What the heck is eustress?

Personal note

I recently joined a TED talk group, and then missed the first meeting due to a frustrating maze of road repairs that made it seemingly impossible to get there.

People e-mailed me a link to a YouTube video of one of the talks, in which the speaker recounted, with the enthusiasm of someone who is reporting late-breaking news, that stress can be good for you.

Having written a book in the 1980’s called The Psychology of Stress: From Distress to Eustress, I somehow wasn’t surprised. Nor should anyone else be who has background in the field.

Performers (of which I was one, previously, as a ballet dancer) recognize that the little thrill of excitement and even panic before a performance can be exactly what is needed to energize the performance.

The only thing new is that we now know exactly how good that kind of stress is for you, and why. Read on to discover the conditions under which eustress can improve your health.

What the heck is eustress?

Hans Selye, known as the “Father of Stress,” coined the term “eustress” in 1926. It means, literally, “good stress.” Is there such a thing?  You bet there is.

When we’re underwhelmed by life, we seek excitement in anything from scary movies to amusement park rides; we crave new ventures and exhilarating relationships. A totally stress-free life would be not only boring, but also unhealthy, and we now have scientific proof.

Distress, the bad stuff, where we feel overwhelmed, anxious, and/or distressed, is not only emotionally painful but also results in damage to everything from constricted arteries and accelerating coronary artery disease, to the diminished functioning of the immune system.

Eustress occurs when, instead of feeling overwhelmed and out of control, we feel challenged, in control and committed to the outcome. Kobasa and Maddi described this combination in 1979 when they studied what they called the “Hardiness Factor,” a state of resilience based on the 3 C’s: Challenge, Commitment, and Control.

Performers and athletes, for example, study and practice their skills over and over. Even though panic may overwhelm them just before they strut their stuff, the well-practiced behaviors take over. External circumstances may be out of control – scenery does fall down during performances, sound systems malfunction, ice is choppy from a previous performer’s ice skates – but the internal control the performer, in any area of life, has developed can be relied on.

You don’t reach this peak of dedication without a deep sense of purpose to which you are committed.

And a threat becomes a challenge when you know you have tremendous skill and decide to dream a little bigger and try a little more to show what you can really do.

We are challenged when we reach for a goal that is a stretch for us, but not impossible. We have achieved some control when we have studied and practiced the steps necessary to reach that goal, and we are committed when it is a goal that is in alignment with our deepest purpose. The stress becomes an energizer of performance, giving it both increased physical power and enhanced emotional impact.

The result is not only one of personal growth, the pride in accomplishment; we also now know that, instead of constricting arteries and shutting down the immune system, eustress dilates the arteries, through which blood flows freely. Levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good kind of cholesterol, actually rise under eustress.

You may experience eustress when you prepare for, and complete, a networking experience, a public speaking opportunity, a promotion, a new business . . . the opportunities are endless.

So, to make the shift from distress to eustress, think, plan, practice, and enjoy. Reach for the skies, knowing it can only be good for you.

The Confident Introvert

Another myth I have encountered recently is that introverts are fine with no outside contact whatsoever. No, we enjoy contacts and stimulation that we get outside of our own nests; we just need to control how much we get all at one time.

A great party with lots of people may be very enjoyable for a confident introvert – for a limited time. We’re the ones who leave early when we’ve had enough stimulation, just as some people quit eating when they’ve had enough.

It’s not a reflection on the host. It’s a reflection of the fact that we recognize and pay attention to our inner needs, always a healthy way to live.

Find out more about The Confident Introvert:

Whose Deadline Is It, Anyway?

Personal note

I wrote today’s article in 2011, and I’m recycling it because I am being crowded by deadlines again, as I’m pretty sure you are too as the Fall season kicks off, and I firmly believe that “Stress Makes Us Stupid.” We need constant reminders of that, and about what we can do to relieve the pressure.

On the edge of starting to breathe in an anxious way, I realized this was a good time to remind myself that 90% of what we stress about is not “out there.” It’s all in our heads.

Along the way, I found out where the term “deadline” originated. It seems that in a prisoner of war camp during the Civil War there was a line about 6 feet from the edge of the camp. Any prisoner who crossed that line was shot dead. Do you know how few experiences there are in life where crossing a certain line – physically or metaphorically – results in your death?

Lynette Recommends:
My amazing friend Barb Greenberg continues her work empowering divorcing women as she launches her new project:
Rediscovering U offers a community of support and education, direction and hope, for women approaching, experiencing or moving forward from divorce.

Upcoming Program:
Finances and Your Future, Tuesday September 24th
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Whose Deadline Is It, Anyway?

There are real deadlines it’s important to meet: dialing 911 within seconds after witnessing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke comes to mind immediately as an example that meets the true definition of “deadline.”

Responding to the urgent request of a loved one, especially a child, or of a valued client or customer is another.

But then there are deadlines we obey because we are … obedient. They are only urgent to the extent that we are dependent on a self-image of a “good person” who is consistent, reliable, faithful, and always on time. Sort of like a dog, except for the last bit about being on time.

Taking seriously the request of someone who pays your salary is probably not something to debate. But there are deadlines that we obey because someone else requires it – they are someone else’s urgency. I have a friend who constantly rushes his girlfriend when they go shopping, fearful that all the checkout lines will be much longer if they delay an instant. How seriously you take someone else’s deadline depends on the seriousness of the consequences, but many people simply respond immediately to another person’s sense of urgency without asking, “Why is this important to me?”

The deadlines I was missing were all the result of a personal preference: wanting to get something finished in order to feel good about it. You may have a mental picture of a calm, peaceful time that awaits you just on the other side of that deadline. Of course, in the meantime you are stressing yourself badly in order to get to that calm, peaceful place. Why not just jump to that calm, peaceful place? You could just seize the day and remain calm and peaceful as long as those barriers, which you have not erected and which are not under your control, are in place.

Then there are deadlines that will cost us something if we miss them – lost time, a little discomfort, some money. How serious this is depends on your resources.

I almost missed a connecting flight to London last year, and stopped myself in time from stressing my body for the entire first leg of the flight. Yes, it was my fault that I hadn’t allowed enough time in between flights, so the airline would have charged me if I had had to take a later flight, and I would have had to sit in an airport, perhaps for hours. Yes, I would have spent a little less freely on my vacation because of this additional expense.

But it’s a lot better than being dead, which is what can happen to you if you repeatedly believe that life is a series of deadlines that you must meet or else.

This low-level panic takes a heavy toll on you psychologically and physically, lowering your immune system responsiveness and ultimately shortening your life.

I sat back, relaxed, and found that the winter scenery going East was very different from my usual trip to the West Coast, and quite beautiful. Focusing on it, instead of my worry, made for a very pleasurable flight.

When pressured, I’ve learned to ask the following questions: “Whose deadline is it, anyway?” “Why is it a deadline?” and “What will it cost me if I miss it?” If you can afford the cost, relax. It’s probably a lot less than the cost of the mistakes you might make, relationships you might disrupt, and health issues that will arise because of continually putting yourself under stress.

By the way, I easily made it to my flight to London, strolling leisurely from the gate at which I came in to the new gate, with time to spare, reminding me once again that 90% of our stress lies in our thinking, not in reality.

Worrying wouldn’t have gotten the plane there one second sooner.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at

Are your Bragging Rights killing you?

Personal note

A lovely relaxed long week-end with a dear friend prompted me to think about how I am dealing with my own life, as well as about my clients who are abusing their bodies in the name of busy-ness.

We had an urban staycation, with ample time to chat about our lives and the choices we are making. It was a time of great clarification; no vacation to Hawaii or another paradise could have brought as much peace and serenity to me.

Here we are, relaxing on my front porch.

Are your Bragging Rights killing you?

“I never eat lunch,” “I work 12 hours a day,” “I only get about 4 hours of sleep a night – oh, I don’t need any more; I feel just fine.” “Weekend? What’s a weekend?”

