Quit Playing Games and Choose the Simple Option A Guest Post by Carthage Buckley

High Resonance Healing Words
Healer’s outstretched open hand surrounded by random wise healing words on a rustic stone effect background

 

Unhappiness comes from a set of beliefs that we learn and perpetuate. Therefore; isn’t it logical to you that we can become happier by challenging and changing those beliefs? We can make some basic decisions and implement them on a daily basis. At some point, we can even replace the old thinking with new thinking so that choosing the option for happiness becomes automatic. There will always be new challenges to our thinking, but we can meet those challenges successfully.

Happiness is not magic, and it’s not magical thinking. It doesn’t belong to a lucky few. Moving from a state where you experience a lot of negative emotions like anxiety and depression to happiness requires commitment and courage.

If you want to be happy, you have to entertain the possibility that you can be. Many people come to believe very early in life that life is a game they can’t win. They spend the rest of their lives collecting evidence to prove that they are incompetent, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Here are two facts that might surprise you

  • There are only two emotions: fear and love.
  • All fear is the fear of loss.

We start life free from fear. Our every need is met with loving care and we are at our happiest; a natural happiness. This is our natural state and a state which we can return to at any time; if we choose to do so.

Loss is a natural part of life and inevitably, we experience a series of losses during the ordinary events of growing up. Unfortunately, through our attachments, we take these losses personally and we come to fear loss. This fear of loss soon begins to affect our decision making.

Norman Cousins once said:

” The tragedy of life is not death, rather it is what we allow to die within us while we live.”

Quit playing games and choose to be happy

He’s right, you know. In the areas of your life that aren’t working, how much denial and avoidance of loss are you practicing? How many of these self-protective games have you played?

1. Quit before you start

If you don’t enter the game (that’s any aspect of life you’re avoiding), you can’t lose. Of course you can also never win if you do not enter the game and pursue your dreams.

By adolescence, some of us have become so afraid of loss that we no longer make our decisions based on what we can gain when we succeed in our ventures. Instead, we are more focused on what could be lost if things don’t go our way. It is easy to imagine the pitfalls and so we become paralyzed by fear and end up taking no action whatsoever to advance ourselves.

2. Quit in mid-stream

If you quit before the game is over, you might be a quitter, but you’ve saved yourself from being a “loser.”  Again, it is the fear of loss which drives your decision making. Loss and rejection instill so much fear that you are prepared to give up on your dreams to avoid experiencing them.

3. “That’s OK, I didn’t care anyway.”

You never committed to it anyway, so it doesn’t matter that you lost. You pretend that you didn’t really want something anyway to save face but although you may fool others; you can never really fool yourself.

In the short-term fear of loss and rejection may take a stranglehold on you but the reality is that in the long-term, there is nothing more painful than knowing that you failed to back yourself and pursue your dreams.

4. Dumb game

If you decide that the game’s stupid, it doesn’t matter that you lost. I used to play this game the whole time. I used to convince myself that you could only succeed in life if you had the right background and the right connections. If you didn’t fit the bill; you couldn’t succeed. This was really just a way to pretend that my destiny lay outside of my own hands; thus sparing myself the efforts of trying to create the life that I really wanted.

Thankfully, I have learned to take responsibility for my own life and accept that the results I get in life are entirely of my own making. While I haven’t yet achieved all of my dreams I can certainly say that my quality of life has improved drastically.

5. Endless game

If you keep halfheartedly playing the game without ever coming to a place where you win or lose, then at least you haven’t lost.

This game can manifest itself in many ways but mainly shows as some form of procrastination. Maybe you keep putting off asking somebody out on a date or you claim that you will stand up to that bully when you feel more confident.

Whatever it is that you are putting off, you know you need to do it but you keep finding a reason to delay it. What you are really doing is pretending that you are staying in the game because you haven’t lost. In reality, you are not even in the game. You are sitting on the sidelines playing the role of a spectator in your own life.

Did you find yourself in one of these? Just about everyone does. If you saw yourself, good. Awareness is the first step to turn yourself around. That takes courage, but you can’t change what you can’t see.

The next step

The next step is to make a commitment; you need to commit yourself to changing both your attitude and your behavior. Spend some time looking at the areas of your life that you’re unhappy with – what are these areas and what negative thinking and avoidance behavior are you practicing in these areas? Now, let’s begin to discover how to confront this thinking.

In his excellent book, What Happy People Know, Dr. Dan Baker talks about fear and love:

“We need to be willing to charge headlong into the inferno of our most horrific fears – eyes open, intellect and spirit at the ready.… That takes courage, and that’s when courage is one of the prerequisites for happiness. But where does that ability come from? What power grants the strength to overcome the sick, shaky feeling of fear? Only one power is that strong: love. In the ultimate analysis, human beings have only two essential, primal feelings: fear and love. Fear compels us to survive, and love enables us to thrive.… For you to be happy, love must lead this dance.”

Dr. Baker goes on to talk about appreciation as the highest, purest form of love. It’s higher than romantic love, the love parents have for children, or the love children have for parents. It’s the strongest love there is, and it’s the only thing strong enough to be the antidote to fear.

An attitude of appreciation can help you survive all the difficulties in this world without being destroyed by them. It’s the type of love that allows you to enjoy an experience while being able to let go. This attitude can help you when you lose loved ones, when unfortunate things happen, and even with confronting your own death. You face the fact that these negative things happen and you’ve chosen to experience and enjoy the good things, including your own life, while you have them. Dr. Baker concludes that the constant fear of loss is what creates our unhappiness and that once we face and accept this, we will be able to be happy.

Much of our unhappiness is caused by anticipation of what may go wrong; rather than things that have actually gone wrong. Think about that for a minute; we become unhappy due to things that have not and may never happen i.e. they are figments of our imagination. When you realize that; you realize that much of our unhappiness is completely irrational.

Of course bad things will happen in life but you must not become obsessed by them. When you allow negative anticipation to control your decision making; you lose so much more than you will ever gain e.g. imagine how much better your life could be if the person you fancy agreed to a date or if you broke free from the bully. When you focus on what could be gained; you realize that risk of loss is minuscule in comparison.  Be true to who you are, believe in your inherent worth, and face things as they come.

6 Exercises To Strengthen Compassionate Leadership A Guest Post by Andrew Newberg M.D.

compassion word in wood type

When you use compassionate communication in your conversations, something quite surprising occurs: both your brain and the brain of the person you’re talking to begin to align themselves with each other. This special bond is a phenomenon referred to as “neural resonance,” and in this enhanced state of mutual attunement, two people can accomplish remarkable things together. Why? Because it eliminates the natural defensiveness that normally exists when people casually converse.

The capacity to deeply relate to others is a key to all forms of relational success—at work and at home. If you find yourself in the position of overseeing others—be they your employees or your children—remember this: leaders who give the least amount of positive guidance to their subordinates are less successful in achieving their organizations’ goals, and the employees are unhappier with their work. Indeed, by not taking an active role in dialogue and teamwork building, they generate more interpersonal conflicts within their groups. Here are 6 steps to work on to become a more compassionate leader.

Step 1: Stay Present

When you focus intently on your breathing and relaxation, you pull your attention into the present moment. When we become completely absorbed in something as simple as breathing or relaxing a specific part of our body, the inner speech of everyday consciousness stops, at least momentarily, and this allows us to become aware of the subtle things that are immediately happening around us. We hear sounds we rarely notice, we feel more sensations in our body, and if we bring this “presentness” into a conversation, we hear more clearly the subtle tones of voice that give emotional meaning to the speaker’s words.

Step 2: Cultivate Inner Silence

Most of us are only able to stay relaxed and in the present moment for brief periods of time. Soon it gets interrupted by our inner speech. Research shows that you can suppress those distracting feelings and thoughts, but you have to practice doing it over and over until you gain control.

The more you consciously think about not thinking—as a formal training exercise—the more you gain voluntary control over the brain’s spontaneous cascade of inner speech and cognition. We especially need to develop the skill to remain silent so that we can give our fullest attention to what other people say. Unconsciously they will know when we’re distracted by our inner speech, and the lack of interest they perceive will make them distance themselves from you. Thus in active communication, silence is not the enemy.

Step 3: Access a Pleasant Memory

It’s best to enter a conversation with an inviting expression that conveys kindness, compassion, and interest. But as we explained in the previous chapter, this facial expression cannot be faked. It can be elicited by tapping into a pleasant memory, particularly one that involves people you deeply love and respect. This memory softens the muscles around your eyes and evokes a gentle half smile on your face.

When another person sees this expression, it stimulates a feeling of trust in their brain. The recollection of pleasant memories will also release pleasure chemicals throughout your own body and brain, and this will take you into an even deeper state of relaxation. When you look directly into the other person’s eyes as you maintain this loving memory, they will want to engage you in a dialogue. Their facial expression will resonate with yours, and this will deepen the sense of contentment and satisfaction in both of you. As researchers at Loyola University Chicago demonstrated, contentment gives rise to mutually benevolent engagements.

Step 4: Observe Nonverbal Cues

“Keep your eyes on the ball.” It’s an expression used in sports and often applied to business, but when it comes to interpersonal relationships, it’s essential to keep your eyes on the individual you are conversing with in order to discern the many nonverbal messages we constantly send to others. However, this does not mean that you should gaze unceasingly at the other person—that could feel invasive—but if you maintain softness in your eyes, generated by a pleasant memory, the other person won’t want to take their eyes off you!

Eye contact stimulates the social-network circuits in your brain. It decreases the stress chemical cortisol, and it increases oxytocin, a neurochemical that enhances empathy, social cooperation, and positive communication.

Step 5: Speak Briefly

Compassionate communication has a basic rule: whenever possible, limit your speaking to thirty seconds or less. And if you need to communicate something essential to the listener, break your information into even smaller segments—a sentence or two—then wait for the person to acknowledge that they’ve understood you.

It’s a hard concept to embrace. Why? The best reason we know of is that our busy minds have not been able to clearly formulate the essence of what we want to convey, so we babble on, externalizing the flow of information generated by our inner speech.

Our conscious minds can only retain a tiny bit of information, and for thirty seconds or less. Then it’s booted out of working memory as a new set of information is uploaded. Our solution: honor the golden rule of consciousness and say only a sentence or two. Then pause and take a small deep breath, to relax. If the other person remains silent, say another sentence or two, and then pause again. This allows the other person to join in whenever they feel the need to respond or to ask for clarification. If you must speak for a longer period of time, forewarn the listener. This will encourage them to pay closer attention to you and to ignore their own intrusive inner speech.

Step 6: Listen Deeply

To listen deeply and fully, you must train your mind to stay focused on the person who is speaking: their words, tone, gestures, facial cues—everything. It’s a great gift to give to someone, since to be fully listened to and understood by others is the most commonly cited deep relationship or communication value.

When the other person pauses—and hopefully they’ll have enough self-awareness not to ramble on and on—you’ll need to respond specifically to what they just said. If you shift the conversation to what you were previously saying, or to a different topic, it will interrupt the neurological “coherence” between the two of you, and the flow of your dialogue will be broken.

When practicing compassionate communication, there’s usually no need to interrupt. If the other person doesn’t stop talking, they may be giving you an important clue. Perhaps their mind is preoccupied, or perhaps they are deeply caught up in their own feelings and thoughts. If this is the case, it’s unlikely that they will be able to listen deeply to what you want to say.

7 Habits of Highly Resilient Women A Guest Post by Zaheen Nanji

Resilience sign with a road background
Resilience sign with a road background

In 2011, George S. Everly, executive director of Resiliency Sciences Institutes at the University of Maryland, was asked, “What’s the difference between those who choose to sink or swim in times of adversity?” He stated two factors:

a) A lack of perspective stemming from inadequate preparation and tenacity.

b) A negative attitude
He further explained that resilience can be taught and self-esteem can be earned through personal accomplishment in the face of a challenge. Resilient women are not brought down by challenges or setbacks; instead they thrive on them because it brings new learnings and new opportunities. Modeling these seven habits will create tenacity and build your resilience muscle.

1. They have a routine and plan ahead
There’s a formula known as the 2C’s – Commitment and Consistency. Commitment comes from being 100% responsible for any slip-ups, decisions or actions and knowing that you’ll give it all while still being in harmony with oneself. Consistency occurs when you’ve decided to create a daily, weekly or monthly practice that will help you along your journey. Without consistency, commitment can become lost and without commitment, consistency doesn’t follow through. Resilient women become successful by focusing on one or two goals a year and using this formula to achieve their goal.

2. They approach challenges with flexibility
When something doesn’t work, do you tend to give up after the first try and think you’ve failed? When you view a challenge and come up with several different ways to handle it, that demonstrates flexibility. Finding different methods to overcome a challenge keeps a person more in control of the situation. Having only one strategy is inadequate preparation.

3. They embrace failure as a setback and move on
When you focus on your failures, you dwell on the past and the problems you experienced, which in turn, drives the fear of failure even deeper. Resilient women do not view failure as failure; instead they view it as learned outcomes. Why? It has three purposes: First, it stops the fear of failure in its tracks; second, viewing it as learned outcome allows one to analyze the lessons from past experience; and third, putting the lesson to positive use later on leads to the creation of new possibilities and outcome.

4. They know what they are passionate about and make it their purpose
You can’t have passion without purpose, and you can’t have purpose without passion. Resilient women thrive on their passion and purpose, and never get tired of working on it. Your passion lights the fire in your belly while your purpose helps you channel that passion so you feel fulfilled.

5. They know how to let go
Embracing change and having realistic optimism is a resilient woman’s trademark because they understand that change is inevitable and what worked today may not work tomorrow. They will let go the old and bring in the new if it becomes necessary for their business or life. Therefore, understanding that life will bring sudden changes and obstacles is the first step, but facing these obstacles and knowing that you have the coping skills to continue moving forward is equally important.

6. They have a strong sense of appreciation while feeling challenged
Resilient women feel overwhelmed and worried too, but they have two streams of thought running through their minds: one is about finding solutions and the other is about all the things they appreciate in life. It’s as though there’s a subconscious REFRAME button they push whenever their thoughts and emotions turn to worry and fear, because after a short time, they’ve perked up and are more positive and appreciative about what they already have.

7. They have excellent communication skills
Think of a leader or manager whom you admire and notice how he or she interacts with you or with others at all levels in the company or when networking. You will notice that she’s listening to your words and your communication style and communicates back in your style. She’s looking for the underlying reason behind your communication so she can relate to you. Finally, she’s subconsciously picking up on your body language and tone of voice and mirrors it. These communication skills come naturally to resilient women because they want to create rapport with you.

Author’s Bio:

Zaheen Nanji is a resilience champion and a business owner in Alberta, Canada. Embracing change and fear is Zaheen’s trademark because she overcame her speech impediment, her struggles with weight and learned to live in a new country, at the age of 15, without her parents. Her book, The Resilience Reflex – 8 Keys to Transforming Barriers into Success in Life and Business, became an International Best-Seller on Amazon Kindle. Zaheen teaches people how to make resilience their first reflex using her 3-step system: Release, Re-program and Resolve. She can be reached athttp://www.zaheennanji.com

Why the First and Most Important Person You Need to Lead Is Yourself A Guest Post by Lolly Daskal

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Every business needs a leader who can cultivate a compelling vision, define a strategic plan, develop change management, lead employees, and inspire commitment among his or her people.

