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I’m thinking HAPPINESS! The summer sunshine must have something to do with it! Like me, do you get happy when you see the sun rise, or when you feel its warmth on your body? Things seem to slow just enough during the summer, kicking up my HQ, or Happiness Quotient! But when there’s no sunshine (literally or otherwise) what happens? 
 
Today, my thoughts are on happiness. What does being “happy” really mean and how can we be happy more often? In fact, how can we be conscious enough to know exactly when we need to turn it up and make it more present? After lots of thought, including looking deeply at my own happiness patterns, I believe it is possible to switch it on at a moments notice. (I don’t know that I’m capable of believing otherwise, but many of you probably know that about me by now! 🙂 )

So, what are those things that tend to turn down our happiness or keep it at bay? There are certain “buttons” that may be unique for each of us, but for the most part, these may be some of the culprits:

  • Stress
  • Conflict
  • Overwhelm
  • Sudden change
  • Loneliness
  • Loss or grief
  • Poor health
  • Financial distress

You get the picture, and I’m sure you can add more items to this list. The specifics behind the culprit may not even be that drastic and yet still can bring us into a state of unhappiness. I’ve written many times about moments when little things threw me way off, like a silly comment by someone. Perhaps my HQ was a 10 before that comment, but suddenly fell to a 4! My mind chatter grew stronger and stronger as I realized how I let that comment drown my sunshine—my happiness!

So, in moments like that, or even heavier ones, how do we pick ourselves up quickly and turn up our HQ? Well, here’s a simple to remember tool that I whipped up that may work for you. And, it happens to be called “H.A.P.P.Y”!  Ask yourself one or more of the following questions when you feel your HQ dropping quickly, and see it rise just in time to put you back into an optimal state.

 

H – (Hope) – How can I be hopeful right now?

When we feel frazzled and unhappy, most of the time our mind chatter spirals down into dark, negative thoughts. For example, if the state of your home is drowning your HQ, instead of thinking, “There is no hope for this house today. My weekend will be ruined because I’m going to have to spend all my time cleaning, and then I’ll be exhausted and will have no energy to do anything!”….we should instead question—“Where’s the hope in this situation? It looks like I will need to do the dishes, wash a few loads of laundry, and organize the toys. If I break up these tasks throughout the weekend, including getting one out of the way right now, I should be able have the kind of weekend I envisioned!” See the difference? The moment you shift your thoughts from despair to hope, your feelings follow right along and pick you up.
 

A – Acceptance – How can accepting this situation help me?

In Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, Tolle explains the power of “awakened doing”, that is, being fully engaged (conscious) in what we are doing. According to Tolle there are three modalities of awakened doing: (1) acceptance, (2) enjoyment, and (3) enthusiasm. Each one represents a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness. In essence, at least one of these needs to be operating at all times whenever we are engaged in doing anything. If not, then we are most likely creating suffering for ourselves and others, or unhappiness. Tolle concludes this idea by saying that, “On the surface, acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it is active and creative because it brings something entirely new into the world”—peace, subtle energy and surrendered action.So, in moments where we have no desire to be joyful or enthusiastic, we can employ acceptance and we’ll be bringing peace and surrender to the situation.

P – (Patience) – How can I bring patience to the situation?

Is it realistic to drive up our emotions when some things are not within our control? With regard to the house chores, I could ponder if I need to do everything right now? What can wait? Is my need to ‘do it all now’ typically lower my HQ? An important question I could ask and see if there is a pattern within that need.

Using a new example, let’s say you had an argument with your significant other and are very eager to state your feelings and get the conflict resolved. If you are angry in the moment, how do you think the conversation will go? Would it be better to create some space between your intended discussion to think of what and how you will communicate to him/her? Patience provides this space, and most of the time, a more positive outcome.

 

P – (Perseverance) – How can I persist; rise above?

Some situations that keep us from feeling happy are difficult and may not be resolved as quickly as we’d like. For example, perhaps we are dealing with a very sick relative and we are anticipating their loss. The feeling of loss is one that can easily permeate throughout all areas of our life. Understanding what healing we can bring to the situation and creating within us a feeling of fight and survival can really pull us through. We may not know what the outcome will be, but wouldn’t it feel better to intend for a positive result? Perseverance can lift our spirits, and therefore our HQ, because we are fighting for something that is worth our time and attention, regardless of how negative it may seem in the moment. Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

 

Y – (You!) – How are YOU responsible for your unhappiness?

