Monthly Archive: December 2017

Thoughts to begin 2018 with

Last year at around this time I sent you some of my favorite quotes.  That was so well-received I thought I’d do it again this year.

Quotes inspire me. Whenever I’m in need of a spiritual or motivational boost, I’ll read through my library of quotes, always finding at least one that inspires me and helps me re-focus on something that lifts me. I hope these help you do the same.

Everybody needs to take some time, in some way, to quiet themselves and really listen to their heart. -Jack Kornfield

Personality … is an act of high courage flung in the face of life. -Carl Jung

The simple intention to rest, consistently applied, turns the valley of the shadow into sweet surrender. -Martha Beck

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. -Anne Frank

The more you focus on the words that uplift you, the more you embody the ideas contained in those words. -Oprah

Best wishes to you and yours over the holidays!

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Jacqueline Novogratz – inspiring a life of immersionthoughts

Quote of the Week 

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

― Jane Goodall

 

Announcements

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character [link to https://thejoyofliving.co/events/ ]

At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us.  I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

 

Inspiration

inspiration

Last year around this time, I sent quotes from people who inspire me.  I received a lot of positive feedback from those quotes, so am sending you more this year, in both my blog and newsletter (click here to subscribe to my newsletter).

I collect quotes, and then go to them whenever I feel a need for extra inspiration. They work for me and might also work for you.

  • Hope is something we can’t do without. From Muhammid Ali, one of my all-time heroes …

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

  • Climate change is driving all non-human animals to sometimes desperate actions. Chief Seattle reminds us how we need them, absolutely …

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.

  • What must our focus be this year? Perhaps as Elizabeth Lesser implies, someone other than ourselves …

Look for a way to lift someone up.  And if that’s all you do, that’s enough.

  • Risk. So scary, and yet so necessary for a happy life. Not gambling, but stepping into the great unknown … From Paulo Coelho

If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s lethal. 

 

Happy 2018, everyone!

Maryanne
 

 

If you’re interested in knowing about your natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

The one thing you can do to release yourself from the bind of judgment

I listen to a friend talk about her pain – she said something less than kind to her sister. Her sister reacted and my friend is now going to spend the holidays alone.  She’s naturally distressed and is kicking herself – hard – for saying what she can’t now take back.

Knowing my friend, she’ll be fine, and at the right time will make amends to her sister.  It isn’t something that will linger for her. But until she does that, she might do what most of us do – judge herself harshly and wallow for a while in misery.

When I examine my own way with judgment, I can easily go that route. What I know now is that every time I do that to myself, I also do it to others.  It binds me to a very narrow way of viewing life. For instance, let’s say I sprain my ankle because I went out for a walk at night in shoes that weren’t good in snow.  While I’m lying in pain on the sidewalk, I might self-talk like this: “What an idiot thing to do! You knew better and really! In a way, I deserve this!”

Imagine what I’ll think when I hear of someone doing something similar.

On the other hand, I could have said to myself: “Well, that could have been foreseen! Better take care getting home and nurse my ankle.”

How might my judgment of the next person doing something similar have changed?

Be kind to yourself.  Not blindly self-indulgent, but compassionate towards yourself and others over the foibles you walk into.

Best wishes to you and yours over the holidays!

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Byron Katie on Judgment

Quote of the Week

Can you look without the voice in your head commenting, drawing conclusions, comparing, or trying to figure something out?
― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

 

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

Three steps to get your calm back during this stress-inducing, albeit joyful, season

holiday

This is a re-do of a blog I wrote a few years back, and thought it was worth sending out again.  This time of year is the hardest on many of us – we over-commit, over-indulge, and generally over-stretch ourselves, ending up stressed and not the greatest company to ourselves or anyone else.

So first, I want to wish you all a wonderful end of 2017, and beginning of 2018 – that you find some peace in the coming days, with much laughter and joy.

I also want to remind you of an old Cherokee story – if you’re finding yourself feeling the stress of the season.

It’s the story about 2 wolves. A grandfather was speaking with his grandson about the violence and cruelty in the world.  He likened it to two wolves fighting in our heart – one was angry and vengeful, the other was understanding and kind. The grandson asked which would win, and the grandfather replied – the one you feed.

I naturally overdo things, and I don’t need the excuse of the holiday season to do it.  In fact, I’ve been overdoing things for so long that my body finally gave out.  That was about 2 years ago. Over these past 2 years, I’ve had to learn to live differently – most of all, I’ve had to learn to listen to the signals of my body and to respect them.  In other words, I’ve stopped feeding one wolf and started feeding the other.

