walk in nature

7 Ways to Get Back to Basics and Create a More Beautiful Post COVID-19 World

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. Albert Einstein

It seems as if the world has grown weary of lockdown life and even though infection numbers are climbing in many countries like the United States, it seems as if some people and many politicians want to get back to business as usual.  It is normal for people to want to get out and enjoy the lovely Spring weather because let’s face it, being socially distant goes against our instincts as humans. But my personal feeling about going back to “business as usual” is that it’s going to be short-lived and counterproductive to our collective goal of fighting COVID-19 and an opportunity wasted to usher in a new world.

Whenever we experience deep trauma, loss or separation as humans, we go through various stages in response to the triggering event. In fact, according to the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle, it seems as if we are currently toggling between “denial” – “anger” – “bargaining” in how we are choosing to deal with this crisis. In order to heal, we must allow ourselves to go through these stages in the amount of time that it takes – which is solely dependent on the person’s ability to stay with the feelings, go into the emotions, experience them fully and then come out the other side to a place of acceptance. Having experienced these grief cycles myself, I can say that it is not an easy thing to go through. When you are in it, it can feel like there is no end in sight to the painful feelings that ensue. But relief and healing do eventually come and you become stronger because of it.

5 stages of grief

So if we look at the current crisis from this lens, we can understand why people spent the last weekend protesting in large numbers in Huntington Beach or at Michigan’s State Capitol. We can understand why New York parks were filled with people. We can understand why our government seems to be spinning the truth just so they can get the economy back up and running again. Denial seems to be our way of dealing with the ‘triggering’ event of a global pandemic and handling our grief around losing our individual freedoms. How long we cycle through the first four stages of grief will largely depend on our ability to transcend the pain and trauma to move into acceptance.

The Great Realization

I’ve spent the past weekend watching films like Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans and Dr. Stephen Greer’s Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind. These two films are almost like bookends to describe where we are as a human species. Although Planet of the Humans has been criticized by many environmentalists for using outdated facts and figures to argue that the green movement isn’t doing enough to deal with climate change, it has been lauded for pointing to the big elephants in the room: overpopulation and overconsumption. The main point the film alludes to is that we are well past the point of ‘solar paneling’ or ‘wind turbining’ ourselves out of the climate crisis. It claims that if we do not make massive shifts in the way we live our day-to-day lives and change our consumption habits drastically, we will not be able to tackle climate change in any meaningful way. 

In Close Encounters, the documentary talks about the deep state cover-up around UFO’s and ET’s which ironically seems to be ending with the recent admission by the Pentagon of the existence of UFO’s (no one seemed to be surprised by this). However, a good portion of the film is dedicated to the work of Dr. Stephen Greer who has established a series of protocols called CE5 protocols to initiate peaceful contact with intelligent beings from other planets. He claims that no human being has been harmed in all the decades he has been leading groups in making contact (and he has massive amounts of incredible footage to prove it). The theme throughout the film is that in order to make contact with aliens, we need to raise our consciousness and develop our innate abilities of telepathy and ESP. These are abilities that all human beings have latent inside them and he thinks this is the central technology that ET’s use to transport themselves to Earth from their far away galaxies and planets. 

galaxy

While all this may sound far-fetched, some of the world’s oldest religious teachings seek to help their devotees to attain exactly this type of consciousness raising. In fact, there have been stories of many great avatars who have been able to bilocate or materialize out of nowhere. Jesus himself was said to be able to levitate and in the Bible it describes him walking on water. Psychics use this ability in order to intuit information. Many artists and creative people innately know that their creativity comes from a mysterious “other” place. What would be possible if we were able to tap into this power inside of ourselves as a human collective? What if we were able to make peaceful contact with other civilizations much more advanced than ours? Might they be willing to share their advanced technology so that we could save planet earth? What if that is the reason why they are trying to make contact in the first place? 

As I reflect on these two films and look at where we are today from a meta-perspective, it seems to me that this moment is calling us forth into a great realization about where humanity finds itself today and a need to reassess how we might organize ourselves as a society post pandemic. It requires us to look at the social agreements we have in place in all aspects of our society – from our institutions to how we govern ourselves. It requires a deeper inquiry and a shift in perspective about the role each one of us plays in reimagining our world. This requires a fundamental shift in consciousness and a greater awareness about how we begin redesigning our social contracts to make them more aligned with a more equitable, sustainable, peaceful and inclusive way of being in the world. 

breathe the air

So you might be reading this and wondering – what can I do to help bring about this shift in consciousness? Luckily, I’ve got a few simple suggestions you can take to make a difference by going back to the basics. 

To be empowered – to be free, to be unlimited, to be creative, to be genius, to be divine—that is who you are…. Once you feel this way, memorize this feeling; remember this feeling. This is who you really are. ― Joe Dispenza

1. Begin meditating on a regular basis. 

I’ve talked about the importance of meditation in earlier posts and how effective it is in dealing with anxiety and stress. Lately I’ve stumbled upon the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza – a neuroscientist and former doctor who has extensively researched the power of the mind to heal ourselves and to change our lives in concrete and tangible ways. I recommend his book Becoming Supernatural as a starting point or his many interviews on Youtube. You can also find his guided meditations available for download through Amazon. His latest campaign is #GoLove20 is about spreading love and positivity to heal the planet. Make time on a daily basis to meditate, quiet your mind and raise your awareness. This will help in not only bringing about personal well-being, but as I talk about below, has been shown to have positive, long lasting effects locally and globally as well.

mindfulness and meditation

2. Get out in nature, safely.

We’ve all realized and have a new found appreciation for the healing power of nature during this time in lockdown. Human beings need fresh air and sunlight to function properly. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to all sorts of health problems and our lungs and bodies need exercise to feel good, boost our immune system and lower stress. We all need to find safe ways to be out in nature but to do so safely, which means wearing masks, keeping social distance and not touching your face. This is not difficult!! Drive to a hiking trail that is off the beaten path. Find a park that isn’t crowded. Get up early to beat the crowds or take a late night brisk walk. Be respectful of others’ personal space.

walking in nature

3. Plant a garden.

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the relationship between humans and nature has largely been about dominion over the natural world. We live disconnected from it and have forgotten the basic skills of tending the land. If something were to happen to our food supply, god forbid, most of us would not be able to survive off the land. With long lines at supermarkets and empty shelves quickly becoming a new reality, it’s becoming clear that we need to relearn how to grow our own food and become more in tune with nature. Transportation of food is one of the biggest contributors to our carbon footprint. One of the most radical acts you can do right now is learn how to grow plants and vegetables. You can start by planting a garden in your front or backyard.  Learning basic gardening skills, permaculture or sustainable agriculture to feed your family or local community while doing something beneficial for the planet. Get inspiration from the Dervaes family who converted their residential property to an urban farm which now produces 6,000 pounds of food for their local community.  Imagine what would be possible if we turned all our lawns into community gardens?

growing plants

4. Make a list of your consumption habits.

If we want to truly begin shifting away from over-consumption, it has to start locally. In order to do this, we have to become aware of our unconscious spending habits. We need to become aware of where we spend our money, time and resources. Make a list of your spending habits and put them into three categories – Must haves, Nice to haves, Don’t need to haves. Begin whittling yourself down to the must haves and nice to haves, and then over time see if you can do away with the nice to haves as well. However, add an additional category of “Experiences” that you are going to add in place of the items you are eliminating. How do you want to fill up your time? Where do you want to put your resources instead? Spending more time with your kids, learning a new skill, volunteering in your community are a few examples. In order to take the pain out of making do with less, fill that time with activities that feed your soul.

