Archive For September 29, 2013

Top 10 Ways To Increase Your Impact

1. Be kind and generous: In every moment of every day it is possible to change someone’s life. Sometimes, it is as simple as just being kind.

2. Be clear about what does and does not work for you: People cannot work with you if they do not know what you are all about. If you are always compromising yourself, you will not be as effective.

3. Be your full self: Holding back because you think that is what others want is not helpful to anyone. You would not be who you are if it was not needed.

4. Let others be their full selves: The same goes for anyone else. If you think others need to be different, you are wrong. Let people be who they really are. If you don’t like it, figure out how to work with it.

5. Say thank you: People love to be appreciated. Let them know when you are grateful.

6. Look for ways to give back: Don’t lose track of making a contribution. No matter where you find yourself in your life, you can give back in a way that helps others.

7. Tip well and tip often: If you have money — and some might argue that this is true even if you don’t have money — make sure to support the people who are making minimum wage. They are working hard.

8. Support the things you believe in: Purchase what you want to support. Spend your time doing what you want to support. Talk about the things you want to support. You get the picture?

9. Really listen: Most people are not listened to enough. Pay attention to them and let them know they are important.

10. Focus: Know what you want to create and how you can help others. Then do it. Most everything else is a waste of time.


How To Stop Agonizing Over The Little Things (Because They’re Inevitable)

Your back aches, your coffee’s luke warm, or you fall behind schedule.

There are myriad things that can and will go wrong every single day of your life. (And hey — there’s also plenty that goes right, so keep track of that, too.)

Many of us allow one sour moment to spoil what would have otherwise been a perfectly sweet day. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are simple — really simple — ways to keep your stress in check and stop agonizing over the inevitable.

“We’re living in a society where we think the answers have to be really complicated,” says Kathy Gruver, Ph.D., author of “Conquer Your Stress With Mind/Body Techniques.” “We tend to complicate our own lives, but things can be ridiculously simple — and still work.” The next time there’s a bump in the road, remember a few of the mental tricks below to help yourself smoothly redirect back on course.

Just. Stop. Thinking. About. It. Certain pain, like an aching back, feels impossible to ignore. But agonizing over what hurts won’t help you to feel any better. Instead, you’re just suffering twice (once in your head, once in your back). “You have the choice to think about something else,” says Gruver, which is a somewhat shockingly simple truth. Just. Stop.

Focus on the breath.
“Breathing is so cool because it happens automatically and it’s something we can control,” Gruver says. Breath concentration works anywhere and it gives you something positive to focus on. Gruver suggests thinking “I am,” on your inhale and “at peace” on your exhale. This technique it powerful: It overrides negative thoughts and redirects your focus. “It’s hard to stop thinking things, but it’s easy to replace those thoughts with something else.”

Don’t beat yourself up if stress-inducing thoughts creep their way in.
It’s normal and natural for this to happen, but judging yourself for it sort of defeats the purpose of the practice. Gruver says to dismiss these thoughts without judging yourself for having them, and carry on.

Visualize something that doesn’t make you anxious.
“Visualization gives you control and can help decrease your pain.” Visualize anything from your favorite vacation spot when you’re feeling on edge to your body actually healing itself when you’re experiencing physical pain. “The more real you can make it, the more it’s going to work.” The doctor herself visualizes a “little construction worker” moving around her body, working to mend and heal her whenever she feels achy or sick.

Use cues to remind you to be mindful.
“Mindfulness isn’t about setting time aside and sitting on the pillow for meditation,” says the practitioner. “Mindfulness is about making your everyday activity a meditation.” There are times when the practice of being mindful seems to slip our minds, and we get caught up in the heat of the moment. In these cases, it can be helpful to use “mindful cues” to bring us back to center. Whether it’s an alarm on your phone, an app that reminds you to breathe or even the laugh of your colleague that you choose to associate with being present, setting these little reminders will prevent the chaos of the day from becoming too much to bear.

