Archive for the ‘health and wellness’ Category

Is Nastiness the New Normal?

June 15, 2017

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the trend of “Global Snarking.” It seems as if mean spirited rhetoric and behavior are becoming more and more acceptable in many settings. While it is certainly true that there are plenty of reasons to be upset and troubled by what is going on in the world, I fear that vitriolic words and negative attitudes shared freely by angry and frustrated people are exacerbating the problem.

We are all being affected by things over which we have no control and that is scary and frustrating. But to allow those emotions to define us and to use them as weapons is not the answer. We all have heard of the “ripples in a pond” theory. One unkind word or act can affect more than just the intended target of the negativity. It can spread like a disease.

I understand crankiness. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. This week it is going to be 121 degrees. It is so hot that even roadrunners are taking the bus rather than to be outside for more than 3 minutes. That kind of heat makes people cranky. But what we are experiencing in social media, newsfeeds, etc. is more than hot crankiness. People are writing and saying things that can hurt and inspire hatred and it seems as if society is becoming more tolerant of it. We are finding ourselves in a tsunami of emotions, and often fear and anger emerge as the prominent ones. Nastiness is becoming the new normal.

So how do we keep from being dragged into a negative whirlpool? How do we heal? How can we help to make things better? Here are some things I have found to be helpful:

Resist the temptation to participate in vitriolic conversation. You can feel passion for a cause without spewing negative word vomit! Channel your anger. Of course we should all feel offended by the hatred that causes horrific events, but we need to use it as an impetus for doing something positive. Volunteer, donate, express support for victims, or participate in any positive activity that will keep you from feeling helpless and frightened.

 

Reject the notion that it is OK to blame, shame, or bully.

Don’t forget joy! It seems counterintuitive to feel a sense of joy when others are experiencing pain. Joy doesn’t mean that you are skipping around and pretending nothing happened, nor is it always about being carefree. Joy is a part of who we are as human beings; it is a starting point for healing. To find joy is to find that place in your heart which defies hopelessness.

Become proactive in spreading kindness. Although our first reaction is often to make our point with violence and rage; standing up for what we believe is sometimes more effectively communicated with an attitude of confident kindness. Perpetuating hatred does nothing but spawn more mean spirited talk and actions. It causes us to become blinded to possibilities. Being kind is not the same as being weak. We have seen what hatred can do and it’s not working very well for us.

 

Linda Henley-Smith  http://www.lindahenley-smith.com  laughlady1950@gmail.com

What’s In It For Me?

February 20, 2017

This is a question that drives almost every decision we make. Those words are subconscious messages from the naughty little voices that we sometimes hear chattering in the back of our minds. Sadly, they sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing because our egos stand in the way.

Most of us probably want to take the moral high ground, but life can get complicated and the world seems to be going at an incredibly fast pace. It sometimes feels as if we can barely hang on and handle our own challenges without taking on someone else’s issues. And there are those situations which involve someone hurting our feelings or competing with us for something we want or need. Are we really supposed to step out of our own ego bubbles and defy our “I have to look out for number one” inclinations? And what if it seems that other people benefit from our work even more than we do and we don’t get credit for it?

Here are some possible thought processes that we might experience: If someone hurts me, why should I forgive him? Sure…he may be off the hook for what he did, but what’s in it for me? Someone needs help; I really don’t have the time and it will be an inconvenience. Lending a hand would make life much easier for that person, but what’s in it for me? After all, we all need to look out for ourselves, don’t we? Someone is being mistreated or bullied. I could intervene and stand up for him, but then I would have to get involved and if I do that…what’s in it for me? Why should I work hard to make life easier for someone else…what’s in it for me?

Yikes! What a dilemma! Or is it? Speaking for myself and my own experiences, here is what I have found to be the answer to the “what’s in it for me?” question:

  • The phrase, “what goes around, comes around” is true most of the time. What we send out usually returns to us. Negativity and mean spiritedness usually come back to bite you in the booty; kindness returns to you tenfold. We reap what we sow.
  • There is more peace in stepping out of yourself than there is in building walls around yourself. When you practice kindness for kindness’ sake, you find that the question of what you’re going to get out of it appears less frequently in your thoughts. There is a kind of contentment that comes with giving and forgiving without expecting acknowledgement or credit.
  • There is a lot to be said for paying it forward. Attitude is like ripples in a pond when a stone has been thrown in. When you are kind to someone, you are increasing the likelihood of that person passing it on to others. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And it works in reverse; as well…snarkiness breeds snarkiness. Don’t be the one who starts the snarky cycle.
  • This is an important one: We are all part of a continuum. Everything that we accomplish; inventions, medical advances, even our philosophies are possible because of those who came before us. We build upon their knowledge, discoveries, and work. Nobody creates anything totally alone….it is a cumulative process involving generations of people. Our ancestors worked and possibly sacrificed to pass onto us, a better life. We are all stewards of the accomplishments and knowledge that have been passed down and it is our responsibility to use them to make the world a better place with everything we do…without asking “what’s in it for me?”

