Happy? Try this

You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body.Shawn Achor

I’ve read numerous books written by several happiness specialists, PhD’s, psychologists and layman, on the subject (and talked with them as well) and implemented many of their suggestions regarding happiness into my life. What’s become quite apparent from my conversations and my reading is that happiness, like most things, is a learned skill. It’s something that you actively have to work at.

  1. Gratitude

Psychologist Robert Emmons, who has spent nearly his entire career studying gratitude, has found that few things in life are as integral to our well-being. Countless other studies have shown that consistently grateful people are more energetic, emotionally intelligent, forgiving, and less likely to be depressed, anxious, or lonely. And it’s not that people are only grateful because they are happier; gratitude has proven to be a significant cause of positive outcomes. When researchers pick random volunteers and train them to be more grateful over a period of a few weeks, they become happier and more optimistic, feel more socially connected, enjoy better quality sleep, and even experience fewer headaches than control groups.”Shawn Achor

A daily gratitude practice can have a profound impact on your life. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to be grateful for the massive raise you got, the round of funding your company just received, or the book that sold a million copies. If that’s all you’re ever grateful for, you’ll be continually dissatisfied. It can be as simple as being grateful for the shorter line at Starbucks this morning. “I don’t have time for gratitude” say some. But quite simply, first thing in the morning when you wake, just say a prayer or to yourself a few things you’re grateful for and watch your world begin to change.

cat nap

  1. A Good Night’s Sleep

While we sleep, the brain is able to get rid of toxins, including proteins that are associate with Alzheimer’s disease.Arianna Huffington

After twice having collapsed from sheer exhaustion, sleep is not a luxury to me but an absolute necessity. When I don’t sleep well, my productivity, creativity, and overall level of performance don’t just suffer the next day, but for multiple days after. And those around me take the brunt of my foul mood. A good night’s sleep might be the most underrated life hack at our disposal. Gone are the days where you brag about only needed 5 hours of sleep or hearing at a dinner party, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” because, frankly, if they don’t get enough sleep, they may be dead sooner than they think.

  1. Exercise

In his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Fitness, John Raty cites exercise as one of the major cures for nearly every mental health ailment we face. If you’ve ever gone to the gym when your comfy couch kept calling you to stay, you’ve probably noticed that you come home feeling much better. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make us happier. It’s not a coincidence that many of the world’s most successful and happy people are extremely physically active.

  1. Meditation

Neuroscientists have found that monks who spend years meditating actually grow their left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most responsible for feeling happy. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend years in sequestered, celibate silence to experience a boost. Take just five minutes each day to watch your breath go in and out.”Shawn Achor

Quite frequently our anxiety and unhappiness are a result of dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. That’s where meditation comes in. It teaches us to be present, even if it is just for a brief window of time each day. What you’ll notice however is that as you meditate more, you’ll be able to stay present and focused for longer periods of time. And if you think you don’t have time for meditation, read 10% Happier by Dan Harris. Dan is the co-anchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. He regularly reports for 20/20, World News with Diane Sawyer and the weekday editions of Good Morning America. If he can find time to meditate…so can you. Get it here

  1. Do Deep Work

A workday drive by the shallow, from a neurological perspective, is likely to be a draining and upsetting day, even if most the shallow things that capture your attention seem harmless and fun- Cal Newport

All you have to do is compare a day spent mindlessly binging on social media to a day deeply immersed in something you care about, and it becomes clear why deep work makes us happier people. When you do deep work (something that fuels you, that you have passion for or being in service of others), you spend more time in flow, which in turn will make you much happier.

In my experience, doing these things doesn’t just make you happier. They make you more productive, creative, focused and successful. Give them a try for 21 days and let me know what happens.

 

Thanks for the cool pics:

Photo by Tara Raye on Unsplash

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

Global Visionary, Pioneer, Innovator from L’Oreal Paris and Chanel to Beautycounter!

