By Marina Khidekel, Editorial Director at Thrive Global
From a young age, we’re conditioned to look for physical warning signs. If we feel a cold coming on or spot a rash, we schedule an appointment with a doctor to get it checked out.
But we’re not nearly as attuned to warning signs when it comes to our mental health — and that has serious consequences on our lives, new Thrive research shows.
Ninety-one percent of Americans say ignoring or not knowing their warning signs of overstress has had a negative impact on their lives, according to a new nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 85. The areas that respondents said suffered most when they waited too long to address their stress are major contributors to our overall happiness and well-being: relationships with friends and family, mental health, physical health, and finances.
by Zat Rana
Before dying at the age of 39, Blaise Pascal made huge contributions to both physics and mathematics, notably in fluids, geometry, and probability.
This work, however, would influence more than just the realm of the natural sciences. Many fields that we now classify under the heading of social science did, in fact, also grow out of the foundation he helped lay.
Interestingly enough, much of this was done in his teen years, with some of it coming in his twenties. As an adult, inspired by a religious experience, he actually started to move towards philosophy and theology.
Right before his death, he was hashing out fragments of private thoughts that would later be released as a collection by the name of Pensées.
While the book is mostly a mathematician’s case for choosing a life of faith and belief, the more curious thing about it is its clear and lucid ruminations on what it means to be human. It’s a blueprint of our psychology long before psychology was deemed a formal discipline.
There is enough thought-provoking material in it to quote, and it attacks human nature from a variety of different angles, but one of its most famous thoughts aptly sums up the core of his argument:
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.
The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude.
The perils of being connectedToday, more than ever, Pascal’s message rings true. If there is one word to describe the progress made in the last 100 years, it’s connectedness.
Information technologies have dominated our cultural direction. From the telephone to the radio to the TV to the internet, we have found ways to bring us all closer together, enabling constant worldly access.
I can sit in my office in Canada and transport myself to practically anywhere I want through Skype. I can be on the other side of the world and still know what is going on at home with a quick browse.
I don’t think I need to highlight the benefits of all this. But the downsides are also beginning to show. Beyond the current talk about privacy and data collection, there is perhaps an even more detrimental side-effect here.
We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves.
If Pascal’s observation about our inability to sit quietly in a room by ourselves is true of the human condition in general, then the issue has certainly been augmented by an order of magnitude due to the options available today.
The logic is, of course, seductive. Why be alone when you never have to?
Well, the answer is that never being alone is not the same thing as never feeling alone. Worse yet, the less comfortable you are with solitude, the more likely it is that you won’t know yourself. And then, you’ll spend even more time avoiding it to focus elsewhere. In the process, you’ll become addicted to the same technologies that were meant to set you free.
Just because we can use the noise of the world to block out the discomfort of dealing with ourselves doesn’t mean that this discomfort goes away.
Almost everybody thinks of themselves as self-aware. They think they know how they feel and what they want and what their problems are. But the truth is that very few people really do. And those that do will be the first to tell how fickle self-awareness is and how much alone time it takes to get there.
In today’s world, people can go their whole lives without truly digging beyond the surface-level masks they wear; in fact, many do.
We are increasingly out of touch with who we are, and that’s a problem.
Boredom as a mode of stimulationIf we take it back to the fundamentals—and this is something Pascal touches on, too—our aversion to solitude is really an aversion to boredom.
At its core, it’s not necessarily that we are addicted to a TV set because there is something uniquely satisfying about it, just like we are not addicted to most stimulants because the benefits outweigh the downsides. Rather, what we are really addicted to is a state of not-being-bored.
Almost anything else that controls our life in an unhealthy way finds its root in our realization that we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs.
We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious in spite of being so intimately connected to everything else around us.
Fortunately, there is a solution. The only way to avoid being ruined by this fear—like any fear—is to face it. It’s to let the boredom take you where it wants so you can deal with whatever it is that is really going on with your sense of self. That’s when you’ll hear yourself think, and that’s when you’ll learn to engage the parts of you that are masked by distraction.
The beauty of this is that, once you cross that initial barrier, you realize that being alone isn’t so bad. Boredom can provide its own stimulation.
When you surround yourself with moments of solitude and stillness, you become intimately familiar with your environment in a way that forced stimulation doesn’t allow. The world becomes richer, the layers start to peel back, and you see things for what they really are, in all their wholeness, in all their contradictions, and in all their unfamiliarity.
You learn that there are other things you are capable of paying attention to than just what makes the most noise on the surface. Just because a quiet room doesn’t scream with excitement like the idea of immersing yourself in a movie or a TV show doesn’t mean that there isn’t depth to explore there.
Sometimes, the direction that this solitude leads you in can be unpleasant, especially when it comes to introspection—your thoughts and your feelings, your doubts and your hopes—but in the long-term, it’s far more pleasant than running away from it all without even realizing that you are.
Embracing boredom allows you to discover novelty in things you didn’t know were novel; it’s like being an unconditioned child seeing the world for the first time. It also resolves the majority of internal conflicts.
The more the world advances, the more stimulation it will provide as an incentive for us to get outside of our own mind to engage with it.
While Pascal’s generalization that a lack of comfort with solitude is the root of all our problems may be an exaggeration, it’s isn’t an entirely unmerited one.
Everything that has done so much to connect us has simultaneously isolated us. We are so busy being distracted that we are forgetting to tend to ourselves, which is consequently making us feel more and more alone.
Interestingly, the main culprit isn’t our obsession with any particular worldly stimulation. It’s the fear of nothingness—our addiction to a state of not-being-bored. We have an instinctive aversion to simply being.
