Tag Archives: self improvement

5 Books that will Improve Your Life

5BooksThatWillChangeYourLife-01

by Catherine Sanderson

by Catherine Sanderson

With February comes a lot of focus on showing others our love through Valentine’s Day…but what about loving ourselves well in February?   Really, if we don’t love ourselves well first, it’s impossible to give our best love and care to the others in our life. So on that note, we wanted to share 5 great books that will help you do just that — show some love to the one and only you by making sure you’re taken care of first.

Carry on Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton

Cary's pick

Cary’s pick

“I love Carry on Warrior.  Not a book of inspirations or how to’s, but inspiring and real, I just love it.”

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz

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Catherine’s pick

“I first learned about The Four Agreements from Neissa, who raved about it — so I knew I had to read it.  The book is short & sweet– and the four simple principles it introduces really and truly change how you approach every single uncomfortable situation and difficult decision.   Once I started applying the 4 ideas to my daily mindset, I noticed a huge change in the stress and discomfort I felt in previously ‘difficult’ situations.  So, so worth the read!  I even found my bff and I talking about one of the ‘agreements’ at a happy hour last week — It’s stuff that sticks with you.” 

When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd

Amy's pick

Amy’s pick

“I love the book When the Heart Waits. It is really well-written. Grounded in personal experience and bolstered with classical spiritual disciplines, this book offers an alternative to fast-fix spirituality.” 

 The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

Neissa's pick

Neissa’s pick

“One of my favorite self-love/self-improvement books is The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino. I read this book at a confusing time of my life when my self-esteem low and I was questioning my purpose and future. This book is a quick yet powerful read because it beautifully states how uniquely and purposefully created we are- full of nothing but potential. It was a game changer for me and it, along with The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, are the two books I give every college graduate.” 

Spiritual Disciples Handbook: Practices that Transform Us  by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Alli's pick

Alli’s pick

“I was introduced to Spiritual Disciplines Handbook a few years ago when I served as an elder on the session at my church.  We, as a session, decided to study this book over the course of two years. Each month, one or two of us would choose one of the 50+ disciplines described in the book that seemed pertinent to us individually, then introduce it to the other members of the session at our monthly meeting. Then, all of us would work on that discipline and report back about the impact on our lives at the next meeting.  This book has since then been a fixture on my bedside table, and I still refer to it regularly. Truly, the practices are transformative.”   Try them out and let us know what you think!

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Entering a Gossip-Free Month

Loving Yourself & Others, Part I

Speak Positively

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ephesians 4:29

Point to Ponder:
Are your conversations about others wholesome and beneficial?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Have you ever gone shopping and purchased something that was impractical, impulsive and too expensive? Then, as soon as you arrived home you hastily ripped off the tag, tossed the receipt, and fully expected “it” to make you feel happy and satisfied…but within less than 24-hours, you realized that “thing” that you are now stuck with is something you don’t want, can’t return and as a result, have buyer’s remorse?!  This is how I feel after I’ve shamefully engaged in gossip. Upon the initial engagement of gossiping, it can feel harmless and even fun, but afterwards I always have ‘gossip remorse’ and wish I could take it all back. However, the damage to my heart and to the heart of the person I’ve talked about is already done. It’s gross, nasty and immature, and makes me want to soak myself in bleach and ask for forgiveness.

As you are aware, Valentine’s Day is on February 14th.  While I think Valentine’s is sweet and I do participate in the sweetness of it, I also think it’s a silly scheme to make us spend money on superficial love items that men feel obligated to buy women. And for women who aren’t in a relationship, it’s just a depressing day. Furthermore, it’s like New Years Eve or the prom, it’s over-rated and more disappointing than fun because it’s glamorized and expectations are unrealistic and too high. I promise I’m not jaded (even though my first Valentine’s with Russell came with diamond earrings, and now I get roses because those were his mom’s favorite flower — even though I have communicated to him that they are my least favorite flower…). Instead, I’m just proposing we use the month of February for a purpose that will provide real long-term emotional and spiritual fulfillment to ourselves and others, which is loving ourselves and all people by avoiding gossip, not engaging in gossip and when in a circle of gossip, courageously suggesting that the conversation end.

In addition to the month of Valentine’s, February is also American Heart Month. Heart month is intended to raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease awareness, which remains to be the #1 killer of women. When I think of heart disease, my tendency is to think one-dimensionally: diet and exercise.  However, stress of any kind affects the whole body and heart, and there’s no doubt that gossip absolutely has an effect on two hearts: the person gossiping and the person who is being gossiped about. I love visuals, which is why I love the picture above. We may not be able to make someone change their diet or exercise, but we can choose to hold both of our hearts responsibly, with kindness and compassion.

I really do feel like Ephesians 4:29 (the verse above) advises perfectly.  Just think how good we will feel and the goodness ripple effect that will take place as a result of us not engaging in unwholesome talk, and only talking about what is useful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those that are listening. This also includes people we don’t even know but like to talk about anyway — like celebrities. We’ll be counter-culture, total misfits and oh what a good month this will be!

Action Item:
Avoid all gossip and instead choose words that are useful for building others up and will benefit those that are listening.

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Choose Curiosity Over Fear

keepmovingforward

Point to Ponder:
Is there something you’ve been afraid to try or curious about that you have not acted on?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

On the heels of “Viewing Life as an Experiment” I came across an outstanding article in the October edition of SUCCESS Magazine by Patty Onderko titled “Curiouser and Curiouser.”  The title intrigued me and after I read the first sentence I was hooked! The first sentence says “curiosity didn’t kill anything, rather being curious can bring a part of you—the excited, anything-is-possible part- back to life.” Now that’s what I’m talking about!

According to Dr. Todd Kashan, professor of psychology at George Mason University, “Curiosity is the antidote to boredom. It’s the engine to growth, it leads to exploration, which leads to discovery and is the missing ingredient to a fulfilling life.” And, per the article, my five favorite ways to let go of certainty and embrace the unknown are:

  • Act on your curiosity. Feeling curious is a nice feeling on its own. Brain-mapping studies have shown that the curiosity emotion lights up a feel good portion of the brain. We feel excited about the unknown and energized by the idea of something new. But, taking action on your curiosity is what makes the difference in the quality of your life. So, if you’re curious about surfing, take surfing lessons. And, in a survey of over 130,000 people, the strongest predictor for how much enjoyment a person experienced on any given day was whether he or she had learned something new the day before.

  • Get to know your spouse. So you think you know your spouse or significant other? Because human beings are extremely complex and ever changing, try asking what his biggest fear is or favorite song or movie. It’s likely the answers are very different than you suspect. Learning new things about one other is a fun experiment and one that opens up interesting conversations.

  • Choose curiosity over comfort. One big advantage to being a grown-up is that, by now, you know what you like and what you don’t. You may have long ago realized that you are not a beach person, for example. Or that you hate mystery novels. This is a good thing. And you can live a very enjoyable life going on the same type of vacation every year and reading the same type of novels. But study after study has shown that enjoyment is different from fulfillment. And it’s the fulfilling part that has shown to be a more important factor in overall life satisfaction. So, while you may love linguini con le vongole at your local trattoria, try the osso bico every once in a while. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV with a glass of wine tonight, as is your routine, go for an evening stroll instead. You don’t have to sacrifice your daily pleasures as long as you routinely try finding new ones, too.

  • Imagine you are in an art gallery. When you visit an art museum, you don’t expect to like everything you see, but you typically keep an open mind and an appraising eye on all of the work. You may not want to put a particular piece of art over your home mantel, but you allow for the idea that it might make you think, and you open yourself up to the possibility of being moved. Attitude is everything in our lives. We don’t have to like everyone and enjoy every experience, but we should be open to finding out about them.

  • Don’t be embarrassed to ask. Like children, be inquisitive and ask questions. The more different people we can converse with and learn from, the more positive we feel about the day, and therefore the more fulfilled we are.

I’ve always thought that children have it figured out and we can learn so much from them — they lead with their heart and not with their head, they’ll try anything (except vegetables), they are infinitely curious and fearless! These are admirable characteristics that unfortunately we, adults, can lose over time. Curiosity, like balance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and strength is a muscle, and when we don’t use it, we lose it. I believe curiosity is the result of vulnerability, letting go of certainty, comfort, control, security and seeing life through the eyes of an adventurous tiger slaying ninja or fairytale princess.

I invite you to join me on a self-improvement curiosity journey that will lead us to a more fulfilling life. What better inspiration than a five-year-old YouTube sensation, fairytale princess performing Love is an Open Door (I like to call it ‘Life is an Open Door” b/c it is!), from the movie Frozen, with her awesome mom, which landed them an invitation to the Ellen show. You just never know where curiosity will lead you, and that’s the best part!

Action Item: 
Try one thing this week (doesn’t have to be earth-shattering) that is out of your norm.

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How Your Posture Is Affecting Your Feelings & Thoughts

by Neissa Springmann

by Neissa Springmann

Did you know that research is showing that how you move your muscles and where you place your limbs, head and torso all help control your mood, your behavior, and even the way you think?

For example, leaning in makes you feel more interested in whatever you are doing. Standing tall sparks feelings of confidence and security, while slouching makes you feel stressed and unsure of yourself.

So…what does all of this mean? It means that having strong and flexible muscles is not only important to your body, but is also important for your mind.

If you’ve been waiting for the “perfect time” to start exercising, you’ll likely always wait. Now is the time to make it happen, because you can!

