How to Forgive Yourself for a Sh**ty 2014 & MOVE On

Have you found yourself looking back over the past year and realizing it was a near failure? Are there things you regret, or were you too scared to make a much needed change?

Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. There are millions of people out there just like you (us), wishing that they had the internal strength to free themselves from their sad prisons. Whether it be a horrible relationship, boring or frustrating job, limited thought patterns, disgusting eating habits, or fear-based living, the good news is that you don’t have to wait until the clock strikes midnight on January 1, 2015 to make a change.
It all starts now.

I once sat in a Marianne Williamson lecture in Los Angeles where a woman asked a huge question: “How do I get out of my abusive relationship?” She then continued, “I keep thinking it’s going to get better, but it doesn’t. And if I leave, I know I’ll be a big disappointment to my family, and I’ll leave my husband high and dry. I don’t know what to do.”

Williamson looked her straight in the eye and said, “Honey, you are not in prison. You need to make the decision for yourself alone. Freedom can be yours.” She then pointed off into the distance and said, “There’s the door. All you have to do is walk out and never look back. There’s the door, walk out!”

It occurred to me in that moment that we all have so much more power than we know. We can change our life’s course in a millisecond, and here’s how:

1. Throw your failures out the door and look for new successes. We all made mistakes in 2014. The beauty of it is that we don’t have to think about them now. Ditch the suckers and look for something good to happen RIGHT NOW.
“Every thought is over. That’s grace. No thought: no problem. It’s not possible to have a problem without believing a prior thought. To notice this simple truth is the beginning of peace,” writes author Byron Katie.
In other words, let the past be the past and move on.

2. Let go of the people dragging you down. A friend of mine moaned and groaned the other day about a friend that keeps making her feel horrible. “She just breaks me down and makes me feel like shit,” she said.
It’s safe to say that she is allowing herself to feel like crap. No one should ever hold so much power that they inspire her to feel less than precious and amazing. Once again, I hear Williamson’s words ringing through my mind… “there’s the door, walk out!”
Why do you think the award-winning “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen is such a hit? Letting go of what doesn’t serve you opens up the infinite world of possibility.
We all need to let the negative voices in our lives go, or we’ll have an even shittier 2015 and beyond.

3. Get passionate. Do everything you can to infuse yourself with the childlike passion you once owned. If you hate your job or you aren’t doing enough constructive things with your free time, make the needed adjustments.
Take steps toward making a career change, schedule the trip you’ve always wanted to take, find your relevance in the world, and don’t be afraid to be beautifully you.

4. Don’t let “the world” define you. Much of our frustrations in life have lots to do with the fact that we don’t claim our authenticity. The easy road is letting the people we know, politics, religion, and other forces shove us into the corner. And then, we secretly wish we could be as bold and powerful as the people we read about or see on television.
Ask yourself what is limiting your potential. What’s wrong with letting your uniqueness out of the box? Are you afraid of losing the people in your life?
It’s time to realize that where there is fear, there is no love — and where there is love there can be no fear.
What’s the worst thing that can happen if you let the real you come out of hiding? If you lose friends or a lover, they obviously aren’t really your friends or your ideal match.
If you lose a job, it wasn’t meant for you. And if you’re nervous along the way, that’s just fine. All growth comes with bits of pain. The secret is pushing through it.

5. Choose to limit suffering. The world we live in is painful and it isn’t always fair. We lose people to disease, our fortunes can be lost in an instant, we fall and bruise our knees, our kids make wrong choices, and the list goes on.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself,” writes famed author Haruki Murakami.
If we’re all going to have an amazing 2015, we’ve got to will our minds to stay positive. To know that life isn’t perfect, and that we’ll all hurt, yet in every moment we can choose to see the positive. Feel the pain, but don’t suffer for days, weeks, and months to come.
Focus on the now.

The secret of all secrets, is that it’s still possible to have a kickass 2014. Right now, right here. Will it to be better, and set yourself up for a freakin’ stellar 2015.

Original article by Jen Engevik:

Are You Letting Joy or Stress Dictate Your Holiday Season?

 I stumbled across this article today and it struck a chord with me.

It seems like every year between Halloween and Christmas, but especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, people seem to get a little crazy.....ok, a lot crazy!

They push to buy more, to entertain more and cram more expectations into their already busy lives. As the clock picks up speed and the dates on the calendar become blurred, exhaustion sets in just as the most festive, joyous holiday arrives.

Are You Letting Joy or Stress Dictate Your Holiday Season?

Sometimes holiday stress overrides our joy. 
We get caught up with decorating, buying gifts, and the plethora of other overwhelming holiday expectations.

We miss out on the daily pleasure and joyful opportunities all around us because stress is taking precedence.

All of this stress isn’t necessary. It comes from placing our attention on all of the materialistic aspects of the holiday season and getting distracted from what is most important.

When we get distracted we end up missing out on the entire point of the holiday.
This is a time of year for gratitude, appreciation, love, and joy.
Yes there will be stress and a feeling of pressure and urgency at times, but we can learn to balance this with some holiday cheer.

Here are four ways to help you have more joy during the holidays.

Lower your expectations

First thing first, don’t take the holiday so seriously. Everyone has different traditions but allow yourself some space and cut yourself some slack if something doesn’t happen exactly how you expect. Don’t make it things a problem unless they really are a problem. The holiday doesn’t have to be perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others and just do your best.

Allow yourself to take a break

Sometimes our responsibilities and obligations get in the way of our health and well-being. We have so many worries and things to take care of that we forget that life is meant to be enjoyed. Make sure to give yourself a break when you are feeling stressed out. Just slow down and do one thing at a time.

Focus on connection 

The holiday season is really about spending quality time with friends and family. Make this the focus of this holiday season. It isn’t about the gifts as much as the joy of giving and showing our appreciation for those we care about.

Be playful

What if you could take this holiday season less seriously? Not do less or be irresponsible, but be more playful with what you do. Think about when you were a child and how much fun you had. Make decorating playful. Sing songs, watch holiday movies and dance. Go sledding or have a snow ball fight! Don’t let stress get in the way or you having fun.
Life’s too short to not live joyfully. It is a choice we can make but one that requires commitment. It requires letting go of outcomes and the concentration to be present and savor the moment.
Are you committed to being joyful this holiday?

The original article by Joe Wilner can be found at:

One Of The Most Freeing Things We Learn In Life

25 Minutes of Meditating Eases Stress

Even brief sessions of mindfulness meditation—25 minutes for three consecutive days—can alleviate stress, new research suggests. 
“More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits,” says lead author J. David Creswell, associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

For the study, researchers had 66 healthy individuals aged 18 to 30 years old participate in a three-day experiment.

Some participants went through a brief mindfulness meditation training program. For 25 minutes for three consecutive days the individuals were given exercises to help them monitor their breath and pay attention to their present moment experiences.

A second group of participants completed a matched three-day cognitive training program in which they were asked to critically analyze poetry in an effort to enhance problem-solving skills.
Following the final training activity, all participants were asked to complete stressful speech and math tasks in front of stern-faced evaluators. Each individual reported their stress levels in response to stressful speech and math performance stress tasks, and provided saliva samples for measurement of cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone.

‘Automatic’ Mindfulness?

The participants who received the brief mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress perceptions to the speech and math tasks, indicating that the mindfulness meditation fostered psychological stress resilience. More interestingly, on the biological side, the mindfulness meditation participants showed greater cortisol reactivity.

“When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it—especially during a stressful task,” says Creswell, lead author of the study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

“And, these active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production.”

Creswell and colleagues are now testing the possibility that mindfulness can become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity.

Additional researchers from Carnegie Mellon and Virginia Commonwealth University took part in the study, which received support from the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Opportunity Fund.

Original article found at: