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Expressing Your Anger at Work

 

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Expressing Your Anger at Work

Getting frustrated at work is common.  However, how you express it or don’t, may greatly influence the environment that you’re in, as well as future opportunity.  While expressing your anger at work may be generally frowned upon, there are certainly strategies that will help with this process.  Consider these three tips below when expressing your anger at work.


  1. Timing is important – Remember that when you are anger this may not be the time to resolve an issue. However, coming back to a situation after decompressing and letting the parties involved know how it impacted you will allow you to be a better communicator and express the importance of the situation, improving the likelihood of resolution.
  2. Understand what helps you decompress – Having an understanding of what kinds of strategies are most effective for you in reducing anger is important.  This may be walking, exercise, writing, listening to music or a wide variety of other things.  Taking the time to explore what works best will benefit you in the long run and give you the chance to effectively express and reduce anger instead of letting it become a problem.
  3. Remember the context – This is a very important component. Even though telling someone exactly how you feel may seem like the best idea at the time, the context may suggest otherwise.  Being mindful of how and where you are expressing anger, if at all, may be a very important factor to consider.

The better question to ask may be how to reduce anger in general.  Understanding how to control our feelings may be beneficial in many different environments. Having the ability to respond to events rather than react, may serve us well.  If we know how to control our sense of reactivity then we may respond in a more appropriate way. Understanding ourselves, how we respond/react and triggers that we have, may involve some self-exploration.

Interestingly, the expression of anger may be totally culturally contextual anyway.  In our culture we tend to look at the expression of anger to be generally unfavorable.  In other cultures expression of anger may actually be of health benefit.  In a study by The Association for Psychological Science, they found that expression of anger in Japanese culture was associated with better biological health.  This suggests that anger isn’t necessarily positive or negative but the meaning that it is applied to it may impact the results of its expression.

This idea of exploring our anger to identify what kind of meaning we apply to it may give us another reason for self-exploration.   Certainly the negative or positive consequences of expressing anger are still being studied.  In the meantime, we do know that improving our understanding of self and how we respond and react can have a great impact on our work and home environments.

 

Thanks,

Michael

 

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The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

The Influence of Self-Care on Intimate Relationships

Not too long ago I wrote a post about self-care.  This is an important concept related to managing stress, being effective, increasing productivity and as we learn today, improving intimate relationships.  I recently met a new therapist in Asheville who I am happy to introduce today.  Cindy Norton has an upcoming practice in Asheville, NC and she is already building a wonderful library of content.  I’m happy to have Cindy write for the Path to Synergy Blog about the influence of self-care on intimate relationships.  Thanks for the contribution Cindy!

Self-Care Defined

 So, what exactly is self-care? Well, self-care is defined as any intentional actions you take on behalf of your physical, mental, or emotional health. Many people see self-care as you looking after and taking care of you.

While this assertion is true, your decision on whether or not to engage in regular self-care has an effect on everyone around you including your coworkers, family, friends, and especially your intimate partner.

Intimate relationships tend to suffer the most when one or both partners are not regularly practicing self-care. We tend to take on the moods of those around us; so if you both are tired, run down, and stressed out, your relationship is going to take a hit. During these times when stress takes over, conflict can reign supreme.

Be Pro-Active

Oftentimes, we do not seek out self-care until we are already run down, exhausted, and yearning to get back in balance. Self-care isn’t meant to be something you seek out on occasion when you have already reached your breaking point.

Self-care is meant to be something that you do everyday like brushing your teeth. Does our physical, mental, and emotional well-being not deserve as much attention as our teeth? I think so.

 When we are pro-active in taking care of ourselves we become more rested, patient, and understanding. Additionally, we are much more available to our partners. This allows us to be supportive of one another and have each other’s backs.

When you are in this balanced place you can keep an eye out for when your partner is stressed and encourage them to practice some self-care and vice versa. It’s likely that you may be able to notice (even before your partner does) that they need to take a time out.

Find a gentle way to let your partner know that they seem a little stressed. It’s not going to be helpful if you approach them in a way that makes them feel defensive. Have a discussion with your partner about how they would like to be signaled when they are getting off track with their self-care.

