Silence and innovation

How do we use silence?

The summer already started, what a joy! Is time for admiration and awe in front of sunset, in front of the clear sky, in front of nature.
Lately I found myself many times dwelling on the idea of silence, the use of silence. How do I experience silence, how do I get comfortable with it? What would be the purpose of it?
Everything started some time ago when I became more aware about my journey in the company of silence, how do I welcome silence in my life, and which path would be the best one to build up the best relationship with silence and myself? And I’ve been busy in my mind for a little while. I’ve been busy with planning, nagging my own past behaviour, again planning my future self in front of such an impressive enemy like SILENCE.

As I said earlier, everything started a while ago, in a summer afternoon in Bucharest. I had a walk through the City, heading to the heart of Bucharest, where I was supposed to meet a possible business partner. Nothing weird so far. I knew exactly where is the location and the people I was supposed to meet. The only strange thing was that my phone battery died, my Ipod as well and above all, I didn’t have a book with me to read. Oh, and yes, I had to wait in a empty room for about 20 minutes. The first seconds spent in silence passed ok, I spent the seconds planning my meeting, looking for my keys, for my phone, trying to draw, ruminating about the future….a busy mind, what can I say. After this panic, I realized that I am supposed to feel rather free without these tech addictions.

Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling free at all. It was more about feeling awkward than independent.

Did you ever experience this type of ‘independence’? Or is maybe better to say, awkwardness? We all sit quietly from time to time, isn’t it? It shouldn’t feel awkward at all. We are supposed to be our own great company, to create great inner conversations, to generate great insights, basically to be the best friends to ourselves. But back then it felt weird and I found difficult to adapt to the silence.
That was my ‘AHA’ moment! The moment when I realized that yes, I am committed to develop a good relationship with myself, I am gonna take care of myself, I’m gonna nurture myself. What a special moment for me!

Silence is such a precious thing for ourselves!

Blaise Pascal when pondering on silence, very long time ago, said: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”  That is so true!

I was reading the other day, the book of Paul Goodman about silence.  He wrote very nicely about silence, describing 9 types of silence in the world:

“Not speaking and speaking are both human ways of being in the world, and there are kinds and grades of each.
1. There is the dumb silence of slumber or apathy;
2. The sober silence that goes with a solemn animal face;
3. The fertile silence of awareness, pasturing the soul, whence emerge new thoughts;
4. The alive silence of alert perception, ready to say, “This… this…”;
5. The musical silence that accompanies absorbed activity;
6. The silence of listening to another speak, catching the drift and helping him be clear;
7. The noisy silence of resentment and self-recrimination, loud and subvocal speech but sullen to say it;
8. Baffled silence;
9. The silence of peaceful accord with other persons or communion with the cosmos.”

So beautiful said!

How many types of silence do you know? How many types of silence did you discover so far?

Silence and work

The study of silence has long interested me. I think that the matrix of someone’s work consists not only of what is there to be absorbed and worked on, but also of what is missing, disappeared, unspeakable, thus unthinkable.

Silence and Innovation

It is through these invisible holes, silent doors, in reality, that creativity, innovation, makes its way.
Even the impulse to create begins — often terribly and fearfully — in a tunnel of silence. Every real writing, the real creation, is the breaking of an existing silence, and the first question we might ask any new project, piece of art, is, “What kind of voice is breaking silence, and what kind of silence is being broken?”

Silence can also be a tool of oppression and censorship, every time when we find ourselves shocked in front of other people’s atrocities, or in front of too much, too careless, to exagerated demands of our managers.
Also silence, willfully elected, can be a force of growth and innovation.

Silence can be fertilizing, it can bathe the imagination, it can, as in great open spaces, be the nimbus of a way of life, a condition of vision.

I would add also that silence is a tool to tap in our intuition, our true compass that guides our everyday actions.

~ Experiment of the week ~

Before planning your week, I invite you to take a moment for yourself and stay in silence.

I invite you, to find this week’s muse through silence. Find a nice place to sit quietly and stay in silence, focus on the “mechanism of silence” and technology of thought instead of the noisy, too dangerous, too distracted world that we live in.

Scary? try it again, there is another discover there…

Have a great week insightful week!

Laura
Development Coach

Elite Vision Coaching
Keep exploring ~ Make connections ~ Share your discoveries


Posted in Intuition, Stress, Thoughts, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On becoming resilient

On becoming resilient in the workplace

You probably heard many times recently a lot about being resilient, becoming resilient, embracing resilience in the workplace, at home. But what does really mean to be resilient?
When I looked at the definition of resilience, I found this: 

“Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others. Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had.”

“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”Psychology Today magazine

Resilience is a person’s capacity to respond to pressure and the demands of daily life. Dictionary definitions include concepts like flexibility suppleness, durability, strength, speed of recovery and buoyancy. In short, resiliency affects our ability to ‘bounce back’. At work, resilient people are better able to deal with the demands placed upon them, especially where those demands might require them to be dealing with constantly changing priorities and a heavy workload.

What I found relevant in developing a resilient mindset is the level of self-love. I consider being vital, in order to love ourselves, that we should develop a solid base of self-knowledge, self-acceptance, self-regulation and self-discipline.

1. Knowing ourselves is harder than we think. It is difficult to look honestly at ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses. Sometimes we need help seeing ourselves as we are, and having feedback from a trusted friend, family member or counselor is very useful.  Self-acceptance actually helps us grow and self-actualize. It is one of life’s contradictions that we are better able to change in a positive way if we accept who we are now rather than criticize ourselves.

2. Self-regulation refers to getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, getting regular exercise and not overdoing these things (at least not very often). Our minds and our bodies are one, and if we do not regulate our bodies appropriately we soon find that our moods and even our thinking become unmodulated too.

3. Self-discipline is required to make us get into a reasonable routine which allows self-regulation to be possible. Self-discipline is different from will power. Will power is like a whip we use against ourselves and, as many of us discover, when we try to use will power to achieve a goal, very often we encounter a resistance that operates with equal intensity against our goals: a sort of “won’t power”. Self-discipline is gentler and is based on scheduling and routines that make many repetitive jobs in our daily lives automatic. This leave us time and energy to do other more creative things and keeps our energy resources filled up so that we can work, love and have fun. Information refers to all of the new ideas and knowledge about others and how the world works that we can get from reading, TV, friends, family and counselors. Indeed, counselors can help with all the building blocks of self-improvement, which leads us to hope, without which we would do nothing. With the first six building blocks in place, we can not only cope in a proactive way that prevents many problems from developing, but also enjoy life knowing that while problems may crop up, we have the resilience, stamina and creativity to deal with them.

But resilience is not about staying relaxed, on our backs, waiting for the life to treat us well. Resilience is about adaptation, responding better to life circumstances, is about transformation: internal transformation through self-reflection and external transformation through developing skills to adapt better to change and stress.

INSIGHT: Life is not getting easier, it’s us that we get stronger.

Resilience is not a characteristic gifted to some individuals and not others. The key here is that resilience is not a passive quality, but an active process. How we approach life, and everything it can throw at us, has a massive impact on our experience. Resilient people do more of the things that help maintain that responsiveness, and it is relatively easy for those of us who are feeling less resilient to develop habits that will increase our ability to perform under pressure, and perhaps more importantly, to live better despite circumstances that try us to the limit.

“Why is it that some people thrive in the face of challenge and adversity at work, while others panic and withdraw into themselves? And why is it these same people who appear to get ahead while others tread water, or slowly drown in turbulent waters of life?

Most people think that a combination of intelligence, long working hours and lots of experience allows people to thrive in potentially hostile working environments. In fact, it is those with resilience who cope best with challenges like constant organisational change and upheaval, impending staff cutbacks, looming deadlines, argumentative meetings and incessant competition from business rivals.

The good news is that although some people seem to be born with more resilience than others, those whose resilience is lower can learn how to boost their ability to cope, thrive and flourish when the going gets tough.” (Centre for Confidence and Well-Being, 2006)

How to develop resilience

The ability to cope well with pressure, adversity and uncertainty relies on developing behaviours, thoughts and actions. Anyone can learn these habits and create strategies to help increase resilience and hardiness.
Resiliency experts say that that people are helped by a particular pattern of attitudes and skills that helps them to survive and thrive under stress.

“Simply put, these attitudes are commitment, control, and challenge. As times get tough, if you hold these attitudes, you’ll believe that it is best to stay involved with the people and events around you (commitment) rather than to pull out, to keep trying to influence the outcomes in which you are involved (control) rather than to give up, and to try to discover how you can grow through the stress (challenge) rather than to bemoan your fate.” (Maddi and Kkhosshaba, 2006)

Building and maintaining personal resilience

Resilience is ordinary, not extraordinary. People commonly demonstrate resilience. For example, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the USA, most people got on and rebuilt their lives, and the anticipated rise levels of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) never occurred.

Developing resilience is a personal journey involving thoughts, behaviour and actions. Anyone can do it.

9 Ways to build resilience

  1. Cherish social support and interaction. Good relationships with family and friends and others are vital. Being active in the wider community also helps.
  2. Treat life as a learning process. Develop the habit of using challenges as opportunities to acquire or master skills and build achievement.
  3. Avoid making a drama out of a crisis. Stress and change are part of life. How we interpret and respond to events has a big impact of how stressful we find them.
  4. Celebrate your successes. Take time at the end of each day to review what went well and congratulate yourself. This trains the mind to look for success rather than dwelling on negativity and ‘failure’.
  5. Develop realistic life goals for guidance and a sense of purpose. Do something each day to move towards them. Again, small is beautiful; one small step amid the chaos of a busy day will help.
  6. Take positive action. Doing something in the face of adversity brings a sense of control, even if it doesn’t remove the difficulty.
  7. Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps to build resiliency.
  8. Keep a realistic perspective. Place challenging or painful events in the broader context of lifelong personal development.
  9. Practice optimism. Nothing is either wholly good or bad. If we allow our thinking to dictate how we view something it will take over. Make your thinking work for your benefit, rather than letting it stymie you with doubt or by seeing only the bad side.

These are not the only ways to strengthening personal resilience. For example, for some people keeping a journal is useful, those with a religious conviction find prayer helpful, practicing mindfulness or meditation help some people connect with themselves and restore a sense of purpose. The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

On Tuesday, we meet up to discuss more about resilience in the workplace. There are only a couple of tickets left, you can purchase your spot here: RESILIENCE IN THE WORKPLACE- bounce back from adversities

Have a great week!

Laura

Development Coach

Elite Vision Coaching
Keep exploring ~ Make connections ~ Share your discoveries

Posted in Habits, Happinness, Mental Health, Positive mindset, Resilience, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Habits of a good mental health 

Life is full of ups and downs. Even though we try to stay positive and happy, sometimes we just can’t help but feel a little down. Things don’t always go as planned. Disappointments, rejections, hurt, worries, illnesses, jealousy, annoyance — all of these things can occur to make us feel very uncomfortable in our own mind. We know it’s not good to feel this way but somehow it’s hard to stop thinking about it. We internalize our thought about a certain thing that annoys us or hurts us because it gives us comfort. However, by internalizing that thought in our head, thinking about it over and over, we reinforce the negative feeling we have and fill ourselves up with negative energy.Here are the six tips of what you can do to get yourself out of the habit of internalizing negative thought patterns. So that you can easily let go off negative thoughts whenever they hit you and feel happy again. 

1. When you find yourself over-thinking about something, take your mind off it with “meditation.”

 It’s hard to switch from a negative thought to a positive thought right away. So instead of trying to do that, use “meditation” to help you transition. Because when you meditate you need to have a clear mind — you should not think about anything but just focus on your breathing. Meditation sets your mind and your brain to default — to a blank state. Doing this for 10 minutes your head will be clear and you will feel relaxed — ready to start thinking about something that gives you joy again. 

2. When you face a struggle in life, instead of feeling you’re unfortunate or life is not fair, see it as an opportunity to learn and to grow your mental strength.

Because without a struggle, you wouldn’t get to grow your mental strength. It’s a blessing in disguise. When you start thinking life is unfair, you’d then have a tendency to circle that thought in your head — telling yourself so over and over which is only going to make you feel worse. Instead of wasting time feeling sad and sorry for yourself, accept the situation and see this as a challenge for yourself. Forget about the future. Just focus on your next step. Then your next step. Inch by inch. Eventually you claw your way out. 

When is too tough, bite off five minutes at a time. Tackle one problem at a time. Take a step. You get a little confidence… take another step, and another. Eventually you find that the worst is over.

When the worst happens, you can’t worry about the rest of your life. You can’t even be worrying about the rest of the month. But you can usually handle one day at a time. And whenever 24 hours is too tough, bite off five minutes at a time. Tackle one problem at a time. Take a step. You get a little confidence… take another step, and another. Eventually you find that the worst is over.

— Andrew Matthew, author of Happiness in Hard Times

3. When you feel stressed because you feel overwhelmed with work and things you have to do, make a clear to-do list and tick them off one by one

Even just by writing down the to-do list, you feel much more relieved and organized already. The next step is to follow through. Focus on one task at a time. Complete it one by one. By doing it this way, you’ll feel less stressed and get more things done. 

4. When you feel grumpy and negative because the people around you are negative, start treating yourself as a priority and step away from those people.

If they’re family, try helping them in a subtle way if you can. If they’re friends, spend less time with the negative ones and hang out more with the positive ones. Your time, energy, and feelings are precious. So don’t let anyone think they have the right to destroy your good mood, positivity, and happy vibes with their negativity. 

5. When you feel tired from work, try to focus on the simple joy in life. 

Focus on the little things you can do that make you feel relaxed and happy. Stop thinking about work and how stressful work is. Focus on the little beautiful things that you get to enjoy — like spending time with your kids, drinking your favorite tea while reading your favorite book, watching your favorite TV show, or having dinner with your lovely husband.

6. When you’re sick, don’t see yourself as unfortunate. Instead, feel thankful for being alive.

You should feel happy that at least you’re sick — you’re not dead or suffering from a more chronic or more serious illness. There are many more people who have worse conditions than you. You are very lucky that you are recovering and that you will be well soon. Take this opportunity to think about who you feel thankful for in life, the things you’d like to do before you die, and make plans to achieve those things so you won’t have any regret when your time actually comes.   

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The effects of music on our wellbeing

      Have you ever heard a song on the radio that was upbeat and melodic and perhaps took you back to a happy time in your life, maybe childhood? If so, then you have probably experienced the almost instant boost music can give our mood and outlook. On the other hand, if you’ve ever sat through a ‘sad song’ or the dirge of a funeral march, you’ll also be aware of how music can ‘bring us down’. Different types of music clearly can have different effects on our mental state and there’s even some science in the area. In one study, individuals were exposed to 15 minutes bursts of four types of music: grunge music, new age, classical and ‘designer’ (synthesizer music designed to be uplifting). Psychological testing was performed before and immediately after each musical exposure. The response to different types of music varied considerably. 

       For example, grunge music increased feelings of hostility, sadness, tension and fatigue, while reducing positive attributes such as relaxation, mental clarity and sense of vitality. Classical music was found to reduce tension, sadness and fatigue, while the New Age music reduced negative experiences but also increased positive ones such as clarity, sense of vitality and feelings of relaxation. The ‘designer’ music was the stand-out winner, though: it reduced all the measured negative feelings and boosted all the positive ones.

This research demonstrates that different types of music can have different effects on our mood and sense of wellbeing. But of course, there is likely to be considerable individual variation here. There may be people, for instance, who like nothing more than to kick back and relax to some of Kenny G’s smooth jazz. 

       On the other hand, I know many who would find it hard to sit through even a few songs of ’80s music from the likes of Duran Duran and Eurythmics. One research review shows that music has the ability to calm the stress response. 

Music on the brain.

  Music can affect our sense of wellbeing and mental state, but research shows that can affect the brain’s functioning too. 

Music, has the capacity to induce measurable changes in mental processes including ‘synaptic plasticity’ (communication between nerve cells)

Findings

Classical music enhanced the ‘working memory’ (the ability to hold multiple pieces of information in the mind in the short term and important for skills such as reasoning and comprehension).

The effects of music have also been tested on individuals abilities to complete work-related tasks. In one study, surgeons were exposed to music of their choosing, some other music, or no music at all, while performing a laboratory based task. Surgeons exposed to music showed lower objective signs of stress and performed better too.

Scientific research reveals that music even has the capacity to improve our psychological state, including the functioning of the immune system.

In one study, the effect of rock music, New Age music and designer music on the antibody levels in the saliva was assessed (higher antibody levels are a sign of better immune system). While rock music and New Age music did nothing here, listening to designer music led to a boost of antibody levels of more than 50%. 

The bottom line

Music can improve our mood and mental state
Has a positive impact on our psychological state
Listening to upbeat, enjoyable music can put us in a more resourceful state prior to a task or exercise session

Interested about general wellbeing and development? Read more about wellbeing here 

Remember that there is only one week left until we’ll meet up to work on our resilience in the workplace. If you are interested about our seminars or you have ideas about other topics, get in touch with me. 

Otherwise, you can purchase your tickets here: RESILIENCE IN THE WORKPLACE- bounce back from adversities

Have a great week!

Laura

Development Coach

Elite Vision Coaching

Keep exploring ~ Make connections ~ Share your discoveries

 

Posted in Mental Health, Motivation, Positive mindset, Stress, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Work stress, how can therapy help

Many of us experience work stress, but can too many responsibilities, unrealistic expectations, and personality conflicts at work lead to an experience of trauma victimization over time?

In my years of private coaching, I’ve seen several cases where individuals experience signs similar to posttraumatic stress as a result of work problems. In the beginning, I found this slightly odd. I wondered: could negative work experiences really lead to reactions similar to trauma experiences, like war or sexual assault? Lately, in conversations with colleagues, I’ve discovered this is fairly common, particularly in certain professions.

How Your Work Environment Can Leave You Feeling Victimized

 Rev. Rebecca Spooner, an ordained minister who left ministry to become a therapist, specialized in counseling pastors and their families, said that feeling victimized and traumatized by their work environment is relatively common among members of the clergy. Rev. Spooner explained that the demands and expectations of modern ministry set pastors up for personal failure and emotional trauma.

“The paradigms in ministry are flawed,” Spooner said. “A hundred years ago, pastors had four jobs: marry, bury, baptize, and preach on Sunday. Today, ministers are expected to be marriage therapists and grief counselors, organizational leaders, facilities and staff managers, marketing coordinators, community relations specialists, bloggers, motivational speakers, spiritual teachers, salespeople (increasing membership and giving), budget managers, visit the sick, be a friend, and serve on regional committees! It’s completely unrealistic. It sets everyone up for disappointment.”

These experiences are similar to what’s happening in private companies in recent times. Companies have laid off people and expect those who remain to do more work for less pay. New performance measures are adding pressure, and employees are micromanaged. Among the EAP (Employee Assistance Programme), stress related to new and unrealistic work performance expectations ranks at the top of the list.

The people who see me for help with work-related stress have complaints that are similar to what Rev. Spooner sees among clergy: insomnia, irritability, mood swings, anger, feelings of disappointment and disillusionment about their career and employer, confusion about why they are unable to meet the demands placed on them, hopelessness, anxiety and fear, fatigue, muscle tension, family problems, feelings of isolation, ineffective coping, and substance abuse. It’s a long list! 

Work stress is a big problem everywhere.

Many of us are familiar with trauma reactions after major catastrophes, but few of us realize that a work environment characterized by unrealistic demands, personality conflicts, and limited free time for leisure can, over time, create an experience of victimization.

3 Ways Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals shift from perceiving themselves as having little control over their circumstances to becoming empowered to either change outside pressures or learn to cope with and relate to them differently. With practice, CBT techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase confidence.

CBT treatment has helped ministers reduce the experience of stress and trauma caused by the challenges of their profession. These same techniques can also help most people heal from various traumatic and emotionally difficult situations. CBT reduces distress and helps to restore emotional balance. Here are three techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy to use in your own life.

Learn to identify the thoughts that increase your anxiety and your self-doubt. A large majority of individuals who come to see me for anxiety therapy are quite surprised when I mention that their thoughts are likely causing their anxiety. Most people believe anxiety is something that happens to them, something over which they have no control. But in fact, how we talk to ourselves about the situations we face has a great deal to do with how we feel. The trick trauma plays on us: it tells us that something is wrong with us and that we are helpless, but most of the time our thoughts are not true.

Dispute the thought. Once you’ve identified the anxiety-producing or self-defeating thought, it’s time to dispute it. Notice your own thoughts and question them. Are they true? How do you know for sure? What are some alternative explanations that might be more true?

Learn to relax. The third CBT technique that Rev. Spooner uses is relaxation training. When we learn to relax the tension in our muscles and reduce the speed of our thoughts, our brains function better. They see things more clearly. Gen. Colin Powell has a rule. He tells himself, “It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.” That’s partly because when our brains are rested, we see situations differently. Relaxation training can teach you to rest your brain. 

My personal hope is that one day, we will collectively learn to be realistic about our demands and expectations of people and be kinder to one another. Until then, if you find yourself feeling victimized, excessively pressured, or doubt your worth or abilities, try CBT. 

It really can help!

  

Posted in Motivation | 1 Comment

The attitude of gratitude

An understanding of happiness and wellbeing

In his book “Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being“, Seligman (the father of positive psychology), offers a simple practice that promises to enhance your wellbeing that I found very interesting— the “Gratitude Visit”.
Though to the cynical eye the exercise might appear both old-fashioned and overly self-helpy, it is rooted in decades of Seligman’s acclaimed research and brings to practical life some of modern psychology’s most important findings. Seligman takes us through the practice:

THE GRATITUDE VISIT – exercise for brave minds

“Close your eyes. Call up the face of someone still alive who years ago did something or said something that changed your life for the better. Someone who you never properly thanked; someone you could meet face-to-face next week. Got a face?

Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them. But sometimes our thank you is said so casually or quickly that it is nearly meaningless. In this exercise … you will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to express your gratitude in a thoughtful, purposeful manner.

Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what he/she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter.”

In the age of anxiety, we think too much about worries, we focus on what goes wrong and bad in our lives. We don’t count our good things, we somehow assume that they should be already there. This type of thinking is affecting our confidence in future, our outlook and more importantly is affecting deeply our general wellbeing.

INSIGHT FOR THE WEEK

P1070934_thumb.jpgOf course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. The problem with analyzing is that we get so good at it that we forget that we have to focus on the second part: the LEARNING. Therefore we enter this vicious circle of analyzing and we become experts in beating ourselves up for the bad things that happen in our lives.
This focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.
For some maybe evolutionary reasons, most of us are not nearly as good at dwelling on good events as we are at analyzing bad events. Those of our ancestors who spent a lot of time basking in the sunshine of good events, when they should have been preparing for disaster, did not survive the Ice Age. So to overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.

Antidote for negative thinking habit

What you need: 10 minutes before going to bed for next week
1 pen
1 nice journal to write on it

Method: Write down, every night, before going to sleep, three little things that went well during that week. I highly recommend to use a pen and a classic journal for this exercise. It is very important to have a physical record of what you wrote on it. The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”). Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?” For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause … “She did everything right during her pregnancy.” Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week. It will get easier. If you have any questions, or you feel like giving me a feedback, please do write me an email, I am more than happy to hear your thoughts.

This exercises helps us to build a new thinking habit and to focus on the positives, on increasing our general wellbeing. Don’t worry if this exercise seems a bit challenging at the beginning, it is about forming a habit. It will take a while!

More about the attitude of gratitude

P1070773Many of us are driven and ambitious, we all strive to achieve ‘success’ which we may define in all sorts of ways including our status, income and wealth. The problem is, even when we achieve our goals, feelings of satisfaction and contentment can be fleeting. Some of us reflect only momentarily before moving on the next thing.

Sometimes, it can help to reflect on our achievements and other things to be grateful for. Studies show that simply evoking a feeling of gratitude induces a coherent state.

What does it mean to be coherent

Have you ever produced a substantial piece of work of high quality and in good time, and felt somehow that all this happened with relative ease? Do you know what it’s like to think creatively and conjure up solutions to problems as though it’s the easiest thing in the world? Have you ever engaged in some task or hobby, felt absorbed and focused, subsequently to feel as though time has flown by? These experiences are examples of a focused and resourceful state where the communication between the heart and the brain is synchronized and harmonious. Some researchers describe this state as ‘physiological coherence’ or simply ‘coherence’. coherence can actually be measured and tracked, and it’s closely tied with heart rate variability. Remember, heart rate variability is the beat-to-beat variation in the heart rate.


Back to our gratitude attitude.

As you will practice the exercise shown above, your perception of things that you are grateful for might expand. How about keeping the journal to remind yourself of them? In challenging times like ours, even the briefest of references to that list may do wonders to return you to a state in which you can respond positively and creatively.

Good luck with the exercise

Remember:

Two weeks left until we’ll meet up to work on our resilience in the workplace. If you are missing our sessions and find interesting the topic, you can purchase your tickets here:
RESILIENCE IN THE WORKPLACE- bounce back from adversities

Have a great week!

Laura

Development Coach

Elite Vision Coaching
Keep exploring ~ Make connections ~ Share your discoveries

Posted in Mental Health, Positive mindset, Productivity, Stress, Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fit for Business

Fit for business

Pretty much everyone appreciates the value of regular physical activity for health, but for some people the challenge is finding the time to “fit it in”. I noticed that many individuals in the corporate environment have enjoyed previously active lives and have often excelled in sport. However, as their career has progressed, they can find themselves with less and less time for exercise. Some retain exercise in their lives, but can still find they have extended periods of relative inactivity as a result of work pressures. For others, being sedentary has become their norm. In order to get fit, we have to get some useful info about what does it mean to exercise.

“Exercise” is a word that covers a wide range of activities, all of all which fall into one or more of three board categories:

1. Cardiovascular exercise

Cardiovascular exercise includes forms of activity that can be prolonged and provide a good workout for the heart and circulatory system. Examples include walking, running, cycling, swimming and rowing.

These forms of exercise are generally good for improving fitness, stamina and endurance. We are often encouraged to take cardiovascular exercise to help us control our weight. Actually, the evidence does not particularly support this. (Dr. John Briffa – UK)

2. Resistance exercise  

This form of exercise involves moving parts of the body against resistance provided by our own body weight (such as press up) or a piece of equipment (such as an elastic exercise band, dumb-bell or weight training machine).

This type of exercise is particularly good for improving strength, tone, definition and sometimes the size of our muscles. Resistance exercise generally improves body composition and aesthetics, but it is also vital for maintaining functionality as we age, thereby reducing the risk of frailty and injury.

3. High-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE)

This form of activity involves brief periods of intense exercise (e.g. sprinting, ‘spinnning’, rowing) interspersed with periods of rest. In recent years, some focus has been placed on HIIE as a way of improving fitness and other aspects of health in a more time-efficient way than, say, cardiovascular exercise.

This type of exercise has value for people who are already fit and are looking to ‘step things up a bit’.

BE ACTIVE
If you regularly engage in cycling, swimming, jogging, running or aerobic-type classes in a gym, then you will almost certainly be getting more than a useful ‘dose’ of aerobic exercise on a weekly basis. However, for those of us for whom  these pursuits are unrealistic or just do not appeal, the risk is we can retreat into a life of inactivity that can jeopardize our health, wellbeing and quality of life.

TIPS for the first baby steps into getting fit

Just like the ‘diet industry’ the health and fitness arena are prone to fads and fashions. We are often bombarded with news of the latest craze be it aerobics, spinning, ‘body pump’, ‘boxercise’ or zumba. With all this ‘noise’, walking can easily get forgotten or be labelled in our minds as something that somehow doesn’t count as exercise. IT DOES!

Finding the time for it…:
If you are still stuck on the idea that walking or some other physical activity is too time-consuming , here are few ideas that might help:

  • Even if you work for a solid ten hours in a day (8 am till 6 pm without a break) and sleep for eight, there are still six hours left over. Could a bit of that time be given over to activity or exercise?
  • Keep in your mind that activity is natural to the body and something that helps optimize your helth, performance and sustainability (it’s not ‘unproductive time’ as some people would say)
  • Do you ever find you can lose half an hour or more engaged in often fruitless pastimes such as reading on-line newspapers, watching rubbish TV, or spending time on Facebook? That time can be spent on walking before or after work, lunchtime, or maybe between meetings.
  • If you walk outside, you may get other benefits from being in sunlight
  • You can make and take calls when you walk, so work does not need to stop dead while you’re moving. Getting out of the office and a change of environment may help revitalize and stimulate your thinking.
  • Walking is a perfect opportunity to listen to some music or even learn something (if you like online learning, listening to audio books or learn a new language)

I hope that reading my email motivated you today a bit to take a little walk and enjoy the warm weather.

In June, we will meet up to work on our resilience in the workplace. If you are missing our sessions and find interesting the topic, you can purchase your tickets here:
RESILIENCE IN THE WORKPLACE- bounce back from adversities

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On lifting the burden of productivity and living the everyday wonder

On lifting the burden of productivity

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” Thomas Edison.

I hope my email finds you well, enjoying the evening, with a lot of curiosity and eagerness to live the life’s adventure.
It’s been a while since last time I wrote you. Loads of time for relaxation, meditation and more importantly, wonder.
I would like to share with you some lessons that I learnt while I’ve been to Romania and I made big wonderful changes in my personal life. I hope you’ll find them interesting to read and maybe will make you a bit more curious about the concept of being present and engaged in living your life.

1. Time Management is DEAD 
The idea that we will ever manage our time, is very wrong. Somewhere along the line, the game changed. We now live in an age of constant connection and information overload. We are bombarded with new information inputs – and from different several sources at the same time – in a way that would have been staggering co comprehend even ten years ago. Today the archaic systems of ‘to do lists’ and ABC priority systems are overrated. We are buried under 24-7 emails, social media, voicemails, instant messages, texts, conference calls, collaboration tools and of course, the burden of staying connected. Ever got to 5pm, 6 pm, or even the end of the day and you’re still staring at a full to do list, wondering where the day went? Well, that’s it. The truth is that “Time Management is DEAD”.
Quite apart from the ever increasing volume of information in our work, there are so many other reasons why time management theories of old no longer cut it. Work is more complex now, our roles are less defined, the work itself more free-flowing: the emphasis is less on rigid management hierarchies and more on each member of the team taking personal responsibility – the pace of communication has increased dramatically and we’re expected to reply or at least be ‘in the loop’ constantly. Working hours are becoming longer and more flexible, catering to the needs of working parents as well as colleagues across continents. All of this means you have to come to terms with one important thing:


2. You will never get everything finished

The completion of the ‘to do list’ is indeed very satisfying. This satisfaction naturally gives way to clear space. Psychologically, clear space helps provide perspective, a brief recovery from the frenetic pace of life and time to re-evaluate our priorities.
The trouble is, the modern work paradigm gives us so little sense of completion or clear space that it feels like we’re constantly straining to see the light at the end of a long, long tunnel. And when the light at the end of the tunnel finally approaches, you realize it’s just some nasty bloke with a torch bringing you more work to do.
For unfinished tasks, there is a solution, of course – Decision making. The art of decision-making, our ability to make space for the ‘quality thinking time’ we need, how do we react on our gut instincts (especially when such time for thinking isn’t available) defines us at work.

3. Is better to be Response-able than to be responsible

We live in a fast-paced world. Our personal efficiency depends on how quickly do we react to change. Is not about just realizing that things are changing, but actually digesting, understanding and responding with an appropriate action.We all know that the more people get paid or achieve, the more responsible they are. But simply being ‘responsible’ these days, isn’t enough. As society we value those who are comfortable with positions of responsibility, but we rarely explore responsibility as something proactive and dynamic. Yet, being in a position of responsibility usually also means ‘influence’. The nature of responsibility is that it should also bring reward- the ability to make an impact, create wealth and success for your organization, for society, for your family and for you. By viewing responsibility as inherently troublesome, we view it as the price to be paid for its success. We see it as a trade off.
To be response-able means you have the ability to define in the moment the actions you need to take to overcome and enjoy any new challenges. To be response-able therefore means to be: response-able now (develop new habits so that you’re proactively looking for ways to respond,rather than to avoid tasks and defer) response-able later (setting up systems so that you will know what your next move will be on any given project) response-able in crises (easy ways to respond when is a moment of crises and to ensure full focus on the job at hand)


4. Lifting the burden of productivity offers freedom

I love productivity, I simply love when I finish my ‘to do list’ when I add things and I easily find solutions to any situation that will arise. But, do you ever realize that you spent time in a job where you then wonder, a year later, what happened during that year?
That is what defines to live with the burden of productivity.
Insight – change your state everyday by simply looking around you. Different ways of looking around you, it offers you new things. this novelty, this way of living in wonder, creates space for us to enjoy life.
What’s interesting about the productivity dogma is that we live in a culture where we worship work ethic — by a very narrow definition — as some sort of this grand virtue. And we define it as showing up, day after day after day. But I often think that that’s the surest way to full ourselves into a kind of trance of passivity, where we show up but we’re absent from our own lives. And I think one of the most beautiful things you do is you show how we can be present in our own lives.

I wish you a week of wonder, novelties and moments that will remain memorable :)

Laura

Development Coach

Elite Vision Coaching
Keep exploring ~ Make connections ~ Share your discoveries

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Employee motivation

What drives you? 

 Historically, organizations have believed that compensation is the primary motivator for results, but scientific evidence suggests that the link between money, motivation, and performance is much more intricate. A new UNC Executive Development white paper, Motivation on the Brain – Applying the Neuroscience of Motivation in the Workplace, discusses the science behind motivation and why it is important in the workplace. 

Brain Triggers 

Kimberly Schaufenbuel, program director at UNC Executive Development, explains that with the burgeoning field of neuroscience and advanced tools like functional magnetic resonance imaging, there is scientific evidence that the source of motivation is all in the head. Specifically, “dopamine, long thought to be the happy neurotransmitter, is actually the reward and punishment transmitter.” 

The white paper distills how this works: Motivation is created in the brain when dopamine is released and makes its way to an area of the brain called “nucleas accumens,” which triggers feedback that predicts whether something good or bad is about to happen. “That prediction, in turn, triggers the motivation to respond; to act to minimize a predicted threat (the bad) or to maximize a predicted reward (the good),” writes Schaufenbuel.

Behavioral Drivers 

Schaufenbuel goes onto outline the work of Harvard Professors Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, who blended motivation theory with neuroscience to describe four fundamental patterns of human behavior: 1) drive to acquire, 2) drive to defend, 3) drive to bond, and 4) drive to learn. 

Why does this matter? “When HR and talent managers understand what drives a person’s behavior in this context, they can design systems, policies, procedures, and practices that will appeal to each driver,” writes Schaufenbuel. She reminds talent managers, however, that they must think holistically when taking actions to address each driver. For instance, “fulfilling the drive to bond has the most effect on employee commitment, but other drivers will influence how strong that bonding is.” 

Meanwhile, the white paper states that job design is a critical factor when looking to appeal to the drive to learn. “HR and talent management professionals must ensure that jobs are designed in such a way that they are meaningful to employees and foster a sense of contribution to the organization.” For example, when The Royal Bank of Scotland was merging with the National Westminster Bank, it heavily invested in a state-of-the-art business school facility to which employees had access. “This move not only helped fill the drive to bond, it also challenged employees to think more broadly about how they could contribute to making a difference for co-workers, customers, and investors.”

 Schaufenbuel also describes David Rock’s SCARF model, which also combines motivational theory with neuroscience. Based on this model, “a job should not be viewed as a business transaction—do the work and get paid—but rather as a part of a social system in which the brain is rewarded (or punished) based on how well the business environment is meeting an employee’s need for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness.” 

Rock advises organizations design motivation strategies that appeal to the social aspect of the brain to dvelop a sense of affiliation. In other words, appealing to SCARF will likely boost teamwork, belonging, camaraderie, and knowledge sharing. According to Rock, “social motivators like these will activate dopamine in the brain and trigger the brain’s reward systems.” 

Bottom Line 

Schaufenbuel concludes that combining motivation theory and neuroscience provides organizations with roadmaps for how to shape culture to motivate employees, spur engagement, and boost the bottom line. “This has important implications for HR and talent management professionals, because along with these neuroscience discoveries comes the realization that the brain can be retrained to increase a person’s motivation for rewards—and therefore engagement, employee productivity, retention, and more,” writes Schaufenbuel. 

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On the construct of HOPE

We are amazing human beings. Why amazing? Because of the way we rebuilt hope and strength after a big failure. How are we so optimistic, so careful not to trip and yet do trip, and then get up and say “IT WILL BE OK”?

What is that thing that propels us to get up after loss, after heartbreak, after failure? What is that immutable rope that pulls us out of our own depths — depths we hardly know until that moment when the light of the surface vanishes completely and unreachably? How do we create that thinking of “The difficult I’ll do right now. The impossible will take a little while”?

And yes, somehow we access the root of hope and create in our heads an image of the life we want.

Once we have glimpsed the world as it might be, as it ought to be, as it’s going to be (however that vision appears to us), it is impossible to live compliant and complacent anymore in the world as it is… And so we come out and walk out and march, the way a flower comes out and blooms, because it has no other calling. It has no other work, than HOPE.

