I’m working on my new book and I’m collecting stories from people about the moment they made the choice to live a life of balance. For each of us that moment is different. For me the moment I realized I wanted to live a different life and the moment I did something about it where very different, and I think that is the same for many people. I want to learn why people make the choice and when they are able to actually uphold that choice through their actions. I also want to know how people maintain their choices overtime. If you want to share your story, drop me a line. I hope to collect over 100 stories and create an anthology of experiences, some I will post to the site, and others will become part of the book.
On this “black Friday” as materialism at its worst descends upon the masses for the next month and we head into the season of perpetual “busy” I’ve been thinking more about what I learned about compassion at the “Building Compassion, Trust and Happiness” seminar with Dacher Keltner, Co-Founder and Executive Editor, for Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley. Don’t misunderstand and think that I’m anti-holiday; it’s more that I’m pro building authentic holiday experiences, rooted in compassion. Dacher talked about compassion blockers, or what he called cultural breakdowns in building compassion and I realized that many of the blockers he described are hallmarks of the holiday season, the supposed time of the year we are to be the most compassionate for humankind. Some blockers include being perpetually “busy”, cultural ADHD, and youth obsessed economic mindsets, this show up as being over-committed, over-stimulated, over-distracted which impairs your ability live a life of compassion.
How can you build a holiday season that allows you tobust through the compassion blockers and be more in the moments of the season?
One of my favorite books of all time is The Dip, but Seth Godin. It’s a little book about when to quit and when to stick things out and how to know the difference. I have probably bought 10 copies of the book for gifts, as the book is masterful at creating personal awareness around why you are going what you are doing. Seth has a great blog as well, recently he blogged about stress and he said, “We can choose to create cycles that move us up or endure cycles that drag us down.” He goes on to say, “If being a little behind creates self-pressure that leads to stress and then errors, it’s no wonder you frequently end up a lot behind.” Check out his blog for more practical useful nuggets.
October and November have been busy workshop months for me, and in my workshops I hear some great tips and advice about balance and stress management, one tip from last week is a website called Rescue Time, automatic time tracking and management software. The site claims to on average recover 3 hours and 54 minutes of productive time per week per person. If you are like most people in my workshops, you are looking for more time in your days and weeks. You might say you want the time, but are you willing to really take a look at how you are spending your time to understand to how to “create” more productive time? If you are ready to go there and make some behavior changes, this software is for you, it will track your tasks and give you reports with suggestions, it will even “block” certain sites (that you select) when you are in “focus time” mode. Check it out if you are serious about understanding where your time goes every day.
Some new research findings published in the journal Science this week found a connection to day dreaming and unhappy thoughts. In short the study found the more your mind wanders; the less happy you are, meaning those who “live in the moment” are happier. Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert of Harvard created and iPhone application (Track Your Happiness) to track peoples moods overtime.
According to a Washington Post article by Rob Stein, “On average, the volunteers reported that their minds wandered 46.9 percent of the time and no less than 30 percent of the time during every activity except sex, the researchers reported. People reported being happiest when they were engaging in sex, exercise and conversation. They were the least happy when they were resting, working or using a computer at home.”
The study showed that “what people were thinking was a better predictor of their happiness than was what they were doing.” Powerful proof that the quality of your matters. Choose a happy life by choosing happy thoughts.
On November 5, I had the opportunity to attend a daylong workshop on the science of compassion presented by Dacher Keltner, Co-Founder and Executive Editor, for Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley. It was amazing to see hard scientific data supporting the benefits of living a more compassionate life. I’m finding it difficult to capture in one blog post just how much was covered and how many “ah ha” moments I had listening to the connection between science and feeling. The idea of compassion as a “master nerve” in the body is a huge idea, one that has the possibility to transform the way people value “soft skills” in the workplace. I was amazed to learn that just like stress, compassion has its own hormone cocktail that floats around in the body, that if I understand the research correctly, can lead to a deeper level of happiness. More than that, the data says that by developing more compassion in your life, you can reduce stress and sickness and increase joy. If you have any interest in creating more joy in your life – check out the Greater Good site.
This summer a friend of mine inspired me to do 40 days of Yoga, following the Barron Baptiste program, which included a Book – 40 Days to a Personal Revolution. It was a fantastic experience and the book was very inspiring, full of lots of great balance and stress reducing nuggets independent of any yoga practice. The same friend sent me one of my new favorite quotes from one of his others books, Journey Into Power.
“Now here, or nowhere. Interesting, isn’t it, how the only difference is a little extra space. All life happens in the present moment.”