This is my favorite. The key to happiness is within each of us…its power is within YOU! We have all heard this before, but it is always worth repeating and believing it—the only person that can make you happy is YOU. We must take personal responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions. Understanding how our thoughts often sink us is important. YOU create your thoughts…so create powerful and empowering thoughts in every moment for many happy moments!

Interestingly enough, we also can do something as simple as smiling to lift our spirits. In an article I once read in Oprah, the author explains how when we smile, or even sigh (release), our Vagus nerve is working behind the scenes to reduce our heart rate and calm our immune response. Cool! No wonder smiling feels good.

Additionally, the article sites the importance of the hormone, Oxytocin, which releases when we do things like watch sentimental commercials, or laugh at funny tv shows. It is the hormone that uplifts us. Ahh! Evidence that we simply could sit on the couch, eat popcorn, and watch funny movies, or cry at heart tugging commercials!

So, although happiness can be explained scientifically (via the Vagus Nerve and the creation of Oxytocin) and we can cause it by smiling and laughing, we also can drive happiness in our lives by paying close attention to our thoughts— changing them, and acting upon our new, powerful thoughts.

What new thoughts and actions will you create to shift up your HQ? I’d love to hear from you!

In closing, here’s a great quote that is woven into a beautiful dish towel that my wonderful friend Lou gifted to me a while back—“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself!”

Now, smile, laugh, and go create your fabulous, HAPPY life! 

Monique

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What is Coaching?

You’re probably no stranger to the term “Coaching”. Although this career track and process has been around for quite some time, it is growing like wildfire— not only in corporations and in our personal lives, but in all levels of education as well. As a career it can feel similar to therapy or counseling, mentoring, or consulting. Depending upon your style and experience, however, it can certainly be a nice mix of several of these modalities. It’s also a wonderful compliment to training.However, the process of coaching is very distinct and focuses not on the past, but on what’s desired and needed to propel one forward toward experiencing the results they are seeking. Coaching is truly about forward motion. To be even more specific, it’s about connecting with what sometimes is not immediately seen or felt, those beliefs and behaviors that may unconsciously be holding us back. Skilled coaching can hone in on these important aspects of ourselves.

Why I Decided to Become a Coach

One of the reasons most coaches start dabbling in the business, or transition into it full time, is because they enjoy helping others become more self-aware, and ultimately, more successful in all aspects of their lives and careers. It’s very rewarding. One of the reasons I enjoy coaching so much is that I love really “being with my client”, or meeting them where they are. By doing this, I’m able to become the kind of coach each of my clients needs. Some of my clients just need me to listen and help clarify what they are learning about themselves and their situations, others need me to brainstorm with them and create action new thoughts, behaviors and actions that support their vision, and others need me to help them stay accountable (get it done!)

A simple process I like to use is:

• Assess (understand self)• Identify (what needs to change/improve)• Create (steps to make it happen)• Measure (track success)I love molding my style for their benefit. The strategies I will use with an executive may be different than the ones I will use with my children, but the coaching process holds true, and it’s one that will empower others to take more responsibility in their lives and push forward toward success–however they define it.

Here’s another way to look at the process of coaching, offered in article in Forbes by Candice Frankovelgia of the Center for Creative Leadership.


1) Building the relationship.
It’s easier to learn from someone you trust. Coaches must effectively establish boundaries and build trust by being clear about the learning and development objectives they set, showing good judgment, being patient and following through on any promises and agreements they make.

2) Providing assessment.
Where are you now and where do you want to go? Helping others to gain self-awareness and insight is a key job for a coach. You provide timely feedback and help clarify the behaviors that an employee would like to change. Assessment often focuses on gaps or inconsistencies, on current performance vs. desired performance, words vs. actions and intention vs. impact.

3) Challenging thinking and assumptions.
Thinking about thinking is an important part of the coaching process. Coaches ask open-ended questions, push for alternative solutions to problems and encourage reasonable risk-taking.

4) Supporting and encouraging.
As partners in learning, coaches listen carefully, are open to the perspectives of others and allow employees to vent emotions without judgment. They encourage individuals to make progress toward their goals, and they recognize their successes.

5) Driving results.
What can you show for it? Effective coaching is about achieving goals. The coach helps the employee set meaningful ones and identify specific behaviors or steps for meeting them. The coach helps to clarify milestones or measures of success and holds the individual accountable for them.

As you can see, the skills used by coaches are ones that can benefit individuals professionally and personally, from all walks of life. Here at FIU Life Well LED, coaching is at the foundation of everything we do. We’ve seen how coaching has improved the lives of many students, professionals and individuals, and we’ve launched several programs that can help you learn how to be a great coach—for yourself, your employees, or in any capacity that you design. Coaching niches are endless!

Check out some of the options below! We are here to support your growth and development. 

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Personal Coaching for Life Optimization (One-Day Workshop)

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Coach Certification Program

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Where do you want to go?

I bet you can remember a time when the most unlikely stranger made you go “hmm.” That’s right, he or she flew into your life just as quickly as he/she left, but definitely made an imprint. That’s the kind of feeling you get when reading The Energy Bus. The supporting character, “Joy” a bus driver, has been the miracle saver for the main character, George, whose life is in shambles. He is about to lose both his job and marriage, and has zero energy to do anything about it.

Meeting Joy was no accident, as George had no choice but to ride the bus to work when his car broke down and his wife refused to stop changing her plans to help him. What he didn’t know was that this “unfortunate situation” would be his life-changing opportunity. He didn’t just board any bus; he boarded the “Energy Bus.”

Joy is like the coach that everyone wants and needs; that friend you’d like to have in your pocket every time you need to be reminded of how truly great you have it and how much better things can be if you get out of our own way. Joy’s life purpose is evident; to get her passengers to embrace their lives, choose to live energetically, and bring others along for the ride. She does this by sharing her 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life with Positive Energy. Not only does Joy share these rules, but she has her “students” practice them with daily exercises, and holds them accountable to boot! Yep, she’s a coach all right!

After a few days of riding Joy’s bus, George’s energy had shifted dramatically. Those around him began to see a difference, he felt a difference, and having to ride a bus wasn’t so bad after all.

This book is an easy and quick read, but its message is timely and timeless.
Here are the first five rules with short take-a-ways:

1. You are the driver of your bus.

  • Why would you let other people and situations manage and/or manipulate your energy? Your energy is your “bus;” now steer it to where you want it to go!

2. Desire, Vision & Focus Move Your Bus in the Right Direction

  • How will you get to where you need to go without a map, a plan or support? Chart your course, get excited about it, and keep moving!

3. Fuel Your Ride with Positive Energy

  • Think of those people, activities, foods, and thoughts who/that energize you and those who/that drain you. Get the picture? Only you can fuel your ride with positive energy. Make smart choices.

4. Invite People on Your Bus and Share Your Vision for the Road Ahead

  • Positive energy is magnetic. Don’t keep your purpose and excitement to yourself. If you are authentic, others will want to match your energy and come along for the ride.

5. Don’t Waste Your Energy on Those Who Don’t Get on Your Bus

  • Yep. This is an important one. Negative energy will always be around, but where will you be? Stay away from the water cooler, folks!

I’ll close this post by sharing a few other bits of info Joy offered to George along the way, which made me go “hmm.” Maybe they will make you think a bit as well.

  • Did you know that most people who die pass on a Monday morning at 9 am? We can infer that a lot of people prefer to give up on their lives than go to work! Scary thought.What should your thoughts be aligned with on Monday mornings?
  • At the end of a long game golfers usually forget all of the bad shots they made and remember the one great shot they had that day. The thought and feeling they get when thinking about that particular shot makes them want to play again and again; this is why so many people get addicted to golf. I’ll have to ask my golfer friends if they agree with this one, but it sounds on par to me (hee hee!)What would happen if you would focus each day on the one great thing that you experienced? Would you be more energized to go into the next day and get excited about the opportunities that you know will come your way?

Food for thought.

I am on a wonderful Energy Bus this month; on a road trip with my family. It has been a lot of fun so far, and in those not-so-fun, stressful moments, I remember the 5 rules I shared with you above, and I remind myself that I have to be my own “Joy” and stay in charge of my bus.

Cheers to the rest of the ride!

May you all enjoy an energized week,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

Think Big & Make Magic.

February 15, 2010

If this is your first time visiting my blog, you’ll notice that I’m currently blogging about some great books—books that inspire and teach us how to improve our lives in many ways. This month we’re talking about Happiness. Enjoy….

Making time for friends is such a huge part of my life. I realized long ago how connecting with my very close friends (even in small ways, like a weekly email or a Facebook post) and being open to new friendships brings me so much joy. This is why I love Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project goals for June, which include remembering birthdays, being generous, showing up, not gossiping, and making new friends. According to Rubin’s research the most meaningful contributor to happiness is having strong social bonds.