Rely on a someone you trust.
When you want to start making changes, ask a confidant to be a gentle reminder. If you want to stop complaining about your boss, mention it to someone you’re close to. He’s more likely to catch — and stop — you in the act. It’s a system that’ll keep you in check when you react to a stressful situation rather than respond to it.

reblogged from The Huffington Post


How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps

The covers of most men’s and women’s magazines have similar headlines: “Get Great Abs” and “Have Amazing Sex.” From the looks of it, these two issues have been recycled over and over (with some other stereotypically gender-relevant articles thrown in) on every Men’s Health, Maxim, Cosmopolitan and Glamour cover since the dawn of time. In fact, I’d bet that if we could get a better translation of cave drawings, they would read something like “Grok get flat belly. Make girl Grok moan with joy.”

And we keep buying them. We keep buying this lie that these things will make us happy. I’ve had washboard abs (past tense) and I’ve had some pretty phenomenal sex. Neither one made me a better person. Neither one completed me or made my life more fulfilling.

We chase this idea of “I will be happy when… “

I will be happy when I have a new car. I will be happy when I get married. I will be happy when I get a better job. I will be happy when I lose five pounds. What if instead we choose to be happy — right now?

If you can read this, your life is pretty awesome.

Setting aside our first-world problems and pettiness, if you are online reading this, you have both electricity and WiFi or access to them. Odds are you are in a shelter of some sort, or on a smart phone (and then kudos to you for reading this on the go). Life might bump and bruise us, it may not always go the way we plan and I know I get frustrated with mine, but here’s the thing: You are alive.

Because you are alive, everything is possible. So about those eight tips…

1. Stop believing your bullshit.
All that stuff you tell yourself about how you are a commitment phobe or a coward or lazy or not creative or unlucky? Stop it. It’s bullshit, and deep down you know it. We are all insecure 14 year olds at heart. We’re all scared. We all have dreams inside of us that we’ve tucked away because somewhere along the line we tacked on those ideas about who we are that buried that essential brilliant, childlike sense of wonder. The more we stick to these scripts about who we are, the longer we live a fraction of the life we could be living. Let it go. Be who you are beneath the bullshit.

2. Be happy now.
Not because The Secret says so. Not because of some shiny happy Oprah crap. But because we can choose to appreciate what is in our lives instead of being angry or regretful about what we lack. It’s a small, significant shift in perspective. It’s easier to look at what’s wrong or missing in our lives and believe that is the big picture — but it isn’t. We can choose to let the beautiful parts set the tone.

3. Look at the stars.
It won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. I do it daily — it helps.

4. Let people in.
Truly. Tell people that you trust when you need help, or you’re depressed — or you’re happy and you want to share it with them. Acknowledge that you care about them and let yourself feel it. Instead of doing that other thing we sometimes do, which is to play it cool and pretend we only care as much as the other person has admitted to caring, and only open up half way. Go all in — it’s worth it.

5. Stop with the crazy making.
I got to a friend’s doorstep the other day, slightly breathless and nearly in tears after getting a little lost, physically and existentially. She asked what was wrong and I started to explain and then stopped myself and admitted, “I’m being stupid and have decided to invent lots of problems in my head.” Life is full of obstacles; we don’t need to create extra ones. A great corollary to this one is from The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: Don’t take things personally. Most of the time, other people’s choices and attitudes have absolutely nothing to do with you. Unless you’ve been behaving like a jerk, in which case…

6. Learn to apologize.

Not the ridiculous, self-deprecating apologizing for who you are and for existing that some people seem to do (what’s up with that, anyway?). The ability to sincerely apologize — without ever interjecting the word “but” — is an essential skill for living around other human beings. If you are going to be around other people, eventually you will need to apologize. It’s an important practice.

7. Practice gratitude.
Practice it out loud to the people around you. Practice it silently when you bless your food. Practice it often. Gratitude is not a first world only virtue. I saw a photo recently, of a girl in abject poverty, surrounded by filth and destruction. Her face was completely lit up with joy and gratitude as she played with a hula hoop she’d been given. Gratitude is what makes what we have enough. Gratitude is the most basic way to connect with that sense of being an integral part of the vastness of the universe; as I mentioned with looking up at the stars, it’s that sense of wonder and humility, contrasted with celebrating our connection to all of life.

8. Be kind.
Kurt Vonnegut said it best (though admittedly, and somewhat ashamedly — I am not a Vonnegut fan): “There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” Kindness costs us nothing and pays exponential dividends. I can’t save the whole world. I can’t bring peace to Syria. I can’t fix the environment or the health care system, and from the looks of it, I may end up burning my dinner. But I can be kind. If the biggest thing we do in life is to extend love and kindness to even one other human being, we have changed the world for the better. That’s a hell of a lot more important than flat abs in my book.

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Wired for Success: Using NLP to Activate Your Brain for Maximum Achievement

There’s a great quote from Charles Darwin that forms the basis of Wendy Jago’s new book: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

This is the thesis of Wired for Success: Using NLP to Activate Your Brain for Maximum Achievement.

NLP — neurolinguistic programming — is a therapeutic technique used to recognize, understand and reprogram unconscious thought and behavior patterns in order to make your subconscious processes work for your benefit instead of against you.

Jago is a trained psychotherapist who uses NLP at the core of her practice. She is a master practitioner and NLP coach. Jago has already written many books on the subject.

For anyone interested in NLP, Wired for Success is a solid starting point. Jago does a good job of explaining the technique in straightforward language, while not oversimplifying to the point of losing substance. The book is divided into three sections: the first sets the stage, explaining what NLP is, teaching the reader how the mind shapes different experiences, and providing exercises throughout each of its 13 chapters. The second section expands on the first’s teachings, showing paths to help the reader approach real-life situations in newly programmed ways. The final section provides a brief conclusion.

The underlying idea behind NLP is that we can quite literally change our brains. In order to do so, however, we must first understand what is going on within them. To this, Jago writes: “We all have the same essential mental filtering mechanisms for doing this, although we use them differently. NLP calls these meta-programs, and this book shows you how to use them with more awareness and more flexibility.”

These “meta-programs” are at the heart of understanding NLP, and Jago articulates well how our brains “map the world” through them. They act as “mental structures that operate at a high level of generality to organize a mass of more specific information,” in effect becoming templates or filters “that let through certain kinds of information while blocking others.”

This sounds vague, but throughout the book, greater comprehension and a fuller understanding are gained as Jago introduces different examples and exercises. Once we understand how they work and what they’re doing, we can begin to alter them and “use that perspective to have internal conversations that create fuller possibilities for action.”

There doesn’t need to be a specific behavior to be targeted for improvement to use NLP. It certainly can be used to recognize and correct negative thought patterns and behaviors. However, it can also be used to simply improve patterns and skills. Jago cites prioritizing, negotiating, de-stressing, making decisions and finding opportunities as some areas where NLP can create positive results.

Although the two methods are strikingly different, the net effects of NLP and mindfulness meditation are very similar. Both involve observing thoughts. However, they each attack the problem from different angles. Even so, NLP has the capacity to provide quick results, just as meditation can. Jago writes: “The strategies start helping you as soon as you begin to view yourself from outside and to ask yourself questions. Once you do, you become your own investigator, explorer, tutor and supporter. You will be working in one of the most enabling partnerships possible: the partnership you can have with yourself.”

This desire to better understand oneself is part of a wave of more psychologically-tinged self-help books in recent years. Forgoing positive thinking and spirituality, more and more works in this area aim to tap into the psychological roots of behavior rather than abstract or divine elements. If this is the kind of approach interests you, Wired for Success is a good primer. Jago throws a lot of information at the reader, but it’s all useful and very well-organized.

Jago writes very objectively and very clearly. She provides plenty of information, but she doesn’t overwhelm. Jago strikes a perfect balance between readability and education by providing practicable tools “that can benefit everyone, even children.” Embracing NLP as a useful mode of personal development can open doors and alter perceptions: “Using your filters differently will produce different results; using them with understanding and flair can produce results that can be richly and productively different for you and for those around you.”


To Tell the Truth – Authenticity in Business

I know some of you will remember the game show To Tell the Truth. It ran for 25 consecutive seasons and was a huge hit…actually setting the record for the longest running game show. At the end of the show, the final line before the contestant was revealed was, “Will the real…please stand up?” And, at times it was a real surprise! But leading up to that “truth” moment were two other people who were allowed to lie. So, was To Tell the Truth” an oxymoron?

