What you do first thing in the morning counts for a lot!

What you do first thing in the morning usually sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you start the morning flustered and in a big rush, feeling anxious or quietly worrying, chances are, your day will imitate a similar pattern, or create scenarios that are more of the same.

However, if you start your morning with a calm mind, chances are, as your life events unfold through the day, you’ll be more effective in dealing with it. You’ll be more equipped to make better decisions. With this, your day can be a more productive one, one where you can sit back at the end of the day feeling some form of contentment.

For me, I like to start my day with at the very least 5 minutes to myself to quiet my mind, focusing on my breath to “still” my thoughts. I sit silently enjoying a hot bowl of Matcha green tea. Some might call this meditation, others might call it being present to the moment without judgment. Doesn’t matter what you call it, the end result is the same.

And I’ve come to learn that it isn’t so much what happens during this 10 minutes of “quiet time,” but more so, the beneficial “side effects” that occur as a result of having made the time to have this small moment in the day.

Why should I communicate if it’s going to hurt?

Question for Penny: I know honest communication is key to a successful relationship, and so I make a point to always communicate with my partner so there is no misunderstanding. I try to speak positively, but most times we get into an even more heated argument. It’s so frustrating I just want to give up! What’s the point of communicating openly if this is the result?

Answer: There are too many variables to touch on with this topic; the timing, the mood, the words you choose, relevancy of what’s being said, can all affect the message you intend to deliver. Verbal communication is not enough. It doesn’t work as effectively unless paired with your mindful awareness of how you come across as you’re delivering your message. How is your facial expression? Body language? Tone of voice?

We may have good intentions with our message, but our delivery could be the reason it is not received well. So the question is, how could you be better at delivering your message if you want to be understood? You’re certainly not alone because the truth is, we ALL go through this. I certainly have my share of moments forcing me tocontinually refine my communication skills.

The biggest communication problem is that most of us do not listen to understand. Instead, we listen “on guard” ready to reply, to resist, or fight back. This is where all misunderstanding begins and suffering thoughts and emotions escalate.  It’s NOT only about trying to get your point across. Because that alone is NOT effective communication.

Effective communication is one that is not only honest, but also kind, or at the very least, fair. It is one that delivers only facts, and is done with tact. If your communication isn’t coming through kindly, then it’s hurting more than it’s healing.

And don’t expect the other person to respond the way you think “they should respond” because you can’t completely control how others choose to respond or react. It would be wiser to learn to be open so you don’t lock in on specific expectations and set yourself up for disappointment.

So how do you deliver this kind of calm, and also help your partner understand? How do you share kindly, and in return receive his/her respond or reaction with compassion? The answer remains: Practice. Practice. Practice.

Start by remembering this: People can forget what you said, people can forget what you did, but people will never forget how you leave them feeling. So before you speak, ask yourself, “how do I want to leave my partner feeling?” You certainly don’t want to leave them feeling hurt.

But for the most part, when you truly love someone you want to do what’s best for the relationship. By asking “how do I want to leave my partner feeling?” perhaps it can activate a deeper part of you that innately knows how to deliver a more effective style of communication that is healing, not hurting.

Be your partner’s biggest fan!

Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your partner is your biggest fan? When you accomplish a task, they tell you they’re proud of you. Even if you make a mistake, they tell you it’s okay and believe you can do better.

Even when you don’t feel you’ve done something well, they still express their appreciation for your effort and encourage you to keep up the good work. Wouldn’t all this make you feel good inside?

If it does, then be your partner’s biggest fan. Make them feel special in the way that you would like to feel. If you want your partner to be your biggest fan, be their biggest fan! Do this for each other…and watch what happens to your relationship!

How can I stop this stressful, anxious feeling?

Question for Penny: Not sure how to explain this, but I’ve been fighting with this stressful, anxious feeling that seems to come and go. Some of it is work, some family, and some personal stuff. It all adds up and I feel like I’m drowning with swirling thoughts and emotions. How do I stop this struggle inside me?

Answer: I understand this “fight” you’re describing. We’ve all been there and we all still go there from time to time. Some of us just stay there too long not knowing how to snap out of it. I call this internal struggle the “storm within.” I compare it to a storm because a storm can come, but the good news is, it doesn’t stay forever. It will always end at some point. So this, too, (your storm within), will eventually pass.

First, understand this: In order to stop the struggle, you must first choose to stop fighting. Just stop fighting your feelings because what you resist will persist. You can’t avoid having a storm within. It is part of life. And it is what creates “balance” and keeps things “whole.” Let me explain.

Everything that goes up eventually comes down, just as sure as the sun will rise and set. With that, one could also say we understand what “light” is once we learn of “darkness.” If it wasn’t for darkness we can’t truly appreciate light. So you see?Everything is WHOLE when it has its counterpart. It is all quite enlightening once you grasp the depth of the concept.

In the meantime, know that this “storm within” can help you grow… you WILL find a way to weather the storm (as you’ve always had or you wouldn’t be here). Life doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it does get better. It gets better because you’ve gotten better. And you can only get better when you’re challenged.

So stop fighting to end this storm. Fighting this storm within is like fighting against the powerful force of nature. You won’t win. You can’t win. Instead, recognize this storm as it “passes through you” and know that like all storms, it might or might not stay for long, but regardless, it will eventually end.

As you open the door to this awareness, feelings of fear or insecurity may seem more intense. Instead of fighting or resisting uncomfortable feelings, simply just “be” with those feelings. Notice them forming and watch them in a nonjudgmental way. Be an observer, not a victim.

Remember: When you try to push away a feeling, it only grows stronger, but when you simply notice and allow it to be, it will soon dissipate. In the beautiful words of Harvard neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, “Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.”

I am fun. I am successful. I am kind. Why can’t I find the right partner?

Question for Penny: People say I’m a good catch and I would make someone very lucky one day. I cannot disagree that I am a fun, successful, well-rounded individual who is also kind. I’ve had some great relationships, yet I’ve had no success finding the “right” partner. I am ready and open to be in a relationship and truly feel I’m doing all the right things. What am I missing here??

Answer: It’s not difficult to find a partner if being deeply connected and in love is not that important to you, or if being highly compatible with your partner isn’t a huge criteria. But if this is all too important, then you’re not just looking for a partner, you’re looking for the love of your life.

Timing plays a huge part in this. But first, you must understand that timing does not only mean being in the right place at the right time, it also means “you” have to be “ready” — YOU have to be in the “right place” in mind, heart and spirit.

To be ready is not only about being available and open, or telling yourself and others that you’re ready and looking. That’s not enough. If you want to attract the best partner for you, you have to first “be” the type of person you want to meet.

This means you would first spend time working on your Self, learn to do the things that make a relationship work; spend time on self-reflection; get clear on what you want; learn as much as you can to improve your Self.

Be open when you’re meeting new people. Don’t be too quick to judge. And when you finally meet that special someone, apply everything you’ve learned, nurture your partner, listen openly, communicate honestly, work things out kindly, speak lovingly, share affectionately.

So if you say you’re “ready”, this means you’ve taken the time to work on your Self — mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually — so you’ll not only recognize the love of your life when he or she comes along, but you’ll be “ready” to treat them the way you want to be treated (not only when it’s convenient for you, but also during the most challenging times).

The most important lesson I’ve learned in love is that true love between two people can only genuinely exist when we let go of ego — when we choose to be vulnerable with one another.

When the time is right, meaning, when you’ve done your “homework” on your Self, the best partner for you will come your way. And that partner might just be “The One” you were “growing” for all along.