Are you prioritizing fun?

I want to share something I’m serious about– FUN!

I’m a big advocate of making everyday activities FUN. When we’re in a good mood, we get more done, more efficiently.
When we feel good (in a state of joy) ,we do good (we’re kind & compassionate), do well (we’re successful) & feel well (in health).

In her remarkable book “Love Sense,” Sue Johnson shares,


“Positive emotion is a powerful force…happiness is not only a sign of flourishing but also the impulse that creates well-being. Just as sunlight makes gardens grow, joy makes us more alive and adventurous. It moves us forward and outward. Positive emotions turn on our curiosity and desire to engage and explore. They set us up for openness and learning. Joy invigorates us.

Positive emotions remind us that suffering and uncertainty are not the whole story in human life…positive emotions and beliefs fuel resilience and help us bounce back from adversity. They generate even more positive emotions in an upward spiral.”


I strongly value resilience. I think one of the most effective ways to cultivate it is through humor and playfulness. There are inevitably challenges in life, some greater than others, and in my opinion, humor is a great tool that can even help us get through those tough times.

 

Our emotional state can influence our perspective, which has an affect on our subsequent thoughts and behaviors.

When we’re feeling down, sad, frustrated, angry, tired, hungry, overwhelmed, etc. minor obstacles that we encounter throughout the day feel like big challenges and become great setbacks. Our focus becomes narrow and limited.
On the other hand, when we feel good, these small obstacles don’t seem like a big deal and we’re better able to think clearly, assess situations and deal with them creatively and effectively. We may choose to view them as detours that lead to alternative opportunities.  With an attitude of playfulness,  obstacles can even be exciting challenges and turn into a mind game– a puzzle to solve (this is a powerful shift in perception).

Play also supports learning– this is how young children grow, develop and learn… by interacting with their environment in a playful, interactive & explorative way.

In his book “Play– how it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul,” Stuart Brown shares that the opposite of play is not work… it’s depression.
The way I understand this is that when we’re in play, we feel present and connected with our inner child & youthful spirit, as well as with people & things around us. Whereas, in a depressive state, we feel disconnected.


Goooooooood news… there are small & simple ways that can be greatly effective in adding joy and playfulness to your day and create fun.
Life is so much more enjoyable when you’re having fun and when you CREATE your own fun.
So much of life is mundane. When you make the mundane fun, life becomes an enjoyable adventure, even when you’re by yourself.
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How can you add more joy, fun, humor and play to your everyday?

In the midst of finals a few weeks ago, I added “dance party” to my to-do lists. 
Sometimes while I wash dishes, I play music I love and the experience becomes so much more enjoyable!


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Last week, while I was feeling mellow, I found a light-up ring –one of those big ones they give out at weddings. I decided to wear it, and activate the light.
It was hard to be serious while wearing such a fun & festive accessory.

How can you feel down while rocking a light up ring???

Sometimes, we need a reminder to let go and lighten up.
In some cases adding or removing something small to or from your environment (mental or physical) can shift your energy.  (Of course, if the problem is bigger, take appropriate steps to address the root cause– talking to someone who’s earned your trust may help)



How can you add an element of fun and playfulness to your to-do list?
Even while you’re writing that to-do list, you can play fun music and enjoy the process.
How about lighting a candle to enjoy while writing? Wearing a fun hat or festive socks?

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While you’re at the gym, how about listening to a fun playlist? Or a great podcast (got this idea from my younger sister Debbie)
How about dancing while you get work done around the house?

I was reminded of the power of this process  when reading the first tip in this article
“Associate something you love with something you want to accomplish.”

The example shared in the article is drinking coffee (something Dan Ariely enjoys), while writing. This makes the task more enjoyable, becomes a conditioned association, and as a result promotes productivity when drinking coffee.

When we enjoy doing what we’re doing, we’re more likely to be intrinsically motivated, and persist for longer.

I have a friend whose enthusiasm always comes through in her writing. It’s hard to feel sad after receiving a txt from her. She uses fun slang, capitalizes and tops it all with her use of emoji.


Saying and writing things like “YIPPEEEE” and “WOOOO” and “YAYYY” feel so cheerful.

