Category Archives: Your Weekly Noodle

Noodle on This: You Have the Power of Choice

Noodle* on this…
gray tee shirt with got choice? You have the power of choice

Yes, you have a choice! No matter how difficult the situation may be, you always get to choose how you will respond.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. ~ Viktor Frankl

A Lesson on Choice
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and Holocaust survivor. He was a prisioner in Auschwitz and Dachau for nearly four years. He never knew, from moment to moment, if he would live to see another day. One day, alone and naked in a small room he became aware of what he later called the last of human freedoms. This was the one thing the Nazis could not take away – his power to choose how he would respond. His captors controlled his every movement every day; but, they could not control his self-awareness. He decided how all the pain and deprivation would affect him. Rather than reacting, rebelling or giving up, Frankl responded to the horrors of life in the camps by relying on what he called his “inner hold” – his beliefs, one of which was being able to cope with the challenges of the moment while looking to the future.

Photo of Viktor E. Frankl, You have the power of choice

Viktor E. Frankl

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning (1959), he wrote: “Almost in tears from pain (I had terrible sores on my feet from wearing torn shoes); I limped a few kilometers with our long column of men from the camp to our work site. Very cold, bitter winds struck us. I kept thinking of the endless little problems of our miserable life… I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me, daily and hourly, to think of only such trivial things. I forced my thoughts to turn to another subject. Suddenly, I saw myself standing on the platform of a well-lit, warm and pleasant lecture room. In front of me sat an attentive audience on comfortable upholstered seats. I was giving a lecture on the psychology of the concentration camp! All that oppressed me at that moment became objective, seen and described from the remote viewpoint of science. By this method, I succeeded somehow in rising above the situation, above the sufferings of the moment.”

Your Choice: React or Respond?
Some people use these words interchangeably. But, they are not synonyms. A reaction is immediate – it comes without thought. According to psychologist Matt James, PhD, reactions come from your unconscious mind and are defense mechanisms lacking thought or regard for consequences. Reaction often leads to regret.

Although it looks like a reaction, a response comes more slowly and involves both the Mother and Child: You have the Power of Choiceconscious and unconscious minds. It considers the well-being of all those involved and is based on the responder’s values.

Reaction is normal. You do it all day, every day. When the alarm clock goes off in the morning you react. When your cell phone rings you react. Reaction is normal; it is also called living your life.

In contrast, response takes practice and thought. Making the choice to respond is your right, your opportunity and your source of power. When you automatically react to a situation, you give away your power. It shifts to the person who initiated the situation, and you may bear the brunt of the situation.

Tips for Responding
Your have the power of choice?
Use these suggestions to help you slow down your reaction and choose an appropriate response instead.

  • Take a few deep breaths to prevent a reaction. This slows down the reaction, gives you time to get your emotions under control.
  • It is perfectly OK to say something like, “Give me a moment to think about this.”
  • Follow Stephen Covey’s advice: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Ask questions and listen carefully to the answers.” In other words, choose to start a discussion about the situation, not 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.
  • 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?
  • Think of someone you admire, living or dead, and ask: “What would that person do?”

Your Noodle Challenge…
No matter what challenges you face in life, you always have the ability to choose how you will respond. You can choose to respond in a way that supports your well-being, growth and freedom. Or, you can react, allowing yourself to be influenced by your surroundings, people, and feelings.

Think about a difficult situation you had to deal with. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I react or respond?
  • What was the result of my choice? In other words, what did it cost me and those involved?
  • What could I have done differently? What other options were available to me?
  • What information was I missing and how did that lack of knowledge affect my decision?
  • What will i do to prepare for similar situations in the future?

What will you do the next time a similar situation arises? Share your experience or thoughts with us in the Comments section below.

Consider this…notebook page with stimuls and response you have the power of choice

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  ~ Viktor Frankl

Riddle Me This…
Q: Why can’t your nose be 12 inches long.

A: Because it would be a foot.

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm … then make a plan and take action!

 

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Noodle on This: Keep Calm and Carry On

Noodle* on this…Keep Calm and Carry on Poster
Never be in a hurry, do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. ~ Saint Francis de Sales

In 1939, the British government published this poster as the world rushed toward war. Its purpose was to build morale and more than two million posters were printed. But, it was rarely displayed during World War II. In 2000, a British bookseller, Stanley Manley of  Alnwick, Northumberland, England, found a copy of the poster stuffed in an old book. He framed it; displayed it in his bookstore and the customers loved it. So, Manley and his wife made copies, sold them and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now we see a variety of Keep Calm posters: Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate, Keep Calm Because You are Awesome. I saw one in a hospital: Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands. Regardless of the total message, the important part in all of them is to Keep Calm.

Being Calm
A calm person is free from agitation, and disturbance. Calm people experience peace and serenity. They have mental focus that allows them to think clearly and make wise decisions. In addition they are more able to experience joy and pleasure. Psychologist Travis Bradberry, PhD, reports that calm people:Pile of rocks in rushing water represents keep calm and carry on

  • Don’t ask what if, say if only, or talk about how life was better in the past. In other words, they live in the moment.
  • Are grateful for what they have.
  • Disconnect from their electronic devices for a while everyday for some uninterrupted quiet time.
  • Take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and managing their stress.
  • Check their perspective in stressful situations by asking questions or for feedback.
  • Stay positive and do not beat themselves up or engage in negative self-talk.
  • Manage their caffeine intake because it triggers the body’s production of adrenaline, which increases stress.
  • Use their support system, asking for help when they need it whether it is coaching, a new perspective or help getting work done.

In addition, calm people understand that everyone is different and cut them some slack, by giving them the benefit of the doubt. They also try to find the middle ground and respond in ways that are appropriate for the situation.

Benefits of Being Calm
People who work on developing and maintaining their calm tend to sleep better; are more social, productive and creative. They are more able and willing to express their gratitude; show compassion; and are more open to new experiences.

Being calm does not mean that you never lose your temper or get anxious. According to Michelle Carlstrom, Director of the Office of Work, Life and Engagement at Johns Hopkins University, calm people are able to identify and manage their stress in positive ways. They identify what is causing their stress and have developed way to help them deal with it, such as pausing and counting to 10. According to the Dalai Llama, Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence, so that’s very important for good health.

Calm in Practice
Helen is the manager of a diagnostic laboratory in a large metropolitan hospital where they are busy 24/7. She and her team started using the phrase pause for the cause in stressful situations. According to the Urban Dictionary, pause for the cause means take a break to smoke marijuana. But, that is definitely not what Helen and her team had in mind. For them, pause for the cause is code for take a moment to think things through and ask yourself some questions:

Hospital laboratory Pause for th e Cause, keep calm and carry on

Pause for the Cause

  • How important is this?
  • Do I need to deal with it now?
  • Is it really a problem or just my perception?
  • What am I feeling at this moment?
  • Did I do something to provoke this situation?
  • What is my responsibility in this situation?
  • What steps can I take?

Your Noodle Challenge…
Logical pauses serve our brains, psychological pauses serve our feelings. ~ Konstantin Stanislavski

Think about a recent stressful situation where calm was required to resolve it. Which of the following actions did you take to stay calm? Did you:

  1. Take a deep breath or two or three to slow yourself down and think?
  2. Ask questions to better understand the situation?
  3. Refrain from negative but silent self-talk (negative thoughts)?
  4. Stay positive?
  5. Respond in a way that was appropriate to the situation?
  6. Try to find the middle ground?
  7. Take time to pause for the cause?

Then, select two of the questions that Helen’s team developed and create a plan for using those question in situations where calm is required. Share you insights with us in the Comments section below.

Consider this…
Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart. ~ Isiah 7:4

Riddle Me This…
Q:  Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?

A: Of course!  The Empire State Building can’t jump!

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm … make a plan and then act!

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Noodle on This: Share the Spirit of the Holidays Throughout the Year

Noodle* on this…

spirit-of-the-holidays color wheel share the spirit of the holidays throughout the yearThe spirit of the holidays is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things.  ~ Thomas S. Monson

 

 

How will you share the spirit of the holiday – love and generosity – not just during this festive season, but throughout the year?

Here are 12 simple suggestions:

  1. Call a family member or friend just to say “Hello, I am thinking of you.”
  2. Tweet or post on Facebook something that you admire about a family member, friend, or co-worker.
  3. Volunteer at a local hospital or nursing home.
  4. Take the time to learn about a problem facing the area where you live, such as flooding, drought, mental illness, or homelessness. What will you do to help?
  5. Help a neighbor take out the trash cans for garbage pick-up.
  6. Thank customer service workers, such as food service, store clerks, call center operations, business/medical receptionists, and others for their help.
  7. Donate shoes to a charity for those in need.
  8. When someone talks to you, stop everything you are doing and give that person your undivided attention.
  9. Don’t be afraid to look a homeless person in the eye and smile.
  10. Find a GoFundMe.com account for a family or person in need and give to the account.
  11. Have a particularly difficult neighbor or coworker? Be extra nice to him or her.
  12. When you are at the grocery store, help another customer put their groceries in their car and return the grocery cart to the store for them.

Share your commitment with us in the Comment fields blow.  How will you share the spirit of the holidays throughout the year?

My holiday wish for you…
Simplicity, patience and compassion.
These are your three greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.

~ Lao Tzu , Tao Te Ching, #67 (Stephen Mitchell Translation)

coexist, noodle on this share the spirity of the holidays throughout the year

Co-exit image courtesy of Orren Merton

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

Riddle me this…
Question: What is the definition of claustrophobia?
Answer: Fear of Santa Claus

Comments

Reader Comments

Susan, December 21, 2017 at 12:56 PM

Hi Diane, this is my first year that obtained permission to do an Emergency Room Toy Drive for children (patients)who come to the ER on Christmas Day.  I have a medium-size box overflowing with donated gifts.  I will be working on  12/25 so I will have the pleasure of seeing the smiles of those children.   Susan

Noodle on This: Be Mindful – Focus on the Present

Noodle* on this…
Wild elephan represents living in the moment

Animals are naturally mindful. They must live in the present moment to survive.

 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

What is mindfulness?

Complete these two sentences: 

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

This is mindfulness , it is the foundation of well-being. The concept dates back to the Buddha: Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.  According to Andy Puddicombe, mediation advocate and co-founder of Headspace, We spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary. 

Being mindful means that you live in the moment, noticing your physical and emotional state along with what is going on around you, and accept your current state of being without judgment.

In mindfulness, you do not beat yourself up or place blame. You notice “what is so” about your thoughts, surroundings and how your actions and attitudes affect those around you. You take responsibility for your actions or attitude and make adjustments as necessary. When you are being mindful, you notice any emotions you are holding on to, such as anger or frustration, and let them go.

Benefits of Being Mindful
Mindfulness:

Here and now street sign represents mindfulness

Mindfulness means living in the preset moment – here and now.

  • Gives you the ability to pause and look inside yourself, to observe and think about your behavior, opinions, attitudes, knowledge and how they align with your values.
  • Helps you stay calm and objective in difficult situations, which allows you to choose a proper response and not just react.
  • Enhances your relationships with your family, friends, and co-workers because you are more authentic and caring. You are aware of how you connect and communicate with others.
  • Means noticing your fears, thoughts and beliefs, then questioning them.
  • Helps you be more productive, by using your strengths and identifying opportunities to overcome or compensate for your weaknesses.
  • Reduces stress, anxiety, depression, negative thinking and distractions.
  • Improves your mood.
Your Noodling Challenge

Mindfulness is most often associated with mediation. However, there some simple things you can do every day to help you live more mindfully.

  • Listen carefully to what others say. As Stephen R. Covey describes it, Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  • Be curious: Look at the world around you. Look closely at an ordinary object – the watch on your wrist or the lamp on the table. What do you see that you haven’t noticed before?
  • Check in with yourself:  How do you feel right this moment. Accept that feeling without judgment or blame.
  • Don’t judge: Just notice whatever you are experiencing without classifying it as good or bad.
  • Say the Serenity Prayer in stressful moments:  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. There are some things you cannot change. Accept them.
  • Focus on one task, one thought, one emotion at a time. Give up multi-tasking. It is not productive. It is frustrating and work quality declines.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat properly, drink water and take time for family, friends, hobbies and leisure activities.
  • Pause and take a few deep breaths several times a day.

Select one of the activities above to work on over the next two weeks. Make an action plan and do it. Then, share your experience with us in the Comment section below. I’ll go first.

I say the Serenity Pray at least once a day; often several times a day depending on what is going on. Taking the time to do this forces me to stop, breathe and rationally look at a situation. What is causing the situation? What am I feeling? What, if anything, can or should I do about the situation? It also keeps me humble. I cannot fix everything that goes wrong. As life coach and author Cheryl Richardson says, Your are not general manager of the universe. The Serenity Prayer reminds me of this. It isn’t necessary to believe in God, a Higher Power, or a Supreme Being to use this prayer – serenity comes from within. Some people draw upon their religious faith as a tool to unleash serenity, others look at the wonder and beauty of nature, the face of a loved one, or whatever gives them peace.

Visit Headspace.com to learn more about mindfulness and mediation.

Consider this…

Image of Winnie the Pooh andPiglet living in the moment

“What day is it? asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)

Follow Pooh’s example and live in the moment.

Riddle Me This

Q: What do you call a book that’s about the brain?
A: A mind reader.

 * To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm … and then act!

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Noodle on This: Live with Gratitude

Noodle* on this …a lift of what I am grateful for live-with-gratitude

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. ~ Denis Waitley

In a few days, Americans will gather with family and friends for the annual Thanksgiving feast. But with all the food, football and parades, we sometimes forget what this day is really about. So, before the feasting and fun, let’s take a few minutes to briefly review the concept of gratitude.

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude or thank you is an appreciation for what one has received. When someone helps us with no strings attached, we express our gratitude by saying thank you. According to Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkley and an expert on the topic:

Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves… We acknowledge that other people – or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset – gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

In fact, gratitude is a universal human notion. It exists in all cultures, and history is filled with discussions of gratitude. Gratitude and references to giving thanks appear in Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist texts. The Greek philosopher Cicero (106 – 43 BC) said, Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.

live in gratitude thank you in manylanguagesWhy live with gratitude?
Living in gratitude offers a variety of benefits. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, people who live in gratitude are healthier than those who do not. They have fewer aches and pains and are more likely to take care of themselves through regular exercise and doctor’s visits. Also, they are more likely to have better control of their emotions and experience less depression than others. Grateful people sleep better.

People who regularly express gratitude:

  • Have better interpersonal relationships at home and at work;
  • Are more empathic and less aggressive;
  • Have increased self-esteem;
  • Are more resilient; and,
  • Have lower stress levels.

A life satisfaction study conducted by Seligman, Peterson and Park (2004), found that gratitude is “robustly associated” with life satisfaction (along with hope, curiosity, love and zest [approaching life with energy and excitment]).

Being Grateful
According to author Neale Donald Walsh, The struggle ends when gratitude begins. Recently, I spent time with a woman in a stressful situation – her 28 year old son was very sick. I was helping her with a complicated problem that took a while to resolve, but through it all, she was the epitome of patience. She did not get frustrated, impatient or complain. When I thanked her for her patience, she said, “I don’t have much, but I have patience.”

a mother patiently waiting live-with-gratitudeI looked at her, saw a caring mother in pain and said, “I’m guessing that you have much more than just patience.”

She was silent for a moment, and then said. “Yes, you’re right. I have my son, his sisters and brother; wonderful friends and neighbors. We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, money to pay the bills and a car that runs. I have my heath.” She smiled and said, “I have a lot. Thank you for reminding me.”

She was right. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of all that we have and to take the time to appreciate and be grateful for it. It helps us keep things in perspective, which helps us manage our emotions.

When I remind myself of what I am grateful for, the partial list reads as follows:

  • I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my silly dog Curly.
  • I am grateful for the people in my neighborhood and that we look out for one another.
  • I am thankful for the trials and obstacles I encounter and the lessons I learn from them.
  • I am grateful that I live in a place where I can ride my bicycle all year round.
  • I am especially thankful for you, my Gentle Readers – for your support and encouragement.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Noodle Challenge…
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. ~ Melody Beattie

two glasses one half full, the other half empty live-with-gratitudeWhat are you grateful for and what will you do to live in gratitude? Make a list and share it with us in the Comments section below:  I’ll go first.

I will live in gratitude by:

  • Saying thank you every day;
  • Doing my best work;
  • Doing all I can to support my loved ones, friends, and associates;
  • Seeing the glass as half-full, not half-empty; and,
  • Treating everyone I meet with respect and kindness no matter how brief the encounter.

Consider this…
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. ~ Oprah Winfrey
Riddle Me This…

Q: What kind of key opens the door on Thanksgiving?
A: A turkey!

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm … make a plan and then act!

Reference:

Park, N., Peterson, C., and Seligman, M. E. (2004) , “Strengths of Character and Well-being,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 23:5, pp. 6603 – 619, retrieved November 1, 2017,

Photo Credit:

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Noodle on This: Are You Authentic – The Real Deal?

Noodle* on this…
orange stick with 100% real deal printed on it

You are the real deal!

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen – Brene Brown

Do you sometimes feel like you are playing a part in life or that you are hiding behind a mask – “going along to get along;” “telling people what they want to hear;” “keeping your head down;” or “flying below the radar?” Probably, you have used these or similar clichés at one time or another. This is not what being authentic means.

Authenticity takes courage and there are definitely risks to being truly, completely authentic. I know, I have always “marched to the beat of a different drummer” – another cliché – I told the unvarnished truth; I was a lone ranger at times when I should have been a team player. All these things caused bumps in my road of life.  My mother tactfully described my life as a result of taking the road less traveled… (Robert Frost, The Road Less Traveled, 1915.)

The decisions I made in my personal life and on the job made some things more difficult than necessary.  This is the downside of authenticity. There is no guarantee that things will turn out as we had hoped or planned. Sometimes, the truly authentic you may annoy others. Friends and co-workers may pressure you to conform and you may be perceived by family members as “the problem child.”

Defining Authenticity

The origin of the word authentic is the ancient Greek word authentikos, which means principal, genuine. French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes (1596 – 1650) described an authentic person as one who follows a moral inner voice that drives that person to act and think responsibility. As an authentic person, you live and act based on your values, purpose and goals, regardless of the pressure put on you by others. Sue Fitzmaurice, the author of the book Purpose (2015) identifies the following characteristics of authenticity

Being authentic means:

  • Being more concerned with truth than opinions;
  • Being sincere and not pretending;
  • Being free from hypocrisy – to “walk your talk;”
  • Knowing who you are and being that person;
  • Being unafraid of others seeing your vulnerabilities;
  • Being confident enough to walk away from situations where you can’t be yourself;
  • Being aware to your own feelings;
  • Being free from others’ opinions of you; and,
  • Accepting and loving yourself. 
Benefits of Authenticity

The nice thing about being authentic is that there is nothing to “reveal.” This does not mean that you “overshare” or tell people your deepest, darkest secrets. It means is that you are exactly who and what you appear to be. There is no role playing, no mask or facade. People don’t have to worry about your “hidden agenda” or what you “really want.” Comic Flip Wilson (1938 – 1998) gave us the best definition of what it means to be authentic when he said, What you see is what you get! In other words, wyswyg.

Being authentic means being real. When you are authentic, you don’t waste time and energy worrying about what you said or didn’t say because you are honest; treat others with courtesy and respect; and communicate openly and honestly. In addition, being authentic creates a safe space for the people around you to be authentic too. So, there is less posturing and fewer misunderstandings.

Your Noodle Challenge
Statue of Socrates at the Athens Academy

Statue of Socrates at the Athens Academy

The earliest reference we have to being authentic comes from Socrates (470 – 399 BCE) who said, the unexamined life is not worth living. So, now is the time to examine your life. Are you being authentic? Here is a brief authenticity exercise:

  • Write down a belief or thought you have about yourself.
  • Is the thought or belief true? Can it measured or observed objectively?
  • Does this though or belief help you, or does it cause problems for you? If so, in what way(s)?
  • Does this belief or thought accurately reflect who you really are?
  • Would your family, friends or co-workers be surprised to know that you hold this belief or thought?

Based on your answers to these questions; what will you do to be more authentic. Share your experience with us in the Comment(s) section below.

Consider This…

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.  ~ Dr. Seuss

Riddle Me This…

Q: What do you call cheese that is not yours?
A: Nacho Cheese

References

  1.  Madera, J.M., King, E.B., Hebl, M.R., (2012) “Bringing Social Identity to Work: The Influence of Manifestation and Suppression on Perceived Discrimination, Job Satisfaction, and Turnover Intentions.” Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 2012 Apr;18(2):165-70.
  2. Ménard, J, and Brunet,L (2011) “Authenticity and Well-being in the Workplace: a Mediation Model”, Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 26 4, pp.331 – 3.

To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm… and then take action!

Image courtesy of The Entrepreneur’s Mentor Program.

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Noodle on This: The Power of Silence

Be silent an observant like the stars..

Be silent and observant like the stars.

Noodle* on this…
Quietness is the beginning of virtue. To be silent is to be beautiful. Stars do not make a noise. ~ James Stephens

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. – Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

We live noisy lives. Planes, trains, automobiles, cell phone ringing, music played over loudspeakers, all add to the noise of life. This constant noise affects our ability to function, think and learn. It exhausts us and interferes with our ability to hear and understand speech according to Professor Gary W. Evans, PhD, at Cornell University.

Unfortunately, there is little we can do about all this ambient noise. In fact, we are so accustomed to noise that silence makes some people uncomfortable, as in the phrase deafening silence.

When I was in college, I took a counseling skills course. There were about a dozen students in the class and on the first day, the professor had us sit in a circle – like a group therapy circle. He joined us in the circle and said absolutely nothing for a few minutes. But it seemed like forever!

In just a few seconds, we students were looking at each other, squirming in our seats and clearing our throats. All the while, the professor sat quietly looking at his hands resting in his lap. Then, the students started asking questions and making comments. When that did not evoke any response from the professor, the talking died off and we all sat silently. Finally without looking up, the professor started reporting, without any notes, what various students said and did during the silent time. Then he looked up, made eye contact with each of us and said, Your most powerful skill is the ability to be silent and listen.

The Power of Silence

There is power in silence. Specifically, being silent:

  • Gives us the time to think things through and sort out our emotions.
  • Helps us solve problems while remaining calm.
  • Helps us in our work.
  • Gives us peace.

Sometimes, when we are silent, we must face our fears. This helps us develop wisdom and strength according to people like Lao Tzu (500 BC) who taught that silence is a source of great strength and Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626 AD) who defined silence as the sleep that nourishes wisdom. Even the writers of the  Old Testament understood the importance of silence.  Proverbs 17:28 tells us: Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

However, remember that silence, like any other power can be misused, when it is used to punish others or show anger.

What happens in silence?

When we are silent we can hear and understand what others are saying. Being silent in a conversation means actually listening to the other person, not thinking about what we want to say or what to have for dinner. When we listen silently, we hear the person’s tone of voice; notice the words they stress; notice their body language; and hear what the person is actually saying. Silence gives us what doctors call a tincture of time, meaning it gives us the time and space necessary for compassion, wisdom, peace and understanding.

In addition, when we listen to others in courteous, attentive silence, they are more like to return the favor by listening to us without interrupting.

Your Noodling Challenge…

power of silence

Shhh…

Here are some questions about silence.

  1. Simon and Garfunkle had a hit song The Sound of Silence (1964)  What does silence sound like?
  2. Does silence make you happy? Explain why.
  3. Could you be silent for one hour, one day or one week? What would it be like?
  4. Can you sit in a meeting or in a group of any kind without speaking? How does it feel? What did you notice?
  5. Do you seek silence or do you avoid it? Why?

Do one of the following:

  1. Select one or two of the questions above and answer it.
  2. Spend a few minutes every day just being quiet and observant.

Share you experience with us in the Leave a Reply section below.

Consider this…

You are most powerful when you are most silent. People never expect silence. They expect words, motion, defense, offense, back and forth. They expect to leap into the fray. They are ready, fists up, words hanging leaping from their mouths. Silence? No.”  Alison McGhee, All Rivers Flow to the Sea

Riddle Me This…

Q: What vegetables do librarians like?
A: Quiet peas

* To noodle: A verb meaning to mull over, think about, contemplate, ponder, puzzle over or brainstorm … and then to act!

Photo Credits

 

Noodle on This: Don’t Beat Yourself Up, Try Self-Compassion Instead

Noodle* on this…Person on beach with heart scrapped into the sand an example os self-compassion
A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change you entire life.   ~ Christpher Germer, PhD

Self-compassion is…

Self compassion is not self-pity nor is it self-esteem. It is about:

  • Treating ourselves with kindness by not beating ourselves up when we make mistakes;
  • Accepting that we are human beings who are inherently imperfect;
  • Realizing we all experience pain – both physical and emotional; and,
  • Taking a balanced approach toward our emotions, neither suppressing them nor exaggerating them – in other words, living mindfully.

Research psychologist Kristen Neff, PhD. and others have found that when we treat ourselves with compassion, we experience more life satisfaction, optimism, social connectedness, joy, peace of mind and wisdom.

As some wise person once said, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Self-compassion is about skipping the suffering and dealing directly with the pain.

Self-compassion in Action

My friend Suzanne was a victim of the Great Recession of 2008. She was laid off after many years with the same company. She regularly received excellent performance evaluations, several promotions and raises. She was devastated. Even as she worked on her resume, met with a job counselor, and joined several networking groups, part of her was always asking, “what did I do wrong; who did I annoy that I shouldn’t have; what could I have done differently?” All these thoughts led to depression the seemed to slowly engulf her.

So, she took a day off, went to the beach, and had a serious talk with herself. Basically, she told herself, “it’s not you – it’s the economy! There are several million people in the same situation. It is what it is! So, stop beating yourself up.”

It is what it is became a common thought for her when there were no responses to her submitted resumes; when she did not receive a call back for a second interview or when a prospective employer called to say. “Thanks, but no thanks. We hired someone else.”

What Suzanne did not realize, until years later, was that she was treating herself with compassion, which includes.

  • Kindness – “don’t beat yourself up.”
  • Common humanity – “you are not alone, millions of people lost their jobs.”
  • Mindfulness – “it is what it is.”

With self-compassion, along with the constant loving support of family and friends, she found a job. And what a great job it is! Self-compassion helped her get through what could have been a horribly long, depressing and difficult time. Instead, she handled it with patience and with her sense of humor and sense of self intact.

Your Noodling Challenge…

 Whit lotus representing serenity and self compassionThe serenity prayer—made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs—captures self-compassion beautifully: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~ Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, 2011

How do you show compassion for yourself when faced with challenges? Share your ideas with us in the Comments section below.

I’ll go first. I take a short break and move – just a five or ten minute walk. It helps calm me down and clear my mind.

Learn more about self-compassion and find your level of self-compassion with this self-assessment tool developed by Kristin Neff, PhD.

Riddle Me This

Q: Why did the traffic light turn red?
A: You would too if you had to change in the middle of the street!

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

Beach image courtesy of Gena Living.

White lotus image courtesy of 1MS.NET

 

Noodle on This: Take a Journey of Self-discovery

WIlderness image showing forest river and boulders – an alayogy of what you well explore for your self-realization and well-being

Explore the uncharted territory that is you.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda

Self-discovery is a journey into uncharted territory. It can mean finding your purpose (and yes, we all have a purpose in life.) It can involve analyzing your beliefs and values. Are they appropriate? Have they changed over time and are you living by them?  Are you willing to take that journey? 

Alice in Wonderland

As circumstances change, we change along with them and sometimes we get lost in the process. Author Lewis Carroll, described this process in his book Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.  (1871)

Original illustration from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)

Original illustration from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871)

The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I—I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.

What is self-discovery?

Self-discovery is another way of saying know thyself. This is a concept that dates back to the ancient Greek and Chinese philosophers. Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching in the fifth century BCE. In it, he wrote: Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.” According to psychologist Meg Selig, self-discovery is about identifying your:

  • Values
  • Passions and interests;
  • Temperament,;
  • Life purpose or goals;
  • Strengths and skills; …

And then aligning your behavior with these traits. By doing this, you:

  • Can make decisions that are aligned with your values, so there is less internal conflict.
  • Know what you want, what your interests, skills, and life goals are and can take appropriate steps to achieve them.
  • Are more self-aware, so you are more confident and you are authentic – the real you.
  • Are less likely to follow trends because you know what is best for you.
  • Are better able to get along with others and are more accepting of individual differences.
Your Noodle Challenge

Alice had an amazing journey of self-discovery. Our journeys don’t need to be as extraordinary as Alice’s, In fact,  Margarite Tartakovsky, M.S., Associate Editor of PsychCentral. suggests that asking answering some simple questions may be sufficient:

Questions for Self-discoveryDirection signs with valeus for self discovery

According to Tartakovsky, “the questions we ask shape the lives we lead.” Here are her suggested “questions to spark self-discovery”:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I need right now more than anything else?
  • What meaning can I draw from this experience?
  • What feeling do I most want to have in my life? 
  • What do I want to be doing more of in my life?
  • What do I want to be doing less of in my life?
  • What am I resisting or attaching to?
  • What are my gifts? How can I share them with the world?
  • How can I celebrate each day or the moments in our life?

Select one of the questions above and answer it in the Comments field below. What surprised  you in this mini-self-discovery process? I’ll go first.

How can I celebrate each day or the moments in my life?

I recently discovered the joy, peace and beauty of a sunrise walk. For the last several years, my dog and I would go out at first light for exercise. I would ride my bike slowly and he would trot alongside. But he is getting older and he can’t do that anymore. So, now we walk and it is amazing what we missed rushing through his exercise. By walking, he gets to stop, sniff the neighborhood, and of course, mark his territory, while I watch the sunrise; enjoy the cool crisp air; and listen to the local rooster announce the new day.  Surprisingly, I find that I am less likely to rush frantically through the rest of the day, when I start it with a simple, mindful walk.

Consider This…

After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. ~ Sophia Loren

Riddle Me This…

Q: What is at the end of a rainbow?
A: The letter W.

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

Image Credits:

Noodle on This: Your Integrity is Everything

Noodle* on This…

Young Man With A Post It Note On His Mouth representing "your word is your bond"

Your Word is Your Bond

“Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.”

~ Maria Razumich-Zec

Synonyms for integrity include honestyrectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness. But not matter what words we may choose to describe it, integrity is essential to our well-being and our success in life.

When people know they can trust and rely on us, we get the most interesting or most important assignments at work. We halso have good credit scores because we always pay our bills on time. A good credit score means that we can buy a new home or car or go on a fun vacation. Plus, it is so much easier to tell the truth and keep our word. We don’t have to come up with excuses or remember the lies we told.

A Final Thought

Living with integrity may not get you a lot of friends, but it is will always get you the right friends. – Anonymous

Noodle Challenge

What will you do this week to follow through on what you said you would do?

Share your thoughts with us in the Comment section below.

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

(Image from www.graphicstock.com, used with permission)

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