10 Free and Simple Things You Can Do Today to Make Somebody Smile

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As a general rule, I will pretty much do whatever it takes to elicit a good laugh out of somebody.  I’ve been known to do things like what you’re seeing in this picture for pretty much my whole life.  This particular instance was because my dear friend Julia, who you see in the background about to wet herself, was having a rough day and I took it upon myself to do what I could to make it better.  As you can see, it worked pretty well.  Now, please don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not suggesting that in order to make the world around you a lighter place you need to Scotch tape your face.  In fact, I don’t recommend it.  If I remember correctly, it really hurt to pull that shit off my eyebrows.  What I am suggesting, is that there is literally ALWAYS something that you can do to brighten up somebody’s day, and it takes such little effort.  Read on to discover 10 easy ways you can bring a little positive flair to somebody’s day starting now!

1.  Smile

Yep, legit the easiest way to help another person experience some joy in their lives is to smile at them.  You weren’t born with that beautiful visage for nothing!  Put what yo’ Mama gave you to good use by sharing it with the world.  You’ll most certainly inspire the recipient to do the same.

2.  Listen

Your ears…also there for a reason (other than being able to jam out to some really good tunes while lead-footing it down the interstate).  How often do you feel like nobody’s listening to you?  Sometimes all it takes is slowing down long enough to truly hear another person that will leave them beaming from ear to ear.

3. Crack a Joke

Sometimes life gets messy and really serious and it’s hard to see beyond the chaos that’s happening in the moment.  Dropping a relatively stupid and well-intentioned joke can be just the medicine to remind another person that this too shall pass and it’s okay to laugh.

4. Write a Letter

Let’s just be honest…it’s freaking awesome to get an ACTUAL letter in the mail.  Seriously, I’m just going to own it…my husband and I literally race each other down the driveway if we happen to both be home when the mail carrier comes.  90% of the time we find ourselves inundated with junk mail and bills we don’t want to open, but every once in a while there’s an unexpected letter and it’s like Christmas morning!  It feels good to know that people are thinking of you even though they might not be around.

5. Compliment Them

I’m not talking some sideways compliment solely intended to instill a feel-good factor.  I don’t do bullshit and I would recommend you avoid it too.  People see right through that and if they smile, it’s probably a bit of bullshit back at you.  No, I’m talking a real, genuine compliment that comes from your heart and reminds the person receiving it that they are valued.  One or two kind words can go a very long way in changing the course of somebody’s day.

6. Tempt Their Tummy

Why?  Um…because FOOD!  Yes, because FOOD is amazing and delicious and it makes people feel full and when people feel full of yumminess their brains send off little, happy signals all throughout the rest of their bodies and that makes them smile.  Also, because when you give people delicious food, they will feel compelled to share and that will make you smile too.

7. Random Acts of Kindness

There is something so incredibly gratifying about anonymously performing an act of kindness.  Donate your old towels to an animal shelter, leave your unused coupons somewhere the next guy might find them or let somebody merge into your lane of traffic even though you are in a rush (preferably without flipping them the bird).  These simple acts can help to change somebody’s day and who knows…they might even pay it forward.

8. Be True to Yourself

Believe it or not, one of the best ways you can make somebody smile is by owning yourself unapologetically.  People want to live out their own dreams, and when they see somebody else doing it, it’s a reminder that it’s possible for them too.  Why do you think those videos of human beings picking up cars and jumping from rooftop to rooftop trend so hard on social media?  Uh, because it’s freaking awesome, duh!  I’m not suggesting that you should attempt to walk on fire or swim the English Channel in nothing but your Speedos (unless that’s your thing), but embrace what makes you unique and let it shine.  People love to smile at that stuff!

9. Make Them Something

Again, people like to see other people doing what makes them happy.  When you are being creative, you are expressing yourself by doing something that makes your heart sing.  Passing this expression onto another person is like saying, “Hi, this is a big chunk of my heart that makes me super happy to create.  Would you like a piece of it?  Maybe it will make your heart smile, too.”  I mean, that’s a pretty awesome thing to share!

10. Scotch Tape Your Face

Well, c’mon…it works!  I mean, go back and take a look at that picture.  The girl is legit about to fall out of her chair.  Mission accomplished!  If all else fails, you always have this to fall back on.

Now that you know a few really, excruciatingly easy ways to spread some joy, get off your buns and go do it!   None of this takes money, a college degree, an abundance of creativity, or even very little energy.  All it takes is the genuine desire to share some love and make the world a better place, one smile at a time.  Go get ’em.

If you’d like to inquire about one-on-one coaching with me, please fill out the form below to reach out.  I will do my best to get back to you within the next 24-hours.

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The Art of Loving Yourself

Jillian Arena

Who are You Comparing Yourself To?

When you stop and think about it, we spend an awful lot of time judging ourselves.  We compare ourselves to our friends, family members, classmates, or acquaintances.  We look around and wish that we had better hair, a thinner waist, bigger breasts, or a prettier smile.  Where does this get us?  What have we accomplished at the end of the day when we look into the mirror?  Have we managed to successfully change the texture of our hair, lose 40 pounds around the middle, enhance the size of our chest, or alter our most beautiful attribute, our smile?  Unless we happened to be doing all of this judging on a day when we had some big procedure scheduled, the short answer here is no.  It is a complete and utter waste of time and brain power.  In fact, all we are really doing when we judge ourselves is feeding into the false belief that we are not enough.  The most ironic part about it is that the people we are comparing ourselves to are likely doing the same thing to themselves.  It’s a ruthless and neverending cycle that gets us nowhere.  So, who are you comparing yourself to?

Why Does it Matter?

Get up right now and go look in the mirror.  No really, go…like NOW!  Investigate the face the body and the personality staring back at you and notice what comes up.  Where do your thoughts go?  Do you hone in on the pimple that decided to grace you with its presence this morning, the three gray hairs that miraculously appeared out of nowhere, or the bags under your eyes?  Maybe your mental chatter starts to tell you that you look okay and then that distinct voice of your inner critic comes in to remind you that you snort when you laugh or you talk too loudly.  Listen very closely to the internal dialogue that’s taking place.  What are you telling yourself about yourself?  If you find yourself singing your praises, I congratulate you!  Well done.  If, on the other hand, you find yourself spiraling into a vortex of slinging insults at your poor, unsuspecting mirror-image, take a deep breath and think about something.  Imagine for a moment that it’s your mother, or your sister, or your very best friend standing in front of you.  Would you say those things to her?  Would you call her out on her blemish or remind her that she is a beautiful person?  Would you whip out a box of hair dye or not even notice?  Would you ask her to laugh so you could make fun of her snort or go on snorting right alongside her?  Chances are good that you would probably just love her, support her, and completely overlook those things that she might fault herself for.  Why can we do it for others, but not for ourselves?  We need to be championing ourselves as much as we do for others and when we can’t do that we are hurting the very fabric of our being.  The fact is that we are all uniquely beautiful and special and talented and fierce in the perfect combination.  When we can’t learn to see that, we are perpetuating the idea that nobody is ever good enough, so we aren’t even just hurting ourselves anymore, but all that we interact with.  When we can embrace ourselves, good, bad, and ugly, however, we create space to allow others to do the same!

What Happens When You Learn to Accept?

If you know me today, you probably don’t think of me as a person who is shy or holds back much.  The truth, however, is that I went through a very long time where I couldn’t stand myself.  I was constantly scrutinizing, comparing, and wishing that things were different.  After I had my children and my body changed, I got even worse!  What had they done to me????  Why was there no warning???  Where had my body disappeared to?  Slowly and gradually I learned to shift my perspective.  Instead of seeing my lack of a six-pack, I looked to my children and found gratitude that I had been lucky enough to carry them.  Instead of seeing my gray hair as an impending sign of doom, I chose to focus on the joy of the moment and use them as a reminder that each second counts.  Where I once saw lines around my eyes, I began to see a lifetime full of laughter.  The creases around my mouth became a memory of so many smiles and frowns…a remembrance of the full breadth of my ability to feel.  The worry lines at my brow have now become a reminder of my strength and resilience as I’ve learned to navigate situations that I didn’t know if I would ever get through.  The freckles and uneven skin tone, a beautiful expression of all of the days I have been lucky enough to dance under the sun.   In short, I have learned to love myself, and the freedom that has come with it is the biggest gift!  You can do it for yourself as well!

