A New Way to Think about Being Compassionate to Others

Oh, that’s the alarm. Oh, I’m so thirsty. Did I drink enough water last night? Mmm. Water’s so tasty. Time to check my phone. Notifications. Who texted me after 10pm? Oh good, it’s not bad news. Woo hoo! 20 new friends on Instagram! I’ll check Facebook, too. Why do I always have 20 notifications in Facebook when there’s nothing actually new to see? OK, I guess it’s time to get out of bed. Am I going to the gym today or yoga class? I can’t remember. Oh right, it’s the gym today. I really don’t feel like putting on a sports bra…

Those were my thoughts this morning in the first minute I was awake. Imagine how many thoughts I’ve had since then. I’ve thought about whether or not I’m working out hard enough at the gym, I’ve gone to the grocery store and bought items to make a protein powder pancake breakfast and some homemade trail mix. I’ve thought about my business Girl Friday Studio and what new photos I want to post on my Instagram. I’ve taken a shower, I’ve thought about this post, I’ve thought about…You get the point.

So, let’s talk about you. You’ve had 50,000 thoughts today. I’m not even kidding. This is the average amount a human being thinks in just one day.

You’ve had thoughts that have turned into actions. You’ve had thoughts that have turned into emotions or were stemmed from emotions. You’ve had thoughts related to your interactions. You’ve done your part to contribute to your community, family and friends. Let’s say you have been on this Earth for exactly 30 years (happy birthday, by the way). This means you’ve been in existence and contributed to this world for 10,950 days. That is a lot of days, a lot of stories, thoughts and contributes to this world!

You have loved. You have cried and you have laughed. You have been joyful, you have been sad. You’ve had a Mother and a Father, you’ve perhaps been a sister or brother, been a mother or father, a lover or a friend, and you’ve been a teacher (whether you know it or not, it’s true). You have changed the lives of the people around you just by interacting with them.

Do you get how important you are in this world? Do you see how special your time on this Earth has been? If you haven’t thought about it, just take a moment to feel how big you are in this world. How special you are. Because why? Because you have lived. You have had 50,000 thoughts every day and every single one makes you special and have led you to who you are today

So now (yes, right now), I want you to think about the person in your life who is the most important to you (besides yourself, no cheating). For me, I immediately think of my husband (and then I see people in the background like my Mom and Dad, my brother, my friends, all waving their hands like, “Here I am, too!”). In your mind’s eye, think of that one person. And then realize that there are 50,000 thoughts going through his (I say “his” but, you insert whatever gender, if any, this person may be) mind per day. Think about the interactions this person has had just today that you probably don’t even know about. Think about the interactions this person has had in his life. It’s impossible to truly know in detail what this person experiences, but you know his life is special, right? Simply because we just did this exercise for you, and now we know how big you are in this world, and now you realize how big your person is, too.

Now think of your neighbor. I know very little about mine. I know he’s in his mid-40s. I know he has a girlfriend who has a cute dog. I know they like takeaway coffee on Saturday mornings. But that is pretty much all. But then I think about the 50,000 thoughts per day rule and suddenly I’m in awe. He has a life. A gorgeous, amazing life that is full of thoughts and stories. And he is just as big as me, and just as big as my husband.

Now think of a stranger living in the city or town next to you. Same thought process. You don’t even know what this person looks like. But you know they have stories; full of love, laughter, tears and emotion. And they matter. They matter as much as you do.

If you continue down this path of recognition, there is suddenly empathy for the entirety of the human race. Each and every single person is big and has so many stories to tell. So many stories. Each person you pass in the street is living a full and complete life. You may not know their stories (how could you, truly) but you know they have them.

A lot of times this thought process leads many people to feel small. But, this is exactly the opposite of what I want you to think. You are not small in this world. You are big. You have 50,000 thoughts in a day, you have interactions with your community that shift it (whether you recognize it or not), and you matter to this world. You matter to me, you matter to your family, your loved ones, your friends, your community, your work, and your world.

With this new thought process in mind, can you go into your daily life with empathy? Can you love your fellow humans in the recognition that they also have stories behind their eyes? That they are just as big as you (not smaller, not bigger) in this world?

When we as humans recognize that separately we are big, but together we are massive, this world shines with the most compassionate love this Universe has to offer.

How to Not Let Others Control Your Self-Worth

It’s time to shine, you legends. How many times in your life have you thought you’re too…something?