5. Work on raising your vibrational frequency.

If you’ve ever heard of the movie The Secret or the Law of Attraction then you know that raising your vibrational frequency is key in manifesting your heart’s desire. Not only is this important in attracting the things you want more of in your life, it is also instrumental in lowering stress and anxiety and increasing well-being. It is also key in raising your consciousness and being able to tap into latent abilities such as telepathy. Heart Math Institute has done decades of research on heart coherence and has developed a tool called Inner Balance which is a nifty bluetooth-enabled device that can measure your heart coherence while you meditate in real time. They conduct Global Coherence events where people around the world practice heart coherence meditations at the same time which has been proven to positively affect the electromagnetic field of the planet (raises planetary consciousness). It only takes 1% of the population to go into coherence to impact the rest of the 99%, lowering crime rates and violence, which is called the Maharishi Effect. 

watching nature

6. Begin writing a new story for the world

We spend so much time dwelling on what is NOT working in our lives or in the world that we end up spending very little time thinking about the world we DO want. We have the perfect opportunity right now to begin envisioning the new world we want to create post COVID-19. The planet has had a brief respite from all the polluting and over-consumption of its inhabitants. Animals are getting to enjoy some of the empty space that was previously occupied by humans. It’s beautiful to see the waters in the Venice canals clearing up or bioluminescent waves in Southern California. It’s inspiring to watch funny and creative videos made by ordinary folks who are tapping into their innate playfulness during this lockdown. It seems like simple acts of kindness and courage have increased too. Isn’t this the type of planet we want to move into? Begin spending time each day dreaming of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Think about the type of work, relationships, communities and planet we could create if we tapped into our creativity, wholeness and resourcefulness. Write it down, journal about it or get into dialogue about it with someone and share those ideas out loud. 

write your story

7. Be a Leader – Invite friends to join you.

All these things are well and good but without a tipping point, it will take a long time to see real change. The time has come for all of us to take personal leadership over our lives instead of waiting for an external entity to dictate what we should do to better our lives. We can no longer wait for politicians or governments to enact change that will lead to a better future. We must be our own leaders and take charge of our destiny. If you feel a calling to make a difference in the world, listen to that inner knowing.. Start a community garden in your neighborhood. Hold group meditations over Zoom. Find online communities that are organizing themselves in raising planetary consciousness. Invite people in your network to practice these new habits. The minute you liberate yourself from programming via social media or the mainstream media, the more energy and creativity you will have in taking positive actions in your life that can impact you and society in general.

keep the balance

When you get back to doing the basics, you’ll begin to notice changes in your relationship with yourself, with other people and with nature. You’ll begin to feel more peaceful, maybe more loving and kind, you might even feel more vitality and wholeness. You might feel inclined to review your consumption habits and find ways to be more conscious about how you spend your time, money and energy. And you might even begin thinking about how you can make a difference locally. If all of us step up to take leadership of ourselves and in our communities, I think we would be able to not only defeat COVID-19 in less time, but we might be able to save Mother Earth and walk into a different world, a more beautiful one our hearts know is possible.

We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness. – Thich Nhat Hahn

Dalai Lama speaks on Inner Peace,Inner Values & Mental States



female in leadership combating the covid19 (2)

Female Leadership is Proving to be the Secret Weapon in the Battle against Coronavirus

Women leaders around the world are showcasing the type of leadership that is proving to be most effective in handling the current COVID-19 pandemic. Germany (Angela Merkel), Taiwan (Tsai Ing-wen), New Zealand (Jacinda Ardern), Norway (Erna Solberg), Denmark (Mette Frederiksen), Iceland (Kalun Jakobsdottir), and Finland (Sanna Marin) have had one of the more successful responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. From Jacinda Ardern’s swift, decisive yet empathic approach to the pragmatic, science-based approach taken by Angela Merkel, they are proving that in times of crisis, female leaders can lead equally as well if not surpass the effectiveness of some of their male counterparts. 

In this article, I’d like to take a closer look at the specific leadership skills these global female leaders are embodying as a lesson for all of us in how to lead gracefully in times of great hardship and challenge.

It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others. – Dalai Lama

In my book Leading Gracefully, I present the Feminine Leadership Model – a balanced approach to leadership, composed of 12 leadership behaviors that I deem essential in navigating the complexities we face today. Out of these twelve skills, 7 of them can be categorized as “feminine” or more inclusive traits, while four of them can be described as more “masculine” or directive in nature. Although women tend to show up with these feminine behaviors more so than men, it is not exclusive to gender. There are plenty of inclusive male leaders that embody these qualities such as Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, who have been equally impactful leaders.

Research shows that when people were asked what type of qualities they prefered in their leaders, an overwhelming two-thirds thought the world would be a better place if men thought more like women, preferring their leaders to be more empathic, collaborative, humble and authentic. As we shift into a more interconnected and interdependent world, people inherently want their leaders to take a more feminine approach rather than lead with an iron fist.

As we know, leaders of cities, states and countries face an unprecedented test in responding to Covid-19 – the “invisible enemy.” The countries who have seen some of the most effective response to the spread of infection, containment and mitigation have been countries with female leadership. Germany, Taiwan and New Zealand are examples of where the battle against COVID-19 has gone better than in neighboring countries. 

  • In Germany, a country with 83 million people, has had over 132,000 infections but very low deaths per million. Germany has the most intensive care beds and the largest-scale coronavirus testing program in Europe. 
  • Taiwan was so well prepared that it is now able to donate 10 millions masks to the US and 11 European countries. 
  • New Zealand has had only five Covid-19 deaths so far in a country of 5 million.
  • In Norway, Solberg innovatively employed the use of television to talk directly to the children. She was building on the press conference that Denmark’s Frederiksen — equally decisive and swift in her own country — had held earlier. Denmark has 260 deaths while Norway 98.
  • Sanna Marin, a 34-year-old, is the world’s youngest Head of State. As a millennial leader, she has spearheaded a countrywide campaign using social media influencers as key agents in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Finland has 49 deaths.
  • Iceland is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens under the leadership of Jakobsdottir.

coronavirus pandemic 2019

But as in all facets of our society, we see a gender gap as it relates to those who hold positions of power versus those who bear the brunt during a crisis like this. Women make up a majority of the world’s healthcare workers, around 70% by some estimates,  but women make up only 7% of world leaders. We are also seeing an alarming uptick in the number of domestic violence cases due to lockdown orders globally. Some countries have responded by providing additional funding in response to rising cases of domestic violence and providing hotel rooms as an escape for victims of abuse. 

Communicating the Vision + Caring + Empathy

Let’s compare two very different leadership styles as in the case of New Zealand and the UK. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, saw the danger coming from miles away. As early as February, her administration banned travelers from China as Wuhan was putting its citizens on lockdown. It then closed its borders in mid-March when there were only a handful cases in New Zealand. This swift and decisive action bought officials time to develop measures that could end the transmission of the coronavirus, such as rigorously quarantining at the country’s borders and expanding testing and contact tracing. Ardern’s government then unveiled a four-level alert system at the outset of the crisis which helped people psychologically prepare for a step-up in seriousness. But it was Ardern’s approach to communicating these steps and the reasoning behind them that made all the difference.

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit. – Arnold H. Glasgow

According to a recent Atlantic article written about Ardern’s response, it describes how she broke the news to New Zealanders’ that they must go into lockdown:

“During a session conducted in late March, just as New Zealand prepared to go on lockdown, she appeared in a well-worn sweatshirt at her home (she had just put her toddler daughter to bed, she explained) to offer guidance “as we all prepare to hunker down.”

She sympathized with how alarming it must have been to hear the “loud honk” that had preceded the emergency alert message all New Zealanders had just received essentially informing them that life as they knew it was temporarily over. She introduced helpful concepts, such as thinking of “the people [who] will be in your life consistently over this period of time” as your “bubble” and “acting as though you already have COVID-19” toward those outside of your bubble. She justified severe policies with practical examples: People needed to stay local, because what if they drove off to some remote destination and their car broke down? She said she knows as a parent that it’s really hard to avoid playgrounds, but the virus can live on surfaces for 72 hours.”

