Four Ways to Improve Your Attitude to Be Happier, Healthier, and More Productive

As the story goes, a couple is concerned about the huge gap in attitudes between their two sons.

happy-&-angry-boys

One lad is a confirmed pessimist, his sibling the decisive optimist. Wanting to advance the cynical child’s outlook and guard the other from disappointment by teaching him that things don’t always go as expected, the parents come up with a scheme.

On Christmas morning, each youngster awakens to find his own sizeable, wrapped present. The dour child opens his and discovers in it the ultimate building set. As if on que, his demeanor sours and he whines, “There are too many pieces, I’m know I’ll lose a whole bunch of them and then I’ll be sad. Why would you do that to me?”

The upbeat sibling, on the other hand, unwraps his only to find a dirty, rusty horseshoe atop wads of paper. Undeterred by what appears to be a mean, lousy gift, he eagerly starts digging through the papers excitedly proclaiming, “Wow! There’s got to a pony in here somewhere!”

Attitude, our outlook on the events that make up our lives, will either elevate or ruin us because it determines our actions and therefore the manner in which others react to us.

I normally don’t write “how-to” columns but a coaching client recently asked how she could become more upbeat, so I thought, “What the heck, might as well share it more widely.” Making our planet a bit more cheery, one reader at a time, here are four of the more common reasons one’s attitude can take a trip to the dumpster.

Reason #1: All-or-nothing thinking

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Reinventing Myself: Realizing What Really Matters

This week marks exactly one year since our dog, Jack, abruptly left us.

jack-&-I

Appearing fine with the rising of the sun, by nightfall he was no more. That’s a grim progression to experience any time, but to complicate this horribly unpleasant and unexpected bump in our highway of life, Jack’s passing occurred the exact morning I was slated to leave town for three months of contracted work. My wife and I, heartbroken, left the veterinarian and, upon arriving home, tearfully hugged each other as I slid into my rental car, and left her forlorn and isolated in our grievously hollow home.

Intertwined throughout the choking weight of sadness I carried was woven a heavy rope of guilt. But what are you going to do? It was three months worth of employment, planned well in advance. If your occupation takes you away — even when it’s more than inconvenient — you’re bound to go.

Life goes on — so to speak.

When my travel concluded, my wife requested,

“I know you love what you do – and I want you to be happy. But, I really need you not to travel so often. Would you please try and earn more of your income here?”

I agreed, not only because of her request, but also because I had been growing weary of the travel hassles. Her vocalizing my thoughts cemented the decision. So, for the last several months, I have been “reinventing myself at 60,” not something I intended – nor something I recommend, but as they say, “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” Mostly, short of scurrying hither and yon sussing out new modes of income, I’m doing okay. To that end, I do more coaching, both in person and on-line. I’m producing my own local seminars. I’ve snagged more hours assisting clients with marketing and consulting. And, I’m pleased as heck that even after 20 years together, I really do still enjoy spending so many hours with my lovely bride (and how cool is it that she says she enjoys having me around).

Today however brought forth an unexpected revelation: The most difficult component of my reinvention is that I no longer know who I am.

[Read more…]

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The Fitness App Explosion: For Better or For Worse

Back when I first started losing weight, we didn’t have fancy-schmancy apps.

caveman-with-boneWe wrote down what we ate on cave walls. You couldn’t figure out the carbs or proteins in a Wooly Mammoth by looking it up on the internet. No sirreee Bob! Kids today have it too easy.

Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but one of the more significant changes in health monitoring is the explosion of fitness apps of every stripe. As of last year, there were more than 45,000 fitness-related apps in the app store, giving one the ability to monitor how far he walks and with what intensity, calories consumed and burned, even heartbeat and sleep patterns, all from the convenience of code in your phone.

This trend is in its infancy.

In the not too distant future, we will look at Fitbits and other wearable trackers in the same manner as we would observe a woman wearing a bustle today. Tomorrow’s apps will be woven into our garments, creating smart clothing and “wearable tech.” At any moment, one can be aware of everything from blood pressure to the amount of salt in her sweat.

Having that type of data available 24/7 will provide countless benefits.

Not only will it allow one to adjust his or her patterns for enhanced health, but also we will be able to predict incidents such as heart attacks BEFORE they occur, giving one the ability to go to the doctor in advance of collapsing on the street. Medical information could precede the trip to the hospital, so that upon arrival, potential treatments could be tailored to the specific circumstances in advance, saving precious time and lives.

Privacy issues yet to be worked out, that’s all well and good. However, all is not rosy in “app-alachia” as there are some pretty silly fitness apps available currently, providing insights and assistance into all facets of one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. [Read more…]

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 2)

upset-woman-on-scaleLast week in this space, I posited the theory that, with almost seven out of ten people overweight (including over 30 percent obese), the reason most people don’t stick with their diets long enough to reach goal weight is because they give up when the pounds don’t drop “fast enough.” Logically, that makes no sense. After all, a slow weight loss is still preferable to no weight loss, which is the inevitable result when one throws in the towel altogether.

Of course, the motive for quitting isn’t rational; it’s one of two emotional reasons. The first reason we are so desperate to speed diet is that we fear motivation will vanish before we reach our goal, and we’ll end up spent, frustrated, and still fat. That is born of the false belief that motivation leads behaviors. Last week, I explained how motivation follows behavior and therefore we can motivate ourselves whenever we desire by engaging in behaviors. Due to limited space, I couldn’t address the second reason we quit, which I’ll do today.

That second reason we are in such a hurry to lose weight — as opposed to in a thought-out, healthy, and sustainable manner —

is complicated, but in part due to the fact that “fat shaming” is still accepted, even when so many other tactless slurs are now considered loutish and vulgar. The humiliation and guilt of being overweight casts its sufferers as lesser and out of control. The overweight are recipients of ignorant, countless wagging fingers — in person and throughout the media — proclaiming boorishly that if they possessed better willpower and a stronger moral character, they’d be thin. Condescending, hurtful, and hateful messages are hurled without end.

The unfairness of how society treats its citizens of size however is not the issue.

[Read more…]

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Why are We in Such a Hurry to Lose Weight? (Part 1)

Jaw droppedI remain gobsmacked by a statistic I recently learned.

By this time of the year, north of 80 percent of people who — at the beginning of the year — said, “This time I mean it! This is the year I’m going to lose those extra pounds,” have given up. Done. Over. Wiped their hands and walked away.

The Centers for Disease Control says that, as of 2012, 69 percent of our population is overweight or obese, with almost half of those folks classified as “obese.” Those extra pounds underwrite a multitude of health conditions, both physical and emotional; and we all know about them. Therefore, one might think that the urgency to shed an expanded waistline could be enough incentive to stick with a program longer than six weeks.

One might think that. One would also be wrong.

The number one reason people quit their program is that they don’t feel they’re losing quickly enough. Granted, if they could slow down racing to the refrigerator long enough to realize that a slow weight loss is faster than a no weight loss, they might stick with it a tad longer. Yet, in all fairness, it’s difficult to remain cold sober logical about your progress when the scale won’t budge. “Get-thin-quickly” scam artists are partially to blame for the false expectations that drive the frustration, but they are actually symptoms of a deeper problem fostering the unrealistic drive to drop weight faster than a brick can fall from a six-foot wall.

So, why are we in such a hurry?

There are two factors at play.

[Read more…]

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