2. Resist unnecessary mental time travel
Here’s how I think about mental strength:
Mental strength is the ability to control your mind instead of being controlled by it.
So becoming mentally strong doesn’t mean you are able to exert complete control over everything that goes on between your ears.
Mental strength means understanding which parts of your mind you can control and being able to do it well when it matters.
“By three methods we may learn wisdom”
There is nothing new under the sun. It’s an old saying, but it’s true.
The ancient world has always been a source of wisdom and wonder. Centuries of knowledge has changed millions of lives before us and continue to inspire, guide and show us better paths for a more fulfilling life.
Once every quarter, it pays to take a moment for introspection and reflect on your life. What could you change to improve your life?
What habits and behaviours can you keep to do more of what’s already working? How can you improve your relationships with those around you?
The process of becoming wise, healthy, and wealthy is through accumulating knowledge over time. Better wisdom can help us make the best life-changing decisions and lead a better life.
Aristotle knew all about how to make the most of your life.
He said that happiness is found in satisfying our basic needs like food and shelter first, but then we need to focus on people, activities, and things that fully engage us.
Core values are personal to each individual . They can be described as your code of ethics, your fundamental principles, your standards, or personal rules. I like to refer to them as the bricks you build your foundation on. Knowing what you truly value in life, what makes you feel fulfilled and gives you a sense of meaning, connects you to your true self and is an important part of your personal development.
Core values are about YOU – not what society, the media, your education, your colleagues and friends or family deem as important, or of value, but what is important to you, what you value.
Stress tends to set in when you are not treating these values with the respect they deserve.
Not respecting your core values means you are not respecting your true self. In turn your self-esteem could suffer, which of course in turn de-creases the quality of your day-to-day life. When the feeling of being calm and peaceful is present, and the quality of day-to-day life is high, you feel good about yourself and who you are. Your self-esteem and self-worth benefit from this.
Caroline Myss, a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness and mysticism says: “Being able to speak and live with the truth, your truth, means you have to become comfortable with having your power, be comfortable with all that is true about you, all that is beautiful about yourself, this is being okay with yourself.”
Consider the Core Values Process I offer as a gift to yourself.
The focus can be on your life, your overall life which would include your career, your career alone or your leadership values (this is a great exercise to do as a new leader or to update your existing leadership skills aligning them with your personality). Get in touch.
by Suzie Doscher
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Taking care of ourselves helps us do better work, but it shouldn’t feel like work.
Well-being is having a moment. What was once considered a soft-news lifestyle topic has, thanks to our collective experience of the pandemic, moved to the center of the conversation about work and life. And as a Chief Well-Being Officer, I’m certainly glad to see this shift (even if I obviously would have preferred a different catalyst).
Still, when I’m asked questions about well-being, as I often am, I’ve noticed a troubling trend. Very often, well-being becomes just another stress-inducing item on our to-do list. So as we continue to prioritize our well-being, we also need to shift our mindset away from viewing well-being as work. Because well-being isn’t a benchmark we need to hit. It’s not another guilt-inducing metric to measure ourselves by. The whole point of bringing more well-being into our lives is to lower our stress, not add to it.
With that in mind, here are six ways to prevent well-being from becoming just another item on our to-do lists.
Lessons from Rebekah Taussig on honoring and celebrating our bodies.
Self-acceptance is essential to self-care and our overall well-being. If we can’t accept ourselves, our well-being is going to suffer, regardless of how diligent we are about any other physical and mental health practices.
Still, even with all the progress we’ve made in recent years on body positivity and mental health, the radical act of accepting ourselves for who we are has never been more challenging. Our society surrounds us with images of what supposedly healthy and perfect bodies look like. And of course, much of that is fueled by social media, which, in study after study, has been shown to damage our body image and self-acceptance. So how can we learn to accept ourselves and show up for ourselves in a way that nurtures our well-being?
To begin to answer this question, I had the privilege of talking with Rebekah Taussig on a recent episode of Deloitte’s “WorkWell” podcast. Rebekah is a writer, teacher, and advocate, whose popular Instagram feed, @sitting_pretty, is filled with what she calls “Mini memoirs.” I was thrilled to talk to her about her new book, Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, in which she chronicles her journey to self-acceptance with her trademark candor, humor, vulnerability, and authenticity.
Rebekah has been disabled since she was 3, and got her first wheelchair at age 6. She had a fairly normal childhood, with her “resilience and scrappiness” keeping her from realizing how differently she was experiencing the world. When she got to graduate school, discovering disability studies gave her a way to begin to understand herself. “It felt like the physics of the universe were transforming in real time,” she told me. “It just changed everything for me about how I saw myself and my story and gave me language to explain things I’d never been able to express before.”
You did it. You made it out — hopefully with some shred of sanity and sense of personal self-worth. But even if those things feel unrecoverable, they aren’t. You can get them back.
Maybe you’ve moved on to greener pastures. If that’s the case, well done. You’ve taken an important step towards preserving (or gaining back) your emotional and physical health.
Maybe, although less likely, your boss either moved on or was fired. Most of the time, these situations don’t fix themselves, as for some reason senior leadership would rather keep a single toxic boss employed than the multiple high-quality employees who leave because of them.
In either case, there’s a residual emotional and physical toll that lasts well beyond the end of the boss-employee relationship. I know; I’ve been there.
In the span of just two years of reporting to a toxic boss, I went from being a high-performing, high-potential engineering leader to nearly leaving the company I’d spent 15 years at because of one single person. My boss. That’s how badly I needed to get away from her.
A piece of simple old wisdom that’s desperately needed in the modern world
“You’re not going to believe it! You’re not going to believe it!” shouted the young man as he ran across the courtyard. “I just heard something about one of your friends!”
“Whoa, slow down,” replied Socrates lifting his eyes from the scroll he was reading to face the young man. “Before you tell me the news, I’d like to give you a little test.”
“A test?” the young man fired back frustrated his eagerness had been met with resistance. “What kind of test? I don’t like tests!”
“Don’t worry,” Socrates smiled. “It’s not very hard. In fact, it’s quite simple. It’s called the ‘Triple-Filter Test’. And as its name implies, it consists of three questions that will hopefully help you better filter information.”
“The first filter is Truth,” Socrates continued. “Are you absolutely positive that what you’re going to tell me is true?”
“No, I’m not sure it’s true,” the young man responded sheepishly. “I just heard about it and I thought you should….”
“Moving on,” Socrates jumped in. “Since you’re not sure whether or not what you want to tell me about my friend is true or not it’s time for the second filter which is goodness —Is the news you have about my friend something good?”
I wonder how many words have actually been written about communication. Suffice it to say, there have been a great many. I suppose it is because we haven’t cracked it yet; this ability to convey messages so that what we say is heard in the way we mean it, and conversely, what we hear is received in the way it was meant. Indeed, the road to clarity always seems to be under construction.
Even if we try to simplify our communication processes, barriers come up that can sabotage the message and render it ineffective by the time it gets to those who must act on it. There are a lot of reasons for this. Here are four that come to mind:
There are many factors that make up what we refer to as “culture” but to me, cultural difference is about attitudes and beliefs that come from our personal environment and experience. As such, two people could get the same message but interpret it in two entirely different ways simply because their frames of reference and language differ.
Small things tell you a lot about a person
In this article, we will talk about how to recognize subtly toxic people.
No one wants to waste time and energy around people who consistently behave in unhealthy ways and add negativity to our lives. Yet, many of us sometimes get stuck in toxic relationships that have a negative impact on our mental health and even on our self-confidence.
The problem is some people may seem friendly, charming, respectful, and even emotionally mature, when we don’t know them enough. Some of their behaviors may seem inoffensive at first, while the reality is they are not, and they can actually damage relationships in the long-term. This is why it’s essential to learn to recognize these unhealthy habits.
What follows are four behaviors of subtly toxic people:
Empower yourself by not only connecting, but also aligning your life (and that includes life at work) with your core values.
In my experience finding out or rediscovering what my personal values are was one of the most important steps in my personal growth. If I think back at the person, I was before I reconnected with them… ‘a loose cannon’ comes to mind.
I had lots of things in place, lots of boxes ticked but at the same time my life was not making me happy. I was not satisfied let alone had anything even remotely close to inner peace.
Once I discovered what is truly important to, what nurtures me, what allows me to feel like myself and grow into my skin then my life started changing.
The reason being that I felt I had a foundation to live life from. I noticed my values are the bricks to my foundation, they are what grounds me. It was so exciting to find out that these values are part of me, inside of me and always there. Living in alignment with them does not actually cost me anything. There is a ‘cost’, this comes in the form of time. I take time to nurture them, to feel strong and fully in my personal power. I feel my inner light is shining.
A scientific study proves self-care can only take you so far.
Forget meditation apps, Tony Robbins seminars and all-inclusive wellness retreats. Happiness’ business model is pyramid-shaped.
A research article in The Journal of Positive Psychology says happiness comes from “making others feel good, rather than oneself.”
Very in fashion with the pyramid scheme model: you can make your first steps towards happiness on your own — read self-help, maybe do some yoga — but if you really want to make it, get your friends and relatives involved somehow.
I think this is a refreshing pivot. Pyramid schemes used to be all about scammy tactics to trick people into buying over-hyped multivitamins and surface cleaners.
Now it could be the model that helps us understand what makes us happier.
Happiness’ secret ingredient is “relatedness,” researchers say
Relatedness is a basic psychological need.
Some people think if we were not restrained by laws and moral codes, society would immediately spring into a rioting rampage of rape and murder and robbery. But our brains are wired to feel good when we nurture a sense of collaboration and community.
We evolved to scratch each other's backs, and given how anatomically difficult it is to do it on your own, I believe Mother Nature wanted us to figure out we need one another after all.
Like in any pyramid scheme, happiness is rigged against individuality.
The researchers tested it: you can’t hack relatedness by sending good vibes back to yourself. And that’s why most happiness-seeking models don’t ultimately work: they lack this sense of community.
Self-help, for one, has ‘self’ in its title
That should be a red flag.
Although I’m not saying we should neglect ourselves. I eat healthily, meditate and exercise, get my hours of sleep and sunshine, and drink lots of water (and since that kidney stone catastrophe of 2019 I’ve been extra diligent with that last one).
I don’t think we could be physically and emotionally inclined to make others feel good unless we’ve done a bare minimum of self-directed work.
But you know. Self-care can only take you so far.
To keep improving your happiness levels, ditch the “self” and embrace the “help.” There’s no “I” in “next level.”
Can money buy happiness?
Getting the millions with a B is another one of those self-centered tactics that won’t work. It’s a pity some of us will remain skeptical right up until we’re crying in our Lambo.
Here’s the thing: material wealth only increases happiness as far as our basic needs go. Once those are satisfied, the Musk bucks and Buffet bills won’t make our lives any merrier.
Speaking of pyramids, do you know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?
Money can take you into the first floor of the pyramid, the physiological needs, and up to the second floor, the safety needs.
But once there, there is no more material deprivation to relief. Money can’t buy a VIP ticket to the penthouse of that pyramid: self-transcendence. The pinnacle of human fulfilment, where we find ourselves transcending the ego and focusing on something bigger.
What about going spiritual?
Those who don’t know how to set up funnels to get rich may opt for detachment instead.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons why trying spirituality, studying Buddhism, going monastic, and meditating your way out of the illusion of the self.
But spirituality’s been capitalized into yet another product for the “Health and Wellness” aisle.
And if it were the ultimate solution, I’d expect Andy Puddicombe not to come back from the Himalayas after 10 years, meditating 16 hours a day, to create a subscription-based meditation app.
Some of us just crave the frenzy of the west. As for me, I’m a writer. I need to be one with everything, but through an internet connection — which I suspect is something the Himalayas are in scarce of.
Philosophy can make you wiser — and sadder
Tell me if a cheerful person could’ve come up with the trolley problem:
A runaway train is headed towards 5 workers on a railway line. The only way to save the workers is to operate a lever that would make the train go down a side rail. Problem is, there’s another worker on that one too. So, do you leave the lever untouched and have 5 workers killed, or do you switch the lever, killing the one worker on the side rail, but saving the other 5?
I get philosophy it’s meant to make us wiser, sometimes by testing our moral virtue with thought experiments. But it doesn’t work for me. I’d prefer to imagine the 6 workers and me over a barbecue.
In fact, it seems that if you drift too much into philosophical self-absorption, you’re bound to become depressive about existence. All for something that, in the end, no one cares about.
Or as Plato put it: “That man is wisest who, like Socrates, realizes that his wisdom is worthless.”
Self-centric tactics out of the way — how do we make others feel good?
Here’s how I’m doing it: I don’t try to force it. Because that would be inauthentic, right? That would be the ol’ self-centric impulse showing, trying to hack my way to greater happiness.
Instead, if the opportunity to make someone else feel good presents itself naturally, I take it.
Even the little things can make an impact. In one study, researchers approached people that had just park their cars, gave them a few quarters, and told them to either feed their own parking meter or the meter of a stranger. Participants showed a greater lift in happiness levels when they fed others’ meters.
But again, it’s the genuine gesture, not the quarters, that made them feel good. It’s the magic of relatedness, available to everyone and everywhere.
You don’t need a researcher approaching you on the street after parking your car. Just get your head out of your ass and pay attention to these opportunities.
One final tip from the pyramid scheme canon
Just recruit five people.
You know how it goes: make five people feel good, because if they make five more people feel good, and then those make five more people feel good…
It sounds like an impossibly large chain, but if you do the math, you’ll see we can repeat this cycle only 14 times. After 14 cycles, you run out of people on the planet. That shows the true, shady nature of pyramid schemes — but also, how easy it could be to spread The Good Vibes.
So now you have a legitimate reason to message your aunt on Facebook, without any pressure to segue the conversation into selling her a disinfectant.
Go make those five people feel good.
By Loudt Darrow
Photo by arash payam on Unsplash (modified by author)
I was standing by the lake one windy 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, even recent past (last job, last relationship). 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.
Of course, the very first step must be being aware of this thought pattern and the resulting behaviour. To make any changes it is vital to be aware of a pattern. If it turns out to be limiting belief that is holding you back this belief is best challenged and reframed. If is is there due to lack of clarity you know to get more clarity.
In order to stay calm and grounded it requires certain behaviours that feed being calm.
Each person will have their own requirements. What you as an individual need to feel calm will most likely differ from someone else’s needs. Each has their own interpretation of success as well as what feeling calm and grounded means to them.
Based on my own personal experience this also changes depending on our age.
I know when I was 30 my focus was very different to 40. At 30 I was focused on creating my family and being a wife and mother. At 50 I noticed that feeling fulfilled was my new goal and turning 60 was fabulous as I had completely grown into my skin by then and was more than happy to focus on my core values and needs. The 'older age' goal is answering the question ‘how do I want this chapter of my life to look and feel’… This one is still work in progress so watch this space.
Tips for what comes next
If you find yourself lost in a negative thinking pattern regarding an issue, observe any common denominators that kick the first thought off. What sets those wheels in motion? What happens next? Observe yourself, raise your awareness to your patterns.
Is it a recurring situation, a recurring interaction, an issue left unresolved, a lack of clarity?
It could be a number of things. Get to know yourself to find out what exactly it is.
It is worthwhile to observe what comes next. Which thoughts follow, how do you act, react, behave, or deal with it?
Always remember to be patient and kind with yourself during any process of growth or change.
by Suzie Doscher:
Coaching for Personal Development: Life Coaching and Executive Coach, Self-Help Author
Photo credit: Pexels and Shutterstock
Raise your self-awareness with this: