Kindness Can Change the World

Doesn’t it fill your heart when you see a person being kind? 

In this turned upside down world, kindness powers us up when we feel disheartened. People are stepping up to serve our most vulnerable, we’re showing appreciation and celebrating the everyday heroes working on our behalf to take care of us and communities are learning the value of having and being good neighbours. It seems kindness is reviving our faith in humanity.

At one time it was thought that human beings were selfish but as scientists unlock more about the complex nature of being human, new conclusions are being reached. While we are very interested in our own survival and success, studies reveal that generosity is in our biology and our evolution.

Before our lives were disrupted by this pandemic, we had a narrower focus on our own needs, our family’s needs and our next right moves toward feeling successful. Along came a major disruption that actually cracked people’s hearts wide open. There’s more empathy in our world than ever and more generosity springing from that empathy. Most people are just doing the right thing by helping others, however they can.

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” —Princess Diana

Dr. David Hamilton a physicist and kindness expert talks about the five side effects of kindness.

1.     It makes us happier as our brain releases chemicals that increase dopamine and we get a good feeling.

2.     Our hearts are healthier. That good feeling produces oxytocin in the brain and the body which increases nitric oxide, reducing blood pressure.

3.      Being kind slows aging; again oxytocin helps reduce inflammation in our cardio vascular system and slows aging.

4.     Being kind and generous makes our relationships better.

5.     Kindness is contagious. According to Dr. Hamilton it has a contagion factor of five; each act of kindness impacts five people.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” —Scott Adams

If we’ve learned anything in this pandemic pause, it’s that we certainly can’t control world events. What we can control though is how we respond to world events. Perhaps you’ve been quite content in your life in this unusual time or maybe you’ve been feeling anxious or frustrated. Or maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever you feel is just fine and it stands to reason that our feelings are all over the place. So what does this have to do with kindness you may ask?

Well, if you’ve been feeling content and happy during this period, you can share some of that goodness with others through acts of kindness. If you’ve been feeling anxious, a good way to shift that energy is…..you guessed it…by focusing your attention outward on acts of kindness for others. Let me say here that an act of kindness can be a smile, it can be listening to somebody, it can be monetary or it can be sharing your talent as in baking for someone, writing a card or a thoughtful email.

I don’t think there’s been a better opportunity in history than right now to tap into the vision that each one of us can make a difference by being kind. 

I’d like to invite you to become a VIP member of The Secret Kindness Club, where we do acts of kindness every day for others and don’t tell anybody. No further action is required to become a member; initiation begins with your next act of kindness.

Here’s your first challenge. Notice the next three people you encounter and say something kind to them. It can be wishing them a cheerful good day, complimenting them on something they’ve done or something they’re wearing. Notice their smile, thank them for something or acknowledge them by saying hello. Be courageous; make the first move and discover for yourself how your kind acts can help change the world. Welcome to the club!I started a private Facebook group called The Secret Kindness Club, where we can share our acts of kindness and be inspired by others. All you have to do is ask to join.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/191854215475541/?source_id=179385118879498

I am a trailblazer, and I didn’t even know it!

Many of our members look to us to get them started or to help them gain a fresh perspective. It’s a beautiful thing to see people transform right before your eyes, as they meet people of a similar age, with similar interests and ways of communicating. 

Aging well requires a commitment to shifting your mindset to become open to new ideas, be mindful of the present, look forward to the future while embracing the wisdom of the past. These vibrant young-seniors are youthful but not obsessed with being young. They don’t realize it all the time, but they are blazing the trails for the next generation of seniors. Setting the benchmark for what should be expected to age well and live well. 

Many of them believe that the best is yet to come in terms of their needs, and they are grateful for the wisdom and the time to reflect on what they want from life now and into the future. 

Rachel Henry, Wellings of Picton, says, “for example, many of our members recognized that they were alone more than they wanted to be. They didn’t necessarily want a partner, but they wanted people around to socialize with, laugh with, and share some good stories with. Wellings is a good place to meet people, laugh, and find opportunities to connect with the greater community.” 

Volunteerism is an excellent example of engaging in the greater community at something you find fulfilling. Wellings is committed to connecting our members with staff who are educated in aging well and community service leaders and local initiatives to encourage participation outside the community. 

There are so many opportunities to connect, such as community centers, community gardens, festivals, providing art classes, yoga teaching for seniors, cycling clubs, and walking or hiking clubs. The possibilities are endless. Further, we have found that the people we engage in the volunteer realm are healthier, happier, and seem to wake with a sense of purpose. This is important because it involves the mind, engages people in conversation, and keeps us more youthful. 

As we age, we tend to become less social, as our friend group shrinks, but there are people all around us, we just need to find ways to connect our passions and hobbies with people who share them. Unfortunately, many people would equate independence with going it alone. Still, we know that to maintain overall good health, we need some element of social interaction. Everyone’s needs are different, but we do know that too much isolation isn’t good, especially for seniors. 

Successful aging or aging well means different things all over the world. Still, a common thread seems to be taking the steps necessary to stay connected. 

We are proud to be a great resource to many volunteer organizations and would be happy to be a resource for you, should you need us.

If you know of a volunteer organization that would benefit from the 55 plus community, let us know. 

Enjoy this TED-X talk from Cathleen Toomey, it really resonated with us:

The Wisdom of Experience: Inspiration for Challenging Times

Throughout history in many cultures around the world, societies have turned to their elders for wisdom. In this current climate of crisis, many people are turning to Google and YouTube for information and of course there are trusted sites for facts about what’s going on but what about our parents and grandparents? They’re reliable sources of insight, who have learned many life lessons. Just think about what they’ve witnessed over the decades. Their wisdom is gold right
now.

It’s wonderful to hear about grandmothers teaching their grandchildren how to make bread on a zoom call while we’re in isolation. More than baking bread, many of our parents and grandparents have refined the art of not complaining because they’ve learned that it doesn’t make thing better; instead they learned that courage is a superpower and they put it to good use, to help them steer ahead.

The resilience of the human spirit is impressive and we’re seeing a lot of it now. I recently read about a woman named Joy from Lunenburg Nova Scotia, who heard about Captain Tom Moore’s accomplishment, raising money for the British health care system, by walking laps around his garden, as he approached his 100th birthday. Joy thought if Captain Tom can raise money by walking why can’t she? It’s something she does faithfully every day anyway. As Joy approaches her 102 birthday, she’s committed to walking .8k every day to raise money for the Victorian Order of Nurses, where she worked for many years. Joy claims to be a very ordinary person, whose life seemed to fly under the radar until she got old. She lives on her own, has a very positive outlook on life and is using her daily walk to help others. How inspiring is that beautiful soul?

People of all generations are rising to this pandemic by sharing their gifts and themselves in the most remarkable way. Volunteer teams gather daily to feed our most vulnerable citizens, children participate in kindness challenges. I have a secret kindness club going with my ten year old great niece, where every day we each do something kind in secret and don’t tell anybody but each other. There are businesses pivoting so they can provide safety equipment, health care workers committing themselves to supporting people when they’re sick. Behind the scenes scientists are working hard to understand this complex Covid 19 virus, so we can work toward a clearer understanding of how it operates and move closer to having a vaccine. The courage, kindness and compassion we’re experiencing now is both impressive and inspiring. It seems everyone is asking themselves what they can do to help make things better for the greater good.

In this time of isolation, we’ve been taken right back to our basic values and what’s really important to us is surfacing. For many of us it’s family and community. We’re learning every day as we take inventory of our needs, what we really require to live our lives well. We’re all missing connection and even though we’re linked virtually, it’s clear that we need in person contact to thrive. We’re also feeling the importance of community, as neighbours rise to help one another get through this and we will get through it with help from all sides.

What about you?

Is there something you’re doing that you find helpful when it comes to staying connected to your family, friends and neighbours? Have you found that this crisis has made you feel more courageous and resilient? Will you carry some of the new positive habits you’ve been creating with you into the future?

Remember we’re all in this together and the more we focus on the good, the better it will be for all of us. Captain Tom Moore’s wise words are a comfort for our times “at the end of the day we shall all be okay. The sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away.”

The Power of Compassion, Empathy and Kindness in an Uncertain World

In this extraordinary time, are you feeling unsettled or uncomfortable? I know I am; for many of us, this disturbing feeling is a reflection of what’s going on in our world, where we don’t know much for sure. The fundamental fear we’re experiencing has an important role to play for our survival and protection.

But fear is a trickster; it can make us do and say strange things. Let’s not ignore or repress fear; rather let’s call fear out; face it head on. Let’s get clear about what we’re really afraid of and name it. If we’re afraid of getting sick, remember that none of us is in charge of the virus, only our thoughts about our wellness. So a better focus for our thoughts would be on our wellness, right? The idea of naming what we’re afraid of takes away some of its power and puts us in charge of our thoughts, words and actions.

Calling out fear, the con artist helps us gain perspective, enabling us to navigate with compassion, empathy and kindness for ourselves and for everyone around us. It’s my view that these qualities are our true nature but when fear takes over, we overlook them because we go into survival mode and focus on our primal needs. When we ask fear to take a back seat, we create space for our superpowers of empathy, compassion and kindness to support us in keeping fear managed.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

Compassion arises when we feel for someone in a challenging situation without experiencing it ourselves. Empathy flows when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and feel the experience they’re having. In this unprecedented time, empathy is everywhere because we are all experiencing the same threat, so we can appreciate how each other feels. Both of these beautiful human qualities come quite naturally to us but when fear is present, we have to make extra effort to lead with them rather than leading with fear.

“I choose the path of kindness. The more you extend kindness to yourself, the more it will become your automatic response to others.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

If you bump up against a challenge with another person either in their behavior or something they say, remind yourself that just like you, this person is doing their best to do their best. Call on your endless supply of kindness and compassion to help you navigate and be mindful of your words. If what you want to experience from others is kindness and compassion, make the first move and watch what happens.

Just like this virus spreads in ways we don’t really yet understand, kindness spreads too. Physicist and kindness expert Dr. David Hamilton explains that the Covid 19 virus has a contagion factor of 2.5 which means that every person who spreads the virus spreads it to 2.5 people. Each of the 2.5 spreads to 2.5 and the number increases just like compound interest. The contagion factor for an act of kindness is 5, which means that every act of kindness impacts 5 people and when we multiply just like compound interest, kindness can be a very powerful force.

“We can’t control the wind but we can adjust the sails.” Unknown

We can’t yet control the virus but we certainly can control our thoughts and face our fears head on. When we focus on how we can be of service in a very positive way for others, there’s no end to what we can do to make a difference. Consider a smile, writing a note, making a phone call, giving someone a compliment or simply listening as acts of kindness. Remember how kindness spreads and how good you feel when someone shows you kindness; then ask yourself how you can get busy ensuring we have more than enough kindness to go around. Live well, stay well.

How To Manage Living In Interesting Times

Life is certainly unstable right now; this uncertainty messes with us humans physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. It’s no joke.

None of us knows how the coronavirus will impact our communities and our loved ones; all we can do is keep calm and carry on. That was what the British government put on a poster to help boost morale in England as they prepared for World War II; that was no joke either.

So, what can we do to help ourselves and our community? Well first of all, it’s important to be informed but equally important not to allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. Watching news all day is not good medicine for us on any level. While the media has a key role to play in keeping us informed, remember that fear is a kind of currency for the media and it’s up to us to manage the budget. So check in but don’t stay too long, change the channel….but to what?

Here are a few suggestions that I’m practicing to help manage the stress in all of this uncertainty.

I’m minimizing exposure to drama in the media and in conversations with other people. Be a leader and control the dialogue. Yes it is scary but let’s all do our best to stay in the present and not get too far ahead of ourselves.

I don’t mean to disregard reality but it’s important to surround yourself with positive energy and give your thoughts a positive focus. It could be watching a funny movie, cat videos, uplifting interviews, speaking with people you know who are positive; reading articles like this to stay focused on what you can do to help yourself and those around you. It’s important to stay connected with each other; with so many options available, we can stay “in community,” virtually without having to be irresponsible. The elderly are our most vulnerable, if you think of someone who may need some groceries or a meal, call them and make the offer. Just the sound of a happy voice, will settle them down. I’m sure they will appreciate knowing they are not alone in this.

Ask for help if you need it. Believe me; someone is waiting for you to ask.

Thanks to online ordering, electronic banking & all the delivery services out there, we should be able to get what we need, even if we are self isolating.

Watch caffeine intake, it can create anxiety in the body and we want to minimize that. Choose herbal tea or water instead. Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, which means minimal refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, which weakens the immune system.

Practice or learn how to use your breath to calm your body. Practice or learn to meditate to calm your thoughts and your body.

Watch the negative self-talk and potential criticism of others. Fear is a trickster; it can make us feel like we’re doing the right thing when in truth, the right thing is always to be kind toward yourself and everyone else.

Finally, use your thoughts to focus on gratitude for people on the front lines of this unpredictable virus, gratitude for their service and courage. I’m grateful for them and I’m grateful for you. Be well; live well.

From Little Seeds Great Things Grow

I was a dedicated smoker for a few decades of my life; I’m not proud of the fact but what I am delighted with is that I was able to stop. Smoking is a stubborn habit. It took me about seven attempts before I was able to gradually stop smoking successfully. To help me get through the withdrawal from nicotine, I was encouraged to do more aerobic exercise, eat more protein and leafy greens. I didn’t really understand why these new habits helped but they did. It turns out it was about focusing my thoughts on feeling good through healthier practices and not focusing on the negative feeling of giving something up. It worked! I’ve been free from cigarettes for almost thirty years.

Our brain is a powerful supercomputer; it’s involved in everything we do. The brain has connections that run throughout our body; it determines how we behave and how well we think. I remind myself often that our thoughts are really the only thing we have control over in life. We can’t control events and we can’t control other people. Our thoughts are so powerful that they can be sabotaging, even debilitating when left unchecked; they can also be a powerful positive force when we manage them well.

Negativity is so easy to buy into and that’s mainly what our thinking mind serves up. It takes a focus on something other than our random thoughts to shift us out of negativity, especially when there’s so much fear in the world but it is important to take ownership of our thoughts and direct them toward a good result, just as I did with giving up smoking.

What sounds like a daunting responsibility can be managed by having a healthy foundation; then building on small shifts to produce long-term positive results. It’s important to get good nutrition, good exercise and good sleep; these are the pillars of a healthy mindset. If you want to improve any of these, start investigating how you can develop better sleep habits and ask your doctor to check your blood work to ensure that you’re not deficient in important minerals and vitamins. Exercise is a natural anti-depressant and we need to treat it like medicine. I love yoga and practice it regularly; I find it really helpful when it comes to stress management, feeling calm and having clarity. Start small with any of these healthy practices and be kind to yourself as you learn something new.

Now that we’ve set the foundation, we can start building on.

I wasn’t always a grateful person; in fact I grew up feeling like I never had enough and that I wasn’t enough because that’s what I learned at home. There was more emphasis on what we didn’t have and who we could never be instead of learning to appreciate what we did have. In adulthood, after realizing that this line of thinking was sabotaging my best efforts to be happy, I chose to teach myself to focus my thoughts on what I had to appreciate, starting with small shifts. Try this: look out the nearest window and pause for a few minutes. Notice the colours you observe; notice the sunlight or cloud formation in the sky. What makes you feel good about what you see? Pay attention to that. If you can’t see, listen, even to the quiet and appreciate that you can hear. If you can’t hear, notice your breath and be grateful for that.

It’s all about bringing our attention into the present moment and appreciating life exactly as it is. Even on days when life sucks, there is something to appreciate. In this small practice of focusing our thoughts on the good instead of the random negative thoughts our brain serves up, we create a brighter result. Next step for me was writing down five things I’m grateful for every day until it became a thinking habit; if it was a bad day, I’d write ten things. The truth is, the more grateful we are, the more there is to be grateful for.

Despite what your thoughts tell you, your brain loves a challenge. Learning to talk back to negative thoughts is an important habit to cultivate. Ask yourself if the negative thought is really true and if it’s not true, please correct it. When you do, you take away its power. Instead of allowing your thoughts to run your life, work on learning new things. It’s through learning that we develop new connections in the brain and enhance its capability. There is absolutely no age limit on learning and in fact when we stop learning, our brain slows down. We have to work it like a muscle.

Small, no fail steps are the building blocks of good sustainable habits. It’s important to recognize that we’re all beautiful works in progress; the goal should be to constantly improve and not to win anything or anyone’s approval. Do your best to feel your best you’ll find yourself willing to keep going and growing.

The Truth about Mental Fatigue

I woke up one day not long after Christmas and realized that I was out of gas. I didn’t just feel physically tired, there was something more going on; I knew I needed to take a closer look. I call myself a happiness expert and this didn’t feel like that. I took a pause and reviewed the last few months. It became very clear that I had done a good job of taking care of my husband when he had a temporary health challenge, I did a good job of taking care of a group I travelled to Europe with and when my husband’s family came for Christmas, I did a pretty good job of taking care of them too. But I reached the point where I couldn’t take care of anybody else until I took care of myself.

It happens to the best of us. We run out of gas with no gas station in sight. Fortunately, I didn’t end up in a pile on the floor like Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington did. She woke up on the floor of her office, having hit her head on the way down. She didn’t know she had run out of gas and what she gleaned from her experience, inspired her to become a sleep evangelist, preaching about the benefits of sleep in a book called The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your Life, One Night at a Time.

Because we spend so much time in our head thinking about to do lists and other people’s needs, we can miss cues, letting us know that something is up. Physical tiredness, as Arianna teaches, can be addressed with good sleep habits but how do we know we’re mentally tired and what can we do about it?

A mentally fatigued person might have difficulty concentrating, feel apathetic or overwhelmed; might feel a lack of motivation, dread or hopelessness. They might even feel angry, anxious or depressed.  They may have an upset stomach, body aches, fatigue or loss of appetite and might feel socially isolated. I had some; not all of these symptoms but certainly enough of them to get my attention.

Mental fatigue can be caused by a change in lifestyle, perhaps death of a loved one, being a caregiver for someone ill or aging; it can be caused by financial challenges. It might also be caused by an absence of social support or having too much on your plate for too long, which was the case for me.

There is a prescription for each of us who finds ourselves feeling mentally exhausted and it begins with recognizing and accepting that we are out of gas. It’s never a bad idea to consult your doctor if you feel overwhelmed and your doctor may very well suggest some of the following ideas, some of which helped me a great deal in the last month.

If you are caring for a loved one who is ill, investigate respite care and make sure that you get some support. Often we think we have to do everything ourselves, when folks are waiting to help us if we’re courageous enough to ask. Recharging is so important and we have to make space to do that. It might be a vacation, a few days or hours with no agenda to help fill your tank. 

Good quality rest is important and some form of exercise is too. Exercise like brisk walking is excellent to move stagnant energy around in the body and help lower stress response as well as helping us handle unknown stressors in the future.  

Gratitude is a key when it comes to lowering stress. I strongly recommend keeping a gratitude journal; write down five things you’re grateful for every day.  Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga and tai-chi, go for a massage or learn deep breathing techniques. 

Walking in nature is medicine for me, spending time alone, getting and giving hugs as well as having a good old fashioned chin wag with a friend all fill my tank. I’m happy to say that life is back on track and I have some new habits to take me through 2020 with clarity, calm and confidence.  Living well is about being open to learning something new about ourselves and embracing ideas we can use to improve our results, so that we can inspire others to do the same.

 

The Art of Living Well by Decluttering

The self-storage business in North America nets well over 35 billion dollars a year. That’s a shocking number isn’t it but are you surprised? The success of this industry is due in large part to young families looking for more affordable housing and older generations downsizing. I think it’s fair to say that most of us have stuff stashed in cupboards, basements, garages and one in ten of us has stuff stashed in a storage locker somewhere.

Getting that first apartment and buying furniture is usually where collecting stuff begins. We acquire, inherit, borrow and purchase stuff for the rest of our lives. We cherish certain items for sentimental, investment or aesthetic reasons and we hold on to things that have no meaning whatsoever, usually because we don’t know what to do with them or in some cases we don’t even know we have them.

Have you heard of Marie Kondo, also known as Konmari? She’s an organizational consultant, author of four books, including The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up; she’s also the star of the successful Netflix series, Tidying Up.

Marie’s method of organizing and decluttering is called the KonMari Method.™  It’s best described as a way of life or a state of mind that focuses on appreciating and keeping only the items we have that spark joy, while surrendering what no longer sparks joy, after acknowledging and thanking each item. There’s a specific process, beginning with our clothing and ending with sentimental items. The shift in the people whose lives are changed by Marie’s magic is actually very inspiring and shines a light on the real problem we have in North America when it comes to our need to acquire and hold on to things.

Marie compassionately walks her clients through the KonMari process, helping them recognize that when we only keep items that spark joy, our lives feel lighter, we feel more relaxed in our environment and some of the items we surrender become available to spark joy for someone else. It’s a powerful lesson that is initially frightening and overwhelming but creates freedom and empowers everyone who participates in the process.

Marie Kondo is a very gentle person with a soft voice and an easy smile, who doesn’t judge her clients. She loves a mess, she says, because she loves tidying up and once her clients grasp the concept and really examine what sparks joy for them, the process of surrendering what doesn’t serve them or as Marie says, spark joy for them, helps create a feeling of freedom.

This idea of surrendering what doesn’t serve us or what doesn’t spark joy isn’t just about our physical possessions, the best research suggests that each of us has between 20,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day, many of them are stored from childhood and most of them do anything but spark joy, wouldn’t you agree?

De-cluttering our thoughts is as important as de-cluttering our things, when you consider that the only areas in our lives that we really have control over are our thoughts and our things. We can’t control life’s events and we can’t control other people. In the same way that we can choose to keep only the belongings that spark joy, we can acknowledge untruths and surrender them, to make room for ideas and thoughts that actually make us feel good.

I believe it was Einstein who said “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” If we unpack the conditioned thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and our place in the world, we can usually trace some of it back to something someone said to us even as children, or something we read or saw in the media and when repeated over and over becomes a belief. The most important question to ask is: is the thought or belief true?

There are so many examples we could look at but for a moment let’s examine the idea of aging. In North American society, the accepted view is if we’re old, we’re irrelevant. Is that true? I believe the answer is no and it’s up to each one of us to defy that ridiculous idea and bring our best to every day. It’s not about fighting against anything, it’s about leading the way and showing others what it looks like to be a mature, ageless thinker who believes every person is relevant. The focus of our thoughts then must be on what sparks joy and what makes us feel connected and relevant in the world today.

I love the concept of Freedom Living that The Wellings embraces because it really embodies what it is to age gratefully. Freedom living recognizes that this gift of aging is about saying yes to what sparks joy and giving ourselves permission to let people and situations that cause drama or clutter slide on by, after acknowledging and thanking them, as Marie Kondo would have us do.

The Secret to Making Achievable New Year’s Resolutions

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions has been around for centuries, beginning with the ancient Babylonians, whose custom of celebrating a new year in March, when crops were planted, focused on a 12 day religious festival. During the celebration, a new king was crowned or loyalty to the reigning king was affirmed and promises to pay debt and return any borrowed items were made. The idea was that if people honoured their resolutions, the gods would smile on them and if not they’d potentially be punished by the same gods.

In the 4,000 years since, as  societies have evolved, quite a few things have changed but the idea of making a promise still remains except now it seems we set rather unrealistic goals; in effect we set ourselves up to let ourselves down. I have a few helpful ideas that might feel more resonant in 2020.

A recent New Year’s Eve poll conducted on CTV Ottawa, indicated that 78% of respondents do not make New Year’s resolutions; of the 22% who say they do set resolutions, we can assume that a good percentage of them will fail to reach their goals. Visit your local gym during the first week of January; then during the first week of April and you’ll see evidence of this fascinating human behavior.

So why do we set ourselves up to fail? Wouldn’t it make more sense to set achievable New Year’s resolutions? Instead of committing to losing weight, quitting smoking, eating clean or any of the other predictable and often unrealistic goals we set on the first day of a new year, why not look at the idea of resolutions in a slightly different way. How about shifting habits from the inside out instead of the other way around?

The way we think of New Year’s resolutions is about deferred happiness: I’ll feel better or I’ll be happier with myself when I……..fill in the blank with any number of objectives. If the true goal of a resolution is to improve your life, wouldn’t it be more powerful to focus your thoughts on that improvement? Doesn’t it make more sense to be focused on appreciation for what you already have in your life by listing three to five things you’re grateful for every day instead of admonishing yourself for enjoying a cupcake?

The folks at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center tell us that focusing on being thankful and expressing appreciation change the molecular structure of the brain and it’s believed that people who experience more positive emotions feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

I believe that courage is our superpower and yet many of us feel less and less courageous, the longer we’re on earth. Fear is a very powerful force and its job is to keep us safe but it also can prevent us from trying new things or meeting new people. I’m not suggesting you try swimming with great white sharks but what if you called on courage to help you try something you’ve always wanted to like dancing, yoga or learning a new language? What if you called on courage to help you get moving for fifteen minutes a day? 

Every time you call on your superpower of courage and take action, you’re sending a message to your brain that you’re safe so fear can take a back seat and you can take a step closer to your goal of feeling better about yourself. After all self-improvement and happiness are nurtured by the small steps we take toward feeling good on the inside, which ultimately shows on the outside.

I encourage you to embrace every new day as the gift that it truly is. Let’s let go of resentments that keep us stuck, disappointment, anger and regret that keep us in the past. Let’s greet every day with gratitude and courage. Let’s open our hearts and open our minds; let’s get on with the business of living well. This is going to be a great day.

 

Kathie Donovan
Currently a Wellings Ambassador and Living Well Advisor, Kathie was Canada’s broadcasting sweetheart for almost three decades as well as co-host of the beloved television show Regional Contact. Kathie is a gifted storyteller who shone a light on characters and creative types tucked into small towns. Her love of connecting people, caring and sharing is inspiring. Kathie has authored two books with a third on the way; she continues to build on her annual event “Refresh Your Passion” and other workshops. Kathie’s priorities are to love what she does and live well.

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