Expanding your comfort zone.

Expanding your comfort zone.

Your current comfort zone has served you, and it may represent behaviors and patterns from your past.

None of us are born with a guidebook that provides explicit rules for thought and behavior that will enable us to navigate life successfully. To cope with the myriad of complexities to which all of humanity is subject, we each develop a set of habits and routines that ground us, their continuity assuring us that life is progressing normally. Most of us know, whether instinctively or by experience, that transformations can be uncomfortable, but we always learn and gain so much.

Any initial discomfort we experience when expanding our comfort zones diminishes gradually as we both become accustomed to change and begin to understand that temporary discomfort is a small price to pay for the evolution of our soul.

Your current comfort zone did, at one time, serve a purpose in your life. It may be representative of behaviors and patterns of thought that empowered you to cope with challenges of days past. Now, this comfort zone does little to facilitate the growth you wish to achieve in the present. Leaving your comfort zone behind through personal expansion of any kind can prepare you to take the larger leaps of faith that will, in time, help you refine your purpose.

Work your way outward at your own pace. With the passage of each well-earned triumph, you will have grown and your comfort zone will have expanded to accommodate this evolution, as well as flexing styles to be more commensurate with situations, locations, and shareholders.

And the joy you feel upon allowing yourself to move with more wiggle room in a larger world will nearly always outweigh your discomfort. As you continue to expand your comfort zone to include new ideas, activities, goals, and experiences, you will see that you are capable of stimulating change and coping with the fresh challenges that accompany it.

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor

Happiness is a daily practice.

Happiness is a daily practice.

Discover something daily that makes you happy and become witness to your life transforming.

Our lives are rich with potential sources of happiness, but sometimes we become victims of negative thinking because we believe that focusing on all that has gone wrong will provide us with the motivation we need to face the challenges of survival. When we choose to focus on what makes us happy, however, a shift occurs in the fabric of our existence.

Finding something to be happy about every single day can help this shift take place.

The vantage points from which we view the world are brought into balance, and we can see that being alive truly is a gift to be savored. There is always something we can be happy about—it is simply up to us to identify it.
On one day, we may find happiness in a momentous, life-changing event such as a marriage or the birth of a child.
On another day, the happiness we experience may be a product of our appreciation of a particularly well-brewed cup of a tea or the way the sun shines on a leaf.

Keeping a happiness journal is a wonderful way to catalog the happiness unfolding all around us so that joy has myriad opportunities to manifest itself in our lives. Writing about the emotions we experience while contemplating joy may give us insight into the factors compelling us to resist it.

Happiness may not always come easily into your life. You have likely been conditioned to believe that the proper response to unmet expectations is one of sadness, anger, guilt, or fear.

To make joy a fixture in your existence, you must first accept that it is within your power to choose happiness over unhappiness every single day. Then, each time you discover some new source of happiness, the notion that the world is a happy place will find its way more deeply into your heart.

On this day, find one thing to be happy about and let it fill your experience.

Based on a text from Madisyn Taylor.
Giving birth to ideas

Giving birth to ideas

Birthing an idea is moving from concepts to reality, it is about doing something instead of just thinking about it.

When is the adequate time to give birth to an idea? The answer is easy: it is NOW.

Moving into action with the proverb “If not here, where; if not now, when; if not me, who”,

Ideas exist. You know they do because you have and experience them all the time.

The point is though; that your ideas; only exist to you and beyond that, they only exist in some alternate parallel universe within your mind. The thing with ideas is that they are immaterial; that is, they are not physical ‘things’ and because they are not physical in nature – they only exist to others for as much as you’re able to articulate them somehow.

You then, are the gateway between the world of ideas and the physical world we all live in.

Without you, your ideas will simply always be ‘out there somewhere’ – never to be shared, never to be seen and never ever to be experienced by any one else. Only you can give birth to your ideas and there’s only one way for you to do that and that way is by taking your idea and turning it into some form of meaningful action. Action (more precisely, YOUR action) is the key ingredient that brings your idea to life.

By taking action, you essentially reach beyond this world; into the conceptual world of ideas and manifest your idea into physical existence. The introduction of a new idea, concept or way of doing something is only possible because you chose to do something, rather than do nothing. We often underestimate the importance of taking action, but the reality is, without action, nothing ever happens.

Who knows how your world, our world might be different because of your idea?!

You’d like to start a business?

You have an idea for a new product or a better way of doing things?

You want to be healthier?

You want your work to be more meaningful?

You have an idea for a poem, film script or book?

You want to live a more simple life?

You want to travel and experience other cultures?

You want to help others?

All are great ideas – but ultimately pretty meaningless without action!

So a couple of points to leave you with; courtesy of Gregg Krech:

1. Deciding is not doing. You haven’t changed the reality of your life if you haven’t taken constructive action.

2. Get started before you’re ready. Action isn’t something that comes after figuring things out. Action is a way of figuring things out! So if you’re ready for action, but you’re not quite sure what’s holding you back; then that might be a good place to start.

You might have more influence than you ever realized and who knows how your world might change if you muster the courage to give birth to your next idea!

Laughing and Healing

Laughing and Healing

Many people might be surprised to think of laughter as a form of meditation. 

Yet not only is laughing meditation one of the simplest forms of meditation, but also it is a very powerful one. The physical act of laughing is one of the few actions involving the body, emotions, and the soul. When we laugh, we give ourselves over to the immediacy of the present moment. We also are able to momentarily transcend minor physical and mental stresses. 

Practiced in the morning, laughing meditation can lend a joyful quality to the entire day. Practiced in the evening, laughing meditation is a potent relaxant that has been known to inspire pleasant dreams. 

Laughter also can help open our eyes to previously unnoticed absurdities that can make life seem less serious.

There are three stages to mindful laughter. Each stage can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. 

The first stage involves stretching your body like a cat and breathing deeply. Your stretch should start at the hands and feet before you move through the rest of your body. Stretch out the muscles in your face by yawning and making silly faces. 

The second stage of the meditation is pure laughter. Imagine a humorous situation, remember funny jokes, or think about how odd it is to be laughing by yourself. When the giggles start to rise, let them. 

Let the laughter ripple through your belly and down into the soles of your feet. Let the laughter lead to physical movement. Roll on the floor, if you have to, and keep on laughing until you stop. 

The final stage of the meditation is one of silence. Sit with your eyes closed and focus on your breath.

Laughter brings with it a host of positive effects that operate on both the physical and mental levels. It is also fun, expressive, and a way to release tension. 

Learn to laugh in the present moment, and you’ll find that joy is always there.

How fast is your Recovery Time?

How fast is your Recovery Time?

Do you know the #1 difference between star athletes and the runners up?

It’s not strength, speed or agility. It’s not training. It’s not even motivation or how badly they want to win.

What about a Fortune 100 CEO? Do you know their secret to competing in the global marketplace? Hint: it’s not knowledge.

And how about elite sales teams? How do they continually make critical sales while others can’t even get their foot in the door?

The answer?

Their recovery time. The speed in which they rebound from setbacks and mistakes.

If you don’t recover fast enough, your small mistakes or setbacks can spiral into bigger ones. Champions know this.

How fast is your recovery time?

When you experience a setback – a rejection from a prospective client, getting admonished by your boss, losing your cool when talking to your teenager – how long does it take you to recenter yourself, mentally and emotionally?

The answer depends on the strength of your internal saboteurs. They waste a ton of your mental and emotional energy which in turn prolongs your recovery.

How do you train your mind to respond reliably, even in the toughest circumstances? How do you develop the ability to handle adversity with a clear, calm, and laser-focused mindset?

This takes mental fitness.

Mental fitness is the greatest predictor of how happy you are and how well you perform.

People with high mental fitness take fewer sick days than their co-workers and are less likely to become burned-out. Salespeople with high mental fitness sell 37% more than teams with lower relative mental fitness. CEOs with high mental fitness lead teams that are more likely to praise their workplace as a high-performance environment.

Mental fitness leads to lower levels of stress hormones, better immune system function, better sleep and smaller risk of hypertension, diabetes or stroke.

Mental fitness can actually help you live longer!

It is worth exploring, it is worth spending time strengthening the muscles to build yourself up and live mentally fit.

Excerpts from Shirzad Chamine

New Situations & New Habits

New Situations & New Habits

In unfamiliar, high-stakes situations, you’re hard-wired to default to the solutions you’ve relied on in the past. But challenging times are when you need to learn, change, and adapt the most.

Overcoming this “adaptability paradox” is all about acting with intention, creativity, and objectivity. Start by practicing learning agility: learning from experience, experimenting with new tactics, approaching new situations with a growth mindset, seeking feedback, and applying these lessons to new situations in real time. Next, practice emotional regulation: the ability to recognize, understand, and manage your emotions—and to channel them into productive behaviors.

To develop this emotional intelligence, you might keep a diary of moments when you feel emotionally triggered and describe the thoughts and bodily sensations you experienced and actions you took in those situations. Finally, practice dual awareness: consider both the internal circumstances (experiences, thoughts, emotions, and responses) and the external ones (an objective reading of the situation and what it calls for) simultaneously.

By pausing to take stock of both yourself and the situation, you will better understand not only your true feelings, motivations, and intentions, but also what the situation demands—and how your habits and tendencies can serve you in the moment.

Adapted from “How to Become More Adaptable in Challenging Situations,” by Jacqueline Brassey and Aaron De Smet

Comfortable with Incompletion

Comfortable with Incompletion

Excerpts from an interview with Ariana Huffington.

Burnout is one of today’s hottest topics. But for Arianna Huffington, the syndrome that was first officially recognized by the World Health Organization in 2019, has been top-of-mind since she collapsed from burnout 15 years ago. “I literally collapsed, hit my head on my desk, and broke my cheekbone.” The incident inspired nearly a decade of reporting around stress and mental health as founder and CEO of The Huffington Post, before she decided to shift her focus from awareness to action. In 2016, the bestselling author launched Thrive, a behavior-change tech company on a mission to dispel the notion that burnout is an inevitable cost of success.

On Why Downtime Is a Feature, Not a Bug

EAn interview with Ariana Huffingtonor centuries, we have really believed that downtime is a problem… It really goes back to the first Industrial Revolution, when we began revering machines; we began revering software. The goal with both machines and software is to minimize downtime but, for the human operating system, downtime is not a bug, it’s a feature. “Every leader now needs to be able to navigate turbulent, uncertain waters and be able to look around corners and see the icebergs before they hit the Titanic. Be innovative. Be creative. And these are the first qualities that are depleted when you’re exhausted. So, taking care of yourself and taking care of your employees’ well-being is not a nice-to-have. We need to say it as a business imperative.”

On Debunking the Delusion to Always Be On

“I had really bought into the collective delusion that so many of us buy into, or used to, that, in order to succeed, we have to always be on, 24/7 — that we don’t have the luxury of taking care of ourselves.

“We can’t sit here and promise anybody a stress-free existence, unless they want to go chill out under a mango tree. So stress is unavoidable, but cumulative stress is avoidable, and it is cumulative stress that is the problem… The good news is that it takes 60 to 90 seconds to course-correct from stress. Which is kind of amazing, isn’t it? So, we’ve built an entire feature in our platform that addresses that, and it can apply to Chiefs and it can apply to frontline workers.”

On Getting Comfortable With Incompletions

“I’ve learned to delegate, which I think is essential if you are going to be a leader who doesn’t burn out. It requires accepting that maybe it’s not going to be done as 100% as you think you’re doing it, but that’s fine, because it leaves you room to actually zoom out and look at the bigger picture. It’s also been very important for me to get comfortable with incompletions at the end of the day. I’m sure there’s nobody listening who has an end to their working day. I think all of us could stay up all night answering emails, texts, handling things. We need to declare an end to the working day. “The phone is not really a phone, it’s a nuclear weapon — repository of every problem and every project, and we need to separate ourselves from it. And yet 72% of people sleep with their phone on their nightstand or cuddled up with them.”

On Changing Corporate Infrastructure From Within

“Right now, the corporate infrastructure that made it so challenging for women is crumbling, and we see a lot more openness to reinventing the infrastructure, because we see that it hasn’t been working. There’s no question that in the past burnout has disproportionately affected women. Women in highly stressful jobs have higher instances of diabetes, of heart disease, because we are all impacted by stress even more deeply. But that world is changing. It’s not changing as fast as we would like it, but women who choose to stay within the current infrastructure and change it are really doing a tremendous service, not just for themselves, but for so many other women and men coming behind them.”

On Redefining Success

“I love the phase of reinvention. When I decided to leave The Huffington Post to launch Thrive, it was a tough decision because I was leaving a very successful company to follow my passion, to start again. There are no guarantees when you launch a new company, but I felt that this was going to be what was really going to fulfill me.

“So much of our career has to do with climbing the career ladder, getting a higher title, and if these things are no longer fulfilling us and no longer speaking to our soul, then we are really betraying what is true to us, and I think that’s happening a lot… There are many examples where people are no longer seeing their lives in terms of the next step on the career ladder, unless that’s what fulfills them.”

Interview by Claire Oliver

Spotting the Hidden Gems.

Spotting the Hidden Gems.

Life is full of buried treasures. Chances are, you’re sitting on some right now.

Sometimes we have an experience that we don’t understand, but if we look deeply, or wait long enough, a reason for that experience will usually reveal itself. All the events in our lives lead to other events, and all that we have manifested in this present moment is the result of past events and experiences. We cannot easily tease apart the many threads that have been woven together to create our current reality.

Experiences that don’t make sense, as well as any that we regret, are just as responsible for the good things in our lives as the experiences we do understand or label as “good.”This is especially important to remember at times when we feel directionless or unsure of what to do. It is often at times like these that we take a job or move to a place without really knowing if it’s the right thing to do. We may ultimately end up leaving the job or the place, but often during that time we will have met someone who becomes an important friend, or we may have an experience that changes us in a profound way.

