People say to me all the time, “I have a vision or idea but I have no idea how to make it happen!” Maybe you can relate.
First, my heart is going out to all of those in Boston. With this, and all the other things America is experiencing as a nation, it is so easy to become overwhelmed. Tax day, financial crisis, news overload… Do you feel like the craziness of life is clogging your brain? The long to-do lists, the small details and the insanity of the news? In addition to the tragedy in Boston, here in the U.S, it’s tax day, we’re in the midst of financial crisis and gun debate.
We all have so much going on in our lives that our brains are on STRESS overload! And this isn’t healthy – or natural! Humans were only meant to experience stress for 30 seconds – enough to make a fight/flight survival decision. With the stress overload, we can't think clearly – even though that is what we need most in order to live a purposeful, healthy and happy life! We need brain clarity to remain focused on the beauty and opportunity all around us.
Ever have an “off” day? You know, those days when you wake up and just want to stay in bed? You feel a bit down, a little sad, maybe even anxious… just OFF! Well, today was one of those days for me. At first, I fought it. I tried to be “happy” because I think that's what my clients want and need from me. But the more I tried to be happy, the worse I felt. So let's get REAL – we all feel down sometimes because we're HUMAN. Even “happiness” coaches feel crappy every once in awhile!
The question is: what do you do with your off days? Do you allow your head to spin into a downward spiral of negativity where you hate the world, yourself and life? Do you let your mood take over your day, keeping you from all that needs to get done? Or do you lean into the feeling with grace and persist through?
Today's Purpose-FULL Monday VLOG is about persisting through to purpose – even on the crappy days. It's a huge lesson to remember on Holocaust Memorial Day today! In the foundational work on life purpose, “Man's Search for Meaning,” Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, teaches us that when we have purpose, we can live through the toughest circumstances.
So how can you persist through the rough patches?
1. Be kind to yourself: One of the worst things we can do when feeling down is to make ourselves feel worse by beating ourselves up. Yet we all do it! We think a good beating will get us to “snap out of it!” Well if your 6 year-old niece cried to you that she didn't feel good, would you tell her to “shape up!”? Of course not! You'd hug her and tell her that it's okay to feel icky and that everything will get better. Do the same for yourself. Make some tea, hug a pillow and be gentle with your soul. You're human.
2. Remind yourself of your purpose. Whether you are here to care for children, empower women, or innovate technology, your actions matter. You are needed. This doesn't mean to stifle your icky feelings or “pretend” that they don't exist. It means that you don't let a crappy day deter you from your life's mission. Do what needs to get done – you'll be amazed by how good it feels to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.
3. Ask for support. We all need help. Why do you think teams have coaches and cheerleaders? We benefit from someone who is in our corner! Sometimes, we think we have to be “Superwomen” and “Supermen” who do it all on our own. That's unrealistic and it's not productive or supportive. By having a close friend, family member or coach support you through living your purpose, you'll have a team and success will multiply!
So the box of chocolates is half-eaten and the roses are old news… Now what?? If you’re like most people, today was back to the regular routine and we’ll all wait 364 more days to celebrate love.
But why? Shouldn’t we celebrate love every day? Share and feel love in each moment? With everyone?
A decade ago, this would have seemed like a radical idea to me. When I was in college and then married, I LOVED Valentine’s Day because I thought it was for couples. The doorbell rang all day long at the sorority house with flower deliveries, and since I had a boyfriend, I felt a sigh of relief that one of them would be for me. But after I got divorced, it was a whole different story. I dreaded February 14. Would I have a date? Could I get a boyfriend by February? Maybe I could just date that guy until Valentine’s Day was over!?!
And then I discovered a new definition of love. Through volunteering, building deep friendships and learning about A Course in Miracles from Marianne Williamson, I learned that love is open-hearted warmth for all. Not the passionate love of the fairy tales and soap operas that I grew up on, but compassionate love for humanity. Love is being kind, open and tender – to everyone. We can love our neighbors, our friends – even strangers. And when we feel loving connection, we are happier, healthier and more fulfilled.
The good news is that all of us can have more love in our lives – every day. One of my favorite positive psychology researchers, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, teaches that love isn’t prolonged adoration (as I’d always thought), but rather, love is micro-moments of connection. Micro-moments. Of connection. This means that when I share a smile with someone on the subway, when I laugh with the grocery cashier, when I hug my sister, I’m increasing love in my life. So by giving love, I increase my capacity to receive love. And the cycle continues. As we build more love in our lives, individually and collectively, we heal. We flourish.
Here are 5 quick ways to expand love every day:
- Give Gratitude: Write a short thank you note to your mom, friend, partner, postman or garbage collector thanking him or her for all they do!
- Smile and Speak: When you pass by a neighbor on the street or check out at the store, look in the person’s eyes, smile and say “hello”. (It’s that simple!)
- Hug with Heart: Research shows our skin needs touch and that hugs increase happiness. So hug someone (or 8 people) today and feel the joy.
- Listen Intently: When a loved one shares a story, news or a challenge, actively listen. Ask questions, nod, offer support and encouragement.
- Praise People: One of my favorite things to do is to tell another woman that I love her outfit. It always makes her smile. Try it and feel the love!
So on February 15 and April 27 and June 3 and – well, every day before, after and in between, let’s love like it’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s give, receive and share love with everyone! And then maybe next February 14, we’ll worry less about cupid and candy, and celebrate more connection and community.