Monday, January 30, 2012

A Vivacious 7! Seems Appropriate!?

Good Monday Morning! 

By looking at my previous posts it should be apparent that, to me, a key aspect of being better tuned in to all that is wonderful around us is to be 'mindful' of our surroundings and ourselves.  Specifically, being aware of ourselves - who we are, and why we are - seems to be most important in really being able to appreciate our environment.  While I'm a big fan of introspection and having awareness of our personality and behavior, I'm even more interested in understanding the 'why' behind it all.

When we have a better understanding as to why we may behave the way we do, think the way we think, and feel the way we feel, we are better able to give ourselves the opportunity to get more out of life.  We will make better decisions while being more understanding, confident and secure about those decisions and ourselves.

This being said, I find great interest and benefit in personality tests.  Now, I'm not talking about the ones that determine what your 'Inner Chinese Power Animal' is or your compatibility with others - as all personality tests are NOT created equal.  There are a few that I had learned about during school and work, but my most recent fascination is a test called the Enneagram Test, brought to my attention by a friend of mine who is a Nurse Practitioner.  This test, that she had learned about during her schooling, basically breaks down into 9 possible personality types.  Descriptions of each of the personality types touches base on it's basic fear, basic desire, key motivations, as well as healthy levels and unhealthy levels within the personality. 

My friend, already knowing her number, encouraged my husband and I to take the test as it is not just helpful in understanding yourself, but also in understanding and accepting others.  She had predicted from the start that I would be a 7, and low and behold, she was spot on.  One descriptive attribute of a 7 - being vivacious, how fitting!  My husband turned out to be a 6.  We were amazed at how accurately we identified with each of our types!

So, are you ready to have a little fun on your Monday morning?  Below I have attached links to the online test we took, and an in depth description of each type.  If you have some free time, take the test and get your spouse/significant other and friends to take it as well.  You just may learn a little something about yourself and the people around you!

Below is the link to the test.  REMEMBER - answer each question honestly and as you think and feel in the present, NOT how you picture your ideal self!  There are no 'bad' answers and all personality types have positive and negative attributes - so you don't try and cheat yourself to a 'better' personality.

Below is the link to an in depth description of each personality type.  Try to wait until after you take the test to read up on yours and the others if you choose!

Have Fun!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Have a Loving Weekend, Friends!

It's Friday everyone!  Let's kick off the weekend right and today let's remember to 'love the unlovable'.  That rude co-worker, the miserably unpleasant lady at the grocey store, anyone who may enter your life that is hating on the world today - go be the good in theirs!

Be kind, be courteous.  You're just what they need!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What are you waiting for?

I was at my indoor climbing gym last night and was watching as some people were attempting a fairly hard bouldering problem that involved a 'double dyno' to the next hold.  For those who have yet to give rock climbing a try (and I highly recommend that you do!), a double dyno is when the next hand hold is out of reach, so your only option is to jump from your current position on the rock face and attempt to grab the hold with both hands.  I watched as numerous people attempted the move, some being successful and some not.  Eventually, I felt as though I had a good grasp on how to approach the problem and figured I would give it a go.  I got myself where I needed to be, focused on the hold, envisioned my leap towards it....  and then never followed through.

- "What if I don't make it?"
- "I'm going to look stupid!"
- "People are watching me!"

These were the things that rang through my head as I tried to focus on what I wanted to do, and in the end prevented me from even trying. 

As I recounted (and regretted) this tiny moment on my drive home, it made me think of how often we let our fear of failure and concern for what others might say or think hold us back.  I bet we all can think of things in our lives we really wish that we could do and have thus far been too afraid to try.  Now ask yourself 'Why?'     .......      Exactly.

Today and in the days to come, I encourage you to stop discounting yourself and your abilities and to stop worrying about what others may think.  There is no 'failure' in life, only redirection - erase it from your vocabulary.  Instead, stay true to your passions, no matter how big or how small, how ordinary or different.  Follow their lead.  Start doing.  Always take that first leap.  You will never regret 'trying', and your successes will only lead to a happier, more fulfilled you!

(P.S. - I find my sources of inspiration for these blog posts comical...  such minuscule nuggets in my day seem to spawn such elaborate thoughts!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Value of the Material World

I have a snow day today!  Spending the morning with my husband and the dogs playing and working in the snow reminded me how much I love winter and miss Maine.  It's so beautiful and magical to wake up to a winter wonderland!

Today had me thinking about the 'things' we have in our life and their value.  As my husband and I were turning onto our street after a fun morning in the park with our dogs, my coffee spilled all over the dashboard of our vehicle and consequently down into speaker, vent, and who knows where else.  I promptly reacted by grabbing my knit hat off my head and mopping up what I could in the moment, meanwhile, the lighthearted and somewhat boisterous car ride had become uncomfortably silent....