I have found in my many years as a coach to top leaders that if people are going to be successful and skillful at leadership, they must first become a leader who leads from within.

Put another way: You must know who you are as a leader before you can lead others.

Here are nine skills to sharpen if you want to be a successful leader:

1. Cultivate your self-awareness.
Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-improvement. Successful leaders don’t only run an organization–they also lead people. It’s paramount that you know yourself well, because when you know yourself, you are empowered; when you accept yourself, you are invincible.

2. Develop the right mindset.
Develop your mindset. Start each day with a decision to be happy. Embrace the positives and let go of all the frustrations and past failures that can distract you. When you master your mindset, you free yourself to achieve the level of success you are capable of, because as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”

3. Capitalize on your confidence.
Successful leaders capitalize on their confidence when difficulties arise. Don’t allow your insecurities to get the best of you. Remember that your confidence is like a muscle–the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

4. Continue to learn.  
Try to learn something new every day. Read newspapers, books, magazines, and online. Search for what is innovative and creative, and try to intersect what is new to what you are already doing. The most skillful leaders never stop being a student.

5. Teach to grow.
Don’t hoard your knowledge but share it: with your team, with your colleagues, with your clients. The more you teach as a leader, the more you grow. When you learn, teach; when you get, give.

6. You are the results of your experiences.
One of the hardest things to do is to learn from your mistakes, but even the most successful leaders have made mistakes they don’t want to repeat. Document your experiences and ask yourself what you could do better next time. Reference back often so you don’t repeat patterns. You can learn something from everything you do, good or bad. The only source of knowledge is experience.

7. Success is a series of small wins.
It can be hard to build momentum, so start with small wins. The best way to have a sustainable successful year is to secure small wins, because small wins, small differences, often make a huge difference

8. Action speaks louder than words.
To be a successful leader, you have to be out there–you have to hit the ground running, taking action, taking risks. If not, you will find yourself growing stagnant and stale. If you wait until you are ready, you may be waiting for the rest of your career.

9. Find the balance.
Last, but definitely not least, learn to take care of yourself. Keep a balance. Eat healthy foods and exercise each day, even if it’s just a brisk walk. Make time for the people and things you love outside of work.

You can make this your year, but it takes skillful leadership to make it happen. It all starts with you–with knowing yourself, learning daily, and sharing that knowledge with others. Then when the difficult days come, and they will, you will be prepared.

These 3 Questions Will Immediately Increase Your Emotional Intelligence A Guest Post by Justin Bariso

Diagram of emotional intelligence
Diagram of emotional intelligence

 

Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) is marked by a person’s ability to recognize and understand emotions (both his or her own and those of others), and to use that information to guide decision making. It includes demonstrating extremely complex qualities such as empathy, sympathy, and compassion.

Of course, these qualities help us to be better people. But they can also help you break your worst communication habits, so that others receive your message in the best way possible.

For example, have you said something recently that you wish you could take back? For years, I struggled with the weakness of speaking too quickly, without thinking things through.

Curbing that tendency is easier said than done, but there’s a quick “three question method” that can prevent you from saying something you’ll later regret.

The 3 Vital Questions

I discovered this brilliant strategy through an unlikely source. I was watching an interview with comedian and television personality Craig Ferguson, when he gave some very sage advice:

There are three things you must always ask yourself before you say anything.

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me now?

Ferguson says it took him three marriages to learn that lesson.

Before you dismiss this method as simplistic, think about how many antagonistic comments this would eliminate from social media. Or, we can take it a step further and consider how it might apply at work:

Let’s say you’re a manager, and you’ve been working hard to improve the relationships with certain individuals on your team. One day, you witness someone doing something great at work, and you take advantage of the opportunity to commend them. Great job!

But suddenly, you remember how they messed something up a few weeks ago. “I should bring that to their attention, too,” you reason. “Let me tell them before I forget…”

No! Stop! Ask yourself:

Does this need to be said?

Does it need to be said by me?

Does it need to be said by me now?

True, constructive criticism is best delivered immediately after a mistake. But you’ve already missed that boat. If you give that negative feedback now, it will completely destroy whatever goodwill you built with your praise and commendation. The person will think:

“So, essentially you just told me something nice to soften the blow of what you really wanted to say. Jerk.”

When you ask yourself the three questions, you’ll probably conclude one of the following:

  • You know, the criticism I wanted to share wasn’t so important after all. My opinion may even be changing on this.
  • It might be better if I speak to their team leader first. Maybe what I saw a few weeks ago wasn’t really the whole picture.
  • I definitely still need to talk to them about the problem I saw. But now’s not the right time. Let me set a reminder to schedule an appointment with the person after I’m better prepared.

See how well it works?

This is just one scenario, but practicing these three questions will help you in various situations. Imagine if everyone did it: We would see fewer, shorter meetings, and fewer employee complaints about others’ inappropriate remarks…and yes, maybe even a few saved romances.

Keeping It Balanced

Of course, I’m not discouraging speaking up when appropriate. I strongly believe in honest and direct communication, and there are times when the answer to all three questions will be a resounding yes–even when what we need to say isn’t comfortable for us or the recipient.

When those times come, the three question method will help you speak with confidence–and learn to be assertive when it counts.

EQ in the Workplace: A Positive Antidote to Bad Behavior A Guest Post by Lisa Aldisert

success-ei

 

Most of us have experienced incivility in the workplace. Inappropriate behavior toward coworkers typically stems from a variety of factors: increased workloads resulting in stress and fear, inflated self-importance, the desire to win at all costs, and insensitivity to the needs of others. But what it all boils down to is a lack of respect for colleagues.

Many of my executive-coaching assignments have been triggered because talented professionals simply treated their coworkers badly. The worst part is that these managers weren’t even aware of how inappropriate their actions were.

The good news is that a hopeful countertrend to incivility is emerging: the rise of an increased emphasis on emotional intelligence (EQ) in the workplace. EQ is the ability to recognize both your emotions and those of others, and to use that information as a behavioral guide.

The concept of EQ has been around for a while, but its increased value has been spurred by the new workforce, especially Millennials. Employees want to feel understood, appreciated, and respected at work. An emotionally intelligent leader will fulfill these needs. It’s no secret that organizations that foster high levels of EQ have more engaged and productive employees.

Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t imply that you’re soft; it means that you have higher levels of self-awareness and self-regulation. It also means that you have empathy and an ability to interact effectively with others.

Can EQ Be Taught?

Absolutely, but as with any skill, there must be a desire on the part of the learner. People who want to improve by replacing a bad habit with a good one are likely to have greater success in change.

The “why” that motivates such a change is an internal or intrinsic desire. When people think they have to change, the motivation is extrinsic rather than intrinsic. If your job hangs on the thread of a behavior change, you might be extrinsically driven to make the change. You’ll do it because you have to, but the impact of the change will be less effective because it will take so much more effort.

Self-awareness is the starting point for change. If you don’t possess a reasonable understanding of your behavior, it’s hard to make a change. My experience is that many badly behaving professionals aren’t conscious of their behavior because it’s so ingrained and because few people call them out on it. Even frustrated executives who are painfully aware of the repercussions of such managers aren’t as direct as they should be when delivering feedback.

A Case for Change

I worked with a client who was clueless about the degree to which his lack of emotional intelligence was contributing to his professional downfall. He was horrified to learn how his coworkers perceived him, and claimed that his manager hadn’t told him about the extent of the complaints. Upon further examination, I discovered that his manager had indeed skirted the issue because she was self-conscious and embarrassed to confront him.

After this rocky start, we made excellent progress. The client intrinsically wanted to change and was determined to reverse his behavior. We went through a self-awareness exercise where we mapped the “bad” behavior against the direct impact on his coworkers, as well as the indirect or “ripple effect” impact. The ripple effect is equally as important as the direct effect because people are usually shocked by how one cruel or insensitive remark can go far obsolete beyond the immediate recipient of the comment.

After he gained clear (and painful) cognizance of the impact of his conduct, he was highly motivated, and positive changes came relatively quickly. We worked for several months to anchor and solidify the improved behaviors. The feedback from his manager and coworkers was encouraging, and he had renewed confidence about his performance.

In today’s business world, leaders who understand the value of EQ will render obsolete badly behaving bosses. As employees continue to call for an end to incivility in the workplace, increasing EQ at all levels of leadership will become critical.

Tips to Build Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the starting point for improving emotional intelligence, so consider the following steps:

  1. Keep notes on how you react in stressful situations at work. Review these with a trusted friend or colleague and ask for feedback.
  2. Pay attention to the impact your behavior has on others.
  3. Compare your patterns of behavior at work with those at home to determine consistency.
  4. After you have reflected on your behavior, ask your trusted friend for direct feedback and really listen.
  5. Pick one aspect to work on, and make one small change. When you’re ready, select another area and repeat.

5 New Year’s Practices for Women to Experience More Presence, Passion & Joy in 2016 A Guest Post by Devaa Haley Mitchell

stock-photo-law-of-attraction-in-word-collage-120692671

 

The holidays can often be an overwhelming time… especially for women.  

However, if we look beyond the frenetic buzz, there’s often a desire to replenish ourselves and create a fresh chapter in the new year.

We have the chance to start anew — with 12 months ahead to create and explore so many opportunities.

Some of us are focused on new work and creative projects while others are focused on family matters. Some are planning adventures to exotic lands while others are volunteering at local organizations. And some of us want to call in a new romantic love or find a new home…

But no matter what the details entail, for most women, merely checking off a glittery list of accomplishments is unsatisfying at some level.

The truth is that women have a unique way of creating that is naturally attuned and in synch with the flow of the universe.

(And I’ll be sharing 5 practices to help you tap back into this below.)

You may have gone down that goal-focused path time and again, and experienced some rewards — but if you’re anything like me, you likely found it to be an exhausting experience…

… sensing that there must be another way to honor our uniquely feminine longings.

That’s because our dreams include both who we want to BE and how we want to FEEL in the new year.

  • We want to find new ways to express our unique talents & make a contribution to the world around us.
  • We want to follow our passions & still be financially abundant.
  • We want to give & receive immense love from our close friends and family.
  • We want to feel fulfilled.
  • And we want a clear pathway for creating that reality, here & now.

While taking this journey year after year, I’ve paid special attention to some of the foundational practices that have served me in creating a deeply fulfilling life.

As I’ve participated in them consistently over time, I have found that my overall satisfaction with life has continued to spiral upwards, leaving me feeling joy-filled and happy (for the most part).

That’s why I’d like to share with you….

5 Practices for Creating More Presence, Purpose & Joy in Your Life

Practice 1: Cultivate a Holistic “Morning Ritual”

The way we spend our first morning hours sets the tone for the entire day ahead. So I encourage you to take a little time mapping out the elements which your ideal morning routine would include, and how long you need to spend on each item.

When I started to focus on my morning routine with the support from business mentor Eben Pagan, he encouraged doing this routine at the exact same time each day. But I found that I personally need a bit more freedom and flow.

My own routine typically takes at least 90 minutes, so I’m now often getting up earlier so I can feel spacious and not rushed. I include at least 30 minutes of meditation, preparing a healthy meal and drinking plenty of water, taking my herbal supplements, a shower, perhaps some yoga, and texting my close friends or family some little “love notes” to start their day. I also answer any quick and time-sensitive requests from my friends, family and team (for example, someone might ask me: Want to get together for a hike this week? If so, when?)

I find the more that I engage with this morning ritual on a regular basis, the more present I can be for all the many activities of my life… and the more I am able to enjoy it all.
Practice 2: Invite Spirit to Co-Create with You

Many of us are interested in collaborating more deeply with Spirit to co-create our lives, but it’s not always clear how to do that in a consistent way. This past year, my colleague and “soul sister,” Miranda MacPherson, suggested that I explore working with four key questions from The Course of Miracles.

Essentially, after you engage in a meditation practice to clear your mind and open your heart, when you are in a very still place, you simply ask Spirit to engage with you in dialogue. And then you drop in each of the following questions, like dropping stones into a still pond. Finally, you take notes on the answers that arise and then act on what you hear.

(Note: You can either ask for more general guidance, or if there’s a specific topic where you are seeking specific guidance, you can focus there.)

Here are the questions:

What wants to be received?

What wants to be known?

What wants to be released?

What wants to be done?

When doing this on your own, you may wonder if the answers you are receiving are truly coming from Spirit or from your mind. My suggestion would be to just do your best to glean clear wisdom. And then offer this prayer (as also suggested by Miranda): “Spirit, if I am moving in the wrong direction here, please interrupt me and make it obvious that I am off course. With grace and ease please!”

To really enhance your co-creative relationship with Spirit, I suggest that at least once a week, you ask these questions after meditation to get inspired guidance on your path.
Practice 3: Get a Sense of Who You Want to BE
& How You Want To FEEL

Most of us begin the new year by creating a long laundry list of intentions and resolutions. And many of us also fall off-track with those intentions within a few months.

But as a starting point this year, I want to encourage you to first focus on the woman you want to BE in the new year. What’s really most important to you? What do you want to be known for? What’s the contribution that you want to make to your family, your community and our planet? When you begin to answer those questions, they can serve as a rudder to steer you in the right direction… without getting overly focused on exactly HOW those things may manifest.

For me personally, I want to be known as a trustworthy friend and an open-hearted leader who sets aside quality time for the people and causes that I care most about. And how you want to FEEL?

For women, how we feel is equally important, if not more important, to what we accomplish. We value the journey itself, and we want it to be as aligned and enjoyable as possible.

So instead of making a certain amount of money, you may want to feel abundant, and that feeling could be manifested from a wide variety of events (both external and internal).

Instead of losing weight, you may want to feel attractive. Instead of setting a certain exercise goal, you may want to focus on feeling vital and amazing in your body. As you focus on the feeling states you want to experience, you allow the Universe to help create those experiences with you, perhaps in ways that you never imagined.

And as you do so, you will feel more and more deeply aligned with your purpose in a uniquely feminine way!

Practice 4: Practice Joy Breathing to Revitalize Your System

There are so many things that can throw us out of balance on any given day. We receive unexpected news, we are faced with a huge traffic jam, we get into a dispute with a loved one or a colleague… the list goes on and on. So it’s important to have at least one practice available that you can use to quickly restore balance to your system and come back to your center.

I personally engage in a practice that I call “Joy Breathing,” which I’ve adapted from some simple heart-centered techniques developed by the Heartmath Institute. I’m happy to share it with you here. If you weave this practice into your morning ritual each morning for next week, you will have it at your fingertips when a challenge arises. This whole process should take no more than 1-2 minutes.

Slow down and create some sacred space for yourself. Start by taking a few, deep breaths. If you are in a safe place, close your eyes or relax your gaze. Tune in with your body and your being. Notice the feeling state that you’re in right now.

If there’s any feeling of stress or anxiety, acknowledge it. Then imagine that as you exhale, you are releasing as much of that energy from your body as possible. If you’re in an open state, a good state, also acknowledge that, and be present with that feeling.

Now, shift your attention to the heart area and imagine that you are breathing directly in and out from your heart. As you’re breathing in, imagine that you are breathing in a state of joy. On the exhale, you can continue to release anything that feels like a lower vibration, a lower frequency than this state of ease or joy.

Ask yourself, “What color would be most helpful to restore me to a space of joy and calm right now?” Allow yourself to intuit that color, allowing it to fill your body and flow into the space around your body.

And next, slowly open your eyes. Come back to your setting where you are in this moment.

As you come out of this brief meditation, notice if there’s been a shift in your inner state of being. Then take a moment to commit to leading the rest of your day from this state of joy as much as possible.
Practice 5:
Express Your Love

Most of us are aware of the benefits of cultivating gratitude on a regular basis, but I want to encourage us to go even farther. I was gifted with a T-shirt recently that bears the slogan, “I LOVE my life!” I often wear this shirt to bed, and when I do, my husband often asks me, “So what are you loving about your life right now?”

There are so many aspects of my life that I really DO love, and I appreciate the opportunity to stop and notice those things and then EXPRESS them. It’s joyful for me to then take it even further and send out little love notes to those people that I am really appreciating a lot (often as part of my morning ritual). I also find value in expressing my LOVE to the Universe and all the abundance and magic that is showered upon me (usually as part of my early meditation).

My colleague Lynne Twist often says, “What you appreciate, APPRECIATES!” So I want to encourage you to place your attention on the bounty you already have in your life, knowing that the more you really love (or at least accept) your current reality, the better it will continue to get… and the more joy and passion you will feel on a daily basis.

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Taken together, these 5 rituals can create a very strong foundation for the year ahead. You’ll feel more present in each moment and more available to the experiences unfolding each day. You’ll allow your innate love and passion to flow with this easy practice to restore you back to balance when things go awry.

And you’ll have a deeper sense of your true feminine purpose and what truly matters.

Here’s to a great year ahead!

Learn more about Devaa and her offerings at http://www.devaa.com

10 Qualities of People With High Emotional Intelligence A Guest Post by John Rampton

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Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have an unlimited amount of success in both their personal and professional lives? It could be because they possess high emotional intelligence.

According to Psychology Today, “Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” This usually involves:

  • emotional awareness, which includes the ability to identify your own emotions as well as those of others;
  • the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks such as problem solving;
  • the ability to manage your emotions, such as being able to calm down when you’re upset.

If you want to know if you have a high emotional intelligence (EI) or want to work on strengthening your EI in order to succeed in life and your career, here are 10 qualities that people with high EI all share.

1. They’re not perfectionists.

Being a perfectionist can get in the way of completing tasks and achieving goals since it can lead to having trouble getting started, procrastinating, and looking for the right answer when there isn’t one. This is why people with EI aren’t perfectionists. They realize that perfection doesn’t exist and push forward. If they make a mistake, they’ll make adjustments and learn from it. This is one I personally have to work on daily as I tend to be a little more perfectionist.

2. They know how to balance work and play.

Working 24/7 and not taking care of yourself adds unnecessary stress and health problems to your life. Because of this, people with EI know when it’s time to work and when to play. For example, if they need to disconnect from the world for a couple of hours, or even an entire weekend, they will because they need the time to unplug to reduce the stress levels.

3. They embrace change.

Instead of dreading change, emotionally intelligent people realize that change is a part of life. Being afraid of change hinders success, so they adapt to the changes around them and always have a plan in place should any sort of change occur.

4. They don’t get easily distracted.

People with high EI have the ability to pay attention to the task at hand and aren’t easily distracted by their surroundings, such as text or random thought.

5. They’re empathetic.

Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Focus: the Leading Driver of Excellence, told The Huffington Post that empathy is one of the five components of emotional intelligence. In fact, being able to relate to others, show compassion, and take the time to help someone are all crucial components of EI. Additionally, being empathic makes people with EI curious about other people and and leads them to ask lots of questions whenever they meet someone new.

6. They know their strengths and weaknesses.

Emotionally intelligent people know what they’re good at and what they’re not so great at. They’ve not just accepted their strengths and weaknesses; they also know how to leverage their strengths and weaknesses by working with the right people in the right situation.

7. They’re self-motivated.

Were you that ambitious and hard-working kid who was motivated to achieve a goal–and not just because there was a reward at the end? Being a real go-getter, even at a young age, is another quality possessed by people with EI.

8. They don’t dwell in the past.

People with high EI don’t have the time to dwell in the past because they’re too busy contemplating the possibilities that tomorrow will bring. They don’t let past mistakes consume them with negativity. They don’t hold grudges. Both add stress and prevent us from moving forward.

9. They focus on the positive.

Emotionally intelligent people would rather devote their time and energy to solving a problem. Instead of harping on the negative, they look at the positive and what they have control over. Furthermore, they also spend their time with other positive people and not the people who constantly complain.

10. They set boundaries.

While people with high EI may seem like pushovers because of their politeness and compassion, they actually have the power to establish boundaries. For example, they know how to say no to others. The reason? It prevents them from getting overwhelmed, burned out, and stressed because they have too many commitments. Instead, they’re aware that saying no frees them up from completing previous commitments.

9 Success-Killing Decisions Exceptional People Refuse to Make A Guest Post by Jeff Haden

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Perspective always clears away the fog. When we look forward, the path seems uncertain and the future unpredictable. When we look back, all the dots seem to connect.

The key is to never be forced to look back and regret certain decisions — and that means standing strong in the face of challenges, adversity, and stress.

Here are nine decisions that successful people refuse to make.

1. Choosing to give in to fear.

Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid — in fact, the opposite is true. Courage without thought or meaning is simply recklessness. Brave people aren’t fearless; they’ve simply found something that matters more to them than fear.

Say you’re scared to start a business. Find a reason to do that that means more: creating a better future for your family, wanting to make a real difference, or hoping for a more rewarding and fulfilling life.

Once you find a greater meaning, you also find courage. See fear not as something to shrink from but as something to overcome, because that’s all it is.

2. Choosing the pain of regret over the pain of discipline.

The worst words you can say are “If only I had…”

Think of all the things you’ve wanted to do but never have. What did you do instead? If you’re like me, you don’t even remember. All that time is gone, and whatever I did instead wasn’t even worth remembering.

Think about something you dreamed of doing five or 10 years ago but didn’t work to do — and think about how good you’d be today at that thing if you had. Think about all the time you wasted and can never get back.

Then, today, start pushing yourself to do what you hope to do, so, five or 10 years from now, you won’t look back with regret.

Sure, the work is hard. Sure, the work is painful. But it’s a lot less painful than thinking back on what will never be.

3. Choosing to not say “I will.”

A boss once gave me what I thought was an impossible task. I said, “OK. I’ll try.”

He told me trying didn’t matter — as long as I didn’t quit, I’d finish it. Trying didn’t enter into it. Persistence was all that mattered.

Often we say “I’ll try” because that gives us an out. Our ego isn’t on the line. Our identity isn’t on the line. After all, we’re just “trying.”

Once we say “I will,” our perspective changes. What previously seemed insurmountable is no longer a matter of luck or chance but of time and effort and persistence.

When what you want to do really matters, don’t say “I’ll try.” Say “I will,” and then keep that promise to yourself.

4. Choosing to not take lots of small risks.

You may never create the perfect business plan, or find the perfect partners or the perfect market or the perfect location, but you can find the perfect time to start — because that time is now.

Talent, experience, and connections are important, but put your all into enough new things, and some will work.

Plus, after you take enough chances, over time you’ll grow more skilled, more experienced, and more connected. And that will mean that an even greater percentage of your efforts will succeed. Take enough shots, and learn from each experience, and in time you’ll have all the skills, knowledge, and connections you need.

Ultimately, success is a numbers game; it’s all about taking a shot, over and over and over again. The more shots you take, the more times you will succeed. So get the power of numbers on your side and take as many shots as you can.

There is no guarantee of success, but when you don’t take any shots at all, you’re guaranteed to always fail.

5. Choosing to not move.

Familiarity creates comfort. But comfort is often the enemy of improvement.

If you have a great opportunity and the only thing holding you back is the thought of moving, move. If you want to be closer to family or friends and the only thing holding you back is the thought of moving, move. If you want to be closer to people who think and feel and act like you, move.

You’ll soon find cool new places to hang out. You’ll soon develop new routines. You’ll soon make new friends. When the fear of moving is the only thing holding you back, move. You’ll meet cool new people, do cool new things, and gain a cool new perspective on your life.

Besides, Thomas Wolfe was wrong: If it doesn’t work out, you can go home again.

6. Choosing to not let go.

Bitterness, resentment, and jealousy are like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. You are the only one who loses.

Life is too short to resent all the people who may have hurt you. Let hard feelings go.

Then spend the energy you save cherishing the people who love you.

7. Choosing to not say you’re sorry.

We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize for: words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, step in, to be there when we’re needed.

Swallow your fear — or pride — and say you’re sorry. Then you’ll help the other person let go of her resentment or bitterness.

And then you both get to make the freshest of fresh starts, sooner instead of later — or instead of never.

8. Choosing to not throw out your backup plans.

Backup plans can help you sleep easier at night.

Backup plans can also create an easy out when times get tough.

You will work a lot harder and a longer if your primary plan has to work because there is no other option. Total commitment — without a safety net — will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined possible.

Then, if somehow the worst does happen (although the “worst” is never as bad as you think), trust that you will find a way to rebound.

As long as you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you always will.

9. Choosing to be too proud.

Don’t be too proud to admit you made a mistake. To have big dreams. To poke fun at yourself. To ask other people for help.

To fail.

And to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go again.

Instead, take pride in the fact that no matter what might happen, you will always get up and go again.

That way, you never truly lose — and your dreams can never die.