I don’t know if it’s a southern thing, a people thing, a city thing or a weather thing, but there’s a positive energy that sweetens the air around Charlotte like lilacs in spring.
Inhale and you’re hooked.
I was watching a make-over show on TV this morning. The woman they were “working on” had her hair completely transformed by this super friendly and attentive hairdresser. When he was done highlighting and snipping and blowdrying, she looked absolutely amazing! As he slowly spun the chair around for the big reveal, he asked her what she thought.
The woman stared blankly at herself in the mirror for about 30 long seconds and then said “I don’t know, I guess I just need to get used to it.”
My jaw dropped..so did his.
Next was a session with a make-up artist and guess what, her reaction was the same.
Every one of these professionals was highlighting every single best feature this lady had, but it was as if she simply didn’t want to see them. This poor woman was completely invested in a lesser, smaller, more invisible version of herself…but her appearance was actually far from neutral. She had become so sloppy, her image so off-putting, that it was actually pushing people away while simultaneously attracting negative attention..and as the show progressed, you could see that she was slowly coming to terms with the truth that she was doing it on purpose because she wanted to be left alone.
In the end, after buying all new clothes and getting plenty of friendly counseling, she seemed to have a breakthrough. Her smile was big and authentic and you could see that she was ready to commit to an exciting journey of self discovery and realization. She was ready to become an active participant in her own life and open herself up to as of yet unknown experiences. She finally realized that her appearance could become a doorway instead of a wall- one through which she could head out into the world and invite new friends to come in as well. It was an awesome transformation both externally and internally; a rebirth more than a makeover. I felt moved, inspired and hopeful.
Don’t you just love a happy beginning?
You’ve got one life….
For the last four weeks, I have been sharing my pride and joy at being able to keep three small goals; taking all of my vitamins every morning, drinking 68oz of water each day and working out three times a week. I have been feeling so good about sticking to these resolutions, but there was one area in my life that was becoming increasingly unmanageable: pain at night.
I’ve had a pinched nerve in my elbow for a few years and depending on how I sleep it can hurt pretty bad, but lately the pain has been off the scale. It wasn’t the traditional pain I was used to either, it was a deep aching from my shoulder to my finger tips..and sometimes in BOTH arms!
I told my husband last week-end that I was actually at a point where I didn’t want to got to bed anymore because I knew what was in store for me. I have an appointment scheduled with the doctor, but it isn’t for two weeks. I was starting to feel despondent.
So I hit the internet..and then it hit me.
The only thing that had drastically changed over the last few weeks was the water I was drinking..not just the amount, but at what time I consumed the most. You see I hate being inconvenienced by having to run to public bathrooms, so I did the bulk of my guzzling in the afternoon and especially in the evening when I was at home. Long story short, not only was I having to get up at night to use the restroom, but I truly believe that my electrolytes were completely out of balance by the time I hit the sack.
So I decided to try something new; I would drink all of my water before 6pm (most of it before 3pm) and then have a small glass of gatorade with dinner for a quick infusion of electrolytes.
Guess what? I slept like a baby.
Could it really be that simple? Only time will tell. I’m certainly no doctor but I am curious to see how the rest of this week unfolds.
Yesterday, Oprah posted a short interview on twitter, (see my feed to the right.) She and this “happiness expert” were discussing how 2 simple steps can drastically affect how you feel about life. One of the steps was to establish a short and manageable exercise routine..not just for the obvious health benefits and immediate good feeling produced by endorphins, but more importantly, to
“train your brain to believe that your actions matter.”
I could not have said it better myself.
For the past (almost) month I have consistently done three simple things; taken all my vitamins every day, drank 68oz of water every day and gone to the gym three times a week to exercise my “ticker.” Thinking back, I have no idea why I picked those three specific things, but they are three habits that I have never been able to stick with in the past.
Oprah’s happiness expert is absolutely right when he says that “training your brain to believe that your actions matter” can lead to personal well being; it REALLY does! The sense of personal empowerment that I have felt as a result of sticking with my three tiny goals for a month has far exceeded whatever physical benefits I could possibly have hoped to attain.
There may be other experts who would look at me and say “well, you feel great because you are taking a multi-vitamin..” but I would have to disagree. I believe that the real source of this feel-good energy is the realization that I am capable, I can do this- my actions are having an impact on my life! And frankly, if I can do these small things, I can do other things as well!
The friendly guy who runs the front desk at our local YMCA complimented me last week when I came three days in a row. I told him “you know, it almost doesn’t matter what I do after I arrive.. I may not see physical evidence of these work-outs for a while, BUT it’s the getting here part.. that action is changing me- and I see that evidence of that change every day.”
Oprah’s expert also asked one other very important question, “Is the bar low enough?” For me, the answer has been “umm, yeah!” High achievers (God bless ’em) would probably look at my puny little goals and laugh, but the truth is that success, no matter how it is achieved, is critical to happiness and further success.
Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to make the case that there’s anything wrong with “aiming high”..I’m just evaluating the psychological risk of repeated failure associated with goals that we continuously fail to achieve. Could it be, that the guy vigorously training for a marathon every day goes to bed with the exact same level of personal satisfaction and sense of achievement as I do right now?
If you are running into walls over and over again and finding it impossible to stick to your own goals, maybe the bar isn’t low enough. In as much as each success is a building block to personal empowerment and wellbeing, I also believe that repeated failures can be profoundly damaging to our sense of self and the belief that we can actually control and manage our own mind and body.
So lower the bar, just to start, and allow yourself to experience the empowerment and happiness that comes from “training your brain to believe that your actions do indeed matter”…Create an avenue to success by crafting reasonable, attainable goals- and slowly, (SLOWLY!) build on them.. because success truly IS the secret sauce.
I am not a golfer, but I could not help getting swept up in the Master’s Tournament on Sunday. I watched in amazement as the field gave way to the two top players who literally matched each other’s performance at almost every hole; they finished in an unbelievable tie and had to play a nineteenth hole.
Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose were clearly friends, but I doubt that helped mitigate the enormity of such a high stakes, televised event. And they both looked so calm..not robotic, just calm. Garcia eventually won after years and years and years of coming heartbreakingly close. His victory was a wonderful tribute to persistence, sportsmanship and obviously, stress management. I wondered how he was able to pursue this heretofore elusive goal for so, so long without eventually succumbing to burnout.
The Cleveland Clinic tweeted out this interesting article below on burn-out & work related stress this morning. Clearly those who are able to productively process both have a huge advantage in life …and in golf! 😉
From the Cleveland Clinic:
It’s easy to think of stress at work as the enemy, but a healthy dose can give you fuel — and make you even better at what you do. Job-related burnout, on the other hand, empties you out and kills your motivation. If it lingers too long, it also can negatively affect your feelings about life.
The good news about job burnout is that you can take steps to reverse it. You also can avoid it altogether if you pay attention to the signs.
When stress is prolonged
“Workplace burnout involves a prolonged and heightened response to work stress in which a person becomes drained from work demand,” says clinical psychologist, Scott Bea, PsyD.
He says to be on guard if you notice these signs:
•Declining work performance
•Decreasing work efficiency
•Loss of confidence that you can accomplish your goals
•Avoidance of work-related tasks
•Loss of interest
“Engaging in tasks that feel meaningless can promote burnout,” Dr. Bea says. “However, if something in your work effort is consistent with your commitments and values, each day can be an opportunity to live these values in a tangible manner.”
For example, people in caregiving professions can notice positive results with their consistent effort to help others.
It depends on where you place your attention.
“Try to notice the rightness of your work effort and the positive outcomes rather than dwelling on the stressors, obstacles or negative characteristics of work,” he says.
RELATED: 5 Super Stress-Busting Foods
Emotions are a tip-off
Before you experience job burnout, your feelings will give you some clues that something is amiss. If you’re not sure if you’re just going through a rough patch or heading down the road to burnout, here are seven questions to ask yourself:
1Are you feeling cynical or negative about work, and are these feelings escalating?
2Is your motivation decreasing?
3Is it becoming difficult to perform work-related problem solving?
4Do you feel yourself getting more agitated or angry at work?
5Are interpersonal difficulties at work spilling over into your home life?
6Do you feel depressed as a result of work-related stress?
7Is work-related stress causing you anxiety?
If you answered yes to many of the questions above, there are various ways to address these feelings for a healthier outlook.
Change your perspective
“Come to work intending to ‘give your gift’ as an alternative to approaching work fearfully about outcomes or penalties,” Dr. Bea says. “It helps when we lean into the experience with positive energy and a positive belief in ourselves.”
Here are some other in-the-trenches strategies to fight burnout:
• Establish good self-care. Maintain healthy habits such as exercise, nutrition, interpersonal connections, and limit the use of quick fixes such as alcohol, nicotine or drug use.
• Set healthy limits. Find a way to manage expectations in your workplace so that you do not become overextended.
• Keep a healthy pace. Strive to get into the flow of your work, and take periodic breaks.
• Develop a mindfulness practice. Rehearse being aware of the present moment, rather than getting into thoughts about the future or past in a way that escalates tension.
• Take breaks from electronic devices. Do this at predetermined intervals so that you are not “always on.”
• Attach your work efforts to something you value. Notice how your work makes something in the world, the culture, or in other people’s lives better.
• Be yourself. Do what you can to reduce the strain of having to project some image that is not authentic.
If you are struggling over a prolonged period, you also want to consider the source of your feelings. Is it that you are not a match for this particular career? Or is it that the work, and amount, has gotten beyond your control? It may be time to consider a change or talk with a supervisor about workloads or roles.
This feels SOO good. I am about to close out on week three of “consistency camp;” three weeks of sticking to three tiny resolutions that have helped me realize I am indeed capable.
Yes, I am actually fully capable of following through on commitments I make to myself, in this case:
Drinking 68 ounces of water every day
Exercising my heart vigorously three times a week (at the gym)
Taking all of my vitamins-every day.
And while I’ll admit that these are not HUGE things, I’ll let you in on a secret: other good and healthy changes have quietly come along for the ride. I’m not even going to mention them because I don’t want to overwhelm myself with additional expectations.. but hey- there they are..and here I am… ready to start my fourth week and after that?
Well, then I’ll be ready to reassess and raise the bar..
just a bit. 😉