LA is Going Gray!

Cruising around Los Angeles recently, a new trend is becoming increasingly apparent… Angelinos are going gray.  I’m not talking about their hair styles – although it does seem more fashionable to let the gray locks show than it was a few years ago, thank goodness.  No, I am referring to their cars.  It is becoming increasingly easy to tell when someone is driving a newer model vehicle, because so many of them are the same color, a sort-of matte finish dark gray.

©Mercedes-Benz 2015
©Mercedes-Benz 2015

I first saw this color appear on 2014 models at the LA Auto Show and since then have been seeing it hitting the streets with increasing regularity.  The color strikes me as a pleasing alternative to the flat black that was popular for about five minutes, three years ago.  Judging by how many cars this color are appearing on the road now I would guess that it appeals to people who would have otherwise purchased a silver, black or white car.

This is certainly not your grandfather’s gray car.  Just a few years ago, someone would have been apt to choose gray when they wanted a car color that didn’t stand out.  This gray is not that gray.  The new matte dark gray is definitely an attention grabber.  It really seems to show off every curve and angle of vehicles and looks good on everything from the Prius c (with the color name Magnetic Gray Metallic) to the Jeep Grand Cherokee (dubbed Granite Crystal), and even on sport luxury vehicles like the AMG GT S Coupe (elaborately entitled Magno Selenite Grey).

When it comes right down to it, this might be the most exciting thing to happen to the color gray since, well, ever.  The color has personality.  It can appear sleek, rugged, or sophisticated depending upon the make and model that’s wearing it.  And, for the sake of all the grandfathers who need new cars, never comes across as overly flashy.

5 Tips for a More Compassionate Self

I’m a fan of compassion as a driving force for positive change. It can change pain into relief, suffering to euphoria and strife to peace. The power of compassion is transformative. It can feed the hungry, heal the sick, and free the oppressed. We see it all the time, yet it never can seem to happen enough to cure all the suffering in the world.

Can we fuel the flame of compassion? Can we generate more compassion within ourselves in the greater world?

The Dalai Lama and now scientists agree that the answer to both of those questions is, “yes.” Research shows that through conscious effort we can become more compassionate individuals, and through our example of compassionate action, we can even increase the compassionate response of others who observe it.

Are you interested increasing your compassion response? If so, then here are some practical tips on how you can do so:

  1. See Yourself in Others

The more we see others as being like us, the more likely we are to be drawn to help them. That feeling of similarity generates a strong feeling of empathy – the feeling that we are suffering with the other person. Empathy is the spark that ignites compassion.

  1. Don’t Worry, Be Helpful

The fear that others’ suffering will become our own can be a roadblock to compassion. Clear your path by reducing your sense of worry. The less you worry, the more likely you are to help others.

  1. Believe in Yourself

The more confident you are that you can reduce another person’s suffering, the more likely you are to do it. So, believe in yourself – not just for your own sake, but for the sake of others.

  1. Don’t Play the Blame Game

Blame limits our compassion. So, be careful not to blame others for their misfortune. Keep in mind that we all suffer and that you suffer too. If you think of someone as your equal, then you are more likely to reach out to them with a compassionate and generous spirit.

  1. Easy Does It

Be careful not to take on too much of other people’s suffering as your own. Doing so can lead to a form of burn out known as Compassion Fatigue. Instead, practice the art of Self Compassion by limiting the degree to which you take on the suffering of others as your own.

Though easy in theory, these tips can be challenging to put into practice and stick with, especially on our most challenging days. But it’s worth the effort, because increasing our compassion can help transform our lives in a variety of positive ways. It can deepen our relationships, increase our sense of wellbeing, and help us feel a greater connection with everyone we meet. And with dedicated practice, as we grow our own compassion, we can help spread compassion in those around us, and little by little transform the world.

Mind Trip Part III: What She Does and How She Does It

In March, I brought you the story of Rebecca Berger, who changed the way she thought about weight and radically transformed her body and improved her health.  In the first part of her story we looked at her struggle with weight gain and how she was eventually able to make a physical transformation after mentally reframing how she thought about eating and exercising.  In the second installment, I shared some what motivates Rebecca and her own insights into her inner life.  Today, we wrap up Rebecca’s story by delving into her process and how she stays focused upon it.

Now that Rebecca visualizes her day-to-day approach to eating and exercising as a journey, she sees each day as just one small segment of that journey.  A meal is a footstep along a path.  One workout is another footstep.  Eating the wrong thing is a simple misstep off the path that can be counteracted by taking the correct footstep at the next meal.  The important thing is keeping one’s mind focused down the road.  Know where you want to go and the path becomes clear.

Rebecca’s journey includes keeping a written journal of what she eats and her workouts.  Her day breaks down like this:

4:30am – Herbalife shake for breakfast
7am – Snack:  Greek yogurt
9am – Snack:  A cheese stick or clementine oranges
Noon – Herbalife shake for lunch
3pm – Snack:  Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or ham
6pm – Dinner:  Veggies and a small piece of meat, either chicken or fish
9pm – Bedtime

Number of calories consumed daily:  1350

You might notice that Rebecca’s diet is high in protein.  She says, “We live in a carb-rich environment.”  So, she intentionally eats in such a way so that if she does want to treat herself a slice of cake at an office birthday party, then the carbohydrates don’t tip the balance too dramatically.  Her mindset is always focused on reaching her goal weight, but she emphasizes that she doesn’t let weight be too much of a factor.  She sees this journey as being stretched out in front of her for the rest of her life, so reaching her goal weight next month or six months from now is less important that sticking to her path for the long term.

