Honoring the experiences we have in our lives is an invaluable way to communicate with life, our greatest teacher. We do this when we take time at night to say what we are thankful for about our day and also when we write in a journal. Both of these acts involve consciously acknowledging the events of our lives so that they deepen our relationship to our experiences. This is important because it brings us into closer connection with life, and with the moment. Only when we acknowledge what's happening to us can we truly benefit from life's teachings. It is especially important when pain comes our way to honor the experience, because our natural tendency is to push it away and move past it as quickly as possible. We tend to want to brush it under the rug. Yet, if we don't, it reveals itself to be a great friend and teacher. As counterintuitive as it seems, we can honor pain by thanking it and by welcoming it into the space of our lives. We all know that often the more we resist something, the longer it persists. When we honor our pain, we do just the opposite of resisting it, and as a result, we create a world in which we can own the fullness of what life has to offer. We can honor a painful experience by marking it in some way, bringing ourselves into a more conscious relationship with it. We might mark it by creating a work of art, performing a ritual, or undertaking some other significant act. Sometimes all we need to do is light a candle in honor of what we've gone through and what we've learned. No matter how small the gesture, it will be big enough to mark the ways in which our pain has transformed us, and to remind us to recognize and value all that comes our way in this life.
Always being rushed and in a hurry doesn't allow time for the soul to enjoy life, which is composed of small, ordinary moments that can be beautiful Our lives have become increasingly fast-paced, and the effort to keep up often occupies all our time and attention. We are so busy rushing from point A to point B that we forget to enjoy the ride. We race to the store without noticing the leaves on the trees or the clouds in the sky. We go through the checkout line feeling too pressed to converse with the cashier or the other people in line. At the end of a day filled with this kind of frantic pace, we may begin to wonder what it is we do all these things for, if we don't even have the time to occasionally stop and just take it all in. Always being rushed and in a hurry doesn't allow time for the soul to enjoy life, which is composed of small, ordinary moments, like watching snow fall from the sky, having a spontaneous conversation with a stranger, or lingering over a meal for several hours. Small towns and the people who live in them can teach us all a thing or two about living life to the fullest as a daily matter. City people have a tendency to think that their lives are full because they are doing so many different things, but in a small town, there tends to be more time left open to be spontaneous or take an extended moment of rest. This certainly doesn't mean that we can't live in a city and enjoy life fully -- we can and do; it just takes a little more awareness. One thing we can do, wherever we live, is bring awareness breaks into our day and take 10 minutes to simply look out the window and observe what's happening outside. We might also choose to cultivate a relationship with someone we see regularly, such as a clerk at the convenience mart or a neighbor. Taking time to have a conversation that is not necessary is a true luxury in this day and age, as is staring out the window. Participating in acts of timelessness makes the biggest city in the world start to feel a little bit more like a small town.
COACHING FORWARD launches its Podcast People Forward.
COACHING FORWARD is all about mental fitness. Mental fitness is the greatest predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform. It is the capacity to respond to life challenges with a positive rather than negative mindset.
COACHING FORWARD offers Coaching Engagements for leaders and executives, at different life and professional crossroads.
We believe that certain moments call for a safe space to create a pause, step back, seize the big picture, connect the dots, and design how to move forward.
When we learn to let go, more energy flows and less effort is needed. When we become overwhelmed and things are not going as planned, it is natural to hold tighter to our goals and try to force things to go our way. In the process, we tie ourselves in knots, tensing our shoulders, jaws, and muscles throughout our bodies. Our mind tells us that this is how to get a firmer grip on a situation that feels out of control, but as we create knots in our bodies we are blocking the flow of our energy, exhausting ourselves by exerting more effort yet accomplishing less. At these times, though it may seem counterintuitive, our higher selves know it's better to let go. This may not be quite as easy as it sounds. After the relief of our first decision to release, if we allow questions about how to get everything done to start again, the knots will be back before we know it. So we need to be aware that this is a process to breathe through. First, we need to let go of our idea of what the perfect outcome should be, and allow that the intelligence that drives the universe knows better than we do how everything fits together for the highest good. Then we might have to release our imagined consequences and realize that, in most cases, the worst that could happen really isn't that bad. We may need to remember how to relax, first by taking deep breaths, then by meditating, and then perhaps seeking help from a loved one, massage therapist, or energy healer to clear the underlying knots. We can ease our mental stress by prioritizing what we truly want to accomplish, and then delegating the rest to someone who has more enthusiasm for those things. When we relax and let life's energy flow through our minds, bodies, spirits, and lives, we will find that we can accomplish more with less effort and feel good doing it. We don't have to tie ourselves in knots. Instead, we can let the ribbons of our energy unfurl to gracefully direct us through life's abundant flow.
It seems that everywhere we look, we are being sold a myth of fear, separation, and scarcity. The media continually reminds us that we are pitted against one another. In truth, however, we are one community, and all is well. There is enough, and we are enough.
When we bring the practice of collaboration and reciprocity into conscious view a kind of alchemy occurs. To make this magic happen, we need to shift our worldview from the “you-OR-me” world of scarcity and competition to the “you-AND-me” world of collaboration.
In a you-OR-me world, reciprocity and collaboration don’t fit. However, a you-AND-me world is full of collaboration and reciprocity! In that world, our resources are not only enough; they are infinite.
Through a myriad of examples from Mother Nature, we can see that different species of plants and animals already know how to coexist; each providing something essential to balance the environment resulting in an ecosystem that supports the whole of life. As in Nature, so too in our communities, especially now.
This global crisis has inspired many new forms of collaboration because we have had to become even more resourceful as we strive to support each other, our children, our families, and our businesses in these challenging times.
It’s so important that we “see no stranger” despite endeavors to drive wedges between us and to convince us otherwise.
Virtually every day of my life I witness the power of collaboration that bridges these so-called divides that the media continues to try to convince us of.
Truly, in our every breath we embody reciprocity.
Reciprocity is like the breath we breathe in—no more than what we need, and we breathe out exactly the amount that must be released.
Remember, in reciprocity, there is nourishment and joy. I am here for you, and you are here for me.
Based on text by Lynne Twist
Take time to slow down, rushing never gets you anywhere but onto the next activity or goal. Life can often feel like it's zipping by in fast forward. We feel obliged to accelerate our own speed along with it, until our productivity turns into frenzied accomplishment. We find ourselves cramming as much activity as possible into the shortest periods of time. We disregard our natural rhythms because it seems we have to just to keep up. In truth, rushing never gets you anywhere but on to the next activity or goal. Slowing down allows you to not only savor your experiences, but also it allows you to fully focus your attention and energy on the task at hand. Moving at a slower place lets you get things done more efficiently, while rushing diminishes the quality of your work and your relationships. Slowing down also lets you be more mindful, deliberate, and fully present. When we slow down, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves to our natural rhythms. We let go of the "fast forward" stress, and allow our bodies to remain centered and grounded. Slowing down is inherent to fully savoring anything in life. Rushing to take a bath can feel like an uncomfortable dunk in hot water, while taking a slow hot bath can be luxuriant and relaxing. A student cramming for a test will often feel tired and unsure, whereas someone who really absorbs the information will be more confident and relaxed. Cooking, eating, reading, and writing can become pleasurable when done slowly. Slowing down lets you become more absorbed in whatever it is you are doing. The food you eat tastes better, and the stories you read become more alive. Slowing down allows you to disconnect from the frenzied pace buzzing around you so you can begin moving at your own pace. The moments we choose to live in fast forward motion then become a conscious choice rather than an involuntary action. Learning to slow down in our fast-moving world can take practice, but if you slow down long enough to try it, you may surprise yourself with how natural and organic living at this pace can be. Text from Daily Om
When we watched as Simone Biles withdrew from her Olympic competitions, we were shownI a vital lesson: even the strongest of us need time to recover, to rest and recharge. So, as we close out the summer months and the temptation to pick up the pace calls, I am consciously pausing and reminding myself to take note of the lessons I have learned. As Simone said, “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too. We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.” Too often we feel we have to “give it our all” at the expense of our well-being. We’re eager to prove ourselves and show our teams we’re capable and reliable. This became especially true as many people moved to a virtual work environment for the first time and the lines between work and home blurred. For many, the early uncertainty of the pandemic also led to longer days and less time off. With the changing nature of work, it can feel as though this level of exhaustive determination is now just part of the job. If asked how work is going, we say we’re, “giving 110%,” “firing on all cylinders,” and “burning the candle at both ends.” But if we really look at these phrases and consider what they mean, we realize keeping this pace means there will likely be nothing left of us to give — not to work or to