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Alter Your Mind With Music

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Music in headWhat songs inspire or nurture you? Do you have a theme song that captures the essence of you or your day?

When you play music, you are exercising your brain. Music is strongly associated with the brain’s reward system; influencing the brain to release the chemical dopamine. Scientists have found music and mood are inherently linked, listening to happy or sad music can change the way you identify with the world. Music can also be used to treat illnesses and restore harmony between mind and body. Recent scientific studies have found listening to music:

  • Can have a beneficial effect on your body by slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels ofstress hormones.
  • Can relieve depression and increase self-esteem ratings.

Music can be a tool you can use to dial up a mood or mindset on demand by choosing music that elicits a specific emotional response. Emotional responses to music is very individual; not all ‘happy’ songs are universally perceived as being uplifting or are guaranteed to put you in a good mood all the time. Experiment with music to find songs that strike a particular emotional chord in you, use music to create a targeted mindset. Ask yourself: “Does this song make me feel like the glass is half empty or full? Does this song make me feel energized or depressed? What state-of-mind do I want to be in right now?”

Take constant inventory of how a specific song affects your mood and mindset. Play around with a variety of songs, artists and different genres to create a playlist of ‘power songs’ that are anthems when you need to trigger a specific state of mind on demand.

One caveat, by overplaying any song you will dilute the original mindset associated with that song. This is why a song that you haven’t heard in decades can take you right back to all the emotions, and feelings of the original time. (The same is true with scent.) If you want a song to have an emotional impact linked to a specific person, place or experience from your past listen to it sparingly and make it part of a time capsule memory vault that you consciously preserve.

Have fun searching the vast amount of music to find what works for you. Use music to click into a desired conscious state-of-mind. Music

Choices You Make

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I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. ~Eleanor Roosevelt – 1884-1962

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When is the last time you stopped to reflect upon the type of choices are you making?  Every day you make choices, more choices than you may realize. Some choices may not seem like choices at all. These mindless choices are our habits or normative behaviors. Habits are choices we make so regularly that over time they demand less and less executive control. As a consequence, they start to seem automatic. But they aren’t. When it comes to habits, you may even be motivated to make an excuse that you are at the mercy of the automatic choice that has become a habit.

There is always a choice, even when life gets bumpy because of choices you had made along the way. When you reach a bumpy path or fork in the road, take time for yourself to reflect and evaluate the choices you had made and identify alternative or new choices you can make to bring you back to your desired path. Use positive energy to focus on solutions and positive changes you can make. Choosing to turn bumps and forks in the road into an experience that will put you back on the path to success will inspire you, enhance the quality of your life, and bring positive transformation.

Taking time to reflect on the daily choices you are making will also motivate you to achieve more in life, to reach new levels of learning and self-awareness.  This can then lead to an increased sense of self-esteem, confidence, courage, wisdom and inner peace.

Here are some tips to help you reflect and determine which path to take next time you find yourself standing at a fork in the road:

Do you hear that?

  • Listen to your intuition.  Tap into your intuition. You intuitively know what you want.
  • Weigh the pros and cons.  Take time to thoroughly analyze the pros and cons of each situation. Work to determine which situation will provide you with the best choice.
  • Get outside input. Seeking input from others may provide different perspectives on your choices. A variety of opinions and words of wisdom may help you make your decision.
  • Don’t let fear decide. Change can be scary. Making choices can be intimidating. Fear tries to convince you that keeping things the same is better and that change is not worth the risk. Learn to push fear aside and recognize that you need to make a choice that’s based on what’s best for you, not a choice based on avoiding what you are afraid of.
  • Do what’s best for you. Do what’s right for you. This can be hard to determine sometimes when you’re weighing all of the options and getting various words of advice, but ultimately you have to focus on yourself. Tune everything else out and really ask yourself, “What is the right choice for me?” If you took away all of the details and distractions and “What if” questions, you’ll come to the realization that you know what’s best for you. Once you determine what’s best for you the question is: are you going to do what’s best for you? Sometimes this is much easier realized than acted upon.
  • Trust in yourself. This ties in with the first point, but it’s not entirely the same. Once you’ve done all of the things above and you reach a decision, you may find yourself stepping back and questioning the choice your about to make. Even after all of the work you’ve done to get to this point, your mind might be filled with doubts. Don’t let those doubts overcome you. Remind yourself that you are doing what’s best for you and you’ve taken great steps to come to this conclusion. Believe in the choice you’ve made and, above all, remind yourself that everything is happening just as it should.
  • Don’t ever look back. Once you’ve made your choice, make sure that you commit yourself to it and refuse to look back. It’s easy to begin doubting your choice, but looking back and wondering about what could have happened if you had made a different choice will do you no good. Realize that there is no such thing as a bad choice – if you choose with the right mindset then every choice brings learning and growth. When you accept and move forward on your journey then choosing loses some of its daunting weight and becomes a joyful experience.
  • Choose something. Analyzing, assessing and agonizing are important, but can only go on for so long. Life is lived through actions; acting on your choice is the most important.

Life is a journey, not a destination. wandering mind

 

 

R & R (Reflect & Regroup)

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A New Year and a new opportunity for R&R – time to Reflect and Regroup.

Where are you with your responsibility to take care of yourself and nurture the next generation?  How are you doing with your social responsibilities?

A few thought starters for your mindful moments of reflection to regroup for this new year:

Physically 

  • Is your body in your best possible health?
  • Are you treating your body nicely with healthy habits (food, exercise, water and sleep)?

