Category: Good Habits

YOUR THOUGHTS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN YOU THINK

There’s a famous experiment by a Japanese researcher named Dr. Masaru Emoto. Dr. Emoto did these experiments where he took water and put either a positive word or a negative word on the slide, put the slides under a microscope and photographed the water as it froze. Dr. Emoto believed that by thinking the positive or negative word, the water would freeze differently because the vibrations (energy)  of the words affect the structure of water.

What do you think happened to the way the water froze? Watch this short video here before continuing to read….

Pretty amazing right? You could do the experiment yourself if you really wanted to. Many people have done a home experiment by using rice. Here’s one home experiment using rice…

 

Negative thoughts, followed by negative feelings, are a root cause of many problems. Problems such as getting sick, being in an irritable mood for “no reason”, and feeling like you’re making no progress in your life.

Negative thoughts come in the form of complaining, talking bad to yourself, replaying hurtful memories, holding on to grudges, constant worrying, fear, and being mean to others.

So you might be thinking, “Oh my gosh, I think so many negative thoughts! What do I do?!”

It’s okay.  The good news is that one positive thought is stronger than multiple negative thoughts. Just simply start paying attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, simply try replacing it with a positive thought, or at least think something that makes you feel better.

Over time, it’ll be much easier to think good thoughts until it becomes a habit and thinking any kind of negative thought doesn’t feel right to you anymore. Even being around negative people will be irritating for you.

 

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

 

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About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

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15 TRAITS OF TRULY HAPPY PEOPLE

What does being happy mean to you? Do you think it’s about walking around laughing, having a lot of energy, being in a good mood all of the time? Being friendly with every person you come in contact with? Or living in peace?

We work hard at trying to “find” it or pursue it. But the truth is that happiness is a state of being. It’s how we live our lives. It is not as a result of something outside of you. For example, people think “I’ll be happy when…” (get a better job, have a boy/girlfriend, have money,etc) when in reality, they could be happy now, while pursuing whatever it is that they want. This is not always easy to do for different reasons, including genetics.

However, we do have some control over our happiness. Luckily there are people who are truly happy and are great examples to follow. Here are 15 traits of truly happy people. See how many traits you already have. And try practicing the ones you feel you need to work on.

  1. They practice gratitude and are thankful for even the smallest things.
  2. They are open to change and take things as they come when going through transitions.
  3. They don’t take what other people think personally.
  4. They have positive self-talk.
  5. They love and accept themselves as they are.
  6. They don’t compare themselves to others.
  7. They look at problems as challenges to solve, instead of staying stuck in feeling like the victim. They also find ways to learn from these challenges.
  8. They mostly live in the moment, taking things day by day, instead of constantly worrying about the future and reliving the past.
  9. They spend money on experiences (going on trips, doing something with good friends and family, learning something new) and on other people, instead of only on material things for themselves.
  10. They get strength from within. That means practicing positive self-talk and reflecting on why something bothered them. Being spiritual or religious is another way to get inner strength.
  11. They surround themselves with other happy people and limit themselves from negative people. That includes staying away from gossip and not talking badly about other people.
  12. They help others in anyway they can. This could be doing something thoughtful for a friend or volunteering.
  13. They’re generally optimistic.
  14. They like to have goals to always be working towards. This could be anything from learning another language, or going for a walk for 20 minutes 3 times a week, for example. The point of the goals is to always be growing skills, experiences and interests.
  15. They meditate or do something calming to slow down. Even when super busy, they find the time to practice self-care.

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to automatically continue to receive posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in the Lehigh Valley, PA area.

 

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How To Be Selfish: When To Take Time for Yourself

I wrote the following post for Love Magazine a few months ago and wanted to share it with all my email subscribers. Hope you find it helpful!

 

The word selfish has a negative connotation. It brings up images of a greedy person who will make themselves feel better at the expense of others. Although there are times where selfishness can hurt other people, there are certain times that you must be selfish in order to improve yourself and your relationships.

Let me explain. We’ve all heard the example of the flight attendant telling passengers to put the oxygen mask on first before helping others. Well, if you try to help a passenger out first before putting on your own mask, you could possibly pass out, unable to help the other passenger. Now there are two people that are helpless.

In relationships, we tend to put other’s needs before our own. And this isn’t necessarily a good thing. You can become resentful, burn out, and get sick.

Most likely, you are the backbone of your family. People depend on you to get things done. You bring home the money, cook, clean, run people around, and organize family life. If you’re the one doing all of this, what happens when you get sick, can’t work, or just can’t be present for them? This is precisely why you must put yourself first. Here are four ways you can begin to put yourself first starting today.

1. Set boundaries with your time. If you say “yes” every time someone asks you to do something, you’ll quickly burn yourself out. Give yourself a limit of how many things you’ll be able to get done every week. If someone tries to volunteer you to do something, just reply, “Thank you for asking, but I already have a full schedule this week. Maybe next time.” If you feel that things just can’t get done without you, remember that they will find someone else to help. If you have trouble saying “no” to things, remember that every time you say “yes” to something, you’re saying “no” to something else.
A word of caution: Some people might not like that you’re setting boundaries. They’re used to you doing everything and they were sort of trained this way. Just remind yourself that there may be an adjustment period both for you and those around you.
Setting boundaries with your time, allows you to use your time effectively. We all have twenty-four hours in a day. No one has more, no one has less. So why is it that some people seem to get so much done, while others get very little done in a day? It’s primarily because those that get things done know how to manage their time effectively.
Setting boundaries are healthy. You’re taking care of your own mental health while modeling realistic limits to those around you.

2. Schedule some me time. Pencil in time in your calendar to do something that relaxes you. (If you don’t have a planner, having one will also help you stay organized with your time.) Make it an appointment and priority. It could be giving yourself a break for as little as 10 minutes. If you think you don’t have 10 minutes for yourself, please re-read #1.

This time is supposed to be something that relaxes and re-energizes you. It could be anything from watching a funny YouTube video on your phone before picking the kids up, taking a hot shower a little longer than usual, painting your nails, driving home the long way to have alone time in the car, taking a supportive friend out for lunch, reading, etc. The activity itself does not matter as long as it’s something that you enjoy. Schedule a personal activity every week, ideally every day.

3. Ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you know your limits. Plus, delegating makes you feel empowered. If there’s something that takes up a lot of your time, see if you could either hire it done or just simply ask one of your family members to pitch in. It’s not fair for you to be in a cranky mood because you have too much going on, when you choose to do everything and not ask for help.

4. Do something that you love. Who said that we have to live boring, routine lives when we grow up?! If you do something you love for a living, congratulations. But it doesn’t have to necessarily be something you get paid to do. When was the last time you wrote, painted, played an instrument or went for a run? Make it a priority to do something that you truly enjoyed doing before, but may have neglected.

When you are feeling happy and relaxed, it rubs off on others and creates a positive domino effect. Therefore, putting yourself first is not a selfish mindset. It benefits you and everyone around you. You are the leader of your pack. Lead by example and you’ll start to see the rewards.

 

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, Adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

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You’ll Feel Grateful After Reading This

Being grateful for the good things in your life shouldn’t  only be practiced during Thanksgiving. Being thankful everyday helps you take the focus off what is wrong in your life, and instead focus on what is good. Even when you feel that everything is wrong in your life or you have nothing to be thankful for, in reality there is always something.

Being grateful makes us feel more content, helps us bounce back from stress, makes us more optimistic, makes us less self-centered and so many more benefits.

Here are some facts to help you see things a bit differently, and realize how great your life actually is.

  • According to water.org 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Think about that next time you leave the water running while brushing your teeth or leave empty water bottles laying around.
  • 70% of the world does not have access to the internet!
  • At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day  Even if you’re on welfare and living in the U.S., you already make more money than most people in the world.
  • The odds of you being born are 1 in 6 x 10100 or
    1 in 60000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000000000000000000000 Don’t believe me. Check it out here. See, just the fact that you were born makes you special. Maybe you don’t know what your purpose is yet, but it’s no accident that you’re here. And while we’re talking about being alive, be grateful for your parents. Even if you don’t have the best parents, because of them you’re alive.
  • About 24.1 million people have a severe disability where they can’t work, drive, or live independently. Be happy that your five senses work. Obviously you can see if you can read this. But not everyone has this privilege. How do you describe color to someone who was born blind? Or describe music or a child’s laugh to someone who was born deaf?
  • Be grateful for having caring family and friends. Over 400,000 kids are in the foster care system in the U.S. 30,000 age out of the system every year and don’t have any family members to rely on.
  • Over 90 million people in the U.S. don’t have jobs.
  • Many countries, including India, China, Japan, Israel, and Pakistan, still practice arranged marriages. Can you imagine having your parents pick out your husband/wife without you knowing them? Some cultures still practice this til this day.
  • 610,042 people are homeless in the United States, that we know of.
  • 70 million children don’t go to school. This is due to different reasons, including conflicts and severe poverty. Kids living in north-eastern part of Africa are affected the most.  As much as it’s a pain to wake up  early, have tons of homework, and deal with rude classmates, having an education is a privilege.

Write down 20 things you’re grateful for today. If you make this a habit, you’ll find that you’ll start to enjoy the little things in life everyday. Try living in a state of gratitude every day, instead of waiting around for things to happen and then feeling grateful.

If you liked this post, share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

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Simple Activities To Boost “Happiness Chemicals”

How we feel in life basically has to do with our  “brain chemicals” These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Although we don’t have a way to measure how much you have when giving diagnosis, scientist do know that certain chemicals create specific feelings. Sadness, anxiety, excitement…all these feelings are produced by neurotransmitters.

How much or how little of these chemicals are produced depends on a lot of different things. Genetics, environment, past experiences, and diet to name a few.

The good news is that we can do things, on purpose, to help our body out in creating some of these chemicals. Try to do at least one of the following suggestions, everyday.

Eat organic yogurt. We’re talking about “brain chemicals” but the truth is that most of these hormones are in the lining of our stomach. The health of our stomach greatly affects our mood. Think about it. When you have  a “bad” feeling, or feel nervous, what part of your body do you feel it most? It’s usually the stomach.

Probiotics and prebiotics help keep our gut healthy. Drink plenty of water and eat foods rich in fiber to keep your gut healthy.

Give or get a hug. When you give a long hug to someone that you really care about, and you get that warm loving feeling, the neurotransmitter oxytocin is released. Basically, physically intimate moments releases this hormone. This chemical calms down the amygdala, the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when we think we’re in danger. Oxytocin has been called the “bonding hormone”  or “love hormone” because it makes you feel closer to people.

For women, oxytocin helps in contractions when giving birth and it’s released during breast feeding.

Shock yourself with cold water. Either splash your face with cold water if you’re at school or work, or turn the water to cold at the end of your shower. The cold water stimulates the vagus nerve, a nerve that goes from our head all the way down to the gut. It helps regulate a bunch of bodily functions like the heart, lungs, upper digestive tract, and other organs of the chest and abdomen.

Reminisce about happy times. Remembering happy memories helps increase serotonin. Serotonin does a bunch of things like helping neurons communicate with each other, improve memory, and most popularly known for increasing our mood. Anti-depressants (SSRI, which stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) is supposed to help our brain “lock in” the serotonin that we already have by preventing it from “fading away” (This is my explanation of it, not the scientific explanation.)

Watch a comedy. There’s a reason for the saying “laughter is the best medicine”. I completely agree with this. When we laugh we release several hormones responsible for releasing stress and tension and making us feel good, including serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.

Create small, challenging goals for yourself. Remember when you finished up a presentation you worked hard to prepare for, graduated from school after all those years, or completed a challenge you set for yourself? That small rush of pleasure was your brain releasing dopamine, the chemical responsible for reward and pleasure.

Try setting goals that challenge you in some way. It could be something as simple as cleaning up a messy room, or bigger goals like getting a new job, or getting fit.

Write down how you feel. Writing doesn’t necessarily release hormones, but it does calm down the mind. You could journal, or write short stories. A study done at the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that writing calms down amygdala activity. As I said before, the amygdala is the part of our brain that acts like an alarm when it thinks we’re in danger. Our brain can’t tell if something is real or you’re imagining it. That’s why just thinking about certain things will cause you to feel stressed and activates the amygdala.

None of us can feel happy all of the time. But staying positive and healthy will help you feel more satisfied with your life. And when you feel satisfied with your life, everyone around you benefits.

If you liked this post, please share it with your friends. And remember to subscribe below to continue regularly getting great posts like this one.

About the author.

Liza J Alvarado is a professional counselor in private practice. She serves Adolescents, young adults, and Spanish speaking families in Lehigh Valley, PA.

 

 

 

 

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