An Exercise in Building Resiliency

They say that change is the only constant in life. Of course, the type of change and how it impacts your life is always unknown.

This last year has been a time of monumental change for all of us. To make it more challenging, many of the changes we’ve faced have occurred suddenly, with little to no time to prepare.

So what do you do when you find yourself in a major upheaval?

Choosing how you want to react is always going to be at the top of my personal list.

I know many people may bristle at that statement. After all, if we could all choose our emotions, reactions, etc. at any given moment than wouldn’t we all just choose to be happy?

Let me be clear. Our emotions are real. Our emotional responses to major change are normal, valid, and completely to be expected. More importantly, those responses serve a purpose – to protect us, comfort us, etc. But regardless of what our emotional response may be, we can still choose how we react. In fact, that ability to choose our reaction is an important part of how we build resiliency to life’s changes. And studies show our ability to bounce back from difficult times has a direct impact on our overall happiness.

In fact, the organization, Action for Happiness, finds resiliency to be such an important life skill that they list it as one of their 10 Keys to Happiness.

So what do I mean, exactly, when I say you can choose your reaction? Let me share what I do and, in fact, what I just did when I had a recent situation to work through. I won’t share the specifics of my situation, for a number of reasons, but I think you’ll get the gist. The most important thing to know is that I did this exercise soon after finding out about the situation, when I had only limited information available.

I worked through everything below as a journaling exercise so I could get my thoughts organized. Hopefully you’ll see the progression with how one set of questions and answers feeds into the next:

  • What can I control right now?
    • How I react
    • What I do next
    • How I let whatever happens next impact other aspects of my life
  • So how do I want to react? (Note: while journaling, I fleshed out each of my answersso it was clear what I meant by each of them):
    • By taking responsibility
    • With self-forgiveness
    • With acceptance
    • With grace
    • With hope and faith
  • What do I want to do next?
    • I won’t go into specifics here but I literally made a list of everything I could think of that could be potential next steps based on how I’d chosen to react. Then I put them in order of priority and executed once I had finished journaling.
  • How do I want to let whatever happens next impact other aspects of my life?
    • I want it to have the least impact possible.
  • Where can I anticipate unintended impact happening? (Note: I had several answers here but I’ve shared one as an example)
    • My biggest concern is my health. I’ve been trying to eat better and work out more but this is a high-stress situation and I know those are often the first things to drop when I’m stressed.
  • So what can I do to ensure those stay on track and don’t make the situation worse?
    • I know that eating unhealthy and NOT working out would ultimately increase my stress, not decrease it, so I need to focus on pre-logging my food, as I’ve been doing, and taking time each night to plan the next day’s workout so I don’t fall off track.
  • What’s the worst I can anticipate happening from here?
  • (After answering the above question) If that were to happen, what would I do?

Now that I’ve walked through that real (although sparse) example, let me hit on a few key points.

First, obviously the questions for your situation, especially the follow-up questions, may be very different. However, there are a few questions that can probably be used across the majority of situations:

  • What can I control?
  • How do I want to react?
  • How do I want to let this impact other areas of my life/job/relationship/situation/etc.?
  • What’s the worst that can happen?
  • What would I do if that did happen?
  • What do I want to do next?

Second, the amount of relief just doing this exercise can bring is indescribable. In my example, I started this exercise crying, feeling hopeless, and uncertain about what would happen next. By the time I finished my tears were dry, I was breathing normally, and felt prepared to face what was happening. No matter what occurred next, I had a firm grip on what I could control and I was determined to hold on to that. I also had actionable items I could do right away to keep myself from lingering too long in the negative feelings that had overwhelmed me.

Third, even though this had a dramatic impact on how quickly I moved through this change and how much it impacted me, it did still impact me. I still spent the next several days in tears. I still beat myself up. I still experienced anger, frustration, despair, hopelessness, etc. I still experienced all of that because I’m human. And it’s completely normal for us to have these emotions and to truly feel it when something unexpected happens in our lives.

However, when I felt those emotions or I did those things, I also had this incredible journal exercise to go back to. So I could remind myself to be forgiving; I could remind myself to maintain hope; and I could remind myself that I had a plan.

You have the power to be your own solution.

No matter who you are or what change you’re going through, I hope this helps you think through how to build and practice your own resiliency. Of course, if you need help beyond this post, you can also always email me at taryn@treasuretroveofhappythoughts.com to learn more about how I can partner with you as a coach to get you where you want to be.

Until next time, be safe, happy, and well!

Happiness Leads

It’s easy enough to talk about happiness and the things, people, and experiences that make you happy when you already feel good. But what about those days when you’re not happy or everything just seems “off?”

When we’re legitimately angry, frustrated, or sad, it’s often difficult to think of anything else. In those moments, our emotions cast a dark hue on everything around us.

So what can you do to break through that darkness?

One of my favorite techniques is to make a list of what DOES make me happy. This can be an exercise you do in the moment or something you build when you’re in a good mood, to reference later as a tool.

I call the items on this list my Happiness Leads because they help me find my way out of my negative emotions.

Let me be clear. This isn’t a magical process – making or referencing a list like this is not like flipping a switch to turn a light on. You most likely aren’t going to do this exercise and suddenly feel entirely different. Remember, the emotions most of us associate with being negative serve a purpose and whatever’s causing them most likely still needs to be addressed.

What this exercise DOES do is help you take that first step forward. If we go back to the light analogy, this might be like lighting a single match to combat the darkness. The world around you may still be dark, but now you can make out more shapes (or possibilities) in front of you.

The fact is, as I mentioned above, when you’re overwhelmed by these emotions, it’s hard to focus on anything else, which means it’s also extremely difficult to think of solutions or how to move forward.

These Happiness Leads distract those thoughts, even if just momentarily, by introducing something positive. When our thoughts and emotions are in a more positive space, we tend to be more creative and solution-focused. So by allowing these thoughts in the door, you automatically shift yourself closer to a frame of mind that is better equipped to address what’s causing your angst.

So then here’s the next question, if you find yourself needing to generate some Happiness Leads:

What makes you happy?

It’s funny how a question can be so simple and so complex at the same time.

For now, let’s put aside the more complex concept and focus on the simple: literally identifying things that stir up emotions you associate with happiness. Emotions that come to mind for me are:

  • Joy
  • Excitement
  • Sense of Adventure
  • Peace
  • Humor
  • Love
  • Nostalgia
  • Freedom

When I think of those emotions and I look around my home, I can come up with a list pretty quickly. In fact, the list below has been abbreviated for the sake of this post. Some items will make sense to most people, some won’t but it doesn’t matter because this list is for me (and for you, Dear Reader, but only as an example 😉).

Things that make me happy:

  • My husband (and cuddling with him, playing games, talking, etc.)
  • My dogs (and playing with them, petting them, seeing their joy after a walk)
  • My books (especially some nostalgic ones from my childhood like Anne of Green Gables)
  • Pictures with friends and family
  • Wine bottles I’ve picked up on different trips and now use as decorations
  • My running shoes
  • The feeling of putting my hair in a pony tail
  • Being outside
  • Tall trees that look like they’ve been around forever
  • Hiking
  • Treasure maps
  • Old skeleton keys
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Watching others dance and have fun
  • Dancing on my own and singing

Again, I could go on but the point here is demonstration and inspiration.

Using my list as an example, what comes to mind for you? What are some simple things that make you happy and, therefore, might be the tether that helps guide you out of the darkness?

If you’re in a sharing mood, feel free to add some of your own examples in the comments. You never know if that could spark a moment of inspiration for someone else.

And, of course, if you need more help coming up with action-oriented solutions that will help you take one step closer to overall happiness, contact me at taryn@treasuretroveofhappythoughts.com. I would love to discuss how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.

Until next time, don’t forget to let that light shine! ❤️

The Only Failure is Failure to Learn

Fear of failure is one the most common fears many of us face throughout our lives.

When we perceive we’ve failed at something, we’re likely to beat ourselves down, telling ourselves that we just weren’t good enough, smart enough, or strong enough to succeed. In many cases, that self-judgment prevents us from trying again.

Why does this concept of failure impede us so much?

It’s because we see failure as the end of our journey rather than the first step or one of many steps along a long and winding path.

This is something many of us “know” but it’s a concept that’s often difficult to internalize.

But what if we could not only internalize it but we could find joy in it? What if “failure,” if you insist on using that term, was just an indication that a different approach is needed? That a learning opportunity exists? And what if taking that different approach could lead you to a success greater than you imagined to begin with?

To be sure, the joy in this concept looks different from the joy you might get from more obvious things, like playing with your kids, going on a vacation, etc. but there is still happiness to be found, if you look for it.

This last week, I found myself faced with such a situation. Without going into much detail, let’s just say I had a plan for something and it didn’t go at all the way I planned.

I’ll admit, I was upset at first. I vented to my husband, blamed everyone else, and threw my hands up, ready to walk away from the situation.

I’ll also admit that I’m still figuring out all of the lessons connected to the situation. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do but I know I’ll do something. And I am happy about that.

  • I’m happy that I’m still fighting.
  • I’m happy I found the strength to try again.
  • I’m happy that I’m taking the time to learn what I should change.
  • I’m happy that I’m even putting this much thought into it.
  • I’m happy because I can already tell that when I get this right, it will feel amazing!

So what joy can you find in your situation, whatever that is?

Whatever you find, just remember failure is only failure if you truly make it your last step in that particular journey.

What’s your happy thought today?

Give Yourself Credit

Raise your hand if you beat yourself up for not accomplishing everything you want on a given day, week, etc. What about if you’re your worst critic?

I’ve got both hands way up!

There can be value in holding yourself to a high standard. People who do this are often successful and goal-oriented.

On the flip side, they often push themselves to the point of burn out. It can be easy for them to become so focused on self-judgment that they get frozen in place, their success and goals stuck in limbo.

If you’re like me and you’re having one of those judgy kinds of days, my message to you is: give yourself credit.

I did this myself earlier this week and it caused a hugely positive shift in my outlook for the day. As a result, it was my happy thought! 😊

So what do I mean by “give yourself credit?” Rather than focusing on what you didn’t do, try focusing on what you did do.

This is an example of some thoughts I had that day:

  • I should have gotten up early to work out. This is the third day I’ve missed this week. Obviously I’m not doing well sticking to that goal.
  • This is only the second week into my plan to take a lunch break each day and I haven’t taken any this week. Another fail.
  • I’ve been horrible about checking in with friends on Facebook this week to see how they’re doing.
  • I can’t believe I gave in and had those cookies last night. Why don’t I have better self-control?

You see, this has been an extremely unusual week. Last week was busy. Then I attended 30 hours of virtual workshop this past weekend (read: no day off). And then this week has been even busier.

In short, I’ve been running on fumes and I’ve finished each day feeling utterly exhausted.

The key is what I wrote above: This. Is. Unusual. When the rest of the week is harder than normal it makes sense that it would be harder than normal to follow my routine. That’s exactly what I’d tell a client, friend, or a member of my team.

Even though I knew this, I wasn’t comfortable in it. I kept thinking about my intention this year to live more in my values. I was judging myself with a perception that I was failing.

But then I started thinking about what I had done:

  • I realized my physical and mental need to recover and gave myself the grace to not be perfect and to get the rest I needed. Since rest is beneficial for our health and stress can be a detriment, I was actually honoring my value of Health.
  • I had maintained my morning routine of meditation and easing into my day, despite my old habit of jumping right into the work day during busy times.
  • I had connected with many of my coaching peers multiple times via email throughout the week – something that’s unusual. So, I realized I was still meeting my Connection value, just differently than I’d originally intended.
  • Outside of those cookies, I had eaten healthy the entire rest of the day. Seriously, I was a rock star!

It sounds so simple, but as soon as I connected these thoughts back to my values and also started to give myself grace and space to be imperfect, I felt an incredible weight lift from my shoulders.

I gave myself credit for what I had managed to do under extraordinary circumstances.

