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What if “stress” or feeling overwhelmed wasn’t a problem at all? What if overwhelm was merely an intrinsic message—your inner wisdom suggesting a change?Calming Overwhelm

Though feeling overwhelmed often feels like quicksand (the more we try to escape, the more we sink in) it may be more akin to the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard. It’s purely a signal to make a change, and the change may be simpler than you believe.

We can approach overwhelm two ways: as something that “happens to you” that can be “fixed” or as a feeling. In the latter, your state of mind intrinsically facilitates a shift towards (or away from) a state of wellbeing. To fully explore both of these views, this article is divided into two parts. This week we explore taking action, and next week, we dive into the effects of your state of mind. It will be interesting to see how you relate with each view!

In the “check engine”-light metaphor, imagine a very busy day: your plate is full; you’ve got several errands to run; you’re wondering if it’s possible to get it all done. As you jump in your car and speed to your next stop, your dash goes off like a fireworks show: buzzers ringing, lights flashing. This isn’t just a “change the oil” suggestion. This is something serious. What do you do? What might happen if you ignored the alarms and kept the pedal to the metal? Chances are you could blow the engine and put your car permanently out of commission.

So what are you going to do? Most people, despite their hurry, would realize the risk of continuing on. They would realize those lights and buzzers signal problems, and would pull over to investigate or call for help before larger problems arise.

Compare this to the feeling of overwhelm: if you are the car, stress and overwhelm are the lights and buzzers on the dashboard. They are communicating the need to make a change immediately, or you could blow your engine. No matter your workload or schedule, something must change or you’ll be going nowhere soon.

Amid the frustration of overwhelm, it can seem difficult to pull over and check under the hood. Stop and consider what could happen in your life if you don’t.

Calming Overwhelm

For those wanting to calm overwhelm, the questions I would ask are: What is important to you? What do you want to create in the world? How might you organize your day around the triad of what you find important, what makes you happy, and what is effective?

As counterintuitive as it may seem, in the midst of feeling overwhelmed you must stop, re-evaluate, and make a change. Instead of trying to “manage time,” identify your priorities.

First, be upfront with yourself: there is no magic spreadsheet that will instantly change your life. One person’s way of prioritizing may not fit everyone, but ideas on getting started and getting organized can help you find your ideal approach. Here’s a simple method that’s a great way to begin your journey:Calming Overwhelm

Clear your mind!

One of the easiest and most productive ways to “reset” is to make a list of EVERYTHING on your plate. List absolutely everything you have to do personally, professionally, with your family, in your career, your volunteer activities, etc. Get it all out of your head and onto paper.

Imagine walking around with a massive swarm of flies buzzing around your head, flies so thick they form a black cloud. They are buzzing in your ears, your hair, and your eyes. You swat at them, but it makes no difference. This is often what overwhelm feels like. By writing (or typing) everything on a list, you get those flying, buzzing thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Consider keeping this a “living” list: continue adding to it whenever you think of things you need or want to do. Often this one act alone can calm the feeling of overwhelm. Don’t be surprised if your initial list is well over a hundred items. Once you have your list, consider grouping the tasks in categories as well.

Prioritize

What do you deeply care about? What do you want to create in the world? When you hone in on that, life gets a lot easier. With these ideas in mind, choose one thing on your list that, if completed, would make things easier, or -better yet- make other things on the list melt away. Then go do that one thing. Complete the task. Re-evaluate and choose the next thing. If choosing one thing is too daunting, try selecting two or three things at most.

The Master List

Many find it best to put the master list aside. Complete those 1, 2 or 3 important tasks and re-evaluate. Day by day progress will be made. Constantly seeing the master list may not be helpful. Consider glancing at it once a week, max. I make a monthly, weekly, and daily list of what I want to create and it has worked well for me. Start simple and notice what works for you.

A few more things to consider in reference to your master list:

  • What can you delegate?
  • Which of your tasks are out of line with what you want to create in the world?
  • What can you stop doing?
  • Can you hire people to take care of some tasks?
  • Are you allowing for self-care (sleep, exercise, quiet time to recharge, etc)?
  • Consider time-blocking.
  • Consider setting time limits. Ex: I’ll do this for 30 minutes.

The key idea to remember is: Overwhelm is not a state of being, it is a feeling. It is a signal to make a change: List, Prioritize and Re-commit.

 

…until the next revolution

 

Check out Part 2! Here we explore the effect your state of mind has on the feeling of overwhelm and your wellbeing.

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Create Luck!

Why is it that some people seem to be so lucky? Do you believe in luck… is it real?

In the spirit of St. Patrick ’s Day and the luck of the Irish I have been mulling around the idea of “luck.” Some people seem to be so lucky—they have the best experiences and are in the midst of astounding situations entirely too often. Whether or not you believe in luck, blessings, good fortune, coincidences or any other way to describe life’s fluke marvels it certainly is nice to be the recipient from time to time. What if there was a way to up your chances of being the beneficiary of luck? Well, (said in a whisper voice) it’s 100% possible…. It’s your choice to significantly up your odds at being the lucky one.

The Lucky One

While chewing over how to write this article I was lucky enough to have an astounding conversation with a friend who had a stroke a few weeks ago. Let’s call her “Lucie,” for the sake of this article and her privacy. Lucie had a severe stroke, so severe that the survival rate was 20%. Most patients who survive this type of stroke are aware of everything, but are completely paralyzed and have no way of communicating. This was what Lucie was facing. Here’s another kicker- Lucie is in her 30s, has three young children, is very active, and was in perfect health when an incident occurred that very nearly took her life.

