Your Smile is Your Super Power

This morning I imagined what the 80 year old version of myself would tell me, if I asked her, “What do I do now?” “What should I focus on?

What wisdom would she have, nearing the end of her life? What would she have focused on today?

do

She’d tell me to bike more, write more, film everything. Tell everyone I love how much I love them. Hug more, kiss more. Squeeze them tight. Use my creativity to connect with those I love and those I will love in the future. Arms and heart wide open, she would tell me to vulnerably step into the world and be me.

chin up

She’d tell me to fuck fear. Let go of the negative thoughts. Skin the skeptic.  Look for the beauty in all. There are so many good people to love, sweet creatures to care for and wonderous places to inspire. Find them. Get out today and connect on purpose. Smile, it’s a great heart opener. It’s your super power.  Laugh. Enjoy life to the fullest each moment. Find your tribe. Seek out those who inspire you and meet them with open arms. Exercise. Move your body. Play outdoors.

heartbeat

Seek what you want to find. Chase what makes your heart beat. What makes your heart pound out loud. Friends, food, books, music, work.  Go out there and get it all.

Use

Be thoughtful and intentional about everything you do. Your writing, your film, your drawing. Do it on purpose and with a purpose. 

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Think first, but don’t regret anything. Try not to hurt anyone, including yourself. No time for that. Problems will come and go. It always works out in the end. Stop getting so angry and frustrated. Sail through the storms. There is no time to waste.

life is

Life is a banquet. There is so much to choose from. Taste it all.

Visit friends, follow the inspiring, touch and taste everything that draws you in – that pulls you closer. Feed your curiosity.

Passionate

Let go of control. Just love.

find a way

Zero Calorie Foods, If/Then Snacking, Saying Grace and 3 Fab NYC Kitchen Supply Stores

 

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Have you ever noticed how extremely grateful dogs seem to be when you throw them a bone or dish up their chow?

Like they are eating for the very first time.

Saying Grace

Taking a moment of gratitude before each meal is a mindful and thoughtful approach to eating and enjoying time together. I’ve noticed a few times that this can make guests at the table a little uncomfortable. Perhaps they don’t want to say grace to a God they don’t know. Or perhaps they don’t know what to say, or maybe how to lead the prayer.

Saying grace or taking a moment to pause before dining together, can be as simple as bowing heads or holding hands and saying thank you to each other and the host. Each culture has a unique way to pray. One of my favorite mealtime prayers. . .

Let us be together; let us eat together.

Let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life.

Never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity.
      The Upanishads

Snack Struggles

Okay, so here is my new If/Then algorithm for snacking. If I want a bag of salty Kettle chips, then I snack on cucumber slices with sea salt. I don’t think I will ever give up my search for nutrient dense snacks pack as much gratification as a bag of potato chips. I found this Zero Calorie Food chart today on Rodale’s site, (publishers of Prevention Magazine). Click here for the full article. With the exception of the celery, these foods are lower in calories than most. For example, a cup of apricot is about 79 calories.

Zero calorie

If you are visiting New York this upcoming holiday season and you are looking for unique gifts or something special for yourself, I have three timeless and classic Manhattan favorites that are all so very close to each other  and located in the Flatiron district right below Madison Park, home of the original Shake Shack, which by the way is open until Christmas. I’m curious, what are some of your favorite places to shop in your town/city village for kitchen tools and table settings?

Whisk at 933 Broadway

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Fish Eddy’s 889 Broadway

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ABC Carpet 888 Broadway

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ABC

Living Your Real Purpose, A To Do List

Purpose
I’m not sure you find your purpose, I think you live your purpose. 
If my purpose is to become the best version of me, then what would the best version of me do today? The unbeatable version of me? The most self-respecting version? The most loving version of me? What action can I take today to be that person right now? 
  • Criticize less and compliment more.
  • Let others do things their own way.
  • Talk only when necessary.
  • Find tranquility in some time spent alone.
  • Remember not to get frustrated by small setbacks.
  • Say prayers for guidance and divine wisdom.
  • Give more than I expect to receive.
  • Forgive those who have wronged me.
To forgive is to refuse to allow someone to rob you of your joy.
What action will you take to be the best version of you today? Please share your ideas in the comments below. I’d love to hear them.
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Home Made Love with the Best New Cooking Tools Ever

holding-handsThich Nhat Hanh writes, “When you say something like I love you. . .with your whole being, not just your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world.” Because we are interconnected, when we awaken love in ourselves and express it, our love changes the world around us.  The hearts of those we touch are opened, and they in turn touch the hearts of others.

Love is the basic nature, the goodness of all beings, waiting to manifest. Whether we offer love in silent prayer or aloud, we are helping love to flower in all beings everywhere. This expression of our deepest nature is the living power of loving kindness – as the Buddha said, “it glows, it shines, it blazes forth.”   A quote that brought me to tears today from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Cooking with Love

Fatto a mano in Italian means “hand made” and fatto in casahome made“. To prepare home made meals by hand with love is an active meditation and the creation of loving kindness. Just like a hug, a tender kiss, a warm embrace, preparing a meal for friends and family with the intention of savoring some time together around the table, is a beautiful way to touch each other’s hearts.

Meals can be sacred. Taking a moment of silence before eating, saying a prayer of gratitude together can make a meal sacred. A lovely prayer-poem from 13th Century Persia and direct quote from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Some nights stay up ’til dawn as the moon sometimes does for the sun.

Be a full bucket, pulled up the dark way of a well then lifted out into light.

Something opens our wings, something makes boredom and hurt disappear.

Someone fills the cup in front of us, we taste only sacredness.

Some of the coolest new kitchen tools to help make meal preparation a little bit easier.

The Pot Clip – less mess on the counter.

Pot ClipOn Amazon Trudeau Pot Clip,Assorted Colors

The Citrus Sprayer – for a fresher than fresh spritz of lime, lemon and/or orange.

Citrus sprayer Existed-lemonOn Amazon Lekue Citrus Sprayer Set

The Rinse Bowl and Strainer – such a smart idea.

Rinse Bowl

On Amazon Umbra Rinse Bowl and Strainer, White

The Onion holder – because I cringe when I see my daughters slice onions. Safety first.

Onion holderOn Amazon  Norpro Onion Holder/Odor remover

pancake-Know-Existed-pancakeA pancake pen – creativity in the kitchen. The ultimate fun do it with a kid in the kitchen tool.

On Amazon – Tovolo Pancake Pen

Detox Lemonade & a Healthy Salad

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Lunch yesterday near the office in Soho, NYC. I am obsessed with this spicy detox lemonade at Chop’t.

Going to try to whip this up over the weekend and found a few recipes on line. The ingredients seem simple enough – the juice from whole lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Some add sea salt to boost the “flush”.    I know this master cleanse has been around for quite some time and Beyonce brought it back earlier this year, but I never tried it like this at home as an every day drink.

I found three sites that have different recipes, but they all look a little like this –

  • 2 TBSP organic fresh squeezed lemon (do not use canned or frozen or bottled juice)
  • 2 TBSP organic maple syrup
  • 1/10 TSP organic cayenne pepper (I’d probably add more spice)
  • 10 oz medium hot water (cold water may be used if preferred)

Although I am not a big follower of detox anything, this lemonade just tasted delicious.

According to Healthy Crush:

Lemon juice and cayenne pepper both have anti-fungal, immune boosting, and detoxification properties. A great source of information on the benefits of drinking lemon water can be found here in this article.

Lemon juice is great for digestion, destroying bacteria and cleansing the system – it supports the liver and kidneys to get rid of toxins.

Cayenne pepper increases metabolism, stimulates the circulatory system, aids digestion, helps regulate blood sugar and more.

Two additional recipes at 7 minute and Style Craze

More delicious detox recipes here –
Everyday Detox: 100 Easy Recipes to Remove Toxins, Promote Gut Health, and Lose Weight Naturally

 

detoxinista-cookbook-recipes

Happy in Your Head

Where-the-Wild-Things-Are-002One of the best pieces of advice I ever received. . . .

See it as it is, never bigger than it is.

Don’t over dramatize. It rarely makes anything better and usually much, much worse.

It’s similar to what the Buddha man said about the second arrow.

weathervanes-scroll-graphicsfairy010The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student replied, “It is.” The Buddha then asked, “If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. The second arrow is optional.”

As long as we are alive, we can expect painful experiences- the first arrow. To condemn, judge, criticize, hate, or deny the first arrow is like being struck by a second arrow. Many times the first arrow is out of our control, but the arrow of reactivity is not.

plot twistLightening up

I don’t know about you, but for me things are getting way too serious. It’s time to re-imagine a more playful attitude towards everything.

huvr-hoverboardFloating through life gracefully

As I remember to lighten up, I want to take it a step further and suggest we learn to laugh at ourselves and our situations. Laughter has been proven to improve relationships, elevate moods, decrease stress levels and enhance creativity. So why the hell aren’t we laughing a bit more?

A sense of humor is the key to resilience. It helps you take hardships in stride, weather disappointment, and bounce back from adversity and loss.

Humor—free of hurtful sarcasm or ridicule—neutralizes conflict. We can all use a little less conflict. Agree?

  • It instantly eases tension and allows you to reconnect and regain perspective.
  • Shared laughter and play helps you break free from rigid ways of thinking and behaving, allowing you to see the problem in a new way and find a creative solution.
  • We hear things differently, become less defensive and can tolerate learning things about ourselves that we otherwise might find unpleasant or even painful.
  • Laughter opens us up, freeing us to express what we truly feel and allowing our deep, genuine emotions to rise to the surface.

Play is an attitude of the heart. Some ideas I found for today.

  • Create something without the thought of succeeding or winning. Art for art’s sake. Kind of like my own mini Burning Man.
  • Do something spontaneous, even if for a brief moment.
  • Make up nicknames for your friends and family in your phone -add their photos.
  • Collect funny books that can make you laugh. Check out –

Creepiosity: A Hilarious Guide to the Unintentionally Creepy and Tim Kreider’s We Learn Nothing: Essays

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Watch this short video:  How to be Alone  

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Too Small to Fail

“Be the person with embarrassing goals and impressive results instead of one of the many people with impressive goals and embarrassing results.”

Today’s thoughts inspired by a seriously smart book:  Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results

Mini HabitsI travel to Manhattan for work each day (some people call it commuting). I intentionally take my travel to New York City each day and I view it as a big adventure. The big apple, right here in my own back yard, a playground that I get to rediscover over and over again. The dreaded 90-minute “commute” has become a part of a mindful and magical journey. Well, sometimes not that “magical”, but you get what you put into it, okay?

467a65572f527359c3eb3172dbb9b0b7Lately I’m very sad about the growing number of homeless men and women I see while I am walking downtown to my office from midtown to Soho. Counting 5, 6, 7 people per block, I thank God I haven’t become numb to this sorrowful situation.

A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A homeless man rests under a blanket while sitting on a bench in a New York subway station, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Monday night volunteers spread throughout the city to do an annual count of homeless people living on the streets. According to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, more than 50,000 people live in municipal homeless shelters, with thousands more living on the streets. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

I became angrier and angrier at DiBlasio, at the system, at the crumbling world economy. I thought about creating a video and filming what others may not see. Heroin addicts, veterans, the mentally disabled lying down on the sidewalk with cardboard as their mattress and torn blankets as their cover. But other than devoting time to volunteering at a homeless shelter, what can I do?

Well a dear friend had a wonderful idea that helped me the other day. Bring them lunch. Pack extra lunches to hand out to those who are hungry as I walk to work.

Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Kevin Raleigh, of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, works, Monday Jan 10, 2011, on homeless outreach trying to convince homeless to come in from the cold. Raleigh carries lots of gearÑjackets, blankets, socks, gloves and hatsÑbecause they are often unsuccessful at getting people to leave their camps, even in sub-zero temps. Raleigh gives a pair of gloves to D.J., a homeless man, who is known on the streets as One-Eye-Jack. RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

And so I did. I started with one sandwich yesterday. I am thankful to say that it was well received and I made a real connection with someone.  A older woman who thanked me. A soulful moment of compassion in a very crazy city.

Starting Small

This act of giving is not a new idea, but for months I was so concerned about the huge homeless problem I didn’t know where to begin. I got caught up in the amount of time, effort and energy it would take to do something, anything. Whenever we are trying to solve a problem that is bothering us this greatly we sometimes tend to get caught up in the enormity of it.

Perhaps you want to lose weight, hit the gym, save money, develop a new skill, invest in the market. My recommendation to you, is to start small, with mini-habits, that when practiced daily and consistently really do work.

Think about it, your goals may be too lofty and setting you up for failure. Yes it’s okay to dream big, but if you are having trouble failing, take this tip and advice from the author of Mini-Habits.

Some ideas . . .

Big Goal: Travel the world by the time your 30.

Small Habit: Begin by saving $10.00 a day by making lunch. Research the economical benefits of a round the world ticket. Read:  Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

51da8C8qg-L“Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.” Quote from Vagabonding.

Big Goal: Lose 25 lbs by your 25th birthday.

Small Habit: Start with 1 less teaspoon of sugar in your coffee each day. Start with a 10 minute walk around the block.

Big Goal: Learn how to code your own website.

Small Habit: Start with a 5 minute session of a  class each day on Lynda.com, or Udemy.com

Big Goal: 100 pushups a day by halloween.

Small Habit: Do one push up right now. Maybe two tomorrow. Grow slow. Grow slow and steady.

Big Goal: Write the book.

Small Habit: Write one true sentence a day. (a wonderful piece of advice from Ernest Hemingway.)

Break it down. Do it daily. Be consistent.

Looking for inspiration? Check out the author’s Mini-Habit Ideas Mini Habits

 

 

 

 

A Super Simple Way to Prepare Farm Fresh Vegetables

farm

You know that wonderful feeling that bubbles up when you go to a fresh farm stand on the side of the road and you load up on your favorite vegetables? Still covered with dirt, very much “in season” and obviously locally grown.  Juicy, ripe healthy tomatoes, corn, spinach, broccoli, beets, carrots, onions, cilantro, radishes, peppers, squash, etc., stacked chin-high in old wooden crate bins.

You haven’t even started cooking and your soul feels nourished. The smells, the colors, the textures. Yes, this is how food is suppose to be. Like you’re deliberately shopping for something very wholesome and pure for yourself. In my mind, this is where nourishment begins.

radish

I have a favorite “health food” grocer in town but I stay away from this isle on the left. The plastic jars, the amber bottles and the supplements with names and claims that are absolutely daunting to comprehend. This aisle gives me a headache. I find it incredibly ironic that a “natural” market would have so many processed products. Take a real mindful look at the photo above. Do you get the same feeling when you are bagging a bunch of fresh radishes as when you are  reading the back of a supplement box? Probably not.

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I obviously love vegetables and share one of my favorite and easiest ways to prepare them so you can nourish yourself all week long.

Grilled Vegetables Marinated in Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Roasted Garlic

Step 1

Put on your favorite play list, pure a glass of wine and wash, chop and dry your favorite vegetables.

Step 2

Heat up the grill while you chop and saute fresh garlic in a teaspoon or so of olive oil. The more garlic the better as far as I am concerned.

Step 3

Grill vegetables, let them cool a bit and then toss with garlic. Add a bit of oregano, garlic salt, pepper, fresh basil and turmeric to taste.

Pack them for lunch and eat them with dinner all week long.

Tips

Don’t procrastinate and wait a few days to clean and cook your harvest or you will feel guilty about wasting them. With the exception of potatoes and onions, real food doesn’t last for weeks in the fridge.

Do bulk up and prepare enough for the week.

Do chop and slice them according to how they will cook on the grill and keep the red onions thick or they will fall into the fire.

Do store in glass containers that are oven proof so you can continuously warm them up during the week.

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My favorite

New Snaplock Lid: Tempered Glasslock Storage Containers 20pc set~Microwave & Oven Safe

Cooking-is-Love-Julia-Child-Modern-Quote-Living-Room-Vinyl-Carving-Wall-Decal-Sticker-for-Home

Do add love and mindfulness to your cooking and eating

 

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Read How to Eat (Mindful Essentials) by Thich Nhat Hanh

 

3 Questions for a Modern Day Shaman

unicorn meWhile I appreciate and follow the rational wisdom of stoics like Seneca and Aurelius, I have also been fascinated with the role of the Shaman, the healer, the medicine woman (and man) in tribes throughout the world. While throughout history these people have taken on the responsibility for the well-being and emotional balance of their villages, I ask myself, what is the role of a healer in today’s society and do we not all have the potential to heal each other?

A Shaman at The Soho House

My first encounter with a modern day Shaman was in the private screening room of The Soho House in Manhattan. Ridiculously ironic I know, but true just the same. Barnaby Ruhe leads an east and west cost circle collective to Shamandome at Burning Man every year.

From Woo Woo, to Wow, Wow

Just recently, I have been fortunate enough to have benefited greatly from a life energy and power animal healing session with Jennifer , a Life Energy Coach with a Masters in Natural Health based in San Francisco. I met her right here in the world of Word Press. It’s interesting to note that Jennifer is also a brilliant business strategist by day. She brings a great balance to the land of woo woo, which is exactly why I think her work bridges the magic of mysticism into modern day living so well.

As a coach, Jennifer helps people identify and integrate changes into their life through a variety of shamanic practices and techniques and the guidance of helpful spirits.

If you are interested in learning about the details of my experience with Jennifer, please comment below and I will be happy to go into further detail.

For this blog today, I asked Jennifer to answer a few questions.

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MJ: Jennifer, please share some of the really amazing moments you had with the Mayan Shaman in the Yucatan that found you on your trip to Mexico. This, the beginning of your own shamanic journey.

JM: I had never heard of shamanism before my trip to Mexico a few years ago.  That all changed on my third day of vacation.  I decided to walk to the city square, but as usual, got lost.  One of the local residents offered to help me find my way.  We walked and talked, and when we got to the square, he told me that he needed to introduce me to someone.  That someone turned out to be a Mayan Shaman.

There was an electric moment when we saw each other, a knowing that we were meant to meet.

The first thing the Shaman said to me was, “You have a very big heart.” He asked me what I did to make the energy of my heart so big, but before I could answer, he took my hand in his and curled his fingers around mine in such a manner that our fingers made a spiral. He explained to me that this was the symbol of the shaman, and went on to tell me about shamanism and how it heals.

He then said that he was going to perform a shamanic healing on me.  He spent over 4 hours working on me – using stones, chanting, drumming and energy work.  I knew he was the “real deal” when he explained that my energy was blocked due to two traumatic events in my life, and then went on to describe those events to me.

At one point, he took two raw chicken eggs.  He had me shake them and then gently ran them over my body, many times.  He told me they would remove negative energy.  When he finished, he had me shake the eggs again.  They were very heavy and sounded as if they were filled with gravel!

As he continued his healing work on me, I suddenly felt a huge opening in me. A wave of emotions swept over me—anger, joy, guilt, sadness—and I saw a vision of a snake slithering down the side of a pyramid. I felt shattered, but also felt an incredible sense of relief and peacefulness.

By the time he was done with the healing, he was covered in sweat.  He told me that he normally would do this work over several sessions, but his spirit guides had told him I was coming and to do the work all in one night.

He began my shamanic training that first night and continued throughout my trip.  On my last night there, he came with a gift for me: an 800+ year-old stone carving of Itzamna, the Mayan god of creation, writing, and divination.  It had been carved from a million-year-old stalactite from a sacred cave and used in shamanic ceremonies since.  Many people had wanted the carving, but it was not for sale.

When I asked him why he gave the carving to me, he said, “Because you are to become a shaman.”

Since then, I have gone back to Mexico several times for more training with him.  We have traveled to many sacred archaeological sites together, where he has taught me how to increase my energy and power, read the energy of others, and how to heal.

MJ: Can you give an example of how your power animal has helped you discover yourself and grow with more happiness, self-love and power?

JM: My power animal works with me daily, for my personal healing and shamanic work.  He shows up in shamanic journeys, dreams and visions.  When I first became aware of shamanism, my power animal began teaching me shamanic techniques that were validated through training with the Mayan Shaman and others.

He will also bring in other power animals when I am dealing with a situation that would benefit from that animal’s strengths and wisdom.  As I’ve been transitioning to doing shamanic work, my power animal has brought in Snake (transformation), Hawk (vision), Bear (strength), Vulture (purification and rebirth) and Crocodile (power and awareness) to share their life lessons with me.  Years ago, my power animal brought Fawn in to help me through a difficult personal time in a beautiful, gentle way.

Mama-bear-and-cubs

MJ: Why do you think more and more people are interested in Shamanistic healing now?

Shamanic healing has been around since the beginning of humankind.  Society moved away from this type of healing with the advent of modern medicine, which typically has focused on the body part and not the whole person.  I think more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that the body is a complete system that includes mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.  Shamans focus on all these areas when working with clients.  I also think that modern medicine is becoming more open to including holistic approaches to healing.   In California, one hospital combines modern and shamanic practices for healing.   While it is the first hospital in the country to do this, I would expect to see more integration between different healing approaches in the future.

Intrigued? Learn more about power animals, soul retrievals and energy healing on Jennifer’s blog  and website. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @SpiritEvol

Learn more about the meaning of your power animal – Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small

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Your Dream Job Come True

SAILING REALAre you like me with a tendency to make life’s problems even harder and more difficult then they need to be? If so, then I challenge you to try a new attitude today.  A new mindset if you will.

As you begin working today ask yourself – How can I make the next task on my list a bit easier. Maybe even fun.

It is a simple idea, that can make your day much more enjoyable.

It’s time to dial back and realize that the daily grind can be re-framed with a lighter, brighter and more playful attitude when you take action to empower your day with ease.

A Few Ideas

  • Be merciful with yourself and others. Forgive someone who has done something ridiculously mean. Seriously, just let it go.
  • Don’t rush it. If you have to, back off a little on the caffeine and let everyone know, realistically how long the work will take. Set easier expectations.
  • Stop overthinking it. Just get it done. Don’t worry about the credit.
  • Do the essential stuff first. Break the task down into smaller steps. Do it over the course of a week, or month.
  • Pause and pay attention to what drives you to think critically and to complain about your work in the first place.
  • Let someone make you laugh. Keep your sense of humor, no matter what.

“Life is not meant to be a series of to-do lists punctuated by eating and sleeping.”

Do you already approach work with a more effortless attitude? If so, share your thoughts here.