As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.
Our brains are finely attuned to distraction, so today’s digital environment makes it especially hard to focus. “Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). “A distraction is an alert says, ‘Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.'” The brain’s reaction is automatic and virtually unstoppable.
While multitasking is an important skill, it also has a downside. “It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ,” Rock says. “We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong.”
To make matters worse, distraction feels great. “Your brain’s reward circuit lights up when you multitask,” Rock says, meaning that you get an emotional high when you’re doing a lot at once.
Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. “Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative,” Rock says.
Try these three tips to help you become more focused and productive:
1. Do creative work first.
Typically, we do mindless work first and build up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus. “An hour into doing your work, you’ve got a lot less capacity than (at the beginning),” Rock says. “Every decision we make tires the brain.”
In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work, like deleting emails or scheduling meetings, later in the day.
2. Allocate your time deliberately.
By studying thousands of people, Rock found that we are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. “You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours,” he says.
Most people focus best in the morning or late at night, and Rock’s studies show that 90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.
3. Train your mind like a muscle.
When multitasking is the norm, your brain quickly adapts. You lose the ability to focus as distraction becomes a habit. “We’ve trained our brains to be unfocused,” Rock says.
Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. “It’s just like getting fit,” Rock says. “You have to build the muscle to be focused.”
It’s tough when you are being pulled in a million different directions and what seems like little time to get everything done. When one is working against the clock, this can only exacerbate the stress levels, which is why routine is such an important part of my life. Unfortunately, decisions have to be made and they don’t always align with my schedule, but I have come up with some tips to keep me on board until I weather the storm.
1. Ask for help
You do not have to go through life alone. It’s OK to ask family and friends to help you out. You do not score any brownie points by trying to do it all. In fact you may find yourself so overwhelmed that staying committed to your healthy lifestyle is much harder than when you have others to help you along the way.
2. Keep exercising
This can be tough when you feel as though you are being pulled in a thousand different directions, but I remember my former running coach telling me years ago, “no run, no matter how short is ever wasted.” As many of us are well aware, exercise is a big stress reliever. Even if you can’t keep up with your normal exercise routine, going for a quick walk or even doing some stair climbing can do wonders to clear your mind and more importantly reduce the stress.
3. Rest is important, too
If you have children you know that when they get overly tired they are much more difficult to manage. Sleep and rest help us recharge our batteries. Even if you find yourself sneaking in rest when your loved one is resting, it may be just what your body needs.
Deep breathing seems like such a simple act, but it can do wonders in helping relieve stress and tension we hold in our bodies. Just three short minutes of concentrated breathing can help lower stress levels and release tension and anxiety.
5. Be sure to eat
Remember food is fuel for your body. It is what gives us energy especially when our meal time schedule is off. Sugary foods and junk food from the vending machine can actually leave you drained, therefore bringing healthy snacks is a great option. I keep nuts, raisins and a granola bar with me in my purse so that I never am without a little something.
6. Talk with others
While what ever you are going through may seem overwhelming, sharing your concerns with others who are or have experienced similar problems can actually validate your feelings. As my therapist Ann told me months ago, validations of emotions can make us feel normal– that it’s OK to feel the way we do. And you may be surprised that sometimes others who have walked the journey can offer you help and insight to your own situation.
7. Accept that you cannot do it all
This is by far one of the most difficult areas for me to accept. As a type A perfectionist, I do not like when I am forced to shorten my workout sessions, maybe not eat as well as I should, get upset with the way things are done or not done, etc, but this is life. A few weeks of not so healthy choices will not knock me down UNLESS I allow the guilt to consume me. I can only do the best I can do knowing that it will only be a matter of time before I am back to my normal, or maybe even my new normal, routine.
8. Seek guidance from others
When I was dealing with my father’s illness, a social worker at my father-in-law’s rehab facility was instrumental in helping us locate an assisted living facility in a very short time. While my husband and I did have to visit the places she recommended, we did not have to waste time wading through the lists of facilities. It is amazing how many people are willing to help, you just need to step out of your comfort zone.
9. It’s OK to let things slide
I love an immaculate home, but life gets crazy, accepting that there is only so much time in a day to get everything done has become my new way of living. It’s OK that I do not get EVERYTHING done. It will still be here when things settle down, but giving myself permission to let the household duties slide is a huge stress reliever, too.
After 50 years on this planet, I am learning to accept that there are many things out of my control. I can either wallow in my sorrow or I can take on the challenges. Smiling can do wonders to lift our moods along with the release of the mood calming endorphins. It can make us more positive when things in life appear to be so challenging.
While there are many things in life we can’t control, there are many things we can. Life is not meant to be experienced without sorrow and stress. It is how we manage the curve balls or the obstacles in our life that allow us to grow, change and transform into the people we are meant to be. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, but having a few tips to help you through can do wonders in making a not-so-great situation in to the best situation we are to deal with.
Reblogged from www.sparkpeople.com
Living our purpose is the key to our fulfillment. Creating both an inner and outer positive impact through living our life purpose will take us beyond what we might have seen as possible. When stepping into our purpose this way, we will experience a depth of meaning and harmony. We become less afraid of outcome and more able to face difficult truths. We become this way because we are doing exactly what we are best able to do.
Each and every one of us will not feel satisfied or fulfilled in our lives until we understand the power we hold. For example, if I go to work and believe my actions and interactions are meaningless regardless of what my job is, this will have a negative effect on how I perceive my life and how much meaning it has. Or, if I perceive myself as a victim in all circumstances ― feeling as though the world sets me up to knock me down ― I will shy away from actions that might prove otherwise. As a result, I am likely to create situations that prove I am at the mercy of the world. This perspective will leave me blaming others, feeling resentful, and feeling stuck.
On the other hand, if I see my actions ― regardless of my situation ― as having the potential to have a positive impact and to be within my control, I will feel more positive about my life, more excited by my choices, and, ultimately, more deeply fulfilled and satisfied. More than that, if I see a situation that is dangerous, negative, or hurtful, I will feel it is possible for me to take action in a positive way. As a result, I will see even more positive effects and will likely find it easier to face even more challenging circumstances in a more positive way. This makes a profound difference in my life and the lives of others.
Think of this in terms of your life’s purpose. In order to move toward your life purpose you will need to feel as though what you are doing makes a difference ― that you are capable of making a difference at least in your own life. Otherwise, there is no reason to bother.
Whatever it is that you feel passionately about, you can do it! You were meant to do that thing more than anything else. Think about yourself in the terms that Alan Watts used: “You are the perfect expression of the universe exactly where you are in this moment.” Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray.”
When you begin to see yourself as a being who is connected organically to the rest of the world ― whose personal wants are whispers of the universe ― then you can begin to see your work as imperative, but less personally driven. Of course, because you are doing exactly what you want to do, you benefit as well. Following what you love and exploring the ideas and options that emerge is a great way to hone your ability to envision a different future for yourself and others. The thing is, people often think that there is some secret to finding out what you really love. However, this is not the case. The biggest thing that you need to do is pay attention to when you are feeling good. If you have not felt good in a while, then think about a time when you were happy –even if it means thinking back to when you were a kid. Want to build on this? Think of a time that you lost track of time because you were so engrossed in an activity. These are the cues that show you your purpose.
The following questions that get you to think outside of the limitations you have placed on yourself are also helpful in getting clear on your purpose. If money were no issue, how would you spend your time? Or, if you could do anything, what would your ideal day look like? One of my favorites, is list people you are jealous of and why. (The why is something you want more of in your life.)
The fact of the matter is that once you know what you love, the key is doing as much of it as possible. It is when we do more of what we love that we uncover and clarify our purpose as well as make our lives much more fulfilled. Sometimes, it can feel a bit overwhelming or out of reach to bring what we love into our life. So, start small. Small, consistent changes make a huge difference over time. Set goals for yourself. So, you can be clear about and proud of your progress as you bring in more and more of what you want.
Tune into this hour of Real Answers Radio as Dr. Kate discusses how to tap into your passion and purpose and most importantly, how to take that passion and use it to craft more and more pleasure, happiness and deep satisfaction in all that you do.
Our True Self is defined by seven intrinsic qualities. I initially identified these qualities during my study of Christian anthropology while in seminary. As I went on to study psychology and religion at Harvard, I found that these qualities are confirmed in the great religions of the world and in the modern scientific study of psychology as defining the unique nature of human being.
Human beings uniquely possess these qualities, and they are given to each of us. The true self is not reserved for those who have devoted their lives to becoming mystics. We are born with these resources which are available to all of us at any time.
These seven gifts guide us from within and define our unique nature. We may nurture these qualities or we may or take them for granted; if we choose the former course, our life will be opened and filled by meaningful opportunities–if we choose the latter, we will remain wanting and helpless, functioning at a level far lower than our potential. Nevertheless, even if we fail to utilize them, these qualities lie dormant, for we never lose them. They exist within us, waiting for us to awaken them:
“Children are born true scientists. They spontaneously experiment and experience and reexperience again. They select, combine, and test, seeking to find order in their experiences–“which is the mostest? Which is the leastest?” They smell, taste, bite, and touch-test for hardness, softness, springiness, roughness, smoothness, coldness, warmness: they heft, shake, punch, squeeze, push, crush, rub, and try to pull things apart.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
Spontaneity is our ability to express our self without hindrance. We preserve and develop spontaneity if we feel safe, cherished, and free from distress. Spontaneity captures the innocence, readiness, and freshness of a child. The spontaneous person embraces joy and affectionate humor just as children, who are less inhibited and socially constrained, naturally express their authentic and visceral feelings. Those who are spontaneous beyond their childhood years retain honest access to the full range of their emotions. People may attribute spontaneity to those with a youthful character; but while spontaneity involves innocence, child-likeness, and having fun, it also entails resilience and the ability and readiness to heal, mature, and develop, to expand our competence. Our spontaneity spurs us to growth because we are destined for expressing our aliveness.Psychologists have identified six universal emotions that we express cross-culturally: happiness, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, and fear. While we often associate access to the positive emotions as a sign of maturity, awareness of and access to the full range of one’s feelings more accurately characterizes one who is spontaneous. To assess our spontaneity, we must ask: Do I feel openness and readiness in my activities? Do I possess a freshness and enthusiasm in life? Do I have access to only certain emotions? Do I feel greater restraint or greater ease with these emotions?
“The first reason for man’s inner slavery is his ignorance, and above all, his ignorance of himself. Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave, and the plaything of the forces acting upon him. This is why in all ancient teaching the first demand at the beginning of the way to liberation was: Know Thyself. ” –George Gurdjieff
Reasoning is sound thinking; it accounts for our understanding of life and our progress in it. Through reasoning, we can discover more about the world and about ourselves and participate in life in endless ways. With the potential depth of our ability to understand, we are designed to explore, engage the world, and find solutions to our problems.
“Creativity is…seeing something that doesn’t exist already. You need to find out how you can bring it into being and that way be a playmate with God.” – Michelle Shea
Creativity is a unique expression of our ability to make something out of our “originality of thought.” Although we cannot, like God, create ex nihilo(“out of nothing”), we have the power to generate and transform things: to convert our ideas into new forms, to make our dreams realities, to shape our self and our world–to inspire, excite, incite, calm, and originate. When we create in connection with God, we feel inspired and empowered. Through creativity, we can develop skills which we often do not fully understand or engage. By applying our abilities to new possibilities, creativity builds self-awareness and strengthens identity.
When we create, we take risks and embrace new possibilities. The creative process taps the source of both our intrinsic nature and our individuality. This permits us to discover and express more of our other intrinsic gifts and more of our self. It helps us to recognize those qualities and to harness their power.
We generate creativity from within rather than accepting external formulations of it. For this reason, we often feel that what we create is who we are–it is part of ourselves. When our work permits us to create, we often call it art and equate the product with our self-worth. One of the miracles of each of our lives is the possibility of leaving our distinct — creative — mark through the expressions of our creativity. Creativity is a unique expression of our own experience and achievements.
4. Free Will
“The most tremendous thing granted to humanity is choice, freedom.” –Søren Kierkegaard
Free will is our ability to choose. Moreover, it is our ability to think outside ourselves–to gain an observational sense of our situation. Exercising free-will, we recognize that we can draw upon our own voice, rather than echo what we have been told. By examining the choices we have, we can establish our voice in relation to others and feel integrity in our position.
To not make choices is to give up a part of our self. Those who feel as if they have lost their will often feel trapped. If we feel that we have no choice or are locked in, we need to examine what constrains us. By drawing upon our spontaneity, reasoning, and creativity, we can release ourselves from these shackles.
“A return to reverence is the first prerequisite for a revival of wisdom…Wisdom comes from awe rather than shrewdness. It is evoked not in moments of calculation but in moments of being in rapport with the mystery of reality.” –Abraham Heschel
Spirituality is our response to God’s call–our communication with the spirit of life’s Mystery. Spirituality is a Mystery not only because it involves something beyond our mind and knowledge, but also because it comes from our experiences of God. The power of that relationship to spirit is unique for each of us; we tap the power of spirituality in our encounters with God, which gives us a clear vision and an understanding of life. That is why there are different paths to spirituality. Our ability to grow spiritually is made possible through a recognition of, and commitment to, developing our relationship with God. By penetrating beyond the temporal and engaging the Mystery we can find the guide for our journey of fulfillment. To engage our spirituality we must engage our personal relationship with God and make this relationship central in our lives.
You can experience God, but whether you subscribe to a particular religion, develop a personal understanding of spirit, or deny all divinities and are an atheist, there exists one certainty: things occur in life over which you have no control. You can attribute these things to fate, randomness, nature, physical reality, or God. I personally believe that it is the Spirit that provides the answers for us in all things. We find the Spirit when we discover and actively engage our True Self –connect to our Self, Others, and God and hear the voices of our thoughts (our mind), our feelings (our heart), and our spirit (our soul), we both explain and understand our nature and how these connections bring us fulfillment.
“The supreme end of education is expert discernment in all things–the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and counterfeit.” –Samuel Johnson
Discernment, as Johnson notes above, is our ability to distinguish Good from Evil–and to choose the Good. When we choose between Good andEvil, we demonstrate what principles are guiding us. Discernment is thus the ability both to make moral choices and to act accordingly. It is not being judgmental, as in disdainful and imperious moralizing; it is judgment driven by Truth. Discernment emerges from knowing, choosing, and acting on the Good.
The simple ability to distinguish “right” from “wrong” begins at age three according to psychologists who study moral development. Howver, from even our earliest experiences, we begin to grow in discernment by developing virtues. Therefore, the extent to which we develop virtue (such as kindness, justice, caring, truthfulness, courage, and the like) we ignite the quality of our ability to discern. While our individual temperament may be drawn to one virtue over another, refining these proclivities through the discipline of enacting virtue shapes both our character and our ability to discern. Through discernment, we express our connection to the concerns of humanity at large and define our character.
“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.” –Sophocles
Love is the culminating point–where we put the True Self to its greatest use. Love is a profoundly caring and intensely passionate and personal connection that generates respect, honesty, and reciprocity. Love also involves a physical, emotional, and spiritual attraction to another. We are driven by the powerful urge to love and to be loved, for love is intrinsic to our social nature. By trusting another to know one’s own self through their eyes, we free our self to union–to love and be loved. Loving connections convey the ultimate expression of the authentic self through an active engagement of Self, Others, and God. But while love is frequently identified as life’s most fulfilling experience, it can also be our most difficult pursuit — it often gets confined to only one of these three crucial relationships. Authentic love may begin by engaging only Self, only Others, only God–but if the love is authentic it always leads to the other two.
Loving will be a sacred connection — the highest human function, entrusted to us by God. When that sacred trust is broken, by us or by another, we feel it. When a lover does not act with the kindness and respect that a sacred love naturally includes, we can feel that opening up to that person was a big mistake. Although loving may include sex, a relationship based only on sex is not love. Love is a connection that opens the inner floodgates of one’s being to another. Because of the inherent vulnerability of exposing the self in a relationship, you feel love when you feel safe and are comfortable enough to “let go” of your defenses. In this healthy expression of love, both people are accessing their True Self.
John T. Chirban, Ph.D., Th.D. is a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of True Coming of Age: A Dynamic Process That Leads to Emotional Stability Spiritual Growth, and Meaningful Relationships. For more information please visit www.drchirban.com.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire
Are you being judged by your questions? Not moving forward in your career, business, marriage, or fill in the blank _______? It could be because you are not asking the right questions. You need to be good at asking questions.
You might not be getting the feedback you need to make corrections in your behavior. You might not be getting type of answers that you need to hear. You also might just be getting downright wrong information.
What Do You Want?
When you ask a question, you have to know what you want for an answer. I spent quite a few years in the military. We had intelligence reports coming in; we needed data, not someone’s opinion. That meant we wanted strictly the information. We did not want any interpretation. Just the facts, ma’am. When you are asking questions, make sure you put it in the right context.
Other times you might want someone’s opinion. For example, “What do you think of this cologne?” Sometimes you want a reasoned opinion or advice. “What is the route to get from uptown to downtown?” As you get ready to ask your question, make sure you have the right source and they know what you want from them.
Do I need a factually correct answer?
Do I need an expert opinion?
Do I need a well-reasoned judgment?
How to Be Amazingly Good at Asking Questions
Once you know what kind of information you need and who to ask, you have to ask your questions in a manner that gets the best possible information in response. Asking amazing great questions is skill like any other skill, it takes practice. Here are some techniques to draw out what you need to know.
1. Don’t Ask Yes or No Questions
When you ask a yes or no question, you will most often get incomplete information. Instead, ask an open-ended question. By using an open-ended question you get insights and additional information you might not have known existed. Questions with “would,” “should,” “is,” “are,” and “do you think” all lead to yes or no. Questions with “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “how,” or “why” lead to people giving some thought to their answers and provide much more information.
2. Dig Deeper
Always consider using follow-up questions. Unless you are looking strictly for the facts, there is some sort of assumption in the answer the person gives you. Ask them a follow up question such as, “What makes you say that?” or “Why do you think that?”
Let’s say that you are talking to a co-worker and need to know details of a project. Your co-worker tells you that one of the suppliers has been very difficult to work on the project. You will want to follow up on that comment. A question such as “What do you mean he is difficult to work with?” will lead you to the real facts. It may not be because the supplier is particularly difficult to work with but rather is not reachable for quick communications or any number of outside reasons. Follow up questions give you insight and let you make your own opinions about things.
3. Use the Power of Silence
Start getting comfortable with asking a question, waiting for response, listening to the response and then waiting some more. Many times the person you are questioning has more information and will bring it out when you wait for it. You have to be comfortable with that silent period before the dam breaks. Police and military interrogators use silence very effectively. People feel a need to fill the holes in the conversation and often they will then bring out the critical bit of information you seek.
4. Don’t Interrupt
Don’t interrupt the person with whom you are talking. First, it tells the person you don’t value what they are saying. Interrupting stops their train of thought and directs the conversation the way you want, not necessarily the way it should go. Ask your question, then let the person answer it in full, even when you think you are not getting the answer you want. Listen fully to what they are saying and use that to direct them back to the topic in the next question when there is a natural pause.
If time is of the essence and the person has long strayed from the topic, then of course you need to interrupt. Be as polite as possible when doing it. This shows the person that you do respect what they are saying. Say something like, “Excuse me, I want to make sure I understand you. What I heard you say is…” and then bring them back on point to the matter at hand.
As you go forth in your quest for knowledge, remember that asking great questions takes practice. This implies that you probably won’t get it perfect every each outing. Just get started asking questions. Your skills will improve over time. Remember that if you want good answers, they come from asking good questions.
About the author: Former Green Beret Mike Martel focuses on helping individuals, entrepreneurs, and small businesses get results and improve productivity. For more information and a free Green Beret Productivity Toolkit, click here.
Many of us believe that we should “just know how” to relate in ways that bring us happiness. However, creating healthy and fulfilling relationships is an art and a practice. Before we get into some tools for creating more fulfilling relationships take a moment to look at some of the components of a healthy relationship. The following is not an exhaustive list but it will help set the stage:
Open communication: knowing what you think and feel and being willing to share it.
Trust: behaving in a way that is trustworthy, fostering trust, and being more trusting.
Respect: understanding that the other person is an individual and should not be criticized for not being like you or any other person.
Love: I like the expression, “Love is a verb.” Healthy relationships seek to continually work to foster love through behavior.
Integrity: the understanding that each person has his or her own path and it is not loving to take them off their path.
Partnership: the desire to share life ― its struggles and its joys.
Tool #1: The first tool is to figure out what each one of these categories mean to you –and to your partner. By writing down a sentence or two describing each of these components of a fulfilling relationship you will understand better how to create them in your relationship.
Tool #2: To maintain the love inside and outside of ourselves, we need to give it regular and careful attention. If you find yourself feeling frustrated or disconnected with someone close to you, see if you can take a moment to think of three to five positive traits ― things you love about the person. You can do this with your partner or your friend or a parent. You can even take an extra step and tell the person one or more of the things that you really value about them.
Tool #3: Sometimes we block the love coming from another person because of our own inability to feel worthy of love. If you find that you are disconnected or judgmental, check in with yourself to see if you really love yourself. If you are not sure, what is your self-care like? Are you eating, sleeping, attending to responsibilities, and having fun? If not, the problem might not be with the other person ― it might actually be with you.
Tool #4: Do you feel that a person or certain people should be there for you no matter what? No matter how you act, no matter how you treat them, no matter whether they show up for themselves or not? Sometimes we think that a person showing up in this way means that they truly love us. This is more the case in a parent-child relationship. However, in a peer relationship or partnership, expecting this is not about love ― it is about dependency. Check yourself; see if you want someone to take care of you ― whether it is emotionally, financially, or physically instead of creating true adult relationships and deeper love.
This week on Real Answers Radio, Dr. Kate offers simple tools that you can start using immediately. If you are craving more from your relationships – more caring, more connection, more meaning – then this show is for you!
Dr. Kate always welcomes your questions and this week’s show is the perfect opportunity to call in with your most pressing relationships questions and get the real answers you need.
Knowing what you want is only part of the process in living the life that you dream of. The transformation really begins when you can start to translate what you want into radical honesty in each moment – honesty with yourself and with everyone in your life.
Once we have connected to our deeper self or core, it is only then that we are even able to access our own truth. Otherwise, “our truth” is nothing more than our egos petulant desires. When we are connected to this deep truth it gives us signs and signals about what is and is not in alignment with us. Our job is just to listen to these signals and act accordingly. When we do, our life become infinitely more fulfilled.
One of the best cues that we have about whether we are living our truth is our emotional state. However, to find truth from our emotions they need to be about the current moment and not based off of reliving something that happened in the past. This is another reason why we need to be clear about our stories so that we can tell the difference between them and our in-the-moment experience. When we are aware of the feeling of liking something it is in alignment with our deeper truth. When we are aware of our feelings of discomfort it tells us that something is off, that we are somehow not in alignment with our deeper truth.
The most important part of all of this is listening –listening to yourself and then adjusting when what you are doing is not in alignment with your deep truth.
The challenge here is that when we speak our truth it may bring us loss. We see that loss and our ego might say that we have made a bad choice -that there is a penalty for living your truth. This is not really the case. For example, when you speak your needs in relationships you risk not having them met. When you are honest with yourself about your work not being satisfying, you may realize that its time to look for new work. The power of your truth is that when you speak it and live it, transformation really does happen and at times that means letting go of the old so that you can have what your are really desiring.
This week on Real Answers radio I will be speaking about the power of your truth to change everything around you. Learn how to speak and share your heart with the world even when it is challenging and tap into the profound strength that comes from this practice.
On my radio show last week, a woman called in and asked “How can I know what is the right way to move forward?” Which argument from her mind can she trust when she can make so many different arguments to go in one direction or another?
This is such a good question! Our minds can confuse us to no end. So, how can we find our way out of this confusion into clarity about how to move forward?
We need to learn to live from our core.
One way to define the core (a term that comes from Core Energetics) is that it is the deepest part of ourselves that we have access to. In Core Energetics, they teach that there are three aspects of the self: the mask, lower self and core self. The mask is our persona. The face we put on for the world so that we can get along. Our lower self is the part of us that runs on animal instinct. This is fight, flight or freeze. It is about survival in a primal sense. Our core self on the other hand is best understood as transcendent love, as our deepest truth and highest human ideals.
When you are more connected to your core, your path forward seems clearer, you feel happier and more at peace, and you are able to have a more positive impact. Think about it this way. Would you rather make your decision from a place where you are doing what you think you should or have to do, where you are angry or fearful, or where you are in contact with the highest truest part of yourself?
That kind of breaks it down, right?
So, lets look at some ways that you can connect in with the core of who you are:
Challenge your Mask: Most of the time we walk around in the superficial part of our selves – the mask. In fact, many people don’t even know that is where they are living from. You can challenge you mask by asking if what you are thinking or feeling is actually true or if it might be able to be viewed from a different perspective. The work of Byron Katie does a wonderful job of challenging the mask and reconnecting people with a deeper part of themselves.
Do things you love: It is a very simple fact that if you do more things you love you feel happier, more fulfilled and more at peace. The trick is to know if you REALLY love what you are doing or if you have just adopted it because it is socially acceptable. So, pay attention. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about this in his book Flow. This book states that when we are doing things we truly love we experience things like time disappearing because we are so engrossed in what we are doing.
Get inspired: From a beautiful painting to a sublime piece of music, we connect with our core when we are inspired. This effortless way of returning to our core can be used frequently through our days and weeks to nurture this connection.
Know your values: When we are in integrity with ourselves, we are more connected to the core of who we are. One of the things that I teach in my programs is that there are no methods or rules that guarantee a person fulfillment and success because each one of us needs to create a life and or business that is in alignment with who we are at a deep level and our values help us do this.
Return to love: The most challenging and most profoundly life-changing strategy for connecting with your core is simply returning to love when you have left it behind. This requires that you are experienced enough with feeling deep love and that you are aware enough to switch gears at will. This is also a central teaching in my work. I believe that as people learn to do this their life becomes infinitely better.
Speaker, Author and Mentor Dr. Kate Siner has been helping people connect to their core and live inspired lives for over 15 years. Join Kate on her weekly radio show Real Answers, Thursdays at 9am PST to get answers to your most important questions on how to live a fulfilled and joy filled life.
We all have flashes of inspiration. Sometimes they appear as quiet whispers in the night, as fleeting thoughts in the morning shower or as huge “a-ha!” moments. The question is: Are you giving enough attention to the clues that your inner voice is sending? How can you get more attuned to the inner directives? Here are three ways to get started.
1) Knowledge Is Power
Socrates said it best: “Know Thyself.” This includes understanding what makes you feel alive, what captures your imagination, and also what comes naturally to you. Knowing your strengths is a huge advantage. If you have a great sense of humor, creativity or an ability to communicate easily with people, then you can build on those qualities to create your best life. By focusing on enhancing your strengths rather than trying to make up for your weaknesses, you can move more quickly in your desired direction and have fun in the process. Ask a few friends what they see as your strengths, and do the same for them. You may be surprised!
2) Get Into The Flow
Have you ever been so caught up in an activity that the hours fly by in what seemed like minutes? This is called being in a flow state. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow can happen when you’re totally immersed in what you are doing and feeling both serene and connected. This buoyant state can happen many ways, including when deeply focusing on a sport, writing a paper or even playing music. Yoga and mindfulness are reported to increase flow, but it can occur anywhere your skill level is equal to your challenge and you get totally absorbed in the activity. When athletes say they were “in the zone,” they are talking about flow. When artists refer to the music, art or inspiration flowing through them, it is the same state. Think of times when you were engrossed in something: your attention was heightened and you felt that everything was aligned. What if you made the choice to make more time for that in your day to day?
For me, yoga is where I experience flow. Although I never set my sights on being a yoga teacher, I noticed (and happened to pay attention to) an ad in the paper about a yoga teacher-training course. After checking into it, I decided to go for it. The course was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever taken on – every class was like immersing myself in flow. What are some ways that you can incorporate more flow into your daily life?
3) Embody What You Believe In
Once you know your strengths and where you experience flow, you can consciously tweak your life to include more of that. By stepping into your authenticity, you automatically come into greater alignment and a peace that serves not only yourself but others, as well. Gandhi stated that “[h]appiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Don’t underestimate the importance of your own fulfillment and happiness; it ripples out farther than you may know. Rather than rocking the boat by being who you are, you actually give other people permission to do the same. Listen to the clues. By being on the lookout for directives, you will start to see them everywhere.
Steve Jobs has an interesting quote:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life… Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
If you can tap into your intuition and inner wisdom to direct your passions, you can use that in your own life, as well as to serve others. Then, you will easily embody what you believe, and your authentic happiness will shine the way for others, too.
What are you passionate about in your life?
Randy Taran is the founder of Project Happiness, a non-profit that empowers youth to create greater happiness in their lives and in the world. She is the co author, with Maria Lineger, of the Project Happiness Handbook. Programs which grew from the book, make the best of positive psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness accessible nationwide and in over 80 countries.
I have to be honest about how I typically deal with my distaste for winter – I get the heck out and go somewhere warm! While I will be making some trips to warmer climates this winter, I still try to find ways to be happier and more at peace when I find myself wishing I had three jackets on instead of only one. This – and any situation that makes us uncomfortable – is a great chance to reflect on how to find happiness with what IS rather than seeking to change our situation.
Of course, when we have the power to change our circumstances for the better, I believe we should take it (i.e. hit the beach in some tropical destinations for some fun and sun). But, sometimes what we are experiencing in life is beyond our control –just like the weather. When that is the case, the only thing that we have control over is ourselves – our thoughts, emotions and actions. Here are 5 ways to cultivate happiness in your day to day life, no matter what comes your way.
1. Start Positive – The first few moments of your day make a real imprint on how the rest of it goes. Start with a moment to be quiet, an affirmation, journaling or any other way that helps you start your day centered and focused.
2. Look For It – What you focus on gets bigger. Unfortunately, we often focus on what makes us unhappy rather than the things that make our day better. Make an effort to recognize what is going well and what you do enjoy.
3. Be Clear On What Makes You Happy – This may seem like a no brainer but it is actually something that we overlook. What most brings you pleasure and happiness? Alone time or social time? A good home cooked meal or enjoying take out and a movie? Becoming conscious of the things you most enjoy means that you will choose them more often.
4. Say “Thank You” – Whether it be to yourself, your partner, your child or a co-worker. Express your gratitude for what is working as often as possible. Expressing your appreciation will immediately make you and the other person feel more positive. It also reinforces the liked behavior so that you are more likely to see more of it.
5. Slow Down – Slow down and savor the good parts of your life. Pay attention when you are eating something delicious or really listen when talking to a friend. Or take the time to notice what is around you on your daily walk or drive. The more you can be present with your 5 senses and what you are experiencing, the better.
Life is always a mix of things. No matter how bad a day seems, there is always something there that is positive as well. Using the list above will help you to collect the good out the simple, daily events of your life and can drastically increase your happiness.
What to hear more on this topic? Join Dr. Kate on her weekly radio show Real Answers, Thursdays at 12pm EST. This week she will be further discussing how to find (and stay!) happy in the day to day.