5 Easy Ways To Add Zen To Your Day

Do you find yourself hearing others talk about meditating and Zen and would like some for yourself, but are already wishing you had enough time to get everything done on your to do list? Wish no more! As a lifestyle coach, my goal is to take the overwhelm out of your life by sharing five easy ways to add a little Zen to your day that don’t require hours of sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting “om”.

5 Easy Ways to Add Zen To Your Day

What is Zen?

The traditional meaning of Zen is meditation which most people identify with the sitting on a meditation pillow with incense and candles burning, for long periods of time. While this is a great practice to have, most of us can’t imagine sitting still at all, let alone for an hour. The good news? My definition of Zen is doing something we love not requiring a lot of brain power enabling our mind to slow down and have a little break, even if it’s just for five minutes. You say that’s great Mary, but what doesn’t create a lot of brain power???

Why It’s Important to Have Zen In Your Day

In this world we live in today, our brain/mind is in constant stimulation mode. If we have downtime, we have these little computers in our pockets that keep us connected. While in some situations it’s great to see your friends and family on social media, we are also inundated with negative news as we scroll through our feed. We are overworked, running kids to all over for their commitments; we eat on the fly, all while not really taking a moment to slow down our bodies and our minds. Adding a little Zen is like a little slice of heaven on Earth. It gives us a chance to stop the constant barrage of information clogging our brains. To combat this barrage, here are five easy tips to create Zen in your day, even if you’re not into meditation.

Set Your Alarm for a Half Hour Earlier

Set your alarm for a few minutes early to enjoy some quiet Zen time.

I know, I know…you are already dog tired, but trust me on this one. If you get out of bed and hit the ground running each day, give yourself a little quiet time before the rest of the house gets up. Set your coffee pot timer to have the coffee done before you get up and savor a cup while reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle or anything you like to do. I urge you to NOT turn on your phone and scroll through social media or emails. How you start your day sets the tone for the day and starting off with this little Zen may just make your day a little less stressed. If a half hour seems too daunting, try 15 minutes first. Again, give yourself just a few minutes in the morning to mentally prepare for the day.

Go For a Walk or Run

I know what you’re thinking; you don’t have time for a two mile walk. Guess what? You don’t have to go for two miles! Take 15 minutes on your lunch break, lace up a pair of tennis shoes and go, especially in the summer. Living in interior Alaska the sunshine and warm weather are fleeting and spending 8+ hours inside an office is more than enough reason to get some fresh air and move! No matter where you live, most of us are nature-deprived and sit most of the day.

Take your best friend for a quick walk stopping to enjoy nature along the way.

You don’t have to power walk to get the most out of this time, quite the opposite, make this a stroll to stretch your legs, breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sunshine. Better yet, bring along your best four-legged friend and stop and enjoy the scenery along the way. Remember, we are creating a little Zen, and slowing down and moving our bodies at the same time are the perfect Yin/Yang. When you get back to your desk, you will be refreshed, renewed and ready to take on the day!

Start An Art Practice

You’re not an artist…who says? A year ago, I attended a women’s workshop where mandala drawing was part of the event. The artist, who hand-draws incredibly balanced mandalas, shared how to create the Zen-like drawings. As she guided us through making a few creations of our own, I found something I loved to do! While mine are not even close to being balanced, it’s OK! It is MY art and I found a way to create a little Zen when I need to slow down my brain. Every once in a while I grab a marker and paper and begin with a little dot on the center of the page adding scribbles and scrolls, top and bottom, side to side. Sometimes I have a finished product in a short time, others, I start a design and finish it a few days or weeks later. Mandalas not your thing? That’s OK, doodle! Doodling is a great way to slow down our brain and letting it express itself through the pen and paper. Not into doodling? Go to your local store and pick up a coloring book. I was at Barnes and Noble this week and there are so many adult books to choose from. However, sometimes it’s fun to pick up a kids coloring book. You can be Zen and Aging Youthful at the same time! Way to multi-task!

Start a New Hobby

You know that thing you’ve always wanted to do, go do it! Learn how to play the piano or guitar to get lost in the music…do something with your hands. In the early 2000’s, thanks to HGTV and a five minute segment “Trash To Treasure” in the old Design on a Dime show, I found a love for making something old new again.

My current "trash to treasure" Zen project.

There is something Zen about taking someone’s trash, giving it a fresh coat of paint (or not) and giving it new life again. I’ve taken old doors and made them into coffee or end tables, gave an old dresser a fresh coat of paint and updated hardware, and more. Most of my creations are back at my cabin in Minnesota, but I recently picked up the practice again. The garage at our rental isn’t heated, so I have to do my Zenning in the summer months. I’m currently working on this end table. It’s taking more coats of paint than I planned, but that means the Universe is telling me I need more Zen!

Plant a Garden For More Zen

One of my favorite ways to Zen; garden!

What could be more Zen than working in nature??? Ever since I was a kid, I loved playing in the dirt and as an adult it led me to creating in the dirt. Our current yard situation isn’t the best for creating rock gardens like the ones I had at my cabin, but I can container garden! Much like turning trash into treasure, there is something about turning a plain piece of earth into a beautiful bountiful garden. Whether it’s a flower/perennial garden or a vegetable garden, both are Zen. I have a tomato and basil plant on my deck, along with a couple of Viola/pansy hanging baskets to fill my need to play in the dirt and not require too much attention. As mentioned earlier, we are living in a nature-deprived society and what a better way to get in some nature time than digging IN it!

Tending to a vegetable garden is the ultimate Zen!

 

There you have it, five easy ways to add a little Zen to your day. These are just five of my favorites, there are literally thousands of other options, check out my post 50 Easy Ways To Nourish Your Soul if you are needing inspiration. My advice, find something YOU love that allows your brain to slow down and just “be”. We are human BEings not human DOings, so BEcome a little more human. I love hearing from you! Comment below or on our Facebook or Instagram pages with your favorite way to create a little Zen in your day to share with our readers so they may find something to help them slow down in this crazy busy world we live.

Aging Youthful’s Favorite Personal Development Books

Winter is truly here in Interior Alaska, as the photo from my post A Northern Girl’s Guide to Low Daylight Survival stated, so it’s time for me to read or re-read some of my favorite personal development books. Since becoming involved with a network marketing company in 2011, just about every book I’ve read has been something from the personal development genre. I can only think of one fiction book I’ve read! I tend to have a very short attention span, so a book has to capture and draw me in quickly or I lose interest in a hurry. Not too many years ago, I would have told you these self-help books were “woo-hooey” and a waste of time and money, but at the time I was at a pretty low place in my life and was willing to try something new IN CASE it might help me.

In all of our moves in the last five years, most of my library of personal development books moved with us. From our cabin in Minnesota to Florida to Alaska, I’ve always found room for my books. Some were in boxes, and those that didn’t fit, were stuffed into the nooks and crannies of empty spaces in the cab of our trucks. While I could download a bunch on a Kindle, iPad or my phone, I still like the hard copy and the feel of turning the pages of paper. My age may have something to do with it, but there is something about having the weight of the written word in my hand.

I Found “The Secret” In My First Personal Development Book!

One of the first books recommended to me was The Success Principals, by Jack Canfield. Being honest, I only read the first few chapters and haven’t opened it since. As I mentioned, I have pretty short attention span and the thickness of the book intimidated me. I know someday I will be ready to go back to it, so I’ve kept it around for over five years! Another of the first books I purchased was The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and (nerd alert) I was captured in the introduction! (Yes, I read the introduction of most books). I read the entire book in a day and immediately read it again over the next couple of days. To say this book changed my life, might be a little over-stating as I feel every book I read changes my life in one way or another.

The Secret: The first personal development book I read and the beginning of a major shift in my life.

More Personal Development Favorites

My personal development library has many subjects/genres: From finances/money mindset such as The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker , woo-hooey such as The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, autobiographies of successful people such as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (another one on my “Still to Read” list), network marketing/sales books such as The Go Giver and more. Below are the books that moved with us with more on my coffee and bedside tables and there are more back at our cabin in MN. I have also gifted forward books to people I believed needed the book more than me. I have also bought and sent books to people “Get Rich Lucky Bitch” I just finished reading and sent one to my friend Penny via Amazon.

This group of books has traveled over 10,000 miles with me from Minnesota, to Florida to Alaska! Where will they go next?

My Personal Development Top 10

Of the ones in my current library and I’ve read in the past, the following are ten I recommend to anyone looking for direction or wanting to up-level their life. All the books can be found on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble Stores/website Here is the Top 10 I recommend reading, in no particular order:

  1. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (anything in her book line is recommended!).
  2. Get Rich Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
  3. The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
  4. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  5. The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman
  6. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by Dr. John Gray
  7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  8. Go Pro by Eric Worre (everyone in network marketing needs to read this immediately!)
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  10. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason

The Four Agreements is a book I recommend every human being reads. It will slap you in the face and wake you up to personal responsibility.

If there is one that I recommend everyone read, it’s The Four Agreements. This book can be life-changing as its “agreements” are for everyone. I believe if more people followed these principles, there would be more peace in this world. If you feel you don’t have time to read, download audio books and listen while you are driving. It’s a great way to make the time pass and soak up a little personal development on your way to work and I find it can help wind down after a stressful day. I haven’t done as much listening lately, so I may have to download one or two!

The personal development book I'm currently reading: The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

I just started The Universe Has Your Back so it’s not listed here as I’ve only finished the introduction (see, I told you I read the intro to every book) but I already like what I’m reading. Matter of fact, it’s time for me to get some reading done! What are some of your favorite books? I’m always on the lookout for something new.  Comment below or post on our social media pages with your favorites! If you aren’t following us already, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

50 Easy Ways To Nourish Your Soul

50 Easy Ways to Nourish Your Soul from Aging Youthful

Nourish Your Soul

Would you like to nourish your soul but and don’t know where to start? Not sure what nourishing your soul means? I shared my definition of nourishing my soul in our introductory post, but to make it simple, it is doing what makes me feel warm and fuzzy, puts a smile on my face and just makes me feel good overall. From watching a sunrise or set to enjoying a good book, it feels good to do things that feel good!

A Soul-Starved Society

I believe we are living in a soul  – starved society. For generations, we’ve been taught to go to school, get a good job with benefits, work hard for forty years and collect a pension. That seemed to work for a while, but as the generations went on, we became less concerned with how we felt ABOUT our work, than what we MADE while doing the work. Working at a job we aren’t passionate about and doesn’t fill our souls is OK, we just need to be sure we are doing something in our off-time of that DOES. Most soul – filling things can be free and don’t take a lot time,

What We Focus on Expands

Like everything else, what we focus on expands. I found the more I started to really appreciate the little things, the more little (and bigger!) things I had to appreciate! The Law of Attraction is happening whether we pay attention to it or not. When we focus on smelling the roses, we will notice more roses to smell! One of my two most favorite things to nourish my soul on the list I compiled below are watching sunrises and sunsets. I really started to appreciate them when Mark and I moved to our cabin in the bush of Northeastern Minnesota. At the time, the trees on the property were pretty small as we built on a piece of land to the East of a huge clear cut. Those first few years, the sunsets streaming through our front window were amazing. There were nights in the first couple of years where I would sit on top of a dog house with our lead dog Innoko, watching the sunset.  As the years went on I had to seek higher ground to get a wide view of the sunset but as you can see from the photo below, even after the trees started to grow higher, they still were pretty amazing.
one of the amazing sunsets at our cabin in Minnesota

What Nourishes MY Soul

I have compiled a list of things that inspire me and makes my insides warm to hopefully inspire you to give your soul a lift. By all means this is not an all – inclusive list, I could have kept going but decided to stop at 50 to not be overwhelming for beginners. I have also created a printable pdf of the list for you! Click here to have sent to your email. My hope is you will print and hang some place where it can be seen every day as a reminder to stop for a second or two and nourish YOUR soul.  Here we go…

