By learning to discover and value our ordinariness, we nurture a friendliness toward ourselves and the world that is the essence of a healthy soul.

By learning to discover and value our ordinariness, we nurture a friendliness toward ourselves and the world that is the essence of a healthy soul.” ~Thomas Moore

Who needs to be a supernatural being. We are each and every one of us, important just by being regular folks. We only need to value ourselves as a full package, with strengths, flaws, potentials, skills, personality, emotions and intellect. Once you make friends with yourself it is a whole lot easier to make friends with others.

Taming Your Stress Things

My definition of stress: A thief in the night that robs you of your essence and your innate creativity, strengths and spirit to thrive.  For most clinicians and researchers stress is the resulting situation when pressure and challenged exceed our perceived ability to cope. A stressor is anything that knocks you out of allostatic balance. Here’s the bottom line courtesy of Robert Sapolsky1,  allostatic balance is all about the brain coordinating body wide behaviors and changes in a given situation. Stress response is constellation of physical reactions mounted by the body in the face of a stressor. It is what your body does to try to reestablish balance.

So what we call “Stress” or what we experience is stress is the body’s reaction to a threat, perceived or real. It’s our flight or flight response mediated by adrenaline and other stress hormones. Increased heart rate, faster breathing, increased blood pressure, tension in our muscles, dry mouth, dilated pupils all indicators of increased arousal. Great primers designed to bring the necessary “scobysnacks” when we need extra energy in our legs and other muscles when we need to physically flee or fight.  I would be remiss to not mention Shelly Taylor’s2 convincing argument that for females the stress response might be more about “tend and befriend”- taking care of young or dependents and seeking social affliction. This certainly is true for many people, but it is also true that many females have been known to fight or flee. So instead of getting bogged down in the scientific details and its complications let’s try to keep things simple. We’re not innately wired to stop think and consider what is going on or what we might choose as our reaction to a stressful event.  We are wired to get into action.

Stressful events that are too frequent, too long or too intense lead to distress.  Distress is what we commonly refer to as stress.

Not all stress is bad.  Eustress, healthy stress allows us to perform well. It is the challenge that keeps you going, engaged and excited to be pushed.

To master stress you must change. Discovering where your stresses are coming from and what thoughts and behaviors contribute to your very real experience of stress you can then take considered specific actions to change your experience of distressing experiences. Change your behavior. Change your thinking. Change your lifestyle choices. Change the situation you are in or creating- if possible. Discovering where your stresses are coming from is not a mere listing of what ticks you off or a litany of difficulties. It is those things AND your appraisal of the situation at hand AND evaluation of your ability to handle it.

Thriving in spite of stress is a two-part process: appraising the situation and then taking action to soothe the savage beast.

In my upcoming September 18, 2010 Taming Your Stress Things workshop in Jackson, MS, I’ll help you identify the impact of both your pet peeves and the major stressful events in your life and where to focus your stress taming energy to make the greatest impact.  More details about the workshop coming soon.

1Robert Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

2Shelly Taylor UCLA

How to Say No to Get to Yes

Saying ‘No’ is okay. It eases my guilt and resentment, frees my time and I only commit to what I want and need to in my life” said my client as we wrapped up our coaching this month. She moved from a place of resentment, disappointment and frustration and being overwhelmed in virtually all aspects of her life, romantic, work, family and friends. She just operated under the assumption that she could not say now, because everyone needed her to do it and that no one else could or would do it. Turns out these were false assumptions and were making her life miserable – who needs that.

So what made the difference for her? Two things.

1. She got honest with herself and in turn was honest with others.

2. She learned the power of a positive no.

What is a Positive No? Saying “no” and still getting to “yes” by becoming very clear about what you are saying no to in order to say yes to something else, nicely. William Ury is the man behind the “Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship and  Still Say No.” It is a wonderful down to earth book that I recommend to pretty much everyone I know.

Here are the four things my client did to get to her Positive No’s.

1. Decided what was most important to her ability to be her best self- what sustains her ability to be a supportive wife, mother, colleague daughter and friend. In short she became very clear about her most fundamental needs and values.

2. She was clear with herself about what she was saying no to in order to say yes to her fundamental needs and values.

3. She was clear with others as saying no to and what, and what she would or could do in terms of requests from others.

4. Respected the same in the other people in her life, her husband, her daughter, colleagues, boss, clients, friends and family.

5. She celebrates what the choices has made over the past 3 months have given her- a sense of peace, a desire to say yes and be support where and when she knows she can contribute willing, a greater sense of well-being and balance. It has also afforded her the space to move forward with some life milestones, like completing her first children’s book.

Laughter is an instant vacation

Laughter is an instant vacation.  ~Milton Berle

This week I will be laughing a lot as I will be on vacation and will be filling my time with this…

and this….

and perhaps raising  a glass or two of cheer this with family and friends

but no posts. I hope you are taking sometime for yourself to laugh, recharge and reconnect with yourself and loved ones this summer too. I’ll be back next week.

ps: for more on these photos click here, & here .

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” – Winston Churchill

This is so true! When we look back on life, we remember and feel better about what we gave more so than what we got. So get out and give yourself, your family, friends,and community your best. You are much more likely to get the best in life,  just maybe on your preferred time line or in the way you think it might arrive.