One of the greatest things a baby can teach us is how to give affection without expecting anything in return.
I’m so excited to be offering a new tele-series!
Please join me for 3 fun conversations designed to teach simple but critical skills for reducing the stress in our busy lives. We’ll be talking about how to be productive, well-rested, and happy — even during the busy holiday season.
November 5: How to Achieve More by Doing Less.
Renee Peterson Trudeau, life balance coach and author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life and I will tell you our secret to our high efficiency and high productivity..
November 12: How to Find Stillness in a Storm.
James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy, and I will talk about how to find calm in a world where busy-ness is a marker of importance, and overwhelm is the rule of the day..
November 19: How Not to Have a Breakdown.
Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out Mom, and I will share our personal low-points balancing our demanding careers and our families. This will be a rich discussion about the tension between the societal forces that make work-life balance hard, and the practical things that we can do as individuals to find ease and joy.
All 3 calls will include Q&A and will be held at noon Pacific time. If you can’t make the live calls, you can download them later and listen anytime you’d like.
Access to this Teleseries is Simple
This teleseries is a preview of my new book, THE SWEET SPOT: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work. I’m excited to start sharing this book with you now – even though it won’t be in stores until January. To access the teleseries, pre-order The Sweet Spot and send a copy of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll give you immediate access to the teleseries!
I hope you’ll join us on these exciting calls!
When I drop my kids off at school in the morning, I ask them one question: “What are you going to do today?” They always answer, usually without rolling their eyes and sometimes with actual enthusiasm: “HAVE FUN!!”
Having fun, to me, is the most important thing. Yes, I want them to learn and be respectful and kind and everything else, and no, I don’t want them to have fun at the expense of other people or by breaking school rules — obviously. But when it comes down to it, I know that if they are having fun, they will learn better, and make better friends, and in general, be a delight to their teachers.
And there is always fun to be had, even in the more boring or trying aspects of school, or, as the case may be, work. Or life. Finding something to love in every situation isn’t about complacency, it’s about accepting the full truth of the present moment. It’s about focusing our minds on the positive aspects of a situation, and then reaping the benefits of doing so.
A friend recently faced a nerve-wracking medical procedure for a serious illness. She was terrified, and having a hard time finding something to love about the situation, which included the possibility that she might not recover. But here are some things we came up with:
- She felt love and gratitude for the people supporting her — her doctors and nurses, her husband, her friends.
- She felt hope and gratitude because there are treatments for her illness (and super thankful she has health insurance).
- She felt deep gratitude (again) just to be alive. She came to see her fear as a part of her profound will to live.
Finding something to love even in very difficult situations involves acceptance of (and even surrender to) things that we didn’t choose and perhaps didn’t want. But instead of just pointing to the ways that a situation is hard or wrong or bad, or focusing on the things that we’d like to change, we can transform a situation by also acknowledging the positive aspects of a situation. The key: seeing that we would not get to experience these positive aspects, at least in the same way, without the difficult bits.
Seeing this fuller picture–accepting both the good and the bad in a situation–is a solid tactic for feeling happier and more more fulfilled. The positive emotions that arise when we identify what we love are tremendously functional. Gratitude, love, hope, optimism, compassion, awe — these emotions all make us healthier, happier, and more satisfied with our lives.
Take action: Have fun today. If not that, find something to love about the situation you are in.
Join the discussion: Tell us about something you love about today. Share in the comments or discuss on Facebook here.
Photo by keiichi
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
A study suggests that people have a hard time being alone with their thoughts. What can you do about it?
Everybody spends time alone, but some of us find it more difficult than others. The potential benefits of solitude include reduced stress, enhanced creativity, and improved concentration. Yet a recent study suggests that many people prefer any stimuli, even negative ones, to being alone with their thoughts.
Christine Carter, PhD, a sociologist and happiness expert at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, isn’t surprised. “Our normal state of being is constant stimulation,” she says. “We live in a culture of busyness, where we’re constantly moving, constantly doing, constantly on the go. We equate being busy with meaningfulness, so when we’re alone, it can trigger a lot of fear and anxiety that our lives are lacking meaning.”
While I’ve long known about the neurological benefits of meditation, it wasn’t until I watched Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk that I started thinking about how many of the benefits of meditation come from quieting the verbal part of our brains.
To be honest, silence is not a state I naturally seek. I’m extroverted. I’m loud. I love parties and big families and people. And as an avid reader and professional writer, I tend to fear — not cultivate — a loss of words.
But reading nobel prize-winner Daniel Kahneman’s new book Thinking, Fast and Slow got me (you guessed it) thinking a little more about this. That noisy verbal part of our brains is slow, processing only about 40 bits of information per second. The creative, intuitive, non-verbal brain processes about 11 million bits per second. Knowing this, I’ve been motivated to try and better harness the power of my non-verbal brain.
According to Martha Beck — Harvard sociologist turned life coach, and one of my personal heros — practicing what she calls “deep wordlessness” is just the ticket. Here’s what she writes about wordlessness in her most recent book Finding Your Way in a Wild New World:
To master Wordlessness…you must unlearn almost everything you were taught in school about what it means to be intelligent. The sharp focus you were told to sustain is actually a limiting, stressful, narrow attention field — something animals only using the the moment of ‘fight or flight.’ Dropping into Wordlessness moves the brain into its ‘rest and relax’ state.”
I’ve been practicing Beck’s techniques for cultivating worldlessness, and though it doesn’t come easily to me, I’m finding it well worth the effort.
Take Action: Beck’s book is loaded with literally dozens of techniques for activating our non-verbal brains. One is to simply to follow your own bloodstream. You can try it by focusing your attention on your heart in the space between breaths: after you exhale deeply, pause your breathing and find the feeling of your heart beating. Take another breath while following the sensation of your heart beat. Once you’re following your heart beat, see if you can feel your circulatory system elsewhere, in your ears or toes or hands, your head and organs, or your entire body. Hang out for a while in this meditative state.
Join the discussion: What do you think?!
Learn more! I write a lot about wordlessness in my new book, The Sweet Spot. I hope you’ll consider pre-ordering it…pre-orders matter a lot for authors; they determine whether or not a book launches as a bestseller. Lots of people are already recommending it — check out the testimonials here!
Photo by Michael Coghlin
Despite the soul-crushing moment in the middle, I love this narrative about seeing your own beauty when you are in your groove — in that place where you’re doing what you do best.