What Is Your Happiness Level?

On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy & fulfilled are you currently with your life?  1 being the worst you’ve ever been & 10 being you are thriving & living your best life…what is your level of life satisfaction & happiness at this time?

If your number is an 8, 9 or 10, rinse & repeat on whatever you are doing because it sounds like you are living well!  If your number isn’t currently an 8, 9 or 10, reflect on the last time in your life you felt happy & fulfilled & think about what was going on at the time – what were you doing or not doing?  What can you do to bring some of that success and meaning back into your life?

If you would like to feel healthier, happier & more fulfilled then ask yourself what are the barriers to success to making that happen?  What actions steps could you take to be happier on regular basis?

A recent article on happiness in Business Insider reports that research shows we can do a lot to create our own happiness.

“40% of our happiness is under our own control.  The rest is determined by genetics & external factors.  That means there’s a lot we can do to control our own happiness.”

Here are nine happiness-promoting behaviors backed by science:

  1. Relationships are essential. A major study followed hundreds of men for more than 70 years, and found the happiest (and healthiest) were those who cultivated strong relationships with people they trusted to support them.
  2. Time beats money. A number of studies have shown that happier people prefer to have more time in their lives than more money. Even trying to approach life from that mindset seems to make people more content.
  3. But it helps to have enough money to pay the bills. People’s well-being rises along with income levels up to an annual salary of about $75,000, studies have found. (That number probably varies depending on your cost of living, however.)
  4. It’s worth stopping to smell the roses. People who slow down to reflect on good things in their lives report being more satisfied.
  5. Acts of kindness boost the mood. Give your friends a ride to the airport or spend an afternoon volunteering. Some research has shown that people who perform such acts report being happier.
  6. Breaking a sweat is about more than burning calories. Studies show that increased levels of physical activity are connected to higher levels of happiness. Exercise tends to help mitigate the symptoms of some mental illnesses as well.
  7. Fun is more valuable than material items. People tend to be happier if they spend their money on experiences instead of things. Researchers have also found that buying things that allow you to have experiences — like rock climbing shoes or a new book to read — can also increase happiness.
  8. It helps to stay in the present in the moment. Several studies have found that people who practice mindfulness meditation experience greater well-being.
  9. Time with friends is time well spent. Interactions with casual friends can make people happier, and close friendships — especially with happy people — can have a powerful effect on your own happiness as well.

If you would like to be happier, healthier or more fulfilled in your life in 2018 & you are not sure how to get there, give us a call at Foundations Counseling Center & we can help get you started in the right direction.

Lori Corrigan, MA, LCPC – 847-497-0524

 

How You Living?

How you living?  I watched a very powerful inspirational video recently by minister & motivational speaker Dr Rick Rigsby that highlighted the importance of asking ourselves this important question early & often.

Life is busy & sometimes we live our day to day routine attending to the commitments of family, friends, school, work, community, etc. on autopilot.  We navigate through the daily, weekly, monthly journey of life, but often times we are going through the motions not really knowing or understanding what the impact is on our life as a whole.  How often do we check in with ourselves & assess how we are doing – truly doing?

Personally, professionally, mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually…where are you at in your life?  How are you living?  What do you think about your life?  How do you feel about it?  Are you largely happy or unhappy?  Fulfilled or unfulfilled?  Stressed or overwhelmed?  Healthy or unhealthy?

There are many different aspects of our lives that make up our whole self & often times one or more of those individual components are not as great as we would like them to be.  We don’t always realize the negative impact a lack of health & happiness in one or two areas of our life is having on our life as a whole.

So what can we do to cultivate greater understanding & awareness for the quality vs quantify of our lives?  One answer is to pay closer attention to our physical well being as our bodies are a strong indicator of overall life wellness.  Our bodies can provide a lot of information about the many different aspects of our life & health if we take the time to pay attention.  Headaches, stomachaches, skin problems, high blood pressure, back pain can all be indicators that chronic unmanaged stress or fear or hurt or anger about something is negatively affecting the quality of our life.

