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How gratitude can help in challenging times

There is a saying - “every day may not be good, but there is good in everyday.” But is that true even during challenging times like a global pandemic? I’ll be honest, I used to think gratitude was some airy fairy rubbish. I want to share a personal story however that suggests there might be something to this gratitude thing. A personal story. In 2009, after our second round of Invitro Fertilization, my wife became pregnant with twins. (The first round a few years before was very successful and resulted in our daughter Grace.) At the 4 month ultrasound, the one where they tell you if you should paint the nursery blue or pink, we learnt that one of the boys was healthy but the other had a serious birth defect. If he lived to full term then he might only be with us for a few minutes or a few hours. We were referred to the High Risk Pregnancy Team at our hospital. We were also assigned a Genetic Counselor who explained my sons condition and what our options were. My son had a condition cal
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How to restart a habit

  Until June this year I had a great morning routine. I'd get up, have a large glass of water, do my exercise routine, meditate, write in my bullet journal and work on one of my blogs. I had been sticking to these habits for well over a year without any problem. I'd never miss more than one day in a row, and even that was rare. These were solid habits and they made me happier and healthier. This was a well ingrained routine.  Then in June I got sick. For two months I wasn't well enough to do my normal morning routine, so I stopped. It wasn't a conscious decision, I just wasn't able to exercise or meditate. I also wasn't waking up at the same time. Slowly, I got better and better and now three months later I am feeling back to normal. My morning routine however did not return to normal. As I started waking up at my usual time again I fell in to a lazy routine of getting up and just surfing the internet. What happened to me is not unusual. Many people develop stro

Be Happy. Go For A Good Walk.

One of the best ways to boost your happiness is to get in to the habit of going for a Good Walk.

What is WOOP and how can it help me achieve my goals?

WOOP is a science based mental strategy people can use to fulfill their wishes, set preferences and change their habits. The technique is based on 20 years of research and was developed by psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. The scientific name for it is Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions. Mental Contrasting is the concept comparing your future wish with your current reality. Implementation Intentions are the practice of deciding in advance what you will do in a given situation.  WOOP is short for: W - Wish. O - Outcome. O - Obstacles. P - Plan. WISH The first step is to name a wish that is challenging but feasible. Set a time frame for the wish. Ask yourself if the wish is dear to you and if it's challenging yet achievable. Once you are done, note it down in 3 - 6 words. Pause and really picture it in your head. For example: I want to exercise more. OUTCOME Then think about the very best outcome and imagine it. What would the biggest benefit to achieving your wish

What is the one minute principle in Kaizan?

In 1986 a gentleman named Masaaki Imai wrote a book about the Japanese concept of "Kaizen." The word kaizen comes from two Japanese words: ‘kai’ meaning ‘change’ and ‘zen’ meaning ‘good’. This philosophy was first introduced by the Toyota company in the 1980's and encourages an improvement culture that gradually increases quality, efficiency, and profitability. Within the philosophy of Kaizan is the "one minute principle." The one minute principle states that you should practice a something at the same time every day for one minute. This principle leverages the power of habit to improve a little bit every day. To get started with the one minute principle, pick something to practice for one minute a day. So examples are: Meditate for one minute. Write something you are grateful for. Do one minute of pushups. Do one minute of jumping jacks. Then set a time each day you can practice this skill. Set a reminder on your phone for this time so you remember! Finally com

Five ways to be happier in one minute

Having a bad day? What can you do in 1 minute to boost your happiness? It turns out there are several things! 1. Smile. This is a case of faking it until you make it. Researchers have found that smiling makes you happier. Spend one minute smiling and you will be happier when you are finished. 2. Laugh. Find something that makes you laugh. Read a joke book. Watch a funny cat video online. Have a one minute dance party. Laughing makes people happier. 3. Sun. Go stand outside in the sun for a minute. Lack of sunlight makes people sad. Getting outside to some natural sunlight will give your mood a boost. 4. Meditate. Hundreds of studies have shown the benefits of meditation. Frequency is more important than duration. Meditating one minute every day is better that meditating for seven minutes once a week. Sit up straight and breath in through your nose and out through your mouth for the count of twelve and boom you are done. 5. Gratitude. Practicing gratitude is another proven way to boost

You are what you repeat

I ntroduction A few years ago I sat down one morning and wrote a poem titled “You are what you repeat.” It came to me in a moment of inspiration and I finished it in one sitting. The truth is it didn’t “just come to me in a flash,” the idea for it had been ruminating for years. I think the poem really explains a lot about why someone has the life that they do. “You are what you repeat” by Barney Matthews You are what you repeat, I know it is true, Words that you say, And deeds that you do. Words become plans, Plans become deeds, This is what determines, Where your life leads. Once is a chance, Twice is a choice, If you do it again, Will your future rejoice. Whether the outcome, Is victory or defeat, It's all because, Of what you repeat. What it really says is what kind of person you are, and what your life is like, is caused by what you have repeated. Kind people aren’t just nice to people some

Healthy habit tips while you are stuck at home

As I write this we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and many people are under "stay at home" orders. That means havoc for our usual habits. Assuming that in a normal 16 hour waking day 8 of those hours are spent at work then that means 50% of your weekday habit cues have disappeared! It also means people have probably defaulted to their weekend habits which probably mean less exercise and more comfort food consumption. So how can you stay healthy while stuck at home? Here are a few habit suggestions anyone can adopt when stuck at home. Stand up when talking on the phone. Set an alarm to take a 2 minute movement break every hour. Take a short walk during your lunch break. Do a bodyweight HIIT exercise routine like the 7 minute workout or the 5BX . Take a Youtube exercise class like Yoga with Adriene . Stand up and fold your laundry or do the ironing while watching TV. Make a new rule: no sitting while TV commercials are on. Or even better do jumping jacks

How to change your eating habits and lose weight

The top New Years Resolution year after year is to lose weight. The first tactic people usually try when losing weight is to start exercising. Going for a 30 minute run will burn about 400 calories. That’s about the same amount of calories as a single donut. You can’t outrun your plate! Exercise has a whole host of benefits but contributing to weight loss for most people is not one. If you want to lose weight you are going to have to change your eating habits. Habit 1. Drink more water. People often confuse thirst with hunger. If you think you are hungry get in to the habit of drinking a glass of water and waiting 20 minutes. If you are still hungry then, go for it. As an added bonus, having a glass of zero calorie water in your stomach will help you feel full sooner. Habit 2. Get enough sleep. People often make up for having low energy because they are tired by eating. Make sure you go to bed at a time that gives you eight hours of sleep. Sticking to a consistent bedtime seven days

Why people fail to make a new habit and what you can do about it

Making new habits is easy, right? All you need is a reminder, a routine and a reward. Simple, huh? Research shows it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Studies on New Years Resolutions have found that 22% of people break their resolution within the first week, 40% after just one month, 50% after three months and at the four month mark 60% of people have broken their resolution, or failed to create their new habit. Why do people fail to make new habits? In my experience there are several reasons fail to make a new habit. They declare a wish instead of picking a habit. “I am going to start exercising.” “I am going to eat better.” “I am going to save money.” These are all wishes (and good goals) but they are not habits. A habit includes a specific action. “I will do the Jane Fonda workout.” “I will eat salad.” “I will move money to my savings account.” These are all actions. They make the initial habit too big. “I am going to run five miles a day.” “I am going to eat