5 Important Reminders to Help You Grow Into The Best Person You Can Be

By Joe Wilner

birds

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with the big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.” – Albert Einstein

Whether personal growth is an important value to your or not, it isn’t always easy.

In fact, personal growth is pretty damn hard work.

Sometimes we hit a plateau and stay stagnant, and other times life just takes us completely off course and it’s hard to get back on track.

But, when the going gets tough we have a choice to either get bitter or better.

Getting better is all about adapting and using our experience to grow, learn, and spiritually expand as a person.

We have to be willing to learn if we want to get better. Whether it’s learning to ride a bike or learning to walk as a toddler, we will fall and have to get back up again.

Reaching for our potential requires us to push past obstacles in the same way.

Here are five reminders to help you grow through hardships.

1. Mistakes are a form of practice – Every professional was once an amateur. The way we get better and develop any skill or trait is by trying, failing, and learning. Remember that mistakes are a form of practice. Allow yourself to make mistakes and use failure as a teacher. To never struggle is to never grow.

2. There is always a something new to learn – Each day offers opportunities to learn or experience something new. Be a student of life. Take in and absorb all the knowledge you can. What can you learn from the experiences you are going through right now?

3. Change is constant – Getting comfortable with life can get in the way of a pursuit for growth and development. But when it comes down to it, resisting change is futile.

Change is constant and is something we must accept. So, why not embrace and befriend change? Be intentional about change and meet it head on so you can change in positive direction. Be open to the person you can become.

4. You can make a difference – We all have skills, talents, and capabilities that allow us to contribute to the world around us. We can give back in a big way and make it our life mission, or to simply give back through kindness and encouragement when we meet a stranger.

The point is the best version of you is meant to improve the life experience of others; to give back and serve. You can make a difference in someone’s life, and ultimately improve your life in the process.

5. Life is a journey - Life is a journey and you create your path. This journey isn’t over until we are dead and gone. You have a choice in how you respond and the direction you take.

A journey is meant to be filled with adventure and risk. Have fun with your life and be willing to do something new and exciting. Enjoy your journey while you can.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway 

 



Are You Living A Life Based On What’s Most Important To You?

By Joe Wilner

baby holding hand

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” - Ayn Rand

One of the most important aspects of living a fulfilling and meaningful life is recognizing our values, and living in alignment with them.

Webster’s dictionary defines a value as, “a principle, standard, or quality considered inherently worthwhile or desirable”— a word or phrase that describes what is important to you.

Unfortunately, many people don’t really know what they value most deeply. They have a vague sense of what is important to them, but may not have examined the bigger picture of how their life is connected to these values or where these values came from.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” - Roy E. Disney

Our values are the foundation and measurement of a life well lived. When we have clarity on our values they serve as a compass to help us make important decisions so we can ultimately live a more meaningful and thriving life.

Living in alignment with our values comes down to prioritizing. On a daily basis we have 1,440 minutes to use as we desire.

We have a choice in how we spend our time, and the way we spend our time will directly influence the results we get.

What are your values?

I nearly always encourage clients to do a values exercise to help them determine their top five core values.

By doing this they are able to uncover any gaps between what is most important to them and how they live their life.

It’s important to realize that our values change over time.

That is why it’s important to take inventory of our values every few years. As we change and our life circumstances change, our assessment of what is most important evolves as well.

For instance, in my life “adventure” and “excitement” are two values that are big priorities.

The sense of doing something fun and exciting hasn’t always been that important to me.

But as I settled into a life pattern over the past few years I got bored, and the importance of these areas grew for me.

That is one of the major reasons I play drums in a band now. It helps me get this feeling of excitement and exhilaration.

Here is a values list you can use to narrow down your core values.

Here is another great article with an exercise for living a values based life.

Are you living a values based life?

Just because we know what are values are doesn’t mean we actually follow through with incorporating them into our life.

Living a values based life comes down to defining what your values mean and becoming intentional about prioritizing them into your life.

What do your values mean to you? How would someone with this value live their life?

When you look at what is most important to you, consider how much time you actually dedicate to that area of your life.

If you aren’t living based on your values you probably don’t feel a sense of congruence and wholeness.

How would your life change if you started doing what really mattered to you?

Determine what is most important to you and find ways to make it a priority!

It is better to have a meaningful life and make a difference than to merely have a long life.” - Bryant H. McGill



Five Reasons to Develop and Grow Your Spirituality

By Joe Wilner

walking the path

“The spiritual quest is not some added benefit to our life, something you embark on if you have the time and inclination. We are spiritual beings on an earthly journey. Our spirituality makes up our beingness.” - John Bradshaw

When it comes to self-care and being at our best, dedicating time to spirituality is equally important, if not more important, as other areas of life.

Spirituality has a different meaning to different people, but from a positive psychology perspective it can be defined as, “a deep sense of belonging, of wholeness, of connectedness, and of openness to the infinite (Easvaradoss, 2013).”

Developing our spirituality can help us deal with life’s challenges and grow into a better, more whole and happy person.

So, here are five benefits to developing your spiritual nature.

1. Hopefulness

If there is one thing that spirituality can add to our life it is a sense of hope and optimism. Spirituality strengthens our outlook for a better future.

We will always encounter challenges in life, but if we stay hopeful during these trying times we will persevere. Spiritual growth enhances our ability to deal with life’s ups and downs and bounce back from those difficult experiences.

2. Compassion and Understanding

It is easy to look at others with judgment and criticism, but when we start to grow spiritually we realize how much healthier it is to cultivate compassion and understanding for others instead.

“Spirituality is meant to take us beyond our tribal identity into a domain of awareness that is more universal.” - Deepak Chopra

It not only provides us the wherewithal to serve and help others but also improves our personal well-being. When look at life through a compassionate lens we can grow a sense of connection to others and begin to recognize the positive impact we can have.

3. Sense of purpose and meaning

A feeling that our life is worthwhile and that we aren’t just here by some random mistake can make a major difference in the trajectory of our life. We are alive for a reason and are meant to contribute something to the world.

According to an editorial in the International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, “In a modern world that is consumed with materialism, which moves at a frantic pace, and which is frayed by cultural, racial and religious divisiveness, the yearning of the human spirit to connect and find meaning is sometimes overlooked.”

Without a sense of spirituality we can lose sight of what is really most important and meaningful.

“Most importantly, the meaning of spirituality lays the seeds for our destiny and the path we must follow.” -Dennis Banks

4. Inspiration and appreciation

Life is full of inspiration when we are looking for it. There is also much to be grateful for despite the struggles and challenges we face.

Through spiritual growth we can learn to see the beauty and wonder in our day to day life. The things we often take from granted can start to offer us greater inspiration and joy.

5. Peace of mind

Part of spirituality is connecting to a higher power. Whatever name or label we give to this spiritual source is irrelevant in my opinion.

The important thing is the sense that there is something greater than ourselves, and that we don’t have to carry the entire burden alone. When we learn how to “let go” of the emotional baggage we carry it really adds to peace of mind.

These are just a few benefits of spiritual growth. What would you add to this list?

Work Cited

Easvaradoss, V. & RajanIndian, R. (2013). Positive psychology spirituality and well-being: An overview. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(2), 321-325.

Souza, M. (2009). Editorial. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 14(2), 181–184.

 



How to Manage Your Negative Thinking

By Joe Wilner

Stitched Panorama

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”  ― Abraham Lincoln

When it comes to getting what we want or simply living a more fulfilling life it starts with the way we think.

Our thinking influences our attitude, decision making, motivation, and overall experience of life.

Unfortunately part of the human condition is having doubts, worries, frustrations, and just plain “stinkin’ thinkin‘”.

This is necessarily a problem, but when the negative thoughts start to take over and we aren’t able to see the silver lining any longer, it can have serious consequences on our state of mind.

The first step to start overcoming negative thinking is to learn how to identify when we think negatively.

So, here are some automatic negative thoughts, commonly called cognitive distortions, to be aware of.

Always/never thinking: Thinking in words like always, never, everyone, every time, everything.

Focusing on the negative: Seeing only the bad in a situation.

Fortune-telling: Predicting the worst case scenario to a situation.

Thinking with your feelings: Believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.

Guilt beatings: Thinking in words like should, must, ought, or have to.

Labeling: Attaching a negative label to yourself of someone else.

Personalizing: Connecting innocuous events with personal meaning.

Blaming: Blaming someone else for your own problems.

Which of these automatic negative thoughts resonate with you? Which of these type of thinking patterns do you notice most often?

That leads us to the first step in overcoming negative thinking.

1. Identify the negative thought. Determine which type of thinking patterns are most common for you, and start to become more aware of when these thoughts occur. Having this self-awareness is the first step toward learning how to think more positively.

2. Write it down. Once you start noticing your thoughts, write them down so you can specifically know what you are thinking. Writing them down can also give you a chance to start to reframe some of your thinking more easily.

3. Challenge or reframe the negative thought. Often when we are using the cognitive distortions listed above we are thinking somewhat irrationally. This is actually good news because when we realize this we can start to shift our thinking. Here are a few questions to help you reframe your thinking.

Is there any evidence that this thought is accurate? What are the facts?

What are some alternative ways to think about the situation?

What thoughts would help me feel better about this?

What can I focus on to help me find a solution to this problem?

 



5 Warning Signs You May Be Taking On Too Much

By Joe Wilner

tired

“No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do and too little time to do it?

This is a common way of life for many people, but it can lead to some serious problems if we aren’t careful.

One major factor that gets in the way of us being at our best is getting overwhelmed by stress.

We are all human and need to take a break from time to time.

The key is to notice when we are getting to the edge of our ability to cope, so we don’t fall off the proverbial cliff.

So, I wanted to share some warning signs to help you notice when you’re getting overwhelmed and help you prevent burnout.

Here are five warning signs to be aware of!

Cognitive – Changes in the way you think. When overwhelmed by stress people often start to think more negatively and cynically about life. We start to focus on all our problems and our thinking becomes distorted and less rational.

Emotional – When we have too much going on it clearly effects our emotions and mood. People get more irritable and have a shorter fuse. With a higher level of stress also comes diminishing levels of life satisfaction.

We won’t be as fulfilled and happy, and there may be a sense of emotional emptiness at the extreme end.

Physical – When we are stressed out for too long it takes a serious toll on our body and physical health. We might start to experience headaches or other physical symptoms. As well, a lack of energy and higher levels of fatigue is common.

Relational – We might not always realize that our stress level can directly influence our relationships, but is does. We we aren’t emotionally healthy it can be common to unintentionally take it out on others, even people who we really care about.

You may notice that you act more aggressively or antagonistically toward others, or that there is more conflict than usual.

Spiritual – Another unfortunate side effect of an excessively busy life is a disregard for our spiritual health. Don’t get so wrapped up in your daily tasks and responsibilities that you forget to nourish your spiritual self.

You may start to notice a missing sense of purpose and meaning in your day to day life. Life will start to feel stale and empty, and you may notice yourself asking, “Is this all there is to life?”

If you notice any of the symptoms above there is a good chance you’re taking on too much or have too high of expectations for yourself.

For some ways to deal with stress and avoid burnout, check out this post called 5 Ways to Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout on my personal blog.



How to Connect With Your Passion So You Can Be At You Best

By Joe Wilner

medium_13460264693

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou

An uninspired and passionless life can start to feel exhausting.

Without pursuing our passions, existence becomes lifeless and dull and we get stuck in a tedious rut of predictability.

That is why we all need to have inspiration and passion in our day to day life.

Think about the experience of doing what you love. How does this influence your mood, energy, and attitude?

When we engage in creative and challenging activities we feel great about ourselves and appreciate life more fully.

There is a concept called Flow, proposed by Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, which refers to a state of mind a person gets when they are fully engaged in a passionate pursuit.

When someone experiences flow there is a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

Finding an outlet where we can experience this state of mind not only improves our well-being but also improves our performance.

This can be music, or art, or athletics or writing, or technology development, or just about anything where we are challenged and using our creative expression.

The list goes on and on but the important thing to understand is what this passionate pursuit is for you.

So, if life seems a little dull and boring, you’re probably not using your creativity and engaging in your passions.

First and foremost, you must know what you’re passionate about.

Here are some questions from the book Dream Year by Ben Arment that may be helpful to begin uncovering your deep interests and passions.

  • What were the defining moments in my life?
  • What passions or interests can I not shake?
  • What hard work would I gladly do for free?
  • What kinds of people are drawn to me?
  • What comes easily and naturally for me?
  • What were my interests and tendencies as a child?
  • What can I do for hours without getting bored or distracted?

There is certainly something inspiring that you are drawn to, and the minute to allow yourself to engage in this the more happy and fulfilled you will be.

Take a few minutes to answer the above questions. Familiarize yourself with that common thread of passion that has always been in your life.

No more living a life of boredom and monotony. Get out there and do something that excites you and elevates you emotionally and spiritually.

You will feel better and be at your best because of it!



Two Invaluable Concepts to Help You Be More Empowered

By Joe Wilner

empowered

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”― Henry Ford

There are two perspective people have on life. They either take the perspective of an “owner” or a “victim.”

The owner is accountable, confident, and resilient. The victim is helpless, powerless, and cynical.

There are probably people you know who come to mind that fit both descriptions.

Sadly, much our world is geared toward victims. Many people live as if they are at the mercy of the events and circumstances they encounter in day to day life. From the nightly news, to political propaganda, to co-workers and neighbors, we hear messages that life is a struggle and to prepare for the next problem in a “dog eat dog” world.

But when we learn how to break out of this victim mentality a world of possibility opens up.

You can create the life you desire and deserve, but it requires taking full responsibility for our reactions, behaviors, and attitude.

Here are a few ideas to help you understand how to be more empowered.

Locus of Control

What do you believe controls what happens to you?  Is it you or external circumstances? There is something called Locus of Control, and this has a big impact on our attitude and overall decision making.

“A locus of control orientation is a belief about whether the outcomes of our actions are contingent on what we do (internal control orientation) or on events outside our personal control (external control orientation).” (Zimbardo, 1985)

Internal Locus of Control 

  • Greater self-confidence
  • Will work harder to get what they want
  • Deal with challenges more effectively
  • Take responsibility for their actions

OR

External Locus of Control

  • Blame others and outside influences
  • More likely to experience learned helplessness
  • More prone to give up in the face of challenges

A feeling of control is so important to the attitude you hold. If you feel in control you will feel a sense of mastery and competence. You feel better about yourself and your circumstances.

Self-Efficacy

A second concept that is related to our level of empowerment is self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the idea of what you believe you can do with your skills under certain conditions, and your ability to coordinate skills in challenging or changing situations.

In other words, do you believe you will be successful in a particular situation or not?

Believing you can achieve something is perhaps the most important ingredient in the recipe for success.

When it comes to goal setting it’s important to approach and set goals that will build self-efficacy. Building on success prevents discouragement and improves confidence.

We need to see success occurring in our life, which means accomplishing goals and ultimately setting larger and greater goals.

There will always be things out of our control, but when it comes to day to day choices we can learn to have a more empowered attitude.

Start to recognize that you often have a choice in the way to react to what happens to you. You don’t have to feel stuck because of you circumstances. You can always take steps to create the circumstances you want.

Reference

Zimbardo, P. G. (1985). Psychology and life. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman.



How to Connect More Deeply With Others

By Joe Wilner

love on a bench

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” ― Herman Melville

The relationships in our life make us who we are.

We are social creatures meant to intimately connect with others. We are meant to love, care for, and support others and ultimately receive this intimacy in return.

The connections we make with other may be only for a short time or for a lifetime.

Either way, it’s important to recognize that these connections can elevate our experience of life and make us a better person, and in doing so we can help others be at their best as well.

So when it comes to being at our best learning how to build these deep and meaningful relationships is of the utmost importance.

Here are a few tips to help you connect more deeply in your relationships.

1. Be vulnerable

It can be freighting to show our vulnerabilities. We don’t want people to know we are insecure or uncertain, or that we don’t have it all figured out.

Veiling our vulnerabilities is actually a barrier to having a deep and meaningful relationship. When put on our hypothetical armor or mask to hide our insecurities and fears we aren’t authentically connecting with others.

Come to terms with what you don’t what people to know. Be willing to share when you’re afraid or hurt. This doesn’t make you weak. Doing so is actually an act of courage. Hiding behind a false self is what is weak.

2. Share your deep desires

I love talking with people about their dreams and desires. It moves conversations away from the superficial and takes them to the supernatural! We all have dreams and wishes and when we share these with others it opens up a door to greater possibilities.

When I talk to people about what really matters it is exciting and inspiring! Talk about what really matters to you. Be willing to share what inspires you, instead of what you think other people want to hear.

3. Learn to serve

When it comes to building relationships it’s easy to focus on what we have to gain. If you want to connect more deeply focus first on how you can help or serve the other person. Be willing to really listen to them and uncover what they want from life.

When we focus on serving others it is a win/win. Just as Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Next time you want to connect deeper ask, “How can I help you? How can I support you?”

4. Be accountable

The last tip for connecting more deeply is about take 100% responsibility for your role in a relationship. We all have certain responsibilities in a relationship and making these clear and owning them sends a powerful message.

Do your part to make the relationship flourish and if you make a mistake own up to it. With some relationships we have more responsibility than others, but either way we must be accountable for what our role and responsibility is.

Connect more deeply with others today. Practice being at your best and help others do the same.



6 Bad Habits that Will Drain Your Energy

By Joe Wilner

feeling tired

“The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body. The more efficient your body, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.” - Anthony Robbins

I am a little under the weather right now.

It’s not hugging the porcelain God or anything. I just have congestion and a head cold.

The point of me telling you this isn’t to whine and complain.

Being sick just makes me realize how important our health and habits are when it comes to being at our best.

Since I’m sick I am more drained of energy and lack the focus I usually have.

It’s hard to be at our best when we don’t feel healthy and are drained of energy.

So I thought it would be helpful to explore 6 habits to avoid, (such as being sick), to help you stay energized and at your best.

You don’t drink enough water

Dehydration takes a toll on energy levels. Many people don’t drink enough water (myself included). I know it’s easy to choose a cup of coffee when I feel tired instead of drinking more water.

When I already don’t drink enough water, all coffee does is dehydrate me even more. I make sure to drink a glass of water when I wake up in the morning and choose water instead of soda for my meals. Make it a goal to drink more water.

You have too much on your plate

How often do you connect being tired with having too much to do? One of most common reasons that people feel drained and exhausted is that they have too much to do and too little time. Many people take on more than they can handle.

Learn to say no and create a little gap in your day. If you want more energy you need time for stillness and solitude.

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” ― John Wooden

You’re a clutter bug

Another side effect of having too much to do, and feeling tired because of it, is not keeping our surroundings organized and clean. It’s natural that when we get busy life will get a little cluttered, but ultimately this only makes life more stressful.

We all need to make time here and there to “clear some disk space.” This means get rid of things we don’t need and trying to simplify our life.

You never take a break

Mr. Workaholic I know it’s tough to take a break, I have been there before, but it’s for your own good. I used to think that if I took a break from working on my business that I would get behind and miss important opportunities.

I didn’t realize that never taking or break was actually inhibiting my creativity and efficiency. I never gave myself a chance to unwind and gain clarity. Make time to take a few small breaks throughout your day. Or even better plan a vacation and take a big break!

You have toxic relationships

Avoid all energy vampires! When it comes to managing energy be aware of the people you surround yourself with. People can either help us stay upbeat and focused or they can add negativity and damper the mood.

Negativity can be very draining and emotionally taxing. Avoid people who are always needing something from you or demanding your time. Make it a point to spend time with people that “fill you up” emotionally, instead of people who sap your energy.

You don’t get enough sleep

If there is one habit I religiously follow it is getting enough sleep. For me this is about 8 hours per night. I know some people believe that less sleep gives them more time in the day, but if you’re like me you won’t function as well when sleep deprived.

The MLB playoffs have been getting in the way of my sleep over the past month. I enjoy watching them and am making the choice to do so, but it is a guilty pleasure I don’t always have to battle with. What prevents you from getting enough sleep?

Choose to be more disciplined in your life. It may just be a small shift, like drinking one more glass of water, or watching one less TV show before going to bed.

“Life begets life. Energy creates energy.It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.” - Sarah Bernhardt



Why Meditation is an Essential Habit to Be at Your Best

By Joe Wilner

meditator

“Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.” – Deepak Chopra

It is becoming more and more clear that meditation is a healthy and valuable habit to cultivate.

There is an immense amount of research supporting the positive impact meditation has on mental and physical health.

Just Google search “health benefits of meditation” and you’ll get over 87,000 scholarly articles that you can peruse to learn more.

Unfortunately many people still find meditation off-putting and don’t fully understand what it is. There are many myths about meditation that inhibit people from taking the steps to start practicing it.

Check out “this article” from my blog Shake off the Grind for a list of these myths.

Once you get over the myths about why you can’t or shouldn’t meditate however, you might be interested in how meditation can enhance your life.

So, here are a few reasons why you should start meditating.

Meditation reduces stress

The National Institute of Health has written, “It is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system.” Essentially meditation calms our body and reduces the stress response.

This has many benefits including: reduction of high blood pressure, –reduction of high cholesterol levels, slowing down of the aging process, and improved immune functioning. Less stress equals better mental and physical health.

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha

Meditation can make you happier

Meditation not only decreases anxiety, stress, and depression but also enhances our emotional well-being. In researcher Richard Davidson’s lab at the University of Wisconsin Madison, students who contemplated on “compassion” significantly raised the energy level in the left frontal lobe, which is associated with positive emotions.

Through meditating they began rewiring their brain for greater well-being. When you meditate you can cultivate positive emotions like compassion and gratitude and ultimately strengthen the neural connections in your brain that are associated with these emotions.

Meditation can enhance your spirituality

“I deepen my experience of God through prayer, meditation, and forgiveness.” - Marianne Williamson 

Meditation doesn’t have to be associated with any religion or spiritual framework, but if you want to deepen your spirituality meditation can be a wonderful practice. –

Meditation enables us to investigate the nature of reality non-conceptually through direct experience. We experience what it’s like to be present and shift our focus from external to internal. It allows us to know ourselves outside of any external identification, and helps us learn to surrender instead of clinging to impermanent world around us.

Thus meditating you will no longer strive to build yourself up in your prejudices, but, forgetting self, you will remember only that you are seeking the Truth.” – James Allen

These are just three ways meditation can improve your life.

As you practice meditating you will begin to transfer the benefits from the “cushion” to your day to day life, and this is of course where the benefits really matter.

 



 
 

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