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The Perfect Day: Centering Practices to Transform Your Day

Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 in The importance of Self-Love | 0 comments

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Creativity. Well-being. Happiness. Spiritual wholeness. Peace. We all strive to attain these, but how do we go about achieving them?

 

Aiming for these states of mind gives focus, depth, and texture to my days when I’m at home. It’s part of my daily practice; it’s part of what drives me, balances me, and tethers me. While I was in Italy recently, however, the need to find these levels of contentment and inspiration faded in necessity and urgency. Every morning started with a spark: Cappuccinos at corner cafes, lively conversations, daily agendas planned, revised, and perfected. My afternoons brimmed with excitement amid crowds of people, the traffic endlessly whizzing by, the noise around me constant and invigorating. My evenings were spent out with friends and family, the food and wine and passionate discussions seemingly endless. I felt vibrant and alive. At times I felt on fire.

 

I was also frazzled. An undercurrent of frantic energy kept me from fully engaging in everything around me. Inside, I felt something amiss. The sheer busyness of my days kept me from remembering how crucial it is to shut off the switch, turn down the noise, and look within. Moving forward without pausing left me unfocused and adrift just enough that I felt unsteady on my feet. I missed that part of myself that teases out details, searches for meaning, and expresses gratitude. I missed, of course, my daily commitment to focusing on and realizing the qualities that ultimately ground me.

 

I’m home now, nestled into my space in the redwoods of Northern California. Time moves at a different pace here—it’s slower and richer, and invites contemplation. And all of it reminds me that it is the space around us that shapes us. It determines how we feel, how we think, and how we function. It also reminds me that wherever we find ourselves, it’s crucial to incorporate a centering practice into our daily lives to maintain well-being.

 

The notable spiritual guru and writer Marianne Williamson stresses the importance of finding your center the moment you wake up. To immediately turn to coffee or read the newspaper or engage in incessant chattering, she says, is to “guarantee depression by noon.” I couldn’t agree more. To step into chaos right away on any given day—whether it’s reading about conflicts in other countries that we have no control over, or falling into the drama of the people we live with—breeds imbalance, incompetence, and unhappiness. Our days pass by in an elevated state of uncertainty and disquiet. By nighttime, we’re nasty and upset, and we take it out on our loved ones—including the dog.

 

Whether we’re on vacation in an exotic location, in a new city for work, or in the comforts of our homes, it’s imperative that we take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits as soon as we rise. Developing and following a daily morning ritual to nurture these aspects will in turn give us the calm and harmony we need to approach the day with a clear head and an open heart. Here is a tried and true routine that I’ve depended on over the years:

 

–Cleanse and release as soon as you wake up. A glass of warm water with lemon juice—which gently wakes up the digestive system—followed by ten minutes of basic yoga will revive the body and encourage healthful practices all day long.

–Meditate for fifteen minutes. This can be accomplished in silence, or with the assistance of meditation music. Meditation requires practice and willpower—when I first close my eyes during meditation, I’m inundated with worries about everything I need to do that day, as well as all that I need to accomplish on a larger scale, but with every breath, I step closer and closer to serenity. In quieting your mind, you’ll be able to internalize, revitalize, and find peace, thereby securing your ability to tackle what lies ahead.

–Focus on your breath. There are several techniques to breathing mindfully, many of which are practiced in yoga, but I’ve found that alternating breathing through different nostrils for several minutes stills my nerves, gives me energy, and clears my mind.

–Take a moment to appreciate nature. A brisk walk outside in the sunshine—whether it’s in a nearby park, on the beach, or in your backyard—provides sensory pleasures that put the mind at ease. Simply sitting amid the chatter of birds or watering the plants in your garden will take you away from your concerns, connect you with the beauty of the world, and recharge your spirit.

–Offer thanks. Close your eyes, and think of five people for whom you’re grateful. Count your blessings. Express gratitude for life itself and all that it has to offer. Spending just a short time internally expressing your appreciation will inform how you move through the day—happily, hopefully, gratefully, and gracefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies, Take Arms: 7 Ways to Combat Anxiety

Posted by on Jun 8, 2016 in Women Identity | 0 comments

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As a life and career coach, I work primarily with women. This is neither accidental nor arbitrary: Women, as a whole, are twice as likely as men to experience anxiety.

Why?

Blame our ancestors: As far back as the hunting and gathering days, women were in charge of countless tasks while men were out hunting for food. We learned how to multitask—and fast.

The demands that are placed on us are varied and complex, from the fundamental (nursing a child) to the more nebulous (keeping a close eye on the family’s emotional temperature to prevent the synonym of a fire). By and large, women are predisposed to be sensitive to others’ anxiety, particularly—and foremost—their children’s. A sick toddler or a disgruntled teen? Mom is the one who feels it in her skin and bones.

With the attention women place on nonverbal cues while also managing a career, a home (which is a career of its own), a child’s life, and, oftentimes, a marriage, it’s no wonder that the vast majority of women report feeling perpetually stressed.

The stress of quite literally operating as anxiety-absorbing sponges haunts us. We wake up frantically worrying if we covered the bases the day before, if our husband will make it to work on time, if our son is ready for his algebra test. We go to bed tense and exhausted, concerned that we haven’t ticked off enough on our insurmountable to do list while worrying that our teenage daughter didn’t have enough to eat for dinner (never mind the pile of laundry to be completed, the 23 emails waiting for a response, and our mother’s odd tone on the phone). By definition, we are a gender with too much on our already-full plates.

When I was raising my own daughter, work was close to the end of the list on my litany of ever-present worries. Before having her, life seemed like a breeze even though I did hold a highly responsible position at a famous tech company. Life wasn’t easy, per se, but there’s surely something to be said about having to care for only one human being. When she came along, the schedule I’d known became little more than a distant, beloved memory.

Not particularly trained to stay on task, I ran amok like a chicken with its head cut off, bouncing between fear and paranoia to total, helpless exhaustion. Going to work after taking care of her? What a nightmare! I’d get to the office already tired from our morning routine, then bumble through my day in milk-stained terror, certain she wasn’t okay without me while convinced I wasn’t doing a good job.

And I wasn’t. My pre-baby job was an infant in its own right, requiring all of my time, energy, and care. I switched to a less stressful but also less lucrative position, but the anxiety of making only a fraction of what I once did—coupled with anxiety over my daughter’s well-being, higher bills, and intellectual monotony—weighed on me even more.

Through this frantic, vicious cycle I bounced, never feeling right, never feeling fulfilled, always feeling anxious. When it ended in a tragedy, I was brought back to ground zero. I was forced to resign myself the imperative necessity of having to create my life from scratch, only this time in a much different way.

In the fifteen-plus years since then, I’ve studied how to be of this world but not a product of it. Sound confusing? Let me explain: I learned and cultivated a way to partake in life’s happenings—the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly—but not be chewed up and spit out by them as I had before. Along the way, I discovered how to be more centered in myself to navigate those anxiety-inducing forces that are largely outside of our control—and are almost always at work, despite our best efforts.

Sensitive and stressed and in desperate need of a breather? Here are 7 ways to handle stress, no matter if you’re the hunter or the gatherer, both, or somewhere in between:

  1. Just Breathe. I know you’ve heard it a million times before and are sick of it just about now. But heed this ubiquitous advice: By deepening your inhalations and exhalations, and by focusing solely on the breath, your central nervous system will respond in kind. It triggers the release of certain hormones that encourage relaxation. The benefits of mindfulness meditation—a practice that zeroes in on your breath—is best felt after a good twenty minutes. Lacking that (a dearth of time, after all, is one of our biggest stressors), even a few minutes of breathing purposefully creates a notable difference. It offers peace and a strengthened understanding of that which occurs beyond the frontal cortex, a place where the beta waves reside. If you’re too amped up to close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing as you perform mindless chores.
  2. Your life, that is—although it probably wouldn’t hurt to organize your closet too. In a practical sense, it means asking yourself what is absolutely necessary and what can be left for another time or abandoned altogether. Sure, belonging to a networking group might sound great in theory, but if it’s edging into what little time you have with your husband and causes more stress than happiness, what’s the point? While it’s difficult to say no or to let things go—women are hardwired to feel guilty on top of wanting to help and cooperate—I would need three times the amount of time, stamina, and focus if I said yes to every invitation or self-imposed must that spins in my mind. Easing up on your commitments and perfectionism gives you a few spare minutes to yourself—which is absolutely critical when it comes to self-care.
  3. Leave Others to Their Own Drama. This is a challenging rule to impose when you live in a place where the cultural or familial norm is to dedicate part of your time to Other People’s Issues. If the merchant where you buy your food wants to take fifteen minutes to talk about her neighbor who suffered a minor injury, or if your fair-weather friend wants to discuss, at length, another date gone bad, be bold and truthful: Tell them that you’re pressed for time but would love to catch up when you both can. Believe it or not, even the most minor, idle chat will generate more internal stress by virtue of it creating more noise in your already-jumbled head.
  4. Inquire Within. Anxiety is amplified when we fail to listen to our bodies—or our intuition. In the frenetically-paced modern world, we seem to be programmed to ignore the call of nature, often foregoing rest and nutrition to finish that email, finalize that report, mop that floor. Over time, ignoring the basics erodes our health; whittled down, even the smallest upset seems huge. Likewise, when we go against what we know in our heart to be true—whether it’s accepting extra work that we know we can’t handle, or letting our teenager go out with friends we don’t trust—we experience waves of panic, even if we can’t quite identify the root. Listen more and you’ll fight less—with yourself, and with the world at large.
  5. Say Ohm. I’m a keen proponent of yoga, but I’m also suggesting that you learn some of the basic principles of Buddhism. From living in the present moment to releasing your attachment to attaining external signs of success (a major source of anxiety for many right there), this ancient religion acts like a contemporary roadmap to resilience and internal tranquility. Spiritual newbies: Check out the revered Dr. Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing. It’s a smart, gentle crash course in adopting a Buddhist’s calm, centered mind.
  6. Be Authentic. Much like the consequences of failing to listen to our intuition, ignoring our authentic selves can lead to a string of problems—and sizable stress. So much of what we do is geared towards getting others’ approval, an innate desire that ties into our hardwired need to feel a sense of belonging. But when we operate only from a fear of being ousted, we fail to see the bigger picture—of the world, yes, but even more importantly of ourselves. Be genuine in your words and actions, and the halo of integrity you’ll inadvertently create will attract people who are deserving of your love and attention.
  7. While this could easily fall under what it means to inquire within, exercise warrants its own section, as it is just that—something that needs to be practiced. Heaps of research have shown that not exercising leads to more stress. As journalist Benna Crawford puts it, “Aerobic capacity and strength aren’t just fitness goals; they are measures of your mental health and predictors of your ability to enjoy life,” going on to point out the inextricable link between an absence of sweat sessions and stress, depression, and cognitive decline. You may not have a whole hour to spend on the treadmill or in a pilates class, but even a walk around the neighborhood or a few quick plank poses can clear your mind of those sticky, anxiety-filled cobwebs. Think of it as training for every aspect of your life. Now go enjoy it, and leave your anxiety in the backseat.

 

Letting Go of the Ego: Transcending Identity for Unlimited Possibilities

Posted by on May 6, 2016 in Blog, Law of Attraction | 0 comments

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“They are mine and yet not mine.”

-William Blake

 

“Letting go of the ego” is often bandied about, spoken about with such frequency one might be led to believe that it’s a mild habit you can leave behind in the dark. We’re told to leave it at the door before walking into yoga. We’re asked to shed it for the greater good of interpersonal relationships and creative pursuits. Some even claim to treat their egos like a bad pet—they put it in the corner and don’t succumb to its whines, letting that wayward thing know who’s boss.

But keep in mind that all this talk about ego exists for a reason—after all, phrases become clichés because of their relevance and resonance. Recently, though, I’ve gone beyond the noise that surrounds the concept to get to the meat underneath.

Metaphysical processes and phenomena have always fascinated me, but it’s only been in the last year that I’ve studied this field in depth. Formulas often arise in the literature on it, and because of my insatiable interest in the best way to navigate past pain, I decided to try out a few. Here’s the lowdown on what I’ve learned:

-We are connected to a higher force that delivers to us what we ask for.

Ever wonder why the right home, the perfect gift, or the ideal book lands in your lap right when you need it most? This is the Universe working in your favor. When we don’t get what we ask for, it’s because we’ve placed obstacles in front of ourselves, often in the form of self-defeating or negative thoughts, words, or actions. Meaning, if you lack the self-esteem to think that you deserve that promotion, partner, or project, the energy surrounding your wish will be tainted. Positivity isn’t a mere smile. It’s an entrenched sense of confidence, a belief in good luck, and an in-depth understanding of just how powerful gratitude can be.

-If we extend love, inclusion, and compassion at all times to all people, we are—to put it succinctly—operating on the same agenda as the Universe.

You might define this as God; others as a Higher Power. The noun is less important than the meaning: What matters is that we function with empathy and the greater good of mankind at the forefront of our minds.

-When we’re tuned into the Universe’s agenda and when we work to improve our lives and those of others, we’ll be rewarded in ways that need no external reinforcement.

It may sound contradictory, but happiness is internal—and often that satisfaction comes through service. To others, yes, but also to ourselves. Think of your worst days in the last month. Most likely, those days were filled with self-sabotaging behavior, arguments with loved ones, and negative self-talk. By consistently putting that damn ego aside and seeing what’s right—principles over pleasure, if you will—you’ll find an unshakable sense of well-being that’s not the least bit dependent on circumstances.

-Vibrating at a higher frequency brings us closer to the divine, however you define it.

Ever wonder why we say ohm in yoga? When we vibrate at a higher level—when we send out a wish of peace for ourselves and others—our desires manifest. In these moments, we’re working on a higher plane that’s tapped into the energy of the Universe.

-Patience is key.

We cannot demand change or improvement for ourselves and others and expect magic to happen at the snap of our fingers. The Universe needs time to catch up with what we need; it also, I’m convinced, wants to make sure that it comes at a time and place in which we’ll fully appreciate it.

-Which brings me to my next point: Gratitude lists aren’t hokey tasks generated in self-help circles.

To consistently thank the Universe for its kindness, mercy, and beauty is to open up a pathway where it feels compelled to give you more. Walk around taking everything for granted and you’ll likely have little to thank. It really is as simple as that.

Convinced all of this is woo-hoo gibberish? At one point, so did I. So I tested out these theories by doing the complete opposite of what’s just been suggested. For two days, I let every errant and ornery thought that crossed my mind determine my mood and the way I acted towards others. The weather was too hot? I blamed my ex-husband. (Why not?) Running late? It was the barista’s fault for moving too slowly making my cappuccino. Slow to receive an email response? I was a worthless human being; no one loved me. Such misery was reflected right back to me—and then some. (And for the record, I received not a single invitation or piece of good news during this time.)

On the third day, I purposely shifted my thoughts. After a short meditation, I chose to look at life with the one thing that truly keeps the world going: Love. Raining? The sound and smell of it was quite gorgeous, and the flowers needed it to grow. Delayed in traffic? I probably needed to catch up on NPR. Upset with the shape of my legs? Why, they’ve carried me so many, many miles. The effects from my shift in thinking were immediate, from the minor (I found a new pair of blue Nikes for my blistered feet immediately after leaving the gym) to the major (I reconciled with a friend I’d had a falling out with years before).

Deepak Chopra—a renowned doctor and incredible author who left traditional Western medicine to explore spirituality—tells us that we are both givers and recipients of truth, freedom, and love, and that the path to joy and happiness comes down to three simple steps:

  • Experience the things you value most. That means staying in the present and relishing every interaction that reminds us why we’re alive, whether it’s a conversation with our granddaughter, a cup of coffee on a cool morning, or a glimpse of nature that reaffirms the boundless beauty of this world.
  • Ask inside for more. Not more untenable chatter—those thoughts that can give us the spins and rarely lead to actual action—but more internal more silence. The unfoldment of true self, Chopra explains, is a level in the mind where silence dominates. It is in that quiet that we stop being “dominated by fear, guilt, and other forms of inner pain” and instead feel a silent “steady state…From this state blossoms a sense of well-being and a feeling that you are safe. If you remain on the path and keep experiencing inner silence, peace dawns and then joy and bliss.”
  • Listen for the response your true self gives you and that will guide you to your next step. This is intuition—one of the most significant and trustworthy tools we can hone. Give in to it. It has your best, most heartfelt interests in mind.

 

As we begin to understand how the energy that makes up the world is not ours to manipulate and keep but is meant to flow through us for the greater good of the world, we can expose our natural gifts, live as one, and experience genuine well-being. It is from this place that we can rest in the certainty that as long as we keep to the same agenda as the Universe’s by practicing love towards ourselves and all other species, it will give back to us in spades. And it is from there that we should all bow down and offer our sincerest thanks.

 

 

3 Tips to Feel Calm and Centered In the Times of Change

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

 

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Greetings!

If your life is anything like mine, the only constancy in your world—as the cliché goes—is change. To be alive is to know grief coupled with joy, pain paired with beauty, anger laced with clemency. There’s very little we can do to avoid changes and the challenges they create, but there’s a great deal we can do to navigate them with grace. Resist the current and you’re bound to struggle; enter the churning waters with steady legs and you’re destined to swim.

 

I’ve spent several years studying how to approach these changes with awareness, integrity, and composure—which, when faced with death, divorce, illness, and uncertainty, is no easy task for even the most tranquil among us. I was determined to discover a way to treat everything—the dramas and thrills, the disappointments and triumphs—without feeling like a ship at sea during a terrible storm.

Not long ago, I was anchorless—high on some swells one day, threatening to sink to the bottom the next. I was tired of the extremes, which were made all the more poignant when I’d turn on the computer, where everything from Facebook to shampoo commercials would make me feel as if I were the only one who wasn’t in a state of constant happiness. Change? The way the media shapes it, it’s usually in the form of a new Lexus or a blinding engagement ring. I’d end up feeling excluded, as if I were missing some crucial point that came as easily to others as breathing. And if I could avoid, and thereby exclude, loneliness, disenchantment, downright despair (and, yes, the inevitability of change), wouldn’t I be a part of it all?

 

Over the years, however, I’ve learned that the opposite is true. To lead an authentic life—which, to me, is synonymous with happiness—is to be inclusive. A death in the family? It deserves and demands to be mourned. A divorce? Face it: It will take a couple of years to feel okay again. Your child leaving for college? Suck your thumb if that’s what you need to do to get through it.

 

But there is, I’ve learned, a caveat to inclusiveness and authenticity—and it comes down to the energy we emit. In short, if we wallow in our sorrow for too long of a stretch of time, the energy we’re giving off in the world will leave us feeling mired in misery rather than ready for recovery. Our bodies are recipients for an endless stream of energy. This energy is both individual and also connected to a larger realm, which psychologists like Carl Jung called the collective consciousness and which I call the divine. Others still may refer to it as the Universe, or God, or a Higher Power. No matter how you phrase it, it is, simply put, the vital force that compels us to get up in the morning, overcome setbacks and sadness, search for the next step in life. Without it, many of us wouldn’t have the drive to survive.

This energy is made up of molecules that operate much as a magnet does—it’s drawn and receptive to molecules with similar characteristics. Depending on how we feel and the energy we’re putting out in the world, we attract—and equally repel—either negative or positive energy. And such energy can be managed by what occurs internally—through our own thoughts, words, and actions.

So, while it’s critical that you find a way to honor your genuine emotions—that it’s necessary to be inclusive, lest you accumulate even more pain by repressing them, or feel empty and fake by pretending they don’t exist—it’s also important to understand (and practice) how you handle them. Feel what you must, but also know this:

  • Every thought we have generates a response in our emotional body. The mind has immense, almost unbelievable power. Think of people who can bend forks through visualization, build airplanes, speak in multiple languages, paint an image they’ve never seen first-hand. But also think of the mind as a tool, not the subject of our being. We don’t hold a hammer with a loose fist and expect it to get a nail in the wall on its own. No, we pick it up, grip it right, aim it in the correct place, and use our strength. Our minds can be managed in similar ways: It’s up to us to work with our thoughts and emotions with care and control; to strive towards transforming futile thoughts (those loose fists) into actionable behaviors (a strong grip). After all, it is the foundation from which everything else matters and takes place.
  • Have faith. Sound too pat? Think again. When we trust that things truly do happen for a reason and that our only choice is to do our best and forget about the rest, things seem to work out in our favor. Sometimes it takes years to understand the lesson we were supposed to learn or the reason for our misfortune. The important thing to note is that a larger scheme is at work. Trust the process, allow life to unfold, feed your soul, and soldier on—it’ll all make sense at some point. Fight it and you’re apt to feel as if you’re struggling with matters that are outside of your control. Frankly, they are, and to push against it creates unnecessary pain.
  • Live in the present moment. I’ll be the first to admit that this is hugely problematic for me. The past impinges on the present, and the future has too many demands.

But such constant fretting keeps us from the small pleasures in the here and now: the feel of our hands wrapped around a cup of hot coffee, the sound of a friend’s voice, the warmth of satisfaction that comes with accomplishment. Pinging between the past and the future also prevents the flow of divine energy within us and around us, making it impossible to experience joy—however ephemeral—or progress of any kind. Ultimately, the more engaged we are with the present, the better the future pans out—and the more inclusive, authentic, and happy we’ll be, giving ourselves the proper energy to steer through the unpredictable sea that is our dear, dear life. In the end, it’s up to us to captain it right.

 

With love and gratitude,

 

Lauretta

 

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P.S. For further inspiration, be sure to check out my post, The Power of Now.

The Guru Next Door: Practicing Everyday Spirituality

Posted by on Apr 10, 2016 in Blog, Spirituality | 0 comments

earth-summer-garden-tableThese last couple of decades have seen a surge in talk about becoming more spiritual and raising one’s energy levels. From the law of attraction to the power of now, we’re often inundated with pithy statements on how to live our ideal life. But beyond saying ohm until our throats go dry and doing our best to stay grounded in the here and now, how does one really practice all these platitudes in this thing called life?

I thought of this on a recent outing with a family member I love dearly and miss terribly when too many months go by between our visits. But as much as I adore her, she has a certain energy that muddies my own. Meaning: She has the power and tendency to bring my soaring spirits crashing to the soggy, mucky ground with her own. Having a perfect day? She’ll spend most of it searching for the dark cloud on the horizon and will go out of her way to make sure you see it too. The best meal of your life? Far too salty for her. Terrific news to share? She’ll find a way to quietly but meaningfully cut you down. If there’s a fault or a flaw, she’s bound to discover it—and she can’t wait for the rest of the world to know too.

As we went about our weekend together, I was struck by her constant sighing, complaining, and need to control every little thing around her. The umbrella dripping in the car? We had to stop at once to dry it the best we could before resuming our drive. (Note that the car was mine.) The waiter accidentally left a receipt on our table? It had to be removed before we could even think about ordering drinks. The coffee was too hot, the ice cubes too cold, the wait too long, and, yes, the dinner I made far too salty for her taste.

The more time we spent together, the lower I felt—and the more I thought about how she might benefit from putting all those bite-sized lessons in spirituality to good use. What if she were to approach life from a positive place, with a purer inner energy? Wouldn’t she have saved herself a headache, a handful of sighs, and, perhaps, even enjoyed life for once? With that in mind, if you’re ever feeling victimized, weighed down by negative thoughts, or just plain glum, consider this:

  • Surrender That Which is Out of Your Control.

Whether your entrée is late or your significant other is taking his sweet time to respond to your text, give an oft-repeated axiom in yoga a whirl: Get back to the breath. The universe loves you, yes, but a chef can’t hear your hunger pains, especially when he has seven orders before yours, and it’s likely that your other half is in the middle of something of his own(the shock!) Accept that there’s only so much you can control, so why not appreciate what you can? Which brings me to my next point:

  • Treat Each Moment As If It’s a Gift.

For most of us, the only thing we can control is how we spend our time. We all have to work, sleep, eat, unload the dishwasher, go to the DMV—all of that is well-known and, frankly, a bit irrelevant. It’s the frame of mind with which we approach each task and event and moment that matters. Let go of how long it’s taking for your food to arrive and focus on what’s right in front of you: That tasty glass of wine, the sounds and smells wafting through the restaurant, and, most importantly, the person sitting across from you. Converse. Smile. Engage. Repeat. It’s that connection that should stay with you, not the momentary frustration you feel for the delay.

  • Banish Negative Words From Your Vocabulary.

Your mother always said you are what you eat, and the same holds true for what you say. “What we utter crystallizes into the material” is a better-known spiritual principle that has way more sway than you might think. Should we choose to voice only the negative, no doubt it’ll manifest again and again, obliterating all the potential joy from our surroundings. By simply rephrasing your grievances to avoid pessimistic words (not “I suck at my job,” but, rather, “I have a great deal still to learn”), you create a space where optimism and gratitude can shine through.

  • Remember That Our Spirits Precede Us.

Sound a little gimmicky? Think again. In our purest, most blissed-out states, we rarely think about what we look like, how much money might be in our bank account, what kind of car we may drive, whether or not we’re carrying a few extra pounds. In those moments, we transcend earthly, ephemeral moments—that place where traffic exasperates us, inconveniences upset us, and people disappoint us—as our soul trumps all. Try to call forth your real spirit in every situation, good or bad, and inspire others to do the same—as it is in that state that we realize that we really, really shouldn’t sweat the small stuff at all.

  • Also Remember that What People Think is None of Your Business.

Fear of being judged is at the root of a great deal of unhappiness. My dear family member hemmed and hawed over what people might think had she dared complain to anyone besides me about her lackluster food. Some may judge us, yes—tacitly or overtly—but it’s not our job to influence their thoughts one way or the other. When we live according to someone else’s agenda or expectations, we stray too far away from our own path—which provokes everything from low self-esteem to suffocating discontent. Act with goodness in your heart, treat others with compassion and deference, and your behavior will be met with the kindness judgment of all: Empathy.

  • Keep a Close Watch on Your Thoughts.

The mind certainly is a terrible thing to waste—especially when it’s wasted on self-degrading, unsympathetic, or deleterious thoughts. What you allow to circle through your mind has a direct impact on the spiritual energy you emanate. Ever walk into a room and feel your positive mood vanish in a flash? No doubt there was someone stewing in their misery and flooding the field with negative energy. On the flipside, have you ever walked into a space and immediately felt buoyant? The souls in such a room likely had their own litany of complaints and private miseries but chose instead to let those damaging thoughts float by, concentrating instead on the beauty and richness of being alive. They are the ones who know their entrée will arrive when it arrives, their partner will call when he calls, people will think what they think—and the umbrella will always dry. We just have to let in the light.