You Don’t Have to Always Hustle to Be Successful

I read a blog this morning about the behaviors of emotionally strong individuals.  Initially I asked, “what is emotional strength?”  Emotional strength is the ability to experience positive feelings.  There are some studies to suggest that certain personality traits are linked to greater emotional stability, an indicator for emotional strength (Guswell & Ruch, 2012). A particular study by Guswell and Ruch (2012) suggested there are innate characteristics that can either support or hinder a person’s ability to manage emotions.  In other words some personalities have an easier time managing emotions and remaining positive.  Although research claims it may be easier for some more than others it is not likely that only certain individuals with certain personality traits are allowed happiness.  All people are allowed happiness and all individuals can have a happy disposition despite character, experience, or previous thought patterns.

Individuals can learn emotional strength.  If you struggle with something in life you can learn to improve; you can learn to emotionally improve, as well. Your emotions do not control you.  Your thinking does not control you.  (It seems that way most of the time because turning “off” thinking and emotions is challenging).  The source behind the thinking and the emotions is YOU and the one in control of you is YOU!  I understand my posts talk a lot about choosing to be happy positive and I understand this can be very frustrating to most.  But, that truly is the issue; choice.  How you think and how you feel is up to you!  It is that simple.  The hard part is applying the skills, tools, and techniques to make that choice stick.

There are lots of tools and behaviors one can apply to increase emotional strength.  One behavior that stood out to me as a read the blog on emotional strength was ,”They (emotionally strong people) are not afraid of slowing down”.  This really stuck with me and caused me to ponder.

Emotional strength equals success.  Early research clearly demonstrated that people with an ability to evaluate their emotions, identify their emotions, and rationally handle their emotions are better able to reach and achieve goals (Allport & Allport, 1921).  To consider that emotionally strong people can slow down and relax challenged the belief that successful people are “go-getters” and “busy-bees”. Success coincides with work.  So many of us are chasing dreams, aspirations, and goals.  Motivation is inspired and we are challenged to keep going, keep pushing, and work daily to achieve success.  Then why is slowing down a sign of success and emotional strength?  How does rest and slowing down accomplish goals?

When we slow down we can LIVE.  It is so easy to be caught up in pursuing goals and achieving success and to lose sight of daily life and the little miracles that occur.  I am no exception.  My goals and aspirations in life require me to have daily goals and a daily plan.  The drive to be successful causes me to become acutely aware of my daily goals and I can spend minutes of my day, hours of my day planning, working, building, doing, and analyzing.  What happens if I just stop?  What happens if I just slow down and approach the day as it comes?

When we can slow down we are left with seconds, minutes, hours, even days for freedom and to live.

  • Slowing down means we can be content with our present moment and our present blessings.
  • Slowing down means we can be thankful for what we have.
  •  Slowing down allows us to experience love and support of family and friends.
  • Slowing down means taking a break.
  • Slow down means we have time to do something else (perhaps read a book, talk with a friend, or sit in silence).

Today I challenge you to stop!  Stop planning and stop working.  Take time away from your “to-do” list and do something else.  You do not need to always be working on something and you do not need to always be focusing on your goals.  I challenge you to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy the moment and the people you are with.  When you slow down to live you will restore your heart, your brain, and your soul.  This renewal of mind, body, and spirit will help you achieve goals, accomplish tasks, and lead you to success.

 

 

References:

Allport, F. H., & Allport, G. W.  (1921). Personality traits: Their classification and measurement. The Journal of Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology, 16(1), 6-40.

Guswell, A. & Ruch, W. (2012).  Are only emotional strengths emotional?  Character strength and disposition to positive emotions.  Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 4(2), 218-239.

Are you Fully Well? 31 Steps to Find Happiness in Life

We all want to be happier, healthier, fitter, richer, and more successful.  As humans, we fundamentally have this right.  Although we have this right, I question if many of us are truly well.  Wellness is having  happiness, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, success, loving and supportive relationships, and ultimately satisfaction in life.  Millions of Americans are constantly pursuing this yet so many struggle to find it.

All seek wellness but many struggle to achieve it.  There are many reasons people struggle to find life satisfaction.  A major reason people struggle to obtain wellness is because limit their focus on improving only one area of life.  Wellness includes many different facets of being human.  Wellness is what makes a person whole and wellness involves all human thoughts, actions, beliefs, experiences, hopes, and expectations.  Rather than working to improve the whole person many people become fixated on fixing one area of life.  The expectation is that improving in one area of life will bring ultimate wellness.  A common belief is that to become more fit and lose weight means more success in relationships, health, emotions, thinking, and behavior.   It is true that making positive changes will increase confidence, health, thinking, behavior, and interactions with others.  However people are more than physically fit creatures.  Achieving physical fitness will not improve relationships, job happiness, emotional health, or spiritual health unless individuals work on these areas daily as well.  The “psyche” (who you are) strives for balance in all areas of life.  When one area starts to decline, other areas will all decline.  Whereas when areas of a person start to improve, other areas also need to improve to achieve wellness.

