lifetip

How to be as Kind to Yourself as You are to Others

Guess what? Being kind to yourself isn’t selfish! In fact, letting yourself off the hook every now and then can give you the freedom to be more authentic in your relationships. And contrary, to popular belief, compassion is actually more motivating than criticism. Think of the most caring mentor you have had in your life. Now contrast that with the hostile, angry, yelling coach who always left you in tears. Which one gives you strength and confidence? 

Have you ever considered why it’s so easy for us to be kind, compassionate and loving to others, but not ourselves? Dr. Kristin Neff provides an excellent intro into the benefits of loving yourself, flaws and all, and how the daily practice of self-compassion actually allows you to better care for others as well. She also distinguishes between self-compassion and self-indulgence. Compassion tells us to be kind to ourselves while also holding ourselves accountable.

Hungry for more? Check our recommended reading list for more books on self-compassion!

The Upside to Downtime

How many times have you hear yourself respond to a simple "How have you been?" with something along the lines of "Busy, but good!" There's an element of pride to this constant state of busyness, mixed with a desire to seem productive, sought after, the opposite of lazy. There's the need to reassure oneself and others that our time is not idle, that we are making the most of each day. The irony is that the act of maintaining a constant state of busy can get in the way of living in the moment and slowing down to appreciate the here and now.

High schools in particular champion the busy mindset, and lead us to think that downtime is wasted time. We push ourselves and our teens to do more, achieve more and stay constantly on the go.  After-school activities, sports, clubs, committees and more can take up precious evening hours after school. While our interests and hobbies are worth pursuing, and of value, the key to maintaining one's sanity through all the busyness is balance. 

Balance is the act of placing as much value on unhurried, unscheduled free time as we place on the various tasks at hand. Balance means letting ourselves off the hook when we decide not to take on one more commitment, choosing to stay home on a Saturday night with a good movie instead of going out. Balance looks different to everyone, but the essence of it remains universal. That we strive to value all facets our time and make room in our lives for the decidedly un-busy act of slowing down and letting go.

As with most things in life, the balancing act is a practice and a journey, not a final destination. Each day we learn new ways to let go of busy and embrace idle.  How will you find the upside to downtime?

Practicing Peace Amidst Chaos

Photo by  Liana Mikah  on  Unsplash

Photo by Liana Mikah on Unsplash

Change can feel generative, restorative, and exciting; while at the same time feeling terrifying, unpredictable, and like you’ve lost control. With the changing of life seasons, relationships, or jobs it can feel like you’re on a boat in the middle of a tumultuous sea, being tossed about and clinging for dear life. Not having a say in a major life change leaves us feeling powerless, and at times grieving and hopeless. So how can we stay calm when we feel we’ve lost our power? Here’s a few small yet practical steps that have proven successful for myself and my clients.

  1. Reflect on what you can control and what you can’t - A thought exercise I frequently do with clients is to have them draw out two concentric circles (one inside of the other). In the outer circle list all of the things that you have no control over- such as the weather, other people’s words and actions, illness, job markets, etc. Then on the inside circle list the things that you do have control over- such as your actions, what you say, what you eat, how you react to someone else, and what you think. So often we are focused on the things in the outer circle, and desperately want power over things that are just frankly impossible to control. This leaves us stuck spinning our wheels feeling frustrated and burnt out. By shifting our focus to what we do have control over, we can start to remember that we do in fact have power over many aspects of our lives.

  2. Create a routine, and stick to it (as much as you can) - When things seem upended and unhinged it’s important to establish at least one or two consistent things in our day to day life to keep us grounded. A routine can be as simple as making your bed and walking your dog every morning, despite the chaos of what the rest of the day may bring. It could look like carving out 30 minutes every evening to talk and connect with your partner before bed. Make sure it’s realistic, and try to stick to it as much as possible, while also giving yourself permission to miss a day or two.

  3. Ask for help - You are one person, and even though you may not realize it, you do in fact have a capacity for how much you can handle on your own. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I urge you to reach out and ask for help. Ask for help watching your kids, proof reading a resume, taking care of errands, or just having a loved one spend time with you and offer a listening ear. Asking for help takes a lot of courage, and it is worth it. And when someone offers help- accept it! People find joy and meaning through supporting people they care about, so remember that you are not a burden.

  4. Prioritize your time and energy - There is only so much time in the day, and when we have a lot on our plate to deal with we frequently find ourselves left with no energy and no time left to take care of ourselves. Make it a point to figure out what is most important to right now in this season and focus on that. Make time to take care of yourself- sleeping and eating are essential. Ask yourself “what people in my life help me feel valued, rejuvenated, or understood?” and invest your time with those people. Remember that it is okay- and healthy in fact!- to say no to someone. If you don’t have enough time or emotional energy, make that clear and prioritize yourself and what’s important to you.

  5. Cultivate a mantra/ positive affirmation/ mindfulness practice - When we’ve got a lot on our minds, it’s way too easy to go through the day without connecting to our breath or quieting our brains. Mindfulness doesn’t need to look like an hour long meditation or full yoga flow. It can look like taking a deep breath first thing in the morning and trying to think of at least one thing that you’re thankful for. Keep it simple, and realistic. Having some kind of positive mantra can be a big help in times of change, because it can keep you connected to what you value. See the poem below for an example of a mantra that helps keep me grounded.

I hope that by taking care of yourself, you begin to feel a little more anchored in the middle of a sea of chaos. You may not be able to stop the waves of change, but you can control how you react to them. I want to leave you with a prayer/meditation/poem that helps me to remain grounded and open handed when it comes to change. When I read this I like to sit with actual open hands, palms facing up and symbolizing a release of the ways I fight against things I have no control over, and rest in the things that I can control- my thoughts and my actions. The Welcoming Prayer is by Father Thomas Keating, and although it has been used traditionally in spiritual settings, I invite you to adapt it to fit whatever best helps bring you into a place of peace. Swap the word God for anything that resonates meaningfully with you- nature, the universe, your own inner strength, peace, a loved one, etc.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

I welcome everything that comes to me today

because I know it's for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,

situations, and conditions.

I let go of my desire for power and control.

I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,

approval and pleasure.

I let go of my desire for survival and security.

I let go of my desire to change any situation,

condition, person or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God* (or nature, the universe, your own inner strength, peace, a loved one, etc.)

How to Get Unstuck

Photo by  Radu Florin  on  Unsplash

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

Have you ever felt stuck in a situation, an emotion, a thought pattern? It is extremely human to find ourselves physically and/or metaphorically stuck in unhelpful circumstances. It is also extremely human to feel as though there is little agency you have in shifting your experience in those moments. While it may feel accepted as fact that you do not have the ability to shift your experience, I encourage the practice of creativity and flexibility in cultivating more helpful experiences and therefore shifting associated emotions, thoughts, and attitudes.

For example, let’s say you notice that you've felt down recently. Perhaps you missed a deadline at work or in school, you felt excluded in a recent social event, or you've experienced conflict among family members at home. These circumstances might contribute to feeling down, lonely, unmotivated, etc. Furthermore, we might create a dialogue around our recent experiences linking them together (i.e. “Life feels really challenging right now at work/school/home and I seem to be the common thread among these incidences: it must be my fault”). The events, emotions, and thoughts noted above can contribute to a mindset of feeling stuck. Whether or not our perception of these experiences is accurate is inconsequential. However, the ineffectiveness of this perception really does matter; it can be incredibly unhelpful in allowing us to moving forward. 

I encourage a shift in focus on noting what works for you in cultivating helpful emotions. Reflect on experiences that bring about more neutral emotions such as contentment, connection, peace, calm, etc. Perhaps during your reflection you note the following - doing yoga cultivates peace, spending time with genuine friends cultivates joy, cleaning your room cultivates calm, etc. While seemingly unrelated to your current experience, you might identify that there are experiences that you’ve had that do bring about more neutrality and even positivity. We can then choose to cultivate more of those emotions in our day-to-day by practicing intentional choices about what we do that promotes certain feelings.

Of course, taking a yoga class or going to summer camp (both experiences perhaps offering helpful emotions) are not always accessible to us, so we might practice creativity in how we can do something similar in order to foster similar emotions. While doing more of what feels helpful and less of what might not change the circumstances we find ourselves in, it can create a felt shift in having agency over our lives, emotion regulation, our attitudes, and our ability to continue moving forward.

See some tips below in cultivating more helpful experiences:

  • Reflect on what works for you and what doesn’t

  • Identify how you want to feel and what makes you feel that way

  • Practice creativity in cultivating more of what feels good and letting go of what does not

  • Remind yourself that nothing is permanent, everything is temporary - emotions, thoughts, circumstances will pass and practice intentionality around those that feel helpful while knowing that the unhelpful ones will pass


Self-Compassion: Becoming Your Inner Ally

Photo by  Fares Hamouche  on  Unsplash

“Through self-compassion, we become an inner ally instead of an inner enemy”.  

-Kristin Neff, PhD

We’ve all had the concept of self-esteem thrown down our throats, which usually teaches us that the ultimate goal is to have high levels of self-esteem. While the idea of feeling good about ourselves is absolutely essential, we’ve learned that our “feeling good” is based on:  how many trophies we have on our mantle, how many A’s we earn in school, and how many points we scored in the last game. What happens when we don’t score that last point or we end up with a B+ instead of an A? For some of us, our sense of self can crumble and our self-critic can begin screaming at us telling us that we’re not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough. It doesn’t have to have such a strong voice, though. Self-compassion provides us that cushion and soft blanket to catch and cradle us when we do fall short of our goals and expectations.

The concept of self-compassion is broken into three categories:  self-kindness, mindfulness, and common humanity. Through the interweaving of these three ideas, we’re able to shift our focus from the potentially superficial feelings of goodness that self-esteem can bring, and replace them with a  solid embracing of who we are through self-compassion. Let me break down the three components of self-esteem:

  • Self-kindness – Think for a second what you would say to a close friend who has come to you expressing feelings of sadness and low self-worth.  Perhaps they just failed an exam and said to you, “I just knew I’d fail that test! I’m so stupid!!” Would you agree with them and tell them that they are indeed stupid?  Well, no, of course you wouldn’t. You would amp up your compassion meter and do everything in your power to help them feel better and dispute their negative self-talk. Now let me blow your mind for a minute; what would it be like if you were to display that same level of compassion and kindness to yourself?  What if you were to change your harsh thoughts of, “This is so stupid...I’m never going to get this...I’m a complete failure!” to “I didn’t do so well on that last test and I’m going through a lot right now.  I need to cut myself some slack”? Feels weird yet oddly comforting, huh?  That’s self-kindness. Giving yourself the same kindness and compassion that you give to a good friend.

  • Mindfulness – I know that I’ve talked about mindfulness a lot in previous blogs.  Take all of that and add to it the idea of recognizing and embracing your feelings for what they are.  Feelings and emotions are just a piece of information for you to acknowledge without placing any judgment on them.  Being quick to judge our feelings and emotions can quickly lead to desires of suppressing those feelings or over-identifying with them.  Being truly mindful allows us to shift our focus from the “shoulda, coulda woulda’s” to the present, because the present is the only state of being where we possess control.

  • Common humanity – When we trip on that crack in the sidewalk or drop our cup of coffee in front of our friends, it can easily feel as though we are the only one’s in the world that have done this.  Likewise, when we feel down, sad, angry, and hurt, it can also seem as though no one else has ever felt as bad as we do. In embracing the concept of self-compassion, we’re able to see that we’re all in this boat together.  We all trip, fall, cry, yell, struggle, and suffer. Why? Because we’re human and we all have feelings and emotions.

For more information on the concept of self-compassion and to obtain deeper tools on how to begin practicing your own journey toward self-compassion, I encourage you to check out Dr. Kristin Neff’s work at www.self-compassion.org.  In wrapping these three components into your daily life, you will be able to enhance that love that you feel for yourself and, in turn, the love that you feel for the world around you.



Approaching Life with a Beginner's Mind

Photo by  Max Andrey  on  Unsplash

Photo by Max Andrey on Unsplash

Do you ever find yourself making assumptions about the way your next history exam will go, how a conversation with a parent will transpire, or how you will perform in your next soccer tournament? Often times we cultivate expectations of ourselves, others, or situations in general based on past experiences. While this is a natural and adaptive aspect of human nature, it can also inhibit us from being open to the potential of experiencing something new and different. Furthermore, assumptions based on our experiences sometimes take us away from the present moment and transport us backward into the past or forward into the future. Again, while not entirely unhelpful to reflect on past experiences or consider our futures, living in the past or the future can bring up unhelpful emotions. It can also inhibit our ability to experience the here and now and furthermore to be effective in the here and now. Today I offer you the concept of “Beginner’s Mind” as a means of cultivating the opportunity for new experiences and practicing mindfulness of the present moment.

What is a beginner’s mind? It is what it sounds like! Remember the first time you made a new friend, got an A on your exam, went on a rollercoaster? During any of these “firsts” you approach the experience with an unknowing and open mind because you have not yet had that experience. Beginner’s mind is a way of approaching an experience that, while it be familiar in many aspects, has the potential for a new and different outcome. Perhaps you have had several conversations with a parent on earning privileges back that have not gone in your favor. These experiences build on each other and cultivate an assumption that this type of conversation will always transpire in the same fashion and have the same end result. This assumptive mindset, while seemingly accurate, inhibits us from being creative and experimenting with a different approach and outcome. It can feel hopeless, defeating, and other unhelpful emotions when we get into our assumptive mindsets. If we are to shift our perspective to utilizing a “Beginner’s Mind”, we might consider approaching this conversation in a different manner with an open mind about the result looking different. In doing so, we allow for the possibility of change and new experiences. Cultivating the opportunity for a new experience may foster emotions such as hope and optimism.

Now what we know what Beginner’s Mind is, how do we achieve beginner’s mind? First, we must acknowledge that there is a part of our past experience that informs our current experience. For example, that last conversation with my mom did not go well. We might draw attention to the areas in which we felt this conversation was ineffective and tweak those areas to open the opportunity for a new outcome. We must then let go of that past experience with our tweaks in mind. Rehashing the past in unhelpful to our current situation. Similarly, we might envision what could happen in the future; however, we must acknowledge that we are not fortune tellers and therefor we cannot predict the exact outcome. In this scenario, make peace with the fact that we cannot with certainty predict the result of our conversation. Once we have made peace with our past experiences and our assumptions about the future we allow ourselves to come back to the present moment and furthermore be effective in this current experience.

Beginner’s mind can be challenging, especially if you notice your mind often wanders to a different time and place. I offer you the following tips in practicing Beginner’s Mind and cultivating more experiences in the here and now:

  • Practice self-kindness, do not judge yourself on your ability to stay in the present. Rather, gently remind yourself to come back to the here and now when you notice you have wandered

  • Make peace with what you cannot change about the past and what you do not know for certain in the future

  • Practice Self-Care and grounding strategies to help you move through difficult emotions

  • Remember that Beginner’s Mind is challenging and requires practice! Resist the temptation to give up on your efforts!

Bring BRAVING to Your Relationships

One of the biggest struggles in navigating through relationships is building and sustaining trust.  Being able to fully trust another person involves vulnerability and accountability – two components that can elicit feelings of fear and dread in even the strongest of people.  I was recently re-introduced to one of Brené Brown’s concepts called BRAVING and responded to it as if it were the first time that I’d been exposed to her teachings. I recognized that I had feelings of fear, disappointment, regret, and anxiety in hearing this concept again.  Not that these feelings were rooted in concern that I had done anything wrong or that anyone else had done me wrong, rather I allowed myself to hear her reinforce the importance of trust within a relationship. I don’t know about you, but I find it very easy to allow myself to wear the ‘victim hat’ and focus on how someone else has broken my trust.  If I haven’t clearly established my ‘BRAVING’ components though, how can I hold anyone else accountable for theirs? The answer is that I can’t; I can only hold myself accountable for something that I didn’t take the time to establish at the beginning of the relationship, and take steps to embrace BRAVING in the present.

Brené breaks down BRAVING as such:

BBoundaries - establishing clear boundaries for yourself and for your relationship.  Are your limits respected within the relationship? Are you respecting the other person’s limits?

RReliability - is the other person there for you you when they said they would be?  Are you there for others when you said you would be?

AAccountability - are others accountable for their mistakes and misgivings?  Do you hold yourself accountable for yours?

VVault - are others able to hold things that you’ve shared with them in complete confidence?  Are you able to do the same?

IIntegrity - do the actions of others match their words?  What about for yourself?

NNon-Judgement - is there an air of compassion and non-judgment when engaging with others?  Are you able to listen to others without quickly jumping to judgement?

GGenerosity - does the other person assume the best about your words, actions, and feelings? Are you able to do the same for the other person?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above, grab a hold of that person tightly and don’t let that relationship go!!  All joking aside, if you genuinely can answer yes to all of those components, the trust between you and the other person is steadfast.  If, though, like most of us, you struggled in saying yes or found yourself confidently saying no, there is a path forward and this is where the work begins. As with any human connection, there is always hope for change. The first step in creating any sort of change is in identifying the problem, so congratulations! You’re halfway there!

Re-read through the BRAVING components (Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement, and Generosity) and parse out the pieces that don’t feel strong.  Ask yourself what may be going on that’s causing some shakiness for you.  Are there ‘yucky’ things from the past that are coming up within your current relationship or is the ‘yuck’ being born out of the relationship itself?  Stop and ask yourself - “what is it that I need?” Your answer will be the doorway into your repair.

It Takes a Village: Understanding How Systems Shape Us

Photo by  Duy Pham  on  Unsplash

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

We are all part of a system, several systems in fact. Systems range from our partner, family unit, school/work/organization, community, culture, and everything in between. Systems often develop patterns of functioning that support the system in accomplishing tasks, moving forward, and maintaining balance. The evolution of patterns can be intentional, they might present an imbalance in who the system serves, or perhaps they came about over time through events and experiences that shape patterns without members attunement to the helpful or unhelpful results. I have felt inspired by my work and personal experience to reflect on the systems in which individuals exist, how systems function, and if that function is serving individuals and the systems as a whole.

To further understand the operation of systems, I offer the example of coming to therapy (coincidence?) … Perhaps you chose to begin therapy or maybe that was a choice made for you by someone in your life who cares about you. Whatever the circumstance, you are the client in the room. Maybe you or a loved one identified that you can benefit from having an unbiased, safe space. This sometimes implies that you bear the sole responsibility of making a change or committing to yourself. While this can absolutely play a role in what therapy looks like, it would be a disservice to ignore how the systems you exist within also impact your experience and furthermore how the other members contribute to your identity & well-being and that of the system at large.

Let’s say I come to therapy with the goal of enhancing my ability to be more assertive with my feelings in relationships. It might be helpful to look at what communication has been like in my family, for example. Perhaps I found it challenging to be assertive with family because I was expected to “keep the peace,” insert humor in place of vulnerability, or avoid rocking the boat at times it was on the edge of capsizing. This style offered my family a sense of protection, that everything will be alright, and that I am capable of “going with the flow” to avoid exacerbating conflict. While my willingness to mute or soften my emotional expression appeared to function well in our family system to keep us moving forward and establish rhythm, it also presented a later consequence of fear/hesitancy/confusion around how to be assertive in other relationships and areas of my life.

To avoid placing “blame” on any single family member, including myself, I might remember that this pattern of communicating was protective, and it supported my family moving forward and maintaining peace. Rather than viewing our family system as flawed, I might say this pattern functioned for a period of time for a particular purpose; however, that function no longer serves me or the system as a whole. It truly does take consideration of the systems we participate in to understand how patterns develop and how we might want to change a pattern that is no longer serving us. The shift in system function is not any single individual’s responsibility, but a product of all members role in that system; however, when one person chooses to create changes in how they move within the system, there's a ripple effect that can occur, offering an opportunity for growth for the whole system. In re-framing your experience, identity, and worldview to include how your systems have shaped you, you may notice you experience more self-compassion and compassion for the systems that you are a part of, which in turn connects us more deeply to our humanity and the humanity of others.

I offer some tips in considering your village, how it functions, and how it serves you:

  • Reflect on your systems - identify who and what your systems are, what your function is within the system, and the function of the system as a whole

  • Take inventory on what is serving you and what does not seem to work (anymore)

  • Communicate with members of your system on what’s working and what’s not

  • Practice approaching change to the system with curiosity, willingness, flexibility, patience, and compassion for yourself and others

  • Resist the urge to fall back into old patterns that you know are not serving you, practice a beginner’s mind with each situation you are faced with

Remember that it takes a village for your experience to shift, and you are neither the purpose for unhelpful changes in the system nor do you bear the sole responsibility of enacting change. Use your supports and practice self kindness 😊


Put Play on Your To-Do List!

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When we talk about the importance of play, we typically talk about ensuring younger children have access to recess or free time during their school week, but play is an essential part of our well-being at any age. Unfortunately, busy schedules for teens and adults can cause us to put off playtime indefinitely as we rush around putting out fires in our daily lives. In our go-go-go world, play is often seen as a frivolous and unproductive activity. We have a tendency to feel guilty for indulging in playful activities when there are tasks to be tackled. But having time to play is essential to leading a healthy, productive life in the long run. A raucous game of kickball may not help you cross anything off your massive to-do list, but it’s a more productive use of time than you might think.

Play releases endorphins, which relieve stress, anxiety and lift your mood in general. It also improves brain function by boosting memory, problem-solving skills and creativity. Play helps you be fully present in the moment, providing you with a much needed break from daily stressors or worries. And playing with others strengthens relationships, fosters empathy and trust, and can be an effective way to overcome past hurts. Family play encourages bonding - making family relationships stronger and increasing family resilience. Play is an important tool you can use to increase your overall sense of well-being, as well as to nourish the important relationships in your life and increase the wellness of those around you. Consider making it a goal to work more play into your life by: 

  • Giving yourself permission to play: Acknowledge that even when faced with many other obligations, you deserve the opportunity to care for yourself. Tapping into the rejuvenating nature of play is one way to do just that.

  • Finding your own kind of fun: Know that play looks different to different people, and follow your own interests and passions.

  • Scheduling play: Actively reserving space in your week for play can help keep other obligations from sidetracking your fun.

  • Invite others: Strengthen relationships by playing with friends and family, and build community by finding others with similar play interests.

  • Arrange outings dedicated entirely to play: Trips to the pool or park, where you can’t be distracted by things that need to get done around the house, or technology like iPhones and televisions (which can get in the way of more fully-involved play) help you give playtime the priority it deserves in your life.

  • Explore an interest or revive an old hobby: Give yourself the gift of time spent doing something you love, or exploring something you're curious about. Remember that play isn’t about the product, but the process, so it’s okay if you turn out to be the world’s worst knitter as long as you enjoyed the experience.

  • Adopt a playful attitude: Be open to joking with co-workers, or even strangers waiting in line with you at the post office. Sometimes even a small personal connection while running errands can bring an unexpected amount of joy into your day, as well as someone else’s.

  • Seek guidance from the masters: Feel like your play skills are a little rusty? Younger children and animals are usually more than happy to remind you how to embrace playtime in your life.

Original video from http://www.dogwork.com where you can also adopt homeless animals. 


Pause, Breathe, Be

Photo by  Fabian Møller  on  Unsplash

In this fast-paced world, with all the expectations, deadlines, and responsibilities, how can we possibly find a spare second to stop and take a breath?  Between cramming for mid-terms, preparing our taxes for that dreaded date of April 15th, and making sure that all of our daily duties are complete - it can be rough trying to actually thrive, rather than merely survive.  How many of our daily interactions are missed because we become so focused on our to-do lists and “what if’s”? Ask yourself, when was the last time that you actually stopped to notice that little gecko scurrying across the sidewalk or that peach tree flowering it’s first bloom of the season?  I know someone out there is thinking, “give me 10 more hours in my day, then I could potentially think about paying attention to those little things.” In reality, though, would those 10 extra hours really give you the time to take in these things, or would you just find other tasks, worries, and duties to fill you time with?

Believe me, I get it!  Life is demanding and there are always things that need to get done – but at what sacrifice?  We run and run and run, hoping that all of our hard work pays off in the end yet we continue to struggle in even seeing a glimpse of that so-called “pay off.”  In turn, we develop resentment – resentment against ourselves, others, our jobs, our pets, our kids, our bills, and anything else that we can point a finger to.  All the while, we’re allowing ourselves to fall deeper and deeper into our own pit of yuck. I don’t know about you, but this is definitely a cycle that I don’t enjoy.

Even though we can’t always change our responsibilities or tasks, we can certainly alter they way in which we respond to them.  One question that I’ve found to be helpful is, “will the world stop spinning if I don’t get this done right now?” Unless the task at hand is cutting the wire on the nuclear explosive device, the answer is usually no.  There is always time for us to stop and take a breath. Breathe, re-center, and refocus our energies onto the here and now. Those 10 seconds could mean the difference between a good decision and a bad one, a healthy response and a malicious one, or a smile and a frown.    

Allowing yourself to pull away from the ‘yuck’ of yesterday and the angst of tomorrow will afford you the opportunity to see and experience that which is right in front of you.  Challenge yourself to stop and breathe; take in the beauty that is surrounding you right here and right now. In not taking advantage of the present, the gifts that are right in front of us will soon become the disappointment of yesterday.  Just breathe...