Category: Coaching

The Midlife Unraveling

Brenee Brown…..”.In some miraculous way, I feel as if this midlife unraveling has taught me – in my head and my heart – how to be brave. I’m still not good at surrendering or “living in the question,” but I am getting better. I guess you could say I’ve graduated to “writhing in the question.” Not exactly Zen, but it is progress…”

…it seems as if we spend the first half of our lives shutting down feelings to stop the hurt, and the second half trying to open everything back up to heal the hurt.

In my late thirties, my intuition had tried to warn me about the possibility of a midlife struggle. I experienced internal rumblings about the meaning and purpose of my life. I was incredibly busy proving myself in all of my different roles (mother, professor, researcher, writer, friend, sister, daughter, wife), so much so that it was difficult for any emotion other than fear to grab my attention. However, I do remember flashes of wondering if I’d always be too afraid to let myself be truly seen and known.

Read this Blog by Renee Brown

……In some miraculous way, I feel as if this midlife unraveling has taught me – in my head and my heart – how to be brave. I’m still not good at surrendering or “living in the question,” but I am getting better. I guess you could say I’ve graduated to “writhing in the question.” Not exactly Zen, but it is progress.

As far as my relationship with the universe . . . well, we’ve actually become very good friends. I even came to love and trust her when, in a quiet moment, I looked deeply into her eyes and realized that she, the universe, was me……

Good Grief – Ten emotionally intelligent tips to deal with grief in the workplace

good-grief-ten-emotionally-intelligent-tips-deal-grief-workplace

This is a brave and poignant post full of resilience and wisdom. Thank you Lyndie Dawson-Clarke

I love you quote this: “There is a practice in Japan called kintsugi where broken objects are repaired with gold; repairing the breakages makes the object more valuable. It is a metaphor about the essence of resilience in that traumatic events allow people to learn and grow, and become even more precious and unique.”

And to your article: “One of the most difficult things as a manager is knowing how far to wade in when having conversations with work colleagues about personal matters. Often managers feel uncomfortable that they have overstepped the mark, some are not sure if they are legally allowed to ask or say certain things, and so many simply ignore or avoid having difficult conversation for fear that things will get excruciatingly emotional. “Best not to go there” becomes the motto. But what if someone is clearly in emotional pain? And specifically, what if they are deeply steeped in grief? After all, they are not just an employee or a colleague, they are a human being

Based on my own experience as a manager, an employer and an employee, and as someone who has been almost paralysed by grief, I am compelled to share what to say, what not to say, and how to best support someone in the workplace who is grieving.

In September 2015 my world changed forever when I received a call telling me my beautiful 24 year old son, a central cog in my little family had gone.  My whole world went into a tail spin and it has only recently slowed to a place where I can think clearly and take my experience and learnings to help others..

Grief comes in all shapes and sizes; basically grief is loss.  It happens to us all but to varying degrees.  Think about where loss has affected you – the loss of a marriage, divorce, a relationship within the family, a family pet … it is a loss where emotions are involved.  Grief affects every person differently and people will respond uniquely.  I remember being told that you grieve as much as you loved.  So in my case, I grieved heavily.  I grieved for the dreams I had for my boy, for his heart, for his amazing conversations and stories that he would share with me from all around the world, and I grieved for the woman I once was before the emotional earthquake that left a massive crack in my heart.

A grieving person turns up at work because somewhere deep down they need to find out if they can ever be a functioning member of society again. Often people don’t have the financial capability to grieve at home, so they grieve silently in a stressful corporate environment – while they may be emotionally adrift, working keeps their house afloat. Warning bells: others can read this as ‘business as usual.’ Indeed, I returned to work, probably sooner than I should have. How in the world did I think that I would be able to function with clarity, handle the pressures of change management, and learn a new industry with grief in tow? I was a Senior Manager responsible for a large team and a significant portfolio. I sat at my desk with a massive issue on my hands thinking “in the big picture this is irrelevant.”  It was hard for me to even imagine that for the company and my team it was very relevant. I pretended to care.

People froze when they saw me.  A work collegaue who had never had children said “At some point Lyndie you will have to build a bridge and get over it.” He was intent on continuing with the organisation’s restucture plans and asked  me “to justify my role.” Hello? I was still trying to justify my life! Comments like this sent me to the ladies toilets to cry my eyes out.

For most people who did acknowledge my devastating loss, their way of dealing with it was to talk about themselves: “Oh I know how you must feel, I lost my …… and I have never got over it.”  But no one’s experience around grief is the same; it is different in every situation. Talking about their grief silenced mine. Back I went to the ladies’ loos.

As I tried to re-enter normality, I stepped up networking and social functions, only to experience people avoiding me or shuffling away quickly, leaving me on my own. Grief can inadvertently turn you into a social pariah.

On reflection, I realised that most of us are ill-prepared as Managers when grief comes to be part of one of our team’s existence.   So this post is to share my top ten tips regarding what you can you do if someone in your team is suffering yet wants or thinks they need to be at work.

  1. First and foremost, respectfully acknowledge the loss. You don’t have to say too much, but just acknowledge the situation.
  2. Say the name of the person who has died, or has left the marriage, or the name of the animal that meant so much to them etc
  3. If you don’t know what to say, say “I don’t know what to say….”  the grieving person will still continue the conversation for you.
  4. Ask questions rather than talk at them about your own experiences.
  5. Be of service to them. Rather than “how are you?”, try “what would make it easier for you here?” or “how could I help you?
  6. Don’t send them home because you don’t know what to do. Probably, neither do they, and there is a risk that they may put themselves in a dangerous position going home.
  7. Check in with what support networks they have at home.
  8. Don’t change their job, just relax your expectations regarding their productivity for a while. Grief is exhausting; it affects memory retention and plays havoc with sleep.
  9. Don’t expect them to take too much time off if they don’t have the money to support themselves. (For me, I still had my mortgage to pay, and the bills to meet, and a daughter to support. As a solo parent I could not afford to take time off.)
  10. And later on down the track, don’t forget about it. Because they sure won’t have. Keep checking in, and be genuinely interested in how they are coping.