Lisa Rankin, MD describes the concept of wellness and explains that in order to find wellness a person needs to achieve satisfaction and happiness in different areas of life.  Lisa describes the areas of wellness as, physical health, mental health, finances, environment, creativity, sexuality, spirituality, work and purpose in life, and loving and supportive relationships. (You can read more about Dr. Rankin and her wellness model by clicking the link associated with her name above).

Finding happiness in these areas brings happiness with self and with life.  Part of achieving wellness is honoring your own beliefs, morals, values, expectations, hopes, and dreams.  The heart of wellness is connecting to “who you really are”.  I know this is a concept that millions struggle with.  Age does not mean a person has achieved wellness and many will waste a lifetime questioning who they are and their purpose in life.  However working to find balance in all areas of life can help people figure this out.  A person can achieve wellness in life by daily practicing behavior that will strengthen and improve these areas.

1.  Seek pleasure!  Find something that makes you happy and do it every day.  If you enjoy chocolate have one piece of dark chocolate a day.  You do not have to limit yourself or deny yourself things that you like or enjoy.  That is the opposite of wellness.  Do not over indulge either.  You are allowed to enjoy while you work to achieve wellness.

2.  Volunteer and help others.  We live on a planet with billions of others and all of us are connected.  We can make the world a better place when we decide to help others.

3.  Remember and recall your blessings daily!

4.  Hug the ones you love as much as you can.  A hug makes them feel better and will make you feel better as well.

5.  Be physically active every day.  Take a walk.   Walk the dog.  Play tennis or basketball with your kids.

6.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Try to eat a cup of fruit or vegetables at every meal.

7.  Do not be afraid to seek medical care.

8.  Journal for 20-30 minutes a day.  Find a pen, paper, and a quiet spot and simply write your thoughts and feelings in that moment.  Journal pleasant and unpleasant thoughts and feelings.  Journaling these things can help you release emotions, connect your mind to your body, and help control thinking and feelings.

9.  Do not hold onto emotions.  Many people are fearful of expressing feelings like sadness and anger for fear of consequences.  Feelings are never a bad thing, rather the reaction to the emotion may hold devastating consequences.  Find ways to express emotions in healthy and socially acceptable ways.

10.  Engage in positive thinking daily.  Negative thinking causes negative emotions.  Simply switching thinking will improve your mood.  Read affirmations, count your blessings, think of happier times, and engage in behaviors that make you smile.  These things will improve your thinking and your mood.

11.  Make a monthly budget.  Determine when bills are due and establish a budget based on spending patterns last month.  Keep this budget with you when you go shopping or leave the house.  Spend only money allowed according to the budget that has been established.

12.  Be in control of your money.  Tell your money where to go.  Your money does not control you.  You are the boss of your money and you can use your new budget to determine how and when money is spent.

13.  Limit spending.  We live in a society where we believe we need certain items to make us happy, successful, and satisfied.  Sadly these things do not love us back and continue to leave us lacking.  There are few things that we as humans really need (food, shelter, water, and connection with others).  All other things can wait until you have saved enough to purchase it.

14.  Where you live, work, and play determines how you feel.  Make your home comfortable.  Clean out and organized drawers and throw away any unnecessary items.

15. Rearrange items or furniture to give your office or home a new fresh look.

16. Take a walk in a park or sit outside in a place full of nature.  Spend time enjoying the ambiance of the outdoors and the creatures that live there.

17.  You do not have to be an artist to be creative.  Try reading a book or listening to music.  Let this inspire your mind.

18.  Journaling can also spark ideas and solutions.

19.  Take a class to learn more about a creative outlet.  Try a cooking class, a pottery class, painting lessons, or a dance class.

20.  Be proud of who you are!  You are you.  You are unique.  This is what makes you and the world special.

21.  Find confidence in your body by highlighting areas of your body that make you proud.

22.  Respect your body.  It is your body and it is only one you will have.  Express yourself and avoid limits but practice self-control and know your boundaries.

23.  Meditate/pray daily.

24.  Connect with your Higher Power.  You do not need to be a Christian to have spiritual practices and beliefs.  Know there is a source greater than you that is in control.  Letting go of control to a Higher Power gives freedom.

25.  Let go and forgive others.

26.  What did you want to be when you grew up? Ask yourself this question to help discover your passion and purpose in life.

27.  Make an effort daily to work toward or learn what you need to do what you want to do. Make a To-Do list of things needed to prepare you or start living your dreams.

28.  Find what you love and discover your passion by talking and serving others.  Volunteering not only serves others but will serve you to discover your purpose in life.

29.  Make time weekly to spend undistracted time with loved ones.  Turn off cell phones, TV, cancel all other responsibilities, and make a day where you can focus on the ones you love.

30.  Listen to your loved ones.  Hear what they are telling you and acknowledge how they feel.  This does not mean you have to agree, it only means you hear what they are telling you.

31.  Do not assume your loved ones can read your mind.  They cannot!  It is up to you to tell them what you need and what you expect from them.

