Top 10 Mood Lifters

Snap Yourself Out of a Bad Mood FAST!

How to Snap Out of a Bad Mood
Ever feel draggy? That’s my word for that feeling you get when you’re not physically sick, not exactly sad, and not remotely mad… you’re just kind of out of sorts. Like your normal, upbeat mood has BEEN beaten with a crowbar.

Bad moods happen to all of us every now and again – and usually we can’t put one single mopey finger on WHAT got us here, WHO did this to us, WHEN we’re going to feel normal again, HOW to snap out of it, or WHERE we can hide in the meantime.  All we know for sure is that, if our mood had a color, it’d be gray.

One of my daughters put her own spin on it once as she came through the kitchen.  I asked her how she was doing and she said, “I think my face has forgotten how to smile today.”  Draggy.

Whenever your face has forgotten how to smile, try one of the Ten Mood Lifters below.  These are 10 sure-fire ways to snap out of your bad mood fast. You’ll get an instant lift and – heck if you do them often enough, your face might just forget how to frown.

  1. Go outside.  A little fresh air, combined with natural sunlight is a sure-fire Pick-Me-Up.  Even if it’s smack in the middle of winter, bundle up and walk around your yard for about 10 minutes.  There’s something invigorating about the outdoors and it’s a quick cure for the droops.
  2. Take a stretching break. Stand up and stretch your hands toward the ceiling, then bend over and touch the floor.  Next, stretch slowly from side to side.  Repeat the entire cycle several times – breathing deeply the entire time.  It’ll refresh your mind and mood. Just be sure to take deep breaths – a lot of the feel-good power in stretching lies  in the breathing.
  3. Spend some time with a pet. There’s something profoundly peaceful and fun about petting a furry loved one. The love you give comes back and, let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to do anything but smile when you’re looking into an animal’s loving eyes.
  4. If possible, elevate your heart with a little exercise.  Aerobic activity is one of the best ways to slap a good mood on your psyche.  Take a walk, pick up sticks in your yard, or clean your house with gusto.  Get mooving and grooving.  If you do it with some really upbeat music, the effects will be even better. My favorite music to listen to when at times like this are 80’s and Motown – you just can’t stay draggy when Smokey Robinson’s Cruisn’. No way, no how.
  5. Recall a time when you couldn’t stop laughing.  It was probably a time when laughter was unacceptable, right?!  That usually seems to be the case.  In high school, my best friend, Randy, and I would break out into fits of laughter all the time.  Sometimes we’d be on the phone and there’d be no sound at all except laughter for 5 minutes.  When we thought we had it under control, one of us would fall victim to the giggles again, then the other would crack up.  I can still hear the sound of his laugh in my head and it still makes me smile. He’d love to make me laugh at the most ridiculous times – in the middle of class was his favorite opportunity.  He got me so bad once during a college lecture that I thought I’d pass out.  Actually, passing out would have been less embarrassing. My youngest daughter, Stephany, may have gotten my ticklebox at THE most inappropriate time, ever, though. When she was around 2, we were listening to a sermon… a long, long sermon mind you… at a church we didn’t normally visit.  She fell asleep halfway through the sermon. After about 30 minutes she sat up, and IN A FRIGHTFULLY quiet auditorium said, “He’s not through yet?!!”  One of her sisters (Brittany) fought giggles off with me – and about 40 other people –  but her other sister (Emily) looked more mortified than anyone has ever looked! When I need a good laugh, I think back to each of their three adorable faces at that moment.
  6.  Watch a favorite sitcom, stand-up routine or movie.  Laughter really is the best medicine, especially when it’s your mood that needs a remedy.  If you can’t get to a television, don’t underestimate YouTube.  Enter the name of a favorite old sitcom, comedian, or bloopers to a favorite show.
  7. Change things up!  If you’re able to, change what you’re wearing.  Brush your hair, brush your teeth, and even wash your face.  Your mind “gets” that you’re trying to start fresh and it welcomes the idea.  If you’re at work, straighten up your desk, readjust your clothes – maybe even untie and tie (or unbuckle and buckle) your shoes.  You know how you “refresh” a webpage if it hasn’t “loaded” properly?  Same premise.  Refresh and try again.
  8. Talk to someone who lifts your spirits.  All of us have at least one person who seems to make our life a better place just by being around. They always seem to know what to say and what not to say. Their attitude and humor act as a tonic.  If you’re feeling low, search them out – take them to lunch or out for coffee. Let them work their magic on you.
  9. Do something special for yourself. Whether it’s a trip to Starbucks or a bouquet of flowers (some days call for both), do something that’ll bring a smile to your face.
  10. Do something special for someone else.  I saved the best for last. When you bring a smile to someone else’s face, it’s impossible to feel anything but joy and happiness.  By the same token, making your cat purr or your dog wag its tail will also bring about great contentment.  When you create happiness for others, you create it for yourself as well.

