Upcoming Events

I have some exciting speaking engagements in the next few months.  If you’re nearby, I hope you’ll join me at my upcoming public events.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Lindsay Olives Corporate Retreat (Private Event)
Lafayette, CA

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Crystal Springs Uplands School
Hillsborough, CA

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Women’s Executive Leadership Program (Private Event)
Haas School of Business, Berkeley, CA

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Google, Inc.
Women’s Leadership Development Workshop (Private Event)
Calistoga, CA

Saturday, May 16, 2015
Prospect Sierra
El Cerrito, CA





Change The Way You Look At Women

Isn’t it time to see more realistic — and truly inspiring—images of women in the media? I’m sure ready. This video is a wonderful, and inspirational, start. I’ll be sharing it with my daughters today.





Thursday Thought

tt-whartonThere are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. –Edith Wharton





The Opposite of Optional

by MommyTasker


Finding the right balance can be tricky and takes concentration

If I take a brief scan of my life over the last decade where I have been working seriously, raising kids improvisationally, or doing both simultaneously, I can say with some certainty that if I ever allowed any “me time” to be “optional” there was a good chance that that me time thing – whatever it was – “didn’t happen”.

I’ll “try” to squeeze in a work out today…. didn’t happen or timing/activity/duration was sub-optimal.
I “should” make plans with my girlfriends…. weeks or even months would go by.
I’d “like” to get my hair done soon… roots for miles.

See how I actually managed to get things done for myself in the full post on MommyTasker





Break yourself off a piece of happiness

14421653192_83ff55358b_z
Photo by José Manuel Ríos Valiente

To celebrate the International Day of Happiness this past Friday, I participated in an interview with Snapchat Stories. Enjoy!

Snapchat: What’s one of the biggest myths about happiness?
CC: We think that happiness is a personality trait, when really it is better thought of as a skill, or a set of skills that we can learn and practice. Obviously we do have genetically-based personality differences, but I think of happiness like learning a language. Some people pick up languages really easily—especially those taught when they are young. Other people have to do more work to speak and write well. But either way, we all need to be taught the basic “grammar” and “vocabulary” of happiness, and we need to practice those things in order to become fluent.

How often should a “normal” person feel happy?
There is no normal; life can be difficult, and when it is, few people feel happy about it. We do know that once a person’s ratio of positive to negative exceeds about 3:1 (three positive emotions or experiences to every one negative) their whole system seems to change -— they are said to “flourish.” Flourishing people, who represent less than 20% of the population, are more creative and resilient in the face of difficulty.

Are people generally happier as children or adults?
Happiness levels change throughout the life course. Most research shows that people’s happiness tends to follow a U-shaped curve: it is highest when they are young, and it tends to bottom out between our late 30s and early 50s. Fortunately, happiness levels tend to rebound again around age 60.

Is there a “fake it ’til you make it” factor to getting happy?
“Faking it” only works when we aren’t pretending or performing. Facial expression alone, without first feeling a corresponding emotion, is often enough to create discernible changes in your nervous system. When you lift the corners of your lips and crinkle your eyes, for example, after a couple of minutes your body will release the feel-good brain chemicals associated with smiling. But pretending to feel something that we aren’t makes us feel worse; research shows that inauthenticity is corrosive to our health, especially our cardiovascular system. One way to “fake happiness” fairly effectively, though, is to put a pencil between your back teeth for a few minutes in order to activate your smile muscles. (A word of warning: I’ve found that this technique works for lightening up my mood, but it does make me drool.)

Can money buy happiness? At least a little bit of it?
The old adage is mostly true: Money doesn’t tend to buy much happiness (after our basic needs are met). In our culture we tend to confuse real happiness—profound joy and authentic contentment—with pleasure and gratification. Money does buy pleasure, but it takes a whole lot of money to increase your your overall happiness level just a little tiny bit. And money really can’t buy meaning, or fulfillment.

5 quick (and free) things you can do to find more happiness today:

1) Smile at the barista and strike up a short conversation. Or with the people sharing your elevator. Or with the crossing guard.

2) Increase your ratio of positive to negative emotions by watching a silly YouTube video, expressing gratitude to someone, or reading something inspiring. (Yes, you get credit for watching funny animal videos!)

3) Take a good old-fashioned recess in the middle of the day. For every 60 to 90 minutes that you focus, take a 10 to 15 minute break. Go outside and play! Or at least sit inside and daydream.

4) Repair a minor crack in an important relationship. Call your mom and invite her to lunch, even though your last conversation with her was tense. Find something nice to say to your spouse, even though he can be frustrating.

5) Establish a tiny happiness habit. Do a daily crossword puzzle if that does it for you. Read a favorite magazine at lunchtime. Throw the ball for your dog every morning. What would make you really happy if you did it every day?





Thursday Thought

Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore. –Sandor McNab





Think Busyness is a Sign You’re Succeeding? Think Again.

cognitive-overload

Until a couple of years ago, every time someone would ask me how I was doing, I would always give the same answer: I am so busy. Extremely busy. Crazy busy.

I wore my exhaustion like a trophy, as a sign of my strength and a mark of my character. (At one point I ran a Mother’s Day half-marathon with a fever, not wanting to disappoint my family who’d driven 5 hours to watch me.) The busier I was, the more important I felt. I was committed to pressing on, despite clear signs that I was headed for a fall.

I had been done in by our culture’s big lie, which is:  Busyness is a marker of importance, of character, of economic security.

And this means that the reverse must also be true: If we aren’t busy, we lack importance. We’re insignificant. We’re under-achieving. We’re weak. Un-busy people are lazy, not to be liked or trusted.

Let’s think for a minute about what it really means when we say that we are busy.

If I tell you I’m busy, it isn’t because I’ve just spent an hour hiking, or playing with my dog. It isn’t because I’ve spent the whole afternoon working on an engaging project, and lost all sense of time. I won’t lead with “I’m so busy” if I’m feeling passionate about something I’m writing, or if I feel super creative and productive and efficient and at ease.

I will only tell you I’m busy if I’m harried. A little on edge. Doing a bunch of stuff that doesn’t really capture my interest or imagination. If you tell me that you are busy, your unconscious is hinting to me that you are a little unhappy or overtired, that you are willing to sacrifice your well-being for your career or your boss or your team at work, or for the long-term success of your children, or doing what you (or other people) think you “should” be doing.

Busy-ness does not make us happy. It also does not make us successful.

The truth is that busyness is a mark of what neuroscientists call “cognitive overload.” This state of feeling overwhelmed impairs our ability to think creatively, to plan, organize, innovate, solve problems, make decisions, resist temptations, learn new things easily, speak fluently, remember important social information (like the name of our boss’s daughter, or our daughter’s boss), and control our emotions. In other words, it impairs basically everything we need to do in a given day.

Cognitive overload–busyness–is a not a sign that we are important or productive. It is a sign that we aren’t fulfilling our potential.

It’s also a sign that we aren’t as physically healthy as we could be. Scott Dannemiller, in his post “Busy is a Sickness,” quotes Dr. Suzanne Koven, an internist at the Massachusetts General Hospital:

In the past few years, I’ve observed an epidemic of sorts: patient after patient suffering from the same condition. The symptoms of this condition include fatigue, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, headaches, heartburn, bowel disturbances, back pain, and weight gain. There are no blood tests or X-rays diagnostic of this condition, and yet it’s easy to recognize. The condition is excessive busyness.”

Busyness causes health problems. And yet the type of busyness we are talking about is entirely within our control (as opposed to the busyness of someone living in poverty, working multiple minimum-wage jobs just to keep the lights on and the children fed). The busyness of the affluent and middle-class is an illness we are choosing, “like voluntarily licking the door handle of a preschool bathroom,” writes Dannemiller.

Let’s stop choosing busyness.

Take Action: Here are 5 tactics to help dial back the overwhelm:

  1. Stare into Space
  2. Find the “Minimum Effective Dose”
  3. Change Your Mantra
  4. Single Task
  5. Clear Mental Clutter by Making a Plan

Pick the one that feels easiest for you, and then make it a routine! (For support getting into a new habit, enroll in this free online class.)

Join the Discussion: Which of these tactics works best for you? What else helps you feel less busy? Do you agree that busyness is an illness we are choosing?





Love has no labels

I love being surprised!





Thursday Thought

tt-aurelius Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. –Marcus Aurelius





Achieve More by Doing Less!

SweetSpot_10.30B-1 (1)It’s very hard for us to accept that more is not necessarily better, and that busyness is a mark of importance and success. But when we operate from our “sweet spot”– that place of both ease and strength — we accomplish more. Learn more by reading this article in the Washington Post, or by watching this Wisdom 2.0 talk.

If you are in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll join me this Saturday! 
 
March 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm 
Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley
1 Lawson Road, 
Kensington, CA

 

Tickets are available in advance from A Great Good Place for Books and include a copy of The Sweet Spot.