Generosity and Gratitude: Two Sides of the Same Coin

By Emma Haplin

Gratitude and generosity are more important this year than ever. Right now, it is easy to fixate on the negatives, on the things we can no longer do, and on the things we have had to give up this year. All of our lives have changed in innumerable ways and it can be difficult to do the things we love. Moreover, it is an even larger struggle to spend time with the people we love. Nevertheless, we should not dwell on these changes. During times of struggle, it can be tempting to turn inward, to focus on ourselves and all the ways that we are missing out.

Personally, I have found that this achieves nothing positive and only brings me down. To pull myself out of that negative place, I make an effort to remember the elements of my life that I am grateful for. Last spring and summer, I was stuck at home in my small town after being sent home from time abroad that I had been looking forward to for years. I was feeling quite sorry for myself (which I’m not proud of), and couldn’t help but dwell on all the experiences, connections, and learning I had missed out on. During this time, I began to include a section in my journal about the positive things in my life that I feel grateful for. This has helped me to put problems in perspective, and to recognize the truly wonderful pieces of life that I am lucky enough to experience. When I reflect on all of the ways that I am fortunate in this life, and on the people who care about me, it is much more difficult to remain in a low place. Sometimes, this exercise takes the form of pages of writing, and sometimes it is just a simple list of the things, large and small, that I am grateful for in that moment. For example:

Some things I am grateful for:

  • Morning coffee with maple oat milk and cinnamon
  • Small paintings of flowers
  • A good connection on Facetime
  • Cozy socks
  • My mom’s cinnamon roll recipe

I encourage you to write down a list like this, to remind yourself of the things you have to be grateful for. Creating a consistent gratitude practice can be amazing for your mental health. To take it a step further, you might look at this list and seek out ways to honor the people and things that appear on it. This will shift the focus from yourself, and spread the positive effects of your practice to others.

If you are looking for another way to deepen your gratitude practice, you can take a look at this app called Gratitude, recommended by our founder, Ivy. It has many journal prompts, and allows you to add pictures to your journal. You can even set a timer each day to help you make gratitude a habit.

Now, not to be contradictory but, I want to acknowledge the importance of gratitude for yourself. This is an important part of a gratitude practice! There is a lot of value in recognizing the things you do for yourself and others, and thanking yourself for doing them. Be generous with yourself too. Treat yourself with a moment to breathe, or an extra hour of sleep, or maybe a sweet from a local business (then you are giving back to yourself and your community!). I encourage you to take care of yourself, as it is difficult to express generosity and gratitude to others when we do not take note of the amazing things we ourselves do in our lives.

Generosity and gratitude are closely related. We can, of course, express our gratitude for someone else’s generosity towards us, but we can also project gratitude out into the world with generosity. The act of expressing gratitude is beneficial for our relationships, and for our own mental health. Be generous with your gratitude. Give it away like you would a smile to a puppy or a kind word to a family member or partner. That is to say, give it away often and with ease. This might take the form of a verbal thank you, or a small gift or note, or it might be a simple act of kindness. Tell the people in your life how much they mean to you, and show it with acts of care and help. Support others in your community and circle. Not only will it brighten their spirits and yours, you never know who might really need your thanks. The same can be said for acts of generosity, in your inner circle and in your wider community. As the weather turns colder and darker, we can all appreciate small gifts, kind words, and help when we need it, from friends and strangers alike.

Minnesota had its first snowfall of the year recently. Although I grew up in a snowy town in the mountains, and have nothing against snow, this was not an event that I was particularly overjoyed about. For me, snow in Minnesota signals cold, dark days in which I struggle to find joy and light, and the occurrence of inches of snow about a month too early served as a reminder of what is to come. However, I have tried to inject some positivity into it by getting into the holiday spirit a little bit early and brainstorming ways I can brighten up the lives of my friends and family. Although I am far away from my family in Washington state, taking the time to think of the ways that I will make them feel special and loved during the holidays is making me feel closer to them. I have been practicing saying ‘thank you’ more often, and appreciating the ways in which people make my life better (and letting them know when they do!). I hope that you will be able to do the same. Gratitude is a skill and a habit, and the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Every week this month, I encourage you to find a new way to express your gratitude to those around you. Get creative with it! You might find that you get just as much out of the act as the person you are appreciating does.

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Redefining Success: How To Find Freedom In Letting Go of Expectations

By Anna Berger 

Something I wish someone told me when I was eighteen and just starting college would be, “Don’t hang onto the expectations you have coming in.” Over the past few months, I’ve had time to ask myself many questions about my own expectations. How did they come about? Are they influenced by society? Do I feel pressure from friends and family to conform to “standard” expectations for myself? Am I a failure because I have to let go of certain ideals every now and then?

Finding out who you are can be a rollercoaster of good, bad, and ugly experiences. It’s easy to feel discouraged when expectations of how your life is “supposed to go,” don’t go according to plan. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a few lessons about what it means to let go and how to achieve freedom from perfectionism.

Why We’re Unhappy – The Expectation Gap by Nate Ware

The first lesson I have been re-learning over and over is that you’re not a failure if you have to change your original plan or expectations. The feeling of freedom can come from letting go of roadblocks and negativity. In some cases, we associate freedom with breaking out of an expectation that you originally thought was going to bring success, when in reality it’s making you more distressed. A TED Talk that does a really good job at depicting our own expectations is called Why We’re Unhappy – The Expectation Gap by Nate Ware. A quote that stood out to me during this talk was, “We’re unhappy when our expectations of reality exceed our experiences of reality.” Our perceived happiness and feelings of success can be heavily influenced by our expectations of what we think reality should be. Personally, if I have an idea or plan I like to stick to it. Why not? If I have a perceived plan, I ultimately will know what’s going to happen, right? As much as I’d like to think my plans go exactly how I anticipate them, that’s not always the case. Learning the hard way that although planning and organizing are great, having an equal amount of flexibility and awareness to adapt to the changing world around us is just as important.

