Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

Everyone smiles in the same language. ~Author ...

When I was in high school, and for a semester in college, I worked at McDonalds. I worked behind the counter mostly, and on the menu board above my head was a sign that read, “Smiles are free.”

My co-workers and I used to joke about it, but the management was very serious about being sure we smiled at our customers. If we didn’t, we risked being moved to the fry station, and NO ONE wants to work that station. So we smiled.

And, in return, most of our customers would smile back at us. In fact, research told our managers, a simple warm smile from the front counter girl could change the customer’s perception of the entire dining experience, and they were twice as likely to return if they felt they’d received good service. In some cases, it turned out, customers who received great service rated the food higher too.

So, in layman’s terms, a smile was powerful–it could be the difference between a lifelong customer and a one-timer.

And, I’ll tell you another little secret. This powerful tool is not only available to the folks at McDonald’s.

I could go into all of the science behind this, but that’s not the point of today’s blog. The point is that when you just smile, you can create a significant upswing in your day and even in your life. Your mood will be more positive, and you’ll suddenly notice people around you being kinder to you, and most likely friendlier than usual.

Consider this. If you’re walking down the aisle at the grocery store and someone looks you in the eyes and smiles, saying hi, what would you do? Of course, you’d respond in kind.

Try This

Now, close your eyes and smile to yourself for ten seconds. Do it now, no matter how silly it feels. Don’t worry…I’ll wait.

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Did you do it? How do you feel? I’ll bet that something in you feels just a little better, even if you do feel silly.

Bliss Mission: Smile More

So I have an experiment for you to try. For the next 24 hours, practice smiling more. Smile at your kids, your spouse, the mail man. Smile at your coworkers, your boss, your trash guy…just everyone you meet today. Even smile while you’re on the phone.

I suggest that you’ll find that people in general are nicer to you, just for starters. The added bonus? You’ll notice that your own mood is bumped up a few notches too.

And, of course, you’ll be making the world a much more beautiful place. So, smile today! It’s free, it feels great, and it can effect serious results in your life.

Try this little experiment, and let me know how it works for you. What do you say? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.

Feel good! You deserve it!

 

Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

How to Stop Caring What People Think (Without Looking Like a Huge Jerk)

Yesterday, we discussed the eternal internal struggle so many of us deal with every day–do we make our own choices and create our own happiness, or do we let the judgments and opinions of other people (and even society) dictate our major life decisions?

So often, we’re so afraid of what might happen if we don’t bend to the will of others that we never feel safe in making our own choices. What will they think of us? What will they say? Will they think we’ve all turned into huge jerks?!?

Kate’s Story

Thirty-seven year old Kate, for example, says that her father has always dictated her life choices. He pressured her to attend his alma mater and to follow in his footsteps in her choice of career. He bought her a home next door to his own for her college graduation gift, got her a job at his firm, and steered her toward a specific man when he thought it was time for her to get married. He has essentially made (or manipulated her into making) every major life decision for her–and she is angry.

Let’s put this in perspective, shall we?

Kate, a 37 year old woman who is capable of taking care of herself financially and physically, feels that if she doesn’t do what her father thinks she should, she will be abandoned by him, physically and emotionally. Kate admits that she fears that he father won’t love her any more if she doesn’t do what he says is right–and that deep down, she believes that she is obligated to play by his rules because she would be Alone In the World without his support.

Do you recognize Kate?

Kate seems to have a problem that many people have–she’s a people pleaser. She has learned to base her own self-acceptance on the acceptance of other people in her life. Jay Earley, Phd says that being a people pleaser is a learned behavior, usually starting early in childhood.

“Often, parents will simply tell kids what to do and never encourage them to assert themselves,” Earley says. “When the kids obey, the parents give them conditional love.”

Time to Make a Choice

Here’s the bottom line–if you want to be happy, you must look inside of yourself to find out what you truly desire. And then, you must go after it–regardless of who it’s going to piss off.

Easier said than done, I know…but what’s the alternative? Living a life that’s been designed and approved by someone other than you. Pick your poison, folks.

Be happy and follow your heart, or do whatever someone else says you should do–and deal with the consequences. If you choose to be happy and to make your own choices, I applaud you (not that you need my approval or anyone else’s)–and here are a few tips to help you get started.


Get Some Perspective

Honestly, what is the worst thing that will happen if you make a choice that someone else disagrees with? In most cases, there may be a brief period of discomfort in the relationship with that person before he or she accepts your decision. Of course, there are some people who would actually cut you out of their lives for such an infraction–but those are the people who love or like you only conditionally. (“If you do what I think you should, then I’ll love you” kind of people.)

Do you really want people like that having so much control in your life? Evaluate the relationship. Is it toxic?

Believe What You’re Saying (and Doing)

One of the biggest reasons people feel comfortable in telling you what to do with your life is that you accept (and expect) that they will. That causes you to doubt your own inner voice–you know, the one that tells you what you need to be happy.

Next time you make an unpopular choice in your life, do so with confidence, and when or if you choose to share your decision with someone who criticizes it, be prepared to smile and say something like, “I understand and appreciate your concern, but I’ve thought this through and have chosen ____________ carefully.” And then leave it at that.

When you acknowledge and are grateful for the fact that the person cares enough to tell you his or her opinion, he or she might feel validated and accept your choice a little more gracefully. Remember: you’re not asking for permission or approval. You’re stating a fact–this is a choice that you have made. End of discussion.

Take a Cue from Earl

If you’ve ever seen the TV show, My Name is Earl, then you’ll know what I mean. At first glance, Earl looks like a former convict who lives in a cheap motel and shares a bed with his brother. But if you take a second look, you’ll notice something special about him. He observes the people and situations around him, but he never judges or belittles them. He doesn’t react negatively–he just observes.

Remember that like attracts like–so if you focus on judging or disapproving of people and situations in your own life, you’re likely to find that people judge or disapprove of you and your situation. Focus instead on accepting other people around you, and you’ll find yourself more accepted by others.

Accept Yourself

Speaking of accepting people, how about extending the same courtesy to yourself? If you’re secretly judging and disapproving of your own choices, you need to figure out why. Is it because you’re doing something that you believe is wrong? If so, you need to reevaluate your motivations and figure out why.

Is it because someone else thinks what you’re doing is wrong, even though you’re happy doing that? If so, it’s time to stand up and be who you are–and to be happy about it. People who love you will be happy that you’re happy.

What do you think?

Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

Ugly Society, Beautiful You: Screw Preconceived Notions

Gianna the Dove Girl

I read something recently about how women and girls in today’s society seem to have increasingly lower self esteem today. The media and our society teach us to hate ourselves.

But it doesn’t stop there. Mothers tend to pass these poor self-image tendencies to their daughters, whether intentionally or not. That’s pretty scary, if you ask me–and their sons can’t be far behind.

Change your life–sign up for Project Blissful right now! It’s free.

It bothers me that this is an issue at all, but I do see some positive changes in the media these days.

For example, the “Dove girls” have been around for several years now. They are “average” looking women who model in their unmentionables to showcase “real beauty.”

Real beauty matters, and it’s totally true that many plus-sized women are gorgeous–but being healthy is still important, and that means different things for different people. But, in my opinion, it’s all about feeling good–when you feel good, you can’t help but look good.

Obviously, we can’t all look like the airbrushed models we see, but we should still strive to be our personal best. Still, that brings us back to the main issue–where do we draw the line?

As for my daughter, I tell her every day that she is beautiful and amazing and smart and strong–and I try to point out her successes as often as possible. I’m not perfect by any means, but I hope that my efforts will continue to help her form a strong sense of self-esteem over the years. So far, so good.

Where do you draw the line? And what do (will) you tell your daughters and sons about their bodies? Tell me in the comments section, below.

Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

I Sing At Stoplights and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

I’m the sort of person who sings in the car. I don’t mean just humming along, either. I’m talking about a full-on karaoke-style concert from the front seat. But today, as I was out running errands, I noticed something. If I’m at a stoplight or in an otherwise closely populated area where people might catch me singing, I stop.

When I noticed it today, I asked myself why I did this. Was it because I was embarrassed that people might see me singing? Was I afraid that someone would make fun of me?

After thinking about it for a moment, I realized: This was a “leftover” behavior from the days when I cared what people I’d probably never speak to or engage with thought about me. Now, don’t get me wrong–I still want to give people a good impression and I do still care what people who are important to me think (at least to some extent.) But I don’t mind if people know I’m happy or that I like music–and that’s all anyone could technically infer if they did happen to catch me singing behind the wheel.

That’s why today, I decided that I am now the type of person who sings at stoplights.

I don’t know if its because I’m getting…more mature…or if it’s a growth thing, but the more time passes, the more comfortable I feel being who I am when I’m out in the world. Instead of always pretending to be what society or other people think I need to be, I just present myself as I am–and if people give me funny looks or turn their noses up, I no longer take it personally. Instead, I just smile at them and understand that their problem is something within themselves–not with me. More often than I expect, they smile back at me.

I’ve realized that focusing on the positive things, people and events in my life, along with giving myself permission to be my true self in every situation, has made me feel happier overall. And by the law of attraction, happiness breeds more happiness. Worrying about what someone in the grocery store or in the car next to me thinks about me is just a waste of my time and energy.

The best part, I think, is that when I learned to stop focusing on the negative things people thought or said about me and started looking at the good things people said/thought/felt about me, more of those good things came toward me. And those negatives? They’re hardly even there these days. (And if there are/were any, I wouldn’t pay attention to them anyhow.)

Now, I base my opinion of myself not on what other people think, but on what I think. What a concept. As it turns out, I’m pretty cool–even though I sing in the car.

So what about you? Do you feel comfortable enough with who you are to sing at stoplights? Tell me in the comments! 

Image Credit: Aka Hige/Flikr

 

 

Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

Woman, Support Thy Sisters: Stop Perpetuating the Mommy Stigma

I recently engaged in a LinkedIn discussion that left me disgusted, shocked and angry. It seems that I shared an unpopular opinion in one of my writing groups, and while I wasn’t surprised by the fact that people disagreed with me, I was completely floored when another woman attacked me personally. She didn’t like what I had to say, and I respected that wholeheartedly. I’m always up for a friendly and spirited debate–but then she took it one step too far. She implied that because I have children, I must be an incompetent writer.

This woman, who later admitted to being a mother herself, spewed hate and ignorance, the likes of which I haven’t seen since junior high school. She even attempted to insult me by calling me a “mommy blogger.”

Guess what? I am a mommy, and I am also a blogger. I’m an awesome wife, a homeowner, a friend, a daughter, a granddaughter. I love my life, and I’m proud of my family. I also happen to be a pretty successful freelance writer who brings in a pretty decent income. I’m passionate and I know what I want in this world–and I’m not afraid to go after it.

But apparently, simply admitting that one has children in some circles is a sign to some people that she’s not capable of being a professional. Instead, women who admit they’re mothers are often belittled and ridiculed–and often, this treatment comes from other women, even other mothers. People who openly admit to being moms might be called “unprofessional” and told that they must not be taking their work seriously–even from people who are less experienced and making less money than they are.

It’s not just the writing community, either. Back in my corporate life, I experienced discrimination from some of my colleagues, including other mothers, because of my maternal status–and my research tells me that I’m not alone.

Being female already puts us behind our male counterparts in the professional world. On average, we earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. While there are countless rationalizations for this phenomenon, there are just as many legitimate complaints.

Discrimination At Its Finest

If a career-driven woman aggressively pursues her own success, she’s called a bitch. If she chooses to focus on her family, she’s considered “just a mommy.” And, if she tries to “have it all” and work while she raises her family, God forbid, her intelligence is questioned and she might be called incompetent. The really messed up part is that men don’t generally experience the same type of discrimination when they become parents.

The thing that really gets under my skin in regard to discrimination against women, and especially mothers, in the workplace is that it very often comes from other women. By the time we’re 33 years old, 76 percent of us are or will become mothers. There’s a pretty good chance that could include you (or your partner), if it doesn’t already.

Woman Vs. Woman

As a society, so many have been conditioned to think that motherhood=career suicide that many women turn against one another. While competition in the workplace is natural and even encouraged in many cases, it doesn’t need to involve personal attacks–especially on a woman’s maternal status.

I don’t know about y’all, but I am over this whole “women discriminating against other women” thing. Some people seem to thrive on it–maybe they think that by spewing hate and insults at the other women in their respective industries, they’re somehow proving their own superiority. Or maybe they are trying to appear more masculine, as they mistake spitefulness for assertiveness. I honestly don’t know the answer here–maybe it should simply be chalked up to the fact that some people are just plain negative.

So back to the story…

While I’ll openly admit that my heart was pounding in shock and anger as I read this woman’s venomous words, after I had some time to think on it, it occurred to me that my initial reaction would only encourage her negative behavior. So, I reminded her that it’s easy to be nasty in a semi-anonymous forum to people she doesn’t know and will probably never meet. I apologized for any perceived sarcasm or negativity she found in my responses (although I was nothing but respectful to her–unless you count the time I suggested that her negative attitude might be the reason she’s having trouble finding high-paying gigs), and then I wished her well and removed myself from the conversation.

Sure, I had a brief urge to tell her what I really thought, and believe me, it wouldn’t have been pretty. But that would just be putting more negativity out into the world–thus, bringing more of it into my life. I don’t need it–and neither do the rest of the women in the world.

Woman, Support Thy Sisters

Listen, girls, I know just as well as anyone how it feels to be competitive with the other women in your life. Who doesn’t? This society encourages a certain type of perfection, and anyone who doesn’t fit in that perfect little box can expect some level of discrimination.

But I propose that we, as women, work together to climb that collective “ladder of success.” Let’s stick our proverbial hammers in our back pockets on the way up so that when we reach the top, we can break through that perceived glass ceiling people are always talking about.

And on the way up, why not give our sisters a helping hand? Reach out to the women in your life, personal and professional, and you might just find a kind of support that you didn’t know was possible. Get off the woman-hating band wagon and love your sisters, flaws and all.

Why It Matters

Here’s the kicker. When we focus on tearing down the other women around us, we are also tearing down ourselves on some level. Remember, you get back what you put out into the universe. So, when you’re constantly trying to “one-up” or belittle the other women in your life, you might just look in the mirror and see someone you don’t even like. After all, you’re one of those people you’re always cutting down. However, if you can muster up a little support for (yourself and) the other feminine folks in your life, you might just find that a beautiful, happy person you’re proud to call Self smiles back at you instead.

My challenge to my female readers today is to support and encourage the women in your life. Instead of feeling competitive and threatened by one another, celebrate one another in all of your feminine perfection. Offer praise, support, advice. Focus on the good things about the women in your life, and watch yourself  experience immeasurable personal growth and increased self love–and ultimately, an improved quality of life.

As for the men, if you’re still reading, I challenge you to tell the women in your life that they matter. Hug your significant other and tell her she’s amazing. Call your mother and thank her for putting up with you for all these years. Tell your female colleagues that you appreciate them.

What do you think? Have you or someone you know experienced discrimination in the workplace? How did you handle it? How do you support the women in your life?

This post was originally published on InPursuitofFulfillment.com. If found anywhere else, this content is illegally copied and should be reported.
Bliss Mission: Smile, Evolve, Grow

Why Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse Feel They Don’t Deserve Nice Things

Originally Posted Nov. 12, 2009

“We cannot achieve more in life than what we believe in our heart of hearts we deserve to have.” ~ James R. Ball

Just the other day, after a minor plumbing incident, I went to the hardware store to pick up a new faucet. As I looked over the merchandise and carefully considered my choices, I instinctively looked for the cheapest and most basic option.

Now, understand, what I really wanted was a shiny and pretty candy-cane shaped faucet with an assortment of fancy handles to choose from. Still, a part of me (maybe the part that still thinks I’m 22 and broke as a joke) kept telling me no, all I deserved was the basic functional faucet. And, that evil little part of me insisted, I didn’t even REALLY deserve that. Maybe if I’d taken better care of the old one, it wouldn’t have broken in the first place.

Well, after standing there arguing with myself for a few minutes, I realized that I deserve the faucet I want in my kitchen. I can afford it, and it will last longer than the cheap piece of crap I’ve bought three times in the last six years. And, let me repeat, I deserve it. I’m worth it. It’s a freaking faucet, for goodness’ sake.

So I did it. I bought the pretty faucet, and I brought it home and helped my husband install it.

Let me tell you, every time I go into that kitchen, get myself a glass of water–make coffee–or even do dishes (gasp!), every time, that shiny faucet makes me remember that I’m fabulous and that I deserve the things I want in my life. And I smile to myself.

So guess what? Those few extra bucks were an investment–in myself. Not just because I did something nice for myself, and not just because of its silvery awesomeness. It was an investment in myself because, without realizing it, I’ve given myself a physical reminder to affirm my self worth several times a day.

I didn’t always know I deserved nice things.

Unfortunately, it gets far more serious than faucets, folks. Growing up in a toxic family situation, I was taught that I did not deserve the “good things.” And even when I’d worked to earn the money I needed to have the good things, somehow I felt guilty for buying the things I wanted. The mindset of lack was ingrained in me from early childhood. It wasn’t until I met my current husband, who inadvertently taught me I deserved to have nice things.

My point? When we’ve been raised by toxic people and then dealt with narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships, we can have a serious case of diminished self-worth, to put it mildly. And nearly always, our feelings of inadequacy can be detrimental to our lives, including our physical and mental health and overall well-being.

My challenge to you today is to do something nice for yourself. Maybe try something you don’t normally do because you don’t feel like you’re worth it. Get a massage, read a new book, take a candle-lit bubble bath – whatever turns you on. Just be sure that while you enjoy your gift to yourself, you remind yourself that you deserve it. Love yourself. You’re worth it!

If you are struggling to end or get over a relationship with a narcissist, you’ve come to the right place. Start your recovery here.

Not sure? Take this toxic relationship self-assessment and find out if you are dealing with a narcissist in a toxic relationship. 

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