Three Steps to Create Positive Change in Your Life (From a Really Bad Guitar Player)

Do you long to create positive change in your life, but like many, feel frustrated and downright STUCK?  Then please watch my video.  You’ll see my horrible performance on the guitar (I have no shame, y’all!) and the valuable insights I’ve gained while learning something new.

I’ve played the flute since the age of 10.  I no longer think about which combination of fingers press which keys to sound a particular note.  Frankly, when I hear a melody, I’m able to recreate it instantly on the flute.  Making music on the flute has become somewhat effortless.

I’ve played the guitar since, well, last month.  It’s crazy. Just when I think I can remember how to shape a chord, I forget, and have to look at the chord chart again.  It’s slow as molasses, not a pretty sound, and doggone it, my fingers hurt!  In other words, learning to play the guitar is downright uncomfortable.

Do you long for positive change in your life?  Allow me to share three significant life lessons have come bubbling up through this humbling experience of learning something new that I believe can be of help if you’re ready for a change.

1. Reframe the discomfort.  When we get uncomfortable, we mistakenly interpret that feeling as our instincts telling us not to be brave…not to put ourselves out there.  We pull back.  We stop moving forward.  Essentially, it’s tempting to quit on ourselves.  Whenever you’re creating positive change in your life, whether learning a new skill, developing a new habit or letting an old one go, it’s uncomfortable.

But scientific, medical research tells us we’re actually creating new neuro pathways in our brains, literally altering our bio-chemistry.  We’re forming new habits, new ways of thinking. We’re keeping our brains young and fighting Alzheimers.

So re-frame the discomfort as a good sign.  In fact, celebrate that discomfort.  When you go to the gym and the next day your muscles are sore, that’s a good thing!  It means your body is getting stronger.  When you are frustrated with a new skill, that’s a good thing! It means your brain is staying young.

All of my adult life, whenever I heard someone play the guitar, I said to myself, “I wish I played the guitar.  It’s too bad I didn’t learn when I was younger.”  As if I’m 98 years old and on my death bed.  What’s up with THAT???

It’s not too late to learn something new.

2.  Face your fears.   Between you and me, I never tried the guitar, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be any good.

And then it dawned on me.

WHO CARES?????

I want to play the guitar for my own enjoyment!  It’s such a friendly instrument to sit in a circle with kids and sing a song together.  And if they can’t stand the way I sound, then please refer to the previous paragraph:  WHO CARES?  I’ll just play for myself!  And enjoy the fact that my brain is staying young!

3.  Stick with it.   What’s the difference between the effortless music from my flute and the painstaking music from my guitar?  Time spent.

That’s right.  Nothing magical or dramatic.  Just good old fashioned time and elbow grease.

I applaud and celebrate YOU for every new, uncomfortable habit or skill you are trying to develop!  Celebrate the discomfort, face your fears and stick with it!

I don’t know what new arena you’re facing, but I want you to know I believe in you.  Most importantly, I want you to know that God stands ready to help you.  Philippians 4:13 tells us we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”

I’d love to know what new thing you’re trying.  Leave me a message below.

Remember: Reframe the discomfort, face your fears and stick with it!

P.S. Know someone who is feeling stuck? Please pass this along! And share with me in the comments below what new thing you’re learning.  Beside the fact that I love hearing from you, others come here each week for insight and inspiration, and your story may help someone else have a meaningful breakthrough.  Thanks for adding your point of view!

With so much love,

Connie

How Changing Your Words Changes Your Attitude

Is this how you start your day?

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I’m not throwing any stones here.  Believe me, I’ve done it, too.

But it’s interesting how changing one simple phrase in your vocabulary can change your whole mindset from “Rise & Whine” to “Rise & Shine”.

Recently, I responded to an invitation to lunch with these words: “I can’t go that day.  I have to speak.”  For some reason, I heard my words with a different perspective. Wait a minute.  I have to speak?  I love the fact that I can use my life experiences to make a difference in peoples’ lives.  And I can’t believe people pay me to do what I feel called to do and what I enjoy doing.  What I do is a privilege.  And then it hit me.

I don’t have to speak.  I get to speak.

One phrase invokes a feeling of duty, whereas the other breeds gratitude.

I began to ask myself in what other areas I might need to recognize my overlooked privileges.

I don’t have to work out.  I am blessed with 2 arms, 2 legs and a healthy body that can move and I want to keep it that way.  I get to work out.

I don’t have to go to church. I am fortunate to live in a country where it’s not against the law to worship God.  I get to go to church.

I don’t have to check on my friend who’s under the weather.  I’m grateful to have friends who’ve seen me through good times and bad.  I get to check on her.

I don’t have to get a flu shot.  My country provides safe, sterile, convenient, affordable vaccines at my choice of several local drugstores.  For a little perspective, I was in Africa a few years ago to help with a medical team.

This picture doesn’t do justice to the hundreds and hundreds who stood in line all day to see a doctor.  I get to get a flu shot.

I don’t have to go to the grocery store.  (OK, this one is a work in progress, cause I DESPISE going to the grocery store!)  I’m fortunate to have money to pay for groceries.  I’m fortunate to live in a country where virtually anything I want or need, from organic fruits and vegetables, bison, crab legs, free range chicken to umpteen different flavors of coffee, from all over the world, is just 5 minutes away.  I get to go to the grocery store.

Shifting our focus from “I have to” to “I get to” can be a game changer in the way you experience your day.

In what areas could you change your words, creating more purpose and joy in your day? Try it and see if your “Rise & Whine” doesn’t become “Rise & Shine”!

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Blending music, humor and inspiration, best-selling author Connie Carey helps audiences view their challenges from a renewed perspective…all while enjoying a good belly laugh! Learn more about her book, “Falling UP”. For booking info, call 478.250.1177.

What I Caught From the Parking Garage Lady

The Parking Garage Lady was contagious yesterday.  And I caught it.  Let me explain.

Typical scenario: you go through the toll booth or exit the parking garage.  You hand him the ticket. He stamps it.

“Four dollars.”

You hand him a five.

He slaps a one into your hand and pushes the button. Gate lifts. You’re gone. End of story.

But that’s not what happened to me yesterday morning.

With our window rolled down, ready to get our ticket, my husband and I heard her before we got to her cheery, joy-dispensing booth. “You have a wonderful Thursday!” she said to the person in the car ahead of us.

“How are y’all this morning?”, she asked…as if she really wanted to know.  Still a little sleepy and nursing my coffee,  I leaned to the left from the passenger seat.  I wanted to see this happy lady.  With a warm smile she commented, “Nippy this morning! But I bet it’ll warm up by noon time! Isn’t this a gorgeous time of year?”

“Uh, yeah!” was our brilliant response.

We parked and made our way to the building. As we walked past her booth, our eyes met. She smiled and waved.  Maybe it was just the coffee kicking in, but I felt a bit more bounce in my step.  I smiled and waved back.

IMG_0163Entering the building, I pondered that this woman has transformed a job some might call mundane into a personal  mission to brighten the day of each person who crosses her path.  She may look like an ordinary parking garage lady, but don’t be fooled by her disguise.  She’s actually a superhero, nixing negativity with each parking ticket she stamps!

Not only did she brighten my day and everyone else fortunate enough to park in the Washington St. Garage, but she also made it contagious.

John had business in the courthouse.  A security guard instructed us to place jackets, purse, etc. on the conveyor belt.  I waited for the go ahead to pass through the detector.  Person after person walked through without a word or glance to the guard.  Infected by my happy parking garage lady, I ventured a word of encouragement.  “Thanks for keeping us safe.”  The guard was caught off-guard.  “Thank you, Ma’am.” He smiled and actually stood slightly taller.

As I stepped onto the elevator, a woman stared straight ahead, expressionless.  As we ascended, I broke the silence. “I love your boots.”  Her face came to life.  “I got ’em on sale!”  “Well then all the better!” I replied. We laughed.

The doors opened.  “Have a great day!” she called after me.

Yes, I know. These conversations aren’t world-changers. But they are short, painless affirmations of the people we bump into all day long. What if we “infect” the people we encounter and they in turn, “infect” the people they encounter?

As you go through your ordinary day today, whether at home or work, remember your extraordinary opportunity to infuse a little joy into someone’s life.  Who knows what kind of happy epidemic you and I can start?

6 Surefire Ways to Nix the Negativity at Work and Home

I chuckled when I saw this quote on a coffee mug recently:

I don’t have an attitude problem.  YOU have a problem with my attitude… and that’s not my problem.

What a joy it must be to live and work with this guy!

Be a Superhero!Instead, you can become a SUPERHERO  in your home and at the office by using these six surefire ways to nix the negativity in your life.

1.  Laugh at yourself. That’s right, don’t take yourself so seriously.  Life is full of embarrassing moments!  You’re going to trip sooner or later.  Your wrap around skirt may not always wrap around.  Take a deep breath, enjoy the laugh and move on!

2.  Talk back to yourself.  Many negative people tend to say they can’t help their feelings.  That’s true, but feelings are determined by thoughts, and we CAN choose what we think about.  “What we think about, we tend to bring about.”

 3.  Give your time.  Studies have shown that people who volunteer for a cause they feel passionate about tend to live longer, are less depressed and have enhanced feelings of well being.

4.  Spiritual growth.  Studies demonstrate a close link between spiritual growth and purpose and happiness. Seek to know Someone larger than you.

5.  Break a sweat.  Scientists have told us for a long time that exercise lifts the mood.  But Princeton researchers discovered last spring that the beneficial effects of exercise are not just temporary.  Cardio exercise actually rewires your mind to help keep your cool in stressful situations.  And if you think you need to train for a triathlon to get the benefits, think again.  Just 4 to 6 minutes every day for 5 weeks has been shown to reverse age-related memory impairment.  It also helps with what they call “executive functioning”: being able to switch tasks efficiently, getting back on track more quickly after a distraction, making plans and following through.  Wow.  I need that!  Excuse me while I take a quick walk.

6.  OK, I’m back.  And now, the easiest one of all:  Smile!  Researchers have discovered that participants who smiled while performing stressful tasks were able to complete them more efficiently and with less stress than those with neutral facial expressions.  In other words, smiling speeds recovery from stress.  Something about the smiling muscles increasing blood flow to the brain.  Who cares what the reason is as long as it works?  And the best part?  You don’t have to wait until you feel overwhelming happiness to reap the benefits.  Even faking a smile works.  And the participants found that when they manufactured a smile, their happy feelings followed!

We are not victims of our moods.  John Maxwell said, “The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take responsibility for our attitudes.  That’s the day we truly grow up.”

Be a Superhero at home and the office by choosing positivity. And remember these words from Herm Albright:  “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

How do YOU nix the negativity and get your happy on?  Leave a comment and I’ll send a copy of my new book, Falling UP, to three randomly selected commenters.