You know it’s gotta be good when it was created by the man who used to run CHANEL’s Cosmetic Research Center, and L’Oreal Paris, right? Xavier Ormancey is now the Head of Product Development at Beautycounter. And he has created a patent pending monster of a lotion – Countermatch Regimen

Here’s the 411:

  • Countermatch Lotions use Bio-Mimic Technology to adjust hydration levels throughout the day. The result – a smooth look and feel, and a radiant glow.
  • Made with the unique “life-giving properties of plants” to match the structure of the skin, giving your skin exactly what it needs and nothing it doesn’t.
  • It’s made for all skin types WITHOUT silicones or synthetic polymers.
  • It does NOT disappoint!

 

 

countermatchcountermatch-explainercountermatch-explainer-2countermatch-explainer-3

Why We Need To Unplug

Now, more than ever before, it’s quite easy to get into a state of overwhelm. Our world is filled with more stimuli and a never-ending barrage of notifications, updates, ads, and pulls for your attention. One great quote that helps put our relationship with technology in check, is from one of the ultimate founders of creative technology, Steve Jobs. “We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much – if at all.” Wow!

This statement is packed with truth, and it’s an excellent reminder that we are here to live, not be swallowed up by the virtual worlds of technology and social media. Creating time in your life to unplug and disconnect is essential to your overall health. Your brain needs a break from constant stimulation to recharge, and although technology helps us to stay connected, constant connection is not natural and can even be harmful. Here are some of the best reasons why we should disconnect on a regular basis:

To Live in the Present

When we pick up our phone at our dinner table or start sending emails first thing in the morning, we’re immediately removing ourselves from the present moment. By stepping away from technology, we are creating the space we need to live fully and completely in the present. It’s hard to truly enjoy the NOW while also tweeting, posting, and texting. We only get one life, and it’s best to enjoy the present moment as much as we possibly can. Think about this; are you one to grab your phone before getting out of bed in the morning? Do you start reading and responding to emails before greeting the day or worse yet, your significant other?

To Make Space for Creation

When we are constantly plugged into technology, we’re in a state of consumption. In order to be able to create, we need to unplug and let ourselves enter the flow of creativity. If we’re constantly bombarding our brains with information, we won’t have the mental capacity to create. Our brains are not built to handle constant input.

To Find Solitude

One of the keys to long-lasting health and longevity is seeking solitude and stillness. In our hyper, always-connected world, it can take real effort to find peaceful moments of alone time. Putting your phone down…just try, and your laptop away allows you to spend time with just yourself. Start by scheduling one hour of solitude per week, and watch a greater sense of calm enter your life.

To Reduce Urgency

In a world of emails and texts, things that are not urgent can become an emergency. There’s always going to be a breaking news update or a project that needs our attention or an email that we feel needs an immediate reply. But it’s important to take a step back and remember what is truly urgent, and what can wait. Ask yourself, “Can this email/text wait”? When we unplug, we regain a sense of harmony and balance that lets us see where we should focus our attention first.

To Reduce Negative Feelings

Social media is wonderful (or so we’re told) for helping us build connections with friends, family, and other like-minded people. But it also has a downside too. It can foster a habit for comparison and create feelings of jealousy, or fear of missing out, or even, loneliness. Life goes in stages, and most people only post their happiest, best versions of themselves on social media. It can be hard to remain grounded in reality and easy to slip into the trap of comparison and envy. The best solution is to limit your time spent on social media channels and only follow people and accounts that make you feel good and lift you up.

To Give Yourself a Break

One of the best things you can do is to choose an extended period of time when you will take a conscious break from technology. Think of it as an unplugging vacation. By setting this time aside and consciously sticking to it, you will get to feel what life without the constant barrage of technology feels like. And it will be easier for you to adapt some unplugging strategies into your everyday life. Taking a technology-free vacation, whether at home or on a retreat, is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.

I wish you peace.

Photo by JodyHongFilms on Unsplash

SIX WAYS TO HYDRATE SKIN WITH SAFER OILS

I just love the company I work for! And my boss is amazing (um…that’s me) I’m an independent consultant 😉

At Beautycounter, we support organizations working on the front lines of health issues that impact every family. Through our partnerships with cancer organizations, we have learned that cancer treatments tend to leave skin incredibly dry and that conventional lotions fail to provide adequate hydration.

To that end, we know that our facial oils are perfect for nourishing skin, so we teamed up with our clients to donate 5,000 of our best-selling mini facial oil gift sets to patients currently undergoing cancer treatments at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC). The JCCC serves 20,000 patients per year and is internationally known for providing the best in experimental and traditional cancer treatments. It delivers medical advances to patients and their families, educate health-care professionals and the public, and reaches out to underserved populations, making the organization an ideal partner.

Included in every gift set was a tip card with ideas on how to use the facial oils, as well as other safer oils commonly found around the house to nourish, soothe, and hydrate dry skin. You can try these tips out at home, too!

Beautycounter Facial Oils

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Boost Your Moisturizer

If your skin is dull or feeling tired, add three or four drops of a Beautycounter facial oil to your daily moisturizer.

Add Glow Under Makeup

For a hint of radiance, tap a few drops of Beautycounter facial oil onto a bare face using your fingertips. Then, apply foundation and/or powder.

Revive Dry Elbows

Elbows are especially prone to chronic dryness. Thanks to the concentrated nature of Beautycounter facial oils, a single drop can help alleviate dry, rough patches.

Soften Cuticles

A bad manicure or chilly temps during the winter months can fray cuticles. Help reverse the damage by applying any jasmine oil—including our No. 2 Plumping Facial Oil—which can restore moisture to cuticles.

Other Nourishing Oils

Full Body Hydration

Coconut oil is extremely hydrating, and you can find it at any grocery store. Rub a small amount on your lips to soothe chapping, or apply to your face and body for post-sun soothing.

Remove Makeup

To remove makeup, put a few drops of jojoba oil onto a damp cotton pad or massage the oil into your face, then wipe it off with a dry cloth. Beautycounter Instant Eye Makeup Remover—made with nourishing macadamia and coconut oils—is another great way to safely remove makeup.

Sunshine Cocktail or Mocktail

For those of us who are knee-deep in snow right now (half of the country) – you need a pitcher filled with sunshine!! And this cocktail, or mocktail (no alcohol) will hit the sunny spot. Loaded with strong antioxidant vitamin C, it’s the perfect immunity booster when the dreaded flu hits your house.

INGREDIENTS
3 lemons, cut into quarters
12 fresh sage leaves, torn in half
3 tsp coconut sugar
1.5 C gin (if necessary) do I have to say? – for adults ONLY
1.5 C freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Ice
GARNISH
Sage leaves and grapefruit wheels

DIRECTIONS
Muddle the lemons, one-half of the sage leaves, and the coconut sugar in a pitcher. Add the grapefruit juice, and ice and stir until well combined. If this is for the adults only – add your gin.

Strain the contents of the pitcher into 6 ice-filled rocks glasses. Garnish each with the remaining sage leaves and grapfruit wheels and serve.

Sunshine in a glass!!

Richard Branson’s Tips for Happiness in 2018

Just yesterday, while on the treadmill listening to a Tony Robbins podcast, Tony mentioned that of all the successful entrepreneur’s he’s interviewed in his lifetime, Richard Branson is, by far, the happiest of them all.

Then I got this blog post in my email later that day – a sign from the Universe? Maybe…and also a great read that I had to share –

Richard Branson smiling

I’m often asked: What is the key to success? My answer is always simple: happiness. Happiness should be everyone’s goal, but I understand that it can seem out of reach, with many, for instance, affected by mental health problems that alter their outlook on life.

A few years ago I wrote the following letter for Mind’s book: Dear Stranger, Letters on the subject of happiness.

I re-read it recently and was struck by how much the words still ring true, so I thought I would republish the letter in the hope that my words can help others find the true happiness they deserve in 2018.

Dear Stranger,

You don’t know me but I hear you are going through a tough time, and I would like to help you. I want to be open and honest with you, and let you know that happiness isn’t something just afforded to a special few. It can be yours, if you take the time to let it grow.