The universe has a way of balancing things out. What’s in it for us is that we get to be part of a magnificent continuous thread that is this life. But if you are still having trouble doing the right thing because you’re not sure what’s in it for you, offer yourself an incentive…something nice, like chocolate. It works for me! But…I’m easily bribed.

Your Amazing Brain & What You Can Do With It

February 16, 2017

Several years ago, I experienced a traumatic shock, and while it isn’t important to elaborate on the details, it’s enough to say that it turned my world upside down. People talk about PTSS as it relates to people who have returned from war but it is very possible for anyone to be a victim of the “after shocks” of a traumatic event.

In light of my experience, I did a lot of research and became fascinated by the workings of our brains and how we can change or alter our thought patterns. I learned about the science of neuroplasticity. The term is derived from the words Neuron and Plastic. Obviously, neuron refers to the neural cells in your brain and plasticity means to mold or modify. So neuroplasticity is the science that explains the potential that your brain has to create new neural pathways; basically changing the way you think. Cool, huh?

The more I learned, the more I realized that I had the capability of reorganizing my thoughts and I really needed to do something to get out of the negative spiral I was in. And I realized that it was going to take some action on my part.

Think of it this way, when you memorize a song, you do so by constantly repeating the lyrics and singing it over and over again until it’s locked in. You have created a neuropath which allows you to remember that song. Suppose you decide to put new words to that song, like a parody. How do you do it? The same way…you sing it over and over and over again until you have created a new neuropath.

If you play an instrument or if you are a dancer, you know the concept of muscle memory. Your brain remembers the steps of a dance or where you put your fingers on your instrument. The science is fascinating and complex, but the concept is simple. As it relates to getting past a fearful mindset, you have the ability to change a negative thought pattern into a more positive one. But just as in singing a song, playing the piano, or dancing, you have to practice. If you are going to change a thought, you have to apply action!

That means that you have to begin to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You can’t just leave an empty spot, or those troll thoughts will jump right back in! When I was teaching, I used to ask my students to answer a riddle. Here it is: Five frogs sat on a log and one decided to jump into the water. How many frogs were left on the log?

The answer is…..FIVE frogs were left on the log because one only DECIDED to jump into the water, but took no action!

I am not a doctor….but I am a DIVA and that stands for Delighting In Victorious Attitude and I think we all deserve to have an attitude of altitude!

 

I would love to work with you! I offer one-on-one and group coaching classes as well as keynotes, seminars, and trainings.

www.lindahenley-smith.com Contact me at laughlady1950@gmail.com

Is Kindness Being Kicked to the Curb?

February 3, 2017

Okay….so the world seems to be in an uproar. People are getting nastier. Conversations about life’s joys have given away to social and political arguments. You don’t like what you see going on. You are afraid. You are coming into contact with more and more people who are hostile toward anyone who does not share their opinion. You have three ways to deal with the situation:

  1. You can lose all hope, ring your hands while crying “Oh woe is me!” and join the prestigious yet highly overrated Victim Club. (Not a good idea.)
  2. You can let your anger grow to a fever pitch and allow it to define who you are. If you lose all of your rational thinking abilities and scream at people who make you angry, you can feel justified in your rage while accomplishing nothing. You can also let your life be dictated by the actions of others, and develop anger-induced vein bulges…those are attractive. (Nope…not this one either.)
  3. You can take a stand for a cause in which you believe… without being a troll. When people are nasty, don’t jump right into the bubbling cauldron of snarkiness with them because all that will accomplish is an overcrowded snark pot! Try to let your voice be heard on a higher level, speak up for your beliefs, and lighten up your corner of the world by spreading kindness; even to those who don’t really seem to deserve it. (Choose this one!)

Here is the deal: there are some things over which we have control and others about which we can do nothing. We CAN’T always make others think the way we do. We CAN take a stand against bullying, injustice, abuse, discrimination, and unkindness. We CAN control our attitudes and actions and we can do more to create positive change by staying focused on it rather than just spewing angry rhetoric. In a war of angry words, nobody hears each other.

Does this mean that if there is a mean spirited action or injustice being perpetrated, we should just smile and sing Kumbaya? No, it is about being smart with our thoughts and actions and it’s about being focused and taking positive action with a plan. Of course we should stand for what is right, but while we are fighting against what is wrong, we can’t lose sight of the importance of expressing kindness and respect in our everyday lives, lest we become so embroiled in negativity that we lose sight of the goodness in the world. Along with fighting what is harmful, dangerous, and unjust, we must, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

There are those who will say that this is no time to laugh, express joy, or be kind. I have been told that I am being childish and/or ineffective by refusing to be drawn into negative screaming matches or angry social media posts. I’ve also been told that by showing respect and kindness to people with whom I disagree, I appear weak and risk becoming a doormat. Hmmm. I have looked at myself in the mirror and can’t find the word WELCOME stamped anywhere on my body. I believe that there is strength in standing up for what is right without becoming rabid! And I will always believe that kindness is a part of humanity that must be preserved. Showing compassion to someone does not mean that you necessarily agree with their views or lifestyle. It simply means that you respect another person’s right to exist on this planet.

Being kind does not make you weak, finding joy in life does not mean that you don’t care about what’s going on in the world, and focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that you are sticking your head in the sand. We are stronger when we are balanced in mind, body, and spirit. Let your anger at inequities and injustices impel you to work toward making things better. Let your compassion, hope, joy, and kindness be your weapons in the battle.

I offer one-on-one and group coaching. Check out http://www.lindahenley-smith.com or e-mail me at linda@lindahenley-smith.com

Bamboo, Bonsai and Lotus Flowers

January 10, 2017

There are so many lessons to be learned from nature yet some of us zoom through life and take many things for granted. I am in awe of things that grow up from the ground. Sadly, I do not have a green thumb. I love plants and would be thrilled if they didn’t cower in fear when I pass by. I am doing better, though…at least the local nursery has taken down the “warning!” posters with my face on them.

I have discovered something about myself and that is that apparently I lack the patience necessary to be a successful gardener. I have been working on that because the growth and flourishment of flowers, trees and plants is a metaphor for life. I’m learning that many of my frustrations and questions about my own life can be better understood by taking note of how things grow in nature. They don’t care about other plants’ time schedules; they don’t take shortcuts nor do they worry about what other plants think of them. Their goal seems to be to put forth the beauty and wonder for which they were created.

Most of us have heard these things, yet in our “busyness” we need to be reminded. So as a refresher course in finding peace and calmness, consider these three natural “teachers.”

Bamboo: Talk about patience! After being planted, bamboo may not grow or even show itself for years and then one day, it will shoot up at an astronomical rate of speed. I have been told that certain species of bamboo can grow three feet in twenty-four hours! I have a silly mental picture of a bamboo farmer peering down at the ground wondering where the plant is and having it shoot up and hit him on the nose. Of course that wouldn’t really happen. Bamboo is incredibly flexible because it has a strong root system which allows it to sway and bend without breaking. I can draw a parallel to my life when I have worked hard to build something…perhaps a relationship or a business, and I’ve become frustrated when things didn’t move as quickly as I wanted. I have had to depend on the groundwork…the support system I have nurtured and remain flexible and confident as I wait for the results.

Bonsai: If you ever watched the movie The Karate Kid, you’ll remember how the Bonsai master told his student to see, in his mind’s eye, how the tree should look. If he couldn’t visualize it, there needed to be some clutter removed from his thoughts. In a sense, he needed to prune the tree in his mind before he ever started touching it. He certainly didn’t want to start chopping and trimming without a vision. That is how we need to move forward in our plans for life. We often cannot see where we need to go or what we ought to do through all of the doubts, fears, regrets and other negative thoughts that take up residence in our heads. Sometimes we need to prune away the useless branches in order to shape and define our goals and clear the path to reach them.

Lotus Flowers: It is strange to think that such beautiful blossoms could thrive and grow in dirt and mud. They are beautiful reminders that at times, we all find ourselves feeling as if we are sinking into murky mire. During those times, it helps to remember that we will eventually rise from the muck and once again grow and thrive in the sunlight. Sometimes, the mud is necessary for us to center our thoughts, put things into proper perspective and find balance.

This year, I am promising myself to slow down and smell the roses, so to speak. I don’t want to go through life and leave it never having paid attention and embraced the lessons that nature offers us. I hope you will take a walk in a garden, forest or meadow as well and see what you learn!

 

I would love to talk with you about how I might work with you.

www.lindahenley-smith.com, laughlady1950@gmail.com

A New Year and New Possibilities

January 4, 2017

The gift giving is done. The hectic days of frantically shopping for just the right gift and last minute preparations for Holiday dinners are over. What seemed so important a few days ago…the things that caused some people to be so stressed that even their teeth were tense, have come and gone. At my house, all of the hustle and bustle; the planning, the shopping, the wrapping and the opening of presents culminates in 10 1/2 minutes of chaotic package ripping, wrapping paper flinging and food gobbling. Then I find myself sitting in a house that looks like Christmas exploded, with tinsel behind my ears and a sink full of turkey and pie encrusted dishes. The house is in such disarray that it would be easier to just move, rather than to clean it.