In Taking the Leap , Pema Chödrön writes about how people need more spiritual practice these days than ever before, because we really do live in a stressed-out world.  In fact, she goes on to suggest we extend our spiritual practice to include our communities in three ways. I’ve combined what she suggests we do for our communities with what I suggest we do for ourselves – because whatever we do for ourselves to strengthen our own spirits will eventually enrich and empower our communities. These all involve cultivating our own naturalness as human beings.

  • Natural Intelligence – when we know instinctively what to do, when we’re not caught up in hope and fear. When you catch yourself caught up, take a time-out: deep breaths in – down to your belly, completely filling your lungs; longer breaths out – letting the air out slowly, emptying your lungs completely. Do that 3 to 5 times.  Breathing out for longer then breathing in activates your calming system, and helps to bring you back into balance, and reconnected to your natural intelligence.
  • Natural Warmth – our ability to love, have empathy, a sense of humor, and to feel grateful – it has the power to heal relationships. Open your heart, once you’re back in balance, and make yourself available to everyone and everything around you. If you’re alone, get out. If you simply can’t get out, then find a way to connect – by phone, by internet – whatever way is available to you.
  • Natural Openness – mental spaciousness, giving our intelligence a chance to be able to tell us what it really knows. Pause. Do nothing for a few seconds or minutes, letting your mind take in your surroundings. Becoming truly sensitive to what there is to take in, right now.

Balance, openness, inner space.  All natural. All human.

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural human traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character, a workshop facilitated by myself and Jane Mactinger this coming February.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light!”

That quote, from Edna St. Vincent Millay, eloquently sums up the allure of going all out till we drop. It’s addictive. It gives us such an intoxicating high. And yet, if we don’t stop, it will burn us out long before we want it to.How often in your day have you found yourself running on fumes?  Going till you drop, and then going some more. I did this all the time till I couldn’t any longer; and then I had to find a different way of living that could restore the health I’d ruined and allow me to continue to live with energy and purpose.  I did find it, and I’m offering what I discovered to you in my online program Burning the Candle at Both Ends.

Whether you join me  or chose to connect with another of the many great helpers available, I can say from experience that it’s possible to take back control over your mind, your life and your happiness. It’s possible to live the life you want without burning up or burning out.Learn more about Burning the Candle at Both Ends here.Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

3-minute breathing space

Quote of the Week
Those candle flames were like the lives of men. So fragile. So deadly. Left alone, they lit and warmed. Let run rampant, they would destroy the very things they were meant to illuminate. Embryonic bonfires, each bearing a seed of destruction so potent it could tumble cities and dash kings to their knees.
― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

How to be relaxed instead of a wound-up mess during holiday season

We’re getting close to the most stressful time of the year, where people’s fuses are short and everyone’s wound up.  There’s even something called the Holiday Heart Syndrome.

holiday season

This kind of time is when you might find yourself reacting to something you’re usually cool about, regretting what you say the minute it’s out of your mouth. This reaction is automatic and is part of our stress-response system.

When we feel stressed, at the end of our rope, overwhelmed … in other words, when we are stretched to our limit – like now during the holiday season – reacting is our body’s way of dealing as fast as possible to whatever it is that’s stressing us.  The thing is that this is hard-wired and completely automatic – and it doesn’t differentiate between real and perceived threats.  If you think about it, this makes sense: if it were a real physical threat, we wouldn’t have time to do anything but react as fast as possible.  There is no rom for deliberation, considering our options.  By the time we did that, we’d probably be dead or maimed.

Some call this our lizard brain, or inner lizard – because it’s probably the oldest part of our brain system. And one we share will all other creatures with brains. But in our everyday lives, it’s rare to be faced with something truly dangerous to our physical well-being. Our lizard-brain simply interprets it that way. So, the big question is: How can we stop this automated descent into raw aggression and deal with the situation with something else? How can we turn a reaction into a response?

The key to doing this is to make sure our inner lizard is content.  It doesn’t take much. The thing that will get our lizard going is continued stress, especially if we’re already at the point of no more resources. Because at this point, anything can set us off.

It’s so different when we aren’t stressed. You’ve experienced the difference yourself. Remember those times when you felt happy and relaxed; energized and present.  When things went wrong then, how well did you handle them? Were they that big a deal? Probably not!

If you want to avoid reacting this holiday season, and be ready to respond instead, the most critical thing you can do for yourself is to avoid stress.  If you find yourself with a long list of to do’s, you can try what Martha Beck calls the 3 B’s: bag it, barter it, or better it.

  • Bag it: do you really need to do it, or can it fall off your immediate list of things to get done? Sometimes, we have things we want to get done, but don’t absolutely have to get them done.  Be ruthless and delete them.  At least for now.
  • Barter it: can you give this to someone else to get done? Or is it something only you can do? If it’s the latter, are there parts that are essential, and can you bag the rest?  In reality, there isn’t much we must do ourselves, or minimize so that it can actually get done.  Really, the only person who will likely notice the difference is you. And if minimizing also means peace of mind, then it’s worth it!
  • Better it: this means connecting the task to something that makes it feel good for you instead of something that stresses you out. If it’s spending hours getting gifts for everyone coming to your party, how can you make it fun? How can you reward yourself afterwards in a way that relaxes you? Again, are there parts that aren’t really necessary? Are there parts that can be delegated to others – or traded for things you can do at a later date?

The point: there are ways of making the overwhelming doable and even enjoyable.  There are ways of getting out of stress-response and into your own relaxed on-top-of-things self, even during holiday season.

 

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

The secret to winning in life

I was in front of a group of women my age, about to give them a presentation I’d prepared meticulously. I’d mapped it out, timed it out, and practiced.  I knew it cold. But when I got up in front of them, all I could think of was whether they’d take me seriously.  I had this constant inner talk going on for at least a week before the presentation.  I dressed in a way that I thought would do it – not the way I usually dress; I chose topics I thought would tweak their interest – not topics that tweaked mine.  And the inevitable happened: they, almost to a woman, looked like they were having a hard time staying awake; and left right after, without asking a single question.  I was mortified.

I had to go through that a few more times until I was worn out and discouraged enough to simply give up and be myself, regardless of the result.  After all – how much worse could being myself be? And, yes, the next time I spoke, I spoke on a topic that interested me, in a way that was natural to me, wearing what I liked, in front of a group of people I wanted to be with. That time, the listeners not only took me seriously, but really got what I was saying, using it in their own lives in a way it was always meant to be used.

I listened to a live Q&A with Marie Forleo today that brought that home.  Someone called in and asked her to suggest a baby step they could take that would help them succeed in holding their own authenticity.  I’ve included her remarks, along with my own, as ways of learning to notice what you’re doing and turning it into a win:

  • Discover your mask. When you’re in front of an audience, notice when you’re trying to be someone else. That’s all. Becoming aware of what you’re doing is always the first step to change.  Notice who you’re trying to be – someone in the audience; someone you suppose your audience admires? What exactly are you “trying on”, and why?  This, in the world of shamanism, is called a mask.  Masks can be powerful tools, as long as they’re used honestly without any intent to manipulate.  But when we’re hiding behind a mask, we always have an agenda.
  • Learn who and how you are naturally. It’s amazing but true that most of us have to actually learn this.  We knew it instinctively when we were kids, and have since hidden it in an effort to belong.  The truth is that who we are naturally is our greatest strength.  It’s the one thing that helps us stand out and be noticed.  And being noticed by the people who matter – those people who you want to be with – is the winning ticket.

It sounds simple, and isn’t: my whole work is about helping people discover that about themselves.  But it is the key – the secret – to winning in life.

Be yourself.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Being Authentically Myself at Work – Suzette Robotham

 Quote of the Week
I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.― Muhammad Ali

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

How to survive holiday dinners

holiday dinners

It started for those in the US at Thanksgiving, and will continue until the New Year is finally here – family gatherings, family dinners, where everyone we don’t see for the rest of the year is together for a long while.  Sometimes, it seems, a really long while.  There’s a reason you haven’t seen them for a year or more, and that may be because every time you’re together, bad feelings result.  Your brother is hard right and you’re hard left; your sister is born-again and you’re an atheist.  There are so many things people can strongly disagree on, that we end up coming to family gatherings expecting to be bored at best, and boiling at worst.  But never actually enjoying ourselves.

Well, you know your family best, but it may be possible to change that dynamic. There’s a Native American tradition that many have heard of, called the talking stick.  In traditional households, the talking stick is used to deal with disputes between members.  The way it works is that whoever is holding the stick has the floor.  Of course, there are some rules: the person holding the floor, for instance, talks about their feelings and don’t use the stick to blame the other. The other person – the one who’s hearing the speaker out – is meant to take a position of openness, really hearing what is being said in an open and non-defensive way (which they can only do if they aren’t feeling attacked).

We can do something similar at those dreaded family gatherings: open a space inside us to really hear what the other is saying, looking from their point of view, attempting to see how it makes sense to them.  This can be really difficult.  If it proves too much, then you might try what a close friend does every time he’s with his brother. He remembers the countless times they had fun together and relied on one another.  When he does that, his heart opens, and he can have a close and heartfelt time with someone whose views are very opposed to his.

 

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

 

 

Lizard brain – how to make yours work for you

The Lizard brain is the oldest and, some argue, the most primitive part of our brain system. It’s something all vertebrates are born with; it’s our first warning system that acts up when anything we interpret as dangerous approaches us.

For all other animals with lizard brains, the danger they sense is as potentially real as they imagine.  Not so for us humans. Or at least, not for us humans who live in secure dwellings and eat at least one good meal a day. We don’t actually have a lot of things to be that afraid of, and yet, given the nature of our lizard brain, it will find something to tell us about.

When I think of mine, I do actually think of a lizard.  Often it’s tiny, albeit annoying.  Sometimes it’s a full-sized komodo dragon, and terrifying. Our lizard brain is always engaged when we’re stressed or anxious.

There are lots about this topic in books and over the internet – anything about stress is a big topic these days.  Martha Beck talks about it in Steering by Starlight.

The thing about our lizard brain is that it’s here to stay. So, we can either befriend it or not.  I don’t know about you, but when I don’t make friends with my lizard, it ends up ruling me. I’ve tried everything: from being “adult” and ignoring it because it’s non-sensical, to staying home, gorging on chips and ice cream, hoping I can mollify it. The only thing that works is if I acknowledge it, even appreciate what it does for me, then find a way to work with it.

Just like the real thing, our lizard brain is purely sensual. It’s responses are limited and automatic.  The minute we feel threatened – real or not – it jumps into action. So the only way to work with it is to see what it needs to be happy once again.

Seriously. I’ve talked about this before. For instance, let’s say I’m getting ready to speak somewhere.  This is an activity that can really get my lizard going. I start wondering if people will like my talk … whether I’ve got enough information … whether the topic is right or completely wrong.  The longer I wonder, the more wound up my lizard gets until it’s the only thing I can see.

When I see what’s happening, the first thing I do is get calm – it might be a walk, or lying down in a cool, dark place and breathing for a while.  Then in that calm place, I see what’s really bothering me, and address it directly.  And, in appreciation of my lizard for being so alert, I reward myself with something it likes – like a latte.

I’m not always so on top of things, but when I am, this works. Every time.

Now I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences, knowledge, opinions.  In the comments below, share one thing that you experienced as a mirror moment that changed your day, or even your life.

This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.

Seth Godin – On overcoming the Lizard Brain

 Quote of the Week
The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. ― Seth Godin

Announcements
At times we need more  – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages.  For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at maryanne@thejoyofliving.co

The good committee – your own

The good committee

Seth Godin , in his blog Five Contributions, listed the 5 positions that make a well-functioning team: Leader, Manager, Salesperson, Craftsperson, and Contributor. Each of these players have skills and abilities that are unique and that combine to generate success.

The Leader is the pathfinder.  The person who is first to step into the unknown: an ability that is essential for forging any new path. The Manager takes responsibility for determining and managing the work needed to achieve the goals set by the Leader.  The Salesperson “turns a maybe into a yes”, showing others the value of what is being created and generating an interest in participating or purchasing.  The Craftsperson is the creative, using their abilities to actually produce the promised product in a way that attracts. And the Contributor fills in whatever blanks are left to ensure that promises are kept.

That’s an apt description of a well-functioning team.  It’s also an apt description of the autonomous person – one who lives life on their own terms. It doesn’t mean that such a person lives like a hermit, not needing or wanting anyone else in their lives. It simply means that they, on their own, are leader, manager, salesperson, craftsperson, and contributor.  They are the ones who forge new paths, determine their own goals, work out the requirements of achieving those goals, generate whatever is needed, and ultimately makes sure the job gets done – well and on time.

This kind of person isn’t rare. It’s every self-employed person who’s either achieved success or is on their way (whether they know it yet or not). It’s anyone who’s entire focus is directed towards their dream, for as long as they are so directed.

We have the potential to be autonomous. Each of these skills are also character traits that we all have, to some degree or another, and can gain mastery over.

If you’re actively pursuing your own dream, and have hit a blimp – large or small – it might be worth remembering that you have everything you need to either do what’s necessary, or negotiate for the help you need.  Either way, your dreams are real and achievable.

 

If you’re interested in knowing more about natural character traits, you might be interested in Discover Your Natural Character.

Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .