Achieving Life Balance: How To Say No

Just listen to your heart. That’s what I do. Napoleon Dynamite

Saying no doesn’t always come easy.  Whether it’s your manager flooding you with last-minute-i-need-this-yesterday assignments, or your kid wanting to go to the mall NOW – there are times you say yes when you really want to say no.

Why do you do it? Why do you keep doing things for others and forget about what you want?  Has it been so long since you’ve considered what you want that you don’t even know any more?

Do you feel tired, restless, taken advantage of, or unhappy? Are you afraid to answer the phone because you know someone wants something from you and you can’t say no?

Doing something begrudgingly is not good for you. When you give of your time, emotions, and talents, it should stem from a sincere desire to want to do good, meet a need, or invest in someone’s future.

When you are overworked, stretched to the max, and leave little time for meeting your own need for recreation, and restoration, you are teetering on the edge of physical exhaustion and mental decline.

Excessive, prolonged stress is linked to burnout, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more really bad stuff.

Seek balance in your life. Take a good look at what you’ve been doing this week and see if there may be some things you should have said no to. Next time you feel that twinge in your gut, listen to it! The majority of people will understand a no. And if they don’t, then they just showed you their true self.

If you say yes when you really want to say no, try one of these suggestions.

Decline with grace. You can be nice, and feel honored if you were selected for a cool opportunity. You can’t say yes to every request or adventure, even if it sounds fun.  Hey, good to hear from you!  I really appreciate you thought of me for this assignment, but I will need to decline at this moment.  Maybe later down the road when things quiet down for me. Thanks for understanding.

Compromise. A sleepover sounds like fun! But not tonight. Let’s look at the calendar and pick another date that will work.  How about I take you kids out for ice-cream instead?

Advise an alternative. Often a person truly doesn’t know what else to do, it can be hard to problem solve your own dilemmas.  I can’t give you a ride to work. Are you near a bus route?  Have you considered using Uber? Is there a car pool you can find? Do you have a friend from church or your exercise class that can help?

Stall. If you really aren’t sure what to do, buy yourself time. Don’t be too quick to decline an opportunity. Saying yes can be a strategic move and may open a door to a rewarding path.  I can’t give you an answer this minute.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you.  How can I reach you, and when do you need my answer by?

Pass.  Just say no. Be nice, grateful, with the response nothing more than a simple, I’m sorry but I can’t help you.

Skip the details of why you can’t do something.  It’s too much blah blah blah. People don’t have the time to hear the why, they’ve got to go down their list of people, and you can be sure you probably weren’t their first call, and definitely not their last hope.

After you say no, don’t fret about it. We are so afraid of hurting feelings or letting a friend down that we end up second guessing ourselves and feel guilty for saying no. Don’t feel guilty for wanting balance in your life.  Plus think of how your (true) friend would feel if he found out you said yes  though your heart wasn’t in it.

Give it a try.  Next time someone asks if you can do the coffee run, if you can babysit, or if you can host Thanksgiving dinner, say,

 Thanks for thinking of me, but I need to pass. 

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Super Simple Tips for a Healthy, Happy Life!

Nearly everyone has heard of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. He taught that disease had a natural cause (as opposed to a supernatural), and that clinical observation was an essential aspect of “do no harm” medical care.

Hippocrates teachings were revolutionary at the time (400 BC), and while he may be the father of modern medicine, he has legions of sons/brothers/daughters/cousins and such who continue to build on his ideas.

One Roman fellow, Aulus Cornelius Celsus was a huge fan of Hippo and translated Hippocrates and other Greek writings to Latin. Celsus wasn’t a physician – yet he had a major influence on medical thinking and is known as having coined,

accurate diagnosis must precede treatment

Aulus was a wise man – see below for a link to his most famous work, the De Medicina.  I like his simple tips for staying healthy and happy. You won’t need to buy organic ancient seeds drenched in glacier mineral water, no special supplements or aloe vera cranberry infused gluten free goat milk smoothies, just no fuss stuff. Sounds like exactly what I tell my patients!

Super Simple Tips For A Happy, Healthy Life

  • Make your home bright and cheery, keep it clean and free of clutter. 
  • Get regular and varied exercise – include long, brisk walks.
  • Do not overeat! (George Burns followed this rule: he attributed his longevity to his practice of eating only half of whatever was on his plate).
  • Start your meals with greens. Eat apples, dates, or other fresh fruit for dessert.

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  • Drink wine only in moderation. If you are indulging nightly, take a break.
  • Get massages whenever you can.
  • Get plenty of fresh air all year round. 
  • Treat your digestive tract kindly: don’t overdue it with fatty, fried, processed, or junk food in general. Stay hydrated! 
  • Make sleep a priority. 
  • Surrounded yourself with friends, loved ones, and never forgo a yearly vacation.

 

Celsus (ca 25 BC—ca 50) was considered to be way ahead of his time in regards to his teachings on maintaining good health. Ironic he died so young. His suggestions are common sense and accepted practices. I will overlook his blood-letting instructions and vomit obsessions. After all, none of us are perfect.

If you want to know what Celsus had to say about such things as treating gangrenous mouth lesions, agglutinating wounds, or helping women who collapse speechless, consult his expansive De Medicina.

Cheers to good health!

How To Handle Seriously Negative People

Moods are just as contagious as a virus. The Killjoy bug can remain in your system for days, even years! Psychologists have a name for this, they call it

Emotional Contagion

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Some people have a perpetual negative outlook on everything. The weather is awful. The food is terrible. Everything is ugly.  Even if you aren’t normally a glass is half-empty person, if you spend enough time around someone who is you will soon start feeling the same way.

Do you have people like that at work or in your family?  You can let them infect you with their gloomy attitude, or you can try to keep away from them.

If you are the resilient type, you can ask what’s wrong.

Sometimes if you dig a little deeper, you might find the source of the black outlook. Chronic pain? Grief? Poor self esteem?

There are tons of reasons why people can be so negative.

 

If you are constantly around people who are obnoxiously moody, try telling them their bad mood affects you too. Hopefully they’ll think it over and agree with you. Life is too short to be a sourpuss.

the antidoteJust as bad moods are contagious, positive vibes and sunny dispositions can spread too.

Do what you can to keep your emotions healthy.

Stay clear of bad moods. Stay close to good ones.

And remember to walk on the sunny side of the street.

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

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Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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Is This The Most Absurd Advice Ever?

Love unreasonable people. Do good to those who are mean. Give the world your best and get kicked in the teeth. Dedicate your life to building something beautiful, only to see it destroyed overnight. And then do it all over again.

Absurd? Of course. But it also makes perfect sense.

Kent M. Keith wrote The Paradoxical Commandments in the late 1960’s when he was a sophomore at Harvard.  You may have seen these commandments on a refrigerator magnet or included in a motivational presentation, or maybe you attributed the list to Mother Teresa.   It sounds like something she would say, but it was Kent Keith.  Mr. Keith actually published these commandments in 1968 in a booklet form, and sold them at high school student council meetings.

Nearly 50 years later, he still writes, does speaking engagements, and seems like the kind of guy who follows both his own commandments as well as the original “10“. So what are these paradoxical commandments “anyway“?

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People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.  Fight for a few underdogs anyway

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway

Yes, these commandments seem absurd and self-contradictory.  Just like Charlie Brown trusting that maybe, just maybe, Lucy won’t pull the football away.

That’s what a paradox is.  It doesn’t make sense to to love the unloveable, or to keep giving to those who take and never give back.  And it’s hard to keep going when no one notices the good that you do.

But do good anyway.  Because success is always a process, never an event. Failure is always an event, never a person. And the way you react to others, the way you treat people is a reflection of your character, not theirs.

The paradoxical commandments? The most absurd advice ever? Yeah, I think so. But, like my pal Charlie Brown, I’m going to follow them anyway.

Why We Do What We Do

Have you ever tried to give up smoking, lose weight, exercise, or get up earlier when things seem to go well for awhile, and then

BAM!

You start messing up and soon you are back where you started.

Do you give up and give in to your doubts?

I can’t change, it’s too hard, I’m too old. I’m under too much stress,

I can’t deal with another failure. I’m too far gone.

NO!

Don’t listen to the doubts. Stop making excuses.  The only right thing to do when you fail at something is again.

In medicine, especially treating addictions, I have seen unbelievable transformations.

Without a doubt I believe change is possible, and there is absolutely hope for you.

You can be successful.  You can quit smoking, lose weight, stop doing drugs, or whatever it is you want.

You can, even if you’ve failed multiple times before.

If you want to change something in your life, start small. Just change one thing.

Right now, write it down. 

Then do what you need to do to get where you want to be.

For example, drink water instead of a soda. Brush your teeth when you want to smoke. Install a filter on your computer. Recite Shakespeare when you feel angry. Take a cold shower. Run around the block. Count to ten. Count to 500. Eat on a smaller plate. Do jumping jacks. Make exercise an appointment on your calendar. Write fifteen minutes a day.  Surround yourself with positive influences. Change little things in your environment. Stop and think. Redirect.

Read, research, hire a coach, or a counselor, ask a friend to come along side.

One thing you can’t do is just hope for the best.  You can’t “name it claim it blab it grab it”.

I’m all for having a vision of who you want to be and changing your thoughts.

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit.

But bad habits and faulty thinking are deeply embedded in your brain like a well trodden path. You have got to forge a new trail. There is no try, there is only do.

The secret to successfully breaking a bad habit is replacing the bad with a new, good one, and coaxing it along step by step.

R. Buckminster Fuller said,

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Are you the person you really want to be?  If not, do something about it. You can break that bad habit.  You can change.  Replace bad with good.

Yeah, I know its hard, it takes work, it gets frustrating, it takes forever.

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So what do you want? What do YOU want, and what are you going to do about it? You have to start somewhere.

What better time than right now? Let me tell you something,

You can change, it’s not too hard, you’re not too old, stress will always be there, and failure is a part of change.

You can do it, and you will. I know you can.

You got this.

More on change here.

Book suggestion—>The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

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Setting the Record Straight: Can You Get the Flu From the Flu Shot?

NO. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.

Let me set the record straight.

THE FLU (INFLUENZA) SHOT DOES NOT, CANNOT, WILL NOT, DARE NOT GIVE YOU THE FLU (INFLUENZA).

Flu shots are made either with viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are not infectious, or with no viruses at all!

What about the nasal spray? The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain live viruses. However, the viruses are attenuated (weakened), and cannot cause the flu.  Listen up:

The weakened viruses are cold-adapted –  which means they are designed to only cause infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose. The viruses cannot infect the lungs or other areas where the temperature is warmer.

why the hey

Most likely because you were already exposed to the flu and the shot didn’t have enough time to work.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against influenza virus infection.

It is possible to get minor side effects (low grade fever, aches, and a sore arm at the injection site).

If you had a problem with a flu shot, please don’t brag about it on Facebook or get on a soapbox and testify of the evils of modern day immunizations.  What you should do is to encourage your friends to discuss their concerns with their health care provider.

In regards to the myths, Gizmodo has an excellent post  that addresses all that crazy talk like the flu shot contains antifreeze, causes Alzheimer’s, and weakens your immune system.

All flu-vaccine naysayers allow me to send you back in time where you’ll be happiest, when germs were copious. You could live in a world where there were no immunizations, no anti-viral medications, and dirty filthy grimy environments sure to boost your immune systems the natural way.

No herds to protect you.

Welcome to 1918, to the Spanish flu pandemic...

and then again to 14th century Europe, to the plague.

Me and my family, we’ll take immunizations and the flu shot any day. Thank you modern medicine.  Now excuse me while I go wash my hands with Purell.  All this germ talk is making me feel dirty.

And What Exactly Is The Meaning Of Life?

It baffles me at how many people zip through life at breakneck speed, starting so many days behind schedule and ending them complaining there is not enough hours to get it all done.

They forget to eat, don’t know how to stay healthy, or don’t recognize when they are sick.

Maybe that’s you. Except for the forget to eat part, it’s me too.

I’ve been asked many times things like,

What is the point?

Why am I so unhappy?

Where did I go wrong?

How can I do this?

What is the reason for it all?

Why am I here?

Where is God?

Sometimes I feel like some wise mystic who waits on a mountain for pilgrims to come and ask,

What is the meaning of life?

The meaning of Life

What’s the meaning? Why are we here? What’s the point? Why bother?

Because there is meaning. You are alive. You are here. You belong. You have a chance to do something.

Take a deep breath and consider this: it all goes by so fast. We live, we die.

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Love God.  Love your neighbor.  Do good.  Love what you do.  Bloom where you’re planted.  Give.  Take care of what you have.  Be non-toxic.  Plant hope. Reap joy.  Shine.  Be kind.  Forgive. Don’t look back. Live. 

We rush through our lives so eager to grow up, get a career, make and spend lots of money,  climb to the next rung on the ladder.

We are forever looking back or fantasizing the future that we neglect the present.

The here and now.  This day, this hour, this moment.

I’m not saying don’t ever look at the past – reflection is necessary for growth and learning.  And only a fool wouldn’t make plans for the future.

The point is to find balance, and in the process don’t forget to live.

And that’s the meaning,

that’s exactly the point of life,

to live.

Wherever you are. Whoever you are. Whether things are good, or bad, if you’re rich, or you have nothing.

Life is a gift. Life is life.

Live it.

 

Is there really a secret to success?

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Do you think yourself as successful?  How do you define success?

Merriam-Webster defines it as, “the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame“.  I think Webster completely misses the mark with that definition.  Success is viewed differently depending on your culture, upbringing,  social situation, work environment, and worldview.

Success is not a one-size-fits-all standardized, measurable thing.  No one would argue that the self-made millionaires, Edison/Einstein types,  Hollywood stars, Olympic athletes, or Pulitzer Prize winners aren’t successful.

But in reality the super famous,  geniuses, and wicked wealthy people represent such a small number.  If we look at fame as an indication of success, Wired Science reports,

somewhere between about  1 in 10,000 and 5 in 10,000 (or 1 in 2,000) people in the world are successful.

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The truth is successful people can be found in every crevice of the planet.  From the tiny fishing village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland, to the congested metropolis of Tokyo, Japan,  you’ll find success.

Isn’t success simply accomplishing that which you set out to do? Whether it be a goal to climb the world’s ten tallest mountains or to climb out of poverty – you determine what you want to achieve.

Anyone. Including you, can be successful.

There is no secret to success.  Instead there’s a mindset, and opportunities. 

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To be successful in any area of your life, you must consistently do these 4 things

  1. Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives
  2. Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision
  3. Cultivate emotional intelligence
  4. Stay the course

#Have a vision and establish clear goals and objectives

Know what you want. Rather than wander aimlessly through life letting the “chips fall” where they may, decide what/where you want to be.  And write it down.  Napoleon Hill, the author of The Magic Ladder to Success,  puts it in perspective:

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#Equip yourself with what you need to accomplish your vision 

Once you have your goals and a plan, you need the tools and the people to help.  If you want to lose weight you’ll need to learn how to change the way you eat, and you need to move. Do you need to get exercise equipment, a gym membership, or a new pair of sneakers?

If you want to start your own business, you need education, training, and business mentors.

Make friends with the right people, surround yourself with good influences, and keep moving yourself forward.

Keep moving

 #Cultivate emotional intelligence

Successful people learn to temper their emotions.  They are empathetic, understanding,  set the tone for their team, and know how to bring the best out in others.  They keep their head in the game, and don’t sweat the small stuff.  If you want to accomplish your goals you can’t be pouty, reactive, or vindictive.  I recommend either reading up on emotional intelligence or try taking a free class. A little emotional intelligence goes a long way.

#Stay the course

Success will find you busy working. Build on your strengths,  be persistent, optimistic, and learn from your failures. There will be obstacles, set backs, mistakes as well as triumphs. The point is to never lose your grit.

Anyone who has set a goal and accomplished it is a success. Success does not happen overnight.  It won’t drop from the sky, and it will never come if you turn around and admit defeat.  It is a challenge, and that’s exactly what makes life zesty!

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You Will Become A Better Person By Doing This

There was a time in my life when I avoided any one who was suffering.  Ironic for someone who chose nursing as a career.  I didn’t last long as a hospital nurse.

I stopped watching the news.

I became tongue tied when I did try to offer condolences to a friend.

The thought of going to a funeral or wake triggered panic, dread.

Until one day I was sick of avoiding, ignoring, pretending.

That was not how I wanted to live my life! Bad things happen, and that’s never going to change. Kids die. Planes explode. Buildings collapse. Accidents happen. Spouses cheat. Cancer spreads. Evil destroys. We all die.

And I can’t do a damn thing about it.

Except…

I can accept it, and share the pain.

So I did.  And it didn’t destroy me. Actually, the opposite happened. My spirit became stronger, and my own heavy load seemed lighter, so much less important.

Somehow the act of sharing another’s hardship freed me from my own suffering.

Now, I see burdens everywhere I go. P1070618The traffic of my daily encounters reveal so many who suffer.

Whether it’s a headline tragedy, or the quiet grief of a neighbor you hardly know, there are people who are lonely, broken, despairing.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Our burdens become more bearable when we help carry another’s.  We become liberated. Our purpose becomes clearer.

Lifting the burdens of another, making the road a little easier – it’s the cure for suffering. It makes you a better person.

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People in the midst of terrible, heavy suffering tend to hide it. They want you to think everything is fine.  Maybe that’s you right now, you go to work, do your shopping, show up at functions with a smile on your face and the whole time you’re thinking,

I have to do this again tomorrow??? I can’t. God help me. I can’t take it anymore!

The secret for overcoming hopelessness, grief, fear, tragedy? Lose yourself in the service of others. Share the burden. Give some of yours and take some of theirs.

When someone asks you,

 What can I do?  Is there anything you need? Anything at all? 

Say yes.

There is something you can do for me. You have pain. I have pain.  If you let me have some of yours, I will give you some of mine.

That’s the miracle of healing. It makes us better.

There will never be a shortage of suffering in this world. None of us truly know the right thing to say or do when tragedy strikes.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

It’s ok. Don’t say anything. A hug, a nod, a comforting shoulder to cry on.

Start small. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

charles dickensYou suffer. I suffer. And life goes on. And it is through that suffering we find life.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

There was a time in my life when I avoided any one who was suffering.

Not any more.

And I’m more than Ok.