A recent article by MindBodyGreen states “80% of visits to primary care physicians are due to symptoms ultimately caused by stress or emotional problems”.  In the counseling profession that is known as a psychosomatic disorder which is physical ailments that are caused by emotional or psychological factors vs a medical illness.

It is the mind-body connection.  There is an actual physiological process that our bodies go through when we are overwhelmed, stressed, or experiencing difficult emotions. When we are fearful, angry, sad or chronically worried our brain’s limbic system – which supports a variety of functions such as emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory – gets activated & sends out chemicals like adrenaline & cortisol that suppress our immune system & make us vulnerable to illness & infection.  During those times our bodies are susceptible to increased inflammation, autoimmune & stomach problems, irritable bowel issues, colds & flu, higher blood pressure, sore muscles & irritable behavior.

So if you check in with yourself & notice that you haven’t been feeling particularly well & those symptoms are not otherwise accountable by a medical diagnosis, then there is a good chance that chronic stress or challenging thoughts & emotions are the cause.

The good news is there is something we can do something about it!  The first step is to become aware so check in with yourself early & often to know how you are truly living & feeling.  Next, take a few deep breaths & try to really understand what is going on – what are you thinking or feeling & how are you behaving?  Are you having a hard time focusing or thinking about things but don’t know how to say them?  Are you feeling a particular way about something but not letting others know how you feel?   Ask yourself what is important to you in your life & what you would like to do to achieve your hopes & dreams.

Seek to understand what your body is trying to tell you & figure out what you would like to do about it.  The only thing we have control over in life is ourselves as individuals so if we want to be happy & fulfilled then we must take personal responsibility for making that happen & work to change the direction of our lives if need be.

If you realize there are things in your life that are overwhelming or unsatisfying & don’t know how to solve those problems, then consultation with a counseling professional may be a great step in the right direction to help you make the changes that will bring you closer to the life you truly desire.

Peace & good health to all.

 

Gratitude For Good Health

Benefits-of-Gratitude5

Here at Foundations we are big fans of gratitude!  Research shows that expressing gratitude can help improve our health in so many different ways – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, personally & professionally.  Happier Human provides a more specific list of the many health benefits being grateful can offer:

The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

While expressing gratitude by no means is a health cure-all, being regularly grateful for the things you do have in your life instead of ruminating about the things you don’t have or don’t like can provide you with a mindset that will lead to important health benefits such as:

  • Improved health & happiness
  • More fulfilled careers & social relationships
  • Increased optimism & decreased materialism
  • Healthier self-esteem & stronger resilience
  • Better quality sleep & increased calm
  • Higher rate of productivity & goal achievement
  • Stronger leadership skills

So if you are interested in finding tools to help you feel better & live a healthier, happier life, try expressing a statement of gratitude to yourself once per day each & every day for 30 straight days & see what happens!

Gratitude

Foundations Counseling would like to take the time to express gratitude for all that is this Thanksgiving holiday.  Weather we like it or not, we learn & grow from every single experience we have good, bad or indifferent.  It is not what happens to us in life, it is how we process what happens to us that creates the perceptions that become our reality.  Noting and expressing gratitude can be a powerful tool for life wellness, personal & professional fulfillment and general happiness and contentment in life.

Take a look at this great 9 minute video by amazing cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg @LouieFilms regarding nature, beauty and gratitude.  Enjoy & be well friends; we are grateful & thankful for you!

Live Mindfully & Prosper

Mindfulness-Prosper

Monday November 2, 2015

Good Mindful Monday all – welcome to Live Mindfully & Prosper!

Who? As a 20-year counseling professional and fellow human being who experiences ups and downs in life like all other humans, I understand the beauty and challenge life can bring.

