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The Structure of Personal Change

Personal change starts internally with a shift in mindset. The resulting external changes grow from this internal foundation. So now that you know where to start, how do you go about making these adjustments in your approach to life?

To really achieve personal transformation, several major stages must be crossed. Now, this doesn’t mean that change must always take place slowly, only that all significant shifts will follow this sequence, regardless of how long the process takes.

The 6 Stages of Personal Transformation

1. Awareness. Nothing will change until you’re aware that something needs to shift. This stage can occur over time. Perhaps you become aware of some nagging feeling that things aren’t as good as you’d like them to be. Maybe you notice a long held belief that no longer serves you.

* This stage could also happen suddenly. If you recently suffered a heart attack, you’re probably very aware of necessary dietary or lifestyle changes.

* Also, keep tabs on your negative emotions. They’re often your subconscious attempting to provide you with awareness of needed changes.

2. Examination. After becoming conscious that something isn’t quite right, some thought needs to take place. You might start by asking yourself these questions: “What’s wrong? Why do I feel this way? What needs to change? Does anything really need to change? Can I live with this the way it is?”

3. Intention. If the process passes the examination phase, we then may enter into intentionality. A decision has been made to change and the intention is there to remove a belief or behavior and replace it with a more appropriate alternative.

* In many ways, this is the most powerful step. At this point you’ve truly decided to change and to replace something old with something new. With enough intention, nearly anything is possible.

4. Action. However, only with action do you actually begin to experience change. At this point, you’ve already come a long way. You’ve taken what may have started as a dull sense of discomfort and given it a name and a face.

* You might even feel more uncomfortable now than you did in Step 1; now you’re more aware of what’s going on. If you’re feeling helpless about a situation, bear in mind that this is frequently the result of reaching Stage 4 but then failing to take any action.

5. Improvement. As you discover what works for you, your initial actions may be inadequate or incorrect. When changing yourself, a fine-tuning process occurs until a sufficient solution is found. This is largely trial and error. You simply keep making adjustments to your approach until you hit on an effective solution.

6. Integration. This stage may take some time; new habits can require some effort before they take hold. At the completion of this step, you’ve fully adopted the new belief or behavior. The initial discomfort that started the whole process should be gone now, since the cause of that uneasiness has been alleviated.

Having a fundamental awareness of these steps will help you go from experiencing emotional discomfort to feeling whole and satisfied. The next time you get a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, take the time to examine your emotions. Do this every time you feel something negative, and you’ll grow into the person you always dreamed of being.

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Simple, Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety

Occasional anxiety and stress are a part of most people’s lives. However, chronic stress and anxiety can wear you down and cause a number of unwanted side effects. If you suffer from chronic anxiety and don’t want to take medication, rest easy. There are natural ways for you to treat your anxiety successfully.

But please note that if you are suffering from depression or mental health issues that are causing you concerns, it is always best to seek the advice of a medical professional – who knows they may be able to help you implement natural therapies as well as more scientific-based ones.

For those who need a little help to ease stress and general anxiety, here are three simple, natural remedies:

#1 Sunshine. It may sound silly however 20-30 minutes of sunlight each day can do a lot to help improve mindset. Much of this is due to sunlight and your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body manage stress and it helps you regulate your moods and emotional well being.

The medical community agrees that most people are drastically low on vitamin D. If you cannot get out into the sun each day for 20-30 minutes, take a vitamin D supplement or a multi vitamin with a day’s supply of vitamin D.

#2 Move your body. Exercise is a known stress reducer. And it doesn’t have to be a killer, fat burning intense workout. 30 minutes of walking, bicycling or yoga has the same effect. It helps your body’s systems optimize so you can manage stress better. Also, exercise releases endorphins which are natural feel good hormones.

#3 Meditation. One of the common problems with anxiety is that your thoughts essentially get carried away. One minute you’re thinking about what you’re going to buy for dinner at the super market and the next minute you’re imagining being involved in a horrific traffic accident, not having enough money in your account to cover your grocery bill or knocking over a display and receiving ridicule and laughter. Meditation can help you control these wayward anxiety ridden thoughts. You can learn to quiet your mind and to change your thoughts to more positive ones.

One of the aspects that keeps many people from meditating are the preconceived notions of what it is. Meditation doesn’t have to be sitting on the floor, your legs crossed, chanting for an hour. It can be sitting on a chair with your eyes closed for five minutes and focusing on your breathing. Meditation can also be taking a quiet walk with your dog and clearing your mind of all thoughts. It can also be using your imagination to take you to a relaxing state – guided imagery.

Treating anxiety means treating your mind and your body well. Fuel your body with nutrients, exercise your body and move it like it’s designed to, and learn the practice of quieting your mind. Stress and anxiety will literally melt away.

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Generosity radiates from my soul.

I am a generous person at heart. I consider generosity one of my key personality traits and I like it that way. I enjoy the feeling I get when I share with others; it makes me feel abundantly blessed and deeply fulfilled.

I share everything I can – my knowledge, wisdom, skills, time, love, money, and more. If a friend needs a place to stay, I even share my home.

I am generous because I live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When I need something, I appreciate it when others share their blessings with me, even if it’s just sharing their wisdom and experience. Likewise, I am happy to help others in their time of need.

My partner and I share and share alike. What one of us has, the other one also receives the benefit of it. Generosity strengthens our relationship.

I even share my generosity! I share what I have with my children and they willingly share with me also. It’s fulfilling to see my children get the same joy from generosity that I experience.

When I share my money with a stranger on the street, I am uplifted in knowing how much I brightened their day.

I know that my generosity is a shining light of goodness in a world that can use all the goodness it can get!

Today, I strive to show generosity to everyone I meet in this day’s journey.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Do I consider myself a generous person?
2. Why do I hold back in sharing my abundance with others?
3. How can I do more to help others?

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Do you ever feel like every day is the same? You get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and watch TV until you go to bed. You wash, rinse, and repeat. Are you tired of the same ol’ boring routine?

The good news is that you don’t have to settle for a life of boredom and repetition. It takes very little to overcome your stale routine and experience more joy. Sometimes, a night alone in front of the television is the perfect way to unwind. However, sometimes you crave something a little out of the ordinary. Thankfully, there are many things you can do about it.

Try one of these boredom-busting activities to liven up your day:

1. Spend Time With A Friend. Sometimes, the best way to cure boredom is to visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Catch up on old times and talk about the things that are important to both of you. Do something together that you both enjoy. Choose an activity you haven’t done in a while and reconnect.

* Even when you’re feeling down and you’d rather be alone, try visiting a friend. Often, even a short visit can bring an unexpected feeling of joy. Plus, you’ll be doing something active instead of sitting at home and feeling blue about your challenges.

2. Hit the Driving Range. Even if you’re not a golfer, hitting a bucket of golf balls as far as you can provides tremendous stress relief. Go with some friends and have a blast! When you get outdoors in the sunshine, your focus is bound to change and your perspective on life will be a much happier one.

3. Visit Libraries and Bookstores. If you prefer peace and quiet, experience adventure without ever leaving your own familiar area. Visit your local library or a bookstore that encourages you to sit down and read. Many bookstores now offer coffee shops inside and comfortable chairs for those who want to sit a while.

* Learn a new skill or engross yourself in a novel that takes your mind far away from the mundane cares of your everyday life.

* You can even meet new people while you’re perusing the literature. Strike up a conversation with someone who has similar interests. You may just meet a new best friend who goes on to introduce you to many more exciting activities.

4. Play Board Games. With the rise of video games and other forms of electronic entertainment, you may have forgotten how much fun board games can be!

* Enjoy a few laughs with friends or family and your favorite board games of the past. Or try some of the newer board games. Whether the games are old or new, you’ll still make some great memories!

If you want to spice up your life and experience something different, the options available to you are endless. The only limit is an unwillingness to leave your comfort zone. If you’re proactive about getting out and enjoying some new experiences, you’ll be rewarded with a deeper connection to the world around you and a greater satisfaction with your life.

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Taking a Sensible Approach to Selflessness

According to most religious traditions and many scientific studies, selflessness is the path to happiness. Still, some people contest that they must put themselves first to avoid getting burned out or feeling like a doormat. This doesn’t have to be true, though!

If you take a sensible approach to selflessness, you can take care of your own wellbeing while helping those around you. Try these techniques and see if you don’t feel just a little bit better about yourself and your life.

Strategies for Avoiding Burnout

1. Take care of yourself. Protecting your own wellbeing is essential to maintaining the capacity to serve others. Take care of your own physical and mental health so you stay strong and have as many years as possible to do good works for yourself and others.

2. Develop reliable sources of self-esteem. Cultivate the awareness that you and all creatures have value, regardless of anything you or they accomplish. Tap into inner sources of validation and motivation.

3. Manage stress. Keeping stress under control allows you to get more done with less effort. Get a full eight hours of sleep each night, or whatever amount you need to keep you operating at your individual best. Engage in regular exercise and find hobbies you enjoy.

4. Set realistic goals. Become a humanitarian on whatever scale is feasible for you. If the idea of moving to Haiti to work in an orphanage makes you nervous, you can still volunteer to clean up your local park on weekends or help your aging neighbors with their yard work.

5. Work as a team. When you’re embarking on a challenge, having partners is helpful. Recruit family and friends to join you in starting a community garden where everyone will share the harvest. Then, donate fresh produce to local shelters.

6. Remember to be grateful. You probably enjoy any opportunity to do something nice for people you love. The more you remember how much your welfare depends on the efforts of others to provide you with food and other necessities, the more you’ll want to give something back to your community.

7. Meditate or pray. Studies show that decreases in activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain cause people to behave more selflessly – regardless of whether the cause is brain injury, meditation, or prayer. Naturally, you want to steer clear of brain injuries. But anyone can use prayer or secular meditation to strengthen their capacity for altruism.

Strategies to Avoid Feeling Like a Doormat

1. Make smart investments. Being discriminating about where you choose to give is perfectly okay. You may be more willing to provide free babysitting for a relative who’s going on a job interview rather than for one who’s getting their nails done.

2. Empower others. The greatest gifts enable people to do more for themselves. Teach your friends how to fix their own minor computer problems. Not only will they be pleased to have that knowledge the next time they need it for themselves, they’ll be able to pass those skills along.

3. Give without expecting immediate returns. You’re less likely to experience resentment or disappointment if you look beyond getting thanked directly. By focusing on bettering other people’s lives and increasing your own happiness, you’re bound to feel gratified.

4. Learn to say no. Being selfless is consistent with declining certain requests for assistance. Let people know tactfully, but firmly, when you’re unable to help out. This is especially true in cases where such assistance could be harmful, like giving money to someone who gambles.

5. Observe positive role models. Generosity is contagious. Pay attention to the acts of kindness you see around you and they’ll inspire you to reach out, too.

Make your life more meaningful and enjoy greater happiness through becoming more selfless. This practice is beneficial for you and everyone you encounter. Giving feels good when you develop positive motivation and make sensible choices.

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Is Your Anxiety Caused by Stress?

Stress is a part of life, right? It cannot be completely avoided. And to be honest, some stress can be good for you and downright fun. The stress you feel skiing down the side of a mountain for example. However, too much stress and the wrong kind of stress, can harm your health. And if you’re prone to anxiety attacks, stress can certainly make it worse.

Problems Caused By Stress

Stress, chronic and intense stress, essentially requires your body to work much harder than it normally would. It taxes you body and all of your systems. Too much stress over a period of time can cause:

* Insomnia
* Diabetes
* Heart disease
* High blood pressure
* Autoimmune diseases
* Depression
* And anxiety conditions
* Chronic illness from a weakened immune system.

Here’s what happens. Your systems, when you’re under extreme and prolonged stress, become overworked. They start to degrade. Your muscles, metabolism, immune system and even your hormones lose their ability to operate optimally and things start to fall apart.

As your systems degrade, other systems will try to step up to compensate for the weakness. This of course throws your body into even more turmoil. One of the systems that is passively affected are your hormones and your brain chemistry.
As hormonal systems and your brain chemistry change, you become more susceptible to depression and anxiety conditions.

So the short answer to the question, does stress cause anxiety is…yes it absolutely can.

What is “Too Much Stress?”

The answer is different for every individual. Circumstances like genetics, mindset, and environment can help or hinder a person’s ability to manage stress. You know you’re under too much stress when you start seeing the warning signs. They can include:

* Difficulty sleeping
* Turning to drugs or alcohol to relax
* Quick to snap or become angry
* Moodiness
* Depression
* Digestive troubles
* Headaches

If you notice any of these symptoms or simply feel like you’re under too much stress, then it’s time to take some action. You want to learn to release stress, relax and modify your lifestyle before the damage is too severe.

Reversing The Damage

Your body is an amazing thing. It’s capable of regenerating itself and essentially healing itself. This means that even if you’ve been dealing with tremendous stress, you can reverse the damage.

Meditate. Teach yourself to relax your mind and body. Practice on a daily basis. Meditation has been proven to improve longevity and quality of life.

Diet and exercise. What you eat and how you treat your body has a direct effect on what it can manage. Eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients and vitamins will go a long way toward repairing the damage caused by stress. It will also help you manage stress better in the future. Exercise really is as amazing for your body as everyone says it is. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, like walking, dancing or yoga, can change your outlook.

Sleep. Sleep is the time when your body regenerates. All of your systems need sleep to function optimally. If you struggle with sleeping, consider seeking help for this specifically. A good night’s sleep can help you get through a stressful day or event without a problem.

Stress is intimately connected with anxiety and anxiety disorders. Learn to recognize the signs of too much stress. Treat your body well and it will treat you well too.

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I am willing to help anyone I meet who is in need, and I do so joyfully. I consider myself fortunate to have the means to help others.

I believe that small gestures really do matter. A cathedral would be but a foundation without the blocks that give it shape. A symphony would be flat noise without the notes that compose it.

Likewise, when I act kindly or generously, I help give shape to the goodness in the world. When I assist a neighbor who’s moving furniture or when I give a cup of coffee to the homeless man on the corner, I am fully aware that I am not changing the world with my actions. And yet, I know that I am contributing to making the world a better place. After all, each gesture can have a significant impact.

I believe that giving to others not only helps the recipient, but me as well. What I send out comes back to me, ten-fold, sometimes in kind but often in a form that is different but equally valuable.

When I give generously and without expectation of fanfare, I expand my spirit and open myself up to receive much good in return.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1. Do I appreciate or resent those who need my help?
2. In what ways have I been physically, emotionally, or spiritually rewarded by helping others?
3. What opportunities to help others have I passed up because I felt the gesture was too small to matter?

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A feeling of self-fulfillment is a result of knowing that you’re living at your best, living life near the limits of your capabilities. Many of us, however, are not challenging ourselves sufficiently to feel self-fulfilled. The main obstacle is the desire to be comfortable. But we only grow when we live beyond our comfort zone.

Did you know that organisms that aren’t stressed enough early in life don’t thrive as well? It’s true. For example, the temperature variations that bird and reptile eggs are subjected to actually increase the amount of vigor in the newly hatched animals. If an egg is incubated at a very precise temperature, the resulting hatchling is weak.

In many ways, we are similar to that hatchling. A lack of challenge and stimulation decreases our ability to deal with the demands of the world. Our capabilities actually decrease. Obviously, this is a movement in the wrong direction if we really want a feeling of self-fulfillment.

Expanding one’s comfort zone can be scary or exciting, depending on your perspective. But regardless, it’s at least a little uncomfortable. This is how we grow as human beings.

The key is to start slowly and begin to expand your horizons. Soon it will feel normal. A strong step in the right direction is all that’s needed, then another. You’ll be shocked, and thrilled at the results. Then it’s time to move a little further.

Scenario: From Shyness to Confident Public Speaker

Perhaps you can identify with a desire to become comfortable with public speaking, however you’re naturally shy. If you’re really shy, you most likely aren’t very social. You may even have difficulty looking a stranger in the eye.

Naturally, your inclination will be to avoid other people. But humans are social animals. We have a basic need for companionship and other human interaction. How self-fulfilled are you likely to be if you can’t even interact comfortably with other people?

You could decide to join a public speaking club and schedule three speeches each week, but that will most likely be way too difficult – so much so that you may quit before you ever begin.

Instead, try this strategy: focus on getting to know your neighbors and asking strangers for direction. If you do this with sufficient regularity, you’ll eventually feel comfortable with these tasks. You can then extend beyond that and start having meaningful conversations with strangers. Eventually, you could become a comfortable, relaxed public speaker.

By expanding your comfort zone, you provide yourself with more options. More options lead to a life with far more variety. When you feel like you have options, you can realize fulfillment.

How to Expand Your Comfort Zone

Try this easy process:

1. Choose something from your own life that’s limiting you. Maybe it’s communicating with others. Maybe you’d like to be a musician, but you’re afraid to perform. Maybe you want to become a writer but you’re too nervous about being judged.

2. Take one small step. Now think about one small, relatively easy step you could take towards realizing that new activity. It can’t be completely without discomfort or it won’t increase your comfort zone. Perform this activity again and again until you feel that you can take the next step.

3. Pick something else. Repeat step 2.

4. Rinse and repeat.

It really is that simple.

Increasing your comfort zone is uncomfortable and challenging, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it! The key is to move forward at a pace you can manage, but keep moving.

You’ll be so happy where you end up!

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Maybe you were lucky enough as a young person to have a great woman in your life you could watch and learn from. But sometimes, young people are not that fortunate. All little girls can benefit enormously from having a strong, interesting woman as a role model.

Now that you’re grown, why not become that woman yourself for some young ladies? If you reflect on any female role models you have, you’ll recognize a common thread running through them all: they’re confident in their own skin.

Whether they’re a mom, a CEO, or an English teacher, those women embrace their own lives and express their true selves in the process.

And you can do those same things. When you’re able to accept yourself for who you are, from your strong points to your idiosyncrasies, you’re then free to be the woman you most want to be.

So how, exactly, do you go about this?

Try these tips to be a wonderful female role model:

1. Know who you are. If you allow your own self to emerge, others will notice that you’re genuine and will be drawn to you. When you avoid putting on airs, people are more comfortable around you. Plus, they’re less likely to put up a facade in your presence.

2. Be brave enough to show the world. To extend the idea in the suggestion above, those who lack confidence usually fear showing others who they really are. Demonstrate your confidence by letting people know the “real” you.

3. Express yourself through your appearance. The bottom line is that our appearance is a reflection of who we are. Although how you look isn’t the whole picture, it surely does complete the image. Let your inner self be represented in your appearance.

4. Listen well. One of the most useful behaviors to model for young, aspiring women is to pay attention and listen well to others. Developing the skill of listening is a lifelong process. Be assured that modeling this skill for young people is a huge contribution to their development.

5. Step up and speak up. When necessary, stand up for something that’s important to you or that you believe will make the world a better place. Speaking up just means that you express your thoughts in ways that people can best hear them, in a non-threatening tone using engaging language.

6. Avoid criticizing others. Learn positive ways to provide feedback so that your comments do not come across as harsh criticisms.

7. Let it be. Refrain from becoming involved in negative conversations and situations. Consider these events a waste of your time. We only get a certain number of minutes in a day. Why spend any of yours on negativity?

8. Show love freely. Demonstrating that you care about others and the world in general is a wonderful quality and a great example for young people.

9. Do your own thing. Reveal your innermost self. Do you love to cook, dance, and work with numbers? Then pursue all three. Immerse yourself in whatever excites you. When you feel great about yourself, you experience the freedom to participate in life in ways that increase your enthusiasm for it.

When you do these things, you’ll not only live life to its fullest potential, you’ll provide every girl you encounter with a fascinating, approachable female role model. You’ll give them a lot to think about now and a better life later on, when they grow up and are able to show their own moxie!

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Is Exercise Really a Cure for Panic?

If you’ve ever had a panic attack then you know you’ll do almost anything to avoid ever having another one ever again. They’re scary. They make you feel out of control. It’s actually quite common for people to begin feeling anxious about having another panic attack. This residing fear can drastically affect quality of life.

There are many treatments for panic attacks including medication and therapy. However, one thing that’s commonly recommended for panic attacks and anxiety attacks is exercise. Here’s why:

Exercise helps optimize your body’s systems. When you exercise you release hormones into your body. These hormones create a sense of well being and calm. They in fact, alter your brain chemistry in a positive way. This alteration can mean fewer panic attacks and depending on the case, may mean you don’t suffer another panic attack.

Exercise helps your body manage stress. Scientists and the medical community are not sure what exactly causes a person to have a panic attack. They in fact believe there are many things that contribute to an attack including predisposition, habits, stress and overall health. When you exercise you improve your health and your body’s ability to manage stress. In short, exercise helps to eliminate two of the potential causes for panic attacks.

What Kind of Exercise and how Much?

Most people want to quantify exercise. They want to know how much exercise they must do to get rid of panic attacks and for how long. Let’s be completely honest here and say that exercise may not cure your panic attacks. There are many reasons why they may be happening. What exercise can do is help you reduce them and possibly eliminate them.

Now to the what kind of exercise and how much question…there really is no right or wrong answer. Simply moving your body each day is important. A general rule of thumb is to take 10,000 steps a day. That’s the equivalent of walking 5 miles and you probably already walk around two to three miles a day so you don’t have to add much. You can add ten minutes of walking to your lunch break or walk to the coffee shop instead of driving.

If you can’t get 10,000 steps in each day, then spend 30 minutes moving your body. Stretch, do yoga, swim, dance, jump rope, or ride your bike. Do whatever makes you feel good. When you enjoy what you’re doing, adding it to your day won’t be difficult.

Is exercising a cure for panic attacks. Not necessarily. But it can help you manage stress and anxiety, improve your overall health, and improve your mindset. All of which, help reduce and maybe even eliminate panic attacks.

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