~ Joi

People Who Talk Behind Your Back

A Couple of Quotes, a Couple of Thoughts, and One Big Question

Quote About People Who Talk Behind Your Back
Sometimes I’ll hear from individuals who are troubled by things that resonate with me. For example, when I hear from people who struggle with eating healthy, I automatically think, “I know, right!?!”  As they go on about how fried food simply tastes better to them than quinoa, my taste buds and brain agree with them completely.

Even if it’s a problem I don’t, myself, associate with (loneliness, for example) – I’ll often be able to empathize with their emotions by putting myself in their place.  I can almost always identify with someone by putting myself in their place. I find their footprints and put my own feet in them.

However, I’ll occasionally hear from someone (or talk with them) who’s going through something that’s so alien to my way of thinking that I struggle to find their footprints… let alone step into them.

Here’s a perfect example:  Girls, boys, women, or men who are heartbroken because their “significant other” talks badly about them to….

  • their best friends
  • their co-workers
  • their own family

Why am I unable to find these particular footprints? Because I can’t figure out what makes this sort of person worthy of being called a “significant” anything.

Honestly.

Think about words for a minute.  As someone who writes (to the tune of all day.. everyday..) and reads a great deal,  I may attach more emphasis, importance, and value to words than the average person. Having said that, I don’t think anyone can or should undermine their importance.  Feelings, emotions, and knowledge are conveyed with words. Whether it’s the spoken language or written language – we convey the essence of our thoughts and feelings with our words.

If we’re hurt, it comes out in our words.

If we’re angry, it comes out in our words.

If we’re bitter, it comes out in our words.

If we’re happy, it comes out in our words.

If we’re grateful, it comes out in our words.

And on and on and on.  Our words, in many ways, identify what we feel inside.

Do you see why I said what I did about some people not being worthy of being called a “significant” anything?

Some people talk about their families in a way that seeks only to build them up. If they call a friend up and happen to mention their wife, girlfriend, or children – the friend knows it’s going to be a positive conversation. The friend (or co-worker) will think this guy’s family is the greatest family in the world! Why? Because the friend feels that they are the greatest!

Other people talk about their families or friends in such a way that others start wondering, “Are they complete losers?” or, worse, “I don’t think this guy /girl really loves her/him.”

After all, if the only thing out of someone’s mouth about someone is negative, after a while, you can only draw one conclusion: This person doesn’t care about them.  IF they did, their words would back it up.

So. What do you do if you KNOW someone is running you down or talking about you behind your back? For what it’s worth, here’s my advice:

  1. Make sure of your facts before you say anything. If an individual who you can trust explicitly tells you that this person has been talking about you OR you have seen or heard the evidence, yourself – then you probably have all the proof you need to confront them. However, when I say “confront,” I’m not talking about an ambush. You’re cooler than that.  Also, don’t ask them if they HAVE BEEN doing it – that only gives them an “out.” Without getting (or at least, without appearing!) angry, tell them, “I just need to know something… why do you talk badly about me to ________?”  Let them know that you know they do – you haven’t run for the hills, you aren’t armed and dangerous – you simply want to know why they feel the need to do this and if there’s anything you can do to make it stop. Please make sure you KNOW the facts before saying anything. Few things are less attractive than a paranoid person on a hunt when there simply isn’t any prey.
  2. If the information they’ve spread is LIES, you have a right to ask them to set things straight.  If they’ve exaggerated the details (in an attempt to garner sympathy, I suppose), tell them it’d mean the world to you if they’d let the person know they were upset when they spoke about you and that they shouldn’t have said the things they said.
  3. If the person gets angry and defensive, just drop it for the time being. You absolutely cannot reason with someone when they’re like this. Simply say, okay, let’s forget it for now. There’s no need in escalating the situation or helping a hot head get even hotter.

In the end, if you have someone in your life who you think of as “special,” yet they continue to run to others anytime you have an altercation or they tend to paint you in a less than positive light to other people, please ask yourself just how “special” they are.  That’s the “big question” I mentioned in the title. Words convey what’s in our heart. There’s a little flow chart:  OUR FEELINGS —> OUR THOUGHTS —> OUR WORDS. If someone’s words are unkind about an individual, their feelings or thoughts are polluting their words.  That’s why you have to talk to them.

I saw a quote graphic on Pinterest one time that encouraged girls to find a guy  with whom “you know your name is safe in his mouth.” I love that. It can go for guys or gals, of course, but the gist is this: You want someone in your life who… whenever your name is on their tongue… it is as safe as a baby in its mother’s arms.

You should seek to surround yourself with people who you KNOW – beyond a doubt – speak highly of you. People who, whenever they speak your name to ANYONE, there is kindness, love, and even pride involved.

That’s what you deserve. Don’t ever forget that!
~ Joi

Sleep On It…. You Just May Thank Yourself in the Morning!

Sleep On It
 

You are ridiculous.”  Not you. Me.  That’s actually the exact phrase I said to myself recently when I woke up, fresh after a good night’s sleep. The day before I had let something get under my skin that really shouldn’t have gotten near my skin, let alone under it.

I didn’t, however, realize this until I’d “slept on it.”

Most of the time, people use the phrase “Sleep on it” to refer to process of allowing their subconscious mind to come up with a solution to a problem their conscious mind just can’t wrap itself around.  I, myself, have OFTEN relied on my subconscious mind to sort things out for me or help me make a particular decision. When we sleep, we surrender all of our excess thoughts, emotions,”buts…,” “ands…” and “ifs..” to our  subconscious mind.  Our subconscious mind sort of sweeps them to the side and says “Just the facts, please.”

It’s sensible like that.

My recent experience served as a reminder that sleeping on something can be used another way – to reign in our emotions. We are emotional creatures, after all – especially those of us who happen to be female. We’re made that way and fighting it is futile.

Emotions can be a wonderful thing, but… at times…. they can get the better of us. They come charging up the stairs, barreling over the top of common sense, reason, and rational thoughts.

Man, I hate when that happens.

The next time you feel completely out of sorts – before saying anything or “reacting,” sleep on it.  IF, when morning comes, you still feel that something needs to be said – say it. When our subconscious mind is in agreement with our conscious mind, it usually means we have a good leg to stand on.

Chances are, however, when you wake up, your subconscious mind will say, “See there? Don’t you feel better?! Aren’t you glad you didn’t go and act a fool? You’re awesome.”

It’s much better than being called ridiculous.

Sweet dreams!
~ Joi

Learning from Our Mistakes: Turning a Very Old Adage on its Very Old Head

With a Great Quote from Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale Quote About Learning from Mistakes
 

My name is Joi (“Joy”) and I have a confession to make.  I’m a baseball addict.  There’s nothing about the game I don’t love. The sights, the sounds, the everything. Between the months of April and October, it’s on the tip of my mind and tongue 24/7.

The other 5 long months? Withdrawal.

Love. The.Game. But, I have to confess, I’m not too fond of losing. When my team (the St. Louis Cardinals) loses, I feel it right into the next day.  If it’s the post season, I might even feel it for weeks.

But, even then… it’s still baseball!

Our young  manager has made a few “head scratching” mistakes this season. And last season, but who’s counting?

He’s a first-class, first-rate, top-0f-the-shelf type of human being.  The players love him, everyone in the organization loves him, opposing coaches love him… heck, I suspect even the umps love him.

Great guy. Doesn’t even cuss. But, that’s a misleading stat, given the fact that he has made some bullpen decisions that make everyone else cuss enough for him AND them. So, in a roundabout way…. he turns the air blue, just not with his own mouth.

Anyway, the good man made a bad decision in last night’s game. Well,actually about 7, but – again – who’s counting?  After head-scratcher #4, I thought, “This guy doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes.. instead he seems to take some sort of comfort in them.”

No doubt that’s pushing it – I’m not terribly reasonable when I’m in the midst of a baseball game frenzy.

It made me think about an old adage, “We learn from our mistakes.”

I’m just not so sure that old adage holds a lot of water. Could it be that it’s just a comforting thought that tends to take the sting out of mistakes?