It’s OK to be stressed, scared and sad, I certainly have been throughout my life. I’ve confronted my biggest fears time and time again. I’ve cheated death on many adventures, seen loved ones pass away, failed in business, minced my words in front of tough audiences, and had my heart broken.

I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven’t; in fact it’s the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.

Richard Branson

So many people get caught up in doing what they think will make them happy but, in my opinion, this is where they fail. Happiness is not about doing, it’s about being. In order to be happy, you need to think consciously about it. Don’t forget the to-do list, but remember to write a to-be list too.

Kids are often asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ The world expects grandiose aspirations: ‘I want to be a writer, a doctor, the prime minister.’

They’re told: go to school, go to college, get a job, get married, and then you’ll be happy. But that’s all about doing, not being – and while doing will bring you moments of joy, it won’t necessarily reward you with lasting happiness.

Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute.

Richard Branson Family

If you allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment, happiness will follow. I speak from experience. We’ve built a business empire, joined conversations about the future of our planet, attended many memorable parties and met many unforgettable people. And while these things have brought me great joy, it’s the moments that I stopped just to be, rather than do, that have given me true happiness. Why? Because allowing yourself just to be, puts things into perspective. Try it. Be still. Be present.

For me, it’s watching the flamingos fly across Necker Island at dusk. It’s holding my new grandchildren’s tiny hands. It’s looking up at the stars and dreaming of seeing them up close one day. It’s listening to my family’s dinner-time debates. It’s the smile on a stranger’s face, the smell of rain, the ripple of a wave, the wind across the sand. It’s the first snow fall of winter, and the last storm of summer.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. As human beings we have the ability to think, move and communicate in a heightened way. We can cooperate, understand, reconcile and love, that’s what sets us apart from most other species. 

Don’t waste your human talents by stressing about nominal things, or that which you cannot change. If you take the time simply to be and appreciate the fruits of life, your stresses will begin to dissolve, and you will be happier.

But don’t just seek happiness when you’re down. Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.

Allow yourself to be in the moment, and appreciate the moment. Take the focus off everything you think you need to do, and start being I promise you, happiness will follow.

Happy regards,

Richard Branson

Your Guide to Feeling More Empowered in the New Year

If you’re looking to make a change this New Year—whatever feeds your soul and piques your interest—it’s smart to prepare with a little extra effort and direction.

Whether you’re looking for an industry change, company change, personal change or any change, you need to understand and commit to these four points.

1. Get Clear on What You Want
You’re not sure what a new job looks like, but you know you’re not happy and you’re ready for a change. Now what? You need to get clear on what you do want. It can take some digging, talking to people you trust, and refocusing on YOU as your #1 priority.

I’m not saying drop all other responsibilities, but as new commitments arise, ask yourself if committing to this will help you get clearer on your career journey. If it doesn’t, you may need to say no.

A few tricks to stay dedicated and reach clarity?

Dedicating time to self-care, journaling, stepping outside your comfort zone in some way, or doing things that sound fun and meaningful all can be ways to start figuring out what you love doing and how you can get more of it. Or as lululemon’s manifesto says, ‘Do one thing a day that scares you!’

2. Ask Yourself: “Why Do I Want This?”
Connecting with the reason(s) why a goal is so important to you keeps you going when times get tough. Remember your why. and go as deep as you can.

Asking the following questions may help spark change:
-How long have I wanted this career change?
-Why is this change so meaningful to me?
-What vision do I have for my life once I’ve made the transition?
-How does this change align with my personal core values and strengths?

Once you’ve figured out your why, think about the how and create action steps for turning those dreams and thoughts into a bright reality.

3. Make a Plan
That next step – plan! You know what you’re looking for, now you need a plan to get there. Dedicate chunks of time to brainstorm how you can execute the change. Get out your day planner or smartphone calendar and carve out time to write this down.

Ask yourself,

  • Who do I need help from?
  • What current commitments can I delegate or let go of?
  • What’s my timeline?
  • Is my timeline realistic?
  • Do I need to save money or make any investments in myself or my education?

Give yourself enough time to really come up with a solid direction, so it’ll limit mishaps and expedite the path to success.

4. Get to Work!
Similar to making the plan, now you need to make a daily/weekly/monthly commitment to execute your plan. Ask yourself what obstacles and fears may get in your way. Make a promise that fear will not stop you from moving forward.

And don’t let defeatist thoughts get in your way. Reconnect with your “why” when these tough times happen and know that the best things come from challenges.

Remember that this is your growth journey, no one else’s, so while you can look to others for inspiration, you are not allowed to compare yourself to them. Instead of focusing on the immense challenge still ahead of you, reflect on and celebrate the progress you are making, no matter how small it may seem. Life’s too short to not enjoy the process.

A Few Tricks to Make You a Healthier Shopper

We’re all guilty of this at some point; you’re walking aimlessly down the grocery aisles looking for nothing in particular but you’re so hungry you’d eat just about anything so you grab food that you normally wouldn’t.

Did you just grab a box with bright, cheery colors (probably with a huge sunshine)? Or a bag of something with a happy, giggling kid on the front? Or you look in your cart and find the ultimate – a package of something with an image oozing with chocolaty gooey goodness and…what’s this? At the bottom of the package it reads: And good for you too! I…MUST…HAVE…

A few simple tips:

Before you jump in your car or walk to your local grocery store – grab an apple to eat before you leave. Shoppers who eat healthy snacks before heading down the grocery aisle left with a healthier haul than those who shopped hungry or full of junk food, a study shows.

Researchers gave three groups of shoppers three different snacks before shopping. One group munched on an apple slice, the other group was given a cookie, and the third group got nothing.

After peeking through their carts, the research team found that the apple eaters bought 28% more fruits and vegetables than the cookie group and 25% more than the group who shopped on an empty stomach.

healthy groceries

This is even more interesting: Researchers found similar results in a follow up study where they gave both groups a glass of chocolate milk before hitting the aisles. But, they described the milk as wholesome to one group and indulgent to another. The group that drank “wholesome” milk shopped significantly healthier than their “indulgent” counterparts.

So what does this all mean?

“Anything that puts you in a healthy mindset, whether it’s actually a health food or not, can change your mind to healthier choices,” said Aner Tal, PhD, one of the study’s authors.

It’s kind of like a produce aisle placebo. One little trick I use when picking up anything to throw in my cart, I ask myself this simple question, “How will this food nourish me and my body?” You’d be surprised just how quickly you put that pint of Ben & Jerry’s back in the grocery freezer!

So remember, eat a healthy snack before you grocery shop, and shop mindfully – your body will thank you for it.

A New Year’s Clean Sweep

I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions; just the word ‘resolution’ is upsetting to me. I don’t want to start any new year off with with a mindset full of self-inflicted demands on myself. I’d much rather free up space in my mind, in my house, in my life, to allow for more possibilities.

While studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I not only learned about over 100 nutritional eating plans and diets but I also learned (which I’ve always known, one of the reasons I was drawn to this school) how other aspects of our lives contribute to our overall health even more so than diet. Think of it this way, you’re in a job that stresses you so much that you get a morning stomach ache every Monday – Friday. While eating kale daily will help your overall health, your job is creating so much stress on your body and mind that the nutrition from the kale takes a back seat. Your body is too busy trying to combat all the daily stress!

Let’s think of this New Year as a time to clean house – in a mind, body, soul type of manner.

The Clean Sweep Program, created by Thomas Leonard, consists of 100 items
that, when completed, give more space in your life for vitality and strength. When you clear your environment, tie up loose ends, and mend relationships, you have more
natural energy for a happy and healthy life.

Ready to try it?

Clean Sweep

And, if you have any questions, let me know – I’d be more than happy to talk to you!

And here’s to a happier, healthier, feeling blessed and peaceful and more grateful-filled New Year!

 

picture by Amy Treasure