Book Review: The Power of Habit

“To modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it” — Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

I often talk about the importance of mindfulness: living in the now, savoring new experiences, pulling yourself out of autopilot in order to be present in the current moment. Some people go so far as to claim that practicing mindfulness is the best approach for a happier life. Yet, others claim what seems like the opposite: that autopilot can be our friend, and that habits can make our lives simpler and happier.

My philosophy is currently floating somewhere in the middle. I think both mindfulness and routines are necessary for the pursuit of happiness. We can use our mindfulness practice to become more aware of our personal habits, which can help us eliminate unnecessary decisions and leave us more energy for things that will make us happier.

ThePowerOfHabitNew York Times investigative journalist Charles Duhigg agrees (although his point of view definitely focuses a bit more on the habits side of things). In his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Duhigg unpacks how harnessing our habits can transform our lives, businesses, and communities for the better.

The transformation starts with understanding the mechanics of a habit. The “habit loop” structure is pretty simple: First, there is a cue, which triggers a routine, which is validated by a reward.Read More »

Tip of the Week: Listen to Yourself

Stop-and-ListenThis week’s tip: Practice your internal listening skills.

I’m not sure if anyone ever really taught me how to be a good listener. I learned phonics and comprehension in school, sure. But interpersonal communication skills were something I had to learn through practice — and internal communication was something I hadn’t really ever thought about until recently!

Personally, I know I am nowhere near an expert listener. That said, I have figured out that it is possible to improve my listening skills by turning on a little bit of mindfulness and clueing into a few straightforward tips: Read More »

Book Review: the life-changing magic of tidying up

“I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.”
— Marie Kondo, the life-changing magic of tidying up

978-1-60774-730-7Marie Kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing is a fascinating book. If you ask around or research online, it has pretty mixed reviews — some people swear by it, while others say things like: “…the author is bat-shit crazy.”

Inspiring and endearing, albeit a little extreme, this book takes you step by step through how to declutter your life and make room for a little more joy. Read More »

Know Yourself: The Myers-Briggs Edition

 

tall-image_knowyourself_MBTIWe’ve all known ourselves since the day we were born. But how many of us really know ourselves? Despite spending every waking (and sleeping!) moment with ourselves, many of us mindlessly trudge through life, stumbling over emotions, stress, and frustrations and never stopping to ask ourselves why we stumbled in the first place.

There is a lot you can learn by flipping on the self-awareness switch. Recently, I’ve developed an interest in taking various personality tests to help me analyze my strengths, weaknesses, happiness triggers, and sadness stumbling blocks. I’ve tried to define aspects of my personality, learning to love the parts I know will never change and trying to work on the parts that might be more malleable.

Of all of the personality assessments out there, I find the Myers-Briggs personality test to be one of the most intriguing. Read More »

Becoming Aware, Inside and Out

awareimageIt’s become apparent to me recently how much self-awareness equates to good health and happiness. It’s something I have been slowly developing for years, but I know I’m still at the very beginning of my journey.

Self-awareness helps us understand why we do the things we do and feel the way we feel — and that knowledge give us the ability to understand (and sometimes change) the way we act and react. Awareness of the people and environment around us helps us interact with the world in a more present way. For me, it’s all about listening, paying attention, and learning. Read More »

Tip of the Week: Pursue Balance

IMG_6192-balanceLast week, in an effort to express my ideas about pursuing balance, I accidentally wrote a poem! This week, I am going to give it another try and see if I can articulate my thoughts a little more concretely.

Staying balanced is challenging. We all juggle a lot, from social time to “me” time, personal responsibilities to professional responsibilities, and spiritual pursuits to physical pursuits. Everyone prioritizes these things differently, and it’s important for us all to figure out where we personally feel the most centered. If we stay focused on pursuing that center, we can avoid unhealthy extremes, maintain a clearer perspective, and keep our stress levels more in check.

So, ask yourself — where is my center?Read More »

10 Things to Experience in São Miguel

2016-02-16-17.33.34Last week, I traveled to São Miguel, the largest and most populated island in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. Located at the center of three major tectonic plates, this volcanic island is peppered with gorgeous crater lakes, bubbling hot springs, endless fields of saturated green, and lots of happy cows! And, since the island spans only 9.5 miles at its maximum width, the ocean is always easily within reach. Often called “Ilha Verde”, or “The Green Island,” São Miguel is a breath-taking hidden gem, painted with lush colors and a vibrant, natural energy.Read More »

Tip of the Week: Say “Thank You” Every Day

This week’s tip: Practice gratitude.

DSCN6027_ThankYouFirst things first — I’d like to take a moment to thank you for reading this. I am so unbelievably grateful to you. Now, second — I’d like you to pause for a moment to thank yourself for taking some time to consider ways to improve your wellbeing. YOU should be grateful that you have found the motivation to take this little step towards owning your happiness and finding your wings.

Doesn’t gratitude feel good? My heart already feels fuller. Pausing to appreciate some good things in our day allows us to slow down, open our hearts, and magnify the present moment. And in case you haven’t heard, the scientifically-proven benefits of practicing gratitude are astounding. Read More »

Being Mindful About Meditation

2015-07-24-15.37.26Meditation and mindfulness have gotten a lot of buzz lately. Everyone seems to have something to say about mindful eating, or the health benefits of meditation, or mindfulness in the workplace — you name it. I’m not usually one to jump on the bandwagon when something becomes “trendy”, but I am all about this one. In fact, I hope it’s not just a trend. I hope that people are starting to realize the importance of slowing down a pace and living in the moment a little more often.

Read More »