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Wednesday
Aug062014

6 Movements Toward Kindness

image viaMany of us learned the staples of kindness in kindergarten: put others’ interests before one’s own, speak positively about other people, refrain from yelling or name-calling and share; but do these things really make us kind? In comparison to some people it does, but have I also cut someone off driving in the last month or let the door go because the person behind me was just a step too far to hold it? For sure. Have I diverted my eyes instead of embracing the chance to smile at a stranger? Absolutely. If we’re honest, most of us could identify these times, but the abstract idea of “being more kind” in our own lives isn’t something we often stop to think about, and when we do, it can be overwhelming.

At my yoga teacher’s recent dharma talk, we were asked to close our eyes and remember a time that we hurt someone- whether inadvertently or purposely. We were not to judge ourselves, but simply notice what the memory did to our physical bodies. Almost immediately my breath shortened, my shoulders and jaw tightened, and I got that awful sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. She then told us to let go of the memory and recall a time that we did something kind– either for a stranger or a loved one– and bring awareness to that effect on our bodies instead. This time, my breath deepened, shoulders relaxed and body became lighter and more expansive. Every action in our days, both big and small, have a tremendous effect on our overall wellness.

Increasing your kindness rating is a lot like learning to run– it takes time, training, and practice. With these six steps, you’ll be running a kindness marathon in no time. Here are six movements toward kindness:

1. {Crawl Forward} Be Kind to You
I could instantaneously rattle off a list about the things I’d like to improve about myself, but I’d have a bit more trouble telling you the things I like. Take the time to make a list of the things you love about you. Examine it and make a point to bring those things to the forefront of your mind. Wake up each morning, look in the mirror, and remind yourself of one of the things. Say it aloud because you deserve to not only think it, but to hear it. Cultivating kindness in our lives begins with being nice to ourselves first.

2. {Baby Step} Start With a Smile
Research shows that each time we smile our brain releases happiness hormones, which have a direct effect on our stress levels and wellbeing. Make an effort to smile more. Increase your kindness rating by making eye contact and smiling at two strangers per day. You’ll not only be increasing your own happiness, but chances are that stranger will return your smile and you’ll be helping to increase theirs as well.

3. {Take a Stroll} Say “Thank You”
Scientific gratitude expert, Robert Emmons, spent years studying how gratitude positively affects health and happiness. His work proves that being grateful creates physical, psychological and social benefits. Taking time to thank someone not only makes them feel appreciated but provides you with a chance to reflect on a reason you have to be grateful. Watch how this small action spreads positivity in the world around you like wildfire!

4. {Speed Walk} Offer a Compliment
You never know whose day you might make with a genuine compliment. Psychology Today calls them “little gifts of love” and in giving them, you'll notice the positive attributes of those around you. It’s easy to notice that a person’s outfit doesn’t match, but if you instead notice how great their new haircut looks, your focus moves toward the good and away from the bad.

5. {Go For a Jog} Donate Time
Time is arguably one thing many of us could use more of, and giving it to others is a giant step towards increasing kindness. Spend a weekend day volunteering at a local shelter or charity or, for those who may not have that availability, get creative: let someone merge into your lane during a traffic jam instead of cutting them off; allow the person behind you in line to go in front of you; stop to give someone directions even though you’re in a rush. These small things only take a few minutes from your life, but they can help another person tremendously.

6. {Full on Sprint} Practice One Good Deed A Day
I recently purchased the book, One Good Deed A Day which offers 365 simple ideas for increasing kindness daily. Suggestions like, "write a nice little note on the check to your server" and “ask your partner about his day and listen” make it easy to start cultivating kindness. Pledging to do a good deed every day is certainly a big a commitment, so go back to the baby steps and vow to be kind to yourself even if you miss a day of being kind to other people. My guess though, is that once you start inching toward kindness, it will start to become part of each step you take! - Kate Lombardo

Wednesday
Jul302014

Recipe: Homemade Popsicles

Beat the summer heat with homemade popsicles. Most store-bought ones are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and contain dyes that leave your mouth red, green or blue. Why not make them at home so you can control what goes into them? You can even get creative and try new amazing flavor combinations not available on the shelves. Here are two recipes I just tried:

Vegan Mango Coconut Banana Popsicles
Recipe inspired via 
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 4 hours | Serves: 6 

Ingredients:
1 medium mango, chopped
3 medium bananas
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Prepare:
Blend all ingredients together except for the shredded coconut until you have a smooth consistency. Then, add the shredded coconut in and mix with a spoon. Pour the mixture into Popsicle molds. If you don’t have Popsicle molds, you can use plastic cups. Just pour the mixture into the plastic cup, cover with saran wrap and stick a wooden Popsicle stick through the saran wrap into the plastic cup (this will keep the stick upright). Freeze for four hours.

Strawberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Popsicles

Recipe inspired via 
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 4 hours | Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1 cup Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 cup strawberries, washed, hulled and chopped

Prepare:
Blend yogurt, milk and vanilla extract together until you have a smooth consistency. Then, add the chopped strawberries in and mix with a spoon. Pour the mixture into Popsicle molds. Freeze for four hours.

Check out more Popsicle recipes on our Pinterest board or share yours in the comments below! - Priti Vakharia

Tuesday
Jul292014

Travel Tuesday Quote

image via

 

 

Wednesday
Jul232014

Video: Eating Nutrient-Dense Food

Pravassa founder and wellness expert, Linden Schaffer shares why certain nutrient-dense foods are optimal for our health and energy levels. 


This video was originally shared on Livestrong.com

 

 

Wednesday
Jul162014

Brighten Up With A Sunshine List

image via Rain or shine, we all have days where nothing seems to go right. Rather than staying trapped in a downward spiral of feelings, Sunshine Lists are my favorite way to snap out of it. As a teacher on the hunt for inspiration, the list blossomed out of a free-writing assignment for my students and is a personal inventory of simple things that bring joy and contentment. 

Positive Psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar explains that everyone has painful emotions, but our mind’s consciousness is comparable to an immune system: the more we tap into better choices, the less we get sick and the quicker we recover when we do. Active gratitude is one such choice, but in a time where the word gratitude – while rooted in meaningful principles – has become clichéd, Sunshine Lists are a welcome alternative.

The best part is that anyone can easily create one by following a few simple steps:

1. Set the Mood
The intention of this list is to remind you of things that make you happy. In order to do that, create a space and time where you feel calm and open. Light your favorite candle, cozy up with a comfy blanket, take a deep breath, and relax!

2. Set a Timer
Creating this list is meant to be a free-flow of thoughts and setting a time limit will allow you to completely focus on the activity at hand.  I recommend at least ten minutes, but it’s best to decide what works for you in your day. 

3. Start Writing and Don’t Stop
Record anything smile-worthy that pops into your head: favorite smells, sounds, and tastes; climbing into a bed of freshly washed sheets; that first sip of red wine; buying a new book– or re-reading a favourite; the places you love to visit or an activity that makes you feel complete. Once you’re on a roll, write until the timer goes off.  You’ll be amazed by how many things in this world make you happy and how simple many of them are.

4. Keep your Sunshine List Handy
In order for this list to work you need to have it readily available when that bad mood strikes. I have a copy posted near my desk at work and also saved as a note on my cell phone so I can access it from any location.  

5. Save it for a Rainy Day
Next time you’re on a downward spiral toward gloom and doom, whip out your list and start reading. I bet you won’t even make it to the end before you find your day shining a little brighter! - Kate Lombardo