I am interested in finding the meeting point of hope and history, how hope happened and what we make of it. What has happened is met midstream by people who are spiritual beings and all that implies of creativity, imagination, crazy wisdom, ancient wisdom, passionate compassion, selfless courage, and radical reverence for life. And love—for one another absolutely, and that love that rises out of us, for something larger than ourselves.

Life’s purpose – to save the world? If we do save it, we save it from what?

Well, I am not here to save anybody or to save the world. All I can do — what I am called to do — is to plant myself at the gates of Hope. Life’s challenges are always in our way. Sometimes they come in; sometimes they walk by. But I do stand there every day, at the gates of hope. And I call out HOPE every day, regardless my barriers, I call out till my lungs are sore with calling, and urge them in toward beautiful life.

There’s something for all of us there, I think. Whatever our vocation, we stand calling, singing and shouting, planted at the gates of Hope. This world and our people are beautiful and broken, and we are called to raise that up — to bear witness to the possibility of living with the dignity, bravery, and gladness that befits a human being. That may be what it is to “live our mission.”

That mission, of course, is different for each of us.

We stand where we will stand, on little plots of ground, where we are maybe “called” to stand (though who knows what that means?) — in our classrooms, offices, factories, in fields of lettuces and apricots, in hospitals, in prisons (on both sides, at various times, of the gates), in streets, in community groups. And it is sacred ground if we would honour it, if we would bring to it a blessing of sacrifice and risk…

P1070934Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right.” But a different, sometimes lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see. We create stories, for others to use to make their lives better.

At the end, how do we construct HOPE? My opinion is that hope is built on memories. If we focus on good memories, we can create hope. When we focus on negative memories, we create disaster.

But memories are not recordings, but stories that we retrieve from the compost heap that is our long term memory; We construct these stories to make sense of the events we have experienced so far. To tell you the truth, they change over time as they become distorted, merged, turned over, mixed in and mangled with other other experiences that eventually fade. But some memories remain as vivid as the day they happened or at least they seem so – those episodes that refuse to decompose. These are the events we can’t forget.

When we witness something that is terrifying, then a memory can be branded in your brain, like a hot searing iron that marks our mind forever.

A bit of psychology…

Reason

This is because emotionally charged memories are fuel injected by the electrical activity of the limbic system. Arousal, triggered in the amygdala, produces heightened sensitivity and increased attention. The dilation of our pupils reveals that our vigilance systems have been put on high alert to look our for danger. The world suddenly becomes very clear and enriched as we notice all manner of trivial details that we would not normally care about. It’s like the scene has suddenly been illuminated by bright light- as if some paparazzi photographer has lit up the world in a brilliant blaze of light during our moments of terror-which is why these recollections are called ‘flashbulb’ memories. And we experience the emotion – we feel the past.

We usually lament our loss of memory as we age but sometimes it is better to forget. While many flashbulb memories are associated with the more joyous events in life such as births and weddings, most are generated by the horrors. Victims and survivors typically experience traumatic memories that they can’t erase- a common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our emotional systems seem compelled to never let us forget the worst things that happened to us. In truth, details of flashbulb memories can be as false as any other memory, but they just seem so accurate.

Maybe flashbulb memories serve some form of evolutionary value to always remember the worst case scenario. When it comes to surviving, it would seem that Mother Nature has decided that it is more important to remember how we felt when endangered compared to the pleasures of life.

One way to combat PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is to administer a beta-blocker such as propranolol immediately after the event. Beta-blockers dampen the arousal of the limbic system so that events are not encoded with he same degree of emotional kick. People still remember what happened but feel less upset.

Memory

What is a memory? Can you hold one? Can you make one? Can you copy a memory?If we are our memories, can we be re-created?

Memory is information stored as a pattern of electrical activity that “re-presents”the original pattern at the time it was formed. The representation is memories are – although human memories are not rigid but dynamic and continually changing as new information is encountered.

If we are our brains and our brains are a network of physical cells connected together in a pattern of weighted electrical activity, then it really should be possible to copy a memory in the same way we can copy any information. We should be able to copy our selves.

The possibility of copying memory is at the heart of what it is to be unique.

Whatever way we achieve it, let us assume that we have the technology to reliably duplicate anything. Imagine now that you step into the machine and an identical physical copy of you is created.

What would this new you be like? If we assume that there is no spirit or soul, what makes us unique?

Our autobiographical memories are crucial to our sense of self. We know now that our bodies can be copied but not our memories. Our memories are what make us who we are.

Just to get back to our focus today, how do we construct HOPE?

1) I believe that hope is based on memories. The more we recall the good memories, the more we create hope for a better reality and new positive memories.

2) Hope is based on focus on the good parts of our lives.

3) Hope is based on the stories we tell to ourselves. The stories that we tell ourselves, whether they be false or true, are always real. We act out of those stories, reacting to their realness. William James knew this when he observed: “My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”

4) Hope is based on critical thinking .

IMG_4712To live with sincerity in our culture of cynicism is a difficult dance — one that comes easily only to the very young and the very old. The rest of us are left to tussle with two polarizing forces ripping the psyche asunder by beckoning to it from opposite directions — critical thinking and hope.

Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.

Finding fault and feeling hopeless about improving the situation produces resignation — cynicism is both resignation’s symptom and a futile self-protection mechanism against it. Blindly believing that everything will work out just fine also produces resignation, for we have no motive to apply ourselves toward making things better. But in order to survive — both as individuals and as a civilization — and especially in order to thrive, we need the right balance of critical thinking and hope.

A plant needs water in order to survive, and needs the right amount of water in order to thrive. Overwater it and it rots with excess. Underwater it and it dries up inside.

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