Being Present Instead Of Seeming Busy.

Being Present Instead Of Seeming Busy.

Do you remember when the standard answer to ‘how are you doing?’ was “So crazy busy!”  Seldom did anyone follow up with, ‘So, what exactly is keeping you busy?’  Back in 2019 simply saying you were busy was enough.  It sent off a signal that you were in demand and doing well. Because free-time was, well, free (i.e. unpaid), no one wanted it. In fact, the less free time you said you had, the more successful you appeared.

But then the pandemic hit, and something shifted, at least for those lucky enough to have enjoyed the flexibility of working from home.  Almost overnight, being seen to be busy was no longer the measure of success it once was.  And, far from being worthless, unpaid free time for ourselves and those we care about became seen by many as more precious than status or money. 

The true value of free time

A recent Microsoft survey of more than 30,000 global workers showed that 41% were considering quitting or changing professions this year. Overwhelmingly they say they’re looking for more flexibility. Most want a hybrid model of working, where they split their time between an office and a remote location. 68% of workers believe this balance is the “ideal” workplace model.

Something about the pandemic made people realize that every unnecessary virtual meeting was eating away from the time they could otherwise have been spending doing something they actually enjoyed.  Purely virtual interaction shone a spotlight on under-performers who try their hardest to project the illusion they are incredibly busy.  

Of course, the same was true before the days of working from home, it’s just that when you’re at the office, you can’t slip away for two hours to practice the guitar or tend to your garden. With our office in the living room, however, it becomes much clearer that all this busyness is making us less productive, and is keeping us away from people and projects we’d like to spend time with.

Being busy wasn’t always the badge of honor it came to be. Even in the USA, with its strong work ethic, only 100 years ago having a lot of leisure time conferred status. In his 1899 book The Theory of the Leisure Class, the American economist Thorstein Veblen concluded the richer you were, the less work you’d have to do and the best way to signal your status was by boasting how much free time you had. 

In my experience, the more in-demand someone is, the less they feel the need to project how busy they are. Highly successful people frequently give the impression that they have all the time in the world. Likewise, artists, entrepreneurs, or tech wizards may choose to fill every waking second in the pursuit of their dreams, but they won’t brag about how busy they are.  In fact, they often pretend to have more ‘play time’ than they do.  

Instead of seeming busy, why not make it clear that you are present, readyand available?

People who love what they do understand that advertising how busy they are will ikely deter people from giving them more responsibilities or including them in new projects.

Only this week, a friend asked me if I was busy. I knew what they meant, of course.  They meant is your life full and fruitful.  But that word, busy, triggered me.  You see, I value NOT being busy. I value having enough time for everything and everyone that’s important to me.  So, instead of pretending to be busy, I told my friend I was trying my hardest to make sure I am never too busy.

And, there is a secret to being productive but not busy. 

It may seem very obvious, but just say NO.  Decline attendance at meetings where your presence is not essential. Turn down assignments that could better be executed by others. Politely refuse invitations that don’t serve you. Refer clients who are not your ideal client to other professionals. I do this all the time and it leaves me the space I need to properly serve the projects and the clients who were made for me. 

Likewise, your inbox is mostly full of other people’s ‘to-do’ lists. Some requests you may feel compelled to answer. Delete the rest.

4,000 Weeks

The average human life span in the developed world is 83.5 years or 1000 months. We each get the possibility of 1000 months, or 4,000 weeks, at birth and count down from there. On our deathbed, one of the most common regrets is “I wish I’d spent less time at work and more time with the people I loved.”

I can think of no better metric for success than being present and available. When someone tells me they have all the time they want for their heart’s deepest desires, I know they have attained a level of awareness and personal success which frantically busy people cannot even dream of.

Text by Remy Blumenfeld

Self Acceptance and Self Care.

Self Acceptance and Self Care.

Self-acceptance is essential to self-care and our overall well-being. If we can’t accept ourselves, our well-being is going to suffer, regardless of how diligent we are about any other physical and mental health practices. 

Still, even with all the progress we’ve made in recent years on body positivity and mental health, the radical act of accepting ourselves for who we are has never been more challenging. Our society surrounds us with images of what supposedly healthy and perfect bodies look like. And of course, much of that is fueled by social media, which, in study after study, has been shown to damage our body image and self-acceptance. So how can we learn to accept ourselves and show up for ourselves in a way that nurtures our well-being?

Let me introduce Rebekah Taussig and her new book Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body, in which she chronicles her journey to self-acceptance with her trademark candor, humor, vulnerability, and authenticity.

Rebekah has been disabled since she was 3, and got her first wheelchair at age 6. She had a fairly normal childhood, with her “resilience and scrappiness” keeping her from realizing how differently she was experiencing the world. When she got to graduate school, discovering disability studies gave her a way to begin to understand herself. “It felt like the physics of the universe were transforming in real time,” she told me. “It just changed everything for me about how I saw myself and my story and gave me language to explain things I’d never been able to express before.”

But as Rebekah came to see the strength in her scrappiness, she also felt a sense of loss. “I ended up absorbing a lot of shame in the things that made me different, and I was trying very hard to minimize and mask and erase those in intangible and abstract ways,” she said. Part of that involved always cropping photos to hide her wheelchair or her paralyzed legs. But then she went online and connected with others who looked like her, which she describes as a “second wave of transformation.” 

Gradually, she came to realize that she could be both scrappy and disabled, strong and paralyzed. “It took me a long time to be able to be all of that at once and it was important,” she said. “It’s important to be able to be all of me.” Instead of cropping her photos, she began including her legs. “I wanted there to be more beautiful images that included bodies like that out in the world,” she said. “I feel like my brain was responding differently to the image of my body.”

It’s such a great lesson for all of us: to be able to be — and accept — all of ourselves at once. We don’t all live with the challenges Rebekah does, but we all have to live in our bodies, which are always going to be changing over time. And, as she pointed out, our bodies have always been with us. “So much of it had to do with becoming more aware of the story of my body and thinking about my body over the span of my life and its presence in every single story that I’ve lived, and thinking about how my body has shown up for me,” she said. 

So how can we learn to accept, appreciate, and love our bodies, which have always shown up for us in all of our stories? One way to start, said Rebekah, is by being more mindful and intentional about the body images we surround ourselves with, especially on social media. “I know what was huge for me was that I was able to filter the people on my feed and on social media, or even the things that I choose to watch.”

Her explanation of what resilience means to her comes from her own unique experience, but like so much of her writing, its lessons are universal. “When I think of the word resilience,” she said, “I think of buoyancy. I think of adaptability and flexibility — an ability or a willingness to continually reimagine. Adaptability is an obvious part of the experience of a person who lives in a body and in a world that is not made for the body they live in. You have to continually figure out how to interact with the world and how to show up, even when it’s not thinking of you.”

And that’s a lot easier to do when we accept ourselves and celebrate that we’re all perfectly imperfect.  

Text by Jen Fishere

Underneath the noise.

Underneath the noise.

There is beauty and power when we listen to the whisper.

You may have noticed that when you want to speak to someone in a noisy, crowded room, the best thing to do is lean close and whisper. Yelling in an attempt to be louder than the room’s noise generally only hurts your throat and adds to the chaos.

Similarly, that still, small voice within each of us does not try to compete with the mental chatter on the surface of our minds, nor does it attempt to overpower the volume of the raucous world outside. When we want to hear it, no matter what is going on around us or even inside us, we can always tune in to that soft voice underneath the surrounding noise.

It is generally true that the more insistent voices in our heads delivering messages that make us feel panicky or afraid are of questionable authority. They may be voices we internalized from childhood or from the culture, and as such they possess only half-truths. Their urgency stems from their disconnectedness from the center of our being, and their urgency is what catches our attention.

The other voice that whispers reassurances that everything is fundamentally okay simply delivers its message with quiet confidence. Once we hear it, we know it speaks the truth. Generally, once we have heard what it has to say, a powerful sense of calm settles over our entire being, and the other voices and sounds, once so dominant, fade into the background, suddenly seeming small and far away.

We may find that our own communications in the world begin to be influenced by the quiet certainty of this voice. We may be less inclined to indulge in idle chatter as we become more interested in maintaining our connection to the whisper of truth that broadcasts its message like the sound of the wind shaking the leaves of a tree.

As we align ourselves more with this quiet confidence, we become an extension of the whisper, penetrating the noise of the world and creating more peace, trust, and confidence.

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor

Staying On Track.

Staying On Track.

In a world where we have routines to get everything done, we rarely have a routine for our spiritual self.

In a world where we have routines for nearly everything -- our route to work, our physical fitness regimen, and our weekday schedule -- it's amazing how many people forget to create a routine for meeting their spiritual needs. We run around in an attempt to be at our many appointments on time and meet our many obligations. 

In our efforts to be as productive as possible, however, our spiritual needs tend to take a backseat. 

After all, taking care of our spiritual needs doesn't directly pay the bills or tone our abdominal muscles. We may even wonder who has time to meditate or write in their journal when there are more pressing matters to see to. The truth is that nurturing ourselves spiritually is what gives us the energy and grounding that we need to make sure that our lives stay on track. 

How you choose to nurture yourself spiritually is a personal choice. For some people, meditating once a day may be what they need to stay centered. While spending 10-20 minutes with your eyes closed and your brain devoid of thought may seem like a lot of time doing nothing, this state of nothingness actually allows you to stay calm and focused so you can be as productive as possible. Writing in your journal everyday lets you stay in touch with yourself so that you are always tuned in to your feelings. Repeating affirmations for success, happiness, and well-being on a regular basis can help you live with optimism and enthusiasm and create what you want in life. 

Having a routine for nurturing your spirit that you do each day lets you feed energy to your soul and can serve you well if your life suddenly takes an unexpected turn into a difficult period.   This kind of routine grounds your spirit in your body so that you stay anchored in yourself as you move through each day. 

Nurturing yourself spiritually allows you to not only stay on track in your life, but it allows for your life to stay on track with what your spirit wants.

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor
Positive Thoughts.

Positive Thoughts.

The longer we are able to hold a positive thought, the stronger that energy around us becomes.

When we make no effort at all, our thoughts usually scatter in a vast array of directions. They start and stop and move in surprising ways from one second to the next. When we follow our thoughts without controlling them, we will be amazed at how truly inconsistent they are. 
And when we apply our minds to a specific task, especially one that interests us, they gather together and allow us to focus our attention, creating great power and energy. This is what is known as pure thought, because it is undistracted. 

The law of attraction -- like attracts like -- influences all energy, including our thoughts, and this is what makes pure thought so potent. Our undistracted thoughts create a powerful magnet that draws similar energy into our vibrational field. 

As a result, the longer we are able to hold positive thoughts in our minds, the more powerful the positive energy around us becomes. We don't need to focus on action and controlling so much when we are surrounded by energy that draws what we want toward us. We can simply respond to the opportunities that naturally come our way. 

When this is the essence of our experience, we can go with the flow, knowing that we will be okay.

If pure thought is a body, it is our emotions that supply the heart that can really bring it to life. Our thoughts and feelings exist in relation to one another, and they form a feedback loop through which they communicate and empower each other. 

When we hold a thought in our mind without being distracted, we have achieved pure thought. When we have a positive emotional response to that thought, we enable it to dance and move and breathe itself into existence.

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor
Expressing Myself.

Expressing Myself.

When we are in a relationship where we feel listened to and understood, we count ourselves lucky because we know how rare that experience is. We reserve our most intimate selves for the people who, along with us, co-create an open space where we feel free to express ourselves and listen without judgment. 
These relationships, which thrive on open communication, can mean the difference between existential loneliness and a deep sense of belonging. We all long to feel heard, understood, and loved, and clear communication makes this possible. 

Sometimes problems arise in the process of expressing how we feel, and it is always worth it to do the work. Even in our less intimate relationships, expressing ourselves honestly is essential to our sense of well-being. 
Whether at home with family or in the outside world, successful communication requires some forethought; otherwise we risk blundering through our relationships like the proverbial bull in a china shop. However, too much forethought can stifle us or cause us to pad our words so extremely that we end up saying nothing at all or confusing the matter further. 

The good news is that there are many methods that can come to our rescue, from meditation to visualization to journaling. 

If the person we need to communicate with is open to sitting in meditation together for a set period of time before speaking, this can be invaluable. When we are calm and centered, we can count on ourselves to speak and respond truthfully. We can also meditate on our own time and then practice what we need to say. 
A visualization in which we sit with the person and lovingly exchange a few words can also be a great precedent to an actual conversation. 
If writing comes easily, we can write out what we need to say; it may take several drafts, but we will eventually find the words. 

The key is to find ways to center ourselves so that we communicate meaningfully, lovingly, and wisely. In this way, we honor our companions and create relationships in which there is a genuine sense of understanding and respect. 

Based on text by Madisyn Taylor

			
My Wellbeing Is My Priority.

My Wellbeing Is My Priority.

Well-being is having a moment. What was once considered a soft-news lifestyle topic has, thanks to our collective experience of the pandemic, moved to the center of the conversation about work and life. And as a Chief Well-Being Officer, I’m certainly glad to see this shift (even if I obviously would have preferred a different catalyst). 

Still, when I’m asked questions about well-being, as I often am, I’ve noticed a troubling trend. Very often, well-being becomes just another stress-inducing item on our to-do list. So as we continue to prioritize our well-being, we also need to shift our mindset away from viewing well-being as work. Because well-being isn’t a benchmark we need to hit. It’s not another guilt-inducing metric to measure ourselves by. The whole point of bringing more well-being into our lives is to lower our stress, not add to it. 

With that in mind, here are six ways to prevent well-being from becoming just another item on our to-do lists.

Stop glorifying busyness

We often have this idea that busyness and productivity are the same thing. We wear our busyness as a badge of honor, believing that we should exist in a state of perpetual motion. For many of us, this extends to well-being, which becomes something we must do — that is, just another form of being busy. But well-being isn’t a moment, it’s a mindset — and one that’s an antidote to the mindset of busyness. Well-being is a way of living and working that can only happen when we leave busyness behind.

Define well-being for yourself

If well-being begins to feel like a checklist of things you’re supposed to do, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re subscribing to an idea of well-being that’s been defined by someone else. But well-being isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s different for every person, so it’s essential that we define it for ourselves. 

That starts with thinking of what’s important to us and defining our non-negotiables. Some people like to meditate, some don’t. For some, well-being might involve an activity. For others, it can just as easily be about doing nothing. When we focus on what truly makes us thrive, it will be a lot easier to integrate our specific version of well-being into the fabric of our daily lives.  

Start small

Prioritizing well-being isn’t about overhauling our lives, and it doesn’t mean we have to make huge changes. It’s not all-or-nothing. Thrive Global is all about Microsteps — starting with the smallest steps possible to build healthy habits. Maybe you don’t have time to work out for an hour a day, but can you get a few more minutes of movement in? You don’t have to cut out gluten or meat or foods you like, but can you add a piece of fruit as a snack? When we make these steps small enough, they become easier to make into habits.  

Be intentional about setting boundaries 

Having a set of well-being non-negotiables doesn’t do much good if we don’t make time for them. To make sure I make time for mine, I add them to my public calendar, which all of my co-workers and team members can see, and then I stick to them in the same way I do everything else on my calendar. This sends the message — both to myself and others — that the ways I’m nurturing my well-being are as important as any other meetings or appointments on my calendar.

Accept that well-being will change 

If we’ve learned anything over the past year-and-a-half, it’s that life is about constant change. Well-being isn’t a destination. As we move forward on our life’s journey, our conception of well-being is likely to change. When we accept that, we’ll be able to continue finding new ways to bring well-being, joy, and renewal into our lives that don’t feel forced.

Give yourself some grace 

We’re all human, which means we’re perfectly imperfect. The last thing our relationship with well-being should be giving us is guilt or a sense of failure. What’s more, self-acceptance — in this case, accepting the fact that we’re not always going to meet our own definition of well-being or find the time for it — is itself a great well-being practice. So let yourself off the hook, give yourself some grace, and when you do, you’ll be adding a powerful tool of well-being to your life. 

Based on text by Jen Fisher