10 Tips to Help You Keep More Good Friends

friends 3-4-15Modern-day technology and social media make it easier to stay connected with friends and keep up with their successes, interests and status updates. But busy lifestyles, superficial communication, false intimacy and even neediness make it harder to develop and keep real friendships.

If you have good friends who enrich your life, bring you positive energy, boost your well being, and serve as trusted confidants, these 10 tips can definitely help you keep them:

1. Make time to connect.

2. Set and respect boundaries.

3. Communicate mindfully.

4. Be open to feedback.

5. Keep them accountable.

6. Get to know them personally.

7. Give them space.

8. Build trust.

9. Resolve disagreements in emotionally mature ways.

10. Be a positive force.

No matter what you do, some good friends will naturally drift away as time passes or when circumstances change. But applying these 10 tips will help you keep more good friends for many years to come (and even for a lifetime).

Read the full article, 10 Tips to Help You Keep More Good Friends, on Lifehack.

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Photo by: mcconnmama

3 surefire steps to create what you want

A new year is the traditional time to roll out positive changes. It brings added pressure to shed bad habits, kick-start big projects, and move toward audacious goals.

But once the initial excitement wears off and the fears and doubts creep in, it can be hard to sustain the momentum to get where you want to be.

Whether or not you’re into making resolutions, here are 3 surefire steps to create what you want (throughout the year and beyond):

1. Get clear on what you want

Until you choose your desired destination, you’re bound to end up someplace else by default. You need to get clear on what you want so you can commit to it and get real results.

And do some soul searching to understand why you want the thing you want. The thing itself is usually less important than the feeling or experience you expect to get from it.

If your goal this year is to meet the love of your life, imagine how you would feel if you did. Would you feel connected, blissful and aligned? Focus on areas in your present life where you already experience connection, bliss and alignment. When you come from a place of abundance and wholeness, instead of scarcity and inadequacy, you’re more likely to create what you truly want (which might be different from what you think you want).

2. Take committed action to get what you want

Too many options and undetermined choices can keep you stuck. Decide what your priorities are and commit fully to them, above all else.

In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown notes that doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, is more effective than having it all and doing everything.

Start saying no and stop over-committing to opportunities that don’t line up with your real priorities. Save your time, preserve your energy, and make space for what you really want. Instead of multitasking and jumping back and forth, apply laser sharp focus on your top priority.

Break down your goal into a gradual, step-by-step process. Put each actionable step on a to-do list or add it to your calendar. Set target dates to complete your top tasks and prioritize accordingly. Then chip away and follow up until you’re done.

Small, gradual steps are much easier to sustain than huge, giant leaps that require drastic changes to your habits or routines. If I want to seriously progress as a pianist, I have to practice daily. I’d be better off starting out with 15 minutes a day and building on that after a month, instead of going for an 1 hour a day and fizzling out after a week.

Quit making excuses about why you’re not making progress. Make use of time pockets and work in short bursts if you don’t have huge blocks of time to get the steps done. Hold yourself accountable and call on a friend, colleague, coach or mentor to help you stay on track and keep your commitments. Delegate, barter or hire someone to deal with minutiae that don’t capitalize on your strengths.

3. Let go of what you want

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, letting go of what you want is essential. There’s  a big difference between clinging to an outcome and striving for it.

Focus on what you can influence. Fully engage with the process. Be present. Make stops along the way to celebrate small wins and acknowledge where you’re at.

Go all out and give it your best shot. But drop the urge to control outcomes and circumstances that are uncontrollable. Despite your dedication and diligence, there’s no guarantee you’ll get exactly what you want.

You start out by choosing your desired destination. You might encounter hurdles and detours that cause delays in getting where you want to be.

You gain simply by stepping on to the right path, appreciating your progress, and enjoying the journey itself. And if you stay open enough, you just might end up in a place that is way more desirable than you ever dreamed possible.

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Photo by: MeganLynnette

How to experience gratitude

Gratitude clears a path for life-sustaining habits, positive transformation, and wise action.

Gratitude wipes out limiting thoughts, regret and despair. It preserves time and energy that you would otherwise spend on complaining and criticizing.

Across the U.S. today, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s a special day for families and friends to get together for a feast and to give thanks for what they have.

But this morning I woke up feeling sullen and somber over losing some prized (digital) possessions.

Last night, I discovered my toddler deleted from my camera every single video and photo I took of her over the past 16 months from the day she was born. Three clicks on a single button are all it took.

Had I uploaded the files before they got deleted? No. Did I have backups? No.Could I recover the deleted files? No… or not likely (for reasons I won’t get into here).

This episode amounted to a refresher crash course on how to experience gratitude. Here are a few key points:

Acknowledge what sucks.

When crap happens, gratitude is not always the healthiest immediate response. Instead, you first need to acknowledge what sucks.

It doesn’t help to wallow in misery and self-pity. But you also don’t want to deny your pain by reframing the situation too quickly. It’s okay to be ticked off. Just face the loss or the less-than-ideal experience, as is, without trying to make it less troubling with affirmations of gratitude.

Mistakes are human and they teach us to do better next time. Losing the videos and photos taught me an important lesson. It reminded me that if you care about something, you need to take steps within your control to avoid outright loss.

For now though, I choose to feel disappointment over the loss. I’m not going to gloss over it with “everything happens for a reason” or “it is what it is” platitudes.

Realize that dissatisfaction can coexist with gratitude. 

Gratitude involves rejoicing in what you have, which is often more than enough. Gratitude doesn’t mean you won’t have unfulfilled desires, dreams and wishes that create dissatisfaction.

If you cover up the negatives with your positives, life might start to feel superficial and shallow. But if dissatisfaction greatly outweighs gratitude, life can be pretty depressing and heavy.

Aim for the right proportions and make conscious choices. If you’re getting too complacent, work toward building a new habit. If you’re complaining too much, focus on an existing thing that brings you joy.

Dissatisfaction and gratitude are non-dual experiences that can coexist well together. While I’m disappointed about losing the videos and photos that were on my camera, I’m grateful that I still have many that were stored elsewhere.

Appreciate what is before you.

While I was missing the videos and photos I lost, I was missing out on my daughter standing right in front of me – eager to play and have fun.  She’s no longer the helpless little baby who could barely lift her head. Rather, she now walks around like she owns the place.

Getting wrapped up in the past and worrying about not having certain mementos for the future made it hard to be present. The sweetest moments are right here, right now. The present is when life is most delicious, abundant, real, and full of possibilities.

Get specific about what you’re thankful for. 

Whatever you’re grateful for becomes more tangible and immediate when you know exactly why you appreciate it. Picking five things you appreciate is great. Listing five reasons why you’re thankful for one particular thing is even better.

And if you’re having trouble naming one thing, dig deep and search wide. Are you grateful for that faithful friend who will give you a ride when your car breaks down? Do you own a nice pair of boots to keep your feet warm in winter?  Do you have strengths that you get to use daily or regularly? Is there at least one person on earth who holds you accountable?

Why do you wake up in the morning? Be grateful for that. 

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Photo by: Jessica Lucia