Dec 31, 2009

- Succeeding with New Year’s Resolutions

Statistics show that more than half of resolutions made on January 1 are broken by February 1. There have even been some studies that suggest that more than 90% of resolutions are abandoned within the first 30 days.
If you sometimes struggle to keep your resolutions, the following tips will help you to make and keep resolutions that will improve your life:
  • Before making a resolution or setting a goal, think about what you really want in your life. Many of us make resolutions to do what we think we should do; however, we do not want the results enough to remain committed to the resolution.
  • Ensure that your resolution is realistic and achievable. Many people give up on trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions, because they were hoping to achieve the impossible when they made the resolution.
  • Write your resolution on paper, and keep this piece of paper in a place where you can look at it every day. Research shows that people with written goals are more likely to achieve these goals.
  • Make a commitment to yourself to keep the resolution, ensuring that you understand the effort that will be involved in doing this.
  • Visualize the end result. Close your eyes, and create a mental picture of how this will look. In this mental picture, visualize yourself as you enjoy these results. Repeat this visualization daily, picturing yourself as if you have already achieved your goal.
  • Describe the benefits of your resolutions. It is best to do this on paper, so that you can read the benefits whenever you might struggle to keep the resolution.
  • Develop and implement an action plan. Determine the steps that you will take in order to achieve your goal, and write these down. It is easier to work on one small step at a time than on a big goal.
  • Reward yourself as you reach milestones along the way to achieving your goal. As we give recognition to ourselves for our accomplishments, we expand our enthusiasm and energy to accomplish more.
  • If you make a mistake, give yourself permission to start again. We are all in a constant process of growth and development. We can use our mistakes as learning opportunities and become even stronger than we had been previously.
May 2010 be your best year yet!


Dec 30, 2009

- The Definitive Guide to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

Let’s face it: most of us fail when it comes to sticking to resolutions — so much so that many people swear never to make resolutions again.

And yet the rest of us are eternally hopeful when the New Year comes around, believing without any credible evidence that we can improve our lives, that change is possible, that we’re not going to be stuck in the same old rut again this year.
I’m here to tell you that you can do it. It’s possible. I’ll show you how.

The Problem with Most Resolutions
While I love the optimism of New Year’s Resolutions, unfortunately, the enthusiasm and hope often fades within weeks, and our efforts at self improvement come to a whimpering end.

New Year’s Resolutions usually fail because of a combination of some of these reasons:
  • We try to do too many resolutions at once, and that spreads our focus and energies too thin. It’s much less effective to do many habits at once.
  • We only have a certain amount of enthusiasm and motivation, and it runs out because we try to do too much, too soon. We spend all that energy in the beginning and then run out of steam.
  • We try to do really tough habits right away, which means it’s difficult and we become overwhelmed or intimidated by the difficulty and quit.
  • We try to be “disciplined” and do very unpleasant habits, but our nature won’t allow that to last for long. If we really don’t want to do something, we won’t be able to force ourselves to do it for long.
  • Life gets in the way. Things come up unexpectedly that get in the way of us sticking with a habit.
  • Resolutions are often vague — I’m going to exercise! — but don’t contain a concrete action plan and don’t use proven habit techniques. That’s a recipe for failure.
There are other reasons, but the ones above are easily sufficient to stop resolutions from succeeding.

The 6 Changes Method

  • We only focus on one habit change at a time, so our focus and energies aren’t spread thinly.
  • We implement the habit changes gradually, so we don’t run out of steam.
  • We start out really, really easily, so it isn’t intimidating.
  • We focus on enjoyable activities, so we don’t need “discipline”.
  • We have two months to do the habit change, so if something comes up, it’s but a small bump in the road. And because we’re publicly committed, we’re going to get back on track.
  • We have a very specific plan with actions built in, using proven habit change techniques.
If you stick with the method, you’ll do much better than you’ve done in the past with New Year’s Resolutions. You’ll focus on creating long-lasting habits rather than trying to reach a short-term goal that fails. You’ll maintain your enthusiasm for longer and not become overwhelmed by the difficulty of change. You’ll have habits that will change your life, and that’s no small feat.

The Method
So how does the 6 Changes method work?

It’s simple:
  1. Pick 6 habits for 2010.
  2. Pick 1 of the 6 habits to start with.
  3. Commit as publicly as possible to creating this new habit in 2 months.
  4. Break the habit into 8 baby steps, starting with a ridiculously easy step. Example: if you want to floss, the first step is just to get out a piece of floss at the same time each night.
  5. Choose a trigger for your habit – something already in your routine that will immediately precede the habit. Examples: eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, showering, waking up, arriving at the office, leaving the office, getting home in the evening.
  6. Do the 1st, really easy baby step for one week, right after the trigger. Post your progress publicly. (Read more.)
  7. Each week, move on to a slightly harder step. You’ll want to progress faster, but don’t. You’re building a new habit. Repeat this until you’ve done 8 weeks.


Dec 29, 2009

- توقعات ماغي فرح لعام 2010: الأخطار الأشد في فصل الصيف

تحمل سنة 2010 تنافراً فلكياً بين كواكب أساسية وكبيرة تُنذر بمعاكسات وخضّات وحروب وتفرض علينا التحفّظ والانتباه والتقشّف. قد تكون الأشهر الأولى من السنة مشجّعة، إلاّ أنّ الأخطار تلوح ابتداءً من فصل الربيع وتشتد في فصل الصيف الذي يشهد معاكسات فلكية كبيرة تُنذر بمواجهات وحروب وكوارث طبيعية وتقلّبات قَلَّ نظيرها، فالإشارات الفلكية تدلّ على نزاعات شديدة تفوق ما حصل في عام 2009، فنشهد انقلاباً ما أو استقالة من بعض المواقع أو رحيلاً لشخصية أو لبعض النافذين، وقد نسمع عن عمليات احتيال وتزوير وفضائح تطال بعض المؤسسات والشركات.

أمّا توقعاتها للأبراج فهي كالتالي:

الحمل: سنة التقلبات والمفاجآت.
الثور: سنة النجاح والكنوز الكبيرة.
الجوزاء: سنة التحولات الجذرية.
السرطان: سنة الهبات المؤثرة.
الأسد: سنة التطورات السعيدة.
العذراء: سنة العبور الإيجابي.
الميزان: سنة التحديات الكبرى.
العقرب: سنة الصعود التدريجي.
القوس: سنة الإنفراجات الواسعة.
الجدي: سنة الإنقلابات المصيرية.
الدلو: سنة التموجات المشوقّة.
الحوت: سنة المفاجآت السعيدة

Dec 26, 2009

Impressions of the Moment 1 ("marri2 aw matmarri2")

Resilience is not about a falsely optimistic, pollyanna view of the world. It is about being realistic with what happens, feeling intense feelings, and not turning away from struggling. Resilience is about engaging with life. It involves authentically being with our experience to come out the other side, rather than circling around it or wishing it would disappear. It is common, apprehensible, and available to all of us. In fact, once we are aware of it, resilience can infuse our daily lives and take us from merely holding on to flourishing fully with our hearts wide open.

The Essence of Resilience: Not Being a Victim

How to be resilient? The short answer is: don’t identify yourself as a victim. Resilient people understand that anything can happen. They realize that the world isn’t fair and that difficult things can happen to the most wonderful people. They feel their emotional reactions, then figure out how to pick themselves up and move forward. It might take a long time and happen in tiny increments, but the predominant movement is toward living and not just existing.
Being resilient means understanding that we cannot control what happens to us, but that we can control how we relate to what happens. We get to choose. We can carry around the tragic events of our lives, letting them color the way we view ourselves and the world, or we can prosper.

The good news is that victimhood is perpetuated by the stories we tell ourselves. Why good news? Because being a victim is not inherent in the events that actually befall us; it is a choice we can make by the thoughts we support with our attention. Paying attention is like giving fertilizer to a plant – what we feed is what becomes our reality. 

If you are giving away your power, you are doing so in your mind. What are you feeding with your attention?

Discover Your Inner Resilience

Studies of resilient people have revealed a number of qualities that encourage thriving, no matter what circumstances occur. See how you might actualize them in your own life.
  • Strong relationships with people who support, encourage, and reassure;
  • The willingness to allow strong feelings – anger, grief, fear – without avoiding them;
  • The ability to make a plan and carry it out;
  • Confidence – an attitude of “I can,” rather than “I can’t.” Trusting oneself and one’s abilities;
  • The capacity to learn from life experiences. People who emerge from challenging circumstances often report insights such as greater clarity about life and appreciation for loved ones. They feel gratitude for what the experience has brought to their lives.
  • Self-care. Resilient people are attentive to their own needs. They nurture themselves, and seek out help when needed.
Ordinary people, just like you, are able to move on and flourish in their lives despite tremendous difficulties. We are so fortunate that the opportunity is available to all of us, in every moment, to choose life. What do you choose?

Are you resilient? What have you learned about dealing with difficult life circumstances?


Dec 18, 2009

- Dare to be Great!

I'm gonna show you how great i am

Last night i cut the light off my bedroom
Hit the switch within the bedrooms

I'm gonna show you how great i am

Only last week I've murdered a rock
Injured a stone
Hospitalized a brick
I'm so mean I make medicine sick

I'm gonna show you how great i am

This kid is gonna be the best kid in the world
This kid's gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew

I'm gonna show you how great i am

I’ve wrestled with alligators,
I’ve tussled with a whale.
I done handcuffed lightning
And throw thunder in jail

I'm gonna show you how great i am

Somewhere along the line, you changed
You stopped being you
You let people stick a finger in your face
And tell you you're no good
And when things got hard
You started looking for something to blame
Like a big shadow
Let me tell you something you already know.
The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows.
It is a very mean and nasty place
And I don't care how tough you are
It will beat you to your knees
And keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.
But it ain't about how hard ya hit;
it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.
How much you can take, and keep moving forward.

That's how winning is done.

Now, if you know what you're worth,
then go out and get what you're worth.
But you gotta be willing to take the hits,
and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody.
Cowards do that and that ain't you.
You're better than that!

Our deepest fear is not that we are an inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure

It is our light, not our dark that most frightens us.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people don't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
Its not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsiously give other people to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our deepest fear is not that we are an inadequate
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure

I'm gonna show you how great i am

Dec 16, 2009

- 10 Habits We Should All Adopt – Starting Tomorrow!

Habits are to your life pretty much what gas is to your car. They keep you moving along – but whether they carry you to a better place or not depends entirely on the habit.
Bad habits can hold talented people back while good habits carry less talented people on ahead.
Many, many posts can be written on bad habits (in fact, they have), but essentially, we’ll get rid of our bad habits when we’ve finally had enough of them. I don’t want to spend too terribly much time with bad habits in this post, I’d rather approach habits with another tactic.
How about this? Let’s apopt so many great habits that we put the squeeze play on bad habits. I’m thinking that if we add about 10, that’ll leave less room for the bad crowd. I remember a television special about healthy eating that aired a few years ago. A nutritionist pointed out that if you fill your plate up with healthy vegetables and fruit, you actually get to eat more food. All you have to do is replace the unhealthy food with healthier alternatives – and you almost always get to enjoy more of the healthy food.
The good squeezes out the bad, so you’re left with a double-sided win: You get rid of things that are bad for you and you make room for things that are good for you.
So what sort of healthy habits could we bring to our life’s plate? Below’s a buffet of suggestions, I know you’ll be able to come up with more. Come up with as many as you want, of course, but remember that “bite-sized” portions are always easiest to handle. Don’t put more on your plate than you’ll actually be able to eat!
  1. Start getting up a little earlier.  I realize that when the weather’s cool it’s really tough to start getting up earlier.  The body wants to sleep later, for crying out loud!  But, I’ve been on both sides of the 6:00 am, and I can say without hesitation that every corner of your day will be better if you get a running start at it.  Also, the quiet hours of the morning are the perfect way to glide into your day.  Rushing around after being summoned by a hateful alarm clock isn’t good for the psyche.  Mornings just weren’t meant to be so hectic.  
  2. Read more.  When you open a book, you open your mind and literally pour knowledge into it.  Knowledge is power.  Knowledge is power.  Knowledge is power.
  3. Laugh more.  Laughter is great for you – body and soul.  It doesn’t matter if anyone laughs with you, it doesn’t matter if anyone laughs at you.   Just laugh! 
  4. Complain less.  Starting tomorrow, do a little self improvement exercise:  Each time you feel tempted to say something negative, make yourself say something positive instead.  I’ve never understood why anyone would want to spread misery and gloominess.  I always wonder, “Do they hate life that much?” 
  5. Drink more water.  I read a lot of articles and books about health and there are several things they all agree on (the other is right on this one’s heels at #6!).  One of the things every physician, health expert, nutritionist, and great aunt tells us is this:  Drink more water.  There has to be something to it.   
  6. Get at least 30 minutes of activity each day.  Bronchitis has had me in a choke hold for weeks, but I was feeling a lot better today. So I did some intense work around the house.  I expected to feel like I’d been hit by a bus afterwards, but I feel great.  I’ve been sitting and sipping soup for so long I’d forgotten how good it feels to be active.
  7. Stop assuming people know how you feel.  Even if they have an idea, do you know how much it will mean to them if you tell them?   Most of us can recall certain things that our loved ones have said to us that meant the world.  In fact, the words meant so much that we still carry them around with us today.  Maybe it was a dad saying, “I’m SO proud of you.”  Maybe it was a mother telling us that we’re just the daughter/son she’d always hoped for.  Why is it that so often it’s when we’re in the middle of altercations that these sentiments come out?  Then, they’re often followed with a “But…”  Any sentiment followed by a but isn’t much of a sentiment!  This tactic is simply the art of putting conditions on the words.  They certainly aren’t the sentiments we carry with us.  It’s the ones that come out of the blue – not as a prerequisite to what all we’re doing wrong and not to soften any blows.  If you love someone, tell them every single day.  If you’re proud of them, tell them – WITHOUT BUTS!
  8. Put yourself in time-out.   In the same way we put children in “time out” when they show signs of being stressed out or overly tired, we could benefit just as much.  Last week, my husband did something that I thought was pretty cute.  Our daughters and I were gathering in the living room to watch Survivor – a Thursday night ritual we’ve enjoyed for years.  I make the special snacks, then we all watch a show that never disappoints.  However, my husband had had a week from hell and a particularly long, stressful day – so he opted out.  He put himself in a sort of “time out” in our home office in a chair in front of baseball.  He sat quietly in his pajamas, reminding me of a 2 year old boy who was trying to calm down!  I thought about telling him that, but I just headed to the living room. (I wasn’t born yesterday.)  Sometimes our nerves just need to unravel and they can do that better when there isn’t a lot going on.
  9. Become a more aware and cautious driver.   My poor guardian angel must be a basketcase.  Not only am I accident prone, I’m one of the most ridiculous drivers on earth.  But, years ago, I began to slow down and drive oh so much more carefully when I looked around me to see my vehicle surrounded by future drivers.  They’re watching.  What do they see?  Even if there aren’t future drivers with you, paying attention to what’s going on around you can save lives at best, headaches at worst.  Texting while driving, speeding, road rage, playing mind games (”Oh, yeah, if you want to get on my bumper, I’ll just slow down… You wanna hit me? Why, you can just buy me a new car, sucker…”) - these are all things that can get you killed, hurt, ticketed, or arrested.  I don’t think we’re interested in any of those, are we?
  10. Be thankful.  People are filled to their eyeballs with negative thoughts and words lately – but we still have it amazingly good.  I know I don’t have to tell you that – but I’m pretty sure we all need a reminder every now and again.  I remember a shallow little wake up call I got one time while we were living in Florida.  I had put on a tank top and shorts and was complaining to one of my daughters (oh, heck to anyone who’d listen) about my arms.  They weren’t “tank top arms…” etc.  I was cutting them up pretty good.  Then we walked over to the beach and the first person I saw made me, literally, cry with shame.  She was around 20 and only had one arm.  I’ve never forgotten that day.  And I honestly don’t believe I’ve complained about my arms since.  Either of them.

- Copenhagen: Only the Numbers Count – and They Add up to Hell on Earth

The Bella centre is a swirl of chatter, the streets of Copenhagen are a swirl of protest. Depending on what hour you listen to the news bulletin, the UN climate negotiations have "come off the rails" or are "back on track" or have "stalled" or are "moving swiftly". Which is why the only people who really understand what's going on may be a small crew of folks from a group of computer jockeys called Climate Interactive. Their software speaks numbers, not spin – and in the end it's the numbers that count.

First number to know: 350. It's what scientists have been saying for two years is the maximum amount of carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere, measured in parts per million. Those scientists have been joined by an unprecedented outpouring from civil society: in late October, activists put on what CNN called "the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history," with 5,200 demonstrations in 181 countries, all rallying around that number. Three thousand vigils last weekend across the planet spelled out the number in candles. Thousands of churches rang their bells 350 times on Sunday, and yesterday the World Parliament of Religions, meeting in Melbourne and representing the "largest interreligious gathering on earth" sent an emergency 350 declaration here to Copenhagen.

The second number: 100. That's (roughly) how many countries are backing a 350 target here at Copenhagen. That's more than half the nations in attendance – unfortunately, they're the small, poor ones. But it's amazing to see them, in the face of enormous pressure, keeping the idea of real action alive. Yesterday Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, spoke to a roaring crowd of thousands: "We know what the laws of physics say: the most important number in the world is 350."

The third number: 4%. That's how much the US is offering to cut its emissions from their 1990 levels by 2020. Scientists tell us that the developed world would need to reduce by at least 40% to get us back on a 350 track, so the American offer is exactly an order or magnitude off. And they're not alone. All the rich countries, not to mention China, are looking to do as little as possible and still escape here with some kind of agreement they can hide behind.

The fourth number – and the most important one. When the folks at Climate Interactive plug in every promise made at these talks (the American offer on the table, the Chinese promise to reduce "energy intensity", the EU pledges, and so on) their software tells them almost instantly how much carbon they would eventually produce. When they hit the button last night, the program showed that by 2100 the world's CO2 concentrations (currently 390) would be – drumroll please – 770. That is, we would live in hell, or at least a place with a similar temperature.

So that's the scorecard. You may hear a lot of happy talk from world leaders over the next few days as they "reach a historic agreement". But that's how it all adds up.


Dec 12, 2009

- Saffron

Saffron contains a bitter substance called picrocrocin, which stimulates the appetite and aids digestion. The plant's essential oil is rich in safranal, a compound that gives saffron its characteristic aroma, and which could be responsible for the plant's sedative effect. The stigmas contain yellow and red carotenoid pigments-crocin and gentiobiose-that have antioxidant properties.

Saffron has been used as a kitchen herb for centuries, both for its bright orange-yellow colour and for its strong, intense flavour and aroma. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans valued saffron for its aphrodisiac properties. However, the high cost of this spice means that it is rarely used as a natural medicine. Saffron was traditionally used to treat teething pain in infants. It is thought to regulate menstruation, and aid conception; it is also reputed to remedy colic and lower blood pressure. Saffron is prescribed for nervousness as it is believed to be a sedative. This attribute has not yet been confirmed experimentally, but research in Iran, in 2002, found extracts of saffron to be both anti-inflammatory and analgesic.

Researchers have been looking at the cancer-fighting antioxidant action of saffron. In 1996 Spanish scientists found that saffron inhibited the growth of human tumour cells, a property that they attributed to the carotenoid, crocin. And in 1999, further studies showed that crocin suppressed the development of colon cancer. These findings could open up a new area of medicinal use for the plant.


Dec 11, 2009

- How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

A fear of failure is one of the most common fears. It can be so scary that some people decide not to try at all in order to avoid failure altogether. In the end this just ends up being another kind of failure because you’ll never reach your full potential if you don’t even try.

Accepting Yourself
An important first step to overcoming fear of failure is accepting yourself. Once you accept yourself, you need to take it one step further and believe in yourself. This will come naturally to some, and some people will find that they need more work.
Think about specific situations in your life that you approached with confidence. That extra belief in yourself was likely the deciding factor between success and failure. You need to use that strong belief in yourself to combat fear.
Keep reminding yourself that success starts in your own mind. You need to have the right attitude because as soon as you don’t believe in yourself then failure is sure to follow. You might start to make excuses for yourself and you may even start blaming others or external sources. The way to get over the fear of failure is to stop making these excuses and take responsibility for your success.

Being Positive
Everyone has a bad day from time to time. That’s unavoidable. However, you do have the choice to think positively. You can turn a negative situation into a positive one with the right mindset.
You can stare failure in the face and combat fear with your outlook alone. Think about what the worst case scenario would be if you did in fact fail. Would it be the end of the world? What would be your game plan to pick yourself back up? Chances are that part of your fear of failure is a fear of the unknown. Once you think it through it may not seem quite as bad.

Ways to Combat Fear
You can work towards overcoming fear of failure in a number of ways. For starters, you can look at the situation as a chance to learn something. Always be on the lookout for the silver lining. If you do come face to face with failure, have the courage to pick yourself up and spend a good amount of time going over why you failed in that circumstance. That particular failure may have been required in your life in order for you to be lead to the path to success. If you allow the fear of failure to get the best of you, you wouldn’t have found the courage to even proceed.
Taking action is also a way to combat fear. If you have the right attitude, and plan for success, you just need to push yourself to go for it. Don’t overanalyze or think too much, just take some small actions.
When you’re in a particularly tough spot, you can always look for help from affirmations. These are short positive statements that are in the present tense. Tell yourself that fear is not getting the best of you. Tell yourself that you’re in the process of achieving great success. It may help you to relax and get out of the fear of failure mindset.

No One Is Perfect
When all is said and done, you should realize that no one is perfect. Of course you already know this, but many times that doesn’t stop people from being too hard on themselves. A fear of failure is also a fear of making a mistake. You can’t lead your life with a fear of making a mistake, because you’re bound to make them throughout your life. Just keep working on your attitude and your reactions and you’ll soon find success.


- Are You Depressed? How to Recover the Natural Way

Depression is insidious. You can slip into into it without noticing. But you can also climb out again. Most people have experienced at least a touch of depression at some time or other. I certainly have. In this post, I list ten things that have helped me overcome periods of depression – without taking antidepressants.

Are you depressed or just feeling low?
Depression is a word we use in everyday language to describe a number of feelings, including sadness, frustration, disappointment, and lethargy. However, I’m talking about clinical depression here. It differs from everyday lows in three significant ways:
  • Clinical depression is more intense
  • Clinical  depression lasts longer (two weeks or more)
  • Clinical  depression significantly interferes with effective day to day functioning.
Most doctors prescribe antidepressants for clinical, but medication often only addresses the symptoms, and not the cause of depression. However, if you are suffering from serious depression, medication is crucial for your well-being.
I want to show you how to heal from depression using natural means.  The information I offer is aimed at those with light to medium depression. If you’ve been given medication, please continue to take it. The following 10-step strategy will speed your recovery – whether you’re on medication or not.

What are the signs of depression?
Here’s a checklist which will help you see if you’re depressed. The symptom will vary from person to person and also depend on the severity of your condition.
  1. Do you suffer from low energy, or fatigue?
  2. Do you feel hopeless, negative, or pessimistic?
  3. Do you have persistent sad, anxious, or flat moods?
  4. Do you have difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decision?
  5. Do you suffer from recurring feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness?
  6. Have you lost pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex?
  7. Do you suffer from sleep disturbances such as insomnia, early-morning waking, or oversleeping?
  8. Have your eating habits changed, resulting in weight loss or weight gain?
  9. Do you suffer from restlessness, or irritability?
  10. Do you have thoughts of self-harm?
If you answered ‘yes’ to some of the questions above, you may be suffering from depression. Depression varies in severity. It may be that you are feeling low and are just hovering on the edge of clinical depression, or that you are suffering a mild to moderate form of depression.
Most medical practitioners suggest antidepressant medication and counseling. Both can be beneficial. But there are also some natural ways to counter a mild to medium depression.

10 Steps to recover from depression

1. Acknowledge depression to yourself and others.
To acknowledge depression can be extremely hard, especially if you see yourself as a strong and decisive person. One of the practical difficulties of suffering from depression is that you may feel unable to continue with some commitments you’ve made. Let your colleagues or friends know that you will have to take a couple of steps back until you are feeling better. They may be able to come up with solutions that will help take the load off your shoulders.

2. Use a powerful natural remedy.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum) is a roadside weed that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of disorders. It’s a mood-lifter and is an excellent remedy for mild to moderate depression. There has been some discussion about its efficacy. A research project comparing the effectiveness of St. Johns Wort with the antidepressant Imipramine,

"Hypericum perforatum extract is therapeutically equivalent to imipramine in treating mild to moderate depression, but patients tolerate hypericum better."
You can get some over-the-counter preparations of St. John’s Wort at your local drugstore or pharmacy.

 3. Step up your exercise
Regular exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals (neurotransmitters and endorphins) that may ease depression. Exercise has been found to work as well as medications, but may take longer to take effect.

I recommend vigorous walking or slow running. If you have a heart rate monitor, try and stay more or less at 15% below your maximum heart rate. (Your maximum heart rate is 220 beats per minute minus your age). Translated into action, 15% below your maximum heart rate may equate to a purposeful but moderate uphill walk, or a fast walk on the flat. (Your breathing should still be easy.) Try to exercise at least every second day.

4. Use nutrition
Are you following a diet that helps you to combat depression? There are some essential foodstuffs that can help you to recover your wellbeing:

  • Omega 3’s 
    shows that foods rich in B vitamins and omega-3’s may boost your mood. Make sure that you consume enough omega-3’s by eating two servings of seafood per week or by taking fish oil supplements. Salmon, tuna and trout are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Folates
    Many people who suffer from depression are  deficient in folate, a type of B vitamin. Natural food sources of folate are liver, spinach, papaya, lentils, avocados, raspberries, black eyed peas, red bell peppers, beans, broccoli, greens, and orange juice.
  • Iron
    Lack of iron, or  anemia, is said to contribute to depression. Natural food sources of iron include meat, lentils, beans and leafy green vegetables.
  • Selenium
    A  1991 study published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that lower levels of selenium in the diet correlate with anxiety, depression, and tiredness. Natural food sources of selenium include fish, Brazil nuts, beef and turkey, garlic and whole grains.
  • What to avoid
    It’s important to stay off alcohol if you are feeling depressed. Alcohol is a depressant and will lower your mood (even though it may feel good initially.) 
 5. Improve Sleep
If you are depressed, you are likely to suffer from a sleep disorder. It may be that you feel exhausted when you go to bed, but can’t get to sleep. Or that you wake up in the early hours and can’t get back to sleep again. Personally, I use a combination of three sleep strategies:

  • Use a sleep hypnosis recording, created by Jon Rhodes.
  • Use an eye-shade, or block out light with thick curtains.
  • Use Melatonin in order to reset the body clock. 

 6. Enjoy a massage. (my favourite part) :)
Besides being physically relaxing, massage may also cause the body to produce fewer stress hormones and may also increase the body’s production of feel-good endorphins and the mood-altering hormone serotonin.

 7. Light.
Natural sunlight seems to work best for people who have seasonal depression, called SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. In fact, extra sunlight can help all forms of depression. Make sure you go out into the sun for a few minutes whenever it shines. If you live in a climate with little sunshine or find yourself depressed in the winter months, you may want to invest in a Solar Simulator. It’s a special lamp that simulates sunshine.

8. Unburden yourself.
If you are feeling low, talk to a good friend. Friends can often spot if there is an imbalance in your life. You might also consider consulting a counselor or psychotherapist. Deep down we know what’s bothering us and what would help us to heal. Talking to a trusted person can help you to access your own wisdom.

9. Reduce stress.
One of the main factors that can precipitate depression is stress. Take a step back and refocus your life. Think of ways you can get others lighten your load. Can you push out the looming deadline? Can someone help you with the task that’s getting you down? Can you delegate or team up with someone?

 10. Meditate.

Learning to focus the mind can be beneficial when you are trying to recover from depression. Meditation helps to control negative thinking, such as thoughts spiraling into failure or worthlessness. Meditation can also work directly on your mood. In my experience, meditation can work wonders for people suffering from depression. But you need to know exactly how to use meditation to recover from depression – otherwise it can make things worse. To be on the safe side, practice  walking meditation...


Dec 3, 2009

- 5 things we all need in a relationship

We’ve all had relationships that were easy, simple and seemingly effortless. You might even still be in one. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of relationships that tricky, awkward and downright difficult as well.
Positivity, encouragement and love are all things we need as people, as human beings. These positive feelings when expressed and projected on to others will help to form and maintain deep and meaningful relationships. Conversely, negativity detracts from this and creates a hostile environment in which relationships struggle and misunderstandings flourish.
This isn’t to say that if you are an overly positive, happy little ray of sunshine you’ll never encounter relationship issues. Even the best relationships have their ups and downs. No one is perfect and quite frankly it’s difficult to live with another individual with their own personality, unique history and life experience.
Here are five very basic needs when it comes to forming relationships with other people. If you find yourself in a relationship that is easy and effortless see how many of these needs you are both currently meeting. I’m willing to guess all if not a large majority of them. Similarly, if you are currently in a difficult relationship, which of these needs are not being met by your partner? Which needs are you not meeting yourself?

1. To be heard. We all want to be heard. It’s what makes us feel validated and important. Think about the last time you spoke with someone and they were clearly uninterested. Maybe they were looking around the room, checking the clock, or constantly glancing at their computer screen. Whatever it was they were doing, it appeared to you as if they hadn’t heard a word you said and didn’t really care about what you were saying. It’s not a nice feeling. When you’re at home having a conversation be it with your spouse, partner or kids give them you’re undivided attention when possible. Get involved in the conversation show them you are really listening and that they are being heard.

2. To be valued. It’s difficult to get excited about being in a relationship with someone when you don’t feel you are being valued. If there is a lack of respect or little regard for your contribution to the relationship it can’t flourish. Are you valuing the person you are in a relationship with? Do you include them in decision making or planning for the future? Do you recognize their contributions to the family or home? Are you open minded and willing to accept a different point of view or idea even if it’s not your own? If not, your partner is likely feeling devalued and like their opinions don’t matter. Try being more inclusive, show appreciation for the other person. A simple “thank you” when delivered in a sincere heart felt manner can go a long way.

3. To be an equal. This really ties into the need to be valued. As you enter into a relationship it’s clear that you are both individuals and bring a unique set of abilities, skills and talents to the table. A relationship without equality usually has one person trying to control the other. Equality in a relationship goes beyond splitting chores and other household responsibilities. It also includes:
* making decisions together as a team
* no one person being “the boss”
* having and showing respect for the other person
* giving space to the other person when they need it
* asking – not telling or barking orders

4. To be understood. To truly understand someone we must be able to empathize, be willing to take a step back, separate ourselves from our own viewpoint and try walking in the other person’s shoes. Truly listen when they are speaking and avoid getting defensive or becoming distracted by thinking of what you’re going to say in return. Spend time figuring out what makes them tick and understand why this relationship is important to them and to you. By trying to understand who you are building this relationship with you will be better equipped to make it work.

5. To feel safe. Safety in a relationship includes feeling physically safe as well as emotionally safe. Relationships don’t have to be about living in varying degrees of stress, apprehension or anxiety. Let people know that you will protect them, watch out for them and keep their best interests at heart – tell them. Let them know that you welcome them, imperfections and all and create a warm, secure place where you can just BE without judgement.
There are all sorts of relationships – marriage, parent-child, neighbors, employer-employee etc. and in each one the participants have these same basic needs. If you have a strong relationship keep doing what you’re doing, don’t stop working at it since it’s all that hard work that made it so strong in the first place. Take a minute to think of the relationships in your life. Are there any that need to be mended? Are there some basic needs that aren’t being met, either by you or someone else?


Nov 27, 2009

- Can you be Positive? Why?

Why positive thinking don’t work for many people

Pushing a positive statement to your mind is the same exactly as trying to convince your mind to believe into the statement you just pushed. In my previous article how to convince people I explained how overcoming the opposing beliefs is one of the most important factors in convincing someone to believe in something.
Lets suppose that only 10 minutes were left before the meeting begins and you still had to get dressed up and drive a long distance, will repeating a positive statement such as "I will arrive on time" work? Of course it won’t because its against your current beliefs and the logical rules of life.
This is also the same reason why affirmations never work! Trying to convince your mind to believe that you are confident in the morning while you fail to approach people at night will certainly prevent your mind from believing you.
I am sure you had a motivating song that used to motivate you whenever you listed to it but one day you listened to it and nothing happened. The reason you weren’t motivated this time is because your belief system at the time of hearing the song had some opposing beliefs to the song's words.
For example if you felt depressed (which means you have lost hope) listening to all the motivating songs in the world will never help you feel Good simply because you have lots of opposing beliefs to the hopefulness of the songs.

The right way to think positively

Based on all of the previous facts we can come up with the following approach that will help you think positively without doing mistakes that overshadows your positive thinking efforts:
  • Don’t challenge the beliefs but use logic to convince your mind: If you are already late then don’t keep telling yourself that you will arrive on time but instead remind yourself of the times you arrived late and nothing bad happened
  • Understand the opposing beliefs and challenge them: While repeating the positive suggestion to yourself you will get direct replies from your subconscious mind like "No you can’t do that" or "you never did that before". Try to examine these negative replies and see if you can provide reassurance to your subconscious mind or opposing arguments .
  • Remove the barriers one by one: One of the things you will discover while trying to convince your subconscious mind to believe in a positive thought is that as soon you manage to bypass an opposing belief you will hit another one. According to the psychology of convincing you need to bypass all opposing beliefs one by one in order to successfully convince the other party, so this is pretty normal!

* Leadership most reliable predictor

Research shows that trust & confidence in top leadership is the most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction.


A lot of the world troubles stem from lack of self-image: not being confident in who you are and what you're supposed to be doing in life.

Wisdom could very well start with a little perspective.

There's part of me that realizes that everything is completely meaningless, really. That if the human being were to die in the next ten minutes, this Earth would still be spinning and it would rectify its growth pattern and human beings would be forgotten and the next life form would start, right?

We need a little perspective about how unimportant what we do is! Having said that, I think it's very important to like yourself, it's important to love your family and love your friends and do things that help you grow and help you sleep.

That's what I'm trying to do with my life.

Nov 21, 2009

Small Formula of Success

I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: which is: Try to please everybody!

Nov 17, 2009

* Active Listening

Hear What People Are Really Saying

Listening is one of the most important skills you can have. How well you listen has a major impact on your job effectiveness, and on the quality of your relationships with others.
We listen to obtain information.
We listen to understand.
We listen for enjoyment.
We listen to learn.

Given all this listening we do, you would think we’d be good at it! In fact we’re not. Depending on the study being quoted, we remember a dismal 25-50% of what we hear. That means that when you talk to your boss, colleagues, customers or spouse for 10 minutes, they only really hear 2½-5 minutes of the conversation.
Turn it around and it reveals that when you are receiving directions or being presented with information, you aren’t hearing the whole message either. You hope the important parts are captured in your 25- 50%, but what if they’re not?
Clearly, listening is a skill that we can all benefit from improving. By becoming a better listener, you will improve your productivity, as well as your ability to influence, persuade negotiate. What’s more, you’ll avoid conflict and misunderstandings – all necessary for workplace success. )

Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way towards creating good and lasting impressions with others.

The way to become a better listener is to practice “active listening”. This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, to try and understand the total message being sent.
In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.
You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by what else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments that you’ll make when the other person stops speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to lose focus on what the other person is saying. All of these barriers contribute to a lack of listening and understanding. 

If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words mentally as they say it – this will reinforce their message and help you control mind drift.

To enhance your listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what he or she is saying. To understand the importance of this, ask yourself if you’ve ever been engaged in a conversation when you wondered if the other person was listening to what you were saying. You wonder if your message is getting across, or if it’s even worthwhile to continue speaking. It feels like talking to a brick wall and it’s something you want to avoid.
Acknowledgement can be something as simple as a nod of the head or a simple “uh huh.” You aren’t necessarily agreeing with the person, you are simply indicating that you are listening. Using body language and other signs to acknowledge you are listening also reminds you to pay attention and not let your mind wander.
You should also try to respond to the speaker in a way that will both encourage him or her to continue speaking, so that you can get the information if you need. While nodding and “uh huhing” says you’re interested, an occasional question or comment to recap what has been said communicates that you understand the message as well. 

Becoming an Active Listener

There are five key elements of active listening. They all help you ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you are hearing what they are saying.
  1. Pay attention.
    Give the speaker your undivided attention and acknowledge the message. Recognize that what is not said also speaks loudly.
    • Look at the speaker directly.
    • Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
    • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors.
    • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.
    • Refrain from side conversations when listening in a group setting.

  2. Show that you are listening.
    Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.
    • Nod occasionally.
    • Smile and use other facial expressions.
    • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
    • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

  3. Provide feedback.
    Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions.
    • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is…” and “Sounds like you are saying…” are great ways to reflect back.
    • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…” “Is this what you mean?”
    • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: "I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is XXX; is that what you meant?"

  1. Defer judgment.
    Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.
    • Allow the speaker to finish.
    • Don’t interrupt with counter-arguments.

  2. Respond Appropriately.
    Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.
    • Be candid, open, and honest in your response.
    • Assert your opinions respectfully.
    • Treat the other person as he or she would want to be treated. 

Key Points:

It takes a lot of concentration and determination to be an active listener. Old habits are hard to break, and if your listening habits are as bad as many people’s are, then there’s a lot of habit-breaking to do!
Be deliberate with your listening and remind yourself constantly that your goal is to truly hear what the other person is saying. Set aside all other thoughts and behaviors and concentrate on the message. Ask question, reflect, and paraphrase to ensure you understand the message. If you don’t, then you’ll find that what someone says to you and what you hear can be amazingly different!
Start using active listening today to become a better communicator and improve your workplace productivity and relationships.


Oct 8, 2009

The 7 Failings of Really Useless Leaders (rev1)

“it is quicker, easier and more effective for us as managers to stop doing the things that demotivate people than it is for us to bolt on radically new techniques from acknowledged inspirational leaders…….People the world over are more likely to be disaffected, disengaged or demotivated by their managers than motivated or inspired.”

Don't Try To inspire Your People. That's Pointless. 

Just Stop The Seven Things You're Doing That Demotivate People Utterly. You ll Soon Become A Better Leader Unlike other leadership books, The Seven Failings of Really Useless Leaders does NOT concentrate on good or great leadership. 

We know that copying other people blindly just doesn't work. 

So here it is in short if you don't want to read the book :) 

    * Killing enthusiasm through micromanagement, coercion and disrespect;

    * Killing emotion by being aggressive, lacking empathy and not supporting work-life balance;

    * Killing explanation through incomplete or inconsistent communication;

    * Killing engagement with limited team goals and an insistence on managers dictating objectives;

    * Killing reward by rewarding the wrong things or doing it in the wrong way, for example, by offering a cash bonus to someone who is not motivated by money;

    * Killing culture, for example by ignoring differences in working cultures when managing mergers between organizations or by “punishing risk-taking” while trying to introduce a culture of innovation; and

    * Killing trust by making unfair decisions when hiring or rewarding staff.

Sep 30, 2009

- Five Ways to Simplify Your Life

Everywhere you look, it seems everyone and everything are moving at the speed of light (or faster). With so many commitments, roles, and obligations, it’s often hard to stay focused on what is most important to you, and your dreams fall by the wayside as a result. No matter what you do, you still need to find ways to free yourself from the chaos of daily life. Here are five simple ways to make your life less complicated right away.

1. With each potential task ask yourself, “Does this contribute to my goals?” If it doesn’t, simply don’t do it. Don’t waste time on efforts or projects (or even thoughts) that will only usurp time from your biggest priorities and dreams. You’ll be amazed when you see how much time you wasted on nonessential things.

2. Refuse to start making piles. Most of us have piles: piles of magazines; piles of mail; piles of recipes; and piles of piles. Get rid of your piles. Then, once you have, simply don’t allow yourself to create a new one. If you have anything you feel you may want to put it in a pile, either file it away or throw it away. Giving yourself only two options will free up time for more important things and free up space so you can think more clearly.

3. Keep your checkbook balanced. It only takes a few minutes every day, but the return on your investment is tremendous—you will have less stress and more confidence in yourself. If you have monetary goals, keeping your finances in focus and at-hand will make it easy for you to stay on track.

4. Say “no.” True, it is difficult for most people to say no, but it is the easiest way to simplify your life. Saying no returns authority back to you and clarifies your goals for others.

5. Give your solutions a chance. The pace of the world today may fool you into rushing into life changes when really, all you need to do is leave things alone for a little while for them to improve. It’s simpler (and smarter) to commit to a course of action in life and at work and let it fully play out—rather than panicking and changing your mind, direction, and goals constantly.

Sep 16, 2009

- An actor prepares

Getting read to ‘act’ in life is just the same as getting ready to act on stage, says Michael Neill. And the methods he learned in his actors’ training, including how to put more passion into your performance, have a lot to teach us on how to get up out of your seats, get on the boards, and get things done.
Getting read to ‘act’ in life is just the same as getting ready to act on stage, says Michael Neill. And the methods he learned in his actors’ training, including how to put more passion into your performance, have a lot to teach us on how to get up out of your seats, get on the boards, and get things done.
An actor prepares … and so does anybody else who wants to succeed!
PROLOGUE: Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of how certain people manage to produce exceptional results in their lives, and to isolate and share the strategies and states which allow them to do that.
But NLP is not the only discipline interested in replicating human excellence, nor is it the first. For thousands of years, actors have been exploring the human psyche in an attempt both to instruct and inspire audiences, and to gain a greater understanding of what it is to be human.
One of the most important facets of actor training is preparation: the work done before acting in a role which allows you to commit your full attention on stage or screen to the task at hand. In this article, I will be sharing with you a selection of exercises from ‘actor training’ that will enhance and enrich your ability to prepare for any major or important real life event.
In order to make this as useful to you as possible, you might want to take a moment, now, to think about an upcoming event that is important to you – whether it is an interview, a meeting, a phone call, or even a decision that you have to make. And so, without further ado …
ACT ONE: Acting on Purpose
Here’s a little experiment for you to try. Imagine that somewhere nearby is hidden a priceless collection of diamonds. Your mission (objective/intention/outcome/goal) is ‘to get the diamonds’. Begin repeating the words `to get the diamonds’ over and over in your mind, like an affirmation or a mantra.
After a few moments of silent repetition, look up from the magazine, and begin scanning the room for a possible hiding place. If there are other people around you, they might stop you from achieving your outcome. Notice any thoughts that come into your mind as you continue repeating your silent mantra, `to get the diamonds, to get the diamonds, to get the diamonds …’
You may decide to put this magazine down, get up, and walk around for a minute or two, aware of how your thoughts, and perhaps even your persona, begin to change as you continue to repeat your outcome. I’ll see you in a minute …
Whatever you discovered as you went through that little experiment, you now have a reference for one of the ways in which an actor may create for himself or herself an alternative reality. Repeating your outcome over and over again in your mind automatically begins to generate thoughts which go to support or surround this outcome.
Actors (in Stanislayski’s method of acting) must always have a clear intention (outcome) on stage. These intentions, or objectives as they are sometimes called, are then made up of actions. The purpose of the rehearsal period is to experiment with different outcomes, actions, and emotions until the ones that work best have become second nature.
In performance, the actor can then trust his `unconscious competence’, and ‘play the moment’, re-acting to whatever is going on around him- or herself, ensuring that each performance will have its own personal effectiveness. The point of the preparation has been to be able to forget about it in the moment of action, and focus your full attention on the task at hand.
Here’s the strategy, in a nutshell:
1. Choose your outcome.
2. Decide some of the actions you could take that will lead to your outcome.
3. Choose what emotional state (or combination of states) you want to be in as you pursue your outcome.
4. Put yourself in the appropriate emotional state, rehearse going after your outcome, and make adjustments to your actions and feelings, until what works has become second nature to you.
(A more complete description of how to put yourself into an emotional state and mentally rehearse an important event is contained in `Act Two’ below.)
5. When it comes time to actually do what it is you set out to do, take a moment to review your preparation. Focus briefly again on your outcome and actions, and put yourself into an appropriate state of mind.
6. Do it!
And pay attention to what is going on around you, trusting that your preparation will cause you to do and say just the right thing to create your desired outcome.
If at any point your mind starts to wander, you can repeat your outcome in your mind, over and over, until you are refocused on the task at hand.
Releasing the Emotional Hostage.
When I was a teenager, I was playing the Puerto-Rican gang member ‘Chico’ in a production of West Side Story, the musical version of Romeo and Juliet. We had been doing the show for over a month, and I tended to just ‘go into automatic mode’, a sort of pleasant, day-dreaming trance that got me through the tedium of doing the same thing day in and day out (even if that ‘tedium’ was dancing in front of 1,000 people a night).
There’s a scene early on in West Side Story called the ‘Dance at the Gym’, where the two gangs assert their national pride by attempting to out-dance each other. It was great fun to do, involving much dancing, leaping about, and in the case of my Puerto-Rican gang, the repeated shouting of ‘Ay Caramba!’ and other assorted cod-Spanish ejaculations.
Two scenes later comes ‘The Rumble’, a darker dance, where the two gangs assert their masculinity by attempting to out-kill each other.
On this particular night, one of the members of the American gang, a character named `Snowball’, came out on stage and began to make fun of the way we had been dancing, in particular, mocking the shouts of ‘Ay Caramba!’ which had filled the air so joyously only moments before.
Suddenly, I felt a surge of very real emotion swelling up inside of me. I don’t know if you’ve ever been discriminated against because of your race, your gender, or your sexuality, or your class, but I was furious and was fully prepared to kill this ‘American pendejo‘ .
Now, one of the traits that most actors share is that, no matter how intense the situation, no matter how involved they are in what’s going on, a small part of their attention remains on the outside, monitoring internal and external reactions, and storing them away for future use.
(As a friend of mine was fond of saying whenever one of us would get upset, ‘Use it in your acting, dearie!’)
So, as part of me was preparing to rumble with the Americans, the actor part of me was having a conversation with myself in that moment which went something like this.. .
SELF: That pendejo, who does he think he is?!
ACTOR: Wait a minute, wait a minute, this is cool!
SELF: What do you mean, cool? Snowball is making fun of me, and everything I stand for!
ACTOR: No, he’s not. You’re not really Puerto-Rican. His name’s not Snowball, it’s Mike Dufault. And you guys are friends – it’s only make believe!
SELF: Then why does it feel so real?!
After the show that night, I was filled with excitement. My emotions were clearly more flexible than I had thought, because they had been so genuinely stirred by make-believecircumstances. If I could create emotional states within myself simply by repeatedly and vividly making believe that certain things were true, what would happen if I did the same thing off-stage, designing my emotional life to fit in with the circumstances I most wanted to create in my life?
One of the most fascinating of all actor skills, and probably the least understood, is the ability to create emotions ‘out of thin air’. In the sections below, I’ve laid out four of the different methods for doing this that I’ve come across in my own actor training. Again, I would encourage you to think about applying them in the context of that important event that’s coming up for you. Now …
ACT TWO: Emotional Mastery and …
There are two primary blocks to emotional mastery.
The first is physical tension. Any emotion is expressed through your physical body. When you’re tense, certain emotions find it difficult to come out and play. A good habit to get into is to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and relax. Become aware of:
- the sensations in your body, from head to toe;
- any images flashing through your mind;
- anything you might be saying to yourself, on the inside.
This ‘personal inventory’ is frequently taught on NLP courses as a means of increasing self-awareness, and has the useful side-effect of relaxing your mind and body.
The second block to experiencing emotions fully is the fear that, if you allow yourself to really feel an emotion ‘deeply’, you might get `swallowed up’ by it, and be unable to shake it off for hours, or even days.
Personally, I think this is one of the best reasons in the world to repress your feelings, and I would no more throw myself into a fit of rage. or sink myself into a morass of depression, without knowing I can get out of it easily than I would go technical rock climbing without a safety rope.
Fortunately, there is a very simple way to get yourself back from any emotional exploration. The classic NLP model for the structure of an emotional state is that it is made up of your physiology (or the way you use your body) and your internal representations (or the pictures, sounds, and words you say in your head).
In order to ‘break state’ after an emotional exploration, vigorously shake your body (changing the physiological element of the emotion), shake your head (clearing the mental screen of images), and `blurble’ your lips in a sort of a ‘raspberry’ sound, which will clear out all of your internal dialogue.
(Try telling yourself you’re a bad person while making a loud luting’ sound with your lips. It loses some of it’s emotional impact, doesn’t it?)
You might want to practise this ‘break state’ thing once or twice before reading on, and before you participate in the upcoming emotional experiments. Then again, depending on who you’re with. So, now …
.. How to Create an Emotional State
1. Affective Memory
This is one of the basic elements of so-called `Method acting’, and was one of the primary methods taught by the late Lee Strasberg, mentor to, amongst others, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Shelley Winters, and Marilyn Monroe. It is taught on many NLP courses as ‘Contextual Hallucination’, or more prosaically, ‘Think of a time. . .
Affective memory is a naturally-occurring phenomenon that can be used consciously and unconsciously to make you happy, or to make you miserable. If you were to take a moment now to think of some past sad experience, you would probably begin to feel a little bit sad.
If, on the other hand, you think back to a funny experience, and really go right back to it in your mind, so that you’re seeing what you saw, and hearing what you heard, and feeling what you felt, you will probably begin to smile right now.
This process can be heightened by repetition, by ’stacking’ one funny memory – or `trigger’ – on top of another, and by making the images, sounds, and feelings of that memory more vivid. Involve your body in the memory, and you will find the feelings begin to intensify – for any emotion that you want to feel.
2. In the Beginning was the Word …
Another exercise for developing the facility of emotional choice is simply to notice that every word you can use to describe an emotional state has a corresponding location in the body.
So, take a deep breath and relax. Now, repeat the word ‘curiosity’ in your mind while tuning in to the sensations in your body. When you’ve got a sense of it, point to the place in your body where you most feel that word. With ‘curiosity’, most people will point to their heads, but your response will be unique to you.
Now, take a few moments with each of the following words: suspicion – anger – desire -love – joy. In my experience, most people will feel suspicion in their eyes, anger in their chests, desire in their loins, love in their hearts, and joy from their bellies through their upper body. Again, wherever you notice is the right answer for you.
Now, once you’ve tuned in to the specific location of an emotional state, you can intensify it by doing anything that raises your level of autonomic arousal, eg, by walking round the block, taking a few deep breaths, doing some push-ups, or by a couple of dynamic gestures.
With practice, you’ll be able to not only create these states at will, but to carry them around with you, to use in any situation you desire.
3. The Magic of As If’
Stanislayski, the godfather of 20th-century acting technique, considered the words ‘as if’ to be magic, and the key to unlocking the world of imagination. An application of the magic of ‘as if’ to your emotions is to act ‘as if’ you feel a certain way. This idea has been sometimes described as ‘using the tail to wag the dog’.
The following technique, long a mainstay of Stella Adler (she was Marlon Brando’s first acting teacher), is especially useful when you want to change your emotional state quickly. Simply by changing the way you sit, you can change the way you feel.
Let’s say you want to feel happy. Well, one thing you could do is to think back to a happy experience, but let’s pretend that you can’t think of any just at the moment.
So, how would you be sitting right now, if you were already happy? What kind of an expression would you have on your face?
How would you be breathing? In a nice, relaxed, gentle rhythm, or something more intense?
Answer these questions with your body -actually shift in your seat so that you are sitting and breathing, scowling or smiling, the way you imagine you would be if you were already happy.
If you want to feel even happier, go ahead and move around the room the way you think you would move if you were already feeling happy. (You can take this article with you!) How quickly or slowly do you move? What’s the feeling behind your eyes?
Go ahead and gesture in the way you imagine you would gesture if you were already feeling happy. If people are beginning to look at you strangely, what would you say to them if you were feeling ridiculously happy now? How would you say it? In a slow, low, growly voice, or a light, high, fluffy voice? Or somewhere in between? What kinds of things would you say to yourself? How would you say them?
4. Role Modelling. (A variation on the magic of ‘as if )
Sometimes, when an actor is just starting out in her or his training, she or he will find her-or himself unable to ‘let loose’ and experience emotions fully, particularly it in life, he or she is not especially expressive, a bit of a ‘low reactor’.
One useful technique for experiencing emotions beyond your normal range is to pretend that you are someone else, usually somebody famous, or a character in a book or film. (Anthony Hopkins claims to have based his Oscar-winning portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs on Margaret Thatcher – ‘A woman,’ he said, ‘who was so confident that she was right as to be bordering on the psychopathic.’)
Let’s now go back to your important situation, the one you chose at the beginning of the article. How would you need to feel in order to best do and express whatever it is you want to do and express in that situation?
Perhaps you’d like to feel more confident, more patient, or more loving. Think about someone who, for you, epitomizes the quality or qualities you would like to embody, and who could carry off the situation with ease and aplomb. [NLP Practitioners will spot the affinity here with one step of Dilts's 'New Behaviour Generator - Ed.]
Imagine that person is in the room with you right now. How do they look? What is it about the way that they move or speak that lets you know they are the way you would like to be? Shift your body so that you are standing or sitting like them. Gesture the way they would gesture.
What expression do you (they) have on your face? How do you look around the room? What sort of things might you (they) say to yourself? If you like, walk around the room as if you were your role model.
As an extension of this exercise, imagine that you are the director of a film based on your ideal life, and you have cast in the leading role the actor you would ideally like to play you. Coming up is the scene in the film where you make that phone call, or have that meeting, or whatever your important real-life situation is.
Imagine your role model acting in the scene, and pulling it off brilliantly. The phone call is a success, the meeting has gone better than you could possibly have expected, the situation is a success. Keep adjusting the scene until it’s perfect. (Don’t worry about your actor. He or she is used to constant rewrites, and any number of re-takes!)
When you’ve got it in your mind the way you want it, it’s time for the ‘understudy’ to rehearse the scene. Imagine that it is now you in the film, doing and saying the things that your ’star’ did. Perhaps there are one or two refinements you think of that your ’star’ left out. Rehearse the scene until you are completely happy with it, either in your home, or in the privacy of your own mind.
(In case you feel in any way daunted by the prospect of actually doing what seemed so delightful when your ’star’ did it, I offer you the advice Laurence Olivier gave his understudy, the young Albert Finney, before Finney took over from Olivier’s acclaimed performance as Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.
When Finney asked what to do about his pre-show nerves, Olivier replied, ‘Do what I do, dear boy. . . amaze yourself with your own daring!’)
ACT THREE: The Performance Itself
On the day of the actual event, you can simply review your preparation, and then improvise, trusting that the rehearsal time you have put in will be sufficient for your success. As with any performance, be prepared for things to go slightly different than they did in rehearsal.
And, as every actor discovers, sooner or later, you ultimately evaluate your performance not so much by how you felt while you were doing it, but by how you made your audience feel.
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