, , , , ,

No Complaining

No Complaining

No Complaining

I’m glad you’re here.  In the spirit of the time of year, I want to offer a gift, mixed with a challenge.  This idea is founded by Will Bowen of www.acomplaintfreeworld.org, details below.  The reason for this gift is that there continues to be more and more evidence to connect our thoughts, statements, actions and feelings to our overall experience of the world. This challenge offers the opportunity to consider our statements, if only for three weeks.   Basically, no complaining.   One strategy in tackling this seemingly insurmountable task, is practicing gratitude.   We all have much be thankful for.  Ok, I’ll start.  In this card you’ll find a few reasons why I am grateful to have you in my life.  I hope you find this gift intriguing and interesting enough to experiment with.

Love,

Michael

The paragraph above was the beginning of a card I wrote for about 20 members of my family this year, as well as some other loved ones.  I wanted to take the opportunity to give back some gratitude and a chance to put some intention into action for the New Year.  I learned about this through A Complaint Free World, here is a video that is worth a watch about this project.

The basic idea is that you get a bracelet that stays on your wrist until you can sustain 21 days without complaining.  Every complaint means you switch wrists and the timer starts over.   According the website, they say that this experiment typically takes 4-10 months to complete! What a great opportunity to challenge ourselves!

We often here about studies on changing our mindset, practicing mindfulness, being positive or other non-tangible pieces of advice.  While I am totally on board with the previous suggestions, I like this 21 day challenge because it has an activity attached to it, which I think helps to build the likelihood for success.  Whenever we are practicing a new way of thinking or feeling, there should be an associated new way of being or doing.

I was really thankful for my family’s response to this gift as it seemed very heartfelt and appreciative.  There were some tears shed, lots of joking and I think some added thoughtfulness about our individual attitudes and statements, which was my hope.

However, I don’t think that just passing out bracelets and offering the challenge would have been as meaningful without the added gratitude.  With every bracelet I gave I wrote a personalized note regarding why I was thankful to have each person in my life.  I believe that expressing gratitude as a part of this gesture was important because it was an example of how to pursue the task of – no complaining.

If you are reading this blog, then you most likely have everything you need. You have shelter, food/water and probably some people in your life that you care about or care about you.  There is much to be grateful for.  Expressing gratitude is one strategy in combating the pattern of complaining.

Care to experiment?  The next time you notice yourself complaining, see how this could be shifted into a statement of gratitude.  Alternatively, practice expressing gratitude more often and see if that shifts how much you are complaining.

Wishing you a prosperous, fun, challenging and growth filled 2016!

Best,

Michael

 

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

, , , ,

Trusting Your Intuition

 

Trusting Your Intuition

Trusting Your Intuition

Here is a challenge I’ve been having this week. How do I determine the difference between what my gut says vs. an old pattern I have or the difference between recognizing an intuition vs a fear?  So why not write about it.  There are definitely some questions I find helpful when exploring if/when to trust your intuition.

But before we get into tips let’s look at some research around intuition.  According to  an article on Psychology Today – two different studies reference people’s ability to “intuit” correct answers, in very different scenarios, before the answers were provided.  This was measured by a physical response that was happening as a reaction to the answer.

Another study looked at intuition as it relates to major life decisions, such as buying a car.  In some studies it shows that people who have trusted their intuition first often end up happier than those that analyzed thoroughly and decided against their own first instinct.  However, there is of course some debate about this.  Psychologists and scientists continue to debate the nature of intuition.

Some believe that intuition comes from a reptilian part of the brain that is tapping into some unconscious awareness of danger.  While others look at intuition as a tapping into the unconscious, but in a way that looks at stored information that is available to us but perhaps lost from our conscious mind.

Regardless of the debate, it seems that there exists large bodies of literature that at least agree on one thing – your intuition is worth listening to, for a variety of reasons.