Her ability to calmly explain the reasoning behind the lockdown order and her empathetic communication skills made the news more tolerable. In times of crisis, it’s imperative that leaders are able to rally the troops and get them to follow orders. Getting your people to get on board quickly, calmly and in an orderly manner is key in such a crisis and it has proven to be the most effective strategy. But the way that message is delivered is crucial to have buy-in from the population, in this case, but in any given situation where you need people to follow your vision. Ardern’s authentic and down-to-earth tone had that effect and ensured that people came together around a common goal. 

Ego-Centered Leadership + Denialism

Ardern’s approach couldn’t be more different than Boris Johnson’s in the UK. They received reports of it’s first cases as early as the beginning of February but the risk level set by the government remained at “moderate” until March 12. News began pouring  from Italy and Spain where it was plain to see the devastating toll of the virus from photos of patients lying sick on floors of hospitals and a death toll that was sure to shame WWII death figures.  

True Leaders are selfless. They have always been servants of the people first. -Anonymous

But Boris Johnson’s knee-jerk response was not to come up with a plain of containment as was clearly necessary and being implemented all over the world. Instead he declared that the UK’s strategy should be to allow herd immunity to take place, all but ensuring massive numbers of its citizens to be exterminated. Even though the idea was not ultimately implemented, it still distracted and prevented the government from taking the necessary measures in a timely manner. In fact, Boris Johnson himself was seen walking through hospitals without wearing a mask, shaking sick patient’s hands and setting an example that there was really nothing to worry about. This approach of course backfired. He was soon declared positive for coronavirus and had to be admitted to the ICU where he spent a few nights fighting for his life.  The result is that the UK is now on track to have the highest rate of infections and highest rate of mortality, possibly exceeding that of Italy or France.

couple kissing with masks - covid19

The examples of these two polarities in leadership show us that especially in times of crisis, leadership matters. When there is fear and uncertainty, the best leaders will know how to build trust, be vulnerable and make sure everyone knows that there is a plan. This can bring down the anxiety level and ensure plans are implemented correctly, and in the case of COVID, that couldn’t be more imperative where the goal is to flatten the curve. Sowing seeds of doubt, changing your direction, or denying there is a problem or blaming others is a sure fire way to sow seeds of division. This can lead to unrest and even “mutiny” as we are seeing in many parts of the United States, due to the haphazard style of leadership coming from President Trump. 

This is a disaster waiting to happen and only time will tell how it will play out. But what these examples of female leadership are showing us around the globe is that there is an alternative to traditional models of male leadership. Perhaps it’s time to shatter some of the gender stereotypes or unconscious gender biases we associate with women not being “leadership material”. Because if COVID-19 is killing anything, it should be killing the myth that women aren’t as qualified or as effective as men when it comes to leading a country. This crisis is showing us that women can be strong leaders, yet lean into their feminine strengths to navigate a crisis.

practice mindfulness

10 Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness In Our Daily Life

“Look past your thoughts, so you may drink the pure nectar of This Moment.” – Rumi

These days as we are all learning to adapt to a new normal of staying indoors, I’ve been personally finding it difficult to focus on what is going right with the world instead of what is going wrong. I find myself sometimes getting sucked into hours of scrolling through my social media feed to read the latest news (which is mostly all terrible) or to feel more connected to friends and family. With all the unknowns of what the future holds, it’s easy to get stuck in negative feedback loops which ultimately breed stress in the body. And right now stress is the last thing we need if we want to boost our immune systems and keep a healthy mental state.

mindfullness meditation
So in this blog post, I want to talk about how to train your brain through mindfulness practices to stay focused on the positive, lower stress, and keep yourself mentally healthy during this uncertain time we’re going through. 

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to stay in the present moment and to focus your thoughts on what is happening in the here and now. It’s our ability to not think about the past or the future but to instead observe what is happening in the moment. 

Why Should We Practice Mindfulness?