What? One thing I know that works to help enrich daily life and manage stress is Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is a particular way of noticing and responding to life – noticing vs. judging; responding vs. reacting…think about it, big difference, right?  Mindful living is, in a nutshell, moment to moment awareness of life as it is happening – accepting life as it is happening, with an open mind and heart.  Not always easy to do, but worth the effort for sure with research showing that regular Mindfulness practice can have significant health benefits such as:

  • Enhanced emotional intelligence for improved coping and problem solving
  • Increased awareness for stronger interpersonal relationships
  • Reduced stress for decreased depression, anxiety & blood pressure
  • Improved focus and memory for more proficient critical thinking skills

How? Brain science:  Daily life requires us to interact with others, make decisions and respond to all kinds of things, and over time our brains become wired (grooved like a record) to those same responses or reactions we tend to have over and over.  Many times we are reacting emotionally (right brain response) instead of responding mindfully (balance of right brain emotion processing and left brain logical analyzing), but the good news is our brains have what is called neuroplasticity so we can recondition (re-groove) our automatic responses to life to become healthier over time and with practice.  All good things take time and the clinically proven benefits of Mindfulness are no different – to cultivate mindful living skills so they become a more automatic response to life (versus the reactions we have grooved our brings to do) we must practice them over & over again.

Why? If you start today with adding one element of Mindfulness to your daily life, possibly immediate, but more realistically over time you will likely notice a positive difference in the way you are living and feeling about life.  It may be that you are more relaxed day to day or that you find yourself responding better to things…maybe you are starting to enjoy healthier interactions with people, or you aren’t as easily agitated or maybe you feel life is perhaps brighter, more manageable or hopeful.

30-Day Mindfulness Challenge! It takes time to change a habit; repetition is key.  Start with one small thing, and build.  Give it a try, see what happens, what do you have to lose?  The possibilities are endless when we live with an open mind. 

Where/when? There are many components to Mindfulness and the benefits are many so this Live Mindfully & Prosper (LM&P) page is designed to be a resource for you in all things Mindfulness.  Visit us weekly for information, education, hands-on skills, inspiration, motivation, support & guidance regarding how Mindful Living can help you to live a healthier, happier, more balanced and fulfilled life.

Cheers to Living Mindfully & Prospering all!  Below are a few Mindful Living tips you can get started with right here, right now :).

Enjoy & be well always,

Lori

  • Slow down
  • Take a deep breath (Mindful Breathing)
  • Let go of judgment
  • Pay attention to your body
  • Use all five of your senses to notice things
  • Seek understanding
  • Express gratitude
  • Live life for today, not yesterday or tomorrow

Life is a choice

In honor of Thankful Thursday, here’s a short inspirational story that was emailed to us this week…

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly even though he is legally  blind, moved to a nursing home after his wife of 70 years passed away.  After many hours of waiting patiently to move into his new room in the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was finally ready.  As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.    

“I love it” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new  puppy.  “Mr.  Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait”.  That doesn’t have anything to do with  it”, he replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.  Whether I like my room or not doesn’t  depend on how the furniture is arranged … it’s how I arrange my mind. I  already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I  wake up.  I have a choice & I choose happiness.  I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulties I have or I can get out of bed and be thankful for all of my blessings.  Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes are open I will focus on the beauty that each new day offers.  Life is like a bank account in that you withdraw from what you’ve put in. 

Moral of the story:  Life is a choice.  Choose happiness where you can & be sure to share the love with those around you to maximize the deposits in the bank account of life!

 

The Happiness Trap

http://http://thehappinesstrap.com/mindfulness

At Foundations we are reading ‘The Happiness Trap’ by Dr. Russ Harris.  Dr. Harris is a proponent of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) which helps us to clarify our values and develop mindfulness skills to find true satisfaction, or happiness, in life.

We’ve only read the first couple of chapters of the book, but so far we think ‘The Happiness Trap’ is a good read that offers helpful information regarding happiness myths and vicious cycles we can get ourselves into in an effort to control or chase happiness.