Breakthrough Research on the Power of Belonging

Tons of research has documented how important belonging and being connected socially on our happiness and productivity. (Maslow made it one of his hierarchies of needs). Being social and feeling included is critical to our growth and development.

Dr. David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, in his breakthrough research on the Brain has identified the powerful concept of relatedness — feelings of trust, connection, and belonging—as one of the five primary categories (SCARF)five primary categories (SCARF)of social pleasures and pains (along with status, certainty, autonomy, and fairness). Rock’s research shows that the performance and engagement of employees who experience relatedness threats or failures will almost certainly suffer. And in other research, the feeling of working together has indeed been shown to predict greater intrinsic motivation which is known to be the trigger for curiosity, engagement and enjoyment that results in high productivity and a person or team’s very best performance.

 

Mindfulness: Try Creating more FLOW in your Moment to moment Living

Daily Quote: “Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times—although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last blockon a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves…The task is to learn how to enjoy everyday life without diminishing other people’s chances to enjoy theirs.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”  – Csikszentmihalyi, 1990

Here are some of the characteristics that comprise THE FLOW EXPERIENCE according to Csikszentmihalyi’s.

Characteristics of flow:

  • Complete focus on the task at hand
  • Clarity of goals and reward in mind and immediate feedback
  • Transformation of time (speeding up/slowing down of time)
  • The experience is intrinsically rewarding, has an end itself
  • Effortlessness and ease
  • There is a balance between challenge and skills
  • Actions and awareness are merged, losing self-conscious rumination
  • There is a feeling of control over the task

Who experiences flow?

Interestingly, a capacity to experience flow can differ according to personality. Studies suggest that those with ‘’autotelic personalities’’ tend to experience more flow.

A person with an ‘’autotelic personality’’ tends to do things for their own sake rather than chasing some distant external goal or dream. This type of personality is distinguished by certain meta-skills such as high interest in life, persistence, and helping others.

It can be speculated that negative and critical individuals are more prone to anxiety and being self-centered, which are conditions that can block the state of FLOW. In contrast, servant leaders, responsible, considerate and realistic individuals are more likely to spend time on mastering challenging tasks, which are characteristics important for creating the flow experience.

What happens in the brain?

The state of flow has been rarely investigated from a neuropsychological perspective but is a growing interest. According to Dietrich, it has been associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is an area responsible for higher cognitive functions such as self-reflective consciousness, memory, temporal integration, and working memory. It’s an area that’s responsible for our conscious and explicit mind state.

However, in a state of flow, this area is believed to temporarily down-regulate; a process called transient hypofrontality. This temporary inactivation of the prefrontal area may trigger the feeling of distortion of time, loss of self-consciousness, and loss of inner-critic.

Moreover, the inhibition of the frontal lobe may enable the implicit mind to take over, resulting in more brain areas to communicate freely and engage in a creative process. In other research, it’s also hypothesized that the flow state is related to the brain’s dopamine reward circuitry since curiosity is highly amplified.

Trump Supporters and the Implicit bias frame

Trump supporters who still overlook his most hazardous downsides could be deploying the following implicit bias:

Confirmation Bias–Unconsciously collecting information that supports our original position by triggering implicit bias, or selective attention and perception. Here is a political example of the confirmation bias in action: Employing this bias we tend to seek out information that already conforms to our beliefs and assumptions while ignoring evidence that challenges our points of view. One example would be Trump’s supporters refusing to acknowledge how many times he’s contradicted himself. Think of the time Trump said this: “You [Megyn Kelly] have done a great job, by the way, and I mean it.” and then this: “I have zero respect for Megyn Kelly, I don’t think she’s very good at what she does.” (That is, among other comments about the Fox News anchor’s character.) By ignoring the contradiction, his supporters arrive at the conclusion that “[h]e’s never flip-flopped.”

