Archive for the 'Life Happiness' Category

100 Things to do…

Posted by Holly Stokes on January 13th, 2015

Family Raft Trip“I wonder what this is” I thought as I clicked “100 things to do.” I was surprised to find it was a list I’d made in 2005 before I had graduated from Portland State University inspired by John Goddard, the adventurer.

But I had done it a little differently, I had started the list with things that I had already accomplished and was proud of: I’d learned French, lived in a foreign country and I was a white water raft guide. I smiled to myself as I looked at the list of what I had already done.

Many times we get so focused on the future, trudging onward, looking toward the next summit of achievement and don’t give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come.

As I reviewed the list, I found I could cross a few more off: write a book (actually two), graduate from college and travel to the Bahamas.

Some desires had changed, like getting my motorcycle license, but I think that was really about my ex boyfriend. I haven’t ruled it out, but it’s just not so important anymore.

I was surprised that so many of my desires had stayed the same.

There were only 79 things on the list, so I added a few more things: visit the Mayan pyramids, see Harry Potter Daigon Alley in Universal Studios and swim with the dolphins – just to name a few.

Some of these things may sound frivolous, I grant you that. But I remember a time when I had lost hope for dreaming. I remember when I had a bleak picture of the future and so I allow myself now to revel in possibilities because I know the value of dreaming.

Dreaming is the spice of life, it keeps us young. Even simple dreams have the power to spark something within us – hope. It can raise our spirits and encourage us to engage with life. And it doesn’t have to be grand adventures, our dreams can even be the small things.

No matter where you are in life– we still have a lot of living to do!

And although I haven’t achieved some things on the list that have been there for several years, I still keep room for the possibilities and I feel inspired by the future.

Everyone’s life path is different and our course is guided by the values that we hold dear. Looking back to my 20’s for many years my life was ruled by freedom and adventure. And now I find myself very content with a quieter life filled with purpose and mission.

Looking back on your life, I wonder how far you’ve come? What will you find out about yourself when you make a list of what you’ve already done and accomplished? You may be a superstar but just haven’t recognized it in yourself yet.

And keep in mind, that accomplishments are more than what we’ve done, they are also about who we are becoming. How have you changed and grown through life?

And looking forward into the new year, what possibilities do you see for yourself? What are the values running your life and charting your direction?

The Challenge: Write up your list of 100-ish things. Make the first part about what you’ve already accomplished that you’re proud of, write as many as you can, then write the month and the year, and next list what you still want to do. Then share three things you are proud of and three things you want to do in 2015 in the comments below.


Reflecting on the Year

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 31st, 2014

Ahh, we’ve come to the end of 2014, with all its challenges, learnings, growth and gifts. The end of the year is a great time to reflect and review. I suggest taking some quiet time with your journal to consider these Coaching questions about the past year.

  • What was 2014 about for you in career, love, friendships, family, money, fun and recreation, personal and spiritual growth?
  • What was great about 2014?
  • What was your biggest struggle and what did you learn from it?
  • What do I want to let go of?
  • What did you love?
  • What will make 2015 better?

Coaching inspires you to find your own best answers by asking powerful questions. There is magic in asking questions because any time you ask a question, your mind will go find the answer- even at the unconscious level. Asking powerful questions creates clarity and helps you tap into your wisdom within. It can direct and focus your attention, solve problems and challenges and inspire you to your next level.

As you reflect on 2014, with these questions, what have you learned from 2014 that you want to take forward into the New Year?

This year for me I found resources I had lost, I found a stronger commitment to my path, I learned to appreciate consistency, learned more patience and greater ability to enjoy the ride. I released a grudge I didn’t know I had. This year for me  went from good to SPARKLE! As I look back, I smile at myself and have compassion for everyone else out there on the journey. I also found my love expanded with my nieces and nephews, my family, clients, the community and new friends. And the phrase -” it’s all good” has taken on new meaning.

May you feel complete with your year. May you be at peace with your choices and trust in yourself to follow your path of your highest learning. It’s all learning. May you let go of what’s not working and take the best with you into the New Year. May your life reflect the brightness within you. My heart is full for all of you out there who shared my year with me.

And to all of you out there – Let’s get ready to rock it in 2015!

Share 1-3 things, you learned from 2014 and what you want to take with you into the New Year in the comments.

Here’s Goodbye to 2014 and Hello to a Brand New Year!

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

Communication habits and family dynamics

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 24th, 2014

MiscommunicationAhh the holidays are all about getting together with family. A wonderful time of cherished traditions and time with our loved ones. And for some of us, family time can come with a downside.

I don’t know if this has happened to you, but do you have certain family members that just push your buttons?

During the holiday season, we spend more time with family and because of our history with each other, sometimes we get our buttons pushed (and sometimes we do some button pushing too).

I had a family member that I couldn’t seem to get along with. It didn’t seem to matter what he said or what I said, we would both jump into an argument over even the littlest of things.

And then one day I had a breakthrough. I stepped back and looked at how we were operating.

I saw that I had been seeing him as “full of himself,” and so I felt it my duty to contradict what he would say and take him down a peg. And then I saw his side and in his mind, he needed to be right or that would mean that he was a bad person and he just couldn’t face that. So for him, arguing and being right was a protection.

When he would say something, it went through my filter of, “here we go again, he’s always right” and I would snark back which triggered his buttons of belittlement and needing to be right and around we would go in a power struggle.

We weren’t having discussions, we were full out arguing. And neither side was being heard. Even a few times we resorted to personal attacks and so we both took offense and so we would carry that baggage into the next argument.

And we were both right in our own minds. And we were both stubbornly justified.

But that one day, while I was sweeping the floor, it just changed, like a light bulb turned on over my head and I saw him in a different light.

I saw him in the light of his struggle and contribution and I could appreciate him for who he was. Once I saw him differently, our whole dynamic changed, something just switched. I stopped taking offense and snipping back and I stopped being critical and held my tongue.

Over a few meetings the past animosities seemed to fade. He later told me, “you’re different, it’s like you’re not out to get me anymore.”

I still noticed snippy things to say, but as I let go of the need to make him see that he was wrong, I could just sit back and let him think and say what he would without needing to correct him. He could have his opinion and I could have mine.

And I started to find ways to express my opinions that weren’t antagonistic.

The power struggles ended and we haven’t fought in years.

If we look at what is triggering us in our family relationships, we can learn more about ourselves and how we are operating. When we examine our own mindset and look for our own part, we can take responsibility and be empowered to make a change.

With our family relationships it’s easy to get stuck in patterns and habits of communication and how we treat each other. We may have played certain roles in the past, the rescuer, the leader, the caretaker, the pleaser etc and sometimes we don’t give the people in our lives the chance to change roles.

And when we change, we invite others to change as well.

Recognize that they are doing the best with what they know.

Many people are stuck in their own minds, stuck in being right, stuck in being seen a certain way or stuck in playing a role. If they have patterns that push your buttons, it’s quite likely they don’t even know it and they are just operating out of their mental programs.

And when you feel triggered, what is that telling you? Usually it indicates a bad mental program that you’ve bought into at some level of awareness.

Looking at your family relationships this holiday season, what are your patterns and what are you thinking in the back of your mind with family members? What frame of mind might you need to shift?

It’s easy when we get together with family to assume that we know who they are and to be critical of their patterns. Just remember that at the core of it, underneath it all, we are all simply trying to do the best with what we know.

Wishing you all a happy healthy holiday season. May you let go of old regrets, old hurts and judgments and rekindle the goodness of your connections with your loved ones.

Leave your comments and experiences below of how a relationship changed for the better for you.

5 Stress Relief Quick Tips

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 16th, 2014

Ahh The holidays. That wonderful time of year where we get together as families and celebrate and cherish our traditions. The season is a swarm of  parties, get togethers and more evnets. And then there is the holiday shopping and the flood of holiday shoppers and traffic. Along with the cherished traditions also comes more stress. More demands on our time.  Stress Relief Tips And more demands on our resources. More expenses for parties, traveling to see family, and gift giving.

Although the holidays are about fun and celebration, they also bring more stress. Stress is a silent creeper. It can creep up on you. Many people take for granted the real cost of stress. It can affect your thinking, keeping you feeling anxious and fuzzy headed. It can also affect your decisions. It can also affect your relationships. When we are stressed, we tend to be more snappy and argumentative.

But that’s not all, stress has physical costs on our body. Stress contributes to all major diseases, it aggravates illness, saps your health, your energy, your focus, causes sleep problems and causes you to gain weight. Here’s my top quick tips to address stress this holiday season:



  1. 5 –10 Minutes in the Morning –Take 5 minutes just to be still in the morning before the chaos starts. Journaling even 5-10 minutes can help you set priorities, listen to your own thoughts and get focused for your day.


  1. Take Breaks - Take a break in your day to walk around the block, get a breath of fresh air and physically move your body. When you move opposite sides of your body at the same time, it synchronizes the hemispheres of your brain, increasing circulation and improving focus and reasoning.


  1. Use Your Commute - Get some relaxing CDs or pick a good soothing radio station. Music is one of the few activities that activates your whole brain which increases creativity and focus and well being. I often blast the radio when I’m driving and belt it out! Getting caught up in your favorite songs is a great stress reliever!


  1. Take B Complex vitamins—when you are stressed, your body burns up more B vitamins. B vitamins are essential to the body’s metabolic processes and combats stress, anxiety, depression and supports mental health. Sources of B vitamins in foods are meat, eggs, poultry, beans and vegetables.


  1. Kava Kava – I prefer taking Kava Kava in a tincture form and adding a dropper full to a glass of water. I feel it takes the edge off of stress and calms the mind. Find it at your local herb shop or health food store and ask about precautions.

There are many stress relief activities that will help calm your mind and your body, but these only take care of stress after it happens.   When you are stressed, your body physically responds to what you are thinking about. With brain training and hypnosis, we can train the brain out of mental patterns causing the stress, anxiety and unhappiness in the first place, curtailing the stress response before it starts.

Some common mental patterns that cause or heighten stress are: I need to be perfect, I need to get it right, I have to get it all done, worrying and the list goes on and on. The underlying mental patterns can be very different and unique to each person as we all have unique experience and history. What are some ways that you reduce holiday stress? Add your tips to the comments below:

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

You can train your brain out of fears, anxiety, negative thinking, self criticism, cravings, and unhappiness!

Find your life purpose, motivation and confidence with your brain!    

P.S. You can also check out my CD, mp3: Train Your Brain for Stress Relief at:

Embrace Vulnerability

Posted by Holly Stokes on November 26th, 2014

“To feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability.
Belonging and connection is a deep human need. Watch Brene Brown – the researcher-storyteller decode the human connection and offer profound wisdom.

When Brene interviewed people about connection, they told her stories of disconnection and shame. She says “shame is simply understood as the fear of disconnection, the fear that something in me is not worthy or deserving of love and belonging, that feeling of I’m not good enough.

And she found there were two groups of people, one living from not feeling worthy and deserving of love and belonging, and the other group that lives from a belief that they are worthy and deserving of love and she calls them the “whole hearted.”

There are some things we do that keep us living in the first category. We numb our emotions. Brene says, you can’t selectively numb feelings. When we numb the bad feelings, we numb the good stuff too: we numb the joy, we numb the gratitude, we numb the happiness… and then we feel lost and go looking for purpose.

The second thing we do is make the uncertain certain. We say, this is how it is, I’m right and you’re wrong and there’s little discussion.

The third thing we do is we try to perfect, we try to put life in a box and make it look a certain way. But life is messy and complicated. [And with striving to perfect also comes judgements and criticism which can keep us stuck.]

And the third thing we do is to pretend that what we do doesn’t affect others.

These things leave us feeling isolated and disconnected which is the root of loneliness. A recent poll found that the number one social issue facing people today is loneliness, which comes from isolation and lack of connection.

But there’s another way to live as what she calls the whole hearted. The whole hearted are characterized by the courage to be imperfect, they have kindness toward themselves and others, and experience connection as authenticity and they fully embrace vulnerability.

So let’s unravel the mental patterns that the whole hearted are living from.

Courage to be imperfect. This courage comes from knowing that life is messy and its okay. And it also comes from the belief that you are not your mistakes, mistakes are simply a part of learning and growing through life. What “mistakes” are you willing to accept and stop blaming yourself and others for?

Kindness toward self and others and authenticity. To allow ourselves to be seen and to be authentic, we have to like ourselves first. You can’t authentically share yourself if you are ashamed or critical or trying to hide who you are. What is there to appreciate about who you are and what you’ve overcome? What judgements and criticisms are you willing to let go of?

Fully embrace vulnerability. To take risks you have to know that the value of who you are is bigger than your choices and that whatever happens, you are okay and you can trust the process of life. What risks are you willing to take?

Brene says, “To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy even in the face of fear.”

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

What if you didn’t get the messages that you were worthy and deserving when you were growing up? What if it wasn’t okay to make mistakes? What if you internalized criticism and judgement?

Well, that’s just the stuff that I help people change. Beliefs are just mental patterns that your brain learned and it can unlearn them and integrate new ones, even at the unconscious level.

How will you live whole heartedly this week? How will you let yourself be vulnerable? What risks are you willing to take?

I was going to keep this a secret unless I got accepted because it’s safer to share a win than to share a risk. But in the spirit of vulnerability, I will share that I applied to be a speaker at a Tedtalks event – Eeek! What if I don’t get it? What if I DO get it? It’s a mixed bag either way, but that’s my risk this week.

Dealing with Change

Posted by Holly Stokes on October 7th, 2014

Recently I visited Portland, where I lived for 6 years.

It was an emotional experience, seeing the beauty of the place, visiting my old haunts and seeing friends. And it was a realization that that time was over. It will never be the same.

When we have segments of life that we really enjoy, it’s hard to not look back and pine for what was. But if we keep looking back, we get stuck in the past and we cannot create a future. And we can get stuck in loss.

How do you deal with change?

Guaranteed life will change. Sometimes life is like a roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs, screams of terror, screams of joy and it keeps changing. Sometimes it does whoop de doos and sometimes it goes upside down, but it’s all part of the ride.

Whether it’s a change in relationships, change in a job, change in family or friendships and circumstance, it just keeps changing.

You can have the essence of what you had. You can find love again, you can have a home again, you can have comfort, you can have beauty, you can have friendships. Just allow the faces to change.  Imagine gathering up the essence of what you really enjoyed and imagine sprinkle it out into your future.

As you imagine what you want, you tune your brain to be aware of it, to find the essence of it and with that awareness you are able to scoop up the opportunities as they come.

Is there a time in your past that you long for? Is there something you feel you’ve left behind? Give the essence of it an image and carry it with you or set it out in your future.

“If you want something bad enough, all the world will conspire to bring it to you.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

When you get clear about the essence of what you want, you can find it. What do you want to show up in your future?

Positive Communications Pattern with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 11th, 2013

With the holidays and festivities also comes more time with family. Family is great when you all get along, and it’s of course difficult when your communications are less than stellar.

Try this NLP process for creating a habit around your communications so that you can come from a healthy space with your communications, creating more fulfilling relationships.

Line out a square of 4 spaces on the floor in front of you, one space for Self, one for Other, one for Observer, and one for Higher Self.

Think of a difficult conversation you had with a person.

Step into square 1: Self, and state your point of view.

Step into square 2: Other and get into the frame of the Other person, take on their view of the world and state their response or point of view.

