New Habit Mindset

Live Better. Smarter. More Fulfilled


Leave a comment

Here’s one thing that you can do easily to increase your happiness in 2019.

So many of our New Year’s resolutions are centered around doing less or stopping an activity, such as

  • Drink less
  • Lose weight
  • Cut down on extraneous spending
  • Reduce screen time

Often we don’t think about what truly brings us joy. For a country that prides itself on freedom, independence, and the pursuit of happiness, a recent study confirms that the US has clearly has lost its way.

In the World Happiness Report, the top ten happiest countries are Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia; the US ranks 18th and yet we are the 11th richest country in the world.

What is wrong with this picture? Why aren’t we happier?

Well-being and happiness often require factors such as family support and friendships, living with meaning and purpose in your life, a healthy lifestyle and a spirit of generosity.

Have we gotten too greedy, self-consumed, and me-oriented?

Research has already shown that after a certain threshold, more money and more toys don’t make us happier. While we may still be experiencing a holiday high, our back-to-reality everyday drudgery will hit home soon. True to our fallible nature, we think that more money will make us happier. While it is true that the wealthy are happier than the poor, once we have reached a certain threshold, around $80,000 a year depending on where you live, more money does not correlate to greater happiness.

When our income increases, our spending expands and we overestimate the joy that a new car or larger house will bring. Sure it may make us happier for the short-term, but in the long run, the initial emotional euphoria will dissipate.

If more money doesn’t make you happier, what will according to the research?

Generosity is one of the top key variables that contribute to happiness in the World Happiness Report. A recent white paper on generosity concludes that human beings are wired to help one another whether it’s through time, donations, volunteering or some other act of kindness and empathy.

Generosity can make a huge difference in your happiness and well-being. Click to retweet

Generosity expands your capacity to think beyond yourself and build empathy and compassion toward others, important emotions to increase your happiness. According to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology and the creator of PERMA principles, happiness can be cultivated with discipline and better habits.

The research on generosity is complex and nuanced. Several different studies note that there are social and geographic differences in giving to charitable organizations. People in the top income quintile in England and Wales were the most likely to give to charitable causes (86 percent), while those in the bottom quintile were least likely to give (65). This contrasted with studies from the US where the very poorest give the highest proportion of their income and then the line flattens with those from middle and higher income brackets.

Regardless of your income, geographic location, cultural or familial upbringing, the research clearly indicates that forming an ongoing habit of generosity not only helps others, but it is also good for you.

Make generosity your top habit to cultivate for 2019.

  1. Donate to your favorite cause every month. Remember that every little bit can help a small organization.
  2. Make it a practice to help someone at work or at home without being asked or without expecting anything in return.
  3. Volunteer your time with an organization or to make a difference in someone’s life.
  4. Be generous with your attention. Take your headphones off your head, pull out your earbuds, lift your head up and away from your phone or computer, really look people in the eyes and listen to what they have to say. In fact, say, “hello” when you pass someone.
  5. Be generous with your kind words. More compliments, more nice comments, and more positive reinforcement.

Here’s a challenge for the next 365 days. Practice one act of generosity a day. Be the change. Make a difference. And you will feel the change in your life.

There are affiliate links below for which I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

Suggested Reading

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard and S. Truett Cathy

The Paradox of Generosity by Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson

For featured image, visit pixabay.com


Leave a comment

What’s your mantra for the holidays?

‘Tis the season for excess, consumption, and materialism.

Advertisers have seduced us all into thinking “more” is better and bargain deals are a must-have.

Do office parties, family gatherings, and neighborhood get-togethers cause you to overeat, overdrink, and overbook your daily life?

In this time of deep religious celebration of light, hope, and miracles, how is it that we veer so off-course feeling exhausted, rushed, and overstuffed.

In an attempt to live the holiday season with greater joy and ease, you may consider adopting a few mantras to hold you firmly grounded and centered during the holiday mayhem.

