So you want the key to happiness? Are you ready for it?
It's found in this one simple word, gratitude.
We've all heard this word before, or been told in some way shape or form to count our blessings, give thanks and be grateful for what we have. I'm sure there are some eye rolls going on as you're reading this and might be thinking that the secret to happiness is really in this one concept we've known about our whole lives?!
Ok ok, not much of a secret but developing a strong gratitude practice is literally one of the best superpowers we have in our tool box to keep us high vibe and in our zone of genius. Gratitude can truly transform any situation from an ordeal to adventure. It alters our vibration and has the power to move us from negative energy to positive energy. It's fast, effective and has been a common practice among the top leaders in the world.
Are you ready to embrace your own attitude of gratitude?
Unlock your own path to feeling lighter, happier and more in flow by implementing the strategies below into your daily life.
I'm already grateful they resonate with you.
See what I did there ;)
1. Gratitude Journal: Take a moment either first thing in the morning or just before bed to write out 10 things you are grateful for. This takes less than 5 minutes and will instantly put you in a better head space to either start your day off of zen you out with a smile before sleep. Taking stock of all the great things in your life is a great way to reflect, focus on the positive and honour the blessings you have. Feeling super grateful and have more than 10? Awesome! Write as many as you feel called to. You'll be surprised how many great things are already in your life just waiting to be recognized.
2. Letter of Gratitude: Write a hand written letter to someone you've never properly thanked. This can be recent or from a time in the past. Writing gratitudes for yourself is wonderful, but sharing it with others takes it to the next level! Hand deliver or send via snail mail to have a greater impact than emailing or texting your gratitudes.
3. Turn everything into a gift: Life is always happening FOR you not TO you and turning everything into a gift is a great way to align with the belief. Instead of your normal morning coffee, think of the cup of java as a gift for you. Instead of a long commute, think of it as the gift of time to listen to an inspiring podcast, or sing along to your favourite song. The gift of laughter, the gift of a smile - the gifts are endless!
4. Internal Gratitude: Showing gratitude and appreciation for the externals of your life is hugely important, but it is equally important to turn the gratitude inwards and tell yourself you are grateful for YOU. Practice looking in the mirror and saying "I'm so grateful for you,". Saying it out loud and hearing it in your own voice will help you to solidify it internally and create a new neural pathway in your mind.
5. Gratitude is Contagious: In neuroscience we learn that 'what fires together, wires together', meaning that when you focus on something you start to become more aware of it and therefore see it more often. So, if you choose to focus on the positive things in your life, your brain will naturally start to pick up on more things to be grateful for. The more you practice gratitude, new neural pathways will form in your brain, making the act of seeking of gratitude effortless.
I just spent the weekend in Vancouver, B.C. with my incredible mastermind group and I am feeling inspired, fuelled and excited for all the new creative ideas that came out of this supportive and productive weekend.
What is a mastermind? It's when people come together from different business fields to support each other in levelling up business and personal goals.
My mastermind group gets together once a quarter to discuss our goals, dreams, struggles and ideas. We come together to guide each other through new ideas, to give perspective, to solve problems and to connect to a greater purpose. The unique perspective of each individual really helps the group to grow and helps each of us see things in our businesses that we would not have seen otherwise. This is a concept that I didn't know existed coming from the fashion industry, where competition is the dominant atmosphere. The competitive nature is something I did not take with me when I left the fashion industry. With a mastermind, it's all about collaboration, empowering others so that we can all rise together.
Although we are all in different industries, we are united by our authenticity, integrity and trust in something greater.
Masterminds speak truth to the famous quote,
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
When you surround yourself with people who are doing (or being) great things, great things happen.
What does creating a mastermind look like? How do you find your tribe? It takes alignment in your own vision and goals to attract your vibe using the strategies below.
Are you ready to find your tribe?
Finding your Tribe
1. Get clear: In order to truly leverage the brilliance of a mastermind and connect in a meaningful way with like minded individuals, it's imperative to be crystal clear on your vision, goals and dreams. Take time to clarify what your WHY statement is. This is your purpose, your reason and the WHY behind what you do. Knowing this is crucial to being ready for support from others and in offering your own unique perspective to other potential mastermind members.
2. Find your tribe: Think of the people in your life who inspire you. These can be people you're friends with, acquaintances or new people you'd like to meet and connect with. Opening up the conversation about a mastermind can be as easy as saying 'hey, want to support each other so we can both grow in our goals?'
3. Structure your mastermind: In my group, we meet once a quarter and each mastermind member gets a chance to host in the city that they live in. So far, we've been to LA, Vancouver, and have Toronto and Puerto Rico to look forward to this year. We also have a monthly call to connect and stay accountable to each other as we take inspired action towards our goals. The most important thing here is consistency and accountability. We're in constant dialogue through a text chain, lifting each other up and providing support when needed. Because let's get real, entrepreneurship can be a lonely road of days behind your computer - so this way it feels like we are working together.
4. Commitment: Masterminds only work when everyone is committed to the work it takes to be involved in a mastermind, with time and energy, and committed to the growth of the others in the group. These groups work when there are defined expectations during meeting times, and a plan for the year to stay on track and accountable.
Your Voice: Is it loud enough?
Are you saying what you want to say or do you find yourself holding back?
With a partner? An employer? A friend?
Do you fantasize about how things 'could be' but you never actually communicate how you want them to happen?
Take a quick moment to evaluate, are things in your life going the way you want them to?
If the answer is no, that is okay. This is an opportunity to make a change.
Find a quiet space. Take out your journal (a paper and pen will do).
Now is the time to get real. What is that you are not saying? What do you wish was different? See if you can answer these questions without judgement but rather just by simply observing what comes out.
It is SO easy to get swept up in the day to day, the habit, the routine of how things are because that is how they have always been. But when you get stuck and don't speak up, you are denying yourself the true opportunity of what could be.
What does finding your voice look and feel like? It takes practice of reaching the edge of your comfort zone through these strategies.
Are you ready to be heard?
Finding your Voice
Feel your Voice: If you're going to listen to your inner truth you have to truly FEEL it. Take a mindful moment to tune into your voice. Place both hands around your throat and close your eyes. Say three things that you are grateful for, feeling the vibration of your words. Tune in and ask yourself, 'what is important to say today'? 'what can you say and to whom that will leave you feeling happy?' Observe what comes up and practice every day to develop a relationship with you truly want to say.
Get your vocal cords pumping: One of the best ways to practice saying what you mean is my belting out your favorite song. You can do it in the shower, the car, with music or without. Practice what it feels like to let loose and really experience how powerful your vocal cords are.
Observe your urges: Are there times where you are having a conversation but are not actually saying what you want to say? Notice them and write them down. Then write down how the scenario could have played out with you actually saying how you really felt. Painting the picture of how the situation could be allows you to get closer to the truth and re-approach the convo with a clearer direction.
One step at a time
More often than not the hardest part of achieving anything is starting. This can be true for completing daily tasks, reaching a goal or achieving a long term dream. Taking that first step can hold us back more than we realize.
It's easy to get caught up in HOW things will happen and we tend to look 10 or 20 steps ahead instead of focusing on the here and now. Our mind can spiral between to do lists and all the reasons why a goal may feel impossible to attain based on our future projection of the achievement. Do you know what happens if we give into this spiral? We often feel so paralyzed in the impossible, that we end up not doing ANYTHING on the to do list, taking zero inspired action towards our goals.
Can you relate?! If you're anything like me, a big dreamer, it can be so easy to feel the pressure and overwhelm from starting something new and working towards a goal that seems impossible to reach.
Well I have dreamed A LOT of things into reality, that once seemed impossible and I am here to tell you how I did it.
You might just achieve the impossible too ;)
Goal Achieving Strategies
Get Clear: Before you can achieve a dream or reach a goal, you have to first know what it is that you want. To be crystal clear about what it is that you want, start making a list of all of your ideas, desires and interests. Do this every day for a week. At the end of the week, take stock of what you've written. Was there something that came up multiple times during the exercise? Are there commonalities between what you desire? Once you have figured out what you want, be sure to ask yourself WHY you want it. Getting clear on the reason why will help you stay focused each day when you start taking action.
Stay present: presence is the most powerful too in getting what you want. Focusing too much on the future is a clear gateway to the spiral, but by continuously tuning into the present moment, you can stay clear on what action you can take now. Try taking 10 deep breathes when you need to refocus and ask yourself, "what is important right now."
Backwards Planning: We get so caught up in step 10 sometimes that we miss step 1, 2 and 3. Working backwards can help you break down the steps one by one and bring you back to the first step that is required to take along the path to achieving your goal. This is a great exercise in helping identify what you can do NOW, instead of future.
Trust: Starting something new and going for a goal requires trust and as you continue to take inspired action towards your goal, more and more of the path will reveal itself. You don't need to know the final outcome or the end result. Trust that you are capable of achieving the impossible and that the universe will have your back every step along the way.
Spring has Sprung
There's a lot of NEW right now - if you think of your year like quarters, we just rounded out Q1 at the end of March, welcomed in a whole new season with the Equinox and experienced a New Moon last Friday. The air is warmer, the flowers are growing, and the leaves are budding - all signs of a new beginning and cycle of growth and rebirth.
With all this swirling of NEW and refreshing for Spring, it's easy to get caught up in a few limiting mindsets...
One of those mindsets is the idea that we always need to be happy or that is it better when it's sunny. The truth is, we need the sadness and the rain in order to grow, transform and evolve. We need it to help our roots get deeper and our hearts to get stronger. We need it, because without it, we would never see a rainbow.
So even though Spring is here, and the days are getting longer and filled with more sunlight - it is ok if those rainy grey days still exist in the weather and in your mind - since those days (and moods) are a necessary step to growth.
April showers bring may flowers after all ;)
I have been thinking a lot about how to harness growth and use seasonal changes to our benefit. This is what I came up with.
Spring Refresh tips
- Take stock of what is currently working in your life and make time to celebrate the small victories! This is SO important to do in every phase of reflection as we often forget to focus on all the amazing progress we are making each and every day.
- Once you've celebrated YOU, objectively reflect on where you want to shake things up in your life this season... this will help you get clear on your intentions and determine your goals for Q2.
- Declutter your living and office space. If your external is organized, that gives way for your internal mind to declutter too. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and find the bliss in cleaning up.
- Get outside. Notice all the signs of spring emerging, growing, rebirthing + see how that bloom is reflected in yourself too.
- Embrace the rain! Rain helps things grow after all, so I invite you welcome in the rain and gloomy days. Maybe this looks like grabbing your rubber boots and splashing in some puddles, or allowing yourself to feel sad when it comes up and letting yourself release with a good cry. You just might see a rainbow after :)
Take care of YOU first
I'm a firm believer that by taking care of yourself first, everything else falls into place. This isn't about being selfish, but rather about knowing that your own self care leaves you feeling your best and when you feel your best you can give more to those around you.
We've all heard the same metaphor in different forms over and over again...
Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others...
Light your own candle so that flame can light many other candles...
Fill your cup up first, so you can give from the overflow...
But what does that look like day to day? In our fast paced society when it is extremely easy to say YES to others demands on our time and energy, how do we take care of ourselves first?
My answer, NON-NEGOTIABLES.
Non-negotiables are the daily MUST DO's that support YOU to be your best self. When you understand yourself well, know what makes you tick, what motivates you and what is really important to you, you can prioritize these non-negotiables to help optimize your energy and the impact you have on others in your life.
I break these down into micro-practices - small acts that I perform daily, because doing small things that you love daily create a big impact on happiness levels.
These non-negotiables can be in the form of 10 deep breaths when you first wake up, a daily sweat or an evening walk, a restorative yoga practice or reading a chapter from your book. Everyone is unique, and the idea is connect to your own uniqueness of what makes you feel your best.
This week I invite you to reflect on the following questions in the pursuit of understanding your own uniqueness and creating your own non-negotiables.
What is important to you?
What activities give you energy and make you excited?
What are your current daily practices? Are they supporting you to be your best?
What will you do today to take care of yourself?
Take some insight from your answers and implement them into your daily routine. Watch your cup fill up, your flame burn bright, your breath get deeper. Don't say I didn't warn you ;)
My definition of Mindfulness
This past week I've been immersed in corporate mindfulness training with Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. My mind is buzzing with the energy of learning new ideas, nerding out on neuroscience and reconnecting with the belief that started my company in the first place - that mindfulness matters.
So let's talk mindfulness - what does it really mean? To me, mindfulness is the space between your thoughts and emotions where you have the ability to respond instead of reacting to challenging situations. It's the space to process what is going on so you can respond in a conscious way that is aligned with your emotions and feelings.
Do you have to be on a yoga mat to experience this incredible way of being? Absolutely not. Mindfulness is something that you can take with you from the boardroom, to your dinner table, with coworkers, or out with friends and loved ones. Practicing mindfulness is about acknowledging that you have the power to choose your thoughts and that you can make conscious choices with each thought and decision you have throughout the day.
Take a moment to breathe.
Using the power of our breath is one of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness at any point in our day. Focus on your breath, your inhale and exhale. Consciously breathe in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts. Repeat 10 times or as long as feels right for you.
Move your body.
Whether this looks like a walk around your neighbourhood, a dip in the ocean, playing a sport or hitting that yoga class, moving your body is a great way to stay mindful. Movement is like meditation, it gets you out of your head, back into your physical body and your heart.
Notice your thoughts.
Whether they are positive or negative, simply notice the thoughts that you are choosing in any given moment. Awareness is the first step to making a change to our habitual thought patterns. The best part is, we have the power to choose our thoughts so the lift us up, not tear us down.
Adopt this mindset.
Everything is happening FOR YOU not TO YOU.
Everything, the good and the bad, are lessons, opportunities and always happening for us. Adopting this mindset allows us to embrace what comes our way, let go of that feeling of being the victim and look for the good in any situation.
Self Investment 101
Investing in yourself is the BEST thing you can do for yourself.
Think for a moment about the principle behind financial investments. The main purpose is to experience a future financial gain.
This same principle can apply to you and your skillset. By investing time, money and energy into yourself, you are setting yourself up for future success.
Self investments can be small or big, but like everything, you get out what you put in.
Developing a habit of daily contributions to yourself will amount to something bigger in the future.
I say this as I embark on a week long leadership training course call Search Inside Yourself Leadership in Berkely, CA. This course was formed out of Google and is designed to teach corporations how to lead compassionately, improve culture, and optimize performance. It is rooted in mindfulness, neuroscience, and emotional intelligence - all things that get me so excited.
I heard about this course a couple of years ago and immediately knew I wanted to do it. I knew that it was going to further my life's mission, to leave the world a better place than how I found it and best equip me with tools to share this message in the corporate space.
The initial timing wasn't right, but I kept it on my radar. It sounded so perfect for me, but was also time consuming and expensive. I definitely had the story running through my head of 'who am I to spend this much money on myself?' But I realized that investing in myself is the best thing that I could ever do and the smartest way I could spend my money.
So yes, I deserve it, and yes I am good enough! And YOU are too.
How to invest in yourself
Whether this is with your favourite smoothie, coffee, massage or indulging in a sweet treat, little things like these are easy ways to show yourself some love and invest in you throughout your day.
This can be practiced by diving into something new or further developing a passion or skill you want to master. Spend time taking stock of your interests. Is there a course or a workshop you can invest in that will help support your growth? Is there an area of your career to expand upon for you to enhance your passions?
Nourish your body.
Ever notice how much better you feel on all levels when you make time to prioritize eating healthy foods and moving your body each day? Investing in your physical body is just as important as investing in your mental and spiritual wellbeing. So head to that workout class, head outside for some fresh air, choose the healthier meal option and spend time investing in your health, because health = wealth.
Attend a retreat.
Retreats are incredible opportunities to press the reset button, connect inward, and reignite that flame of passion inside you. Whether this is a full day offering close to home or a week long immersion in a new place - spending time in the transformational environment retreats cultivate, is an amazing investment in your evolving self-development. Check out my next retreat coming on in La on March 24th.
Investing in you can be as small or as big as you want, but the most important part is engaging in that investment activity with the mindset that it is fuelled by LOVE and to believe that you are WORTHY of receiving the benefits of that investment.
Can you turn your mundane into magic?
You lead a busy and full life. Job, family, friends, hobbies and all that other stuff in between. Sometimes it can feel like you are operating on autopilot and that every day is some version of the day before that.
Hopefully your life is one that you have created intentionally, one where you feel in alignment with your purpose or at least one where you feel as though some aspects are working in the way you want them to. If not, download my action plan here to get on track.
That word ‘mundane’ used to trigger me. My internal narrative is that my life is special, unique, and different from those around me. While I believe some aspects of that to be true, I am also a regular human being just like everybody else. What I have learned to realize is that there is something beautiful about the mundane. We have routines so that we can know what to expect, can reserve our brain power and can seek comfort in the things that regularly occur in our lives.
So instead of thinking that you need to give your whole life an overhaul in order to switch things up, can you find the magic in the things that you are already doing?
Magic > Mundane
Pay someone who you are regularly in contact with a compliment. This could be to a coworker, a spouse, or a stranger you pass everyday.
Notice the changes in nature on your commute to work. Maybe the snow has melted a little bit (or accumulated), maybe the tree is a little greener or the flowers a little bit more vibrant. This is a reminder that everything around you is constantly changing and so are you.
Take a different seat at the table.
Ever notice how every time you go to the boardroom for a meeting you sit in the same chair? Or every time you set up your mat for yoga class, you set it up in the same spot? Try a different seat, you may notice something that you have never seen before.
Drop the absolutes.
Notice where in your life you say ‘never’ or ‘always’.
‘I never put my name in the ring for a promotion’.
‘I always sit in the back row for the presentations.’
See if you can detach yourself from being on either end of the spectrum and find balance somewhere in the middle. Experiment with it and see how it feels.
By making subtle shifts in your daily routine you are creating new neural pathways in your brain. With new neural pathways comes a new level of awareness and growth that will allow you to think more creatively, improve your problem solving abilities and lead more compassionately.
Why we need to reset and its important on our wellbeing
What does it mean to reset?
As I sit here writing this to you from my room in Costa Rica, I am reflective. This is my third year hosting a retreat in Costa Rica - a week me and my partner Catie Fenn coined Reset Week. We were very intentional about the name because we are so clear on the fact that EVERYONE needs a reset.
I take reseting really seriously. That’s why I took 3 flights and a long bumpy car ride on unpaved roads to make it here. The feeling I get upon arriving is unparalleled to anything else and that is why I keep coming back. This place is sacred and hasn’t changed much in the 3 years I have been hosting retreats here. The expats that reside here do so out of a true love for nature and the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle - a endearing term used by Costa Rican cultures meaning ‘the good life’. The thing that stays constant year to year are the majestic sunsets, the vibrant trees, the untouched wildlife and that left breaking wave that makes this town well known in the surfing community. It really and truly is a little slice of heaven.
So what happens if you don’t have the chance to get away for the week and everything I am speaking about seems like a far off dream? Read below for some accessible tips and tools that you can practice in your everyday life. Although, when you understand the importance behind reseting you may just jump on a plane to come and meet us ;)
How to Reset and Why
Go outside in Nature
You know that time of the day when your brain starts to shut down because it feels like you haven’t taken a break? It’s likely because you haven’t and our brains are similar to computers; the more tabs we have open the slower we tend to operate.
Several studies have shown that a walk in nature can trigger the mind-wandering mode which leads to creativity. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.
Listen to music
You know how it feels when you are listening to your favorite song and you feel super revved up, like you can conquer the world? (Hmm, just me?) That increase in oxytocin supports the belief that you can mold the world to your liking and when you act as if this is true, it becomes your reality. Check out my latest playlist here.
Music is an effective method for improving attention, building up self-confidence, social skills and a sense of engagement.
Take a nap
When you are nodding off in front of your computer, this is your bodies way of telling you something. You need more sleep, dude! Instead of ‘powering through’ be compassionate with yourself and take a break.
Taking breaks is biologically restorative. In several studies, a nap of even 10 minutes improved cognitive function and vigor. If you can train yourselves to take time for naps and contemplation, you will be in a more powerful position to start solving some of the world’s big problems. And you will be happier and well rested while we’re doing it!
Positive and social psychology studies have shown that you frequently begin to embody the characteristics of those with whom you spend the most time. This may be through peer pressure or a desire to fit in, or because your mirror neurons are driving you to be alike. So when planning that next vacation or down time, choose who you spend your time with wisely.
If you are looking to put some of these tools in practice with a like-minded community, join my next one day urban retreat, Space happening in LA on March 24th.
If you are like me and like to geek out even more on this stuff check out this New York Times article on the importance of resetting.
Samara Zelniker is a yogi, wine drinker, pet lover and travel junkie.