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?

Happy Thought #12 – Seeing the Fruits of Your Labor

One of the biggest struggles many of us face, myself included, is enduring patience while working through changes that simply cannot happen overnight but instead require consistent time and effort to see results.

  • For the individual, this could be that weight they’ve been trying to lose for years.
  • For a corporate leader, this could be the culture shift they’ve been navigating.
  • For groups of people, this could be the social change they’ve been fighting for.

My happy thought today is how great it is to actually be able to see the fruits of that labor.

Now, that thought doesn’t come from anything as large or time-consuming as any of the examples above but it does come from an easy example that many of us can relate to – training a dog.

I have a 9 month old puppy (Indy) and one of my biggest issues has been taking him and our 10 year old dog (Buddy) for a walk.

Buddy LOVES walks so the moment he knows one is coming he goes crazy, which makes Indy go crazy. For a solid 5-10 minutes they’re usually a frenzy of fur and barking, running and jumping all over the place so it’s impossible to get a leash on them with any kind of sanity.

So a few months ago we started a training plan. They each had to sit before we’d put the leash on them and leave. It sounds simple enough but it has taken months of repetition to break through their excitement and train the puppy while also retraining an “old dog” – you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks. 😉

But, today…finally!…they got it. I grabbed the leash and, almost immediately, they both sat down. It was like a miracle!

It only happened because I kept working on it. It will only continue to work if I continue to reinforce it.

Again, this is nowhere near as big or time-consuming as the examples above or many other items many of you may be facing. But still, it was a nice reminder for me to keep working on what’s important to me, and hopefully it helps you remember that too!

What’s your happy thought today?

Happy Thought #11 – Feeling Productive

Today is the first day in about a week where I’ve actually felt like a productive human being – which makes that my official happy thought for the day. 🙂

It’s funny because you’d think that our happiest days are the days when we don’t have to work and we can relax and lounge all day to our heart’s content. Don’t get me wrong – I love those days too – but I’ve often found that the days I love the very most are the days where I actually feel like I accomplished something.

If anything, my biggest challenge can be in trying to accomplish TOO much. In that arena, today was pretty darn perfect. I’m other side of being sick, but still not fully recovered, so I gave myself permission to set less and smaller goals for my to-do list today and the result ended being a pretty perfect day of completing my list but while still having some energy left over.

What’s your happy thought for today?

Happy Thought #s 8, 9, and 10

My cold finally got the better of me so I’ve missed posting my last few happy thoughts. I haven’t missed making note of them, though. Time to catch up!

Happy Thought #8 – Leftover Christmas Lights

Last weekend, I packed up all of our Christmas decorations, except our Christmas tree and lights, which I just couldn’t get to. Friday was one of the worst days of this cold I’ve had and, on that day, I was so grateful the tree was still up. It was a bright, cheerful focal point right when I needed it.

Happy Thought #9 – Giving in to Rest

I have a notoriously hard time doing just one thing. Even when I’m watching TV, I tend to be writing, making grocery lists, etc. On Saturday, when I still wasn’t feeling great, it was challenging to multi-task like that, so I decided to give in to rest. I let myself relax on the couch and watch whatever shows or movies I wanted without distraction. It was really nice!

Happy Thought #10 – Clearing My Head

I’ve been kind of hard on myself this past week. It’s a difficult time at work got me to be sick. I’m normally someone who moves and thinks quickly but this last week I just couldn’t get my body or my brain to break through the fog of this cold.

I’m mostly feeling better now but today my brain was still muddied, this time by everything I need to catch up on. So I gave myself the gift of an afternoon walk and it was the best thing I could do for myself. Thanks to that walk, I’ve been able to clear my head so I can go into the work week ready to get back on track.

What’s your happy thought today?

Happy Thought #7 – Knowing You’re Not Alone

I’m still feeling under the weather, so this will be another short post.

Leading into the holidays, I was struggling particularly hard to keep everything together – my work obligations, chores at home, keeping in touch with loved ones.

The sum weight of 2020 made it difficult for me to give proper attention to details I normally care for most. The same weight settled on me yesterday evening and today.

The focus of my post today is not on the weight of those feelings but more on the observation of how often I’m seeing them reflected in others around me, as well. And how that observation has brought me some semblance of peace.

There’s a saying I very much dislike – misery loves company. Let me be clear, that’s not what I mean. I do not wish hardship or stress on anyone.

However, many of us, myself included, often feel alone in our difficulties. In that sense of isolation, we wonder what’s wrong with us? Why can’t we just get it together?

If that’s you right now, please know that you’re not alone. Let that knowledge give you peace. You, I, and all of us, have the capacity to work through everything that pains us.

If this IS you, and you think it could help to talk with someone, please email me. I would like to help how I can.

Happy Thought #6 – The Comfort of Friends

Today’s post will be short and sweet. I’m not feeling well today but have really found a lot of value in this exercise and wanted to stick with it.

The events in the Capitol today have been alarming, to say the least. When it first started I couldn’t help feeling completely and utterly DONE. I’m so exhausted from all of the hatred, anger, and fear we’ve seen in our nation in recent years.

In that moment of feeling like I was hitting the end of what I could handle, I reached out to a ongoing group chat I have with my friends and immediately felt some level of relief.

Therefore, the comfort of friends is my happy thought today. In the midst of this past year’s craziness, one silver lining is that I’ve become closer with so many friends as we’ve all worked to support and help each other.

I appreciate them all more than I can say.

Remember, in the face of hatred, love will always loom larger. ❤️

Happy Thought #5 – Our Ability to Choose Our Reaction

My company has been remote since the beginning of the pandemic and I will be staying remote permanently. So today my mission was to officially pack up my office.

Now that I’m at the end of the day I can say confidently that today had a lot of potential to be difficult. However, each time something difficult came up, I found myself changing my outlook.

Here’s what happened:

  • I found myself getting frequently emotional, thinking how much I’d miss seeing my coworkers in person regularly.
  • I had only planned on the packing taking a couple of hours but it took about five.
  • When I finished the 40 minute commute home, I realized I’d left my work computer at the office so I had to drive back to get it.

As these thoughts happened, I shifted my outlook in the following ways:

  • I reminded myself that I haven’t seen my coworkers in person in about 9 months but we’ve still found meaningful ways to interact.
  • I reminded myself I could still see my coworkers periodically as most of us live in the same city.
  • I was grateful to have such great coworkers who I want to see regularly.
  • I reminded myself that I had blocked the entire day for this project so the fact that it took longer than normal didn’t really impact me.
  • On my initial drive home I had enjoyed some of my favorite podcasts. So when I realized I had to drive back to the office I decided to look forward to more podcast time.
  • Because of my extra drive, my hubby and I decided to order food in for dinner, so it led to a nice treat for the end of the day.

It’s not always easy and this was a light day compared to some days many others are having right now. Regardless, I never cease to be amazed at our capacity to choose how we react to a situation. That’s why this is my happy thought today!

Happy Thought #4 – When a Plan Works Just Right

For a while now, I’ve been struggling to find time to fit in some activities of personal importance.

The first was just creating space for myself. This is a term you’ll find discussed in Neil Pasricha’s book, The Happiness Equation, among other resources. I love the way Neil talks about this. He says, “Stop thinking to do. Stop doing to think. Stop both and your brain gets really excited!”

I know that excitement. I’ve experienced it and recognize it, but I’m not always the best at making time for it…until the last few weeks when I gave myself a nice break for the holidays without much of an agenda.

In that time off, I found myself acknowledging that there were several things I wanted to find time for but each of them came with their own challenges:

  • I wanted more “space” in general, to just BE. I pictured this as meditation time but I kept operating under this illusion that for meditation to be valuable, it had to be for longer spans, like 30 minutes to an hour.
  • I wanted to be better at completing therapeutic stretches I’m supposed to do as a result of an injury a few years back. While doing these my thoughts often wander to other things I perceive in the moment to be higher priority and it feels like I’m wasting my time, even though I know the stretches are valuable.
  • I wanted time to internalize some principles that are part of the coaching certification I’m working on. Ideally, I’d be able to deeply think about each principle on a regular basis, explore what it means to me, how I can apply it to my life and my coaching, etc. But again, that required time for me to slow down.

During the space I created over the holidays, I suddenly hit on a brilliant idea. Why not combine all three?!

I already had a plan to work out every day before work and a good workout requires a good stretch, right? So, rather than spending 5 minutes cooling down from my workout, what if I added just 5 minutes on to that and added in my therapeutic stretches?

And what if I used that stretching time to focus on productive, positive thoughts?

And what if those productive, positive thoughts could be focused around internalizing my coaching principles? After all, all of those are centered around being more conscious, more aware, more intentional with our lives. Prime fodder for a great meditation!

So, this morning I gave it a shot and LOVED it! Just 10 minutes of my time was spent, only 5 more than normal, and I was able to fit in 3 items of great importance to me.

The result? I went into the day feeling peaceful and relaxed AND I organically solved a problem that’s been plaguing me for some time. All because I gave myself space and time to think.

Now I can’t wait to have that time tomorrow. 😊

What’s an example of a plan that’s worked out perfectly for you lately? Where you to just “give something a shot” and it ended up being exactly what you wanted or needed?

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Thought #3 – Beauty in Following Through

Just before Christmas, I was getting back into a habit of working out. I let myself take a break between Christmas and New Years but wanted to ensure I jumped back into it as soon as possible after my family headed home. With that in mind, I got up this morning to go for a run.

As I was putting on my shoes, I noticed the skies were overcast and it gave me a moment of pause. What if it started raining while I was out? Then I saw some tags I have on my shoes with one of my favorite quotes:

She believed she could, so she did.

So I continued lacing up and said to myself “What if it DOES rain while I’m out?” Then I’ll get a little wet, no big deal.

I grabbed my headphones and the arm band for my phone, then stepped out the front door…to find it already downpouring, with a small waterfall coming off the roof.

I paused again, then remembered what I’d just told myself. What would it hurt if I got wet? Nothing.

So I went for my run and yes, I got wet, but I also got:

  • My workout in, as I had planned.
  • The joy of feeling strong and confident during my run.
  • To tell myself I was a rock star for continuing to run, when many others (myself included) might have gone back inside.
  • To feel like I’m moving in the right direction for my health.

So, my happy thought today is how much beauty there is in following through with a personal commitment.

Many of us are in the throes of New Years resolutions and/or taking a fresh look at ourselves and what’s important to us. The beginning of the year is a wonderful time for reflection, change, but more importantly, action.

The action part isn’t always easy. When we start to take action on things we want to change or improve, we’re bound to come up against resistance on all fronts – emotional, mental, or sometimes even physical, like this rain was for me today. Whatever your resistance is, know that you can do it.

When it comes to small changes and small actions – going for that run, choosing that apple over that cookie, picking up the phone to make that difficult call – whatever it is you’re working toward, it’s on your mind for a reason. You want to tackle it for a reason.

So when that resistance comes up, especially on something that’s relatively small, the best advice I can give is to challenge yourself to do it, as you planned, and allow yourself some time for reflection afterward. Did you regret it? Did you wish you’d followed your “gut” and skipped whatever it was?

I’ve never really regretted following through and I bet you’ll feel the same. Or perhaps you’ve already experienced this yourself. What have you followed through with lately, despite hesitating? How did it make you feel?

I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Thought #2 – Vision Boards

It didn’t take me long to find today’s happy thought. I LOVE vision boards.

That’s it. That’s the whole thought. Yet there’s so much that goes into that thought and the reason behind it.

If you’ve ever found yourself floundering with what you really want from life, work, whatever, or if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by how large some of your goals might be, a vision board might help.

That’s because visualization is one of the most powerful exercises we can do in the pursuit of what’s important to us. Studies show that people who write down their goals are 50% more likely to achieve.

For me, vision boards:

  • Help me keep a focused eye on both my short- and long-term goals.
  • Help me break my goals into small, manageable pieces.
  • Provide an almost meditative experience that helps me internalize what I want to work on.
  • Provide a way to cheer myself on and celebrate my accomplishments.

You can do a Google search and find a million ideas for how to vision board and what a vision board should or could include. The beautiful thing is there really are no rules!

The best vision boards:

  • Are personal to you, meaning you put them together wherever and however you want.
  • Are easily visible and frequently checked.
  • “Operate” in a way that speaks to your internal motivations.
  • Are entirely for YOU.

The first time I remember actively vision boarding, it was with my bucket list. My husband I lived in a small apartment with not a lot of space and he (bless him!) was fine with me using one of the common walls between our living room and eating space. I simply wrote all my bucket list items on Post-It notes. As I accomplished something, I would remove the note.

Fast forward 5-6 years and now I have a wall in my office that’s more organized and spacious. In addition to using the wall to visualize my goals, I’ve also started using it to enjoy memories of bucket list items I’ve accomplished.

A few years ago I started doing an annual vision board every January, which is what spurred today’s happy thought. This vision board takes the form of a large coloring board where I break larger goals into small chunks and color each “chunk” in as I complete it. Then, at the end of the year, I get to look back and enjoy everything I accomplished.

This was my 2020 vision board.

I’ve yet to accomplish ALL of my annual goals in one year but I always feel like I’ve accomplished a ton. Anything that’s not complete is an opportunity for me to either re-evaluate it’s importance or my approach to completing it.

Or, in the case of 2020, to give myself a break. A lot of those incomplete spaces are items that simply couldn’t be completed due to the pandemic.

This is my vision board for 2021:

It includes goals like:

  • Start a habit of doing a morning workout and meditation (represented by 3 spots because I’ll consider the habit to be established after 3 months).
  • Explore 6 new parks (represented by 1 spot for each new park)
  • Focus on our family’s saving strategy (represented by about 6 spots dedicated to things like researching different savings/investing strategies, reaching certain savings goals, etc.)
  • Complete 3 bucket list items (represented by 1 spot for each bucket list item)

The point is, do your vision board by doing YOU. I love coloring as a stress reliever so a coloring-based vision board is very ME.

What would your ideal vision board be?