The 5 Stages of Happiness: A Guide to Being More Happy more Often

Just like the stages of grief, there are stages to happiness. The reason why I decided to write about this is because I notice so many people who really miss out of some of these stages. They do something special for someone in their life and it provides some momentary happiness or joy and then it fades into the background…and I can see there’s so much more enjoyment that can be squeezed out of those experiences. I think being happy is a choice akin to riding on a particular wavelength. You can choose happiness in this very moment!

Here’s some ways that you can jump on this wave:

1. Anticipation/Planning. You already start to feel happy knowing that you will have some kind of experience, event, gift, celebration, or something like that happening in the future. Planning out the details is another way to build the anticipation. If it’s traveling maybe the details are about where you’ll stay or what kinds of activities you’d be interested in doing. If it’s a gift you’re giving to someone maybe you’re planning the perfect presentation or a fun new way to decorate the gift.

2. The Experience/Thing itself. The moment the thing has arrived! You are now in the present moment experience of the thing that makes you happy! This could be one of the things mentioned above, or it could be something as simple as listening to your favorite band with headphones, cooking a meal, going for a walk, smelling the roses, or chilling with friends & pets.

3. Capturing the Moment. Taking photos or videos is a great way to capture the essence of the moment. You might also build or make something together with someone. Examples of things I’ve made with others that conjure fond memories are: paintings, a hydroponic system, dance choreography, picking items for interior design, and collage art. This allows you to look back on the experience and remember the feeling from that time. It also allows you to share your happiness with others.

4. Reviewing. Looking back on fond times either in your mind or by viewing the stuff you made when you were capturing the moment. One thing I like to do is make a new playlist for each season of a year. This way, whenever I listen back to that playlist, I’m able to remember all the feelings and experiences I had during that time.

5. Gratitude! You can do this step at any time for things past, present, or future. I personally like to write out my gratitude list every evening so I can go to sleep feeling blessed by the abundance in my life. I am grateful for you and the opportunity to share ways to get on the happiness vibe.

If you have additional tips or additional stages of happiness you want to share, write them in the comments below!

Health & Fitness: A Minimalist’s Approach in 6 steps.

2020 was a year to stay at home and work on yourself. I decided to spend a portion of my time trying different diets and home routines to find one that suits me. I’ve tried different things with varying results because of A. a lack of knowledge and B. only partial commitment.

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness guru of any kind. In terms of health and fitness, I’m just an average person who has done some research and self-experimentation. You should always check with your doctor first regarding your health and fitness levels and what is safe for you!

There are a million different programs out there that will tell you to eat this, don’t eat this, do this exercise, don’t do this exercise, hormones come into play, you should count your macros, sleep enough….and the list goes on. It’s really easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of information and feel a bit lost. As a minimalist, I prefer to have things simply laid out for me so I can just check the boxes and move on with my day. So I’ve created a very simplified guideline that you can overcomplicate later:

  1. To lose weight, implement a calorie deficit. I just love James Smith’s multitude of videos that simply state “To lose fat, you must have a calorie deficit.”
  2. Pay attention to the quality of your calories. As a very basic rule of thumb I only eat things that are what they say they are. This would include things like fruit, vegetables, meat, beans, nuts, etc.
  3. Intermittent Fasting/Eating Window. You can try different things to find one that works for you, a general rule of thumb is fast 18 hours and eat in a window of 8 hours.
  4. Vary your fitness routine. Variety keeps the muscles guessing, breaking down and rebuilding.
  5. Stay Hydrated! Drink enough water. If you’re drinking coffee or alcohol, drink more water to offset this or minimize the coffee/alcohol intake.
  6. Get Enough GOOD RESTFUL sleep.

My year on Sleep: 2020 was a great year for some of us to catch up on sleep. Who wants to keep up with all the murder hornets, politics, losing your job, eating your feelings stuff anyway? Better to just sleep through this year and hope for a better 2021. ;-). Honestly though, this year I got a Fitbit and started tracking my sleep, only to find that it’s terrible. Making sure you have a set bed time, a dark room to sleep in, and that you won’t be disturbed while you get your beauty rest are all super important for getting good sleep. For me this meant getting black-out curtains, shutting my cats out of my sleeping room, getting a weighted blanket and sleeping with ear plugs.

My year on hydration: I did not do well on staying hydrated. I’m chronically addicted to coffee. Though I managed to quit drinking alcohol and I minimized my coffee intake to one cup a day in the morning, I still feel like I don’t drink enough water throughout the day. I will continue to work on this point.

My year on varying the workout routine: I started the year training for a Marathon. This worked out pretty well. I was able to stick to my workout schedule and actually ran the race solo in March with a finishing time of something like 7 hours. After that I decided that I didn’t like running as much as I thought.

I moved on to the p90x and did that for about 60 days. It was so damn hard. The one I did was the old school p90x where each workout is about 60 minutes long. Mostly I just felt tired while doing this and eventually gave up.

Next I switched to 4 hours of soccer a week and commuting 90 minutes on my bike 4 times a week. That was pretty awesome and for me felt the best out of all the work out routines. I think I liked this one the most because all the activities were functional. I didn’t feel like I had to carve time out of my day to do the workouts. Inevitably winter showed up so I had to switch again.

Next I tried the Jillian Michael’s app and I think it’s pretty awesome. Her workouts are designed specifically for your level and needs. I also liked that her workouts were between 7-30 minutes long (a lot less time than the p90x). She also packs in a lot of variety. I would have stuck with this app only, but with the pandemic I needed to get out of the house and I also enjoy the hydro massage at the gym.

Now I’m working out at a gym 5 days a week. At the suggestion of James Smith, I am lifting weights before cardio. I switch up what I do for weights and cardio every time to keep the variety in my routines. Soon I will start training for mountain climbing so I can tackle Mt. Shasta and Mt. Rainier in the springtime of 2021.

My year on diet: Okay, this was the hardest category to get pinned down. Because I had the time this year, I had multiple full panel blood tests done and spoke with my doctor on a regular basis to find a balanced diet and vitamin situation that would work for me. I tried so hard to be vegan and vegetarian, but I just ended up becoming anemic and tired. Maybe I wasn’t doing it right and just need to work on finding higher protein foods, maybe it’s partly genetic, maybe I can find a bunch of other reasons why it didn’t work out……long story longer, I switched back to primarily Paleo. I am gluten free even on my indulgent diet days. I’m mostly dairy free (except for yogurt & cheese on occasion). The rest of the time I’m Paleo. This works for me. I encourage you to find a diet regimen that works for you. What I mean by it works is A. I get all the nutrients that my body needs to do what it needs to do B. It’s easy for me to stick to…. meaning I enjoy the food I eat. You may be a vegan Masterchef or Pescatarian, whatever works for you do that!

To lose weight, implement a calorie deficit. Okay, so the reason I like this instead of counting Macros is because it’s simple. It’s easy to do. I don’t have to think that much. If you’re at the point where counting Macros is not too much thinking, by all means do that.

Side Note – I tried the whole “Cabbage Soup Weight-loss Diet” and I think it’s complete garbage. It’s way too hard and you end up gaining most of the weight back. It wasn’t worth the trouble and you should only try this if you enjoy torturing yourself. This is one of those things I think would be good to put into the 1984 history incinerators. It’s a good reminder to not believe everything you read on the internet.

In addition to a good diet, I think it’s important to have a vitamin regimen to supplement what you may not be getting from your food. So for me, I have a bunch of vitamins that I take in the morning: Multivitamin, B12, Vitamin D & Iron. In the evening I take Magnesium to help my muscles relax and to fall asleep.

I have a cup of coffee in the morning…..but dammit, I am not perfect. Sometimes I have a coffee at 7pm and I’m up all night, then I order gluten free pizza and eat candy. I enjoy myself. Then the next day, I’m back at the gym and back to my routine and HAPPY! I think that’s the most important thing about diet and fitness…. maintaining a sense of HAPPINESS about who you are and the choices that you’re making. You are making steps to improve your health and wellbeing. You should be happy about that. You may not see changes over night…. being healthy is a LIFESTYLE not an end game. You don’t get to a healthy spot and then go “Oh I made it, now back to the take out and sitting around all day.” No, you are actually changing your LIFESTYLE by getting active and giving a damn about what you put in your face. It’s something you continually work at.

I hope you have enjoyed the post and my semi-minimalistic approach to health and fitness. If you have other ideas, things you’ve tried, your review on certain fitness programs, diets, whatever you like–please comment below! I can’t wait to hear about your health and fitness journey in 2020.

Motivation

A key ingredient to achieving your dreams is understanding how motivation works, how to get yourself motivated and what style of motivation drives you.

Motivation is the umph! we need to keep moving toward our goals and dreams. The etymology of the word means to literally to stimulate toward action, or a cause for action.

These sources of motivation can be:

1.Intrinsic – meaning you had an idea to do something like get fit, so you started a work out plan. Or you wanted to learn a foreign language, so you signed up for a course.

2. Extrinsic – meaning someone around you pressured you into doing something. An extreme form of this could be an intervention orchestrated by a friend group or family. Extrinsic motivation happens any time there’s outside pressure to change.

3. Fear-based – this happens when you’re motivated to do something because of a fear of failure. This kicks in when you’ve told someone about your goals and you’re afraid of disappointing that person. Fear-based motivation could also help you to overcome your fears. Let’s say you have a fear of flying but you want to travel. You are then motivated to overcome that fear to achieve another goal.

4. Achievement-based – this is where you are motivated to achieve a certain status, complete a task, recognition for work done, or doing certain things in life purely for the “experience points”. I tend to fall into this category and will take on challenging projects or conversations just for the experience of having completed the task.

5. Incentive-based – this is a another version of achievement-based motivation where you can incentivize yourself with smaller rewards. An example could be rewarding yourself with a new “toy” for completing a fitness goal.

6. Attitude Motivation – this is a new form of motivation I just learned about. It’s based on the idea of changing the way you see the world and your belief systems to enhance the quality of your life. I would probably associate this with refining and practicing spiritual beliefs. It can also be related to being motivated to work for a non-profit with a specific cause in an effort to change other’s ideas and beliefs.

7. Family Motivated – this is for people who are motivated to take care of their family or the people they love.

8. Creativity Motivated – applies to people who are motivated by the desire for creative expression. This may also mean that you feel you have a message or something to say that you want to get out into the world.

9. Learning/Competence Motivated – this is a desire to learn and continue to learn. This would be the motivation for a professional student. Someone who just loves learning and being in a learning environment.

10. Psychological Motivation – In this context this means being motivated to fulfill a need from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. These would be the needs for food, shelter, and self-fulfillment.

These motivations are the driving factors behind behaviors. You can utilize different types of motivation in different situations of life to better serve you. Having an understanding of these different types and applying their uses can help you to achieve your goals.

Conversely, you can look at your behaviors and determine which type of motivation is in play that is causing that behavior. This can help you to break out of negative habits to develop a better life. An example I can think of is quitting smoking. For me smoking was a way to take a break from a situation and calm some anxiety. By learning some simple breathing techniques and applying certain phrases, I was able to learn more healthy coping mechanisms that allow me to stay more connected to others while giving myself what I need in the moment.

That’s a lot to take in and consider. Let’s break the idea of motivation down into some tips and tricks you can use to get yourself moving!

TIPS!

  • Exercise
  • Build A Support System
  • Declare Your Goals
  • Look at Your Goals Daily
  • Find Inspiration
  • One Goal at A Time
  • Smile
  • Go For a Walk (get moving)
  • Recognize the Ebb and Flow of Motivation
  • Take Smaller Steps
  • Celebrate Your Success
  • Call for Help
  • Focus on the Benefits
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Research Others Who Have Achieved Your Dream
  • Talk About Your Dreams with A Friend

Do you have any additional tips for motivation? Are there any particular motivation styles you gravitate towards? Mention them below in the comments!

Time Management

Work smart, not hard…is my approach to time management. For me it’s all about making life’s activities daily activities more efficient so I can spend time on the things that really matter.

In life there are things that must be done and things you want to do. To get them all completed in a timely fashion, you will want to implement some kind of time management system.

Step 1: Prioritize

This means differentiating between those things that must be done today and things that you would like to do. Some examples of things that must be done today are: appointments, school, work, morning routine, taking out the trash, daily exercise, laundry, grocery shopping, and other errands. An example of things you would like to do could be: researching a topic you’re interested in, taking a course online, listening to podcasts, painting, hobbies, watching a tv show, or other enrichment activities.

For me the things that must be done today take precedence over the things I want to do so I will tackle those first and use the other activities as a reward for completing tasks.

Step 2: Pick 3 goals per day. Work with your SMARTER goals, but only give yourself 3 main goals for the day.

