Blog Categories: managing moods

This is How to Be More Productive: 4 Secrets from the Stoics

Posted on June 12, 2017

The Stoics were those Roman and Greek philosophers who flourished in and around the 3rd Century. The Stoic philosophers promtoed ways to manage one’s minds to have a better understanding of the natural world, to be open to a broader view of life beyond pleasure and pain and, to treat others in a fair and just way.

Sounds like a great formula for team work?  Yes, and we can also learn a lot from the Stoics about choosing the right actions and priorities which can aid our productive habits.  Read on about tips regarding how we think about our time and effort can lead to being  more productive, ultimately leading to contributing your talents most effectively.

An Evening Ritual That Will Make You Happier

Posted on February 14, 2016

good night ipadThe world as we know it today is complicated, busy, stimulating and filled with “breaking news.”  How to calm the brain and body and get a good nights rest?  After all, we are learning through mind/body research how important a good nights sleep is to our days of fulfilling work.  Good news: social scientists have discovered some ways to train our brains to power down at night and look forward to the new day tomorrow.  This article gives great insights and specific activities as to how to end our day celebrating what was and – start the new day with the anticipation of fun and contribution.

Managing Yourself: Emotional Intelligence

Posted on June 22, 2015

Diagram of emotional intelligence

How well do you manage yourself at work?  How about communicating with co-workers? Are you aware of your emotions enough to understand them before you say what you think?   Take this information quiz and get a clearer idea of how well you use your emotional intelligence now when leading.  This article also gives suggestions/resources to support improving this valuable set of skills for business leaders.

Love 2.0

Posted on March 13, 2013

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.”
                                    Burt Bacharach and Hal David

 

Jackie DeShannon soulful rendering of this song, written in 1965, transported listeners for a few minutes – to feel lighter, breath easier and to imagine the possibilities of love.  In the 1960’s, our nation was just beginning a large shift of consciousness that was felt in vast social, historical and political shifts.  As the negative emotion felt by the anger of change grew, some thought that increasing our ability and capacity to love was the answer.  However, back then, science had few tools for studying positive emotions like Love.  Instead this emotion found expression and calibration through artists and songwriters.

Fast forward to the 21st century: our world still needs more love, more positive emotion expression.  Science can now observe and collect clear data on how we express positive emotions like love… the greatest positive emotion. Advances in science give scientists this opportunity –  neuroimaging of the brain, as well as the tools of medicine that allow us to measure neural activity and hormone secretion.One of the most exceptional social scientists on the scene today, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a distinguished Professor from the University of North Carolina, has written a compelling, cogent and warm-hearted book, called Love 2.0, How our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything we Feel, Think and Do.  A gifted writer, she is able to interpret the hard data experiments that she and other scientists have done on the subject, interpreting and combining it with her own experiences, and at times poetical words to challenge us to consider a new definition of love: she calls it positivity resonance.

Love, she posits, is not just the stuff of lovers/married folks/parents and children…this emotion she renames “positivity resonance” can happen with strangers—even for a few minutes.  Dr. Fredrickson’s research show that love is connection and therefore is:

 “…The momentary upwelling of three tightly interwoven events: first a sharing of one or more positive emotions between you and another; second, a synchrony between your and the other person’s biochemistry and behaviors; and third, a reflected motive to invest in each other’s well-being that brings mutual care.”

A familiar example of what she describes as a “micro-moment of positivity resonance”: imagine waiting in an airport and casually telling a story with a stranger sitting next to you and, before you both know it you are laughing, even sharing similar life events, feeling lighter, more relaxed. Forgetting that the plane is 2 hours delayed, you are enjoying the brief exchange, where by the way, you not only make the time go faster, meet a kindred soul, but share a few traveling tips as well.  That Barbara Fredrickson says is love… or positivity resonance.  She has chapter after chapter of describing her own and other’s research showing changes in the brain, vagus nerve, respiration and one’s hormonal level during such positive emotion exchanges which gives proof of how love does indeed calm and connect us with ourselves and others.

So why is this important in living, relating and working?

We now know by Dr. Fredrickson’s own research as well as other research completed by Drs. Marcial Losada in mathematics and John Gottman in marriage – that there is a 3:1 tipping point of positive to negative emotion at which point, when experienced, people begin to flourish.  At work that means we then can begin to interact with co-workers creating higher team productivity, smoother communication and more successful client interactions.

This research shows that negative emotion narrows our awareness (“fight or flight”) and positive emotion broadens our perspective (“calming and connecting”) which results in more creative thinking and some studies show, a higher IQ after interacting with someone in a positive way.

In the workplace, this could mean: creative breakthroughs, more flexible problem solving, and increased resilient behavior that allows for a broader array of skills to deal with difficulty, disappointment and loss.  Dr. Fredrickson describes this as the ability of positive resonance to “unlock collective brainstorming power.”  She even outlines a meditation practice that leads you to “re-designing your job around love.”

The book also gives myriad resources and tools on practices to increase positive emotion, particularly borrowing from the Tibetan tradition of Loving Kindness meditation.

She has crafted a most informative website: www.positivityresonance.com which offers tools, videos and a series of mp3 meditations, in her own voice, that you can practice and a few from some more famous meditation masters like Sharon Salzberg.  As we strive to increase our positive emotion so that we can move toward flourishing in our work and life, Dr. Fredrickson’s book is a must read.

References:

Love, 2.0, Barbara L. Fredrickson, PH.D, Hudson Street Press, 2013

www.Positivityresonace.com – Dr. Fredrickson’s website on Love 2.0 that has many tools and meditations available for listening.

Fredrickson, B.L., Losada, M.F.,  “Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing” American Psychologist, October 2005.  This article is available on a Google search.

Gottman, John.  Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last, Simon and Schuster. 1994

 

 

Five Secrets of Effective Communication

Posted on March 10, 2010

Five Secrets of Effective CommunicationDavid Burns, MD has contributed many books to our understanding of how our thoughts and feelings can be managed to change our moods.  His method for effectively communicating is excellent especially in situations that are difficult, “heated” or in conflictual conversations in the work place – or at home.  The key here is to use a method below which you can genuinely express. If it seems inauthentic to the listener, it is not effective.  Practice!

 

LISTENING SKILLS

1. The Disarming Technique – You find some truth in what the other person is saying, even if it seems totally unreasonable or unfair.

2. Empathy- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see the world through their eyes.

  • Thought empathy: You paraphrase the other person’s words
  • Feeling empathy: You acknowledge how he or she is probably feeling.

3. Inquiry: You ask gentle, probing questions to learn more about what the other person is thinking and feeling.

SELF-EXPRESSION SKILLS

4. I “feel” statements: Shift to “I feel”, e.g. “I feel confused by this…”  rather than “you” statements. i.e. “you’re wrong” or “You make me furious!”

5. Stroking: You find something genuinely positive to say to the other person even in the heat of battle. You convey an attitude of respect, even though you may feel very angry with the other person.

*Copyright © 1991 by David D. Burns, MD. Revised, 1992.

Personal Boundaries

Posted on February 8, 2010

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

We all can understand the concept of personal space, e.g., someone moving too close to us and then we feel the need to back up to “get our space back.”  We also have “psychological boundaries” that need to be respected.  Sometimes, with some people, those boundaries are violated.

Personal BoundariesBoundaries are imaginary lines that keep other people’s actions and behaviors out.  Anything that causes you to get annoyed or upset is a crossed boundary.

Example:  If you have a swimming pool in your backyard without a fence around it, you might have all kinds of unwelcome guests splashing around in it.  When a sturdy fence is in place, what happens? People have to ask permission to jump in; they have to be invited.  You are the pool, the fence is your boundary.  In simple form a boundary is the word, “No.”

Boundaries need to be put in place to keep any damaging influences out of your way.  Those influences may be circumstances you created or that someone else, through their actions, has created for you.  These negative influences, can seem small at first, but, over time, can build up to cause difficulties in everyday interactions.

Interpersonal boundaries are invisible.  You have to communicate them to be known. If other people can’t comply, you may have to make an effort to avoid them altogether.  For example, co-workers making remarks about your weight or getting personal phone calls from a family member at work…a response, clearly and respectfully setting a boundary may be:  “It’s not O.K. that you comment on my weight.  I’d like you to stop.”  Or, “I have decided to take all personal calls in the evening in order to get my work done.  I will call you later.”

Take away: Put your boundaries in place:

  1. Stop people just as they are doing something that violates your boundary.
  2. Tell them what they are doing.
  3. Request that they stop.
  4. Instruct them about the change that you need to see.
  5. Thank them for making the change.

If they are not cooperative, add 6 or 7:

6. Demand that they stop.

7. Walk away without a fight.

The bottom line is that “they” are not doing anything to you that you are not allowing them to do.

Resources:

Take Yourself to the Top, Laura Berman Fortgang, 1998, Warner Books.