The laughter yoga classes that my sister and I lead are all about incorporating fun, joy and playfulness to everyday situations and promoting “playful presence.”
This is a muscle that we can strengthen with practice! The intention is to create a mindset/attitude and environment that support this.


When we’re having fun, we’re better able to deal with challenges and release stress in a healthy way.

Maladaptive stress has negative consequences on cognitive health and functioning, including memory impairment.


Join us this at our biggest event YET, this Sunday.
Nurture your playful & joyful side in a safe space abundant in positivity.
This event is a celebration of my sister’s birthday, a benefit event, and will include (kosher) healthy snacks, spa experiences and cool raffle giveaways.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to SPARKS, a remarkable organization that supports pre and postpartum women.

Here’s the link to reserve–
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/laughter-yoga-spa-benefit-tickets-29270373475

For a little while longer, we’re offering a promotion– $5 off each ticket when you buy 2 or >.
You can “pay it forward”– purchase an extra ticket and invite a friend or date to join you. Give the gift of FUN 😀

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Are you prioritizing your joy? If not, how about asking yourself: “How can I add more fun/joy/ playfulness to this situation or to this day or week?”

 

…It’s a good time to have a good time.

Showing Up for Efficaciousness

Have you ever felt like you weren’t capable of attaining something you wanted? Going on a date with someone you liked? Receiving an offer for your dream job? Moving somewhere? Traveling? Getting into a school you really wanted to go to?

What do you really want now that seems out of your reach?

…It could be something you push out of your mind each time it comes up because you feel like its so unrealistic for you that it doesn’t make sense to even consider.

First, know that you are worthy of what you want. This can take practice!! If you don’t think you’re worthy of experiencing what you want, then even when you have it, you won’t sustain it, and you can experience the imposter syndrome-feeling like you’re inadequate, and that someone will “find you out” for not measuring up to expectations.

Show Up.

Embody the characteristics, build the habits and practice the skills that are associated with having the experience. Prepare for your success.

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My wise Aunt, Bita, a life and energy leadership coach, and interior designer recently shared with me, you don’t get what you want, you get what you expect.

Release the debilitating thoughts, behaviors, and influences in your life that keep you from moving forward. Do not feed those insecurities that arise.

Show up everywhere you go as the highest and greatest version of yourself. That’s who you really are.

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Show up as your greatest self, and you will attract experiences that meet you at that level. Speak that way, dress that way, walk that way, look that way, let it reflect in all of your actions.

No more playing small, because you’re not.

When you Show Up, you’re shifting the way you and others view you, and that changes the kinds of opportunities that you are inviting into your life. You will be introduced to people that complement your presence and energy. This takes courage! Sometimes it may feel easier to keep presenting yourself the way people have always seen you. In the long run, living your Authentic self is so worthwhile and exciting.

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Think in terms of where you want to be.
Don’t limit your thoughts about what’s possible for you

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Allow the feeling of being your most confident, successful, abundant and worthy self to move you forward and up. Make decisions from that place too. Actually pause, and ask yourself- “how would my greatest, most confident and worthy self respond to this situation?” You can even do this in the midst of a conversation. You can take a deep breath, pause and then respond, with intention.

When you access this tool and practice being intentional with your presence, speaking and behaving this way will come more naturally- you’re exercising and strengthening a muscle.

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If you don’t know what steps to take to get you closer to what you want, seek resources and tools that will help you. Call a friend that has experienced it, ask questions. Instead of being intimidated by what you want, or making decisions from a place of fear, start gaining more information. Fear is rooted in uncertainty- not knowing what will happen, not knowing how to do something. Try approaching what you desire. Instead of saying “I don’t know how..”, ASK- “how can I learn to…?”

When you go after what you want, you develop and strengthen your self-efficacy, which is so profound and worthwhile.

Self-efficacy is your conviction about how capable you are in attaining and achieving what you want.

Throughout your life, you set a track record for yourself- do you have integrity for carrying out your aspirations and intentions? “how likely is it for me to actually get done what I want to?”

When you set an intention to do or go after something, do you often say to yourself: “that probably won’t end up happening because I didn’t actually accomplish so and so and so other things that I was once excited about but didn’t follow through with”…?

Another wise thing I learned from Bita- when you don’t do the things you want to do, you start to not trust yourself.

When you follow through with your goals, you strengthen your sense of self-efficacy and feel more capable and confident about accomplishing what you want to. This process involves building your own trust.

This concept resonated with me greatly and motivated me to travel solo to Australia this past year. When I heard about people traveling on their own, I always felt deep admiration. The idea also freaked me out. I knew it was an experience I would grow through.

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Make a list of things that you really want to do; things you’ve always thought about doing (learning a new language, snowboarding, baking chocolate chip macadamia cookies, rock climbing, surfing, going on a safari, buying a bike, taking dance classes, living in a different country, taking a mixology class, learning to code, public speaking, juggling, playing the guitar, starting conversation with someone who interests you…)

Go do those things.

This list includes errands you’ve been wanting to take care of for so long. Write them down and take care of them.

Don’t let these things take up mental room, and undermine your sense of self-efficacy. Set deadlines, make those appointments you’ve been wanting to, sign up for the exam you may have been putting off.

It may help to tell a friend about your deadlines and to hold each other accountable for getting them done.. you can txt each other after you’ve accomplished each goal.

Cheers to Showing Up and living as your most efficacious, authentic & worthy self.

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Shifting from Assessment to “Asset-ment”

Are you ready to shift from appraising to praising; from assessment to asset-ment?

I’ll explain…

The faculty of assessment is useful for certain types of decision-making. Making sound decisions sometimes calls upon the ability to assign value to something, according to how it aligns with our priorities.

Though, when we judge on auto, we cultivate a mentality of “never good enough.”This phenomenon is known as “the missing tile syndrome” -when you walk into a room designed with tiles, you notice that one tile is missing, and you only focus your attention on the tile that isn’t there.

“The Missing Tile Syndrome is a very big obstacle to happiness. So big, in fact, that it makes happiness almost impossible.” -Dennis Prager

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When your default judgment is rigged toward the negative, that’s likely a reflection of high self-criticism.

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The antidote- a dose of self-compassion.

Our life experiences are dynamic. Sometimes life feels so amazing, it’s hard to understand why anyone could feel sad. Some days, moving forward feels too overwhelming. Some days feel mediocre, and we feel like we’re just getting by. Sometimes we experience all of the above in a single day.

When we judge ourselves and internalize an unpleasant experience, we’re incorporating a negative mark into our identity, and that manifests as shame.

In her book”Daring Greatly,” Brene Brown  teaches:

Guilt- “I did something bad”

Shame- “I am bad”

Negative judgment arises from a mentality of “not good enough” and falling short in an area that we value. It is important to be mindful of what situations/circumstances incite these feelings, and how we respond when they arise.

“If we are the kind of people who ‘don’t do vulnerability,’ there’s nothing that makes us feel more threatened and more incited to attack than to see someone daring greatly. Someone else’s daring provides an uncomfortable mirror that reflects back our own fears about showing up, creating, and letting ourselves be seen…”

What I get from that is this- Let’s say person “A” fears public speaking. When that person sees another person, “B” giving a speech to an audience, if that is a skill that person “A” values, he/she may start to  judge him/her self for not feeling like he/she could manifest the courage to do that. Person “A” may react to this uncomfortable feeling of self-judgment by shielding him/her self, displacing the judgment from him/herself, to person “B,” perhaps by finding a perceived flaw in person “B,” for example, criticizing his/her appearance. I heard this happen a few weeks ago, in the form of a comment someone shared with another person, as a speaker walked up to the stage. I felt strongly that awareness about this issue is imperative. As long as it persists in any community, it will cause disengagement and can foster a culture of gossip, separation and lack of trust.

Judgment keeps us and others small. It is limiting, causing us to discount the good that already exists. It keeps us from moving forward and reaching our potential; It’s debilitating.

Fear of judgment can motivate conformity and have significant consequences. It can keep us from going after what we really want, from taking risks, trying new things, daring greatly, and ultimately, from living fully and authentically.

