Make Your Dreams Come True in 2017

Act on Them and Have a Plan

Have you neglected your dreams lately? We often wait for the perfect time to pursue our dreams. We might set them aside until we believe we have enough money or time, the kids have grown up or our careers are more stable. And then some of us aren’t quite sure that we really deserve to reach our dreams, so we get caught up in other things in order to protect ourselves from fear.
Why not make 2017 the year you move your dream along to get it closer to fruition, or actually work to make a dream come true? Dust off the dream you are most passionate about and see if it still holds up.  Does your idea evoke the kind of passion that creates the ambition, focus, courage and resilience it takes to get there—or do you need to tweak it a bit.  Psychotherapist Martin Novell, a Marriage and Family Therapist who practices in West Los Angeles says, without the passion to do the work required to sail around the world, learn to play the piano well enough to join a band, or start a small baking business on the side to pay off your college loans… all you have is a daydream. “Passion gives you the potential for seeing a dream through to reality, and keeping that dream fresh helps fuel your ambition.”
Visualize Your Dream
Use mental imagery as a successful tool to keep your dream alive and inspired. Visualizing your dreams keeps you knowledgeable about how you want your dream to play out. “Use imagery to create short and long term goals and work out the inevitable obstacles and hurdles as you go about actualizing your ideas,” says Novell.
Talk to Yourself
Because fear of failure or success can easily kill a dream, use “self-talk” to support your belief in yourself and your dream.
Start by referring to yourself by name rather than using “I” and speaking to yourself as you would talk to a friend. According to scientists studying the process, this distance allows your brain to step back from the dream and all of its possibilities so it can think more clearly and deeply. For instance, you might calm yourself about a block you are experiencing writing the lyrics to a new song by saying, “When you write (put your name here) you’ve experienced some brain freeze now and then. But, you always get over it quickly. Instead of stressing, take the day off from writing.” With positive self-talk, you’ll find that the situation gets worked out effectively, and success will come more easily.

The Best Holiday Movies

And how to stream them

Tis the season! You know the one we’re talking about. When an endless stream of parties, shopping runs and the miscellaneous tasks involved in tying up the year’s loose ends leave us all with little in the way of free time to spare. Except, that is, for movies. After all, what’s better than cozying up in front of the fire – solo or with someone special – to enjoy a Holiday classic? The answer is, pretty much nothing.
With that in mind, here’s our list of the five best Holiday Movies and where you can watch them!
Home Alone, 1990
If you’re feeling nostalgic for childhood holidays (or simpler times when parents could leave for vacation without their youngest offspring and not wind up in jail), there’s no better film for you. This classic comedy made a household name out of young Macaulay Culkin and launched a franchise. P.S., the second installment (when young Kevin winds up alone in Manhattan) is pretty great, too!
Currently running on HBO Family/HBO/HBO Go and available for purchase/rental on Amazon Video
A Christmas Story, 1983
If the hilarious story of a loving, dysfunctional family sounds up your alley, look no further than this beloved Christmas comedy set in the Midwest of the 1930s. Young Ralphie Parker wants a Red Ryder air rifle from Santa Claus more than anything in the world, despite universal warnings that he’ll shoot his eye out if he gets one. Spoiler alert – he won’t actually lose any body parts – but you’ll laugh your heart out watching the Parker family’s winter exploits.
Currently available for rent/purchase on Itunes, Youtube, Amazon Video and Google Video
Love Actually, 2003
Yes, it’s sappy. And parts of it may even be cringe-worthy thirteen years later (wait – how did that happen?!), but this modern day classic from Richard Curtis (also known for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill for starters), is sure to give you the feels. It’s also a super romantic dose of English holiday spirit – and rest assured, no one does Christmas like London. (See also: Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001 and The Holiday, 2006).
Currently streaming on Netflix along with The Holiday. Bridget Jones’s Diary is available on Fullscreen, Hulu and Amazon Video
Scrooged, 1988
This late-80s comedic take on the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol doesn’t quite hit the sweet note of the original (it’s far more cynical). However, it stars Bill Murray and it still gets the point across. Kindness counts and no one wants to work over the holidays – even in Manhattan!
Available to stream on ITunes, YouTube and Amazon Video
Elf, 2003
Who can resist Will Ferrell playing a human raised by Santa whose come down from the North Pole to meet his real father? Not us! Great for kids and the kid in us all, this charming little comedy will make you laugh and warm your heart.
Available to stream on ITunes, YouTube and Vudu

Easy Tips for a Stress-Less Holiday

3 ways to reduce anxiety during this hectic season

For many people, the holiday season means gift buying, traveling, cooking and party going, but it doesn’t have to mean stress-induced madness as a result. Follow these easy tips for more joy and less bah-humbug in your holidays:
Give yourself a break—You’ll be tempted, but don’t skip your exercise, yoga, meditation, or any other mental or physical break in favor of shopping or getting your house ready for friends. Even relaxing with a cup of hot tea for a moment or taking a warm bath will help prevent stress from building up. The point: taking a healthy break from holiday madness will help you stay grounded. Research by Harvard psychologists published in Science found that most of us spend about 47 percent of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re currently doing. The problem? All of this time spent day dreaming about stuff that’s not happening in the moment is very often the source of our stress and unhappiness.
Practice generosity with people who expect nothing— Yep, we know you’re already buying a gift for that aunt you don’t particularly like, and you’re getting something for each of your daughter’s teachers, your spouse’s boss, and (of course) special gifts for your own children. It’s a long list filled with expectant gift getters, but what about gifting something to someone who expects absolutely nothing from you? Drop off an ornament to your favorite vet or bake a banana bread for your elderly neighbor (check out this recipe). Anytime you contribute to the happiness or well being of someone who expects nothing from you, you benefit as well. Neuroscientists say these random acts of altruism light up the same pleasure centers in the brain as sex and food. Enough said!
Set your intention— Intentions are powerful. Psychiatrist Dan Siegel says that by setting your intention, you prime your brain for positive experiences. Other researchers have shown that when we notice a positive experience, we become more sensitive and aware of additional positive experiences. You even may start noticing so much positivity this year that you’ll never again associate holidays with stress. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Practicing the Art of Gratitude

It’s Not As Difficult as You May Think

A slew of gratitude studies say that finding ways to be grateful is the next best thing to a health and happiness miracle: gratitude can decrease physical pain, improve marriages and simply make your life happier and more successful. The benefits sound so good that it must be complicated, right? Wrong!

The world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, Robert Emmons, PH.D. (a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis) says that gratitude really boils down to two simple components:

First, gratitude starts with affirmation of the good. We simply acknowledge that there are good things in our worlds – gifts, perks and benefits that we’ve received. Note: this doesn’t mean that we have to believe everything is perfect in our worlds – simply that there are good things.

Second, we recognize that the source of this good comes from outside ourselves. That is, we admit that other people (or perhaps higher powers for spiritual people) helped us achieve or attain the goodness in our lives. Emmons and other researchers point out that this second aspect of gratefulness – the social dimension – is particularly important. Why? Because acknowledging the help others have given us in our lives requires us to see how we’ve been supported, encouraged and assisted by other people. With this awareness, we tend to not only appreciate the benefits and support gained, but also repay them (or pay them forward).

Need some handy ways to bolster your gratitude? Try these tricks:
  1. Each day, jot down three things you are thankful for – whether tiny or huge – in a notebook or using an app (try the Gratitude Journal 365 Pro app). Alternately, right before you doze off at night, think of at least three things you’re grateful for. Seemingly basic things count – even clean sheets or a comfortable bed.
  2. Tell a coworker, spouse, child or friend something you sincerely appreciate about them. Aim to do this at least once a day.
  3. Try a gratitude meditation. Meditation teacher Sarah McClean offers a great gratitude meditation. If it’s not a fit for you, there are many more online.
Of course, it could be that you’re already extremely grateful! Check your gratitude level with this this Gratitude Quiz from Greater Good.
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