Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What Do You Doubt?


faithI have no doubt that most people have a variety of doubts; and these don’t come about haphazardly. We doubt ourselves, our capabilities, other people, and future experiences so rapidly. Often times, a discouraging past acts like the fuel to mistrust in what’s coming; and thoughts of faith aren’t there within us so naturally.

To live with no doubts can lead to grave disappointments especially if those involved things you cannot fully control. I refer here to things surrounding you; not those residing at the core of your heart and soul. To believe totally in others – as you do in yourself – would be like digging in a graveyard for your high expectations a deep hole.

To live with excessive doubts creates a hindrance; and if these doubts revolved around your strengths, they strip you of any potential brilliance. Excessive doubts in people lead you to becoming paranoid and eventually isolation. And if these doubts rotated around life situations, they lead you to a state of “paralysis by analysis” and eventually stagnation.

Some doubt is necessary for a reality check. You’re not expected to remain blinded to what’s real, to prior evidence, and to how things made you or still make you feel. A big picture kind of approach includes probable nuisances; and you may resolve to stay focused on better outcomes as the ideal.

I’m advocating here some sort of balance and for you to be aware of your doubt levels with one exception. At all times…. by all means… doubt your “fears” especially those about your hopeful resurrection. These fears about your abilities to achieve, to reach higher, and to be the ideal you dream are all mere deception.

“Always decorate your thoughts around your potentials with faith and compassion. These remain the trendiest and never go out of fashion.” ~ 3DS

Next time you hear yourself saying: “What if I fail?” or “What if I can’t pull it through? And statements like that, please know that these limit what you really can do….Turn the deaf ear to any emerging fear… It’s crazy how loud the cheerleading music gets once you ignore those kinds of doubts dear…

Try this: Say “I’m unstoppable!” with a loud cheer… Feels good, ha? Soon enough you run out of things to worry about or doubt… Ok, now Jump, fly, or shoot the spear… You’ll love it when you’ve mastered it!

Selfie With Your Personal Coach?

Dania

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Time for Your “Mind Gym” – What Are Your Rituals?


rituals

 

When people consider the word “routine”, they’re often alarmed as if that means spending mostly boring times. The safety of routines is attractive to many, but as a whole and to most people, a routine life weakens one’s drive, kills their spirit, and keeps one confined.

There’s a difference between “routines” and “rituals” if we consider our daily living. While routines are certain acts performed automatically without much thought or intent, rituals differ in purpose, in our attitude towards them, and what they end up giving. In our minds, rituals get us prepared; and the time put forth carrying them out is considered well-spent.

If you scan the biographies of famous leaders, artists, and thinkers, you’d notice their adopting specific rituals to maximize their productivity. Ernest Hemingway rose at dawn; Tchaikovsky walked every day for 2 hours without exception; Salvador Dali was known for his very brief power-naps; Winston Churchill would wake up at 7:30m and stay in bed till 11:00am reading newspapers and dictating to his secretaries; and the list goes on…

Many more genius level creative people who became historical peak performance figures tailored their lives around rituals that kept them rising. They structure their days, wire up their minds, and mobilize their bodies to keep thriving. They don’t wait for events to happen, or for inspiration to come. They’re actively seeking space for creativity triggers and know exactly what they need to refrain from.

Any high achievement and drive gets kicked off by various rituals that serve one well. I wonder if you’ve created your own set of rituals and whether you armed yourself with that kind of magic spell.

“Different strokes for different folks direct how well time is spent. There are routine acts that do nothing but pass time; and there are rituals that serve a higher intent.” ~ 3Ds

Are your thoughts gathered around time killers or mere gap fillers? Or are you more aware of constructive time use that serves the majority of your life pillars?

Are you sucked up in mundane routines? Or have you intently created rituals for self-care and for fulfilling your dreams?

Yah! Just few questions to get you to raise your standards if you haven’t set them high enough….

Gotta run now… Besides issuing this post, my Sunday is rich with other rituals and stuff…

Ciao 🙂

Your Personal Coach

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What’s Your Happiness Thermostat Like?