Taking this further, Rubin’s research showed that being generous (or providing support to others) strengthens the bonds of friendship and simply, makes us feel good. However, since she couldn’t (or didn’t want to) add more tasks to her day, whether they were the feel good type or not, she did realize that helping people think big and bringing people together were a few of the ways that she demonstrated generosity. These resonate very strongly with me, and when I explored my own “generous” actions, the same seemed to be true for me. I always seek creative/idea-building environments and thrive in them. And, as a professional development guru, I simply LOVE brainstorming with colleagues,  friends, and clients and watching them follow through on their magnificent, happiness-creating goals. The same goes with introducing one person to another, who together can create magic in some way. In business, we call them “referrals,” although now I’d rather call them “gifts.” When I do these things well, I definitely feel a surge of happy energy.

Here’s Rubin in her own words:

“I’d had a wonderful experience helping people think big myself. After Eliza started kindergarten, her nursery school arranged a reunion for all the children who had ‘graduated.’ While the children played with their former classmates, the nursery school directors, Nancy and Ellen, led a parent discussion about the kindergarten transition. As always, their insights were extremely helpful. When I stood up to leave I thought, ‘These two should write a book.’ I was immediately convinced that this was the greatest idea ever. I suggested it to them on the spot…I put them in touch with my agent…In a flash they had a book contract, and now Nancy Schulman and Ellen Birnbaum’s Practical Wisdom for Parents: Demystifying the Preschool Years is on the shelves. Knowing that I played a small role in their achievement made me intensely happy.”

How cool is that? To be able to help them think big and make one of their dreams come true…I’ll take that kind of happiness any day.

How do you help others think big?

What people can you bring together to create make some magic?

So, yes, as Rubin understood about herself during her Happiness Project, there are so many ways we can be generous, but they don’t always have to take up too much time or money or make us go out of our way. We can identify ways of being generous that are genuinely a part of who we are and what we already do.

Here’s a take-away…look for those “generous acts” in your life that are already present that you can turn up a notch to create more happiness in your life.

Let me know what you find.

-Monique


“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle,

and the life of the candle will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by being shared.” –Buddha

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.

Turn up the Happiness!

April 13, 2009

This month I’ve been pondering happiness. What does being “happy” really mean and how can we be happy more often? In fact, how can we be conscious enough to know exactly when we need to turn it up and make it more present? After lots of thought, including looking at my own happiness patterns, I believe it is possible to switch it on at a moments notice. (I don’t know that I’m capable of believing otherwise, but many of you probably know that about me by now! 🙂 )

So, what are those things that tend to turn down our happiness or keep it at bay? There are certain things that may be unique for each of us, but for the most part, these may be some of the culprits:

·        Stress

·        Conflict

·        Overwhelm

·        Sudden change

·        Loneliness

·        Loss or grief

·        Poor health

·        Financial distress

You get the picture, and I’m sure you can add more items to this list. The specifics behind the culprit may not even be that drastic and yet still can bring us into a state of unhappiness. For example, today I woke up feeling a bit under the weather. It took every ounce of energy I had to force myself to get to work. Needless to say, by the time I got home with my energetic four year old, I was a bit frazzled and ready for a break. On a scale from 1 to 10, one being the weakest and 10 the strongest, my “Happy Quotient” (HQ) was about a 6. When I stood in silence for a brief moment to observe the state of my home (the cleaning lady could not come today!!) and how I was feeling, I about lost it. My mind chatter grew stronger and stronger as I realized how chaotic my environment was and how much work I would need to put into my home to get it back to a normal enough state where I could relax and enjoy my time with my daughter and later with my son and husband. My HQ quickly dropped to about a 4. I was upset, not feeling up to par, and not wanting (at all!) to clean up and organize.

How do we pick ourselves up quickly and turn up our HQ? Well, here’s a simple to remember tool that I whipped up that may work for you. And, it happens to be called “H.A.P.P.Y”!  Ask yourself one or more of the following questions when you feel your HQ dropping quickly, and see it rise just in time to put you back into an optimal state.

HopeHow can I be hopeful right now? When we feel frazzled and unhappy, most of the time our mind chatter spirals down into dark, negative thoughts. Instead of thinking “There is no hope for this house today. My weekend will be ruined because I’m going to have to spend all my time cleaning, and then I’ll be exhausted and will have no energy to do anything!”….we should instead question—“Where’s the hope in this situation? It looks like I will need to do the dishes, wash a few loads of laundry, and organize the toys. If I break up these tasks throughout the weekend, including getting one out of the way right now, I should be able have the kind of weekend I envisioned!” See the difference? The moment you shift your thoughts from despair to hope, your feelings follow right along and pick you up.

