It’s a little odd to me that so much emphasis is placed on shopping around the day that is meant for being grateful. Others may say they’re grateful for the sales…. or grateful to get out of the house and away from football… or grateful that some have left the house to leave them alone to watch football.
As one who gratitude at the forefront of daily activities and not just focus on it for one day; it’s become not only a way of life, but a lifestyle and way of making a living through giving. How about we place more emphasis on the “thanks” and “giving” part of the holiday the other 364 days of the year and see what happens? Why not take the Graitidue Challenge and send a card of appreciation a day for 30 days to those to whom you’re grateful and see how your life changes, see what doors may be opened up, or what lines of communication may become unclogged, or what hearts may be opened up. You never know who may be hoping for something to happen in their life and you just may be the one to make it happen.
If you’re up for taking the Gratitude Challenge; send me an email Gail@GailHahn.com and let me know you want to take it and I’ll show you how you can easily send 30 cards in 30 days or turbo-charge your gratitude and send 60 cards in 60 days that will be delivered to the recipient’s mailbox by the postal service inside a stamped envelope all from the comfort of your home computer, or Ipad, laptop or even your Iphone. Anyplace you can get an internet connect, you can send a card or a gift that will be printed in 24 hours and shipped out immediately to anywhere in the world.’
The Wall Street Journal just ran an article this week about gratitude and how the workplace ranks dead-last on the list of places where thankfulness is practiced. How sad is that? We’ve been cooking along with recognition programs and incentives, then, wham, the economy goes south and so do the workplace “thank you’s”. With budget cuts go the formal recognition programs. I challenge you to not let a downfall in a formal program to create a downfall in your civil duties to spread gratitude throughout your office. John Templeton Foundation cited in the Wall Street Journal article that only 7% of bosses and 10% of colleagues on average are being thanked by their colleagues. Jack Welch, known for his tough management even says that it’s part of a manager’s job to show gratitude to their people.
From years and years of research and work in this field, I’ve experienced the same findings with my clients: when workplaces head towards the “no gratitude zone”, then morale, productivity decline and the profits are not far behind in the freefall. Gratitude is not only good for people, it’s good for business.
What are you doing to thank your colleagues, your clients, customers and your friendss throughout the year and not just on one or two days of the year? Sometimes it can fall on deaf ears in the clatter of everything at once on one day, but it is held in high esteem when it is given throughout the year on a continual basis. Go ahead, I dare you to take the Gratitude Challenge and see what happens in your life. Send me and email at Gail@GailHahn.com and I’ll show you how you can simply and easily send 30 cards in 30 days or turbo charge your giving to 60 or 90 cards in as many days. You’ll be glad you did.
Thanks for stopping by – I’m grateful to have this forum for my toughts…. though my thoughts have had a different focus for most of this year….. more later on contraction and expansion……
Some people, it seems, are just born with a more optimistic attitude and outlook, while others focus on the gloom and doom. The research on optimism fills volumes and I wanted to give you some quick tips on practicins safe stress, being more happy and how to be in a better mood for the holidays and every day. It may take more effort during the blustery gray, rainy/snowy days of winter amidst the holiday bustle; but well worth it for your own well-being and for the sake of others in your path. Our energy is contagious – just ask Ceasar Milan – the Dog Whisperer – our energy is everything to a dog…and to your neighbors, co-workers and your spouse and friends.
Since your time is short, I’ll make this snappy:
- Get moving – I prefer to think of it as “activity” vs. “exercise” – it just seems more palatable to people to releve stress and release endorphins. It can be a full-blown cardio/strength/flexibility workout or a brisk walk in the park or even mall walking (before the stores open and before the crowds arrive). If you haven’t tried Zumba or hip hop classes – the music alone will put you in a good mood, even if you’re out of breath.
- Eat breakfast and include protein – some research says eating 60% more protein if you’re lifting weights – donutes don’t count.
- Be smart about your diet, less white stuff, more color, more water-content food/drink, variety and healthy. Enjoy some of your favorite good mood foods in moderation – whatever that may be, cookies, mac and cheese, eggnog, dark chocolate…. think comfy food.
- Hug it out – physical affection and the power of touch helps with happiness – petting a puppy or kitten can help lower blood presure and calm your nerves.
- Get outside – breathe in fresh air, get out in the woods and catch the negative ions from the pine trees -leave your cell and texting activities in your pocket – this is about nature and you communing and not about you tweeting that you’re in the woods.
- Be in the moment, experience it fully and decide what types of moments you want to have. Don’t like crowds – then avoid the mall, aggitated in line – change the time of day for this activity. Stressed over the big holiday feast – suggest a nice restaurant or change it up. Financially stressed about all the gifts you need to get – let everybody know you’re opting out of unfettered consumerism this year and want a pot-luck social gathering instead – don’t fret about the future. Choose wisely where your brain is and focus on the here and now.
- Be grateful – fear goes out the back door when gratitude walks in the front door. Decide to be in a state of grace and gratitude and you will be granted more things to be grateful for.
- Say nice things to others – compliments share positive energy and that’s contageious. Help make the holiday bright with sincere positive praise.
- Focus on making happy memories – invest in experiences and bring others along for the ride. Shared experiences amp up the positive vibe.
- Listen to upbeat music, dance, sing.
- Play with your pet or visit a dog park and delight in their bouncing energy.
- Smile more and stand/sit up straight – good posture promotes elevated spirits. Smiling stimulates the thymus gland, which produces T-cells, which means people who are smiling get sick less often and feel better than those who don’t smile. Smiling is also contageous. At least a hundred studies on how smiling can actually lift your mood – it fakes out your body into thinking it’s happier.
- Wear comfortable shoes – comfy clothes too. Comfy doesn’t equal sloppy or baggy – when you feel better about your looks and your looks feel better, everybody is happier. A recent survey found 41% of women felt happier when they felt prettier. I’m guessing the men felt happier too.
- Cashmere, cashmere, cashmere – who couldn’t be in a better mood when you slip on some cashmere?
- Friends, friends, friends – in any way shape or form of personal contact and socialization elevates our energy. Choose positive friends and be a positive friend – nobody likes being around negative people.
- Avoid over-obligations and over-scheduling, especially during the holidays. If you need a holiday from the holidays, you missed the point.
- Laught out loud – cultivate your sense of humor. As a Certified Laughter Leader who studied how laughter and fun affect us in positive ways; it actually changes your brain chemicals and changes the chemical make-up in your blood. They’ve found markers in your blood which change even when you anticipate a good time or a funny movie or fun activity – even days before the activity.
- Be kind – kindness also changes your blood chemistry and raises serotonin, which counter-acts depression. Whether you are the giver, receiver or witnessing by-stander, kindness works.
- Positive self talk – its a tried and true tip to blast yourself with positive self talk and avoid beating yourself up through your self talk. Our mindset is EVERYTHING. Our behavior starts with our thoughts – choose wisely to change your outcomes.
- Try something new – enjoy beginner’s brain again and experience some wonder and awe in your life – discover something new you didn’t know how to do before: cooking, weaving, skiing, dog-sledding, volunteering, wearing red lipstick, painting, riding a unicycle or Zumba.
- Upbeat live entertainment: comedy clubs, kareoke, theatre, ballet, concerts, coffee shop guitarists and children’s plays.
- DECIDING to be in a good mood – just change your mind to change your energy and you can change your life and also change the energy of those around you. Your collegues and friends will thank you.
- Get plenty of sleep, or take naps. Most Americans get far too little sleep – no wonder we’re a nation of tired and cranky people. It’s hard to be in a good mood if you’re completely exhausted. Can you get help, delete some of your chores, set boundaries, close the door, do not disturb.
- Keep a check on what you watch on TV or view on your computer or listen to over the airwaves – we’re bombarded with negativity.
- Outsource the things you don’t enjoy or are not comfortable doing, barter or negotiate something different. Hire somebody to do whatever is not in your zone of excellence or genius and pay them for their skills to make both of you happier.
- Volunteer to help out your community, a favorite cause or favorite place – being of service serves all involved and puts you in a better mood to feel needed and worthy and that what you’re doing matters.
That’s enough to get you stared on the right path to save yourelf this holiday and every day you want a little mood lifter. A happy life is just a bunch of happy moments and good moods all strung together. I invite you to create your own list or maybe cut your list into strips and put in a jar. Whenever you’re feeling low, grab a piece of paper with one of your activities or ideas on it and do it right then.
Here’s to happier holidays by praticing some safe stress and being purposeful about putting yourself in a good mood. Everybody else wants you there as well. Cheers!
I’m a card-carrying member of the “non-commercialized holiday traditions” club. For most of my adult years I’ve not been a believer in the usual nostalgic American tradition of shop ’till you drop, unfettered consumerism type of holiday madness. I call it practicing safe stress over the holidays and quite frankly, every day. That’s why I loved living in Europe for 10 years with all those wonderful outdoor markets and much less commercialism at that time. Of course as a kid, I reveled in my parent’s consumerism as I opened present after present for Christmas. As the wise poet, Maya Angelou says, “When we know better, we do better”. Now it’s just embarassing to imagine how much value I put on that stuff as a kid. Ah yes, adulthood does have its advantages.
If you’re a fan of Oprah, you may have seen the following info in her magazine and if you didn’t catch it; I’m bringing it to you right here. Yes, I’m copying the info from her magazine word for word on page190 written by Lauren Murrow and Rachel Mount. I commend them on their research into what a few bills can do in somebody’s life. So, in honor of all Americans who may not have as much to give this season as well as those of you, like me, who take a vow to avoid all malls and shopping venues from mid-November until mid-January; I give you 17 ways under $20 to give this ThanksGIVING, your particular holiday or any day you feel like it. Starting at a buck, you can make a contribution to make changes in the world without adding to the pile of stuff for somebody.
- $1 for 2 books shipped to a classroom in Africa. In many African school rooms, 20 students share 1 textbook: www.booksforafrica.org
- $2 for a set of drumsticks for a low-income public school student learning to play the drums: www.littlekidsrock.org
- $3 for a field trip to a museum, concert or theatre production for a high-risk youth: www.createnow.org
- $4 for 2 hours of prepaid phone time for a soldier stationed overseas – calling cards for our troops: www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com
- $5 for a one-burner kerosene stove for a family that would typically rely on an open fire: www.foodforthepoor.org
- $6 for measles vaccinations for 15 children in a developing country: www.doctorswithoutborders.org
- $7 for a week’s worth of food for an abandoned dog or cat at a shelter run by the American Soiciety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: www.aspca.org
- $8 for a medical teaching doll to be used in educating a child about his or her cancer treatment: www.stjude.org
- $10 for a box of nails uded to adapt a disabled veteran’s house from Homes for Our Troops: www.homesforourtroops.org
- $10 for a day’s worth of fresh fruites and veggies for feed 2 chimps, most of which have been orphaned by poachers at the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehab Center in the Republic of Congo: www.janegoodall.org/oprah
- $10 for 2 specialized bottles for babies born with a cleft palate, who otherwise might suffer from malnutrition before receiving corrective surgery: www.operationsmile.org
- $10 for cloth and tools so an Afghan woman can become self-sufficient by taking a 6-month tailoring course through Creating Hope International and the Afghan institute for Learning: www.globalgiving.org
- $11 for 11 trees to be planted in Alabama communities devastated by the April tornadoes: www.arborday.org
- $12 for 20 pounds of multipurpose soap to help keep families germ-free around the world through Oxfam: www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com
- $14 for 2 nutitious meals delivered by volunteers from Meals on Wheels to a housebound senior citizen: www.mowaa.org
- $15 for a backpack and school supplies for one homeless or low-income urban child: www.cradlestocrayons.org
- This item was not in the Oprah mag, but I wanted to offer it to you and your friends as a way to connect with loved ones over the holidays and every day. For $9.80 you can send 10 custom greeting cards or postcards to anywhere in the world with your own photos and personal message at www.BizBuilderCards.com and select the Pay-as-You-Go option to send some cards. You can send a couple more on me – my treat as an added bonus. The video will walk you through sending a card and the company prints it, stuffs the envelope, stamps it and mails it for you. If you have questions – send me an email Gail@GailHahn.com.
On a final note – for a little more money, you can donate to your local food bank or give some small business owners some work by giving the gift of their services to loved ones such as: house cleaning services, yard services, home improvement services, a massage, a mani/pedi or spa treatments, a home chef, or any number of personal services that include experiences rather than stuff to help support the small business community.
I hope this list is helpful. Big thanks once again to Oprah and her team for brining us enlightened ideas. (BTW – have you seen her Life Class show – awesome!) If you have more ideas of making a BIG impact on a small budget, let me know and I’ll share ideas. Cheers!
There’s a lot of talk these days about happiness. Are you happy, are your kids or partner happy? Do you work in a happy environment, even the folks who are employed at the happiest place on Earth are not immune to the question of “Am I happy here?” And “here” can mean here in your life, here in your job, here in your business, here in your marriage, here in a geographic location or here in any specific situation.
Lots and lots of studies, books and blogs about happiness have cropped up over the years. It’s a sign that we’ve moved up the food chain on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Once a need is met, it’s no longer a need and we go out seeking something else. Our motivations come from needs, so once a need is met, we no longer have tha motivation. So I’m guessing that most of us have our food, clothing and shelter taken care of and now we’re in search of the self actualization and happiness penthouse level.
One of the aspects of happiness is to find something you love to do, make it your life’s work and focus your energy and attention towards it. It gives you meaning, gives you joy and gives you something you do well to serve the world and create a better place. Having that type of purposeful project fans the flames of your inner potential. When our work is a natural express of who we are and what we do well, that intersection of our talents and the world’s needs is ripe for success. Ultimately, our work on Earth is to shine our light joyfully and give our greatest strengths to the world and if we combine that with our vocation, it’s brilliantly blissful. Need help figuring out your gifts, talents and purpose? We can point you in the right direction at YourRealPurpose.com.
Happiness is a decision of the mind. Deciding you are going to take action to make changes towards what makes you happy is the first step. Of course EVERYTHING starts with the mindset, deciding, then doing. Our thoughts, ideas and desires are what drives us forward and helps our soul to evolve and happiness is a pleasant side affect. So many of us seem to be in the busy-ness of being too busy to do X, Y or Z. I’d say being too busy to slow down and figure out what makes you happy is like being too busy driving to stap for gas. Slowing down to figure out what feeds your soul in how your serve and how you move through the world is refilling your tank. Once you know what feeds you, then you can put it on your t0-do list and fit it into your busy schedule.
Research shows that life’s most gratifying experiences and happy moments come from really living and being present at what you’re doing, who you’re being and where you are and NOT in all the trappings of the usual suspects of success. Studies show that the little things add up to a happier life such as walking to the store from home instead of driving, great neighbors, friendship, sharing conversation, socializing, notice daily joys, music, smells, dogs/cats, tending your garden, fresh flowers, home-baked treats, spending time with family disconnected from technology.
So many of us are experiencing a life deficit disorder in our rush to the bus/metro/carpool, the rush through lunch, the rush home and rushing to get everything done. Your challenge this week is to slow down, make time to make your list of your happiness factors that affect you personally. What’s on your list? Once you make your happiness factor list, do a gap analysis to discover where you can close the gaps and just how far out of whack you may be, or celebrate how on track you are and rejoice in your alignment with life/work/happiness. Make it a priority to create happiness at home, in your workplace, in your life. Once you have your list, challenge yourself to put more of those things from your list into your daily life and into the workplace.
Here are some ideas to get you started for a happy workplace:
- SAS corporation supplies M&M’s and coffee in the break areas, they have on-site childcare so employees can visit their kids at lunch, dry cleaner drop-off service, on-site doctors, lovely landscaped grounds.
- Northwestern Mutual offers boxed dinners from the cafeteria so dinner is easy to fix after a long day, music groups/bands so employees can enjoy their hobby with others and give concerts to colleagues.
- Car detailing or seated massages while at work, bosses serve breakfast to workers, Office Olympics or friendly competition – chili cookoff or bake-off.
- Colors affect our mood – paint the walls what makes you happy, fresh flowers, music, flextime, ability to express how you work through your work, listening, respect, caring for others.
- Disney entertains you while you wait in looooong lines, Vail and Copper Mountain ski resorts through out candy to skiers in lift lines and ask trivia questions to make the time in lines go faster.
- My dentist recently replaced their waiting room furnishings with very comfy, luxurious yet whimsical furnishings, a new plasma TV, fireplace and fountain and a fresh supply of current magazines.
What is your workplace doing or what can you contribute to your business/workplace to up the ante for happiness for yourself, your colleagues and your customers? It will go a long way in improving the happiness factor in your life since you spend about a third of your life at work.
I’m taking a new look at my workplace and living space these days. I’m moving my business and my life to a different place. I’ve noticed how I want to lighten my load, throw off the dead weight, innovate ways to do more with less.
I’ve gone through this drill with each move and notice that I’m drilling down more and more to ge to the heart of what works for me in my business and my home life. Taking a fresh perspective on the things that you have usually done or used to serve you helps bring out new innovative ways to doing things and using things. I though I’d been ruthless the last few moves with removing items that no longer served me or the business well. I find it needs to be done in layers.
What if you did the same to your organization and pretended you were moving offices, moving to a different level of service, moving closer to your customer’s needs. What would you jettison? What would you keep? Who would stay or go? What do you really need in your office or what is serving it’s purpose, but not very well?
Have you looked at your processes with a keen eye, or from the eyes of your customers or your colleagues to see where you can streamline? Take a cue from Domino’s Pizza and their new menu items. They have a survey printed on the box asking how you like it. Have you interviewed your clients to ask “how we doin’?” Have you interviewed your team members to ask the same when you’re in a performance review session.
How about a brainstorming session with other departments to ask where the bottlenecks are and how to creatively improve them? It starts with letting go of your old perspective on how things should be done or how they should look or be. Be open about the outcomes, re-purpose some things or ways of thinking. Embrace some changes or create some yourself to shake things up. It could start with cleaning out the junk drawer or just looking at what’s working or not working so well and being open to propose a better plan.
Sometimes you have to introduce the innovation or the change in increments and layers. If we’re forced to change too much in too short of time, we experience future shock and we dig in our heals. Making incremental changes and letting it settle in, then tweaking some more, ditching a little here and tossing a little there doesn’t meet with so much resistance. Ask around and see what your team can tweak or hold a contest to see who can come up with the most innovative solution to a recent challenge.
Some find it hard to accept new ways of working because they may think they’ve failed in some way. Being open to innovation means not holding on so tight to what you thought was the best way of doing things yesterday. Things change, you did the best you could with what you knew and what you had at that point in time. Let go of some old ways and things to make room for new ways and things. An open mind is a good mind. Create space for new things to come in.
Now excuse me while I clear away the old printer to make room for the new, innovative wireless one (double the output, double-sided printing, eprinting and half the cost of ink)…