Without realizing the value of solitude, we are overlooking the fact that, once the fear of boredom is faced, it can actually provide its own stimulation. And the only way to face it is to make time, whether every day or every week, to just sit—with our thoughts, our feelings, with a moment of stillness.
The oldest philosophical wisdom in the world has one piece of advice for us: know yourself. And there is a good reason why that is.
Without knowing ourselves, it’s almost impossible to find a healthy way to interact with the world around us. Without taking time to figure it out, we don’t have a foundation to built the rest of our lives on.
Being alone and connecting inwardly is a skill nobody ever teaches us. That’s ironic because it’s more important than most of the ones they do.
Solitude may not be the solution to everything, but it certainly is a start.
Suzie Doscher - Life Coach and Executive Coaching in Switzerland.
I remember doing this exercise while I was studying to become a coach. What I loved about the Noble Manhattan Coaching training was that we had to do all work on ourselves. Talk about furthering your own personal growth and development. I loved the changes that I was making to my own behaviour patterns as I was learning how to apply them professionally.
14 years later I still believe it to be the best coach training even I had not become a professional coach. The benefits from doing the work for myself improved the quality of my life no end and still does...
Answer the following questions, giving each one a score out of 10 using the following scale:
Totally agree with the statement
As it is out of a total possible high score of 10 you will gain an insight into where your self-esteem is at.
If you want to start with some self-coaching consider these thoughts:
A few of the Characteristics of Low Self-Esteem:
If you experience any of these low self esteem signs consider improving the way you see yourself. Self-Esteem and Self Worth are closely connected. If you feel you are worth it you will automatically have increased self-esteem.
Some of the Benefits of raising your Self-Esteem:
One way to start is by exploring these three questions. Make lists.
by Marcel Schwantes
So much has been written about the burgeoning happiness movement. While combing through my own research and notes on what happy and successful peopledo, it struck me how intentional they are about choosing the right mindset to become happier and more optimistic.
While countless books have been written on happiness, I'm narrowing this article down to a working template for living life to the fullest.
Here are seven sure signs of the happiest people.
1. They choose to have healthy relationships.
I've learned to be picky over the years about whom I let into my inner circle of friends. Why? Because I believe close relationships are the key to sustaining happiness.
One profound longitudinal study proves this. For 80 years, researchers followed 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age.
Robert Waldinger, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the current director of the study, told the Harvard Gazette: "The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health. Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care too. That, I think, is the revelation."
For participants, half of whom are still alive as of this writing, the only thing that really mattered was their relationships to other people.
Dr. Travis Bradberry
When emotional intelligence (EQ) first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70 percent of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into the broadly held assumption that IQ was the sole source of success.
Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack. The connection is so strong that 90 percent of top performers have high emotional intelligence.
“No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” – Jack Welch
Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.
By Rebecca Muller, Assistant Editor at Thrive Global
Carving out time for regular recovery is essential for your mental well-being and performance — but sometimes, planning a traditional vacation can feel overwhelming, or is simply unrealistic with a tight timeline. For instance, if you’re a new parent, an anxious traveler, or a caregiver for a loved one, you might not be able to book a last-minute flight to a far-off destination to unplug and recharge — and that reality alone can be stressful.
“The kinds of vacations we take are highly constrained by the demands of family, school and work calendars, and finances,” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D., author of Rest and The Distraction Addiction, tells Thrive. “One size doesn’t fit all.” Pang notes that a getaway is often most valuable because it helps you tap into a mindset that allows you to relax — but you don’t have to go away to hone in on that vacation-focused mindset. In fact, even people who do go on traditional getaways can miss the point. “Too many people go on vacation and stay connected the whole time,” adds Arthur Markman, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of Bring Your Brain to Work. “They don’t give themselves a chance to recharge.”
By Rebecca Muller, Assistant Editor at Thrive Global
As much as we’d love to leave our work at work, letting our to-do list follow us home on the weekends is a trap that many of us fall into. With the rise of hustle culture, our always-online tendencies, and our trouble setting boundaries, it’s all too easy to let work time spill into personal time. “Many people feel like they can’t afford to turn off work for the weekend,” says Elana Feldman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of management at UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business.
Here’s the rub:
When we don’t disconnect, we risk sabotaging our own weekends, Traci Stein, Ph.D., M.P.H., a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor at Columbia University, tells Thrive. “The problem with bringing your work home with you is that doing so means you can’t fully engage with family, friends, or make time for self-care.” On the flip side, a work-free weekend not only allows you to enjoy your time off, but also helps you start your week on Monday feeling truly recharged. “When people allow themselves to experience a true break, they generally return to work feeling less tired, more positive, and better able to expend the effort required to be effective in their jobs,” says Feldman. “What’s more, research shows that downtime can help prevent burnout over time.”
Of course, completely separating from work is easier said than done — but these tips can make it easier:
By Jessica Hicks, Editorial Fellow at Thrive Global
Knowing how to delegate is essential to successful leadership, but it’s a skill that can be challenging. Some managers don’t like to hand over responsibility, while others might be nervous about appearing disengaged — but what these leaders don’t realize is that delegating can provide growth opportunities for their colleagues, and reduce stress for the entire team.
Plus, managers need additional support. A recent Gallup report found that managing various types of employees and stakeholders can escalate stress for managers, who “need protected time to think, do their own work, and respond to requests.”
If you’re a manager who’s unsure how to hand over a task, check out these tips to make the process more thoughtful and effective:
Raise your self-awareness with this: