Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Your Secret Smile

Your Secret Smile

Smiling is one of the best things we can do for an instant “happiness boost”.  Think of it as a cup of joe for the soul.  Furthermore, when we smile we are also more likely to laugh.  If smiling is like a cup of coffee, then laughing is like an espresso for the soul.  It is near impossible to laugh and not be happy.

Unfortunately, you might get looked at a little strangely if you go around smiling all day.  For some reason, smiling isn’t normal.  A grimace is often more acceptable.  I have no idea why this is.

If you do walk around with a smile, or a smile for no apparent reason, you will probably get asked “why are you smiling?”  I’ve had this happen to me many times.  The first response that comes to minds comes from one of my favorite movie characters, Buddy the Elf, who says “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite!” Most people get the reference.
Or you can just wear a t-shirt with the saying on it! (Thanks for the Christmas present Sandi!)

However, a better response would be with the use of a rhetorical question “What is there not to smile about?”  Many people will easily go to problems with their jobs, family life, aches and pains, war, etc., forgetting their responsibility for their own lives, as well as for the apparent.  (Sitting here typing, I can easily think of many things to smile about:  I have use of all five fingers, I’m sitting in an air conditioned house, the sun is shining, I was just nourished with a huge power greens salad followed by a cup of tea and dark chocolate, I have a great family, and I had a beautiful trail run this morning with my dog who is currently sleeping on the back step.  I’ll stop there, but I could definitely keep the list going.)

If you’re like me, you may not care if you get some funny looks for smiling.  But if you are not so comfortable with it, I feel ya.  That takes some practice getting used to.  Luckily, you can always wear your “secret smile”.  There are two you can choose from (or use both!):

The first secret smile I will mention is your tongue.  I learned about this one when reading “How to Meditate” by Larry Terkel.   Simply relax your tongue, with the tip of your tongue touching your front upper teeth and the top of your tongue touching your upper palate, following the tongue back to your throat. For a little bit more, check out the second video on the link: http://larryterkel.com/videos.html .

The second secret smile is the one I am most attuned to.  I can thank Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga with Kathryn Budig for this one.  The DVD calls for many poses where we are told to open up our chests to the sky (thing of cobra or upward dog) and smile.  However, it wasn’t until I was cycling one day where I really got it.

I was trying to have good posture on my bike, keeping my back flat while not putting too much stress on my shoulders or neck.  While looking up at the views, I realized I was wearing two smiles.  One on my face, and one with my chest…my collarbone to be specific. 
Mile 65ish during my century ride at the Sweet Corn Challenge:
Using two of my smiles to get through some serious butt pain!
The “collarbone smile” has 2 great benefits.  It reminds you to have good posture (making it especially great when running or cycling) and makes you happier.  Yes, another mind/body connection!

I hope you get to wear your real smile (the one with your lips) out in public and share it with others as much as possible.  But if not (or your face starts to hurt), remember to use your secret smile.  It is sure to bring more happiness and positive energy your way!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Committing to Life

Committing to Life

My Daily Reminder to Commit to Life

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself when you leave yourself open to new ideas- and then leave yourself the time to think.

For example, I am a commitment-phobe. I never knew that until the other day. (I want to thank my boyfriend ahead of time for not commenting here). I realized that even though I’ve read several self-help/inspirational/happiness books and articles in the past few years, looking for tools and techniques I could use in my own life, I never actually committed myself to the task.  Instead, I was always looking for some secret, some magic trick, despite knowing there was never going to be one.  This left me a “mediocre-happy” at best.  In other words, there was quite a bit of room to grow.

I figured it was one of two things: either the people I read about had been blessed with better lives, better happiness genes, or better whatever…or, I was simply missing the point.

When I gave myself time to think about it, I realized it was the latter.  I knew the journey had to start with me, and I was failing to take that first step.  Yes, I had read the books, articles, and tried a few programs.  But, as personal trainers would say, I was still in the preparation phase (doing some, but not enough).  I had never actually committed to change.

And, when giving myself the time and space to think, I realized that “commitment” meant so much more than I had previously thought.  It meant full body, mind, and spirit immersion.  If I was going to live happy, to live purposely, to live my best life possible, I was going to have to live every moment of my life with that intent.  That is what commitment really means. 

Some of you may be thinking “Rachel, how can you not commit to a better life!?” I know, it sounds crazy that I would prevent myself from living fully. However, I don’t think I am the only one.  Part of it may have to do with some type of chemical problem in my brain, but that’s not what I want to talk about here.  I think there are several reasons why people don’t commit to their resolutions.  I believe mine was a combination of several. 

Here are my 3 reason s why I believe people don’t commit to their goals, change, or life:

1)  People don’t really want to change*.

2)  They are afraid to close a door (lose one opportunity over another**).

3)  They don’t actually believe change is possible.

*Both not being ready to change and not know how to change falls in this category, because if you really want to change, you are going to figure out how.
**In the end, this lead to all doors closing.  Sometimes, you just have to go for it and remember you are never "stuck" anywhere.

I could list examples here (like resolving to spend 20 minutes a day 3x a week working on tricks with my dog, which lasted a week, because, in truth, I really don’t care how many tricks my dog knows.  I just want her to be happy, healthy…and a good running partner) but I know you could probably think of several of your own.

Back to my main point: If I want to live my fullest and best life possible, to really live my adventure, I need to commit.  And now, I am ready.

My focus is really going to be on keeping my thoughts positive, and a mix of a few things, like meditation, Yoga, and keeping up with Sandi’s blog as well as Gabrielle Bernstein’s videos.  I’m also planning to re-vamp and practice my own “Steps to Adventure” before posting them to my blog.  If you’re looking for some ideas to help you come up with a plan to live your best life possible, I’ve listed several of my favorites below.


·         Gabrielle Bernstein, aka “The -ing Girl”: Author, Motivational Speaker, Life Coach http://gabbyb.tv/  Her book “Add More –ing to Your Life features some great 30 day plans/meditations -This girl rocks!

·         Jillian Michaels, aka my “girl” crush: Personal Trainer, Coach, Author, ect. Check out her book Unlimited and the workbook: http://www.jillianmichaels.com/unlimited/working-it-out.aspx

·         Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project: http://www.happiness-project.com/ Her site features a ton of great tips and resolutions!

·         Sandi Nypaver, aka my Twin and favorite person in the world, has recently embarked on a new journey “Happiness/Healing Depression Naturally”, with plenty of tips and tools so any reader can accompany her: http://sandinypaver.blogspot.com/2013/08/naturally-and-spiritually-healing.html