Step into square 3:Observer, and take the view of an Observer. What is it like seeing the interaction between the two of you?

Step into square 4: Higher Self and imagine a white light shining through you and imagine being your Higher Self, feel the wisdom and insight and notice what you might change in this interaction.

Step back into Self and notice what has changed.

Repeat the process 5 or 6 times going through each of the steps, ending back in Self. Repetition will turn this into a new habit, making it an automatic response for you. This is a great process for difficult conversations, family, friends, and even coworkers!

You can also use it in preparation for difficult conversations to better understand the other’s view and maintain your own equilibrium throughout the conversation.

NLP Tool Motivation: Change your Mental Pictures

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 4th, 2013

Motivation can range from simple to complicated. At the simple level, we need to change how we are thinking about the thing we’d like more motivation on. Use this simple tool to boost your motivation on something.

A simple level motivation is to pay attention to your mental pictures. Think of a thing you are highly motivated to do. Now notice how you picture that in your mind. What is the location of the picture, what is the color, the brightness, the contrast, the sharpness of the image?

Next, picture something you want more motivation on, how do you picture that in your mind? What is the quality of that picture, the colors, the location, the contrast, sharpness of the image?

Now change the qualities of the picture, add more light to the picture of what you’d like more motivation on and change the qualities to match the picture of what you are highly motivated to do. As you change the mental picture, you’ll feel more motivated. Change the light, add brightness and vivid color. I like to add a pinch of pixie dust for good measure.

Now how motivated are you to do it?

Changing a Habit with NLP

Posted by Holly Stokes on October 27th, 2013

Sometimes making a change is simply about remembering to do so.

When you have enough healthy habits, you can enjoy lasting weight loss success. Use this Neuro-Linguistic Programming process for making a new habit.

Think of a change that you’d like to make and think of the context, where does it fit in your routine? For this example we are going to use adding exercise into the schedule after work.

What are you doing now? I come home from work and I sit down in front of the TV.

What change do you want? I want to come home from work and put on my workout clothes and go to the gym.

What is the cue that tells you to run the new habit? Coming home from work.

Read the rest of the blog post here:

Peace, love and joy

Posted by Holly Stokes on September 10th, 2013

All our motivations boil down to wanting more peace, love or joy in our lives. You may think I don’t know what I’m talking about, but here’s how it works.

Think of something that you desire, it can be anything. Now ask yourself, if you had that, what would that get for you? Think of the answer, now thinking of the answer, ask the question again, what will that get for you? And keep asking yourself the question of each answer you get.

Here’s an example. Suppose I want to get more clients.

I then ask, what will that get for me?

Answer: relief

What will that get for me?

Answer: I don’t have to stress as much, I can relax

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can enjoy life more

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can really engage with life

What will that get for me?

Answer: I will be fulfilling my life purpose

What will that get for me?

Answer: I will be at peace.

What will that get for me?

Answer: I can relax.

As you ask yourself the question, what does that get for me, you’ll find that when you get to the peace, love or joy, it will loop on itself. You know you’re done asking the question when the answer starts to loop back through the sequence.

So here’s the secret. You don’t have to wait for peace, love or joy to happen to you. These are feelings and you can feel those feelings just by thinking about them.

It’s as simple of thinking of your memories. Think of a time when you felt really peaceful. Imagine being there vividly, let yourself be back in that time and place, and allow yourself to feel what you were feeling, see what you were seeing, and hear what you were hearing. Let the peace once again wash over you from your head to your feet, then let the feeling wrap around you and become larger, let it radiate out into the space around you. Let yourself just soak up the peace.

Then go about your goal with the new feeling, and you’ll find you flow better with the task at hand. Rather than struggling and fighting the goal, like trying to swim upstream, you’ll find a better feeling in accomplishing your tasks.

Peace, love and joy don’t make your goal go away, but it gives you a better feeling to work from, which allows you to be more productive, insightful, and open to inspiration.