When you feel judgment and jealousy, those are opportunities to become aware of which areas in your life you feel shame and inadequacy. Instead of feeling resentful, try to be thankful to the other person for allowing you to identify what you want or want to stay away from in your life.

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Another person’s success does not mean your loss. We can all win, all the time. We just have to choose that perspective. Often, perceiving situations this way doesn’t happen automatically.  Take a step back,  and then look again.

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What you give out, you get back. So, when you demonstrate love, you benefit, so does the other person, and on and on…

Assessing favorably, or “asset-ing” (looking for the positive) often involves taking a second look.

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Each of us experiences adversity that others know nothing about, and our challenges are unique. You don’t have to understand why someone did what they did, and others don’t have to understand why you do what you do. We all (hopefully) do what we know best, and we focus our attention on what we personally value. My biggest challenge could be the thing that comes most naturally to you, and vice versa. So, who are we to judge each other? None of us is perfect. We all have unique strengths, and we’re all here because we have a divine purpose. Let’s respect that.

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To me, compassion involves cultivating a sense of humanity, acknowledging that we are all connected, we’re all together in this experience of life, we all make mistakes.. we’re here to learn and grow. If any of us were perfect, he/she would not be here. So, why not lift each other up, and help make this a better time for all of us?

Don’t judge yourself for being judgmental- when you feel like you’re being hard on yourself and others, remember that you can choose which thoughts to give energy to. We all have positive and negative thoughts. The ones you give energy to are the ones that persist. With intention, awareness and practice, you can rewire connections in your brain, changing how you perceive and assess situations and experiences. Thinking positively can start to come more naturally!

Focus on the positive thoughts, and when an unfavorable one comes up, CHOOSE to replace it with a positive one.

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When you see something you appreciate/admire in someone else, send him/her a blessing, positive energy. My sister and I do this regularly- when we acknowledge something positive in someone, we wish for that person to sustain that quality, to be continually blessed, etc. (we do this from afar- not to the person)

I also do this when I see someone who seems like he/she is going through a challenging time, in any way. When someone seems sad, bitter, defensive, I wish the person well, and for him/her to feel peace and love.

We can all use positive energy- first cultivate it for yourself.

When you live authentically, without judgment, you are freely being YOU, and you naturally inspire others to live that way too.

 

 

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Conversational Culture (reform)

You’ve likely heard -through the energy you put out via your behavior, thoughts and words, you are creating your experiences.

Your words carry weight. They inform listeners about the way that you think and profoundly contribute to your self-presentation. We pick up different ways of speaking, influenced by our environment. For example, have you noticed that you might start using the same phrases that your friends do? If you’ve spent a significant amount of time in a different part of the world, you may have adopted the accent, intonation and slang used by the locals, into your speech.

Speech patterns are contagious

Language is often used as social capital- we become aware of how different accents/ pronunciations and words are perceived within a culture, and adapt our lexical patterns accordingly. It’s a way of demonstrating and/or establishing prestige. Pay attention to how the presence of different people impacts what you do and say. Social influence can induce strong (and sometimes unsettling) conformity.

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Each social group establishes its own culture.

What characterizes the culture in your social circles? -what do you talk about when you’re together? Is the content of conversations usually positive, encouraging and uplifting?  judgmental, sarcastic and deprecating?

How do you feel after being around the people you hang out with?

Having conversation imbued with discussion and judgment of others (namely people not involved in the conversation) does not nurture intimacy. Intimacy is facilitated through building trust.

A tweet I once saw on twitter- May we be so busy improving ourselves that we have no time to point out the faults of others.

Use your social time to talk about what’s going well in your life, what you want to create in your life, what you’re passionate and excited about. That’s authentic and productive, and when you talk about what’s going well, and what you wish for, you’re more likely to create and sustain gratitude, joy and more abundance and success.

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, is the author of one of my favorite books- “Daring Greatly-How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.” I just bought every copy that my local bookstore had in stock to give to family and friends. It’s remarkable.

In this talk (<– link) , Brené discusses the characterization of trust and brings up this point- When people talk about other people, you can’t trust them to not do the same to you.  I highly recommend watching it until the end. (She also refers to Dr. John Gottman’s work – He is the greatest relationship researcher I know of. I participated in one of his clinical trainings earlier this year)

Be intentional about what you speak about and notice how you feel in the moment and after. 

I thought about this just last week-  catching up with friends doesn’t have to involve filling each other in on everything that’s happened since you last spoke/met. Do you sometimes feel like after some experience you’ve had, you’re serially retelling the story? Why give energy to what’s already past, especially when it was an experience you didn’t enjoy? Repeatedly talking about it keeps it relevant in your life. Instead, you can try talking about what’s exciting and fulfilling in your life- perhaps what you’re learning, what you value, what your goals are, how you can work on a fulfilling project together…

Tell the story of what you DO want.

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Of course, you may want to discuss something that’s on your mind with a select person/ few people who you trust, and who you think will help guide you through what you’re going through, sans judgment. If the experience calls for professional consultation/help, seek it.  There’s power, courage and investment in doing so.

Every relationship with every person you encounter in your life can teach you something about yourself. How did something someone said or did make you feel?  Your (internal) reaction to anything around you can elucidate your values. Did you respect something that someone did?- his/her behavior was probably a demonstration of a value you have. The opposite feeling holds true too.

The people that you surround yourself with have a great influence on you. Relationships with different people can be beneficial in unique ways. One friend can be your go-to for a certain kind of advice, another you can count on to make you cheer up, laugh and feel light.

Being selective about who you affiliate with is a marker of self-respect. 

 

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Feel it to Experience it

Uncertainty about the future can be unsettling and overwhelming. To mitigate this mental discomfort, we each employ a unique bouquet of strategies. One such constructive approach is to set and implement realistic goals that cultivate behaviors, experiences, thoughts and feelings that feel most authentic and fulfilling to YOU, to take steps toward creating the future of your dreams!

Sometimes we think of action-outcome contingencies-

If I do ______,  then I will experience/receive/accomplish ______.

When you pray for it, think about it, ask for it, and work for it, you’re taking action toward receiving it.

How about when you’re having difficulty picturing exactly what you want, because it may seem too far away from where you’re at right now? For example, say you want to plan a party, but are unsure exactly how it will come together- how everyone will interact, what kind of food to serve, who will show up, where it will take place, etc. Or, you want to make a job, or entire career change and feel stuck, scared, and uncertain. There’s so much unknown, and it’s only a thought you’ve just had, or a recurring one you’ve had for a while. Either way- it feels overwhelming. Perhaps you’re studying for finals and feel a lot of stress- unsure of how you’ll get everything done, successfully.

Whatever you’re going through is temporary.

Think of one such thing that you really want in your life, but don’t know how to attain it, or how it will work out.

Now, imagine how you want to FEEL when you’re accomplishing it.       (close your eyes if that helps)

How do you want to feel while you’re hosting that party? (you can use all of your senses to make the feeling more realistic- what do you hear people telling you during the party? what do you see? smell?…)

How do you want the work to feel?  What kinds of relationships do you want to have with your co-workers?… clients? What kind of work culture would nurture your personality and motivation?  What do you want your work space to look like? and on and on…

A meeting, date, party, interview, future trip/vacation, public speech/presentation, a hard conversation- how do you want to FEEL before, during and after?

Identify and experience the feeling, and with faith, know that you’re always guided and supported- never alone. Let the feeling uplift you and ease your worry/fear/stress/anxiety…

Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want. Since I heard this sentence, I remind myself of it when I need it and it works like an alarm clock.

Last week, I was in Penn Station, going down the stairs to the track where I would board my train, and I thought about how great it would be to see someone on the train that I would be excited to connect with. After I sat down on the train, while on the phone, I looked to my right and saw one of my closest friends a couple of feet away from me. It’s amazing how often I’ve imagined a feeling and then experienced it. It is so exciting.

  1. Identify your desire
  2. Feel the feelings that you want to experience
  3. (Take consistent action toward your goal, with excitement and faith)
  4. Allow the desired experience to unfold

Cheers to cultivating remarkable feelings and experiences!

Here are some affirmations-

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