I often live by my intuition…perhaps too much at times.  So finally, here are some strategies that I think are helpful to explore when looking at ones intuition –

Evaluate how this relates to old patterns –

To consider trusting your intuition vs an old pattern of decision making, evaluate it.  Does the decision fit into a habit or pattern for you, or is it an instinct that you have?

Fear wrapped up in intuition –

When there is a hunch towards a decision, make sure that the hunch is not just preventing a direction that may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable.  Of course, this should be weighed with reason, but determining if it is intuition or fear that is driving the decision may be beneficial.

What is the impact of this decision in 5 years or 20 years –

Trusting your intuition can be hugely beneficial! So can weighing out the implications of your decisions.  For instance, if this decision won’t make that big of a difference in 5 years, then perhaps it’s ok to move forward.  On the other hand, combining intuition with some logic may be worth exploring if this decision will impact you in 20 years.

If I don’t trust this intuition will the result be regret or potential failure –

Remember, logic and reason is great, but so is taking risks.  Ask yourself if the decision will result in feeling scared, or regretful for not doing something different.  A little fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A great quote by Lucille Ball –

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done”

How has my intuition been accurate in the past and where has this led me –

Looking at past gains and failures may be advantageous.  Making a list of the times intuition has led to positive results may help to instill some confidence in trusting yourself.

 

How has intuition worked for you?  I would also be curious to hear from anyone who chooses not to trust their intuition.  Please share or comment below.

Thanks,

Michael

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

, , , , , , , , ,

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

, , , , , , ,

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

, , , , , , ,

Letting Go of Fear

Letting Go of Fear

Letting Go of Fear

The question of “how to let go of fear” often comes up with the clients I work with, as well as in my own life of course.  I think this is a complicated issue. There are many kinds of fears that exist in our lives, each one presenting specific challenges.  In starting this new business I find myself wrestling with lots of professional fears.  Questions like – Am I qualified for this?  What can I charge?  Can I afford to take this professional risk?

These questions are all based on fear of failure or incompetence.  The truth is that I have many years of educational and professional experience to draw from and that I am definitely qualified for what I am doing.  So why is there still fear?

In my work with individuals regarding professional fears, what often comes up is the fear of pursuing what is most meaningful to them.  This fear is often based in belief that says “there are not jobs available,” “the market is too saturated,” “I don’t have the credentials,” or many other beliefs. While some of these fears are more concretely rooted in actual barriers, I believe that letting go of the limiting belief is the first fear to address.

Letting go of limiting beliefs is liberating

Consider the following ideas –

  • There isn’t enough (work, money, opportunity etc.)
  • There is only scarcity
  • All others in my field are competitors

What if we shift our perspective to thoughts like –

  • There is more room for my service or business
  • Other people in my field can be my collaborators
  • There is an abundance of work available

This shift in perspective can of course be applied to other kinds of fears as well, not just professional.  Changing a belief or perspective may create some paths to progress.  Fear inhibits progress in a number of ways –

  • Inhibiting creativity
  • Reducing insight and understanding of alternative perspectives
  • Acts against motivation for action

How would this shift in perspective open up new opportunities for you?

What I have found in my own life, as well as what works for my client’s, is taking small steps in the direction of a change I want to pursue is the best course of action.  It’s easy to say – “you just have to decide to let go of your fear” but this is a bit vague.  I think that creating some kind of regular, consistent practice that promotes empowerment can help to reduce fear, as long as it is practiced regularly.

For example, if your practice is to attend networking events in an effort to improve your business and challenge your introversion, then this should be practiced weekly in short periods rather than attending long events but inconsistently.

What I have found in my own life as well as those I’ve worked with is that overcoming any professional fear only opens up new opportunity and possibility.   Letting go of fear is empowering.  Empowerment is often accompanied by change.  If you are choosing to face a fear, be prepared, things may not be the same afterwards.  For example, addressing a professional fear may result in the following –

  • New awareness about a direction to take
  • Career change
  • Promotion
  • Retirement
  • Going back to school
  • Increased confidence

Three Tips for Addressing Fear –

  1. Take time to understand what you really want.  What is the fear really based on?
  2. Taking the time to figure out where the fear comes from and what it is connected to may open up new awareness about a direction to take.  Once you understand what you truly want, then start taking small steps in that direction. Do the research to determine some of the steps that you need to take to set you on the path that you want. If you are unsure, consider working with a coach or mentor.
  3. Set small achievable goals that can be built upon. Put into place a daily routine that works towards overcoming the fear.   Prove to yourself that your fear can be conquered, and then your belief in what is possible will change.

Best,

Michael

, , , ,

How to Reduce the Stigma of Therapy

 

How to Reduce the Stigma of Therapy

During the last 100 years or so there has been an interesting evolution regarding the helping professions.  The stigma around seeking help for guidance is a somewhat unusual cultural phenomenon.  In most cultures, seeking guidance is a relatively accepted and supported endeavor and has been for many years.   For a more detailed exploration of stigma as it relates both to mental health as well as stigma towards seeking professional help, see this article on Help Seeking from the British Psychological Society. In this article there are many examples of sited research, as well as interventions, to help to reduce stigma of seeking help.  Some research suggests that normalizing issues that people are facing may help to reduce stigma for seeking help.  So the purpose of this post is to provide some anecdotal information from my own experience to help normalize seeking help.

Here are some reasons I have seen in my own practice that may impact how seeking help becomes stigmatized, as well as how to reduce the stigma of therapy.

Throwing out the baby with the bathwater –

I have come across many people over the course of the last decade who say that they tried therapy and didn’t like their therapist.  Not having a connection to the therapist is an important factor to consider.  Research shows that the goodness of fit or “therapeutic alliance” (how well you connect with your therapist) is one of the largest predictors for change.  So if we know that the connection experienced between therapist and client is so important, then this should be a focus.  Unfortunately, often time’s people will see a therapist that they don’t connect with, only attend briefly and then assume that therapy is not effective. This may be due to the therapist not checking in with the client or the client not having the understanding of the importance of this dynamic, but it does happen.  If you are looking for ways to explore the “goodness of fit” in more detail, see this article on How to Choose a Therapist.   An important thing to keep in mind when looking at therapy is that therapists are like many other professionals, there are great ones, good ones and ones that may not be the best fit for you.  To offer a comparison – if you hire a plumber and they do a bad job, would the assumption be to discount plumbing altogether or call a new plumber?

Therapy doesn’t work –

Sometimes people go to therapy once or twice or maybe three times and then assume that nothing is happening, so it obviously doesn’t work.  I often have the conversation with clients about how to get the most out of a therapy.  My hope is that these conversations take place in most therapy offices.  The truth is that when you have meetings with a therapist they are typically only one hour.  This also means that whatever is discussed in therapy may take implementation and practice outside of the therapy office.  For change to occur, practice and patience are important.  There may be times where someone continues to attend appointments even though they feel that nothing is changing for them.  Whatever the feeling is, bring it up with your therapist and see what is missing.   Remember, if something is not working, try to identify why, and fix it.

These problems aren’t bad enough –

We all have similar problems, to a certain extent.  We definitely all have things we are stressed about, are scared of, are hopeful for, are insecure about etc.   Therapy does not have to be only for those struggling with something that society deems “serious.”   Fortunately many people see therapy as an opportunity to self actualize, seek understanding of one’s self, process something confusing, determine what is most valuable to them or many other reasons outside of the context of exploring pain, trauma or dysfunction.  Therapy is not for sick people.  Therapy is an open platform to explore whatever you decide is important.  I repeat, whatever YOU decide is important.   People seek guidance and empowerment for a variety of reasons and the depth and importance of those reasons only get to be decided by the individual.   Reducing the stigma of therapy can be accomplished through recognizing a few simple statements:

It’s OK to take a look at who we are.

It’s OK to explore what is working and what isn’t working.

It’s OK to want to make changes to better ourselves.

Best,

Michael

, , , ,

The Victim or The Master

 

The Victim or The Master

This idea of victimization and mastery has been on my mind for awhile now and I’ve hesitated to write about it because I don’t want to come off as insensitive.  I was recently at a conference and had some really good conversations about it, so I thought this might be the time to write.  I was also recently robbed so I thought that may be an appropriate story to share too, for the purpose of this post.

What I really want to say is simple – we are not victims, ever.  Now I realize this statement alone is heavy and probably will evoke strong reactions, but I’d like to elaborate.   Of course I recognize that there are horrible types of suffering in the world, pains out of our control and circumstances that we don’t directly ask for.  Just like with every other event in our lives though, there are opportunities.  Even in the worst circumstance there is opportunity for growth, knowledge and development.  If we can recognize this opportunity, then we are never victims.  The world is not happening to us.  Situations may exist, but what I am referring to is our perception, reaction and interpretation of these situations.  What we choose to take away from the situation, and how it shapes who we are, is where our power lies.  We have the choice to be the victim or the master.

We can see examples of victimization vs. mastery in the most horrific of stories and we can see examples of this in our everyday life. For example – The recently made famous story: I Am Mala, tells of a girl with unprecedented resiliency over her situation.  I encourage you to read the story but quickly summarized; this girl comes back to advocate for the rights of her community and her nation even after serious violence towards her.  Even after an attempt on her life she still chooses to see past this and that her cause for bringing education, peace and equality is worth the risk.  This resiliency is founded by perception.  Her perception pushes her through a seemingly horrific situation, and by all accounts it is.  However, her choice of response to her situation makes her the master of it, not the victim.

We see other examples in our every day lives where the immediate reaction may be of victimization.   Examples such as; the person who cuts in front of you in line or cuts you off on the highway, the coworker who expresses anger towards you for seemingly no reason, the family member who avoids your calls, the spouse who doesn’t follow through with an agreement, and the examples go on and on.  Fortunately these are all opportunities to look at the bigger picture and to decide if your perception will be one of victimization or mastery.

The Victim at Work

So as I said, I was recently robbed for the first time in my life.  I’ll admit my reaction in the first couple days was definitely victimization.  And the reality is that I was a “victim of a robbery.”   Possessions were stolen from me, that did happen. But I still have the choice of how I interpret the situation and what kind of identify I take on because of the situation.  The kind of victimization I’m talking about has to do with the response to what happened, not what actually took place.   To hold the identity of a victim for too long is dangerous.  Now I could have certainly wallowed in my own anger, hate, frustration and self pity, but I’m confident this wouldn’t have produced anything for me.   So after about two days, I switched hats.

The Master at Work

Instead of feeling horrible about the situation I started to ask myself questions.  Questions like –

  • What is the lesson I can take from this?

  • What does this teach me about what is valuable to me?

  • How much worse off am I really?

  • How does this offer me an opportunity to see all that I DO have?

  • Most importantly – what kind of perception and identity am I choosing and how is this serving me?

So here is what I came up with:  One of the lessons I took is to be more mindful and observant of my environment.  What I was able to identify about value was helpful too.  The things that were taken from me were important, and even sentimental/irreplaceable….but the truth is that they are just things.  I still have a great place to live, wonderful family and friends in my life, an exciting developing business, I’m in good shape, a good car and the list goes on.  I have everything I need and am safe.   Lastly, looking at how my perception is serving my situation, there is no question of which perception is constructive and which is destructive.  Through choosing to master my situation I am forging ahead, not only letting go of the negativity that surrounds the situation, but pulling the lessons that can be drawn.  There are always lessons.

So next time you are faced with a situation that makes you feel anger, hate, pity, self doubt or anything else that is destructive to your overall development, ask yourself:  “Am I the Victim or the Master?”

Best,

Michael