Ironically, when I came to Self Help Daily to add a quote to the page of Norman Vincent Peale quotes, one of the quotes jumped out at me. I loved it so much I actually turned it into the graphic you see at the top. “We’ve all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it’s more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors.”

Sort of calls the old adage out on the floor and asks it, “What have you got to say to that?!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m reasonable enough to know that we CAN learn from mistakes.  However, I’m also reasonable enough to know that…

  1. That’s not always the case.
  2. It’s better to slow down, think things out, and not make mistakes in the first place.

That second one brings me right back to the ballgame. If – prior to the mistake (pick one), our manager had simply slowed his world down for a minute and thought things through – I would be a much happier gal today.

Sometimes that’s all any of us have to do. Take a deep breathe. Gather our thoughts around and take a good, close look at them. Remove emotions from the equation and go with what we know is the decision that carries with it the largest probability of a successful outcome.

The alternative is go just go with a particular knee-jerk reaction because….

  • … it’s what I’ve always done.
  • … thinking kind of hurts.
  • …. my heart’s telling me to.

Here’s a fact that’ll never NOT be a fact – our brain is located in our head, not our heart.

If I’m sounding preach-y, I don’t mean to. If I sound like someone who always centers her thoughts and never lets her heart have a vote…. hahaha, sorry, I couldn’t get through that one without laughing. I am THE WORST at thinking things through and THE BEST at jerking reactions out of my knees based upon my heart’s word.

Preachy? No. Just intrigued. Intrigued by Norman Vincent Peale’s words and intrigued by the concept of simply slowing down and engaging all brain cells, memories, and… yes, in the proper pecking order… emotions. The concept of slowing our world down long enough to THINK before we speak or act.

It just might be the secret to winning – games and life.

Please share your thoughts in the comments!
~ Joi

Also See: More Norman Vincent Peale quotes!

How to Make it Through the First Year of Sobriety (Special Article)

Help for Those Re-Covering from Addiction

Below is an article that’s being shared with Self Help Daily’s readers who, quite possibly, find themselves fighting for a better life.  Sometimes you need a little help when fighting worthy opponents – fortunately, help isn’t just out there, it’s readily available! Thank you to the author for sharing the information with Self Help Daily’s readers.

How to Make it Through Sobriety      Sobriety Help
The risk of addiction relapse is highest during the first year of a recovering addict’s sobriety. Acute withdrawal from alcohol or drugs may last only about a week to 10 days, but even after acute withdrawal ends, a recovering addict may continue to struggle with feelings of depression, mental fogginess, memory problems and other symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS. These symptoms may last throughout the first year of sobriety.

Recovering addicts may also struggle in their first year of sobriety because they lack the coping skills they need to deal with normal life challenges and stress — and the first year of recovery is a time of high stress. Most newly sober addicts are still reeling from the loss of what had become their only source of pleasure and comfort — substances. In addition, they’re also dealing with the emotional fallout of their addiction and may be facing, for the first time, the emotional pain that first led them to abuse drugs and alcohol.

In order to make it through the difficult and emotionally fraught first year of recovery, addicts need to attend an inpatient rehab program. However, the work doesn’t end when rehab does — in many ways, it’s just beginning. Addicts leaving rehab need to have a continuing care plan in place that includes the 12-Step program, outpatient counseling and a basic understanding of self-care.

Inpatient Treatment Can Make or Break Your Recovery

For the addict who truly wants to get and stay sober, inpatient treatment should be the first step. In order to be effective, a residential addiction treatment program should last at least four weeks. Many programs last as long as 90 days, and some will allow patients to remain in the facility for as long as they and their counselors see fit. A 90-day stay in an inpatient rehab facility can lay a solid foundation on which you can build a lifetime of sobriety. Not spending enough time in inpatient treatment, or skipping it altogether, however, can derail your recovery before it even has a chance to get under way.

Spend Time in Sober Living

You should think twice about heading straight home and jumping right back into your regular routine the minute you leave your inpatient treatment facility. If you’re like many recovering addicts, you’ll be facing the demands of the world while completely sober for the first time in years. You need some time to adjust to functioning in society again in a sober environment where you can continue to enjoy some protection from temptation.

Entering a sober living facility for a month or two will make it easier for you to focus on re-adjusting to normal life, since you won’t have to worry so much about resisting temptation. It will take the pressure off your loved ones, too, since they won’t have to worry about watching you for signs of substance abuse. Many sober living homes also offer some level of addiction counseling.

Participate in the 12-Step Program

One of the biggest advantages of the 12-Step program is its size — no matter where you are, you will have access to a meeting. Many addiction experts and recovering addicts recommend that people new to recovery attend 90 meetings in 90 days. While this might seem like a lot of meetings, it’s an important way to establish a sober support network for yourself, in the form of sober friends and a sober sponsor and begin learning how you can navigate the ups and downs of life without substances. Once the 90 days are over, you can attend less often as long as it doesn’t compromise your recovery.

Stay in Counseling

While you’ve no doubt made significant progress in uncovering the roots of your substance abuse disorder in counseling during your inpatient treatment program, you will need continued counseling to completely resolve these issues. You may choose an outpatient treatment program, where you continue to go to group and individual counseling at night for three to five days a week. Alternatively, you may begin seeing a counselor who specializes in addiction issues one-on-one. The important thing is that you continue with therapy. Many recovering addicts stay in therapy even after the first year of sobriety is up.

Take Care of Yourself

The most important thing you can do to help yourself through the first year of your sobriety is to learn about the symptoms of PAWS and what to do about them if you recognize them in yourself. Even if you do not develop PAWS symptoms, you need to focus on caring for yourself physically and emotionally from now on. Make getting enough sleep, exercising, eating right and making time for the things you enjoy a priority in your life. As a recovering addict, it’s especially important that you rediscover how to take pleasure in normal, wholesome fun again, so make time every day to do things you enjoy. Keep trying out new things, too — you might just discover your next favorite hobby.

The first year of recovery is the hardest. In order to make it through your first 12 months of sobriety, you’re going to need to commit to working hard at your recovery every day. It won’t be easy, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Get a Life Without Sacrificing Your Career

How to Make More Time for What’s Really Important (Book Excerpt)

Bonuses come upon the completion of projects.  Signed contracts come at the end of negotiations.  Points go on the scoreboard only when the runner crosses the goal line.  One thing completed is worth ten things on hold.  Incomplete tasks can make you feel depressed and wasted; you will feel energized after completing them.  –  Get A Life Without Sacrificing Your Career: How to Make More Time for What’s Really Important by Dianna Booher.

This excerpt is a perfectly eloquent reminder that tasks we have yet to complete zap our energy and leave us feeling overwhelmed and under-motivated.  Un-done tasks stare at us, mockingly, while they kick dirt on our self confidence and self worth.

Fortunately the story doesn’t have to end there.  Self confidence and self worth will get a much-needed boost the instant we take one of these un-done tasks and turn them into a done task.  Remarkably, the minute you begin to chip away at something, you find energy you didn’t even know you had.

From the Back Cover:

Hop off the treadmill without losing career momentum! Do you remember leisure-fondly? Do you remember when there was time to stop and smell the flowers and to evaluate what was really worth doing? NOT just another guide to cramming even more activities into an already packed schedule, this book shows busy professionals how to: Discover your real priorities and follow your star to fulfillment; Loosen the constricting bonds of obligation; Remove negatives from your life to make room for happiness. With inspiration, wisdom, and nerve, this book treats time as the profound gift it is. An internationally recognized communications expert and writer of 28 books, Dianna Booher gives you practical suggestions for handling the complexities of life and finding real joy.

 

How to Get Work Done When You Don’t Fell Like Working (at all!)

When Your Give a Dang Can't Be Found

Funny Quote About Work
Ever have one of those days when you just flat don’t want to do anything. As in anything at all – unless, of course, lying on the couch watching TVLand counts.

I don’t know about you, but I find that I’ve always got time for and interest in Andy and Barney.

Funny, though, the same can’t always be said for housework, writing, laundry, etc.  Those of us who work from home (in my opinion) have a tougher time than most. Let’s face it, if we don’t feel like working, we simply don’t.

Cue the whistling and tell Andy and Opie to grab their fishing rods.

Of course, people get sick of work whether they work outside of the home or inside of it. Why? Well, most of the time work just isn’t fun… but unfortunately, it has to be done.

A problem most people run into when they don’t feel like working is they wait for the feeling to hit them.  They mutter around, wondering, “Why don’t I feel like doing anything today?” or “What’s wrong with me?”  Those of us who fancy ourselves writers may even resort to the famous self-diagnosis, “I have writers” block!”