At first glance, this appears to be a very unfortunate situation for all involved, right? In my first conversation with her since the stroke, Lucie happily declared that she was “Lucky to have the stroke.” Instantly my ears perked up and my little voice inside said: “WOW!! Buckle up kids and enjoy the ride! This conversation is going to be one for the books!”

Lucie happily shared that prior to the stroke she was stressed, felt pulled in too many directions, overworked, etc. Since the stroke, all that has changed. She is relaxed, has free time, and is enjoying her recovery while connecting with friends and family. Moreover she realized how many people are willing to step up, help out, and genuinely care. My guess is she is also grasping what a difference she makes in the lives of others. She is loving her post-stroke existence.

Two Views on Luck

There are a few ways to look at Lucie’s thought about being lucky to have a stroke. Here are two:

  1. Lucie thinks she is lucky to have the stroke, therefore she is lucky.
  2. After the stroke Lucie changed how she is being in her world, which changed her world.

Option A:

Lucie thinks she is lucky to have the stroke, therefore she is lucky. She could have been absolutely devastated while thinking thoughts like “Why did this happen to me? I don’t deserve this. My poor kids. Life sucks!” The great news is she is choosing to focus her attention on the opportunities she has. Her thoughts are encouraging her to be happy, healthy, relaxed and enjoying her relationships. She is in a wonderful space of gratefulness. This is why she feels lucky. Her life and the lives of everyone around her are fundamentally better because of her state of mind. She truly is “lucky” and that is awe-inspiring.

Option B:

After the stroke Lucie changed how she is being in her world. Faced with the alternative of death or permanent disability, Lucie’s health and wellbeing suddenly became her top priority. She realized she had to take care of herself first. If she didn’t take care of herself, there would be absolutely nothing to give. So she made the change. Lucie feels she is lucky because she thinks the stroke forced her to slow down and encouraged those around her to give her space and care for her. Suddenly her life became more relaxed which is giving her space to heal. Although, was Lucie’s change really due to the stroke?

What was the cause of the lifestyle change? The way I see it, the stroke was a defining moment and surely inspired the change, but the stroke was not the cause of the change. Lucie’s thoughts caused the change. She could have had the stroke, come home from the hospital and continued to stress and not make her health a priority. Some people may have done that, but not Lucie. Her thoughts and priorities shifted and so did the thoughts and priorities of her loved ones and those in her circle. Lucie (and everyone who knows her) wants to heal, so Lucie’s healing took precedence.

Here’s something to ponder: Could all of those changes have taken place in the absence of a defining event like a stroke?

Could Lucie and her loved ones have created that shift in thinking and made Lucie’s health and wellbeing a priority anytime? It might seem improbable, but it is possible. The same is possible for you, your loved ones, and everyone else. What are your priorities? How might we all discover a bit of wisdom in this experience? Lucie was lucky to have the stroke because she was able to change who she was being and realize her priorities. You can too… and you don’t have to wait for a massive life event to decide to change the way you are thinking and feeling.

Upping Your Odds

As luck would have it, there have been studies done on the science of luck. The findings overwhelmingly show that people who think they are lucky, are “luckier.” This scientific study on superstition showed that people who had a lucky charm, crossed their fingers or did other things they considered “lucky” performed better! Why? Because “activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance.” The study is not saying a lucky rabbit’s foot is going to help you win. Instead this study (and many others like it) uses science to show that if you think the rabbit’s foot is helping you, it probably will. It’s your thoughts that matter… not the foot.

Professor and experimental psychologist, Richard Wiseman, has dedicated his studies and written books and articles on the psychology of luck. He has identified “four basic principles that lucky people use to create good fortune in their lives.” Here are his four principles:

#1 Maximize Chance Opportunities (create, notice, and act on good stuff)

#2 Listen to Lucky Hunches (go with your intuition and gut feelings)

#3 Expect Good Fortune (…a self-fulfilling prophecy)

#4 Turn Bad Luck to Good (there’s always a silver lining)

Notice how Richard’s four principles of luck relate: Each principle has to do with your thoughts. Also notice it is not about “positive thinking,” it’s about noticing, believing, and looking forward to great outcomes. Ultimately, we all have the innate ability to think ourselves into good fortune. When we shift our thoughts, our world shifts. In Lucie’s heart of hearts she sees the silver lining, expects things to turn out wonderfully, is going with her gut, and is noticing the opportunities all around. Even more, she is thoroughly grateful to have the chance to live an amazing life. She thinks she is lucky, therefore she is!

We Are All Lucky

We are all lucky to know “Lucie’s” story and being able to witness her strength, humility and resiliency.

Immensely upping your chances at being the lucky one and having a similar impact is well within your reach: Create opportunities; notice and act on the good stuff; go with your intuition; expect great things to happen to you; and always notice the silver lining. Do this and everyone wins.

It is 100% possible to shift your odds. It all starts with your thoughts.

Be the lucky one!

 

…until the next revolution.

 

 

Join in! Live Interactive Session on Creating Luck

Join in Monday April 12, 2017 to dive deeper into greatly increasing your odds at being lucky and creating more success in life, business, and retirement. This is an interactive session and life changing discussion facilitated by Kristy Halvorsen at The Microsoft Store- University Town Center in Sarasota, FL from 8:30-10:00am. For more details and to register for “Feeling Lucky” click here.

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