"This is a wonderful day.  Let's not let an accident ruin it."

I left those two little sentences hanging in the air as I hopped out of the vehicle and off to get cleaning supplies.  A gentle reminder to us both.

*   *    *

We all are the owners of 'material things'.  We invest time and effort to attain an item and it hopefully serves a purpose for us for which we can appreciate and maybe even admire it.  We all have also had accidents in which we have lost or damaged items of value.  While frustrating, disappointing, and an overall let down, did such an accident ever anger you?  I bet we can all answer 'yes' to this one.

While disappointment with such an event is to be expected, responding with anger only signifies that we have allowed the perceived value of an item to overshadow that which is invaluable in life.  It's important to remind ourselves that lost or damaged material items can always be fixed or replaced, but the time wasted and the damage done to our relationships when we respond with blame and anger is forever imprinted on our lives and the lives of others - it cannot be undone, it cannot be replaced.

So, appreciate and value the 'things' you may have in life, but never allow them control - they are here to merely serve a purpose of convenience and/or entertainment, not happiness and fulfillment.  That is only found within ourselves and our relationships with others.

Shine on, Friends!

Friday, January 13, 2012

You are what you think...

This past Christmas I had sent a text message to my sister-in-law asking her about what she thought of one of her gifts and whether she liked it or not.  She kindly responded that she loved it and that I needed to stop the 'mental chatter'.  I couldn't help but smirk to myself and chuckle.  Mental chatter....  clever.

A few years ago I began to truly realize that the quality of my life was being determined by my quality of my thoughts.  I came to an understanding that despite my best efforts, I cannot control everything that happens in my life, however, I CAN control my thought process.  The constant over analyzing and harboring of worry, anger and fear was only serving to make things MORE difficult.  These 'runaway' thoughts were able to consume my mind and steal my ability to see the joy in anything else!  It was obvious that I had two options before me - remain allowing my thoughts to get the best of me and my days, or change the way I thought.

Life will always be inundated with a constant stream of thoughts internally chit-chatting away with ideas, imaginations, concerns, questions, replays of happy events, nagging upsetting events, and way too many 'things' to ever list. This mental chatter is the most intimate, secretive and direct reflection of who we are and our outlook on life.  It is what leads us through our day - the precursor that determines everything we do.  While we can't effectively silence the chatter, we can train ourselves to sift through the ruckus.  By becoming more aware of what is going on in our mind, we can start actually listening to what we are thinking.  As we begin listening, we are able to ask ourselves a few very simple questions to help keep our thoughts in perspective... 

-  "Is what I am thinking rational and factual to what is going on, or have my thoughts become runaways that are exaggerated?"  (If factual, what can I do to modify the situation?  If exaggerated, let's slow myself down, focus on the facts of the situation and determine what my best course of action is.)
"Is worrying about 'X' going to change the outcome?"  (The answer to this one is always NO! So, I will take it as it comes, accept it, and jovially move on with life.) 
"Is getting upset about 'X' going to change the fact that it happened/is happening?"  (Again, always a big, fat NO!)

By determining what issues at hand can actually be influenced by a response or action, we become better able to prioritize what actually needs our attention and what we need to let go of and move on from.  This will instantly cut down on the mental clutter that may be clouding your outlook on life and reducing it's quality.  Why ruminate on the things we cannot change that are weighing us down?  Instead, use that brain space for that which is useful and positive.  Remember - we ARE our thoughts!  If you cannot see the good in life, you cannot be the good in life!

Next time you find yourself worrying or feeling upset about something, try asking those three little questions and answering them honestly.  It's not always easy and will always be a work in progress, as life will never be devoid of stressors, but gaining the ability to brush off and maybe even laugh at those things that fall under the 'not worth another thought' category can make all the difference in how you view and behave in your day. Before you know it, a brighter, happier disposition will be second nature and you'll be asking yourself why you spent so long living under that rain cloud!

Have a wonderful weekend!  Stay Happy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eat your way to a happier you!

Winter is in full swing (sort of, the snow has yet to get the memo), which means shorter, darker days and an increased liklihood of feeling a little gloomy.  Did you know that you can help combat those winter blues with the help of Omega-3 fatty acid?  You heard right!  Treating yourself to a big seafood dinner will not only taste great, but it may help to make you happier.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, consumption of omega-3's may not only help to stave off mood disorders such as bi-polar disorder and post-partum depression, but supplementation with the essential fatty acid has become widely supported as having a distinct antidepressant role.

Going back to basic anatomy and physiology, our brain and nervous system is largely made up of fat and depends on omega-3 essential fatty acids as basic building blocks that are crucial to it's function.  We call them 'essential' because our bodies are incapable of creating omega-3's on its own, thus, they must be incorporated into our diet.