It Starts Small…

As with anything in life, start small!  Starting today, focus on one thing that you really, really, really like about yourself.  It might be your crooked smile, the color of your eyes, your flawless complexion, or even your contagious laughter!  If you have no idea where to start, ask a friend what your best attribute is.  Start with that and love it so fiercely that nothing could stop you.  Everytime you pass by a mirror stop and adoringly describe to your reflection how much you love that one thing about it or pause after every giggle and thank yourself for the beautiful sound of it.  Do this for a week and notice what happens.  You’ll likely find that during this process other parts of you begin to look a bit more appealing as well.  Start to give those a shout-out too!  Keep this process going, adding on one new physical attribute or personality trait each week and before you know it, you’ll be staring back at a much more confident, whole, happy individual.  You are different, and that’s the best thing about you.  Embrace those things that set you apart instead of wishing they were something else and you are FREE from the judgment of the world around you.  Sounds pretty good, right?  Awesome, so stop reading this, get off your bum and go find a mirror!  Your newfound confidence awaits!  Once you’ve got it fully intact, CLICK HERE to use it to build the life of your dreams!

Jillian Arena is a Certified Transitional Life Coach, RYT-200, and Reiki Practitioner.  She uses her training in each to help her clients around the globe achieve maximum clarity, happiness, and possibility out of life!  For more on working with Jillian, visit her website HERE.

Own Your Overwhelm Like a BOSS and Create the Life You Dream Of!

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What’s the one thing that’s really holding you back from living the life of your dreams? Is it your lack of college education? Is it your time constraints? Dwindling finances? Maybe it’s the fact that you don’t have a support system to back you up as you pursue them. Perhaps, it’s as simple as lacking self-confidence. Maybe, you’re not even sure what’s stopping you? Well, I am…and I’m happy to tell you it’s completely changeable!

In fact, it’s nothing more than a bit of overwhelm!

When we become overwhelmed, our bodies and minds get thrown into a tizzy! Suddenly, our big dreams begin to morph into a paralyzing series of tasks that feel way too big to tackle. Our minds flood with questions and insecurities. We find ourselves wondering which direction is the right direction, what the proper first step is, and why the hell we ever thought we could do this in the first place! Eventually, we convince ourselves fully that these dreams must belong to somebody else and we give up. We go back to living our quiet, “normal”, reasonably fulfilling reality and pretend that it’s enough. Sounds pretty awful when you look at it that way, right? Well, guess what?

You CAN make your dreams come true!

Are you really going to let a few fearful thoughts dictate what you can and cannot do with this one incredible life you get to live right now at this very moment? Damn right you’re not! At least not if I have anything to say about it! Why are we okay with being small and living mediocre lives? Why don’t we understand that our gifts, desires, and talents have been given to us so that we could share them with the world? Why don’t we believe that others might appreciate us and our dreams? Why don’t we believe in ourselves as much as we believe in EVERYBODY ELSE? If they can create the lives they are dreaming of, YOU CAN TOO! So, why haven’t you done it yet? Why is your overwhelm stopping you and standing in your way?

Because you don’t have a concrete plan!

You are most likely overwhelmed because all you can see is the big picture, but there’s SO much more than that. All of the successful people (however you define that word) you see around you…do you think their success just landed in their lap? No…it took a lot of little steps to build the momentum to get them where they are today. They knew the secret of creating a plan. They knew that looking at the whole mountain was counterproductive. They knew that they had to take things ONE step at a time.

“But, I don’t know what steps to take! If I knew them, I’d be taking them!”

I get it…I’ve been there too. In fact, I find myself there all the time, but I don’t let that deter me. You’ve heard it said, where there’s a will there’s a way, and sometimes finding the way just means getting creative! Do your research, learn a new skill that will get you closer to your dreams, surround yourself with people already living out the life you want for yourself! Eat it, sleep it, dream it, and do it! That’s the BIG thing that often gets overlooked. It’s not always the most popular viewpoint, but success takes work.

Success cannot happen without action!

