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Why Choosing Your Path Should Be Exciting

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Why Choosing Your Path Should Be Exciting

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
~Mary Oliver

You have one shot at the current moment, and one shot at the next; so why not make each count? Why not choose to show up in a way that expresses who you are at your core? Why not make the contributions that only you can make?

Here’s the thing: no one else can do you.

Imagine for a moment that we're all cells in the same body. For the body to function properly, we must each do our unique work. Picture a single cell looking over at another cell and thinking, "Ah, what they're doing looks interesting, maybe I should give that a try", or spotting a cell who’s speeding along and thinking, "She’s really got it made so I might as well just give up." This would basically be like a cell for the eye wanting to be a cell of the brain, or deciding to just sit this one out. Yikes!

When you think your contribution doesn’t really matter or have a positive impact on the whole, you’re lost. When you ignore the impulses and intuitive nudges to move in your own way, looking instead to others for answers, you're also lost. This is why choosing what you do each day should be exciting and mean something to you — the positive sentiments will spill over into every facet of your life. 

Today, decide that your piece of the puzzle does matter and intentionally choose to pursue what excites you and lights you up. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas for you to consider as you begin to serve yourself and the world.

Take baby steps

There’s this great scene in the movie What About Bob?, when the obsessive-compulsive Bob (played by Bill Murray) discovers baby steps. “Baby steps to the elevator....Baby steps onto the elevator...". It might sound silly, but you should take the same approach to creating a path that keeps you feeling inspired and fulfilled. Once you pinpoint what excites you, find a way to give it more space so it can take shape. 

What you can do with a 20 extra minutes each morning is astounding. Can you wake up earlier to accomplish something you'd like to eventually turn into your career? For example, if you want to become a content creator or writer, can you carve out a mini-session each day before or after you finish work? With baby steps, there’s really no need to fearfully leap and hope for a net. What a relief!

Say goodbye to your distractions

In a keynote speech about the third metric, Arianna Huffington discusses the dangers of multi-tasking: “You think you’re being efficient, but actually, you’re being stupid.” As Huffington wisely points out, we now have scientific evidence that actually proves we can't successfully multi-task. Can you eliminate distractions during the time you've set aside in order to show up for what you're most excited to create? 

When I tell people that I habitually turn data off on my phone while I’m focusing on a project, they think I’m crazy. However, I'm convinced that it’s one of the smartest things I do! The other option — the constant interruption of e-mail/Facebook/[insert your favorite distraction here] — just doesn’t support my growth and happiness.

Unfortunately, it can be nearly impossible to avoid the lure of those pings. Protect yourself and your time by consciously deciding when you want to let your attention wander, instead of letting those distractions decide for you.

Let your feelings lead you

As you continue to move in the direction of work that excites you, remember to check in with yourself and your gut reactions; they'll tell you that you're on the right track. My clients describe their positive feelings in different ways, such as a floating, expansive feeling, a sense of effortless ease, and even something inside that says "YES!".

All of these are your brain sending feel-good chemicals to your body, like messages to go for it. A friend of mine recently decided to take what she’s calling her 'leap-of-faith tour.”' She left behind a life and choices that were making her unhappy to follow her lifelong dream of being a dancer. She’s choosing to follow the fuzzy, bubbling, warm feelings this choice gives her, and loving every minute of it.

To paraphrase from motivational author Napoleon Hill’s work: "Knowledge is not power. It’s potential power."

Knowledge without action is completely useless. Taking action is the only way to test drive the feelings you’re after in your work. It’s also the single greatest differentiating factor between getting where you’re meant to be or not.

Action has magic in it. Begin today by choosing a path that excites you.


About the Author

Cortney McDermott is an award-winning writer, speaker, and strategist to Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurial leaders, and think tanks around the world. She writes for a number of international publications, including She Owns It and The Huffington Post. Her debut book, Change Starts Within You is “soulful, sassy, and full of practical insights,” as best-selling author and Harvard Valedictorian Monika Lutz puts it. “If Eat, Pray, Love married The 4-Hour Workweek, Cortney’s book would be their firstborn child.”

Connect with Cortney: Instagramcortneymcdermott.com

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4 Fun Things to Do With Your Friends When You're Bored With Brunch

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4 Fun Things to Do With Your Friends When You're Bored With Brunch

I have an unpopular opinion: I hate brunch. I always end up hangry from having to wait too long. The restaurants are usually too crowded and rushed, making it hard for me to properly catch up with people. And, let’s be honest, I want way more champagne in my mimosa than I ever get. But I get the appeal. It’s nice to have a relaxing way to spend a weekend morning, an excuse to spend time a little more luxuriously with people you love. I just think there has to be a better way to do it than over a $20 plate of dry eggs.

Here are a few activities you might try swapping out brunch with to shake up your weekend mornings (er, afternoons).

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1. Go on a Mystery Day Trip. Unlike going to happy hour, when you meet your friends for brunch you have a whole day ahead of you. So, instead of getting toasted, why not get out of town? Try swapping off which of your friends chooses the place and plans the trip so it’s not too much of a burden for anyone (and a bit of a fun surprise for the rest of you). Bring some breakfast sandwiches or granola bars for the car, and get your normal gabbing done while playing tunes on the ride. If you don’t have a car, have your friends pool their normal brunch budget to rent one for the day.

Then, spend the rest of your day exploring. Nearby hikes, quirky small towns; there are likely plenty of cool places within an hour or two of where you live that you haven’t experienced yet. Don’t be afraid to get sidetracked on the way and enjoy the journey, and get excited to come back with more memories than just what was on the menu.

2. Start a Spiritual Get Together. You don’t have to be a churchgoer to benefit from having a regular spiritual community. If you haven’t found a formal congregation that fits your needs, why not create your own group of spiritual misfits who are trying to figure it out together? What this looks like will really depend on the interests of your group, but it’s a great place to try out practices of different religions or new ways of opening your mind and seeing what sticks. Maybe one week it’s a group sound meditation and the next you’re having a solstice celebration, or every month you read a book by a different spiritual leader and discuss.

Gather some friends regularly with the intention of exploring the spiritual world and see what sort of growth and conversation it leads to.

3. Have a Learning Party. I bet you have loads of badass friends who know how to do cool things that you could only dream of doing, so why not use a chunk of weekend hours to teach each other some new tricks? This can be super low-key—you don’t need to create lesson plans or anything—and definitely doesn’t have to feel like you’re going to school on a Saturday. You should think of fun skills that everyone’s jazzed to learn!

Your artsy friend can teach everyone a bit of hand lettering and then you can sit around writing Insta-worthy inspirational quotes. The audiophile in the group can teach about podcasting by making a fun podcast of all your normal brunch chatter. Your international playgirl friend can share her tips for traveling on the cheap, and you can all sit around musing about your next trip and booking flights together. You’ll get closer to your friends by learning more about what they love and pick up some great new skills for yourself.

4. Do Brunch, but DIY Style. Okay, maybe this is cheating, but I think cooking together is such a powerful way to spend time with people that it deserves to be said. Just because I avoid going out to brunch, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate mealtime with people I love. I’d just prefer to do it at home where I can make my mimosas as strong as I like.

So try out moving your weekly brunch into your home, and see how you can make it a little playful and fun! You could pick a theme every week—from childhood throwback to international flair—and have people bring something to contribute. You could go explore a farmers market and scrounge together a picnic brunch. You can do brunch 'Chopt-style' and have everyone bring what’s left in their fridge from the week to whip up something inventive together. By doing this, you get to make the meal an adventure in and of itself. 


About the Author

Erin Greenawald is a freelance writer, editor, and content maker who is passionate about elevating the standard of writing on the web and helping people share their message with the world. Erin never says no to tea and a croissant with a friend—old or new!—and she loves any flip that encourages her to find some serenity in the crazy world around her.

Connect with Erin: Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Medium

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Advice That'll Help You Feel Confident in Your Most Bad Ass Bathing Suit This Summer

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Advice That'll Help You Feel Confident in Your Most Bad Ass Bathing Suit This Summer

According to the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, a whopping 76% of American women don’t feel good about their bodies. Sound familiar? If so, don’t let your insecurities cloud some of the most beautiful days of the year—instead, give your confidence a big boost while wearing your most bad ass bathing suit this summer.  Here's how to do it.

Nail the basics

Kick up your beauty routine by focusing on your hair, skin, teeth and nails to feel and look healthier. When you feel great about yourself, you'll think less about the things you're insecure about. Treat yourself to a regular deep hydration for your hair to give it extra vitality and use a moisturizing mask once a week, especially around your eyes. Try an illuminating foundation to give your face a natural glow, and exfoliate and moisturize to plump up and smooth out your skin all over.  

Interestingly, research shows that having pearly white teeth makes you more likable instantly—and it can make you look younger. Luckily, all it takes is a few minutes with whitening strips to make a noticeable difference. A manicure or pedicure can also help you feel well-groomed and confident. Booked solid this week? Try a quick buff or cuticle trim at home; it really helps.

Work it out

Did you know that supermodels are known to exercise just before a photoshoot so they can flex their muscles to look more toned? You can definitely do the same before you hit the beach.

Keep it simple and effective with a plank, some lunges and squats or couple of minutes of jumping jacks. The increased circulation and deeper breathing from your quick workout will help your skin glow and improve your posture while muscle contractions help give you a firmer look. Remember to stay hydrated and keep healthy snacks on hand so you feel great after your sweat session on a hot summer day.

Enhance the shape you have

A healthy alternative to spending too much time in the sun, spray tans are a go-to secret for confident celebrities around the world. Why not treat yourself to one as a way to accentuate curves in all the right places as well?

Make your spray tan work for you by choosing a formula that works for you and exfoliating your entire body first, focusing on any areas where you have rough or dry skin (like your elbows and knees). Once you're done, apply self-tanner and let it set. You can go over areas you're self-conscious about twice to accentuate them, whether it's your waist, thighs or booty. To get it just right, subtly blend the tanner to create a gradually darker area.

If you''re working with self tanning products for the first time, try a test run at home before planning to rock your darker, summer shade at an event or on vacation. When short on time or in doubt, leave it to a pro and treat yourself to a professional tan with contouring. You'll love the result!

Straighten up

Good posture can be a game-changer when it comes to your appearance—so while it might sound unusual, you should practice your most upright posture before you hit the beach in your bathing suit. Use a mirror to scope out how you look when you walk, sit and stand. Are there positions that look more flattering than others?

You can also practice 'power posing'. Try putting your hands on your hips or behind your neck or pushing your chest out to feel more confident about how you look. Find the pose that makes you feel the best and know you can rock it anytime you're feeling self-conscious. 

Adopt an “I’m hot” mindset

Confidence is captivating and beautiful, so it's no surprise that people admire and flock to those who have it. Confident women have a few things in common too: They hold themselves straighter, stand taller, make more eye contact, and are naturally more playful. The best part? When you exude confidence, no one notices the things you might not like so much about yourself!

Before you get ready to step out in your badass bathing suit, spend a few minutes in front of the mirror. Repeat some empowering positive affirmations to boost your self-esteem, such as “I’m beautiful” or “I rock this bikini”. Focus on your best attributes and remember the times people have complimented you on them. You can even think back to a situation where you felt super-confident, like when you had a successful presentation at work or when you finished a 10-mile run.  

Loving yourself unconditionally and feeling good about taking care of your body is the best strategy for finding confidence while rocking a bathing suit. Once you start actively loving yourself, there will be nothing that can hold you back from making this the best summer ever. 


About the Author

A social scientist and holistic health coach, Franziska Alesso-Bendisch, MBA, PhD helps busy women create sustainable and healthy habits based on their personality type. She's the founder of The Well Space and passionate about putting women into the driver’s seat when it comes to their own health and the health of the planet. Franziska is based in Miami, FL, a mom of 3 under 3, and enjoys the little time she has with a glass of wine, cooking (something healthy), yoga and connecting with the startup scene in Miami.

Connect with Franziska: Instagram, Twitter, thewellspace.co

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Need An Energy Boost? Try the 10-Step Flip Fit Challenge

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Need An Energy Boost? Try the 10-Step Flip Fit Challenge

Ever feel like you’re crushing your career or personal goals but burning the candle at both ends? Working hard to bring your dreams to life can be draining. Though it seems counterintuitive, exercise is actually one of the best ways to fire back up with an energy boost. While working out isn’t always fun, it doesn’t have to be something you dread. To put some pep back in your step, we reached out to Lauren Chiarello from Chi Chi Life to design a Flip Fit Challenge that'll help keep your mind, body and heart healthy.  Read on to start Lauren's 10-step master plan today, wherever you are.

1. Find What Excites You

From walking to classes or something really tough, different forms of exercise work for different people — and you're sure to find something you can excited about. "Try all kinds of workouts until you find something that you love and keep going back so that it becomes your lifestyle," Lauren suggests. "When you start to get antsy, remember that this will energize you and help you lead your best life." 

2. Learn How to Relax

Rest is especially important when it comes to carving out time to move more. Lauren emphasizes patience as a critical part of the challenge, reminding us: "Any change takes time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed or nervous when you start a new habit." She says that she uses Andrew Weil’s The 4-7-8 Breath to manage anxiety and fall asleep. "This method is super effective and I highly recommend it. Here’s how it works: Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight." You've got this.

Photo credit: Alexis Mera Damen

Photo credit: Alexis Mera Damen

3. Seek Inspiration

"I end all of my classes and sessions with a reflective passage or quote," Lauren shares. "I adore Ralph Marston’s The Daily Motivator. He has a special knack for saying the right thing at seemingly the right time. The topics are fairly broad but each nugget of wisdom can be applied to so many aspects of our lives, regardless of what we have going on." Make notes about any that apply to you specifically so you can remember and re-use them as you move forward.

4. Get Outside 

"Commit to taking brisk walks to get the blood flowing; if the sun is shining, a dose of Vitamin D will likely lift your spirits." She says that stepping away for a change of scenery (especially if you've been inside all day) will help bring on a refreshing perspective.

5. Be Passionate

"When you do what sets your soul on fire, people can see that and often want to be a part of whatever you’re up to," Lauren promises. Be passionate about making healthy changes and your friends will feel inspired to join in on the fun!

6. Get Uncomfortable

"We often discover what we’re capable of doing once we become uncomfortable as fear often holds us back," Lauren notes. When it comes to fitness, it's necessary to push past resistance. You might be surprised by what you're able to accomplish, whether it's carving out more time for regular workouts, falling in love with an exercise you wouldn't have dreamed you'd like, or reaching a healthy new milestone, like running further or completing more reps than you ever have before. 

7. Try Something New

"New experiences and uncharted terrain can be terrifying, especially in a group exercise setting," Lauren notes. "So, I remind my students that every expert was once a novice. This is key in helping release expectations, gaining strength and opening up the mind and heart." An important step in the Flip Fit Challenge, Lauren asks you to give yourself the gift of trying something new —be it a healthy recipe or exercise experience. "The possibilities are endless," she swears. 

8. Build A Community

During the challenge, connect with someone else in one of your classes or recruit a friend to join you for a workout. "When you build camaraderie, you'll feed off of each other’s energy," Lauren shares. "If you bring a social component into your exercise schedule and goals, you’ll be more inclined to stay with it." 

9. Stretch More

There are oodles of benefits to stretching. According to Lauren, a few front runners are improved flexibility and joint range of motion, improved circulation, and  better posture. Need another bonus? She tells us that stretching can aid in stress relief and relaxation. Ahh, bliss.

10. Stay Positive

"Everyday is not sunshine and roses, but I firmly believe that attitude is integral to the trajectory of your life," Lauren says. "If you have a positive attitude and get rid of the negative chatter in your mind, you may surprise yourself to see how much magic you attract." Finish your challenge strong by channeling the power of positive thinking and by bringing your post-exercise endorphins into all of the awesome parts of your life.


About the Author

Lauren Chiarello is a 2x cancer survivor NYC-based Barre, Pilates + TRX instructor at exhale + FLEX Studios. Lauren is the founder of Chi Chi Life, which melds her passions of fitness, fundraising,  event planning, and cancer advocacy. Lauren is a lover of life, health and wellness.  She’s endlessly energized to build community and connection through shared experiences. Her favorite flip is to talk to 5 strangers; the conversations are often super insightful and colorful!

Connect With Lauren: Twitter, Instagram, chichilifenyc.com

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How I Serenflipped My Way Out of a Brush With the Law

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How I Serenflipped My Way Out of a Brush With the Law

Tonight, SERENFLIPITY got me out of a ticket.

I was driving home from a long session shooting videos, and may have crossed over a divider a few seconds too late. Before I knew it, blaring lights and sirens were following me, shouting to get off at the next exit.

Crap. My first moving violation. Ever.

I pulled over, shaking and a bit nervous. Was I to play the tearful and helpless girl? Pretend I didn’t know what happened? I’m not a fan of using my femininity to get out of situations, so I decided to just be straight-forward and apologize.

I rolled down the window, and two cops towered over me, demanding the usual protocol that I’ve seen in movies.

“What do you do?” the cop asked me, as he looked at my license.

“I’m an entrepreneur,” I responded, figuring that was pretty safe.

“What do you create? Is it secret?” the other cop asked snidely.

“Well, I created these adventure cards that help you have more fun and serendipity in your life.” I responded, a little wary of how that would go over with two serious cops about to smack a fine on me. After all, fun and adventure aren’t the things you want to bring up with a cop who’s just pulled you over…

“No way…” the first cop lit up, as he responded. “Like what kind of adventures?”

“Here, I’ll show you… You guys can even pick a card to do.” I held out the deck to the two towering gentleman standing over me on a random exit in downtown LA.

They leafed through and started smiling.

“You better get on Shark Tank with this!” the first officer exclaimed. “Look, I have to find the oldest person I can and do something nice for them. It won’t be hard to find old guys back at the office!”

“Yeah, I wish people were nicer and did nice things for us. We’re not bad people,” the second officer joked as he flipped his card. “Hey — I have to buy the person behind me in line a coffee…”

“Well, you better stand behind him when you go get coffee,” I suggested to the first officer, and we all laughed.

“Listen,” the first cop got serious again. “You get yourself on TV with these cards and we’ll call this a warning. But I better see you on Shark Tank – deal? I’m gonna hold onto this card!”

Deal. Thank you, LAPD for the vote of confidence in my start up, and reminding me that simple acts of human connection and kindness can make even the most annoying situations into something serendipitous and positive. And for giving me a whole new edition to build: SERENFLIPITY for the glove compartment!

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Five Steps To Turn Serendipity Into Your Superpower

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Five Steps To Turn Serendipity Into Your Superpower

Serendipity is an under-rated thing. It gets a bad rap as haphazard luck or a happy coincidence. A pleasant surprise that uplifts us from our usual routine. A random encounter where the stars aligned. A fleeting moment that comes out of the blue, only to disappear.

But serendipity is not a “thing.” Or an “accident.” Or a “random encounter.” Or just a cute John Cusack movie. It’s actually a skillset – and it’s something that can make us smarter, happier and more connected.

When it comes to serendipity, there’s a whole new field of interdisciplinary research emerging, and studies segment people into “non-encounterers”, “occasional encounterers” who stumble upon serendipity now and then, and “super encounterers” who constantly see happy surprises in even the most mundane of situations.

I’ve become what researchers would call a “super-encounterer”, not because I’m lucky, but because I’ve built my serendipity superpowers over the years. These are definitely not skills I studied in any classroom, but rather gleaned through experience, many of which involve solo travel and times of personal growth. Both of these types of experiences forced me to let go of behaviors and beliefs that blocked me from letting in new things.

But you don’t have to travel far and wide or go on a soul-search to discovery your serendipity superpowers. It’s often as simple as changing what you see, where you go and how you show up.

Here are my top five tips for turning yourself into a serendipity superstar:

1. Believe you are surrounded by serendipity – and expect it every day. One of the first steps to attracting more serendipity is to actually believe that you are surrounded by it. Consider it selective attention – like when you’re pregnant, you start to see baby bumps everywhere. Or when you’re stressed out, you start to see more annoyances and blocks everywhere.

What we see is what we get – and if we choose to focus on a recent serendipitous moment, and look to see at least one of those moments each day, we start to attract more serendipity, and will find it popping up all the time.

One of my favorite ways to build this skill is to keep a journal of “random” things that happen each day – mine include everything from running into someone, to little phrases or sayings that pop out (a recent favorite was when I was having a "founder's moment" and got cut off by a giant truck with “THE PROFIT IS COMING” written on the side), to texts of the “woah, I was just thinking about you!” ilk. The dots connect over time, and I am always amazed when I look back.

Bottom line – believe you’re surrounded by it. Look for it. Write it down. Get more of it.

 

2. Celebrate the unknown, the incorrect and the idiotic. Many of the greatest discoveries come from accidents and failures. It’s easy to write off something that didn’t work, blame someone, and move quickly onto the next – but the biggest “aha’s” come from diving into the failures and actually having fun with them, instead of trying to find the next success right away.

Being in a state of “I don’t know” is one of the most powerful places we can be. I once worked for a guy who would respond to my pressing questions with a thoughtful, “yeah, I don’t know.” I was shocked – I figured someone with a higher authority was paid to “know”, but he taught me the importance of “not knowing.” Of collecting information, asking a ton of questions, exploring all the angles and then coming to a decision.