There have been many prominent teachers like Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle and others who teach us about the power of mindfulness and why it’s so important to incorporate it into our daily practice. It has many proven benefits from reducing anxiety, depression and chronic pain to improving sleep and reducing stress. Mindfulness also helps us in achieving our goals such as weight-loss or starting a new project. And from a leadership perspective, mindfulness can help us stay centered in order to more effectively manage people or deal with external challenges. All in all, mindfulness is an important practice for us to cultivate to lead happy and meaningful lives.

yoga and mindfulness

But it’s not something that comes naturally for us especially with the many distractions that take our attention and focus elsewhere. Most of us are now addicted to our technology and have less ability to focus our attention for a long period of time. We constantly check our news feed, email or texts and are bombarded with information overload. The day goes by without us even checking in with ourselves, let alone spending time practicing mindfulness, which ironically ends up making us feel disconnected and unhappy. And when we do slow down we tend to feel guilty for doing so, like there’s some kind of rule that tells us we need to be busy in every given moment to be productive and make the most of each minute.

The result of this is we become much more susceptible to bad news, misinformation and anxiety which drag us down both mentally and physically. We end up being uncomfortable with just being with ourselves, we lose our connection to something bigger or to our inner power. We lose our ability to create our future consciously through focusing on what’s working for us right now. 

Cultivating Mindfulness in our Daily Lives

Since breaking our addiction to technology is a much bigger task (and a topic for another blog), we need to build practices in our daily lives to bring ourselves back to what really matters. Although nothing beats a good mindfulness meditation it can sometimes be difficult to squeeze in a 20-30 minute meditation in our busy lives. Instead, we can build micro-practices throughout the day to focus our attention.

buddha and mindfulness

 

Here are my top 10 mindfulness activities you can practice throughout the day:

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

1. Practice gratitude 

When we practice gratitude, we have to focus our attention to what is positive in our lives in the present moment. It gently brings the good stuff to the forefront of our mind so that we are able to more easily come back into the now moment, instead of fretting about the future or rehashing the past. By focusing on the positive we then become more available to create a more positive future.

practice gratitude

 

2. Check in with your body

The body functions without your participation – you breathe automatically, your heart beats continuously and your bodily functions keep going regardless of what you do. But the body is constantly sending us messages through sensations in the body. Take a moment and check in with your body – what do you notice?
Where are you holding tension? Do you have aches or pains? Do you feel heavy or light? Bringing your attention to your body can help realign your attention to the present but also connects you to the information you need to take better care of your body. For more tips on how to lean into body wisdom, you can check out my new course on building more confidence.

beat the inner bully

 

3. Pay attention to your heart

Our emotions are another way the body communicates with us at any given moment. Throughout the day, you might experience a range of emotions from sadness to joy. By checking in with your heart where your emotions originate, you come into more coherence with yourself. My favorite resource for this is the Heart Math Institute that has done decades of research on the power of the heart and how it affects not only our individual health but the well-being of others.

4. Fire up your five senses

One of the simplest ways of staying mindful is to bring your attention to the present moment. Stop what you are doing for a moment and observe what is going on around you. What noises do you hear? What scents do you smell? What are others around you doing? Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, put your full attention there and observe it through your five senses for a few moments to practice bringing your mind to the now moment.

5. Practice the centering exercise

One of the best exercises I teach my clients is a short 30 second practice called the Centering Exercise that helps you tune into your body and into the present moment through centering. Here’s a quick video that runs you through the step by step process on how to do it. You can also find it featured in my book, Leading Gracefully. It’s a great exercise for leaders, managers, entrepreneurs and busy moms!

hardcover of book leading gracefully

6. Focus on your breath

Another access point to bringing our attention to the moment is by focusing on our breath. The breath is happening with or without our conscious awareness, but by bringing our attention to our breath we can help our mind focus. Notice how you are breathing. Is it shallow or deep? Take five deep belly breaths and focus your attention on your inhale and exhale. Repeat that three times and practice it multiple times during the day.