Source:
Can Posture Change Your Mind? by Regina Nuzzo, TIME Magazine

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Goals Shmoals, Just What Do You WANT?

by Catherine Hearn

by Catherine Hearn

In the world of self improvement and self-help, you’re always hearing about the importance of goals. What are your goals? What are your dreams? What are your passions? And if you’re at all like me, those questions just make you want to roll your eyes and think… I don’t know what my “goals” are!  Who really does that anyways?!   But something happened in my life that made me think about them in a whole new way… a way that made complete sense to me.  And now, I see that they are just as powerful as people are always saying they are.  It just doesn’t have to be approached in such a boring way!  It’s time to make “setting goals” more approachable, more interesting, more…fun?

To make a long story short, the journey that brought me to setting and achieving “goals” and completely changing my life for the better went about something like this:

Stage 1:  Live my life as an absolute perfectionist, overachiever,  make-sure-I-look-good-in-everyone-else’s-eyes kind of  gal.  i.e.   always trying to get the ‘perfect’ grades, look as ‘perfect’ as possible (whatever that means?), be the president of my college organization, date the ‘cool’ guy, and on and on…

Stage 2: Get a standard office job doing what my college major prepared me to do…regardless of whether it really inspired or interested me. It’s what we’re all “supposed to do” after all, isn’t it? (gag)

Stage 3: Find out I have a brain tumor.   A benign, non-cancerous tumor called a pituitary adenoma to be exact. Not dangerous or life-threatening, but try explaining that to me in the same sentence as  the words BRAIN and TUMOR  in a voice mail left on my cell phone by my doctor’s office (awesome customer service, I know) , and I didn’t exactly hear the “you’re gonna be fine though” part…

Stage 4: Sit down and realize (post freak-out and crying session)… ok, clearly I am NOT in control of my life.   So, what CAN I do? Suddenly I realized that SO MANY of the things we sit around and complain about in our lives are actually within our control of changing.  Unfortunately, for most of us it often takes a moment of — oh wait, I might not have another day— to realize that.   So I asked myself,  how am I spending my days that suddenly seem more numbered?  Well, at the time… 9 hours a day at a job I didn’t like, in a 7-year relationship that wasn’t healthy, not working towards anything I had always talked about wanting to do “some day,” not really doing anything that necessarily excited me… not the best start, to say the least!  I  had been living my life entirely with the purpose of impressing others and was completely out of tune with what I personally wanted and who I really was.  This prompted me to sit down with a piece of paper and make a list (I love lists 🙂 ) — I asked myself just for fun, what are all of the things I’ve  said I’ve always wanted to do?  The list started something like this:

  • study abroad
  • complete a triathlon
  • become fluent in Spanish
  • go rock climbing
  • live in Southern California — I love the beach!
  • go to ACL (it had always sounded fun but because my friends weren’t into it, I never went)
  • drive a black bug convertible (why not?)

…and many more things, both small and big.

I decided then and there that THIS was my new to-do list. And to start on it…. RIGHT THEN. And what do you know? Within two years I had lived and worked abroad entirely in Spanish, spent  6 months living in San Diego (which led me to discover my passion for women’s empowerment & psychology of health & wellness) … and the list keeps going on.  Of course I have not checked everything off of my list, but I see them ALL as achievable and I am always working towards making at least one of them happen.  No more stagnant living for me!  My self-talk has changed from, why do that? That’s ‘not normal.’ To, why NOT? My new mantra became “no regrets,” and I became the queen of trying new things, getting outside of my comfort zone, listening to what I wanted to do instead of what was seen as “normal” to those around me —  and WOW am I a happier, more fulfilled and more joyful person on so many levels, to say the least.

I truly believe that God made us each purposefully unique, with very different, specific (sometimes random or silly) desires in our hearts.  He put all of these random desires within each of us for a REASON. We just have to have the courage to listen to them and go after them. It is THEN, along those crazy missions toward checking those small and large things off our “lists” that we will find our unique purpose and experience the abundant, exciting and joyful lives we are cut out to live.

It’s simply a matter of taking ownership.

I think this quote says it best:

The best day of your life is the day on which you decide your life is your own.
No one to lean on, rely on or blame.  The gift of life is yours, it is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  Life is about the choices you make — choose wisely.

So I challenge you,

  1. Ask yourself: Do I take ownership for the quality of my life? Or do I blame my circumstances or other people in my life for the way things are?
  2. Sit down & write down all of the different ways (big & small) that you complete these sentences:
    • “I’ve always wanted to _____________”
    • “I really want to _______”
    • “Someday I’d love to ______”
    • “I  wish I could __________”
  3. Get to work! And remember, it’s all about baby steps.  Decide that the second you want to start complaining about something,  you will instead decide what small steps you will take to CHANGE them.

You might just find that the grass, right where you are, suddenly gets a little greener 🙂

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How to Become Your Personal Best

Get Out There and Be Amazing

“Strive to be better. Strive to be more. Strive to be amazing!” Anonymous

About Neissa

by Neissa Springmann

Several years ago while working with a business coach, I was warned that as long as I was striving for both personal and professional growth it was likely that some of my relationships would shift. At first, the coach’s comment startled me, as I couldn’t imagine my life without my current (at the time) friendships. However, what she was really referring to, was that if I was committed to my being my best both personally and professionally, inevitably the law of attraction would come in to play and my relationships would change.

Then, not too long after, I read something similar in a book called The Slight Edge. Author Jeff Olson suggests that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This concept, while simple, is brilliant and forced me to contemplate exactly what I wanted my life to resemble. Between my marriage, profession, friendships, parenting, health, and spirituality, I realized that I needed to seek mentors and role models that have what I strive to become and attain. Therefore, I would need to spend as much time learning and absorbing wisdom from them as possible.

This concept is no different than what our parents cautioned us when they said, “we are the company we keep.”  I’ve always found it interesting that life’s wisdom and lessons don’t end after high school or college. Rather, we often get busy and forget that growth and becoming our best is something we must always pursue, or else our marriage, friendships, profession, health, spirituality and parenting skills (and more) become stagnant. In other words, we miss out on reaching our fullest potential, becoming the people we are created to be and pass up the greatness that life has to offer us and we have to offer life!

Finally, I read a fantastic article by Brenton Weyi. In it, Brenton suggests that in order to be our very best and be amazing, we must remember the following:

No one does it alone, i.e. it takes a village.

And, we must have three essential people in our lives at all times:

  1. A person who is older and more successful than you to learn from
  2. A person who is equal to you to exchange ideas with
  3. A person you can mentor and keep you energized

So, what do you say? Are you ready to stretch, grow and be amazing? If so, surround yourself with at least five other incredible people, become a mentor and begin your journey to becoming your best!

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Point To Ponder:
Are your close friends and relationships inhibiting your growth or are they a reflection of what your best life looks like?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Action Item:
Determine the areas in your life where you’d like to experience growth and positive change. Then, identify the people who have the amazing characteristics and life you wish to attain. Learn from them and model their behaviors.

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Making Every Day, a Great Day

It's a Good Day to Have a Good Day

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
– Abraham Lincoln

Do you ever wish that making every day a great day was as simple as waking up and pushing a button? Well, having a life filled with great days may not be as easy as pushing a button, but it is possible by implementing a few simple principles.

As I referenced in last week’s Journal, I subscribe to several positive and uplifting outlets that help me stay grateful, centered and encouraged even when things are legitimately bad, as we all experienced last week during the Boston and West tragedies. One such subscription is Success Magazine, and according to Chris Widener of Success Magazine, having a ‘great day, every day outlook’ must become part of our routine. And, while there will never be a day without some kind of setback, discouragement or unmet expectation, we cannot react to these circumstances. Instead, we must remain disciplined in implementing the following ‘great day principles:’

  • Focus on today only. Yes, long-range goals are important. But our focus must be on today. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Make today the best day you have ever had. Realize that when you lay down to sleep tonight you will have just given up the only shot you will ever have at today. You only get one shot at your today, so focus intently on making it all that it possibly can be.
  • Embrace your power to choose. Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The history of free men is never written by chance but by choice—their choice.” When your today becomes your yesterday, you will look back and realize that day was a result of your choices. The moment we realize that we can exercise…free will and choice is when we begin to create for ourselves a GREAT day each and every day! Take ownership of the direction of your life. Make your choices and carry them out!
  • Your attitude is up to you. Yes, bad things may happen in your day. When something happens to you, you have the choice: Will you let it get you down and depressed, keeping you from forging ahead and making the day the best one ever? Or will you say to yourself that, no matter what happens, you are on the path to success and no obstacle will keep you from it?
  • Live out and act on your priorities. If we want to make our days great, then we have to live out those things that will by definition make our days great. They are our priorities. So, each morning, start out by asking, What things are important to me today? What are the things I need to accomplish in order for me to lay down tonight and know that I lived a GREAT day? Don’t do what is fun. Don’t do what is easy. Do what is IMPORTANT! Live out your priorities.

What do you say? Will you press the ‘great day button’ with me and begin the journey of making every day a great day? The habit may not be as easy as pushing a button, but by consciously focusing on controlling our choices and attitude we will ultimately create fulfilling minutes, happy hours, and gratifying days!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Point To Ponder:
Do you allow daily circumstances to affect your outlook and ability to have a great day?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Action Item:
Despite daily circumstance, make the choice to wake up every day and make it a great day!

To your  health,

Neissa

About Neissa

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