Tag Archive: self-help

Reset Upset: 7 Refreshingly Easy Ways to a Better Day

pexels-photo-89643Sometimes life can just get you down. You turn on the news and get an earful of the racial unrest in today’s society. You scroll through your social media feeds and face a barrage of nasty political debates. Or perhaps, it’s something that hits closer to home: a recent breakup, a demanding boss, or a layoff. It could even be as fleeting as a car cutting you off or an unfortunate misunderstanding. It doesn’t take much for us to go from zen to unzipped.

Here are ways to wade through any storm in mere minutes.

1. Replace your “Why Me’s?” It’s common to play the blame game when upset. But instead of pointing fingers at the perpetrator of your discontent, you can choose to empower yourself by switching to “how” or “what” internal dialogue. That overly critical “Why did this happen to me?” quickly becomes a problem-solving mission when reframed as, “How can I learn from this situation?” or “What are the options now before me?” “How” or “what” open-ended questions allow your mind to remain curious, seek solutions and silver linings.

2. Flip the Form. When we’re crushed, we’re consumed by the content, or the story we tell ourselves about the incident. But this will lead us on a downward spiral of distressing emotions. Rather, explore how you experience the world. Do you recreate the worrisome scenario with a mental image in vivid color? Change the picture to black and white. Are you immersed in the scene? Turn it into a still photograph that you simply look at. Plagued by an abusive inner voice? Listen to the absurdity in the tone of Mickey Mouse. Have a tight ball of tension in your stomach? Visualize untangling the knots. By altering how you form your upset through sensory perception, you transform how you react.

3. Anchor a Better Mood. Recall an experience where you were more resourceful, like a time you were calm or confident. Fully associate into that experience by remembering what you saw, how you felt and what you heard—as if it’s happening to you right now. For instance, imagine a cool, inviting breeze on your face as you bury your feet in the warm sand, while lying on a beach blanket and gazing at the ebbs and flows of the ocean tide before you. How much better do you feel? Once you embody a pleasant past experience, you create a better mood in your current state.

4. Opt for a Varying Viewpoint. Consider the advice you would give to a friend if this were happening to them. The moment you can dissociate from the experience and act as an objective observer, you’re no longer emotionally invested. From this space, you can explore opportunities and alternatives with a clearer head.

5. Assess Eye Movement. According to Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP (which is a study of human behavior and experience), a person’s eye movements are a window into their thinking processes. So watch where you’re looking. If you tend to look down when in a disturbed state, there’s a good chance you’re engaging in some self-deprecating internal talk or submerging yourself in unwanted feelings. If you look laterally, you’re replaying or constructing unpleasant dialogue of the incident. And if you look up, you’re recalling or forming the scene in anxiety-inducing visual imagery. If you tend to have a habitual eye pattern, change it up. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, relies on rotating eye cues as a psychotherapy treatment. Research studies have shown EMDR to be quite effective in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, particularly.

6. Interrupt Your Pattern. When you notice your mental state tanking—crack a joke, bust out a smile, immediately change your posture, take a brief walk, or observe your bystanders, instead. Pattern interruptions force you out of a funk.

7. Breathe. Become aware of your breath, by noticing how your chest and stomach rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. By focusing on how you breathe, you give your conscious mind a job to do, which takes attention away from the present predicament. Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep belly breathing, has also been proven to curb stress and increase relaxation. And if all else fails, take a nap or head to bed. You’ll be refreshed and ready to take on the world upon waking.

Hey Purpose! Where the Hell are You?

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” – Rumi

You hear it often that your #purpose should be what you’re passionate about. I agree. If you’re one of the lucky ones, as a child you knew exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up—and you stayed the course. But let’s face it the majority of us have no damn idea what our “purpose” is. We may “like” a lot of different things, but wouldn’t willingly commit our entire existence to any one of them. So we simply get up each day, get ready, and get behind a computer screen until the clock hits 5. Our purpose is elusive, like some soft shadow at our feet intangible to the touch or a pair of misplaced car keys. You know it’s got to be somewhere! You check the doorknob, under the bed, or the kitchen cabinet, you even run outside to check behind the car seat. Depending on the type of person you are, you do one of two things:

A. You scorn your alarm clock when it strikes 7 a.m., reminding you to go to that office #job you deplore. Where that one co-worker spends his day crinkling potato chip bags and loudly chewing his food with his mouth open, while that other co-worker sees it as his life mission to outdo you in every conceivable conversation. “Oh. You went to the Nick Cave concert? Well, my band actually opened up for him in 2008. Yeah, I know him. We hung out.” (Good for you, a**hole). Then there’s the one who spies on all of his co-workers to catch them on Facebook or lingering too long chatting at another’s cubicle and makes a report to the higher ups. The office snitch sniffing about. If this was Nazi Germany you would all be dead. At lunch hour you get to listen in on the VPs in the lunch room inappropriately talking about sex (people, by the looks of them, you do not ever, ever, ever, wish to visualize engaging in sex), or passive aggressively condescending one another–you know that tone, the one you are so often receiving. Afterwards, you log on and listen to Spotify on high in hopes of drowning out the rest of your day, while also rupturing your eardrums. Later, you inflame your road rage in two-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic only to arrive home and plop in front of the TV, after falsely promising yourself you would hit the gym or do something actually productive. The input of your day has numbed your brain. You’re essentially brain dead. Sometimes you can’t even enunciate clearly by bedtime.

And YAY! You get to do it all again tomorrow!


B.  You curl up on the floor in the fetal position dreading the mere existence of your life because you misplaced your purpose. Depression turns to decision-making, however. You decide to do something about it, anything. You grasp at whatever engages you. You feed your psyche with enriching #selfhelp books and how-tos on “finding your purpose.” You meditate (or in my case, attempt to #meditate only to fall asleep) and listen to endless podcasts and watch webinars from #spiritual gurus who found their way and promise to help you find yours, only for $297.

You light up your home with Himalayan Sea Salt lamps (I have an orange one!) in order to replicate the serenity of sitting by a waterfall and attain some clarity, or if you have the time and resources you go on life-altering #sabbaticals. How about a sweat lodge in upstate New York where you pack tightly around hot rocks to commune with spirit, unless you pass out first? Sign me up! (Speaking of sabbaticals, can someone please send me on an African safari?). Last week you were are ALL about #Reiki, next week you’re opting for a chakra cleanse. You have shamanic healing and #LawofAbundance classes on your to-do list.  You just do … something. You refuse to let a sleeping dog lie. That dog isn’t going anywhere sitting on his ass. I know! I’ve attempted to spin my dog in circles while he’s sleeping and it’s just a bunch of dead weight without much acceleration. Again, if you’re one of the lucky ones you stay the course, and you find your purpose.

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But what if your enthusiasm peters out?

I heard a #webinar (I never said there was anything wrong with being a (B)!) from the Spiritual Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, #JohnAssaraf, in which he stated, loosely, “It takes 56 days or longer to have a certain behavior take effect in the brain for long-term change to happen.” And I believe it. How often do we commit to making a change, like a New Year’s resolution on losing weight or giving up smoking, only to quit by week three? Permanent change takes constant commitment, which is also probably why I can’t seem to make meditating a daily habit. I either succeed in procrastinating or startle myself awake upon realizing that I had just drooled all over my hand. I presume the lesson here is perseverance. While your life may seem like a bunch of failed attempts, at least you are trying. Any sort of movement vibrates in the cosmos and makes a little shift in your atmosphere; a ripple towards change. You can either sit on your ass or send out your resume, because once that sleeping dog wakes up (and noticed you trying to spin him in circles ad nauseam) there’s going to be a bite, eventually. Presently in my life, I’m cocked somewhere in between sitting and standing, which looks a bit like the exact moment someone pulls a chair right out from under you. Gravity’s going to see to it that I move.

Your purpose may never come in a great epiphany or some “a-ha!” moment in which you scream, “I know what I want to do with the rest of my life!” It may never come in endless hours of wracking your brain, or some lucid dream. It may just come in stumbling blocks. You may just get glimmers of it, like a reflection off a sunlight stream, with each new endeavor. You decide to abandon one job and opt for another, not necessarily because you found your calling, but because you could no longer stand your boss! Regardless of the reason you are at least taking action. It’s up to us to make those subtle shifts to attain daily happiness.

As Scandal creator, #ShondaRhimes succinctly said in her commencement speech at her Dartmouth University alma mater, “Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new.”

“It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life,” she adds. “Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, ‘I wish I could travel.’ Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.”

So let’s leap, or hell, stumble into taking steps to change our lives. We may ironically fall through the backdoor to our purpose. Well, at least our purpose, for now. And really, now is all we’ve got.

(For a crash course on Finding Your Purpose in 5 Minutes, check out this great TED Talk with Entertainment Executive Adam Leipzig.)