Four mantras to help you navigate the holiday season:

1.  The Mantra of Savoring

Happiness researchers will tell you that a way to increase joy is to practice savoring.  When you are multitasking, such as looking at your twitter feed while eating, you enjoy your food less. Savor your conversations, food, and time with others.  Really pause, notice, and think to yourself, I am going to savor this moment.  From the book, Happiness, Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth: 

The key component to effective savoring is focused attention. By taking the time and spending the effort to appreciate the positive, people are able to experience more well-being.

 2. The Mantra of Calculated Moderation 

The old adage, “everything in moderation” seems intuitively sound, but a recent study confirms that the concept does not translate well to your daily life.

The extent to which people believed they consumed foods in moderation was unrelated to how much of that food or drink they reported consuming,” the authors wrote. “Furthermore, participants’ ratings of their consumption as moderate for a given food item were unrelated to their definitions of moderate consumption of that item.”

Using data, such as caloric intake or a point system similar to Weight Watchers, is a better way to manage “moderate” consumption. The data won’t lie, but your brain may trick you into what I call “skewed moderation.”

 3. The Mantra of Forgiveness

The holidays and family gatherings can bring up a lot of emotion, tension, anxiety, sadness, shame, and an array of psychological turmoil. What fun! Misinterpretations, grudges, and unmet expectations can lead you down a path of disappointment, anger, and angst.

The science shows that the practice of forgiveness can help you increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Letting go of old emotional baggage takes courage.  Learning to forgive both yourself and others requires a good deal of empathy. How will you practice forgiveness this season?

4.  The Mantra of a Positive No

For those of you who are like me, a people pleaser, it is easy to get caught up in doing too much and then burning out.  Even a simple request or favor can be the last straw that puts you over the edge.  Before that happens, learn to say no or ask for help before you cross the line into overload.

Establish your boundaries for rude, toxic, or passive-aggressive behavior that can surface during family gatherings when old relationship patterns get triggered.  Forgiveness is helpful, but that doesn’t mean you accept or continue to tolerate unwanted or abusive behavior.  Walk away, limit contact, or articulate your boundaries for engagement.

“As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

― William Ury, The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes

The paradox of life is that our human journey requires great hurdles to achieve bigger wins.  Courage requires standing in fear and vulnerability.  A powerful no requires risk and willpower to overcome patterns and bad habits.  Greater happiness requires self-acceptance, forgiveness, savoring the present moment, and empathy.  Not easy tasks for any of us.

As you journey forward through the days ahead, may you find the light, the hope, the blessings, and the joy this holiday season.

Peace be with you.

There are affiliate links in the blog and below for which I may receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you.

Suggested Reading

Happiness, Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth  by Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener

The Power of A Positive No by William Ury


Leave a comment

21 one wishes to my 21-year-old son.

I remember so vividly turning 21.  Back then you could drink at 18 so it wasn’t about the legality of consuming booze that made the event memorable.

Somehow turning 21 meant I was really crossing the threshold into adulthood.  It was an age that put my teenage years behind me and my adult independence within a hands reach.

As I celebrate my son’s 21st birthday, I think about my 21-year-old self and the lessons learned.  How many times did I spend worrying about inconsequential things, or kept my mouth shut when maybe it would have been better to advocate more vocally for myself or for others.

It’s always easier looking back.  But if we keep sticking to the hard work –  the work that requires to stand tall, live by our values, be professional, show up, and have the discipline to take courageous small steps forward, we can all live meaningful and fulfilling lives.

What would you tell your  21 year-old-self?

1. Be kind yourself and to others.

Being kind yourself is a lot harder than you think.  Self-compassion and forgiveness are cornerstones to building a life of happiness and humility.

2. Enjoy the journey.

The destination for all of us is death.  Don’t rush through life.  Savor the days. Savor the moments that really matter. Look for the good.

3. Learn when to say ‘no’.

It is easy to fall into a trap of pleasing others.  Risking rejection or feeling that you might be letting someone down are difficult emotions to navigate.  At the end of the day, you need to respect yourself which is more important than anything.  Learn when you need to walk away.  Learn when saying ‘no’ serves you.

4. Keep getting up and be professional.

When you were learning to walk, you fell down a lot.  It was not a big deal.  Falling down was just feedback on how you might get better at standing upright.  Make mistakes and learn from them.  They help you grow.  But also there are times when you are not going to want to do something.  You just don’t feel like it.  But keep showing up.  Be professional.  Don’t give to the whims of your emotions.

5. Be aware of your assumptions.

Sometimes we are all quick to judge and quick to assume.  But our eyes and our perceptions fool us constantly.  Watch out for assumptions as they could easily lead you down the wrong path. Learn how to ask really good questions. Dive deep. Discover new truths.

6. Make the world a better place.

Materialism, power, and money are seductive.  You will be most proud of doing work that is meaningful to you and is helping others

7. Laugh often.

And mostly at yourself.  Life can be serious, difficult, challenging, discouraging, and hard.  Laughter can decrease your stress hormones and build up your immune cells.  Laughing is contagious – what a great thing to spread.

8. Keep exercising your courage muscle.

Courage is the opposite of fear.  No one can accomplish any courageous act without experiencing fear or self-doubt.  Practice stepping outside your comfort zone.  Every single person experiences fear.   Just feel the fear and do it anyway.

9. Friends matter.

Liking something on Facebook, Twitter,  or Instagram does not cultivate friendships. Snapchat is not a conversation.  Pick up the phone and call someone and have a meaningful conversation.  Go visit someone.  Reach out personally. Treasure conversations with friends outside of social media.

10.  Save for a rainy day.

If you live to be 100, you will be working for 65 – 70 years.  Build your financial nest egg first. Life will bring you uncertain times or you will want a change.

11. Live by your values.

Knowing your values and what is really important to you will help you make better decisions. It’s easy to get distracted.  Know your “why?”

12. Don’t take too much personally.

Stuff happens.  People say things or do things that really have nothing to do with you.  Don’t take too much personally.   Seek feedback from those you can trust.  But otherwise, don’t get rattled by other people’s stuff.

13. Know your biases.

We have a lot of biases.  Maybe over 100.  The two that seem to trip us up a lot are our unconscious and cognitive biases.  Challenge your biases, the same way you need to challenge your assumptions.  The world is complex and nuanced. It is easy to distill information down to a way that only supports your way of thinking. This will limit you.  Understand where your thinking may be limiting you.

14. Forgive and forget.

People are going to do things that piss you off.  You may even do something that causes shame or embarrassment.  Get over it.  Forgive yourself.  Forgive others. Move on.  Life is short.  The planet has been spinning for 4.5 billion years.  If you can’t forgive, or you feel guilty about something, go make it right, and then move on.

15. Cultivate curiosity.

A curious mindset will help you immensely.  It opens up doors to creative thinking and keeps you in the present moment.

16. Learn how to ask for help.

Life will throw a curve ball or maybe several.  Unexpected events happen.  Cultivate a network of friends.  Accept your own vulnerability.  Ask for help.  We are here for each other.

17.  Have plan A, B, or C for your near future.

It is great to have goals.   They help you focus and achieve results in your life that really matter to you.  Willpower, deliberate practice, and commitment are attributes that will help you achieve results.  But sometimes life doesn’t go as planned.  When you have alternative options, you will feel more in charge of your life and less likely to be a victim of circumstances.

18. Know what you can and cannot control.

A lot of stress and anxiety is lost to thinking about things we cannot control.  At the end of the day, you are in control of your emotions, your thoughts, your behaviors, how you spend your time, and your actions.  Pretty much everything else is outside of your control.  You may be able to influence outcomes or people.  That is very different from control.  Understand the difference between control and influence.  Let go of things that are outside of your control.