50 Easy Ways To Nourish Your Soul

1. ENJOY A SUNRISE
2. ENJOY A SUNSET BY YOURSELF
3. ENJOY A SUNSET WITH YOUR PARTNER
4. BUY YOURSELF FLOWERS
5. BUY SOMEONE ELSE FLOWERS
6. PICK FLOWERS
7. TAKE YOUR DOG FOR A WALK
8. WALK SOMEONE ELSE’S DOG
9. TAKE YOUR PARTNER FOR A WALK
10. GO FOR A CHALLENGING HIKE
11. SNUGGLE WITH A PET
12. READ AN INSPIRING AUTOBIOGRAPHY
13. LISTEN TO CLASSICAL MUSIC
14. HOLD HANDS WITH YOUR PARTNER
15. TAKE YOUR PARTNER ON A DATE
16. WATCH A SAPPY MOVIE
17. WALK BAREFOOT IN THE GRASS
18. GO TO THE BEACH
19. STAY IN YOUR PAJAMAS ALL DAY
20. WRITE IN A JOURNAL
21. WRITE 100 GRATITUDES
22. START A DAILY GRATITUDE JOURNAL
23. START (AND FINISH) A CRAFT PROJECT
24. DOODLE
25. LOOK THROUGH PHOTO ALBUMS
26. CREATE A  PHOTO ALBUM
27. ENJOY A DECADENT COFFEE
28. PLANT FLOWERS
29. CREATE AN INDOOR HERB GARDEN
30. WATCH AN INSPIRING MOVIE
31. GO TO A MOVIE ALONE
32. TAKE A NAP
33. GO TO A YOGA CLASS
34. PRAY OR MEDITATE
35. DON’T WATCH THE NEWS
36. TURN OFF THE TV FOR A DAY
37. CANCEL YOUR CABLE SUBSCRIPTION
38.. TURN OFF ELECTRONICS FOR A DAY
39. TRY A NEW WORKOUT CLASS
40. TAKE A DANCE CLASS
41. START A WORKOUT ROUTINE
42. MEET A FRIEND FOR LUNCH
43. CALL AN OLD FRIEND
44. JOIN A BOOK CLUB
45. VOLUNTEER
46. SMILE AT EVERYONE FOR A DAY
47. GET A MASSAGE
48. SPEND A WEEKEND ALONE
49. PLAN A WEEKEND GETAWAY
50. DO WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL WARM AND FUZZY

We would love to hear from you! What feeds YOUR soul? Comment below or on our Facebook and Instagram pages. If you would like to have a printable pdf of the list sent to your inbox for a daily reminder, click here.

Gratitude Practice: A Beginner’s Guide To Getting Started

Have you heard others talk about practicing gratitude and don’t know where to start or do you feel like you have nothing to be grateful for because nothing seems to be going your way? I’m here to help you get started and give you a tool to realize there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for!

Gratitude Journal

How To Start a Gratitude Practice

Getting started is extremely simple; grab a pen and paper and write “I am so happy and grateful for” followed by something you ARE grateful for. When I first started, I bought a basic 99 cent spiral notebook and started writing one or two things a day. In the beginning I felt like it always had to be something big: perfect relationship with Mark, perfect health, world peace, etc. There were days I struggled to find something to write down, then I realized the little things were just as important; hot coffee in my favorite mug on a chilly morning, my dog or cat snuggled at my feet, or a quick hug from my honey, etc.

The More You Practice Gratitude, The Easier it Becomes

Just like starting anything new, it may seem hard at first, but it gets easier as time goes along. The more we are grateful for, the more we will have to BE grateful for. The following is a quote I heard at the first training event I went to for Isagenix and it changed my life: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at…change”. Let that sink in for a moment. A situation in our life might seem hopeless but if we can find a sliver of good, a silver lining, it can become hopeful. Again, it doesn’t have to be anything huge, just something.

One Step at a Time

Once you become consistent in your daily practice, take it up a notch by writing down things that you would LIKE to be grateful as well as the ones you already are. I always start by writing five or six things I am currently grateful for and follow it starting the next session with “I am so happy and grateful NOW THAT”…followed by a few things I’d like manifested into my life.

Be Consistent and Patient

Will more things to be grateful for show immediately in your life? Maybe, maybe not. One thing I have learned is to be consistent especially when things ARE going good. In the past I would write in my journal one day followed by a week off. Write a day or two, take two weeks off. As a result my results were, you guessed it, inconsistent. I would have times where I was consistent for weeks or months at a time and once things I had been asking for started to manifest, I’d get lazy and quit writing in my journal. As a result, you guessed it again, things would quit manifesting.

This year I made a goal to write in my journal every day and I am proud to say have only missed two or three days. The end of September is near and while everything I’ve asked for hasn’t manifested (yet) and I’m learning to be patient. On another hand, many things have come into my life! Will I stop asking for things I desire, no. I love setting my alarm for oh-dark-thirty (some mornings that means 4:00 am) so I’m not rushed in my writing and can enjoy a cup of coffee before getting ready for the day. If you are just getting started, don’t worry about getting up before the crack of dawn, just get started. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll have more to be grateful for.

We’d love to hear from you! Comment below or head on over to our Aging Youthful Facebook page and share what you are grateful for.

5 Steps to Remove Drama From Your Life

Don’t get me wrong, I love drama, as long as it’s in a movie I’m watching. In my personal life, I try to stay as far away from it I can. A few months back I created the graphic below in response to all the people on Facebook posting a LOT of drama on Facebook.

If drama follows you, maybe it's not following you after all. ~Mary Black I used to feel like drama was following me and guess what? I used to be one of the people saying to myself things like “why does this keep happening to me”, “there always seems to be a black cloud over my head”, and many other similar sentences. I can tell you, I was not always a lot of fun to be around; I was miserable and tired of things “happening” TO me.  I don’t remember the exact date, but I remember the day I told Mark, “I’m done with the pity party, I’m going to be grateful for what I have, I’m no longer focusing on what I don’t”. What do you think happened? You guessed it! Drama quit “following me”. While making that one decision was a pivotal point in my life, drama is all around in the world and keeping drama out of my life is a daily practice. Below are five steps I take to help keep drama out of my life.

Stop WATCHING Drama

Do you know what CNN stands for? Constantly Negative News. ABC; Always Broadcasting Crap. The easiest way to follow this step? Turn off the TV. Yes, turn it off. Stop watching the news, reality shows, docu-dramas, etc. If you can’t completely shut off the TV, limit the shows you watch to a couple favorites a week. We went 12 years without local TV or cable and we didn’t miss it. Mark and I have TV again, and wow, there is a LOT of created drama in the news, they make drama out of nothing and don’t even get me started on the reality shows.

5 Steps to Remove Drama From Your Life

Stop FOLLOWING Drama

Who are you following on social media? Just like TV, you have the power to turn off the drama posted, tweeted, snapped, Instagramed, etc. When the drama is coming from people I follow, I quit following and/or unfriend them. What to do if the drama queens or kings are family and they would create even MORE drama if you unfriended them? Unfollow them. Another way to have less drama in your newsfeed; quit liking, commenting and sharing controversial posts. It is really that simple. I have been criticized for doing the above, but I am unapologetic about what is in MY newsfeed and it has cut down on the drama even more than shutting off the TV.

Stop LISTENING To and SPEAKING Drama

Are you standing around the water cooler at work listening to or spreading gossip about another co-worker, complaining about your boss or bitching about _____________(fill in the blank). One word of advice: STOP. All the above does is create negative energy, aka DRAMA, and once again you have the power to walk away. If it is the thing to do it and makes you FEEL like you fit in with your co-workers, it’s time to look for a new position, job or place to work. My advice, walk away,  and head back to your desk and work. The result may be your co-workers start gossiping about you (guess what, if they were gossiping about another co-worker in his/her absence, they are already doing it in your absence). Unless you have a boss that encourages gossip, he or she will take notice of you working while the rest of the office is standing around the water cooler, and you might just get a promotion.

Stop HANGING AROUND Drama

I guess this tip could almost fit in with #3, but I’ll gearing this toward your personal life. Late personal development guru Jim Rohn stated “you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”. Let that sink in for a couple of moments. Are the people you hang out with loaded with drama? Over the last few years as I’ve tried to remove as much drama as possible, I’ve had to “bless and release” a fair share of people in many areas of my life. Some were people I followed on Facebook, others were friends and even some family. While I can’t completely shut out family members, I can choose to spend less time with them. A couple of years ago I had to let go of a couple of friends who live out of state. I first started by unfollowing them on social media, but it wasn’t enough as they could still see my posts. I finally decided to make what seems like harsh decision;  I unfriended them as I would get a pit in my stomach every time I received a notification they had commented on one of my posts.  By unfriending the offenders, I no longer cringe when I click on my notifications and enjoy an uplifting scroll through Facebook and my other social media channels.

Stop Creating Drama

Lastly and most importantly, Stop CREATING Drama

The best way to remove drama in your life is practice patience, empathy and understanding of others and in turn it stops creating it. Do you realize you are creating drama when a driver cuts you off and you get all worked up and you create a story of how much that person is a jerk, flipping them off, honking, etc. when in reality he may not have seen you? Do you get impatient with a cashier or the person ahead of you while waiting in line at the store and being a jerk when you check out? If you do, STOP. All you are doing is creating drama where there doesn’t have to be. You can also stop creating drama using all the steps above, when you choose to not participate.

Feel free to comment below on where you can practice more patience, empathy and understanding of others to have less drama in your life?