Basically, we’re all saying pretty much the same thing, “This is not fun and I don’t want to do it!

When we turn our attention away from “that which must be done” and point it toward ourselves, we’re actually causing more problems.  In a way, we’re giving ourselves an out….

  • “I’m overwhelmed… I guess I need a break.”
  • “Actually I need another vacation.”
  • “Heck, maybe I need another job.”
  • “I’m so overwhelmed, I’m just going to call it a day.”
  • “All this work CANNOT be good for my health.
  • “Why’d I ever sign on for this?!”

If any of these sound familiar to you, congratulations, you’re human.

The key to getting work D-O-N-E when you don’t feel like D-O-I-N-G it is to.... are you ready for this??… simply DO something – with something being relevant to the task at hand, not watching Andy Griffith, playing Solitaire, or surfing the web. Unless of course someone’s paying you to do these things, in which case, you are my idol.

Truth be told, DOING SOMETHING is actually the answer to just about every problem known to mankind. Rarely does just sitting around, self-analyzing yourself accomplish anything of real value.

The next time you find yourself asking the questions above (you know, the ones with “out” written all over them), silence them with action. Just do something productive – getting something accomplished beats self paralysis by self analysis any day of the week.

My favorite trick for doing this is to simply devote 10 minutes at a whack.

Example: A few days ago, I was in one of those ruts we looked at above. Didn’t want to do any of the 20+ things on my to do list.  I decided to take the first one on the list and promise 10 minutes to it. Anyone can promise 10 minutes to something, right?  The great thing is, once you’ve started, you will finish even if you exceed the 10 minutes.  After I began the task, within 20 minutes it was done and scratching it off of my list was almost as satisfying as a Chai Tea Latte.

Almost.

Take emotion out of the equation when your mind tells you that you “just don’t feel like” doing something that has to be done. When it says, “I don’t feel like doing this,” respond with, “Oh, that’ okay, you don’t have to feel like it to do it…”‘

Then set your timer for 10 minutes and get ‘er done.

~ Joi

The Benefits of Like-Mindedness

Why Birds of a Feather Really Should Flock Together (What's in it for the Birds!)

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

All for one and one for all.”  ― Alexandre DumasThe Three Musketeers

Fraternity. Community. Brethren.  Allies. Team. League. Group. Alliance.  Tribe. Flock. …

These words –  and many more – all describe the same basic premise and the same basic truth: Comfort, and even strength, are often found amongst like-minded individuals.

This isn’t groundbreaking  information, of course. Since the beginning of time, people have realized that there’s strength in numbers. They’ve also known that hanging out with people who have similar interests, goals, and situations to your own provides you with a comforting feeling of normalcy.

Ironically, as I’m typing these words, there are 6 doves on my windowsill.  (I keep birdseed and black sunflower seeds on the windowsill beside my computer desk. This, combined with bird and squirrel feeders in our yard provide me with endless little cuties to distract me throughout the day. Jury’s still out on whether that’s actually a good thing or a bad thing.)   While there are exceptions, generally speaking, doves will show up to dine together.  I’ve never had, say, a cardinal and dove show up together.

Birds of a feather, literally, flock together.  Even nature knows the strength and safety that comes from community.

As I said in a recent post about Finding Silver Linings, my body has decided that it can no longer tolerate gluten (a protein found in… well… many things) in any way what-so-ev-er. It calls the shots, so I’ve had to change my relationship with food entirely – the way I eat, cook, and even think about food is now completely different from the way I had for my entire life.  Suffice to say that “entire” encompasses a healthy number of birthday candles over the years.  And, no, I don’t want to think about the bonfire they could combine to build.

Early on in my Gluten Free world, I found a wonderful key to sanity and happiness:  Surrounding myself with others who trudging along the gluten free trail.

Moving hundreds of these people into our home seemed extreme, so I simply found other ways to build my own private little support group:

  • On Twitter and Pinterest, I searched out Gluten Free Magazines, Gluten Free Food Manufacturers,  authors, and website accounts and followed them.  Then I looked at different accounts that interacted with them and chose certain ones to follow as well.  Soon my Twitter timeline and Pinterest feed were filled with recipes, tips, encouragement, ideas, food reviews, etc.
  • I signed up for different e-newsletters from these same experts – now my inbox is also a wealth of information and inspiration.
  • There are several Gluten Free magazines I want to subscribe to and I’ve started a cool collection of Gluten Free cookbooks.