A very specific example of letting go of expectations and learning how to adapt would be the last semester of my Senior year of College at The University of Minnesota Duluth. I graduated this May as a part of the 2020 class. When I left for my spring break, I had no idea I wouldn’t be returning. Not finishing up my last semester at school, not having a graduation ceremony, not being able to say goodbye to friends, professors, or the city I’ve lived in for four years was devastating. All of a sudden, the expectations I had when leaving for spring break would shortly become irrelevant. After the initial blow of finding out that my last semester wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, it led me to understand that although I have every right to be upset, I can’t let that disappointment control the determination I had before the COVID-19 outbreak happened. My life doesn’t stop because I’m disappointed in a certain outcome. The only option is to keep pushing forward which is so tough at times, but worth it when I can see the manifestation of my progress. 

It’s hard to let go of plans, ideas, or certain expectations we’ve set for ourselves, but why is that? I spent a lot of time wondering why it was so hard for me personally to let go of plans that are no longer going to work, or ideas that aren’t manifesting themselves in the way I thought they would. This is largely due to the fear of rejection and comparison. Nobody wants to feel minimized because they have to switch their original plan. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t feel a little judgment every now and then from friends and family during reunions or get-togethers, explaining why certain plans haven’t worked. Judgment can be hard when it comes from people you care about and look up to, but that feeling doesn’t compare to the damage you do to your own mental health and wellbeing when you compare yourself to others.

This leads me into my next lesson: The more you compare yourself to what people around you are doing, the less time you’ll have to work on your own happiness. The horrible cycle of comparison can be an easy trap to fall into. I understand that it’s necessary to struggle in order to truly appreciate successes, but I recognize how it can be discouraging when the expectations you set for yourself are not a reality. Another point Nate Ware made in his TED Talk was, “…we compare our reality to the reality of others. Put simply, we judge ourselves based on what we experience around us.” This process is what Nate calls the interpersonal gap. As an example, how I judge myself is loosely based on comparing my own successes with those around me. This can lead me to think I haven’t done enough or that I need to do more in order to feel successful around those who are of a similar age. What I’m learning slowly but surely is that success doesn’t just have to be based on “the norm.” Success isn’t measured by the qualifications on paper, it’s the experiences you have that shape you into a better person. There should be no shame in living life the way you want to, and although judgment and criticism can occur, that shouldn’t stop you.  

Photo of Anna Berger

My last lesson is that life shouldn’t be 100% serious. As I get older, I do see areas of my life becoming more stressful and urgent. The issue I sometimes have is determining when I can spare time to be able to destress and find ways to laugh during the day. Growing up, I always loved making others laugh around me. This is a characteristic I still have to this day and it’s one that I believe makes me successful. In every position I’ve been in whether that’s professional or not, I try to show others around me that you can still be hard working and have fun at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% serious in life. Even when I’m fifty, I still want to try to channel that part of my personality that likes to have fun.

One of the assumptions I have is that when we take life too seriously, that’s when the stress of perfectionism and expectations becomes our main focus. When I was eighteen I didn’t really know who I was. A part of me felt like I needed to strive for perfection and set high expectations for myself in order to feel “successful” around others. In reality, that was diminishing my own happiness and I didn’t know how to replace that feeling. Once I made a few friends who were older than me, I was able to see how comfortable they were with themselves. The common thread amongst their happiness was that they didn’t take life so seriously to the point where their expectations exceed reality. Our happiness can diminish when we start to take life seriously to the point where we no longer live for ourselves, but rather live to please others. Reaching that balance of working hard while still having fun and enjoying life is very achievable. Once you let go of expectations that are holding you back, and start making changes for yourself that are necessary, the feeling of success will come naturally. 

It’s important to have a set of values that you can live by to improve your own personal goals. At Find Your Power, we strive towards diversity, collaboration, inclusion, positive social impact, and respect. In order to develop your own values, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions regarding your own expectations. For this next section, grab a pen and paper to answer these questions for yourself! This set of questions and tips will help you develop your own values and assist you in learning how to let go of certain expectations. 

  1. What’s your true motivation? – what’s the explanation behind your words or actions?
  2.  Think of your expected outcome and the worst-case scenario – Can you handle anything less than your ideal result?
  3. Have alternatives when you can – There’s nothing wrong with having a backup plan to assist you in moving on. 
  4. Don’t take things too seriously or personally – You can control your emotions and motives, however you can’t control someone else’s. Don’t be too upset if someone doesn’t think or act the same way you do. 
  5. Take inspired action – You should always act on inspiration and drive. 
  6. Accept human frailty – Even if you mess up now and then, learn to accept those mistakes and move on from them. Nobody’s perfect but don’t let those feelings hinder your motivation.  
  7. Forget about it – Once you do something, complete it and then let go. There’s no need to sit around and wait for validation or feedback.

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Loving the Skin You’re In: How to Embrace your Journey of Self-Acceptance

By: Rachel Ruff

“Loving yourself is the greatest revolution.” – Unknown 

That quote seems simple, but it really struck me, because I am someone who personally struggles to simply love myself. Self love brings an entirely different definition and perception to the idea and concept of love. Each of us are coexisting as individuals that all have some type of insecurity. This topic always holds so much depth to the emotions, feelings and experiences that are attached to body image and self-acceptance. I, like most of you reading, know exactly what I am talking about, because we as humans seem to be aggressively critical of ourselves when the discussion or thought of body-image comes about. I can easily admit that I relate to this ongoing internal battle with myself. This battle we put onto ourselves that we somehow think will help us find self-love or self-acceptance.

Discussions surrounding body image and accepting the skin we are in can be a challenge, and even triggering to some. Social standards and social constructions of what a human is supposed to appear as has saturated a realistic approach to body image. No matter the definition of being “healthy” or not “healthy”, we are all aware of it in our daily lives. Some may be more affected than others, they may be abled or disabled, suffering or recovering from an eating disorder; we are all human at the end of the day. We all deserve to be happy in our own skin and we all deserve to love ourselves. It’s important to remember that if we all ate the same and exercised the same, we would all still have different bodies. Above all, health is not a factor of your self-worth. It is essential to include the discussion and recognize the struggle of how difficult it can be to love and accept yourself on the inside as well as on the outside. Both rhetorics are equally important when it comes to insecurities and even comparison.

The world we live in currently has brought many challenges to this life-long obstacle of self-acceptance we all struggle with to some degree. As many of our normalcy has shifted to new routines or new ways of coping with a pandemic, our lives mentally and physically have shifted as well. First and foremost, it is important to recognize and embrace that that is okay. It is okay to struggle and to feel uncomfortable or negative emotions towards body image or changes in your mental health, now and at any point in your life. We are all on our own unique and individual journey of learning to love and fully accept who we are on the inside and the outside. Most importantly, this journey of self-acceptance is a journey of being gentle to how we view ourselves and others.

The way humans consume social constructs of society can be an extremely sensitive and emotional part of our lives that many of us choose to bottle up inside or process internally. When faced with these struggles, I, like most people, do not know where to go next or what to do to improve my perspective of how I view myself. If anything, I often find myself being my biggest enemy and become victim to my negative thought patterns of comparison and self-doubt. I recognize in my own journey that this process of self-acceptance is a lifelong experience and I believe that I have a long way to go in terms of feeling content with my own perception of myself. 

Although my journey entails years more of inner reflection, I have found that small acts of progress have made my harder days easier and my good days better. Self-image struggles can show up when you least expect it or can be identified through various triggers that are unique to every individual. To put it simply, a reality and a truth I have come to terms with is that life is too short to spend another day at war with yourself. We as a society must come to terms with our imperfections and start seeing them as our small pieces of individuality that represent who we are. It is up to you whether or not you are going to choose to accept it fully and EMBRACE who you are inside and out. It is time to start growing a foundation of love and positivity towards yourself instead of waging an ongoing war of comparison and self-depreciation inside your head. Growth mentally and physically should be celebrated, but that choice is entirely up to you! You have to wake up in the morning each day and make a cognitive choice of how you choose to talk to yourself, what you choose to consume yourself, both physically and online; you must choose to pursue a journey of self-acceptance. 

Here are various ways we as humans can cope day-to-day by focusing on the following:

1. Identify the things you do like about your body and start loving them.

2. Recognize you are not at fault. You have nothing to be at fault about.

3. Exchange any shame you have for yourself (and any perceived faults) with forgiveness.

4. Get to the root of your self-body-hate issues. Do what you can to heal them; look at them. Give them space. And then let them go.

5. Work towards your ideal vision of your body and mind, not anyone else’s ideal vision. And then give yourself grace. None of us are ideal anything, most of the time.

6. Embrace the individual beauty of your body and your individuality as a person. (Unchain yourself from the media’s conditioning)

7. Show gratitude for your mind and your body.

Your journey is entirely up to you and how you choose to take accountability for the struggles and faults that bring you down. That is your own power that no one can ever take away from you! Please know you are stronger than you think and braver than you know. Moving forward, I have personally committed myself to a lifelong journey of self-acceptance and the first step to that journey was admitting to myself that it is something that needs to be a part of my life, in order to feel secure in my own mind and well being. We are all capable of so much and admitting that to ourselves is the first step in the right direction towards peace and progression in self-acceptance.

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Strengthening Your Community: Ways to Feel Connected During a Pandemic

By: Rachel Ruff

After many weeks have passed by in self-quarantine, I have found myself longing for more and more ways to feel connected with humans; a sense of belonging or inclusion. This has put me in a unique situation like no other. It is the first time where I have found myself to be somewhat stuck. That is when I knew I needed to think out of the box, go the extra mile, try something new, and simply try my best to make this new reality the best it can be. It is important to remember that the stress, anxiety, and uncertainty of a global pandemic can bring new and uncomfortable emotions that can disrupt our everyday lives. We as a society are potentially left with limited ways to carry on as we always have and even make ends meet week-to-week. This can be disruptive and challenging for many individuals and families. I too, was left with all of these uncomfortable emotions and needed to turn to those around me for extra support. I personally have not seen anyone in my community/inner circle in almost two months. Once I recognized that my emotions were stemming from my isolation, I knew the only way I could make my situation better was to act on it. Although I had conflicting emotions inside and wanted to draw inward, I knew I would help myself and my friends by sending some kind words and asking how they were doing. I decided to reach out and text three of my friends. It can be hard to reach out first as this has been a personal challenge of mine for months, but you have to start somewhere. It may seem somewhat simple and insignificant to some, but we are living in unprecedented times, and connection is largely through electronics; a simple text means so much to me and you never know how much it could mean to someone else within your community. 

We are all different in many ways and can process emotions very differently. It is important to ground yourself somewhere. Looking inwards and reflecting on my own emotions motivated me to reach out to those around me, because I knew they were likely going through similar emotions. Having a sense of community can be a valuable aspect to this new way of life we are all trying to adjust to, we must understand and embrace that; we must create a new normal.

When we think about what means the most to us, many are probably thinking about loved ones, like close friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers. These people we surround ourselves with become one with our identity and can create a sense of connection and network. These circles of community look differently for everyone. Some may view their community much differently than others, but we all find community somehow within our day-to-day life. Humans thrive best when surrounded by inclusive and supportive people that build a positive foundation that interlaces amongst each other. It can be easy to fall into a certain routine or cycle of normalcy during times like these. You may feel depleted one day and find yourself with no energy for any form of interaction. Other days you may find yourself craving a day full of human interaction and a sense of belonging. It is important to remember that it will not be easy to meet these needs of the community every day, especially when you potentially may feel more distant and unconnected than usual, but there are also many things you can do to build your community around you, while simultaneously building up your best self. 

Even though we as a society are undergoing unprecedented times of physical isolation, it does not mean we have to be completely isolated. The internet and online platforms can allow you to reach people across the world, which can allow for our communities to grow globally. Communities do not have to have geographical barriers, especially during times like these. Resources like the internet and social media can expand our opportunities and can create new ways of interaction and communication. 

How to jumpstart  building your community during unprecedented times

  1. Changing your perspective

It can be easy to fall into patterns of habit and even harder to jump out of your comfort zone. Many of us may view the world in a me vs. them mindset that can hinder confidence to lend a reaching hand to a friend or family member. Challenge yourself daily to focus on self-awareness and re-evaluate how you perceive others. Visualization can be a great tool to better understand yourself and allows for genuine time spent on reflection of your current situation and how you can make it better. Also, take some time to think of other’s perspectives and try to understand their circumstances. This may help you better collaborate with others within your community. It can be difficult at first to break old patterns of thinking, but try your best to make yourself accountable during these times, especially if you are wanting to build up those around you. By changing your perspective or altering the way you see others, you are opening opportunities to see others in new ways which may motivate you to make a new friend or reach out to someone you have not connected with in a while. They are only one message away, and I am sure this would only create more positivity in their life as well. 

2. Small Acts of Kindness

Our society is hurting in many ways and it is important to recognize that all of us are affected differently, in social, mental, and economic ways by COVID-19. No matter what others circumstances are, small acts of kindness or friendly gestures can go a long way and may mean more to those in your community right now. Being mindful of others and going the extra mile can truly impact someone else more than you may know and often those gestures motivate others to spread kindness as well. Simply reaching out to someone you care about can only enhance the strength of being connected in your community or help build a new one. Small acts of kindness can look like a quick phone call to a friend, or donating to your co-worker’s charity, or spending extra time helping your friend on a project they are passionate about. A simple “Hello, how are you?” is a meaningful act that shows you are present and that you care. General practices of gratitude, compassion, and empathy are great ways to create positive and healthy habits in your life that will not only build you up, but will build those within your community as well. 

3. Make the effort

It can be troubling or stressful to some who may struggle to find new ways to connect with others in your community. There are always new opportunities to build community or start a conversation, even though reaching out first to a friend or family member can be hard sometimes. Jack Ricchiuto believes that “Community is about the degree of connection not the scope of consumption. It happens when people move from self-interest to mutual-interest.” It is important to stay consistent with making an effort once you have reached out or made that initiative to connect with someone in your life. At the end of the day, you never truly know what someone else is going through. You also must realize that the fear of rejection can not control your success in strengthening your community or building new relationships in your life. Fear of rejection can be a challenge, especially for myself at times, but it is best to remember that this effort you make will reward you in the end and positively impact someone else in your circle, or even outside your circle. If you never take a chance, you will never know what kind of fruitful and rewarding relationships may come from it. I invite you to make that effort no matter the amount of fear of rejection you may hold inside you.

4. Jump out of your comfort zone

While many of us may have more time on our hands, it could be valuable to you and your community to use this extra time by trying something new. This can grow your inner circle and also introduces you to new people that are also trying new things. Jumping out of your comfort zone can allow you to share your new experiences or hobbies with those in your community and can motivate them to get out of their comfort zone too. Take this time and reflect on yourself. Look inwards and dive deep into a past dream or goal of yours and make it a reality. This can be small like making new cleanings habits in your home, practicing a new language, or making a new recipe. When you try something new, it allows you to create new goals for yourself. You can share these new goals with others and potentially motivate them to hold you accountable as well. New ambitions or endeavors also expand your pool of connection and open doors to new people and new ideas, even if it is all through the internet or your cell phone! 

Don’t forget that we are all in this together and small steps to building up those around you will only add more value and positivity to this new life we are co-creating. 

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Transform Worry into Wealth: Finding Abundance in Arduous Times

By: Beth Wulf

If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough. – Oprah Winfrey

Sometimes it can seem like there will be no silver linings.

It is exhausting forcing yourself to find a silver lining when hope is low. Redirect that energy and create your own bright side. View each thought as a boomerang—whatever you exhibit comes back to you.

Life is full of uncertainties. Sometimes it’s not knowing whether you’ll get that dream job, or sometimes it’s not knowing what you’ll have for dinner. Following a car crash last year, it was easy for me to crawl into a dark place. And believe me, I started to. I was out of a car, money, and dramatically enough, sanity. I was not sure when or even if I was going to mentally and financially recover. All I focused on was what I no longer had. It’s more than okay to feel the loss and to feel sad, even traumatized, but it’s vital to our well-being to take action towards finding solutions. Feeling trapped in situations, like in limbo, means that there are no vibrations flowing anywhere. This “paused” feeling is very real, even if the situations themselves are only occurring in our head, replaying like a scratched part of a DVD. There is no circulation of intentions or any actions being performed. I had negativity glasses on that only made me see the bad side of most things. Our minds are connected to the Universe through a web of chain reactions fueled by energy. Picture the Universe as a receiver of our gift of energy. If we are clutching onto the gift (erm, that’s a little selfish!), there is no opportunity for a response. However, if we give to the Universe, It has something to react to. We stop the flow of energy if we are holding onto what we lack in life, but if we focus on what we do have, the flow of vibration continues. The Universe always welcomes with open arms—we have to give It something to receive!

After being overwhelmed by pessimistic thoughts, I gradually came to the realization that the amount of effort you put into the world, you will receive. It took feeling tired of this detrimental mindset in order for me to take small steps like journaling. It seems so simple, but I realized that the physical car did not equate happiness. 

It can be so instinctive to fixate on past or future events. Something else that is a natural human instinct is the desire to stick to a routine, which brings me to my first tip:

Take Advantage of being a Creature of Habit

It is helpful to maintain steadiness in several areas of life. Learn to benefit from the fact that humans are capable of adjusting to patterns. One way to accomplish stability is through journaling. Although my car accident was physical, it caused a whirlwind of emotions. Once I was ready to transfer my internal confusions onto paper, things began to change for me. The cherry on top was the feeling of pride and independence that grew within me over time. It was my own inner-strength that led to positive change. I maintain my journaling routine by devoting the time right before I go to bed to reflect on my day, a pen in one hand, and a cup of tea in the other. I do not judge any thoughts that come into my head, or attempt to make my journal entries “pretty”—I spill my thoughts out on the pages. Talking to yourself is next (yes, that’s right). Journaling and speaking things into existence can go hand-in-hand. If you don’t hear it, how are you going to believe it? Assure yourself that you are worthy of abundance. It is evident that performing an act for as little as two and a half weeks forces it to become a habitual behavior. Find a time to dedicate yourself to these actions. Maybe speak self-affirmations after you wake up, and journal before you go to sleep. If you’re unsure where to start, write or self-affirm using the present tense. Here are some examples:

In unknown times, affirmations may be the only security. The key is to convert your inner desires into tangible works so the Universe can tend to them. Having desires is one thing, but putting these into action shows the Universe that your actions are in alignment with your intentions.

Put Your Money Where Your Mind Is

Spring cleaning is not solely for donating that old stereo in the back of your closet. Your mind is also deserving of some decluttering. Eliminate distractions that do not further your aspirations. This differs for everyone—it may mean shutting off the news, limiting social media/screen time, or canceling a monthly subscription. Think of your money as part of your being because they do affect each other. Picture your thoughts being as valuable as your money. You wouldn’t spend hard-earned pay on useless stuff, so why waste energy on useless things? This will only further you from your growth mindset. Set aside time to educate yourself on investments, paying off debt, or boosting savings. Gather excitement for whatever topic it is. It could be as simple as researching how to eat out on a budget. Personally, once I started practicing my positive mentality, I found peers reaching out to me about job offers and collaborations. We live in a time of instant gratification and instant validation. Trust in your process, no matter how long it takes, and prosperity will find its way back to you. Pinch your priorities as much as your pennies.

Visualize Short-Term before Long-Term

It is no secret that working towards a reward is much easier than never imagining a conclusion. A long-term goal should embody this motto: dream big! As much as you should strive to achieve overall dreams, keep in mind these are fueled by short-term goals. If it feels difficult to establish multiple goals, especially in such uncertain times, start with manifesting one. Write it down on the page next to your affirmations ☺. Sometimes having a big end goal can seem frightening, so break it up into smaller, more manageable chunks as a way of working towards it. As more and more baby steps are taken, the end goal does not seem so scary. Declare that there are no punishments, only rewards!

It can be exhausting to see the light at the end of the tunnel if it feels like there is constant darkness. Thankfully, thoughts are powerful and goals can be attained through a high level of personal belief. Remember that the Universe has your back and get comfortable with uncertainty.

Manifest your own silver lining. I am rooting for you.





Confusion to Clarity: Transformation Through Disorder

By: Ella Pearson

My most recent burst of transformational growth came in the form of an ADHD diagnosis. This came as a surprise, as usually ADHD is diagnosed at a much younger age, when symptoms become apparent in the classroom. I was diagnosed at 21, as a senior in college, an odd time to adjust to something that so profoundly affects every aspect of your life. But that’s why it gave me the opportunity to experience not only personal growth, but a transformation. To transform, almost every aspect of your life must change- some in bigger ways, and some smaller. It sounds daunting, but when you tip the first domino, the rest will follow. It’s scary, but risks are necessary for growth. What felt like my first risk was the choice to finally ask my doctor about ADHD.

In the months before I decided to bring it up to my doctor, I had frustrated friends vent to me about their own ADHD symptoms- and they sounded a little too familiar. My doctor started asking me follow up questions, and taking notes. A lot of notes. Afterwards, he nodded and gently suggested I start on medication. A week later, I felt more normal than I’d ever felt in my life. Suddenly, in my Spanish class, I could really hear what my professor was saying. It’s a hard feeling to describe, especially after years of believing I was just a spacey person or feeling like a bad student. Instead of my professor calling on me and having the realization that I had no idea what he had just been talking about, he called on me and I responded quickly in Spanish. (He always seemed pleasantly surprised by this. “Bien, Ella! Correcto!”). I was able to sit down and focus, powering through assignments which used to feel impossible to complete. I didn’t feel like I needed to take 20 minutes or more to focus, only to tear myself away with frustration a half hour afterwards. It no longer felt like I was constantly fighting with myself. 

While I spent the overwhelming majority of my academic career feeling enormous guilt for what I considered to be unfortunate personal traits- forgetfulness, spaciness, etc., and struggling to compensate for them. Now I have an explanation. The hours I had spent dragging myself through my homework, at my worst forcing myself to do 5 minutes of work with a 20 minute break afterwards, made sense. And while I had already been compensating for tendencies I had enormous guilt for, now I was able to have an explanation. My diagnosis has given me the opportunity to know myself better. Not only did it explain years of behavior I had chalked up to teenage hormones, but it also gave me the power to grow into myself even more. After starting my medication, I applied for dozens of internships- a task I had previously written off to those students who also have 4.0 GPAs and seemed otherwise “perfect”- and after a couple of interviews, was offered my current position at Find Your Power. I started procrastinating less, making calls and appointments and sending emails at the thought instead of putting it off until later.

All of this is not to say that I don’t still struggle with my symptoms. The cruel joke of ADHD medication is that you have to remember to take it. I still forget some days, and don’t realize what I’ve done until I’m halfway through my day and staring at a page for minutes before realizing I haven’t read a word. It wears off in the afternoons or evenings, when I sometimes let myself unfocus instead of taking my second dose, which might keep me up when I try to go to bed. No matter what, there are always going to be days that are worse than others. No one’s path to transformational growth is a straight line.

My ADHD can be a weakness. Sometimes a huge one! But when you know your own weaknesses, you can accept and compensate for them. What’s yours? Maybe you, like me, have been waving away the notion you might have an attention deficit disorder. Ask your doctor at your next appointment! Or maybe you always put off grocery shopping until the last minute? Start having them delivered. If you don’t have Amazon Prime or something similar, you might have to pay a few dollars, but you’ll stop putting it off until there’s nothing in your fridge and you resort to going through the drive-thru on your way home. Maybe you hate folding clothes, so all the laundry that belongs in your dresser is always wrinkled? Try putting everything on hangers, even t-shirts. Nothing is stopping you, and all of these examples, no matter how small they may seem, will improve your quality of life and help you grow in other ways as well. When you are taking the first step, it seems like the marathon is overwhelming, but all you need to do is keep walking, no matter how fast your stride.

Transformation is not an easy task, or something that happens overnight. It requires daily work, and motivation to keep trying everyday. You have to look at yourself and your habits very critically. Some days feel much easier than others. But it’s something everyone can accomplish. A habit can be formed in as little as 18 days– that’s just a little over two weeks to make a significant change. 

I’m looking forward to 2020 being the first year of my life where I am able to really focus and accomplish tasks. I’m so excited because everything I normally set aside for a day where I would miraculously “feel like it,”’ are things that I now feel capable of doing.

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Please note: this blog post is not advocating for you, the reader, to be medicated. Amphetamines commonly used to treat ADHD are among those that are very often abused by students in adolesence and young adulthood. While I am confident medication is the right choice for me, right now, it is not the right choice for everyone and shouldn’t be used without a prescription.

The Significance of The Gift of Kindness: How Small Acts Create Big Impact

By: Lizzy Rode

My favorite fun fact to tell people is that I have seven roommates – you can imagine how unorganized our household can become in a short amount of time. Last Saturday, I brought out all the ingredients for sugar cookies. I shuffled through the kitchen in search of the correct utensils and pans for my recipe, but couldn’t seem to find any clean mixing bowls. I began my search outside of the kitchen until I finally made it to the third floor with no bowls insight. Surprisingly, in the corner of my eye, I spotted the green cooking bowl outside one of my roommate’s bedroom. As I got closer I noticed there was an abundance of plates, cups, mugs, chopsticks, and of course more cooking bowls. As a person who prides herself on her routinely consistent dishwashing skills, at the moment I was ready to approach her about the situation. But, instead, I took a step back and decided to approach the annoyance by trying to give kindness to my roommate. 

Later that day I approached my roommate in her bedroom to ask her, “How are you feeling lately?”, to better understand how she is and how to approach the situation. She sighed and explained how she hasn’t been feeling motivated lately and has been having a difficult time getting assignments done. I was so grateful that I gave my roommate kindness in this situation because I would have never known that she was struggling. I knew the best way to address the overflow of dishes she collected in her bedroom was to offer my help. It was a balancing act for the journey from the third floor to the kitchen, and it only took ten minutes of my time to help out my roommate. Even though this act of kindness was small, I know that it was worth all the effort to have a positive experience with my roommate and boost her happiness.   

Defining Kindness

Every day we are presented with opportunities to show others the gift of kindness, even the smallest acts can provide deep impacts. Whether it’s from listening to coworkers discuss an issue they’re facing, sharing some of your dinner with your friend, or even helping a stranger stand up after a wicked slip on ice. What exactly is kindness and what does kindness mean? The act of kindness can be described as doing something for others with ethically good intentions. Although not everyone has identical definitions of kindness, that is okay as long as the acts of kindness are performed with good intentions. Even if you offer someone who is vegan a hamburger, they’ll be grateful for the offer because it was with positive intentions.

There are many gifts within kindness, but it is crucial that you are also able to be kind to yourself as well as others. It’s easy to forget that we’re able to cheer ourselves on and that can start with taking notice of how we think about ourselves. Proceeding that, show others kindness like a winter cold is contagious. With that in mind, kindness can be small and without an audience, but is still meaningful. Like the act of stocking up the bathroom to make it easier to change the toilet paper, or leaving pencils around a classroom so everyone is able to write,  

Kindness is as Contagious as a Cold

The act of kindness has a ripple effect because it encourages, both the do-gooder and recipient to continue to do kind acts when presented with the opportunity. In other words, if you offer someone a cookie, they may be more encouraged to offer some milk to accompany the cookies. According to a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, simply observing another person help someone gives viewers a positive feeling. This encourages us to try and do something kind, as well as to feel a sense of accomplishment by making others feel good. 

Ways to Be Kind to Yourself

In order to be kind to others, it is important to remember to be kind to yourself, first to be able to provide the world with more kindness. 

This can mean: 

  • Eating well – Having three meals a day and providing yourself with the necessary nutrients to feel strong. 
  • Exercising – Providing your body with movement and stretches leads to better sleep, releases endorphins, and can put you in a space to meet more people. 
  • Trying new activities – Take yourself out of your comfort zone and try something you are interested in. You never know what you could be missing out on!
  • Sleeping enough – In order to get the best sleep, the best way is to get a routine in order. 
  • Speaking kindly about yourself – Always try to be your biggest fan. 
  • Taking the necessary mental breaks – It’s important to relax and reflect on your expectations, thoughts, and mental health.

Kindness Boosts Your Own Happiness

The effect of performing acts of kindness can improve happiness and overall well being based on a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. They also found that the more someone demonstrates acts of kindness, the more their happiness increases. This is another ripple effect within the act of kindness. For this study, the experimenters asked participants randomly to perform one more act of kindness than usual for seven days. Their happiness was measured before and after the experiment and proceeding the experiment, participants that performed an additional act of kindness were happier. 

Compassion is Kindness

We often think of kindness as grand gestures to make others happy, but it is important to recognize that kindness usually offers no material rewards or even an audience. Kindness can be the simple use of compassion and understanding. This can mean that even when you are confronted with a roommate who has moved the dishware into their bedroom, to approach them with understanding first. This can be a difficult task, but it is exceptionally rewarding to acknowledge when someone is not being themselves and ask them how they are doing. This recognition shows that you care about them and are compassionate about their life and wellbeing. In my experience, the use of compassion is exceptionally rewarding when it comes to friendships. 

Opportunities for Kindness Every Day 

The best way to spread kindness is in your everyday life, especially when presented with opportunities that you wouldn’t normally act upon. By taking the time to reflect on situations and decipher how to be kind, it can make the world around you a kinder place as well. One easy opportunity to be kind is by asking the people in your life how they’re doing and listening. Another is by trying to speak, listen, and use your body language with kindness in mind. 

Volunteer Opportunities This Season 

There are great volunteer opportunities anywhere you live, here are some great resources to connect you to the best opportunities for you:

  • Volunteer match – This non-profit provides great opportunities to volunteer with some non-profits that you are personally passionate about. 
  • HandsOn Twin Cities – For residents of the Twin Cities, this non-profit helps to provide relevant volunteer opportunities for individuals this holiday season. 

For local residents, some other great opportunities nearby are:

  • People Serving People – Whose mission is, “People Serving People helps homeless and at-risk children and their families manage crisis situations and build a strong foundation for their long-term success.”
  • Second Harvest Heartland – This local non-profits mission is to help the location population by providing food. They are seeking fresh food distributors, skilled volunteers, and volunteers to package food. 
  • Open Arms MN – Whose mission is to provide food to nourish individuals who are in need. They are in need of volunteers in their kitchen, office, at their farms, and to deliver meals. 
  • Pet Heaven – The mission of this non-profit is to rescue and re-home pets, support companion animal welfare, and advocate for animals. They’re in need of volunteers to foster, help organize donations, train animals, host events, and much more. 

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Gratitude in a Cup of Tea: Tips to Finding True Peace and Happiness

   By: Rosa Johnson

I wake up to the sound of an alarm clock playing harmonica sounds on repeat. I attempt to breathe in the cold morning air and open my puffy eyes. The bright, warm sunlight hits my face and it makes my corneas react like I imagine a vampire would, if they entered sunlight, after a hundred years. I stumble out of bed and try to find slippers to cover my feet, which have become frozen icicles overnight. I walk downstairs and make myself a cup of black tea, hoping that it has enough caffeine to sustain me for the day, and I finish it off by adding in some cream. I look outside and see the changing leaves; the sunlight hitting them just right so that their vibrant colors give the rest of the world a nice glow. My running shoes are calling my name and I get ready to start my day with a quick run. As I run around the lake, I listen to the early morning birds sing their favorite songs, and I watch the sun rise higher and higher in the sky. I return home to get ready for the day. I am grateful for fall mornings like this.

It’s really easy for us to be mad about the gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe, the hot thermos of coffee left at home or the bad driver on the road. What can be more challenging is the act of finding gratitude. Sometimes life can feel too hard; the bright lights that were once on and shining, turn off. However, if we can be grateful for something in our life, even something simple like a cup of black tea, it can make all the difference in our overall happiness. Research has found that people who expressed gratitude were happier and actually tended to be more productive. According to Harvard Medical School, individuals who expressed gratitude more often were happier, healthier and more productive. Whether you’re harvesting gratitude or expressing it, here are three helpful tips to further develop the skill.

Write down what you’re grateful for

It’s okay if it’s once a day or once a week, however, the more often you write, the more helpful this tool becomes. Writing down simple examples is often a great way to develop the skill, because it allows you to find gratitude and beauty in the smaller things. Buying a notebook and making sure that you have it either on you, or beside your bed, or in your office space, it ensures that you will write it down. You may even decide to just write down a quick word, that you can come back to later and further process.  All it takes is getting into the habit of writing simple examples down once in awhile, before it suddenly doesn’t feel like a challenge anymore.

Pause and take a moment

We seem to run through life with blinders on and miss the small moments that can lift your spirit without any effort. Allow yourself a moment to pause, take a deep breath in and experience all the beauty around you. You will see things you may have otherwise missed. Founder and CEO of Find Your Power, Ivy Kaminsky, says “ I personally think of what I’m grateful for that happened during the day both at bedtime, in the morning when I’m thinking about the day ahead, and throughout the day as things unfold.” Ivy knows what it’s like to have a busy life-style but believes in taking the time to find gratitude and all the benefits it has to offer. Choose whatever time works best for you. Take a break and give meaning to the smaller things in life, even to those that don’t seem important at an initial glance.

Share your gratitude 

When you experience moments of gratitude, share them with someone else. It can help make the moments more impactful and you will be more likely to remember them. Invite other people to share their moments of gratitude with you. Whenever I have other people participating in something with me, it doesn’t feel so challenging; especially when I can turn a challenge into fun conversations with friends. Sharing your gratitude with those around you is a great way to build deeper connections and participate in a very healing environment. 

I know through personal experience that life can get busy and chaotic. It may seem impossible to find time to harvest your gratitude, but trust me, even just a minute of doing so is powerful. If I know I’m going to have a particularly busy week, I think ahead of time about how and where I will find gratitude. I think about the simple moments like how brushing my teeth feels so great at the end of the day. Or I think about the cups of tea I will have in the mornings and how thankful I am going to be for the caffeine boosts.

Find Your Power, challenges you to write down at least one thing, every day, that you’re grateful for this November. If you feel like you can’t do that, start with simply identifying three things in your life to be grateful for as often as possible. We are sure that once you get into the habit of doing it throughout the month, you’ll never want to give it up. If you feel comfortable sharing, feel free to send it to us on any of our social media channels, listed below. If you’re also comfortable with us posting your submission let us know and we can do it either anonymously or with you tagged. Find Your Power would love to hear how you harvest your gratitude this fall! 

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Finding Your Power Across Generations: Empowered Women Empower Women

By: Caleigh Joyce

As I search for inspiration in my daily life my mind is immediately drawn to the women in my family. Their stories have been told to me my entire life, typically by other people, rarely by these women themselves, and when they do tell their stories it is always with a tone of “well what else did you expect me to do?”

“A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

My Grandma Nancy immigrated to New York from a tiny, remote farm village in Ireland. She saved up every cent she had and moved to Dublin when she was eighteen, spent a year working in the city, and then booked a ticket to New York, it was the first time she had ever left home. When she arrived in New York, it was completely overwhelming. She was staying with a very strict aunt, who was the only person she knew in America. She spent the first few weeks there walking up and down the streets of Manhattan searching for a job. This was made difficult by the heavy racism that existed towards Irish people in America at this time. Most businesses at the time had signs posted in in their windows saying, “Irish need not apply.” She finally found a position at a restaurant in a small corner of the city. By the time her first year had passed, she could never dream of leaving America. She spent the next decades starting a family with my grandfather and as she had found a love of taking care of people, she became a caretaker for the elderly, a job she had for the rest of her life.

My Grandma Bette was one of the first women to attend the University of Minnesota. She graduated with a degree in journalism. Using the motivation of the female workforce that emerged during World War II, she pushed into the man’s world of journalism refusing to take “no” for an answer. She wrote about the rising world of television, current events, and architecture. Using her new journalist badge and a large amount of pluck, she was able to talk her way into several once in a lifetime experiences. Once she even used her status as a journalist in Minnesota to crash Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco’s wedding. Another time she convinced a security guard to let her into Carnegie Hall when it was closed. She insisted that my grandfather, who was an architect, simply had to see it, and that they would not be leaving until he did. Defying the odds, and working with grit, luck, and perseverance is something that she still does today. She is currently 93, and is about to publish her memoir, A Lifetime of Luck and Pluck, the fifth book she’s written in the last decade.

My mother, Susan refused to pay attention to the boys at school who didn’t believe and didn’t want girls to be smart. She worked hard and proved them all wrong by growing up to attend Harvard. When she graduated, she started what was quickly a successful career in Boston and New York, and then went back home to Minnesota when I was born. After realizing she had way more energy than a sleeping baby, she started a financial consulting business. Again, deciding to ignore the boys who said that girls couldn’t be good at math, she successfully ran her financial business while raising two children. Now she uses her math skills for good, consulting for nonprofits and using impact investing to help change the world into a better place.

“Women have to harness their powerit’s absolutely true. It’s just learning not to take the first no. And if you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.”  -Cher

As with so many empowered women before them, the women in my family have a power that is quiet, but obvious. They don’t walk into a room demanding you notice their strength, but you see it with the way they walk anyway. My Grandma Bette, who just turned ninety-three still makes heads turn when she walks into a room.

I see so many women with stories of how other women in their lives have crossed great mountains without ever asking for praise for it and have become embarrassed when it is given anyway. But I think it is so important to acknowledge the odds that women have overcome in their daily lives, and throughout history.

As I look towards the future, I think of graduating college this spring, and heading out into the real world. Inspired by the injustice women, as well as people of color and LGBT people have faced for centuries, I am committed to fighting for equality and human rights, and hope to get a job where I can help to make a difference. I look back at the great women who have come before me and hope that the memory of their victories will empower me with all the strength and courage that has come before me.


Girls Just Want to Have Funds: Why Women Should Invest

By: Caleigh Joyce

Before my mother and father got married, my mother (who has a CFA, has a master’s degree from Harvard in business, and began her own financial consulting business in 1998) had already begun to take over her mother’s finances with the help of her financial advisor. After she married my father (who has a Communications degree and works in Public Relations), the financial advisor congratulated her… and asked to take her husband out to lunch. After that, every financial advisor they ever had only wanted to deal with my father- and ignored my mother.


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