As part of my end of day review, I set up my three main tasks for the next day. First, I look at my schedule and see if there’s any important appointments or activities, then I look at my long term goals and pick tasks from there. An example of three main tasks for a day for me could be:

  • Chiropractor
  • Work on the garden
  • Write a blog

Having only three goals doesn’t mean that you’re limited to doing only three things. I pick only three main things to build confidence and to monitor daily progress toward the larger goals. As a high-functioning anxious person, this will put my mind at ease knowing that I have completed enough to be satisfied for today. I also believe that we live in a culture that celebrates being “busy”. What I’ve noticed in my own life is that when I am “busy” either realistically or artificially, I miss the flavor and depth of day-to-day happenings.

Step 3: Set a Time Limit/Window

If you have a lot going on in life like working full-time, going to school, raising a family, or some other time consuming life events, you can still achieve your other goals by carving out a window of time each day. For example, if you want to learn how to play an instrument, start a business, or begin a meditation practice, you can set a specific amount of time each day that you will dedicate to this activity.

An example from my life is setting up a two hour window in the morning for my morning routine. I make it a point to wake up 2 hours before the first thing on my schedule. This allows me enough time to get ready for the day, get in a good mindset, take care of any at home tasks, stretch, etc. without being rushed. This time is super important for me because it sets the tone for the day.

Step 4: Take Breaks Between Tasks

A good rule of thumb for work or longer projects is to work for 50 minutes followed by 10 minutes off. This helps to keep your brain fresh for endurance tasks.

With multiple different tasks, you can try breaking up the tasks with a water break or a snack. If the task is something like research or a meeting I like to take a few moments to journal any thoughts, feelings, or questions that may have come up. This helps determine the next step on a project.

Step 5: Remove Non-essential Tasks

Every now and then, its a good idea to have a look at the grand to do list and cross some things off that are not essential for completing your long-term goals. For me this often ends up being things like watching a certain movie, reading a particular book, or something that’s no longer relevant because I shifted the long-term goal along the way.

This process is similar to getting rid of old clothing. The trick is to put everything on a hangar, and every time you do laundry, you hang up the clean clothes on the right side. After so many months, the clothes you never wear will be on the other side and you can donate them.

With your to do list, this would be the stuff at the bottom. If it hasn’t been done in three months, you probably won’t get to it. Take a load off and delete those items. If they are important enough to you, you’ll remember to do them at some point in the future.

Step 6: Re-evaluate

Time management is a continuous re-evaluation process. Your life goals or situation may change drastically and you will need to reprioritize different aspects. You may discover a new work-out routine or method of completing tasks which can cause a shift by making you more efficient with your time. Either way, as you work with time management, you’ll get to know yourself better and how to use your time wisely.

Do you have tips or tricks for time management? Write them in the comments below!

End of the Day Reflection

It’s the end of the day and things are winding down. Time to take stock of what happened and review. This is a great moment to reflect on the good things in your life, recognize areas where you have improved, and notice other things that came up to work toward.

The act of writing down your review of the day will help to solidify in your mind the direction of your life. It is a great way to track your physical, spiritual, and emotional progress. I encourage you to build your own end of day reflection routine. Remember to keep the routine simple and achievable so you know that you will do it every night. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

What went well today?

How often did I feel happy? What was I doing when I was happy?

Did today matter?

If today was my last day, would I be happy with it?

List 5-10 things I’m grateful for.

How can I make tomorrow better?

Who can I forgive?

What can I let go of?

What was today’s lesson?

How would I describe today in one word?

What didn’t go well today?

What did I learn about myself today?

Where can I send some healing energy out into the world?

What did I do that was nice today?

Here are some activities that you could add to your end of day reflection time:

  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Day Dreaming
  • Drinking Tea

Here’s a sample of my end of day reflection prompts:

What does your end of day reflection look like? Do you have any additional questions to suggest? Write me below in the comments!

Morning Mindset

You are a tiger coming out of your lair, getting ready to devour the day! In order to shake off dream land and get in the zone you need the perfect blend of “get-up-and-go”. Utilizing the first 20 minutes of the day to get pumped can set your day up for success.

There are many ways to get into your ideal morning mindset. I encourage you to craft your own set of daily prompts. Here’s a list of different ways to get into the flow:

Activities

  • Drink Coffee
  • Meditate
  • Yoga
  • Play with Pets
  • Journal
  • Listen to Music
  • Write down your dreams
  • Sing
  • Write out your long term goals
  • Look at inspirational quotes

Questions

  • What are my top 3 goals for today?
  • What things must be done today?
  • What can I get excited about?
  • What is one thing I could do to strengthen a relationship today?
  • What are my long term goals?
  • If I was a coach, what would I say to inspire myself?
  • What 5 things am I grateful for?
  • What is my intention for today?
  • What is something I could do today that is outside my comfort zone?
  • What kind of person do I want to be today?
  • What are my affirmations for today?
  • How can I brighten someone’s day?
  • How can I bring more consciousness to my day?

You only want to spend 20-30 minutes getting into your morning mindset. An example of a morning mindset routine could be:

Do push-ups and sit-ups for 10 minutes while listening to music that gets you in the zone. Write out your top three goals for the day. Set your intention for the day. Write out three affirmations and five things you are grateful for, check your schedule for the day, and have a hot cup of coffee.

Do you have any suggestions? What is your morning mindset routine? Write in the comments below!

SMARTER Goals!

You may have heard of SMART goals, which can help you to reach great heights, but did you know that SMARTER goals takes this concept to a whole new level? The last two letters stand for “Evaluate” and “Revise” and I believe they are an essential part of the process.

When you take the time to evaluate our progress, it gives you time to reflect on questions like:

Is this goal still something I want to go for or did new information present itself that is inspiring me to shift my course?

Do I need to break down my goal into a smaller step because I am missing some information or a specific skill?

After evaluating you can Revise your goals to reflect the shifts that you want to make.

SMART goals were first mentioned in an article by George T. Duran. If you haven’t heard of SMART goals before, let’s review the process briefly.

S – Specific

First you need to choose a specific area of improvement. This could be in the area of relationships, career, finance, hobbies, learning a skill, fitness, and so on. Let’s say for the sake of this article we focus on the area of fitness. Some great questions for setting a specific goal are:

What do I want to achieve?

Why is this goal important?

M – Measurable

Now we select a bench mark. Some fitness goal examples are: 1. Cardio three times a week 2. Play sports twice a week 3. 100 sit-ups a day –and so on. The goal needs to be measurable so you can know when you have achieved success.

How much?

How many?

How will I know when the goal is accomplished?

A – Achievable

Now we want to make sure that this goal is achievable. If it’s not achievable at this time, maybe the goal needs to be broken down into a smaller step first to get to a point where it’s achievable. For the fitness example, do you have all the equipment you would need? Do you need a gym membership?

Do I have all the resources I need to achieve this?

How realistic is it based on my constraints?

R – Relevant

In the fitness example, you may have a broader goal of becoming fit or being healthy. If that’s the case, your fitness goal aligns with your values of being fit and healthy.

Does this goal align with your long-term goals and values?

Is it the right time to work toward this goal (seasonal, political, financial, or other restrictions)?

Is it the right time in your life to work toward this goal?

T – Time Specific

Setting a time frame can really help you to become motivated to achieve your goals. In the fitness example this could mean engaging in cardio 3 times a week for 30 minutes.

When will you see results?

How long will you engage in the activity for? Minutes? Weeks? Months?

Do you want to complete this goal by a specific date?

E – Evaluate

As mentioned above, this step can be important in determining if you need to correct your course. You might be struggling with achieving your original goal, or find that you don’t like a particular exercise and need to switch to something else. This phase of evaluation will help you to recognize a change is needed.

Is this goal still relevant?

Is this goal still achievable?

Did I learn new information that inspired me to change course?

R – Readjust

Now that you’ve evaluated your progress you have the opportunity to adjust your original goal. You might also change your approach to achieving the goal. Let’s say you started your fitness program at home, but found yourself unmotivated. Maybe attending a class at a gym would help to keep you accountable to your goal.

Readjust may also apply to your mindset. Take a moment to consider the thoughts you have that arise when you are engaged in activities. If you find that there’s a lot of negative chatter, try using some positive affirmations to make your work easier. Say to yourself “I can achieve anything I put my mind to” or “In it to Win it” before your activity.


Let me know how your SMARTER goals are coming along! Write me below in the comments.

References:

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/smart-goals

https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/brief-history-of-smart-goals.php

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm