1. The Present
It is best to start by examining your present-day reality. Determine 'what is working' and 'what is not working'.
Once you have the answers explore what you can influence and what not.
Eckhart Tolle refers to living in the Now, which means being able to see and feel what your life is in the present moment.
The present-day buzzword for this is to be mindful by practicing mindfulness.
Standing in a beautiful park, by a calming body of water, or attending your child’s school play or other family event, and actually seeing the trees, feeling the flow and energy of the water, enjoying the play or event while feeling joy instead of being lost in your thoughts (which are taking you elsewhere) is experiencing the now, the present moment, being mindful of that very moment.
Thoughts can propel you into an entirely different location even if you are not there physically. It seems odd that we do not just naturally live in the now. After all, almost everyone would agree that the present moment, the now, is all we have.
When you are able to live in the day life becomes more relaxed and enjoyable. You empower yourself by influencing what you can influence.
This becomes a powerful technique to step out of stress.
This is not to say you should never think of the future and plan to reach your goals and avoid pitfalls.
It is more about how this is done. Keep your energy where it is needed - in the day.
Deal with issues and problems as they arise.
By doing this you keep yourself strong to deal with the present-day reality.
Your self-confidence and self-esteem will thank you.
2. The Future
So the good ‘ole fashioned things, like handwriting, are actually best?!
Did you ever doubt it?! Remember, the rule of anything is that if you do something different, it activates the brain differently. The question, though, is is this a good, neutral, or bad thing for the brain.
With the advent of computers, and more recently tablets, we are spending less and less time handwriting. This also includes in learning environments such as at school and college.
I was standing by the lake early this morning watching the waves crash up against some rocks and the ripple effect that followed. The wave hit one area and cascaded long the others closer to where I was standing. It was beautiful, full of energy and at the same time made me realize that this can be translated into how one negative thought tends to release a series of more negative ones. This seems to happen to ‘feed’ or confirm the first one. I have found that negative thoughts hate being alone ... they look for company.
In my own personal experience as well working professionally in the arena of personal growth and development, I all too often witness how this unfolds.
I am not a therapist or neuroscientist so cannot speak scientifically. Having said that I have enough evidence after 16 years of working in this area to be able to say the patterns are there.
It strikes me that our minds do not like to give up the negative thoughts. Our brain looks for further thoughts to confirm this 'truth'. The thought might be far from true now in your actual present-day reality, yet we treat it as absolute truth in our thinking. From what I witness these beliefs come from emotions, more often than not emotions from the past. Our behaviour follows our thinking, so our behaviour will act upon what we think and therefore believe.
For example: If you believe you are not very good at something chances are you will act this way. Instead of taking the approach to learn how to, or improve, you shy away from it.
Rapport is one of the elements that helps create a harmonious environment for good communication. For a conversation to be satisfying the parties involved need to feel comfortable, relaxed and safe. This environment makes difficult subjects easier to approach. A harmonious atmosphere offers the sense of cooperation not competition.
When communication flows easily you feel a sense of natural rapport.
It is best to never assume anything about the other person. Rely on what you are told, and the sense you get from them. Ask questions if you need further information. It is best not to jump to conclusions and thereby make assumptions.
During a telephone conversation when there is no eye contact, your voice must take over the role of our body language and facial expressions to establish rapport. During an online meeting how, you present yourself is very important.
What makes rapport necessary?
Having rapport is necessary to achieve the desired results from any conversation. For effective parenting, or in the context of business meetings, the outcome of a conversation could be limited without a harmonious feeling. For example, it could be more difficult to have a child cooperate and clean up his room if the request always comes with an angry voice, rather than that was encouraging and respectful. The same would apply in a business meeting. It might be easier reach an agreement or to close a deal if the atmosphere within the meeting is agreeable. The results can be much more effective when the rapport is natural. If rapport is missing, the quality of communication will suffer.
Do you end up doing everything yourself?
How would it be if you could ask for, trust, or accept the help of others?
It can be so difficult to even consider asking for someone’s help when you are used to coping with everything on your own. There might indeed be times when you do not even accept help offered. Today, society contains some very bizarre patterns. You are born into a community called the family, you grow up within communities, for example school, friends, relationships, teams in the work place, and clubs you seek to join, etc. As social creatures life is set up around communities. Yet we no longer find it easy to ask for help. Whatever the reasons for this are, we can all benefit from a little support sometimes.
Consider this short story (author unknown):
A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone.
His father came along just then.
Noting the boy’s failure, he asked, “Are you using all your strength?”
“Yes, I am”, the little boy said impatiently.
“No, you are not”, the father answered. “I am right here just waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help you.”
If you need to get a chore, job or task done, schedule organized, a school-run worked out, or any other task
How are you doing?
I do not mean physically. I am referring to how you are doing emotionally.
There are all sorts of people, all sorts of approaches to handle life, all sorts of approaches and mindsets, all sorts of biases, fears, beliefs and all sorts of processing ways and speeds.
I spent a weekend in the Swiss Alps where across one of the gorgeous small alpine lakes a slack line event was happening.
It was amazing to watch all levels of slack line walkers move across the lake.
At first I thought “I guess falling into the water is not too bad” followed by “but then they have to swim back to shore and start again”. I noticed they were wearing a safety harness. Losing balance meant still being attached to the line, so they would not fall into the water.
To start again they beautifully maneuvered with grace and elegance back up on the line.
Anyhow, this all made me realize that ‘getting back up’ is a most vital skill to have for life with all of its ups and downs. After all the reality of life is a series of ups and downs.
In a step-by-step approach I examined my own approach to ‘getting back up’.
Listen to Suzie Doscher telling you more about Core Values:
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The end of the year is nigh! And with it comes a lot of busy work—some fun, some not so fun. Whether it’s personal or professional, the end of the year is about finishing up, taking stock, and making plans. And that’s all before we get into the crush of the holidays. Our To-Do lists can be very long this time of year.
What we often leave off our list is taking time for ourselves. Yet, the crazier life becomes, the more we need to give ourselves space to just be. We need to spend time on our self-care.
You have probably heard the term self-care tossed around, but what is it exactly? It is any activity that we deliberately do to take care of ourselves—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Self-care is time or an activity that builds us up rather than takes away our energy. It is a way to recenter body and mind when we feel scattered and overwhelmed.
When we take the time to be present in ourselves, when we take time for self-care, we can reconnect to the world in a Higher Self way.
Listen to the Audio version narrated by Suzie Doscher - 4.30 mins
You choose what you will wear and eat, what films you see, who you socialize with. You make choices all day long in your professional and personal life. In the same way, you also have the choice of which thoughts to focus on. The nice, happy thoughts, of course, are not a problem for they give energy, put a smile on your face, and are inspiring as well as motivating.
Everybody has negative thoughts. They are the ones that are easy to obsess over and rob you of energy, leaving you feeling drained. Believe it or not, how long you allow negative thoughts to influence your mood, day, or even life is up to you. Every thought you have either weakens you or strengthens you.
It is important to realize that thoughts are not reality. Assumptions are good examples of this. Just because you assume something does not make it true.
When you are struggling to stop obsessing about something, remind yourself that you have a choice to move on to a thought that might make you feel better in that moment. It is best to acknowledge negative thoughts when they come up and then choose not to stay with them by distracting yourself.
No one can eliminate all bad thoughts, but you can make the conscious decision to be in charge of your thinking. Filter through what is real and what needs your focus. Your mind is yours to control. You cannot control the first thought, but you can control the second. Choose to consciously override thoughts that weaken you. This will allow you to feel you have some personal power.
Some suggestions to explore:
Someone makes a choice you simply do not understand. The consequences may or may not touch your life, involve you, affect you. One way or another you cannot see what they are basing their decision on. This is the part that makes accepting their choice so difficult. I am going to break this down into two parts.
Part One: Understanding
Take the view that:
Part Two: Acceptance
A few years back I worked with a client, let’s call him Eric, the COO of a medium sized established company. I was inspired to write this article as it often tends to be our thinking / mindset / perspective that can trip us up, as was the case with him.
Everybody has set ways of thinking about things. This is true for your private life as well as in your working environment. Where your perspective comes from and what it is based on comes usually from past experiences. By past, I mean it can come from way back, or even recent bad experiences with the last boss or partner or life in general.
What matters now, in the present moment, is the awareness that these experiences exist, might be driving your behaviour and give you your perspective on things.
This can form beliefs, biases, judgements and any, negative thoughts. If you are ready to start changing the results you are getting then these tips can help you challenge your thoughts.
After all Einstein says: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
If listening is easier check out the audio version narrated by the author (Suzie Doscher).
In my own life one of the important realizations was that balance is possible and it was mine if I wanted it. What followed was a fair amount of self-reflection, openness, and honesty with myself. Setting aside time to explore my definition of balance, by questioning what was missing and what I was already doing successfully, was time well spent. Since then, I have a good grasp on the various elements of day-to-day life. For me personally knowing my heart and mind are working together is what keeps me balanced. The sense of calm, of being grounded and clearheaded, motivates me to keep my life in balance.
Choosing to create balance will reflect in these six areas of your life:
Most of us spend a large part of the day working. Making sure the remaining hours offer some form of nurturing and reenergizing is vital. There is a difference for single people versus married, with or without children, whether you travel, live internationally and interculturally. Choose the area most in need of attention and nurturing.
That sounds a good thing but what is an everyday pleasure?
In this study the researchers investigated the relationship between simple pleasures and brain activity. Specifically drinking coffee, listening to music, and smelling perfume.
Coffee and music for me - not so sure about the perfume though
Participants could choose what they wanted according to their preferences - that’s important - it needs to be a personalised pleasure…of course. I’m with you on coffee and music also - but then again remember my article on the positive impacts of aroma exposure during sleep a few days ago?
How did they measure this?
Well, this is actually very innovative but we also need to be careful of marketing hype here as this was sponsored by MINDWATCH. They have developed algorithms over the years that can measure brain states based on skin conductance. That is your skin responds very quickly to your current state and this can me measured using a sensor. This is much less invasive than measuring brain wave activity. In this experiment they used skin conductance bands and a device to measure some brain activity also.
And so what was the outcome?
Participants conducted memory tests shortly after being exposed to these stimulants and their performance increase and this could be measured in the brain - an increase in beta band brain waves (associated with concentration and cognitive performance) - and skin conductance results. Music seems to be the most potent followed by coffee and then the perfume.
Don’t we know this already?
Actually yes. We know music can positively stimulate brain activity and is also considered a performance enhancing tool by World Athletics (and as such is not allowed directly before competition!). Similarly, there is a lot of research on coffee and its positive benefits. But participants in this could choose their preferred option.
Also of interest is that there were three types of music to choose from and unsurprisingly the energetic was more effective than the relaxing one - but, and here is the surprise, they included an AI generated piece of music and this was the most effective!
And what now?
Well, this shows that those small pleasures can positively impact brain performance - this is why they are a small pleasure - a little bit of what you fancy does you good as they say - and this is not all in the mind. Your brain and cognitive performance will thank you.
And what about all three simultaneously?
That’s what I’m doing as I write this - feels good enough to me!
by ANDY HAYMAKER
Photo credit: Pexels
Hamid Fekri Azgomi, Luciano R. F. Branco, Md. Rafiul Amin, Saman Khazaei, Rose T. Faghih.
Regulation of brain cognitive states through auditory, gustatory, and olfactory stimulation with wearable monitoring.
Scientific Reports, 2023; 13 (1)
Most of us will know that feeling - our attention can drop off during the day and our efficient mornings can then blend into less efficient afternoons. And Friday afternoon? Well, you can write that off!
This feeling, or assumption, is now backed up by some science, and pretty solid science at that in a novel piece of research.
The research was conducted by a team around Drs. Taehyun Roh and Nishat Tasnim Hasan of the Texas A&M University. Much previous work has used self report studies or wearable technology for short periods of time - these can be invasive and in the case of self reporting very subjective.
In this study the researchers tracked a large group of workers (789) at an energy company in Texas over two full years making this an impressive real world dataset. What they found is that computer use and output increased to Wednesday and then dropped off until Friday.
What’s more, usage dropped off in the afternoon and also typos increased - a sign of fatigue and wavering attention. This was particularly bad on Friday afternoons - probably no surprise there - fatigue setting in not to mention the psychological impact of the looming weekend.
The authors argue that this also supports shorter working weeks and other forms of work such as hybrid work or working from home as this can counter fatigue and increase productivity.
After looking at the data it seem like it would make sense to just cancel Friday! Alas but then Thursday may become the new Friday. But seriously, evidence is strong for the effectiveness of the 4-day work week. One solid study published early in the year for Cambridge University showed increased wellbeing while preserving productivity.
Sounds good to me!
by ANDY HAYMAKER
Photo credit: Pexels
Taehyun Roh, Chukwuemeka Esomonu, Joseph Hendricks, Anisha Aggarwal, Nishat Tasnim Hasan, Mark Benden.
Examining workweek variations in computer usage patterns: An application of ergonomic monitoring software.
PLOS ONE, 2023; 18 (7): e0287976
More research showing that a little can do a lot
In the quest for fitness and health there has been a focus on exercise as a key factor - we all know that. And recommendations are normally about increasing heart rates over long periods of time or possible also shorter more intensive sessions. These have also been shown to improve cognitive function - making your brain more effective.
However, the route to greater health may be easier - or more specifically of enhanced brain function. The effects of light activity in the focus on more intensive and extensive exercise has been largely underestimated - and is considered by some to be a key factor in public health. Our engagement in light activity has over the decades decreased significantly - see my previous article here.
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In this research just out Ryuta Kuwamizu and colleagues of the University of Tsukuba in Japan conducted a simple but effective experiment. In this participants did 10 mins of easy exercise - in this case light pedalling while seated. During this they measured pupil dilation because this is also related to brain function specifically executive function. Executive function refers to harder cognitive tasks such as decision making, short-term, memory, calculation, and analysis - basically what many consider the heavy lifting of the brain in our daily lives.
Yes, and indeed just this short light exercise intervention increased delation of the pupil and this was directly related to improved executive functions which was determined though scanning the frontal part of the brain where our executive functions reside with a technique called near infrared spectroscopy.
