The Balancing Act

Life is a huge circus and you’re the tight rope walker.

-Liz McKenzie

At any given time, any one of us can be juggling a cluster of life’s necessities in one hand – education, work, family, religious and social obligations, etc – and the residual effects of life’s necessities in the other hand – happiness, sadness, stress, contentment, fatigue, etc.

In order to remain functional, you have to compose a modus operandi that will keep you from becoming a casualty of your own gravitational pull.

Finding the right balance between the various aspects of your life is critical to the progression of your purpose.

You manuever through milestones towards your goals but not without a teeter here and a totter there.

If any one element demands or steals more of your time, the other areas will be starved of the energy required to keep you balanced.

1. First things first. You have to want balance. You are who you say you are and you can do whatever you set your mind up to do; whether it’s to fail or succeed. Therefore, making a conscious effort to seek a healthy balance in your life puts you in a better position to obtain it.

2. Identify your life components. In order to understand where you’re off-balance, you need to be familiar with…well, YOU. What are your daily activities and your obligations, your needs and your wants. Where do they rival?

3. Prioritize. Now that you know the who and the what’s put them in their place. It’s not always easy to tell your wants to take a backseat to your needs. It’s even harder to distinguish which need you should tackle first. I wish I could pinpoint it for you but, unfortunately, only you can sort through that stack.

4. Break it down. You won’t find balance in one lump sum and you won’t be able to magically pull it out of a hat. It takes time, patience and work! Set short and long-term goals to facilitate habit and to monitor your progress. So you can celebrate, of course!!!

5. Speaking of break, don’t forget to take one. Physical and mental fatigue are vultures when it comes to balance. It’s okay to walk away or find a mental retreat to help rebuild your momentum.

6. Share the load. Even Superman needed help. Enlisting people you trust with tasks that can be executed without your physical presence frees up a lot of time for you to tend to another part of your garden.

7. No is a real word. Sometimes, maintaining your balance means saying no. You can’t be everywhere at once or do everything everybody wants you to. Your stamina won’t stand for it and your balance will suffer. Choose your participation wisely, not every situation pairs well with your goals.

8. Activate your social namaste. All work and no play makes Jack and Jill B-O-R-I-N-G! The key is finding the right people to relax, relate, and release with. Spend time with people who invigorate and nurture and support you. Stay away from negative vibes!

9. Family Ties. Your family is one of the reasons why you strive for more in life. Take time to give them your undivided attention. Memories last forever so make some.

10. Don’t forget your needs. I saved the best for last! You are pivotal to maintaining your balance so, naturally, you need to cater to yourself. So what does your happy dance look like? Massage, meditation, exercise, hobbies, connecting with your spirituality. Whatever it is, make time for it.

11. Leave the guilt behind! I felt it was important to throw this in because it was one of my personal offenses. It’s almost shameful to hear me say that when I used to “steal” time for myself, I FELT GUILTY!! What kind of fraggernackle bull cocky is that? Why the heck should anyone feel remorseful for taking care of themselves and doing what makes them happy? You’re not stealing time, it’s yours! Drop the guilt!! You don’t it. It serves no purpose to you. It’s a fake supporter to your cause!

I hope these tips are able to assist you on your journey to stabilizing your balance.

I am always eager to hear what works for you so feel free to share!

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An Attitude for Gratitude

G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E!

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful and a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude helps you bring recognition to the value of every aspect of your life and the lives of others.

In my observations, it was apparent that while people issued thank you’s, there was a huge gap between the thank you and the gratitude.

1499365595873and realized that I was just as guilty of not overindulging in it as so many others.

To be honest, when I first began this journey into the dissection of gratitude, saying thank you and being grateful was one big melted crayon. I wasn’t aware that they were two separate entities that were co-dependent on one another.

Consider this:

In the supermarket, an elderly couple were waiting for the cashier to ring up their items. The wife left the line and returned with ice cream sandwiches. She said to her husband, “I know how much you like these so I grabbed you a box”. The husband, who had been looking at a magazine never glanced up but said, “Thanks”. grandparents-962866_640The wife became visibly irritated and told her husband he was very ungrateful. He looked up and said, “What? I said thank you”.

At home that night, the supermarket couple came to mind. This time in a different way. While I could only see the side of her face, the elderly woman’s posture gave away her disappointment in her husband’s, seemingly, lack of appreciation for her thoughtfulness.

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At the same time, her husband, whose face was in full view when he turned to look at her, had an expression of genuine shock and confusion because he overestimated the power in his thank you.

It was easy to put myself in both of their shoes. I understood what made her feel unappreciated and I also understood why he thought thank you was enough. There was a void of gratitude or, at the very least, their use of it was very weak.

Here’s another one:

When your mind is set on something the expectation is that you get what you see at face value. You tend to not plan for deviations. You know what you want and you expect to get it.

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For almost 2 weeks, a friend’s car had been out-of-order. I offered to transport her to and from work until her vehicle was ready. One day, however, I was not going to be available and, 2 days prior, she was informed that she would need to find an alternate way to get to work.

She was bothered instead of being grateful that, for 9 work days out of 10, I made sure that she made it to and from a workplace that I was not employed (I work from home). She allowed one deviation to drop a nest of entitled hornets into her happiness bag.

The verdict was clear. When you are not well versed in gratitude, one stray hair can ruin your whole hairstyle.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude humbles the materialistic selfish desires of the human nature and teaches you to recognize the value of what is already in your possession.

You learn to appreciate more what you have and look forward to what can be yours and then you learn to appreciate that. You learn to celebrate what’s current and constant in your life and, through it all, your happiness increases.

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I started thinking about the countless times I was less than appreciative. Those times when my thank you just didn’t match my gratitude and I was NOT impressed.

If you thought about yours, how many could you count? (Hint-Even one is too many).

In comes the gratitude challenge.

The act or expression of gratitude has taken a backseat to narcissism-but not always on purpose. Sometimes it gets rusty and dusty from under-utilization.

I created this challenge is to encourage you to:

  1. Look at yourself. Where you have been, where you want to go, and where you could possibly end up. Your vision can change with the blink of an eye.
  2. Look outside of yourself. gratitude-1251137_640Recognize that you’re not as self-sufficient as you think you are. From the insects to the sun and the gardeners to the teachers, there is someone doing something beneficial to you.
  3. Look to those around you. Be willing to be a source of direct and indirect motivation, positivity and generosity. In some way, someone at sometime was all those things to you.

I believe gratitude is something that should come full circle but it has to start somewhere. In order to make big, meaningful and permanent changes you have to:

  • Make the decision to change
  • Make the committment to change and
  • Start small
  • Share your gratitude and teach others to recognize and appreciate their own beautiful messes.

Once you start living intentionally in gratitude, the world will open up, take on a new look and have new meaning. Are you ready? (Click the image below).

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I’m Ready For The Challenge!

WEDNESDAY PEP-TALK

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Move to the beat of your own drum. Everyone is not going to support you on your journey and some people will try to convince you that you’re going the wrong way. That’s why it’s so important to develop and strengthen your knowledge of self. When you know who you are, what you want, and where you want to go, it’s easier to filter and dispel the naysayers and success blockers. Tune out the obstacles and keep moving.

A Place For Everything

What’s a gal to do? I am almost envious of you awesome bloggers who can so eloquently and creatively share your footprints in the sand. The niches of the blogging world are endless and you guys dress it up beautifully!!

As I become Dora la exploradora in my mind, I venture off on a niche adventure to walk in your shoes.

Here’s what I got so far:

Fashion – Well, I’m not really big on fashion and can’t, for the life of me, figure out the makeup maze.IMG_0192 Anything past lip gloss and eyeliner would require lifeguard assistance… or some balloons, big red shoes, and a big red nose.

Art & Design – NOT. A. CLUE. IMG_0196Next

Money Business– Oh you money savvy sweethearts! Where do you come from? From what cloth are you cut? If only I could have one single drop of your financially free, coupon cutting, sale soliciting blood run through my veins.

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👍🏾TOTAL FLOP👎🏾

Health & Fitness – I like donuts and hate exercise. I’ve been doomed from my first bite. The end.

Foodies – Thank you for recipes that help maintain my fluffiness.

Pets – Let’s see… well, I do have a 65lb dog

who thinks he’s a cat and an 8lb cat whom we, seriously, call Cujo Kitty.

I may be able to get Cesar Milan and Jackson Galaxy on board for an awesome premier of cat-dog live.

Hmm…

Guess I better have a chocolate-2202127_640 because I’m not myself when I’m hungry.

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So, here it goes.

Walking in your shoes is DEFINITELY not MY niche. I would probably be my only follower if I even attempted to recreate the greatness of any of you.

So why do people do it?

Why replicate when you are already in possession of an original? IMG_0190 Why do people venture so far out of their zone to dance with success?

My guess? Chlorophyll. Yep, that must be it! Chlorophyll gives grass all of that rich, vibrant green color and the other side is full of it.

I don’t doubt the vanity of the green over yonder. You shouldn’t either. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t even ping on your radar if your “agenda” is to succeed in your own element, in your own shell, in your own shoes; filled with your own interests, your own experiences and your own point of view.sheep-161389_640

If your agenda is nothing more than to imitate then please, by all means, continue to gaze and graze.

Guess #2 Self Doubt. If, in your mind, success is only achievable by becoming a surrogate to and of someone else’s hopes, dreams and hard work skeptical-2245968_640 then you are, unfortunately, a stranger to the meaning of success and possess a great amount of self-doubt.

Believe you can and you will succeed or fail.

Guess #3 Fear. We all have it and that’s ok!  I guess, it seems easier and safer to do what someone else has already done. equilibrist-1831016_640 (1) The risk factor is already subdued, right. Not at all. You still run a risk of mistake and failure.

Why not take the mistakes from YOUR ideas and learn from them? Why not use your failures as a pilot for your dreams. What doesn’t work go back in and rewrite it. Don’t let fear rationalize and minimize your potential.

Everyone and everything has its own place in this kooky world. It’s up to you to find yours.

 

Just a little food for thought

Are you happy with what you see and where you’re going? It’s not too late to make some changes.

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What is one thing you think you need to change that would be beneficial to your future? Is it a work in progress or is something holding you back? What do you need to do to make it happen?

The future is not set in stone until it becomes yesterday.

#makeachoice

#makeaplan

#makeithappen

 

It’s The Simple Things

Can you believe it? The year is halfway complete!  While we were doting on one task or other, Father Time whispered sweet nothings into the winds of Mother Nature’s kiss.

When we weren’t looking, Autumn turned to Winter and Winter became Spring as Summer patiently waits in the shadows.

Amid the changes of the seasons, some of us may have gotten caught up in the rapture of one task or other and forgot to stop and breathe.

You put off for tomorrow what should have been done today…3 (hundred) times over. Tomorrow, you will make that call. Tomorrow, you will stop by to say hello. Tomorrow, you will spend more quality time with friends and family.

Sometimes, tomorrow doesn’t come. Sometimes, that last hello is the final goodbye.

Life will always leave us with some regret. We’re not superhuman and can’t be everywhere each and every time but we can -and should- make time for the little things. For the simple things. It’s those little things that mean so much to someone whom you care for.

 

How Self-Love Can Help You Succeed.

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#theonlythingyouneedtoseeisYOU

Last week, I spoke about finding your purpose. I feel it’s important to be driven by something (your purpose) that is meant to magnify not only the happiness in your life but also in the lives of those you encounter.

You see, when you feel good about yourself you are in a better position to influence the direction your life goes and encourage and uplift others along the way. For that reason, I am ranking self-love one notch higher on the priority front over finding your purpose.

I have paid tribute to, in various degrees, self-love in a few of my posts. If you missed any of them, click here for the one about happiness, or here for my thoughts on committment. Maybe positivity is what you’re lacking. This is just for you.

The way in which you identify with yourself has strong direct and indirect influence in how you identify with every aspect of your life. Adorning your id and ego gives a dramatic boost to your super ego. So why not show up and show out for yourself in whatever fashion suits your fancy.

Before you can move forward on your journey through the valley of self-love, however, you have to get your affairs in order. Holding on to anger, animosity, and disdain from any situation will only help you remain stagnant.

Be it something done by you or to you, recognize that it didn’t break you. It taught you. In the heat of the moment you might have missed the lesson but now you are cool. Think about what you have experienced and what could have been done differently through a positive light.

 Remember that you cannot always control the external stimulus but you can control your reaction to it. This is how you regain and maintain control of self and replace hate with love.

Next, say goodbye to all the BADS…bad habits, bad relationships, and bad friendships. Let it go. Anything or anyone who deviates away from the direction you want to grow has no place in your circle. Why? Keeping them is the equivalent of trying to grow lucky bamboo plants in direct sunlight. You will get burned!

Now that you have preened your garden, you have the room to plant the seeds of self-love.

It’s not selfish to tend to your needs. I, for one, have had my share of guilt in neglecting my own needs for the sake of others. No one can, will or should commit to your needs more than you. Taking time out for yourself is refreshing. When you’re refreshed, you’re better equipped to handle the what’s next in your success story.

Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. The way you carry and speak of yourself is highly contagious. Lead by example and set boundaries for what is and is not acceptable when it come to you and, most importantly, STICK TO IT! Allowing others to dictate your life doesn’t pull them into your mindset. It dissolves you in theirs.

Lather yourself with physical, emotional and spiritual gifts. All things that make you feel great are good!!! Life comes at you hard. So every opportunity that presents to uplift your spirits and rejuvenate your mind should be taken. When an opportunity doesn’t come…MAKE ONE!!!

What The Beauty In Self-Love Is Not…

The world is full of beauty. Your beauty, however, is unique to you. What you see on tv and in pictures or read in books may not accurately depict YOUR state of extraordinary. Trying to mimic what you see is a mistake.

Beauty is not just your physical appearance. It’s not just a pretty face or attractive body.

It’s definitely not a cosmetic enhancement-though with the many advertisements and videos, it’s easy to see why and how one can be conditioned to believe it is.

The bad news: if all you have is everything mentioned above then what you really have is limitations.

The good news: that’s not really all you have. You just have to take the time to get to know you, embrace what you find…The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and make it what you will.

Loving yourself is so detrimental to the success of your endeavors throughout your lifetime. How you portray yourself is the face value at which you will be taken.

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Finding Your Purpose In A Sea Of Purposeless

As you get older you learn to appreciate the minor nuances of your childhood.  If only your most devastating problems, now, were solved with a quick trip to the toy store or a kiss to make it all better.

Then adulthood happens. You go from piggyback rides to car notes and from building sand castles to paying rent and mortgages. You go from having someone make all of your life decisions to being the sole proprietor of your fate.

Your past has a way of ejecting you into a present era of an unforeseen future, at least unforeseen by you.  For now, you probably feel like you’re surrounded by mixed molecules of emotion from different sets of people. Some that matter and some that never will. Some that speak with purpose and others who are the epitome of purposeless.

I’m with you on that. After years of moving through what I thought was beatitude with moments of gloom, the realization hit that instead I have moved through years of sorrow with the occasional glimpse of joy.

It seems that so many -too many- people have not mastered the art of self. So many people, myself included, have a profound disconnect with their purpose in life and too many others, sadly, wouldn’t be able to save their life if they had to put a name to their purpose.

Finding your purpose.

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Don’t sit around waiting in the grips of hope, grace and mercy while praying that your purpose is out there looking for you and that at any moment your doorbell will ring. You can’t think it and expect it to miraculously appear. You need to experience it, experiment with it, and try it on to make sure it’s the perfect fit.

Finding your purpose requires the knowledge of two simple mathematical processes. You have to know how to add and when to subtract. Anything that interferes with your progress or downplays the importance of your purpose has to go. Seek out those things that uplift and teach because if you’re not learning you’re not growing. You will never be able to experience the amazing things the world has to offer and you will always be imprisoned by the limitations of your mind.

How do I find my purpose? Wait… What is a purpose again?

Your purpose is your passion-even if it’s constantly evolving.

Did you get that?  I said evolving NOT changing.

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Your purpose can’t be a home designer today and a summer camp counselor/salon stylist tomorrow. You can experience those things on your journey to your purpose but once you find the one thing the really drives you, the flip-flopping ends and the evolution begins.

When you evolve, you take what you have, what you’re passionate about and what you love and you grow with it. You strategize on how to make it a bigger, better, beautiful and beneficial transformation.

caterpillars evolve into butterflies**wink wink**

How do I find it?

Step outside of your comfort zone.

Your comfort zone, while a sanctuary of rest, relaxation and comfort, can be the killer of all purposes. Your comfort zone does not contain enough oxygen to help your bravado thrive. It ensures stability but only within the rights of its own foundation. Comfort zones do not offer challenge, variation, or experience. They are mile markers that indicate you have successfully reached the end of a phase in your life. The period to your life sentence. It’s up to you to start a new paragraph.

Leave the fear behind.

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Fear is one of our many natural instincts. It is also one of those things that we can afford to turn our backs on.

To succeed, you have to stop allowing your fear of the unknown dictate how much success you will endure. When there’s something out there that you really want, go and get it.

Mistakes are lessons not failures. 

I don’t know anyone who enjoys making mistakes. Do you?  Discovering your purpose in life means changing the way you view things. Things like mistakes. I have learned that mistakes can make you better. They are the gateway to learning and growth. Yes, they may be accompanied by  bits of embarrassment and slivers of shame but those feelings don’t have to be forever. The knowledge you gain…that’s forever.

Someone else’s experience cannot define your purpose.

If it worked for them it will work for you.

The lie detector test determined that was a lie.

Likewise, if a situation did not yield the results someone else wanted, that does not mean that situation will not set a positive course of events for you. Take your time and consider the options available to you. Rationalize your situation and the direction you would like to go to succeed. Life is not eternal but it sucks big hairy balls to live the life you have according to someone elses desires. Make your decisions count.

Your circle should not move counter-clockwise from your goals.

It’s no secret that friends are an important part of your social interactive growth. Whether good or bad, there’s no better way to stop and smell the roses or hit the ground running than with those you hold near and dear.

But, but, but….

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Not all friendships were meant to support your growth and, for no reason other than the gravitational pull of life, some are just not capable of being a part of the support system you need to succeed. Other friendships, however, are toxic to your dreams and will only put in good effort to see you fail. Your life is your garden to grow what you will as you will. Don’t let weeds ruin it.

Surround yourself with people who seek elevation. Build networks with those who understand and appreciate the importance of hard work and encouragement.

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Daily Inspiration: Choosing Happiness

Happiness- the characterization or indication of pleasure,contentment, or joy.

Sound familiar?

Responses I like to hear to that are-

Yesss!

That’s the best!

Or even, I know that feeling!!

Usually, however, I get-

Huh?

Umm, yeah…sure.

Right, I guess.

For a long time I was guilty of the latter and I must admit I, occasionally, still have slips and dips into the land of uncertainty when it comes to my happiness.

The thought of happiness should emit mental imagery similar to the feel of soft cotton sheets against freshly cleansed skin. Unfortunately for some, it signifies the search for the last cotton candy colored unicorn in a field of spineless cacti on a cool day in hell.

It may not always seem true or possible but our happiness is just that. OURS and, sometimes, we make the biggest mistake with it. We give it away to people and situations not worthy of it and replenish it less because, well, happiness is also reciprocated and there are far too many people who lose theirs in the same shuffled deck of cards that you do.

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No one wants to see you happier than you do and it’s foolish of you to think otherwise. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the “Look” that other people present as their lives but sometimes looks can be and are meant to be deceiving.

You are like no other and no other is like you. Embrace that! Self acceptance is the diamond engagement ring to your happiness. It may be one of the only priceless things that only you can afford to have that can’t be replicated.

When you love yourself you recognize your strengths, weaknesses, struggles, mistakes and accomplishments as equal contributors to the definition of you. You accept the fact that life isn’t always sweet but any lemons bestowed upon you are yours and yours alone to make a lemonade suitable to your taste.

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We all experience situations that, if ever granted that one special wish, we would want erased permanently from our life record. Of course, that is not an option! So what do we do? We carry every hour of the past into every day of the present. We torment ourselves. We allow our memories to keep us trapped in an emotional quicksand. The more we fight the more we sink.

Let It Go! Let go of everything that is rooted to that situation. It is weighing you down and preventing you from being free to be happy.

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I know I’ve said it before and I know you’ll hear it again, no one wants to see you happier than you do. Some people don’t want to see you happy at all! Your happiness intimidates them. It angers them. Usually, it’s because they don’t know how to be happy for themselves.

Defeat their regime. Kill them with kindness. Shower them with everlasting happiness. Bring them aboard the happy land train.

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There is a difference between sharing your happiness and giving it all away. When you give it away, it’s gone. There’s nothing left but shadows and misery. When you share your happiness, you invest in it. You make it stronger and, in the process, you allow someone else to gain strength from your happiness and build up theirs. It’s the type of contagion you want to spread.

Six steps to make on your yellow brick road to happiness:

  1. Happiness starts with change and change starts with choice. Choose to be happy. Every effort you make must be a conscious one toward happiness. Crowd your psyche is positivity and happiness will overflow.
  2. Be grateful. For everything, everyone, and every situation in your life…even the bad ones. Good things are capable of manifesting from the most boggling situations.
  3. Be you. Your life is not a competition. Don’t waste time trying to make yourself be like or better than someone else. It will make you too tired to stay awake for when your real self shows up.
  4. Learn forgiveness. Forgiveness frees you from the mental imprisonment caused by painful experiences. Don’t do it for the situation, do it for yourself.
  5. Make changes to your social circle. If you’re surrounded by sourpusses how can you expect happiness to flourish?
  6. Try a little R & R (resistance and resilience).  When trouble comes knocking say not my circus, not my monkeys and stand strong on your path to happiness. Resist the urge to be drawn into the negativities that surround you.

You deserve to be happy. Take the steps today to make it happen!

Cultivating a More Positive You.

Admitting that you have a problem is said to be the first step to recovery.

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My admission:

These past few weeks have been hella horrible trying to stay in the positive lane.

There! I said it! Now what? Does a pixie fly down and sprinkle me with some positive vibes dust? No? I didn’t think so.

I’ve been giving some serious thought to my recent lack of optimism and all around Growlygus persona (parents with little Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Fans will know exactly what I’m talking about).

I think I have it partially figured out. All around me life is happening. Not the life that I found, in an ironic way, comforting but a life that is evolving and leaves me unsure of how to react to it.

But evolving into what?

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When I turn on the tv there’s a circus of chaos. Turn on the radio-chaos. Go to the grocery store-conversations about the chaos. I feel like my not-so-happy thoughts are allowing me to be swallowed up by The Neverending Story’s Swamp of Sadness with The Nothing waiting in the shadows.

Yes, there are slivers of silver lining here and there but the mind has this neat trick that it does. It’s a pro at magnifying the negative to enormous proportions with little effort and highlighting the positive with invisible ink.

Am I the only one to feel the pressures of this rubix cube of current events? My intuition tells me no. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that, instead of being unsure of how to deal with the chaos, I should protest it…with positivity.

Oh about that….

Well, it seems my positivity needs a boost. It has taken quite a beating and I’m guessing yours has too.

We can’t change our view on our external environment if our internal windows are covered with mud.  ~Liz McKenzie

Here are some tips to help you mentally prepare for a day of positivity surrounded by the chaos monster:

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1. Go to bed!!! I don’t know about you but sleep has been a complete stranger to me. It visits but doesn’t stay long enough for us to get acquainted. I don’t know too many people who are able to foster a positive vibe with a tired mind. Look, whether you get a good night’s sleep or not, negativity will still be there. Having a well rested body and mind is the first line of defense to help you to combat it.

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2. Fuel your body. A cup of coffee, tea, some fruit. Whatever gets you going. Use it to rev up your positive self.

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3. Think about all the things in your life that you are grateful for. Your family, home, health, job, whatever it is that makes you happy. If you’re in a particularly rough time in your life, try writing those things that are a blessing to you in a journal as daily reminders of everything that brings you peace.

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4. Create a gratitude circle. Link up with individuals who can provide support as you all work to strengthen your positive thinking. Plan to send an email or text everyday of something you are grateful for. This is an excellent way to start your day on a positive note!

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5. Show those pearly whites. Who needs pixie’s and their magic dust when there’s magic in your smile? Smiling releases endorphins and serotonin that act as natural pain relievers, antidepressant and mood lifters. Trick your brain into a positive mood with a smile.

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6. Pay it forward. Spread positivity to those around you. Positivity doesn’t have to end with you but it’s a pretty awesome thing to start. Take advantage of your ability to uplift others!

Now, off you go to build your positivity portfolio!