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Archive for the ‘Tips and Tools for Life’ Category

How do you feel when someone gives you a compliment? How does it feel when someone puts you down?

A year and a half ago, a high school student in Iowa set up a Twitter account to focus on the good qualities in everyone at his school. Jeremiah Anthony recognized that social media is often used by bullies to make people feel bad about themselves. His approach does just the opposite. He posts sincere compliments about students and teachers.

He started by posting positive comments about friends and people he knew personally. They told other people and the movement grew.

The account description for @westhighbros reads, “Breathe in, breathe out. The original positive account.” And it has over 4800 followers. The tweets are always personalized to the individual, focusing on the person’s achievements, qualities and capabilities.

video was recently posted that provides more background about his initiative.

Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to change someone’s day for the better? What if each of us chose to give one compliment a day to people we know? How might that affect your home life? Your work place? Your community?

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When I wrote Dream BIGGER: Reclaiming a Life of Joy and Ease, I had the delightful task of interviewing six inspiring people whose dreams had a powerful impact on their community (and in some cases, the world). They came from different backgrounds and countries. Their ages and passions were different. But the one thing they all had in common was the belief that everything is possible.

One of the DreamMakers I feature in the book is Derek Lucas from South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. When Derek retired, he had a dream – to give away sports equipment to children in need so that everyone could have a healthy, active and fun childhood regardless of income. With the support of his local Rotary Club, the police and a number of community agencies, the dream became a reality in 2007. Since then, hundreds of children have been able to play hockey, ride bikes and enjoy other sports. All because Derek followed his dream.

Recently, the community found a way to say thank you to the tireless 75-year old. At the Rotary Club of White Rock Christmas party on December 8, the mayor proclaimed the day “Derek Lucas Day”. How many of us will ever have a day named in our honour?

While working so hard on behalf of others, Derek has been facing a few challenges of his own. He was diagnosed with leukemia in April 2011. His chemotherapy treatments have now ended, and doctors feel they have nothing else to offer. Rather than becoming discouraged, he continues to approach each day with a sense of humour. As he says, his health issue has made him less of a procrastinator!

His positive attitude is infectious. As he says in this newspaper interview, “You can’t roll over and play dead. There’s a card that’s been dealt to you. Deal with it.”

When I contacted him last week to see if I could include an update about him in this blog, he was happy to oblige. He wished me a happy and successful year and added, “Incidentally, I still feel it’s important to keep following your dream and planning ahead.”

Thanks for the inspiration, Derek!!

Visit www.recforkids.com for more information about Rec for Kids.

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Yep, you heard me. Those resolutions that you set on January 1 and you’re struggling so hard to achieve, toss them out!

According to statistics recently published in Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. And only 8% are successful at achieving them.  The top three resolutions for 2012 were

  • losing weight
  • getting organized
  • spending less and saving more

Sound familiar?

If you want 2013 to be the year you finally make it happen, here’s some simple tips to get you started.

1. Identify one goal you want to accomplish and set a reasonable timeline.

By setting just one goal and focusing on it, you are likely to experience more success (and feel less overwhelmed!) It’s also important to be reasonable in setting your timeline. Trying to lose 30 lbs. in 7 days is not healthy, let alone manageable, so be willing to take small consistent steps toward your goal.

2. Take time to understand why this goal matters to you. 

What will it bring into your life that you don’t have now? Envision the moment when you achieve your goal. How will you feel? Who will you share your accomplishment with? Picture it in vivid detail. Having a strong sense of purpose will help you stay motivated during the times of challenge.

3. Find your own personal cheerleader, someone who will help you stay focused.

Your cheerleader is someone who believes in you and your dream, and who is willing to be there for you. It’s someone you will listen to (and believe) when they say, “Yes, you can!” This person may be a friend or colleague, perhaps someone you can provide cheerleading support for in return. It may also be a coach or other professional you meet with regularly to stay on track.

4. Develop an action plan, and break it down into simple steps.

Once you know your goal and timeline, write down some of the steps you can take toward it. Break it down into weekly or even daily goals and steps. By taking one step each day, you will make steady progress toward your goal.

5. Share your plan with your cheerleader and … take the first step!

Check in regularly with your cheerleader to give updates and ask for help as needed. You don’t have to do this alone. In fact, it’s a lot more fun to work together.

