When was the last time you were lost in thought when all of the sudden a profound insight to current problem popped into your head? Daydreaming, also known as mind-wandering, may seem like a passive activity. However, research is discovering it could actually involve a highly engaged brain.
Researchers believe the average person spends close to 50 percent of their waking lives in a state of mind-wandering.
With the promotion of mindfulness, mind-wandering has been viewed as a negative state of mind. Mind-wandering can negatively impact reading comprehension, impair the ability to withhold automatic responses, and disrupt performance on tests of working memory and intelligence.
Emerging evidence suggests that the role of mind-wandering is not entirely harmful. Studies have shown that mind-wandering may play a crucial role in both planning for the future and creative problem solving. It enables goal-directed planning in relation to personal concerns. It also aids decision-making by allowing you to run future-oriented simulations in your head. Plus, you may have experienced mind-wandering will help you complete a tedious, repetitive task.
Recent research is showing mind-wandering may promote long-term learning and memory by promoting learning in short episodes versus a massed practice. Mind-wandering during learning creates breaks in the learning, creating an opportunity to return to the task with a refreshed capacity for attentive processing. So don’t get discouraged when you have to go back to reread something because your mind wandered. Look at it as an opportunity to reinforce what you just read.
You may not be entirely able to choose when and where to let your mind wander. You may find your mind wanders best during repetitive basic tasks, allowing your brain to enter the beneficial mind-wandering state.
Find a balance with being mindful and allowing the mind to wander. Determine what the situation needs from you. If you have a problem to solve or need a creative idea, go and get lost in an activity that allows your mind to wander (exercising, gardening, or basic household chores) and see what creative solutions emerge.
Did you know volunteering will help you reach a great state of happiness and hope? When you give your time to others you experience an euphoria known as “helper’s high”. Researchers can see the neural “glow” from helping others on fMRI scans.
When you’re generous to others, you’re also generous to yourself. Your entire being undergoes a feel-good transformation at the cellular level when you support others; which boosts everything from your psychological outlook to heart and immune system. You’re also choosing to be “other centered,” which streams wellbeing back to yourself and can help you live longer. Giving your time to others is powerful medicine, research shows volunteering can:
- Help you stay physically healthy
- Combat depression and create happiness
- Increase self-confidence
- Bring fun and fulfillment to your life
- Sharpen or learn new skills
- Advance your career
Giving doesn’t have to be complicated or grand. It can be a formal, long-term commitment such as working at a shelter on a regular basis. Or, giving can be informal, a one-time interaction such as sharing an encouraging smile or a gentle hug. Start by paying closer attention to the people and situations you encounter as you go about your day-to-day life; soon you will recognize opportunities to give.
Use the following questions to find a coordinated volunteering opportunity that best matches you.
- What causes or issues matter the most to me?
- How much time can I commit?
- Do I want an ongoing, regularly scheduled assignment or short-term assignment?
- Do I like to work with adults, children, or animals?
- How much responsibility am I ready to take on?
- Do I prefer to be behind the scenes or do I want to take a more visible role?
- Do I want to work alone, with a group, friends, or family?
- What do I want to learn/experience? What are my goals? What am I interested in?
- Am I willing to participate in a training course, or do I want to start volunteering immediately?
The more you know about what you want to do, the more valuable you will be to the organization you join as a volunteer. You’re donating your valuable time, it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering. Consider starting small so that you don’t over commit yourself. Take time to ensure the volunteer position is a good fit and to communicate openly with the people you’re working with in the volunteer organization. Ask questions. Make sure you know what’s expected. Don’t be afraid to make a change. Speak up if your experience isn’t what you expected; talk to the organization about changing your focus or consider looking for another match.
Are you convinced and ready to volunteer a small portion of your time? Are you wondering where you can find volunteer opportunities? The following list may help you identify a match for you.
- Local animal/rescue shelters or wildlife/nature centers
- Senior centers or libraries
- Parks and conservation organizations
- Service organizations such as Lions Clubs or Rotary Clubs
- Community theaters, museums, and monuments
- Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
- Places of worship such as churches or synagogues
Persistence pays. The application, screening, and training may take up to several weeks to complete. Do not get discouraged if a program does not get back to you, or if a program requires several “hoops” to go through before you can start volunteering. Rewards from volunteering are well worth the effort, so hang in there and keep trying.
The most valuable skills you bring to any volunteer experience are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude
Go out and give, seek ordinary moments and make them extraordinary.
Life truly is a special occasion. Enjoy yourself.