Weekly Quote and Growth Mindset Challenge

Weekly Quote for Growth Mindset: “Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for…We can discover meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating good work or doing a deed for others; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone in a positive way; and (3) by the attitude we take toward life experiences and unavoidable suffering (learning).” Viktor Frankl

Coaching Challenge: Make your meaning by learning something new everyday and making the effort to do the best you can every moment by challenging yourself to overcome difficulties and learn the lessons provide you in every situation and every difficult interaction in life.

5 Tips for Building A Growth Mindset Environment for Learning

Following are five things successful parents, teachers and leaders can do to build a more inclusive and open environment that engages and challenges the status-quo of a “fixed mindset” and supports “growth mindset” principles.

  1. Give power and recognition away to others who are eager to learn and have demonstrated the capacity to handle challenges and accept responsibility for their actions .
  2. Create a favorable environment which encourages curiosity and learning skills.
  3. Don’t always try to save others from pain or disappointment and stop second-guessing others’ decisions and ideas because this causes dependency on others. This type of rescuing behavior undermines self-efficacy and confidence in person’s ability to discover and initiate their imagination and creativity they need to keep growing in positive ways. .
  4. Give others autonomy over their challenges, tasks and resources. To do the best they can so they can learn from mistakes and success.
  5. Communicate with “growth mindset” words and phrases that emphasize effort, taking on challenges, support lessons learned from mistakes and failures, collaborate on how to problem solve and discover new strategies for learning, expose others to models of success, educate people on the concept that the brain is a muscle and can be developed and grow with the right practice and exercise.

Growth Mindset Framework for people who are willing to exercise their leadership in such a way that others are involved and encouraged to discover new ways of learning, create innovations, make decisions, share information, and most importantly learn from their experience. Most people see the value in creating a participatory and discovery climate and are willing to take risks and responsibilities that come with it. If all of us can develop the wisdom to observe, listen and learn from their own experience with certain safety limitations and reasonable boundaries all of us involved and engaged will share in the benefits of a “growth mindset” and a discovery environment.

Want to Grow and Develop in the Face of Fear or Suffering ? Learn from the Sages and Modern Day Research

To be a growth orientated person is a skill that can be learned. It is the basic foundation that underlies what we mean when we speak of having a high IQ or EQ. When we develop the skill of a “Growth Mindset” we actually change the physical structure of the brain. This revelation is based on one of the most exciting scientific discoveries of the last twenty years: How we focus our attention shapes the structure of the brain. Neuroscience has also definitively shown that we can grow these new connections throughout our lives, not just in childhood.

Want to learn how to change personal habits and reach your goals for change even in difficult and painful circumstances?

Everywhere man is confronted with reality of fate, with the chance of achieving something through the challenge of conquering difficult situations and his own suffering. The solution for finding this “inner strength” to overcome present pain and suffering is to focus on better times in the future. For example, when  working as a psychiatrist to the inmates of concentration camps during WWII, Victor Frankl found that the single most important factor in cultivating the kind of “inner hold” that allowed men to survive was teaching them to “hold in the mind’s grip some future goal”. He cites Nietzsche’s, who wrote that “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how,” and admonishes against generalization:

“ Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost. The typical reply with which such a man rejected all encouraging arguments was, “I have nothing to expect from life any more.” What sort of answer can one give to that”?

What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned and challenged by life — daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual from moment to moment in life.”

These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus, it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response. Sometimes the situation in which a man finds himself may require him to shape his own fate by action. At other times it is more advantageous for him to make use of an opportunity for contemplation (reflection) and to realize assets in this way. Sometimes man may be required simply to accept fate, to bear his cross. Every situation is distinguished by its uniqueness, and there is always only one right answer to the problem posed by the situation at hand.

Modern Day Research Support:

One modern way to learn how to handle the situation at hand is to understand and use the future planning tool “IF…Then” thinking and planning.

Well over hundred studies on achieving goals reviewed by  Gollwitzer and Paschal Sheeran research (file:///C:/Users/mark/Downloads/HP_Sheeran&Orbell(2000).pdf demonstrate how effective and efficient “if..then” plans are in facing  life challenges and overcoming tough decisions, obstacles of fear  and improving performance to keep on keeping on in the face of difficult situations like pain and suffering.

In a meta-analysis the researchers look at studies on preventative health screening, exercise, eating healthy and dieting, to negotiating and setting other life goals. They found that a person’s positive intention to perform a behavior is the key predictor for changing actual behavior and performance”.  The key elements of success were found to be –setting in advance (intentions) using IF…Then goals for taking specific actions to reach your goal. Remarkably they discovered that the use of “IF… Then” plans and focused intention can triple your chances for successful completion of personal change goals. The aim of the study was to look at the gap between setting intentions ( concept of implementation intentions) and actual behavior of woman coming for cancer screening. For example, they stated their goal of the study was address this problem using Gollwitzer’s (1993;Gollwitzer & Brandstatter, 1997) concept of implementation intentions. In particular, we examine whether intentions to attend for cervical screening that have been supplemented by implementation intentions specifying when, where, and how the appointment will be made improves the likelihood of attendance.

Self- Coaching Challenge: Try using the IF…Then intervention when trying to change habits or reach personal goals

 

Your Children Can Learn Anything: Growth Mindset Basics

Growth Mindset for Parents                                 

Parents need to learn what a growth mindset is, why it’s important, and best practices to support their children in a quest to become the “best they can be”. Learning for all of us just doesn’t happen because we are born smart or not. Learning is a life-long process that can be shaped by growing our brains over time just like we develop and grow other muscles through deliberate exercise and nurturing.

New research shows that parents beliefs and the way they talk about abilities and learning can have powerful effects on their kids’ beliefs. Certain types of seemingly positive praise like “You’re smart at this!” can backfire and make children more likely to avoid challenges or give up in the future when something is difficult.

Fortunately, the same research also shows that there are many things that we can do to help children develop into resilient learners.

Stanford University’s professor Carol Dweck has spent decades studying how people think about intelligence. Dweck and her colleagues have found that people tend to hold one of two very different perspectives about intelligence. One perspective is called a “fixed mindset”. That’s the belief that intelligence is fixed at birth and doesn’t change or changes very little with practice. It’s the belief that intelligence is like eye color. You’re stuck with whatever you’re born with.

The other perspective is called a “growth mindset”. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence improves through study, deliberative practice and effort. In other words, people with a growth mindset think intelligence is like a muscle that grows stronger with training.

For children with a “fixed mindset”, the classroom can be a difficult and unwelcoming place. They see school as the place where their abilities are evaluated and worth is judge, not as a place where their abilities are developed and failures are seen as challenges to overcome. Their goal in school tends to be to show that they are smart or at least to avoid looking dumb. For them, mistakes are a sign that they lack talent and god given ability.

For children with a “growth mindset”, the classroom is a more exciting, fun and less judgmental place. They believe they can develop their ability, and they understand that the classroom is just the place to do that. Children with a growth mindset tend to see challenges as opportunities to grow because they understand that they can improve their abilities by challenging and pushing themselves. If something is hard, they have to put in more effort and find new ways to learn and push themselves to get better.

Children who understand that the brain can get smarter—who have a growth mindset—do better in school because they have an empowering perspective on learning. They focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build their abilities. They see failure as a natural part of the learning process. In contrast, students who have a fixed mindset—those who believe that intelligence is fixed—tend to focus on judgment. They’re more concerned with proving that they are smart or hiding that they’re not. And that means they tend to avoid situations in which they might fail or might have to work hard.

Many studies show that children who have a growth mindset respond differently in challenging situations and do better in school over time.

Want to learn more on Growth Mindset visit this wonderful site that summarizes studies from praise to achievement scores for children with fixed or growth mindsets. https://www.mindsetkit.org/growth-mindset-parents

Or http://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org/about-the-network/

 

 

Growth Mindset Toolkit for Parents

Growth Mindset for Parents

” No one thinks babies are stupid because they can’t talk. They just haven’t learned how to yet. But some people will call a person dumb if they can’t solve math problems, or spell a word right, or read fast — even though all these things are learned with practice”. David Yeager and Carol Dweck 

Parents who are will to learn about the positive effects of growth mindset vs. fixed mindset can set their children on a path toward loving learning. New research shows that the way parents talk about abilities and learning can have powerful effects on their kids’ beliefs and mindset about learning. Certain types of seemingly positive praise like “You’re smart at this!” or you are so “smart” can backfire and make children more likely to avoid learning challenges or give up in the future when something is difficult.

Fortunately, the same research also shows that there are many things that we can do to help children develop into resilient learners.

Stanford University’s professor Carol Dweck has spent decades studying how people think about intelligence. Dweck and her colleagues have found that people tend to hold one of two very different perspectives about intelligence. One perspective is called a “fixed mindset”. That’s the belief that intelligence is fixed at birth and doesn’t change or changes very little with practice. It’s the belief that intelligence is like eye color. You’re stuck with whatever you’re born with.

The other perspective is called a “growth mindset”. A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence improves through study, deliberative practice and effort. In other words, people with a growth mindset think intelligence is like a muscle that grows stronger with training.

For children with a “fixed mindset”, the classroom can be a difficult and unwelcoming place. They see school as the place where their abilities are evaluated and worth is judge, not as a place where their abilities are developed and failures are seen as challenges to overcome. Their goal in school tends to be to show that they are smart or at least to avoid looking dumb. For them, mistakes are a sign that they lack talent and god given ability.

For children with a “growth mindset”, the classroom is a more exciting, fun and less judgmental place. They believe they can develop their ability, and they understand that the classroom is just the place to do that. Children with a growth mindset tend to see challenges as opportunities to grow because they understand that they can improve their abilities by challenging and pushing themselves. If something is hard, they have to put in more effort and find new ways to learn and push themselves to get better.

Children who understand that the brain can get smarter—who have a growth mindset—do better in school because they have an empowering perspective on learning. They focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build their abilities. They see failure as a natural part of the learning process. In contrast, students who have a fixed mindset—those who believe that intelligence is fixed—tend to focus on judgment. They’re more concerned with proving that they are smart or hiding that they’re not. And that means they tend to avoid situations in which they might fail or might have to work hard.

Many studies show that children who have a growth mindset respond differently in challenging situations and do better in school over time.

Want to learn more on Growth Mindset visit this wonderful site that summarizes studies from praise to achievement scores for children with fixed or growth mindsets. https://www.mindsetkit.org/growth-mindset-parents

Or http://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org/about-the-network/

 

 

Part 1: Assess your Career Status–Reflect on Where you are and where you want to go.

Take responsibility for Your Career and Challenge the Myth that “job hopping or explore other opportunities” is bad for your career”

Daily quote: ‘First they welcome you, then expectations are pinched, then they break promises, then they take you for granted, then you assert your rights and ask for fairness, they fight you, and then you leave to find a new challenge and win… Peter Newport, Career Counselor

To keep growing as a professional you must have a clear goal of building your talent and experience portfolio. To be “stuck” in a job that has had broken promises or missed expectations because organization interest come before employees is a missed placed loyalty and potentially damaging to your long-term goal of wanting to run your own company or being a CEO. The quiet loyal workhorse who never makes demands or keeps the organization honest in its broken promises for promotion, bonuses or other perks will get bounced around like a bottle a float in the ocean. You won’t get what you want by just bending to an organization first philosophy. Being out for number one doesn’t mean you are not a team player or disloyal, it means you are engaged in assessing how the present job experience is fulfilling your need to be always growing and learning as a productive person. If you are in charge of your career as everyone has been saying for years, you can’t sit back and wait for the company or your bosses to recognize the contributions you are making because they are usually busy and focused on their own success. To take this career responsibility seriously I recommend a yearly company and job assessment by you just like the company makes annual performance reviews.

You may avoid this personal career review and reflection but do so at your own peril. This self-directed career approach may not always be greeted with enthusiasm by bosses and spouse but to keep fresh and developing as a fully functioning and responsible person you must be clear on what you need and want to do with your life because that is the essence of being responsible.

In this new economy, moving from job to job every 2-3 years means you are being responsible and pro-active in your career. Part of this pro-active approach to career building means you must stay connected to colleagues and keep your network activities vibrant and up to date and in your profession al development you must be visible and attuned to market place opportunities because you never know when they be presented. Don’t get to comfortable making a nice salary or benefits because that made be the wrong focus for expanding your skill set and broaden your experiences to move to a more challenging and rewarding job. This method of career management where you stay alert to opportunities and updating your career portfolio through new experiences has been mislabeled by some career experts self-centered “job hopping”. The fact these days, is that talent is scarce and employees who stay in a job just to be loyal or are worried about their security or that they maybe labeled a “job hoppers” or disgruntled employees is nonsense because surveys report that employees who stay for longer than two years earn 50% less over their lifetimes. So yes, be engaged at your work place and be respectful to each and every one of your employers, but certainly don’t stay in a position for fear of being labeled “a job hopper or an unloyal employee. It is your perfect right and responsibility to manage your own career and life not your employers responsibility.

Teaching the World Peace Game to 5th Graders through Discovery Learning

Don’t miss this TED talk. John Hunter and his students are making a difference in the world. A very unique approach to discovery learning and critical thinking. His kids solved global warning in an hour. They are raising their visibility by being invited to the Pentagon to discuss approaches to war and how to build peace in the world by using “empty spaces. Maybe there is still hope to end war in our life. Go kids.

What does latest Research say about Living with Stress? Learn about the 90:10 Rule

Daily Quote: The bottom line of the latest research on stress is summarized by Dr. Daniela Kaufer, ” I think the ultimate message of our research is an optimistic one. Stress can be something that makes you better, but it is a question of how much, how long and how you interpret or perceive it. Stress can be a very positive motivator for personal growth and memory development.

Reflection: In looking at stress from a different point of view we can be less afraid of it and gain control of the positive aspects of the concept. I think invoking Aristotle’s “golden mean” approach to living a balanced life serves as a positive and reasonable approach for how to live our lives where “stress” is a given reality. To paraphrase this great philosopher “too much of anything can cause imbalance and overwhelm the human system and upset the natural order of things.”

Self Coaching Challenge:

Stress can be a contributor to some deadly conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, thus if left unabated it could lead to death. On the other handle it can be a source of stimulation to support  a a growth mindset and provides an opportunity to live a more exciting lifestyle. Your attitude is the key to making stress a positive or negative factor in your life. Stress affects us all differently so how we handle requires a customized plan. A plan that its foundation aims to create balance in your life. This assertion about stress is true depending on your mindset about what stress is and how it affects you. If you see, stress as a signal for living and a necessary part of the “yin and yang” of life you are on the right path.

So your challenge is to educate yourself on the topic of stress and then build an approach that can support stress as a normal condition to be handles in life.

1. How is stress impacting your life? Use some self-assessment tools to learn how it is now effecting you. See http://www.stress.org/workplace-stress/for more information

2. Choose some of the suggested behavioral tools and approaches outline in my past post on stress on how to develop new practices such as reframing, mindfulness and other beneficial practices to incorporate into your daily life. See– the wick post at  http://wp.me/pnKb1-21T

3. Learn to use the 90:10 rule for handling stress. View the following video on YouTube on the 90:10 Rule.

 

Learning Breakthrough: Focus on Growth Mindset to Reach your Full Potential

Daily Quote: “Becoming is better than being… never stop growing and believing in your potential to become a fully functioning person.”” Carl Rogers

Back in 1973 almost 41 years to the date, I made a critical decision that changed my professional life. I decided that I loved to teach and facilitate other people’s growth and development and that being an Administrator in Higher Education was to reactive and mundane for my liking. When you have a potential mindset, you can better understand that many things in live remain fixed until we see them with the new eyes of positive change and personal growth. For example, IQ, EQ, and other skills like presentations, listening and leadership can be developed. When we learn to focus on improvement and the processes of self-development instead of being concerned about whether we are talented in some activity or do we have the talent to perform. When people work hard to bring about their best through deliberative practice, effort and hard work we see improvement toward their goal to what ever it is. All of sudden they become better or seem to smarter at the activity they are trying to perfect. Based on years of research by Stanford University’s Dr. Dweck, Lisa Blackwell Ph.D., and their colleagues, we know that students who learn this mindset show greater motivation in school, better grades, and higher test scores.
What does research say about the relationship between growth mindset and fixed mindset on performance? Your belief (self-efficacy) in your self and the possibilities and potential for change have a high positive relationship to improved performance.
Mindsets Predict Motivation and Achievement
In one study, Blackwell and her colleagues “ followed hundreds of students making the transition to 7th grade. They found that students with a growth mindset were more motivated to learn and exert effort, and outperformed those with a fixed mindset in math—a gap that continued to increase over the two-year period. Those with the two mindsets had entered 7th grade with similar past achievement, but because of their different mindsets their math grades pulled apart during this challenging time. (Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). In another study, also with adolescents, Blackwell and her colleagues divided students into two groups for a workshop on the brain and study skills. Half of them, the control group, were taught about the stages of memory; the other half received training in the growth and potential mindset (how the brain grows with learning to make you smarter) and how to apply this idea to their academic schoolwork”.
Summary: the growth mindset group outperformed the control group by a level of three times better and their practice, effort and engagement was significantly higher than the fixed mindset group. Even after training was over the growth potential-mindset group showed a clear improvement in their grades.
Bottom line is that the potential and belief mindset increased achievement scores, effort expended on improvement (increased practice time), as well as greater resilience to snap-back after failures and setbacks and overall increased life satisfaction scores.
Research shows that the Brain is Malleable

Cognitive psychology and neuroscience research supports the hypothesis that positive change on mental set from fixed to a growth mindset is possible because the brain is malleable and demonstrates plasticity.
For example, neuroscientists tracked students during their teenage years. For many students, they found substantial changes in performance on verbal and non-verbal IQ tests. Using neuro-imaging, they found corresponding changes in the density of neurons in the relevant brain areas for these students. In other words, an increase in neuronal connections in the brain accompanied an increase in IQ-test performance, while a decrease in neuronal connections in the brain accompanied a decrease in IQ-test performance. If you want to learn more about this breakthrough research and how to apply the findings with your kids checkout Carol Dweck’s groundbreaking software product and book Mindset: The New Psychologyof Success.

Daily Quote and Reflection: Want more Positive Energy practice Renewal and Recovery

Daily Quote: “The richest, happiest, and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal”–Dr. James Loehr and Schwarz, The Power of Full Engagement

Reflection:  Dr. Loehr and Scwartz quote reminded me of some of the posts I have written on the power of self-renewal and recovery. It is my opinion that the ideas of engagement, renewal and recovery are all linked to the level of our happiness. So I recommend now an then to take the time to do a personal audit of how you are spending your time and how do these daily activities impact your energy and vitality for living a more productive and higher quality of life.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Identify the best thing you have done for yourself in the last month. It could be as simple as waking-up earlier on Monday – Friday and spending the first 30 min. exercising, eating a great breakfast with the kids and 30 min. of mindfulness or meditating before reporting in for work. If you have difficulty identifying something , then it is even more important for you to STOP and take a look at how you are using your time.

Try this exercise identify how you use your time. We all have only 168 hours per week. This week keep track of how many hours are spent in these life activity categories:

Work ____, Family _______, Exercise______, School or Community Volunteering ________,Sleeping______

Fun and Recreation_________ ( Chatting with Friends, Reading for Pleasure, Music, Reading writing poetry etc_____

Spiritual, Religious ____________ Learning new skills_________Other_________. Total 168.

Reflective questions:

How do you feel about your allotment of time overall– 1 very satisfied to 10 unsatisfied/need changes.

Are there any key activities that are left out of your time allotment review?

What are the changes you are committed to make?

What kind of support will you need to make these changes?

How would the changes improve your quality of life?

When are you going to start making these changes?

Single Most Important Factor For Happiness–Unique Connections

Unique Connect—Seek to understand and show interest before telling your story

“When we’re with other people, we feel more positive emotions, which leads to greater happiness. When we’re happier, we have better relationships. This in turn leads to more positive emotions…and being on an “upward spiral” of well-being and happiness. Connecting with others is the single most important thing we can do for happiness”… the cerebral virtues—curiosity, love of learning—are less strongly tied to happiness than interpersonal virtues like kindness, gratitude, and capacity for love.” Martin Seligman  

When you first meet someone, are you attuned and focused on them or are you more interested in telling them your story? Showing interest and learning about the other person 1st is key to establishing a good first impression and establishing a “unique connect” Learning about them and their interests is a powerful connector. This is a secret that too many people have never learned because they like being the center of attention. When done well it builds a strong foundation for building a long-term relationship based on memorable first impression that demonstrates in a concrete way your core values of caring and interest.

If you do the unique connect well the following will occur:

  1. You will enjoy the conversation more because you invested in someone else.
  2. They will like you more and the interaction is more engaging.
  3. You will be perceived as an interesting person.
  4. They will normally begin to ask you questions and thus become interested in you.
  5. They will perceive you as a great resource and worthy person, which will impact you in the future.

The “unique connect” is powerful because the shift that focuses on someone else makes them feel better and accepted. The “unique connect” helps keep your ego in check and good reminder that it is not about us but the people we serve – that we influence people all the time, whether you realize it or not, and that there is always more to learn and new ways to grow. When you are interested in someone and they begin to trust you, then your influence increases and impact occurs. And by the way they may complete the circle by asking about you and your story.

Self-Coaching challenge: Here two ways to increase your connections with others. In the next 24 hours pick one and try it out. Then reflect on how it makes you feel. The Emotional Life Series on happiness recommends these two techniques:

” 1. Connect every day. Find a way to connect with someone else every day. Make it a priority to have a relaxed phone conversation, take a short walk together, share a meal, or exchange letters or emails with someone you enjoy.

2. Fake it to You Make it– Act “as if.” Even if you’re not a very outgoing person, act as if you are when you are around other people. Researchers find that if you push yourself to be more outgoing when you are with other people, you’ll feel more positive emotions from the social interaction”.

Power of Brain Fitness and Plasticity to Change You Life

Did You Get you’re 30 minutes of  Brain Fitness Today?

Did you know that you can re-wire your brain? It is a fact of neuroscience that we are now able to re-wire our brains. Back in 2000 the now famous re-wiring ferret”experiment proved that the brain is basically tissue just like our muscles and can be developed and adaptive with practice and action for many different purposes. This new idea was called brain plasticity. The core idea was that the brain is adaptable and changes the more it is used. Remember the idea for keeping physically healthy–” move it or lose it” concept. Brain plasticity refers to fact that the brain is adaptive — it self-organizes, meaning that if exercised appropriately it can adapt and change for the better.

This new understanding of the brain, made possible in the 1990’s by the invention of the MRI, is in stark contrast to the prior theory, that each part of the brain has a fixed specialized function.  The old theory hypothesized that once these functions are learned, typically at a young age, they are fixed, and pre-determined for life.  This theory was called localization and it has been proved wrong.

In fact, not only is the brain plastic and able to change, it is changing constantly.  Brain maps, the functionality by region, change constantly depending on individual needs.  This is called “competitive plasticity” (or “use it or lose it”), referring to the fact that the brain is constantly dropping connections (knowledge or skills) that are no longer needed or being used, and it will add connections if there are new demands. A story by the NY Times magazine written by Pro Bronson and Ashley Merryman detailed an experiment where a teacher was able to impact math scores by having children read out loud a scientific paper on how the brain is a muscle that will respond to exercise.   The knowledge of this opportunity encouraged students to work harder and a new improved trend was established.

But it takes time and practice. The is like a muscle if not used it can lose its power and strength when not exercised.  So the question becomes –Do you care for your brain through exercise and activities that stimulate and protect it or do just take the brain for granted?  The bad news is that since you were never provided an owner’s manual for your brain, you are probably making lifestyle choices that impair your brain’s performance, or worse, actually damage your brain! The good news is that because your brain is resilient, making healthier lifestyle choices can improve your brain’s health and performance.

Let’s start with the pillar of Physical Exercise, which has a number of positive benefits for your brain including increasing oxygen flow which increases mental sharpness, increasing brain re-wiring which supports the growth of brain cells, increasing the creation of blood vessels in the brain and … see more at Dr. John Medina’s paper on  Brain Rules: 12 Principles for  Surviving and Thriving at Work School and Home.

PS  Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise just twice a week risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by 50%!

In fact, not only is the brain plastic and able to change, it is changing constantly.  Brain maps, the functionality by region, change constantly depending on individual needs.  This is called “competitive plasticity” (or “use it or lose it”), referring to the fact that the brain is constantly dropping connections (knowledge or skills) that are seemed to be no longer needed or that are not being challenged, and it will add connections if there are new demands.

Self-Coaching Challenge: What can you do today to increase your brain muscle? 

Part I: Learn to Overcome your Demons and Negative Self-talk

Daily Quote: “First your negative talk controls and ignores your positivity, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win… Remember your past does not determine your future.” MWH 

Each of us has a set of internal messages that play like a tape recorder over and over in our minds. These internal messages can be either negative or positive. This dialogue frames our reaction to different people and circumstances in our life.

One of the ways to recognize, promote, and sustain optimism, is to observe and intentionally fill our thoughts with positive self-talk.

Too often the pattern of self-talk developed through life experiences is negative. We remember the negative things we were told as children by parents, siblings, or teachers. For some reason this negative commentary has more power than positive messages. Most of the research shows that it takes 3-5 positive messages to override negative ones.(Fredrickson and Gottman). Over the years these negative self-talk messages have replayed again and again in our minds, fueling our thoughts of frustration, shame, fear, guilt, and hopelessness.

Overriding these negative patterns takes willpower and sustain practice to change our brain. If people learned as children that they were worthless, we show them how truly special they are. If while growing up you learned to expect bad reactions, or unlucky events, you need to rewire these patterns and find better ways to react and create a more positive future.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Try the following reflection and re-wiring exercise.

1) Write down some of the negative messages that replay in your mind, ones that undermine your ability to feel comfortable and in control of events and circumstances in your life. Be specific whenever possible, and include anyone you remember who contributed to that message.

2) Now take a moment to focus on how to override these negative messages with positive experiences by remembering events where you triumphed in spite of negativity or changed negative self-talk to positive messages. Don’t give up if you don’t find them quickly. For every negative message there is a positive truth that will override and counter balance the power of the negativity.

You may have a negative message that replays in your head every time you make a mistake. As a child you may have been told “you’ll never amount to anything,” or “you can’t do anything right.” When you make a mistake — and you will, because we all do — you can choose to overwrite that message with a positive one, such as “I choose to accept my responsibility and grow from my mistake,” or “ When I find the lesson in making mistakes I now have the opportunity to thinking and behave in a more effective way. As I learn from my mistakes, I’m becoming a more functioning person.”

During this exercise, mistakes become opportunities to replace negative views of yourself with positive options for personal worth and growth. In addition, every time your over-ride a negative thought you form new paths for succeeding in the future.

 Positive Self-talk is Mental Toughness. Positive self-talk is  mental toughness in action. It is looking at circumstances with eyes that see the reality and truth of what is happening. Positive self-talk is about reaffirming your strength and worth. One of the fundamental truths is that life is difficult. To expect perfection in yourself is unrealistic. To expect no difficulties in life, whether through your own actions or sheer circumstance, is also unrealistic.