Are there any other tips that have worked for you? Leave a comment so we all can benefit from your experience!

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No matter where you are right now, or what you’re doing, pause.

Straighten your shoulders, lift your head and your eyes, and take a long,

s-l-o-w, deeeeeeeep breath in. Exhale gradually.

Now, do it again.

One more time.

There, doesn’t that feel better?

Before you resume your activity, notice what has shifted. How does your body feel? What’s different in your mind?

If you find your mind is still racing, and your adrenaline is still high, try a few more slow deep breaths.

As you breathe, focus on the act of breathing. Notice the air entering and leaving your lungs. Is it warm or cold? Dry or moist?

Close your eyes and listen to your breath. It’s an action that occurs unconsciously for us. Thank goodness, because sometimes we get so distracted by life and details that we forget to breathe. We end up taking short gulps of air, just enough to keep the body functioning. The lack of oxygen affects our ability to think clearly, and our stress load builds.

All it takes is a few minutes to pause, straighten our posture, and breathe like we mean it. And then the mind clears, the body grows calm, and we are able to move forward in a much more productive way.

Such a simple act. Such a profound impact.

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I was reading a book lately and came across a question that helped me shift my perspective. Like many people, I tend to take life too seriously. I get caught up in stress and worry about money and deadlines. I find myself trying to squeeze just a few more hours into the work day. And when something happens to change my plans, it can throw my whole day off.

Then I saw this question.

“Will it matter a year from now?”

Such a simple question. Yet each time I say it, I pause.

A year is a long time. It’s made up of 365 days. Each day has 24 hours.

Will this stressful situation matter 8760 hours from now? I doubt it very much. In fact, I probably won’t even remember it in a week, let alone a year from now.

Sure, some of the decisions I make now will have an impact on what I’m doing in a year’s time. Since that’s true, I’d better make sure that those decisions are based on what brings me joy rather than worry.

So how can I take this situation and shift it?

First, by realizing that it’s not as important or serious as I might think initially.

Second, by asking myself, what is needed to bring more joy into this moment?

And then taking action based on that.

It’s all about living with joy and ease – the Dream Bigger life.

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“Imagine that every person in the world is enlightened but you.

They are all your teachers, each doing just the right things

to help you learn patience, perfect wisdom, perfect compassion.”

~ Jack Kornfield

Hmmm, that quote is  a little hard to swallow when you apply it to the driver who cut you off this morning on the way to work, the salesperson who tries to bully you into buying a product you don’t need, the co-worker who gossips about everyone else at the office, or the obnoxious family member who seems to ruin every family gathering.

And yet, it applies equally to all of them, just as it does to your wonderful best friend, your generous next-door neighbour who always shovels your driveway in the winter, and even your beloved dog, waiting patiently for you at the door at the end of the day.

It’s just that the lessons in patience, wisdom and compassion aren’t as easy to take when they come from a challenging source.

It may help to see each person as a gift in our life. Some gifts come wrapped in pretty paper, while others may look very unattractive. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

And if you take the time to unwrap the gift, you will find unexpected treasure hidden deep inside.

So the next time you’re dealing with a challenging person, pause for a moment. Remember that they are human, just like you. And they serve as a teacher for you. What can you learn about kindness, generosity, compassion, and patience from this person or this situation?

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I recently participated in the Health and Wellness Fair at Wilfrid Laurier University. I was there as part of the Vyana Wellness team, a holistic centre where I work as a life and relationship coach and Celtic Reiki practitioner. The Health and Wellness Fair was for the university staff, and there were a good range of displays.

I noticed an intriguing set-up at the table across from us. It was called the Smile Epidemic. Curious, I wandered over to check it out during a break.

The Smile Epidemic is a social research project started by Jim Moss. I’m sure you’ve heard of gratitude journals – where you write down a few things every day that you are grateful for. Moss decided to take that concept and make it digital. He invites people to notice something that makes them smile and post it on the site. The post involves taking a photo of yourself holding a note with a hand-drawn smile in front of your face. On the note, you also write down what it is that makes you smile.

He and his team also offer workshops on workplace happiness and wellbeing. They’ve created a poster with easy-to-follow steps for schools to create their own Smile Epidemic.

It’s a cool idea and it’s catching on.

Check it out at www.thesmileepidemic.com and see how many reasons to smile you can find!

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