For example, if your partner enjoys walking the dog for self-care, you may say to them: “It looks like Scruffy could use a walk”. Or if you enjoy a bubble bath to relax, maybe your partner’s signal is offering to run a bath for you.

Not The Same For Everyone

Get to know what your partner enjoys and what relaxes them. But keep in mind, your partner’s self-care practices may look different from yours, so don’t judge.

You may enjoy some solitude and want to curl up with a good book, while your partner goes over to a friend’s house to play cards. Both of these are self-care activities, but they look very different.

Finding Balance

Another important element to keep in mind is that taking time for yourself should not be seen as a threat to your relationship. Finding the balance between separateness and togetherness is an essential endeavor for anyone in an intimate relationship.

We need time to ourselves, and the freedom to pursue our own interests. It is healthy to take time away from your partner and allow yourself to miss them. Self-care activities are flexible in that they can be done solo or together. So tailor them to work for your unique relationship.

Jump Start Your Self-Care Practice

Not sure where to get started? Below are some self-care activities that can translate into a better relationship with your partner. Also, see how regular, solo self-care activities can be adapted to include your partner.

  • Journaling A self-care activity that I have always enjoyed is keeping a gratitude journal. It’s very simple. Just write down three things you are grateful for each day. The entries can be something new and novel each day, or they can be repeats for the things you are especially thankful for – such as health and family. You can adapt this activity to include your partner by writing in your journal three things about them that you are grateful for – and then sharing this with them. The entries can include qualities that your partner possesses or specific events that stand out to you. For example, you may write: I am grateful for your patience, I am grateful for you taking care of me while I was sick over the weekend, and I am grateful that you attended a play with me when my friend cancelled last minute (because I know that you do not like the theater).
  • Spending time in nature – I especially enjoy being out in nature. Many people spend time in nature by themselves as a form of self-care. Being one with nature can do wonders for your spirit. If you have a favorite spot with an amazing view, invite your partner along to share in the experience and tell them why this place is so special to you.
  • Go on an adventure – Sometimes it is nice to go adventuring somewhere you have never been, especially when you have no agenda or expectations. This leaves you open to discover things that you wouldn’t normally had you planned the outing. Including your partner in the outing can enhance your relationship. Exploring with your partner, especially in a new and novel way, is an amazing way to strengthen your bond.
  • Taking a bubble bath. It’s hard to beat a nice, warm, relaxing bubble bath after a long day’s work. Many people, myself included, enjoy the solitude and quietness of this activity. It gives you a chance to clear your mind, or catch up on your latest novel. However, by inviting your partner to join in, you both can enjoy the benefits of this very popular self-care activity.  For a funny example of this from the show Friends, see this video – https://youtu.be/VHAQcnB7yis.
  • Nurturing friendships. Taking time to nurture friendships outside of your primary relationship with your partner is extremely important. Set aside one day each week where you both spend time with a friend. I know someone who has reserved every Wednesday after work to spend with her best friend. They go downtown to a wine bar, order some tapas, and fortify their friendship. It’s also nice to nurture the mutual friendships you have. There are many group activities to choose from. I practice this by going to trivia with my partner and our mutual friends.

Up For A Challenge?

Take some time to think about what self-care activities you are already practicing in your life. Do you schedule them regularly? Or are they practiced only sparingly because you feel that you are too busy? Sometimes people have the misconception that they do not have time for self-care.

I’m sure most of you find time in your busy day to spend 20 minutes mindlessly scrolling through your social media feed. Why not use these 20 minutes to take a walk, go for a jog, take a bath, call a friend, or journal?

Or, better yet, I challenge you to take 10 minutes out of your day today and come up with a self-care plan to cover the next two weeks. Make a list of the self-care activities you enjoy, and schedule time for them.

For example, choose a small 10 minute activity to do daily (i.e. journaling) and choose a more time-intensive activity to do once per week (i.e. outing with best friend). When the two weeks are up, evaluate your progress and aim to incorporate the activities that work well for your life and your relationship.

About the Author:

Cindy Norton is the Owner and Writer at AVL Couples Therapy, a new website launching on January 1, 2016 in Asheville, NC featuring the relationship blog entitled Unearth Your Passion.   Before January please see  https://www.facebook.com/AVLCouplesTherapy for updates. Cindy holds a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a National Certified Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate.

 

AVL Couples Therapy Logo

AVL Couples Therapy Logo

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Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

 

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

In my experience in working with individuals dealing with depression and anxiety or both, there has been a consistency I have seen.   I hesitate to use the term “always” but certainly often, taking a mind-body approach to depression and anxiety seems to yield positive results, in my experience.   In my own life I have found this to be true also.  I have always felt better when exploring challenges from multiple lenses.  This is not necessarily surprising that long lasting change would be achieved through tackling multiple components of the human experience.

I’m certainly not alone in this belief either.  According to an article in The Journal of Palliative Medicine, it was found that a multi-modal treatment approach including mindfulness meditation, yoga movement and breathing exercise helped to reduce anxiety and depression in Japanese cancer patients.   In addition, in The Canadian Journal of Psychotherapy there was a study showing the efficacy of using Yoga as a complimentary treatment to psychotherapy in treating depression and anxiety.  These are just a couple of examples of how a mind-body approach can be an effective treatment philosophy.

4 Tips for a Mind-Body Approach to Depression and Anxiety

Mind your body We now have extensive research to show how lifestyle has such a great impact on our body and mind.  When considering how to care for your body and mind, the basic tenants remain – eat whole foods, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.  If someone is experiencing anxiety and depression these lifestyle factors may be harder to work towards. However, when you follow these principles often times there is symptom reduction.  For more information on nutrition, wellness and some great insight into mindset I recommend – The Model Health Show.

 

Talk to someone – If someone is having a particularly hard time it may be valuable to call a therapist or doctor for consult. If you already have a therapist, there may be value in seeing them more regularly during more challenging times.

 

Have compassion – Be patient and have compassion with yourself. During times of depression and anxiety this may be difficult. Remember that there are resources available to you.  Remaining present, compassionate and patient when working towards reducing symptoms is an important strategy.   One way to exercise compassion is doing an exercise in gratitude.

 

Self-Care – Engaging in some sort of regular practice is very important.  This practice can be different for everyone.  However, usually the focus of the practice is related to self-development.  Self-care could be related to physical fitness, meditation, time with loved ones, reflection, intention or any combination of activities that help to de-stress or remain present.

What mind-body practices have you found to be effective in your life?

Be well!

Michael

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Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

I have been meditating for some time, with more consistence recently.  I have experienced a wide variety of meditation practices.  Practices from basic breathing exercises to guided meditation to Chi Kung, a Chinese based practice of held posture or soft movements related to energy cultivation.  All of these have found to be valuable in particular ways.  Mostly I practice Chi Kung in addition to daily seated meditation.  See the link to learn more about my daily practice.   However, this post is not about my daily practice.  It’s about why meditation for the individual and organization are both so important.

Recently I came across a device call MUSE: The Brain Sensing Headband™ (affiliate link).  The device is a headband that gives immediate feedback on brain activity through a synced app on your device.  For a detailed account of the process see this link.

Basically, this device works through first calibrating your current brain state (different all the time of course) and sets that stage for how active your brain currently is.  From there you get to pick the length of meditation, from three minutes to one hour, and a scene (rain forest or beach) that is associated with your meditation session.  You get feedback through sound from the scene you choose.  For example, crashing waves when active, soft waves when your brain is calm.  In addition, you hear birds chirping when your brain is particularly calm.

When the session is over you get a detailed report of your session and how calm or active your brain was.   The detailed account is presented in an easy to read graph of the ups and downs of activity during the session.

So the question may still be – what is the point of meditation?  It’s a valid question, with many answers!  Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even improve productivity.  Please see highlights below –

Meditation for the Individual

Meditation can have an impact on the body, mind and overall well-being.  Below are just some highlights of the impact of meditation on the individual.

  • Impact on Aging – According to a study at UCLA, they concluded that long term meditators had less age related gray matter in the brain.
  • Management of Health Conditions – The Mayo Clinic sites meditation as having a high impact on both emotional well-being as well as helping people to manage symptoms of Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and more.
  • Impact on Depression, Anxiety and Pain – In a meta-analysis last year at John Hopkins, researchers determined that mindfulness meditation practices had a moderate impact on depression, anxiety and pain.
  • Meditation and Self-Control – In a study in 2013 by three universities, it is suggested that meditation training can have an impact on self-control and smoking reduction.

Meditation for the Organization

The impact of meditation on the organization can be significant.  Implementing meditation can have an impact on productivity, absenteeism and even the bottom line!

  • Impact on Absenteeism According to an article by The Harvard Business Review – employees struggling with depression lose an average of 27 days of work per year. If we know that meditation can have an impact on depression, then this could be a way to improve absenteeism and ultimately save the company time and money.
  • Impact on Disability The World Health Organization estimates the depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2020 with heart disease as second. This means high cost to companies that don’t find ways to work towards helping employees reduce and manage such issues.
  • Impact on Healthcare Costs and Productivity Corporate mindfulness programs are on the rise. According to an article by The Atlantic, Aetna states that since instituting its mindfulness program it has saved $2000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained $3000 per employee in productivity costs.
  • Meditation More Common in the Workplace According to an article by The Society for Human Resource Management, meditation and mindfulness programs are being implemented into wellness programs more regularly because of the great benefits associated.

So how does all this great data relate back to MUSE™?  Well, for a few reasons –

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

  • Easy to Understand Feedback – The immediate feedback MUSE™ gives is unique when it comes to meditation. Often times when meditating it is harder to get immediate results, which is why it takes lots of practice. MUSE™ takes practice too, but offers a way to see the direction you are heading.
  • Fun in Competition – Meditation is not generally competitive. However, with integration into a company’s wellness program, using MUSE™ in meditation, could be similar to running a challenge of healthy eating, walking or drinking water. For example, a race to get to 75% relaxation or a meditation for 30 days challenge.
  • Measurable – For those individuals or organizations that want to see progress in a measurable fashion, MUSE™ could be a tool for this. Gathering data over time allows you to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
  • An Introduction to Meditation – If you have never meditated you may have views, opinions or an image in your mind. This device takes some of the mystery out of the practice and allows for a glimpse into what is possible through calming your mind as well as the relationship between your mind and body.  Any way to connect our understanding of how our mind impacts other aspects of our health, is a great opportunity for growth and development.

How have you found meditation to be helpful in your life or workplace?

Please share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael

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Maintain Change Through Coaching

 

 

Maintain Change Through Coaching

Maintain Change Through Coaching

I was thinking recently about my own personal philosophy about how to really maintain change when searching for it, as well as how I bring this philosophy into my coaching practice.  As with most things I do, I take a holistic approach, which is the same for my coaching philosophy.   The following ideas can be taken as a guide to maintain change through coaching as well as a guide to understand how I work as a coach.

When working towards change, particularly when it comes to personal development, it is important to see all the aspects that may be helping or hurting progress.  We are complicated creatures.  Working towards the best version of ourselves is not just about thinking in a different way or practicing good habits (although these are pieces of the puzzle).

True change comes from evaluating all the aspects of our human experience.  When we look through all of our different lenses, we have the greatest likelihood for success.  We need to explore how we think, feel, act, take care of ourselves, strengths we have as well what/who we surround ourselves with.

As a helpful reminder for you, I’ve created a way to remember how you can check to see if you are evaluating the different parts of yourself and what may be helping or hurting your progress.  Consider the acronym CHANGE –

C – Cognition

H – Heart

A – Action

N – Nourishment

G – Greatness

E – Environment

Each part of this acronym has some important components to consider –


 

Cognition – The way we think.  Do you analyze, make decisions quickly, not quickly enough, make strong judgments, think poorly of yourself or too highly perhaps?  Both the way we think and what we focus on may be impacting our ability to change.

Heart – How we feel.  Our emotions play a big part in our ability to be successful.  If we can remain confident, happy, grateful, curious and positive then we may have a greater chance to work towards change.  If we are negative, depressed, sad, angry, overly reactive or closed off from our emotions we may have a harder time moving towards the change we are working on.  How we feel can also be related to our relationships and how they impact our ability to change.

Action – Habits and routines play a big role in our ability to change.  Thinking and feeling are important but it is the actions that we take that impact how our feelings and thoughts change.   Our action or inaction can play a big role in our ability to push things forward towards our desired outcome.

Nourishment – How we take care of ourselves.  It is not news that the way we eat, how much we exercise, and our general lifestyle all impact multiple facets of our lives.  This is the same for any change we are after. How we treat our body impacts our motivation, energy, creativity, strength and focus.  Considering how we are nourishing ourselves is important.

Greatness – What are your strengths, purpose, and passion? This is what makes up your greatness.  Exploring what is great about you not only leads to creating better leadership but also fulfillment, higher energy, better coping methods and a happier lifestyle.

Environment – What we surround ourselves with. I believe it was Jim Rohn who originally quoted – “We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.” This is a powerful quote and I believe it to be relevant.  When it comes to our own development, our environment goes beyond the people we are around.  Our environment could be our family, work, our city, community, or how our house looks and feels.   For example, if you know you function at a higher level when things are organized then keeping your house clean and in order may be an important factor in your own development.


All of these factors within the CHANGE acronym are important to explore during coaching.  When I work with clients this is part of the process I take them through.  My belief is that unless we focus on all of the potential areas that may be influencing our ability to make a change then we are leaving opportunity on the table.

It is also important to remember that any change one may be working towards takes time.  Remember that there is a particular pace that change takes. Be kind to yourself along the way.

Enjoy the journey,

Michael

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Dealing with Uncertainty

 

Dealing with Uncertainty

Dealing with Uncertainty

This week as I was searching for a topic to write about, I felt uncertain.  It’s not like there is a lack of things to choose from in the personal development, counseling or consulting arena.  There are a ton of topics to choose from.  However, I was feeling uncertain.  So, why not just write about it.  I think as a culture we are dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis.  Having access to 1,000 choices in every avenue of life will do that.   However, there are strategies to battle this uncertainty.

Feeling stuck is common.  We often are wanting a change from a career, a hobby, a relationship or a habit.  In my experience, getting caught in the weighing out of which decision to make can sometimes be exhausting. So how do we deal with uncertainty?

I was talking with a friend recently about a new relationship they are in.  We were talking about the draw to this new partner, the things they have in common, the fun they have etc.  When the idea of how or if to move forward came up, I had thought to ask the question – what is the motivation to be with this person?  Obviously we feel connected to others, we fall in love or we have a connection that isn’t so strong.  So my curiosity is about where this connection is coming from.  Understanding our motivations may help us to deal with uncertainties and move on from a place of “stuckness.”  Understanding what motivates your direction is a good starting place, below are five more tips to resolve uncertainty.

Five Tips to Resolve Uncertainty

Learning to Follow Your Gut – This may seem obvious but there is lots of power in understanding what our instincts tell us.  Since there are so many options in most things we come across, this may distract us from our own wisdom. Practicing ways to reflect on our own thoughts or feelings like journaling, therapy, meditation or some daily practice may help in learning to follow your gut.

Take a Break – It’s easy to get caught up analyzing a choice to death.  Analysis Paralysis.   Walking away from a decision or giving yourself a temporary break from deciding may offer up some new clarity in which direction to choose.

Unbiased Third Party – Speaking with an unbiased third party like a coach or counselor can be an effective way to work through a decision.  Having someone who does not know your situation may be able to offer questions or insight that a friend or relative may not see.   Sometimes when we are asked a unique question this helps to switch our perspective and make things clearer.  

Meditate – Meditation is a great tool to help with staying present.  More and more we see the benefits of meditation in reducing stress, anxiety and even have an impact on us biologically.  Being present is another way to tap into our own understanding of what is the best decision for us to make, and what our own intuition tells us.  In addition, meditation may also offer relief from dealing with the discomfort that often accompanies uncertainty.

Get Up and Move – The mind/body connection is present in everything we do, even when we are dealing with uncertainties in life.  When we are unclear about what decision to make, this creates a particular stagnation in the mind, and perhaps even in the body as we sit and weigh all the pros and cons of our decisions. Getting involved in some kind of regular exercise or even simple movement may trigger a new way to look at the problem.

What will you decide to take action on this week?

Share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael

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The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 2

The 100 Day Intention Experiment Part 2

The 100 Day Intention Experiment Part 2

I recently finished an experiment on intention that I had started about three months ago.  My intention was to complete 100 days of a regular morning routine.  To see some details read The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 1.  I had been in an accident that gave me some new perspective about how focused and present I was being with my time, a great lesson.  Basically, through this 100 day experiment, the idea was to build more intention to the start of my day, in order to positively impact the rest of my day.   I have been starting my day out with different forms of meditation and exercise and then writing.

I wanted to write a reflection of this experience since as I suspected, it was great!  At this point it’s hard to imagine not going through this routine, as I have come to enjoy it so much.  However, some things will continue to evolve and change, as they should.  I have already started another 100 day challenge but am setting specific goals for exercise, business, and personal development.

I recently read my last 100 daily entries of journaling and noticed some themes come up.  Some of these ideas stood out and I thought I would highlight them, as they may be valuable to other people too.

Lessons from 100 Day Intention Experiment 

  • The importance of gratitude – I recently wrote a post about this, but in summary – when I am feeling stuck or irritated I can remind myself of all that I already have as well as the difference between my needs vs wants.
  • Follow through – Being diligent with tasks, keeping focused on my One Thing (which is a book I read recently and worth checking out if you haven’t read it)
  • Patience – I have found that my timeline and how things have been unfolding are a bit different. A great opportunity to practice patience and continue with follow through and direction towards goals.
  • Self-Worth – Through this experiment and refection I am reminded that my self-worth is not dependent on the goals I reach.
  • The importance of sleep – I have noticed that the more I get regular sleep (at least 7.5 hours a night) the more productive, focused and aware I am.
  • Abundance – Thankfully I am in a community were this idea is supported. There is lots of opportunity to look at all the other practitioners in my field as competition. I am reminded though that this is a perception and the truth is that there is plenty of work available for all of us.
  • Remaining present – Having spent more time recently meditating, remaining present has been an important focus. I have noticed that the more I can focus on the now the less stress I experience.
  • Making connections is important – I have surprised by how making connections in the community continues to lead to more opportunity. I believe that speaking about our work and passions with others will bring more opportunity to have these passions and work expressed in our lives.
  • Writing about my dreams has been helpful – I have been finding some interesting insight and themes in my dreams as I have been writing about them daily. Some themes make sense (based on what I’ve been involved with recently) while others have brought me more insight into the ways I interact, think and feel.

How does your daily practice impact you?

Share or comment below [udesign_icon_font name=”fa fa-smile-o”]

Thanks,

Michael

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The Importance of Gratitude

The Importance Gratitude

 

I was on a flight last week heading out to California for what I expected to be a very transformational conference, and it was.  I was excited to be going in the first place but returned with even more gratitude.  The conference was called – The Most Awesome Conference, and indeed it was.  It was put on by a group of savvy therapists, consultants and business strategists.  This conference was unique, not only did we get to hear presentations on important strategies of running a business but we got to participate in creating new ways to market, promote and manage our business.  The amount of connection and support I felt from this weekend conference was intense. I was reminded of the importance of gratitude.  It is with this gratitude that I continue to be propelled forward.

I would like to give thanks to the following people for putting together such a great weekend full of learning, laughter and action! A special thanks to – Joe Sanok of Practice of the Practice, Kelly & Miranda of Zynnyme, Dr. Julie Hanks, Jo Muirhead, Mari Lee of Growth Counseling, Ernesto  Segismundo of Fylmit.com, and all the wonderful attendees of The Most Awesome Conference!

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them and to have had the chance to share ideas and explore how to build the field of counseling, coaching and consulting.

I reference this story for a few reasons –

  • It is important to me to be thankful.
  • Gratitude can improve our lives socially, psychologically, and even physically.
  • Gratitude impacts others, thus impacting the world!

Three reasons why expressing gratitude may be beneficial to you

  1. According to Robert Emmons, a leading researcher on gratitude, there are a number of benefits from offering regular gratitude including – stronger immune system, higher levels of positive emotions, more forgiving attitude and less feelings of isolation.

  2. Gratitude can have an impact on your relationships. According to John Gottman, a leading expert in marital relationships, it is very important for a couple to maintain a ratio of more positive interactions than negative, for the marriage to be successful.

  3. Gratitude has an impact on others around you. If you want to make a difference in how you interact with others, consider adding an element of gratitude. This shift in interaction style may have a great impact on your relationships and communication.  Others are more likely to respond to gratitude than discontent.

When I think of the times in my life that have been particularly challenging, one of the things that brings me back from feeling like nothing is working, is to be thankful for all that I have.   The truth is that when we cut out all the things we have from the things we need, most of us are richer than we think.

So the question at times may be – “What am I grateful for?”  This may be an easier or harder question to answer, depending on the day. However, just like everything, if you practice it becomes easier.  So, please see the following challenge –

Challenge of the Week!

  • Think of someone or something you are grateful for and why.
  • Express this gratitude by writing a small thank you message and tagging them via social media.
  • Share this post.
  • Move through the day with ease.

Thankfully,

Michael

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The 100 Day Intention Experiment – Part 1

 

The 100 Day Intention Experiment

 

About two months ago I was involved in an accident.  Since this accident I’ve had lots of questions, first of which was how did I survive. I had slipped and fallen off of a high waterfall and landed in about 1.5 feet of water, but mostly rock.  When my friends arrived down to where I had fallen, the look on their faces was as if they had seen a ghost.   Thankfully they were able to help me hike out of the woods.  I’m lucky to have such great friends.   The waterfall was 75 feet.  I managed to grab some branches and rocks on the way down so the free fall was only 30 feet or so.  I went over the falls head first, but managed to turn myself around and point my feet down so that I was falling vertically.  I am very thankful for years of martial arts training that taught me to relax and focus during times of stress.  I believe it was this ability to focus, as well as being able to relax and exhale on impact that helped to reduce trauma.   After a series of x-rays it was determined that I didn’t even break anything.  It was a miracle.   I’m still working on rehabbing my ankles and knees, but overall I’m good.

This post is less about that story and more about what this experience pushed me towards.  Like I said, I’ve had lots of thoughts since this accident; gratitude, curiosity, wonder, fear etc.  One thought that has come up regularly is intention.  The experience made me ask a great question – “How intentional are my moments, days, weeks and general direction?”  So I decided to create an intention experiment.

I definitely have lots of good things going on right now and am busy, but wasn’t as intentional as I would like, so I changed.  Today is day 50 of a 100 day experiment I decided to start.  This experiment was inspired by my study of daily practices in graduate school, my martial arts practice and an inspirational story I heard about a man named Hal Elrod.    If you don’t know Hal’s story, you should look into it.  He wrote a book called The Miracle Morning, which is also worth checking out.  The idea is about setting a routine at the first part of the day that then sets the tone for the rest of the day, physically and mentally.   So, why 100 days?  It seemed like a nice round number and also enough time to form a new habit, which is my goal.

Having a daily practice is not something new for me.  However, I haven’t had a regular routine like this that is regimented and covers a few different focal points.  I want to share the routine because I’ve found it to be so helpful.   The order has had some variation but for the most part this is how it goes:

  • I wake up, brush my teeth, splash some water on my face and sometimes put in my contacts.
  • I do 10 minutes of seated meditation. The meditation I do is mostly just focused on relaxation and how I’m breathing.   I do this first because I’ve noticed that I recall my dreams much better, which often times there are some nuggets of inspiration there for me.
  • A short warm up, stretching and moving and then into a Tai Chi form that I have been practicing for the last 7 years or so. I think I’m at the point now finally that I can do this form and feel like a beginner.  There is so much to the art of Tai Chi, but that’s for another post.
  • I then start a Chi Kung which I have also been practicing for some time now. Chi Kung is another kind of meditation.
  • I do about 10-15 minutes of movement that helps to get my blood flowing even more. Usually this consists of martial arts forms/movements/stances, pushups, pull ups, sit ups and some stretching.
  • To wrap it up I journal. The journaling usually has three elements.
    • I write about whatever mood I wake up in or what’s on my mind.
    • I write about my dreams I remember and what kind of meaning I can draw from them.
    • Most importantly, I write about my intention for the day. I find that writing my goals and what I intend to accomplish for the day has been a powerful exercise for me.  Sometimes I write down intentions for longer term goals as they relate to what is happening currently.

Since I started this routine I’ve noticed some really great opportunities develop in my business, I have been feeling better physically and seem to be more productive.  This may just be coincidence, although I don’t believe that.  I do believe that creating clear goals and intentions for our time, creates results.  I have noticed that my time has been spent more focused.  This routine has helped me get clear about the direction of my business as well as directions and goals I am taking on personally.

I really believe having a daily practice has so much to offer.   My story and practice is unique, just like yours.  Starting the day with focus on mental clarity, physical health and intention seems to be a great recipe for success.  It works well for me because I’ve incorporated some practices that I already love.  Combining practices that I really enjoy with ones that are harder to do (especially in the morning) has been a good mix. I look forward to reflecting on this practice after another 50 days.

What is your recipe for success?

Best,

Michael

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Mind and Body Connection: Healthy Body Healthy Mind

 

Body Mind Connection Healthy Body Healthy Mind


When I was in graduate school one of the concentrations I had was called Body Centered Therapy.  This program is described as “a program designed to prepare students with an understanding of creative and expressive processes within the context of the mind and body connection”.   I look back on my experience in graduate school fondly and continue to learn more and more about this idea of body and mind connectivity.  This is a large topic with lots of debate and areas of discussion.  I am writing this article as a short introduction to this idea, with some examples of how body and mind are connected.

In my professional experience there certainly seems to be a connection between an individual’s physical experience and emotional well-being.  For example, the article HERE points to the fact that there may be a physical component related to the onset of depression, but this generally speaking is not a new finding.  Research has been connecting physical experience with mental health issues for many years. For example, this article by the National Institute of Mental Health reviews some of the conclusions related to diabetes and depression.  A great map of physical experiences brought on by depression can be found HERE.  There are often connectivity examples between depression or anxiety and physical symptoms resulting from them.  We commonly understand that anxiety and depression can bring on physical symptoms of stomach ache, sweating, headache or a number of other symptoms.

It seems that the more we understand about connectivity between experience, thought, behavior and emotion, the more we may gravitate towards a mind and body connection paradigm.  Popular culture tends to separate body and mind, but many believe this is shifting.  Depression is a condition that impacts how we feel, think and act (all involving the mind).  However, emotions like sadness or worthlessness, found in depression, can bring on real physical symptoms such as pain or nausea.  In this way, depression is present in both the body and mind.  For another example of mind and body connectivity, consider this article on chronic illness and depression.

There have been many theories posed as to the cause of depression, anxiety, panic disorder and other mental health challenges.  However, regardless of the cause, it seems that an overwhelming number of people respond well to lifestyle change.  In my personal and professional experience, I see that people often respond well to lifestyle changes such as increased exercise and improved nutrition. I think that this strengthens the argument even more that there is a definite connection between body and mind.

So what does one do with all of this information about the body and mind connection?  It seems that one way to actively incorporate the belief that there is truly a cross over between our body and mind is to do just that: change our belief.  One way of changing our belief is to change how we respond.  When we are faced with different experiences we may begin to ask how is this impacting both body and mind.

The mind and body connection is certainly not just seen in mental health issues like depression or anxiety.  We see examples of body/mind connection in our everyday lives, if we know where to look.  The next time you are faced with a really challenging decision, consider how your body responds.  Often times our body can give us clues about decisions to make or hunches about directions to take, we just have to learn to listen.  Being more aware of our whole experience in any given situation will bring on more understanding, and more of an integration of body and mind.

Stay Healthy,

Michael