Archive for March, 2006

Posted on Mar 6th, 2006

When was the last time you felt stressed out? Last week? Yesterday? With today’s hectic pace, it’s no wonder many of us experience frayed nerves on a regular basis.

With our to-do list in hand we speed through our days at such a pace even the slightest setback irritates the heck out of us. Instead of keeping pace with the urgency of the world, why not step back and savor those small moments of downtime.

Following is a list of stress management tips that will show you how to make your stress work for, not against you.

Don’t make mountains out of molehills

If slow highway traffic has a tendency to make your blood boil ask yourself "What’s the worst thing that could happen?" Far too often everyday stresses like this get the best of us.

Sort out the trivial from the essential

Give the whole situation a little perspective. If you’re stuck in traffic, exaggerate the situation by picturing yourself growing old behind the wheel. Now, how unrealistic is that? Chances are good if you use this method you will end up laughing which is good since humor is a great stress reliever.

Breathe new life into the moment

Breathe in for four counts, hold for two, then slowly release for six to eight counts. Get a rhythm going for several minutes. Deep breathing opens up the cardiovascular system, enhances blood flow and distributes oxygen to every part of the body.

Imagine a balloon in your stomach that inflates and pushes the abdomen out while you inhale and deflates, letting the abdomen fall back to its original position while you exhale.

Cut stress with kindness

You’d probably agree that the tension in most long lines and crowded waiting rooms is so thick you can cut it with a knife. Be the first one to strike up a conversation. Chatting with others around you is a great way to make the time pass quicker for everyone.

Loosen up your body

Mentally give your body the once over. Are you grinding your teeth or furrowing your brow? Is there a build up of tension held tight in your shoulders or a knot in your neck? If so, start at the tip of your head and concentrate on releasing the tightness in each individual muscle group until you’ve worked everything thru.

Let others pitch in

We don’t have to do everything ourselves. Encourage everyone to pitch in. Divvy up chores among family members. At the very least, relax your own standards – everything doesn’t have to be perfect.

Know what you can change and what you can’t

Even though having a sense of control can reduce stress, certain situations are beyond our influence. Acceptance is often the best approach.

Remember the old saying by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr? “God, grant us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” Find comfort in his words.

Walk away stress

What motivates people to stick with a fitness program? There are more benefits to frequent exercise than trimmer waistlines or firmer thighs. Most people who exercise regularly also benefit from the reduction of stress.

The basis of all stress reduction techniques is to help you focus on the present moment, rather than being distracted. And exercise does just that. During exercise we move in a rhythmic fashion that may also tap into our underlying natural body rhythms such as breathing and heart rate. In turn it can calm the mind and elevate the mood. Researchers have also long attributed the mind-body link to the release of endorphins, our bodies feel-good chemicals.

Turn off negative self talk

We may not even realize it but we could be feeding our stress level with pessimistic thinking. A great deal of stress comes from what we tell ourselves – the irrational thoughts and expectations – the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘musts’.

Take the time to listen to your internal messages. When you catch yourself in negative self-talk, instantly replace the thought with a more realistic one. It may take some time and practice to train yourself to turn those negative thoughts around. But in the long run, it is well worth the effort for the peace and well-being you’ll gain.

Sherrie Le Masurier is a freelance writer who writes extensively on nutrition, fitness and family health. For more stress management tips visit and - Copyright.

Posted on Mar 6th, 2006

To gain the most benefit from stress management techniques, it’s important that we identify the specific pressures we are having difficulty with and tailor the techniques to our needs.

Simply employing deep breathing techniques or visuals can be helpful at times – when we know why we’re doing them, doing them correctly and if they are part of an overall management program and not a lone strategy.

There are many different dimensions to our stress:

Mental - Physical - Environmental - Spiritual - Interpersonal - Family

In order to experience stress relief, our management techniques need to be directed toward the problem we are having. For example:

We are constantly in a state of rush – running from one activity to another with hardly enough time to breathe in between. Doing deep breathing exercises will give us a few minutes of calm but will hardly address the real issues.

In this example, it would be helpful to also look at time management techniques in addition to relaxation. Are we overextending ourselves? Are we allowing enough time in between activities? Do we know how much time each activity takes to accomplish so that we are not needlessly pressured? Are we comfortable saying “no” to requests?

In the mental category, are our self-limiting beliefs contributing to our perceived level of distress? Do we have realistic expectations? Are we over generalizing? Do we see everything as a crisis? Do we know ourselves well enough to connect our values with our goals? Are we self-sacrificing?

Analyzing our life balance priorities might be beneficial. If family togetherness is one of our values but we are not allowing enough time to devote to family, it could be making us uncomfortable leading to irritability and increased feelings of stress.

In the following articles, I will be addressing specific stress management techniques including giving a description of the correct way to do relaxation breathing and imagery and most importantly, the type of stress those methods address most effectively.

One article will be devoted to self limiting beliefs. Until I started doing research in stress management, I didn’t consider that my own attitudes, beliefs and thinking could be contributing to my level of stress. Interesting subject and very enlightening!

I will include the techniques most useful for addressing different causes of stress and practical suggestions for their use.

Here’s to a calm, stressless life!

Cathy Gariety is a Registered Nurse and CEO of Gariety Group Consulting - a firm specializing in stress management providing services to individuals, corporate and healthcare facilities. She is also Editor of their Stress Buster newsletter. Email for a complimentary Mini Stress Management E-Course delivered to your email address once per week for four weeks.

Posted on Mar 5th, 2006

In the busy world that we live in today, stress can be a very real threat to your health. In addition to throttling your brain with negative thoughts, stress can lead to serious physical symptoms that can be a major detriment to your body and mind. When the mind is stressed, the body wanes and the vitamins and minerals it needs are used up much more rapidly. For this reason, it can be a great idea to take vitamins for stress to help minimize the damage stress can have on your body.

Studies show that people who are in a stressful mind state tend to have lower levels of B-complex vitamins. Deficiencies of the B-complex can lead to a host of other problems, including depression, irritability, and irregular nerve functioning. Vitamins C and E are also depleted faster when the mind is under stress. These vitamins are antioxidants, which are also key to health. Deficiencies of these nutrients can result in damage to cell membranes caused by free radicals.

Beyond these vitamins, minerals are also depleted when the body is in a stressful state. Magnesium and zinc are two prime examples of minerals sapped from the body during these tough times. In addition to taking supplements to decrease these deficiencies, there are several other remedies that can help aid the damage caused by stress.

Beta glucan, shown in studies to enhance immune system performance, can be a great asset to the stressed mind. Maitake mushrooms also stimulate the immune system, helping the stressed body as well. Gotu Kola is another herbal supplement, which, in addition to helping stress, and help to ease anxiety.

A combination of taking these vitamins for stress, the required minerals, and an herbal remedy to help ease stress in general, can result in a knockout punch to the stress that may be affecting you. Your body cannot operate to its full potential without the nutrients it needs, and these supplements can help you get back on the right track.

Why not check out our nutrition guide at

and also what supplement we personally use for our nutrition needs at

John Gibb is the owner of Nutrition guide, a website offering free nutrition advice and a quality nutrition book with special offers for newsletter subscribers. Dedicated to optimising health.

Posted on Mar 5th, 2006

We’ve unwittingly scheduled our time so that it’s difficult to get off the roller coaster long enough to take stock of our lives and see that we are doing too much – we have too much on our plate.

We are making sure we take that thirty minutes per day for ourselves, praying or doing meditation, eating as well as we think we can, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing sports and numerous other things we’ve read about that might reduce stress. We’ve used time management skills in order to accomplish more. Tomorrow we wake up and repeat the entire process again. It’s no longer unusual – it’s accepted and expected.

We live in a society that values activity. A friend calls on the phone and asks what we’re doing. We answer, “Keeping busy.” We’re so busy being active that we haven’t taken the time to consider alternatives to the methods we’re presently using to manage stress.

There might be a better way to manage if we could slow down long enough to recognize it, analyze it and plan for it. Our emphasis has shifted from prevention to relief.

I’m going to introduce some new concepts to you regarding prevention. I want to shift your thinking from stress relief to stress management. We are going to have stressors in life. Life happens. It’s unrealistic to expect otherwise but there are steps we can take to make it manageable and realistic.

In addition to the relief measures we use in our day to day life, we are going to shift our way of thinking to bring lasting change. I’ll admit it’s easier to concentrate on short term, immediate gratification with measures such as relaxation and meditation but unless we evaluate the root causes of our stress, we will continue to suffer. We can continue to go with the flow or we can choose to be proactive.

We are now familiar with the havoc that having chronic stress in our lives does to our bodies. It’s time to turn off that switch and feel our heart rates come back to normal.

I’m going to ask you to complete a different kind of stress assessment. Give it some thought and take the week to work on it. Be aware of how you react to situations, be perceptive. How you think you react may be entirely different than how you actually do.

Stress Assessment

  • Do you find yourself easily irritated?
  • Do you fail to see the humor in situations others find funny?
  • Do you feel you have the time to complete your to do list?
  • Are you in a supervisory position at work or a parent of under age children?
  • Do you find it irritating when others have an opposing view?
  • Would you prefer to finish tasks yourself instead of asking for help?
  • Are you currently unemployed or underemployed?
  • Do you have a spiritual life?
  • Do you frequently find yourself using the terms: “Awful” or
  • Catastrophe?”
  • How often do you think to yourself, “I can’t do this.” Or, "I can’t stand this.”
  • Are you going through a divorce, break up of a long term
  • relationship or grieving the loss of a loved one?
  • Have you recently relocated or are you planning to?
  • Do you find yourself waiting until the last minute for
  • deadlines?
  • Do you take care of yourself, ie: diet, exercise, grooming?
  • Do you have supportive relationships with family and friends?
  • Do you have difficulty saying “No” to people?
  • Do you have teenage children?
  • Are your surroundings organized, clean and comfortable?
  • Do you follow a budget or have a plan to pay expenses?
  • Are you satisfied with your relationship with your significant other?
  • Do you frequently feel your boss asks too much of you?
  • Do you have insomnia?
  • Do you eat too much or too little?
  • Do you frequently find yourself pacing or wringing your hands?
  • Do you or someone close to you have legal matters pending?
  • Do you or someone close to you have health issues?
  • Print this page out and use the assessment to determine the stressors present in your life. The greater number, the more you need increased strategies for management.

    Watch for additional articles that suggest the methods we encourage for lasting management.

    Cathy Gariety is a Registered Nurse and CEO of Gariety Group Consulting - a firm specializing in stress management providing services to individuals, corporate and healthcare facilities. She is also Editor of their Stress Buster newsletter. Email for a complimentary Mini Stress Management E-Course delivered to your email address once per week for four weeks.

    Posted on Mar 4th, 2006


    Workaholism is a common type of dysfunctional behavior. It is a destructive behavior pattern that is not normal. Simply working hard from time to time is not what I am talking about here. We all have to do that occasionally. It becomes dysfunctional when the duration and intensity of the behavior get out of control and begin affecting your life in a negative manner. Workaholics must fix this problem first if they want to get organized.

    So What?

    Many people actually brag about being workaholics. They love to tell you about how many hours they “put in” and how they haven’t had a day off in months or years. Most workaholics do not realize they are, in effect, telling you they are dysfunctional and behaving in an irrational manner. There are only 24 hours in your day, only 24 hours in my day, only 24 hours in everybody’s day.

    • George Washington only had 24 hours each day to figure out how to build a new nation and follow up on his ideas.

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower only had 24 hours each day to figure out how to win World War II and follow up on his ideas.
  • Albert Einstein only had 24 hours each day to solve some of the greatest mysteries of the universe (including the true meaning of time).
  • These guys actually had some good reasons for occasionally being workaholics. The fact is, most of us are not building new nations, fighting global wars or solving the problems of the universe. We can probably get our work done without turning into workaholics.

    Now What?

    Be honest with yourself (this may not be easy or feel good at first). Think about why you have chosen to be a workaholic. Here are some possible reasons according to psychologists who study this type of behavior:

    • Workaholics have trouble relaxing or doing nothing. Some workaholics have a profound sense of insecurity and think that others appreciate them only for what they do instead of what they are.

  • Workaholics have anxieties about not living up to expectations, not being good enough, or other people finding out they are not as good as everyone thinks they are. According to psychoanalyst Manfred Kets de Vries, these people put “all the eggs of self-esteem in the basket of work.”
  • Workaholics won’t delegate because they think nobody else can do the work as well as they can. This attitude, of course, assures they will never escape from the workaholic cycle.
  • There are many other reasons for workaholism, but the more important issue is what to do about it. One of the best steps to conquer workaholism is to take time out for reflection. Figuring out why you are driving yourself so hard will help you figure out how to stop doing it. Use some of your restless energy to research the topic and figure out how to create a better, non-dysfunctional life for yourself. Stop thinking being a workaholic is normal behavior.

    “There is more to life than to increase its speed.” - Mahatma Gandhi

    Chris Crouch, president and founder of DME Training and Consulting, is the developer of the GO System. The GO System is a structured training course designed to improve focus, organization and productivity in the workplace and is taught by corporate trainers and professional organizers all over the country. Chris is also author of Getting Organized: Learning How to Focus, Organize and Prioritize and other books that provide practical and easy-to-learn ideas on personal achievement, success and productivity.

    Visit to learn more about the GO System, to inquire about having Chris speak to your group or organization, to sign up for Chris’ free newsletter providing tips on having a more joyful and productive life, and for additional ideas on improving focus, organization and productive.

    To learn about becoming a Certified GO System Trainer, visit

    Posted on Mar 4th, 2006

    Stress can be defined as a response of the body to demands placed on it and can be either positive or negative.

    Some stress is necessary for optimal functioning. It’s what enables us to give interesting presentations, makes sporting events fun to watch, serves as a protection in dangerous situations, and motivation and energy in challenging ones. People perceive demands differently and what can be motivating for one may be distressing to another.

    When the body faces a stressful event, your central nervous system gets ready for action. Certain areas of your brain activate hormones which in turn activate adrenalin. All of this happens within a matter of seconds – you know it’s kicked in when you feel your heart beating faster and your face flush. In the meantime, seventeen other hormones are being released, sending the body into a hyperactive state.

    Sugars stored in the liver are released providing quick energy. Your red blood cells release more oxygen, your stomach goes into hibernation allowing more blood to reach your brain and muscles in preparation for flight. Your intestines are affected – either constricting or – yikes, relaxing! If allowed, your body will finally relax after the threat passes.

    The problems lie when we are in a chronic state of arousal whether through repeated acute episodes of stress or prolonged chronic states such as through poverty, unemployment, grief and other long term situations.

    In episodic acute and chronic stress, your body hasn’t had a chance to turn off the switch and recent research has confirmed negative health effects ranging from cardiac damage, increased susceptibility to viruses, increased headaches, insomnia, GERD, skin problems, stroke and other health issues.

    How Do You Respond to Stress?

    When experiencing stress, you may be affected totally, not only in your body but also in your emotional reactions, your personal thoughts, and your relations with others.

    The following list of stress symptoms contains the most typical reactions to stress. It can also help you begin focusing on ways to manage stress.


    Headaches, Fatigue, Insomnia, Weight change, Colds, Digestive upsets, Accident prone, Teeth grinding, Restlessness, Alcohol, drug, or tobacco use, Shoulders tighten up or ache, Pounding heart rate.


    Forgetfulness, Dull senses, Poor concentration, Low productivity, Negative attitude, Confusion, Lethargy, No new ideas, Boredom.


    Anxiety, The "blues", Mood swings, Bad temper, Crying spells, Irritability, Depression, Nervous laugh, Worrying, Easily discouraged.


    Isolation, Resentment, Loneliness, Lashing out, Clamming up, Lowered sex drive, Nagging, Fewer contacts with friends.

    Look over the symptoms you’ve experienced and circle those that occur frequently or regularly.

    Study your list. Which symptoms cause you the most concern? Are you aware when they are happening to you? Can you stop them from happening? Do you see a pattern in your symptoms? Are they mostly physical? Do they usually involve other people? This might give you a clue in directing your stress management program.

    Copyright 2005 - Gariety Group Consulting

    Cathy Gariety is a Registered Nurse and CEO of Gariety Group Consulting - a firm specializing in stress management providing services to individuals, corporate and healthcare facilities. She is also Editor of their Stress Buster newsletter. Email for a complimentary Mini Stress Management E-Course delivered to your email address once per week for four weeks.

    Posted on Mar 3rd, 2006

    Do you feel that you are constantly under stress? Are you looking into ways of how you can reduce your stress levels? If you have answered yes to both of these questions, you are not alone. The world is seemingly becoming faster, more demanding and more pressurised. In this article I write about how meditation can help you to relax and become a happier person.

    Stress affects people in different ways. I personally feel very tired and lethargic during these periods and start to worry about things, like a future event. This can easily lead me into a period of depression, which in the past I have found it very difficult to come out of.

    Other people suffer from panic attack attacks, become very shaky and nervous, feel sick in the stomach, become sad and can begin to think in a very negative way.

    Most of the conditions I have described above are actually a mental and not so much of a physical problem. This is why I believe meditation to be an excellent form of stress relief or stress management.

    Meditation helps us to control our emotions, to think in a more relaxed and positive way and certainly helps us to think more clearly.

    Positive effects of meditation:

    It reduces your heart rate

    It relaxes your breathing and can even make it slower

    It can lower blood pressure

    It can increase your self-esteem by making you think in a more positive way

    Helps you to think in a more logical and clear way

    Helps you to reduce stress

    Types of meditation:

    Walking meditation

    Mandala meditation

    Yoga meditation

    Sitting meditation

    Prayer meditation

    Visualisation meditation

    I personally prefer the sitting meditation. I try to make time around three of four times a day when I will sit down to meditate. Originally I had a lack of belief about what I was doing and about if it would work. I found it difficult at this stage to get myself into the zone. With practice and realising that I needed this to work for me, I managed to get enough concentration and focus to see the full benefits.

    A lot of the people in my circle of friends think that I am a bit mad. They can not believe that I actually just sit there and think. Meditation has had such a positive effect on my life and continues to do so, therefore my friends can mock as much as they like. I actually believe that some of them should try it themselves but they always laugh at the suggestion.

    This is something I now do on a daily basis and it works. Give it a go with belief and I am sure it will benefit you to.

    Stephen Hill helps to promote a number of websites including:

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    Posted on Mar 3rd, 2006

    Is it possible to live a balanced life?

    Living a balanced life may conjure up images of balanced scales, being a “superhuman”, feeling even-keeled and in control. We perceive it to mean symmetrical, composed, stable and poised. The collective belief is that if you equally attend to all facets of your life, and if you maintain your composure while doing so, you will find the nirvana of balance within your life. This is a great myth, yet a perceived road map to many for finding balance.

    FYI - Your life is not meant to be one static pie chart you control!

    When you learned to ride a bike, roller skate or turn a cartwheel, everyone probably remembers the more you fought your body’s natural sense of balance or had thoughts of falling, your struggle to succeed was harder. In fact, you discovered when you worried less, trusted in the uncertainty more and enjoyed moving through space, your balance became effortless. Balance within in your life works very much the same way.

    The process of balance involves an ever-evolving dynamic. This fluid ingredient of life, known as balance, becomes increasingly present when it builds up a momentum and is allowed to have its own ebb and flow without your control! Living a balanced life is found in being perfectly imbalanced and stepping outside of yourself many times. If this sounds like a contradiction, it really is not. In order to experience balance within your life, you must, ultimately, alter your definition of balance. Not unlike how nature recovers the pertinent balance of minerals in her soil through what many view as destructive forest fires, you need to understand that balance can come from being thrown off balance, no matter how distressing things appears. You come to know your own sense of balance by living the breadth and depth of life and by not avoiding it.

    Here are suggestions for reframing and reclaiming a sense of balance with your life:

    Prioritize – Organize and focus on what really matters. This means establishing priorities for what you need to do and want to do daily. All in that order. There are daily events that must be attended to, such as going to work, shopping for groceries and feeding the family. Then there are the events that you want to do, such as pursuing your hobby, answering emails and taking that relaxing bath. It is a myth that you must spend the exact amount of time on every item in your life’s pie chart. In fact, attempting to do everything equally can establish patterns of mediocrity instead of opening you to extraordinary feats and accomplishments when you focus. Your balance is found in attending to the parts of your life, but not always focusing in equal increments. So go ahead and put time into exploring your creative whim.

    Simplify – Learn to not over commit. You can say no to extra activities and say yes to your priorities. Sometimes you may want to be extra-involved in certain activities and at other times, you may need to shy away from these same commitments. This is natural and not flaky. It is only flaky when you first commit and then drop out. Avoid this by simplifying and saying yes to what matters and is important. Balance arrives when you are fully present within your commitments and give yourself permission to choose.

    Emotions – Experience the breadth and depth of your emotions. When you avoid your deeper, tougher emotions, which could be anger for some and love for others, you cause an unhealthy internal imbalance. You grow your psychological balance through expressing and understanding the nature of your moods and feelings, not by remaining placid. You get to learn about your inner strengths and human nature when you own and accept who you are regardless if you feel fearful or happy. Quit judging your emotions. Emotion is a channel of energy that allows you to learn about your world. It is true that the levels of great joy one feels in life are proportionate to the depths of hardship ones also experiences. Understand that emotion is energy in motion and energy must continually flow to be balanced. Experience, express, but do not hold on.

    Flexibility – Understand that balance is an ever-evolving dynamic. It involves movement and the inevitability of change. New events occurring within your life, such as a move, divorce or new job, can leave you feeling anxious, stressed-out and overwhelmed. These feelings worsen when you resist the change these events bring into your life in the present. By clinging to what was, you loose focus and are further removed from your internal locus of balance. Instead, experience your emotions, listen to them and implement their teachings. Balance is found in being flexible to what and where life leads you in the present moment and by not clinging to or controlling it. Often, balance arrives by being thrown off balance!

    Is it possible to live a balanced life? Yes you can, when you understand that balance is not a static state where you will arrive some day. Instead, balance is found in the process of making the daily choices that keep you focused on what is important within your life. It teaches you to learn about balance by knowing what it feels like to be imbalanced. It is through the path of imbalance that you come to know the fine art of finding balance within your life. It is this path that becomes an opportunity to rediscover your life in a seemingly balanced, yet perfectly imbalanced way.

    Have a well-being question you would like to have answered? You can write Karen at for answers. For more information about Gifts of the Goddess – All-Natural Body & Skin Care, visit:

    Copyright (c) 2005 Karen A. Dahlman. All rights reserved.

    Karen A. Dahlman, art therapist, licensed counselor and entrepreneurial business owner aspires to teach others to lead a creative life. She is founder and CEO of Creative Visions Consulting, Inc., a fortune 500 telecommunications-consulting firm. Her latest business endeavor is Gifts of the Goddess – All-Natural Body & Skin Care, which is close to her heart as it developed from her work as a therapist, inspiring women to evoke their inner goddess through self-empowerment. For more information about self-care through body-care, visit Gifts of the Goddess – All-Natural Body & Skin Care:

    Posted on Mar 2nd, 2006

    1. Be aware of your surroundings

    If you find yourself continuously thinking back to a stressful situation, remember that it is over, at least for the moment. Look around. Become aware of your surroundings. Focus on your breathing. Whenever you find yourself slipping back into the stressful memory, say to yourself, "I am here now." This is one of the best methods I’ve found for instant stress relief.

    2. See anything that causes you stress, as a Test.

    Imagine that the things that cause you stress, are merely distractions. These things are testing your ability to remain centered. If you look at it as a test, something that gives you the opportunity to make a choice about how to feel, it stops having power over you. You will then find it easier to choose happiness.

    3. Take time for yourself

    This is incredibly important. If you can, make time each day JUST FOR YOURSELF. Whether you can take 10 minutes or an hour, make sure that you do. Spending time by yourself, relaxing and focusing on the moment helps to give you the mental break you need to unwind. If you have a period of quietness throughout the day, meditate. This clears the mind like nothing else. Simply focus on your breathing for 10 minutes or more. If your mind starts to wander, don’t worry about it. Just bring your awareness back to your breathing.

    These are great tools for stress relief. Practice them whenever you can. Incorporate them into your daily routine, and you will find yourself much calmer and more relaxed at all times.

    Corey Asbreuk You can subscribe to my newsletter to learn more tips to relieve stress, at

    Posted on Mar 2nd, 2006

    “Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff” is what my friend told me at coffee the other day. We were talking about this column and it’s become a bit of a joke when I say “well, I guess I’ll make a list of all the things that stress me for the column this month.” So I shared with her a few of the things that sometimes stress me and that was her response. She’s a dear friend and I know I can always count on her to be honest with me. She has a calendar that reminds her daily not to sweat the small stuff. One of the recent days read ‘Would you rather be right or happy?’ Well, that’s easy – I’d rather be right!! Just kidding! (tee-hee) Of course I’d rather be happy. It’s what our consumer driven society tries to convince us that we’ll achieve if we’d only buy certain products. You know, I’m sure if I asked a lot of people how they would define happiness, I’d get different answers from everyone. Sadly, some of us have made happiness dependant upon something else. You hear people saying, “Well, I’ll be happy when I have $5,000.00 in the bank; when I get a better job; when I meet the right person; when I lose 20 lbs; and the list goes on. They are giving up their power to create happiness in their own life right now because they’ve made it dependant upon something that is future based.

    The book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson is one of my all time favourites. This little book is profound in its simplicity and if you haven’t already done so, I’d recommend getting your own copy. The chapters are short and easy to read and it makes so much sense. It’s a great reminder of what is important in life. Some of my favourite chapters are: Chapter 4 – Be aware of the snowball effects of your thinking; Chapter 10 – Learn to Live in the present moment; Chapter 17 – Surrender to the fact that life isn’t fair. If you are experiencing challenges in your life, you’ll be sure to find something in this book that will be enlightening. I wish I could succinctly tell you about all of them in this column.

    Life can be challenging. There are those of us who choose to make a big fuss about small things – bit of lint on a counter; a few undone dishes in the sink – the perfectionists among us who feel obliged to focus on insignificant issues. But it’s the rare soul who goes through life problem free. Most of us have experienced some crisis in our lives, and it’s our response to these challenges that can create an opportunity to become a better person. The people who find the strength to move forward have learned that joyfulness comes from within and from being focused on today. We can choose to go through each day and see all the negatives or we can do as Dr. Carlson suggests in his book, and stop focusing on the insignificant things in life. Your happiness lies within and you can experience it now. It’s your choice.

    Carole Fawcett is a Stress Management Consultant and Laughter Therapist.

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