any other aspect of life. We end up exhausted, depleted, and burned out — a feeling that is all too familiar for many people. Well-being should be a priority in our personal and professional lives if we are to thrive in mind, body, and purpose. Growth requires us to add value, find opportunities, and bring new insights, but rest is required for accessing these skills. We are encouraged to make time for our physical, emotional, and financial well-being, set boundaries, and listen to warning signs instead of ignoring them — tasks we mistakenly think will take away from our focus at work and in life. However, when we carve out this time, we find we have more to give to work and everyone around us. We all pride ourselves on having a great work ethic. And we’re missing a “rest ethic.” Having a strong work ethic — without a correspondingly strong rest ethic that we take every bit as seriously — is what’s burning us out. We should see time off as an investment into productivity, and into creativity. It’s so important to commit to recharging our internal batteries regularly. In doing so, we find our reservoir of energy replenished instead of drained and we’re able to bring more passion to all that we do. Yes, our daily demands are calling but we’ll never achieve the growth we are seeking by simply “powering through” them. Instead, we should make real time to unplug and reset. So, while our work calendar fills up with engagements, client meetings, and travel (maybe), also find time to enjoy what’s left of our warm summer days — because the time spent on our own rest and recovery is just as important for our collective growth and success.
It’s only natural to feel stressed from time to time. When we do, it’s important to address the feeling head-on. When we ignore our bodies’ signs that tell us to slow down, our stress can build up and eventually escalate, which can lead to burnout. Thrive asked its community to share with us the little hints from their bodies that tell them it’s time to slow down. Which of these signs are you experiencing? You’re having trouble focusing “If I notice I’m having difficulty focusing during the morning, and by noon I’m reaching for more coffee to wake up, I know I’m trying to do too much. When I notice it, I step away from everything and set my timer on my phone for three minutes to do some alternate nostril breathing. This strategy increases my energy and ability to focus.” —Kristin Meekhof, author and life coach, Royal Oak, MI You feel sore and achy “Over the years, I have been more mindful about the clues my body is trying to tell me. One physical sign that I need to slow down is tension in my upper body, especially in my neck. When that happens, I know that I need to amp up with my self-care. Some of my favorite activities are walking and listening to a guided meditation. There’s something about being outdoors while getting some movement that feels both rejuvenating and relaxing to me.” —Pamela Biasca Losada, health coach, Pittsburgh, PA You’re more cranky than usual “I get cranky when I’m overworked or feel stressed. I know I can’t put a finger on one single trigger and that’s a signal to slow down. I either take a nap or call up a friend who makes me feel better. After that, I give myself some breathing space to relax.” —Aakriti Agarwal, psychologist and coach, Hyderabad, India Your eye is twitching “I get a little eye twitch when my body hasn’t had enough rest, whether it was a busy work week or I had loads of home commitments. I used to power through the twitches during the week and try to sleep in on the weekends. What works better for me now is to commit to going to bed 20 minutes earlier for a few days. My body still wakes at the usual time it needs to wake, and the little extra time slowly gets me back on track.” —Donna Peters, executive coach and MBA faculty, Atlanta, GA Your neck feels stiff “One small way my body tells me to slow down is when I feel tension at the base of my neck. The tension is the warning signal, but if I ignore it, the tension can turn into a knot. The inflammation surrounding the knot feels like a throbbing pain, making it unbearable to work at my desk or sleep peacefully. To ease my stress levels, I’ve rearranged my schedule to incorporate more mindfulness exercises throughout my day. I begin my day with meditation, prayer, and gratitude journaling. And midway through my schedule, I take a walk outside to reconnect with nature.” —Karla J. Noland, personal development and executive coach, Durham, N.C. You’re especially tired “I know my body needs serious rest when I start to feel full-body fatigue and aches, that no amount of coffee can fix. When I start feeling this way, I try to find time for a nap during the day and go to bed early for the next few nights.” —Holly Fowler, health coach, Los Angeles, CA Your stomach is hurting “When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, my tummy starts feeling uncomfortable. This is a signal for me to step away from my desk, go on a short walk, change scenery, and be conscious about taking deep breaths. Being in tune with my body helps me stay productive throughout the day.” —Isabelle Bart, social impact coach, Orange County, CA You feel pressure in your head “It’s really obvious when my body tells me to slow down. My shoulders tighten like a vice until it feels like my head might pop right off! Whenever I begin to feel this way, there is one solution that is free, easy, and always works: sunlight. When I step outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, it lowers my stress and recharges me. On days when it is cloudy, I supplement this by breathing in fresh air, which has a similar effect.” —Joe Kwon, author, Oakland, N.J. You’re more clumsy than usual “When I start dropping things, I realize I’m in too much of a hurry. There is no such thing as multitasking. It’s just task shifting when I do that I drop things. I slow down and get more methodical when this happens. I also drop the ‘things’ that are extraneous or too strenuous on my body, mind, and spirit. It’s a reminder for me to slow down without distractions.” —Mary Joye, licensed mental health counselor, FL You feel like you’re in “fight or flight” mode “Last Tuesday was a great example of recognizing my body’s needs. I had a stressful morning at work as I needed to find a solution for an urgent problem. I succeeded but my body was in fight or flight mode for a few hours afterward. I felt like after a few coffees, my breath was shallow, and I started having a headache. This is a typical stress response for me. In these moments, I choose to push back my meetings and take care of myself first. Meditation at the beach and cold dips have helped me to release the tension.” —Paulina Kabaczuk, manager, Sydney, Australia Text from Thrive
In this modern age, we spend so much time indoors, focused on the busyness of our lives and disconnected from the earth. But much of what we truly need can only be found under the naked sky, alongside tall trees, on open plains, or in the sound of running water. Spending time in nature allows us to commune with other living beings and to find comfort in the nurturing embrace of Mother Earth. You can't help but experience a different sense of self while walking in a wood or traversing a mountainside. Being in nature connects us to the earth, grounding us as we walk, unhindered by concrete, upon her. Surrounded by other living beings, both bigger and smaller than we are, we remember that human beings are simply one form of life in this vast universe. Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it's not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it. Even if you live in a city or find it difficult to travel to a forest or the countryside, there are a myriad ways to reconnect with nature. When you step out of your door each morning, pause for a minute and close your eyes long enough to let your senses absorb your surroundings. Listen and breathe deeply, until you hear the wind rustling through branches, smell rain on damp grass, and see the reflection of leaves brushing up against windowpanes. If you have time, crouch down and closely examine any nearby grass and soil. The sights, sounds, smells, and sensations we experience that are part of nature can remind us of all the gifts Mother Earth grants us each day. Spending time connecting with nature nourishes the soul, reminds you that you are never truly alone, and renews you by attuning you to the earth's natural rhythms. Taking a walk under the stars or feeling the wind on your face may be all it takes for you to reconnect with nature. Remember, you are as much a part of nature as are the leaves on a tree or water bubbling in a brook. Text from Daily Om
When we slow down and turn inward, we're able to better optimize our time and manage our priorities. There is a better way to rethink your relationship to productivity, sustainability, and a world in flux. And guess what? It’s right in front of you. For starters: Imagine for a moment that rather than optimizing for productivity, we optimized for presence. (Lest you worry this sounds a bit woo-woo for your business, career, or lifestyle, I assure you it is not.) Allow me to explain. The old script, or the way we have been largely accustomed to viewing the world, is obsessed with optimizing for speed, efficiency, and productivity. If you can shave five seconds off your daily routine, or cram one more call into a jam-packed afternoon, that’s victory. For a long time, even after I’d started writing my new script, I didn’t question this busyness. I went along with it, on extra-busy days even joyfully. But the more I observed, the more undeniable the disconnect was. And when I slowed down to deepen my observation, I was dumbfounded. Hold on: What are we really doing? How in the world have we persuaded one another—and ourselves— that more meetings will somehow make our legacy more important? How have we convinced ourselves that saving five minutes will somehow save our soul? With the new script, rather than measure meetings, you can gauge presence: your ability to be fully in a moment, experience, or decision. One meeting in which everyone is fully present is worth more than a thousand meetings in which people are distracted. Ultimately, presence is about attention and response. These things are different, yet closely related: you respond to what you’re paying attention to. When you’re running fast, you’re unable to pay full attention. When you’re scattered, you pay attention to the wrong things, which often botches your response. The crux of the solution to our obsession with speed is simple: slowing down improves your chances of getting the issue and your response right. But that’s not all: you discover that time is what you perceive it to be. When you slow down, you actually have more time. When you have more time, you can be fully present. So how does one learn to optimize for presence? Fortunately, there are many ways to begin. Some may seem mundane and others quirky. Try whichever ones pique your interest, without overthinking! I find that the more bizarre a new practice seems, the more off-kilter the current habits usually are. Stillness practice: Start with thirty seconds, then one minute, two minutes, up to five minutes (or longer) of utter stillness. This is not meditation; it is even simpler. It’s sitting, stilling your mind, and seeing where it wanders. Don’t judge; just notice. Is your mind able to unwind, or does it speed up? Silence practice: Silence—whether the silence of nature or the silence at the end of a breath cycle (kumbhaka)— helps quiet the mind. Silence can be found almost anywhere: you may have to search a bit, but it is there. Find five minutes to bathe in silence daily. Pay attention to the emptiness. Notice what hangs in the space between you and sound. What is it calling you towards? Patience practice: Cultivating patience is one of the most difficult yet most powerful ways to run slower. Pick something that you know will take time—say, waiting for an appointment—and deliberately don’t fill that waiting time with social media apps, calls, word games, or whatever else. Just be . . . and wait. Do you feel tested, or freed? Not-to-do (or to-don’t) list: To-do lists help us run faster and stay on the hamster wheel. A not-to-do list does the opposite. Draft both versions and see which one feels more fluxy. (I find that a combination of both can work well, so long as what’s on my to-do list actually matters.) Micro-sabbaticals: Brainstorm a list of opportunities to pause, whether for a moment or for a month. The simple act of drawing up this list can help relieve tension. It creates a sense of space rather than rushing and serves as a reminder of the many shapes of slowing down. Nature bathing: Nature is a microcosm of constant change and an unparalleled tutor for running slower. Find the nearest spot of wilderness—a forest, lake, or open field—and absorb the environment through all five senses. This isn’t hiking, birding, or camping; this is simply being in nature. The Japanese call this shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.”(1 ) Technology Shabbat: Once a week, disconnect from the use of all technology with screens: smartphones, computers, tablets, and television.(2) If that feels like too much, start with a few hours and build up to a day. Use the time for quiet personal reflection, perhaps with an old-school pen and paper. Running slower shifts your focus of attention from outside to inside, with a goal to really listen to what’s going on internally. PROTECT THE ASSET The first time I heard this phrase was in China, listening to a panel of international entrepreneurs who had experienced massive health scares talk about coping when health thwarts your best-laid plans. The punchline was: no matter what your mindset, your body still keeps the score.(3) We can’t simply keep treating conditions like exhaustion, anxiety, and burnout by exercising and eating better. We must address the underlying sources of these conditions and meaningfully, consistently slow down. “Protecting the asset” acknowledges that when your mind is wound up, your body is wound up too, and neither functions well. Grooving a healthier mindset also requires addressing the somatic aspects of one’s relationship with speed. And there is no way for anyone to heal at speed. Quite the contrary: running ever faster ultimately kills. So we must slow down. The first step in protecting the asset is assessing how your body is holding onto, and embodying, speed. I think of this as a micro health check-in with myself. How am I feeling? Which parts of my body are racing? Which are speaking up, and what are they saying? Your most powerful somatic tool is your breath. It’s like a Swiss army knife, because it does so much. It is also the bridge between your inner and outer worlds, between body and mind. As you navigate constant change, a committed breathing practice—even a few minutes a day—becomes essential. There are a range of simple, yet powerful personal exercises and habits that can help you run slower and protect the asset: eating slower to thoroughly notice and relish each bite, walking slower to pay attention to the details on your path, slowing down the pace of travel by choosing options like walking instead of driving, and dancing rather than walking to your destination. Running slower helps you think slower and delay judgment, both of which empower you to manage your time—rather than time managing you—and bring your best self to life. On average, bad things happen fast and good things happen slow. Text by Stewart Brand