A very insightful workshop. I have an important life decision to make and what I have learned today will be helpful.
When you have a problem, how often have you thought that you are the only one who has that problem? Everyone else seems happy and content. Everyone else seems to know exactly what they want and how to go about getting it. Everyone else seems to have an ideal relationship - according to you. It is not true, but it is certainly your truth and mine. This has happened to me many times! I face a challenge and I think I am the only soul out of seven billion plus walking this earth that has this problem.
I am part of a life coach network where I coach people to address life's challenges with courage and hope. A good coach is never going to tell you that there is a magic formulae for perfect happiness from now until eternity. A good coach will never tell you that they have the perfect solution for you. What a good coach can and will do is to shift your perspective from thinking that you may be the only human being with a problem to one where you see the world for what it is and recognize that not a single human being is free from problems, disappointments, pain, loss, and suffering. So we find our happiness pill not by believing that life is meant to be a joy ride, but by knowing that everyone has problems. That doesn't make our problem or pain go away nor does it lessen the pain of our struggles in any way. All that it does is it shifts our perspective from that of helplessness and confusion to one where we find ways to make it through the forest.
In this blog, I will focus on real-life examples where people have shared their problems with life coaches and are seeking help. As we read these examples, we immediately see that we too have been through similar problems. What we feel, others feel too. What we struggle with, others struggle too!
What we think as our weakness is indeed the weakness of humanity. We are interconnected with a common bond of human frailings and failures. We are challenged to rethink of ourselves not as independent entities with unique problems, but as part of the human race with interlinked problems. We realize that if others can make it through similar or even worse problems, we too can make it. We stop looking for a permanent fix for everlasting happiness and look for moment-to-moment solutions that work for the immediate present. If we take care of the immediate present, it somehow takes care of our future!
I will share a case study at the end of every blog post. I will discuss and share a few ideas about the case in my next blog post and invite your insights, comments and feedback. In other words, if you were coaching this individual what advice would you give?
Here is the first case:
What are the things you want most in your life?
provide me support and advise and be there to guide me. Be a positive inspiration to help change and be positive and happy.
If you wish to share a case study, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To be honest, I envy Maria Popova! Either you know her and love her work or you may wonder, "Who the heck is Maria Popova?" This is how Maria describes herself: I’m a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. You can read more about Maria here.
Maria writes a blog called Brain Pickings.
The name, in my opinion, does not do enough justice to the intellectual, historical, cultural, social, philosophical and spiritual contributions Maria makes to the world in which we live today - a world filled with sound bites, fact-devoid opinions, verbal violence and disrespect, and a problematic monolithic view of our society and its complexities. Steps in Maria!
In her own words, her blog is "an inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life." A "labor of love," as she calls it, she started her blog in 2006 "as a weekly email that went out to seven friends and eventually brought online, the site was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012." What a trajectory, eh?
This is not a money-making machine. You are not bombarded with min-numbing ads and videos that fire on their own leaving you wondering about the enemy invading your attention span. Fully supported by readers, every blog post is a work of a dedicated literary genius who follows her heart, who has something to contribute to the world, an unflinching dedication to her art, to her passion, to her calling.
In a day and age where likes and followers determine our moods, our self-worth, and our future plans, Maria weaves philosophy, literature, spirituality, and creativity into her writing and shares with the world what it takes to be a magnificent human being.
She doesn't present you with a list of five things to do or six things to say. Instead, she demands that you think about your world as a galaxy and you a speck in it - a tiny speck that has the responsibility to make immense contributions to the galaxy! You are small, but you are not irrelevant or weak.
Often, I read a paragraph of her blog and take a coffee break and come back and read another paragraph and take two coffee breaks. The power of her words and its pathways demands you give her your undivided attention and face your longings and heartaches. You realize you are a speck, a big and relevant speck with work to do.
I suppose this is what the product of passion and dedication looks like. For those of us who want quick and easy wins, Maria shows the magic, beauty, and power of embracing the long road ahead.
For the self-doubters among us, the lesson is that almost all successful people have faced the monster of self-doubt. They slain it and keep moving forward, only to find the monster around the corner. They slain it again and again and again, while continuing their work. The monster gets bigger while they get stronger. It is an uneven match. The monster is never tamed, but it never succeeds either!
For those of us who procrastinate, the lesson is don't. Time and talents fade when your strengths are not put to use.
For those of us who want rewards and pats as evidence that our work is worthy, rethink the notion of rewards. The world is not as smart as we give it credit for. Some of the greatest minds that walked this earth were never encouraged or acknowledged until after these men and women were buried six-feet under.
Write. Draw. Sketch. Dance. Swim. Sing. Innovate. Start.
I am sure there are many amazing blogs out there! What is your favorite blog and why?
Uma Gupta is a speaker and author who is ever-curious about about happiness, leadership, and finding one's center of gravity in a shaky world.
Like every blogger knows, blogging is hard, but...
The "but" comes from remembering why I started a blog in the first place.
Every blogger remembers that moment when they decided to start a blog! There was such an abundance of enthusiasm, hope, passion, and a strong belief that somehow what was floating in their heads needed to find some white space!
A few clicks and there you have your blog! Join the club of nearly 440 million blogs (mediakix.com), but, hey, who is counting? The chances are slim that you will rise to the top overnight. The probability is so ridiculously low that you might as well abandon the effort even before you write your first word.
Yet, bloggers persist. At least the good ones do! They write. They know the odds of being discovered are dead low, but they write because they remember why they started a blog in the first place. They don't believe in ghost writers or random lists or haphazard work. Every day they stare at the dreaded blank screen and face their fear. They write the first word and then the second and the third and then may be delete all 200 words they wrote with all their gut and restart. Passion sounds great on paper, but heck, it is hard as hell to write and even harder to follow your passion every single day, with no rewards, no recognition, no return love. Yep, it is hard.
People like me don't belong in this league. Nothing like a public confession!
But I sure as ice cream melting on a hot summer day would love to join this league of amazing bloggers who write every day. I plan on it. I will work on it. I will share my struggles and the tricks that my lazy brain plays on me when it sings the lullaby, "take a break today, honey!" - no need to write. Ignore your passion. There is nothing in it for you. You are not such a great writer. See, there aren't enough visitors or comments. Don't write, sweetheart, says my lazy brain. That's the same message that the brains of the amazing bloggers delivers to them every morning when they sit in front of a blank screen. The only difference is that the super bloggers tell their brains to shut up. And, somehow it does.
This is the first thing I review when I visit a website with a blog - whether it is a company website or an individual's website. Are you passionate about your work? your calling? do you stay the course? do you do what you set out to do regardless of the odds? Do you back away because your competition is 440 million strong?
We forget the struggles and failures that many famous people, celebrities, athletes, writers, scientists, medical researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs went through to get to where they are today. Ask them. They will tell you about their dark and lonely hours. They will tell you why they persisted and almost always, it is because they believed that their work had value, that their passion was a promise not to be taken lightly, and that their reward was not just what the world had to offer them, but that the magic of their work was their best reward.
I promise to blog three times a week. Anything you can do to keep me on track will be super helpful!
There is a some eye-rolling and staleness today when it comes to talks about diversity. Some people are bored, some are tired, some are sick of it, and some don't want to go anywhere it. It is easy to think these people are fools or biased or even bigots. That would be the shortest road to the wrong conclusion.
Everywhere we turn in corporate America, today there is talk about diversity or its lack thereof. In media outlets and industry news and trends, the cry for more diversity is getting louder.
But that does not mean it is going to happen. In fact, previous shouts have fallen on deaf ears. The diversity needle has barely moved significantly in the last several decades. Progress is slow with two steps front and three steps back. Many are predicting that not much is going to change.
We can play the blame game but it won't get us anywhere fun.
It is time to change the conversation to something that is meaningful, energizing, and impactful, but more importantly, something that is personally rewarding and beneficial and this is backed by neuroscience. In other words, when we look at diversity as something that is good for the organization, we think it is someone else's problem. But when we understand that diversity is good for our personal well-being and mental health, then we take notice. We are willing to invest. We are willing to learn and to expand our boundaries.
Selena Templeton of ITSP magazine and I had a great coffee-shop dialogue around the link between embracing diversity and our brain health. You can listen to the conversation here: goo.gl/cPSqav
or you can read it here.
We don't become advocates of diversity overnight. We don't become accepting of diversity overnight. We don't overcome our biases overnight. Everything takes time - one small step at a time. But when we don't take that first small step then we are in trouble. We wither away. We become jaded. We become mentally old. I call it the mental stink.
As always, one small step at a time!
The truth of the matter is advice is not in short supply. Wisdom is not in short supply. Today, thanks to the Internet, information, knowledge, wisdom, guidance, support - you name it - and it is available. That being the case, why is it so many of us still struggle?
The reason is really simple: knowing is not doing.
When we know something, our brain files it away as knowledge it has and therefore, does not need to pay any attention to. In other words, it is no longer that interesting. This piece of knowledge or information no longer gets our full attention. And anything that does not get our full attention rarely translates into action and forward movement.
Ever heard a speaker talk about something that you already know about or have heard about? What is your first reaction? "This stuff is boring. I know this stuff already."
But knowing is not doing. Knowing and not doing results in frustration, guilt, and even shame. Doing what we know is the first step to change. It is the first step to success.
Think about all the things that you already know is good for you.
1. Eating right
2. Importance of sleep
3. Benefits of exercise
4. Learning new things
5. Challenging your brain in different ways
6. Minimizing digital addiction
The list is long, but you get my point.
We are probably the most knowledgeable in human history.
We are just not good at doing what we know.
Yes, we all know that knowing is easy in our digital age. But the winner are those who take action with what they know! Doing is hard, but the more we do with what we know, the less hard it gets!
Tell me what do you deeply desire that you find hard to do. I have my stories and you have yours and together we will figure out how to get from here to there.
As always, one small step at a time.
We all have those days when our self-control is on vacation!
We say things that we regret.
We do stupid things.
We make bad decisions.
We let our emotions rule.
We act in ways that makes other people scratch their heads and wonder what is wrong with us.
We spend time doing things that we wish we would not do!
We let our solemn New Year resolutions die a slow and painful death in front of our very eyes.
We tell ourselves that we really don't care about the consequences, even though we care and care deeply.
Why does this happen?
Self-regulation - that innate capacity to behave in ways that are far better, more productive, compassionate and sophisticated than what our darker side really wants to do - is at the heart of success and long-term happiness!
I have heard useless, but right-sounding advice!
It goes something like this:
Build your willpower. Just say No! It just takes a little focus and a little practice. But we have all heard that before, right? Just a little practice. You can do it. And so on.
Just that it doesn't seem to work for us.
Reading great advice is easy. Following great advice is not always so easy!
So what can we do?
1. Start small. Very small. So small that it feels like you did it even before you started on it.
2. Promise yourself that you will not be a perfectionist. Prepare to fail and prepare to relaunch immediately.
We climb a tall mountain by crossing the small rock that lies right in front of us. Similarly, we can tame those parts of our life that seem out of control by focusing on one small thing, one annoying habit, one little negative thing that somehow seems to give our brain permission to do bigger and more bad things with increased frequency.
What is that small rock that we can cross starting today?
Start with a habit that you would like to change. Small is better. If you are addicted to shopping, then saying you won't shop for the next six months is not easy.
Failure awaits. An easier thing to do is to say I won't shop for the next 72 hours. At the seventieth hour, another promise is made not to shop for the next 12 hours and so on. The battle is waged by stepping past one small rock at a time.
Don't be a perfectionist because you can't! No one has. No one can. Pursuing perfectionism is like catching the wind. It will slip out of your hand every time even before you catch it!
Start small. Embrace imperfection.
What is my "start small" for today? Just to be a tad more aware of the world around me.
Share your "start small" stories.
As always, one small step at a time.
How many of us have made bad decisions in the past? 100%
How many of us will make poor decisions in the future? 100%
There are several reasons for this perfect score.
We don’t spend any time with our brain! We don’t take the time to understand how our brains process information, but more importantly how it tricks us into believing we know something when we don’t or when it leads us into believing that we have all the information we need, when we don’t.
Our emotions, not our logic, makes important decisions. We all believe that we are logical and rational human beings. And we are, most of the time. But we are dead wrong when we thing that it is our logical mind that makes the decision. In fact, the opposite is true. Our emotional brain makes the decision and then convinces our logical brain that it is the right decision. Think about what your decision will be about marrying someone or promoting someone if you are really like them vs. if you don’t care much for the individual.
Our concept of what is good and bad is itself flawed. What appears as a big failure at one point in time turns out to be the doorway to an extraordinary success story or a story where we find ourselves being true and purposeful to who we are. We are quick to judge our decisions, rather than letting it wait to see the big picture. This is dangerous because we arrive at the wrong conclusions as to why we made a wrong decision and thereby shut the door to the very skills and traits that will lead to great successes.
Bottom line: read books on how the human brain works; it will be the best investment you make in understanding yourself better. Watch your emotions and trace how your emotions guide your decisions; finally, very few things in life are permanently good or permanently bad. Hold the judgement. Step back and trace the path that led to the decision that you made. Time will tell whether it was good or bad and when it does, remind yourself that everything in life is relative!
Real courage is to step back and look at the decisions we made with equanimity. Then move on. Do good. Do great things. Step back. Observe. Learn. Do. Repeat.
The world is crazy. We all know that. Sooner or later, we arrive at the same conclusion: it is a crazy world. The question facing us is how much craziness we want to embrace and how crazy do we want to become before we realize it is a dead end. The 14th Dalai Lama, captured this accurately: “Because he(man) sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
“Dies never having lived.” We do this. Die never having lived. So what does it take to live? When I watch those who live simple, yet amazing, lives I realize that becoming aware of the craziness and its infinite loops and draws is the first step to success. Awareness. Begin with awareness. Awareness of the craziness. Awareness of why we do what we do.
What crazy ideas, hopes, dreams, fears, wants, guilt drives us to be crazy? This awareness gives us a broad angle view of our life’s landscape. Oh!, the heart says, this is what my life on a landscape looks like. Hmm… Each of us has to stare at the landscape intently and over extended periods of time if we are to catch us thinking crazy and acting crazy. At the root of all religions, at the root of spirituality lies this plea to humanity to drop the craziness to start our journey of true well-being.