Tag Archives: Success Magazine

Happiness through Neighboring

iGnite - The purpose of lifePoint to Ponder:
What aspect of your life brings you the most happiness?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Currently I am reading a very interesting book called The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. It’s an easy read and pretty common sense, but I’m completely hooked and fascinated. Based on the title you’ve probably figured out that the book is about how to be a good neighbor, but more important is the why — why it is critical to our society that we be good neighbors.

In the first chapter, a group of ministers in the Denver, Colorado area met with their city mayor to learn how they could help serve the city. The mayor responded: “The majority of the issues our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” He then added, “Government programs aren’t always the most effective way to address social issues. Relationships are more important than programs because they are organic and ongoing. The idea is that when neighbors are in relationship with one another, the elderly shut-in gets cared for by the person next door, the at-risk kid gets mentored by a dad who lives on the block, and so on.”

Honestly, I haven’t made it past the first chapter because I am continuing to contemplate just that paragraph. Of course the mayor is right. In theory it sounds so simple, but it appears that societally we are way off.

Ironically, while reading The Art of Neighboring, I came upon an interesting article in SUCCESS Magazine by Patty Onderko called Oh, Happy Day. The article states that research has found that happy people are healthier, live longer, give back more to their communities, cultivate stronger family and social ties and even make more money. The article also lists these ten evidence-based ways to be happy (by actionforhappiness.org):

  1. Giving: Do things for others
  2. Relating: Connecting with people
  3. Exercising: Take care of your body
  4. Appreciating: Notice the world around you
  5. Trying Out: Keep learning new things
  6. Direction: Have a goal to look forward to
  7. Resilience: Find ways to bounce back
  8. Emotion: Take a positive approach
  9. Acceptance: Be comfortable with who you are
  10. Meaning: Be part of something bigger

After reading this article I began thinking about the time in my life when food and exercise consumed all of my thoughts. I was constantly calculating fat and calories, thinking about my next meal and never allowed myself the pleasure of a splurge — at least without a five to ten mile run to follow. I was obsessed with the scale and a one to three pound weight increase would sabotage my day. It was also during a time when I was younger, worked in a gym and was surrounded by mirrors. It’s interesting because looking back I can see that the harder I worked out and the more restrictive my diet was, the more my body literally fought back. I was out of balance, my priorities were out of line, my focus was too inward and therefore my body (and I) was not happy. It wasn’t until I had a literal mental and spiritual shift, got outside of myself, and realized that life was much bigger and more meaningful than a number on a scale or the size of my clothes, that my whole body became happy. Ironically, I stopped exercising as much, I didn’t eat “perfectly,” and I rested more, yet my body felt better and performed better — all the while the size of my clothes stayed the same. I’ve since ditched the scale.

You may be wondering, “Neissa, what in the world do neighboring, being happy, and diet and exercise have to do with one another?” The answer is everything. Happiness cannot be achieved from being primarily inward-focused. For sure it’s easier and feels safer to be focused on ourselves, our families and our homogeneous circles, but true happiness comes from living for and in the things that are bigger than ourselves. Could it be possible that there’s a real connection between our society being the most wealthy it’s ever been, while simultaneously unhappiness and neighborly love are on the decline?

For me, there was a time when my idol was my body. Other idols that can prevent us from living outwardly and being neighborly are our children, family, work, social circles, wealth, television, social media — anything that causes us to live inward and be “me-focused.” As the wonderful quote above suggests, the ultimate goal is to be useful, honorable and compassionate, a.k.a. being a good neighbor, which in my opinion produces ultimate happiness!

Action Item:
Do something for a neighbor who you have never met or interacted with before. This could be baking cookies, writing a note, knocking on their door to say hello — anything!

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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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Spring Cleaning the Mental Garbage

“Tell yourself everything will work out, things will get better, you are important, you are worthy of great things, you are loveable, the time is now, this too shall pass, you can be who you really are, the best is yet to come, you are strong, you can do this!” – Doe Zantamata

Point to Ponder:
What stories have you bought?
What stories have you created and clung to as a way of excusing yourself from having the family, relationships, health, career, self- confidence, life you want, etc?

Action Item:
Decide what the new story is you’re going to tell yourself
about who you are and what you are capable of.

If you are like me, I really want a couple of days to completely dedicate to spring cleaning. The idea of clearing out the clutter and non-essentials that I have collected over the past year (or ten…) would be liberating and feel so good!  But, of course the ability to dedicate several days to this task (which I would need) is almost impossible. Instead, I’ve made it a goal to clean a little each week. With that said, I also feel like I have collected negative and useless thoughts over time that aren’t true and don’t serve me, my family, my relationships, or my life.  In other words, I’ve collected mental garbage that I need to purge and be done with!

Darren Hardy, the author and publisher of my favorite magazine Success, recently wrote an excellent article titled “The Stories We Tell Ourselves.”  The article is heavy on physicality, but it can of course be related to everything we tell ourselves we can’t do — our excuses and even the lies we tell ourselves.  So while we are spring cleaning our homes, what better time to focus on mental spring cleaning too. I actually think it’s equally as important, if not more important that the physical act of cleaning our homes.

THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES
by Darren Hardy

We are all excellent storytellers. We have a story for everything.  We have a story for why we can’t lose weight, stick to our diets, jog, do pushups, get up early, eat healthy, exercise regularly and stay disciplined. Examples are:

“I’m big-boned.”
“It’s bad for my knees.”
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m too old.”
“It’s impossible when I travel.”
“I deserve a reward.”
“I have PMS.”
“It’s fat-free.”

Recently my friend Kerri told me a story she heard when she was six months into her pregnancy. She had gained a significant amount of weight (she was, after all, pregnant) and started to worry whether she could ever regain her previous figure. She called a mom-friend and asked, “What really happens with this baby weight after my son is born? Will it all go away?” Her friend replied, “Well, a woman once told me you keep 10 pounds per child.” Kerri nearly dropped the phone. The friend’s pronouncement deflated her hopes of returning to her pre-baby weight and shape.

Later that week, Kerri was at the spin studio where she takes fitness classes. Kerri related the 10-pounds-per-child story to Wendy, who also was there to work out. “That’s ridiculous!” Wendy exclaimed. “I’ve had seven children, so I should be 70 pounds overweight. That’s just an excuse—don’t buy that story.” Then Wendy added that “it won’t be easy or automatic, but with hard work and time, you can get your body back… and better.” This mother of seven was indeed in terrific shape, better than most who have never given birth. My friend decided to buy Wendy’s story instead of her other friend’s.

You know that the only thing keeping you from the body you want—the energy and vitality you want—are the stories you buy and retell yourself (and others).

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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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