Her journey also includes exercising five times per week.  She loves cardio drumming and leads sessions on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Each session burns about 500 to 800 calories.  She does strength training a couple of times a week.  Her favorite form of strength training is kickboxing on a heavy bag.  Sometimes her workout is simply walking for an hour.  Part of the journey is keeping exercise fun.  That means getting some variety and trying new things.  An aspect of exercise Rebecca has grown to love is that it gives her renewed energy and stamina – things that help her keep up with her young children by keeping her youthful.

When it is all said and done, the most important thing about the new mental framework Rebecca has created for herself around eating and exercising is staying positive.  Setbacks are temporary.  The future is bright.  Keep moving forward toward your best self.

10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Make the World a Better Place

Like you, I’m a doer.  I’m always doing whatever I can to improve the world around me.  I volunteer in my community, give to important causes, and generally work to be part of the solution.  Most of the time, I am positive about the future.  Most days I feel like the world is slowly turning toward the good.  Still, there are days when I feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there’s simply nothing I can do to fix it.  Yet, in my heart, I know that there is always something – no matter how small – that I can be doing that will make a difference.  So, I’ve put some options into this list for you, for those days when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas and could use some inspiration.  Give them a try and let me know if they work, in the comments.

1.  Smile!
Sure it’s corny.  Yes, it’s cheesy and silly and will make you a little self-conscious, but it works!  Smiling as you go about your day will help brighten the days of those you meet and interact with.  Plus, smiling has been clinically proven to improve your mood, and your good mood will rub off on those who have the good fortune of crossing your path.

2.  Be Kind
As the old saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  Have you ever been slogging through a particularly rough day when out of nowhere someone was kind to you and it turned your whole day around?  After that, your mood lightened, the sun brightened, and everything seemed okay again.  Sometimes, all it takes to make the whole world seem like a better place is one small act of kindness.  If all of us perform little acts of kindness it truly can transform the world.

3.  Pick Up Trash
Feel like the world is a mess?  Then clean it up!  If everyone picked up just one piece of trash every day, imagine how much cleaner our communities would be.  Think of it this way:  You can choose to walk past a piece of garbage on the street and wonder why somebody doesn’t clean it up or you can heed these words from Lily Tomlin, “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’  Then I realized I am somebody.”

4.  Thank Your Mom or Dad
Pick one thing your Mom or Dad did for you when you were a kid that you have to do for yourself as an adult.  Now, call, email, or text her or him and thank her or him for always doing that thing for you.  Being a parent is thankless work and you will absolutely make your parent’s day if you thank her or him for something you once took for granted.  The world can always use more parents who feel appreciated.

5.  Encourage a Child
Remember those times when you were a kid and an adult told you they believed in you?  It made you feel good, right?  It made you believe in yourself.  One of the cool things about being an adult is that now you can be that adult to a kid in your life.  Pay if forward.

6.  Open a Door for Someone, Literally
People love to be noticed.  Opening a door for someone is a nice way to say, “I noticed you there and thought I would clear this pesky obstruction from your path.”  Chivalry might be dead, but everyone likes having doors opened for them (especially if they’re carrying heavy stuff).  It may be a small act, but it is an act of kindness no less.

7.  Open a Door for Someone, Figuratively
Can you think of someone who is struggling and could use a hand up?  Think about it a little longer and you might be able to think of a way you could be the person to give it to them.  Now, if you take action on that thought, you could be the factor that turns things around for the person.  And just that quickly, you’ve made the world a whole lot brighter for someone.

8.  Turn Something Off
The science is clear, global climate change is happening and manmade carbon dioxide is contributing to it.  Every time fossil fuels are burned carbon dioxide is created, and pretty much any time you use electricity in your home or office, or start your car, you are burning fossil fuels.  So, help turn the tide.  Turn off a light, turn down the thermostat, or leave the car parked in the garage.  Don’t look now, but you’ve just helped save the planet.  Nicely done.

9.  Compliment a Stranger
Have you ever told the cashier at the supermarket that you like his haircut and watched his reaction?  He smiles, stands up a little straighter, and suddenly seems happier in his work.  It’s almost like magic.  Complimenting someone who doesn’t know you can have a lasting impact.  Tell that same cashier that you come into his store each week and are always impressed by how friendly he is with everyone, and you could make his whole month!  You can bet that he isn’t always in the mood to be friendly with everyone, so if he is then he must figure that being friendly is an important part of doing his job well.  You tossed him a quick compliment and actually told him you noticed that he excels at what he does – you can bet he’s going to take that to heart.  Genuine compliments make a genuine difference.

10.  Tell Someone You Love Something You Love About Them
This is like complimenting a stranger, but deeper and a little tougher to do right.  It’s best to work it into a larger conversation somehow… just blurting out to your husband that you love the way he cooks out of the blue might make him think you’re simply trying to con him into cooking dinner tonight.  However, if he just finished cooking the meal you’re enjoying and you say, “I’ve always loved being married to such a fantastic chef,” you will probably make him feel like a million bucks.  We all love the people we love for thousands of tiny reasons.  Pick any one of them and share it with that person.  You might be surprised by how much it matters to them.

There they are!  Ten things you can do right now to make the world a better place.  Go give ‘em a try and keep doing all the good work you’re doing.  It matters.  You matter.  You make a difference.