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June, 2015

World peace starts when toxic chatter stops

3 Times MoreDoes teaching kids contentment and empathy matter? What about helping employees learn to be more patient and respectful with coworkers? And what about being more supportive, satisfied and calm at home? Does any of it really matter? It could, in fact, change the world. That’s because anyone who chooses positive filters is a peacemaker, and our angry, polarized, dissatisfied and senselessly destructive world is sorely in need of peacemakers.

For instance, imagine choosing not to engage in toxic chatter. Imagine putting a “positivity policy” in place at work, school and home to stop choosing backstabbing, gossip, put-downs, trashing other people’s efforts, blaming, re-living wrongs over and over…. Think how that would feel! Children would feel safer. So would employees. So would we all. And that feeling would begin to ripple. In fact, just making the choice to avoid toxic chatter promotes peace – within ourselves and in the world.

Try this: Stop the negative chatter. Make a highly intentional effort to filter it out. When someone starts sharing negative observations about work, life, politics, a partner, a coworker, or anyone and anything, just let it roll over you without reaction or judging and gently change the subject. Filter out your own negative chatter, too: choose not to criticize someone, blame someone, complain about your company, text a snarky comment, or put anyone down. Choose to focus on yourself, not on what others have that you want or do that you dislike. When we make these choices and free ourselves from the exhausting job of hating others, it’s amazing how much our lives open up – and how much peace we can flow out into the world.

Interested in becoming a Certified LiveWell Facilitator and helping yourself and others learn the power of positivity? Explore our training opportunities

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April, 2015

What DO You Want?

3 Times MoreOne of the core principles of The LiveWell Institute is that you have the power to choose your filters. You can be a victim or a hero. You can filter on scarcity or abundance. You can stay stuck by continuing to blame someone else or you can move forward by taking responsibility for your own happiness. The point is that by choosing your filters, you determine your focus … and that determines how you experience life. One of the best ways to enjoy a positive experience is to start filtering on what you do want instead of what you don’t want.

Try this: Change your filter. The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with all you don’t want, consciously turn 180 degrees and filter on what you do want. Instead of pouring energy into the emotions (usually fear) surrounding behaviors you don’t want, situations you don’t want, and feelings you don’t want – define what you do want. This forces you to let go of emotional venting and reroute your energy into problem-solving. When you do this, you may be shocked at how small a thing it is that you actually want to have happen, compared to the bigness of the emotions surrounding what you don’t want to have happen. Plus, it’s often surprising how completely doable it is for you to achieve what you want compared to wanting other people to stop or start doing something. To learn more about choosing new filters to achieve new goals, read The LiveWell Institute’s guide: AWAKE to the Power of YOU.

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March, 2015

Is Positive Thinking Negative?

3 Times MorePsychologist Gabriele Oettingen, author of Rethinking Positive Thinking, says her research shows that optimistic thinking can actually hamper the drive to succeed: “People who are positively fantasizing about the future,” she says, “can become so relaxed that they don’t get serious about addressing obstacles.” True. Fantasizing never does much to move us forward and there are obstacles (like serious illness) that optimistic thinking can’t overcome. But optimistic thinking and positive thinking aren’t the same.

Unlike optimistic thinking, positive thinking isn’t about always looking for silver linings or happy endings. It’s about using your comfort zone to find your power and path in even the most difficult situations. When we use our comfort zone – our own self-awareness – to think positively, we’re not fantasizing: we’re visualizing very specific, completely realistic ways to align our actions with how we want to feel and what we want to have happen in our lives. That’s why recognizing the difference between optimistic thinking and positive thinking can make the difference in how successful you are at coping with adversity and realizing your dreams.

Try this: Focus on feeling. Think of a challenge you’re facing, big or small. Instead of approaching it in terms of what you should be doing, focus on how you’re feeling – are you sad, frustrated, angry, bored, or anxious? Get very specific about those feelings and what’s triggering them. Now, how would you like to be feeling? Again, don’t just say “good.” How does “good” look, how does it sound, how does it feel? You’ll find that the more clearly you visualize, the more automatically your actions will begin to align with what you want to achieve. To learn more about finding and using your Comfort Zone for Life™ strengths to achieve new goals, read The LiveWell Institute’s guide: AWAKE to the Power of YOU.

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February, 2015

“I Don’t Have Time to Take Care of Myself”

3 Times MoreWork, family and life seem to expand until every single moment we’re on deadline to get somewhere or get something done. Yes, yes: we know we should take the time to take care of ourselves, but there just isn’t any time and we’re stuck feeling on hold. Of course this leads to health issues, but first it leads to resentment. And resentment can damage every facet of our lives.

We can’t magically add extra time for ourselves, so what can we do? We can apply the first step of The LiveWell Institute’s AWAKE process: Attention. So, instead of focusing on the lack of time and lack of self-care, let’s switch where we put our attention.

Try this: What would make you feel cared for? That’s where to focus. If time, money and energy were not issues, what would you like to do for yourself? Be very specific. Don’t just say, ‘Get a haircut’ or ‘Relax’. Be specific about the kind of cut you want or the method you would use to relax. How much it would cost, how much time it would take, where you’d go to get it done, and how it would make you feel. Just imagining the experience starts switching your attention from negativity and resentment to positivity and possibility. You’re also likely to discover many self-care opportunities that are completely do-able right now. Attention unleashes creativity to see your existing situation in an all-new way and find ways to bundle “must-dos” with all-new power to stop waiting and start taking care of yourself.

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January, 2015

Are You Starting the New Year with an Old List?

3 Times MoreLists are not “forever.” They are just snapshots of what we think matters at a moment in our life. Today … this month … we choose to focus on these particular items. A few months from now, that list may no longer be relevant, yet we feel obligated to continue trying to check things off. We shouldn’t!

In fact, whether it’s a routine “to do” list, 5-year plan or a life-spanning bucket list, we should revise our lists often and should not hesitate to cross out things that are no longer relevant or that no longer matter to us. After all, our priorities and desires change and our lists should change right along with them. Remember, too, that lists often provide excellent insight into what’s worrying us at the time. We don’t have to hold onto worries if we’ve fixed them or simply moved on in our lives. We need to let our lists move on, too. That’s especially important as we look ahead to the new year.

Try this: Start the New Year knowing what matters. Sit down and review your vision of who you want to be and how you want to live. Be specific. Also, be current—don’t just dust off last year’s vision statement; create a fresh one. As you make your New Year’s resolutions, review them against your vision statement. You’ll quickly see any disconnects and “shoulds” that you can let go to make room for something new this year.

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December, 2014

The Genuine Good of a Fake Smile

3 Times MoreLife can feel sad, scary, overwhelming and unfair. When it does, we can’t always find the energy to look for the “good” or the meaning. We might not be able to hurry through these times or bounce back to our usual positive selves, but what we can do is smile—even if it’s fake.
It’s an old idea, but plenty of new research shows that even a fake smile can reduce stress, make a person feel happier, and even support heart health and immunity. One study we loved reading about had people fake their smiles by holding a chopstick in their teeth and not allowing their lips to touch (just that thought may make you smile!). In the study, those utterly fake smiles still delivered genuine benefits.

Try this: Fake it ‘til you make it! Today, focus your attention on the pure physical act of smiling. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a big, wide, genuine smile. You don’t even have to feel happy. In fact, that’s the point—to practice smiling when you’re not happy so you can begin to bring your emotions and the physical toll of stress back into balance. Now, as you go about your day, see how long you can hold onto your smile before you realize you’re no longer smiling. When that happens, smile again. And again. And feel how things begin to change.

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November, 2014

Stop Downloading the “Angry File”

3 Times MoreWhen everyone gathers for Thanksgiving, someone often downloads the “angry file.” Suddenly, everything turns negative: A boss is an idiot. All bosses are idiots. Wives spend too much. Husbands don’t help around the house. Someone said something years ago that still rankles…

We’ve all experienced how this happens, and not just on Thanksgiving. One minute we’re going about our day and then — out of nowhere — there’s something wrong with everything. Even if we don’t say anything out loud, our mood darkens and everywhere we look we feel angry and dissatisfied. The thoughts in our angry file are all connected, too, so a person who makes us angry today can click open a whole chain of memories about all the other people who’ve ever done us wrong.

Try this: Delete the angry file. Make an intentional effort to stop storing the history of things and people that have made you angry or “done you wrong.” When a dark mood sweeps in, take the time to figure out why your mood has shifted. Instead of pulling up your entire negative history, stay in the present and allow yourself the space to examine what triggered your anger and why. Doing this lets you resolve it and move on. And that’s a whole lot healthier than storing it to experience over and over again for years to come.

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October, 2014

The Positivity Placebo

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How many times are we delayed when we Need. To. Be. On. TIME? Our call runs too long and we leave late. The kids spill juice on the dog just as we need to leave. We hit every stoplight. The driver ahead of us is going half the speed limit. There’s no parking space. The elevator is slow. The line is long. And when we finally arrive — even if we are on time — we’re a hot mess and we feel betrayed by the universe.

We can’t control the stoplights and long lines, but if we can choose a more positive perspective, it changes everything. In fact, we have the power to activate a “positivity placebo” that changes our filters so we experience life working with us rather than against us.

Try this: “I’m exactly where I need to be". Say it over and over in stressful times. You’ll instantly begin to feel calmer and cared for — as if the red light is there to help you pause for breath or to arrive at a certain place down the road at the perfect time. Remember, positivity is a placebo, not magic: you might still arrive late. But, by using “I’m exactly where I need to be” as your filter, chances are arriving late won’t feel so much like failure.

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May, 2014

How to Think Straight When Things Go Sideways

3 Times MoreWe can plan so carefully, and then things go sideways. Out of nowhere, so many things suddenly need attention right now thatit’s overwhelming. Sometimes, the enormity of what needs doing plus confusion about where to start can leave us feeling paralyzed. Other times we panic, trying to multitask and do a little of everything all at once. Either way we don’t make much progress and that often intensifies our anxiety.

Try this: tighten your focus down to your one next move. Instead of looking at the big picture, zoom in. Decide on the one next thing you are going to do. It could be as simple as, “I’m going to get a glass of water.” That’s as far ahead as you look. Don’t allow yourself to think about anything else until you’ve poured your water and taken a sip. Then, decide the next one thing to do. Again, it should be a small step, like “I’m going to make a list – get everything that’s buzzing in my head down on paper."

This technique has three very powerful effects: 1) It slows us down so we feel more in control (Yes, I got that glass of water). 2) It calms us down so we can begin to think more clearly. And 3) It turns down the volume on all the noise and needs so we can begin to filter and prioritize.
So when things go sideways (and they will!), panic and paralysis aren’t your only choices. You can shift your focus to the “next one thing” and quickly regain your ability to feel calm and think straight.

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March, 2014

Get 3 Times More Out of Life

3 Times MoreWe know it’s important to eat well, exercise, stay positive and set goals. So why do we stay stuck? Because just knowing isn’t enough. We need to translate what we know into what we do. But how do you put everything you should be doing into action? You don’t – because you can’t. What you can do is “Pick 3.”

Try this: When you take a workshop, read an article or walk out of therapy session, pick three things to incorporate into your life now. Be specific about what those three things are and how you're going to put them into action. For example: You read an article about “Super Foods.” The minute you finish, pick three super foods and add them your grocery list now. Done – and life changes for the better. Not only will you feel good about eating healthy, you immediately enjoy a healthy sense of taking action and moving forward. Instead of letting all those good intentions swirl around like little failings, you use “Pick 3” to quiet all the “I should” chatter and take control. Plus, you don’t just do something, you do three things you wouldn’t otherwise do. It’s that easy to get three times more out of life!

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January, 2014

Resolve to Stop Holding Your Breath

New YearHappy New Year! We love fresh starts and resolutions – and here’s a great one for 2014: Stop holding your breath. No more waiting, no more “I’ll be happy when …” or “If I were rich, I would …”. Starting immediately, let yourself become the person you’ve always wanted to be. How to start?

Try this: think about a trait you want to strengthen. Then use it to filter your choices. For example, if you want to be more positive, consciously choose to be positive. As you focus, you’ll begin to define exactly what that trait means to you. Realizing you have the choice to be positive right now is so empowering! You’ll immediately feel happier and more in control. For instance, instead of allowing yourself to be forced into a role you don’t want (like the Big Bad Wolf who always has to say 'no'), choosing to be positive means you’re free to create all-new options for dealing with situations so you can say 'yes' without compromising your values or feeling stuck in a role that isn’t you.

Once we’re clear about who we want to be there’s nothing stopping us! In fact, The LiveWell Institute’s whole reason for being is to put this awareness to work in schools, businesses, homes and families so people can start using their strengths to improve their lives and the world. Being happier and changing the world … now there’s a good resolution for 2014. And achieving it starts so simply: just exhale and choose to start being you now.

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December, 2013

Why Can’t Kids Be Content?

FlashlightDoes it seem like sixty seconds after the holiday presents are unwrapped the kids start focusing on what they didn’t get? No wonder! That’s because we aren’t teaching our kids how to be content.

Between TV shows, commercials, social media interaction and even lunchroom talk with friends, there’s a lot that’s teaching kids how to learn to look for what they don’t have. The learning is so deep that even when they get something they’ve wanted they quickly refocus on something new they don’t have.

It’s as if kids go into a dark room with a flashlight. They shine the flashlight over into the left corner where the room is empty. Because they never shine the flashlight over to the right corner where the room is piled with wonderful things, kids conclude, “I don’t have what I need.” Our job is to teach them how to see the full picture.

Try this: Each day from now until the end of the year, have kids write down something for which they are grateful. It could be a thing, a person … anything. The only rule is that they can’t write down the same thing twice. This is such a simple activity, but it is a powerful learning experience. Day by day, you’re helping kids shine their flashlight all around to see all they do have. They can’t help but become aware of their abundance and to begin to define that abundance not just in terms of things, but in terms of people, feelings, knowledge and dreams. Gratitude is a great gift to give your children this holiday season – one that will let them continue to unwrap a deep sense of contentment throughout their lives.

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November, 2013

A Good Holiday Stress Strategy

Holiday FrenzyAs the holidays pull everything into the spotlight – relationships, finances, shopping, cooking and socializing can all create STRESS. But that’s not necessarily bad. It’s actually good to have some stress in your life. It can be energizing and ultimately rewarding. That is, after all, why we keep “doing” the holidays year after year – because it feels so good at the end. But could it also feel better before we cross the finish line?

Try this: Instead of viewing stress as a state, view it as a strategy. For example, your usual response to holiday stress might be to shut down or give yourself permission to be angry or rude. Instead of being reactive with an old habit, get ahead of things with a stress strategy.

Start by defining what does and doesn’t work for you during the holidays, what triggers overload and how you react. Just being aware of your triggers helps you deal with them before you get blindsided by feeling angry, overwhelmed or frustrated. Before the holidays hit full force, take time to map your stress triggers and match each trigger with something specific you can do to stay balanced, nourished, hydrated, rested and happy. When you trade stress habits for a stress strategy, you’re in charge and you can actually use stress in a positive way to “power up” and get things done.

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October, 2013

Creating a STAR in Every Classroom

StarEvery teacher wants to create a STAR moment – Something They’ll Always Remember. Of course kids need to remember lessons about math and language, social studies and science. But what else will they remember? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the STAR moment was discovering how to be kind, positive, happy humans?

True, schools today are adding pillars of ethics, character and values to the curriculum. But what about teaching kids how to be … happy? Can you even teach that?? The fact is you can – and you can do it at any grade, from preschool through college. At The LiveWell Institute, we’re seeing these STAR moments at work as teachers strengthen their own positivity to both model happiness and teach kids how to focus, relax, be open to others and to experiences, and make gratitude a lifelong habit. We’re seeing teachers’ positivity cut through disengagement, negative habits, stress and anxiety to connect kids with all that’s good in the world – and in themselves.

Teaching happiness creates that STAR moment for every child in the classroom, and this in turn creates generational change. In the same way we’ve used education to address smoking and other harmful habits, we have the opportunity to raise a generation of kids whose awareness of happiness and gratitude helps banish everything from bullying to negative peer pressure. How to start making this difference today?

Try this: eliminate blame. “He started it” … “the dog ate my homework” … banish blame from the classroom. Instead, help kids focus on their own power and their own responsibility. Help them feel good about the control and choices they may not even know they have.

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