Doing all of the above had several benefits:

  1. I was able to see scads of smiling people who weren’t only living with their dietary limitations but seemed to love it.
  2. I’ve lost count of the number of great ideas I’ve come across that I would NO WAY have come up with on my own.
  3. There’s a lot to be said for feeling like you’re part of a community.
  4. It’s exhausting to always have to check products and recipes for gluten – when I see e-mails, tweets, and pins from these “safe havens,” it takes the guess work out of it and I feel almost normal. Okay, normal for me.

Naturally  “gluten free”  birds aren’t the only kind of birds available for flocking. Any area of interest, conviction, employment, aspiration, hobbies, dreams, causes, or needs you have can be supported and strengthened by finding like-minded people. Simply replace “gluten free” in the 3 examples above with your own personal subject….

  • parenting
  • cats
  • Christianity
  • dogs
  • self help
  • sales and marketing
  • adoption
  • blogging
  • writing
  • photography
  • empty nest syndrome
  • weight loss
  • vegetarianism
  • loneliness
  • leadership
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • meditation
  • paleo diet
  • wildlife preservation
  • tea reviews
  • bird watching
  • college tips
  • etc. etc. etc…

This is one of those things in life that, while it seems so obvious and  even simple,can make a big difference in your life.

Tip: “Hacks” is a GREAT search term (Google or Twitter) to use behind your area of interest – for example “college hacks,” “weight loss hacks,” “saving money hacks,” etc.

~ Joi

Handling Adversity 101: Sometimes We Aren’t UP Against a Problem, We ARE the Problem

How to Make the Voices in Your Head Work For You

Bigger Dragons
I’m a pretty big advocate of self talk – or, to be more precise, positive self talk.  For one thing, I’m ALL about positive affirmations, positive reinforcement, and… well, positivity in general.

Another reason I’m a component of self talk is that I’m dang good at it. Seriously, I’m so good at talking to myself I could go pro.  I think I can speak for all only children when I say it’s a trait we learn early and master well.

We just try not to do it when anyone’s looking. People talk, you know.

Truth be told  we all talk to ourselves – we just don’t do it out loud. More times than not, the conversation takes place quietly in the mind… kind of behind the scenes. Yet, even there, self talk is as powerful as any superhero’s superpower.

Not long ago, I was up against something (work-related) that seemed uncommonly large. I felt like a fly in the shadow of the Empire State Building. My initial thoughts were, “Maybe if I ignore it, it’ll go away…” What are the chances of that, though? How many times do we have a task in front of us that suddenly magically disappears, as though a magic wand had been waved in its direction?

Maybe I’ve watched too many fairy tales over the years.

The problem wasn’t the big task, even though he was a beaut. I wasn’t facing a problem, I was the problem.  More to the point, my attitude (or my “self talk”) was the problem.  Without even realizing it, I kept the following conversations on repeat in my brain:

  • I freaking can’t do this!
  • This is too much for one person…
  • What the what, dude?!?!
  • Why can’t this just disappear?

Round and round went the negative thoughts and on and on went the negative self talk. And since nothing positive ever springs from a pool of  negative, I never made a bit of progress.

Then it hit me, right in my laundry room. I’d stepped away from my computer to answer the dryer’s relentless buzz. While folding towels, I heard a familiar voice in my mind (the reasonable side of me that I hadn’t heard from in a while) and the words were clear, distinctive, and empowering:  “I’ve slayed bigger dragons than this.”

Clearly I have watched too many fairy tales over the years.

While finishing up the laundry, I thought of the dragons I’d slain over the years. While the dragons had employed different means of attack ( illnesses, loss of loved ones, professional challenges, staggering disappointments..) –  they all had one thing in common: They were smoked.  Put in their place. Laid out.

In fact, when I thought back on some of this dragon’s predecessors, he seemed more like a gecko.

When I returned to my computer, the big fire-breathing dragon that had been sitting on my desk was nowhere to be found. I went about the task at hand and everything fell right into place. Nothing tangible had changed – I hadn’t been granted more talent, the task had not diminished…  Everything was the same while, at the same time, nothing was the same.  The only thing that had changed was my attitude and my self talk.

The good thing is… that’s the only thing that needed to change.

The next time you’re up against your own dragon, think back to the dragons you’ve laid out… then tell him he’s next.  Don’t get in your own way with a pattern of negative thoughts or waste time throwing up wishes that the dragon would just disappear.

You’re the only one that can make that happen, slayer.

Never doubt yourself,
~ Joi

Also See: I wrote a related post a while back titled You? A Dragon Slayer? You Bet! (Seriously, what is it with me and dragons?)

Good…. Better…. Best

As Your Choices Move Up the Scale, your Results Will Follow

Good Better and Best

Have you ever wrestled with something that was kind of in a gray (or grey for our British readers) area?  Maybe it was a habit that you couldn’t really call “bad” – but, at the same time, you certainly couldn’t call it “good.”

Years ago, a friend and I were having one of those deep conversations that can only take place over pizza. In fact, it was just me, her, two tall glasses of Coca-Cola and an extra large pizza with mushrooms, onions, and green olives.  That’s what I loved about her – she liked the same pizza toppings I did.

The girl had such good taste.

Although, like a fairy tale, it was a long long ago, I distinctly remember our conversation. We were both young mothers at the time, with lots of little girls between us – and the prospect of raising daughters, in what seemed at the time the toughest time period to do so led to many heart-to-heart “mommy conversations.” Little did we realize that late 1990’s and 2000’s would make our particular time period look like Little House on the Prairie. Even then, however, things kids were exposed to in music, television, and movies was reprehensible. We may have been pizza drunk, and we may have been incredibly young – but even we knew that life choices and decisions should be broken down into three categories:  Good. Better. Best.

Sure, watching this television show (compared to the rest) is good… but is there a better option… and, then, is that the BEST option?

Over the years, a lot of things have changed. After frequent moving on both of our parts, I’ve totally lost contact with my pizza buddy. Thanks to gluten intolerance, I no longer sit in restaurant booths shoveling pizza in my mouth and, thanks to a metabolism that IN NO WAY got better with age, I no longer drink Cocoa Colas. What is it with metabolisms, anyway? Why do they turn on us?

What hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that we should all periodically take stock of how we spend our time, the choices we make, and the the way we’re playing this game called life.

First thing we need to do is to own the fact that everything we willfully do throughout the day is because we made a choice.  If someone buys a Big Mac and large fries, they chose to eat something profoundly unhealthy.  It didn’t just happen.

If we squander our time and, at the end of the day, realize that we didn’t get a darn thing done – we chose that path. Unless someone tied us to a chair, the choice was made by only one person – and that’s the person we see in the mirror.

Every action we make or inaction we take, we choose to do so.  That’s why, whenever it comes time to talk about self improvement, self growth, or self help, the first thing we have to hold accountable are our choices.

They lead the way – everything else just follows.

One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get the most out of these choices is to give honest answers to these questions:

  • Does anything GOOD come from this?
  • If not, why am I doing it?
  • If something GOOD does come from this choice, is there a choice I could make that would bring about an even BETTER payoff?
  • If there is a BETTER choice… is it the BEST choice?

Let’s look at a quick example, because if you’re anything like me, that’s where things really begin to take shape.

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to eat healthy. You don’t look like a perfect idiot to me, so I know you get that.  We tend to kind of “misplace” this bit of common sense as soon as we drive past a fast food restaurant, don’t we? We’ll see a sign that says something like Free Drink When you Buy Two Juicy Cheeseburgers and Large Fries, and automatically say through a smile, “Don’t mind if I do.”

While the convenience of this choice might appear GOOD, I’m pretty sure we can do better.

How about ordering just one burger and an unsweet tea? That’s BETTER…. but, can we do even better than that? Is there a BEST option available?

Absolutely.

The BEST decision would be to either go home and have a wholesome, cheaper, lower calorie lunch or find a Subway and “eat fresh.”

Let me guess, it seems like a small thing, right?  But that’s kind of what choices are  – they’re the small brush strokes that paint the big picture.  Now, which is going to make the best picture – the best strokes, of course.

Same thing with self improvement – if you want the BEST you, you have to practice making the BEST choices.  Unless, of course, you just want to settle for a “good” you…

I didn’t think so.

If you want the BEST from yourself and the BEST from life, it all starts with making the BEST decisions.  Like a single unit, they will all move in the same direction.  May as well swing for the fences!

~ Joi