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Live Life to the Fullest

Live Life to the Fullest

Life isn’t easy. Sometimes scars run deep. People we love die. Family, friends and coworkers say and do cruel things. Not everything we want to happen in life, does and often things we don’t want to happen, do. We all have our share of heartache; things that make us question who we are and what we want from life. Things that leave us stuck.

Yet some individuals muster the strength to push through. They’re able to rise above life’s challenges rather than sink. How?

The answer is RESILIENCE. These individuals have the ability to bounce back from setbacks to live happier, purpose filled lives. It’s something we all aspire to and often all we need is the right mindset. So here are ten ways to build resilience and live happier, fuller lives.

1. Develop a more positive attitude

This doesn’t mean ignoring the pain or denying the problem, it means choosing to be optimistic, choosing to look for the good in each and every situation. This is hard in the moment. We all need a good cry and plenty of time to grieve life’s disappointments, but don’t dwell there forever. Choose to see setbacks as isolated incidents. Choose to not beat yourself up—the world is not out to get us even though it often feels that way.

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Instead, think three positives for every negative. Choose to be with positive people who encourage and inspire you, who appreciate and understand the depths of your soul.

2. Embrace change

Don’t be afraid to mix things up: get a new haircut, redecorate a room in the house, try a new hobby, travel, learn a new language, visit a different museum or restaurant, switch out the same ‘ole Starbucks drink for a new one. The point is, live. Try new things. Allow yourself to be open and willing to new people, new ideas, and new adventures. The less resistant we are to change, the easier it becomes when something unexpected shatters our lives—and it will. Life is full of change. Expect it. Welcome it. Don’t let a fear of change numb all the good life has to offer.

3. Face problems head on

Denial leads to hopelessness whereas problem solving leads to solutions and helps us feel a sense of control. Take time to reflect and then brainstorm a list of solutions. Be creative. Find more than one. Ask others for help, preferably people who have been in the same situation or who know you well. Allow yourself to be practical and impractical before narrowing solutions down. Then Act.

Remember: it’s your choice to stay in a miserable situation. Don’t just pretend the problem isn’t there. Do something.

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And for problems that don’t seem to have a solution. Reflect. Pray. Meditate. There are some problems we cannot fix. Some things we cannot change. Some wounds that will not heal. Sometimes, all we need is time. And an ability to press on in spite of it all.

4. Forgive yourself

Shame kills joy. We all make mistakes. Rather than destroying your future with your past, give yourself grace. Who you were. What you’ve done. It’s history. Don’t let it rob you of your life. Don’t give it power. Ask for forgiveness and let it go. You deserve grace and compassion. Believe that. Believe you are worthy. Beating yourself up year after year doesn’t change the past nor does it heal you. Learn from your mistakes. Encourage others. Only then can you truly be free.

5. Pursue your dreams

Learn what excites you, what motivates you, and go after it. Set short and long term goals. Make a plan. Put it on the calendar. Stay focused. Following our dreams builds confidence and provides a sense of purpose. If you’re unsure what enlivens you, see a career counselor. Determine your interests and skills. What makes you smile? What makes you feel alive? Don’t sit around waiting for your dreams to find you. Work toward them. Take action. A step forward is always closer to your dreams than no step. And when roadblocks slow you down, which they will—fight. Work hard and don’t give up. Nothing worth having ever comes easy.

6. Seek support from someone you trust

Sometimes life is just too hard, far too messy to take on alone. We all need an extra shoulder to cry on, someone we can rely on, who will help us see through our fog.  We all need someone who understands us, who won’t judge us, who will help us succeed at life. Whether it’s a friend, family member, pastor, or therapist, find a person who’s been there, who can help you feel less alone. They’ll equip you with tools to achieve your goals and face adversity.

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7. Make yourself a priority

Exercise. Eat healthy. Dance. Take nature walks. Paint. Whatever lifts you out of the fog, do it. All these activities will help boost energy and self-esteem. Get a good night’s sleep. Enjoy a bubble bath. Get a massage. Read a favorite book. Whatever it may be, make it a priority.  If we expect to take on life’s challenges, we’ve got to build ourselves up, spoil ourselves, show ourselves some compassion. Taking care of oneself, nurturing one’s soul, will boost confidence and ready us for whatever challenges life brings.

8. Laugh often

Laughter really is the best medicine. When times get tough—laugh! It helps us gain perspective. Breaks us free from our prison of despair. Watch a funny show. Read a comic. Hang out with friends who make you laugh, who’ll help you not take yourself so seriously.

9. Show yourself love

Our perception of ourselves, positive or negative, determines our behavior. If we believe we are unworthy, we act that way. But who we are is not determined by others. It is determined by us, by our own inner thoughts. We alone destroy ourselves— from within. With lies we tell ourselves. With past pain and words that echo through our mind.

So be compassionate. Each morning, look in the mirror and give praise. Say three positive truths. Force yourself to do it even if it seems cheesy. The world is not always kind; if we depend on others for approval, we’ll be waiting a long time.

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10. Don’t compete with others

We run our own race. It’s that simple.

Look for self-improvements. Set new goals. Dwell on your accomplishments. If we’re always striving to beat So and So, we risk losing ourselves. Comparing our life to others never brings happiness or contentment. We’ll only feel more out of control. There will always be someone richer, prettier, smarter, more athletic, healthier, etc. so the only person we should compete with is our past self.

Life isn’t always going to go our way and that’s okay, it’s what makes life exciting. But If we love and take care of ourselves, if we pursue our dreams, if we laugh, and focus on the positives, and if we seek solutions–we will be resilient. Life can throw anything at us and we’ll be ready. We’ll rise, even if it’s an inch by inch crawl out of our pain to be happier, more complete, people than we ever were before.

Featured photo credit: Happiness is excitement/Nancy Kellan via flickr.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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