10 Things I Learned in 2015

At times during the past year, I felt like I was in a game of rollercoaster tycoon made by a 8 year old. It was a year filled with challenges, but I was able to learn from my experiences and have plenty fun. I am curious to see how 2015 will impact my perspective going forward. But before I look ahead and design my quarterly goals, I wanted to reflect and share a few things I’ve learned this year:

 

1.     Great People + Fun Experiences - Stuff + Laughter = Happiness & A Fulfilling Life.

be-happy

Think about the people you spend the most time with. What qualities about them do you admire? Do they support you? Are you the best version of yourself around them? I'm a firm believer in Jim Rohn's quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I try to be conscious of the people in my life and what relationships I cultivate. This translates into having great people in my life and - in obnoxious white girl terms - I am #soblessed.

Having experiences with people I love and enjoy being around is one of the greatest joys in my life.  I would rather spend money on a fun trip with a friend or a great dinner than a 3rd pair of black heels*, a trinket, or other material goods. (Throwing meaningless stuff out is also a great feeling!) By choosing to donate for the holidays rather than buy presents this year, I eliminated stress and gained meaning.

One of the biggest things I've worked on over the past few years is to be able to laugh at myself. I was recently asked what my most embarrassing experience was and I had a really hard time coming up with an answer. Embrace yourself, fly your freak flag, let your inner weirdo out.  At the end of the day, we are all a little weird, so let's love ourselves and each other for it! 

*I am a huge fan of black heels, but how many can you actually own and wear? For some help cleaning out your closet, my friend Lillian is the bee's knees.

2.     Refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine.

I am pretty conscious of my food choices, I love trying to eat as clean and healthy as possible (because I feel better), and I love to learn more about health and nutrition whenever I have the opportunity. In October, I watched the movie Fed Up. I was blown away. This film included health tips and revealed a lot of problems with the FDA. We (the world, but mostly the USA) have an enormous problem with refined sugar and processed foods. Unsettling observation: Researchers have witnessed rats addicted to cocaine, ditch the cocaine, and choose refined sugar when both options are presented. For more information, here is a study done in 2013 by the National Institute of Health or check out the Fed Up website. 

3.     Romance, athletes, and treating yourself like a start-up, 3 Great Reads:

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansair; Faster, Higher, Stronger by Mark McClusky; The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.  I learned quite a bit from these 3 books, one fun fact: Sleep profoundly impacts athletic performance. By increasing average sleep time by 2 hours, the Stanford Men's Basketball team was able to improve shooting accuracy by over 10%!  Full article on sleep by Mark McClusky here.

4.     Veterans are twice as likely to die once they return home than actually being in combat.

After the attacks in Paris, TED featured a talk by journalist Jean-Paul Mari. His talk was heart-felt and contained a message we all need to embrace: we need to talk about mental health and diseases of the mind. Not only for awareness, but to help those affected heal. Jean-Paul Mari recounted that “In 1987, the US government identified 102,000 -- twice as many -- 102,000 veterans who died from committing suicide. Twice as many deaths by suicide than by combat in Vietnam.” Unfortunately, things are no better for today's vets, as I read a similarly saddening article in GQ about a marine that committed suicide on social media earlier this year.

5.     Words are incredibly powerful.

createabiographyworthreading

I've witnessed that writing is beneficial to all of us: For communication, growth, healing, for leaning and teaching, for sharing thoughts. On Tumblr alone, there are over 260 MILLION blogs. While I'm not encouraging or discouraging you to start a blog, I certainly feel (and research has shown) journaling or writing daily thoughts can help each of us in multiple ways.

One of the most incredible stories I've ever read is The Wave by Johannes Vall. I don't want to ruin the story for you, because he tells it much better than I ever could, but I will share the things I learned: (1) crazy shit happens in life; (2) we can all pull strength and learning from our experiences, whether good or bad; (3) figure out what motivates you; (4) turning difficulties into positives is the mark of a great person. 

The Wave was posted on The Players Tribune, a site I am now obsessed with. The Tribune was founded by Derek Jeter with the help of some of his friends, to allow athletes a platform to tell their stories. Some other favorite articles: Sean Avery (hockey) on diversification with Transition Season and Mardy Fish (tennis) on anxiety

 

6.     There are really 4 rivers at the confluence of "The 3 Rivers" in Pittsburgh.

pittsburgh-3-rivers

While on a river boat tour of Pittsburgh, I learned there is a 4th river at the heart of Pittsburgh’s 3 rivers. The river is underground and technically named the Wisconsin Glacial Flow. Not only does this river run with the 3 other rivers, but it powers the fountain at Point State Park! If you happen to visit the Pittsburgh area, I highly recommend the one hour sightseeing tour offered by the Gateway Clipper.

7.     Humans can become the worst version of themselves when they travel.

I spent quite a bit of time in the air this year and noticed that humans can be completely irrational in airports and airplanes. My 2 keys to traveling well: (1) Go with the flow. Breathe. Stay positive. (2) Be prepared that things will not go perfectly, it can help to have a back-up plan. This advice coincidentally applies when skiing black diamonds.

8.  Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations is when magic can happen.

Learning to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations is when I've noticed the most change or growth in myself. Whether it's being part of a start-up, running a tough race, or attend an event alone, these situations have been a rewarding and enriching experience. We can all push beyond our limits. Give yourself the opportunity to learn a little more about you.

9.  Podcasts are really cool. Yes I am like 5 years late.

I’m currently using Overcast to listen to great podcasts like Tim Ferriss, Freakonomics RadioThe Top by Nathan Latka, and NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts.  I would LOVE to hear your recommendations! 

10.  I need to be in nature.

grand-canyon-PA-waterfall

While I've known for a while that nature is a wondrous thing, I was reminded of the importance of getting outside again this year. Being in nature helps me recharge, be present, and be inspired. For me, trail running is freeing. I could run through the trees for hours. Sunshine and outdoors have been linked to longer and happier lives. No matter how busy I get, I need to continue to make time to be outside.


What did you learn in 2015? How did you grow? What experiences did you have?

Wishing you all the best, much happiness, and fulfillment in 2016!

 

Creating Happiness and Meaningful Goals

Whether it's a new year or May, setting and evaluating goals is key to long-term success.  I recommend reviewing and potentially re-setting goals once per quarter.  The following guide can help you get there.  Let's create more fulfillment and happiness in your life.

idea monster goals


Intrigued?   Want more?  Let's schedule a goal setting session or values exploration together to help you frame and design your future.

http://www.ideamonsterconsulting.com/contact/

Cheers!

All In Good Time

"Holy cow!  Was that really day 100?  That was really interesting... and fun!  I'm so grateful for all the awesome people and experiences in my life... "  Were some of the thoughts I had when I recently finished a 100 Happy Days challenge. Beyond some of the cool things I did, the challenge provided a great way to reflect and be grateful for each day.  If I noticed I wasn't having a stellar day, I felt empowered to make a change.  For example, I could: go for a walk in the sunshine, eat a piece of dark chocolate, do a workout, make popcorn, call a friend, try a new restaurant, etc. and I knew it could make it better.

We all have the power to shape our own lives and happiness.  I am reminded of the quote by Mary Engelbreit, “If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ”  The late Maya Angelou shared a similar thought: “What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.” 

Creating a challenge for yourself can be empowering, rewarding, habit-forming, interesting, help you grow personally, professionally, or spiritually, and even create a topic of conversation, if you choose to share it.  

When is a better time than now to challenge yourself?

Inspiration

In case you need a little more convincing - or if you just want to see something fun and inspiring, watch the 3 minute clip below!  Matt Cutts's TED Talk on 30 day challenges: Having trouble loading?  Find the clip here.



For more great TED talks and ideas, head to TED.com.

Selecting a challenge

To help get your wheels turning, here are a few questions to consider:
  • What have you been putting off?
  • What project remains unfinished?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • What do you want to start?
  • What have you always wanted to do?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • When was the last time you did something new?
  • When was the last time you broke out of your comfort zone?
Perhaps now you have an idea of something you want to accomplish - or stop doing.  Even if you have the tiniest idea ("I should climb 10 flights of stairs every day.") hold onto it!  No idea is too silly, too big, or too small.  Remember, you don't have to share this with anyone.

If you are having a bit of trouble coming up with your idea, I have a number of resources at the bottom of this post.


Setting a time frame

Depending on what study you find, how difficult a behavior is to implement or break, and your level of dedication, researchers have found it can take anywhere from 10 to 30 days (or more) to make or break a habit*.  You can find challenges of all lengths:  Morgan Spurlock (starting with Super Size Me, then his 30 Days TV series/documentary) helped popularize 30 day movements, we all make New Year's Resolutions, religious traditions (Lent, Passover, Ramadan), and you can find fad diets or tricks from as little as 3 to more than 90 days!