Acceptance & AppreciationHow can accepting this situation help me? What about this situation can I be grateful for? I threw in two “A”s for this one, because I feel they are equally important. In Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, Tolle explains the power of “awakened doing”, that is, being fully engaged (conscious) in what you are doing. According to Tolle there are three modalities of awakened doing: (1) acceptance, (2) enjoyment, and (3) enthusiasm. Each one represents a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness. In essence, at least one of these needs to be operating at all times whenever you are engaged in doing anything. If not, then we are most likely creating suffering for ourselves and others, or unhappiness. Tolle concludes this idea by saying that “On the surface, acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it is active and creative because it brings something entirely new into the world”—peace, subtle energy and surrendered action. So, in moments where you have no desire to be joyful or enthusiastic, employ acceptance and you’ll be bringing peace and surrender to the situation.

Here’s another example to make this more clear. Let’s say I decided that doing the dishes would alleviate some of my stress. So, instead of cursing the act of doing the dishes, therefore adding more negativity to my mood, I can accept the chore and bring more peace to myself and the situation. Make sense? Please comment if it doesn’t and we can chat more about this.

What about appreciation? There is an opportunity in everything—both good and bad. Ponder upon what’s conflicting you and brainstorm about what good can come from it, or what learning may be behind it. I challenge you to find the opportunities behind these issues that bring you down. Using the same example, I realized that my problem seemed much larger than it was because I was not feeling well. I also became very grateful for the dirty dishes and laundry because I knew that many others didn’t even have a home in which to live. Grateful I became quickly!

PatienceHow can I bring patience to the situation? Is it realistic to drive up your emotions when some things are not within your control? In my case, do I need to do everything right now? What can wait? Feeling sick was not within my control, and therefore, it may suit me (and everyone in my family!) to get some rest before tackling these tasks.

Let’s say you had an argument with your significant other and are very eager to state your feelings and get the conflict resolved. If you are angry in the moment, how do you think the conversation will go? Would it be better to create some space between your intended discussion to think of what and how you will communicate to him/her? Patience provides this space, and most of the time, a more positive outcome.

PerseveranceHow can I persist; rise above? Some situations that keep us from feeling happy are difficult and may not be resolved as quickly as we’d like. For example, perhaps you are dealing with a very sick relative and you are anticipating their loss. The feeling of loss is one that can easily permeate throughout all areas of your life. Understanding what healing you can bring to the situation and creating within you a feeling of fight and survival can really pull you through. We may not know what the outcome will be, but wouldn’t it feel better to intend a positive result? Perseverance can lift our spirits, and therefore our HQ, because we are fighting for something that is worth our time and attention, regardless of how negative it may seem in the moment. Remember, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

You!How are YOU responsible for your unhappiness? This is my favorite. The key to happiness is within each of us…its power is within YOU! We have all heard this before, but it is always worth repeating and believing it—the only person that can make you happy is YOU. We must take personal responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions. Understanding how our thoughts often sink us is important. YOU create your thoughts…so create powerful and empowering thoughts in every moment for many happy moments!

Interestingly enough, you also can do something as simple as smiling to lift your spirits. Oprah magazine (May 2009) has a great article about happiness. In it, the author explains how when we smile or even sigh (release), our Vagus nerve is working behind the scenes to reduce our heart rate and calm our immune response. Cool! No wonder smiling feels good.

Additionally, the article sites the importance of the hormone Oxytocin, which releases when we do things like watch sentimental commercials or laugh at funny tv shows. It is the hormone that uplifts us. Ahh! Evidence that we can do nothing— sit on the couch, eat popcorn, and watch funny movies ,or cry at heart tugging commercials! 

So, although happiness can be explained scientifically (via the Vagus Nerve and the creation of Oxytocin) and we can cause it by smiling and laughing, we also can drive happiness in our lives by paying close attention to our thoughts— changing them, and acting upon our new, powerful thoughts.

What new thoughts and actions will you create for your life today? I’d love to hear from you!

In closing, here’s a great quote that is woven into a beautiful dish towel that my amazing friend Lou gifted to me recently—“Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself!”

Now, smile, laugh, and go create your fabulous, HAPPY life!

Monique