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
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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

My Life Story.

My Life Story.

While we are on earth, we are all human beings in different phases of our lives and soul development.

We all have our own life story. It is filled with relationships and events that help shape who we are and what we believe to be true about the world. Depending on our perspective and willingness to grow, our experiences can become fodder for negativity and patterns of playing the victim, or they can fuel a life of empowerment and continued self-development. It is the story we tell ourselves about what happens that makes all the difference. 

Take a moment to look at the life story you create for yourself on an ongoing basis. If you generally feel peaceful about the past and trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way, then you are framing circumstances in a manner that serves you well. On the other hand, if you retain a lot of guilt or resentment and often feel weighed down by life, you may want to start telling yourself a new version of past and present events. No matter who the characters are in your story or what they have done, you are the only one who can give their actions the meaning they will have for you. 

You are the only one who can define what role you will play in your own life. By taking responsibility for your story, you are able to learn and grow, forgive and find compassion, and most importantly, move on into a brighter future.

From now on, you can choose a life story that supports you. Let it be proof of your own resilience and creativity. Be kind with the roles you give yourself and generous with how many chances you get to learn what you need to know. When you remember that you are the author of your own story, you are free to create a masterpiece. 
My Inner Warrior.

My Inner Warrior.

When we recognize our warrior self, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness.

The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion -- all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. 

We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.

Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. 

The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action. 

Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior's willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. 

Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life's challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.   
Taking Time For Myself.

Taking Time For Myself.

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. 

Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul's needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people's requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. 

The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life. 
Purpose.

Purpose.

Most humans are not born consciously knowing what their purpose is. It must be found through exploration.

Most living things belong to a particular soul group and are born knowing their purpose in life. An animal will spend its day foraging for food, taking care of itself and its young, and creating a home. No one tells an animal to do this, yet it instinctively knows how. Humans, for the most part, are not born consciously knowing what their purpose is.

Purpose gives our life meaning. When you discover your purpose, you can live your life with intention and make choices that serve your objective for why you are here on the planet. 

Finding your purpose is not always easy. You must embrace life wholeheartedly, explore many different pathways, and allow yourself to grow. Your purpose is as unique as you are and will evolve as you move through life. You don't need anyone's permission to fulfill your purpose, and no one can tell you what that purpose is. Finding and fulfilling your purpose can be a lifelong endeavor. To figure out what your purpose is, ask yourself what drives you -- not what forces you out of bed in the morning, but what makes you glad to be alive. Make a list of activities that you wish you were involved in or think about a career path that you would love to embark upon. These are the endeavors that can help you fulfill your purpose and bring you the most satisfaction.

Picture yourself working on projects that don't interest you or fulfill your purpose, yet they help satisfy your basic survival needs. Imagine how living this way each day would make you feel. Next, picture yourself devoting your time to projects that spark your imagination, inspire, excite, and satisfy you. More often than not, these activities are some of the ways that you can fulfill your life purpose. Time spent on these endeavors will never feel like a waste. 

Live your life with purpose, and you will feel significant and capable because every action you take and each choice you make will have meaning to it.

Text from Daily Om
Sitting With My Sadness.

Sitting With My Sadness.

Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and we will come out the other side.

The last thing most of us want to hear or think about when we are dealing with profound feelings of sadness is that deep learning can be found in this place. In the midst of our pain, we often feel picked on by life, or overwhelmed by the enormity of some loss, or simply too exhausted to try and examine the situation. We may feel far too disappointed and angry to look for anything resembling a bright side to our suffering. 

Still, somewhere in our hearts, we know that we will eventually emerge from the depths into the light of greater awareness. Remembering this truth, no matter how elusive it seems, can help. 

The other thing we often would rather not hear when we are dealing with intense sadness is that the only way out of it is through it. Sitting with our sadness takes the courage to believe that we can bear the pain and the faith that we will come out the other side. With courage, we can allow ourselves to cycle through the grieving process with full inner permission to experience it. 

This is a powerful teaching that sadness has to offer us -- the ability to surrender and the acceptance of change go hand in hand. 

Another teaching of sadness is compassion for others who are in pain, because it is only in feeling our own pain that we can really understand and allow for someone else's. Sadness is something we all go through, and we all learn from it and are deepened by its presence in our lives. While our own individual experiences of sadness carry with them unique lessons, the implications of what we learn are universal. 

The wisdom we gain from going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, or deep disappointment gives us access to the heart of humanity. 

Text by Daily Om
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