Choose Happy

Here's to living your Best Day Ever. Every day.

Choose Happy

Here's to living your Best Day Ever. Every day.

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Shop For Daily Inspiration

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Shop For Daily Inspiration

Introducing play into your work day

It's summertime, and that means the kids are out of school and hard at work doing their summer jobs – in other words, they are hard at play. Play serves a beneficial role in the development of our children's brains. Play allows children to learn and explore in creative ways. Sometimes it looks like getting messy. And sometimes it looks like asking lots of questions. Whatever that child's play looks like, it has valuable learning attributes. This summer, why not take a lesson from your children and introduce play into your work process. Getting creative can be a good way to get unstuck when a creative block has you feeling stumped or you just don't feel inspired to get down to work. Here are a few ideas for introducing elements of play into your work: Get colorful –  An easy way to tap into our creativity is through art. You don’t have to be an artist to have fun with a box of crayons or a set of watercolors. Both coloring and painting have been linked to reduced stress and increased focus, which can help to create the space in our minds we need for that “a-ha” moment. My favorite adult coloring book is by Mike Dooley; it’s a great way to get a break into your day and reset your brain in the middle of a tough task.  Get outside – Parents are always encouraging kids to “Go outside!” and there’s good reason. Being in nature is one of the best things we can do for our mental health and our productivity. Just a 15-minute “walking meditation” outside (even if it’s on pavement) can help clear your brain and let your subconscious solve problems for you. Read more about the benefits of being outside in this Best Day Ever post. Get curious – Take a cue from kids and ask questions. My favorite phrase for this idea is “Tell me more.” You may be surprised that the answers lead you to a solution in an unexpected way. Inga Stasiulionyte, writing for Success Magazine, explains that questions form new patterns in our brains, which allows us to access the answers we already have. Get your groove on – Dance can be a great way to shake up your day. One study found that participants doing either aerobics or hip-hop dance reported greater feelings of well-being as well as less fatigue. My current favorite dance artist is Bruno Mars. And if you’re on Spotify, you’ll find many pre-made playlists that will lift your mood while you move your body. So put on those tunes and get moving!  Give it a try What’s magical about these techniques is that they don’t have to take long. A five-minute dance break may be just what you need to refocus. Or consider scheduling a quarterly “creativity afternoon” for you and your team to do an art project. Here a few more actionable ways to add play to your workday: • Gamify a task –  Turning a mundane task into a game can be the best way to boost productivity. Come up with your own way or find an app to help.  • Get it on paper – Sketch, highlight or doodle your way to breaking a project down into its parts, streamlining a process or seeing your schedule in a whole new way. • Walk & work – Your inner child wants to go out and play, so why not say “yes”? Schedule your next meeting for a walk around the block instead of sitting in the conference room. • Brainstorming with a twist – Brainstorming is inherently creative, but try kicking the creativity up a notch by introducing games to your brainstorming session. Here are three options you can try.  Whatever you choose, know that when you sit back down to the real business of your work you will have benefited from the creativity you engaged in. Enjoy your playtime!   Photo by Alice Achterhof on Unsplash                     

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Introducing play into your work day

It's summertime, and that means the kids are out of school and hard at work doing their summer jo...

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Sugar handling might not be what you think

Sugar handling? As the old joke goes, “Sure, I've got sugar handling down to a science. In one hand I have a bag of M&Ms, in the other hand I have a bag of Skittles.” If your idea of sugar handling is the above, it's time to set the record straight. Sugar handling refers to how your body deals with sugars you’ve digested. Sugar could be candy or soda, or could come in the form of a carb-rich baked potato or even a bowl of corn flakes. Essentially, we’re talking carbohydrates here, and we definitely need the right kinds in the right amounts in our diet, but sometimes the way our bodies handle those sugars gets out of whack. From diabetes to hypoglycemiaMost people will think of diabetes and dangerously high levels of blood sugar when they think of blood sugar issues, but our bodies can also suffer from hypoglycemia – a severe dip in blood sugar. In between these two extremes are a continuum of symptoms that identify possible signs of poor sugar handling. Symptoms of poor sugar handling can include: Sugar cravings Feeling shaky, hangry or lightheaded before a meal or if a meal is skipped Feeling fatigued or sleepy after a meal Headaches Sore joints or backache Digestive trouble The cause of these symptoms isn’t tied to any one disease or disorder. It could be as serious as full-blown hypoglycemia, which can cause seizures, or it could be linked to eating too few calories. A good discussion of some of the common causes can be found here. Whatever the root cause, poor sugar handling affects the nervous system, which ultimately affects every system in our bodies. The effects can be devastating to your metabolism as well as negatively affecting your reproductive hormones. Your liver, pancreas and kidney function can all be affected, as can your circulation. Your mental and emotional health can suffer as well. “Brain fog” – that feeling that you can’t think clearly or focus – is a common symptom of low blood sugar. It can look like sitting at your desk getting nothing done or wandering around the grocery store not sure what you should be putting in your cart. Our brains need adequate blood sugar to function, and when it’s too low, this “fog” can occur. It may seem like a minor annoyance when it happens once in a while, but long term it can lead to dementia if it is not addressed. This illustrates why it is so important to take action for stabilizing blood sugar. Three steps toward better healthIf you suspect that you may have a problem with sugar handling, be sure to see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. In the meantime, you can do a few simple things to improve your health – and they are sound habits for anyone to follow. Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are notorious for having added sugar hidden within the ingredients – even for something seemingly not sweet, such as chips or crackers. Processed foods are also loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that can block sugar from entering your cells, which they need to create energy. Other studies have shown PUFAs are also linked to obesity – another great reason to avoid highly processed foods. Moderate or avoid “white” foods. Bread in all its forms (like croissants, pizza and pancakes), plus rice and pasta have two things in common: They are lightly colored (“white”) and are all high on the glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much “blood sugar stress” a food puts on our bodies. Eating “lower” on the index will help take the glycemic load off of your body. Eat your macros. Macros, or macronutrients, are our main food building blocks: proteins, carbs and fats. Making sure you get some of each in every meal or snack will help even out the blood sugar spikes and dips. Eating enough good fats (think avocados, nuts, coconut and olive oil) is an essential part of the equation, so don’t shy away from them. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet, with its apt acronym SAD, is a huge culprit in the way many of us eat. To revise your eating habits will probably require planning and discipline that you might not be used to. But don’t stress. Stress actually increases the desire reach for the cookies. Instead, think about a few small changes that you’d be willing to make today. Start with those, and see if you start to feel better. To inspire you, check out some past Best Day Ever posts on eating well: Avoiding wheat? Here’s what to eat instead Building a better breakfast Eat more leafy greens The mighty bean!     Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash    

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Sugar handling might not be what you think

Sugar handling? As the old joke goes, “Sure, I've got sugar handling down to a science. In one ha...

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Spring Forward: 5 tips for reviving your forgotten New Year’s goals