Mentally 

  • Are you expanding your mind with learning?
  • Are your challenging yourself to think and be creative?

Spiritually

  • Are you building a relationship with your inner being?
  • Are you nurturing your faith and belief?

Emotionally

  • Are you learning about, embracing and experiencing the wide variety of emotions we are capable of experiencing?
  • Are you focusing on being fully present in the moments?

Goal setting isn’t just a business thing; take time to set a couple S.M.A.R.T.* goals for yourself.  Make plans for R&R at the end of each quarter.

*Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound

Optimal Self

 

Resilience

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Feeling a bit stressed?  High levels of personal stress within and outside of the workplace are becoming commonplace.  Stress is not going away, which is why focusing on developing your resilience will help you deal with the daily stressors you are faced with.  Resilience is being able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. Resilient people have an ability to experience both negative and positive emotions even in difficult or painful situations. They are able to find potential or value in most challenges. The following characteristics will help you develop your resilience.

Filtering information and interpreting your world

  • Personal Responsibility – the extent to which you believe that your success at work is determined by you talents and motivation as opposed to external factors such as luck or good timing.
  • Realistic Optimism – seeing the world in a positive way, but also remaining grounded in reality. It is noticing and appreciating positive experiences whenever and wherever they occur, not taking things for granted.
  • Personal Beliefs– seeking and embracing the sense that life has meaning and purpose. This may be in the form of religious observance, spirituality, or devotion to a particular value system or cause.

Handling challenges

  • Self-Assurance– the extent to which you believe you can
    successfully perform work-related tasks or behaviors. Challenge your reflexive thoughts and negative self-talk; change emotional patterns, restrain your negative thinking and stoke your positive thinking.
  • Self-Composure – the extent to which you manage your stress and remain calm under pressure. Take stock of how things might Resiliencehave been otherwise, instead of just how they are, use strategic positive thinking to increase gratitude, which then builds resiliency.
  • Self-Care – good physical health, including a regular routine of healthy habits is foundational to both mental and emotional resilience. This includes taking mental breaks and time to relax, especially spending time outdoors and surrounding yourself with people you enjoy. Research suggests that spending just 20 minutes outside leads to more expansive and open thinking.
  • Problem-Solving– the extent to which you can plan and resolve problems effectively. One strategy to fostering a learner mindset is to use “question thinking” (“What is useful here?’ or ‘What are my available choices?’), as opposed to ‘Judger Questions’ (‘What’s wrong?’ or ‘Why me?’)
  • Goal Orientation– the extent to which you set appropriate goals and monitor your progress on those goals.  While it might sound cliché, the more you can consider challenges as opportunities to learn, grow and develop, the more resilient you are likely to be.

Communicating and connecting with others  

  • Courageous Conversations– the extent to which you communicate with others in a candid and courageous way in the face of difficulty.
  • Social Support– the extent to which you have a supportive social network.  Being of service to others is a potent way of fuelling resilience.  Studies have shown that serotonin (the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and well-being) is used more efficiently by people who have just engaged in an act of kindness. There is a cumulative effect to continued acts of kindness and the serotonin boosts that accompany them. You can fill up your well of resiliency when you consistently add to it. When times get difficult, you can draw upon this well

What are you going to do today to start depositing into your resiliency account?

Unbridled Play

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When is the last time you let go and had the pure joy and ecstatic feeling of play? Play is an important source of relaxation and stimulation. It gives us time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way. There doesn’t need to be any point or goal to the activity beyond just having fun and enjoying yourself. Play could be simply goofing off with friends, sharing jokes with a coworker, throwing a Frisbee on the beach, wearing a costume on a Holiday, building a snowman in the yard, playing fetch with a dog, a game of charades at a party, or going for a bike ride with no destination in mind. Play may or may not involve smiles and laughter; it is always accompanied by a feeling of “Yes, this is what I want to do right now.

By giving yourself permission to play with joyful abandon, you can reap numerous health benefits.

  • Play relieves stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Play has been scientifically provento be good for the brain. Older people who get regular exercise and play are less likely to suffer cognitive decline. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
  • Play stimulates the mind and boost creativity. Play nourishes your ability to be adaptive and problem solve. It is nature’s great tool for creating new neural networks and for reconciling cognitive difficulties. When you play, dilemmas and challenges naturally filter through the unconscious mind and work themselves out. Even a few hours spent doing something you love can make you new again. One reason why play is such an ideal state Playof mind for creativity and learning is because the mind is focused on means. Since the ends are understood as secondary, fear of failure is absent and you feel free to incorporate new sources of information and to experiment with new ways of doing things.
  • Play improves relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
  • Play can keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best. Play nourishes the spirit.

Incorporating more play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships, your mood, and outlook. Play can help you keep a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss. Even in the most difficult of times, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. The good feeling that you get when you laugh and have fun remains with you even after the fun subsides.

It’s never too late to develop your playful, humorous side. Reclaim your inner child by setting aside regular, quality playtime. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want for the time you’ve allotted. Be spontaneous, set aside your inhibitions and try something fun, try something you haven’t done since you were a kid. Enjoy the change of pace; you never know what magic may happen!

Your Wandering Mind

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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.wandering mind

Giving to Others

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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:learning

  • 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.Giving

  • 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. 

What Motivates You?

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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.Motivation

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

Continuous Learning, Continuous Growth

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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

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