What impact would it have on your life if you could do the same?

Maybe the approach above doesn’t fit for you. If you find yourself needing this sense of self-grace, here are some questions that might provoke other ideas:

  • If your original plan doesn’t work, what would be an acceptable alternative?
  • If you can’t hit everything in your plan, what are the items that are most important to tackle?
  • What would it mean if you could give yourself permission to fall short of your goals for just today? This week?

What would be needed for you to treat yourself kindly?

If you’re still struggling, that’s completely understandable. If you are someone who leans heavily into self-judgment, that can be a difficult habit to break.

But, you can do it! I have total faith. 😊 And if you need help, you know where to find me – taryn@treasuretroveofhappythoughts. Shoot me an email today and we’ll get you on the path to being your happiest, judgement-free self.

So, now that I’ve shared. What’s your happy thought today?

Happy Thoughts #20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, & 26

If you can’t tell by the title, the last week has been crazy! It’s also a great reminder for how quickly time can fly.

I’m excited to say that my delay in posting is all for good reasons. This past weekend I attended a coaching workshop weekend – the last in my coaching certification – that was truly inspiring, educational, and an overall wonderful experience. My lack of posting leading up to and following that was due to needing to shuffle my schedule a bit to accommodate the workshop.

Like so many things in life, I found myself faced with a choice – try to post daily or save my sanity and focus my attention on the workshop. As much as I love my blog posts, I love my sanity just a teensy bit more. 😊

BUT, as always, just because I didn’t post, doesn’t mean I didn’t think. Sooo, without further ado, here are my happy thoughts from the last week:

Happy Thought #20 – Aaah Yoga

I’ve recently picked my workout routine back up with a vengeance and this was yoga day. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a nice, hard workout, but there is something special about a nice, meditative, stretchy yoga routine after several days of pushing hard.

Happy Thought #21 – Checking in with My Nieces

I got to have a wonderful text exchange with my beautiful nieces in California (ages 11 and 9). I even got a “muah” kiss from one of them. Can’t beat that. 😊❤️

Happy Thought #22 – Seeing Familiar Faces

One beauty of my coaching certification is seeing so many of the same incredible people joining me in the program. Today, the first day of my workshop, I got to reconnect with a ton of lovely people.

Happy Thought #23 – Motivation by Inspiration

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re so inspired by an idea that you can see all the possibilities laid out before you? That was this day. Ever since then, my brain has been swirling with plans, ideas, and action items I’m chomping at the bit to get started.

Happy Thought #24 – Bucs Win!

The Buccaneers are going to the big game! As a Tampa resident, it doesn’t get better than that. 😊

Happy Thought #25 – Virtual Birthday Happy Hour

I had a blast celebrating a friend’s birthday through a virtual happy hour! Bonus: it got unexpectedly crashed by another friend, which made it even more fun.

Happy Thought #26 – This Post!

I’m happy to be getting caught up with my wonderful readers.

What’s your happy thought today?

Happy Thought #19 – Thinking Slow, Moving Fast

Do you ever find yourself with so many things on your to-do list that you’re not sure where to start? Every time you start thinking about tackling one item, another comes to mind, and then another, until you suddenly realize that 30 mins or an hour has gone by and you haven’t crossed anything off your list.

Well, I’m right there with you, my friend! I can practically see all my priorities dancing around my head, each demanding attention.

That being said, my happy thought is that I CONQUERED that feeling today.

I saw the warning signs last night. As I was going to bed, I started getting a sense of anxiety about everything on my work plate today. Immediately, “old” solutions came to mind – the kind that no longer fit into the life I want for myself. Thoughts like:

  • Maybe I should skip my morning workout and start work early.
  • You know what? I’ll just eat breakfast at my desk and work at the same time, it’ll be fine.
  • I know I said I’d start taking a lunch break, but maybe this isn’t the day to start it.

By the way, all of those things (working out, actually taking a lunch break, etc.) are all habits I’ve been trying to build which means they were easy targets.

BUT I did not give in! Those new habits connect strongly with my values, so I wanted to keep them a priority. So, I slowed down my racing thoughts and tackled the concern head on:

  • I made a plan for the day, being sure to include my non-work goals.
  • I made note of the items I was most concerned about so I could prioritize them.
  • I actually worked my to-do list in order and brought myself back on track every time I started to get distracted.
  • Every time that overwhelmed feeling tried to break through, I slowed down, took a deep breath, and reminded myself to work my plan.

Not only did I absolutely kill my to-do list, I actually had a pretty quiet, stress-free day – probably due to all that deep breathing! 😊

If you find yourself facing similar “noise” in different areas of your life, shoot me an email at taryn@treasuretroveofhappythoughts.com. I’d love to help!

Now, all that being said, what’s YOUR happy thought today?

Happy Thought #18 – The Value of Living Your Values

Do you find ever find yourself wondering how exactly you came to be in a certain place or situation in life? Are you ever torn on a difficult decision, not sure which way to turn? Do you have a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with your life or a certain part of it?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. Many people, myself included, have faced the same struggles. It can be frustrating and disconcerting to feel like you don’t have direction or even like you’ve been moving in the wrong direction.

The good news is, there’s a way to provide yourself the self-guidance you’re looking for – by understanding and living your values.

What does that mean exactly? Our values are the concepts in our lives that are most important to us. When we find ourselves dissatisfied with life, it’s often because we’re out of balance with one of our values. Maybe family is of utmost importance but your work is keeping you from spending quality time with loved ones. Maybe you value financial stability but you’re living paycheck to paycheck.

You get the picture.

Just like living outside our values can create disharmony, living within them can create an incredible feeling of contentment and joy – hence why that’s my happy thought for today!

So what do you do if you’re not living your values?

The first step is generally to understand what your values are to begin with. Below are some examples of common values:

  • Accountability
  • Achievement
  • Adaptability
  • Adventure
  • Altruism
  • Ambition
  • Authenticity
  • Balance
  • Being the Best
  • Belonging
  • Career
  • Community
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Connection
  • Contribution
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Diversity
  • Efficiency
  • Environment
  • Equality
  • Ethics
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Financial Stability
  • Forgiveness
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Fun
  • Generosity
  • Grace
  • Gratitude
  • Growth
  • Harmony
  • Health
  • Home
  • Hope
  • Humility
  • Inclusion
  • Independence
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Job Security
  • Joy
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Legacy
  • Leisure
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Nature
  • Optimism
  • Order
  • Parenting
  • Patience
  • Peace
  • Personal Fulfillment
  • Power
  • Recognition
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Safety
  • Self-Expression
  • Simplicity
  • Success
  • Teamwork
  • Time
  • Travel
  • Uniqueness
  • Wealth
  • Well-Being
  • Wisdom

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it can give you some inspiration. Your values can change over time so the key is to identify what jumps out for you now and then narrow the list down to the 4-5 most important ones.

Keep in mind, just because you choose one value over another doesn’t mean you don’t care about the other concepts. It just means you’re prioritizing what’s most important.

My recommended second step is to put your final values up against the Why Test. That means clarifying what the value means to you and why it’s important. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what you think should be the right answer but try to really listen to what your gut tells you.

Once you have your fully defined list, start to test it against various aspects of your life. Where are you fully embracing your values and where do you have opportunities to connect with them more? What do you notice about your satisfaction levels with areas where you are and aren’t living in them?

From there, it’s a matter of starting to make tweaks here and there to get and stay in alignment. Every time an important decision comes up, pull your values out and ask yourself how the decision does or doesn’t support your values. I think you’ll find it an interesting and helpful ongoing exercise.

And if you’re still stuck, which is perfectly reasonable, shoot me an email at taryn@treasuretroveofhappythoughts.com or comment below. I’d love to help!

For me, I’ve been focusing a lot in the last 6 months on aligning more with my values and I’m happy to say I’m seeing positive results.

There’s something to be said for giving yourself permission to live life on your terms.

So, what’s your happy thought for today?

Happy Thought #17 – The Gift of Presence

In our fast-paced world, it’s ridiculously easy for our minds to be scattered. Our brains are incredible, problem-solving machines and, if we let them, they’ll jump from one task or problem to the next, without taking a moment to pause.

Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with that mental efficiency. It has undoubtedly served me well over my life. But there is also tremendous beauty and value in the ability to take that pause and be fully present in the moment.

Today, was a day that I can say I was fully present and that mindfulness brought me so much joy, which is obviously why it’s my happy thought.

What does it mean to be fully present? To me, it means giving all of your attention to what’s happening in the moment. In doing so, you’re able to recognize, appreciate, and contribute to the little details that make up a moment or series of moments.

Here are some simple observations that came from being more mindful today:

  • During my run this morning, I found myself paying attention to my muscles and breathing. I felt proud and powerful as I recognized them working hard but still going.
  • In my post-run stretch, I realized how much I really LOVE stretching after a run and giving those muscles a break, something that I used to have very little patience for.
  • In a discussion with my husband, I truly listened to what he was saying, rather than assuming I knew what he’d say, and we had a wonderful conversation.
  • After eating healthy all day I found myself reflecting on how great I felt physically.

Having all of these observations makes me realize how much I want to do all these things more. Being present gives me a satisfying result even after a relatively small action. Which raises an interesting question:

How much more likely would we be to stick with challenging actions (ex: eating healthy, listening respectfully to others, etc.) if we could find joy in those individual actions rather than the benefit we’re seeking down the road (ex: losing weight, building unity, etc.)?

It makes me realize how impactful being present can really be. Amazing!

If you’re reading this and think you’d like to try being more present or mindful but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips:

  • It sometimes takes practice, especially if you’re used to moving a mile a minute.
  • It can be helpful to set your intention in advance so that you’re actively focusing your thoughts.
  • Oftentimes just slowing down and taking a breath can bring you more into the moment.

Hopefully your attempts bring you to as many joyful moments as mine have.

For now, though, what’s your happy thought for today?

Happy Thoughts #14, 15, and 16

I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend! Mine has been fairly easy-going so far, although I’m obviously a little behind on my posts. Time to catch up! 🙂

Happy Thought #14 – Being Okay with Imperfection

This thought came from this past Thursday – the first of my missed posts. Funnily enough, the fact that I didn’t post is my happy thought. I had all the best intentions to, but a few unexpected things came up and I gave myself permission to not complete my to-do list that day.

There’s so much value in setting goals and making plans, but I’m getting better at recognizing that there’s also value in being okay when those goals and plans get derailed.

Happy Thought #15 – Finding Joy in Work

Friday, I didn’t post because I ended up working longer than expected. Again, funnily enough that was my happy thought for the day. You see, I was working on a project that I got completely immersed in. I found myself enjoying it way more than I expected, so I completely lost track of time.

I’ll always take that kind of work! 🙂

Happy Thought #16 – Healthy Satisfaction

Now that the holidays are over, I’ve been working on getting to eating healthy. After all the snacks and desserts associated with the holiday, it’s been harder than I expected, even though I’m generally a fairly healthy eater.

Today, I took a different approach. Rather than trying to make good decisions in the moment throughout the day, I took time this morning to decide my food for the day. I logged it all in advance so I knew I’d be on track. I did have some moments of temptation but I told myself the decision had already been made, so each time I stuck with my original healthy choice.

Now that most of the day is done, I can say that I feel FANTASTIC and I’m so glad I stuck with my plan.

What’s your happy thought for today?

Happy Thought #13 – The Smells of My Neighborhood

I just finished an evening walk in my neighborhood where I had the pleasure of coming across some wonderful smells that brought a smile to my face:

  • Smoke from someone’s fireplace. Combined with the crisp, cold air, it brought me back to snowy winter nights growing up warm and comfy in front of the Fire.
  • BBQ from someone grilling. It made me remember happy memories grilling out with family and friends.
  • “Nana” smell. I don’t know what flower this is actually from but there’s a flower I pass by periodically in my neighborhood that always makes me think of my Nana, who passed away this time last year.

It was a simple ten-minute walk, but it made my evening.

What’s your happy thought today?