19. You always have a choice.

Often we can get stuck in a victim mindset when we feel as if we have no choice.  But if you dive deep into the situation, you probably find that you have more choices than you realize, even if the choice is how you respond to a situation.

20.  You will most likely have 5 careers or more.

The world is changing so fast.  New careers are being created all the time while others are disappearing.  You have no idea what types of new jobs will be available even in 5 years from now.  Keep an open mind.  Don’t let your past passions or professions define your future. Most of us are multifaceted with multiple interests.  It’s ok to change. Be open to possibilities you haven’t even imagined.

21.  Know that you are loved.

You are enough just being you.  You don’t need to prove anything to anyone except yourself.  Maybe you won’t understand this now, but there is nothing like a parent’s love for their children.  It’s deep and wide.  We aren’t perfect.  Sometimes we say the wrong things or make mistakes.  But know that you are loved!!

BONUS

22. Practice a sustainable lifestyle

It’s easy to experience burn out. Pace yourself. Eat well.  Make exercise a priority.  Walk in nature. Meditate or practice mindfulness.  Advocate for clean air, non-toxic environments, and natural resources.  These steps will allow you and our planet to be around for a long, long time.

Happy-21st-Birthday

Recommended Books

Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

 

 

 

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

 

 

 

The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins

 


Leave a comment

5 Key areas of your well-being. Where are you thriving and where are you not?

Our consumer-driven culture seduces us daily with all sorts of reasons to buy the latest fashion, gadget, toy, game, and car.  Advertising has us chasing product deals falsely tying our self-worth to some “thing.”

While consumerism may be good for the economy, is it really good for you? Do more toys or more clothes or more gadgets really make you happier?

What really improves your well-being?

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Up your game by asking better questions.

Our educational system teaches us to think, analyze, write, compute, and create. Drawing on the Socratic method our classroom discussions are centered around a model where the expert, or the teacher, is the one with the responsibility for asking questions to stimulate thinking, dialogue, and debate.  

But what about the student?  How do our schools teach the skill and practice of formulating better questions?  

Think about it, the questions you ask in any given situation might manipulate, direct, offend, empower, inform, assume, or even influence creative input.
Continue reading


2 Comments

How to use positive psychology to kickstart your goals for 2018.

When I ask you, “how was your day?”, what is your response?

Do you immediately recount the negative experiences that have recently happened or are you able to identify some of the positive outcomes you may have experienced?

Most people dwell on the areas of their life that are not going well or where they have experienced negative emotions.  This tendency is driven by the default wiring in your brain.  Positive psychology and strength-based questions can help override your negative thinking and improve your capacity to create success in your life by focusing on what is going well for you now and building on your key strengths.

Continue reading


2 Comments

Reacting vs Responding: How mindfulness can tame your emotional frenzy.

Do you find yourself yelling at the TV because of something said by a politician? Maybe you engage in road rage as you drive to work because someone cut you off or the light didn’t turn green fast enough. Perhaps a colleague or a spouse questions something you did and suddenly you go into red alert prepared for a full-on self-defense attack. These knee-jerk reactions are causing havoc on your well-being and health and mostly likely impairing your ability to make better decisions.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Stoicism revisited: how ancient wisdom can help you navigate uncertain times.

What do you when you are faced with uncertainty, fear, or stress?  How do you cope with obstacles?  Stoic philosophy could provide you with very useful tools to navigate life’s challenges.

Continue reading

Fear Of Success


Leave a comment

Learn how the fear of success could be stopping you dead in your tracks.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.

~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

Many people freeze when wanting to move forward because they are afraid of failure. But what if we are really paralyzed by the fear of success.

Continue reading

Perfectionism


4 Comments

How to make perfectionism actually work for you.

Are you a perfectionist? Do people call out your perfectionism as a negative trait?

Often when I am striving to excel, persisting with the nitty-gritty to get something “just right,” and suddenly a roadblock or catastrophe occurs sending me off course, the advice I typically get is to:

Continue reading