It can be as confusing for our clients to know who we really are as it was for the celebrities who had to pick the real person who aligned with the career. Sometimes our be-ing and our do-ing are out of alignment. This can be a real barrier to launching a business and building relationships of trust with our clients. And trust is the glue that holds relationships together for the long term. So, what can we do to make sure our communication, our actions, and our character are congruent?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines authentic as: something real and true, as the quality of being real or true:

The Mirriam Webster Dictionary defines authentic as conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features…

If you blend those two it essentially points to the true innate character or qualities we were born with…not something we created on our own or continue to create with our egos.

Who are we…really? What character traits, values, and principles drive our decisions and responses? Have we even considered what authenticity means to us? Unfortunately, many people go through life never knowing who they really are. How can we be genuine, passionate, and in integrity in relationships both business and personal, if we’re confused about our true self?

The other mistake many people make is feeling that their authenticity will produce rejection. The truth is that, yes, there are people who will not be attracted to you, your message, and perhaps your beliefs, but there are also many who will be. You can’t be all things to all people and be authentic. Find your voice, declare your values, and attract those people who are perfect for you!

Authentic businesses do not strive for perfection or depend on outside approval, but look for ways to be genuine and congruent with products and service matching the message and image. Consumers are more savvy, educated, and informed and the trend is moving away from hype and moving toward buzz, according to David Lewis, author of The Soul of the New Consumer

If we want to serve one another in passion pursuits, make a difference in our world and be truly happy with ourselves, we must live genuine lives, live up to our commitments, and display authenticity in business.

reblogged from Leta Russell International (more…)

Do It Your Way!

There is a reason you are the person you are. Really! Everything that exists has a place — and that includes you.

It is easy to feel like you don’t have a place. I felt like that for most of my life. When we feel like this, we can start to believe that we need to change ourselves in order to make things work. This is likely to be the first in a long line of mistakes! The only way we can make it work is by being ourselves and doing things the way we know they need to be done.

Of course, I am not saying that each of us does not have a lot to learn — we have a ton to learn from others and the world around us. Sometimes, learning requires us to temporarily set aside our own way of doing things — but only temporarily. We need to integrate what we learn into who we really are.

Both fulfillment and success result from being ourselves and living the expression of who we are. What I find is that people are not taught how to connect deeply to their own inner truth and wisdom. Most people go through life not even knowing what that means. We are taught myriad things in school and at home — such as how to set a table and do math — but most schools and homes are filled with adults who have no better sense of how to connect to themselves than the children do.

One way to connect with our essence is to write out our values. By creating a list of our values and why they are significant to us, we are able to gain access to what we find most important. This is who we really are. This is what we are meant to bring forward into the world.


Cultivate Connection Through The Way You Communicate

Practicing these 7 steps with a genuine intention for understanding will go a long way in our ability to understand and to relate to someone’s experience.

1. Make eye contact.

2. Ask questions (and really want to hear the answer). Try these:

  • How are you?
  • What has been going on for you?
  • What have you been up to?
  • What have you been thinking about?
  • How have you been feeling?
  • 3. Listen. It seems obvious, but we often think we are listening when instead we are formulating our response. Don’t talk. Don’t tell the other person how they feel. Don’t offer advice. Just listen.

    4. Empathize. Affirm their feelings. Whether you agree or disagree with the individual, how they feel is how they feel. It is possible to be a good listener and not necessarily agree. You don’t need to tell them why you don’t agree. Offer moral support. Here are some empathetic statements:

  • I hear you.
  • I would feel the same way.
  • That sounds _____.
  • I understand how you feel.
  • Tell me more.
  • 5. Wait. Usually the person will give you a sense of what they would like from you. All they may have wanted was for you to listen. Or they may ask: What do you think? What would you do? as a way to solicit advice. Or they may have more to share. Keep listening. And in case you haven’t seen it, this video always makes me laugh, as it pokes fun at a man’s desire to problem solve and a woman’s desire for listening.

    6. Share. Vulnerability is a two-way street. Connection doesn’t occur unless both people are willing to be vulnerable. You can’t have all the benefits of connection without being vulnerable yourself. Connection develops when you let yourself be seen. If you aren’t sure what to say, tell them you don’t know what to say. We don’t want perfection. We want authenticity. We want you next to us in the arena. Get uncomfortable.

    7. Compliment. Compliments are only powerful if they are genuine. We often hold back from offering compliments because we think the person already knows the trait we admire. Maybe. Maybe not. Offering a compliment can make someone’s day.

    reblogged from Lorena Knapp’s website Big State, Big Life: Tools for mindful living.


    8 Tips for Staying On Track in Your Business

    Here are some simple steps that you can start enlisting TODAY that will make a big difference in your success!

    1. Make a commitment to change 3 concrete things every month.

    2.Track yourself – what are the clues that you are stuck? Be aware of what you do well or easily and what is always at the bottom of your list.

    3. Reframe negative thoughts.

    4. Use a passive tool to help create and support a positive outlook. For example, listen to hypnotherapy or NLP CD’s while sleeping.

    5. Empowerment: Know you are at choice and take action.

    6. Have a plan for the tough spots: Know what to do when you are a afraid or triggered.

    7. Practice staying connected to LOVE.

    8. Accountability: Be responsible for your side of things.


    Practicing Being Out Of Your Comfort Zone

    Contrary to what our nervous systems might tell us, we need to learn to operate outside our comfort zones. Safety and fulfillment do not go hand and hand. When we play it safe and do things the way we are used to doing them, nothing changes. We do not grow. And you know what they say — if you are not growing, you are dying.

    So, if we need to practice being outside of our comfort zone, how can we do it?

    Find your edge: To actively and consciously leave your comfort zone, you need to know where it is. Think of it this way. If someone says to you that you need to do something to make a situation work — or, if someone asks you to do something: sky diving, for example — and you just flat-out say no. That is outside your comfort zone. But some situations are a little more vague. Calling someone you like and asking them out. Or, going a bit further with marketing your business. These things are not a flat-out no, usually. It is the examples that are uncomfortable but not unreasonable to us that are our edge.

    Exercise your edge: You should be doing something every day that gets you more comfortable with doing the things that are on your edge. If you withhold the truth from people, practice speaking it. If you are afraid to speak on stage — my personal favorite — then take every opportunity to speak on stage. It is not about feeling good while you do it. It is about doing it.

    Pay attention when you are in your comfort zone: How do you feel when you are doing something that you feel confident doing? Pay attention to this because it will give you insight into what feelings to connect with while you are exercising your edge. Practice your power and confidence: There are two pieces to this. When you are working your edge, remember to bring to your experience:

  • • The “essence” of who you are
  • • The feelings you feel when you are doing something that lies within your comfort zone
  • Getting comfortable functioning outside your comfort zone takes practice — just like all other parts of life. If you make doing it rather than not doing it a way of life, you become accustomed to the feeling and, therefore, it becomes easier to work with.


    Social connections equal increased happiness

    Why are close, loving relationships so crucial to our well-being and happiness? Relationships create psychological space and safety so that we can explore and learn. When we feel safe and supported, we don’t have to narrow in on survival tasks like responding to danger or finding our next meal. We are able to explore our world, which builds resources for times of stress and adversity.

    Belonging to a group or community gives us a sense of identity. It helps us understand who we are and feel part of something larger than ourselves. Researchers also find that people with strong social connections have less stress-related health problems, lower risk of mental illness, and faster recovery from trauma or illness. Friends and family can also encourage and support us in healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercise and moderation.

    Researchers have found that people are happier when they are with other people than when they are alone—and the “boost” is the same for introverts and extroverts. They also are finding that happy people are more pleasant, helpful, and sociable. So being around people makes us feel happier, and when we are happier we are more fun to be around, creating an “upward spiral” of happiness.

    Happiness may be surprisingly contagious. Psychologist James H. Fowler studied the data of 5,000 people over 20 years and found that happiness benefits other people through three degrees of connection, and that the effects last for a year. He says: “We found a statistical relationship not just between your happiness and your friends’ happiness, but between your happiness and your friends’ friends’ friends’ happiness.”

    The positive effects from connecting with others are lasting. Scientists have observed what they call “hedonic adaption”: our tendency to quickly adapt to our changing circumstances. This is why people who win the lottery, for instance, usually find themselves at the same level of happiness they had before they won. Close relationships, however, may be an exception. In contrast to material goods, we are more likely to continue to want our close relationships, even after we attain them, and to continue to derive positive emotions from them.

    reblogged from pbs.org. Read the entire article here.