Archive | May 2013

How to enjoy time by yourself

alonetime

The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. Moliere

Time is the greatest gift you can give someone but every now and then, you may notice your partner in your relationship needs to spend some time away from you. It may be space following an argument or it may be that they need to go away on business. So when you’re asked to give someone space that you love to spend your time with, how do you start filling in the blank canvas of your life? This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can maximise your time by yourself – whether it’s for a day, a week, a month, a year or a lifetime.

1. Know what you like
It’s actually quite a challenge to know what you like! Every six months I take one day out to be completely mindful to work out what is making me happy and figure out what I enjoy. In a fast-paced world, it’s very easy to lose track of this. Keep a small notebook and pen handy, and every time something resonates with you, and you feel happy, write it down – so you don’t forget! This is how I figured out what I liked and it gave me a focus point for where to direct my spare time in order to soothe any anxiety about being on my own. My list included: skim strawberry milkshakes, looking over the water and listening to music I can relate to. Notice each thing is something that I can do or have on my own that no one else can influence around me? That’s what you need to find and consider the simplest pleasures.

2. Consider how you’re feeling
Sometimes when you are alone, it’s nice to stop and really consider how you are feeling, particularly if you’re feeling isolated, lonely and as though no one cares. If you aren’t feeling ok, now is the time to consider that and start looking at what you need to do to proactively make yourself feel better. What are you feeling? Angry? Sad? Hungry? Tired? Getting connected with how you are feeling is important to avoid trouble behaviours such as over-indulging and over-spending. Sit in a quiet place and ask yourself how you feel, then ask yourself why until you understand fully what you are feeling and why you are feeling the way you do.

3. Plan your time carefully
Most people have a rough plan when they catch up with their friends as to what they will be doing with their time together – whether it’s going out for drinks or dinner or watching a movie etc. What makes catching up with yourself any different? When taking some time out by yourself, it’s a good idea to plan ahead to avoid too many feelings of isolation – particularly if you’re on your own due to a separation or relationship breakdown. A good thing to do may be to go for a walk or participate in some self-soothing exercising.

4. Soothe yourself
Knowing your favourite self-soothing activities is important so you can soothe any anxiety quickly. These may include: phoning a friend or relative, daydreaming, meditating, taking a bath or shower, helping someone else, crying, shopping, cleaning, go for a drive, going for a long walk somewhere there is nice scenery (e.g. by the beach), listen to music, organise things, write in your diary, plan a party or outing with friends, go to the gym, go to sleep, spend time with your pet, cook, eat, reassess your goals, plan your future, sit in the sun, play a sport with friends, go to a concert or to the theatre, get a massage, play an instrument, read something inspiring (possibly Happiness Weekly), go to stand-up comedy, contact someone from your past, volunteer, write a letter, pick flowers, visit a pet store, watch tv or a movie, go perfume shopping, light a candle, take a bubble bath etc.

5. Work out who you are
When I’m on my own, with a blank canvas before me, the first thing I like to do is figure out who I am and who I have become with the external circumstances around me. I then assess who I want to be – figure out how far off track I have become (or if I’m still on track), decide if I like my current self and consider whether I need to change and if so, what I need to do to change. The best way to entirely enjoy time by yourself is by making the time all about you and spending each moment as present and fully as possible. Just as you wouldn’t interrupt someone if they have requested space, try to avoid letting anyone interrupt your time on your own – this time is important for reassessing and recharging.

Top five unapologetic ways to change yourself

change-management-self-resilience

You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Neil Gaiman

Changing yourself is difficult, not only for you – who has to do it – but it can be a scary time for others around you who also feel uncertainty about the future, particularly partners. Change can mean moving forward and leaving some precious people in the past. This week Happiness Weekly discovers five shameless and unapologetic ways to change yourself … without hurting those around you or leaving them behind!

1. Make the decision final
If you have decided to change, then make the choice and stick to it. It’s when you’re airing between being able to change and not changing that it leads to confusion, and people around you will get impatient and possibly hurt. Generally what happens there is you’ll be on the breaks and all of a sudden you’ll accelerate and take everyone around you by surprise … or give them whiplash!

2. Be open about your change
Be positive and open about the changes you want to make. Resist the temptation to blame your partner, it will only hurt them or cause them to become more anxious about what’s ahead. For example you could say “I want to become more assertive because I think it will make me a happier and more fulfilled person, and I could see it impacting our future in a positive way because I’ll be able to step up a little more”, rather than saying something that could come across as more attacking such as: “I want to be more assertive because I feel like you’ve been controlling me because I’m going along with what you want, when I don’t really want it.” Can you see the subtle distinction?

3. Act with good intentions
Be the change you seek, don’t make your changes out of revenge for someone else. Empower yourself and focus your energies on being positive and encouraging other around you to grow. Don’t push people down to make yourself feel stronger, that kind of power is short lived. If you’re always acting with good intentions, your aura will shine to those around you and they will want to be around you through your changes and support you. However, if you choose to change selfishly and you decide not to take others on the journey with you and don’t communicate it, your aura will do the opposite and cause your loved ones to distance themselves and protect themselves from whatever you have in mind. Generally you become secretive and withdrawn when you choose a selfish change, and it’s this kind of change that will leave you very lonely for a while. It doesn’t mean it’s not fruitful in the end, but it’s certainly the harder path to take and while many psychologists support people making changes on their own (at least for six months), it’s not entirely necessary in all cases.

4. Listen to those around you
Everyone is entitled to an opinion – you can’t control everything. But when you’re amongst a lot of change in your life, and you’re soaring and feeling invincible, it’s hard to remember that. You still need to listen to the people who love you because they’re the ones looking out for you. Listening to each other is a very important part of communication. It’s ok to agree to disagree, or call a time out – but neither should leave the room without explaining they’ll be back or saying the conversation is on hold until you have both calmed down. Generally this kind of tension erupts because change is occurring and the person changing feels great and empowered, but the loved one is feeling very vulnerable and anxious because the communication has altered or isn’t flowing as it usually does – this is another reason to act with good intentions – because then they will feel unconditionally looked after. Also try to keep the communication going between you and don’t assume things or act based on assumptions.

5. Continue to act with integrity
If you always act with integrity and continue being true to yourself, then the core you should remain the same while the changes occur. This will also keep your friends and loved ones around because they feel as though they still know you – you will still be your predictable self, with a few additional features that make you mind-blowingly awesome! If you do decide to push someone away, do it openly and honestly – communicate what is happening and why it is happening, and again, stick to that decision to avoid any hurt or confusion later. There is nothing wrong with road-mapping a change together with your loved ones and going on the journey in partnership, in fact it could be healthy! Some people prefer making changes alone, some people need to make their changes alone, but if you can do it shadowboxing with a partner, it’s not such a lonely or daunting ride.

Communication is 90% of your relationship. Don’t forget to work on it every day!

Good food to boost your mood

GoodFoodMan

Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn

Yesterday – Monday, 6 May 2013 – was international no Diet Day, an annual celebration of body acceptance and body shape diversity. It is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle and raising awareness of the dangers and ineffectiveness of dieting.

British feminist Mary Evans Young organised the first No Diet Day in 1992, motivated by her own experiences after being bullied as an overweight child. This week to celebrate, Happiness Weekly looks at good food that will boost your mood – these options will brighten your day!

Fish
Two omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, are found in oily fish such as mackerel, barramundi, trout, salmon and sardines. Eat these and any signs of depression will be reduced as these types of fish contain Omega-3s that promote functioning of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Omega 3 fats keep your brain healthy and improve mood by keeping brain cells flexible so the messaging chemicals (neurotransmitters) can work effectively.

Water
The smallest water loss in our bodies can impair our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s extremely important that we’re hydrated to be able to concentrate properly.

Dark chocolate
A small square of dark chocolate can cause the brain to release endorphins and boost serotonin levels. Theobromine and phenylethyamine are two mood-boosting compounds found in chocolate. An ounce of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate daily for two weeks will reduce stress and anxiety. It may also improve the quality of your sex life!

Nuts
Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid – a form of omega-3 fat also found in flaxseed and chia seed. Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of mineral selenium. Eating just three Brazil nuts a day can provide your recommended daily amount.

Greek yoghurt
Greek yoghurt is the yoghurt of choice because it contains twice as much protein as traditional yoghurt, which means it will raise your mood-boosting neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Yoghurt also contains Vitamin D (best received by sunlight on the skin – but this is the next best way to take it) which reduces health conditions such as depression, osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. It also contains Calcium which reduces stress and anxiety.

Bananas
Bananas are one of the best super foods you can eat – they help boost your mood and aid with good sleep. They contain vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron, carbohydrates and tryptophan. The carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain and the vitamin B6 helps to convert it into serotonin. Subsequently bananas have been used in treatments for insomnia, depression and anxiety. Plus the potassium they contain makes them a great snack if you’re feeling stressed or tired and they also aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, heart rhythm and muscle function!

Lentils
Lentils are a complex carbohydrate and they enhance the brain’s production of serotonin resulting in a calmer, happier state of mind. They are high in iron which can give you energy and may improve your mood. While lentils are highly recommended for everyone, they are particularly good for those with diabetes (our fastest growing incurable disease epidemic), because they stabilise your blood sugar level and stabilise mood. They are high in folate (deficiencies in folate can cause depression and mania).

Oats
Oats boost your mood because they have a low glycaemic index (GI) meaning it releases energy into our bloodstream slowly. This maintains blood sugar levels and stabilises the mood. Selenium, found in oats, can also assist mood by regulating the thyroid gland function.

Quinoa
People who eat a low-carb diet are more likely to experience depression because they reduce the production of serotonin to your brain. However, those who stick to a low-fat diet and eat nutrient-rich carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta are happier.

Low-fat milk
Milk, fish and some fortified foods are reliable sources of vitamin D – the sun vitamin.

Poultry (chicken or turkey)
Chicken or turkey breast contain tryptophan and therefore assist in producing serotonin, which helps to regulate mood and melatonin which helps to regulate sleep. Poultry also contains tyrosine, an amino acid used to make adrenaline and reduces symptoms of depression.

Extra virgin olive oil
People that follow a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fish, legumes and vegetable are 30% less likely to suffer from depression.

Green leafy vegetables
Generally anything leafy green is a good source of vitamin B folate. Women with the high blood folate levels are less likely to suffer depressive symptoms. Eating green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli will help you get your vitamin B intake and avoid depression and/or depressive symptoms. B vitamins to look out for include folate, vitamin B3, B6 and B12.

Oysters
Oysters are high in many essential nutrients such as zinc – essential for energy production and brain health meaning it assists with mood. They also contain a protein rich in tyrosine which your brain uses to produce chemicals to enhance your mental function and elevate mood.

Now that we are going into winter in Australia, many people are feeling the winter blues (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder) approaching and there are some foods that may also assist your mood that aren’t included in the above list. These foods are:

Oranges contain vitamin C and will help boost your mood, give instant energy, pump oxygen through your body and brain, and recharge your system. They’re a great snack or you can have it first thing in the morning to help you get started each day.

Eat plenty of salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines or look for DHA-fortified foods such as Horizon, Silk Milks, Gold Circle farm eggs and Mission Life Balance tortillas. Omega-3 (found in all these foods) helps brain cells, mood and memory – and you will feel full for hours! These foods will also improve your outlook today while cutting down your risk of dementia down the track.

Of course soup in winter helps us all to feel good because it’s warm and comforting, but a good bowl of chicken soup with veggies has the water-fibre-protein that fills you up without you gaining weight. For an extra helping of happiness, your soup should be loaded with dark green and orange veggies (collards, carrots and squash cubes) which are full of vitamins to improve mood, brainpower and immunity.

Burgers and/or meat sauce made with lean beef (or black bean for vegetarians) are a great source of iron. Iron deficiencies affect thinking and sleeping which impact your mood. Try to drink your tea and coffee between meals because they can block iron absorption.

Skip the chocolate during your 3 o’clock slump and grab an English muffin slathered with jam to raise your serotonin, a bowl of popcorn or sorbet with berries. It will help you relax and hit the spot with your cravings!

Blueberries are a superfuit because of their antioxidents and their ability to promote positive energy. Frozen blueberries are a great alternative to ice cream!

Dried tart cherries before bed will help improve your sleep quality because of their melatonin. They also contain enough serotonin to help you sleep properly and provide you with a great mood the next morning. Bonus!

What food puts you in a good mood?

Why being an opportunist is a good thing

an-opportunist

Opportunist is a person who starts taking bath if he accidentally falls into a river. Optimist is a person who while falling from Eiffel tower says in midway “See I am not injured yet”. Aquarius

A lot of people classify “opportunists” – particularly in the workplace – as manipulative, and it brings with it many negative connotations. Opportunism is the most misunderstand yet highest-impact approach to decision-making.

What is wrong with making the best of a situation you find yourself in?

Not long ago, I read a fantastic quote by Art Linkletter: “Things turn out best, for the people who make the best of the way things turn out”. With that in mind, this week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can be an opportunist and make the best of the way things have turned out for you.

What is an opportunist?
Opportunism is “the practice of looking for and using opportunities to gain an advantage for oneself, without considering if this is fair or right,” The Oxford Dictionary. When broken down further, it can be more positively defined as someone that finds and takes advantage of opportunities.

Description of an opportunist
An opportunist:
- Sees all current opportunities as an opportunity of a lifetime – and is tempted to take them all – they seize the moment
– Is open to everything – there’s no room for stubborn thinking or narrow minds
– Is optimistic with built-in affirmations: “good things will happen to me”, “I can overcome obstacles”, “life and people are generally good”, “I am capable of achieving my values and goals”
– Is decisive and proactive
– Is motivated by new opportunities and are often lost when an opportunity is fulfilled
– Sets goals, knows what they want, is visionary, informed and positive
– Acknowledges that outcomes may not be the result of hard work and is humble enough to know external factors may influence their outcomes
– Is flexible and adaptable to change, they view the world differently to others
– Takes action and solves problems quickly
– Has a heightened sense of awareness for themselves and the environment around them.

opportunist3

How you can be an opportunist
The key to being an opportunist is effective and quick problem solving skills – when an opportunity presents itself, take it! Don’t over think it.

Know what you want. Once you know what you want, you can consider how you will get it. Act assertively in getting what you want.

Be prepared. Consider the outcomes of all scenarios before you begin. Following through with something once you get somewhere is very important – always have goals to push through to after you’ve achieved a success.

Be aware. Use all situations to your advantage, don’t let minor incidents wreck your day, instead look at how you can be productive in managing your time. Expand your circle of influence and stay in touch with your connections.

Improvise. Be as creative as possible and use what you have at hand for a temporary solution.

Act quickly. Often an effective solution hinges on a speedy response. Be decisive and once a decision is made – stick to it!

Learn from your mistakes. Keep trying different ways to do things until you find a way that works for you. Similar to the quote: “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work!”

Be positive and persistent. Build on your self-motivation skills. Consider anything that doesn’t appear to be a success as practice and keep trying. Be confident. Believe in yourself so you can make things happen! You can do, learn, or delegate just about anything.

Polish your skills. An opportunist has a great sense of timing and leverage, they’re adaptable and willing to make changes and disrupt procedures.

Be proactive. Look for new and improved ways to do things.

Be accountable. Know when to bend the rules, take responsibility, redress wrongs or explain yourself.

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The problem with being an opportunist:
* Sometimes the solutions you find just won’t do the job as efficiently as you’d hope
* You may become selfish (but this is in your control).

Orison Swett Marden said: “Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.”

Being an opportunist will certainly change your perception on life. It’ll help you in making the most of all situations. What did you do recently that was opportunistic and what was the outcome?

On Monday we celebrated “Make a wish day”

MakingaWish

On Monday, 29 April it was International Make a Wish Day – a day of wish granting for thousands of children with life-threatening medical conditions across 41 countries. Make a Wish grants wishes to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

The day commemorates the anniversary of when seven-year-old Chris Greicius became a police officer for a day in Phoenix, Arizona on 29 April 1980 – his wish was granted. To celebrate the day, Make-a-Wish affiliates and supporters from all over the world host wish-granting events in their communities and online. For more information, visit their website.

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