Wellness: Happiness through Selflessness



Just when you think you don’t have any more to give…..ahhh…but if you only knew the return on investment from giving!  I learned that even a slightly positive social signal, such as touch, releases oxytocin in our system (this is that pleasurable chemical release) AND it raises our chances of having positive behavior reciprocated.  We cannot induce our brain to release oxytocin – we must give love, or at the very least, be pleasantly sociable,  to others in order to activate it (Paul Zak  Love Molecule)

My neighbor recently had her 85th birthday, and being a 50+ year resident in our neighborhood, she has given selflessly in so many ways to our community.  A group of us gave her a gift:  a promise to string and light a pine tree in her front yard for the Christmas holidays, something she’s wanted for a long time, but not able to do physically, only because the tree is so tall.  She is one of the most vital and happy people I’ve ever met, truly alive in every way.  She has given selflessly for years, and her vitality and joy radiate her return on her investment. But the thing is – I’m sure she didn’t think about her return on investment.  That’s the thing about being selfless; you just follow your heart and let it overflow to others.  There is always more to give as you allow it to flow through you, not from you.

When we give selflessly to someone without expectations of anything in return, we experience immense joy. Happiness comes from being in service of another’s greatest good. When we uplift another’s life … our soul is connected to our purpose.

The story of “me” is an endless road to suffering. And the funny thing is that so many of our fears and chatter in our mind is about the same ten things that are repeated day in and day out for months or even years on end. This is truly a recipe for unhappiness.

Happiness is that feeling of immense sense of purpose when something we did, or said helped someone on their journey. It is the gift that is given back to us when we let go of expectations and do something purely from a state of being other-centered and wanting to help someone.

Think about those beautiful souls that said something or did some random act of kindness towards you when you needed it most.

We are here to support each other; just like nature we are interdependent. We are here to be a source of love and inspiration to all those in need of our bright light. Choose kindness and other-centeredness and joy will be the byproduct   –Suzanne Byrant, Wellness Expert     http://suzannebryant.com/

I can’t say it any better……..let JOY be the byproduct of selflessness

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Women’s Small Business: A Measure of Your Success – Latest on Success Research

I’m an avid reader, just as Bill Gates is.  I reviewed one of his recent blogs, where he named some of his best reads from this past year.  How Children Succeed by Paul Tough was one of them.  Although I haven’t read this one, I did like the review that Bill offered.  Paul Tough recognizes how the success of children often is measured in intelligence or other test scores.  Perhaps this is stemming out of the old model of education – success is measured by a child’s ability to score well on a test, but not necessarily by how much creativity they demonstrate, or perseverance they have exhibited or optimism they have  perhaps had to maintain in a challenging life circumstance.  Paul Tough’s point is that success is more about grit and curiosity and the hidden power of character; in fact, that is his subtitle.

Young people today, in applying for college scholarships, must demonstrate their community service, their leadership in different roles, and their creativity in projects they have completed, as well as scoring well on entrance exams.  This hands-on experience demonstrates that the person is able to apply his smarts out in the world, that he can use his character strengths of curiosity, perseverance and optimism to go the distance.

What does this have to do with business?  Well, I believe these are the traits that contribute to a successful business as well.  Having a business plan that draws on your creativity and positive outlook marries well with the perseverance to carry it out.  This holds true whether you’re a Type A or an artist type; grit and positive character are the foundation for success.  Success is measured in far greater terms than the profit you make;  gratification in having done your best offers unmeasurable value.

How do you measure your success?

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Creativity: Mistakes? Or just the risky path

“Creating is a mistake-making adventure.”  Eric Maisel

No one would choose to make a mistake.  But they are an integral part of the learning process…and the creative process. It takes many ideas to come up with a good one – it takes many mistakes to create a masterpiece (in whatever form you are using).

The trick is to simply plan on them…consider your work a step-by-step-by-step process instead of an outcome – oriented process.  This perspective allows the work to be fluid and changeable, without feeling like a failure when each step proves to be not quite right.  It is like driving at night using headlights;  each step is vital to take you to the next one.   And each course correction gets you closer to your preferred outcome.

It’s important to be able to admit them without being blocked or damaged.  Each appraisal must take into consideration the overall vision, to make sure you’re on track.  However, if you view it as course correction, you avoid letting the “mistake” halt your continued efforts, and instead, maintain a belief in yourself and your work.  Welcoming them as opportunities to clarify and distill your vision, while simultaneously allowing the Force beyond ourselves to enter into the process,  enhances your creative possibilities.  You are making mistakes in the service of something vital, in the service of creation.

Using your curiosity, experimenting, trying something, and making mistakes in doing so, all draw upon your ability to risk.  What’s the harm in just trying something?  Treat it as an experiment; that way, you build in the learning factor, which includes that trial and error method.  It includes many errors or mistakes before the truth, the art emerges.

I have to remind myself of this in many situations, as I easily default to being a perfectionist.  “Let’s just try this and see what happens.”  I have room to breathe, and many chances to bring the process to satisfaction.   In some situations, it’s even fun to try and make a mistake, just to see what working outside the norms will teach me.  I recently learned about wabi (Japanese) – a work of art is made unique by its flaws and elevated to the rank of art because it is flawed.  Native Americans also sew in an explicit mistake in their blanket weaving, and it is part of the resulting art.

A work of art is miraculous, a great gift.  Let us also bring respect and honor for the mistakes that help us create in this miraculous process.

“If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out.”  Rabindranath Tagore

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Women’s life coaching: Blockage to Breakthrough

Do you know research shows that there is a 22% improvement with training – but with coaching there is an 88% improvement?  What a difference!  I believe it has to do with underlying, subconscious beliefs that sabotage our best intentions. I heard an interview with Paul Gilbert, a clinical psychologist who has researched evolutionary approaches to psychopathology for over 35 years with a special focus on shame and the treatment of shame based difficulties.  In his discussion of the evolution of our brain, he said we have 3 motivational systems: 1) Threat, in which our survival mechanisms kick in to avoid a threat; 2) Drive, in which we go towards reward; and 3) Green, in which we experience calm, contented well-being- this state allows the body to heal.

What does this have to do with coaching, and more specifically, blockages?  Very often people set goals that are well-intentioned, working towards greater success.  However, if there may be an underlying sense of inadequacy, or a need to earn love or attain success to prove one’s worth, the threat intensifies if this doesn’t work out.  They are trying to resolve a threat (#1 above), when really addressing a self-esteem issue (#3 above).  All the best-stated intentions can be undermined by the fears that are operating on a subtle energy level.  Unfortunately, our brain is wired to default to the negative, so without a conscious practice to operate out of #3, we will be wrestling with ourselves, wondering why we can’t move forward or achieve our goals.   Well-being must first be established in order for the rest to fall in place.

How we identify ourselves in relationship to the world is how we experience the world, on an energy level.  Our subconscious programs our body to carry out this internal story.  To develop a new reality, we must create an image of self in a bigger way, and hold that image in our mind until it shows up in our experience.  Our emotional self accelerates this process.  So if we feel unworthy but are asking for a raise, guess what will materialize – the emotions win out.  But if we see ourselves receiving the raise,  plus feeling it in our emotional being (feeling like a million bucks), this higher frequency of what we desire will attract what resonates with our frequency.  And THIS is the practice: to hold that vision, and feel it on every level, over and over again, until it shows up in your life.  Most people give up, and say this doesn’t work.  And then, that’s what they attract – it doesn’t work.  The internal blockages must be addressed so you radiate the energy you wish to bring to form.  You MUST have faith to take in what you already hold on an energy level…….the outward form is simply that slowest and last step in the manifestation of what you desire.  You must make it a part of your identity to experience it; you first experience it internally, and become that thing.  What you want is not out there, it is only in here.  The very story we tell ourselves is powerful……….BE what you wish to manifest or create.

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Wellness: Don’t forget to exercise your brain

The latest neuroscience research tells us that the health of our body determines the health of our brain.  Poor health, along with medical conditions, can double or even quadruple your risk for decline in memory.  And when symptoms like memory loss or confusion are evident, the lost neuron connections are already at 50-70%.  So a mid-life intervention is the best remedy for late life memory loss.  The brain is fully developed at 20 years of age, and already begins shrinking after 40 years of age, so it’s never too soon to keep brain fitness in mind.

The brain grows and shrinks like a coral reef in response to the environment.  Brain is like a muscle; it can be toned up at any age……..use it or lose it applies to your brain also.     Brain fitness is very similar to physical fitness; it has components like consistent exercise, adequate sleep and good nutrition.  After all, the brain is part of the body and requires the same attention and care for good health.  And then there is that perpetual factor of stress!  It is a fact with brain health that some stress is good, in that it provides a challenge that stimulates new neuron growth.  This stress could be in the form of learning something new, such as a language, dance or skill.  Changing up your routine is highly recommended as once a pattern or habit is acquired, the brain doesn’t need to generate more neurons.  So using your less dominant hand, taking a different route when driving, going about a routine task like cooking in a different order – all of these stretch your learning capacity, and add to brain fitness.

Modulating stress is key.  When there is too much stress, the cortisol damages the neuron connections.  Meditation is recommended to help you relax and focus at the same time.  Functioning in that range of constructive stimulation/challenge without experiencing the damaging stress(cortisol) seems to be the ideal.   Happiness and having a positive outlook add to brain fitness as well.

All of these components – physical exercise, sleep, nutrition, mental stimulation, meditation and relaxation, and happiness – are the recommended ones for physical health.  So we can be confident that taking care of our bodies will also take care of our mind. Now go sing – dance – juggle!  That’s what I do!

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Women’s small business: The 3 P’s of Powering your Product

Every successful business needs to identify the niche it will target.  This “ideal” client is the person you will be doing business with, whether your product is a service or an item.  Getting clear about your niche happens by knowing what your passion is, who your people are and what your purpose is, for this ideally should resonate with your “ideal” client.  What you have to offer is exactly what they need.

Your passion will energetically resonate with potential customers.  They also will be interested in being excellent leaders, teachers, servicing the public, fixing things, well-being, creative expression, etc.  So aligning with the passion that powers your efforts is like the magnet that draws a person towards you that will be a good fit; they already resonate with your energy.  Secondly, the people you reach in your marketing are already active in their (and your) area of passion.  They have done some reading, taken classes, and are interested in improving in this area; they are sometimes referred to as your “tribe”.  And they want more….which you have to offer them.  Thirdly, stating your purpose clearly allows them to align with you, as they share this with you.  They can come on board and join with something they are already committed to.

Let’s view an example of how this may look.  Let’s say your passion is being super organized; you love the order and efficiency of a streamlined system.  So you market to people who also want this in their lives:  mothers, office managers, inventory specialists, etc.  Your market can be narrowed to align with who you most resonate with…let’s say helping new mothers.  Your purpose is named in how you present your service or product:  the solutions you have to meet their needs.  Maybe you use language like ease in adjusting to having a baby to care for, or time to enjoy this stage of life, or convenience and efficiency, etc.  These solutions are presented, not as what a great product you’re offering, but rather as how it will be the perfect solution to what is needed and important to your potential client.

Remembering to use the 3 P’s as you target your ideal customer, can eventually lead to the 4th P:  prosperity!

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Creativity: Changing negativity

If you’re stuck on a negative feeling, make something: a poem, a pie, a blog. Creativity pulls your brain into a happy place.—Martha Beck, Daily Coach Tips

Do you know our brain, left to its own devices, will default towards negativity?  It is always on the alert for danger, ever watchful and protective for our survival.  So, instead of engaging with that fear, simply shift your focus to the preferred positive.  This is easier said than done.  When there is a perceived threat, it requires an intentional practice to neutralize this fear, much less move towards your happy place.  But creativity can be a fun tool to assist this shift towards feeling positive.

Creativity draws on usage of the whole brain, not just the limbic system, from which the fear gets the first say.  It takes you into a zone that first distracts you from the fear, and then neutralizes, or should I dare say, tricks the fearing self so you can expand and operate beyond the fear that first emerged.  You can learn to mitigate your negativity with a creative response, much like you’ve learned to take a deep breath when you feel stressed.  You may already be doing this remedy without knowing it.  Do you whistle while you work?  Do you hum or sing to lift your spirits?  Do you feel better when you bring flowers into your home?  Or make yourself a wonderful meal?  Do you tease your child when he’s grumpy?  All of these are simple creative directives for a negative pull.

And we all have our favorite ones.  Since I love language, I could either check out and read a book (which avoids rather than shifts the energy), or recite a poem I’ve memorized or even better, write a quick haiku or poem. (Did you notice my blog title rhymes?)  I can soothe myself listening to music and/or sing/whistle/hum some of my favorite tunes.  I have a sketch book handy, and draw a quick sketch of what catches my eye, for it usually helps me focus on the beauty right in front of me.  Sometimes I dance to a tune, or laugh out loud at a memory that is funny……..you get the idea.  So take a few moments to identify what creative responses you’ll use to shift to your happy place.  And just like your draw on your innate breath when stressed, you’ll soon be drawing on your innate creativity to positively live.

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Women’s Life Coaching – Wisdom for a Change

RALPH WALDO EMERSON ….  “Not in his goals but in his transitions is man great” 

Transitions seems to be what life is all about….one after the other, maybe a few at the same time.  I see what Emerson is talking about:  shifting from one life stage to another is more the challenge than goal achievement.  We outgrow our achieved goals, and quest forward, as it is in our nature to expand, outgrow the old, and transition into the new.  Any observance of nature evidences this time and time again.  So mastery of navigating transitions, navigating change is where we must focus – it is where our truth continues to emerge from within us.  We all need to be life change artists.

One young man decided to handle one of his transitions creatively.   After losing a job, Andrew Fosthoefel decided to try walking across America from his home in Philadelphia all the way to the Pacific. And he made it. 4,000 miles, talking to people he met along the way.  He produced the radio feature with Jay Alison about these stories.  (An hour-long version of the story and photos from the trip are at Transom.org, a nonprofit website that explains how to record and produce your own stories.)

And at the end of this program, he concluded with his 23 year old wisdom, harvested from folks along the way:

You know what to do – There is no need to be afraid – Just keep walking.

This pretty much sums up the life coaching process.  You may come asking for direction and answers to your questions “What do I do?” “What’s next?”  Shedding some light on your resources, your guidance within, and equipping you with needed support or skills, you are quickly on your way forward.  You DO know what to do, and may just need to learn how to tune into yourself; you can benefit from the coaching encouragement to actually follow through. You learn along the way that there IS no need to fear for you acquire skill in managing that emotion that always comes with forging yet another new path.  And you learn to take baby steps consistently, for that steady action continues to open the path forward – it shows itself as you just keep walking.

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Someday is today

So don’t put your dreams in a box on the shelf

I heard an inspiring Toastmaster speech about realizing your dreams instead of putting them on hold, as if stored in a box somewhere out of sight – too valuable to discard yet definitely in the “inactive” category.  Our goals for well-being may have this repeating introductory phrase:  “Someday, I am going to…” and you fill in the blank.  Maybe your completion of the phrase is “eat more greens”, or “take a walk every day”, or “practice mindfulness”, or “develop more gratitude”, or “have a more positive attitude”, etc.  I’m sure you knew immediately what your boxed up dreams for well-being were – we all have them….proper weight, vitality, more creative, peace of mind, lightness of being, etc.

It’s not hard to find out the “how” and make a plan – the challenge is in the doing – rather than keeping your dream in the box on the shelf yet another day.  To move from dreaming to doing requires following through because of your commitment to yourself instead of allowing your emotions to lead, as in “I just don’t feel like it today”.  This kind of commitment is similar to showing up at work everyday whether you feel like it or not….you just go in spite of your mood.  Another idea to get your dream in the active category is to establish baby, baby steps, so small you hardly notice you’ve done it….and then build on that.  Slowly, with this consistency, the dream begins to be in motion, and changes are noticeable.  This positive feedback feeds your enthusiasm and adds to motivation to keep going.  I’ve seen these results time and time again in my own life, with walking/exercising after months of no exercise after a surgery, with painting everyday for a set time, with my daily qigong practice.  Slowly but surely they became integrated into my life’s flow as I claimed “Someday is today”…..let’s do it!!!   Be well.

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Women’s Small Business – Is your problem solving rational or intuitive?

Your ability to solve problems effectively contributes greatly to your success. People tend to prefer left brain rational over right brain intuitive; however, using both styles at the same time, lead to the best solutions.

Rational problem solving entails a step-by-step process :  define the problem, research the facts, determine all possible causes, identify a variety of possible solutions, select one to try first, make a plan, including a timeline,  execute and evaluate the plan.  Repeat these steps as necessary until you settle upon a solution.  This is an analytical, deliberate, conscious and cyclical process.  Taking action on a less-than-ideal solution will yield more information that may eventually lead you to a solution, rather than working towards the perfect solution.  Remember, it’s a process.  And maintaining action is better than getting stalled out in indecision.

A research study in a 2011 academic journal, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, indicated another valid approach called intuitive problem solving.  This approach produces more creative solutions, and is used more by women than men.  Steve Jobs was viewed by many as an intuitive problem solver in his creative way of thinking.  This approach produces “aha” moments as you ponder the problem as a question in your mind during routine times of daily living, avoiding any analyzation of the question.  Paying attention to dreams and random thoughts allows you to be ready to receive the solution when it pops into your mind;  changing up your routine, or meditating or deep relaxation can enhance this spontaneous emergence of solutions.  This process takes less time, and is more automatic.

Some prefer to use the rational style for business issues while preferring the intuitive style for people issues.  Together they offer the most creative and most practical solutions to problems.  Even though you may prefer one style, both can be practiced so that you can use them appropriately and effectively, no matter what problem presents itself.  Maintaining versatility in problem-solving skills helps you build your confidence to address problems quickly and effectively.

(Thanks to Judith C. Tingley, DTM, Ph.D, for her thoughts about new brain science.)

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