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

 

Poem-A life of Searching

Above all, I have lived a life of curiosity and seeking by being, a thinking and learning person, on this beautiful journey, and that in itself has been an enormous mystery, privilege and adventure. So having said that, I wrote this poem to share my view of this adventure.

 

A LIFE OF SEARCHING   

Most of the time, I am very active and in motion

At best, finding no place to peacefully rest

No finality to the searching, just searching on this quest

One is always nearer to finding the unknown

By keeping on, keeping on, keeping on …    

Never giving in or up, just searching

Trying with persistence to find final answers

In a curious life of discovery and adventure …

On an endless journey of the unknown…unknown…

This provides pleasure and pain…

Being this unsettled person observing, thinking and questioning

On an  adventure of being and learning

Still the answers are beyond my reach…my reach 

And unknown, unknown, unknown…

 

 

Reflection and Self-Coaching Challenge: If I had my Life to Live Over by Nadine Stair

Nadine Stair
An amazing poem and reflection of an 85-year-old woman, from Louisville, Kentucky, who provided the words above after someone asked her how she would have lived her life differently if she had a chance. Great question for all of us no matter what our age.

If I had my life to live over,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I’d Have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I am one of those people who has lived sensibly and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments,
one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle,
a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
If i had my life to live over,
I would start bare foot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daises.
Reflection:
We may not get the chance to live our lives over again, but we do have the power to start fresh each moment.

Self-Coaching Challenge: If you could change one thing in your life, right now, what would you change?

Daily Growth Mindset and EQ Practice: Get Started Now with 5 Key Questions.

Daily Growth Mindset and EQ Practice: Get Started Now
“Emotional Intelligence is a way of recognizing and choosing how we think feel and act. It shapes our interactions with others and ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests that it is responsible for 80% of our “success” in our lives.” Jenson, Rideout, Freedman & Freedman

Learn to Connect with Your Feelings. Remember what’s truly important to you, consider others, and then move forward with positive actions. At first glance, it’s really simple, right but EQ takes practice and will not happen until you change your thinking and start practicing how to do it. Practice by taking a few seconds, three times a day, to go through these five steps. You can use these five questions to stimulate your motivation :
1. What am I feeling?
2. What is the situation? What options do I have?
3. What do I really want?
4. What is blocking me from getting the results you want?
5. When do I plan on doing something about it?

Self-Coaching Challenge: Learn the Power of Reflection to Increase Self-Awareness

Daily Quote: “This is the key to life: the ability to reflect, the ability to know yourself, the ability to pause for a second before reacting automatically. If you can truly know yourself, you will begin the journey of transformation.” Deepak Chopra

Reflection: If you are open to new ways to improve  your life both at work or home, you might want to try the Self-Coaching technique of “Self-Awareness through Reflection”. Increasing you ability to be more Self-Aware will keep you from living life on “autopilot” or feeling “stuck” by just moving through daily activities and tasks like this is all there is in life. This approach to living is boring and self-deflating to say the least. Self-Awareness and reflection is gaining in popularity because new neuroscience research on the brain’s ability to grow and expand. The Brain is more like a muscle than a fixed structure. The potential for expansion and learning through out life is getting more attention because it is important in helping you shape your thoughts and behavior which impact decisions about career, relationships, and your life.

Basically, Self Awareness and Reflection is the ability to process and gain understanding of what your experiences teach you about who you are and how to live a more fulfilling life. Self-awareness is important because it provides the opportunity to assess your strengths, recognize what is working for you and learn how others perceive and measure your competencies and capabilities. Learning how others react and perceive you helps to uncover “blindspots” which many times are the barriers for living a more productive and optimum life. A simple illustration of this is to overrate yourself as strong leader and get a false sense of pride out of it, only to be devastated when you receive feedback from your team that this not how they experience  and perceive you.

So in essence self-awareness is the capacity to reason about experiences and to use information about your effect on others to enhance one’s thoughts, plans, and life experience. Its chief components include recognizing personally relevant information about yourself from reflection and others, and using that information to create  a plan for personal changes and self-development.

If this doesn’t sound important, I will remind you of the fact that tens of thousands of individuals derail themselves by not acknowledging personal and professional behaviors and decisions that are not aligned with reality. They make wrong decisions about what jobs to take, what work environments to enter, who to work with, and by overrating their abilities and underrating their deficiencies lose touch with reality and become “stuck” and depressed about their lives. The good news is like so many personality and brain functions,you can develop new ways to think and behave that are more aligned with your goals to live a more meaningful and constructive life.

Your main tool for accomplishing these changes is to become more aware by using reflection and introspection. The key is to evaluate were you are now and where you would like to go in the future. Then reflect on the gaps between now and future and determine what needs to be changed.  For these changes to happen, self awareness and reflection plans must be clear, concrete and time-bound. This reflection process is a deliberate, time-consuming process that requires you to study yourself and others feedback to you so that you can assess yourself accurately.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Here is a methodology that I have used to coach executives and managers develop their self-awareness.

  1. Block off 30 minutes at the end of the day for reflection time.
  2. Select an one area of your personality that is not working for you or you would like to improve. Commit to reviewing and getting feedback on this area, such as your ability to listen to others or how you react to pressure or stress at home or work.
  3. Spend the designated time introspecting on the personality area you selected. As you reflect, think of real life examples where listening has been important for making decisions. Then, identify who was there and how you behaved in listen to their opinions or advice. Make the example as concrete and vivid as you can. Then, ask yourself some critical questions: In what way did you listen or not listen to others? Did you interrupt other people when they were talking? How long does it take you to criticize or reject ideas presented by others? When you are supposed to be listening are you really taking time to understand what the other person is saying or are building a rebuttal argument? to rebut you new information and what type of information is it easy or hard for you to learn? Are you a visual learner or auditory? Could you restate what the other person was trying to communicate to you to their satisfaction? Do you listen better in groups or individually? How did this interaction workout? What would you do differently to improve the outcome of the interaction?
  4. Reflect and Record your reflective observations in a journal. When capturing you reflections be sure to write down your thoughts and evaluate whether your behavior is following the 3-1 positivity ratio we have talked about in past posts. Having  a Self-Coaching journal will be useful to see how this negativity and lack positivity reflection keep you “stuck”.
  5. Develop a specific action plan to change your thinking so you can your behavior for the better.
  6. Then identify other areas of your thinking and behavior or habits you would like to change.

When doing more reflection I have one cautionary point –most of us are not very good at evaluating ourselves and consequently fail to be accurate in their assessment; they engage in self-deception. You can combat this tendency by thinking of multiple examples, rather than just one situation to review for each personality characteristic you study. You can also check the validity of your observations by asking trusted others for their thoughts and feedback about your level of competency on the characteristic you are trying to improve.

What are You Grateful For? Learning to Practice Loving Kindness Meditation

Daily Quote: “It certainly does me no harm to say “thank you” and to feel grateful at every possible occasion.”  MWH

“May you know the fearlessness of an open heart. May you never meet anyone you consider a stranger, and know that no matter what, you are not alone. May you have compassion for others’ suffering and joy in their delights. May you be free to give and receive love.” Sharon Salzberg 

Now let’s spend some time activating a sense of gratitude or appreciation for what we have and achieved in life.  There’s so much that is amazing and joyful in life.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Write down 5 things that you are grateful for today.  Reflect on how you feel and what you value after writing the list.  Your challenge is to continue for 30 days, everyday writing down just a few things you are grateful for.

Here’s my list:

  1. My wonderful and caring wife of 49 years whom I am lucky to share my life with.
  2. My 3 boys who were a joy to raise and share moments with.
  3. My body, for being healthy and hardy after 71 years.
  4. My tennis buddies who help me sustain an active life in retirement.4.
  5. The internet, for allowing me to connect with so many people each day through my blog. thewick@wordpress.com

Daily Quote–Picasso and Growth Mindset a Self- Coaching Challenge

Daily Quote:

“I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

Reflection: Many neurologists and psychologist are just catching up to Picasso’s early understanding and keys to his learning.On of the key tenants of the “Growth Mindset” is that everyone can learn everything. It just takes effort, openness and understanding of how the brain works. I have become a real enthusiast of the Growth Mindset after reading after reading Dr. Carol Dweck’s book called the Growth Mindset.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Take the time to assess the last time you had a setback. My failure was __________________________________________________________________________________________

Then ask yourself some tough questions about that perceived failure:

What were the root causes for the failure?

How did I react to feedback about the failed project?

How could I have handled the situation better or differently?

What are some new strategies and tactics can I learn to rebound from failures, and emerge stronger to handle similar interactions or situations in the future?

I am I committed to become more resilient and learn from setbacks?

After reviewing you answers create a thirty-day action plan for becoming more resilient to failures and how to learn from them.a thirty day development action plan for