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Monday, June 24, 2013

Viceless Day 45-53: Positive Psychology and True Happiness

I've cleared the half-way mark and am edging on 2/3 done with my Viceless commitment. I've found I can divide people into two camps when they hear about this project. One group asks, "Do you feel amazing?!" The other says, "Oh, so you are giving up everything good? When is this craziness over?"

I'm a member of both camps. My favorite thing about being Viceless is how it simplifies my choices. Am I going to buy that candy? No. Am I going to eat a bag of Doritos's? No. Am I going to spend the day watching the Kardashians? No. Great. Decision made. What I don't like is that my pleasure outlets feel limited. I believe strongly in pleasure. I'm a bit of a hedonist and believe let no pleasure pass unenjoyed. Aka: let no chocolate go uneaten. Why then does my pleasure often torture me? That momentary pleasure so often turns to guilt, obliterating my happiness.  

Learning about Positive Psychology is school has begun to clarify my feelings about pleasure. Positive emotions are created from pleasure such as chocolate and wine. That's a plus. The problem is, those pleasures are fleeting. Lasting positive emotions come from pleasure that is attached to meaning. Meaning is derived from using personal strengths toward something greater than the self.

All my life, I've been a big fan of ephemeral pleasures. I leaped at any chance to enjoy the world through my senses. Becoming a Badass and life coaching is the first time I feel like I have purposes and a huge source of pleasure outside of the pursuit of momentary thrills. Being Viceless has upped my work ethic and focus. I'm more productive and less likely to get caught up in my own fruitless and selfish guilt cycle. I'm sacrificing small pleasures (and yes, when I pass someone on the street with an ice-cream cone I feel the sacrifice) for the greater pleasure of helping others. I'm determined to help as many people as possible crush the fears that are destroying their happiness and success.  I'm helping people badass-up to their best lives. I've never felt better. My purpose is clear and I know exactly where I want to go. So, no. I haven't given up everything good. I'm finally working with passion toward the greater good. Positive Psychology is right. The greater good is what leads to lasting happiness.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Viceless Day 36-43: I'm a busy New Yorker now

Here you are my lovely blog-badasses! You've been on my mind as I wrapped up business in my mountain town, Jackson and transferred my booty to New York City for most of the summer. I'm here to take a summer intensive to get my Life Coaching Certificate through NYU. I've left my small, steady town for the wilds of New York. At least I don't have to worry about bears or mountain lions anymore.  

I wasn't sure I'd say this but, I LOVE NEW YORK. I love the friendly, helpful strangers, the cute outfits everywhere, the great friends I haven't seen in years but mostly I love the prevalence of healthy, delicious, Viceless approved food in restaurants. 

While on the flight to NYC I started thinking, what the hell am I doing? I'm going to be socializing my ass off and eating out like crazy. Not drinking is going to make me a freak. Where am I going to find Viceless food?!?!? I was imagining writing my apology letter for my failure: "I was an idiot for trying this. Sorry. I'll be eating pizza and bagels if you need to find me and berate me."

Then, I show up in NYC. My amazing friend who is letting me stay in her apartment (and who was previously known as the cupcake queen) is aware I'm Viceless and says, "You down with a macrobiotic restaurant that I love?" Ummm... YES! 

Chia Pudding obsession.
Turns out, I'm not alone in my quest for Vicelessness. There are so many people in NYC trying life without either white sugar, gluten or dairy that food options are everywhere. I've had raw-vegan, gluten-free sushi, the most amazing salads with steamed veggies and tahini dressings, and scrumptious brown rice bowls. My food choices haven't been inconvenient for an instant. In fact, I'm more tempted than ever. Everywhere I turn is a sugar-free, dairy free bit of deliciousness made with agave or honey. I'm limiting my sweet intake, because this isn't about replacing a vice with an alternative vice, but I've got to try some of this stuff! My favorite so far is Chia seed pudding. Chia seeds in cashew milk with a little agave and they sell it at so many places! Hello, super-food dessert!

Ok, I had to take a deep breath because in all my excitement I'm abusing exclamation points. I'm reminded of the Joseph Campbell quote, "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." For me, the door has been friends with the same food interests. I was so afraid of ostracizing myself with my new Viceless lifestyle, but the three friends from my past that I've been able to see so far are fascinated by the same lifestyle and food that I am. They may not be totally Viceless, but they definitely lean toward these healthy choices and love hearing how my Viceless adventure is going. I have way more support in NYC than I did even in Jackson. 

Can't wait to share my food findings with you all! (final exclamation point, I promise) I'm off to meditate and read about life coaching in Prospect Heights Park. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Viceless Day 32-35: Sorry I'm crying, just keep talking

There is a reason that this is called Becoming a Badass and not, I'm a Damn Badass. I'm highly devoted to self improvement and wellness. There basically hasn't been a time in the past 10 years where I wasn't reading up on some self-improvement and conducting my own experiment. I believe deeply in our ability to improve with conscious effort. That being said, it only works if you work it. 

I've already admitted that I was born so shy that I would cry if anyone outside of my immediate family would talk to me. I'm not sure if I've also exposed that I was born so sensitive that I've probably cried for 1/8 of my life (possible understatement. Scary, I know). I'm one of those people that can feel other peoples emotions or read the truth from a slight change in energy or facial expression. I can leave a party knowing who was even considering sleeping with who. Small social interactions that are typically hidden to the human eye are for some reason obvious to my sensitive nature. Blessing and a curse. This sensitivity helps with my coaching and communications but has been crippling in other areas of my life. In school, when dealing with criticism from teachers, I actually had to start saying, "I know I'm crying but just keep talking. I can't control it but I want to hear what you have to say." That's tough on people. Obviously, my sensitivity is something that I needed to work on.

This sensitivity and crying are why it was super important for me to find healthy ways to deal with my emotions and spiritual strength to deal with the world. Aka: I meditate daily, pray constantly, have a strong forgiveness practice and use mantra's to keep my mind from dwelling on my sensitivities fears. I have to keep up this work or I'm a hot mess. 

The good news is that because of these practices I now can handle criticism, flat out haters and meanie-pants with grace and dry eyes. Stress has become manageable and I can even get through that time of the month without eating someones head while seasoning it with my flowing tears. 

The bad news is there is no one shot fix all. I have to keep up with my wellness and spiritual practices or I go right back to a wounded mess of irrational crying. I also have to workout regularly or my butt goes back to a flat pancake. I don't get to coast by in anything in this life! But that's ok, because from my constant effort, I've found my greatest passion: Helping others through self-improvement. 

I'm owning up to this because this past week was a major break down for me. I struggled as I moved apartments, kept up with my work, prepared for a summer in NYC getting more life coach training through NYU and generally tried to keep up with a life that is progressing wonderfully fast toward so many of my dreams. I let my good practices fall to the side as I prioritized the "practical". I spent all my time on work, tasks and demands, figuring I could skate by on my past wellness practices. NOPE!!! Because I dropped some of my wellness practices, I found myself a crying stress ball during my move. All of a sudden the world looked unfair and mean. Why did I have to do so much at one time? I was angry, hurt and panicked. This is the time when I should stop, breath and meditate! I didn't though and learned the hard way that my wellness practices only work if I work them. 

Luckily, I didn't stay my sensitive, wounded self for long. Two days of angry breakdown and I remembered, "Hey! I know how to deal with this shit!" I took the time to meditate and refocused my mind with some conscious gratitude. Yep, sometimes you just have to force your mind to look for the good and make a list of all that you are grateful for. Sure, at first my mind was muttering, this is bullshit, after every item on my gratitude list but eventually I hit the sweet spot. My mind snapped back to happiness and peace, a peace that isn't disturbed by others words, opinions or actions. This is the beauty of a solid wellness practice. You can't just expect yourself to be solid in every circumstance. Do yourself a favor and set-up some practices that reinforce your happiness and mental stability. This isn't about perfection in every moment, but having practices you can turn to when life is being a little a-hole.  

I'm going to be getting into these practices more here at Becoming a Badass. I know you need specifics and I'll be getting them to you! Love you badasses! Thanks for joining me as I become a badass a bit more everyday. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Viceless Day 31: From Average to Badass

I need to clarify something with you all.

The other day, I was talking to my sister about her taking on a challenge and she said, "Yeah, but you love a challenge."

This is absolutely not true. I love sitting on the couch eating Doritos. I don't naturally love working out, taking on challenges, facing my fears or any of the other healthy, life enhancing activities that I promote daily. I love sleeping and wearing sweatpants. That is easy and comfortable. Problem is that I hate being sluggish, out of shape and unsuccessful. I have learned to love what is good for me because I hate the negative consequences of avoiding it. I've learned to love a challenge, but it's not my natural resting state. This takes work.
Muffy Davis. Ass-kicking paralympian
and motivational speaker. You don't
need this big of a challenge to
Become a Badass.

That's why I'm here. I want you all to know that you are not alone. You see your friends in perfect relationships, killing it straight out of college in a high paying career. You see airbrushed celebrities. You see heads of companies saying they always new they would be successful. Good for them. Now what about the rest of us?

I recently went to the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. There were so many speakers there talking about ways to improve your life from spirituality to feng shui, from paralympians to documentary makers. People kept saying, "Stop over achieving." "I used to be an achievement junkie."

Christine Hassler, brilliant coach and speaker.
You don't have to be this flawless and put together
to be Becoming a Badass. But we will love you
even if you are.
I want you all to know that I am not coming from that place. Where is the person who didn't start their own business by 21? Where is the person who didn't date George Clooney? Where is the person who has consistently been in the middle, felt like they were at the bottom, struggled just to keep up? Here I am and I've learned how to love a challenge.

I love achievers, the super successful, the born athletes, the destined to be famous since birth but those aren't the ones I want to help. Great, you've got this. You were born knowing who you are, what you want to do and how to achieve greatness. Go!!! I will enjoy watching and cheering you on. If you find that you're over addicted to success, I've got some great people I can refer you to, such as Christine Hassler and Christine Arylo. For the rest of you though, I've got your back. If you've struggled to figure out who you are and why you were put here on earth, I want to help you. If you trip when you dance and have never won anything in your life, I'm here for you. If you are hugging the middle of the bell curve, I want to help you get to the next level. If you don't jog not just because it's physically painful but because you are embarrassed of the jiggle that goes along with the movement, I want to talk to you. We need to talk if you dread family reunions because you hate answering the question, "So, what are you doing with your life?" If you know that you are a capable person but just can't find the right place to apply yourself, I've got you.

The Sun Valley Wellness Festival needs me. What about everyone who has always lived a perfectly nice, normal, middle of the road life but craves big happiness and fulfillment? I'm here to tell you daily that just because you haven't, doesn't mean you can't. If you have a dream or desire, you are doing yourself and the world a disservice by not going after it. The world needs more people who are passionately pursuing their dreams. Let's light up this world people! Even though our natural instinct is to sit on the couch with E! television and a bag of Doritos.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Viceless Day 30: Saying No

I've always found it hard to say no. I just find yes to be so much more fun. Brownie? Yes! Nachos? Yes! Cocktail? Yes! The truth is though, I say yes too much. I overbook and over consume. This tendency to always says yes leaves my schedule and body bloated and weighed down.

This challenge is just an exercise in saying no. Everyday, another person, usually one I really adore, offers me something that I must turn down. People don't just offer me sweets or wine, they hold it up to my face and say, "Please, just have some. Please." It's really hard to say no to that!

But I'm finding that once I get past the awkward no moment that still requires adjustment, I have just as much fun as I would if I were consuming alcohol or decadent food. I still find myself tearing up with laughter. I'm still having meaningful conversations. Actually, my fiancé keeps asking me what I'm so giggly about. I don't know. I just feel good, happy and giggly. Turns out that wasn't the sugar high or alcohol buzz. I'm just like that. Amazing.

People have said that I'm experiencing the placebo effect. I feel better because I expect to feel better. That could very well be true, but I would like to propose that my vices also include a placebo effect. How often do we think, I need a drink? I need a treat? I need to chill out and watch some TV? These have become the most common method of relaxation. What about meditation and deep breathing? What about a walk outdoors? Do we really NEED our vices?

I'm a free spirit and an Aquarius. I'm not hear to tell you what is right or wrong. I don't believe in that sort of thing. If cocktails and a piece of cake make you purely, delightfully happy then get to it. But I am here to challenge you to question your limitations. Limitations are the one thing I don't believe in.

Where are you limiting your potential? Where could you be saying no that would open up more space in your life for greatness? As my friend, Leaha, says, "How is the universe supposed to fill your basket if it's already full?"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Viceless Day 29: Help! How do I celebrate without food or alcohol?

Beautiful moment a few days ago between my fiancé and myself. I had just wrapped up my first Becoming a Badass Workshop. I've got new coaching clients appearing all the time. My body is feeling and looking good. I just talked to some of my major role models at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and now they know I'm alive. I'm about to head to NYC to get more life coach training through NYU. I've made all of these accomplishments happen on my own as an independent adult. LIFE IS GOOD!! I was hopping around my kitchen with excitement and my fiancé had a huge grin on his face.

He said, "I'm so happy you're so happy. Let's celebrate!"

We both stood starting at each other with wide goofy smiles that gradually softened into open-mouth bewilderment. We have a bottle of champagne but I'm not drinking... There's no special chocolates or ice cream to decadently pair with a nice glass of wine... We traditionally celebrate by consuming something. Whoa! I'm so stuck in this habitual that I don't even know what else I could do.

This is a false representation of my ice cream.
My ice cream was not pretty enough to
The next day I ended up making my self some vegan, sugar-free ice-cream from bananas, nut butters and maple syrup. It was a treat but felt like a substitute for the real thing. I'm not here to substitute my vices until I can get back to the "real thing." I'm looking for new ways to exist that will expand my options of having fun and enjoying life.

This is where I need your help. I've been looking for ways to celebrate and reward myself that don't involve food, alcohol or lots of money. In the future, as a big celebration, I will get a massage, take a trip or buy a highly coveted product. I can think of nice things I would love to buy but as I set up a business, my money is being reinvested in my business. What can I do that is small, affordable, celebratory and decadent for those small accomplishments that deserve attention?

I really need your help on this one. What tips and tricks can you share with me badasses? Help me celebrate!