What’s my purpose?

What’s your perspective on purpose?


Is it something you do or something you are?


Is it ignited at birth?


Or at work?


Does it expire at death?


Or when you retire?

The way I see it.


Purpose is for a lifetime.


It’s what lights you up, and sets your soul on fire!

Video of Post: Click Here

Love is a Language – What’s Yours?

How do you express your love?

Take Quiz

  1. The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Singles: Click Here
  2. The 5 Love Languages Quiz for Couples: Click Here
  3. Paper Version of Quiz — Tap on Photo Below

Love and Social Psychology

One of the reasons I love teaching psychology is that it gives me the opportunity to share why we do what we do. Including in romance!

The more we understand ourselves, the more compassionate we will be about ourselves and others.

Self Awareness and Social Awareness go hand in hand.

So given today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be a good time to resurrect a 2019 social psychology lecture on the 5 love languages.

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In this particular psychology class, we talked about: 1) what we value in a relationship, 2) our preferred love language, and 3) possible reasons for romantic successes and failures.

Discussed more fully in the two videos below.

The Theories of Love (Part 1)

In the first video I discuss the psychological theories and related life experiences that lay the foundation for a social psychology class on love and attraction (Chapter 14 in my psychology textbook).

The Reality of Love (Part 2)

In the second video I reflect upon the lessons learned in psychology class and how to apply these love lessons in real life.

Topics covered on video and in class:

  1. While dating, be on the lookout for concrete factual evidence of what is important to you. Both in person and online.
  2. For example, how does “love for family” show up in your potential partner’s actions.
  3. Also, if your relationship values include loyalty, spending time outdoors, and making mental health a priority. Is this something the person you are dating also values and lives by?
  4. It is also important to look beyond the surface and pay attention to nonverbal cues, communication, and behaviour.
  5. Do their words match their behaviour? For example, your date claims to be a great listener while spending the entire night checking their phone.

When people show you who they are, believe them.

Maya Angelou
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Self-Reflection Questions

1. What do you value most?

  • trustworthiness
  • kindness
  • compassion
  • intelligence
  • sense of humour
  • physical attractiveness
  • attentiveness

2. How do you communicate love?

  • Listening
  • Encouraging
  • Helping
  • Love Notes
  • Surprise Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Affection
Love QuizClick Here
Love Video 1Click Here
Love Video 2Click Here

Freedom is realizing you have a choice.

Freedom doesn’t come from holding on.

Freedom comes from letting go.

Again and again and again.

Too often we are hard on ourselves for having to release the same thought, emotion, person, or situation over and over again. 

When in fact this is how life goes.

Letting go and surrendering are an ongoing process. And as necessary for our mental health as eating is for our physical health.

We must eat three times a day. And sometimes we have to surrender (thirty) three times a day.

And that’s ok. That’s how life flows..

F R E E D O M

Reflection Question

If you only had ONE YEAR to live:

What would you STOP doing?

THE CHOICE IS YOURS

Video of Blog Post: Click Here

What Trauma Taught Me About Happiness

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Trauma

Is it possible to feel joy in the face of adversity?

Strength during the lowest of lows?

Creativity in the midst of destruction?

Peace in difficulty?

Vibrancy during cancer?

Happiness during COVID-19?

In the video below, I share some personal examples from my own upbringing on how my parents found strength and contentment during even the darkest of times.

Your Thoughts:

Can trauma and happiness coexist?

I’d love to hear your ideas, theories, and personal stories.

Video of Post → Click Here

Psychology Insights: Self Criticism to Self Compassion

Why are we so hard on ourselves DrAndreaDinardo.com

WHY ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES?

Great question!

One that I’m asked often. And one that I often ask myself.

PSYCHOLOGY INSIGHTS

What causes this behaviour?

The answer is multifaceted and includes several factors including how we were parented (when internalized superego and conscience first develops) and eventually how we parent ourselves.

For example:

When something goes wrong, how do you respond?

1. Self Criticism versus Self Compassion

2. Self Control versus Self Love and Understanding 

PSYCHOLOGY SOLUTIONS

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How do I make the shift from self criticism to self compassion?

1. Pay attention to where your self judgements originated.

Is this your personal measure of worthiness or society’s expectation of success?

2. Investigate how truly arbitrary the standards you set for yourself are.

For example, who said you had to weigh 125 lbs, have a million dollars in the bank, and be married by 30?

3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

  • Watch this short video for additional insights into the developmental origins of toxic self criticism, unrealistic standards, and the SUPERego.

“Be kinder to yourself. And let your kindness flood the world.”

Ambitious Mama Podcast: Thriving Under Pressure & Posttraumatic Growth

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Ambitious Mama Podcast

Podcast Details & Show Notes

I was recently interviewed by wellness entrepreneur Christa Realba for her Ambitious Mama Podcast Series.

During the podcast, Christa and I discussed how posttraumatic growth and thriving under pressure are possible for all of us.

In different gradients, and at different times for sure. Depending on where you are on your journey.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo PTG Resources
Click Here for Helpful Workbook & Resources

We also discussed how we all have pain and adversity. It’s universal to all of us.

The key is to not get stuck in the challenge and let pain become your identity.

Dr. Andrea Dinardo Resilience

Instead, with support, encouragement, and the right set of resilience skills (this is what I teach), we all have the capacity to grow from difficulty.

To learn from it. To rise up and begin again when the time is right.

In addition to the podcast, resilience is discussed in more detail in my TEDx Talk and on my Psychology Blog, both called “Thriving Under Pressure”: https://DrAndreaDinardo.com

Listen to Podcast

  1.  Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/thriving-under-pressure-with-dr-andrea-dinardo/id1482282864?i=1000464930886
  2. Anchor FM: https://anchor.fm/ambitiousmama/episodes/Thriving-Under-Pressure-with-Dr–Andrea-Dinardo-ealagi
  3. Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/ambitious-mama/e/67169349

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Your Turn

Do you believe thriving under pressure + posttraumatic growth are possible for all of us? Why or why not? Tune into my latest podcast interview and let me know what you think!

Related Post: Teaching Resilience at School

Mindful Moments in California

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We’re on a trip to California for our December birthdays and wedding anniversary and I couldn’t imagine a more mindful place to be.

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Nature everywhere we look.

Luminous moonlight.

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Dancing campfire.

Fresh ocean air.

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Water as far as the eye can see.

Sunshine in every nook.

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100 year old fig trees.

Just outside our hotel room door.

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Mountains in the distance.

Waiting to be climbed.

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Above all, I am most grateful to wake up each day and share my life with John, my students, and everyone reading this post.

December birthday blessings of the highest kind.🎄💚

Video of Blog Post ⇒ Click Here

Delaying Gratification Doubles The Reward

Is it worth the wait?

Reflection Questions

1. Do you consider yourself a patient person, an impatient person, or an impulsive person? Give situational examples for each.

For example: You may be more patient at work, but not at home. You may be able to control your impulses when it comes to food, but not when it comes to yelling at your spouse or children.

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2. Identify a time in your life where delayed gratification led to a superior outcome over immediate gratification.

For example: Saving money for a house versus buying impulse purchases on Cyber Monday. Working 2 jobs to pay for college tuition versus going out with friends every weekend night. Working out to strengthen your mental and physical health versus watching tv all day.

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3. Which factors determine your ability to be patient in challenging situations?

For example: faith, trust, comfort, financial security, long-term vision, full stomach, good night’s sleep.

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Inspiration for this Post

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University.[1]

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In this study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for period of time. During this time, the researcher left the room for about 15 minutes and then returned.

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The reward was either a marshmallow or pretzel stick, depending on the child’s preference. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores,[2] educational attainment,[3] body mass index (BMI),[4] and other life measures.

Original Source: Click Here

Don’t forget to share your insights & reflections in the comments below!

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Video of Blog Post → Click Here

Improve Mental Health with Positive Psychology

The goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings. The goal is to change your response to them.

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Instead of thinking of mental health as a burden you must shoulder, imagine it as an opportunity to experience peace and joy.

In the same way that we make time for our physical needs, we must devote equal attention to our psychological needs.

Where do we begin?

P E R M A Model of Well-Being

PERMA..

PERMA is a framework for happiness and well-being developed by UPenn professor Dr. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology.

The model contains five key indicators of human flourishing: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement.

Original Source:

This blog post first appeared in The Drive Magazine.

https://thedrivemagazine.com/posts/cultivating-mental-health-daily

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Positive Emotion

Feeling good is an essential part of well-being.

That said, it’s easy to get lost in a spiral of negativity — What’s wrong? Who’s to blame? Why did this happen to me? Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and fun.

Which is why it’s essential to schedule good vibe moments into each day.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Begin the day with inspiring quotes on your bathroom mirror.
  2. Create a spa atmosphere for morning coffee with music and candles.
  3. Listen to upbeat music and podcasts on your way to work.
  4. Start conversations with your dreams, not your stressors.
  5. Put a 20-minute daily time limit on blaming and complaining.
  6. Go to bed visualizing three new things you’re grateful for that day.

Joy needs room to breathe.

And so do you.

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Engagement

Remember when you were a kid playing with friends, and before you knew it the street lights came on? If it wasn’t for your mom yelling your name, you would be outside playing all night long. In that moment, you were in a state of flow.

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You were completely engaged in what you were doing, independent of everything around you.

Your mom could have called your name for hours, and you wouldn’t have heard a word.

One hundred percent of your attentional capacity was taken up by the activity right in front of you.

Most likely you still experience a state of flow and engagement, but not as often as you like.

Activities that create a flow state include:

  1. Writing
  2. Dancing
  3. Music
  4. Art
  5. Sports
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Engagement and flow are important for mental health. When you’re completely absorbed by a task, your mind has no capacity left over for distressing thoughts and emotions.

Relationships

Social support is an important buffer for life’s challenges.

That said, not all associations are created equal. Some relationships, unfortunately, lead to a deterioration in mental health.

Which is why CHOICE is an especially powerful tool when it comes to relationships, well-being, and happiness.

Consider the following when you spend time with people:

  1. Do you feel uplifted or drained?
  2. Do you feel listened to or ignored?
  3. Do you feel encouraged or criticized?
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Stay close to people who feel like sunshine.

Meaning

Meaning comes from serving something bigger than ourselves.

Whether it be family, charity, occupation, or community, meaning unites us in a common vision and gives us the will to get through adversity.

Students Are My North Star
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That said, meaning can appear elusive to some, so why not consider one purpose each day.

Begin with a typical workday. Choose one purpose, and do something to give meaning to that purpose.

I’ve listed a few options, as well as an example for each:

  1. Pick one person — thank a custodian for their hard work.
  2. Pick one place — post uplifting notes and quotes on a section of the wall.
  3. Pick one time — declare 3 pm gratitude hour.

 Achievement

Achievement is the final component of the PERMA model, and, in many ways, its foundation. Goals give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction, helping us to know if we are headed in the right direction.

The key is to balance our drive and determination with the right level of difficulty. If we set a goal that’s too easy, we get bored. If it’s too hard, we experience learned helplessness.

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The solution?

Set daily goals that are achievable and tied into your highest dreams.

In Conclusion

Cultivating mental health daily prepares us for the big things in our life. Every little bit counts, everything adds up. Small things on repeat change the world.

Video 1 of Blog Post  Click Here
Video 2 of Blog Post  Click Here

Free Yourself 🦋

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EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE

1. What would you stop doing if you only had one year to live?

2. What would you start doing if you only had one year to live?

3. What do you need to let go of to feel a sense of happiness, well-being, and peace? 

4. What and who do you no longer want to be obligated to?

5. What joy do you wish you had more time for?

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CONTEMPLATION TIME

Take a long deep breath and meditate on your answers. You’ll be surprised at what your soul has to say.

YOU GET ONE LIFE.

Make it yours. 

Optimism Bootcamp: 3 Steps to Empowerment

Nathalie Begin author of the Gutsy Feeling Blog invited me to give a positive psychology workshop called Optimism Bootcamp at a Symposium for Crohn’s & Colitis Canada.

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The audience was filled a very special group of people. Individuals that have been battling the chronic condition of Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) their whole lives.

Optimism and Health Empowerment

What’s IBD?

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of conditions, the two main forms of which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD also includes indeterminate colitis.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt your body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner.

Source: Chrohn’s and Colitis Canada

Health Warriors

Individuals with chronic health problems such as IBD often feel a sense of helplessness and disempowerment over their bodies.

Which is why teaching concrete strategies for focusing on what’s within one’s control (beliefs and attitudes; deep breathing; present moment awareness) and letting go of what’s not (waiting times; IBD diagnosis; doctor availability) is so important.

Believing you can is half the battle.

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Optimism Research

Research in health psychology shows that optimism and having hope in one’s future has a significant impact on whether patients follow through on medical advice.

Optimism has also been found to improve overall quality of life, well-being, and happiness of cancer patients.

Click Here for Research on Health, Hope, and Optimism

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Good News!

Optimism Can Be Learned

The good news is that optimism is a skill that can be learned.

  1. Optimism / pessimism are not fixed personality traits that someone is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be born with.
  2.  Optimism / pessimism are states (not traits) that are malleable and open to change.
  3. Optimism / pessimism are attributional styles that can be taught and reinforced over time.

Additional insight on how our minds work

Excerpt from Optimism Article:

Using Attribution Theory, I can tell a lot about someone by the way they interpret the events that happen in their lives, particularly the explanatory style they use in analyzing setbacks versus successes.

attribution theory table

The pessimist perceives failures as personal, permanent, and pervasive, and thus has difficulty moving beyond setbacks. They often get lost in a recurrent loop of negativity.

In contrast, optimists see setbacks as universal. to everyone, temporary in time, and limited to one or two areas of their lives.

Source:  Dr. Andrea Dinardo, The Drive Magazine

Optimism in Our Community

Hope changes everything. It transforms pessimism into optimism. It changes winter into summer, darkness into dawn, descent into ascent, barrenness into creativity, agony into joy.

Daisaku Ikeda
Read Optimism Bootcamp Article: Click Here

Peer Pressure and Alcohol: Stand Your Sacred Ground

The Social Side Effects of Change

Motivation to make a change is as much about you, as the people all around you. And unfortunately, not everyone agrees with our decision to grow, change, and evolve. In whatever form it may take.

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Being different isn’t a bad thing. It means you’re brave enough to be yourself“

For when we change, we unknowingly push friends and family outside their comfort zone too. And that’s ok. The important thing to understand is that not everyone is going to support our choice to change. Something I learned personally.

My story

This post was inspired by my own journey of quitting drinking in 2005, motivated by three reasons:

1. Starting a family with my husband.

2. Improving my health.

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3. Being a role model for my students

Unexpected Side Effects

What I did not expect was the pressure to keep drinking that came along with my decision to give up alcohol over a decade ago.

The pressure to remain the same.

The pressure to behave like everyone else.

A resistance to change from others that I did not foresee.

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My students’ stories

— Peer Pressure and Alcohol Use in College

Students over the age of 19 have a choice when it comes to drinking alcohol.

A decision to drink or not drink that is often overshadowed by peer pressure and the widespread culture of risky drinking on and off Canadian campuses.

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Too often students drink to “fit in, reduce stress, numb anxiety” (their words) because they know of no other way.

Excerpt from today’s class:

Class Discussion and Solutions

Which is why it’s more important than ever to open up the conversation of what it’s like to be a young person amongst the culture of alcohol use and abuse today.

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A hot topic that stimulates honest and open debate in my classroom each year. Including remedies to the pressures of college that extend far beyond alcohol.

To listen to our discussion click here.

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Your story

1. What motivates you to make a health change?

2. What de-motivates you?

3. Have you experienced pressure from others to continue unhealthy habits? To not change?

4. How do you stay true to your personal choices?

Coping with Peer Pressure 

Rather than debate or argue your case.

Be still and hold your space.

Take a deep breath, and trust your choices.

Trust that being yourself is enough. 

You get one life. Make it yours. 

Stand Your Sacred Ground.

Video of Blog Post — Click Here

Laughter is an instant vacation.

What’s your favourite stress reliever?

Laughter is mine.

We live in a world weighed down by disaster, debt, and divorce. So it’s no surprise that we’ve been conditioned to believe that tragedies require tragic mindsets.

That serious issues demand serious attitudes. That hardships necessitate hardened spirits.

What consumes your mind consumes your life.

laughterstress

Change your view.

Thankfully we also live in a world overflowing with abundance, joy, and love. Same world. But we can’t see the good when we’re overwhelmed by the bad.

From overwhelmed to OVERFLOWING.

Making the shift from stress to strength can happen in a number of ways.

Laughter = instant stress relief. Taking a long deep breath runs a close second.

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Be kind to your mind.

Laughter breaks the panic spell. The not enough mindset. The woe is me attitude. The negativity downturn.

Laughter connects people in present time. Friends and strangers!  Think of the last time you laughed out loud with a cashier in the grocery line. (For me, it was last night ;.)

Laughter is an instant vacation to a better place – without the travel bills!

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Today’s challenge / opportunity:

Today’s challenge is to lighten up. To breathe deeply into what stresses you.

 To leave room for grace. To respond with a light heart and an open mind. To dance a little dance. To laugh with friends. To nourish your soul.

Ultimately to remember who you were – before life weighed you down. 

For it’s in our joy that we find our voice. It’s in our abundance that we embrace our authenticity.

It’s in our laughter that we save the day.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Steps to Thriving

Thriving Steps based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Step 1

 Physiological Needs

– Energy of Thriving

  • A good night’s sleep.
  • Healthy food.
  • Clean air to breathe.

Step 2

 Safety Needs 

– Foundation of Thriving

  • Freedom.
  • Survival Skills.
  • Safe place to live.

Step 3

Love and Belonging Needs

– Nourishment of Thriving 

  • Supportive relationships.
  • Loving family and friends.
  • Encouraging coworkers.

Step 4

Self Esteem Needs

– Enrichment of Thriving

  • Education and learning.
  • Goals and ambition.
  • Stretching outside comfort zone.

Step 5

Self Actualization Needs

– Ultimate Thriving 

  • Purpose and Vision.
  • Achievement of Life Mission.
  • Self Actualization of Dreams.
Click Here to Maslow's Hierarchy Video

Make room for destiny

Are you ready to move on but are reluctant to let something go?

Letting go is not giving up.

Letting go is not giving in.

When you let go you make space for something better.

When you let go you generate energy needed for moving forward.

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Close your eyes. Clear your heart.

Breathe.

Let go of what no longer serves you.

Let go of what weighs you down.

Release.

In doing so, you make room for destiny.

Your highest purpose.  Your greatest calling.

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Your ultimate joy!

Staying Motivated In The Midst Of A Challenge

In these videos, I share some of the techniques I use to keep students motivated in the midst of a challenge.

Including clapping when students arrive to class!

Small gestures energize.

Your Turn

What keeps you motivated in the midst of a challenge?

Happy 150 Canada!

The kickboxing club I belong to had special gloves commissioned to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday. 🇨🇦

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Which is why I’m motivated more than ever to celebrate Canada Day with my fellow boxers at the club today! 🥊 🎉

How will you celebrate your country's birthday this year?

PODCAST Respecting the Process

Do you trust the process / evolution of your life?

Do you stir the pot before it boils? Do you open the oven before it bakes?

Or do you relax on the sofa trusting the recipe and the time it takes?

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Not long ago, I was interviewed by Adam Rochon on the topic of transformational change.

During the podcast interview, Adam and I explored a different way of thinking about change.

A more uplifting and empowering take on transformation.

Adam and I discussed how the key to lasting change isn’t to push yourself harder.

The key to lasting change is to understand yourself better.

To accept yourself more. And to judge yourself less.

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Trust the timing of your life.

Your good and bad habits did not develop overnight.

And neither does transformational change. 

Ultimately to grow, we must trust, let go, and learn to respect the process.

Excerpt from my interview with Adam Rochon: “For me respecting the process in my own life and in all the people I’m blessed enough to meet, is to realize the process is so much bigger than I am. It is our destiny. It is the 100 years – if we are ever that lucky to live on this earth. Whatever we experience, good or bad, is just a day in the life and that we need to pay attention to where we are. When we get stressed out, overwhelmed and are going through a lot of changes, take a step back and realize that there are so many forces at work that are greater than we are – which is the process. When we Respect the Process everything just falls into place. It sounds simple, but you need to just let go of what you don’t have control over and be inspired by the process.” Episode #15: Transformational Change.

Click here for access to full podcast interview. 🦋

5 Positive Ways to Embrace Change

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Need help embracing change but don’t know where to start? In my interview on CBC-TV I share 5 positive ways to embrace change using the principles of positive psychology.

Nature soothes my soul.

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This photo was taken on one of my daily hikes up Blue Heron Hill.

One of my favourite places to go at the end of a long wintery day.

Each breath. Each step. Shifts me higher.

To a place of perfect peace. At one with the great big beautiful sky.

A divine connection. No words necessary. Heaven on earth indeed.

Related Post: Always looking up.

Where do you go to calm your mind and soothe your soul?

Writing in One Word.

In One Word: Describe how you feel when you write.

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Writing makes me feel ALIVE!

For me, writing is all encompassing.

The words become the beat of my heart.

The words become the oxygen I breathe.

The words become all that I touch, feel, and see.

For me, writing is all encompassing.

I am the words. And the words are me.

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How does writing make YOU feel?

Related Post: Happiness in One Word.