Set a time frame that feels right for you.  I would recommend 30 days as a starting point.  If you don't think you can make a month (you can), give yourself 2 weeks of solid dedication. If you have trouble prioritizing or have multiple goals, check out my 2.014 Page for some ideas!

Before you get started, a few things to consider...

If you are looking to make a lifestyle change, commit to a personal challenge that has meaning.  It can be a great story to say you did "something fun" for 30 days - but unless that has meaning behind it, like you want to be more active, try new things, or become a more adventurous person, the habit is unlikely to stick.  Of course, if you want to try something new or fun for 30 days to add spice to life, go for it!  Before you start be clear on your intention:  is this challenge just something fun to do, do you want to start/stop a new life habit/practice, or something else?

Make a plan.  How will you count the days?  Will you post or share with friends?  Will you write about it?  Will you log it anywhere?  It can be helpful to set-up the tracking mechanism before or in the first few days of getting started.  Also, if it's something that requires additional planning, like training for a race, sketch out weekly goals so you stay on track.

If you miss a day, don't give up.  You are working really hard at starting (or stopping) something... it takes a lot of effort and will power.  Be easy on yourself.  If it is important to you to have consecutive days in your endeavor, then start over with a smile.

Along the same lines, evaluate the challenge, or future challenges based on current progress... can you keep going at this pace?  Is it too easy?  Maybe you had a new idea!  Keep experimenting!

Last, you might get hooked!  Near day 90 of my own 100 Happy Days challenge, I realized I had started another habit and decided to make it into a 100-day challenge... doing at least 1 mile a day for 100 days.  The mile must be physical activity other than walking.  The challenges are fun and are helping me to create the person I want to be/am.



What will you challenge yourself to do?  What time frame will you use?  Have you recently completed a challenge?  Share your thoughts below!


Resources


Ideas:
Cold Shower Therapy (original)
---> Cold Shower Testimonial from my friend, Phil, at The Feel Good Lifestyle 30 Challenge Ideas (various in level from easy-hard)

Other Challenge ideas - remember the best are your own!:
  • Study a new language
  • Catch up with one friend or family member per day
  • Wake up at a specific time - or go to bed at a specific time
  • Don't eat a specific food (i.e. pop/soda or chips)
  • Do one new thing each day



Originally written and composed by Lauren Myrick on June 26, 2014.

Life is Better When You Are Laughing

Originally composed by Lauren Myrick on 9 May 2014.
Alright, I can't hide it any longer... I'll admit it, I love laughing and I love infographics. OK, so those weren't bombshells, but I wanted to get your attention.

Two things to share with you:
1-- Why you should laugh more, and
2-- Provide you with ideas on how to laugh more this weekend and always...

This might seem like a silly post - why on Earth would I need to remind people to laugh more? - but there is actually a fair amount of research on laughing and it's health benefits.  Plus we can all use a friendly reminder to relax, laugh, and be kind to ourselves.


Laugh to boost your productivity!
Smiling and laughing are good for your health and brighten your day. They are especially great activities to do at work because they boost problem-solving ability and creativity.

Get you through the tough times... 
I think Bill Cosby said it best,"Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it."
And strengthen bonds...
Laughing can bridge gaps and bring people together.  "Humor and playful communication strengthen our relationships by triggering positive feelings and fostering emotional connection. When we laugh with one another, a positive bond is created. This bond acts as a strong buffer against stress, disagreements, and disappointment. Shared laughter is one of the most effective tolls for keeping relationships fresh and exciting." From Helpguide.org ... full article here.  So laugh more with your friends, family, and co-workers.

A few ideas to get you started:
1 - Tell more jokes - Comedy Central has an extensive joke index if you need some ideas!
2 - Play a game with your friends or family – and tone down the competition, just have fun! Here are some Top Selling Board Games or go outside and play a game of kick-ball or softball.
3 - Watch a funny movie... Here's a list of 100 funny movies.
4 - Go to a comedy show! Search for a comedy club near you or check out Ticketmaster!
5 - Laugh at yourself! Share embarrassing moments... They all eventually become funny anyway.
6 - Attempt to laugh at situations rather than get angry. You can more easily solve problems when you aren't mad at/about them.
7 - Do something silly!  (Have a great idea? Don't hesitate!  Act on it in less than 5 seconds!)
What are your thoughts?  When was the last time you laughed till you cried?
Share your ideas below!

And wishing a happy, wonderful, and laugh-filled Mother's Day to all Mom's reading this :)

I better catch you laughing or I'll get your nose!