If given the choice to be happy or fearful, I believe we'd all jump into the happy bus blasting our fear into fumes. The only problem: We can't always find our ticket to drive. I sat down with motivational speaker, life coach, and author, Gabrielle Bernstein, to discuss the best way to kick fear to the curb and waltz into the future with our happiness. This amazing lady happens to have a new book, called Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose, that tackles all of these common problems with simple and effective solutions. Sound good? Read on for my Q&A with Gabrielle:
Kathryn: What's one sneaky thing that drains our happiness and how can you fix it?
Gabrielle: Fear is the sneaky thing that drains our happiness. We get so hooked into the fears from our past and the fears of the future that we disconnect with the present moment. I love this acronym for fear: F Everything and Run, because the moment fear arises we immediately avoid feeling it. But when we run from fear, we often turn to bad habits to anesthetize the discomfort. When we run we avoid, and this creates a fear cycle that becomes our reality. When we're stuck in fearful beliefs, we're blocking our energy flow, our connection to others, and our happiness.
The key to creating more happiness is to release the fears that hold us back. How do you do that? A great place to start is with this exercise from my new book, Miracles Now. Every time you feel your thoughts go into fearful attack mode, say out loud 'Happiness is a choice I make.' Make that your mantra. The more you retrain yourself to choose happiness over fear, the more blissful you will be. Repeating that behavior is what makes it stick.
Kathryn: What's something you can do in one minute to improve your life?
Gabrielle: The one-minute wonder is to breathe. There's a Kundalini meditation called "the one minute breath." This simple meditation can change your life. For one minute, you take 20 seconds to inhale, hold it for 20 seconds, then take 20 seconds to exhale.
If you're new to yogic breath, it's likely that the 20-second cycle will be hard. It's just as powerful if you breathe in for five seconds, hold for five seconds and exhale for five seconds (for up to a minute or more), then you can work up to 20 seconds. This meditation dramatically calms anxiety, fear and worry.
Kathryn: What's your favorite in-the-moment stress buster?
Gabrielle: Another great tip from Miracles Now is this meditation for beginners. I call it, Peace is in your Pulse.
Meditation has proven to be one of the most valuable tools for reducing stress. Many people want to meditate but don't know where to begin. An easy way to begin meditation and access peace is through your pulse. Just by meditating on your own pulse you can calm your mind, balance your brain hemispheres, and recalibrate your nervous system.
Through this simple meditation you can develop your ability to concentrate. It will also help you control your reactions in all situations and bring calm to even the most scattered mind. First, sit comfortably in your chair and lightly close your eyes. The hand position is simple: Place the four fingers of your right hand on your left wrist and feel your pulse. The fingers are in a straight line, lightly pressed on the wrist so you can feel your pulse in each fingertip. On each beat of your pulse, mentally recite the words: "peace, now."
You can do this meditation during your commute to work, before a big date or at any moment throughout the day when you feel yourself getting stressed out.
Kathryn: How can you not only create intention but stay motivated to pursue it?
Gabrielle: I believe the best way to stay motivated to pursue an intention is to commit to it first thing in the morning. Upon waking set your intention, "Today I am committed to pursuing this goal _______." Put it out there and make a commitment the moment you wake up. Your morning intention will dictate the direction you flow in for the rest of the day. Start off with the right vibes and you will be carried. Then throughout the day when you notice yourself misaligned with your intention, simply say to yourself, "I recommit to this intention now."
What you focus on grows. Practice committing to your intentions throughout the day and your follow through will be awesome!
Kathryn: What are some things women should do to avoid burnout?
Gabrielle: Learn how to say NO! My best friend Latham Thomas always says, "No is a complete sentence." It's very easy to get caught up in the behavior of people pleasing, which inevitably leads to burnout. Practice saying no with love. Don't be afraid that you'll let people down. Trust that the more you honor your own needs the more energy you will have to support others.
Kathryn: How can you combat negative comments to preserve your drive and happiness?
Gabrielle: Have compassion for these folks. Let's face it: Happy people don't post negative comments on the web or put you down to your face. Compassion will reconnect you to a sense of oneness and defenselessness, which will help you put down the boxing gloves and settle into a new perspective. Just let go fully and forgive. To really seal the deal, I suggest you use prayer. Simply say, "I pray to forgive you and release you." Then feel free to block or delete the user or hide the comment. If you have the power to clear the feed, let that become part of your practice. And when you're dealing with Internet haters there's no reason to let negative comments linger. Simply forgive and delete.
Kathryn: I always teach my students to 'aim true'. What does this mean for you?
Gabrielle: First off, I LOVE this message. I believe that our truth is our greatest source of power. The sexiest thing about us is our authentic truth! For me, "aim true" means that I commit to a daily practice of releasing all the fear and negativity that blocks me from being myself. Aim true means that I must always bring my truth to all situations, relationships, and encounters. Aim true means that I am always on a path of personal growth and expansion.