When all the pieces of our life don’t quite make sense, we can remember that there may be some hidden gem of a reason that we are where we are having the experiences we are having. It’s fun to look back on past experiences with an eye to uncovering those gems—the dreadful temporary job in a bland office building that introduced you to the love of your life; the roommate you couldn’t tolerate who gave you a book that changed your life; the time spent living in a city you didn’t like that led you into a deeper relationship with yourself.

Remembering these past experiences can restore our faith in the present. Life is full of buried treasures. Chances are, you’re sitting on some right now.  

Text from Madisyn Taylor
How well are you managing your Energy?

How well are you managing your Energy?

It’s not how many hours you put in that determines how productive you are, it’s how much energy you’re able to invest during the hours you work. Master this one simple concept, and you’ll not only be more effective, you’ll also be much happier. The challenge is not to get better at managing your time, which is finite, but rather about managing your energy, which you can systematically increase and regularly renew. As human beings, we need four very different sources of energy to operate at our best: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. None is sufficient by itself, and they all influence one another. Too often, we take our energy for granted. We assume that if there’s more demand, our capacity to meet it will just naturally expand. But if you often find yourself feeling tired or overwhelmed or stressed out, you know that’s not true. The fact is that if we’re not intentionally finding ways to increase and renew our energy, we’re depleting ourselves. If we’re not getting stronger, we’re getting weaker.

At the physical level—the foundation—too many of us treat our bodies as if our health is our birthright. We work too long and too continuously, which takes a toll even if your job is sedentary. And we rest and sleep and work out too little. A new study released several weeks suggested that people who work more than 10 hours a day have a 60 percent higher chance of a heart attack. A different recent study found that people who get up and move frequently during the day have more protection against a range of illnesses. Overwhelming evidence suggests that nearly all of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep to be fully rested and able to function cognitively at our best. Yet the average American gets less than six and a half hours, and that number continues to diminish. At the emotional level, all our urgent busyness fuels a state of heightened impatience, anxiety and frustration. In physiological terms, it’s called the fight-or-flight response, which serves us well when the threat is life or death. The problem, in fight-or-flight, is that our brains don’t operate as well. We become more reactive and far less capable of thinking logically, imaginatively and long term. Worse yet, the adrenalin-induced rush we get from elevated stress hormones can literally be addictive. At the mental level, the primary form of overload we’re all fighting is information. Technology makes it possible to be connected all the time, but also difficult to ever disconnect. Many of us cope by trying to multitask. We end up splitting our attention between multiple activities, and almost never full engaging in any of them. By practicing fractured focus, we progressively lose the ability to absorb our attention in one thing at a time. Ironically, we’re also less productive when we try to multitask. The researcher David Meyer has shown that when we switch attention midtask to take on another, the time required to finish the first one increases by an average of 25 percent. At the spiritual level, we undervalue the fuel we derive from deeply held values and a clear sense of purpose. When something really matters to us, it becomes a powerful source of energy and direction. Rather than responding reactively to every new demand, purpose serves as a road map for setting our priorities. The good news, we’ve discovered in our work at The Energy Project, is that small, intentional changes can make a very big difference in our lives.

Just for starters, consider these four strategies, one for each of the four energy dimensions: Physical It makes sense that the bigger the demands in our lives, the greater the need for renewal. We do just the opposite. Start taking a break at least every 90 minutes. You can get a lot of renewal by completely disengaging from work even for very short periods of time. Emotional Start paying attention to how you’re feeling, moment to moment. How you feel profoundly influences how you perform. When you notice yourself moving into negative emotions, apply this principle: Whatever you feel compelled to do, don’t. Instead, smile, take a deep breath and wait to act until you’re capable of thinking clearly. Mental Stop trying to multitask. You can’t, efficiently or effectively. Instead, work as much as possible in short, uninterrupted sprints. Focus intensely for no more than 90 minutes, and then take a break. At a minimum, do the most important thing first every day, for at least 60 minutes. Spiritual It’s very easy, under pressure, to do whatever will solve the problem in the moment, without regard for the long-term consequences. Instead, ask yourself this simple question when you have a difficult decision to make: “What’s the right thing to do here?” The more intentionally you make decisions, the better they’ll be. Take just one behavior from the Energy Audit that you’re not currently doing but know you should, and start doing it at a specific time every day for a week. You’ll notice a difference in your life. Is there an area of your life you feel more challenged than others when it comes to personal energy? What are your struggles?

Excerpts from Tony Schwartz

Everyday Alchemy.

Everyday Alchemy.

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