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

 

Strengthen Relationships With Mindfulness

relationships pic

As humans we are social beings who find meaning through relating and connecting with others.  Interpersonal relationships are an important part of life, and while immensely meaningful they can also be challenging.  Bottom line, being in a successful relationship with another, personally or professionally, takes work – sometimes hard work – and that work starts with ourselves as individuals.

How we as individuals communicate and respond in our interactions with others is a critical component to healthy relationships.  Using Mindfulness to guide us in the way we talk with others and process what is happening in our relationships can strengthen our social circles as it allows us to become more aware of ourselves and the world around us in the present moment.

In this article, Minda Zetlin of Inc. Magazine talks about five Mindfulness techniques that can help to strengthen personal & professional relationships:

1).  Stop & Breathe.  Our thoughts can run at a fast pace sometimes – slowing things down & taking a couple of deep breaths will help to slow down racing thoughts and your heart rate so the way you process information in that moment is more from a wise mind perspective.

2).  Mindful Walking.  Paying close attention to how we walk (noting sensations, pace, etc) can calm the mind in that it brings us to the present moment of life which helps us to reduce ruminating thoughts and in turn can provide our bodies and brains with increased peace & calm.

3).  Attentive / Active Listening.  So often in dialog with another we miss the true meaning of what is being said because we are not actively listening.  Many times in communication we are distracted, in our heads processing other things including trying to figure out what we are going to say next – listening to respond vs. listening to understand.  Listening to understand allows us to interact with others at a much deeper level.

4).  Mindful Speech.  Words are important so it is good that we choose our words wisely.  Pause before responding to someone and take a little time to reflect on the impact of your words before speaking – many times we are reacting emotionally vs responding wisely when we talk to others, so taking some time to pause and think about what you are going to say (or not say) next can be a big building block for healthy communication.

5). Writing Meditation.  Simply writing words or affirmations on paper can change your attitude and feelings about things.  Writing our thoughts and feelings down can increase understanding & awareness for a situation and help us to move forward in relationships with a more positive attitude and open mind.

Live Mindfully & Prosper all!

Living in the Present Moment of Life

here&now

Life is in the here & now.  Life happens moment to moment in the present, not yesterday (the past) or tomorrow (the future).

The fabric of our lives is made up of every single moment we experience, good, bad or indifferent, that comes with the journey of working toward our hopes and dreams.  Without failure there would not be success and without lows there would be no highs.  The rich, vibrant woven tapestry that represents who we are comes from ALL of our experiences, not just the ones we like or are happy with.  Every ‘no’ brings us one step closer to a ‘yes’, and every time we experience something unpleasant, not so great, terrible or awful we are provided an opportunity to see what we are made of and see if we can learn and grow from the challenge.

So what would happen if we learned to live life more mindfully and live our day to day lives more in the here and now of life vs holding on to the past or worrying about the future…making the decision to radically accept life as it comes, warts and all, if you will?

Well, what happens with that story line is up to you, but studies show that living more in the present moment of lie, noticing and responding to things vs. judging and reacting is clinically proven to support the following health benefits:

  • Improved mental focus and coping skills
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, depression
  • Strengthened social relationships
  • Healthier mind, body, spirit

Here is an excerpt from #tinybuddha author Matt Richards who decided to try living in the present more – here’s what he found out:

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/life-becomes-beautiful-stop-anticipating-the-worst/?utm_content=buffer70eec&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I’m glad to say that one day I had an epiphany. I realized that by being so cautious, I was actually missing out on experiencing the amazing backdrop to my journey.  On that day I realized that I wanted to walk to school present and mindful of the wonderful world around me.  I wanted to look around more and experience life in all its glory, not just worry about whether I stepped in poop.  So I did.

And yes, perhaps on occasion my shoe may have met with something nasty, but it made that walk so much more enjoyable. I remember the feelings of oneness and freedom it instilled in me to this day.  And really, that’s what being mindful and present is. It’s saying yes to life and noticing your surroundings. Fully.

It’s saying yes, I might step in something unpleasant, I might get hurt, I might feel silly, I might expose my vulnerabilities, but at least I get to experience every remarkable nuance and opportunity life has to offer too.

So what do you think – want to give this living in the moment stuff a try?  You can get started right here & right now with just a couple of simple steps; repetition and practice are key:

Breathe – take a couple of deep breaths to slow things down

Notice – use your senses to take in information without judgement when life is happening (name all the different ways you may think & feel about what is happening, don’t feel the need to judge it so quickly)

Respond – use wise-minded processing (balance between logic & emotion) to evaluate and make decisions

Be grateful –  choose to see the beauty and good that is out there & purposefully express gratitude for all that is fortunate in your life

Stay active – spend time with people, give back to others, exercise, stretch, take a class, travel, or just be 🙂

Live Mindfully & Prosper!

What To Do When You Want To Quit

don't quit image

Have you ever wanted to give up on something?  Maybe you set a personal goal for yourself that you found difficult to attain due to difficulties or obstacles?  Perhaps you’ve been in a relationship that was once going well but has since evolved into a constant challenge?  Have you been working hard and trying with all your might to get ahead in your career, only for it to seem as if your efforts were becoming fruitless and you wonder if you will ever realize the level of success you envisioned?

I can honestly say there have been many times in my life I have been able to answer ‘yes’ to those questions, and as a trained counselor who has been helping people strengthen their mental, physical, emotional and social health for twenty years I can also say I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t struggled in the same way.  Working through the ups and downs of life is part of being human, and it is not what happens to us in life that defines us it is how we choose to respond or react to things that makes us who we are.    

So when things go well, life is good right?  Yes, but as we know life doesn’t always work the way we would like.  Life is a gift but it can be challenging to navigate and when obstacles become too difficult to bear we sometimes think about wanting to quit, give up, throw in the towel…so what can we do when we become tired, overwhelmed, frustrated with things?  How do we stay the course when we want to give up?  Here are a few mindful living tips:

  1. Stop, pause and breathe!  Your fears, frustrations and overwhelming emotions are telling you something – take a step back from the situation and take a couple of deep breaths to calm your physiological fight or flight responses.  Here are a couple of deep breathing recommendations from Harvard Health http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response.
  2. Process what is happening from a wise-minded perspective.  What is wise-mind you ask?  Wise-mind is a basic tenet of Mindfulness which is a psychological concept that is clinically proven to help reduce stress, improve mental focus and strengthen overall health and well-being.  Using wise-mind to process information helps you to consider both the facts (left brain processing) of the situation as well as the emotion (right brain processing) you are experiencing.  It’s important to honor how we feel about things, but keep in mind emotions are not facts and we don’t need to react to them.
  3. Respond vs react.  Responding is guided more by logic than emotion and reacting is purely driven by emotion.  Here is a good illustration:

respond vs react illustration

4.  Ask questions and generate alternative solutions.  Ask yourself if there is another way to look at things.  See if there is something else you can do to try and think or feel in a different way.  Maybe up until now things haven’t been going the way you had originally planned, but we always have options at our disposal to work through the obstacles – re-evaluate, make adjustments, check in with yourself on motivation, flexibility and expectation for goal achievement.

5. Communicate.  Talk to yourself and others from a wise-minded perspective about what is happening – what are you noticing?  How do you think and feel?  What would you like to be different?

Hope you find these tips to be helpful.  Please contact us at 847-497-0524 to learn more about how Foundations Counseling can help you, your family or business improve mental, physical, emotional, social, organizational health and well being.  Best of luck  – Live Mindfully & Prosper (LM&P)!

Live Your Best Life

The only thing we can control in life is us. It is not what happens to us, per se, that shapes the very fabric of our lives, it is the way we respond, or in some cases react, to what has happened.

Life is a gift filled with wonder and opportunity, but with the gift of life also comes challenges.

That being said, there are many things we can do as individuals to lead healthier, happier lives. At the top of that list, is good self care including regular exercise, healthy nutrition and learning to live in the present moment of life verses focusing on the past or the future.

Take a look at this article for 22 ways you can start living your best life, or call us at 847-497-0524 for a free phone consultation to learn more about how Foundations Counseling can help you live your best life.
22 Things To Start Doing Now That Will Improve The Rest Of Your Life