Seeing the world from another perspective can introduce us to all sort of hidden treasures.
The ocean can look very different, depending on whether you are standing at the shore, soaring above in a plane, or swimming beneath its waves. Likewise, a mountain can look very different relative to where you are standing. Each living thing sees the world from its unique vantage point. While from your window you may be seeing what looks like a huge shrub, a bird in its nest is getting an intimate view of that tree’s leafy interior. Meanwhile, a beetle sees only a massive and never-ending tree trunk. Yet all three of you are looking at the same tree.
Just as a shadow that is concealed from one point of view is easily seen from another, it is possible to miss a fantastic view. That is, unless you are willing to see what’s in front of you through different eyes. Seeing the world from another perspective, whether spatially or mentally, can introduce you to all sorts of hidden treasures. The root of the discovery process often lies in finding another way of looking at the world. The common human reaction to insects is one example. Spinning its web in a dark corner, a spider may seem drab, frightening, and mysterious. But seen up close weaving silver snowflakes between the branches of a tree, they can look like colored jewels.
Sometimes, there are experiences in life that from your vantage point may seem confusing, alarming, or worrisome. Or there may be events that look insignificant from where you are standing right now. Try seeing them from another point of view. Bury your face in the grass and look at the world from a bug’s vantage point. Explore your home as if you were a small child. Take a ride in a small aircraft and experience the world from a bird’s eye view. Just as kneeling down sometimes helps you see more closely when you are looking for lost treasure, so can standing back help you appreciate the broader picture of what you are looking at. In doing so, you’ll experience very different worlds.
Our bodies are living, breathing expressions of our consciousness and we may opt to treat it (us) as such. We can leverage gentle moves and breathing, to tap into the powerhouse of our bodies, and live in them (not despite of them).
Striking the right balance between our physical and spiritual aspects is one of the most challenging aspects of existence. We are dual beings by nature, spiritual entities bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. Yet while both aspects of the self are deserving of honor and respect, there is a tendency for people who are more spiritually focused to ignore, avoid, or dismiss their bodies. Similarly, many individuals are entirely ensconced in the carnal realm and pay no attention to the needs of the soul. In both cases, an adjustment is in order.
We are whole only to the degree that we embrace both sides of our beings.
If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body to make certain it is capable of playing its role in our development. Though there will no doubt be times in our lives when we feel more comfortable focusing on the spiritual self or the physical self, denying the fundamental importance of one or the other can lead to ill health, emotional distress, and a sense of incompleteness. Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being.
The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development.
It is each of us responsibility (and honor!) to forge a marriage between the two, so that these diverse and distinct aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and enjoyable whole.
Based on text by Madisyn Taylor.
Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.
The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life.
Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth.
Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.
Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar.
Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.
Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.
Amidst the pandemic, each of us has encountered unique challenges and stressors. While the economic, mental, and emotional difficulties are real — and there’s no easy “fix” or escape — how we view our experience can make a big difference. In fact, science tells us that what we tell ourselves in challenging moments matters. Even one negative word can activate the fear center of the brain and impact our ability to reason. On the contrary, empowering or perspective-shifting words or phrases can help us reframe and course-correct from stress in real time.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us the mantras that are helping them stay optimistic and resilient during this time. Which of these will you try?
“I don’t break, I bend.”
“The mantra, ‘I don’t break, I bend’ has helped me remain resilient over the course of the last few months. This mantra reminds me that I am flexible, adaptable, and unshakeable in the face of adversity. When fear creeps in, I am reminded that I can handle it and will not fall victim to it. When I’m having a bad day, I write this on a sticky note and stick it on my monitor to help keep me going.”
—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO
“Clear on the outcomes, flexible on the approach.”
“For the past fifteen years, I have lived by a simple but powerful mantra. During the pandemic, this mantra has resonated more than ever before. Everything from working to exercising to raising children has been upended. Staying focused on critical outcomes — for example, quarterly revenue goals, health benchmarks, and educational goals for children — is critical. You might not be able to approach your goals as you did in the past, but it doesn’t mean you can’t keep reaching and exceeding your goals. Shifting focus from uncertainty to outcomes is a great way to reclaim efficacy.”
—Dr. Camille Preston, business psychology at AIM Leadership, Cambridge, MA
“Trust the process.”
“My family members are all huge basketball fans. I am more of a casual basketball observer. Even though I am not a loyalist, I am a fan of the 76ers motto, ‘Trust the process.’ It has become my go-to affirmation during this time. Although there will continue to be uncertainty, I believe having patience, faith, hope and trusting the process will help us grow and rebuild.”
—Monique Johnson, nonprofit COO, Richmond, VA
“I am not alone in this.”