Happiness

 

If you ask people around you about happiness, you’ll find it’s everybody’s main pursuit; and you may get responses that change day by day. When I become “this”, I’ll be content, they say. When I have “that”, life will be most ecstatic, they convey. People search for it through any path… through any way….

Then when “this” or “that” are reached, happiness will, in fact, be achieved; yet, to one’s dismay, being happy upon any accomplishment doesn’t last. Graduation, promotion, marriage, or even having the first child naturally stir up feelings that life is a blast. To our chagrin, the good feelings fade relatively fast. Even winning the lottery, with time, becomes a matter of fact.

If you scan your life course well, you may notice that happy feelings always faced interruption. A host of uninvited emotional guests can diligently work on happiness reduction. Surrounding circumstances may have their weird way of introducing unpleasant surprises and distractions.

I don’t mean to sound discouraging and make you doubt. I’m just trying to be real and aim at understanding life inside out. Happiness is just one feeling among some thousand other ones difficult to count. Not only is it contagious, it’s a temporary state; and the absence of misery by no means can ensure opening its floodgate.

“Our emotional states keep sliding for better or for worse. True strength lies in our ability to fast-forward negative emotions and the good ones to nourish and nurse” ~ 3Ds

Perhaps you’re often aware of your happiness thermostat, but simply forgot your power in gliding back and forth that continuum. In tough times, you can just throw yourself back into an energizing happy memory to regain equilibrium…

To remain forever happy amidst life’s ebbs and flows may just be a misconception, but guess what? We have a built in mechanism that strives to get those good feelings back despite some delay and without exception. All you have to do is speed it up with deliberate intention…

I’ll tell you another secret: do you know what’s better than just being happy and glad? It’s experiencing happiness after being sad. So you see? Being sad isn’t at all that bad….

One last thing: William Pharrell’s “Happy” song is only a press of a button away. Care to dance?

With Your Personal Coach

Dania

 

 

You’re All Stressed Out? That’s Great News!!!


life boxing match

 

It is quite a normal reaction if you’re surprised about what the title above suggests. We have been bombarded over the years with messages that “stress” is our enemy. Today, I have some “breaking news” for you – some “great” news. Stress has its upside. There’s an emerging trend in scientific research that explores how you can befriend your stress and use it to your advantage. Stress is not the real problem. The way you handle it, or think about it, as I will shortly expose, is the problem. Whether you’re an employee, manager, or have any other life role, in our current fast-paced times, overwhelm is common and can dominate our lives. What you’re about to read can be life changing. Use it to your advantage. Share it with your friends and fellow colleagues. Apply it as your new way of living; and allow the same effects to rub on those you interact with.

What Happens When You’re Stressed?

 

Stress has been defined in so many ways, but there’s a consensus that stress is a perceived threat or inability to cope with the demands of a situation. Stress has two components: a cognitive component (thought processes that evaluate circumstances as beyond one’s control) and a physiological response of heightened arousal mobilizing the body into action (i.e. the flight or fight response). Job related stress is the number one complaint in organizational settings. It can be due to too many deadlines, problems with coworkers, enforced multi-tasking, work overload, and the list goes on. What ensues, usually, is a negative evaluation of current circumstances (the cognitive component). Physically, the body is continuously flooded with stress hormones (i.e. cortisol and adrenaline), elevated blood pressure, increased heart-rate and perspiration, muscles more tensed, etc…. No wonder the body gets run down over time; and the dangers of being stressed-out become apparent in variety of symptoms.

There’s Danger in Stress (so we were told)

 

For years, I have been guilty, as many, who deliver stress management workshops warning about the dangers of stress. Most research cautioned of long term stress as having debilitating adverse effects medically and psychologically. The array of related medical illnesses can range from the simplest common cold to more serious diseases, including: heart disease, cholesterol, blood pressure, cancer, and other scary medical problems. Psychologically, stress is the fuel that feeds anxiety and depression to say the least. On hectic jobs, we’re supposed to be on a continuous mission: manage arising stress and work on prevention. No one would want to become victim of any of these negative stress effects, right? Stress management techniques mainly included exercise, deep breathing, meditation, seeking social support, time management, and activities like that. These are very helpful indeed. I always used the analogy of each of us being like a” pressure cooker” as we navigate our days and weeks. We need to make the time to blow-off some steam intermittently before we explode permanently. “Beware becoming all stressed out”, I warned. “Change whatever situation you have control over”, I encouraged, “and if you can’t do that, change your reaction to it”. Yes, I did touch on changing the way we look at uncontrollable situations as one helpful way to manage stress, but I didn’t know – back then – the great power this had on tipping stress perception into becoming a motivational source (not a destructive one). We fail to notice that stress can actually be a positive force – known as “eustress”; and that it excites us to be our best.

Eustress (Positive Stress)

 

What happens when you have a deadline and you need to prepare, coordinate, lay the final touches, and then submit your work? You get all hyped-up to do those. The same thing happened as you studied for exams (if you remember), gave your first presentation, started a new job, got a promotion, and even when you were on vacations. Eustress produces increased energy and improves performance.  No wonder some adrenaline junkies seek it through a roller-coaster ride, or through watching horror movies. These short term buzzes have a good feel on both body and mind. What is less circulated, unfortunately, are the scientifically researched positive effects stress has in that respect. Did you know that eustress has protective health benefits on the body by enhancing immunity and speeding up recovery? You don’t hear such information often, do you? Stress, moreover, enables the brain to be more alert and uses its capabilities more efficiently. Memory and intelligence are, also, enhanced. At greater and even prolonged levels, stress produces mental toughness, better perspectives, a heightened sense of meaning, a sense of mastery, strengthened priorities, deeper relationships, heightened awareness, and greater appreciation of life. Very few would share the good news, right?

The Upside of Stress in General (More Scientific Findings)

 

Perhaps if you think about these positive effects well, you’ll find some real life examples. Your stressful life incidents made you grow; made you mature; made you change. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” it’s been said. You think about why things happened, and in retrospect, you may find a good reason (or more). This is exactly the kind of view many people adopt of stressful times. And, indeed, in a large representative sample in the U.S. of a long term study examining perceived life stress of nearly 186 million adults and their view on whether stress was harmful or healthy, and after 8 years follow up through public death records, researchers found that participants were at 43% increased risk of premature death if they reported experiencing a lot of stress and viewed that stress affects health badly. Those who reported experiencing high stress levels and had a better view about stress were less likely to die – even when compared to those who experienced relatively little stress levels. Kelly McGonigal – one leading health psychologist – suggests that if we stop believing stress is the enemy, we may actually live longer. Is this general upside view about stress applicable when narrowed down to the organizational setting? Yes, it is.

The Upside of Stress at the Work Place (when researched)

 

Shawn Achor from Harvard and Alia Crum from Yale teamed up and uncovered that most corporate training on stress seemed to unintentionally raise it. They experimented on some 380 managers by exposing them to a 3-minutes scientific video either showing the debilitating effects of stress, or the enhancing effects of it on both body and mind. The results were significant when the view on stress was rigged to its positive effects. Not only did these managers embrace their stress levels, their existing distress about it was diminished. When managers’ perceptions about stress were tipped more positively, they felt more productive and energetic (to name a few); moreover, they reported less physical symptoms typically associated with stress (e.g. headaches, fatigue, and backaches). In a follow up study, Achor and Crum, trained 200 managers to rethink stress positively and use it to their advantage at work. The process involved 3 steps: awareness of stress, finding the meaning behind being stressed, and then redirecting that energy to improve productivity and job satisfaction. The results of such training were even more dramatic than the first study. With more focused intent, these managers reported similar diminished distress, and an enhanced view about stress that raised their work effectiveness and improved their health. So how does the magic happen?

What’s Going On Exactly? (The Physiology Behind It)

 

Studies show that one physiological change resulting from the stress response is that one’s heart pounds faster to get more oxygen to the brain. In a similar vein, when one experiences happiness, joy, or courage, the heart pounds faster to prepare one for action, but a healthier cardiovascular profile is observed. The difference between either condition is that the stress response results in a decreased cardiac efficiency and constricts the heart’s vasculatures in preparation for damage or defeat. Such constriction is not reported in healthier more positive responses. The heart pumps more blood, alright, but the blood vessels remain relaxed. This is what’s known as physiological toughness that suggests that the physiological arousal facilitates better coping and enhances performance. Changes in how one perceives stressful situations results in changes in physiology. Not only that, one other component among other stress hormones released during the stress response is “oxytocin” (known as the “cuddle” or “bonding” hormone). Oxytocin is not only triggered upon intimate interactions, it’s, also, released during the stress response. It pushes the individual to seek human connection and talk about their problems. No wonder we turn to friends, colleagues, or others during hard times. We seek validation, acknowledgement, and support. Oxytocin release acts as a natural anti-inflammatory that dilates the arteries and regenerates heart cells; thus, facilitates healing from any stress-induced damage. This is what makes one resilient and bounce back from difficult times especially if they actually receive support from others. To sum it up: One new thought in your mind; one word from another can make all the difference.  Rings a bell?

Lessons We Can Learn (On the Job)

 

What is widely known, by now, is that employees don’t just leave organizations. They leave bad managers. Wide scale surveys in organizational settings do point out that words of acknowledgment and praise are way more powerful on the job than any monetary reward. Linking it to my exposition above, these words transform the “meaning” of working hard, right?  You can be stuck with a manager who does not empathize. You may find yourself trapped and can’t quit because your options are limited, or costly. So what can you do? Re-assess: how can you make this situation work for you? Should you engage in an aggressive job hunt campaign to change things? Would it help to learn some effective communication techniques to deal with difficult negative people around you? Who can you resort to for support? What could be a more powerful motivating meaning you can give to your current “stuckness”?

And what if you were the manager who’s organizing the work of close to burn-out subordinates? That, too, can be over-whelming, but if you become more compassionate and caring, and use that oxytocin release to help them out, you’d be actually doing yourself a favor. Acts of kindness – as reported by many studies – strengthen your own resilience (not only that of others). If you top it up by enabling your subordinates to view their stress differently, it will lead them to peak performance. Support them become better at stress by changing their perceptions from “threat” to “challenge”; from being invaluable to highly contributing. Enable them chase better meaning of “overwork”, for instance, instead of just avoiding discomfort. Change their minds and this will change their whole bodily responses. Remember to do the same for yourself, ok?

That Earlier Ignored Stress- Buster

 

It’s not enough to take breaks to escape day-to-day stress by removing oneself temporarily from situations no matter how helpful these may seem. For all I know, some situations you can’t easily escape at all. Even if you return from a vacation, you’ll find nothing has changed. The real deal would be to target the evaluating thoughts of different stressful situations. Thoughts that determine situations as “threating” will evoke the typical stress response. On the contrary, thoughts that consider situations “challenging” will evoke the “having courage” response with all its ensuing positive effects. Courageous people firmly believe that they have the required capabilities to deal with circumstance they’re in. In their heads, they hear a voice yelling “I CAN do this”, “I AM in control”, etc…  Perhaps the word “stress” has been repeated often enough in this article to make you feel highly aroused already. How about we make proper use of para-linguistics (i.e. the power of words used on our emotions)? Let’s change the word “stress” to “all hyped-up”. My body is rising to help me be up to the challenge. It’s my opportunity to demonstrate toughness. I’d like to think of life as a boxing match. You’re not defeated if you’re knocked down. You’re only defeated if you refuse to get up…. Rise and fight again harder each time!! You CAN do it!!

Your Personal Coach

          Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – How Do You Use Your Shell?


STRIDES (previously Coaching Your 3Ps: Personal & Professional Progress)

Image

No, I am not basing the above question on the mere assumption that you have a shell to start with. You do have a shell you often hide in on your own, retreat to in tough times, or coil up in and prepare to reboot your system.

It is that private space that you seek; the personal bubble you protect. It is transparent to the ordinary eye, but becomes quite obvious with excessive use.

Your shell can be as hard and impermeable as that of a turtle. When threatened, the turtle totally withdraws inside. It is a natural defense mechanism to be safe rendering it, indeed, much protected.

You can create your shell in your mind’s eye and become more aware of it. Observe the patterns… When do you go in there most?

Do you notice that you’re in “hiding” most of the time? ALERT!! No movement; no progress. No…

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Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What’s Your Most Important Project?


life project

Unless you’re roaming aimlessly in life and you have absolutely no interests, you’ll find yourself working, from time to time, on different projects. These can be long or short-term; straight forward or more complex. Each adds to your general life fulfillment one way or another and has its spill-over effects.

From earning a good education to getting your dream job to raising a family, you move in phases aiming at succeeding in each. Along the way, you prepare with minor baby targets to be there; and gradual adaptations to your changing situations ensure that these goals you reach.

In a chaotic fast paced life-style, some people drift with the flow. They forget to pause, for a while, and assess whether or not they continue to grow. To their chagrin if they do, can realize they have been for a long time in a status quo. Nothing to look forward to each morning can be death in life and makes living something they can easily forgo.

The real deal in life is to live it as happily as you can. Only you can do that; and, it certainly is added joy if you shared the glee with others across your life span. To make it right, you’ve got to be the best version of yourself equipped with a “how to” manual project plan.

Are you like many who already know and inherently resolved that “the most important project you can ever work on is your own life and how you grow and evolve”? ~ 3Ds

It can overwhelm you to consider how many things you need to refine. Relax now… Pick one thing today, and for the coming few weeks vow to focus on doing one thing in that direction; and little targets assign. Day in, day out, all your resources in doing that align.

The snowball grows once you get it rolling. If you stay at it, that eventual make-over can be mind-blowing…

You yourself will be surprised at how easy and gratifying it all is. This is the one investment that will, eventually, lead you to smile with a grin…

So, when shall we begin? Planning starts just with a paper and pen….

And perhaps Your Personal Coach

Apres vous…

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What Are You Resisting?


gain pain

Have you wondered about the nature of what you often resist? These perhaps fall into two kinds: what’s good for you and what’s bad. You can resist specific things, people, and behaviors, or other things that fall in the more abstract.

 Resisting change, temptation, advice, power, beliefs, or new fads can be such notions. All may include both elements that harm you, or lead to your self-promotion. Many times, and if you have the inclination, resisting any of these can entail using a lot of energy coupled with unrelenting maintenance of emotions. It requires a steal-like mental set and persistent action steps to push and never surrender forward motion.

It has been said: “What you resist persists; what you embrace dissolves”. To me, the case neither applies generally, nor does it predominantly exists. It all depends on what you are resisting and what the target involves. There’s great value in accepting what we can’t change. That one is true…. but there’s, also great value in being stubborn and persisting on what’s good for you…

If I were to argue further, wouldn’t you, now, resist stagnating, feeling weak, being disempowered or ridiculed, ignorance, and the kind? Surely if these dominate lead you to having a restless heart and an un-quieted mind….

To resist your own evolution, is to keep yourself in chains. What you need to persist at is your own growth domains. You probably resist, most, the pain that comes with prospective gains. If you ignore the discomfort that comes with changing to the better, only focus on the rewards remains.

“Ironically what brings us great gain can be, at the same time, the source of grave pain.” ~3Ds

Isn’t that why you may resist initiating the move? It’s simple. You’re not focused enough on how you’ll improve. Just boost up your positive emotions; and make sure the negative ones you remove…

The game, hence, becomes rigged in your favor (eh, with a check-mate kind of move…)

Will you, now, get into the groove?

With your Personal Coach

Dania

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