Amanda Johnson

Love the life you have and have the life you want


7 Comments

10 Simple Ways to Truly Love the Life You Have

One of my favorite things to do is read people’s “top 10” lists.

It feels like I’m receiving a ridiculously short “how to” guide on life.

I wanted to create my own and share how I put some of what I’ve learned into practice to honestly love the life I have and have more of the life I want.

I’ve gone from feeling depressed, anxious, constantly stressed and worried to feeling way more calm, compassionate, at peace and in love with myself just the way I am.

Don’t get me wrong. It took more than just doing these 10 things, but each of these now contribute to a much happier and more joyful experience.

Here’s how I practice what I preach on a regular basis to truly love the life I have.

self-acceptance_OMTimes-750x400

1. Attitude of gratitude

Whether this is journaled, shared with a friend, acknowledged in my mind or as part of a Gratitude Circle, regular gratitude is a key component to me being good with being me.

2. Daily meditation

Spending just 5-10 minutes a day in meditation makes a world of difference. Typically done first thing in the morning, this creates space to appreciate where I am now and learn how to be more at ease with my thoughts throughout the rest of the day.

3. Simple morning ritual

Along with meditation, I implement a very simple morning ritual that consists of drinking a glass of warm lemon water and spending a few moments journaling or writing. Whatever the ritual, it is a great opportunity to have a reliable way to do something for ourselves each and every day.

4. Take it all in

As often as possible I take time to look around and appreciate what is all around me. That might be while walking down the street or sitting at a desk or at a favorite restaurant. This is a great way to get back in the moment and out of any pesky thoughts, fears or worries.

5. Be selfish

Sometimes to love the life I have requires being a little selfish. Maybe that’s spending more time with friends. Having a night in on the couch. Being more mindful about what I commit myself to. Whatever it is, it’s important to check in with our needs on a regular basis and ensure that they are being met as often as possible.

6. Set intentions

One of the greatest things I did was set intentions for the year ahead. Having more clarity on my true desires and how to cultivate more of that on a regular basis helps reduce the “should-ing” and self-doubt.

7. Connect with others

It is amazing what happens when I make eye contact with strangers on the street or give a compliment to my barista. As humans, we need connection and it is one of the quickest ways to experience more joy and spread that joy to others.

8. Smile more often

I make a conscious effort to smile at people. It is such a small gesture that makes a world of difference. It’s also fun to smile at myself more often—whether that’s in the mirror when I’m getting ready in the morning or simply when lost in my own thoughts.

9. Celebrate on a regular basis

Acknowledging what I do (even in a small way) makes it a whole lot easier to love myself and the life I have created. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in what else there is to do or what hasn’t yet been done but it is so important to take some time to celebrate what is happening right now.

10. Be 100% present (as much as possible)

There will always be a million things that want my attention but the more often I give one thing my full presence, the more joy I experience. Whether that’s choosing to do the dishes or talk to a friend or go for a walk.

We all know that there is no magic pill or get-(fill-in-the-blank)-quick fix. The most important thing is that whatever we choose to do, we do it from a place of love and acceptance.

We can’t get what we want until we love what we have. {Tweet it out!}

What are some of your favorite ways to practice what you preach and love the life you have? Leave a comment below and inspire others!

P.S. If you are interested in better understanding what you have and how to love it, I invite you to join me for a complimentary Inner Essence Discovery Session. I have 3 spots left and would love to be your guide to discovering what makes you you.

P.P.S. If you enjoyed what you read today, sign up to receive my weekly blogs and other insights delivered directly to your inbox. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

Advertisements


10 Comments

How to Move from Comparison to Self-Acceptance

A friend and I were chatting the other day and she mentioned that she felt discouraged about her yoga practice because she had been comparing herself to how often I was going. I giggled when she said this because I had just that morning felt discouraged when I couldn’t get myself out of bed thinking how she always gets up early and accomplishes so much in the morning.

It was so funny to me that both of us saw the other as being better or doing more when in reality we both are amazing and wonderful in our own, unique way.

Have you ever gone on Facebook or Instagram and thought to yourself, “everyone’s life seems so happy and amazing … why isn’t mine like that all the time?”

When we compare ourselves to others, we deny all the beautiful, authentic qualities we possess and think that who we are in this moment is not good enough.

So how do we move from comparison to self-acceptance?

self-acceptance_OMTimes-750x400

The practice of mindfulness is about celebrating and cultivating our authentic self in each and every moment. By practicing a few simple techniques, we create more space and opportunity to feel compassion, acceptance and love the person we are in this moment.

When we are about to compare ourselves with others, it is a great opportunity to check in and try a few simple things.

    • Take a moment or two and observe what is going on inside. Is there a feeling or a thought? Just check in with non-judgmental awareness and allow the feeling or thought to exist.
    • Gently remind yourself that every time we look at someone else as being more or having more, someone is most likely saying the same thing about us. This can help us experience more compassion for ourself and for others.
    • Shift the thought from “what others have or do” to “what do I have or do” and celebrate who you are even if in that particular moment there is doubt or anger or fear or frustration. Allow yourself to be reminded of the things you do well.

Especially with social media, it can seem nearly impossible to avoid comparing ourselves with others. It is something I struggle with on an ongoing basis. But, the more often I practice mindfulness, the more often I am aware of when I start to go down that path and how to navigate back out and into my beautiful, amazing, unique self.

When we accept and celebrate who we are in each moment, we experience so much more peace and joy in our lives. Of course, this won’t happen overnight and is an ongoing practice — but each time we remind ourselves to check in and have more self-love, it gets a little bit easier.

What are three wonderful, unique qualities you can celebrate today? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.


3 Comments

Being Grateful Can Happen Without the Turkey

In the spirit of Thanksgiving this week, I am reposting my blog on gratitude and its benefits. Enjoy the holiday season and remember that being grateful can be a daily practice — even when there is no turkey.

There are plenty of things to complain about in this world. But there are also a ton of amazing (and not-so-amazing, quite ordinary) things that are worthy of our acknowledgment on a daily — if not hourly — basis.

Practicing gratitude has a number of benefits. And who wants to be a “Negative Nancy” all the time?

Curious what these benefits are and how to cultivate them on a regular basis?

bigstock_Gratitude_22724237

I admit, I have said many a negative thing in my life. But I don’t like the way I feel when I say those things. When those negative thoughts start to emerge — which they still do — I immediately try to interrupt them and ask “what are you grateful for?”

Then I list off three or five things that I am grateful for in this very moment.

It is amazing how much better I feel and how quickly those terrible things don’t seem so terrible anymore.

Expressing gratitude can sometimes slip our minds. But the benefits far outweigh the effort required to implement a regular gratitude practice.

There is a growing body of knowledge in this area led by highly esteemed researchers such as Robert Emmons, Ph.D. Check out some of the benefits found during this gratitude research.

  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
  • A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
  • In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

“So, how do I go about doing this more often?” you might ask.

Establish a system that works for you. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and list a few things in it each day before going to bed that made you smile or that you were grateful for.
  • Participate in or create a gratitude challenge on Facebook with your friends to post 3 “grate” things on a daily basis.
  • Ask a friend to be your “Gratitude Buddy” and send each other one thing you are grateful for each day — not only does it reap the benefits, it helps you develop a deeper connection with a friend you might not otherwise connect with as often.
    Next time you find yourself saying something negative, try the gratitude treatment. I bet you’ll have an easier time finding things to be grateful for than having to complain about.

What are 3-5 things you are grateful for right now? Spread the gratitude bug by sharing your thoughts below.


5 Comments

Gratitude Rocks! Reasons to Jam Out

Life sucks.

My boss is a jerk.

This steak is overcooked.

Yes … there are plenty of things to complain about in this world. But there are also a ton of amazing (and not-so-amazing, quite ordinary) things that are worthy of our acknowledgment on a daily — if not hourly — basis.

Practicing gratitude has a number of benefits. And who wants to be a “Negative Nancy” all the time?

Curious what these benefits are and how to cultivate them on a regular basis?

bigstock_Gratitude_22724237

I admit, I have said many a negative thing in my life. But I don’t like the way I feel when I say those things. When those negative thoughts start to emerge — which they still do — I immediately try to interrupt them and ask “what are you grateful for?”

Then I list off three or five things that I am grateful for in this very moment.

It is amazing how much better I feel and how quickly those terrible things don’t seem so terrible anymore.

