Establishing a New Habit

puzzle habitIt’s March. Remember the glow of the New Year that we felt in January? Perhaps you’re also remembering a resolution or two that you set. How are those resolutions going? If some of them were around establishing a new habit – maybe it was related to exercise or healthy eating or meditating more often – it takes awhile for a new habit to take root. (In the popular self-help culture, people usually state that it takes 21 or 28 days to create a new habit.)

If you’re struggling to break through to the new you, it might be time to step back and evaluate what you’re setting out to do. Are you trying to change a lot of things all at once? If yes, that can sometimes be a recipe for failure.

Perhaps, instead try changing one thing at a time. In last month’s Yoga Chicago, Kali Om, wrote about a new intention or habit change each month. I really love this approach and have not seen it promoted elsewhere. To really focus on one change at a time for four weeks, is really helpful.

Some approaches that I have been through, like the Blood Sugar Solution, with a change happening each week, are too rapid. By the fourth week of the seven-week program, you’re so burnt out with trying to change things that you start ignoring the next recommended change. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Blood Sugar Solution and completely believe in this dietary approach, even for a short time, however, the habit change each week is demotivating. Just doing the dietary and supplement changes that are established early on in the program are enough to focus on and they bring about amazing results.

One can also use Reiki to establish a new habit. When we receive a Reiki session or practice self-Reiki, we can use the calm state that we achieve, to bring about mental clarity and greater focus. During this time of clarity and focus, we can visualize ourselves fully engaged in our new habit. Again, if we break this down to one change at a time, perhaps, one a month, then we can use that time, let’s say weekly sessions for one month, to focus the mind and align our personal energy around our new habit.

How are your changes for 2016 going? Please let us know in the comments below.

Book Review: The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project book“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The Declaration of Independence, In Congress,

July 4, 1776

Here in the U.S., as we celebrate our independence and reflect upon how much progress we’ve made this year and how much more we have to go as a nation, it’s also helpful to pay attention to our individual pursuits of happiness.  Gretchen Rubin’s thoughtful, humorous, and action-oriented book, The Happiness Project, is a great place to start.

Some people may question whether, in the face of so much suffering around us, if the pursuit of our personal happiness is important. To address this, Ms. Rubin often comes back to the question of why someone like her, who has so much and is basically happy, should take on a happiness project. She wonders, can she be happier and can she prepare herself, emotionally, for that dreaded time in the future when things might not be going so well and happiness may be much more elusive?  She is not in the grip of crisis and she writes, “I didn’t want to wait for a crisis to remake my life.” (page 15). I think this is true for many of us, we don’t need to wait for a crisis to start focusing on our happiness. AND, our personal happiness matters.

It matters for at least three reasons:

  1. When you feel happy you can do your best work and fulfill your life’s purpose.
  2. When you’re happy, you can help others and assist them in their pursuit of happiness.
  3. Happiness is contagious. (Relates to point number 2.)

Hopefully, you’re convinced that your personal happiness is a top priority in your life. This doesn’t mean it’s a narcissistic pursuit. We’re talking here about healthy personal fulfillment. Ms. Rubin outlines many, many approaches in her book. A former lawyer, she is methodical in her approach to her happiness project and has done extensive research on the different ways that people have used to achieve this ultimate state of well-being. Let’s look at a few of those approaches.

One of things that struck me throughout her book was the impact of small changes. Some of the small changes that she made included, the “evening tidy-up” which for her proved to be a way to maintain her workspace and home in a way that she found pleasing. She also revels in the cleaning out of a closet — so much so that it is a gift that she offers to do for her friends. (Of course, those who are open to it.) This sharing with friends and family is also a foundational aspect of the book. Ms. Rubin notes how a sunny attitude and a cheerful review can boost one’s mood and those around her. She also does an amazing job (one that I really admire) of not just thinking about doing a kind act for another person, but actually following through and buying a gift or providing that helping hand.

Small changes and the positive contagion of emotion are themes throughout the book, but she notes the one thing that she did that had the largest and most sustainable impact, was her Resolutions Chart. (You can find a copy of the chart to download here.)  The resolutions are broken down by month which is a great approach. Rather than taking on everything all at once, she focuses on a particular area of her life, let’s say, “family,” for one month, has specific resolutions around that topic and then can review her progress at the end of the month. From there she can determine what she wants to continue in that arena.

As I read the book, there were a few resolutions that really stood out for me and I have been incorporating into my daily life. For instance, she has one called, “Be Gretchen,” which I have incorporated as just, “Be me.” A couple of  others that have been helpful include, “Tackle nagging tasks” and “Don’t nag.” For me, tackling nagging tasks has been really liberating because I found there is enormous mental energy and emotional criticism that lingers inside myself with those tasks that never seem to get done. (Getting the appropriate help to complete those tasks is also crucial for success.  There is usually a reason that they’re not done. Maybe they’re too hard, maybe you don’t know how to complete them, or maybe you don’t wanna!)  Also, the avoidance of nagging and, for me, the avoidance of arguing, have been helpful. When I catch myself going there, I try to re-frame my words so that they are kind, motivating, and come from a place of love — definitely more happiness promoting than nagging or arguing!

What about you? Have you engaged in a happiness project? What are your top tips for promoting happiness in your life and those around you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Wishing you an abundance of freedom and success in your pursuit of happiness!

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Happy New Year! Happy Resolution Setting!

It’s the eve of New Year’s Eve and like many others, I take this as a time of reflection on the past year and to strengthen my resolve for the new year. For me, resolutions are absolutely essential for focusing my energy and achieving the results that I desire. Without writing down resolutions, I often lack focus. Though things don’t always work out in the way I hope or at the exact time I planned, they are more likely to be achieved if I’ve taken these five essential steps:

  1. Reflect
  2. Align
  3. Write
  4. Share
  5. Act

The process goes like this: I reflect on what I’ve achieved and what I want to achieve. As you do this, remember to take credit for what you did well in 2014 and be thankful to others. Spend sometime in a reflective state of gratitude and get specific about the wonderful things that make up the gratitude that you feel. Remember the times of connection with others in 2014 and acknowledge the flow and change that is a constant in our lives. Then look ahead — what do you want to acheive in 2015? I try not to over-think this step and instead let my intuition lead me to the juiciest goals.

Then I utilize Reiki, relaxation, and visualization to see if these desires align with my values. I do this by imagining what I would look like, how I would feel, and what I would say to others when I achieve my desired result. (Sherold Barr has a lovely approach to this where you imagine yourself at the end result and write from that perspective.)

The third step is to write out my resolutions for the new year. Ideally, this gets very detailed with a breakdown of steps to take, timelines for each step, and a list of kindred spirits who will help me along the way. Scott Dinsmore has a great tool for going through the writing step. It may take some time to do this, but it is very worthwhile.

Thanks to Scott and others I have been tapping into the power of sharing my goals. As with any intention setting, it is like setting the intention an additional time. You’ve thought it, you’ve written it, and now you’ve spoken it. Plus, you’ve ideally shared it with a kindred spirit who will hold up your goal and help you to achieve it. Sometimes that help comes in the simplest form by listening, repeating, or an understanding nod. However, this support is absolutely essential for the healthy life of connected beings.

Then it’s time to act. I make sure that there are some tasks that I can start on right away. In addition, I mindfully review my timelines to make sure I’m not putting off too far in the future tasks that I perceive as difficult, weighty, or anxiety-producing. Those tasks need to be broken down and worked on “as soon as possible” otherwise they will wait for a lifetime. If they are aligned with your true self and your ideal goals, then there is no concern that they are the “wrong” ones, it just might be that they are the most life changing and therefore need to be bumped up in priority. Also, this process is ideally done in a circular fashion, that is, I need to periodically (usually monthly) check-in on my progress and my alignment throughout the year.

I’d love to hear what you have in mind (and heart!) for the new year. Please share your resolutions in the comments below.

My resolutions include some new offerings in 2015, including:

  • An online tool to request distance Reiki
  • Grief coaching + Reiki
  • Lots of writing and teaching, including an e-book, plus a larger book project
  • An offline support group for those who have experienced pregnancy loss
  • and more!


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