply Smile at others.  Anyone can do it and it’s contagious!  Go ahead, give it a try next time you are at the grocery store, in your neighborhood or at church.  Simply Smile and see what happens.  Serving can be THAT easy!

E – Excite others and invite them to serve with you.  If you are getting all the health benefits of lower blood pressure, higher levels of the “compassion hormone” and living longer….invite others to experience the same with you!

R – Renew your HEALTH by serving – Have a chronic issue?  Find a group or organization that serves others like you and SERVE them.  It could be as easy as a phone call checking in with them, leading a group, doing a visit, running errands….but whatever you do for others, you will be surprised how that makes YOU feel healthier – like mentioned earlier….you can step out of your pain, anxiety or mild depression by serving others living with the same issue.

V – Volunteer – Give of your time, talent or resources and just wait to see the results!  If it’s a cause you believe in, you will reap the benefits we’ve listed earlier and others as well!  If you don’t believe results from research, then do your own!  Take time to find an organization, ask at your church, research on-line or stop by a Community Center and see what they need.  Can you fit that need?  Give it a little time and if you are volunteering out of caring – NOT obligation – you will reap the health benefits listed and help others!!

E – Even financial contributions make us feel better.   Remember after 911, the tsunami in Japan, or any big catastrophe that has a way to contribute financially– even anonymously?  People JUMPED at the chance, the mood in the country was of charity.  I would bet your oxytocin hormone level would elevate!  A study done at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that employees who spent a greater portion of bonuses they had received on others or made charitable donations with it reported greater happiness than those who spent more of the bonus on themselves.  Give it a try!

If you are thinking that you would like to find your niche or to discover what it is you are meant to do, I would enjoy working with you!  You can simply go to the  Speak To Me  page and contact me.  We can together help you clarify your values, discover your strengths/gifts and guide you on the road to pursuing your purpose!

I would LOVE to hear your serving stories and how it not only benefited those you served, but how your health has improved.  Please share your story in the comments section.

Until next time, be blessed and BE a blessing!

 

 

When the Outside looks Good…but…What is in the Inside?

We recently took a walk in our favorite local park.  We were saddened to see that the BIG oak tree had fallen and lay cut in pieces to be taken away.  This tree, by our semi-scientific calculations, was over 250 years old.  What we loved about this tree is it stood so majestically at the bottom a hill flanked by benches for storytelling time, waving its beautiful branches in the wind.  But, as we investigated a bit, the core of the tree was rotted away.  Hmmm, without the tree being down and cut, we would not have seen the rotted inside.  There were probably signs previous to it falling, like branches falling off more frequently, maybe some insects running up and down its bark, or a large number of acorns being produced in the last year….which we learned from a tree “guy” is a sign that the tree is in distress.  Whatever the little signs might have been we missed them and were surprised to find this majestic oak tree down.

What does this have to do with anything but an old oak tree falling?  I think it has a lot of similarities to how we are at times.  We put on a good front when inside we are crying out for something.  Others may look great on the outside but suffer from disease.  Or we look great, strong and powerful on the outside but inside we are feeling empty, lonely or depressed.  What can be done to prevent our insides from “rotting” away and causing us to fall from the discord inside of us?  If we are not feeling well or feeling like something just isn’t right, we can go to a doctor.  They have been gifted with wisdom and have access to many tools to look inside to see what might be wrong.  When we get a diagnosis, we can then start the treatment to get better, from the inside out!  We have friends who recently lost someone special in their life, he ignored signs of something being wrong and finally when the symptoms became debilitating he went to a doctor.  “The cancer is too advanced, there is nothing we can do.  I’m sorry,” was the diagnosis.  How terribly sad for all involved.

I know from my own experience that something was wrong with my body several years ago.  That strange numbness and tingling was on my left side and now going to the right side.  MRI’s were ordered and when we saw the lesions on my spine and in my brain we knew we were dealing with MS.  Treatment with medication, eating well and exercising, I feel healthier than I ever have before.  We found the issue and we have made plans to address it.  In the next article, we will deal with times when the inside is good, but the outside doesn’t perform or look as good…..another topic completely…stay tuned.

What about those of us who are crying on the inside.  Eventually your outside will show what is on the inside.  No it won’t Chris, I’ve hidden it for years, you might be thinking.  I have to disagree with you.  When we fake health, whether that be physical, emotional or spiritual it WILL come out!  Maybe we try to cover it up with alcohol, keeping our relationships at surface level, or we have practices of coping we do in private.  Whatever we are doing to hide it, cover it up or push it to the back of our mind, it is making us sick – rotting on the inside.  What can be done?  Plenty!  If you are ready to change, heal and live a fuller life!  You can visit a counselor who can work with you to discover the root of your inside trouble and help you heal.  You can seek out a recovery group that can help you address the issues you are covering up with other things.  You can reach out to someone that you trust who can walk with you on this journey of healing from the inside out.  The important step is to start!

Okay, you might be saying, Chris I am healthy, I have a good life, but I do sometimes feel like there is more to life, I’m just not sure what or if it’s just silly for me to think that way.  I’m not really rotting on the inside, but I do feel like there is something missing.  There are some things you too can do!  If you are feeling unfulfilled in your job, relationships, marriage, or spiritual life, there are things you can do to help you find the missing piece or pieces.  Are you in a job that fits with your values or do you struggle every day as you prepare for going to work with questions or worse – dread?  Do the people in your life share your beliefs and values?  Are they helping you grow?  Have you helped them grow?  Are you deepening your understanding of what you believe spiritually? Are you living out what you are learning?  Would others be able to acknowledge what you believe by the way you behave?  There are things you can do to become healthier on the inside, how you can find those missing pieces and how you can live a more purposeful fulfilled life.  Find someone you trust and open up to them about your concerns of feeling empty.  Search for guidance from a coworker, leader in your church, family member or friend you trust.  You can also receive guidance from a counselor or Life Coach.  I would be honored to talk with you about your desired next step or help you discover your next step, simply go to the Speak To Me page and we can connect.  Together we can discover, grow and develop your purpose.  You will bless yourself and those around you!  Whatever you choose to do, I ask you to DO SOMETHING.  Your inside and your outside can match, your life can be driven by your purpose and values…..a fulfilled life!

If you are aware of someone who would benefit from this article please feel free to pass it along and/or share.

 

Change is………….

We experience change every day, change is a constant in life. The weather changes, seasons change, the moon’s phases change, people change and so do we. At times we feel we are “forced” to change through circumstances, whether they are our own doing or things we feel are “out of our control”. Depending on how we think we can look at change as opportunity to grow, a blessing or even a new opportunity in our life. It’s what we DO with change that impacts our life. We can be proactive, choosing to make changes that help us grow, taking actions that fit our values to better our lives, OR, we can choose to let circumstances dictate our lives. After living in a mindset of “just letting things happen” and moving to value driven changes in my life, I know where I want to be!

Several years ago I was invited to join a group that was doing a weight loss study. Mind you, I was large, I outweighed many NFL offensive line players. I knew I would always be a big girl and that was confirmed by the generations of large folks in my family. Why try to make a change, I’m predestined to be big….that’s how it’s been, the cards I was dealt. The new group started, I was so sure it would not work, I did not purchase the study materials until 3 weeks into the session. By week 6, I did start to lose weight, I was changing the way I thought – why I ate, how I cooked, and purchased food! I actually started to set goals and each goal that I achieved I set a new one. It was a LOT of change but it was GREAT! I was able to be more active, I felt better, others were inspired and joined me and we all succeeded. That step to join the group changed the way I thought about food, physical activity and more, even today! I’m still learning, still looking at ways to change my eating and exercise habits and hopefully, still inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle. I had no idea I valued the ability to be more active or that I valued helping others achieve their goals. What an exciting new opportunity!

In their book, Change Is Good…You Go First, Mac Anderson & Tom Feltenstein remark – “Change can be a wonderful gift. In fact, it is the key that unlocks the doors to growth and excitement in any organization.” I would add, change is a wonderful gift in each of our lives especially when we believe that changes do make life better, and can help us be more aligned with our values.

Are you thinking of making a change in your lifestyle, family time, personal time or even in your career….how does that make you feel? Does the possibility give you a feeling of excitement? Or, when you think of making a change does it bring up more questions, more angst or even dread? If the latter is the case, the changes you are preparing to make may not be in alignment with your values.

Changes you make that are aligned with your values will most likely succeed. However, if you are making a change that is not in alignment with your values, that will be a struggle. Are you more inclined to make a change that fits your values? More importantly, do you know your values? If you were to sit down and write your top 3 values could you do it? Again, if you are making a change that is not in alignment with what you value, it probably won’t be a change that you are able to keep or even want to keep!

Defining your values will help you make positive changes, will help you in everyday decisions AND it will help you be more intentional in life which will help you find your purpose! I would enjoy working with you to explore, identify and define your values. Your thoughts, changes, goals, life and purpose will be more enjoyable, clear and successful.

Please go to the Speak To Me page, complete the easy form and let’s see how working together will impact your life!

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