Category Archives: Fulfillment
Posted on June 21, 2016 in Fulfillment by Sandra Bienkowski
When you are plowing through your to-do list, orchestrating the various demands of life, it’s likely that you will overlook what could be a major source of daily happiness: Your wins, your accomplishments, the things on your list (or off) that you have actually managed to get done. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, there is power in small wins, and it’s the fulfillment that comes from making progress on meaningful goals.
Each day you experience wins, both major and minor, but you could be moving too fast (or you are too hard on yourself) to notice. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk acknowledges he has a hard time celebrating wins because he “loves the climb.” But he says there is danger in ignoring both incremental wins and wins of any size. To always be focused on “what’s next?” can deplete you. Once you make an effort to start noting and celebrating your wins, it can increase your sense of self-worth and your happiness. Plus, some people are motivated by celebrating stepping stones of progress.
Ask yourself if you gloss over any of these achievements without stopping to take notice:
Read the rest of my article 10 Reasons To Celebrate Your Wins on Live Happy.
Keep your romance on track with the time-tested advice in these tomes.
You’ve heard the cynical takes on romance: Seven-year itch. Marriage is hard. Men are from Mars. Relationships take work. Lots of marriages end in divorce. But don’t throw in the towel on love. Strong, committed relationships make people happier and can even help you live longer. These seven books—your love homework—will help you tune up, spark or overhaul your relationship.
Posted on May 1, 2016 in Fulfillment by Sandra Bienkowski
When I read Gretchen Rubin’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, I started a love affair with habits. I’ve always loved setting goals, but I’d often end up frustrated with myself (or blame it on not enough hours in a day) if I didn’t get enough accomplished in a week. Then I read this snippet from Gretchen’s book: “With the right habits in place, you can effortlessly go through your day and do the things you want to do.” That’s when I decided to focus more on my habits than an endless list of to-dos. What did I discover? In just 10 minutes a day you can accomplish something that, over time, will move you toward the life you really want.
1. Read every day
Before having twin toddlers, I was much better at reading every day. Pre-kiddos reading is much easier for all of us, but we can give ourselves the gift of reading with just 10 minutes before going to bed. And on nights when you have the energy or get absorbed in a really good part, you just may read on.
2. Help one person
I write this on my to-do list each day. You can help someone by giving a compliment, writing a positive review, making a referral to give someone a business lead, cooking/baking and sharing, really listening, recommending a book, introducing new friends or forwarding an article.
Strengthen self-control.We don’t have to exhaust our willpower or decision-making quota for the day when we make healthy habits automatic. Make one or more of these fundamental habits a regular part of your daily life in order to help you set and keep other healthy habits: 1. Get seven hours of sleep; 2. Go for a 20-minute walk; 3. Don’t let yourself get too hungry; 4. Take time to unclutter; 5. Give yourself a healthy treat.
Get some sleep. According to sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D., sleeping less than seven hours each night can negatively impact your outlook, make you crave unhealthy foods and even kill your productivity. For those with serious trouble sleeping, he suggests you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, take the TV out of the bedroom and get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep within 20 to 30 minutes.
Build up your emotional toolkit. If you struggle with depression or bouts of anxiety, build up your emotional toolkit. Use the tool of self-compassion to treat yourself with the same loving kindness you would extend to a friend. Silence that inner critic and give yourself a soft place to land when things don’t go right or you are working through a challenging experience. Fill up your mind with kind thoughts about yourself.
Happiness is the gateway to success, but like most good things in life, it also takes some work. Roll up your sleeves and put some effort into becoming a happier you. Here are 11 things you can do to enhance your happiness today. (For all of you happiness over-achievers, click on the headings below for more information on each tip!)
1. Take a look back
If you aren’t sure of your passion as an adult, revisit your youth for clues. Perhaps when you were a child, teenager or even a young adult, there was something that you were passionate about. Maybe there was something you loved to collect, a place you loved going, or an activity that you loved doing. Bring those old experiences back into your current life.
2. Go in search of awe
A sense of awe may help you fight depression and inflammation. Find awe by visiting a natural wonder. Listen to your favorite music. Lose yourself in an art museum. Go in search of what inspires you deeply.
3. Connect with people
Our relationships can have an almost magical effect on our happiness. Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb feels fulfilled when she’s collaborating and connecting with others. You can find inspiration in others, too.
4. Value experiences over things
Things are nice, but the joy we get from experiences lasts longer, causes less waste and probably has a smaller negative environmental impact. Walk to a destination with your family to enjoy the outdoors and connect through conversation. Take a hike in nearby hills. Plan an exciting trip together. All of these things will give enjoyment that you can anticipate, experience and then savor afterward.
Read the rest of my article on Live Happy.
If anyone asks me for my number one tip to reduce depression, anxiety or stress, my answer is always the same: Keep a journal.
Journaling is life-changing.
When you journal, you slow down and check-in with yourself. As you write down your thoughts, you become connected with what you are thinking and feeling, and the process increases your self-awareness. You can journal to identify problems and iron out solutions. You can vent. Express gratitude. Or you can just share your thoughts in your journal’s safe nonjudgmental pages.
Journaling is an easy way to practice self-compassion–giving yourself a comforting place to be yourself. When we are more self-compassionate (think inner best friend, not inner critic), we build up our resilience for life.
Discover what journal is right for you in my Live Happy article:
Posted on December 14, 2015 in Fulfillment, Happiness by Sandra Bienkowski
If you had the choice to spend the day with someone who exudes happiness or someone who has a martyr thing going, it wouldn’t be a tough decision, right? How about your super upbeat friend vs. your chronic complainer friend? Not a challenging choice there either. Spend time with someone who exudes positivity, and you are more likely to feel positive. Hang with someone who acts like life’s number one victim, and guaranteed, Debbie downer is going to rub off on you. It’s called emotional contagion, and it means the emotions of others can influence us. So if happy people make other people happy, why is it that happy people are sometimes thought to be selfish?
“The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided,” says Gretchen Rubin, happiness expert and author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. “It’s more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted.” Put another way …
Happiness takes work.
Happy people are taken for granted because they are thought of as naturally happy people or born happy, yet upbeat people have to work at being resilient, bouncing back, rising above, and staying positive. The outside world only sees the happy person and not the effort behind the scenes, so positive people don’t receive credit for creating their sunshine-like dispositions. “Happiness is a work ethic. You have to train your brain to be positive, just like you work out your body,” writes Shawn Achor is his book, The Happiness Advantage.
If you love Thanksgiving but your traditions are getting a little tired, we’ve got you covered. With a little creative planning, you can make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.
1. Plan ahead for the day you want
It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan that and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.
Related: 8 Easy Practices To Enhance Gratitude
2. Think about timing
It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.
3. Relax your expectations
Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)
Read the rest of this article on Live Happy:
One email from a stranger made a difference in my life.
Here it is:
“I just read your article on MindBodyGreen. I am in awe of the timing of everything this morning. I have a had painful childhood similar to yours. I am always scared to share it with people because I am afraid of their reaction. I am afraid of them thinking that somehow that’s who I am. For most of my life it has been a secret. Yesterday, I told my alcoholic mother that I can’t be around her anymore. Feeling so much fear and anxiety this morning, and then I read your article. The timing of it is just so perfect. Your article truly helped me this morning know that my future doesn’t have to have that pain in it, and that I am on the right path.”
I read it and felt so incredibly thankful. Maybe my story gave him a little bit of hope that his future can be different from his past.
I thought: This is why I write.
His email made me feel like I am zeroed in on my purpose. It isn’t easy to be vulnerable and share my story, but if doing so can make the tiniest bit of difference in just one person’s life–it’s worth it.
Sharing my story made him feel like he is on the right path, and his email made me feel like I’m on mine.
What an incredible gift he gave me.
Here is the story I shared: The 4 Best Lessons I Learned From Seeing A Therapist In My 20s
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ―Brene Brown
Posted on February 10, 2015 in Fulfillment by Sandra Bienkowski
If I could go back in time and have a little sit down with the 20-something me, I’d tell her:
You have the power to change EVERYTHING in your life.
Think Wizard of Oz where Glinda, the Good Witch tells Dorothy: You’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along.
Let’s just say it took me too long to learn that I could unpack my problems one by one. A tattered self-image from childhood left me feeling like an outsider. I felt like a kid looking through a window at other people who had success, loving relationships, and fit bodies. I longed to have what other people had, but I didn’t know how to get on the other side of the window.
I didn’t realize two important things:
1. I was worth it.
2. I could change everything myself.
Today I am right where I want to be. Loving relationship with my husband, two children I cherish, a healthy body, and work that feels on purpose. I view the missteps in my twenties and thirties as deposits into my wisdom now, but my wish is for other people to learn from my mistakes. When you learn things earlier or faster, you have more time to fully enjoy your life and thrive.
When I wrote The One Question that Can Change Everything for MindBodyGreen I had my 20-something self in mind. This is what 40-something me would tell her. When we are brave enough to shine a bright light on our problems and rid ourselves of any denial, we can unpack our problems and vastly improve our lives.
I hope you enjoy reading it:
The One Question that Can Change Everything
You Can Change Everything