Expressing gratitude can sometimes slip our minds. But the benefits far outweigh the effort required to implement a regular gratitude practice.

There is a growing body of knowledge in this area led by highly esteemed researchers such as Robert Emmons, Ph.D. Check out some of the benefits found during this gratitude research.

  • In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
  • A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment: Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.
  • daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others). There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.
  • In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

“So, how do I go about doing this more often?” you might ask.

Establish a system that works for you. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep a gratitude journal and list a few things in it each day before going to bed that made you smile or that you were grateful for.
  • Participate in or create a gratitude challenge on Facebook with your friends to post 3 “grate” things on a daily basis.
  • Ask a friend to be your “Gratitude Buddy” and send each other one thing you are grateful for each day — not only does it reap the benefits, it helps you develop a deeper connection with a friend you might not otherwise connect with as often.
    Next time you find yourself saying something negative, try the gratitude treatment. I bet you’ll have an easier time finding things to be grateful for than having to complain about.

What are 3-5 things you are grateful for right now? Spread the gratitude bug by sharing your thoughts below.


3 Comments

If You Read This Blog, Then …

Recently, I explored a few myths that are dangerous to our well-being and practice of presence. Another one of these is the “if …, then …” mentality.

If only I had more money, then I could relax.

If I wasn’t alone, then I could feel lovable.

If my neighbor wasn’t such a jerk, then I could find peace.

By placing our attention on achieving or gaining something in the future, we lose sight of the beauty and importance of the present moment. This constant reaching for a thing, feeling or experience beyond what is happening now causes unnecessary stress in our life and is completely ineffective.

Instead of deceiving yourself with the thought “if …, then …” try “now …, and ….”

We can all achieve our “then” when we replace our “ifs” with “now.”reaching for something brighter

For many years, I fooled myself into believing that if my partner was more affirming, then I would feel loved; or if I got the promotion, then I would feel valued; or if I found a new partner, then I would feel complete. Then I experienced that none of this is true.

My ability to feel loved, valued and complete have absolutely nothing to do with anything or anyone else—it has only to do with me and what I am thinking, believing and focusing on in this moment.

“But shouldn’t I strive to improve things for myself in the future?” 

Well, actually, here are a few reasons why that doesn’t work.

It keeps us from taking responsibility for our lives.

There are very few things we can control in life. One thing we can control is how we respond to each situation. It is up to us to see situations as stressful and limiting or peaceful and opportunistic. To seek peace or opportunity in only certain situations places the responsibility of our reaction to external factors. When we do this, we delegate the one thing in our life that we can control—our attitude.

Only 10% of our satisfaction with life is based on circumstances.

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research has found that approximately 50% of our satisfaction with life is predetermined by our genetics and only 10% is determined by our circumstances—which is not very much. This means whether I am rich or poor, single or married, in a job I love or not does not make much of a difference. This leaves 40% to intentional activity and choices we make. One of the key ways to intentionally increase your satisfaction is to live in the present moment.

We have evolved to get used to things.

Another finding of Lyubomirsky’s work looks at hedonic adaptation—the fact that humans adapt to joys and sorrows with time. So long as we strive for things outside of ourselves to bring us peace or joy, we will eventually get used to it and be right back at where we started, seeking something else to help us feel that way again, and thus the cycle begins.

Dan Gilbert discovered that we are not very good at predicting what we will like or not like in the future. This affective forecasting is another reason our “if…, then…” mentality is futile—we inevitably adapt to the things we think will be amazing, and we typically bounce back from the things we think will be terrible much more quickly.

When we have a sincere attitude of gratitude and stay present by releasing judgment, resistance and attachment then our level of satisfaction with our life situation no longer depends on circumstances beyond our control.

What is one “then” you can achieve by replacing your “if” with “now”? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.


Leave a comment

Thank You for Sharing – Lesson #3

Evolution is a process. Life is a journey, not a destination. Transformation takes time. As I continue growing, changing, learning, evolving, I find that sometimes I “fall short” and need to be reminded of the lessons I am trying to learn and strategies to move me forward. This week I am going to share one “lesson” a day that has recently come in handy for me and might serve as a helpful reminder for others.

I thank my inner voice for what it has to share.photo-62

Over the years, I have found that the voice(s) in my head can be very loud and convincing sometimes. I have spent much of my life listening to and dialoguing with these inner voices. You know, like when my mind (aka ego) says things like “he must not be telling me the truth,” “she doesn’t really mean that,” “he must have met someone else,” “he must not love me,” or a myriad of other thoughts formed from my own invention. When my mind starts to make-believe or say “what if,” I now simply acknowledge that voice by saying “thank you for sharing” rather than engaging with it or trying to argue with it or even stop it from occurring. I thank it for what it has to share and I move on with my day.

If you were to give your inner voice a name, what would it be? I have named mine “Magda.” Join the conversation by leaving a comment.


2 Comments

Moving from “Binges” to “Daily Doses” of Presence

Someone asked me the other day, “how do I recreate the energy and peace I feel after some sort of intense spiritual retreat or workshop each and every day?” This got me thinking about the simple (albeit not always easy) things I try to practice on a regular basis to bring about a more constant experience of ease and joy. While binging on spiritual or philosophical experiences or concepts can be fun, helpful and sometimes even necessary, it is important and possible for all of us to experience daily doses of presence by practicing a few simple techniques. Image

I have been reading self-help books since I was in high school. As I read each one I was inspired and energized about my new possibilities and potential to experience life in a new way. And then a few days, weeks or months after I put the book back on the shelf, I returned to my old habits, ways of thinking, and struggled to maintain that “spiritual high” throughout my day-to-day existence.

Then, I learned a few concepts and practical tips that helped me experience this new way of life on a regular basis. After being asked that question the other day, I wanted to share with others the things I have found that work.

Being at peace, letting go, and experiencing ease and joy on a daily basis is really just as simple as making a choice. There are many great tools and workshops out there that help you understand why you feel the way you feel, why you experience things the way you experience them, and still it all comes down to releasing your hold on your past and choosing in each and every moment to be present — it’s that simple.

Eckhart Tolle reminds us that the “how” is more important than the “what.” One of my biggest “ah ha” moments came after reading this and realizing that to live in the present does not mean we have to do crazy, amazing things — or even anything different than what we’re doing this very moment. It’s all about HOW we do WHAT we do. Presence actually gives us the “ok” to enjoy the simple things (the “what”) by accepting each and every moment and not feel pressure to CHANGE the moment (the “how”).

Now, this isn’t always easy for me to do and for those of us new to this concept, it may not sound that simple. So, here is a list of the things I try and practice on a daily basis, most of which comes from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of NowOnce I decided to accept these concepts and apply them, I couldn’t believe the shift that took place and the steady drip of ease and joy in my life.

  • Stay connected with your body as often as possible. Tolle says, “You cannot be in your body without being intensely present in the Now.” Paying attention to your body and your feelings does not mean you have to focus on or over-think them. It simply means that you can observe them, feel them, and accept them as they are.
  • Practice conscious breathing (which helps get you in touch with your body). “Become aware of your breathing. Feel the air flowing in and out of your body.… All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life — as opposed to imaginary mind projections — is this moment.” (Tolle)
  • “Flood” your body with consciousness (before falling asleep and when waking up). Bring attention to different parts of your body in a relaxed state.
  • Listen to the silence. Don’t force it, just pay attention to the silence between words, sounds and thoughts.
  • Practice mindfulness. Experience something as simple as eating an orange or looking at a flower in a state of complete alertness and as if for the first time.
  • Be grateful. Take time to express gratitude for even the simple things in life.
  • Accept, accept, accept. Ask yourself: Am I resisting this moment? Am I judging this moment? Am I attached to this moment?

While I still plan to read more books and attend inspirational workshops, I am practicing ways to bring a more steady stream of presence into my life. My goal is to bring presence to the masses through choice — and choice alone — on a daily basis. We tend to get bogged down in the “why” and the “what” — but it’s really all about the “how.” HOW do I show up in this moment? HOW do I choose to react/respond/feel in this moment? HOW can I be at peace with this moment? By asking these questions and practicing a few of these techniques throughout the day, we can all experience daily doses of ease and joy that last long after we finish the book or return back to our daily routines.

What is something you do on a regular basis to experience a daily dose of joy or peace in your life?