I hear these statements all the time from people whose body language and facial expressions show that they are pleased, even smug about their habits. They protest, with overly bright eyes, that they are just fine.

They have drunk the kool-aid; the flavor that tells them that bad things such as heart attacks and strokes only happen to other people – old people.

They don’t know that skipping meals leads to stress, which leads to craving all those things that are bad for you – sugar, fats, and salts. They really don’t grasp that these things are bad for you. And although they may have heard that sleep is necessary for repair of muscles, including the heart muscle, healthy functioning of the immune system, and weight & appetite control, they don’t really feel threatened by their behavior.

They may attribute their anxious or depressed moods to what’s going on in life rather than what’s going on in their bodies. When their memory suffers and they make mistakes, they believe it’s a temporary problem due to overload – which of course will be gone any day now. Only somehow it’s not.

Perhaps they don’t know that cardiac disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with the death rate rising for women ages 35 to 50. I recently heard a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute remark that sleep deprivation is a greater precursor of cardiac disease than high blood pressure and diabetes – together.

In the meantime, while waiting for a surprising attack that will finally get your attention, you can be forgetful, irritable, frequently ill, and overweight. Sound like a good life to you?

What exactly is the prize that many of these health scofflaws are pursuing so vigorously? 

When you start bragging about this kind of hardiness, it’s a good idea to stop and ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did I really want when I started out on this race I now seem to be in?
In the heat of the race, it’s easy to forget what originally motivated you.
  • Is this prize any nearer now that I have worked so hard?
Sometimes it seems as if the end is farther and farther away, more and more
  • Is there another way to get to this same prize?
If what you were pursuing is the good life, maybe you could stop right now,
look around you, and enjoy what is already there.
  • Is the prize worth the price I am paying?

Missing key events in the life of your loved ones, especially growing children, is an extraordinarily high price to pay for success which may or may not be coming to you in this manner and in this place.

End of life counselors tell us that people on their deathbeds don’t sigh with satisfaction and say, “At last I got that Beamer,” or “My greatest satisfaction in life was that I got that second home on the lake.”

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at

Want to know the best way to save your life?

Personal note

Spring has brought with it a whirlwind of activity, both indoors and out.

Once again, plants I have barely noticed have decided to take over entire flower beds. Not the same plants that did so last year, but another bunch. It varies each year; I have no idea how they decide who is going to be dominant in any given year, but the purple Iris are clearly the winners this time.

The whirlwind that most delights me is the work that is happening with my publications and programs.

The Confident Introvert will be a hard copy, not just a digital book, in the near future.

My workbook, Be Your Own Best Caretaker, with audio CDs and worksheets as well as text, is on its way to being certified for Continuing Education Credits for nurses and teachers. The latter will be the basis for live seminars and teleseminars in the upcoming year.

I’m celebrating these upcoming events by offering you a gift.

Whether you’re tired of feeling ineffectual or even invisible in a hard-hitting world, or are so overwhelmed by all the demands being made on you that you can hardly think straight, consider committing to an individual coaching program with me. Together we can find our way out of the maze of distress.

You know me as the shy person who became a Confident Introvert, and as the Stress Solutions Expert who became a much better expert on stress. I am someone who can honestly say, “I’ve been to hell and back – and I know the way!”  Who better to show you the way to greater peace and happiness?

Together, we can explore the issues that are keeping you from peaceful and joyful life  in a complimentary coaching session I am offering for a limited time only.  Just click here to book your session:

Want to know the best way to save your life?

If you could do one thing right now to reduce stress, would you do it? Or would your overly-crowded life – too much to do, a loved one’s demands are more important than your needs, your job requires you to keep on working so hard – take over?Well, here is the secret to a healthier, happier life:

Get more sleep. Sleep well. Sleep soundly and sleep enough. It sounds simple, but it is a key element in my program and it’s something I always check with my clients at the start.

Given that we now know that only about 10% of stress is due to what happens to us, and 90% due to how we choose to think about what happens to us, we need to be rested enough to see what those choices are, and to make wise ones.

We live in a sleep-deprived nation; we get less sleep than people in other developed countries, and here are some of the consequences:

  • You wake up too tired to take care of yourself, overwhelmed by the coming day’s responsibilities.
  • You have poorer memory and make more mistakes – Is this stressful? You bet! In fact, it adds to your stress.
  • Your memory suffers up to 24 hours after a sleepless night; think what happens when you have trouble sleeping night after night. Stress is like a snowball, rolling downhill, gathering more of its own kind along the way.
  • The efficiency of your immune system is lowered, meaning you are more susceptible to illness – wasting time and increasing stress again! And of course, prolonged sleep deprivation sets you up for chronic and/or major illness.
  • Sleep deprivation is deadly. One cardiologist even said that sleep deprivation is a greater precursor of a heart attack than diabetes and high blood pressure TOGETHER.
  • Sleep deprivation turns on fat-storing mechanisms as you go into survival mode. In fact, as your stress level rises, your body craves sugar, fats, and salts. Then the sleep deprivation helps you to store all that unhealthy stuff you’ve packed in.
  • You become overly emotional and make poor decisions, including seeing things to be anxious or angry about when you wouldn’t be bothered if you were well-rested.
  • And finally, sleep deprivation decreases the power of the part of your brain that is in charge of your will power, leaving you feeling helpless to do anything about your life.

It’s no wonder that, with sleep deprivation, you feel your life is out of control.

You can start to get back some of the control by focusing first on getting good sleep.

It’s the best way I know to get out of what I call the Stress Whirlpool: a state where you sleep poorly, wake up exhausted, too tired to exercise, and too tired to shop for and eat healthy food. You are susceptible to “easy” foods that promise instant energy. In fact, you crave sugar, fats, and salt. But you’re never tired enough, in the right way, to sleep deeply and soundly.

It’s hard to know how to get out of the Stress Whirlpool when you are in it, because your thinking is disoriented and you are already making poor choices – that lead to poorer choices.

The first thing you need to know is that sleep doesn’t relax you; only relaxation relaxes you. If you go to bed tense, you may sleep, but you will wake up feeling as if you had been lifting bricks all night.

So cultivate serenity – internal and external – in advance of your bedtime. Spend the hour before your bedtime calming down, avoiding the flickering lights of television sets and computers, which have been shown to interfere with the manufacture of melatonin, the sleep chemical your body manufactures. Don’t do vigorous exercise in that hour.

You can listen to soothing music, read a book (one that isn’t too distressing), leaf through information about a dream vacation, re-read notes loved ones have sent you – anything to cultivate a pleasant mood.

Your bedroom should speak serenity: no clutter, no stacks of clothing waiting to be taken to the cleaners or to be put away, no piles of bills on the dresser, no laptop beckoning to be booted up.

Block as much light as possible. That includes the tiny lights of electronic devices that are charging, or the light that leaks around the edges of your curtains or window shades.

You’ve gotten enough sleep when you wake up feeling enthusiastic rather than overwhelmed by the upcoming day.

To determine an appropriate bedtime, work backwards from when you must get up. Then establish that bedtime and stick to it. This is a “foundational habit,” one on which a lot of other good habits will rest. (The topic of habits is covered in my full program, where I show you how to set up habits that will last, changing your life forever.)

But most of all, sleep puts you into a better condition to think clearly and make the right choices. Stress, as we experience it nowadays, is not the result of wild animals leaping at us to tear us apart, it is a matter of CHOICE.

So the first choice you can make is this: Sleep as if your life depended on it.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at

Can you change the past?

Personal note

Last Saturday I gathered, along with 150 other alumnae, at an event staged by my alma mater, Stanford University. Stanford Connects, brought as a road show to Minneapolis, featured micro lectures and seminars by noted professors; President Hennessy informed and entertained us with his answers to questions about the University and its future.

What a thrill to be back in that heady atmosphere of crisp conversations and intellectual stimulation. How sobering it was to remember what it was like being the oldest undergraduate on campus in 1967, a 30-year old divorcee in a sea of 17 and 18 year olds who represented the best and brightest minds in the U.S. Now that was stress! And how lovely it was now to be in present time, successful and confident, and greeted warmly by faculty and staff, and to feel that I really mattered to this great institution.

The event was so stimulating that I did what introverts do: I left early and went home to savor all the wonderful things that had happened, and to refill my energy tanks. Memories of the loneliness and tension I had suffered blurred and softened in retrospect.

Can you change the past?

Can you go back and change the past, or are you stuck with what you remember?

That’s the key: what you remember. The fact is, our brains are stuffed with memories, only some of which we retrieve, convincing ourselves we have a true and complete picture of the past when in fact we have a partial, often negative, picture of our history.

Why the emphasis on the negative? Our nervous systems record unpleasant events, including the cues that lead up to them, rapidly. Then they cling as if they were barnacles on a hull. Pleasant things, on the other hand, are stored more slowly and fade more quickly. Why? Because of our need to learn and respond quickly to threatening signals, signals that might threaten our very life.

Even when the cues simply signaled the start of the third grade spelling test, our bodies react as if that were a life-threatening event.

Once we have this negative mind set, we reach out and store more events that fit the template we have set up. We notice those things that confirm our observation that life is hard. One researcher, Paul Meehl, noting our tendency to become more depressed as we aged, called this phenomenon “aversive drift.”

Can you change this? Yes – by taking the time to focus deliberately on pleasant events, especially before bedtime every night. During the day, sniff the roses, hear the birds, respond to the smiles you encounter.

You can actually build up a foundation of good memories that will attract more and more that are similar – and even start recovering pleasant memories from long ago that you haven’t accessed in a long, long time.

The warm encounters I had at my recent alumnae meeting triggered wonderful memories: approaching the campus as the sun rose, gilding the buildings with soft rosy gold,  thinking “this is my campus”; exploring the cubby holes and stacks of the old library, finding treasures in bound journals that had nothing to do with what I was supposed  to be studying; strolling down  a rural lane in summer, surrounded by silence, bees humming in the foliage, only to discover that one of those ivy-covered buildings was a high energy physics lab – all of these memories had lain buried beneath remembrance of the stress of living – and being evaluated – in a highly competitive atmosphere.  But that wasn’t all that was happening; lovely things were all around me, and apparently were being recorded in my brain.

It’s not about re-creating the past; instead, you highlight the pleasurable aspects of it, eventually  overriding the more unpleasant events.

And if you think of the past as what happened a second ago, you can start consciously to work on building up a warm, confident past now, and watch how it influences those old storage files that reach far back into the past.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at

The Power of “Yet”

Personal note

I first wrote this article in July 15, 2011. The concept is just as true now as it was then. If we all followed this advice, our happiness would increase.

As a writer, I believe in the power of words. Words can heal and bring hope. They can also destroy hope. This week’s article is about one little word that can carry a lot of power.

The Power of “Yet”

When I had a heart attack a little over five years ago, I asked, “Why?

And my doctor told me that I had a high level of a rare form of cholesterol that sticks to itself and to artery walls like Velcro, making me three times more liable to have a heart attack than the average person. Furthermore, my doctor told me there was no medication, diet, or exercise – nothing I could do – that would lower this level. I felt nothing but despair. It sounded like a death sentence to me.

Nothing I could do? I fired the doctor. And found a new one. The new one said, “We don’t have a solution for that…yet.” What healing those three little letters brought to me! They suggested that my doctor believed:

  • Someone somewhere in the world was working on this problem;
  • There would be a solution…sometime;
  • She would be aware of that solution because she believed it was possible; and
  • She would pass that solution on to me.

My level of hope rose steadily. Today, neither my doctor nor I believe I will have another heart attack. All because of one little powerful word – “yet.” Well, not just this one word: energized by the hope this word aroused in me, I also took all kinds of action designed to lead to great health.

I then started to play with this three-letter word. For instance, what if we all started to add “yet” to our conversations with ourselves and with others:

I don’t have a job…yet.
I don’t have my dream house…yet.
I haven’t become an expert in (fill in the blank)…yet.

Moving on, I thought of:
I haven’t mastered a double Axel in figure skating…yet (ok, I’m not working too hard on this).

Feeling heady with all the possibilities, I began to soar even higher:
I don’t speak fluent French…yet.
I haven’t quite grasped quantum physics…yet.
I haven’t met the love of my life…yet.

The only time we (or anyone) can make definitive final statements about our lives is when the comment can be chiseled on our tombstones:

Never won the World Chess Tournament.
Never really got calculus.

Until then, anything is possible, but we will never know it if we are not open to the possibilities. For good ideas are like birds carrying good news, circling excitedly for a place to land, then flying away disappointed at the lack of a landing field.

Our openness to possibilities of which we haven’t even dreamed yet is what provides that landing field.

Keeping your eyes open to possibilities only works if you have hope in your heart. As the song says, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Despair is a destroyer.

Hope is a healer.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at

What if your life was like a bar of chocolate?

Personal note

This week I am working from my California office, which has allowed me to spend a special birthday celebration with my sister.  Our birthdays are one week apart, and the whole family gathered for one of those noisy, exhausting, but joyous celebrations.  There was much laughter, a great deal of hugging, and a table laden with treats – those gooey, sticky, sweet, sometimes salty, and always fatty things that we use to mark special occasions.

I ate some of each of them, feeling so full emotionally that I didn’t need to splurge on any of it.

And I recalled the period leading up to my heart attack, when part of my stress management techniques included over- indulging in lethal “comfort foods” just “for the duration” of the stress. How satisfying it feels to be able to enjoy these treats, and then quit when I’ve had enough.  It took a long time to develop the mindset that a “treat” is just that:  a rare, celebratory event, not a daily habit. Today’s article is my attempt to understand, and help others understand, that what we do today- or don’t do – has impact sooner than we think.


Are you:

  • wondering why you feel as if you’re sitting on the sidelines of life?
  • tired of being asked if you’re “shy” when you simply enjoy listening?
  • fed up with the sensation that life is one long competition for attention?

Then you definitely want to be there for The Confident Introvert 3-part FREE teleseminar!

On Wednesday, April 24, at 8 p.m. I’ll cover “Questions you always wanted to ask about introversion, but didn’t know who to ask.”

And if you missed the first two sessions, “Throw Off Your Cloak of Invisibility” and Baffled by Bluffers & Blusterers? Discover how to handle these challenges to introverts you can still sign up and listen to the replays!
Sign up now at

Don’t Forget:   Wednesday, April 24, at 8 p.m.

Links to hear Lynette:
Hear more about The Confident Introvert book and programs in this interview with Mary O’Keefe, of Wellness Within:

Interview with Lori Campbell, Visionary Gerontologist, in whose book, Awaken Your Age Potential, I have a chapter:

What if your life was like a bar of chocolate?chocolate

We hear it so much – each day you walk will add 1 hour to your life, while not eating your vegetables will shave minutes, even days, off your life, sleep deprivation can eventually be deadly – and we think, “That’s a long way away.  I’ll worry about it later.”  We do this because we picture the loss of the time to occur at the end of our lives, and it does indeed seem a long way away.

But  “later” always comes sooner than we think, and everyone seems somehow surprised when disease appears, seemingly swiftly and out of nowhere.

If we only focus on longevity,  I think we are not understanding the reality of taking care of ourselves, so here is an analogy I have come up with that will help motivate us all to pay attention to our health every day.

What if, every day of your life, you were given a big, luscious chocolate bar of the very best quality.  Every day it appears the moment you open your eyes, and it’s yours to enjoy all day long!

But what if, every time you fell off the back of the health wagon, by neglecting to exercise or eat your vegetables or get enough sleep, the next day’s chocolate bar was shaved down just slightly in size.  And bit by bit, over time, you got a smaller and smaller bar of that luscious chocolate as your daily allotment, until it was just a sliver of the generous serving you were getting initially.

At first, the reduction isn’t apparent, but over time, it’s obvious there has been a big change taking place.

This is more like what happens to our lives when we get so busy with what we think are critical life events that we neglect to be our own caretakers.  We are given a fully-functioning body and, as children, we wake up with more energy than we can use in a day. We are thoughtless about that wonderful body.

Over the years, we get busy. We tell ourselves we’ll take care of ourselves later, perhaps tomorrow, or next week.  Our allotment of well-being diminishes, bit by bit.  Then we stiffen up, slow down, develop aches and pains, suffer malfunctions in our digestive systems, and in numerous ways find we are getting the equivalent a smaller and smaller luscious chocolate bar each day.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  The slowing down and deterioration that many people experience, and think of as “normal” is often the malfunctioning of a body deprived of the many things it needs to live fully and vibrantly.  Good health habits help you to feel so good that you can look around the world, notice everything that is special and wonderful, and feel ready to participate in it with joy.

Having come through that dark period and learned this the hard way, I hope that my experience can motivate and guide people to make the happy choices every day.

The Confident Introvert

“What are they afraid of?” my department manager used to ask after meetings in which a number of department members sat, silent and resentful, while he was unaware that his habit of springing surprise agenda items and asking for an immediate decision was very upsetting to these talented, educated introverts. Understanding, appreciating and utilizing the skills of introversion are foreign ideas to some – even to introverts. Now you can read about it in
The Confident Introvert.
Order now at

Handling the stress of rejection

Personal note

It’s still the beginning of the year, and all around me friends and associates are reaching out to find new ways to make their lives go forward.  As I give talks on stress, health, and success, and go to networking meetings and conferences, I meet people who are starting new enterprises.

High hopes can turn to discouragement very easily when rejection is encountered.

It’s a great time to pause, breathe, and choose to use the rejection as a catalyst, rather than as a heavy anchor.

Handling the stress of rejection

Rejection can cause a particularly deep form of anger, because rejection seems to carry with it a heavy load: loss of self-esteem, and even of identity. Rejection can also result in depression.

Sometimes it takes this shock of rejection to make you realize that you may have been asking for toolittle in life and to get moving to do something about it.  You may have settled for what you thought you could have, not what you really wanted.
Or you may have convinced yourself that you really wanted a situation or a relationship in order to escape the uncomfortable ambiguity of not having a settled future.

You have, in fact, made a poor choice.

I first learned how to turn the anger of rejection into useful energy some years ago, after being rejected three times when I tried to transfer to a nearby state college from the community college.  As an older returning student, this rejection played into my fears that I was somehow inadequate.

After the third rejection, I took a deep breath and took stock of skills and abilities, then said to myself, “How dare they reject me!  Why, I’m good.” I then shot off applications to two prestigious universities, one public and one private, that I would never have dared approach before – and got accepted at both, with scholarships.

The energy of anger, racing through my body, shocked me into looking at the situation very differently.  And that energy forced me to take constructive action.

You may feel that you’ve been rejected because you’re inferior in some way, but it may be that you and a given situation just don’t match.  You may have been deluding yourself that you do match, or will match in the near future if you just hang in there long enough.

Very often, you, and what you offer are rejected because another person is just too busy and involved in his or her own life to pay attention now to you and what you offer.

And you can be rejected because someone else sees you more clearly than you see yourself:  as powerful and destined for something better. And it threatens that person.  It’s as if they have recognized that the cocoon conceals a butterfly, and you are the potential butterfly.

To take some of the sting out of rejection, try the following steps:

Pause, take a breath, and release your fantasy about what might have been in that situation.

Recognize what you may have been going for is a feeling of safety rather than what you really want, as in  “this person or job wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s safe to ask for because it isn’t too far out of my reach.”  Is safety an important enough reward to settle for when you yearn for excitement and appreciation?

Sometimes you don’t get a flat “no.”  Instead, you get a situation that drags on and on, leaving you feeling a little drained, a little demeaned, and a little … well, “little.”

Our brains are great at storing negative information, which we can access immediately when we are feeling low. Combat this negativity by keeping a file of all your successes and triumphs, large and small, to review when you need reminders of your true worth. Include notes, cards, and awards.  Pull it out whenever you are low. Ask your friends to contribute (positive points only, please) to the same list.

Take action: reach out for more contacts of all kinds.  

And when you do, celebrate diversity! Don’t just look for a mate, a client – or any other kind of match – in the “right” category: gender, age, appearance, income, etc. Do show interest and kindness to people of all different kinds, not just the ones you think can lead you to your goals.

Take up activities you’ve kind of wanted to try, but never did before.

Anyone you meet and connect with can open your eyes and connect you to exciting situations of which you had never dreamed.

Remember, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.

To settle for a better-than-nothing relationship, to get stuck doing “okay” work, or to live in a place where you are uncomfortable, to keep applying to the same people, whether they are bosses or clients, for recognition of what you have to offer, is to tell yourself that you’re not deserving of anything more.

Maureen Dowd, the columnist once wrote, “If you settle for less than you think you’re worth, you’ll get even less than you settled for.”

Think about it. Then reach for the stars.  Hey, all they can say is “No,” but at a much higher level than you have been experiencing.

And, when you reach your level – the one where you are energetic and enthused – you just might find “yes” is a frequent occurrence.

Recapture Delight In Your Life

Personal note:

I went to the lake yesterday. The same lake I went to as a child.  The same sun-sparkled lake I dreamed about for years, while living in another state where summers were foggy and cool , and gray sand beaches were pummeled by huge waves that could knock you off your feet if you even went wading.

But the first time I went back to that lake was yesterday. Decades had passed before I moved back to my home city, and ten more years had passed before I actually went back to that lake.

Why did I take so long?   That’s the theme of today’s article.

Recapture Delight In Your Life

What immediately comes to mind when you think of rewarding or pampering yourself?Let’s say you’ve been under a lot of pressure and you realize you must find a release.I asked a client recently what she would do if she took time to pamper herself, and she didn’t know. She hadn’t thought about it in a long time. She was too busy taking care of everyone and everything around her.In talking to overly-stressed clients over the years, I have found that, when they finally realize they can, or should, relax, the first things that come to mind are often:

  • Indulging in something, such as rich food, that’s bad for them.
  • Going shopping; only to end up buying something they don’t need or can’t afford.
  • Playing computer games.
  • Flopping down and watching TV.

More healthful alternatives, such as having a massage, may come to mind, but are often dismissed as “too expensive” or “take too much time.”

We forget things we did naturally when we were younger, and less preoccupied. But memories of those times can sometimes refresh our spirit as nothing else can.

Here are some things can you do in approximately one hour that aren’t costly:

Revive old feelings of pleasure

Recall some music that you find particularly uplifting or relaxing and spend an hour listening to it, without doing anything else except listen.

Dance – all by yourself, for the sheer pleasure of moving

Re-awaken old dreams

Re-read a childhood book that once inspired grand dreams or provided you with a heroic model.

Make time stand still:

Remember how, as a child, you became so absorbed in play that the outside world seemed to disappear? Here are some activities you can still do that will reclaim that sense of absorption:

  • Paint – or color in a coloring book!  You can find elaborate coloring books suitable for adults in museum gift shops.
  • Reclaim an old hobby, such as knitting or building models, that fully occupies your hands and your attention while you are doing it.
Explore:Visit your library and browse – not in the section you usually turn to.  If you usually read mysteries, try history or science – they all involve mysteries. Intrigued by romance? Visit an area of the world that’s always interested you – by finding a book in the travel section.  Then plan how and when you might actually go there.
Go to a park you haven’t visited before, or for a long time, and take a walk, being mindful and curious about everything you pass.If all of these activities sound childish, that’s exactly what they are.   They date from that period of life when we somehow knew we could create and mold our every-day world.  That reminder can inspire you to be creative in your present life.

My trip to the beach took a little over one hour. The blissful memories and sense of relaxation that it brought up lasted for two or more days.

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