It is now 2 years since my world changed, and incredibly I actually have moments of sunshine in my life again.  I can even reflect back on who I was as a Manager before my loss. How would I have been if it had happened to a work colleague? Well, to be honest, while I would have instantly felt sorry for them, and while I would have expressed how sorry I was, I would also be thinking about the loss of sales and the distraction that grief brings to the business. In other words,  sadly,  I would have turned it into being about me.  Hence, while I have been broken, I am now a better, more empathetic manager for it.

To my son Matthew – thank you for helping me grow everyday. I hope others can learn from our experience.”

 

Change is inevitable. How can we embrace being disruptive of ourselves and stay relevant?

Embracing change is essential to growing as an individual and being a better person than who you were yesterday. How can we embrace being disruptive of ourselves – if we don’t do it people will do it to us!

Change is accelerating at an increasingly rapid pace. Change is often difficult. Perhaps we don’t like the lack of control or the uncertainty of worse outcomes, bruised egos, embarrassment or failing. People also seem to hate losing more than they love winning. Do we try to fight change and sometimes want to retreat back into our comfort zone?

Think about the New Year’s resolutions that we rarely keep. Staying the same allows us to live our lives without facing things that could potentially hurt us or build us up.

Yet embracing change is essential to growing as an individual and being a better person than who you were yesterday. How can we embrace being disruptive of ourselves – if we don’t do it people will do it to us!

As Henry Ford said: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”

Six ways we can we move ahead and stay relevant

1. Change is Inevitable and Embracing Change Encourages Development

If we don’t embrace change then we can go through life without ever living up to our full potential our allowing ourselves to express who we really are. Change is an inevitable part of life and no matter how happy we are with how things are currently, life will always change. Ask yourself: “Do you want to tay relevant?”

Even though we know the only thing constant is change and we understand that our environment can’t stay the same forever, we get stuck. All around us, there is change happening on a daily basis. We are forever growing, expanding, ageing and changing. So why is change sometimes scary? If we can learn to let change work for us and benefit us, even push it to be disruptive of ourselves, then we can more fully embrace the process of growth and transformation.

2. Analyse your Life and Find the Negative

Sometimes we change because we are attempting to rid negative habits or people from our lives. The sooner we become aware that change is going to happen and become open to accepting change, the better off we will be. Ask yourself: What are the positives and more importantly, what are the negatives in your life? Are there things that you recognise as unresourceful but you feel stuck in those habits or actions?

Think about your life and how you are progressing. Are things moving along as you planned? Are there new factors that are influencing your journey?

3. Be disruptive before people disrupt us

It is better to initiate changes ourselves than to let our life progress down a negative or unresourceful path until change affects us in a dramatic way. When we are consciously aware of change, it is much easier. Why not make a commitment to exploring the world and the endless possibilities that are available to each of us. We can find new opportunities, be brave and face fear. reinvent ourselves at any moment in time.

Our attitude toward life is affected by our ability to embrace change. If change happens to us, rather than adopting the belief that we can influence that change, we are much more likely to feel like victims. The results we get are 100% our responsibility in that nobody can create results for us. Therefore embracing change and knowing where we are going and what we are setting out to accomplish will give us strong motivation.

4. Everyone has doubt, fear and uncertainty

Everyone has fears and insecurities that stop us from doing taking responsibility for our lives. This doubt and uncertainty is a fact. Better to learn to embrace it. Learning to take action whatever the circumstances and even as we say – “fake it until you make it” – surely this is a much more positive and proactive way.

5. Take charge of your life – don’t be a victim

If we feel sorry for ourselves then this will lead us down a negative path and in to unresourceful states. Stay focused and set goals that have some stretch in them. As you set your goals, you will learn that embracing change becomes easier and easier. Wherever you are in life, value the journey more than the destination. It takes time to accomplish anything worth achieving and we have to remember that it is a miracle we are here to begin with and every second must be appreciated.

6. Take small action steps

You don’t have to change your whole world overnight. Try beginning with an end goal for changes you want to make in your life. Work backward and break your goal into small action steps until you can get to the very first one in the path. This is usually something that you can control or do yourself. Once you accomplish that milestone, then you can tackle another. These small steps make it much easier to disrupt what you always do, and take some new steps forward.

Thriving in a VUCA Environment: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

Change is inevitable. Working out how to embrace change will hep us to grow and develop.

In our personal lives. At work. We live in a world where there are ever-increasing customer demands, sudden role changes, agile teams, and shortened product life cycles.

Only a few of us really do thrive amidst chaos. Most of us prefer manageable change, where we are doing the ‘managing’.

I attended an ICF Australasia (NZ Northern Branch) Seminar the other day focused around this topic. We can all thrive in a VUCA environment. It is our thinking and consequent responses to the environment which really matters.

I had to look the acronym  up – it  describes the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of life these days.  We focussed on  ways we could thrive despite dealing constantly with what seems to be a world increasingly full of VUCA.

 

I challenge you to commit to putting aside some time each day to developing your awareness on hoq you can thrive in the midst of change, and developing strategies that suit you to address change in your life.

 

I thought to myself that one of the best ways to thrive in a VUCA environment is to cultivate spaciousness Having space, feeling more relaxed, sleeping soundly, being able to focus on what we want to achieve, and generally nurturing equanimity. Why use up our time on  stuff that is not life-enhancing?

 

So here are some strategies to find what I call spaciousness in your life. Practicing these then adapting to change is easier.
If your mind is too full, you are not sleeping well, you are procrastinating and not focussing, and you feel stressed, here you go.

 

Spaciousness#1: Feel your breath
Calm yourself through feeling your breath, …”in the soles of your feet, rght here and now…” Calm, slow, breathing.
1. Sit and close your eyes and turn your attention to your breathing. Simply become aware of your breath on your nostrils, going in and out, naturally.
2. Be aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. Place one hand on your belly, and the other on your chest. Take a deep breath for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of three. Exhale for a count of four. The hand on your belly should go in as you inhale, and move out as you exhale.
3. Concentrate on your breath and forget everything else. Your mind may be very busy, and you may even feel that the meditation is making your mind busier, but the reality is you’re just becoming more aware of how busy your mind is.
4. Resist the temptation to follow different thoughts as they arise, and focus on the sensation of the breath. If you discover that your mind has wandered and is following your thoughts, gently return it to the breath.
5. Repeat this as many times as necessary until your mind settles on the breath.
There are lots of breathing techniques, for example belly-breathing; oe through the nose and out through the mouth; the in breath double the length of the out breath. Each technique elicits different states…This exercise is a good start.

Spaciousness#2: Meditate instead of Medicate
Dealing with change and fostering calm is an inside job. If you can take care of yourself you can take care of others. Give yourself the gift of spaciousness and start the day with ten minutes of being on your own, breathing and feeling positive energy. What a great way to set you up for a VUCA day!

 

Spaciousness#3: Practice Gratitude
Whatever your situation, there’s always someone in a worse predicament.
Read a chapter of Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, or check out today’s news. Be thankful your life is not the sad story you are reading.
Make a mental note of the positive things in your life. Remember everything in life is temporary -everything comes into being and passes way.

 

Spaciousness#4: Practice Self-Care
Care for yourself to come to a state of equanimity and confidence. Go and have a massage, take a yoga class,  get a haircut. Have a big bath full of epsom salts to relax. If you can’t afford a massage do a swap with a friend for services. Simply take a walk in a beautiful place.

 

Spaciousness #5: Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Exercise is nature’s remedy for calm and getting strength to thrive in a VUCA environment. It clears the mind, fires up the endorphins, and helps you to sleep soundly at night. Be age appropriate in your exercise but commit to doing do something every day.

 

Spaciousness#6: Plan a Treat
When you spend time in nature, you give your mind and body a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of life.
Where ever you live, there will be an interesting and beautiful place to visit to take a break and enjoy.

 

Spaciousness#7: Go to Bed Early
This may sound impossible if you’re accustomed to staying up late to catch up on all the things you have to do in each day.
Sleep deprivation causes all sorts of issues and anxieties and a sense we re unable to cope with change.
It’s impossible to have healthy emotional functioning without adequate sleep. Don’t burn the midnight oil in hope of catching up on the weekends. Unused sleep minutes don’t roll over.

 

Spaciousness#8 Wake up 15 Minutes Early
You are probably rushing around in the morning and saying “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
Go slowly, and set yourself up for a relaxed day ahead. If you start to worry about the To-Do list, take a deep breath and think, time is only a concept there is always enough time.

 

Spaciousness#9: Get Rid of the Clutter

Have you read Marie Kondo:“The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”

Chances are you’ve got too much stuff clogging up your living space. And your life! That makes dealing with a VICA environment stressful.
Try Marie Kondo’s method – and while it’s physical these actions are working on a mental plane to declutter your life.
1. Clean by category, not by location — don’t just tidy up your wardrobe, gather all the clothes from every corner of your house and “place every item of clothing in the house on the floor.” I’ve never thought of myself as a person who has a lot of clothes but when confronted with my staggering pile, I was shocked. When had I accumulated so much stuff?
2. Kondo calls for you to pick up each item and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t then get rid of it – how liberating.
3. Make three piles for a) stuff to throw away, b) stuff to donate, and c) stuff to sell.
Letting go turns out to be quite addictive. Says one person: “I quickly filled three huge bags to donate and applied the same tactic to my books, kitchenware and miscellaneous papers, feeling lighter and freer with every purge….”
Decluttering will help every aspect of your life.

 

Spaciousness#10: Challenge Negative Beliefs
Remember that thoughts precede feelings. Negative thoughts lead to negative emotions, which lead to negative behaviours. Then there is no room for dealing with a VUCA environment. For example:
How to challenge your negative state:
1. Record your thoughts periodically. Pay attention to when you feel overwhelmed or stressed out.
2. Write the feelings that accompany the thoughts. Think one-word responses like frustrated, angry, worthless and defeated, etc.
3. Challenge reality. This is hard because we tend to lack objectivity about the truth. Is there proof you are an ‘imposter’? That you don’t deserve a job promotion? That you are not a good parent? Partner?
If you commit to recording your daily thoughts and feelings, along with reality testing, you’ll see that many of your negative feelings are created in your mind, and not based in reality.
The good news is you created the negative thought, and you can uncreate it.

 

Spaciousness#11: Know that Feelings Are Not Facts
If you have feelings of low self-esteem, guilt and shame, these are feelings. Negative thoughts cause negative feelings. Many of our negative thoughts are automatic, deeply internalised, and rooted in the unconscious. It is possible to change them.
Spaciousness#12: Accept the different States you experience
Whatever is happening in your life, take responsibility for yourself. Stop blaming everyone and everything else.
If you suffer from getting anxious about Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in your life, stop fighting this.
Understand you have to work hard every day to bring spaciousness and calm to your environment.

 

 Spaciousness#13: Stop being Constantly  “plugged in” and “connected”
The impact of technology on our social, mental, physical and environmental health can be devastating if we don’t keep ourselves in check. There are plenty of  benefits  from technology, but as with all things in life moderation is key. Being aware of the harmful aspects of the overuse of electronics is important.
For starters keeping technology out of the bedroom is a good idea. Some of the negative effects of technology can be linked to the effect it has on sleep habits. We get sucked into online activities that keep us up too late and the constant stream of information can make it difficult to turn off our brains. Also, the ambient glow from screens can affect the release of melatonin, the sleep chemical. 

 

Spaciousness#14: Consider meeting with a Coach or a Therapist
Everyone can find their sense of purpose. We can all earn how to better deal with Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in our lives.
A qualified mental health professional is your best bet if you are not thriving in your life. Ask a trusted friend or colleague for a referral.

 

You are the expert on your life. Choose or create a project that might work for you, and give it a try. My project for the next next few weeks – droppingthe word busy from my vocabulary!

Presuppositions of NLP – Understanding The Map is not the Territory

Understanding presuppositions is a first step for an NLP coach and a client. NLP presuppositions are a convenient beliefs which if we adopt them will allow us to get better results. Here we explore what “The Map Is Not The Territory” means. Dr David Shephard speaks on his weekly Facebook Live about this topic.  

Understanding presuppositions is a first step for an NLP coach and a client. NLP presuppositions are a convenient beliefs which if we adopt them will allow us to get better results. Here we explore what “The Map Is Not The Territory” means.

This  presupposition originally comes form Alfred Korzisky, (who was a Polish engineer, mathematician, and philosopher, most famous for creating the theory of General Semantics. Published in the 1930s)

Here is Dr David Shephard (whom I trained with), speaking on his weekly Facebook Live about this topic.

The NLP Communications  Model

To understand this we need to look at the NLP communication model which looks like this.

Every second we have  12 million bits of information coming in to our nervous system through our 5 senses. So we can deal with that huge amount of information, our unconscious mind receives and filters this information.

We

a) delete information

b)  distort information (take information and distort it into something that is not happening)

c) generalise – how we simplify information

There are then other filters such as our values and beliefs, language and so on.

Then we build our internal representations which are the only thing we actually experience, they are our model of the world. So all of our experience of our world is inside of our nervous system. The only thing we can experience directly is our internal representations. We can’t actually experience the external event as it is in reality. So the map that we are operating from- our internal representations – is not actually the territory which is outside of us.

This is why NLP is so powerful because NLP enables us to change the map, change our experience of reality, the reality that we create for ourselves. Since what we are experiencing isn’t real anyway, we can use our NLP techniques to change our experience of the map in a way that works better for us rather in a way that as it doesn’t work for us.

 

 

Why we should all stop saying “I know exactly how you feel”

You don’t. And you’re also steering the focus away from someone who probably just wants to be heard.

Read this post from  radio host and writer Celeste Headlee.

“A good friend of mine lost her dad some years back. I found her sitting alone outside our workplace, just staring at the horizon. She was absolutely distraught, and I didn’t know what to say to her. It’s so easy to say the wrong thing to someone who is grieving and vulnerable.

So I started talking about how I grew up without a father. I told her my dad had drowned in a submarine when I was only nine months old and I’d always mourned his loss, even though I’d never known him. I wanted her to realize that she wasn’t alone, that I’d been through something similar and I could understand how she felt.

But after I related this story, my friend snapped, “Okay, Celeste, you win. You never had a dad and I at least got to spend 30 years with mine. You had it worse. I guess I shouldn’t be so upset that my dad just died.”

I was stunned and mortified. “No, no, no,” I said, “that’s not what I’m saying at all. I just meant I know how you feel.”

And she answered, “No, Celeste, you don’t. You have no idea how I feel.”

Often subtle and unconscious, conversational narcissism is the desire to do most of the talking and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself.

She walked away and I stood there feeling like a jerk. I had wanted to comfort her and, instead, I’d made her feel worse. When she began to share her raw emotions, I felt uncomfortable so I defaulted to a subject with which I was comfortable: myself. She wanted to talk about her father, to tell me about the kind of man he was. She wanted to share her cherished memories. Instead, I asked her to listen to my story.

From that day forward, I started to notice how often I responded to stories of loss and struggle with stories of my own experiences. My son would tell me about clashing with a kid in Boy Scouts, and I would talk about a girl I fell out with in college. When a coworker got laid off, I told her about how much I struggled to find a job after I had been laid off years earlier. But when I began to pay more attention, I realized the effect of sharing my experiences was never as I intended. What all of these people needed was for me to hear them and acknowledge what they were going through. Instead, I forced them to listen to me.

Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency as “conversational narcissism.” Often subtle and unconscious, it’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking, and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself. Derber writes that it “is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America.”

He describes two kinds of responses in conversations: a shift response and a support response. The first shifts attention back to yourself, and the second supports the other person’s comment.

Example number 1:

The shift response

Mary: I’m so busy right now.

Tim: Me, too. I’m totally overwhelmed.

The support response

Mary: I’m so busy right now.

Tim: Why? What do you have to get done?

Example number 2:

The shift response

Karen: I need new shoes.

Mark: Me, too. These things are falling apart.

The support response

Karen: I need new shoes.

Mark: Oh yeah? What kind are you thinking about?

Shift responses are a hallmark of conversational narcissism — they help you turn the focus constantly back to yourself. But a support response encourages the other person to continue their story. It lets them know you’re listening and interested in hearing more.

We can craftily disguise our attempts to shift focus — we might start a sentence with a supportive remark and then follow up with a comment about ourselves.

The game of catch is often used as a metaphor for conversation. In an actual game of catch, you’re forced to take turns. But in conversation, we often find ways to resist giving someone else a turn. Sometimes, we use passive means to subtly grab control of the exchange.

This tug-of-war over attention is not always easy to track. We can very craftily disguise our attempts to shift focus. We might start a sentence with a supportive comment, and then follow up with a comment about ourselves. For instance, if a friend tells us they just got a promotion, we might respond by saying, “That’s great! Congratulations. I’m going to ask my boss for a promotion, too. I hope I get it.”

Such a response could be fine, as long as we allow the focus to shift back to the other person again. However, the healthy balance is lost when we repeatedly shine the attention back on ourselves.

While reciprocity is an important part of any meaningful conversation, the truth is shifting the attention to our own experiences is completely natural. Modern humans are hardwired to talk about themselves more than any other topic. One study found that “most social conversation time is devoted to statements about the speaker’s own emotional experiences and/or relationships, or those of third parties not present.”

The insula, an area of the brain deep inside the cerebral cortex, takes in the information that people tell us and then tries to find a relevant experience in our memory banks that can give context to the information. It’s mostly helpful: the brain is trying to make sense of what we hear and see. Subconsciously, we find similar experiences and add them to what’s happening at the moment, and then the whole package of information is sent to the limbic regions, the part of the brain just below the cerebrum. That’s where some trouble can arise — instead of helping us better understand someone else’s experience, our own experiences can distort our perceptions of what the other person is saying or experiencing.

The more comfortable you are, the more difficult it is to empathize with the suffering of another.

study from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences suggests that our egos distort our perception of our empathy. When participants watched a video of maggots in a group setting, they could understand that other people might be repulsed by it. But if one person was shown pictures of puppies while the others were shown the maggot video, the puppy viewer generally underestimated the rest of the group’s negative reaction to the maggots.

Study author Dr. Tania Singer observed, “The participants who were feeling good themselves assessed their partners’ negative experiences as less severe than they actually were. In contrast, those who had just had an unpleasant experience assessed their partners’ good experience less positively.” In other words, we tend to use our own feelings to determine how others feel.

Here’s how that translates to your daily conversations: Let’s say you and a friend are both laid off at the same time by the same company. In that case, using your feelings as a measure of your friend’s feelings may be fairly accurate because you’re experiencing the same event. But what if you’re having a great day andyou meet a friend who was just laid off? Without knowing it, you might judge how your friend is feeling against your good mood. She’ll say, “This is awful. I’m so worried that I feel sick to my stomach.” You’d respond, “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay. I was laid off six years ago and everything turned out fine.” The more comfortable you are, the more difficult it is to empathize with the suffering of another.

It took me years to realize I was much better at the game of catch than I was at its conversational equivalent. Now I try to be more aware of my instinct to share stories and talk about myself. I try to ask questions that encourage the other person to continue. I’ve also made a conscious effort to listen more and talk less.

Recently, I had a long conversation with a friend who was going through a divorce. We spent almost 40 minutes on the phone, and I barely said a word. At the end of our call, she said, “Thank you for your advice. You’ve really helped me work some things out.”

The truth is, I hadn’t offered any advice. Most of what I said was a version of “That sounds tough. I’m sorry this is happening to you.” She didn’t need advice or stories from me. She just needed to be heard.

Excerpted with permission from the new book  We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Headlee. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. © 2017 Celeste Headlee.

This Is How To “Work Smarter Not Harder” 3 Secrets From Research

How to work smarter not harder: Do Less, Then Obsess: 
Use The Learning Loop: Push yourself now and your job gets easier later.
Feel Passion & Purpose…read on.

“Work smarter, not harder.” Sounds good. But how do you actually do that?Well, luckily someone finally took up the challenge of finding a clear answer…

 

Bestselling Author Eric Barker reviews and comments on the findings of UC Berkeley professor Morten Hansen’s new book  Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More.

 

ProfessorHansen….”looked at 200 academic papers, interviewed 120 experts, ran a pilot study on 300 subjects, and built a framework which he then tested on 5000 participants from various industries and backgrounds.

He found 7 behaviors that made up 66% of the difference in how people performed. (By comparison, standard metrics like education, age, and hours worked were only responsible for 10% combined.)

We’re gonna look at 3 of his findings so that we can get better work done in less time — and even achieve that mythical “work-life balance” unicorn everyone is always talking about.

Let’s start with the single most effective strategy he uncovered…

 

1) Do Less — Then Obsess

Everyone agrees we need to quit trying to accomplish 9000 things at once and stop multitasking. But when Hansen looked at the data he found that this was only half the solution.

Top performers definitely focus on fewer goals — but they also obsess like crazy over them.

 

From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More:

Once they had focused on a few priorities, they obsessed over those tasks to produce quality work. That extreme dedication to their priorities created extraordinary results. Top performers did less and more: less volume of activities, more concentrated effort. This insight overturns much conventional thinking about focusing that urges you to choose a few tasks to prioritize. Choice is only half of the equation— you also need to obsess.

This strategy alone took your run-of-the-mill performer at the 50th percentile and shot them into the 75th percentile. So how do you do it?

By using a variation on a classic scientific principle. “Occam’s Razor” says the simplest answer is often the best. So start ruthlessly cutting all the activities in your workday that aren’t producing value.

 

From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More:

Shave away unnecessary tasks, priorities, committees, steps, metrics, and procedures. Channel all your effort into excelling in the remaining activities. Ask: How many tasks can I remove, given what I must do to excel? Remember: As few as you can, as many as you must.

Cut things and see what happens. Do you have to check email every 5 minutes? Will the world end if you don’t go to that meeting?

And if you’re really scared, do as Georgetown professor Cal Newport recommends and have a conversation with your boss about priorities. You’re probably making a lot of inaccurate assumptions about what “must” be done and how important some things are.

Reduce the number of activities you perform — and reallocate that time to intensity.

Alright, so you’re doing less and obsessing more. Another way to “work smarter, not harder” is to get better at your job. But how do top performers keep improving — with a minimum amount of effort?

 

2) Use “The Learning Loop”

Everybody knows about the 10,000 hour theory of expertise. What most people forget is that it’s 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” — challenging yourself — not 10,000 hours of sleepwalking through your job.

Deliberate practice seems straightforward in sports, music or chess. But how do you do it in the modern workplace? Hansen offers some clear steps:

  • Pick one and only one skill at a time to develop. It’s “do less and obsess” all over again. Trying to get better at everything at once gets you nowhere. Right now you want to be better at giving presentations. So creating better reports will have to wait.
  • Carve out your 15. Dedicate 15 minutes a day to reviewing your performance on a workplace skill. Evaluate what you’re doing and how you could get better. What do those people in the best TED talks do that you don’t when giving presentations?
  • Isolate micro-behaviors. Just like a baseball player might try to improve a specific element of their game (batting, fielding, or running), you want to break down what goes into a good presentation and set a goal. “I’m going to make more eye contact” or “I should speak more slowly.”
  • Get feedback. After the presentation, ask people how you did and what you can do to improve.

Some might think this sounds like a lot of work. And trying to improve means inevitably making some mistakes. Why not just do what you’re already good at and always look competent?

Because the research is clear: that works in the short term but it’s a path to mediocrity in the long term.

Doctors that only worked on easy cases performed better initially… but those that took on difficult problems improved their skills and went on to surpass those who didn’t challenge themselves.

 

From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More:

For a clinic’s first 100 cases, doctors who stuck with less complicated patients enjoyed a higher success rate. After 100 cases, doctors who had treated more difficult patients all along snuck into the lead, because benefits from their learning kicked in. At 400 cases, their success rates surpassed those of the “easy case” doctors by 3.3 percent, and their learning continued.

Hansen found that those who pushed themselves to get better ranked 15 points higher on performance metrics.

(To learn the seven-step morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

This all sounds great but where do you get the energy to obsess and engage in all this deliberate practice?

 

3) Feel Passion & Purpose

Top performers didn’t merely “follow their passion.” They also had a sense of purpose in what they did. This combo produced huge results. It boosted energy levels and increased the amount of effort they were able to exert.

From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More:

Analyzing our data, we discovered a strong association between intensity of effort and having both passion and purpose. We performed an additional analysis called “structural equation modeling” where we disentangled two types of effort— the number of hours worked per week, and effort during those hours. The analysis showed that passion and purpose strongly predict effort during working hours, and not the number of hours worked per week

But some people will say they’re not passionate about their work. Here’s where things got interesting. Hansen found that there were people with passion and purpose in every industry and job he studied.

At least 10% of people in every arena and role examined had passion and purpose. How is this possible? Some jobs just don’t seem all that exciting and sexy…

It’s because people think passion has to come from being excited about the tasks you perform. It doesn’t. Hansen found there were 6 ways to derive passion from your work:

  • Task passion: The obvious one. What you do excites you.
  • Achievement passion: A salesperson might not be keen on the product, but they get a high every time they close a big deal.
  • Creative passion: An engineer might not be thrilled about the project, but they love solving hard problems.
  • People passion: The company or the job might not be that great, but you love supporting and interacting with the people around you.
  • Learning passion: We’ve all heard someone say that they love what they do because they learn something new every day.
  • Competence passion: We all get excited when we’re doing something we’re good at.

And purpose is about creating value for others in a way that is personally meaningful to you. Like passion, this is less about the actual tasks you perform and more about how you frame them.

Shoveling elephant poop does not seem terribly meaningful. And when looked at in that limited frame, it isn’t. But when you love animals, it can be deeply meaningful — as a study of zookeepers revealed.

 

From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More:

In a 2009 study of zookeepers, researchers found that some saw cleaning cages and feeding animals as a filthy, meritless job, while others saw it as a moral duty to protect and provide proper care for the animals. Same job, different feelings of purpose.

Passion can come from many angles. And purpose is all about how you see the value you create for others.

(To learn 6 rituals from ancient wisdom that will make you happy, click here.)

We’ve learned a lot. Let’s round it up and see how these “work smarter, not harder” tips can lead to better work-life balance…

Sum Up

This is how to work smarter not harder:

  • Do Less, Then Obsess: As Mark Twain quipped, “Put all your eggs in one basket — and watch that basket!”
  • Use The Learning Loop: Push yourself now and your job gets easier later.
  • Feel Passion & Purpose: You don’t have to play in the NFL or be the next Beyoncé to feel passionate about your job. And purpose can even involve elephant poop.

“Do less, then obsess” had huge positive effects on work-life balance metrics — a whopping 26 percentile points. However…

“Passion & Purpose” actually reduced work-life balance. Makes sense though: when you’re passionate about your job, you spend more time doing it, and those hours have to come from somewhere.

 

From Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More:

Previous studies of employee engagement— a concept similar to passion— have also suggested a link between passion and poor work-life balance. A study of 844 firefighters, hairstylists, educators, caregivers, bankers, and other working adults in the United States revealed that employee engagement— measured by an employee’s degree of vigor, dedication, and absorption in work (“when I am working, I forget everything else around me”)— increased work’s interference with family life (“my work keeps me from my family activities more than I would like”).

But this is one of those problems that’s good to have.

When we think about work-life balance, we’re usually worried about being overwhelmed by stressful duties that interfere with our personal lives.

If you’re filled with passion and purpose in your work during the day and finding joy with friends and family during the evening, well, that’s a work-life balance problem we’d all be lucky to have.

Balancing “work” and “life” is stressful — but balancing two different sources of passion can be wonderful.”

 

Thanks to Eric Baker: To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out his bestselling book here.)

Ancient Wisdom Reveals 6 Rituals That Will Make You Happy

Forget self help. Ancient wisdom has happiness techniques that align with science. People have enormous respect for ancient wisdom; check out bestselling author Ryan Holiday who explains how Stoicism can make you smile in his latest book:

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.

Abridged blog from Eric Baker 

Events Don’t Upset You. Beliefs Do.

You get dumped by someone you’re totally in love with. Feel sad? God, yes. The world is going to end.

Okay, same scenario, but afterwards you find out that person was actually a psychopath who killed their last three partners. Feel sad you got dumped? No, you’re thrilled.

So clearly “getting dumped” isn’t the important factor here. What changed? Nothing but your beliefs.

If you lose your job and believe it was a lousy position and believe it won’t be hard for you to get a better job, you’re unfazed.

If you believe it was the greatest job ever and believe you’ll never get another one that good — you’re devastated. Emotions aren’t random. They follow from beliefs. Here’s Ryan:

The Stoics are saying there are no good or bad events, there’s only perception. Shakespeare encapsulated it well when he said, “Nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” Shakespeare and the Stoics are saying that the world around us is indifferent, it is objective. The Stoics are saying, “This happened to me,” is not the same as, “This happened to me and that’s bad.” They’re saying if you stop at the first part, you will be much more resilient and much more able to make some good out of anything that happens.

Skeptical? Sound too simple? Guess what? You couldn’t be more wrong…

This part of Stoic philosophy was adapted by famed psychologist Albert Ellis to form Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — which is now the dominant method for helping people overcome problems ranging from depression to anxiety to anger.

Most of the bad feelings you have are caused by irrational beliefs.

Next time you’re feeling negative emotions, don’t focus on the event that you think “caused” them. Ask yourself what belief you hold about that event. And then ask yourself if it’s rational:

  • “If my partner dumps me, I’ll never get over it.”
  • “If I lose my job, my life is over.”
  • “If I don’t finish reading this post, the writer will hate me forever.”

Only the third one is true. The other two are irrational. And that’s why you get anxious, angry or depressed.

Revise your beliefs and you can change your feelings: “Even if they dump me, I can meet someone else. It’s happened before and I got over it.”

(To learn more from Albert Ellis about how to never be frustrated again, click here.)

So you’re revising your beliefs to overcome sadness and anger. Awesome. But what about when you’re unhappy because you’re worried about the future?

 

Control What You Can. Ignore The Rest.

You know the Serenity Prayer?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”

Reinhold Nieburh came up with it around 1934. The Stoics were preaching that basic idea, oh, about 2000 years earlier.

The Stoics were really big on control. But they were not control freaks at all. A key part of Stoicism is just asking yourself, “Can I do anything about this?”

If you can, do it. If you can’t… then you can’t. But worrying achieves nothing but stress. Here’s Ryan:

What the Stoics are saying is so much of what worries us are things that we have no control over. If I’m doing something tomorrow and I’m worried about it raining and ruining it, no amount of me stressing about it is going to change whether it rains or not. The Stoics are saying, “Not only are you going to be happier if you can make the distinction between what you can change and can’t change but if you focus your energy exclusively on what you can change, you’re going to be a lot more productive and effective as well.”

Here’s a quick visual to help get the point across:
ancient-wisdom-1
Next time you’re worrying, pause and ask yourself, “Do I have control over this?” If you do, stop worrying and get to work.

If you don’t have control, worrying won’t make it better. And going back to the first point, it might be a good idea to ask yourself what your belief is that’s causing all this worry… Yeah, it’s probably irrational.

(To learn more lifehacks from a variety of ancient thinkers, click here.)

So sadness, anger and worrying are irrational responses and they’re not the right way to react when things happen. So what is the right way to react to stuff that doesn’t meet your expectations?

 

Accept Everything. But Don’t Be Passive.

This is the one everybody has trouble with. Nobody likes the word “accept.” We think it means “give up.” It doesn’t.

Let’s look at it this way: what’s the opposite of accept? Deny. As in “denial.” And nobody ever recommends denial.

Albert Ellis told people they’d be much happier if they removed the word “should” from their vocabulary. “Should” is denial. You’re saying your expectations deserve to override reality:

  • “My kids shouldn’t be misbehaving!” (News flash: they are.)
  • “Traffic shouldn’t be this bad!” (Um, but it is.)
  • “It shouldn’t be raining!” (Say it louder. Complaining might work this time.)

Denial is irrational, and as we just learned, irrational beliefs are where negative emotions come from. So the first step is to accept reality. But that doesn’t mean you have to be passive.

You accept the rain. It’s here. Denial and shoulds won’t change anything… but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab an umbrella. Here’s Ryan:

Acceptance to us means resignation but to the Stoics it meant accepting the facts as they are and then deciding what you’re going to do about them. The problem is that because we have expectations about how we want things to be, we feel like acceptance is settling, when in reality we have no idea what could have happened instead. This awful thing might have saved us from something much worse. Or maybe this is going to open us up to some new amazing opportunity that we can’t yet conceive. The Stoics are saying, “Let’s not waste any energy fighting things that are outside our control, let’s accept them, let’s embrace them and then let’s move on and see what we can do with it.”

Next time things don’t go your way, don’t deny reality. Accept it. It’s here. Then ask if you have control over it. If you do, do something. If you don’t, ask if your beliefs are rational.

That’s how you go from: “It shouldn’t be raining! We can’t go to the park! The day is ruined!” to “Yeah, it’s raining. No park today. Let’s see an awesome movie.

Choose Whose Child You Will Be

Everything we’ve talked about so far happens in your head. And, as we learned, that’s where the problems usually start. But if life’s gonna get better we need to learn from other people.

You’re not alone in this world. You have so much to learn from others. Role models. Mentors. And Seneca, one of the big cheeses of Stoicism, got the point across with this beautiful quote that I love:

We like to say that we don’t get to choose our parents, that they were given by chance – yet, we can truly choose whose children we wish to be.

When I spoke to Anders Ericsson, the professor who came up with the “10,000 hours” theory of expertise, he said the first step in being better at anything (and that includes life) is to find a mentor. Here’s Anders:

They need to talk to somebody that they really admire, a person that is doing something in a way that they would like to eventually be able to do. Have this person help you identify what it is that you might need to change in order to be able to do what that other person is doing. Interview that person about how they were able to do it, and then have that person help you identify what is it that you can’t do right now and what are the steps towards reaching that desired level of performance.

Next time you face a challenge, think of someone you admire. Research shows asking yourself “What would _____ do?” can have powerful positive effects on your behavior.

Role models and mentors are great for helping you be your best. But how do you make sure you’re actuallyimproving? How do you know you’re making progress toward being the best you?

 

Morning And Evening Rituals Are Essential

What type of rituals did the Stoics recommend?

Morning rituals and evening rituals. One to get you ready for the day, the other to reflect on how things went and figure out what to improve. Here’s Ryan:

The Stoics thought you should start the day with a ritual of reminding yourself of what you’re going to face. Marcus Aurelius said, “Today, the people that you face will be…” and then he proceeds to list basically every negative trait you could possibly encounter in the course of a day. That’s not pessimistic, he’s saying, “Now that you know this, don’t take any of it personally and try to understand why people might act this way and forgive and love them for that.” The Stoics believe you start the day with a meditation of what’s to come and then you should end the day reflecting on what has transpired and what can be improved.

The Stoics didn’t believe in perfection. They felt we were all a work-in-progress. You can always be getting better. As Seneca said:

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.

Summing up

  • Events Don’t Upset You. Beliefs Do: Only the end of the world is the end of the world.
  • Control What You Can. Ignore The Rest: Worrying never fixed anything.
  • Accept Everything. But Don’t Be Passive: Nobody recommends denial. Accept. And then do something.
  • Choose Whose Child You Will Be: “What would Batman do in this situation?”
  • Morning And Evening Rituals Are Essential: Plan for the day, then reflect on the day.

Marcus Aurelius’ classic book “Meditations” starts out kinda weird. He mentions all the people who he feels indebted to for having helped him. It’s basically a gratitude list.

The Stoics were big on gratitude. In fact, in Meditations he wrote:

Don’t set your mind on things you don’t possess as if they were yours, but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren’t already yours.

A few thousand years later research would catch up with him on that one. Studies show mentally subtracting cherished moments from your life makes you appreciate them more, makes you grateful and makes you happier.

“What if I never met my partner? What if my child was never born? Wow, I am so lucky to have them in my life.”

You don’t need that shiny new thing in order to smile. Take a second to appreciate all the shiny things you already have that aren’t so new.

New is overrated. Sometimes ideas from thousands of years ago are all we need to be happy.”

Thanks Eric Baker

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6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today

In this busy world of ours, the mind is constantly pulled from pillar to post, scattering our thoughts and emotions and leaving us feeling stressed, highly-strung and at times quite anxious. Most of us don’t have five minutes to sit down and relax, let alone 30 minutes or more for a meditation session.

But it is essential for our wellbeing to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness and achieve a positive mind-body balance. Thank you to Alfred James for this blog on Mindfulness.

“So if you are a busy bee like me, you can use these simple mindfulness exercises to empty your mind and find some much-needed calm amidst the madness of your hectic day.

I’m going to cover 6 exercises that take very little effort and can be done pretty much anywhere at anytime:

Mindful breathing
Mindful observation
Mindful awareness
Mindful listening
Mindful immersion
Mindful appreciation
Let’s get started…

1.Mindful Breathing
This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. If you can sit down in the meditation (lotus) position, that’s great, if not, no worries.

Either way, all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.

1  Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
2  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
3  Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath.
4  Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.
5  Then watch with your awareness as it works work its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.
6  If you are someone who thought they’d never be able to meditate, guess what? You are half way there already!

If you enjoyed one minute of this mind-calming exercise, why not try two or three?

2. Mindful Observation
This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate seemingly simple elements of your environment in a more profound way.

The exercise is designed to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when we are rushing around in the car or hopping on and off trains on the way to work.

1  Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon.
2  Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at. Simply relax into watching for as long as your concentration allows.
3  Look at this object as if you are seeing it for the first time.
4  Visually explore every aspect of its formation, and allow yourself to be consumed by its presence.
5  Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its purpose within the natural world.

3. Mindful Awareness
This exercise is designed to cultivate a heightened awareness and appreciation of simple daily tasks and the results they achieve.

Think of something that happens every day more than once; something you take for granted, like opening a door, for example.

At the very moment you touch the doorknob to open the door, stop for a moment and be mindful of where you are, how you feel in that moment and where the door will lead you.

Similarly, the moment you open your computer to start work, take a moment to appreciate the hands that enable this process and the brain that facilitates your understanding of how to use the computer.

These ‘touch point’ cues don’t have to be physical ones.

For example: Each time you think a negative thought, you might choose to take a moment to stop, label the thought as unhelpful and release the negativity.

Or, perhaps each time you smell food, you take a moment to stop and appreciate how lucky you are to have good food to eat and share with your family and friends.

Choose a touch point that resonates with you today and, instead of going through your daily motions on autopilot, take occasional moments to stop and cultivate purposeful awareness of what you are doing and the blessings these actions brings to your life.

4. Mindful Listening
This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way, and indeed to train your mind to be less swayed by the influence of past experiences and preconception.

So much of what we “feel” is influenced by past experience. For example, we may dislike a song because it reminds of us of a breakup or another period of life when things felt negative.

So the idea of this exercise is to listen to some music from a neutral standpoint, with a present awareness that is unhindered by preconception.

Select a piece of music you have never heard before. You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear.

1  Close your eyes and put on your headphones.
2  Try not to get drawn into judging the music by its genre, title or artist name before it has begun. Instead, ignore any labels and neutrally allow yourself to get lost in the journey of sound for the duration of the song.
3  Allow yourself to explore every aspect of track. Even if the music isn’t to your liking at first, let go of your dislike and give your awareness full permission to climb inside the track and dance among the sound waves.
4   Explore the song by listening to the dynamics of each instrument. Separate each sound in your mind and analyse each one by one.
5  Hone in on the vocals: the sound of the voice, its range and tones. If there is more than one voice, separate them out as you did in step 4.

The idea is to listen intently, to become fully entwined with the composition without preconception or judgment of the genre, artist, lyrics or instrumentation. Don’t think, hear.

5. Mindful Immersion
The intention of this exercise is to cultivate contentment in the moment and escape the persistent striving we find ourselves caught up in on a daily basis.

Rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before.

For example: if you are cleaning your house, pay attention to every detail of the activity.

Rather than treat this as a regular chore, create an entirely new experience by noticing every aspect of your actions:

Feel and become the motion when sweeping the floor, sense the muscles you use when scrubbing the dishes, develop a more efficient way of wiping the windows clean.

The idea is to get creative and discover new experiences within a familiar routine task.

Instead of labouring through and constantly thinking about finishing the task, become aware of every step and fully immerse yourself in the progress. Take the activity beyond a routine by aligning yourself with it physically, mentally and spiritually.

Who knows, you might even enjoy the cleaning for once!

6. Mindful Appreciation
In this last exercise, all you have to do is notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated.

These things can be objects or people; it’s up to you. Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.

The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life, the things that support our existence but rarely get a second thought amidst our desire for bigger and better things.

For example: electricity powers your kettle, the postman delivers your mail, your clothes provide you warmth, your nose lets you smell the flowers in the park, your ears let you hear the birds in the tree by the bus stop, but…

* Do you know how these things/processes came to exist, or how they really work?
*  Have you ever properly acknowledged how these things benefit your life and the lives of others?
*  Have you ever thought about what life might be like without these things?
*  Have you ever stopped to notice their finer, more intricate details?
*  Have you ever sat down and thought about the relationships between these things and how together they play an interconnected role in the functioning of the earth?
*  Once you have identified your 5 things, make it your duty to find out everything you can about their creation and purpose to truly appreciate the way in which they support your life.

Why Mindfulness Exercises?
The cultivation of moment-by-moment awareness of our surrounding environment is a practice that helps us better cope with the difficult thoughts and feelings that cause us stress and anxiety in everyday life.

With regular practice of mindfulness exercises, rather than being led on auto-pilot by emotions influenced by negative past experiences and fears of future occurrences, we harness the ability to root the mind in the present moment and deal with life’s challenges in a clear-minded, calm, assertive way.

In turn, we develop a fully conscious mind-set that frees us from the imprisonment of unhelpful, self-limiting thought patterns, and enables us to be fully present to focus on positive emotions that increase compassion and understanding in ourselves and others.”

Nothing to say except this:

The measure is how quickly you can rise back to a resourceful state, to joy, as you journey through the ups and downs of daily living.  

We need to accept what we are. And accept polarity. Life is not always beautiful and happy, sometimes we are sad and black. And that is okay too. The sun and the moon, what different energies.

The measure is how quickly you can rise back to a resourceful state, to joy, as you journey through the ups and downs of daily living.

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