This list is not exhaustive.  There are hundreds of ways to find wellness.  Wellness is unique to each person. The key is to seek fulfillment in all areas of life.  It is great to focus on your physical fitness, but are you neglecting those you love as a result?  It is great to have lots of friends, be kind to others, and serve others but you may neglect your self by not maintaining boundaries or allowing yourself to do things you truly enjoy.  Wellness is worth pursuing.  You deserve health and happiness in all areas of your life.

 

Don’t Be Discouraged! You Are More Successful Than You Think You Are.

First of all I apologize this post is so late.  I realize that today is Saturday and that a FitFriday post was missed.  Yesterday I took a much needed day off to spend the day with my hubby.  I did not work out (I ate well and according to plan), had a cheat meal, and I did not worry about work or my “To-Do List”.  Thank you for understanding.  

Recently I have talked with a few people I have been coaching and they expressed disappointment in their progress.  It is very easy to become discouraged when so much effort is focused on working hard in the gym and on eating well.  A problem with the health and fitness industry is so much attention is paid to looks and the body.  People are now desperate to achieve fitness, health, and weight loss.  In their desperation people will go to extreme measures to achieve their goals or people will abandon their goals because they feel like a failure.

Let’s stop!  Take a moment and look at where we have come.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, upset, frustrated, and like you are not making progress, stopping and assessing your progress can be helpful.  You ARE better than you were yesterday.  Isn’t that success?

Perhaps looking back is what frustrates and overwhelms you because you do not like where you are now and your past progress was the example of a better you.  Life happens.  We get busy.  Priorities change.  Responsibilities change.  However look back, you are a different person today then you were then.  You know more.  You have experienced more.  Isn’t that success?

Image

I have written a lot of blogs on here about what you think, you are!  The same is true for how you analyze your success.  You have a set of expectations in your mind, based on what you see from others.  For example you see the a girl or guy in the gym and think that in 6 weeks you will have their physique.  Your brain is using that external example to set success expectations.  Then when the 6 weeks is up, you judge yourself to that external measure, and see you did not meet expectations.  Your brain will start to blame YOU for this lack of progress.  You see, it is easier for the brain to conclude that you are the problem. 

Americans, in particular, are very ego-centric.  This means we are self involved.  I hate to say that, but it isn’t necessarily bad.  It just means that you will internalize the events, experiences, perceptions, and view of the world to yourself.  There is psychological research to demonstrate this.  Check out this Psychology Today blog.  What this means is that when you evaluate your progress and use your set of expectations developed from those external sources you will not compare, and you will self-evalute.  This self-evaluation concludes you did not meet your expectations; thus you become frustrated, discouraged, and overwhelmed.  However this self-evaluation is flawed.  It is based on a limited set of information and is not considering all the available data.  It is like deciding to never eat meat again because you read 1 article about meat causing weight gain (this is an example and not an article I have found).  This article could be inaccurate, it could be faulty or flawed research, it could be biased, and it does not include all the information about how meat helps with weight loss.  You see to make an accurate assessment of your success you need to consider more than your list of expectations.  

Success doesn’t work like that.  Success is not “all or nothing”.  Success does not come overnight. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly progress leads to success.  I ask you “what is success?”  Have you even defined what that means?  What is your measure of success?

If you want to feel successful I encourage you to try these things:

  1. Go out and do what you want to do.  Put one foot in front of the other.  Take the first step and say “yes I will”.  
  2. Make a “To-Do” List.  Start marking the items off that list.
  3. Change your thinking.  Positive Psychology asserts that the “Happiness Advantage” is key to finding success.  Research claims that changing your thinking to be more positive will increase your productivity and improve your level of success.  Rather than say “I failed” or “I am incapable of this”, say “I succeed when I make the healthy choice” or say “I am able to do this”.  
  4. Strengthen your mindset.  Your mind is stronger.  Your will is greater.  Saying these positive statements will strengthen your mindset.  Rather then focusing on the external progress, focus on your mindset, your will, and your determination.  This will help you make your dreams come true!  Train your brain to see the positive.  No matter how big or how small, see the positive and this will lead to more positive thinking overall.  Positive thinkers are more successful.  Again research finds this to be the case.  
  5. Take the actions necessary to achieve success.  Donald Trump did not become a successful businessman by sitting around wishing to be successful.  He worked for it.  He made choices everyday and took action daily to reach his level of success today.  
  6. See success, even in failure.  Donald Trump made mistakes.  He lost money.  But he didn’t stop.  Use failure and frustration to push you forward.  Learn from your mistakes, make changes, and keep going.  
  7. Do not focus on the overall goal!  Instead focus on your daily small goals.  Did you run 1 mile today?  That is success!  Keep going and you will be able to run 10 miles.  Positive psychologists suggest that focusing on smaller tasks makes success easier to obtain.  By focusing on the small progress it is easier to remove smaller barriers.  Removing a small barrier is success and will lead to greater success!
  8. Remember you are unique.  You cannot measure your success on someone else’s.  That person did not grow up the way you did, they did not have your experiences, and they are not living your life.  Your situation is unique, not impossible.

Don’t be discouraged!  You are more powerful than yesterday.  You are smarter today.  You are more successful than you think you are.  It starts with action.  I encourage you to go and live your dreams, starting today!