  • Too loud.
  • Too strong.
  • Not feminine enough.
  • Not masculine enough.
  • Too quiet.
  • Too successful.
  • Too smart.
  • Too dumb.
  • The list goes on…

There is something going on here that is so much deeper. Here’s how: From a young age, we oftentimes equate our self-worth to how others see us, rather than how we see our own self. Ironically, the way you see others is always through your own lens; a reaction from your own life experiences, emotions and cognition. It’s truly never about the other person; it’s how you react to their action that makes it so.

So, jump back to how we let our self-worth be affected by how we assume others see us. You are actually projecting your own lens onto them. Hence, your self-worth is something that is always and fully controlled by you. No other person in this world has the power to make you feel less then. There are people that will try. There are people that have self-worth issues and want you to get on their level of self-doubt. But you don’t have to let them. Your lens (think of it as a camera) in which you see the world is your ability to control what you see: when to let the light in, when to shade it out, when to point your lens at something else, and when to zoom.

What if you were to take one moment today to just be unapologetically YOU. In your mind’s eye, picture that face, or that sea of faces that you always have thought were the culprits. See them? Him? Her? Now re-evaluate if it was ever about them, or if perhaps it is where your lens is currently aiming. Then say to them through your lens, “I am unapologetically ME.” And then turn on the rose-colored filter because life is prettier that way, anyway. ​

How to experience freedom in your own life

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”  – Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, Yoga mantra

It is Independence Day in America, and it was Independence Day for Canada just this past weekend. As a recent expat from America now residing in Australia, this is the first time I am deeply aware of my roots. Call it homesickness, I am reflecting upon what it means to be celebrating this day of Independence from literally the other side of the world. And what it means to celebrate freedom.

What does it mean to be free? And how do we ourselves enjoy the same freedom as America (and other countries) celebrate? Because I don’t know about you, but I often feel chained. Do you feel chained to a job, to a home, or to a lifestyle or habit perhaps? Sometimes I very much feel held back by limitations in this world.Although being held back may feel external, I know that the shackles holding me are actually very much internal. Because what is actually holding us back from our freedom, from our power, from our celebration is what binds us inside. And it’s not the job, it’s not the home, or the lifestyle or habit; what binds us is not necessarily the external factor, but really is our reaction to it.

So how we do rise above the shackles? Dig deep. We first must figure out what we are bound to. Because it more than likely is not the job, the home or the lifestyle or habit. It’s usually something deeper. Ask yourself, are you bound to fear? Are you bound to not feeling good enough? Do you feel shackled to feeling unloved?

Therein lies our freedom. To discover what binds us, become aware of how it plays into our world, and moment by moment, thought by thought, think of ways to overcome it.

One way to overcome it is by projecting into the world what you feels binds you. For instance, in my own life, I feel shackled by never feeling good enough. I fear putting myself out there in a big way, because I greatly fear that I will be criticized and told I’m not good enough to shine. This is a huge realization for me. Perhaps this may awaken a realization in you or, perhaps what binds you (if at all) is something different. But what I recognize is that because I feel not good enough, I’m going to do everything in my power to help others recognize they are good enough. To shine a spotlight on them and let them know how important they are in this world, how good they are in this world. Because perhaps if I see it in others, then I can start to see it in myself.

This works with anything, truly. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

​Are you chained to the fear of not having enough money? Perhaps turn it around, and ask yourself, how can I help others feel secure financially? Donate or volunteer your time.

Are you chained to feeling unloved? Ask yourself, how can I love more? How can I project my own love into this world? Call someone up and tell them how much they mean to you. Write a love letter a day for a full year, to every person you know. Even celebrities, family members, friends, even enemies (a-ha!).

Are you scared of being lonely? Then help others feel less alone. Adopt a pet, call a friend you haven’t talked to in some time, or chat it up with a person sitting alone during your lunch break.

Above all else, remember that you internally choose your freedom. Freedom doesn’t choose us. We as individuals have the power to be free within our own minds. We just have to become aware of what truly binds us, and from there we can choose to free ourselves of it.

Shine bright.

How to Have a Successful Work from Home Day

“Working from home, I’ve got ideas in my head and a desire to succeed. But well, I also have Netflix.”

When I had my corporate Monday thru Friday 9 to 5 job, my favorite day of the week was Wednesday. Why, you ask? Because it was my work from home day!I loved every minute of it. I would sit on the couch in my pajamas, play Netflix in the background, and answer e-mails and generally be as lazy (physically, not mentally!) as possible.

When I quit my job in April 2016, I couldn’t believe that I got to make every day a work from home day. It was like a dream come true!

Little did I know working from home five days a week is a lot different than working from home one day a week. After just one week of designing from the couch, my back was in knots, my hand was getting arthritis, and I felt like the laziest bum on the planet.

If anything, this past year of being self-employed has taught me about how to work from home in a mindful and healthy way. In a culture where it is becoming more common to have work from home days, it is important to understand how you can make the most of these days, so that you are not only productive in your responsibilities but also taking care of yourself.

And no, I will not be suggesting naptime. Sorry. 🙂

Here are some tips and tricks I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to work from home. You could be self-employed, employed by a company, or even Moms and Dads who stay at home could perhaps learn some tips here!

Decide on a habitual schedule and stick to it

You don’t have to have a mundane same schedule every day. However, in general, I recommend choosing a morning ritual, as well as an active ritual.

  • Morning Ritual: For my own morning ritual, the first thing I do when I wake up is drink a glass of water. This is a great way to hydrate and give you energy first thing in the morning. I then brush my teeth, wash my face, and moisturize my skin. I eat a protein bar, change into my active clothes and head out the door for either yoga or running or [fill-in-the-blank] activity. When I return, I shower, get dressed and boil a cup of tea with honey to get my workday off to a great start.
  • Active Ritual: Getting active and sweaty helps you get out of the house at least once a day, and not to mention all of the other benefits of being active! I recommend choosing a few fitness classes a week that you like to go to. If you choose M, W, and F at 7:30am, then hold yourself accountable to those times.

Shower Everyday

This can be more important than you even realize. Showering gives you a fresh (pun intended) perspective on your day. Being clean makes you feel more presentable. One big callout: waiting until 4pm so you shower before your partner comes home is not technically the same thing. 😉

Change out of your PJs

Believe me, I know how comfortable they are! Sometimes I still wear my PJs because they just feel so much better! However, I find that I always feel “less productive” on the days I wear PJs. It is a psychological shift from feeling cozy and introverted (ready for bed) versus feeling productive for your day.

Work from a Desk or Table

Again, I know how comfortable the couch is! However, there is a couple good reasons why this lowers your productivity and in general is tough on your health. First and foremost, most couches are not set up for you to have proper alignment in the spine. This leads to back, neck and shoulder pain. Also, if your computer, keyboard and mouse are sitting on/next to your lap, they are not set up for correct alignment. This can lead to wrist, hand and shoulder pain quite quickly. Boo! On top of that, if you are listening to background TV noise, I would argue that typing an e-mail is never worse than when you are listening to something else. I have gone back and read e-mails I wrote when I had Netflix on and, you would be amazed at the typos!

Drink Water

I am a firm believer in drinking water. That said, I always forget to drink water. Does this ever happen to you?! What I do to counteract this is, I have a 16 oz mug that I keep next to my computer (and me) at all times. When it is empty, I know that is the time to get up and fill it. No excuses. No e-mail or phone call is more important than water. I bet I have 30 more ounces of water per day just because of this simple habit.

Set your Alarm

This is sort of silly but, it works. Set your alarm or calendar to go off every 1-2 hours (depending on what feels best for you), and let it be a gentle reminder to get up and do something else. Even if it’s just to walk to the other end of the house, or step outside for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood or grab a cup of coffee. I find that the best ideas I have are when I am away from my desk. When I come back to my desk, I have more clarity on what I want to accomplish in the next couple of hours. Works like a charm!

Keep in mind, I have many times rearranged my habitual schedule to accommodate a special occasion or appointment. Don’t worry about changing it up; just as long as in general you are sticking to a schedule. Remember, it’s all about balance.

Working from home is a pleasure, and we are so lucky to live in a day and age in which working from home is even a possibility. Above all else, I recommend you look at it as a way to balance a healthy lifestyle: get your work done, and turn Netflix off. Or at least on low. 🙂

Life is about Balance, in all that you do

Life is about balance, in all that you do.

I am a firm believer that true happiness is less about the high you get from one elated moment (feeling “happy”), but rather a constant contentedness with a balanced lifestyle (feeling “content”).

​I have had those amazing moments of feeling happy. Elated. When your endorphins are turned up to 110%, your mind is racing, and you feel like you can do anything because you’re so ridiculously happy.

​I have also had those moments when I feel unhappy. The sadness takes over, your mind is tormented with negative thoughts, and all you can think of worse case scenarios.

I’ve realized that both emotions are most always triggered by exterior reactors, and neither of them are steady and sustainable in a healthy lifestyle.

​Most certainly, neither of them are perfect.

Where there is contentment, and what I now call my happiness standard, is when I allow room for both, without letting either take over completely.

The true happiness standard, in my book, is when I feel contentment. It is when my lifestyle is balanced; living between the highs, and recognizing that I am most content in the in-between balance.

Although happiness may not be as exciting or emotional as our culture has led us to believe, between the highs and lows is where true happiness awaits you.  ​