So, what is on the menu?  Here are some Omega-3 rich powerhouses:

-Flaxseed oil & Flaxseed seeds
-Fish oil (salmon)
-Salmon  (preferrably Coho)
-Fresh basil
-Romain lettuce

With the ever increasing bombardment of nutrient deficient, processed foods finding their way into our lives, it has become more and more important to practice mindful eating.  Whole, healthy foods in their truest form will provide the most benefit.  Just about any disease or illness out there can be linked to the insults we put upon our bodies, and I'm not just talking diet. (but that is for another day)

So - eat healthy, feel good, be happy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

On life and aging... yes, I understand I'm only 25.

I'm the youngest in my Monday morning yoga class.  This is just a rough estimate, but I would guess that everyone with the exception of the instructor is old enough to be my parent with the possibility of a few grandparents thrown in the mix.  That being said, this morning as we were all tinkering around on our mats waiting for class to start, I was listening in on the conversation surrounding me...

"I wouldn't ever go back in life.", "You know what they say, you always wish you knew then what you know now!", "I would never want to relive my 20's and 30's!" - these were just a few of the notable comments made in the conversation.

I, of course, being of the general age they were referring to, just listened quietly from the back of the class.  I've heard people of this age group say these things a million times (at least), but I still sat there wondering if everyone feels this way when they start to reach their 50's and beyond.  What I will think of my current self in 20 years?  Will I really be happy it's over?  'Cause I think I'm having a pretty good time!

I understand that life contains a lot of trial and error.  You'll have times when things fall into place, and times when nothing goes as planned or desired.  Life contains a lot of learning from your mistakes, and generally, the younger you are the more mistakes there are to be made.  I get that, however, I don't like the idea of looking back at these events as hardships we wished we had never endured.  I think we should appreciate them.  Respect them.  If life was just rolled out with a red carpet for us, we would never have opportunities to become better individuals.  Without mistakes, we are never forced to reexamine ourselves and our actions.  Through success we reinforce our personal strengths.  This eb and flow in life serves to mold us into the best we can be, should we choose to pay attention to it and heed it's advice...  Imperfection is important.

So, friends, do all you can to make the best of every second of your life.  Pay close attention to what works and what doesn't for you personally.  Savor everyday's little successes, and see the unexpected as an opportunity.  I think with this outlook, we will be able to better appreciate where we have been, and further enjoy where we are going.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Tip

Today's challenge: Instead of complaining or remaining frustrated over something upsetting someone did or said to you, brush it off and remind yourself of how you are not going to fall to their level.

Misery may love company, but you'll just have to take an indefinite rain check on this one....

Have a lovely Sunday!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Tonight's post will hopefully be short but sweet.

Today was my first day as a ski instructor in an adaptive program for physically and intellectually disabled children.  I woke up amped to be spending the day on the snow, but very nervous about what I was actually getting myself into...

That all changed once I met my student.

Not only was I pumped to be skiing, but I was now pumped to see the grin - hear the laughter - experience the joy - and be the reason behind it!  Sure, I was this person's eyes to navigate the mountain and it's obstacles safely.  Yes, I was their physical strength to maintain their balance, control their speed and slow them to a stop.  And absolutely, it is hard work that is taxing mentally and physically....  but I am blessed enough to have these attributes that I take for granted on a daily basis - my student, however, is not.  It is the least I can do to spend 6 weeks lending my abilities to this person and allowing them the opportunity to feel the same excitement and happiness that I am fortunate enough experience whenever I want.  The least I can do.

Maybe this will inspire some of you to do something special or out of the ordinary for someone less fortunate than you.  It doesn't have to be an elaborate plan or commitment.  If you pay attention to the people around you in your everday life - at the store, in the gym, maybe at work - you will start notice the small opportunities to use your talents to help friends, family and strangers alike.

Peace & Love

Friday, January 6, 2012

Resolution Time!

'Tis the season of positive changes!  Any exciting resolutions to kick off 2012?

Personally, I'm not a believer of setting a 'start' date for a resolution.  With any significant change I want to make, I first have to truly understand and believe in why the change is needed - not just desired.  When that 'aha!' moment finally happens, I become commited that day.  In the very moment I am living.

That being said, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about self improvement on a daily basis and not just around the turn of a new year.  I spend every morning thinking about how I am going to make my day as happy and positive as possible for me and those around me, as well as visualize how I want to react when faced with an unexpected challenge or obstacle.  Above anything else in my day, if I have smiled, laughed, had fun, and portrayed that same amount of joy to the world - I have been successful.  This reflection and internal pep-talk over my morning coffee allows me to be more in tune and aware of fulfilling that daily goal.  I encourage everyone to take a few minutes everyday to meditate on how they handled the events of the previous day and ways they would like to improve themselves for today.  You may be surprised in how aware you become of your actions and reactions to the events of your day!

Stay Happy, Friends!