“In these high stress moments, I sometimes get momentarily lost in the personal challenges COVID-19 has created for me. In those moments, I try to shift my focus by repeating the following mantra: ‘I am not alone in this.’ I remind myself that there are so many others who are facing greater challenges through this pandemic. It gives me perspective, and helps me feel grateful that I am able to manage my challenges.”
—Marcia J. Hylton, corporate marketing strategist, El Paso, TX
“My mantra that I like to repeat to myself is ‘Warrior.’ I keep telling myself that I am a warrior and I’m strong enough to face any adversity that comes my way. When anything happens, I ask myself: ‘How would a warrior behave in this scenario?’ It’s a simple way of getting yourself into the right frame of mind to face any challenge!”
—Celia Gaze, managing director, Bolton, UK
“Live right. Be worthy. Make a difference.”
“Resilience is a journey of grace and forgiveness — for myself and others. This phrase helps me feel grounded, hold myself accountable, reinforce my dedication to serving others, and know that we are all worthy of love. It’s been my go-to mantra throughout this time.”
—Elizabeth Blackney, activist, Williamsburg, VA
“Turn fear into fuel.”
“I use this mantra as a reminder to myself that being scared is not a reason not to do something that could be productive, interesting, or put myself or my business in forward motion. And the added bonus is that if it is something I need to say this about, then typically I am that much more proud of the accomplishment when it’s done.”
—Suzy Haber Wakefield, apparel design consultant, Montclair, NJ
“I am the hero of my own life.”
“This is the title of a guided journal by Brianna Wiest, and repeating this mantra reminds me to always focus on what I can control, rather than what I can’t. It reminds me that nearly everything is in my hands and that I can choose to respond to whatever I’m faced with however I want. It also reminds me to consistently demand the best for myself: whether that’s how I spend my time, the projects I say yes to, or the people I work with. It reminds me not to settle for ordinary or to hold back when I know I have something worthwhile to contribute.”
—Jodie Cook, social media agency owner, UK
“Small progress is still progress.”
“Working in senior living and healthcare, this has been the mantra I’ve been living by during the pandemic. These are words of encouragement for those who have struggled. Our landscape has changed each day, often hour to hour, and everyone has brought something to the table to provide some hope and stability to our residents and families.”
—Tamara White, training and education partner, Kitchener, ON, Canada
“Whenever I start feeling out of sorts, triggered, or anxious, I remind myself to breathe. I then immediately start focusing on my breath, and with awareness, my breath automatically starts to change; it starts deepening and becomes fuller. This mantra is my reminder to expand on consciously deepening my breath. I stay in the moment, breathing in and out, which calms my body and mind, and grounds me. It works every time.”
—Donna Melanson, yoga teacher, Boca Raton, FL
“I have wisdom within.”
“One phrase that I have found powerful during this time has been ‘I have wisdom within.’ This small mantra reminds me daily to slow down the mind chatter and tune into the knowledge base that exists in my bones. It has been so powerful that I have shared it with friends as a way to remind ourselves to tune in and listen, versus tune out and give our power away.”
—Dr. Tricia Wolanin, clinical psychologist and community wellness consultant , Bury St. Edmunds, UK
“You are already everything that you want to be.”
“When I wake up in the morning, the first words that come out of my mouth are ‘You are already everything that you want to be.’ It’s my belief that most of us tend to want things from a place of lack which only attracts more lack. Knowing and stating that I already have what I want takes desperation out of the equation. It always helps me reframe.”
—Wemi Opakunle, author and coach, Los Angeles, CA
Do you have a go-to mantra that helps you stay resilient in difficult situations? Share it with us in the comments.
by Thrive Global
The flow of the universe moves through everything.
It is in the rocks that form, get pounded into dust, and are blown away. It is in the blossoming of a flower born from a seed planted in the spring. The growth cycle that every human being goes through is part of this natural flow, which is also the current that takes us down life’s paths.
When we move with it rather than resisting it, we are riding on the universal wave that allows us to flow with life.
Many people live struggling against this current. They try to use force or resistance to will their lives into happening in the way they think it should. Others move with it like a sailor using the wind, trusting that the universe is taking them exactly where they need to be at all times.
This flow is accessible to everyone because it travels through and around us. We are always riding it–it is just a matter of whether we are willing to go with it or we resist it.
Choosing to go with the flow is often a matter of relinquishing the notion that we need to be in control at all times.
The flow is always transporting you where you need to go. It is merely a question of deciding whether you plan on accepting the ride or having it take you there with your feet dragging. Learning to step into it can help you feel a connection to a force that is greater than you and is always there to support you.
The decision to go with the flow takes courage because you are surrendering the belief that you need to do everything by yourself.
Riding the flow of the universe can be effortless, exhilarating, and unlike anything you ever expected.
When you are receptive to being in it, you open yourself to possibilities that exist beyond the grasp of your control.
As a child, you were naturally swept by the flow. Tears of sadness falling down your face could just as quickly turn to tears of laughter. The mere tiniest wave carrying you forward off the shores of the ocean could transport you into peals of delight.
Our souls feel good when we go with the flow of the universe. All we have to do is make the choice to ride its currents.
“You want a revolution,
I want a revelation.
So listen to my declaration.” Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
These times of global turmoil demand personal and professional reinvention. With many others you will feel the urge of reinventing yourself.
This article is a mosaic of personal experiences, as well as valuable insights gathered from conversations with coaching clients. It is aimed to spark a reflective pathway to start a journey of reinvention.
Many of us (mostly those with careers in corporate America) usually reach a point (prompted by stage of life, stage of the business, or stage of circumstance), in which we ask ourselves why and how to move forward with our lives -personally and professionally. We have forged a reputation backed by solid and successful careers based on 3 or 4 tricks that we do very well and which have permitted us to score some serious successes. So why change? And why now?
The current COVID-19 new-normal is providing a state-of-the-art springboard for personal reinvention. It metamorphosed the world as we knew it in a few days, tearing down “the way things were” into a new norm. The nudge to reinvent ourselves is self-evident.
Many of us don’t have places to go back to, or careers to resume, or business opportunities to realize. As Eric McNulty (Harvard University) says, resilience is not the ability to bounce back, but to bounce forward.
So here we are, without a world to go back to, and unsure where to bounce forward.
Prof. Carol Dweck (Stanford University and author) has laid the invaluable concepts of fixed and growth mindset. In my appreciation a fixed mindset is “the world is as it is. I am as I am. And that is that.”. Growth mindset as I see it deals with the concept of “things transform. There are many possible futures, and I can change.”
This second framework constitutes a venue for exploration, a radical necessary activity to realize personal reinvention. As Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) states, moving from a place of experts to a mindset of learners permits breakthroughs in technology… personally and professionally. When we are in the learner mindset, we are curious and ask questions; we allow ourselves to laugh at the incongruencies; we seek the company of others (and listen to them!); and we crowdsource our way forward.
Learning is about expanding what is known (the cozy, comfortable, predictable, “and who I am”), to allow ourselves some discomfort by trying and testing what we have never done. It’s about allowing revolution, revelation, declaration… or the three of them at the same time! It is moving from “this is who I am” to “this is what I am becoming” and opening endless possibilities.
This is a state-of-mind that practitioners in design thinking and futures thinking leverage systematically. It can yield surprising, expanded and inclusive results.
In my personal experience, the practice of yoga constituted a “via regia”. It has taught me to explore flexibility, find inner space, stretch where it seems I couldn’t, and see things from different perspectives as I do upside-down poses.
Finding a nurturing conversation between body and mind relays in four pillars: balance, strength, flexibility and opening. And most importantly, transitioning in and out of poses, finding and letting go in the flow.
Let me share 5 suggested-to-do strategies, certainly not new, that I “bundled” around the journey of personal reinvention, to prompt action for those that are ready to try:
- Be aware of the company you keep: the motivational speaker Jim Rohn states that you are (at least in part) a result of the 5 people you more frequently and extensively interact with. Design who you will pick as partners for your journey, make sure your buddies embody curiosity, exploration, and a good sense of humor..
- Design your day-to-day for exploration: if you want to lose weight, don’t leave a cake on your kitchen counter! Give yourself space and time to try new things, such as brushing your teeth with “the other hand”. That will start to create “memories” of “things done differently”.
- Exercise!: whatever you do, use your full lung capacity, raise your metabolism, elevate your cellular vibration. It is easier to change when your body is prepared and willing to. Convert your body into your ally for reinvention.
- Use frequently the “what if” mind frame, as in “what if I can respond differently?”, “what if she didn’t mean what I thought?”, “what if there is another way to solve this?”.
Unstuck your brain from “there is only one possible way”,
and start entertaining other possibilities.
- Keep a diary: collect your thoughts, and see your new
self revealing in the pages. Articulating in handwriting your thoughts will reduce anxiety and create some distance with emotions, and will prompt reflection and subsequent action.
Last but not least, when in doubt, revert to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “Every wall is a door”.
Pleasure is temporary and fleeting.
So stop chasing fireworks
and start building a constellation.
“..And when the danger had passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they themselves had been healed.”