Skip to main content

Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook

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.

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).

Stop Letting Other People’s Opinions Control Your Happiness

Learn how you might be sending “Control Me” signals and find three ways to care about other people’s opinions, without caring too much.“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” ― Amy Poehler

Recently I spent some time in Italy, my country of origin, visiting family. I love Italy! It has an amazing history, great food and incredible sightseeing. My family is really tight; we care for one another and watch out for each other. Sometimes though, this profound care becomes advice-giving, unbridled criticism and blatant control.

I think it’s cultural, not just a family trait. I remember my mom gossiping with her friends, passing her time talking about others and even trying to tell others how to live their lives. As a kid, I vowed to live my own life and let others live theirs. Even with that strong declaration, it has taken some time to shed the guilt and shame for not following other people wishes for me. Now, I help other women reconnect with their deeper wisdom, find their own way, and create the life they really want!

The truth is…you can’t change a controlling person. You can only change the way they interact with you, by giving them a different YOU to respond to – someone who refuses to let other people’s opinions control your happiness.

If you feel like you’re controlled by other people’s opinions, how do you stop it? Firstly, it’s important to discern: are you sending “Control Me” signals to others? Unwittingly you might be telling others to take over. For example, you can do this by…

Neglecting yourself. By not taking care of yourself, you’re subconsciously telling others that you need them to nag you and make you “eat better, get more exercise, etc.”

Rebelling, to get more attention. By needlessly challenging genuine authority, you’ll get attention, but not the kind of attention that makes you feel better about yourself.

Failing to meet obligations. By not doing what you agree to do, you invite others to step in and get it done.

Asking for help when you don’t need it. By being afraid to make mistakes, because you don’t want to be held accountable, you’re inviting others to take control.

Saying yes to everything. By overextending yourself, you create a situation where others will always be on your case to fulfill your promises.

Choosing to remain silent. By not being in touch with your feelings, you may not have a clear idea of what your values are or where you stand.

Self-sabotaging behaviors like these invite controlling people to take over your life. How do you stop letting other people’s opinions control you? Consciously make yourself believe that their opinions don’t matter, in the sense that they don’t make you disown your true self. (Because you care about other people, of course their opinions will matter, in the sense of understanding them and remaining connected to them.) Here are three other key areas to work on…

  1. Take responsibility for yourself. It takes effort to be a person of integrity, whose word means something. Avoid mental and physical laziness. If you don’t want people to nag or control you, don’t put yourself in a situation that allows it. Strive to always keep your word. If you can’t fulfill a request, or you don’t really want to, then don’t agree to it. This is key: learn to control yourself, so others aren’t forced to do it for you.
  2. Resolve internal conflicts. Most of the time, when you’re worried about what other people think, you’re projecting your own fear, embarrassment, or self-judgment based on comparisons between your life and that of others. Learn to listen to this internal talk and create harmony between your Parts. My Tea Time Exercise can help you settle this internal conflict.
  3. Increase self-esteem. Self-esteem is just that – esteem, worth, love, honor, respect and value you give yourself. Others simply can’t give you self-esteem. So start feeling great about yourself!

Ultimately this is YOUR life, your journey. You’re the one who has to be happy and satisfied with how it’s lived. As Steve Jobs said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

If you’re ready to put other people’s opinions where they belong and make a commitment to your own happiness, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). Together, we can work through the issues that may be holding you back.

Feeling Lost? 3 Tips to Get You Headed in the Direction You Want to Go

When you’re feeling lost and without direction in life, it’s helpful to ask questions to assess your life and then change what isn’t working for you any longer. Here are three life lessons that will have the biggest impact in helping you create more joy in these lost areas of your life.  “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Where are you headed in life? Are you on the right path? Are you feeling lost? Is it time for a course correction? Every so often it’s beneficial to ask questions like these so you can assess your wellbeing, dreams and desires…and then change what isn’t working for you any longer.

Take a moment to experience how your body reacts to the following seventeen areas of life. Does each one make feel free and joyful, or do some of them make you experience pain, loss or other negative effects?

    1. Spirituality
    2. Romance
    3. Diet
    4. Exercise
    5. Sleep
    6. Home
    7. Work
    8. Growth & learning
    9. Finances
    10. Family
    11. Friends
    12. Fun
    13. Community
    14. Mindfulness
    15. Breathing
    16. Daily relaxation
    17. Touch

This exploratory exercise helps you identify the areas of life that are making you feel lost. It takes courage to give attention to these feelings, but it’s the first step to feeling whole again. Over the last few years, I’ve been coaching people to extraordinary personal success. Along the way, I’ve gleaned some life lessons that you can use to create more joy in these lost areas of your life. Here are three of them that make the biggest impact:

1. Be the boss…take responsibility…make the hard choices. I’ve found that so many people struggle with taking ownership of their own lives. Somewhere along the way, they’ve given away their power to things that don’t serve them anymore. They don’t feel like they control their own lives.

But at some point, you have to realize you chose those things…the job, the family, the life. You may not be able to change your past, but if you want your future to reflect your desires, start managing your life.

I don’t mean quitting your job, divorcing your spouse and abandoning your children. Instead of following the whims of your past, mindfully shift your thoughts and experiences to ones that bring you joy. No matter what the circumstance is, you can change your focus. Rather than fixating on an annoyance, look for the positive in each experience. As you make this your new way of being, you’ll find that the former irritations and annoyances bother you little, if at all. 

2. Distinguish healthy habits from mindless routines. Pay attention to how your daily habits may be shutting you off from new experiences. For example, when you work for yourself, you sit at home in front of a computer a lot. This creates tunnel vision. If you don’t go out to lunch with friends; if you don’t leave the house; if you don’t get outside stimuli…life begins to stagnate. Your daily routine imprisons you, without you even realizing it.

Look for ways to shake things up…eat a different breakfast, try a different exercise routine, accept more invitations to get out. Become more mindful and self-aware of what you say “yes” or “no” to. In that way, you make each decision a choice, not just a reflexive habit that may not be serving you any more.

3. Ask for and accept help…often. Independence is especially prized in Western culture. But think about this: what dreams could you pursue, if you relied more on others who want to help? Let go of that voice that says you have to do it by yourself. (If you’re curious about exploring a coaching partnership, but you still have reservations, please reach out to me with any questions.)

When you’re feeling lost, it’s important to actively choose systems for living that help you become the person you want to be. If you’d like to dig more deeply into assessing your state of wellness, I invite you to download my free 7-Point Wellness Assessment. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching practice to start clients on the journey to finding their personal truth.

Unlock the Power and Magic of Emotional Attunement in Your Relationships

Life is sweet when you feel emotional attunement in your relationships at home and work, yet many feel distant, so if you could use more, use these five tips to fine-tune your emotional attunement.“Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Have you ever tried to talk with a person who was stone-faced, showing no facial reaction at all to what you were saying? It didn’t take long before you began faltering for words, losing your train of thought and finding it hard to carry on, did it? Why is that? Because when there’s no emotional attunement, no empathy, we don’t feel connected, understood or valued. We need to feel like people are getting what we’re saying.

Emotional attunement takes more than looking at someone or hearing their words. It means using all of our senses to understand what they’re feeling so much that we feel it too. It takes being able to sense, interpret and respond to someone so that she/he doesn’t feel alone any longer. Our eyes become moist with tears when they hurt or beam with happiness to mirror their joy. We lean in and touch their arm with a gesture of compassion. We reflect back to them their emotions with words such as, “That must have been so frustrating!”  

We learn to regulate and manage our emotions at an early age from our mothers. She reacted to our emotional state and responded in a way that cared for our needs and soothed us, making us feel secure. A mother gives her child this wonderful gift – the ability to decipher feelings and learn to self-regulate them. If, however, feelings are ignored or put down, the person will carry an inability to interpret and express emotion into their adulthood. The good news is that even if this gift was lacking from your life, you can still learn how to experience emotional attunement in your relationships today.

At times, everyone struggles with emotional attunement. We get caught up in our own drama or daily pressures distract us from really connecting emotionally with others, whether you’re an intimate couple, friends or business associates. If the situation makes you feel blamed, you may fall back to a defensive mode, which makes it impossible to see what the other person is feeling. It’s easy to settle for a transactional kind of relationship, solving problems and sharing responsibilities, without sharing your emotional self and listening for each other’s emotional needs. 

The magic and power of emotional attunement is that it doesn’t require a lot from you. It simply takes listening with your ears, mind and heart. You don’t have to “fix” anything or offer advice. This is a huge aha moment for many men especially. You can do so much by doing nothing but tuning in!

Here are some reminders for fine-tuning your emotional attunement:

  • Be fully immersed and attuned to what your friend is experiencing.
  • Remain emotionally open to her friend’s feeling even if it makes you uncomfortable.
  • Use subtle bodily reactions to make powerful connections – shed tears, touch her arm, nod, tilt your head in sync with the tilt of your friend’s head.
  • Reinforce your being present by saying a few words that convey that, “I’m here for you” or “Yes, I understand”.
  • Keep this as your goal – make your friend feel less alone.

Emotional attunement can be learned, but it’s learned experientially. It takes time, but you can learn to sharing your emotions and to trusting your own judgment in reading other people. When you surround yourself with people who practice emotional attunement you can speed up your own progress. If closer emotional connectedness is what you’re looking for, check out the Women in Leadership Retreat I’m leading with my colleague Nando Raynolds on May 20 and 21. This can be your Big Goal that we work on together.

How to Get Out of a Funk Quickly So You Don’t Get Stuck There

If you want to know how to get out of a funk faster to regain happiness, use these proven tips for mindfully exploring and resolving the source of your funk“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” ~ Mary Engelbreit

“Urggh! I can’t do anything right today! Everything I touch is falling apart!” Have you ever felt like this? Once your day starts off on the wrong foot, is your whole day shot? Or do you have a sure-fire way of resetting your emotions, so you can get over it faster? Do you know how to get out of a funk quickly?

We’re not always up and peppy. I don’t think humans are meant to be, do you? There are ebbs and flows throughout our lives. Most of us go through a predictable cycle of peaks and valleys. However, it can become a perpetual problem, if we spend too much time focusing on the negative. I agree with this beautiful expression from TinyBuddha.com:

“Our minds are like oceans. Like the tides, thoughts come in and then retreat back. When your mind is stuck, the ebb and flow of your thoughts are all negative. Each new thought process makes the negativity even stronger, creating a snowball effect.”

Being in a funk is normal; staying there is not a healthy option. A funky mood is signaling that it’s time for reflection to make a change in your life. Give yourself space to do that and then move on. Otherwise you’ll experience these effects of a sustained funk:

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Loss of energy and enthusiasm
  • Isolation and withdrawing from friends and activities
  • Lack creativity
  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Inconsistent and irregular sleep patterns

It’s taken me years to recognize the signs, and still at times I can spend precious time in a pretty deep funk before I can get out on purpose. But the good news is that we can all learn how to get out of a funk through practicing mindfulness.

Previously I shared five ways to mindfully shift your level of happiness. Here are some additional ways to show you how to get out of a funk and back to enjoying life to the full:

Listen to what your body is telling you. It may be a case of just needing restorative sleep, good nutrition or self-care to regain your emotional balance.

Identify the negative, reinforce the positive. Your feelings help you understand and explore why you’re in a funk. Allow them to guide you, without judgment. Try writing them down. Start with how you’re feeling. “I feel       ” then “I feel anxious because     .” Keep digging until you get to the root cause so you can extinguish its power over you.

Take a break and do something creative. You may not think you have time, but how productive are you going to be in your funk, anyway? You’re not. So give yourself a break and restore your energy by getting out of your head and into your body. Creativity helps you process your mood and express things you can’t with words alone.

Break a sweat, get the endorphins pumping, and work the funk out. I use a number of exercises to bring myself out of a funk. If, because of injury or limitations, you need a low impact solution, try The Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Re-education. Learn to release the tension in your body and you’ll release the tension in your mind.

Use NLP to do a reality check. Connect with when you were at the top of your game. You’ve been there before. You’ll be there again.

It may be tempting to blame other people or circumstances, but we are individually responsible for our own mental state. You get to change how you internalize and deal with what life throws at you. I would love to partner with you and share personalized techniques for excellence with you. Please feel free to schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation so we can explore your options. I’m happy to meet in-person, by phone or via Skype.


Let's get started with 30 free minutes

I invite you to learn more about me and my coaching and counseling services. Please contact me to schedule an “It starts with you!” 30-minute complimentary consultation with me, in-person, by phone or via video consultation, so we can explore our partnership.

SCHEDULE


How to Step Forward to a Future You've Created

Discover how to replace your old, self-limiting map with a new map full of possibilities for the future

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE INTRO TO STEPPING FORWARD TODAY!