Not knowing can be incredibly uncomfortable, especially to this A-type New Yorker. But actually enjoying the state of “not knowing” is where serendipity finds me. Some of the best ideas I’ve built with clients have come out of jokes, and even going so far as to exploring the absolute “worst” idea we could ever have. We fell about laughing, one upping each other with horrifying add-ons – until someone had a spark and found a nugget of inspiration that led us into the creation of an award winning product. Some of the greatest personal experiences have come from literally not knowing what country I was going to next, and leaving my plans open to the travel gods. In fact, it started a decision making pattern, where I decided to not know, and to do the first thing that was mentioned 3 times by 3 different people. I was never led astray, but rather into incredible encounters and the exact situation I needed to grow.

 

3. Do the uncomfortable. It’s easy to turn down an invitation in favor of staying home to watch Netflix on the couch with takeout – but magic doesn’t happen when we’re cracked out on Narcos and Lo Mein. (Well sometimes it does, and I guess that’s what Tinder is for, but that’s another article…)

Say yes to what’s in front of you, especially that uncomfortable invitation. It’s there for a reason. The less you want to go, the more magic is bound to happen. And seriously, if you want to get a super dose of serendipity, go alone. That’s right – go to a party alone. Without a wingman. And if you don’t have an invitation to turn down, take yourself out to dinner (and don’t stare at your phone the whole time.)

Every time I’ve forced myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve had to surrender to what’s in front of me, and I’ve had to get curious. It means making conversation with strangers instead of standing by the cheese plate rehashing my day with a friend. It means staying five minutes longer than I want to, and sometimes hiding out in the bathroom for a few minutes when it feels like too much – and then falling into conversation with a handsome stranger. It means getting lost in a foreign country and stumbling across a beautiful village and into a heartfelt conversation.

Or it simply means opening myself up and into the positive potential of a new experience – instead of closing myself into what I already know. A few years ago, I felt creatively stuck and decided to spend 90 days traveling solo through India and Southeast Asia, following adventures my friends wrote for me instead of a guidebook. I was terrified. But the more I got into the habit of saying “yes” to the adventure in front of me, I started to open up in a new way and incredible things started to happen. (Fast forward to two years later, it’s become the foundation of my business, a product designed to foster adventure and serendipity every day… who would have known?)

Learning to trust, and being willing to be vulnerable is scary, but it’s also where we get out of ourselves and into the magic.

 

4. Say “thank you.” There are tons of studies and life-hacks around the life-changing effects of gratitude, and for good reason. Shanti-shanti as it may sound, it shifts our outlook and our energy, and attracts more positive things to come our way.

Saying thank you (whether to “the universe,” God, the person sitting next to you, or to the highway as you drive to work) for the little nods and coincidences is just as important as saying “thank you” for the promotion or the clean bill of health. It’s easy to get into the mentality of “well, he was perfect, except for…” or “the job seems great, but…” – simply acknowledge that something serendipitous just came your way and take it as a sign that more good things are on the way. “Thank you” is essentially a prayer that says, “that was awesome, I really dug it, and please bring me more.”

I’ve built this skill by writing a gratitude list each morning, and even putting little reminders in my phone to take 30 seconds and think of 3 things I’m grateful for. The real game changer has come in the past month in finding things I’m grateful for in really annoying situations.

Take a recent travel plan: my flight was 6 hours delayed on New Years Eve and then I couldn’t find the place I was staying once I arrived. To offset the irritation, I practiced finding a few “thank yous”, which included being able to go to my favorite yoga class that morning (instead of sitting in the airport), having an interesting conversation with an Uber driver who introduced me to a videographer, making time for a conversation with a friend in the airport, arriving in town just in time for dinner (and getting picked up straight from the airport as a result), being with friends who put me up for the night when I was lost, etc. Really cool connections and opportunities have been happening as a result.

The “thank yous” seem to build resilience to get out of a negative mindset, which only clouds me in my worries and prevents me from seeing the bigger picture – or what great things are in front of me. Taking a minute to find a moment of gratitude shifts me back into being in the unknown – which is where there’s space for serendipity to come in.

 

5. Share it to grow it. Serendipity isn’t a “thing” or even an “action” – it’s a flow that we get into. And it does take work – sometimes it’s as simple as leaving the house with a good attitude and talking to someone, or picking up the phone and listening (and really listening, not Facebooking and listening), in order to dive into what can seem like a consistent stream of unbelievable encounters.

Note that many of these experiences are encounters – which means that they involve other people. We multiply our magic by sharing it with others – whether it’s saying what we’re looking for, or helping others fulfill what they’re looking for. And sometimes serendipity comes from something as simple as a status update and discovering that you’re in the same country as an old friend. A big part of Serenflipity is asking people to share those serendipitous experiences on social media for just that reason – to foster more connections, to share cool experiences that uplift others (and potentially bring serendipity to them), and to encourage an environment of experimentation. Because we all need a little push to peel away from our habits.

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So, it’s that time of the year where we might be faltering on our New Year's Resolutions and about to dive back into old habits. Instead, I invite you to dive into bringing more serendipity into your life.

All you have to do is decide to see yourself as a serendipity super-magnet, have fun not knowing the answer, go to parties alone, say thank you, and share it with others. No calorie counting or guilt-tripping necessary!

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for bringing more serendipity into your life – please share below!

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A Crazy Beautiful Lesson

It’s hard not to wear a blissed out grin all around Ubud. Of all of the places I’ve been, it’s the one where I feel the most connected and cocooned, yet inspired and introverted. It’s a town that stretches those who want to be stretched, ahead into the possibilities of new ways of living and back toward the depths of buried circumstances one may care to keep dusty. In the ark of my 24 hours (thank you, Kate Plumb!), I learned that a day of smiling takes a lot more than simply grinning at everything from rice paddies to happy babies.

It starts with those gaping grins, which are simply a vehicle to connect. Smiling has been a super-tool in my trusty solo-traveler tool belt, as it’s led me to new encounters and new people. However, it’s hard to stay on the surface of such a smile forever — the “how are you”s and “where are you from”s get weary after a while. My morning started with light smiles and instant depth (this is Ubud…) with three lovely ex-pat ladies, whom I would later meet for the afternoon. Gaping grins continued to dot my day, ever the energy booster during a dull moment, but a smile that I’ve often taken for granted slowly began to take its place.

It started in the home of a Mayan Astrologer, who began our session with dancer-like gestures to paint new dimensions of time, and an immediate break for a quick downward dog fix to soothe her back. My old snap smile, the one with the quickened pace and raised eyebrow, popped in as I sat nervously in half lotus anticipating the next few hours. As we talked about hidden talents, personal challenges and cycles of my life, my snap smile softened, but not into that familiar gaping grin. It moved lower and deeper, as I shared hopes and fears that melted into her predictions. She nodded with her hands over her heart, draping them out, over and around the air and sighed. With a deep, knowing smile.

My face softened and slowed (a relief to my sore, over-used cheeks), and I realized that I was smiling without moving a muscle. Just falling into the slowness and lightness I felt swirling through me. Our conversations moved deeper, to a point of that gripping softness that often precedes a tear. But it wasn’t a tear of extremes, like sadness or joy, just simple presence and purpose that settled into a wordless, toothless upturn.

Through my many temple visits, I’ve seen a lot of Buddhas and have wondered more than a few times why there aren’t more grinning, giggling statues for a teacher so happy and enlightened. But from settling into the deeper, more balanced, less ecstatic smile, I stumbled upon that smile that’s authentic connection. I felt that deep smile when I hugged a fifteen year old who shared with me what she was going through with her friends and family, and when I fell into deep relaxation during yoga nidra (also known as yogic napping… or my new favorite type of yoga!). I felt it as my unexpected companions and I giggled over a smorgasbord of raw desserts and social media mental-health pacts. (I have promised to only “like” ugly pictures if I Instagram before meditation.) I felt it as the brightness of a rising full moon drew me to the window in the middle of the night.

A day full of smiling doesn’t mean constant euphoria. It can be a happy, giggly high. A way to get out of yourself and into a conversation. Armor in an uncomfortable situation. Genuine compassion and care. Inner knowledge and understanding. Softness so guttural that it cracks perception and expectation.

In all these roles, it’s an alchemist. Resentment breaks into a glint of gratitude. Skepticism melts into a modicum of compassion. Fear sprouts into the seeds of new friendships. So smile at your smiles… See what happens and what you discover from smiling for the entire day. Either way, it’s good for the soul and sagging jowls!

Originally published on yestoexcess.com

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