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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

This time of year can be difficult. Motivation wanes and new habits or goals may seem just out of reach. It’s easy to give up especially when it seems like others can achieve their goals without much effort.

It is however the perfect time of year to remind you that comparison is the thief of joy.

In today’s world it’s easy to compare ourselves to our friends, family, colleagues, people’s highlight reels they post on social media and even influencers and celebrities on “reality” tv. Research shows this type of comparison leads to self-criticism, envy, low self-esteem, depression and is destructive to our growth. In fact, neuroscientists have directly linked constant self-judgement and shame to shutting down the learning centers of our brains. Most of all, comparison steals the wonder from our lives and diminishes the joy that is all around us.

We’ve explored the idea of negativity bias and how the brain will more likely remember negative experiences than positive ones. (Remember the whole Teflon vs Velcro analogy?) Well, it works the same way when it comes to comparison. Our inner critic, that mean voice that says you aren’t good enough or that you’ll never achieve your goals, latches on to our flaws or our failures and ignores all the good stuff. It’s tough and judgmental and sets unrealistic standards for us.

How can we work with the inner critic to stop comparing and start thriving?

  1. Notice your thoughts
  2. Pause and replace your negative thoughts with positive ones
  3. Radically accept all of you – your failures and your wins – knowing we can seek improvement while accepting our mistakes
  4. Cultivate self-compassion
  5. Record and practice positivity

Over the next three months our Wellness Program will explore this as our umbrella topic with workshops for members and team members on how to stop comparing yourself to others, how to work with your inner critic, why you need a social media audit and detox, and how mindfulness can help you be your favorite version of you (notice I didn’t say best).

I hope you’ll join me in these workshops and promote these ideas to our members so we can all #LiveLifeWell.


How to Break Your Habit Loops

The first step to change is becoming aware of your habits and then intentionally deciding how you’re going to change them. Self-awareness is the first step in self-transformation.

Habits, whether good or bad, are a reflex. You’re mindlessly reacting, rather than mindfully responding. Essentially, there is a trigger that leads to a behavior which gives you a reward. After you’ve done this a few times, you’re hooked.

So how can a bit of mindfulness, or self-awareness, help when you’re trying to break a bad habit? When you start to notice an urge, a craving or a desire to engage in the habit you want to break, do the following:

  1. Hit pause when you catch yourself doing it or wanting to do it.
  2. Notice without judgement. It’s ok to have these feelings.
  3. Get curious. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Try to dig a little deeper into what’s going on that’s triggered this.
  4. Identify triggers. Once you know what’s driving you to engage in this unhelpful habit, and the triggers that lead to them, you can find it easier to avoid or not act on the urges.
  5. Replace the bad habit with a good one. Use your habit loop to your advantage. The rewards from your new positive habits will replace the desire to do the old habit.
  6. Progress not perfection. Let go of all or nothing thinking. Anything you do that’s moving you in the right direction of your goal is a good thing.
  7. Be kind to yourself if you fail. It’s hard to change ingrained habits. Take it one day at a time, celebrate the good and if you fall off, just get back on.

When you’re setting your New Year’s resolutions or you’re trying to change bad habits, remember that simply being aware of what you are doing is the first step to success. Once you are in awareness, you have the power of choice.

So, what are you trying to change this month? I’d love to know. Hit me up @jacbuchananyoga on Instagram.


How to Manage Holiday Stress through Awareness

It’s December which means there’s no shortage of holiday stress infiltrating our lives. Luckily, through awareness can manage some of what life throws our way and experience a little joy this season brings as well.

Here's how:

  1. Find the balance… between all the “shoulds” in your life with what YOU actually need. When we constantly operate on obligations, we end up burning out thanks to a big dose of people pleasing and trying to live up to others’ expectations of us. Be aware of your needs and balance that with your obligations.
  2. Practice self-compassion… by taking care of yourself. Get enough sleep and enough exercise. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be more attentive and calmer in your interactions with others.
  3. Notice judgments…of yourself and others. Take a breath when feelings of being “bad,” or “wrong,” or ”not good enough” pop up. Notice when negative self-talk starts and try to let these thoughts simply be without treating them like facts. Feelings are valid, but they aren’t facts.
  4. We are ALL going through something… so show yourself, and others some grace. This season is often difficult for many people coping with grief, anxiety, depression, and many other tough emotions. Consider this when dealing with one another.

I’d love to hear what you think about this topic, and all our Mindset Reset topics, so drop me at line @jacbuchananyoga on IG.


Eat With Intention While Paying Attention

Does this sound familiar? You’re sitting on the couch and boredom strikes. You walk to the pantry, or the fridge and open it and stare. Nothing new but grab a handful of chips or a string cheese anyway? Or maybe, you’re cleaning up your kid’s lunch and pop the rest of that PB&J into your mouth without thinking about it. Or all of a sudden, you’ve eaten the rest of something you didn’t even intend to?

This month, with the holidays around the corner your mindset reset is: Eat with intention while paying attention.

How can we be more intentional with eating and why does it matter? This isn’t about diet or what to eat, but rather about cultivating more awareness around the habits and tendencies we have with food. We often eat out of boredom, or to avoid uncomfortable emotions, or without thinking – mindless snacking ring a bell?

Next time you have a thought about food, pause for a moment and notice. Rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10 and then make a thoughtful, judgement-free decision around your next action – to eat or not to eat.

Then when you are actually eating your food, bring your attention to all of it. Can you notice how creamy the butter is that you spread on your toast? Can you feel the bubbles in your mouth from the sparkling water? Notice the tastes, the colors, the crunch, the texture of your food. Appreciate each thing you can notice about it.

Here are a couple of tips to help you eat with intention during the holiday season:

  1. Pause and rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10
  2. Eat and drink what you really want
  3. Sit down while you eat
  4. Make a plate (rather than hovering by the snack table)
  5. Savor the flavors and slow down
  6. Pay attention to how you feel as you eat and stop when you’ve had enough

This is what it means to eat with intention while paying attention.


How Helping Others Affects Health

As we launch our 7th annual Fight Cancer campaign, think about this: helping others does your body (and mind) good. Altruism, or performing a self-sacrificing act for the benefit of someone else, may look like it’s for the benefit of other people (and it is!) but did you know, you’re the one that benefits the most from it?

Sometimes known as the Helpers High, altruism can improve your attitude, make you happier, healthier, and less stressed. Using MRI machines, researchers showed that donating to charity affects your brain. It actually releases endorphins. Further research also shows that it makes you feel more grateful for what you have and improves your physical health.

Purchasing a FIGHT CANCER kettlebell, supporting a cause you care about, holding the door for someone, donating your time to serving meals at the homeless shelter or joining in one of our FIGHT CANCER SweatFest events are all ways to secrete endorphins and capture this feeling of satisfaction.

Your Mindset Reset this month is this: a generous life is a happier and healthier one.

How can you spend some time this month living more altruistically? What can you do for others that will not only benefit them, but in the end, will benefit you too? Let generosity glue us together for a happier and healthier life. I’d love to hear from you @jacbuchananyoga or shoot me an email Jacqueline.buchanan@inshape.com.


What you Practice Grows Stronger

September is all about falling back into fitness and getting back to our routines. Some of you might be wanting to change up those routines or stick to new, healthier habits. And sticking to new habits can be haaaarrd. It’s way easier to continue to do the same thing, to take the same road, to hit the snooze button.

Change – whether it’s physical like learning a new skill, mental like flexing that will power muscle, or emotional like evolving your ability to respond rather than react – requires practice. And a key component to that practice is grace. Give yourself some grace while you’re changing. Remove self-judgment and allow yourself to practice. While perfection isn’t possible, progress is.

So in honor of that, your Mindset Reset for this month is: what you practice grows stronger.

You have the ability this month to choose. Through awareness and intention, we have the power of choice. So take a moment, maybe sit down with your journal or just find a quiet spot to drop in, and ask yourself, what do you want to grow? What do you want to practice? Stay open and stay curious with what pops up.

Be intentional with what you want to practice because what you practice grows stronger. I’d love to hear what you’re intentionally practicing this month. Send me a message on IG @jacbuchananyoga or drop us a line @inshapeclubs.


NAMI Mindfulness Breaks

Need a quick mindfulness break? Or need to take five to reset for the rest of your day? Tune in to Coach Jacqueline’s five and ten minute mindfulness presentations at the recent NAMI conference. NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

10 Minutes of Mindfulness

5 Minute Breathing Exercise