Monthly Archives: September 2014

Persist with Patience for Well-being

Photo of 39 Cent stamp with dog wearing a colorful cap, Persistence like a postage stamp is essential to well-being

Your well-being at work requires the persistence of a postage stamp. To persist means to stick to a course of action in spite of obstacles and setbacks. Persistence is a skill you can develop with patient practice. Just because you are persistent in one thing, it does not automatically mean that you are will be persistent in all things. Persistence depends on commitment. You persist in things that are important to you, that motivate you.

Persistence and Well-being
When you select an aspect of your well-being to work on, identify why it is important to you. What is motivating you to work on this particular issue at this time? Write it down and read it regularly to help you stay focused and motivated. Then, develop a plan for how you will implement your well-being task. We’ll talk more about planning in future posts.

Persistence is about taking things “one day at a time,” doing a little each day and regular practice is the key to success. A young man was walking along the street in New York City, carrying a violin case. He stopped a passing woman and asked, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The woman replied, “Practice, practice, practice.” Okay, it is an old joke; and like many old jokes, it happens to be true. That is why we remember them. Plan to practice your well-being task daily.

Persistence Guidelines

Be prepared for setbacks. Be flexible and be prepared to change and adapt. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” As you practice your well-being task, be aware of how it is going and be prepared to make changes as necessary. Remember, you may be your own worst enemy. The tendency to “just react” instead of choosing your response may be especially strong when you first start on your well-being journey. Be kind to yourself by celebrating your successes and learning from your setbacks.

Be patient. Impatience is not about the slow, chatty person ahead of you in the grocery store checkout line. It is about how you feel about the situation. Notice that once again, patience is a matter of choice while impatience is a reaction. Impatience is a form of anger, and it can be just as damaging to you as it is to the people around you. People can tell you are inpatient, and it affects your health and well-being. Your blood pressure goes up. You don’t take the time to think things through when you are inpatient and react badly. And, if you are like me, you tend to speak without thinking or “shoot from the lip” when impatient, which had negative consequences. Being patient is not just about counting to 10, although it can help.

Remember that change take times and practice. Notice when you are impatient. What triggers your impatience at work? How does your body feel when you are impatient? Are you clenching your jaw or maybe your hands? Remember, impatience occurs when you are not getting your way or when other’s behavior does not correspond to your expectations.

Practicing patience is about is about treating yourself with kindness and compassion and the benefits are well worth the effort. “However, let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4).

Ponder This…
Identify one thing about your work situation that makes you impatient. What can you do to deal with that situation in a way that supports your well-being? Identify the steps you will take and set up a schedule for practicing them.

Next: Tips for Persisting with Patience

 

 

Your Weekly Noodle: September 24, 2014

Noodle* on this…

Image of two roads merging in the woods representing making minful choices and well-being.

Mindfully choose your path.
(Image courtesy of Regional Forums Non-Governmental Initiatives, Poland)

“With mindfulness we have the choice of responding with compassion to the pain of craving, anger, fear and confusion. Without mindfulness we are stuck in the reactive pattern and identification that will inevitably create more suffering and confusion.”  ~ Noah Levine, Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries  (2007) 

 

Robert Frost wrote about choices in The Road Not Taken (1920).

…I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—   
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

My mother loved this poem and over the years, it has become my favorite poem as well, partly because of her and partly because of what it teaches us about making choices and the consequences of those choices. Think about a stressful situation that occurred in the last week. Did you choose to respond or did you react? What were the consequences of your choice?

Please share your experience with us in the Comments section below.

Read more about it: Make Mindful Choices

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Check Out a Good Book:

Your Weekly Noodle: September 17, 2014

Noodle* on this…

Photo of User Guide

Life does not come with a user guide. We learn from our experiences.

I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door. ~ Marla Gibbs

Name one thing you taught yourself this week – one lesson you learned. How will you apply that lesson in the future? 

Please take a few minutes to tell us about what you learned. Use the Comments field below to share your thoughts.

Read more about: Self-coaching

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm.

Photo Credit: Craig Murphy

Make Mindful Choices for Well-being

You get to choose your attitude every day – choose mindfully for well-being. Image of three attitudes hapy, uuncertain, indifferent

You make dozens of choices every day. When the alarm goes off in the morning, do you get up or hit the snooze button? If you hit the snooze button often enough, it becomes a reaction to the alarm, not a response, which means making a choice. Reacting is not always bad. Reacting helped your ancestors survive attacks by saber tooth tigers and today, reactions help you avoid accidents.

Even so, in many non-life-threatening situations, simply reacting can cause problems. According to Eli Landa, in his book The Best of Evolutionary Pathways, (2013), “When you react, you create problems both for yourself and for others. When you respond, you eliminate problems or prevent them from occurring in the first place. This is because responses are tailored to circumstance, while reactions are triggered by it.”

Making Mindful Choices
You can stop reacting, make mindful choices that support your well-being and get the work done. Making choices is your right, your opportunity and your source of power. When you automatically react to a situation, you give away your power. It is transferred to the person who initiated the situation, and you may bear the brunt of the situation. Here are some tips to help you choose rather than simply react on the job.

Take a few deep breaths to prevent a reaction. This slows down the reaction, giving you time to get your emotions under control. Try the four-count or tactical breathing technique. Designed to calm your mind and lower your pulse rate, it helps you reduce the effects of adrenaline and cortisol that surge through the body with anger or frustration.

  • Inhale four (4) seconds.
  • Hold your breath for four seconds.
  • Exhale four seconds.
  • Wait four seconds before inhaling again.

It is perfectly OK to say something like, “Give me a moment to think about this.”

Think of someone you admire, living or dead, and ask: “What would that person do?” What would my mentor do? What would my mother do?

  • Take a quick mental inventory. Ask yourself:
  • How important is this?
  • Did I do something to provoke this situation?
  • What is my responsibility in this situation?

Follow Stephen Covey’s advice: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.”(1) In other words, choose to start a discussion about the situation, rather than just react to it.

Notice your language. If you use phrases such as, “There is nothing I can do. Fred did such and such… I will try…” you are reacting. If you ask questions such as, “What are the options? How can we fix this?” you are responding.

In a difficult situation, you must respond quickly and; with practice, you can learn to go through the choice process rapidly. Use the suggestions above to help you slow down your reaction and choose an appropriate response for the situation.

A Final Thought
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go…” Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990)

Ponder This…

At the end of the day, think about a situation that occurred. Write down what happened and what you did. Ask yourself, “Did I react or respond?” “What can I do in similar situations in the future?” Write down your answers.

Next: Persist with Patience

References

Covey, Stephen, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, New York: Simon and Schuster (1989).

Check This Out

 

Be Your Own Life Coach for Mindfulness

Quote: The promises of this world are, for the most part, vain phantoms; and to confide in one's self, and become something of worth and value is the best and safest course. Michaelangelo plys photo of carror tided to sring with caption: Remember, there is usually a stick attached to that “promising” carrot.

Sometimes you need a coach to help you find your way. A life coach is someone who counsels and encourages you with work and personal issues. They help you be mindful of your feelings, thoughts, and actions. You can pay someone to do this for you, but that person cannot follow you around all the time, and their services can be expensive. By practicing mindfulness you are being your own life coach. Here are some suggestions to you coach yourself.

Take an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. If you are like me and most everyone I know, you tend to focus on the things you don’t do well or situations in which you don’t feel comfortable. According to publisher Malcolm Forbes, too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are. It‘s important to know your weaknesses. You can work to improve a weakness, using appreciative inquire to find complementary strengths and build on them.

Don’t beat yourself up as you inventory your strengths and weaknesses; or when you think certain thoughts or react in a stressful situation. Well-being is not about being perfect; it is about using mindfulness to examine and change your thoughts and behaviors over time. It is a process, and like all processes, it can be improved.

Make a list of what is relevant in your life at this time. You can’t do it all. You have to “pick your battles.” There are a couple of options. You can work on the most important things first, or you can “pick the low-hanging fruit.”  This is a process improvement term that means working on the things that can be resolved quickly or with little effort. For example, regularly saying hello to the office sourpuss, asking about their day, or recognizing their accomplishments is an excellent way to start building a relationship with that person and is considered a low-hanging fruit.

 Ask for feedback from someone you trust. Sometimes your trusted friends or family members can see behavior patterns that you cannot. Be prepared to hear the truth. You don’t get to “kill the messenger” when you asked for the message, but didn’t like hearing the truth.  

Life Coaching for Mindfulness
Answer the following questions, Again, quickly complete each sentence. Go with your first response, your “gut instinct.”

  1. The one thing that is missing in my work is…F/G
  2. I get annoyed when people… R/C
  3. The one thing I like best about my co-workers is…E/R
  4. I hate to work with people who… E/R
  5. Every workday, I take time to… H/W
  6. The best part of my job is… F/G
  7. In the last 30 days at work, I learned …F/G
  8. I like it when my boss…R/C
  9. I hesitate to say something when…E/R
  10. At the end of the workday, I feel like… H/

Each of the ten statements relates to an aspect of well-being. Use these statements to identify your beliefs and actions associated with your high and low scoring profile statements in your well-being profile The code at the end of each statement identifies the domain:

  • F/G: Personal fulfillment and growth
  • R/C: Relationships and connectedness
  • E/R: Esteem, responsibility and recognition
  • H/W: Health and work/line balance

Ponder This…
Select one of the statements above work on and then use the appreciative inquiry questions to coach yourself on this issue.

Next: Persist with Patience

Appreciative Inquiry – A Mindfulness Tool

 

Cartoon Appreciative inquiry as a tool for mindfulness: idenitfy, appreciate, adn build on your strengths

In Chapter 33 of the Tao te Ching Lao Tzu taught: “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” Translator Stephen Mitchell describes true wisdom as” “When I know myself, I know others; when I master myself, I don’t have to master others” (1). This is mindfulness.

Finding Fault
Unfortunately, we are very quick to identify and label our faults and weaknesses. We are much less likely to identify, label and appreciate our strengths and the good things we do. This is self-talk – the inner critic who always has something negative to say about what we are doing or thinking.  This running commentary includes all those “shoulda, woulda, coulda, oughta”, things we tell ourselves. “I should have worn the blue blouse instead of the red. I ought to speak up more in meetings.”

A wise, anonymous person said, “If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?” Most people would not put up with it and yet we do it to ourselves all the time. Mindfulness can help us stop “shoulding” all over ourselves. The question is, how do we learn to stop focusing on our faults and appreciate our strengths.

Appreciative Inquire
Believe it or not, organizational development research found a way for work groups to identify and build on their strengths to improve performance, productivity, profitability and employee and customer satisfaction. It is called appreciative inquiry (AI). It was developed by David Cooperrider, PhD, at Case Western Reserve University, in 1980.

Cooperrider and his associate, Diana Whitney, developed the following definition of AI

Ap-pre’ci-ate, v., 1. valuing; the act of recognizing the best in people or the world around us; affirming past and present strengths, successes, and potentials; to perceive those things that give life (health, vitality, excellence) to living systems 2. to increase in value, Synonyms: VALUING, PRIZING, ESTEEMING, and HONORING.

In-quire’ (kwir), v., 1. the act of exploration and discovery. 2. To ask questions; to be open to seeing new potentials and possibilities. Synonyms: DISCOVERY, SEARCH, and SYSTEMATIC EXPLORATION, STUDY.

This is an element of mindfulness – discovering, studying, valuing, and honoring the best in ourselves and the world around us. Appreciative inquiry is not about looking at the world through rose-colored glasses, or the “power of positive thinking.” AI operates on the assumption that in every situation, there is something that works and by identifying and focusing on what works, you can build on it. In addition, change is easier if you can carry forward parts of your past that worked.  Generally, it is done in a group, but it works very well as an individual process, particular if you do it as a written exercise, such as a personal journal.

Practice AI for Mindfulness
Think about a recent experience and answer the following AI questions:

  • What strengths or talents did I bring to the situation?
  • What was challenging for me in this situation and did it change how I see myself?
  • Who helped me in this situation and how did it make me feel?
  • What did I learn about myself?
  • What did I learn about others?
  • What did I learn in this situation and how can I apply it in my daily work?

Ponder This…
Select
one thing you learned about yourself and/or your strengths in the above exercise. Now, identify one thing you can do this week to use and build on that strength. Set up an alert n your smart phone, electronic pad or computer to remind you to apply your AI insight in your daily life.

A Final Thought
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult; we just need to remember to do it.” ~ Sharon Salzberg, (2010) Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation

References

Lao Tsu, Tao te Ching, Pocket Edition, Stephen Mitchell, Translator, New York Harper Perennial, 1990.

Cooperrider, D. & Whitney, D, A Positive Revolution in Change: Appreciative Inquiry, San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2005

Read About Another Mindfulness Tool

Your Weekly Noodle: September 3, 2014

Noodle* on this…

Wild elephan represents living in the moment

Animals must live in the present moment to survive. Humans must live in the present moment to flourish.

Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding. 

~ Jon Kabat-Zinn, M.D.,Founder, Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society,
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Complete these two sentences: 

  •  At this moment, I am feeling…
  •  At this moment, I need… 

This is mindfulness, also called awareness, and it is the foundation of well-being.

Read More About It: Mindfulness @ Work

 * To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brain-storm.

Photo Credit: PhotoPin

Mindfulness @ Work

Photo of Mark Twain on a cruise ship and quote relating to mindfulness and well-being, "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so." 

You think you are doing OK. You are getting things done, but how are you really feeling? What do you think about your work, its quality, its importance and the people you work for? Are you enjoying your work? Are you challenged, overwhelmed, or just going through the motions? Stop right now and complete these two sentences: 

  •  At this moment, I am feeling…
  •  At this moment, I need… 

The concept of mindfulness or awareness dates back to the Buddha: Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.  

Mindfulness Definition

Being mindful means that you live in the moment, noticing your physical and emotional state along with what is going on around you, and that you accept your current state of being and the situation without judgment.  This is mindfulness, also called awareness, and it is the foundation of well-being. You must look at yourself, your attitudes and emotions objectively, because they define your actions. You cannot enhance your well-being without being aware of your surroundings, and how your actions and attitudes affect those around you.  

Mindfulness…

  • Is the ability to pause and look inside yourself, to observe and think about your behavior, your opinions, attitudes, knowledge and how they align with your personal values and, at work, with the organization’s values.
  • Helps you be more productive, by using your strengths and identifying opportunities to overcome or compensate for your weaknesses.
  • Helps you remain calm and objective in difficult situations, which allows you to choose an appropriate response rather than just reacting.
  • Enhances your relationships with your family, friends, co-workers and customers because you can be more authentic and caring. You are aware of how you connect and communicate with others. 
  • Requires that you look at yourself and your surroundings objectively, noticing any emotions you may be hanging on to such, as anger or frustration, and be willing to let them go.
  • Means noticing your fears, thoughts and beliefs, then questioning them.

Ponder This…

Re-read the quote by Mark Twain at the top of the post.  What do you “know for sure” about yourself or your work situation that  “just ain’t so?” This is the first step in mindfulness.

Your Weekly Noodle: Mindfulness

Next: Appreciative Inquiry – A Mindfulness Tool