The gifts that were exchanged were fun. We always try to give what we think our friends and loved ones would want, even if it is a fragrance with a sexy sounding name in a foreign language, which actually translates into “Scent of Healthy Hedgehogs” or an exercise video which focuses on tightening loose armpits. But there are always the unexpected and entertaining offerings that surprise and amuse, like watching 87 year old Aunt Flossie opening up a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret and wondering if that store carries bras in a size 38 long.

Next, we commenced with the New Year’s festivities. Since New Year’s Eve is my birthday (which is, of course, why everyone in the world celebrates), my grandchildren traditionally take me out to play Laser Tag and eat pizza. So this time of year is really special to me, and full of non-stop celebration. But, then comes the New Year and the partying is done. No more gifts and no more decorations. Time for real life…ouch.

I’m trying to be mature about it because I’m allegedly a grown up. But I must admit that I feel a little let down when I have to put my Holiday stuff into storage and the world is finished commemorating the day of my birth by dropping a ball in Times Square. (Yes…I know that’s not really why they do it, but don’t take my fantasy away from me.)

So, as we head into the next 365 days, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with them. It’s really metaphorical to think of a New Year as a new beginning, because really; every day can be a new beginning, but for some reason, it seems as if we are given special permission to wipe the slate clean and begin anew when we take down the old calendar and hang up a fresh new one. Every January 1, I feel like whatever happened in the past year is history, and I get “do-overs.” It’s like when I used to clean out my desk at the end of the school year; gathering up unfinished homework papers, broken pencils and chewed up erasers; throwing them into the trash can and knowing that they didn’t matter anymore and I’d have a new start next school year. Even if my life was a natural disaster, there would be a new beginning and a new opportunity to do things differently and maybe even better. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who chewed on erasers.)

We know that every moment is a choice and no matter what goes on in the world, we have the ability to decide how we’re going to deal with each situation. When we listen to the Terror Trolls and the Negative Nellies, who constantly focus on the woes of the world, we are taking time and energy away from the positive possibilities and opportunities that can provide us with joy, success and peace. As I always say, Remember that this group of letters can be read in two ways, which one will you choose?

                                                    OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

I am a speaker and coach who teaches people how to find and grow their joy and live the life they love.  www.lindahenley-smith.com, laughlady1950@gmail.com, 602-686-5180

I’m starting a new online program “How to Find Your Hallelujah!” Contact me for details and start 2017 with a bang!

 

 

JOYISNOWHERE

December 7, 2016

Ahhhh….the Holidays! It’s the most wonderful time of the year….or is it? For some, December brings parties, decorations, carol singing and visions of sugar plums. For others, it is a stressful and sometimes lonely time and the fa la las remind them of what is wrong in their lives; what they had and lost or never had at all.

Some people become cranky around this time of year and may walk around with an expression that makes you wonder if their pants are in a bunch. As those who know me have heard me say, you don’t want your pants in a bunch because it does no good and just makes you walk funny. Besides, there are certain places that are not meant to be flossed…and the pant area is one of them!

It’s important not to judge people who seem to have lost their sense of joy, because they are probably in a sad and scary place in their lives. Joy has left the building and left a big empty spot that has been filled by misery or fear or anger or another emotional troll.

Joy is not as elusive as some might think and it’s not the same as happiness.   Happiness often depends on an outside source to make it happen, whereas joy comes from within.  Joy abides with us even in times of trouble because it thrives on hope and if we keep hope alive, joy will remain even when other things fall away.

Joy is rather indescribable; it is a peace that passes all understanding. It doesn’t depend on a perfect life, wealth, success, or any of the things we have been led to believe are necessary in order to be a joyful person. Joy can be nurtured by choosing to have an attitude of gratitude and by moving away from your own disappointments, grief, and fears in order to extend kindness and help to others who may be in need.

Joy can be found in the beauty of nature, in hope for a better tomorrow, and in the face of a child. It grows stronger with each small victory over fear and when shared with someone else, it is the gift that keeps on giving! Joy is a spark inside of you that can light up the world!

The thing about joy is that you have to be on the lookout for it and invite it in. Some will choose to read JOYISNOWHERE as joy is nowhere. Hopefully, many will read it as joy is now here! If you meet someone who seems to have lost track of their joy, I hope you will give them some of yours.

I wish you all a Merry and JOYFUL Holiday Season! If you open yourself up to it, joy is NOW Here!