Now that you’ve had a couple of weeks to recover from that “spring forward” hangover  losing an hour of sleep, let’s take a minute to reassess where you’re at with the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Spring is traditionally the time of new beginnings – think the first flowers peeking their heads out of the earth and birds building nests for their babies. And if you live in a place that gets a real winter, you may be starting to feel more energized and less like a hibernating bear now that the days beginning to warm up. All this new energy makes it a great time to take a look at your goals. Don’t fear if you’ve faltered, there’s still plenty of time to achieve them. Ready to rekindle the enthusiasm for your goals and actually make them happen? Here are five tips to get you there. 1. Revisit your intentions & set fewer goals What were the themes of the resolutions or goals you set earlier in the year – Health and wellness? Career? Family? Re-evaluate those main themes and see which ones resonate the strongest with you. What really needs change now? It’s been found that multitasking is really a myth – so if you’re trying to multitask bits and pieces of each goal, it may be that none of them are getting done. Try paring down your list and focus on just one or two. The rest can wait. 2. Reframe your thinking Now that you have focused on the goals most important to you, take a look at the “why” that kept you from achieving them. The answers you give can provide valuable feedback. Did you bite off a project bigger than you could chew and you got overwhelmed? Are you making excuses such as “I don’t have time”?  How many of you have thought something along these lines: “I’d like to exercise regularly – but I just can’t because my workdays are too long … or my kids are too young … or I can’t afford a gym membership … or I’m too tired”? Believe me, I’m familiar with all these excuses because I’ve used them all at one time or another! And while I’m thinking them, in that very moment, they seem to make so much sense. Do you see how these stumbling blocks are ones that you’ve put in place – maybe without realizing it? The solution may lie in your “locus of control.” In personality psychology, locus of control defines how much people believe they are ultimately responsible for their own successes and failures. If your sense of what controls your life, your “locus of control,” lies within yourself, then you feel you have personal power over your life, meaning that your actions affect how your day goes. If your locus of control is off kilter, you may be blaming everything and everyone for your lack of success. Evaluate what’s getting in your way then decide how you can reframe your thinking. Don’t be afraid to ask your tribe for help if you need to stay accountable to your new way of thinking. 3. Revisit SMART goals SMART is a mnemonic device that lays out a simple formula to help you achieve your goals. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. SMART goals offer an easy way to make your goals manageable. No more feeling overwhelmed because now you’ve got a plan that you can execute. Here’s an example from my own life: My dentist told me I had “average” gum health, but I’d read research that associated gum health with overall health (Relevant to my life), and I wanted to do better than “average.” So I systematized my goal of healthier gums by committing to flossing every single day (getting Specific with my goal). I told everyone that I was going to floss every day (Timely); and every day I checked off a simple yes or no (Measurable). The daily goal was so tiny – it takes about a minute to floss your teeth – that I didn’t feel discouraged every time I thought about doing it (Achievable). And the more yeses I could check off, the better I felt about myself. Those small, daily victories gave me momentum to keep going, so that now, years later, I still floss every day. Goal achieved! 4. Set yourself up for success So you’ve just realized the goals you set a couple of months ago fell completely off your radar. Oops! This time, set yourself up for success by scheduling a regular review of your goals into your calendar. I call this creating “systems and frameworks.” These are really usually tiny, doable goals that are easily measured, which makes for little successes that you can build from toward your ultimate goal. Imagine you are planning a big party for your child’s 5th birthday. You want to invite family and friends to your house and have all the traditional birthday party elements – games, balloons, presents and a birthday cake. Sure, it’s all doable – but you’ve got to fit in all the planning around working or school, and your time is minimal. If you put one task on your calendar each day, you have a much better chance of actually getting some sleep the night before the party. When working on your goals, it may also help to get an accountability partner or a coach to help keep you on track. When we know someone is expecting results we often step up to accomplish them more easily. 5. Go for it! What are you waiting for? Now’s the time to take your newly focused goals and start making progress – even if it feels like you’re going at a snail’s pace. I think there’s immense power in what I call the Slow Trudge. By just putting one foot in front of the other, again and again and again, doing the same boring things day in and day out, we can travel incredible distances and do amazing things that we didn’t even think possible.  Before you know it you will have mastered that challenge and moved on to the next step. Celebrate the little successes along the way, and, before you know it, your mission will be accomplished. Your Best Day Ever is waiting for you!     Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

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Spring Forward: 5 tips for reviving your forgotten New Year’s goals

Now that you’ve had a couple of weeks to recover from that “spring forward” hangover  losing an h...

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Need to hit the reset button? Your answer maybe be as close as your local tree

Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese concept meaning to “take in the forest atmosphere.” And it can have big benefits for your health and wellbeing. You may have run across reports such as this one from NPR, regaling the benefits of “forest bathing.”  Even if you haven't heard about forest bathing, you may intrinsically know that you feel better after time communing with nature. Best Day Ever is based in the beautiful tree-covered Pacific Northwest, so we have no doubt that forest-bathing benefits are real. Read on to learn how science backs up what we’ve experienced. The idea behind “forest bathing” is not to conquer the trail ahead of you but to simply “be” in your natural surroundings. This may look like a short stroll in a nearby park or sitting and contemplating the world from the banks of a tree-lined stream. It turns out that this respite in a natural setting is particularly good for us. Studies have shown empirical evidence this practice helps lower blood pressure and increase immunity, among other benefits. Another study found that impulsivity was reduced in participants who were exposed to nature. In your everyday life, think of ”reduced impulsivity” as being able to pass up that afternoon mocha or resisting an online spending binge on kitchen gadgets you really don’t need. Along with physiological improvements that come from time in nature, a visit to the great outdoors may give you the boost of inspiration you need to take your work project to the next level or help you refocus on a day that starts out on the wrong foot. Studies have shown spending time outdoors increases concentration and walking outdoors boosts creativity. In one study, hikers who spent four days in the wilderness (without their devices) performed 50% better on a creativity and problem-solving task. The takeaway, say researchers, is that “cognitive advantage [is] to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting.” Another study demonstrates that those who walk in nature, as opposed to those who walk in an urban environment, show a decrease in negative thoughts. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself: Have you ever noticed you can’t stay mad when you’re walking in nature? Take action nowWhat are you waiting for? Make a list of places near home and work where you could escape for a dose of outdoor inspiration. Then, make it a priority to visit one this week. Happy forest bathing!   Photo by Girma Nigusse on Unsplash

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Need to hit the reset button? Your answer maybe be as close as your local tree

Forest bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese concept meaning to “take in the forest atmosphere....

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Is it time to get a coach?

If you’re struggling to reach your goals, a coach can help get you on track How do you tackle a problem that’s plagued you for months – or even years? Maybe it’s time to consider a coach. I’ve used one on and off in my business and my entrepreneur life for more than a decade. Coaching comes in many forms, from career coaching to a marketing mentor to a coach for coaches. (Yes, it’s a thing!) “It’s all life coaching,” says coach Dani Bates. Dani focuses on working with “intelligent, capable women,” who feel stuck with some part of their life – helping them get in touch with their “inner badass.” One of her specialities is weight loss coaching, which, she says, often requires some work around changing our habits. Trouble is, our brains are quite happy remaining “efficient” – doing what’s already ingrained, even if it isn’t the best choice. That’s what can make changing your habits so challenging. Your brain already knows what it likes, Dani explains, so it’s going to do its best to get what it wants. Sleeping in instead of getting an early morning workout, anyone? A coach can help you get through those stumbling blocks you unwittingly lay for yourself. Dani says we often carry around outdated beliefs that no longer serve us, like “My whole family is overweight, I’m doomed by genetics,” or “My last business idea was a miserable failure, so this new idea will fail as well.” You may have a failure (or two or three) under your belt, but is it really a failure? A coach can help you learn from your past mistakes because it’s more than likely that you gained something from that last diet attempt or business venture. You just couldn’t see it. That’s what a coach is for. “The coaching process allows for immediate feedback,” says life coach, professor and public speaker Dr. Melissa Bird, “so you can try something new and know that your coach will be there to assist you, redirect if necessary, and help you see what worked and what didn't – and what you can do next time you take another step toward your goals.” Melissa’s work focuses on helping women tap into their passion and use their authentic voices to make a change in their lives and in their communities. Whether your lofty goal is to run for office or run a marathon, a coach can help by encouraging you to stay the course toward that goal. Of course, you might hit some stumbling blocks along the way. That’s OK. Dani says she often sees clients who get waylaid by their own thinking as they try hashing out new solutions to the same old issue. “It feels productive,” she says, “but in the end you’ve just gone over and over the same problem in your mind – ending up in the same mess of confusion.” By serving as a second set of eyes on their problem, her clients often have an “aha” moment when she points out a new way of looking at things. “Sometimes all you need is a different perspective,” she says, “and ‘Wham!’ the whole situation looks completely different!” Melissa says she often sees client who want to make a change but are afraid of leaving the familiar behind. “This creates paralysis and doesn't just keep us stuck, it keeps us in a safe zone that doesn't foster growth and joy. Coaching helps people get out of paralysis and into action. Coaching is the kick in the pants to shift.” At this point you may be thinking, “This coaching thing might be worth investigating, but will I really get something out of paying for a cheerleader?” I use a coach and have on and off for 20 years. Every time I’m feeling stuck or when I’m needing help with a transition, I reach out to a coach. Right now, I’m working with Sonya Stoklosa at executiveathlete.net.   We’re working on the thorny issues around growth, strategy and drives. It’s fascinating but hard work, and I’m so happy to have someone to guide me through it all. Like anything worthwhile, you’ll get from coaching what you put into it. And –bonus! – you may find out you get much more than you were expecting. “I pay my coach a gigantic amount of money because every single time I work with her I transform in ways I never imagined I would,” Melissa says. “You are investing in an experience, not just in yourself. If you are ready for the experience, the price of coaching is priceless.” Isn’t that worth the cost to hire a coach?   Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash.

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Is it time to get a coach?

If you’re struggling to reach your goals, a coach can help get you on track How do you tackle a p...

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