7. Observe your thoughts

Here’s a fun game – stop what you’re doing and start observing your thoughts. Can you do that? What do you notice? Try it and see what happens!

8. Mindful eating

Another time to focus on the present moment is when we eat. Most of the time we aren’t paying attention to the food we eat because we’re eating at our desk, watching a Youtube video or reading while we eat. But research has shown that when we eat with more mindfulness, we digest our food better which helps get more vitamins and minerals and aids in overall digestive health.

mindfulness and weight loss

So next time you sit down for a meal, put down the phone, chew your food mindfully and notice how you eat. Do you eat fast or slow? Do you chew your food or inhale it? What does your food taste like? What you discover might even inspire you to take up an online cooking class! 

9. Practice active listening

Most of the time when others speak we are in our heads trying to think of how we are going to respond. We tune out about halfway before the person is even finished with their thought. Next time you have a conversation, try active listening where you are putting your full attention on the other person. Listen with your ears, heart and intuition. Practice mindful listening and observe whether the quality of your conversations change.

mindfulness and meditation

10. Observe your surroundings

I like practicing this when I’m outdoors – just focusing on what is happening around me. Notice the traffic. Focus on the people walking by. Notice a beautiful flower. The wind in your hair. The sun on your face. You can practice this when you’re going for a walk or a hike or just sitting on your patio or from your yard if you’re homebound.

I hope these simple exercises help give you access to the world of mindfulness without having to read books or sit through long meditations. Of course those are great mindfulness activities if you have the time, but I find it easier to make practicing mindfulness part of my daily activities so I can train my mind and stay more positive, feel happier and be in charge of what I choose to attract to myself by staying in the here and now.  

Do you have any tips or exercises that help you stay mindful? Share them in the comments below!

The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger | Shauna Shapiro

 

“In today’s rush, we all think too much–seek too much–want too much–and forget about the joy of just being.” – Eckhart Tolle

enjoy nature

7 Tips on How to Practice Gratitude to Beat the #COVID Blues

There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein

In my last blog post, I shared a few life hacks to help us stay productive while working from home during this challenging time during #COVID19. One of the things I left out was a topic I thought deserved a whole post to itself –  practicing gratitude. Why do I think gratitude is such an important topic that I dedicated a whole post to it? Because there are some pretty significant mental and health benefits from doing so, and at times like these, we can use all the help we can get.

So first, let’s look at how we define gratitude.

What is Gratitude?

 The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. I like to define gratitude as the art of being in appreciation of something and acknowledging the presence of it, whether tangible or intangible.

 Why is Gratitude Important?

Gratitude is important because it keeps us tethered to reality. It takes us beyond ourselves and reminds us of the interconnection and interdependence of all things. It keeps us centered and grounded. And it can lift our spirits and give us comfort during difficult times. Practicing gratitude is the antidote to fear, scarcity and feelings of not being in control. It can remind us that even in the darkest moment, there are things to be thankful for which can immediately land us into an attitude of more generosity and positivity when things are tough.

 

What are the Benefits of Gratitude?

Recent studies show strong evidence that there are some very positive benefits on our health and well-being by practicing gratefulness. Gratitude can make people happier, improve their relationships, and potentially even counteract depression and suicidal thoughts. In another study, more grateful participants reported fewer health problems (such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory infections, and sleep disturbances); in another, they reported fewer physical symptoms (including headaches, dizziness, stomachaches, and runny noses). Although it seems as more research is necessary to show direct correlation between improved health and practicing gratitude, growing research in the area of positive psychology indicates that gratitude can lead to more happiness.

 How do we Practice Gratitude?

Before we can be grateful for something, we actually have to stop and notice that “It” is happening. The proverbial “It” is whatever you happen to notice in the moment – it can be as simple as a sunny day with blue skies or it can be acknowledging the thousands of selfless people putting themselves in harm’s way right now who are working the front lines to care for us, provide for us and keep us safe during this pandemic. That step right before gratitude requires mindfulness – the remembering, the stopping, the noticing – all steps necessary to be able to practice gratitude on a regular basis.

today I am grateful for

When Should We Practice Gratitude?

Anytime is a good time to practice gratitude and I recommend making it part of your daily practice. It can help you accept change, relieve stress and boost your mental health. Feeling grateful can be helpful when going through a tough break-up, when we lose our job, or lose a loved one. When we are trying to manifest more abundance in our life, gratitude is one of the essential steps to staying open to receiving all the goodness coming your way. Saying thank you or giving credit to an employee or a teammate can go a long way as well. People work harder and are more motivated when they feel appreciated. No one likes being taken for granted, so being thankful to your hard working staff shows that you acknowledge their efforts and can make them feel valued.

7 Tips to Practicing Gratitude

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. – Eckhart Tolle

 1. Keep a daily gratitude journal.   

Start your day with gratitude. Keep a journal by your bedside and upon waking up, jot down a few things you’re grateful for. Do this consistently for at least a month and notice any differences in your mood or in how your day progresses.

gratitude notes

 2. Write a note or letter of thanks to someone.

This might be a letter you send or decide to keep to yourself. You may decide to write a note of gratitude to someone who has hurt you in the past. This can serve as a deeply healing exercise to help let go of any feelings of resentment and allow you to see the gifts in the situation.

 3. Accept each day as a gift.

Remind yourself that each day is a new opportunity. An opportunity to do something kind for someone, to improve yourself, or to make a positive impact. Each day could be your last, so be grateful for the chance to live on this beautiful planet, surrounded by people you love.

4. Enjoy nature’s beauty

One of the easiest ways to practice gratitude is to appreciate the beauty of the natural world. Gaze up at the sun, smell the fresh air, take a walk in nature. Be mindful of the miracles all around you. Stand in awe of how perfect it all is.

practice gratitude everyday

 5. See beauty in others and pay compliments.

There is nothing better than putting a smile on someone’s face. Giving a kind (and respectful) compliment can go a long way in brightening up their day. It can also make you feel good to do so. Appreciate the beauty in others and let them know you see them for who they are.

 6. Keep in mind: there is nothing lacking.

Remind yourself that we live in an abundant world. Scarcity and fear are fixations of our imagination that are used to control us. Allow yourself to trust that things will be OK, that you are taken care of, and that there is enough for everyone (this is for the toilet paper hoarders out there!).

 7. Start and end your day with gratitude.

Just like you start your day, end your day with gratitude. It can be in the form of a quick prayer of thanks, a text of appreciation to someone, or a reminder of what went right in your day.  

give thanks

 

Books on Gratitude

Of course there are some great books written on the subject of gratitude along with some awesome videos about gratitude as well. Here are some of my favorites:

The Gratitude Diaries

By Janice Kaplan

Taking advice from a range of professionals, Kaplan shared both personal experiences and extensive research to explore how gratitude can transform every aspect of life. In this warm, funny book, Kaplan shares with her readers the value of appreciating what you have.

Available from Amazon.

The Psychology of Gratitude

Editors: Michael McCullough, Robert A. Emmons

This text combines the work of prominent scientists from a range of disciplines to look closely at gratitude. It covers historical, philosophical and theoretical foundations of gratitude, then presents current research from a wide variety of sources.

Available from Amazon.

Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life

By Angeles Arrien

Angeles Arrien asks readers to think about making gratitude their focal point for a whole year. Bringing together teachings from social science, she presents a 12-month ‘gratitude plan’.

Available from Amazon.

During times like these, it’s easy to give into all the fear mongering and feelings of scarcity. It’s imperative that you limit your exposure to content that fills you up with negativity. Focus on the things that are going right, choose to consume content that fills you with joy instead, and remember to be thankful for all that you have. Think of ways that you can spread joy or give back. Get creative and ask yourself – how do I want to show up when things get tough? Practicing gratitude is a choice you can make every day.

 I’m grateful to you for making the time to read this post and for sharing it with those that might benefit! 

Want to be happy? Be grateful by David Steindl-Rast