When was the last time you searched within yourself to answer the question – ‘What motivates me?’ What did you discover? Was it a zest to master the next challenge? The pleasure of meeting people? Or the desire to have an influence and impact that will put your stamp on the world? Many of us strive daily to accomplish the tasks at hand. However, have you stopped lately to think of what really drives you to keep going? Are you aware of what matters most to you in your daily efforts to achieve? Do you know your WHY factor?
There are three fundamental motivators of our behavior: the need for autonomy, mastery and purpose. These are the great – largely unconscious – drivers which shape the course of our personal and working lives. Knowing what motivates you provides insightful guidance with choosing career and personal endeavors; which will help lead to a satisfying successful lifestyle. Depending on your goals, age, and at what stage you are at in your life, the factors that motivate you will be different.
Take time for you – find time to ponder what, how, or if each of the following motivators are important to you.
Autonomy – The desire to direct your own life.
- Being the decision maker and in control on how you spend your time.
- Seeking opportunities to be creative and innovative.
- Working in an environment that allows you to work at your agreed hours (giving you plenty of time for your personal life).
Mastery – The urge to get better and better something that matters.
- The chance to learn more and gain new skills.
- Striving to be your best with a skill.
- Having opportunities to compete with your own performance or with others.
Purpose – The yearning to do what you do in the service of something larger than yourself
- Doing something that requires you to make a contribution.
- The opportunity to work with others closely and receive and give help as well as feedback.
- Making an impact on something.
Knowing what excites you to act is the key to staying inspired. No one can truly drive you but you. Others can inspire, encourage and support you.
Take time for you, discover what truly motivates you.
Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. ~ Lou Holtz
People are living longer, staying active in the work force longer, and need to continuously learn to keep up with the ever changing world.
Your ability to anticipate your organization’s needs, tailor your learning to meet your own unique learning style, and acquire the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to create value for your customers, employer, and organization is critical to your success. Information and knowledge in every field is doubling every 2-3 years, this means that your knowledge has to double every 2-3 years, just for you to stay even.
Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field. Learning is profit and competitive edge. The soul of business is innovation; the soul of personal success is the innovation of self. You can’t have one without the other. If you want to have, run, or be part of a business that succeeds in a time of change, you need to be willing and able to change.
Learning is a physical and emotional based process. It requires you to be connected with thinking, acting, and feeling. Active learning experiences (discussion, simulations, games, and role plays) change your brain as you learn new knowledge; you create new brain cell connections. These changes in the brain will reverse when you do not have the opportunity to use the skills you developed. Optimal sleep and silencing the mind through meditation will also enhance the availability of these brain cell connections.
To stay in the continuous learning and continuous growth mindset add the following active learning experiences to your daily habits:
Be great at your job
- If you want to get ahead, first be great at what you do. If you’re great at what you do, people will take notice and have you in mind for special projects and maybe even for a promotion. There are three way to do this:
- First, get clarity on the expectations of your current job.
- Second, ask your manager, customers, and peers for feedback and regularly ask what you can do to improve.
- Third, take action! Set and achieve learning goals.
Explore and apply what you learn
- Keep an open mind:
- On a regular basis take time to honestly assess your progress and current skills. Update your learning plan as needed.
- Follow your intuition – let your intuition guide you to make learning enjoyable.
- Keep a “Want to Learn” list; write ideas for new areas of study. Whatever motivates you, write it down.
- Identify your personal learning style. Maximize on how you prefer to learn. (This link will take you to a learning style assessment created by Marcia Conner, author of Learn More Now.)
- Actively silence the mind through meditation for at least 15 minutes a day. Sustained focus is essential for learning and creative thinking.
- Have a book to read, take it with you so you can read it when you have ‘waiting’ time.
- Spend at least 15 minutes a day on learning.
Develop leadership skills
- Learn leadership skills and take action on them. Leadership is everyone’s business. Anyone can be a leader in an organization, no matter their job. Leaders solve problems. Leaders make things happen. Leaders inspire others to be their best. Anyone can do that.
- Teach others – you learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning. Start a blog, mentor someone, or even discuss ideas with a friend.
- Spend more time with people who think; people who invest time in learning new skills.
- Get involved with organizations that teach skills. Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.
- Join industry associations and organizations that encourage and support individuals with learning current information and ideas on their fields.
Learning is life. Your vision and goals will be infused with a new sense of exuberance when you commit to learning what you need to learn in order to achieve them.
DEDICATE YOURSELF TO CONTINUOUS LEARNING AND CONTINUOUS GROWTH