What does success mean to you? Is it an abundant career, a satisfying relationship, a feeling of accomplishment as a parent, or finding the self-confidence to have it all? Whatever it means to you, I’m here to assure you that it is not as far out of your reach as you may believe it to be. You just have to create a plan! Take your overarching goal and break it down into action steps. Take those and break them down even further, and further still. Then, commit to taking ONE action step towards your goal each and every day. Before you know it, SHABAM…goal crushed!

Don’t doubt yourself!

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Every single person you encounter has had at least a few great moments of doubt, but what’s worse than doubt? I would say regret. There are so many people out there that should have written a book or won American Idol or fallen in love or turned their hair-brained idea into a multi-million dollar company, but they don’t do it because of their doubt. Then, somebody else comes along and does it and they are left to wallow in their regret. This is your one shot at this life! MAKE IT COUNT!

If you need some help creating a plan to move towards your best life, I would love to help you do it! Visit my website BY CLICKING HERE to learn more about life coaching and how it can help you create your best life yet!

The Importance of Boundaries

boundaries-2I have spent the majority of my life feeling like it was my job to help everybody and fix their problems, even if at my own expense.  This characteristic has not only gained me many interesting, if not sarcastic, nicknames over the years, but also several wounded wild birds, a beakless parakeet named Shaq, a one-eyed cat, a hedgehog, a cross-eyed kitten, an abandoned iguana and the somewhat adorable need to peel acorns for the squirrels as a small child.

As I grew up, these tendencies followed me into most of my friendships and relationships.  I refused to see peoples negativity, and instead always chose to focus on the good things hidden deep underneath of the surface.  I felt, in many ways, that it was a gift that I had been given, and wore my compassion proudly, like a badge of honor.  Although there is certainly nothing wrong with compassion, what I failed to realize in my youth, is that without my own boundaries in place, I was much more likely to end up hurt and confused without a clear understanding why.

Brene Brown said that “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”  Over the past few years, I have done a lot of deep digging, not only to extricate the source of this need to save everybody but also to start to find healthier ways that I could use this gift of compassion to benefit others without beating myself up in the process.  As I have looked back through the scenarios mentioned in the first paragraphs, I began to notice that in many of these instances, my compassion backfired.  The birds would inevitably fly out of their shoebox nests in the middle of the night and scare the crap out of me, causing a whole-house effort to catch them and re-release them into the wild.  The parakeet constantly bit at me with it’s half-beak as I tried to convince it to climb on my hand, the one-eyed cat hated me, the hedgehog was terrified of me, the iguana tore my screened-in patio without remorse (and with no intention of paying for it when my lease ended) and the squirrels were probably bored as all Hell all throughout the winter due to my odd compulsion.  I began to realize that:

  • The need to save everybody/thing (without them asking) began from a place of selfishness.  By saving others, I was able to make myself feel better.
  • 99% of the time, I was putting in my two cents where it wasn’t necessarily solicited.
  • By being irrevocably there for others, no matter how many times or in what ways they hurt me, I was actually hurting us both by supporting their negative behavior and therefore, discouraging their growth.
  • That there are other, more positive ways to be present for people (and animals) through their times of struggles.
  • By giving my energy away to those who would rather do without it, I wasn’t saving any of that love and compassion for those around me who really did want it.

I set off to find balance, and I am just now at a place where I feel like it’s starting to settle in.  Of course, I want to remain open and compassionate to others who need it, but I have also begun to put boundaries into place that are unshakeable.  I’m realizing that to be supportive does not mean dealing with other people’s abuse or negativity.   It means living from a place of good intention and teaching others to shine out the brightness that they have within them…IF they want to be taught.

I have made a few very hard decisions in the past months, some of which, unfortunately, have caused me to close the door on relationships that have proven to be toxic to me in this moment, with the promise that if/when they choose to get healthy in their own boundaries, I will gladly reconvene.  I feel freer, lighter and more alive, not being weighed down by the energy of trying to save somebody who doesn’t want to save him/herself.  I think there is a misguided, yet well-intentioned belief in Spirituality (of all faiths) that in order to be “good” you must be a doormat, but that is not true.  You do good by teaching the weak to be strong, by teaching the sad to find their happiness, by teaching the poor to focus on all the things they have to feel rich about and yes, by searching for the good in everybody, even when they can’t see it for themselves.  The best way you can do that is to be a living example of strength, happiness, richness, and kindness and by putting up boundaries that teach other people how to treat you, with the unspoken understanding that they can teach others how to treat them as well.  It doesn’t mean that we have to turn our backs on people the first time they hurt us, but it does mean having open and honest conversations about how we are feeling when we have been hurt to avoid the same thing happening throughout the course of our relationships.

Just like everything else, our boundaries or lack thereof are a byproduct of the beliefs we have picked up along the way and what we have come to “know” about ourselves and our roles.  This doesn’t mean you are destined to be the doormat forever.  It means that right now, in this very moment, you are being given an opportunity to create healthier and happier boundaries within your existing relationships.  Start teaching others how to treat you now, and you may be surprised to find that you begin to attract much more positivity, love, joy, and honesty into your life.  Cheers to that!

To learn more about life coaching visit my website or call me at 561-951-7045 for a free consultation.

Release Your Fear, Free Your Mind: A Jedi Mind Trick to Turn Your Thoughts Around

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Let’s get real for a moment…there is a LOT of really scary shit going on in the world right now.  No matter how much you try to avoid the news, or social media, or your doomsday neighbor, you can’t really tune out of what’s happening around us.  Whether it be the myriad natural disasters occurring across the world, this crazy dude that wants to blow up the Universe, the largest security breach in American history, or whatever else is eking its way into your personal reality, let’s face it…it’s tough not to be afraid.  I had a client ask me yesterday how it was possible to be so joyful in the midst of all of this chaos.  Well, I don’t know if I have the answer for that, but I can certainly share my own process of staying sane.

Yoda (who in my book is the MAN and should run for president) said that “Fear is the path of the dark side.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.”  Smart fella if you ask me.  When we allow these fearful occurrences to dictate the contents of our mind, we start a downward spiraling process that is difficult to turn around.  One fearful thought leads to another which leads to another.  This energy shows up in the way we interact with the world, sparking more of the same in those that we encounter.  YOU are the only person who can stop that fear in its tracks, and I’m hoping this little trick will help you do just that.

Our response to fear is natural, but that doesn’t mean that we have to give it control.  When I notice myself getting sucked into the drama playing out on my TV or the fear being perpetuated on my Facebook feed, I take a moment first just to acknowledge it.  “Shit, Jillian…you are freaking out right now! Time to shut this crap down!”  I try to be compassionate with myself about it, rather than judgmental.  After all…it IS scary when so many unknowns are catapulting towards you.  I turn off whatever media is on or gently extract myself from the conversation at hand. I sit quietly and take a few deep breaths.  I repeat out loud to myself, “The only thing I have is this moment, and in this moment I am here, I am safe and I am happy.”  I try to remember that my fear will only draw more fear to me, and so being afraid is counterproductive.  The best way to combat fear is joy and love, and so I begin to remind myself of all of the things in my life at this very moment that I have to be joyful about…positive relationships, my goofy children, a job that I love, my breath, my yoga practice, my favorite tree in my back yard, my dogs, my spiritual connection with my higher power, etc.  I come back to my breath and typically, I notice an immediate difference.  My breathing is softer, calmer and more even.  I feel more centered and safe.  I am reminded of the multiple reasons I have to choose to be happy rather than bind myself in fear.

So why does this work?  I believe it’s because we are creating space between the trigger and the response.  Rather than allowing that first negative or fearful thought to spiral out of control, we are giving it the acknowledgement that it needs and setting a new course towards a more positive orientation.  The first few times you try it, it might feel fruitless, but, as with all things, practice makes perfect.  Try, try and try again, and hopefully sometime very soon, you will find yourself moving into calmer waters quicker than you thought possible.

We are all in charge of the energy we give to fear, because that energy starts a ripple throughout the entire Universe that must reverberate back to us.  Even taking baby steps to try to release your fear makes a huge impact on the collective whole of humankind.  You are a powerful being…use that power for love, kindness and good.  May the force be with you.  (Yes, said that, I did.  Mmm.)

To learn more about life coaching and how to start the process of turning your negative thoughts around, visit my website at http://www.jillianarenacyi.com

Open to Grace

17In Yoga Teacher Training, we are taught that opening up to grace is an integral part of our practice.  It’s that moment in a yoga class where your teacher is instructing you to settle into the space around you, let go of thoughts, worries and to-do lists that might be sabotaging your relaxation, and let yourself become present and aware so that you can receive your yoga practice.  In a dimly lit studio, sprawled out on your mat, with no disturbances other than the gentle sound of you and your neighbors breathing, soft music playing in the background of your thoughts, this can be a relatively easy and safe space to do just that…to completely let go.  After all, that’s why you are there in the first place, right?  What happens, though, when you’re not on your mat?  Opening to grace feels a lot more difficult to do when you are in the throes of your day to day activities, children arguing in the background, a pile of bills arriving in the mail, stacks of paperwork to get through at the office, a lawn to mow, and the mountain of laundry spilling out of your clothes hamper staring at you every time you enter your room.  However, these are the times when opening to grace is absolutely the most important.

Grace is defined by dictionary.com as “simple elegance or refinement of movement”, but to me, it is so much more than that.  It is a willingness to surrender to the truth that we are each going through exactly the things that will help us to become the best versions of ourselves, even (especially) in the moments where it feels completely the opposite.  It is the ability to find strength in our struggles and to participate fully and completely in all aspects of our lives, good, bad, scary, exciting, or otherwise.  It is the knowledge that our perception of what is happening in our lives is so much more important than the situations themselves, because the situations are impermanent.  It is the power to stand strong through the storms, holding firm to the knowledge that calmer waters are ahead of us and that there is an important lesson for our soul within each and every moment.  How amazing would it feel to bring the same peace, calm and quiet that you find on your mat, or out in nature, or in your bath (or whatever it is that you do to connect to this space) into the daily situations that are a natural part of life?  Well, you can, which is pretty good news.

Take a minute to inventory what’s going on in your life that’s stressing you out or causing worry or fear.  Write it all down.  Read it back to yourself without any judgement.  Instead, maybe you can find a little curiosity.  What is your soul trying to help you to learn by these difficult situations?  For most of us, our difficulties often become repeating patterns, causing us to feel like something is wrong with us or that we are just destined to always have this particular issue in our lives, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.  These moments that challenge us are opportunities for us to get know ourselves better.  For example, if you are somebody who is constantly struggling financially and worried about how to pay the bills, this might be your soul telling you that your job is not in alignment with what you really want.  It may also be an indication that you have some limiting beliefs around money that need to be acknowledged and explored so that prosperous energy feels welcome to flow into your life.  If you find yourself struggling with relationship after relationship, perhaps it is your soul trying to urge you to look in a different place, or to learn to love yourself first so that you can openly receive true love back.  Maybe it is an indication that you subconsciously don’t feel worthy of love and so you are inadvertently pushing it away.

Remember, we attract the energy that we put out…like attracts like.  Therefore, it’s not what we WISH we believed or what we WANT to believe, but the actual beliefs stored deep, down within us, that are shaping our realities.  It can be scary to dig down and unearth them, but consider for a moment, a diamond.  My dear friend and colleague, Amy Lombardo, put this in such great perspective for me.  Diamonds are formed way down in the Earth’s mantle (about 100 miles deep), and start as chunks of coal.  It takes a tremendous amount of heat and pressure to create this sparkly gem, but once the work has occurred, the diamond is pushed to the surface naturally for all to enjoy.  Your thoughts are like these diamonds.  YOU have that same sparkly gem deep within in you, just waiting to be exposed to the heat so that it can emerge and shine brightly out to the world.  When you can accept that knowledge and open to grace, knowing that you have a deep well of untapped potential within you and the power to change your reality, the world opens back to you.  Your sparkly gems are naturally pushed to the surface and the Universe responds by shining back.

Where in this very moment can you open yourself to grace?  Where can you replace fear with curiosity, and hopefully learn something about yourself through the process?  Start right now.  The more that you practice this the easier it becomes.  Opening to grace is not something that needs to be confined to your yoga mat.  It is accessible in each and every moment to help you come back to center, find your calm and elevate yourself towards all of the possibility just waiting to be discovered within you!

If you need some help unearthing your spark, please visit my website HERE to learn more about transitional life coaching and my 12-week program, Ascend to New Heights.