Maria Connolly, LPC

Tag: Happiness

Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy as you achieve balance in your mind/body/spirit connection.

Leaders and Coaches — Being Genuine Surpasses Being Perfect Every Day!

Older woman is happy being genuine and authentic“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency and integrity.” ~ Janet Louise Stephenson

 Dee wanted more than anything to be a leader at work. She read every personal development book and took night courses to improve her speaking ability. She took weekend seminars to learn coaching techniques. She even did online NLP training, because she knew it would give her a competitive edge. As a team leader, she had all the right moves, but they were too practiced, too polished, too mechanical. In all of her training, she never acquired enough self-confidence to let her own personality shine through, to be vulnerable enough so people could see who she really was. As a result, she wasn’t able to connect with her team. She just hadn’t learned the knack of being genuine.

You and I both know that there’s a huge difference between someone acting like they’re interested and truly being interested. Putting on a show, going through the motions feels manipulative and off-putting. Leaders are far more effective when they are being genuine and can inspire trust and respect through their every-day actions.

If you tend to be defensive or guarded because of past hurts, being genuine can be a real challenge. But you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Take a look at some of the ways being genuine will enhance the quality of your life

Being genuine means you realize not everyone will like or agree with you and that’s okay. Being popular and getting praise isn’t your motivation — doing your best is!

Being genuine means you know your values and ethics. You’re kind and willing to let others live as they want to live, but they’re not going to shake your convictions.

Being genuine means you have the strength to make unpopular decisions. You trust your gut even when the majority are on a different path.

Being genuine means you’re approachable. People can sense that you’re truly interested in them.

Being genuine means you walk your own path, not someone else’s. You don’t have to pretend to be someone that you’re not, just to please others.

Being genuine means you recognize the good in others and see their strengths. You don’t have to hog the limelight, but you support and give generously of your knowledge and resources so they can excel at what they do best.

Being genuine means you treat everyone with respect no matter who they are. It’s important for you to dignify each person you meet, whether it’s family, friends, co-workers, or the stranger in line in front of you who’s taking “hours” to make their coffee selection at your local coffee shop.

Being genuine means you’re living in harmony with your purpose. This grounds you so you’re not swayed by the latest fad or craze.

Being genuine means keeping your word. You don’t tell people what you think they want to hear. Nor do you promise something, knowing full well you never intend on following through.

Being genuine means you see things for what they are. You don’t sensationalize comments or actions, adding meanings where none were intended. You don’t imagine slights where there are none. You give people the benefit of the doubt. And you positively look to learn from any feedback you receive.

Being genuine means you improve yourself, not try to “fix” someone else. You realize you are the only one who can change you; you’re not waiting for someone else to improve a situation.

Being genuine means you don’t hide or hold back. You’re not afraid of intimacy or connecting deeply with people. Yes, some people might disappoint you. But your life is richer for the good connections that you do make. It’s okay for people to see your vulnerabilities.

Being genuine takes a great deal of self-awareness and self-acceptance. I’ve found that a practice of mindfulness really helps. It leads to confidence that can’t be shaken. And it helps you excel at your chosen endeavors. It grounds you in reality. It lets you enjoy life to the full. It speaks to others and draws them to you.

Sometimes we can’t see ourselves clearly. We can either under-value or over-estimate ourselves. If you’d like some impartial and extremely helpful feedback, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to help you discover hidden strengths you can build upon to achieve the life you desire and deserve.

What’s on Your Summer Reading List? Add “The Little Book of Hygge”

Never feel guilty about lazing at the beach or lounging by the pool, when you’re recharging your batteries with great books from my summer reading list.“You cannot buy the right atmosphere or a sense of togetherness. You cannot hygge if you are in a hurry or stressed out, and the art of creating intimacy cannot be bought by anything but time, interest and engagement in the people around you.” 

~ Meik Wiking

Every summer I long for quiet moments where I can be alone with my thoughts and a good book (and usually a cat or two). If you’re planning on recharging your batteries, at the beach or on your patio, a great book can help you reinforce your commitment to living more fully. On my website, I have a Resource Page that lists many of the books that have meaningfully impacted my life in one way or another. Any one of them would be great to add to your summer reading list.

Ten of my all-time favorite books are:

What’s on Your Summer Reading List? Add “The Little Book of Hygge”If you want a short read that makes you feel really good, I suggest you start with “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. and “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga) is the Danish concept that encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. That’s a concept we all can benefit from embracing!

Isn’t it sad that in today’s fast paced, entrepreneurial world, people do feel guilty about slowing down and “smelling the roses”?! We’re told to always HUSTLE if you want to succeed. I believe there’s a time and place for hustling, but there’s also an equally important time for embracing hygge.

“Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things”, Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.” 

When was the last time you felt comfy, cozy and safe? Was it just this morning, last night, a week ago, or so long ago you can’t remember? What I love about the Danish concept is that it’s their way of life. They build their lives around good relationships that create these warm, intimate feelings. They don’t just try to squeeze them in at the end of the day or on the weekend.

How can you introduce hygge to your home and life?

Soften your lighting. According the Wiking, candles are a must. Think about how much more intimate and enjoyable your dinners will be when you turn off the overhead lighting and use candles. Your family will sit down and take notice that this is a special occasion. What a nice way to spark conversations. And, at the end of the day, make time to soak in the tub by candlelight. Pure heaven!

Create a cozy reading space. Reading is so good for you. Studies show that it reduces stress, promotes comprehension and imagination, alleviates depression, helps you sleep and may contribute to preventing Alzheimer’s. So, making a place that draws you into a daily practice is reading is a win-win!

Spend relaxed time with loved ones. Picnics in the park, backyard barbeques, bonfires on the beach, and outdoor movie nights are all fun summertime activities that promote a feeling of hygge. And instead of hibernating during the winter, invite friends over to play board games and music in front of the fireplace.

To me, hygge means appreciating simple things with the people you love. I’ve found that a practice of mindfulness really fosters this intimacy within yourself, between friends and with your surroundings.

While I take some time off to enjoy my summer, I hope you, also, are making time to enjoy your summer and your life! And if you’d like to, please come over to my Facebook page and share what books are on your summer reading list. I’d love to hear about your recommendations!

Why Looking for Happiness in Marriage Won’t Work

Expecting a constant state of happiness in marriage is unrealistic, because happiness is so dependant on changing circumstances. Marriage provides a secure union that promotes growth in each partner individually, and as a couple, which will ultimately foster great personal happiness.  You’d think with a headline that seems to criticize happiness in marriage that I don’t think much of marriage. You’d be mistaken. As my sweetie and I have recently celebrated our wedding anniversary, marriage is on my mind. What I am objecting to is the idea that the goal of marriage is happiness.

We’ve all read books or seen movies with the fairy tale promise of “And they lived happily ever after.” This creates the unrealistic expectation that finding the love of your life will make you happy forever. Not!

Let me just say that many of my clients are in committed relationships, without being married. I deeply respect their choice. The principles of marriage that I speak about today, can apply to all loving partnerships.

A successful, loving relationship, starts long before you ever meet your life partner. It begins with knowing and loving yourself. A practice of mindfulness will help you identify, acknowledge and accept your needs, desires, goals, values, and outcomes you want from life.

A loving relationship can’t be one-sided, focusing solely on your needs and wants. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to see your potential partner for who they really are, through the rosy glow of sexual attraction. It’s only when you know their needs, desires, goals, values and how best you can fulfill them, that you can be a good partner.

If you’re mismatched, you both will quickly become dissatisfied, frustrated and angry. It’s a terrible feeling to know you’re “alone,” while sharing the house with someone you thought was your soul mate. So how can you ensure that you’ll achieve the best outcome?

You can’t depend on, nor expect, someone else to make you happy. Happiness comes from within. Expecting a constant state of happiness in marriage is unrealistic, because it’s so dependent on changing circumstances. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not the real purpose of marriage. Marriage provides a secure union that promotes the growth of each partner individually, and as a couple. Therefore, rather than looking for happiness in marriage, I recommend you work on creating a growth-centered marriage.

Marriage exposes your limitations, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. You’ll be confronted with uncomfortable truths, especially around the intimate topics of sex and money. And when your plans are thwarted, adjustments will need to be made, which can severely challenge your commitment to each other. Through the best and worst circumstances in life, you’ll be called on to support and satisfy another emotional human being. No easy task!

For me, married life is sometimes painful and difficult and absolutely wonderful. To have my sweetie by my side through all the ups and downs is a delight. He has my back and that makes me feel secure. Marriage stretches our comfort zones and pushes us to our limits. As a result, we have found happiness, not in marriage, but in being the best people we can be in our married state.

When you love your partner you work on supporting, not pleasing, your partner. Yes, there’s a time for making sure your partner is comfortable and worry-free. But there is a danger of becoming overly accommodating as this could cause you to shield your partner from challenging and uncomfortable opportunities for growth.

True lovers dedicate themselves to each other, holding the well-being of each other as a sacred trust. You work at bringing out the best in each other. And that’s what leads to happiness.

If that’s the kind of happiness you desire, look for ways to improve yourself first. When you create harmony between body, mind and spirit you have more to give to others. My free 7-Point Wellness Assessment is a great place to start in this self-exploration. And if you’re up for some 1:1 coaching, so am I! Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

How to be a Good Partner in a Relationship – Time-Tested Tips That Work

These time-tested tips for how to be a good partner in a relationship will work for you and your partner as you work together to build a life-long, loving relationship.“A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity.” ~ Dinkar Kalotra 

Happy Anniversary to me and my sweetie! Today, August 22nd, is our 26th. It hasn’t always been easy. On the contrary, we’ve had our share of challenges, because neither of us knew how to be a good partner in a relationship. At times, we didn’t even know if we were going to make it. It has taken courage, vulnerability and a lot of mindful determination to cultivate a healthy, lasting relationship.

We both come from emotionally impoverished homes, so we started with unhealthy ways of getting our needs met. Today, we share a loving relationship mostly because we have worked persistently to understand and appreciate each other and fight fairly. It will continue to be a daily effort and a life-long journey.

One very significant thing I’ve learned is that I can only change me – I can’t change my sweetie. Nor do I want to. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that irritate me, but I’ve discovered how to be a good partner in a relationship. Rather than waiting for your partner to initiate change, start with yourself. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily your partner follows. Let me share some other discoveries…

Practice acceptance not judgment. Your partner is who he or she is. When you truly value your partner’s unique qualities and gifts, you build your partner up. Being overly critical really hurts, so that’s something to be avoided.

Look for the positive. The more you focus on something, the larger it becomes in your mind. If you focus on positive things, you’ll have fewer irritations. If you do need to call attention to a negative aspect, do it in a positive way. Commend first, and then state the source of friction as a shared problem, looking for how both of you can contribute toward a solution.

Be more giver than taker. People who give are happier. And it encourages your partner to reciprocate in kind.

Show appreciation and gratitude. Gratitude is more than a feeling. It needs to be expressed in thankful words and actions. “I appreciate this about you” or “I’m so glad you…” are phrases that need to be spoken often.

Work as a team of “we.” “Me, you, I, yours, mine” are words that create division and an adversarial atmosphere. But when you speak and act as “we,” you’re a team, working toward a common goal. It’s important to have shared goals and routines. Regularly eating and talking together helps create a happy relationship. And look for ways to help each other every day.

Apologize often. If you’re always trying to be right, you’re going to lose your loving relationship. Apologizing is a way of acknowledging that you understand the way your partner feels. “I’m sorry I made you feel…” can solve a world of problems.

Be realistic about the ups and downs. You want your partner to be there for you, so look for ways you can always be there for your partner. Celebrate the good times and work together to get through the hard times.

Practice vulnerability. This one is hard, because we’re so afraid of rejection. To achieve real intimacy, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Successful communication with your partner involves picking the right time and the right words. A quiet, relaxed time allows you to open up slowly to your partner. In that way you can test the waters. If your initial revelation is met with acceptance and love, then you’ll feel like you can open up further. Set the stage with comments like, “I really need to tell you how I’m feeling about something, and it’s not easy for me. So I don’t need you to “fix” anything, I just need you to let me get it all out. Okay?”

Keep the playfulness and novelty alive. You may think you know each other well, but let me assure you there’s plenty left to discover. And nothing brings that out like making time to play together. Try new and exciting activities together. Keep your sense of humor and don’t take life too seriously.

Show affection. Humans thrive on touch, and communication is improved when we incorporate the power of touch. Daily hugging, kissing, or hand holding are important. Look for ways to perform little acts of kindness.

Give your partner space. Find that sweet spot where you both feel close, without feeling smothered.

Fight fair. Set boundaries of when and how you’ll discuss disagreements. Yelling, hitting, name-calling or character assassination has no place in a loving relationship. Practice active listening and be willing to compromise.

To be a good partner in a relationship takes being a good communicator. Most of us have not been taught how to do that. If you’d like to learn how to express your feelings in ways that build strong relationships, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

How to Keep Your Motivation High Over the Long-Term

If you’d like to know how to keep your motivation high, despite whatever happens in your life, please pay attention to these seven tips, which include your reason WHY, your decision-making and planning skills, and the way you fuel your inspiration and your self-care.“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

It’s hard to stay motivated day in and day out. One day you’re fired up, the next day you might feel like you’re walking through sludge to get anything done. And we’re constantly being bombarded with distractions. Many people call it suffering from the “Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.” It’s so easy to lose focus. And without focus, you’ll lose your motivation. If you’d like to know how to keep your motivation high, despite whatever happens in your life, please pay attention to the following tips.

How to keep your motivation high through life’s ups and downs…

1. Know and always remember your ‘why.’

Your goals and plans are fueled by your big ‘why’. Why you want something determines how you’ll go after it. So what do you really care about? What are you willing to sacrifice to get it? How can you achieve it, while staying true to yourself, your values, and your dreams?

2. Create an action plan every night.

When you go to sleep with your next day planned out on paper, you’ll sleep better and get more done the following day. Make sure you list two or three action items that get you closer to your big goals. This will keep you focused on what really matters, so you can wake up early and get much more accomplished.

3. Keep your strength up through restorative sleep.

Without sleep, you won’t have the energy you need to keep your motivation high. Resist the urge to stay up late into the night, pushing yourself because you hope to get everything on your to-do list done. Sleep deprivation assures that you won’t function properly that night or for days to come. You’ll accomplish more, with higher quality of work, if you make sleep a priority. Cut work off at a reasonable hour, relax and get your 8 to 10 hours. 

4. Begin each day with constructive “me time”.

In order to keep your motivation high, it’s absolutely necessary to start your day by becoming centered and setting your intentions for the day.

5. See distractions for what they are and avoid them.

There are so many things that vie for your attention, so it’s important to make sure of what’s really important for TODAY and ignore or avoid everything else. It helps to carry a notepad and capture ideas you want to try in the future. Then it’s okay for your brain to get back to focusing on today. You don’t have to be continually trying new tools, apps, or methods.

6. Regularly seek inspiration.

Just as you need a regular supply of nourishing food for your physical health, you need a regular supply of inspirational food for your soul and spirit. Seek out inspirational people who are already living the life that you want to live, and avoid people who affect you negatively.

7. Fight procrastination.

Once a minute passes, you can’t get it back. Becoming more mindful helps you notice how precious each moment is, so you choose not to waste time. Greater awareness of your needs and desires helps you make better decisions. For example, you’ll say, “No I won’t watch TV, because I want to watch this video so I can learn this new skill.” Mindful decisions will help you get the most out of every second of every day.

How will you keep your motivation high? Which one of these tips resonated most with you? Does one highlight an area in which you’d like more accountability? If so, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).

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