This therefore points to, as I have mentioned in other places, the significant benefits of short bouts of light exercise on improved brain function - something of particular interest to businesses no doubt. I have long since promoted the idea of regular short walking breaks - this shows again why. For a review of the benefits of walking see this article here).
Not that it has to be at work - a walk or light exercise will improve your brain function - and that is good for all of us, all the time.
by ANDY HAYMAKER
Photo credit: Pexels
Ryuta Kuwamizu, Yudai Yamazaki, Naoki Aoike, Taichi Hiraga, Toshiaki Hata, Michael A. Yassa, Hideaki Soya.
Pupil dynamics during very light exercise predict benefits to prefrontal cognition
NeuroImage, Volume 277, 2023.
When a company focuses solely on reaching targets and continually pushes employees to reach these goals, the side effects often result in a high turnover and burnout rate.
Ironically, this can cause the company NOT to achieve its targets in the desired timeframe. Pushing too hard in one direction results in an inevitable push back from the opposite direction. This is a law of nature that applies to the business world as well.
Stressed employees trying to reach sometimes unrealistic or unnecessary targets tend to operate at half of their capacity. They start to make mistakes and lose track of the details amid their overwhelming work schedules. They tend to suffer physically exhaustion as well. All of this hurts productivity, the very thing the company is trying to increase.
A lack of self-confidence can negatively affect one or all areas of you life. Life Coach Rebekah Fensome provides 8 surefire ways to boost your self-esteem.
I am so proud of my client Sophie.
She came to me six months ago with self-confidence issues. She felt intimated by certain people at work as she believed they were better than her and when she was placed in social situation where she had to talk to new people she felt they did not really want to be stuck talking to her.
I truly believe that no one want to talk to me, she told me. I am boring and do not know what to say most of the time. My mind goes blank when I meet new people and I get really embarrassed trying to make small talk at work. As for dating – I have not done that for 2 years!
After a couple of sessions with Sophie, it became clear that she had lost sight of who she was, what her values were and what made her unique and special. She had also got into the unhelpful habit of putting herself down in front of people and been in her current job for two years without a promotion. She also strongly believed that men did not find her attractive and regarded her as a friend and nothing else.
Eight tips to better self-esteem
Here are some of the discoveries we made and techniques we developed together:
In the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of a “control freak” is “a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.” The Merriam Webster dictionary says that a control freak is “a person whose behaviour indicates a powerful need to control people or circumstances in everyday matters.”
This personality trait could stem from a chaotic childhood, alcoholic parents, abusive behaviour, or early abandonment. Such experiences can make it hard for people to trust or relinquish control to others. The fear of falling apart pushes them to control what they can. As their emotions are all over the place, they feel loss of control. For this reason control freaks will micromanage whatever they can with the belief that this makes them strong. People who feel out of control tend to become controllers.
I imagine each and every one of us is a control freak, or takes on the behaviour of such, at some point or another. The fear of failure is what makes it so important to control everything when you do not trust anybody else to do a good job.
One difficult aspect of being around a control freak is accepting that they do not understand how their behaviour and choice of words affect the people around them. Another difficult aspect is not to take it personally. This behaviour comes from deep inside and the person is actually quite unaware of being a control freak.
Which of us doesn’t want to have a good life? Who doesn’t want to be enough? With a lovely house and garden, sweet children, a loving spouse, who come together for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A life filled with good friends who celebrate over an elaborate meal and extended family that come together often with smiles and hugs. A life with a rewarding job that appreciates your work and brings out your best.
While these scenarios might be things that people dream about, they are scenes from stock photos, advertising campaigns, lifestyle shows, and social media influencers. Yet they inspire us to want to be perfect, to have perfect lives. They prey on our feelings that we are not enough. Then, for many of us, the drive to have a perfect life overwhelms.
In her book, End the Struggle and Dance With Life, Susan called the drive to always be perfect an addiction. Always having to be the best, always going above and beyond, always having to prove yourself are just ways of trying to show the world, and yourself, that you are good enough. Being a perfectionist, while it might look as if everything is fantastic, takes its toll on our health and our relationships. It can also hold us back from new opportunities.
All those images and videos we see of perfect-looking people living perfect lives only has the echo of truth in them. What we never see in those images is the mess behind the camera. The other people working behind those scenes to make the illusion seem real. So while those images make us feel as if we are less than perfect, they only represent something superficially “perfect.”
The reason our addiction to perfection can be so devastating is that we believe our self-worth is measured by our performance. But since no one is perfect, it is impossible to attain self-worth through perfection.
Trying to be perfect in everything we do is only a means to feel as if we are good enough.
Listen to the INTRODUCTION to the self-help book:
Raise your self-awareness with this: