Today, let’s talk about what’s right with you. Yes, what’s right. Too often, we get caught up in what isn’t working in ourselves, or our lives, and forget to appreciate what does work, and works well. Sometimes we’re overly critical of ourselves. Or we expect perfection and are harshly critical of ourselves when we feel we have fallen short. Maybe we still hear the voices of a long-ago teacher, or overly critical parent or other relative, reminding us of those places we didn’t measure up, at least in their eyes. Whatever the reason, when was the last time you sat down and took inventory of your good qualities, your strengths? Do you even know what they are?
When we don’t know and appreciate those good things and, more importantly, use them in our lives, we are leaving untapped those parts of ourselves that can bring us the biggest rewards. Knowing our strengths and operating from those can help us be more successful both personally and professionally. It really is true that what we focus on grows, and that is just as true for our finer qualities and abilities as it is for our life circumstances. The more we get to know those qualities and appreciate them in ourselves, the more we can put them to work for us to reach our goals and dreams.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend towards study of those qualities and abilities that enable individuals to live well, to thrive. Research shows that people who identify and incorporate these qualities and strengths do better in every major area of their lives. When people discover what it is that they are naturally good at and begin to use these abilities in their lives, they are using their strengths. And when they use those strengths that come to them naturally, it becomes easier for them to do well. People who are doing well are happier, healthier, more productive, and thus better able to contribute to the world around them. They are more successful in their relationships with family, friends, and community. They are more resourceful and creative, and do better at work. In short, they have a more positive impact on themselves and those whose lives they touch.
So how do you begin to uncover what’s right about you so that you can effectively use those strengths to create a life with meaning? Here are some ideas:
- Set aside some time to reflect on and list those good things. Sounds simple enough, but have you ever really taken the time to do this? Think about those qualities of mind or spirit you bring to your family, friends, and colleagues. Are you someone who values taking time for others and expressing that in meaningful ways? Are you diligent and persistent in what you set out to accomplish? Do you put a premium on learning, on interest in the world around you? Do you excel in groups, as a member of a team? Are you fair-minded, do you try to give everyone a chance? What about your attitudes? Are you known as a hopeful, optimistic person? Do you try to see the best in others and in situations?
These are just a few examples to get you going. There are a multitude of things you may be gifted at that you aren’t even aware of. Creativity, for example, is not just limited to the arts. You may be creative in what you bring to the mix on a rainy afternoon with your children, or in brainstorming solutions to a difficult problem at work.
- What about asking a trusted friend or family member? Those around us are often much more adept at seeing us realistically than we ourselves are. Ask someone who knows you well to share those positive things about you that they recognize. You might be surprised at what you hear.
- Keep a running list of what you uncover and keep it somewhere you can see it on a regular basis. Use this as a reminder to put them to work for you in your daily life, and pay attention to the results.
Coach’s action step: Tonight, sit down and write out 3 things you did well today. (And don’t be shy…..) This can be anything from finding time to go to the gym, eating healthy, or keeping your cool during a difficult meeting. Maybe you took a few minutes to listen to someone who needed to talk. Anything you did well counts! Do this every day for a week and see how you feel by the end of that week. Chances are you will find yourself operating with a stronger and more positive attitude that will show up in your interactions with the world around you.
I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or comments!
Everyone is busy these days. We’re juggling family, home, work, school and social obligations with the never-ending list of things “to-do” we have on our plate – grocery shopping, household tasks, and getting the kids to the dentist. Some of us may be concerned with getting Mom or Dad to the dentist or grocery store, too, in this day of the “sandwich generation.” Finding the time to do it all and take care of ourselves in the process can sometimes feel overwhelming. Add to that the stress of an uncertain economy and taking the right care of ourselves can easily get lost in the shuffle.
Yet, there’s nothing more important. Taking care of yourself, feeling well, giving our bodies good fuel and exercise is what makes all the other things possible. Our health and well-being are fundamental. Think of what happens when you are hit with the flu. Everything stops, you can’t work or get anything done because, well, you can’t move. And with the flu, at least you know it will pass (even though it doesn’t feel like it at the moment…..) What about a warning from your doctor that you really need to get that extra 20 pounds off? Or something more serious? Even if your health doesn’t seem to be overtly affected now, if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed in your daily life, how much fun is that?
Your health, your well-being, is the foundation of the rest of your life. Making time to eat right, exercise and enjoy some down time isn’t a luxury. It’s basic. How well can you really do the rest of your life when you struggle with your weight, a chronic lack of energy, or unhealthy behaviors? Maybe you are constantly catching the latest bug, often a result of too much stress and decreased resistance. A certain amount of stress in life is unavoidable and can actually be desirable (think new baby, or finally landing that dream job) but chronic stress over time takes a toll on health and well-being.
The good news is that while certain life situations and circumstances may be beyond our control, there are things we can all do to ensure that we are in the best shape possible to meet those challenges and enjoy our daily round. True wellness is about much more than eating well and exercising. How are you living your life? The choices we make today affect not only how we live today, but how well we live in the future. Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting old! Many of the factors that predict good health and longevity are within your control. And those are the factors that contribute not only to successful aging, but living well now.
Some of those factors are obvious, and we all know what they are – eating right, getting adequate exercise, not smoking or quitting if we do. Other factors may not be discussed quite as often but can be just as vital to our well-being. For example, we all know that we need to get enough sleep to function at our optimum, but did you know that not getting enough sleep can contribute to weight gain? Various research studies, including a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show evidence supporting a link between sleep deprivation and weight gain. There are a few possible explanations for this. Some studies have shown that sleep-deprived people burn fewer calories. Another explanation may be that when people are tired, they are less likely to make healthy food choices. Still another explanation involves hormones. A lack of sleep causes an increase in the hormone, ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Simultaneously, there is a decrease in the hormone, leptin, which helps one feel full. Not getting enough sleep has also been tied to a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and breast cancer. Add to that the fact that you will simply look and feel better, and it’s obvious that getting enough rest should be high on anyone’s priority list. Getting enough sleep is a basic element of good health.
Don’t shortchange yourself. What you do is important. You are important. And you are important to the people around you. Get a good foundation for the rest of your life.